Fri-Jan 29 2010
Lost: Questions, Questions, Questions
Ultimate List of Unanswered Questions
Unanswered Questions: Unlikely to be Answered
I have 2 questions, one that I think must be answered and another that I bet won't be:
1: Who are the Others? What is their mission and what motivates them?
2: If the Universe always "course-corrects", as she said, why did Ms. Hawking bother telling
Desmond he had to go to the Island? If she's right, no matter what she said or what Desmond did
he would end up in the Swan pushing the button.
Lost: The Top 100 Lost Lines of All Time
LOST TOP 100: The Top 100 Lost Lines of All Time
"86. LOCKE: Hey. Uh… was he talking about what I think he was talking about?
BEN: If you mean time traveling bunnies, then yes.
- There’s No Place Like Home
85. SAWYER: So, a tribe of evil natives planted a ringer in the camp to kidnap a pregnant girl and a reject from VH-1 has-beens. Yeah, fiendishly clever.
And why am I getting the evening news from a six-year-old?
WALT: I’m ten!
SAWYER: Okay, then it must be true.
- All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"
(The Ack Attack!)
Thu-Jan 28 2010
Lost: Answers (Song Parody)
I have no doubt that after the big finale Damon and Carlton will have to go into seclusion/witness
protection for their own safety. Too many questions + Not enough answers = kidnapping.
LOST - Answers?! (Song parody)
Via Day 5 - LOLZ - LAUGH OUT LOUD
Who Needs Death Panels? The President Can Order You Killed.
Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens
"The Washington Post's Dana
Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are
deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past
six weeks have killed scores of people." That's no surprise, of
course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia
and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown
degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public
debate, and arguably (though not
clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role
played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed
numerous civilians, is still unknown.
But buried in Priest's article is her revelation that American
citizens are now being placed on a secret "hit list" of people whom the
President has personally authorized to be killed:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military,
authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence
existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist
actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence
officials said. . . .
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If
a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, "it doesn't really change anything from the
standpoint of whether we can target them," a senior administration official
said. "They are then part of the enemy."
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High
Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or
capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New
Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year.
As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an
intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.
Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December
missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced --
falsely, as it turns out -- that he was killed in one of those strikes.
Just think about this for a minute. Barack Obama, like
George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American
citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim
that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent
threat to U.S. persons and interests." They're entitled to no charges, no
trial, no ability to contest the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush
administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a
couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on
the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense
controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on
the Constitution. Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American
citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not
imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy? emphasis added
Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they
(like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting
against them, including American citizens. That's just the essence of
war. That's why it's permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real
battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they're captured and
helplessly detained. But combat is not what we're talking about here.
The people on this "hit list" are likely to be killed while at home,
sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a
whole array of other activities. More critically still, the Obama
administration -- like the Bush administration before it -- defines the
"battlefield" as the entire
world. So the President claims the power to order U.S.
citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign
activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his
say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks. That's quite a
power for an American President to claim for himself.
As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in
both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting
that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death.
What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S.
Government has accused them of
being Terrorists, which (except in
the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a
Terrorist. Numerous Guantanamo detainees accused by the U.S.
Government of being Terrorists have turned out to be completely innocent, and the vast majority of
federal judges who provided habeas review to detainees have found an almost
complete lack of evidence to justify the accusations against them, and thus
ordered them released. That includes scores of detainees held while the
U.S. Government insisted that only the "Worst of the Worst" remained at the
Fri-Jan 22 2010
Strossian Cold War-Lovecraft Riffing
I guess it goes without saying, but I just love this kind of stuff:
"Inspired by Charles Stross' A Colder War and
Atrocity Archives stories, noder The Custodian has
written a series of fictional, Lovecraftian intelligence briefings entitled "The
Benthic Wars": SPECWEAPS,
DEEP BLACK, PRIOR TENANT, BENTHIC OUTREACH, PORTAL/ALEPH, VIOLET CAIN, SAKNUSSEM THUNDER and
And you should also get a copy of Tim Power's
CLASSIFICATION SAPPHIRE VORPAL JULIET POTUS EYES ONLY
Thu-Jan 21 2010
Wed-Jan 20 2010
Torture, Obama, and "Not Looking Backwards"
"(1) The single biggest lie in War on
Terror revisionist history is that our torture was confined only to a handful of
"high-value" prisoners. New credible reports of torture continuously
emerge. That's because America implemented and maintained a systematic
torture regime spread throughout our worldwide, due-process-free detention
system. There have been
at least 100 deaths of detainees in American custody who died during
or as the result of interrogation.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey said: "We tortured people unmercifully. We
probably murdered dozens of them during the course of
that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."
Gen. Antonio Taguba
said after investigating the Abu Ghraib abuses and finding they were
part and parcel of official policy sanctioned at the highest levels of
the U.S. Government, and not the acts of a few "rogue"
agents: "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current
administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to
be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to
Despite all of this, our media persists in sustaining the lie that the
torture controversy is about three cases of waterboarding and a few "high-value"
detainees who were treated a bit harshly. That's why Horton's story
received so little attention and was almost completely ignored by right-wing
commentators: because it shatters the central myth that torture was
used only in the most extreme cases -- virtual Ticking Time Bomb scenarios --
when there was simply no other choice. Leading American media outlets, as
a matter of policy, won't even use the word "torture." This, despite the
fact that the abuse was so brutal and inhumane that it led to the deaths of
helpless captives -- including run-of-the-mill detainees, almost certainly ones
guilty of absolutely nothing -- in numerous cases. These three detainee
deaths -- like so many other similar cases -- illustrate how extreme is the myth
that has taken root in order to obscure what was really done.
(2) Incidents like this dramatically underscore what can
only be called the grotesque immorality of the "Look Forward, Not
Backwards" consensus which our political class -- led by the President --
has embraced. During the Bush years, the United States government
committed some of the most egregious crimes a government can commit. They
plainly violated domestic law, international law, and multiple treaties to which
the U.S. has long been a party. Despite that, not only has
President Obama insisted that these crimes not be prosecuted, and not only has
his Justice Department made clear that -- at most -- they will pursue a handful
of low-level scapegoats, but far worse, the Obama administration has used every
weapon it possesses to keep these crimes concealed, prevent any accountability
for them, and even venerated them as important "state secrets," thus
the architecture of lawlessness and torture that gave rise to these crimes in
the first place.
Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been
exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn't
prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and
Republicans wouldn't support health care reform). But even if those
excuses had been factually accurate, it wouldn't have mattered. There are
no legitimate excuses for averting one's eyes from crimes of this magnitude and
permitting them to go unexamined and unpunished. The real reason why
"Looking Forward, Not Backwards" is so attractive to our political and media
elites is precisely because they don't want to face what they enabled and
supported. They want to continue to believe that it just involved the
quick and necessary waterboarding of three detainees and a few slaps to a
handful of the Worst of the Worst. Only a refusal to "Look
Backwards" will enable the lies they have been telling (to the world and to
themselves) to be sustained. But as Horton's story illustrates, there
are real victims and genuine American criminals -- many of them -- and anyone
who wants to keep that concealed and protected is, by definition, complicit in
those crimes, not only the ones that were committed in the past, but similar
ones that almost certainly, as a result of Not Looking Backwards, will be
committed in the future."
I know I post a lot of Greenwald, but he keeps nailing it.
The crime of not "Looking Backward"
Tue-Jan 19 2010
War on Terra
"The new year is not very old, but several recent revelations
cast the the US fight against al-Qaeda (a tiny if deadly fraternity of a couple
thousand fanatics spread in dozens of countries) in a bad light, if not to say a
scandalous one. The entire premise of combating al-Qaeda as though it were an
enemy army, using the Pentagon as the lead agency, while simultaneously
militarizing the CIA, needs to be questioned. But so too do a lot of other
premises about a so-called American 'Long War' with parts of the Muslim world,
including drone strikes, secret bases, and torture. Worst of all, embarrassing
revelations are coming out about damaging or even criminal actions and policies
that can only harm any genuine counter-terrorism program.
1. Evidence is
surfacing, according to Scott Horton writing in Harper's, that the supposed
group suicide of three prisoners at Guantanamo in summer of 2006 may have in
fact been murder--that is, they may have died of asphyxiation during aggressive
interrogation that involved stuffing rags in their throats to cut off air. The
explosive allegations may put further pressure on President Obama to fulfill his
pledge to close the prison.
