Dec 22

Utter IDiots

Leon H. at RedState writes in Intelligent Design (The Debate Isn’t Helping):

In other words, my feeling about Krauthammer, Derbyshire, et al is
basically this: if you wish to denigrate ID and insult its proponents,
go find an ID discussion board (they are legion) and do so there –
don’t use the pages of NR or your token space in the WaPo to do it
in. What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism could come
about by you propounding your opinion on a topic which is neither your
calling nor your area of expertise, and which will insult a
significant portion of the Republican coalition?

What a load of disingenuous crap this is!

I’m not a conservative, myself, and dislike conservatism for many reasons that I have written about elsewhere. But I can sympathize with conservatives who desire to put distance between themselves and the ID movement, which combines purblind stupidity with dishonesty about its actual aims in a way I’ve previously only seen in gun-control proponents.

The ID movement’s claim that it’s not about end-running the First Amendment and turning schools into instruments for the propagation of Christian dogma is just as transparently specious as most gun-grabbers’ claims that they don’t aim to render the Second Amendment a dead letter. Both gangs are enemies of liberty and the U.S. Constitution, and for precisely the same reasons. It’s hardly startling for anyone, conservative or otherwise, to want to avoid being associated with any movement that lies wholesale about its objectives.

And that’s before addressing the numerous gaping logical holes in the “intelligent design” argument. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, deciding Kitzmiller vs. Dover on December 20th, nailed many of these in his opinion. To actually buy the ID argument requires either a complete inability to do critical thinking or a zealot’s refusal to exercise it.

“What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism” he asks. Maybe…just maybe…Krauthammer and Derbyshire would like to demonstrate that there are some conservatives who are neither liars, religious zealots, nor plain-and-simple idiots.

Dec 19

King Kong is a gigantic mess

My wife Catherine has written an excellent review of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which we saw just last night. I concur with it; the movie is a meandering, flabby, over-long, self-indulgent mess that will be deeply disappointing to many of the fans Jackson attracted with the Rings movies. I hope it bombs, and he learns a lesson about artistic discipline. His next movie would be better for that.

Dec 16

Pornography redefined

Long-time readers of this blog will be aware than I’m fascinated by the semiotics of pornography. Not by pornography itself; as I wrote in Why does porn got to hurt so bad? I find most pornography ugly and unappealing. No; I’m interested in the meaning of pornography, the code it’s written in and what it says about its producers and consumers.

Since I wrote my original meditation on this topic, an interesting shift in the received meaning of the word “porn” has been visible. Consider Domai. This is a site which traffics in pictures of naked women. Yet the front page claims “No porn on this site”.

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Dec 12

Saganami Island Tactical Simulator

I like SF. I like wargames. I like naval adventure fiction.
These tastes put me square in the middle of the target audience for
David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels. And yes, I do
enjoy them; Weber may be a hack, but he’s a very competent hack who
delivers good entertainment value for my money. So I was pleasantly
surprised to learn, this weekend at the annual Philadelphia Science
Fiction Convention (Philcon), that there is now an Honor Harrington
wargame — Saganami Island Tactical Simulator (SITS).

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Dec 09

No War For Magnetite!

I contemplete this
news story
:

Earth’s north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and
toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular
Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday.

The story goes on to say “exactly why this happens is a mystery”.
No it isn’t, or no it won’t be as soon as the unenlightened masses grasp the
truth: It’s all George Bush’s fault for not ratifying the Kyoto treaty.

You see, Halliburton has plans for making huge profits in the
navigational-equipment market. The pole shift is a nefarious
neoconservative plot to make all existing compasses obsolete. Mwa ha
ha. But you can stop it — just hook up with your local pathetic
Communist-remnant organization and take to the streets screaming “No
war for magnetite!”

(The preceding is satire. Any resemblance to actual moonbat conspiracy
theories is not coincidental in the slightest.)

Dec 06

Secret prisons

I’m having real trouble understanding the current flap over allegations that
the CIA is running secret overseas prisons for terrorists and enemy combatants.
I would prefer not to believe this is just another outbreak of reflexive
anti-Americanism, but I don’t see any principled case against what is
being alleged. Can anyone explain it to me?

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Dec 06

Just desserts

There comes to us from Iraq the news that a terrorist group
calling itself Sword of Truth has kidnapped four people from a group
called Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and has threatened to kill
them unless some demands for the release of certain terrorists from
Iraqi jails are met. What makes this interesting is that CPT exists
to oppose the U.S. occupation; that is, they are in effect (if not by
intention) allies of the terrorists threatening them.

When I first learned this, my first gut reaction was to think “Ha!
Off with their heads!” My second reaction was to feel ashamed of my first
reaction. How have things come to such a pass that I find myself
rooting for terrorists to kill Westerners?

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Dec 02

Iraq Gun Porn

This is an essay blog; I don’t normally just carry links to other peoples’ postings,
but Iraq Gun Porn is just too informative, and too much fun, to pass up.

I was particularly tickled by this:

The ..45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there.
Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one.
With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put ‘em down with a torso
hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK
military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45’s are
being re-issued en masse.

Yeah, baby! .45ACP rules OK.

UPDATE: Yes, I like cranking off the sort of person who is offended by a title like “Iraq Gun Porn”; why do you ask?

Dec 01

Take the WRT54G challenge!

So, LinkSys (formerly independent, now a tentacle of Cisco) has
brought the Linux version of their WRT54GL wireless router back to
life. We’d previously heard that Version 5 of the box would run
proprietary VxWorks firmware. But according to this
story
over at LinuxDevices.com,

LinkSys is shipping a Linux-based WRT54GL model that it says it
created specially for Linux hobbyists, hackers, and aficianados[sic]. The L
version is identical to the “series 4″ WRT54G units that Linux
hobbyists have long enjoyed hacking, according to the company. [...]

Here’s the key ‘graf:

VxWorks allowed the company to halve the amounts of Flash and RAM in
the device, while retaining similar functionality. Apparently,
reducing memory-related BOM (bill-of-materials) costs more than offset
the costs of licensing a proprietary OS

You know, to me that sounds like a challenge. Personally, I have
no firmware-hacking or cross-development skills; my interests lie in
other directions. But some eager band of Linux hackers out there
should strip Linux down far enough that it can fit in the reduced
footprint, just to prove it can be done and undercut the idea that
proprietary firmware is ever a good idea. And I have no
doubt it can be done; heck, we’ve made Linux run on a Z80!

(I maintain the
Linksys
Blue Box Router HOWTO
. There might be a new version, reflecting the
fact that Cisco has dropped its lawsuit against Michael Flynn, up on the
LDP site by the time you read this.)

Dec 01

Mathematics versus reality

In the comments to my posting on the incoherence of Narnia, it has become apparent that some of the respondents are deeply confused about the relationship between mathematical and empirical truth. Symptoms of this confusion have included a superficially plausible but mistaken application of the Law of the Excluded Middle and an an attempt to invoke Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem to suggest constraints on our ability to obtain empirical truth.

It’s time to bust some myths…

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