Wednesday, October 31

I posted the Reformation Day stuff on MetaFilter and it engendered some discussion.
Oh yeah, Matt's got a fun new graphic at the top today: SpookyFilter.
Our favorite guy who used to write a weblog-type-thing, Greg Knauss, and his wife had a son (via plinth on MeFi which engendered some kudos for Greg).
Fascinating piece on NPR yesterday about the music recording industry and it's history. It seems ASCAP, then a monopoly, was overcharging. BMI was formed, which ASCAP scorned. BMI looked for new music and found Latino sounds as well as a lot of country, rock, etc. A whole new sound was born. It's very interesting, and almost ironic, given today's copyright wars. 2 paragraphs from Digital Century. Some dude's essay about how the system works today and its problems.
And while we're on the subject of Episode 2, some pictures from the site for your enjoyment (culled from over 45 for you, my loyal reader!): Anakin, our young heroes in action, cute young jedi, Amidala reminiscent of Leia in Episode 5, Obi-Wan with chillin' beard, young Anakin?, Anakin, Boba Fun, Amidala exploring the challenging world of bare midriffs.
I listened to Garrison Kiellor's 'Writer's Almanac' this morning and it inspired me.

He noted that today is John Keats' birthday. SELECTED POETRY OF JOHN KEATS (1795-1821).

And, since everyone needs more poetry, here's a particular selection, seasonally appropriate, and ode to my favorite season. (Incidentally, we did an AP practice essay on this poem in high school and I got marked down because I didn't write about how autumn can be compared to aging people. Maybe he was thinking about that, since he died young of TB, like his mother and sister before him. Oh well, it's still a great poem.)


1 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
2 Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
3 Conspiring with him how to load and bless
4 With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
5 To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
6 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
7 To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
8 With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
9 And still more, later flowers for the bees,
10 Until they think warm days will never cease,
11 For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

12 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
13 Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
14 Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
15 Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
16 Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
17 Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
18 Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
19 And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
20 Steady thy laden head across a brook;
21 Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
22 Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

23 Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
24 Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
25 While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
26 And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
27 Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
28 Among the river sallows, borne aloft
29 Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
30 And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
31 Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
32 The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
33 And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Today is also Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517. He was largely criticizing the practice of selling indulgences. He didn't intend to split with the church. He left room for the Pope to slip out of the indulgences corruption. But the Pope didn't, and the split eventually came.

The first thesis:

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

I think he was right. Repentance is not something we do once or 3000 times as much as it is how we are to live before God. Another way to describe this is humility.

Finally, Kiellor read WH Auden's Musée des Beaux Arts. Wonderful. The thing I like about Auden is that he uses normal language and events and lives, but still talks about important ideas, interacting with art like, in this case, 'Brueghel’s Icarus'.
via Daypop Top 40

Star Wars Ep 2 Teaser Trailer in Theaters (attached to 'Monsters, Inc')
Mildly interesting 'Fellowship of the Ring' movie update.

Tuesday, October 30

All Steven All the Time: good post on normal anthrax vs. bio-warfare anthrax.
Steven had a helpful dialogue with some questions from 'The Guardian' about the war in Afghanistan. If you want plausible answers to why things are being done a certain way, give it a read.
Today's Daypop Top 40 links: some dude's wicked-cool Tron Halloween costume, and, since I log all things Lovecraft, the Cthulu plush doll.

Monday, October 29

Steven had an amazing analysis of the proposed Department of Defense budget, per my request. You should read it. Preview: the importance of training, Osprey-bad, pork, artillery-good, and too-expensive jets.

More expansively, I really agree with Steven that the military needs to be focused on training personnel, much more so than on capital acquisition, as I've said before.

From research I've done before on the new destroyers, I think they're budgetting for one at a time, budgetting one per year, or something like that.

Thanks, Steven.
Followed a referrer to Found an old discussion they had about Karl's Modern MetaFilter Front Page Post Generator. Hilarious. Read about it on the MeFi front page and in MetaTalk. Then I found what Matt once wrote (with a hilarious, non-mean comment about Steven).
A strange blip just crossed my mind. Why not dispense it?

Does the fbi have a file on you? The new contest/meme:

am i fbi or not?
Lockheed Martin got the 200 billion $ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter contract, announced on friday. For more links, scroll to the bottom of the Yahoo article, or surf the MetaFilter thread.
Seen the links about the 40 ft crocodile-dinosaur? It now has its own website (warning: Flash intro).

Sunday, October 28

As you know, I don't usually double log with the twins, but we've got some pictures up that you ought to see.

Friday, October 26

FISCAL YEAR 2002 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL (hair warning) (via kliuless on MeFi).


$317.5 billion total

$7.9 billion for Missile Defense, an increase of $2.7 billion over the fiscal year 2001 appropriated amount. (now included under the new heading 'Counter-Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction')

$18.3 billion – for the Defense Health Program, providing a 50 percent increase in funding over fiscal year 2001 levels (this is probably money well spent - take care of personnel.)

