Category Archives: Grim meathook future

I, for one, etc.

Today’s sign of the impending apocalypse:

Monkeys control robots with their minds –

This can lead to no good.


When all you have is a hammer…

Jesus Christ.

(via Unqualified Offerings)

UPDATE:  Robert Farley at LGM has a slightly longer and more thoughtful response than I:

Long story short, it’s quite likely that an invasion would cause a lot more people to die than are likely to die sans intervention.

The idea of a threat of an invasion in order to force SLORC compliance with international aid efforts is a little bit better on its face, but collapses when subjected to scrutiny. The primary interest of the regime is survival; it cares more about survival than the lives of the Burmese people. Allowing itself to be forced at gunpoint to accept international assistance strikes me as considerably more dangerous to regime survival than to simply allow the disaster to run its course. The regime, undoubtedly, also has a strong sense of the difficulties that any invasion would face, especially one with a humanitarian objective. In other words, SLORC has a) reason to believe that the international community is bluffing, and b) strong incentive for calling that bluff. Again, the threat of military intervention in the short term is likely to lead to more, not fewer, dead Burmese.

Leviathan, Inc.

Joel Johnson went on a web show sponsored by OCP, ostensibly for a conversation about gadgets, but went off and wouldn’t stop talking about Robocop.

Yesterday, I was invited to talk about gadgets onThe Hugh Thompson Show, a television-style talk show sponsored exclusively by AT&T for distribution on the online AT&T Tech Channel. I eventually did talk about gadgets, but in light of AT&T’s shocking and baffling announcement of their plans to filter the internet, I thought that a much more interesting and important topic.

So that’s what I talked about.

That’s the point—I wasn’t being a twerp just for the sake of being one. This is a critically important issue, one that deserves as much attention as can be drawn to it, especially in a venue where AT&T and its customers are sure to listen. And as the reaction of the crowd to my questions showed, no one wants AT&T rifling around in their communications. The only way to stop them from doing so is to speak up whenever we have the chance.

Right on. It may seem like a little thing, but I think this was ballsy and important. Ideally, people get organized (into, say, a government) in order to defend their rights and provide a check on the kind of stuff AT&T wants to pull. But of course, people aren’t going to stick their necks out unless they have to, and there are a lot of other rich, powerful people and organizations who will do whatever they can to see that it’s in most people’s interest to go along to get along, not to do the work of protecting rights. Which means people have to keep speaking up. Keep the pressure on. Let their allies know they’re not alone, and let their antagonists know about all those allies. Sometimes the stakes are high and cause urgent and vital. But I think even this little thing, as I said, is important.

(via Making Light)

UPDATE: Edited for clarity

The Supreme Court can’t steal this one

BBC News:

Climate change campaigner Al Gore and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The committee cited “their efforts to build up and disseminate knowledge about man-made climate change”.

Mr Gore, US vice-president under Bill Clinton, said he was “deeply honoured”.

Mr Gore, 59, won an Oscar for his climate change film An Inconvenient Truth while the IPCC is the top authority on global warming.

He told a cheering crowd of colleagues and journalists outside his office in Delhi that he hoped the award would bring a “greater awareness and a sense of urgency” to the fight against global warming.

That would be nice. I’m pretty sure that this award will come to seem more and more deserved as time goes on. My hope is that it’ll never come to seem prescient, that it will spur that greater awareness and a sense of urgency before Florida, say, is scoured flat by hurricanes, or Oklahoma by tornadoes. Or, say, before half the elderly in France die in a heat wave. Fingers crossed!

We’re all gonna die

My desktop weather widget thingy tells me that it’s 68 degrees Fahrenheit outside.  The date, as you know, is January 6.  This is insane.  Global warming will kill us all.  I figure we’re a week, week and a half away from total ecosystem collapse.

On the plus side, it’s nice to have the option to wear a Hawaiian shirt to the food riots.

Precedent, or: What hasn’t happened yet?

Second-hand – a cabbie from Uganda describes what it was like:

“Bush is a dictator. Did I offend you?”

“No. What makes him a dictator?”

“You cannot joke about killing him. Hell even under Amin we danced and sang death songs at him. He had a hotel complex that he tortured people in. The difference between Bush and Amin as far as that goes is that I knew where my relatives were being tortured, and no one knows exactly where the Americans are torturing their victims.”

“Do you believe we are doing horrible torture to thousands or to a few?”

He thought about it and said “Is there any difference? My experience is that once torturers begin torturing, the torturers have a hard time stopping.”

