Archive for February 2004

New Blog Showcase

I’m voting for democrats give conservatives indigestion because I like the blog title.

Nanotechnology Delusion

Instapundit usually doesn’t get a comment here, but this letter was beyond that pale. It has prompted me to write the following open letter:

As a supporter of nanotechnology, I was appalled to read the response that Mark Modzelewski, Executive Director of the NanoBusiness Alliance sent to Glenn Reynolds in response to an article on TechCentralStation.com:

http://techcentralstation.com/020504C.html

In this response (published at http://www.instapundit.com/archives/013951.php), he refers to Mr. Reynolds’ writings as “delusional fantasies and rantings”, and closes with the comments “I pity the tax payers of Tennessee that pay your salary as well as your students who will enter the job market with a head full of rocks (or perhaps molecular manufactured nanorobots) after listening to you.” I find the characterization that Mr. Reynold’s column is delusional ranting to be entirely unfair and in extremely poor taste. In addition, his personal attack on Mr. Reynolds is entirely inexcusable and over the line. This is particularly damning when he does so to an influential writer whose website attracts approximately 100,000 unique visits a day and is generally a supporter of nanotechnology research.

You company is listed prominently on the home page of Mr. Modelewski’s organization (http://www.nanobusiness.org), and while I don’t see this single incident as reflecting poorly on your organization for providing support to a nanotechnology advocacy group, if Mr. Modelewski continues to cast this sort of image on the nanotechnology industry, I will be forced to assume that he does so with your tacit approval. This is an unfortunate situation that I sincerely hope you will address with the NanoBusiness Alliance.

I encourage you to contact the supporting companies with your thoughts. They need to be aware of what this man is doing in thier name.

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Update, 2/10/04: I have gotten some response indicating that there is some concern with certain members of the Alliance. I was asked to not publish it, and I will respect that. If you want to see action taken on this, though, you need to be heard. It certainly isn’t over.

More on Psuedonymity

This time, Tasty Manatees weighs in with about the same rationale as me, but taking it to its logical conclusion:

Would you post to a blog? Knowing that four years later, a prospective employer could realize you were the person who negatively portrayed someone who is one of their important clients or a Senator who their firm needs help from?

Enter Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan.

Up until the Blogger Revolution, Goldberg, Sullivan, and their fellow pundits and publications had a virtual monopoly on the inside skinny. As a Washington lawyer, if I wanted to tell a story, I would have had to go through a professional writer to stay anonymous while getting the story out, and they could publish or hold whatever they wanted. If you wanted to disseminate a viewpoint or further a political goal through print, you had no choice but to go to them or simply do without. Even after the Internet became widespread, it was still beyond the capabilities of most non-computer programmers to set up and maintain a high-traffic website. Now, with the advent of Mavable Type and a host of other easy-to-use applications, the days of the professional pundit monopoly are over.

I think the argument is that the pro-writers who are against psuedonymity are essentially Internet Luddites. There is a new culture (psuedonymity) which threatens their monopoly (punditry) by removing a barrier to entry (having to give up your primary career is large part.) Like the Luddites, they don’t like being marginalized. When you are dealing with cultures, rather than machines, you smash it in different ways. You do it with words.

I’m not saying that everyone who looks down on psuedonymity is a Luddite. Certainly people who are not professional writers like Den Beste who find it distasteful don’t have that motivation. I’m not even sure if the majority of pro-writers who find psuedonymity distasteful do so for that reason — but it is something to keep in mind.

For Shame

Wired News is reporting that the contract for Los Alamos is coming up for bid, and UT is planning to submit a bid. The article starts out with a very real concern — cronyism between the president and the home state of the president — and then takes a hard turn that I just couldn’t wrap my head around:

“Management at Los Alamos needed a radical shaking-up, not moving the monkeys around the same old tree,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. In recent years, the lab has suffered through spy scandals, security lapses, environmental fights and recurring fraud. And Coghlan blames the University of California, in part, for many of these problems.

But he’s concerned about UT, nonetheless.

“If it were to win the bid, I’d expect UT would follow in lockstep behind Bush’s nuclear weapons programs,” Coghlan said.

Oh my GAWD! A government contractor that actually does what the government tells them? Oh, for shame! Oh, the humanity! Why, pretty soon, we’ll have a government that actually enforces budgets and gets results for the money poured into the current black hole budget! What is the world coming to?

In its funding requests for next year, the Bush administration “submitted a nuclear weapons budget equaling the all-time high under Reagan’s spectacular buildup,” Coghlan noted. Funding for a nuclear “bunker buster” weapon is up almost threefold in the fiscal 2005 budget, introduced Monday. Research into low-yield “mini nukes” increased by more than half.