FBI falsely invoked terrorism emergencies 2000 times between 2002 and 2006
to engage in illegal phone wiretapping of Americans without obtaining a
warrant. The agency was using a provision of the PATRIOT act, which Bush
administration officials had assured Congress would never be used for ordinary
Top Ten Counter-Terrorism Scandals 2010 - Juan Cole
Via @jricole - Twitter
"Having a world unfold in one’s head is the fundamental SF
experience. It’s a lot of what I read for. Delany has a long passage about how
your brain expands while reading the sentence “The red sun is high, the blue
low”—how it fills in doubled purple shadows on the planet of a binary star. I
think it goes beyond that, beyond the physical into the delight of reading about
people who come from other societies and have different expectations.
Because SF can’t take the world for granted, it’s had to develop techniques for
doing it. There’s the simple infodump, which Neal Stephenson has raised to an
artform in its own right. There are lots of forms of what I call incluing,
scattering pieces of information seamlessly through the text to add up to a big
picture. The reader has to remember them and connect them together. This is one
of the things some people complain about as “too much hard work” and which I
think is a high form of fun. SF is like a mystery where the world and the
history of the world is what’s mysterious, and putting that all together in your
mind is as interesting as the characters and the plot, if not more interesting.
We talk about worldbuilding as something the writer does, but it’s also
something the reader does, building the world from the clues. When you read that
the clocks were striking thirteen, you think at first that something is terribly
wrong before you work out that this is a world with twenty-four hour time—and
something terribly wrong. Orwell economically sends a double signal with
SF reading protocols - Jo Walton
Via Making Light
Congress: "Do as We Say, Not as We Do"
"It should go without saying that all of the sponsors of the
pending bill to ban American companies from collaborating with domestic Internet
spying in foreign countries -- the inspirationally-named Global Online Freedom
Act of 2009 -- voted in favor of the 2008 bill to legalize what had been the
illegal warrantless interception of emails and to immunize telecoms which helped
our own government break the law in how it spied on Americans.
That's our Government and political class in a nutshell: vocally condemning
other countries for abuses which we ourselves engage in with impunity. Earlier
this year, Business Week described how "Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are making fools of themselves with their war on Nokia
Siemens for supplying the Iranian government with equipment that lets
authorities monitor wireless phone calls and data transmissions." Why, as
Business Week described it, must this crusade be the by-product either of
"ignorance or hypocrisy"? Because U.S. law "requires that all wireless carriers
provide the technological means for law enforcement authorities to tap wireless
accounts" and the Congress has done nothing about mountains of evidence of
abuses by the U.S. Government within the U.S.
It goes without saying that countries like China and Iran -- along with many of
our closest allies -- are far more repressive of internal dissent than is the
U.S. But the role of the American Congress is supposed to be to check
surveillance abuses by the U.S. Government and to safeguard the privacy of
American citizens inside the U.S. Instead, they do the opposite: flamboyantly
condemn transgressions by other governments (at least the ones we don't like)
while enabling, empowering and protecting our own government officials and
private telecoms who illegally spy within our own country."
Congress takes a bold stand against surveillance abuses (Sarcasm)
Tue-Jan 05 2010
The Blame Game
"For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal
after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the
last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed
trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also
a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political
system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly
short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that
sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its
postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach
homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the
That is a terrible story and it is also sort of a taboo story, since we don’t
really have a system of media now that is willing or even able to digest that
dark and complicated truth. Instead, our media — which has always been at best
an inadvertent accomplice to these messes — is basically set up to take every
revelation about the underlying truth and split it down the middle, feeding half
to one side of the political spectrum and one half to the other, where the
actual point is then burned up in the useless smoke of a blame game.
The essentially complicit nature of the two ruling political parties was in this
way covered up for decades, as the crimes of the Democrats were greedily
consumed as entertainment by the Limbaugh crowd while the crimes of the Bushies
became hot-selling t-shirts and bumper stickers for the Air America
listenership. The abiding mutual hatred the red/blue groups shared consistently
prevented any kind of collective realization about the structure of the overall
What worries me is that we’re now reverting to the same old pattern with the
financial crisis story. We’re starting to see fault lines develop, where one
side blames the government while another side blames Wall Street for the messes
of the last two decades. The side blaming the government tends to belong to the
free-marketeer class and divines in safety-net purveyors like the GSEs and in
the Fed’s money-printing fundamental corruptions of the capitalist ideal, while
the side blaming the bankers tends to belong to the left-liberal tradition that
focuses on greed and seeming absence of community conscience among the CEO class
as primary corruptors of the social contract.
