Friday, August 06, 2004


Today, I guess, I'm going to write about my own self--just as soon as I've put in a short remark about Lynndie England. As you have probably realized, these are two extremely controversial subjects, so I hope you will bear my opinions. These opinions deserve a hearing, as I am an expert on at least one of these topics.

As you might imagine, I am not a great fan of Pfc. Lynndie England, the charming young dominatrix of Abu Ghraib. (Interestingly, though not surprising, she does have at least one fan website of which I am aware; I'll leave it to the reader to do the Google invocation that will transport him/her to this hideous thing.) By the way, as I write, I am enduring a lecture by former DCI James Woolsey--there is a demonic creature, if you're a casting one for a movie. Back to Lynndie. Her case is now before whatever is the military equivalent of a grand jury to determine what crimes she eventually stand trial for. At this moment, she's getting a good look at a 38 year prison sentence. You probably knew all of this stuff. You have probably also heard that 21-year-old Lynndie was... oh, a little slutty... in the last couple of years. She had a sexual relationship with one her fellow MPs; she appeared in all sorts of pawh-no-graffik pictures (in addition to the pictures of her committing war crimes); that sort of thing. Now, most of the people reading this were college students recently and are, hence, already aware of this, but I think most people have heard the word on the street: college students, not infrequently, tend be... oh, kinda skanky. You yourself might even have been a skank. I can't be certain, as I went to college, but I believe that other 18- to 22-year-olds of all genders and blends may tend to behave this way--that is, like... oh, raving hoochies. Anyway, so let's say that England's behavior in this sphere--i.e. being a raving hoochie-skank-slut, as it were--was profoundly unacceptable in the circumstances; and I suppose that should be punished somehow. On the other hand, this behavior has made millions of dollars for the guys publishing the "Girls Gone Wild" series of videos, so no one is claiming that this sort of crime is crippling American society. Why do I bring this up? Because, it seems, she's looking at some significant amount of jail time for "the creation and possession of sexually explicit photographs." Because, "the six additional specifications double her maximum possible sentence from about 15 years to 30 years" (Army Times). So we consider "indecent acts" and war crimes to be more or less equally heinous and prosecutable? Great message. I have to say also, that this does look suspiciously like killing a scapegoat.

Wow. I'm not sure I could have found a wordier way to say that.

Now, about me: I am so, so tired of thinking about political crap. I am tired of feeling bad that I haven't been sufficiently vigilant. I'm tired of feeling like a conspiracy theorist half way through my shower in the morning then learning that I was more or less right to have been that paranoid by lunch time. (By the way, I usually shower at approximately 10am, so the turn around is, like, two hours. That's so sad.) I want to be able to allow myself to concentrate on something else without feeling like I've got my head in... the sand. I have better things to do with my time than ponder what sort of life we can maintain once the shit has hit the fan. It's not unreasonable to imagine that something slightly finer could come from me than intricate contingency plans. Just let me do math, and let me paint, and let me write my crazy stories without worrying about whether there will be air to breathe next Thursday. I have established that there is a subspecies of humans that are genuinely political. These are not the same as those people who get themselves in trouble, though there is obviously some overlap. These are people who carry a biological imperative to get everybody in trouble along with themselves. These people would actually be an independent species except that their procreative process--similar to that of pod-people, a related but distinct organism--is parasitic in nature, whence they remain capable of breeding with less noxious homosapiens forms. They can often be identified by their desire to where suits and ties (sadly, they also come many other forms, including 35-years-late-hippies and people who enjoy putting -nik at the ends of things, a la "peaceniks") and a tendency to pretend that obvious and simple questions are wildly complex, thereby opening a space for pointless and often destructive maneuvering. Do not play with these people.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


Creation science, a/k/a Intelligent-design, and the folks who are laboring--really laboring--to somehow debunk the theory of evolution make me feel really bad. I feel so sorry for these people. If you take a look at some of their material (which is not hard 'cause they're happy to give you an ear-full, or an eye-full, as it were), it's not a very difficult to task to jab holes in pretty much all of their proposals. If I were a more cruel person than I am, it might even be a fun little game if you don't have something better to do (like study for a big-ass exam that constitutes one of the major hurdles of your young life... but that's me). The sad thing about most of the creationist arguments is not that they're stupid--in fact, I don't think most of them are stupid really--it's how grotesquely limited they are. No, no, let me try again. Their arguments demonstrate a real desire to limit their own minds. There are an awful lot of things, in science and philosophy, surely, but really wherever you look, that just have nothing at all to do with common sense. Physics has an awful lot of good examples of this phenomenon ("What was going on the moment before the Big Bang?" Answer: The question isn't sensible; there was no Time to talk about.) But I think evolutionary biology has a least one really good one. For one, even ridiculously improbable things become likely when you allow, say, a billion years for them to occur. This fact pretty much annihilates the majority of creationist arguments, by the way; in particular, the ones that claim that biology must provide a specific explanation of the origin of life, other than certain chemicals being near each other in some abundance. Just like "a point when there was no Time," the idea of billion years is really just goofy unless you're willing to do some real mental stretching. Okay, physics is hard. But surely, a billion years is much less hard.

What saddens me, I guess, is that these folks put so much effort into avoiding any mental stretching, to the point that they impose their own inflexibility on God. Why would you do that? It's not like God doesn't have the time to spend on a 12 billion year project. Actually, I think that if God managed to make a universe that actually builds itself by means of a handful of simple processes--well, that sounds particularly elegant to me. It saddens me because they put so much effort into hiding from the fact that the universe is just so finely wrought. And so strange that it might as well be heaven, or hell, or whatever you want.

While I'm gushing, here's my favorite quote of the moment:
"Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye."