Mister Pterodactyl
Monday, June 28, 2004
Follow-up to that last post. Read this:

Right after 9/11, some of us thought it was impossible for leftist critics to undermine a war against fascists who were sexist, fundamentalist, homophobic, racist, ethnocentric, intolerant of diversity, mass murderers of Kurds and Arabs, and who had the blood of 3,000 Americans on their hands. We were dead wrong. In fact, they did just that. Abu Ghraib is on the front pages daily. Stories of thousands of American soldiers in combat against terrorist killers from the Hindu Kush to Fallujah do not merit the D section.

Saturday, June 26, 2004
In case you didn't catch it on Instapundit:

"A week ago, the New York Times reported, in a screaming page-one headline, that the 9/11 Commission had found "No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." Today, in a remarkable story that positively oozes with consciousness of guilt, the Times confesses not only that there is documentary evidence of at least one tie but that the Times has had the document in question for several weeks. That is, the Times was well aware of this information at the very time of last week's reporting, during which, on June 17, it declaimed from its editorial perch that the lack of a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and Osama bin Laden's terror network meant President Bush owed the nation an apology."

He concludes, "who knows what else the Times is not telling us?" Here's a link to the NYT article.

Prior to the war, I was irritated by the administration's efforts to link Iraq and 9-11 (they never said there was a link, but they consistently lumped the two together in their statements). Nothing bugs me like a bad argument for a position I agree with; a sophisticated, rigorous argument is a persuasive argument. Dissembling makes it seem like you can't do that. Still, it's almost as bad to see the same thing coming from the other side. I'm a news junkie and I pay attention, and I have smart people like Cori at Rantingprofs to help me out. But when the NYT runs Abu Ghraib stories on the front page almost every day for a month, when Michael Moore trots out his insane crap, when a respected media outlet flat-out lies to us, how does that help them? How does it advance their argument? And how does it affect public opinion?

Sadly, some of the loudest anti-war woices in this country want so much to be right that they'll do anything, not to make their case, just to discredit the other side. They're just not making an argument any more.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Paul Johnson, and now Kim Sun Il. That's four victims beheaded for the benefit of cameras, just as far as I know, and just so far.

Here's what I can't stop thinking about: Al Jazeera got the tapes. That means somebody at Al Jazeera received those tapes; maybe in the mail, maybe in person. It means somebody gave those tapes to them. Somebody at Al Jazeera knows who provided the tapes.

Find him.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Congratulations to Burt Rotan, head of Scaled Composites and designer of SpaceShipOne.

Of course, he hasn't won the prize yet.

I have to admit I'm a little curious how they measured the altitude. I know there are well established methods, but I wonder if they're still effective that far up. So if you saw it live, let me know if you noticed a really long tape measure dangling from the thing.
Friday, June 18, 2004
I've altered my links list. Removed a couple; sorry about that, but I found myself visiting them less and less and finally decided to take them down. New news blogs: NK Zone has lots of information about Korea (my second favorite country) and a bunch of links to more of the same. Winds of Change is a very handy site that, among other things, posts news roundups on many regions of the world. And at the bottom, a group blog I'm taking part in, Grandpa John. It's an ongoing discussion so probably makes more sense if you start at the bottom and work up; inconvenient, but true. By the way, he's not my grandpa. Click away.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Them telemarketers are crafty:

Got a voice mail message today from a woman. She left her name, an 800 number, and said "it's very important that you call me right away so we can get this business taken care of."

She failed to mention what business. Hmmm...
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Update to my last post:

In the comments JB wrote,
Usually, when I talk to people about my atheism, I turn things around and discuss the reasons they believe first. 1. That's what they grew up with. Most of their friends believe, their families. There's no reason to think any differently. Indeed, most don't want to think about any alternatives. 2. We are going to die. That scares us. We want to believe we won't. The existence of god gives us comfort and in most cases, if we are good we can be with god and if not... 3. An all powerful, all knowing being gives us an explanation for things we can't understand. God made us. In more primitive times gods guided the wind, rain, anything we couldn't control or overcome. 4. Everything must have a beginning and end. Our lives, the universe. We can't understand that perhaps a parallel lines do go on forever and never cross. The Universe does go on forever and will last forever.