And it is probably the best move they could make in terms of national defense. Our nuclear threat has been the deterrent that kept the US mainland safe between 1946 and 2001. It did that through the threat of MAD. On September 12, 2001, the entire MAD doctrine was blown completely out of the water. It was blown out the water because Afghanistan did not become the “Land of Glass Parking Lots”.

I don’t know that this is a bad thing. I did on September 13, 2001. The world since then has proven me wrong. We can protect ourselves without killing millions of non-combatants, but it is hard. It has cost us a lot, in money, life, and liberty. But MAD as it existed for that fifty years is dead. There is no credible threat in the world right now that would prompt us into dropping city-busters anywhere. Don’t take that to mean that I think we should scrap our city-busters; I think that would be suicide. The threat isn’t there now, but China could certainly be that threat in 10 years. Russia could deform and become that threat again.

But right now, we don’t have a credible nuclear deterrent. In fact, until we captured Saddam, we didn’t have a credible deterrent at all. (The fact that Khadaffi is giving up shows that we have one again.) But there is a threat of someone making a limited nuclear strike against us, and we need to be able to respond in kind. To do that, we have two choices: we can drop a city-buster somewhere, or we can drop several tactical weapons.

If we do nothing now, then we will be backed into the city-buster response. If we develop precise, bunker busting bombs and tactical weapons, then we will have the ability to respond by destroying the holes that the rats who attacked us are hiding in and destroying just the military infrastructure that they hide behind. Developing tactical yield weapons is the humanitarian option. If we are attacked with a nuke, people will die in nuclear fire on the other side; the question is, will it just be military targets, or will we be forced to use the big hammer and murder thousands of civilians as well?

As far as the University of California goes, there are bigger implications than that. If Coghlan is concerned that UT will develop these weapons, then he must conversely believe that the University of California won’t, and that is a damning accusation to me. When you are charged with a national defense program, and you deliberately (for whatever reason) cause that program to not show results, that is sabotage. Someone who commits sabotage in a time of war is someone who has committed treason. I don’t know if this is true, and I sincerely hope that is isn’t, but that is the conclusion of the statement he made.

If there is a danger that the University of California is sabotaging our nuclear research, and wasting three billion (with a “B”) dollars a year to do it, then they need to be booted out as fast as you can swing your foot.

Beyond the Superbowl

baldilocks puts things into perspective on why this isn’t just about a tittie:

A child’s father throws him up in the air and catches him. Later on that child is a man and is sure that his wife will be faithful to him, even though she has to go away for six months (surrounded by other men) because she’s in the military.

The child and the man are exhibiting trust, and, in each case, if he’s fortunate and has chosen well, that trust, freely given, will not have been misplaced.

We as individuals and as group members place varied degrees of trust in many things, people and entities. We trust our new car to start and run proficiently. We trust the local grocer not to poison us and our physicians not to butcher us. We trust the US Postal service to keep the mail moving and our president to defend us from enemies foreign and domestic.

Trust is the basis of all civil association. It is what is being guaranteed by contract law: that you can trust someone to live up to what they agree to do. This is the very basis of our way of life.

Picking but a single example from the above list will demonstrate how often our trust is offered in vain. When those various forms of trust are betrayed, we take a variety of actions, according to our values, temperament, resources, judgment and, most importantly, our self-control. But, often, the unifying factor in response to betrayal of trust is this: we are pissed; often so angry that the aforementioned self-control is straining its leash. Not uncommonly, that leash breaks.

Back to the Jackson/Timberlake incident: many people trusted CBS to present a family broadcast for a traditionally family event and now many people are hot under the collar; oh not necessarily because they’re “prudes” or are “uptight” about nudity. They’re angry because they didn’t make the choice to allow their children (or themselves) to pick what kind of “entertainment” would come into their homes at a given time. They thought they were getting apples and, instead, they got oranges.

Somewhere, someone failed to live up to their agreement, and this failure cascaded all the way to the agreement between CBS and its viewers. The entertainers that recognize this agreement the most are the ones that have the thinnest fourth wall, like Russ Martin and Howard and the WWE. They get it. They get it because they have to deal with their audience, and they agree to do so.

The wrestlers in the WWE perform five feet from the audience. When they do something that the audience likes, they know it right then. When they do something that the audience doesn’t like, it is hard to ignore 16,000 people chanting “BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!”