$2.8 billion for the procurement of 15 C-17 airlifters and adds $180 million over the budget to support a follow-on multi-year procurement of C-17s.

$10.1 billion for Navy shipbuilding

PROCUREMENT: $61.4 Billion - $936.8 million for 11 V-22 aircraft (Osprey - I, for one, am glad, simply from a technology point of view, that the Osprey is going to get a chance.), $3 billion for 48 F/A-18E/F fighter aircraft.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: $47.7 Billion, including $1.5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter.

You're a smart cookie (that's why you read "interact', right?). What conclusions do you draw from these figures?
Alan Moore wrote the graphic novel that recently came out as the movie 'From Hell'. Before that he wrote the critically acclaimed 'Watchmen'. The guy who wrote the 'X-men' script is going to work on 'Watchmen'. Promising, but I can't imagine condensing the meaningful material of 'Watchmen' into one feature film.
Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Does the current and planned military buildup guarantee the future of the Joint Strike Fighter? I guess it does. We'll see. The contract winner will be announced today.

Thursday, October 25

Here's another Arundhati Roy page.

For a little balance, here's one critique. This guy probably has a point about Roy's hyperbole.

Wednesday, October 24

Hmm. This alternative keyboard for the Palm is very enticing.
Freaky. They found the camera of a photographer who was killed in the WTC collapse with the pictures he shot of the tragedy, time-stamped. I still look at these pictures and think things like 'Dear God...' (via
Steven graciously responded to my post about China's army (half-way down). Thanks, Steven.
Alberto Giacommetti is one of my favorite sculptors. The Museum of Modern Art has an exposition of his work (Flash warning) right now and has some of it online.

Without being a scholar or having officially studied him, his figures speak existentialism to me - we live, as we dream, alone. We are separated from one another. We are fragile, negligible objects in this world. Don't miss his 'City Square'.

On a totally different scale, I really like Paul Granlund's sculptures. The largest concentration appear at Gustavus-Adolphus College, where Granlund was sculptor in residence and still has his studio. His Dancing Francis is very famous, and we now have a copy of it at Wartburg College, where Christine and I attended.
I keep reading about Arundhati Roy lately, so I decided to follow some of the links. Here's an interview she gave to The Progressive in April. She's the Booker Prize winning author of 'The God of Small Things'.

There is such grandeur in India and so much beauty. I don't know whether they can kill it. I want to think they can't. I don't think that there is anything as beautiful as a sari. Can you kill it? Can you corporatize a sari? Why should multinationals be allowed to come in and try to patent basmati rice? People prefer to eat roti and idlis and dosas rather than McDonald's burgers. Just before I came to the U.S., I went to a market in Delhi. There was a whole plate of different kinds of dal, lentils. Tears came to my eyes. Today, that's all it takes to make you cry, to look at all the kinds of dal and rice that there are, and to think that they don't want this to exist.

I hate to be the deflater, but, yes, you can corporatize a sari. You can make it into chic fashion in the States. And that could happen any day now. Fashion co-opts tradition and individuality all the time.

I can't be a part of the large convoy because it's not a choice that you can make. The fact that I'm an educated person means that I can't be on that convoy. I don't want to be on it. I don't want to be a victim. I don't want to disappear into the darkness. I am an artist and a writer, and I do think that one always places oneself in the picture to see where one fits. I left home when I was sixteen and lived in places where it was very easy for me to have fallen the other way. I could have been on the large convoy because I was a woman and I was alone. In India, that's not a joke. I could have ended up very, very badly. I'm lucky that I didn't.

I think my eyes were knocked open and they don't close. I sometimes wish I could close them and look away. I don't always want to be doing this kind of work. I don't want to be haunted by it. Because of who I am and what place I have now in India, I'm petitioned all the time to get involved. It's exhausting and very difficult to have to say, 'Look, I'm only one person. I can't do everything.' I know that I don't want to be worn to the bone where I lose my sense of humor. But once you've seen certain things, you can't un-see them, and seeing nothing is as political an act as seeing something.

(Oh yeah, I got to this via some stuff at Debater's Corner.)
Matt rants about Windows XP. Right on. At least let me opt out of the default Big Brother ware. Even better, let people opt in. I agree with Matt. This tack is a little surprising given MS's legal troubles. But not that surprising, given their arrogance.

Tuesday, October 23

Some thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan (reflections on this article):

There are a lot of civilian deaths and collateral damage. What do we think about this? Is it acceptable? Will it create more terrorists and further ill-will toward the US in the Middle East and around the world?

How do we feel about the refugees that are being displaced? Do we want to help them and the countries that might receive them? How?

Never, ever, forget The Law of Unintended Consequences. What might they be in this case?