Okay, first, in all probability the universe will eventually succumb to its own gravity and collapse back into itself, thus will not last forever. Outside possibility that it will, after reaching a certain point, then begin expanding again. Will that be the same universe 'lasting forever,' or will it be an entirely new universe?

Second, and more importantly, reason #1 is a cause for belief, though one that I discounted in my own case. The other three reasons are not cause. They're fringe benefits of belief (assuming that belief is in fact warranted). Religion may provide some comfort, but that's not enough to make one believe. It's the 'hedging your bets' idea: profess belief and go to church and whatever, then if true I reap the benefits, if false I haven't lost anything.
Friday, June 11, 2004
Well, it happened again. Somebody asked me about my religion.

I suppose it doesn't really happen that often. It seems like it does though. Somebody asks me, so I say I'm an atheist.

[By the way, I don't really think 'atheist,' but having no belief in supernatural entities that are responsible for the creation of the universe and expect me to behave in certain ways, it's the only word people understand. Agnostic, maybe, but that’s for another post.]

Often, the person then comments, "what made you choose that?" Or something similar. I never could answer that to my own satisfaction until the other day.

One does not choose beliefs. One comes to them. I don't remember ever deciding to become atheist; that is a result of experience and reflection. Likewise, I didn't choose my political views.
I do choose what books I read, what movies I watch, what foods I eat, based on what I like or prefer, but I never consciously chose what books, movies, foods to like.

So where do these things come from? I cited ‘experience and reflection,’ but that’s not completely satisfactory either. What experiences can I credit with having formed my religious/political views? Or my food preferences, for that matter? I can’t turn to the influence of others; I was raised in a (more or less) Christian atmosphere, the people around me have had widely varying political opinions, I just can’t get enough kimchi (most Americans can’t stand the stuff). I can’t assert superior intelligence, much as I’d like to; there are many perfectly intelligent people who I disagree with on any issue you care to name. I can’t claim some special knowledge that others lack; how would I even know I had it?

Mister Pterodactyl will be considering this issue. More later.

BTW, any ideas?

Friday, June 04, 2004
Having a rough time writing lately. Just a quick note today.

I’ve mentioned my dissatisfaction with the presidential primary system before.
The Iowa caucus isn't even representative of Iowa's citizens, much less the rest of the country. And yet they're first every time, and candidates take it seriously. Gephardt dropped out after Iowa, and others were leaving the race after just four or five more. I think that's pretty screwed up.

Not once in my life has my preferred candidate still been in the race when my home state held its primary vote. Even this year, when the vote was moved up to February. The system makes some votes count more than others, it creates pressure for states to compete with each other for influence, and it’s causing a race to the front. And that’s the reason we’re now suffering through this interminable campaign season.

Tradition aside, there's no reason at all that Iowa and New Hampshire should have such an inordinate influence on the decision. And how many states held their votes after Kerry was the last man standing? Anybody know?

So, here’s an idea that I’ve seen proposed before but can’t remember where (it didn’t originate with me). Step one: group the states into five or six regions. Step two: have one ‘regional’ primary per week, starting in (say) July. Step three: rotate the order in which the primaries are held, so each one gets a chance to be first.

Wouldn't that be more fair?
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Instapundit and Rantingprof have already linked to this. I'm doing it too because it's just outstanding. It's an interview with Marek Edelman, who led the Warsaw uprising in 1943 and is the last surviving member.

Rantingprof in particular noted the tone of the questions. The interviewer did seem rather determined to promote a negative spin on America and the Iraq war. However, Edelman knocked every single one out of the park. Go read it, it's short. My favorite part:

"Interviewer: But those people then were fighting for their country.

Edelman: They were fighting for their world."

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