That really upset me. I persisted. “Seriously, do you think we are torturing thousands?”

He took his time. “They won’t let you see one dead soldier. Even under a flag they won’t let you see it. They don’t tell you the truth about anything. They lie lie lie. My experience tells me this. I don’t really know. But if I had to guess, I would guess that your government is doing the worst things you can possibly imagine. Liars are lying because they cannot tell the truth. When I see Bush speak, I don’t see a stupid man as you do and many others. I see a man who is too shamed to tell the truth. He has caused so much pain and knows it, but if he admitted one little bit of it, it would come crashing out like a dam. You understand? Bush is in a lot of pain.”

We pulled up to the hotel, I asked him to park and waved off the bellhop.

“What do you think will happen to America, Bale?”

“What do you mean WILL happen? What hasn’t happened yet? You torture in secret. You invade for what? The government reads your e-mail and listens to your telephone and makes you take off your shoes and pull out your computer. For what? Who do you need to protect yourself against? Is your computer going to attack you? Who should you be afraid of? Your government is more scary to most people than any terrorist. I feel for you really. Because I don’t think you have any idea how far down the road you already are.”

First-hand – an author from Soviet Russia describes his experience of the methods we use in Guantanamo:

In 1971, while in Lefortovo prison in Moscow (the central KGB interrogation jail), I went on a hunger strike demanding a defense lawyer of my choice (the KGB wanted its trusted lawyer to be assigned instead). The moment was most inconvenient for my captors because my case was due in court, and they had no time to spare. So, to break me down, they started force-feeding me in a very unusual manner — through my nostrils. About a dozen guards led me from my cell to the medical unit. There they straitjacketed me, tied me to a bed, and sat on my legs so that I would not jerk. The others held my shoulders and my head while a doctor was pushing the feeding tube into my nostril.

The feeding pipe was thick, thicker than my nostril, and would not go in. Blood came gushing out of my nose and tears down my cheeks, but they kept pushing until the cartilages cracked. I guess I would have screamed if I could, but I could not with the pipe in my throat. I could breathe neither in nor out at first; I wheezed like a drowning man — my lungs felt ready to burst. The doctor also seemed ready to burst into tears, but she kept shoving the pipe farther and farther down. Only when it reached my stomach could I resume breathing, carefully. Then she poured some slop through a funnel into the pipe that would choke me if it came back up. They held me down for another half-hour so that the liquid was absorbed by my stomach and could not be vomited back, and then began to pull the pipe out bit by bit. . . . Grrrr. There had just been time for everything to start healing during the night when they came back in the morning and did it all over again, for 10 days, when the guards could stand it no longer. As it happened, it was a Sunday and no bosses were around. They surrounded the doctor: “Hey, listen, let him drink it straight from the bowl, let him sip it. It’ll be quicker for you, too, you silly old fool.” The doctor was in tears: “Do you think I want to go to jail because of you lot? No, I can’t do that. . . . ” And so they stood over my body, cursing each other, with bloody bubbles coming out of my nose. On the 12th day, the authorities surrendered; they had run out of time. I had gotten my lawyer, but neither the doctor nor those guards could ever look me in the eye again.


Sure, right now it’s just a bunch of foreigners and I guess we don’t feel foreigners are entitled to basic human rights. They must not be human — or at least not as human as “we” are. When you think about it, who knows who “we” are either? Right wingers make millions of dollars writing books about how liberals are godless, death-loving, traitors within. Many people who read those books probably believe these liberals are only one step away from being sub-human too —- they are, after all, godless traitors.

But as the soviet experience shows, anyone can be defined as such sub-humans and at some point it usually comes around to catch even the people who wrote the original tales of godless, death-loving traitors within. I don’t know why — maybe it’s a kill the messenger thing.

Coturnix is from what was once Yugoslavia:

Many of my friends and neighbors don’t believe that even they may end up in prison with no recourse to justice.

Who decides?

Many of my friends and neighbors have not experienced, like I did in Yugoslavia of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the gradual transformation from a nice, sweet, proseprous, freedom-loving country into a bunch of thugs duking it out over land and religion. Tito was dead for ten years. Prime Minister was Ante Markovic. Thousands of small businesses were starting up every week. Small people were getting rich. There was ebullience in the air.

Then, in a manner eerily reminiscent of BuchCo, thugs like Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic hijacked the government and started a civil war, ending with a break up of one big strong country into six small, economically weak and dependent units.