What kind of government will come into being in the wake of the Taliban? It's hard to believe it would be worse, but will it be better? Will we contribute to a better government? How?

The Taliban has been fighting opium production. Will it go up as they are weakened? Is that okay? Will we address that?

How do we plan on addressing Islamic fundamentalist terrorist support in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq?

What should our relationship be with Pakistan? If they will join us in the fight, are they our friend?

What other countries are we cozying up to in coalition-building? Is it okay, for example, for Russia to have a free hand in Chechnya if they will support us?

How do we view Afghanistan's already-oppressed civilian population? Do we want to make any plans to help them? Do we have any?

There are more questions, but these are a start. This situation is extremely complex
I forget how I found this link to the Ayn Rand Institute.

I think their many of their views are absolutely crazy. To wit:

What ideas have undercut America? Politically, America's policy is one of appeasement, which emboldens our enemies. We occasionally half-heartedly bomb individual terrorists, but we negotiate with and leave unharmed the countries that perpetrate the attacks. Our leaders have been taught in college that pragmatism—the abandonment of a principled stand—is practical. Morally, America has been disarmed by altruism, the idea that sacrifice for the sake of others is the moral ideal. Our leaders think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force is necessary, America's self-interest. And the moral relativism and egalitarianism flowing from our universities causes our leaders to identify our enemies simply as men who have different but equally valid values. Our enemies are not seen as the evil they are.

I conclude that these people would have us unilaterally attack countries we view as terrorist. They are anti-altruism, which I think is wrong, not to mention nonChristian (which they would also be, of course). I 'think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force necessary, our self-interest', so I guess I could be one of our leaders. What of the times when our self-interest impinges on the self-interest of others (not terrorists, as in some part of this case) say, Afghani civilians. Terrorists are evil. This justification, though, could give unlimited rationalization-ability to anyone in leadership. I don't want that, do you?
Snarky fun: Fametracker (via Textism), featuring this quote in the Keanu Reeves Fame Audit:

Everyone everywhere must by now understand that The Matrix kicks ass two times.
Interesting interview with Douglas Coupland (I might have found this via Daypop).

I loved 'Microserfs'. 'Girlfriend in a Coma' was weird. His latest book, 'All Families Are Psychotic', sounds even weirder. I'm not planning on reading it.

He's got great titles, though.
Don't recollect whether or not I mentioned that John 13's wife, Jen, had an encounter with a panhandler. As she says, 13 Labs might become the panhandler weblog (it is, de facto). Funny.
I'm trying to resist. But I don't know if I can. What do you think, Christine?

Here's a review for the object of my desire: Civilization 3.
Jim featured Joy Division's Substance cd last wednesday. Now that's a good cd.
Like some of my posts, Steven has a list of interesting Google searches that have brought people to his site.
Apparently, the People's Liberation Army (of China) is thinking of broadening their definition of warfare. They have published a book entitled 'Unrestricted Warfare'.

Should U.S. financiers whose trading adversely affects Chinese “red-chip” companies be assassinated? Should Beijing covertly fund political-influence operations in the United States?

Facing a potentially huge nuclear-weapons buildup as well as an even bigger high-tech conventional-arms race to reach parity with the United States and Russia, members of the echelon of senior colonels who will be among tomorrow’s PLA flag officers are looking beyond the nuclear age to a new and more stealthy form of war.”

The book is part of a larger effort within the PLA to develop a means of challenging the United States through “asymmetry” — not by trying to match the United States missile for missile, but by turning the strength of China’s adversaries against themselves as a judo artist subdues a larger, stronger foe. “Understanding and employing the principle of asymmetry correctly allows us always to find and exploit an enemy’s soft spots."

“Hacking into Websites, targeting financial institutions, terrorism, using the media and conducting urban warfare are among the methods proposed...The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.”

You might want to read the rest of the article (via Robot Wisdom).

This is scary stuff. It's the logical conclusion of where the world has been heading, but it's still very scary. How about this critique of the US military:

The Americans have not been able to get their act together in this area. This is because proposing a new concept of weapons does not require relying on the springboard of new technology, it just demands lucid and incisive thinking. However, this is not a strong point of the Americans, who are slaves to technology in their thinking.

I'll send this stuff to Steven, the expert among my friends, and see what he thinks.
More interesting searches in my referrers: tolkien zionism and baylor guy man looking.
Whoa. MeFi added TextAds when I wasn't looking. I don't mind. I looked at all of them. I think Matt could even go to subscriptions, or some kind of MeFi pro.

I AM 32% GEEK.

I probably work in computers, or a history
department at a college. I never really
fit in with the "normal" crowd. But I have
friends, and this is a good thing.

