Ban the French!
Entered 12:06:13 AM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
Press Demagogues have called France America's "Greatest Enemy" because it stands opposed to a war in Iraq.
I submit to you that at this time, France is America's greatest friend. You know, the one who insists-- despite the aspersions, the insults, the petty name-calling-- on telling you exactly what you don't want to hear, but desperately need to.
The domestic media isn't going to tell you the whole story. War is too profitable a business for them. CNN, for example, was recently caught omitting key details of Inspector Blix's declaration to the UN which cast a shadow on Powell's hearsay- ridden Powerpoint show of the week before.
In order for a democracy to function properly, the people MUST have access to all possible information in order to make the most rational decisions. And if the domestic forces will not disseminate this information, then is it so wrong for the citizens of another democracy to lend a hand?
As a friend of mine might say, "Friends don't let friends start wars for no good reason."
Let the lies begin.
Entered 02:42:54 PM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
"On Monday, the day before the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell addressed the UN, Downing Street published its latest paper on Iraq.
It gives the impression of being an up to the minute intelligence-based analysis - and Mr Powell was fulsome in his praise.
Channel Four News has learnt that the bulk of the nineteen page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student.
In several places Downing Street edits the originals to make more sinister reading."
No comment from me seems necessary. Source here.
Color it "Misconstrued".
Entered 02:35:11 PM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
"You know, and this can be misconstrued, but honest to goodness (husband) Ed and I for years, for 20 years, have been saying, `You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.' Every little town you go into, you know?" - Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte, N.C. on Arab-Americans
I am most certainly offended (and I am not of Arab descent).
Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason
Entered 03:50:31 AM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
There is absolutely no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein is a reprehensible murder with no regard for life other than his own. He has unjustifiably invaded other nations, and killed his own citizens in cold blood, committing some of the most horrible atrocities imaginable.
But is removing him in the manner intended by the United States the right thing to do? I say no.
In America, murder is a proscribed act under the law. It can only be justified and excused under very specific circumstances. The killing of another person can only be excused by the court if one is acting in self-defense or in the defense of another, and only when fear exists on the part of the murderer that the victim was going to imminently use deadly force against them-- a fear that will be judged by the totality of the surrounding circumstances to see if it was reasonable.
Since the United States is ostensibly a nation of laws, as opposed to the barbaric tyrants like Saddam Hussein, one would expect its leadership to act in a civilized manner consistent with its own laws when attempting to prosecute what is essentially a state-sponsored execution-- not only of Hussein and his men, but the hundreds of thousands of civilians who will perish, only to be noted as "collateral damage". (And they will die, even if the military does not "accidentally" drop bombs on the hospitals and civilian shelters as they did the last time. Consider how easy-- or rather, how difficult-- it would be for you to live if the electricity, water and food supply infrastructure you relied upon was destroyed by an invasion force.)
Lately, the United States has embarked on a course of "pre-emptive" action. Perceived enemies must be destroyed before they destroy the United States, overt hostile acts not required. In contrast to the Afghanistan war, which could at least be justified, even in its glorious overkill, because American forces were legitimately hunting the man the evidence deemed responsible for the lethal attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the US is now proposing to attack nations because they, in effect, don't "smell right".
I have already covered why the bulk of Powell's evidence (to me, anyway) stinks of rampant hearsay in a previous entry, but it is clear that from this most superficial data the US is prepared to wage all-out war. It's the equivalent of arming oneself with a Glock and preparing to gun down the local ex-drug dealer who's just come back from a stint in prison-- you know he's trouble, he has done things in the past, and even though he was punished, you can't help but feeling that he's up to no good once more, even though there is no direct evidence. He's talking to all the old thugs, walking in all the wrong places, and carrying his old paper bags everywhere. Too bad every time he gets frisked by the beat cops he comes up clean, and the bags come up empty.
This sort of Vigilantism is beyond the US. Forgive me for holding our leaders to the standards established by their own law, but the unfortunate thing is, Saddam HAS to make the first move. It doesn't even have to be a large one. But under the law, if the person murdered didn't move first, the one who pulls the trigger is culpable-- and that would be America.
Now "moving first" does not necessarily mean that we have to wait for him to kill someone. Proof of imminent intent would be good enough in an international context. If we KNEW he had nuclear weapons (he doesn't), or if we found solid, verifiable PLANS that he was going to launch a gas attack outside his own borders (we haven't), or even he had begun massing troops before we had begun our sabre-rattling, justification would have been present. But none of that exists, Powell's interesting slideshow ("let me quote unnamed sources, and oh yes, I assure you my interpretation of these admittedly ambiguous images is the definitive, correct one-- those trucks MUST be there for nefarious purposes") aside.