In the former view the government is to blame for punting on its oversight
responsibilities and for corrupting the financial bloodstream with
market-altering guarantees, while in the latter view the bankers are at fault
for lobbying the politicians to make exactly the same moves. The antigovernment
folks like to focus on the irresponsible (and typically low-income or minority)
home-borrower and their political allies in Washington as chief villains, while
the anti-banker crowd looks at the massive personal profits and outsized
influence of the executive class and waves the Cui bono? stick in that
Both sides are right and both sides are wrong. I know that sounds like
pox-on-both-their-houses pundit sophistry. But the point is that if you focus on
one side and not the other, you miss the entire point. That’s why I get freaked
out when I see an important story like this GSE thing come out, and have it be
immediately accompanied by arguments that “market observers, rating agencies and
investors were unaware of the number of subprime and Alt-A mortgages infecting
the financial system,” as though the irresponsibility of the government agency
precluded similar (and, I might add, intimately related) abuses on the private
Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue
Sun-Jan 03 2010
Diet of Fear
"I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but David Brooks actually had
an excellent column in yesterday's New York Times that makes
several insightful and important points. Brooks documents how
"childish, contemptuous and hysterical" the national reaction has been to
this latest terrorist episode, egged on -- as usual -- by the always-hysterical
American media. The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful
Daddies and Mommies in government will -- in that most cringe-inducing,
child-like formulation -- Keep Us Safe. Whenever the Government fails
to do so, the reaction -- just as we saw this week -- is an ugly combination of
petulant, adolescent rage and increasingly unhinged cries that More Be Done to
ensure that nothing bad in the world ever happens. Demands that
genuinely inept government officials be held accountable are necessary and wise,
but demands that political leaders ensure that we can live in womb-like Absolute
Safety are delusional and destructive. Yet this is what the citizenry
screams out every time something threatening happens: please,
take more of our privacy away; monitor more of our communications; ban more of
us from flying; engage in rituals to create the illusion of Strength; imprison
more people without charges; take more and more control and power so you can
Keep Us Safe.
This is what inevitably happens to a citizenry that is fed a steady diet of fear
and terror for years. It regresses into pure childhood. The
5-year-old laying awake in bed, frightened by monsters in the closet, who then
crawls into his parents' bed to feel Protected and Safe, is the same as a
citizenry planted in front of the television, petrified by endless imagery of
scary Muslim monsters, who then collectively crawl to Government and demand that
they take more power and control in order to keep them Protected and Safe.
A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other
competing values can only be degraded and depraved."
The degrading effects of terrorism fears (Glenn Greenwald)
Fri-Jan 01 2010
Wherein I Succumb to a Internet iPod List Meme
You can learn a lot about someone by the music they listen to. Hit shuffle on
your iPod or mp3 player and write down the first 25 songs. No cheating or
skipping songs that are shameful. That is the fun!
- Beatles - Back in the USSR
- Led Zeppelin - Sick Again
- Neil Young - Lookout Joe
- Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ectasy
- Muggs - White Boy Blues
- DuKe Ellington - Pyramid (Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters)
- RotoR - Transporter
- Traffic - Shootout At The Fantasy Factory
- Mixtape - audite_-_choen_dabbish_2.mp3
- Kocani Orkestar - Ederlezi Avela
- Creation Rebel - Give Me Power (Feat. Jah Woosh)
- Robert Johnson - Malted Milk
- Of Montreal - She's A Rejecter
- Audio Active - coolness in my foolishness
- Miles Davis - Capricorn
- Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
- Nicky Thomas - Love Of The Common People
- Tom Waits - Goin' Out West
- Pinch - Lazurus
- AC/DC - Give The Dog A Bone
- Frank Sinatra - My Kind Of Town
- Richard Thompson - Two Left Feet
- Oumou Sangare - Wayana
- Astor Piazzolla - Milonga del Angel
- Eagles of Death Metal - Speaking In Tongues
Via my girl's got miraculous technique