Found this at the always-enjoyable Daypop Top 40

And, by the way, no, that doesn't look like me. I haven't yet gone to the full beard for winter from the summer goat[ee], my head is buzzed, I don't usually wear my glasses, and I'm a lot better looking than that guy (It's true. Ask my wife!).
Will financiers ditch Amazon if they don't make a profit in the fourth quarter?
I read about a hands-free, head-mounted mouse in the new Wired last night. It tracks with where you're looking on the screen and works to the pixel. It sounds great, but don't forget The Law of Unintended Consequences. Would we develop the equivalent of carpal-tunnel syndrome in our necks. What's that, vertebral tunnel syndrome? Or at least tendinitis? That would really stink.

Monday, October 22

I'm going to start watching Debater's Corner because I loved Jeff's weblog 'Shadow Government of the USA' back when it used to run. It's not about debate, it's got great links with a debate focus, but they can obviously be applied to a desire for general knowledge of the world.

(Debater's Corner is a division of Hobbsblog 2, Inc.)
Do you remember I'm trying to cut back on NFL consumption? But I was in the car for 9 hours yesterday and it was a good way to pass the time.

Anyway, the Vikings played stud yesterday, and I can't believe it. I have a deep suspicion that it was not their defense that beat the Packers but that somehow the Packers didn't execute on offense, and, in addition, we finally did execute on offense.

Further NFL reflections:

This parity thing (read: salary cap) is crazy. Winners lose and losers win. Not that I don't like it. I think parity and the salary cap and revenue sharing is a pretty good thing. The problem is that players will jump ship so quickly for more money. Then teams don't build teamwork that extends past a year. They're constantly retooling, which is contributes to parity. I think the athletes, many of them, are keeping score with money. They don't need the money, but they want the respect the money represents. I can understand that. But I think it's a bad basis for decision making, and it seriously degrades the game. It's a symptom of real lack of character in our society as a whole. Thus, I'm trying to patronize the NFL (and other professional and monied sports) less.

Mike Martz is a mad genius. Who else practices a downfield lateral on an inside reverse? He also has incredible players. On top of that, I'm a huge Kurt Warner fan: he's from Iowa, he's got piles of character, and the dude can flat play.
In the 'interesting search results' category, someone got here via the Google ['chicken soup for the soul' antisemite]
Dear Nathan, (scroll way down)

I hope I didn't come off as defensive in my last letter/post. Thanks for upgrading me in your sidebar! (Then again, maybe higher position in your sidebar doesn't constitute higher esteem. But who cares? I'm #1!)


My buddy, Jim, has commentary on 'Memento' and goal-setting (triathalons and discipleship).
The only downside to BlogBack that I notice is I don't get an email when someone posts. So I have to remember to check the page instead of just editing from Blogger. But that's a small concern.
Enjoyable commentary over at ...nothing.

Thursday, October 18

Dear Nathan,

I like your weblog as much as ever. I just wish there were more of it.

Or, alternately, if I do like it less, it's only because of the lack of updating these days.

Yours faithfully,

And a little content today for my loyal readers (even on vacation!) - an email from your friend and mine, Silus Grok:

Hey Sean...

I agree with your basic premise -- that war/violence doesn't
necessarily change things -- I'm just not sure to what extent I
agree. What resonates for me is the parallel I see between your
premise, and something I've been saying/thinking a lot since 9.11...
that good things will come of this; that the Lord turns all things to
His (and by extension, our) benefit.

The Holocaust?

60 years later, and there are entire families that wouldn't have been
had that great evil not thrown people together... and moreover, it
would not surprise me that the Holocaust did more to catalyze people
against anti-semitism than perhaps anything else could have.


250+ years of slavery in the US has left a lasting legacy. But again,
there are many here now who love and laugh _only_ by the grace of God
in bringing their parents to a land that would free them from the
petty tribalism that would otherwise have robbed (and continues to
rob millions) of much that is good and beautiful.

I could keep going. But I won't.

Already, much good has come of this horrid act. I look forward to
seeing much more in the future.

[I now return you to your regularly scheduled e-mail.]

- sG

my response:

i certainly agree, from my Christian perspective, that God 'works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose' (Romans 8.28). The Old Testament version of this is found in Genesis 50 when Joseph tells his brothers 'You meant [to sell me into slavery] for evil, but God meant it for good.'. This fundamental truth is seen most of all in the work, death, and resurrection of Jesus: God the Father took the worst thing that has ever happened, the torture and murder of his innocent Son at the hands of those He loved and came to save, and turned it into the best thing that has ever happened: our salvation.

however, such a position, while theologically and philosophically correct, must be treaded carefully in times of grief, as we have just experienced, because it's small comfort to people of faith, and no comfort at all to those without faith. Indeed, to that latter group it sounds sacharine and Pollyanna. in addition, even after the grief is over, we must be cautious about how we communicate this principle. i'm sure to many Jews and African Americans today, many years after these atrocities, good coming in the wake of these events might be acknowledged, but there is profound, justified anger, and they certainly are justified in regretting them.
Bringing back the interact!

