Saturday, November 03, 2007

"If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn't be surprised when you get amateur security."

Bruce Schneier deftly explains why everything is all cocked up. Security wise, that is. And why it all seems so dumb. The culture of fear marches ever onward these days...

Full article well worth a read.

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected:
"...This isn't the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it's happening everywhere. It's a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they're the front line of terrorism defense. "If you see something, say something" is how the ads read in the New York City subways. "If you suspect something, report it" urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.

The problem is that ordinary citizens don't know what a real terrorist threat looks like. They can't tell the difference between a bomb and a tape dispenser, electronic name badge, CD player, bat detector, or a trash sculpture; or the difference between terrorist plotters and imams, musicians, or architects. All they know is that something makes them uneasy, usually based on fear, media hype, or just something being different.

Even worse: after someone reports a "terrorist threat," the whole system is biased towards escalation and CYA instead of a more realistic threat assessment.

...For some reason, governments are encouraging this kind of behavior. It's not just the publicity campaigns asking people to come forward and snitch on their neighbors; they're asking certain professions to pay particular attention: truckers to watch the highways, students to watch campuses, and scuba instructors to watch their students. The U.S. wanted meter readers and telephone repairmen to snoop around houses. There's even a new law protecting people who turn in their travel mates based on some undefined "objectively reasonable suspicion," whatever that is.

If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn't be surprised when you get amateur security.

...Equally important, politicians need to stop praising and promoting the officers who get it wrong. And everyone needs to stop castigating, and prosecuting, the victims just because they embarrassed the police by their innocence.

Causing a city-wide panic over blinking signs, a guy with a pellet gun, or stray backpacks, is not evidence of doing a good job: it's evidence of squandering police resources. Even worse, it causes its own form of terror, and encourages people to be even more alarmist in the future."

Re: Your Brains

Easily the finest acoustic zombie folk song of our generation.
"A video for Jonathan Coulton's brilliant zombie song, using clips from zombie movies such as Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead and Evil Dead 2-3 as well as images from Twilight Creations boardgame "Zombies!!!"."

Friday, November 02, 2007

In the words of the cabbie from Old School...

Mitch: Sorry, your seatbelt seems to be broken. What do you recommend I do?
Cab Driver: I recommend you stop being such a faggot. You're in the backseat.

For all users of anti-bacterial lotions and creams and soaps and lets-all-be-afraid of the icky-icky-world-around-us people...

Just stop it. You're screwing it up for everybody.

You big, fat pile of bacteria / Go ahead, roll in it. Revel in it. You're made of it. What, you prefer a meek, sterile world?:
"...these bacteria, is/are vital and essential to our survival, the cultural mind-set at large runs directly opposite. So much so that we could be, in effect, cleaning and scrubbing and protecting ourselves to death, as our immune systems whimper and wither and drug-resistant bacteria get nastier and nature always, always finds a way to thwart our silly efforts to eradicate its wild side.

Hell, just look at the ads, the obnoxious articles, the insidious marketing, the cleaning solvent aisle at the supermarket, all screaming the same shrill one-note alarm (and all, by the way, apparently aimed straight at the same sad demographic: frumpy paranoid moms with too many kids and too little time to actually, you know, read): Bacteria is bad! Germs are evil! Don't touch that doorknob! If you consider yourself a good parent, if you love your kids, you must scrub every surface and sanitize every toilet and wash your hands 12 times an hour and oh my God don't ever ever ever let your kids eat something from the floor or the table or the backyard garden because what are you, insane?

Yes, obviously, it's just more fear-based B.S. for a fear-based culture, right?

...Tract homes. Cruise ships. Gated communities. Giant, vacuum-sealed malls. Swimming pools with no deep ends. Swimming pools built 50 yards from the warm, dangerous ocean in Hawaii. Theme restaurants. Theme hotels. Theme vacations. Theme nature. Second Life. Megachurches. Groupthink. Intellectual numbness. Spiritual stasis. Rubber gloves. Face masks. Body condoms. Processed foods. Bans on raw milk. Quadruple-washed lettuce. Spitting instead of swallowing. Entire islands and towns built and owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company.

And then, wider: Fear of your own body. Fear of sex, blood, bodily fluids, human contact. Fear of pain, aging, death. Fear of nature. Fear of the new. Fear of the different, the strange, the foreign, the Other...

The trend is palpable, obvious, sad. We seem to be all too happy to have as much raw human experience filed down to a safe nub as possible, all contingencies taken care of and all bacteria scrubbed away and all dangers bleached out and not a single thing left to chance because oh my God what if something went wrong?"