This is why the rest of the world sees America as being driven to war by a renegade cowboy trying to wrap up "Daddy's Little War". If we were to move on North Korea today, I think virtually no nation on Earth would complain. Their actions have been overt, blatant, and clearly criminal. Yet here we are, the world's greatest superpower, preparing to crush an already-crippled ant for the weakest of reasons whilst ignoring the ten-ton elephant in the corner.
And therein lies the problem. In doing this, the US, and its citizens via association, have become the aggressors on the world stage... they want to do the right thing, but for entirely the wrong reason. And unfortunately, the ends do not justify the means.
Saddam Hussein must be removed. But not like this. Not now. If we do have real evidence to present, then we should present it. Not in camera, to a select bunch of senators, but in public, naming names (The spies can be pulled out of the cold if worries exist about their lives) and establishing clear foundations for each bit of submitted information, just like in court.
Otherwise-- unlike Donald Rumsfeld-- I, and the rest of the world, will interpret the absence of evidence to be the evidence of absence-- on both Iraq and the United States' part, and future generations will look back upon this time period with the same amount of shame and regret that Germans must feel over World War II.
You'd think they'd never seen a projector before.
Entered 01:20:32 PM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
I really must stop harping on the obvious banality of the news media. It is simply too easy. Over 30% of the comments from the press regarding Powell's little hearsay-ridden* slideshow have focused on the remarkable fact that he used "multimedia"-- sound, video and text-- in his presentation.
Such an uncommon thing to see in the 21st Century.
* In court, he would have been laughed out of the room. He presented uncorroborated statements for the truth of the matter they asserted, which is clear hearsay under the Federal Rules of Evidence. He has not authenticated any of those statements (who are these unnamed sources? In what context were these statements made?), nor any of those cute little computer-generated charts and "interpreted" images. In court, nearly 95% of his presentation would have been thrown out as bad evidence.
Any decent Photoshop artist could "disappear" a base, or mock up a diagram of a portable weapons platform. Without eyewitness testimony, duly authenticated, the whole presentation was a mishmash of documents we have to take his word for as being authentic. And given the rather dubious intelligence activities the US has been involved in the past, and the lengths they were willing to go to to deceive the US public (the false stories of Iraqi babies being killed by soldiers courtesy of the paid-off Kuwaiti Princess ring a bell with anyone?), his word is simply insufficient as a justification for war.
Pacifism = damage?
Entered 01:06:37 AM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
"The behavior of the Chancellor is idiosyncratic. He tried again to incite pacifism, and this time failed in Sunday's elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony. His capacity to do damage is now constrained. Chancellor Schroeder is now in a box, and the Germans will recover their equilibrium." - comment by Richard Perle, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board.
Yes. Splendid. Exactly what the world needs at the moment-- another group of warlike Germans.
What kind of asinine blowhard actually has the gall to equate the pursuit of peaceful international relations with "damage"? Warmongering is "equilibrium"?! This is the sort of dysfunctional "kill everything that moves" mentality that's going to lead the Earth to ruin, I tell you. And he's the one giving advice to our military leaders. Well, granted, that's like preaching to the choir at this stage of things...
Don't blame me when your world is nothing more than a blackened radioactive cinder suspended in space. I did warn you.
Spare me the childish sentimentality...
Entered 10:12:47 AM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
I am as saddened by the deaths of the astronauts as anyone else. But this... this kind of putrid sentimentality in lieu of proper tribute is asinine, even for humans.
You find me a four-year-old child who has not gone outside to stare up at the sky. A simple task, I would expect, unless one is living in a subterranean biosphere.
Now find me one who went on to graduate from Tagore School, Karnal, India, in 1976, go on to earn a Bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College in 1982, get a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1984 and earn a Doctorate of Philosophy in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988-- all before becoming a NASA Astronaut. That was who Kalpana Chawla was.
"Stared up at the sky". Ruthlessly incisive, comprehensive journalistic coverage indeed.
No wonder humans are so uninformed.
Entered 07:54:29 PM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
With Earth being a fairly medium-sized planet, its inhabitants mainly non-telepathic, and devoid of any kind of truly ubiquitous mass information relay system, it falls upon "news" agencies to transmit critical information regarding global developments to the vast masses all over the planet so they might remain informed as to what goes on all around their little ball of dirt (I am not being snide, they actually named their planet after its upper topsoil layer...)