Scott's installation of the BlogBack code inspired me, and it was really easy. Cool! So comment away!
Can anyone explain to me why I have the song 'I love a rainy night' by Eddie Rabbit in my head?

Tuesday, October 16

I got this email regarding my post on 10.13:

Diane, you might remind Sean of a few wars that affected change, permanently:

The revolutionary War, the civil war and World war II. Then ask whether him whether he speaks German, English or Japanese, and whether he owns any slaves or knows anyone who does.

my reply:

in my first email i said:

'war/violence is extremely limited because it only works in the short term and it never changes anyone.'

you make reference, Jim, to some very big changes.

i still stand by my conviction, however, that these are small changes relative to the personal change that is far more desirable. sure, we can break free from the crown, free slaves, and stop facism. these are good things to do.

but Jefferson was still a slave owner and a sketchy (power trips (cf 'Undaunted Courage', eg), etc.), though brilliant, guy. and America was still a nation with slavery.

until the Civil War. yes, the North set the slaves free. but most whites were still very racist, even (maybe especially) in the North. more complete civil rights didn't come until MLK. and we still have profound racism today, not to mention classism and real cultural conflict. (as i noted in my first email, Wilberforce helped legislate an end to slavery in England without war.)

we stopped the facists. that was a good thing to do. we stopped Hitler's power mad expansion and Holocaust. however, we didn't change anyone's convictions about nationalism or racism. in fact, we were allies of necessity with Stalin who killed more of his own people than Hitler killed Jews.

this world is a messy place. we should always remember the law of unintended consequences. it seems to me, too, that violence begets more violence in almost all situations. i'm frankly worried about that relative to our response to the 9.11 attacks. is there a link with the cases of anthrax? it seems likely. we haven't had this kind of problem before (unless it's just some opportunist). violence twists in a vicious circle.

you can't finally legislate morality, much less prompt it by violence. force does not build character. we should use laws and politics to encourage morality/character when we can, but they will not accomplish it. if you only want to revolt, emancipate, and depose, force works.

Monday, October 15

Interesting stuff over on Matt's site: talking to an LA Times reporter and Ben Folds.
We're on vacation in Iowa. Last time I said I would post and didn't pos at all. I'll try to do better this time.
Whoa. I appeared in Le Bloguer on the 10th cool. That's some pretty good company.

Saturday, October 13

Diane sent me an email with this quote and asked for my opinion.


Some of you may disagree, but I think this pretty well sums up reality and is 100% analagous to the present situation. This is an excerpt from "Black Hawk Down" by Mark Bowden. He is talking about Delta Force guys, and the cluster f____ in Somalia in 1993.:

And the job demanded more. It demanded all you had, and more . . . because the price of failure was often death. That's why Howe and the rest of these D-boys loved it. It separated them from other men. War was ugly and evil, for sure, but it was still the way things got done on most of the planet. Civilized states had nonviolent ways of resolving disputes, but that depended on the willingness of everyone involved to BACK DOWN. Here in the raw Third World, people hadn't learned to back down, at least not until
after a lot of blood flowed. Victory was for those willing to fight and die. Intellectuals could theorized until they sucked their thumbs right off their hands, but in the real world, power still flowed from the barrel of a gun. If you wanted the starving masses in Somalia to eat, then you had to outmuscle men like this Aidid, for whom starvation WORKED. You hold hands and pray and sing hootenanny songs and invoke the great gods CNN and BBC, but the only way to finally open the roads to the big-eyed babies was to show up with more guns. And in this real world, nobody had more or better guns than America. If the good-hearted ideals of humankind were to prevail, then they needed men who could make it happen. Delta made it happen.

i'm somewhat familiar with this occurrence in Somalia and the book is on my 'to read' list.

in response:

war/violence is actually the easy way to get things done. it is extremely limited because it only works in the short term and it never changes anyone.

this assessment is too simplistic. we in the 'civilized' world likely wouldn't resolve conflicts nonviolently if there weren't a strong civil authority to punish us when we did. if the Somalis (and others) had a strong civil authority that they feared, they would probably resolve conflicts nonviolently, too.

compared with the power of faith, guns are useless. a gun cannot change somebody's mind. it can only threaten them into action or inaction. real faith can motivate.

in addition, nonviolent leaders like Jesus, Paul, Gandhi, and MLK have changed the world in profound ways. these are not men who theorized alone. they confronted evil systems and people. they were beaten. they and their followers were killed. and the world changed.

Wilberforce fought for years in Parliament and got slavery banned peacefully.

force was the only short-term change-agent in Somalia. but it didn't change anything in the long run. what's more, those Delta-force boys, so powerful, got jumped. their power failed them. they weren't able to achieve their goal.

nonviolent resistance cannot be ended because its power cannot fail. martyrdom only pushes it forward.

and nonviolent action could really change things in this situation. we Americans could change our foreign policy. we could work as much for the good of others as we do for our 'national interest'. a real government could come to Afghanistan.