Why Americans should eat more excrement. - By Kent Sepkowitz - Slate Magazine:
"But here is the problem: We have become victims of our own success. Ever wonder why your dog can gobble, lick, and gnaw all he wants along the glorious buffet of a city street and (almost) never get sick? Your dog is used to eating shit. Americans, on the other hand, grow up eating almost no shit at all. Our food is hosed and boiled and rinsed and detoxified and frozen and salted and preserved. Recently, we have begun to irradiate it, too—just in case. As a result, when our bodies encounter the occasional inevitable bug, they're unhappy. Our centuries-long program of winnowing out all the muck has turned us into sissies and withered the substantial part of the immune system mediated by our intestinal tract."

riotclitshave rocks.


I have solved the puzzle of Japan's low birthrate.

You're welcome.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Guys, You Might Want to Back Away from the Edamame:
"There was an inverse association between soy food intake and sperm concentration that remained significant when evaluated with respect to age, abstinence, body mass, and caffeine, each of tobacco intake."

"Crossdressing Republican Lawmaker Admits Sexual Encounter With Male Escort."

What a great headline.

Crooks and Liars » Crossdressing Republican Lawmaker Admits Sexual Encounter With Male Escort:
"State Rep. Richard Curtis, R-La Center, admitted to having sex with a man he met at an adult video store in Spokane last week, according to a police report released Tuesday afternoon."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Return of the King.

And a thousand geeks cried out in joy!

And I'm totally one of them.

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel | SCIFI.COM:
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon is heading back to TV, along with his Buffy co-star Eliza Dushku, with Dollhouse, an SF series that Fox has given a seven-episode order, Variety reported.

Dushku will star in the Whedon-penned series, to be produced by 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind Buffy, its spinoff series Angel and Whedon's SF western show, Firefly.

Dollhouse follows a top-secret world of people programmed with different personalities, abilities and memories, depending on their mission.

After each assignment—which can be physical, romantic or even illegal—the characters have their memories wiped clean and are sent back to a lab (dubbed the dollhouse). The show centers on Dushku's character, Echo, as she slowly begins to develop some self-awareness."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Headline of the day - "God Can Suck My Dick"

Worth it just for that, really.

Funny, funny diatribe.

Full article at the link.

eXile - Issue #128 - Feature Story - God Can Suck My Dick - By Matt Taibbi:
"...Despite what you may think, God people are not just incredibly stupid. They're dangerous. They make possible every kind of human idiocy. Why? Not just because they tend to be zealots who try to force their point of view on other people (indeed, most religions consider non-believers lost or damned); not just because they do things like level the World Trade Center or strap dynamite to themselves and walk into abortion clinics to kill teenage girls they don't even know...

...In any case, here are seven deadly ways you can do your part to depress God people as much as they depress you:

(1) Don't celebrate Christmas...

(2) Engage in pointlessly heated arguments with elderly Believers who are set in their ways.

...Engage in conversation with the elderly person and then gradually maneuver the discussion in the direction of God. It can be as crude as "Nice necklace. What, do you believe in God?" Then, when the answer comes in the affirmative, argue. Argue ruthlessly. Pose a difficult question: why is it necessary to terrify children with images of hell so early in life? Isn't that violent and cruel? Harp on issues like this, which are effective in the sense that it makes them, the harmless old person, feel in retrospect like the villain and think with regret that they might have been unkind to their children in their past, which is the only time which is real for them anyway. Never forget to bring up the Inquisition, the pogroms, the corruption of Jesus's message by the Catholic church, the debauchery of the Popes, the Ku Klux Klan... Make the blood rush out of their faces by introducing the topic of the sexual confusion the Christian attitude toward intimacy causes in almost all Western adults, who are trained to think of sex as something dirty and shameful. Say things like: "Religion teaches us that our natural curiosity about the opposite sex is perverted and shameful; but since these are natural urges, and the body will protest endlessly at its inclinations being repressed, a schism inevitably forms in the adult's personality, one that is never cured..."

(3) Convert the faithful.

They do it to you. Why can't you do it to them?...

(4) Inform small children that there is no God.

Gain legal access to children somehow. Depending on the scale you want to practice this technique on, you might want to get a job as a teacher or a coach... If you are blunt enough about how you tell them the truth, children will believe you, because children are smart. At the very least, they will be left with doubts, and doubts will be enough to do the trick...

(5) Do not allow priests or nuns into your home if they are in costume; do not socialize with priests or nuns in formal costume...

(6) Become a Jesus Freak.

The best way to turn people off to religion is to out-idiot them at their own idiotic game. In this case, become a Jesus freak of the early-1970s variety... People will start to question the fact that they believe in the same thing you do.

(7) Seduce Religious Women.

Once a woman is old enough to drink, her confidence suddenly plummets and she'll cling to anyone, or anything - whether it's Jesus or Ayn Rand. Find yourself a lonely religious girl and seduce her with all the charm (but not money) you can muster. Fuck her well, and lick her box for two hours. Then, once she starts clinging to you, tell her that you're not sure if you guys have a future because she believes in Jesus. Then kick back and watch as she uses her Bibles and crucifixes to warm the fire. Once that's done and you've completely shaken her faith, dump her and move on to the next one - preferably her fucked-up sister."