So what happens then? You get a show that gives its audience exactly what they want. They don’t get a formula. Are all of the stories right from the start? Nope. But the ones that can be fixed get fixed, and the ones that can’t fade away.

Broadcast television has forgotten this. They don’t know their audience anymore. When it was the Big 3, it didn’t matter what the audience wanted. They got what the Big 3 decided to give them. Those days are over. Television has been taken over by specialists. Channels like Travel and Discovery and Spike and O2 and Food Network have small, targeted audiences. They know the audience, and they can cater to them. With all of these specialists, the audience is carved up until there is a small segment left for the networks — drones who have no special interest, and people without cable or UHF.

What they have left is sports, first-run general interest drama, and sitcoms. They are striking out with the sitcoms, they can’t find enough good dramas (and those are moving off, like CSI to the Investigation channel) but they still have football. Guess what? Now they are peeing in the football pool. The Football players aren’t doing it. It is the network eggheads who still control the stuff around the game, like the pre-game and the half time show. (The main thing saving the pre-game is that it hosted by football players.)

I hope that CBS loses all football rights over this. I hope that it kills them. It is time for one of the Big 3 to die, to put the fear of the Audience back in them. They have been invulnerable for far too long.

Doctrinare Libertarians

VodkaPundit serves up some Truth:

Did Wahhabi Islam attack us because we had soldiers in Saudi Arabia? Yes, it did. Are doctrinaire libertarians opposed to us having troops in Saudi? Yes, they are. But the Wahhabis also attacked us because we have pretty girls in short skirts who make passes at men. And because we charge interest on loans. Because we have TV shows with high production values and penis jokes. Because we don’t all have to grow beards down to our collarbones. Do doctrinaire libertarians think these are freedoms worth protecting? Yes, they do — unless the enemy is located somewhere other than Washington, DC.

In that case, they tell us, we ought to just grab our ankles and apologize’to the world for not having been libertarian enough. “Will you please stop attacking us once we’ve legalized prostitution and opened a privately-funded Space Hilton?” While I think those two items are worthy goals, they’ll hardly earn us any currency with bin Laden’s deadly accountants.

This Terror War isn’t (or at least almost entirely isn’t) about stuffing the pockets of Halliburton or Lockheed-Martin. It isn’t mostly useless like the space program. It isn’t a “program” to be horse-traded for another Robert C. Byrd Memorial to the Memorial of the Robert C. Byrd Memorial Highway Memorial.

It’s a fight for our lives and our freedoms. And like any fight, we’ll see setbacks, we’ll do things we might be ashamed of later, and we’ll bloody and bruise ourselves in the process. In the end, we’ll be the worse off for it, too — that’s the nature of war. I resent the fact that this war means more dead Americans. I resent that this war, like any war, will make us poorer.

Today I’m beginning to resent my would-be political allies who, through their ideological blinders, just can’t see the tragic necessity of it all.

I about ready to quit the Libertarian Party over this issue. I don’t take that lightly. The reason is that the LP has failed to deal with this issue. Quite frankly, if the LP was in power and responded the way they say that we should, I would have taken up arms against them and thrown them out of office.

The mandate is clear:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

. . .

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

I really don’t give a damn why you are attacking me. When someone punches me, I don’t think about what I may have done to this person. I don’t consider that maybe I stepped on his foot. I don’t think that maybe I scratched his car when I opened my car door. I don’t think that maybe I offended him somehow. I beat the everliving shit out of him and let everyone know that you don’t punch me.

I read the Libertarian oath very carefully before I signed it. I take the “initiation” part very seriously. The way to peace is to make war too terrible to contemplate. When someone thinks about attacking me and mine, they need to know that the consequnces will be quick, overwhelming and completely disproportionate to what they have done. It doesn’t matter if they have a legitimate beef or not. Don’t do it anyway.

(Via Jay Solo)

Check out The Warrior Monk’s Comments too.

Army Tomfoolery

Straight White Guy: Deployment Boredom…:

I was at a UXO site, where an unexploded bomblet of one kind or another was awaiting demolition. I was pulling local security at the gun truck, when I noticed an unusually high number of donkey-cart teams milling around in the road. An idea struck me. I attracted the attention of a child riding a donkey-cart, and motioned to him with crude hand-gestures that he should beat the animal. The child, eager to please, proceeded to wail the living fuck out of the donkey with a short rubber hose. The donkey made a loud donkey-noise and I laughed, for it was tremendously funny.

I don’t know why, but I laughed and laughed at that. Actually, I do know why, according to George Carlin. “I know why — because I’m a sick evil fuck, that’s why!”