Delta Force may be necessary or effective, but it's capability to effect change is severely limited.

good-hearted ideals can prevail without Delta Force. sometime it's in a very different timeframe. if you're a strict materialist and focused on the here and now and what you can grab and defend, Delta Force is for you. but if you're hungry for more than that, their guns won't satiate your hunger.
Matt turned 29 in the last couple days. Welcome to 29, Matt. Happy Birthday.

Friday, October 12

I've been a fan of Andres Tapia for a long time. I first came across his articles 8 years ago, when I was reading 'Christianity Today'. He wrote about the things I cared about: marriage, racial reconciliation, generation X. He even had an article entitle 'The Gospel According to Prozac. When I first got email I ran him down and we exchanged a few messages.

I came across his website the other day, by accident. So I'm presenting it to you. Two more contemporary essays:

Immigrant Fears -- Loss of Safe Haven in the USA: written in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

Shattered: As Lori recalled her past sexual abuse, our once-loving marriage unraveled.
If you spend a lot of time around weblogs, you've seen diveintomark in the last couple of days. However, if you're not, you might want to check it out. Here's how his entry for Tuesday started:

Welcome to my weblog. I hope you enjoy it. I just got fired for it.

Long story short, Mark posted a harrowing essay about his addiction (from which he is recovering. He's currently not practicing it. I recommend you read the essay, or at least start it. It's long.). His boss asked him to take it down. Mark refused. He put up his resume (which said where he worked), and he got fired for insubordination. There was a big discussion on MetaFilter.

I thought Mark's stuff about addiction was good - powerful.

A lot of the discussion on MeFi was about the boundaries in weblogging. How does your personal life affect your professional life? How should it? Should there be self-imposed restrictions? What if your professional life is public, at least to some degree (as Mark's was and as mine is, as a pastor)? What happens, then, when you make your personal life public to some degree?

Surprisingly, a lot of the MetaFilistines were not sympathetic.
Steven also has an interesting post about security and the use of SSNs.

The that it makes it much, much too easy to cross-reference all those databases with each other.

California's taking action, which will hopefully snowball for the rest of us.
Steven replied to my question about Internet security.

Briefly, he concurred with the NPR report that security is best built-in from the ground up. And he said my idea of using hackers to help close up holes was a bad one (no offense inteneded, none taken).

But you should read the whole thing.

Thanks, Steven.
Robert Fisk is The Independent's Middle East Correspondent. He's become somewhat notorious for his liberal views regarding the Current Situation. However, here equal opportunity criticism of the Arab Summit (via thewebtoday).
My referers are full of people searching for a Saudi-born terrorist (don't even think I'll mention that name again!). Are others of you finding the same thing?

47 of the last 100 were not such searches.
Dear Nathan (scroll down),

How perceptive of you. I'm a little surprised you even noticed the sidebar (even though I posted about it).

Never doubt that I love you.

However, you are posting less these days, cause of Law School.

(And I've always been 2nd to last on your sidebar list. You're still way above that on mine.)

Your Friend,


Wednesday, October 10

There was a piece on NPR this morning about Internet security and how hard it's going to be to do because software is designed for efficiency and then the security issues are plugged when they occur and that leaves lots of holes open for cyberterrorists and the only way to fix it is to get designers to build in security from the start.

But I'm not sure. Hasn't there been success in some quarters with mobilizing hackers to help with security? Couldn't we do that now? Some of the motivation would be patriotism. Some would be rewards? I'm going to ask Steven.
Man, sorry for the outage. Blogger publishing has been down. As you can see, I've been posting, just couldn't publish.
On the Afghanistan topic, NPR had a piece this morning about Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues, National Security Council. Interestingly, he was born and raised in Afghanistan. He may be the most influential person in our government with personal knowledge of Afghanistan. Google. The White House Press Release re: his appointment.

An excerpt from his Afghanistan: The Consolidation of a Rogue State, published winter of 2000.

Acting now is essential. The Taliban has consolidated its influence in Afghanistan over the last five years. Soon the movement will be too strong to turn away from rogue behavior. It will gain more influence with insurgents, terrorists, and narcotics traffickers and spread its abusive ideology throughout the region.

I'm not trying to place blame for anyone who didn't pay attention. There's a lot of stuff out there. But this guy has his finger on the pulse of this issue.

Coauthored US National Security Plan suggestions before Bush's inauguration. Point: want to know what Khalilzad is advising now and where we might be heading?