If only we were as smart as the people in the 1930's.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Prohibition Was Not an Awful Flop:
" decide whether banning booze was a good policy, which is what the DEA seems to be arguing, it's not enough to know whether it reduced drinking. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that paternalism can be justified on a utilitarian basis, you need to know whether the benefit from fewer alcohol-related problems outweighed the costs associated with prohibition, including the loss of privacy and freedom, black-market violence, official corruption, disrespect for the law, injuries and deaths from illicit alcohol, and the strengthening of organized crime. A consensus developed during Prohibition that, whatever its benefits might be, they were not worth these costs. By that measure, alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and early '30s, like drug prohibition today, was a failure, even if it 'worked' in the sense that it discouraged drinking.

It's hard to take prohibitionists seriously when they act as if the policy they favor carries no costs. But by pining for the days of Al Capone and methanol-tainted rotgut, at least the DEA is being consistent."

And on the cognitive dissonance and black/white zero sum thinking of the drug "warriors."

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Measuring Prohibitions:
"...The inevitable rise in use that would follow legalization is a point proponents of drug prohibition often fault drug war critics for not acknowledging, though I really don't know of any critics who don't willingly concede the point.

The more appropriate response to "more users" argument is "so what?" A slight rise in the number of recreational drug users is only a problem if you believe that there's something inherently immoral and destructive about smoking a joint or snorting a line of coke--any worse, say, than downing a shot of whiskey or a taking drag off a tobacco pipe. The subset of people who refrain from drug use today out of respect for the law, but who might experiment with drugs should they one day be legal, probably isn't one we need to worry about becoming addicted in mass numbers, or committing crimes to support their habit (which probably wouldn't happen anyway if drugs were legal--how many alcoholics mug, burgle, or kill for gin money?). Unless you buy the "gateway" theory of marijuana, or the "instant addiction" theory about cocaine, both of which have zero scientific validity, I'm just not sure having slightly more overall users will have much of a negative impact on society at large.

The question, then, is what's the problem?

Many drug warriors get downright offended when you ask them that (I don't know that Goldberg would--he's historically ambivalent about the drug war). The problem for them is very simply that there will be more drug users. It's rather simple: Drug use = bad. More drug use = worse. Less drug use = success. For nearly forty years, these really been the only criteria for measuring the effectiveness of drug policy."

See, they're just trying to help.

They could really help by leaving people the hell alone.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Protected to Death:
"Last March, when the Drug Enforcement Administration seized less than half an ounce of cannabis that Robin Prosser, a Missoula lupus patient and medical marijuana activist, had been sent by her caregiver, the special agent in charge of the DEA's Rocky Mountain Field Division said it was 'protecting people from their own state laws.' Last week, unable to find a reliable supply of the only drug that relieved her pain without causing unacceptable side effects, Prosser killed herself. Although the use of medical marijuana is legal in Montana, friends say suppliers were spooked by the DEA."

And from the comments, I thought this particularly lucid and spot-on.
"I think many government servants, most especially law enforcement and prosecutors and judges but even low level pencil-pushers/clerks, sincerely believe that they are our sovereigns instead of the other way around; government has become equated with authority over ordinary citizens ('the authorities') in such a deeply entrenched way that people who don't view government as such (such as libertarians) are at best dismissed as kooks and at worst vilified and persecuted as being dangerous.

...I feel like there is a general disposition in government (and even amongst large portions of the public) in general which holds that government has an inalienable right to power over the general population, that government (even here in America) is solely responsible for taking 'care' of citizens in an increasing number of ways and deciding how that care ought to be administered. There's also the maintenance of authority to be considered. The above quote from the former DEA head got me thinking about this. Cops, even the very many honest and good-natured ones who I believe make up the majority, have to be authoritarian and somewhat bullying in the streets; they have to intimidate, because that is mostly where their power to enforce laws comes from: fear on the part of citizens.

In other words, they cannot tolerate any disrespect, lawful or unlawful, or even the appearance of such disrespect, because it makes them look bad and hinders their ability (or at least, they believe it does) to deal with the population and do their jobs. That's why you don't even talk back to a cop, why you run when he tells you to move along, why you don't dare question him when he seems to be violating the rights of another citizen.

...It's the subtly superior and almost punitive attitude I sense whenever I have to deal with any government bureaucracy whatsoever, that I object to.

If you've ever gotten a sense that cops are something like a semi-benevolent armed gang out there, yet one with official sanction and endless reach which you dare not cross (even though 'crossing' a cop is not equivalent to committing a crime), you know where I'm coming from."

The kind of direct, forthright and unambiguous communication I can get behind.