But that was a small country. Who is going to stop the USA? If you leave for Australia, Europe or Canada, you will just feel the effects a litle later than if you stay.

I can’t afford to leave, so that makes my decision easy.  For whatever reason, maybe residual Boy Scout indoctrination, who knows, I still believe in the idea that the United States of America represents, so I wouldn’t leave even if I could.  It helps that I don’t have a family to protect.  And I’m privileged enough that I’ll probably never have to worry about dying in a jail for dissidents or anything like that.

There are already American citizens who do have to worry about that, though, if their families are from the wrong country.  There are already American citizens, and people who by sheer chance were born in countries other than the United States of America, who are receiving the Josef K. treatment.  Until now, the Josef K. treatment was merely de facto, and potentially rectifiable.  As of Friday, the Josef K. treatment is the law of the land.

Bourdain in Beirut

Via Tom, I learn that Anthony Bourdain was apparently filming an episode of No Reservations in Lebanon when the bombing started. As of Monday, he was still there, in Beirut, and has posted to the forums at eGullet about it. I’m just going to quote pretty much the whole thing, because I can’t choose an excerpt:

I’m very aware of how flip my response to the Post was (made last Wednesday, very early in the crisis)as I sought to reassure family and friends that we were safe and okayand in good cheer. . [Here’s the link -S] It was–at the time–very representative of the (outward) attitude of Beirutis themselves, who pride themselves on their resilience and their determination to “keep the party going.” Initially, many Beirutis were still going strong at nightclubs as jets flew low and menacingly overhead. Even that proud, famously world-weary attitude quickly changed, however, as circumstances here became even more appalling. I can certainly understand how offensive it might be to those on the ground here–or those with family and friends here–to read some of what’s been posted on the other NR thread–and understand why it’s been closed for now.

It is indeed heartbreaking and horrifying what has happened to this lovely country–to spanking new, lovingly restored,resurgent Beirut in particular, in only a few days of sustained and seemingly senseless destruction. A few days ago, this was a place where people were bursting with pride for the relative tolerance, progressive attitudes, and lack of conflict between groups. I was standing with a group: a Sunni, a Christian, and a Shiite–by the Hariri memorial when the gunfire started and the Hezbollah people appeared driving through city center and honking their horns in “celebration” for the capture/kidnappings. The look of dismay and embarrasment on all three faces…and the grim look of resignation as they all– instantly– recognized what would inevitably come next…it’s something I will never forget. Of the three, our Shiite security guy, a tall, taciturn man, was the last to leave us, insisiting on staying by our side though he and his family lived in the much more perilous Southern part of Beirut. After witnessing many quick telephone exchanges between him and his family, and as more bombs and shells began to fall, seeing him nervously fingering his prayer beads, we finally convinced him to leave. His house was later flattened..We were soon relocated to a safer part of town.The sense of regret and …shame we feel at being relatively safe yet witness to the carnage…and that we never got to show the world how beautiful this country and its people are–how much “like us” (yet uniquely and wonderfully not), how international, muti-lingual, fantastic the food and hospitality is…will gnaw at us forever. WE will make it home. WE–unlike most Lebanese, have been (relatively) safe and secure during this. Trapped, yes–but trapped by a freaking swimming pool-not under the rubble of our homes. We may be only a few thousand yards or a few miles from the falling bombs-but we have an eventual way out. What hasn’t been talked about much in the press, is how many young returnees there are/were here: young, educated Lebanese who’d emigrated abroad or been born aboad and only recenly filled with hope they were, how much they loved their country, how hopeful and enthusiastic they were that they could make a difference (and they WERE making a difference). That is all ashes now..

We (the NR crew) are indeed well–and well looked after. It’s indeed frightening here, it’s enraging, it’s horrifying,and its frustrating..the classic “long hours of boredom interspersed with moments of terror” phenom they always use when talking about life during wartime. But we are relatively safe. And sooner or later we will no doubt be heading home.

We will never forget the Beirut that could have been-and will hopefully be again. Or what we saw here.

Shiva is a virus

Bird flu’s coming, and we live in a banana republic.  The government’s taking a market-based approach to preparation (“People will help each other out!  It’ll be like a country-wide Amish barn-raising of disaster relief!  You’ll be happy about bird flu before it’s all over!  Government help?  I guess we’ll probably arrest some looters or something, at some point.”)

So you’re on your own, basically, to weather the grim meathook future.  Thus, please find linked a recipe for Tamiflu, courtesy of Make Magazine.

(via Majikthise)