On brief reading, I disagree that defense needed a lot more money from the perspective of that time. We are overemphasizing technology in defense. We should be emphasizing personnel. We've got great technology. And there are reasonable advances which can be made without writing a blank check.
Remember all the hubub about Amazon's tabs? I don't think they're great design, but they are pretty functional. Now everybodies darling, Google, has tabs - 4 of them. What do y'all think? Here's the Daypop search. I found Matt Goyer's post really helpful, but I can't get it to load. Here's Daypop's cached copy - scroll about 2/3 down. Therein he links a MetaFilter discussion (posted by user#1 himself. should have looked over there first) and an old Jakob Nielsen article.

Personally, I don't mind the tabs. The other stuff that appears on the Google front page from time to time, like little Google-service ads, is a lot more annoying/distracting to me.

Tuesday, October 9

I was thinking yesterday that I needed to do a little research on Afghanistan. Then I came across a bunch of Afghanistan links on Wired over at randomWalks.
Greetings MeFilistines! Silus, the self described lurker, posted the Robot Quiz on MeFi via me and now we've got some MeFi traffic. Cheers, Silus.

Monday, October 8

I noticed How to Write a Novel in 100 Days or Less when I was reading Higgy's page. I like some of the ideas and might even start working at it (though 2 hours a day is definitely not in my future). I'm thinking of adapting Hamlet. Seriously.
It's Jim's birthday. Why not visit his page or tell him happy?
You might want to go take the robot quiz (via Lia and John). I took it and got a totally unacceptable and embarassing answer which I will not be sharing with you.

Only one thing to do: pick different answers. This time I got a much better result:

Click here to find out what robot you really are
Christine: Jeff says Serendipity is a perfect date movie and it features John Cusack (!) and Kate Beckinsale. Guess we better go see it.
John continues to be hilarious with a 3 Musketeers check-out line encounter and discourse and a wacky confrontation with a church-inviter (that boy picked the wrong house, but at least he'll have a story to tell his comrades-in-arms).
Yo! Wassup? I changed the sidebar. Did you notice? Position in the friends' column reflects a totally subjective mix of closeness and frequency of updates. 1142 dropped out because it's impenetrable (although apparently Neale was impersonating me over there the other day. Interesting.). The Daypop Top 40 now appears. And, of course, the major new meadenet product: twinlog. Enjoy!
Jim's a good friend. He has great kid reports and he continues the dialogue about what kinds of standards we should have in life, especially from a Christian point of view. Go read it.
Went to Barkley's Uptown Dive last night with Ryan, Megan, and Scott to hear Ben Kilgore. He did some nice Radiohead, Counting Crows, and U2 covers and some original stuff. He did a three song set with his brother, Blake, of their own stuff that was _amazing_. He had this song about sex and lust that was like slam poetry meets alternative (in the good sense). Is that song recorded? Gotta find out.
Your Da[il]ypop Top 40: The Hobbit Name Generator. My hobbit name is Mungo Broadbelt of Buckland. Right on.
Sound like Matt had a great meal. We have nothing like that in Tulsa.

Saturday, October 6

I often post something to this effect, but if you care about the situation in Palestine/Israel, go read thewebtoday.

Friday, October 5

The farm bill I savaged yesterday got passed in the House today. Stink.
Whatever you do anyway, remember that these things are mysteries and that if they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn't be worth understanding. A God you can understand would be less than yourself. - Flannery O'Connor
John 13 wrote about two more funny encounters on the El. LOL. Read it if you want a laugh (some profanity. If that bugs you excessively, don't read it).
I really like the Daypop Top 40 (for one thing, it's a lot easier to read than blogdex). From today:

Middle East Geography and History Quiz (I got 9/10).

and the Metafilter Magnificent Obsession thread. Some of note: the language construction page (I have read this extensively before, in connection with Tolkien's languages) and the guy who made a 14 ft Stegosaurus out of Legos.

(Note on usage of 'legos': I know it's cooler, and maybe even right for the plural of 'lego' to be 'lego', like some kind of system. But we didn't know that growing up and I grew up saying 'legos' and I'm going to keep it, not least of all for nostalgia's sake.)

Thursday, October 4

Our new project/online journal: twinlog: the life and times of Elizabeth and Wil.
Found in my referrer logs: rocket queen. 'a good blog,' she said. Thanks, rocket queen.
Our friend, Scott, has a rant about conservatives who set up liberal positions as straw men.

I will say this: I find rhetoric almost always completely unhelpful. It usually narrows things too much, over-simplifies. It is disrespectful. Not for me.
More dumb hijinks: I mentioned to Christine how I've been getting so many people from Google hunting for ObL cartoons. She said 'So did you take off that entry?'.

Dur! I don't know how much good it will do, but I will do it now.
I've been thinking about the problem of what President Bush calls 'nation building'. It's easy to snipe, but some of our military problems, human rights concerns, etc. surely stem from unstable nations. I'm not saying, eg, that we're responsible for the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan, but could we have helped to prevent it?