3PM And Devote Your Full Attention to It

Peon #1: Did you devote your full attention to this?
Peon #2: Bite me.

Wausau, Wisconsin

via Overheard in the Office, Oct 31, 2007


Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > 'That Is Not a Drug. It's a Leaf':
"On the subject of pot smoking, politicians like Schwarzenegger (and Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Newt Gingrich) want to have it both ways. On the one hand, it's no big deal, something you can wink at and laugh about. On the other hand, it justifies some 830,000 arrests a year. Which is it?"

The good old days.

2PM Yeah, Fascism Does Have Its Charms

Teacher: You should all go back in time to where I would walk in the room and you all stand up and say, 'Hello, Professor M*!'
Student: And women shouldn't have the right to vote!

Newton, Massachusetts

via Overheard in the Office, Oct 30, 2007

Things I actually do miss living in Japan

A surprisingly short list.

- Good whole wheat bread.

- Cold medicine/aspirin/cough syrup at the local 7-11/local grocery. Individual kusuriyas are a pain.

- A washing machine with an agitator. Clothes just don't get as clean without. A dryer. Wintertime hanging of the laundry seems to result in only cold, wet clothes.

Everything else, mainly through the magic of the internets, is pretty easily available.

Oh yeah, and the family and friends type stuff too. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Your Score: Nite-Owl

You scored 71% Moral Imperatives and 67% Attitude!

You are outwardly altruistic yet neurotically obsessed.

Whether through a privileged background or being just plain naive, you try to act as a morally conscious individual while never fully attempting to understand the harsher sides of reality, torn between contemplating your own identity and being a good person.

Though compassionate and honourable, you suffer from an incomplete personality and your unresolved neurosis border on the egomanical leaving you in the dark.

Link: The Watchmen Personality Type Test written by Number_Six on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

The comedy of political stupidity.

Fear-based political stupidity, of course.

Fearing Fear Itself - New York Times:
"Indeed, “Already, some observers are warning that by the end of the 21st century the whole of Europe will be transformed into a place to which they give the name Eurabia.”

Do I have to point out that none of this makes a bit of sense?

For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s.

...Thus, in a recent campaign ad Mitt Romney asserted that America is in a struggle with people who aim “to unite the world under a single jihadist Caliphate. To do that they must collapse freedom-loving nations. Like us.” He doesn’t say exactly who these jihadists are, but presumably he’s referring to Al Qaeda — an organization that has certainly demonstrated its willingness and ability to kill innocent people, but has no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world.

And Mike Huckabee, whom reporters like to portray as a nice, reasonable guy, says that if Hillary Clinton is elected, “I’m not sure we’ll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” Yep, a bunch of lightly armed terrorists and a fourth-rate military power — which aren’t even allies — pose a greater danger than Hitler’s panzers or the Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

All of this would be funny if it weren’t so serious."

I don't even play video games, but I COULD NOT stop watching this.

Oddly captivating.

Nothing to see here... just move along.

9AM Don't Even Get Them Started on Sippy Cups

Suit #1: What was that?
Suit #2: What?
Suit #1: You just hid something when I came up.
Suit #2: It was my juice box, because it's... You know...
Suit #1: What? There's nothing wrong with drinking juice from a box. I love juice boxes.
Assistant, walking up: What are you guys talking about?
Both suits, in unison: Nothing.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Overheard by: Cube Guru

via Overheard in the Office, Oct 29, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Things that are slightly unpleasant.

Teaching six classes of elementary school while battling a full-on cold, complete with headaches, coughs, runny nose and sore throat.

Still... worse ways to make a living.

I don't watch a lot of football anymore, but this is awesome.

The most football I watch these days is on Friday Night Lights, but this play couldn't have been better if it actually was on a TV show.

Just awesome.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Parent's Weekend 1 - Sasebo

Midori completes her transition into typical teenage Japanese keitei obsessed youth.

Unintentional big-head shot.

Below a candid, over the shoulder, no look shot that actually gets everybody in the picture.

They clearly didn't see it coming.

Sasebo, where I was happier than I should've been to find a Popeye's Fried Chicken.

2nd day leftover Subway sandwiches are equally good.

The combined Pugh - Snider - Adachi clans actually bought food from all of the places in the Sasebo food court.



Dunkin Donuts...


Taco Bell...

Baskin Robbins...

No stone left unturned.

We have tasted overindulgence.

And it was good.

The car below pulled into the same rest stop as us on the way home. The dude driving it was even sporting an aloha shirt and two-tone loafers. Total 1950's throwback.

I swear, if that car was a ragtop, it'd be my dream ride.

When you try and get your Japanese cousin to say hi to her American brethren, the fear sets in.

Notice though, in the truest sense of 15 year old teenage-dom, despite her fleeing, she pauses to check her hair and reflection in the car window.

Ah, to be 15 again.