Unfortunately, human knowledge of their own affairs is shamefully wanting, in no small part because Terran news channels are the most vapid, lackadaisical, and inefficient sources for information that I have ever seen-- for the simple reason that the "news" channels, being rather unwilling to give more than a token 30 seconds' worth of coverage to international affairs (beyond those involving "famous" allied or enemy nation-states), and completely unwilling to give in-depth, detailed examination of complex issues, find themselves in the unenviable position of having too much "air" to fill, but having far too little substantive information content with which to fill it.
Case in Point: MSNBC news. (I could perhaps, mention FOX news, but every time I watch it, the lateral balance cones of the TARDIS shift so far to the right that the entire interior dimension threatens to slide to one side and form a massive one-dimensional, rapidly-imploding gravity well... and I really don't need another black hole in my living room--I get enough of that watching the space between Shepard Smith's ears when the others force me to view FOX.)
The Morning Hours
Unless there is a major national crisis on at the time, the answer is sadly, no. I am presented with some radio talk show host rambling on for literally hours on end. I will not even to begin to describe how utterly pathetic it is that they choose to have television cameras filming a radio talk show host just so they might fill airtime. Radio is primarily an aural medium, and seeing the leathery face of "Imus" in the morning makes me wish MSNBC would kindly keep it that way.
This grek goes on for _hours_. Now one might say that the news anchors can't be expected to provide proper news that early in the morning (as the media meat puppets are no doubt still being primped and preened for proper presentation to the public)-- but I humbly offer up the presence of foreign news bureaus as a perfect way around this problem.
NBC has minions all over the world for whom any given hour is presumably noon, their time. Why not sit some of the more telegenic ones (Rassilon forbid that unattractive humans be allowed to present themselves to a mass audience-- out of sight, out of mind, and all that) behind a desk and get them to report on the current events in their region, interspersing said coverage with local headlines every half hour? At worst this might give the sleepy denizens of America a taste of global perspectivism; at worst, it might actually broaden their horizons.
At any rate, I sit past the seemingly infinite droning of the radio personality mentally defending myself by computing pi out to the six-trillionth decimal (5), and am greeted by approximately five minutes of news headlines. Then the "talking heads" arrive.
The Afternoon Hours
At any rate, what is basically little more than a shouting match between two so-called "experts" is allowed to fill up two or three hours at a stretch-- and if any noteworthy information is disseminated as a result, it most likely does so by chance.
(What if this is a backhanded way of getting people so disgusted with the news channels that they actually, to use a colloquialism, "tune out", and pay less attention to already-under reported issues than they do now?)
It was blatantly apparent to me that she was either a very good actress, or she had genuinely learned something at that moment, which while commendable (learning always is), was criminal in this context. Any newscaster who had done ANY kind of research into the topic of their interview should know that. But it appears to me that the major news bureaus prefer their latest generation of their news readers (as opposed to journalists, please note) to be rather vacuous, in the hopes that they will spout what they are reading off the teleprompter without the inconvenience of their independent, informed judgment coming too far into play.
And of course, when the news readers get tired, they fill time with more talking heads.
The implication has to be that they don't trust these astronauts, if they seem to feel the need to constantly cross-verify their responses. And if the argument is that people tuning in late would not have seen the prior interviews, I humbly submit these two words: Videotaped Replay.
Each news event has a history behind it, a background the comprehension of which is utterly vital in order to facilitate a proper understanding of the matter at hand. Until the news channels are willing to properly explore that history in an unbiased fashion, trotting in experts not as debating pieces who pick at the skin of the topic never getting to the meat of it, but rather as valuable scholars who have critical data to present, and until they are willing to devote more than a few strategic "sound bytes" to the topics (and most importantly, respect opposing views, no matter how unpopular) of the time, I shall always consider Terran news to be little more than the
"...poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more... a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, [ultimately] signifying nothing."
The Inherent Cruelty of Cosmic Superstition
Entered 09:47:00 AM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
Less than one solar day from the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion (which seems to lend disturbing credence to the theory of cyclical event recurrence), I had a rather interesting conversation with a friend of mine-- a rather superstitious fellow-- who asserted that the destruction of the shuttle was a "sign".
"A sign of what, pray tell?" I queried, always fascinated by the lengths to which humans would go in order to ascribe a greater significance to otherwise relatively straightforward events.