Steven's post about Sen. Biden's plan prompted me today (and you should read the discussion, too).
I have a complicated relationship with Farm Subsidies. I don't believe in uncritical subsidies. A lot of times they hide bad things. They make commodities seem falsely cheap. However, I was also the beneficiary of them growing up, and I do want to support family farms.

There's a big farm bill in Congress right now. It looks to me like this bill is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. Here's one:

The House rejected 238-187 an amendment that would have imposed strict $150,000-per-person limit on crop subsidies, which would have saved $1.3 billion over 10 years. ``A limit of $150,000 is not only reasonable, it's plain generous,'' said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn (AP via Yahoo).

I'm pro-farmers, but this looks like pro-rich farmers to me. We shouldn't be subsidizing them with tax dollars.

Here's a sample of total payments from 1996-2000 from my home county (Johnson) back in Iowa:

Fobian Brothers, Iowa City $454,694
Timber View Farms Ltd., Solon $398,414
James E. Sladek, Iowa City $377,725
Eldon R. Prybil, Iowa City $360,069
Sam J. Stahle, Solon $360,039
Marlin G. Brenneman, Iowa City $339,859
Dean Oakes, Iowa City $316,241
Keith Forbes, Iowa City $315,578
Berry Farms Ltd., Iowa City $307,086
GF Miller Farms Ltd., Solon $301,718

That's too much money - 75-100k$/yr.

The House Committee statement
USDA Statement by the Secretary of Agriculture

An NPR segment yesterday got me thinking about this.

One big farmer interviewed on the program says at their rate of return of less than 4% that they have reached 'almost third world situations.' He calls the situation 'a joke'. But his perspective is a joke. He farms 4500 acres and received 3.5 mil$ b/t 1996 and 2000.

His farm is one of 175,000 farms that make over 250,000$ in revenue each year. They account for 8% of the farms in America. They account for 70% of the total value of American agriculture. They receive 50% of government payments. Their average household income is 139,000$, 41,000 of which came from government payments.

Some people say this money ends up being used by these big farmers to buy out the small farmers subsidies are supposed to be supporting.

Some people say that we need to support American agriculture to stave off reliance on foreign markets like we have to do with oil. Some say if we don't support subsidies like this we'll have to pay higher prices at the store.

First of all, that's part of the idea. We subsidize gas so people pay less at the pump. It seems cheap, though it's made so with tax dollars, so people feel free to spend. If people had that tax money back in their wallet, and paid the real price at the pump, they might use less.

Same thing with food. We might make different choices. That would be a good thing. The market doesn't work right with subsidies.

We are overproducing and paying big farmers for it. I support small subsidies for small farmers and the right amount of production. We can do better here.

I don't believe this, but I decided to write my Representative and Senator about this. You can find yours by clicking on the links in the preceding sentence.
No need to log the article. The title says it all: "A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bulls--- Again". LOL (link via Daypop Top 40).

The Onion isn't my style. Too over the top. Sarcasm is out. But that's a funny headline.

Wednesday, October 3

Y'all really smart users are going to think that I was trying to draw people here with my post yesterday about you-know-who and cartoons. I would. But I wasn't. It was an accident. And because of it I got even more hits last night for that very thing giving me my largest hit day ever. Oops. Sorry. I won't do that again.

Tuesday, October 2

I was pretty fired up about norton poets online (via My Yahoo Daily Picks). Unfortunately, it's just a commercial site. From the list, I like ee cummings (Fire the person who capitalized him on the sidebar!) and Steven Dunn. I sat in on some poetry workshops with Dunn when he came to Wartburg.
When I was riding my bike the other day, I wondered how Matt's bike riding was going. Presto - Matt's new project - ride.
Everybody needs more poetry (stormloader via Robot Wisdom (Jorn's favorite poem ever)).

Of Mere Being, by Wallace Stevens

Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Johnny 13 has some really funny posts the past couple days, especially including the photo of HP Lovecraft's grave and the caption.

Monday, October 1

Welcome Google searchers.

Wholey mackerel. My two biggest hit days have been yesterday and today. Thanks Google.

I hope you all find what you're looking for here.

(Hint: I posted about 'ObL' and 'cartoons' separately. If you're looking for those things together, I'm not your man.)

[edited to produce fewer Google hits 10.4]
Andrew Sullivan has an interesting article on Clinton's negligence of national security and how he is in part responsible for the terrorist attacks (WARNING: VERY ANNOYING TEXT BOX). What do you think? I think he makes some good points.
We have had beautiful weather for the last couple weeks. The summer was a boiler, so it's much appreciated. I got out both saturday and sunday afternoon to ride the new-to-me bike that Ryan gave me (WARNING: RYAN HASN'T POSTED IN OVER 3 WEEKS). We have great trails here in Tulsa, especially River Trails, which is a park along the river. Lots of people are out to see. It was great. I ran into the Tulsa Ultimate guys and got a phone number, so hopefully I'll be playing with them in the near future.