"Well, obviously," he began-- in a tone that suggested it was indeed, the most obvious thing in the galaxy-- "the fact that the shuttle broke apart over Palestine, Texas was a clear sign to the President that he should rethink his warlike policies in the Middle East before it's too late."
I began to see where he was heading. "Presumably because the President's home state is Texas, and 'Palestine' is also one of the appellations given to a disputed region in the Middle East, which threatens to become involved if the upcoming war escalates."
"Exactly," he assented, nodding vigorously. "As tragic as the accident was, it was a clear sign from the universe. A warning."
I stood lost in thought for a few seconds. While Time Lords do subscribe to a somewhat wholistic view of universal operation, they hardly give it the benefit of an anthropomorphized status. Well, most of them don't, anyway. At least not in public, anyway.
But as I watched my friend standing there, expectantly awaiting my reply, I realized it would probably do very little good to inform him that it was highly unlikely that the universe, as complex a system as it undoubtedly was, was self-aware enough (or if it was, motivated or even able) to issue precisely modulated internal warnings to tiny beings located deep within itself. It would be the equivalent of a human scolding a lymphocyte for getting ready to envelop a germ. So I accepted his premise and told him what I thought the logical consequence of it was.
"If the Universe is indeed capable and inclined to send us information in this vein, to me the explosion would seem to be a clear sign that the Universe was a heartless thing indeed, if it was willing to mercilessly kill seven innocent people just to send a mere message."
My friend snapped back, clearly a little irate that I did not accept his premise in the spirit intended, "well perhaps it's speaking in the only language those brutes will understand."
I refrained from further comment, as he was getting rather agitated at this point, and I tend to find protracted argumentation tiresome. So I withdrew, privately pondering what he had said.
On the one hand, the fractal nature of reality does imply a self-similar structure from the smallest order to the largest, so it is possible that consciousness of some kind does exist at the Universal level; but I submit that if it does, it would be a reflected superset of man's inherent consciousness, possessing all the attendant qualities therein--
--and despite the sheer mind-numbing stupidity and madness perpetrated by humans that I do see around me, I do think that on balance, within the species there is still enough goodness, fairness and justice that a universe sharing their qualities would not-- could not-- stoop so low as to making a "sign" out of the innocent for the benefit of a few petty warmongers.
Because if it did, choosing to adopt tactics best left to Mafioso and Yakuza, Rassilon help us all.
"The matter of why Doctor Xadium's Time Capsule is fixed in the curious shape of a 'beverage vending machine' from late 20th-century Earth [Humanian Era 607934] is a subject never broached in polite conversation. Ever. Whilst some have scurrilously posited that Xadium cannot properly effect the repair of a simple Type 60 Chamelionic circuit, it is generally accepted that these disgraceful innuendo are slanderous and utterly unfounded."
- Lord Sendrilmetavanskastaron, "The Gallifreyan Renegades", thirty-eleventh ed.
D O C T O R
"Doctor Xadium was an errant Time Lord whose overactive sense of humour at High Council meetings earned him a more or less permanent holiday from Gallifrey.
Stuck on Earth trying to cobble together a new TARDIS-- but equipped with nothing more than the technological equivalent of bear-skins and stone knives (as well as some metal tape)-- he decided to use his time to follow the myriad trends in Terran society, studying their crude, primitive laws and laughable attempts to improve themselves scientifically.
Aproximately 26 Earth-years into his exile, in order to offset his growing frustration with the 'self-involved, short-sighted, bombastic ape-monkeys with delusions of grandeur"', he took to irregularly recording his more sardonic-- or dare we say even cynical-- views on the ever-progressing devolution of 21st century human civilization (not to mention his own petty irritations) in his 900-year diary, excerpts of which we have extracted from the data core of his notoriously insecure Terran 'computing device' (which in terms of function is slightly less advanced then a Gallifreyan child's first number line).
It is almost refreshing to note the ceaseless amazement he displays at the Terran propensity to supress any information, be it political, archaeological or scientific, that gets in the way of their pedestrian, self-absorbed world-view. It is for this reason that historians have labeled Doctor Xadium 'The Discoverer of Obvious Truth'
- Lord Sendrilmetavanskastaron, "The Gallifreyan Renegades", thirty-eleventh ed., WHO IS GOING TO GET SUED ONCE I GET BACK TO GALLIFREY BECAUSE HE DOESN'T REALIZE MY SUB-ETHER NET CONNECTION STILL WORKS AND I CAN SEE THE ABSOLUTE RUBBISH HE'S SPEWING FORTH OVER THERE AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE GALAXY
T H E