Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This is me getting beat at chess by our Karen guest.
and this is me and my mom, recently. She's dying.
and this is arguably a relatively accurate depiction of Jesus. He's allegedly not dead, but he certainly hasn't demonstrated any interest in preventing my mother's untimely death. He also continues to refuse to kill my grandfather. Or maybe he just doesn't realize I want him dead, and her healed. Maybe there's some sort of communication problem. Or maybe he just doesn't care. Or maybe there's some other explanation that I'm not privy to. But I doubt that last.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 1:04 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
1. My ongoing lack of perfection
2. American soldiers killing people
3. My fucking grandfather (the bastard)
4. Abusive churches
5. Half truths
6. Obnoxiously cheerful people
7. Obnoxiously cheerful Christians
(note: the last two categories aren't mutually exclusive)
(note 2: I'm fairly certain he's not technically a bastard)
(note 3: I hope he dies really soon. ideally before my mother.)
8. Books by Dan Allender
9. People who are moving slowly in such a way that I am forced to slow down.
10. People who are excessively willing to believe in God AND let her off the hook for everything.
Prayer for the evening:
- Could you arrange for my grandfather to die really soon?
- Some effective help for the 160 U.S. veteran who will attempt suicide tomorrow? I'm specifically thinking if you could provide some help for my dad, that would be great.
- Could you please arrange for the U.S. soldier who killed these four people to be brought to justice?
- Could you please arrange things so that I can avoid being brought to justice for my crimes?
- Could you eradicate cancer? I realize it might cause a pretty big shift in world population growth. But that's okay, because we can just have more abortions, right? (if you could do that in time to save my mom, that would be kewl)
- While you're busy affecting world population growth, maybe you could also eradicate malaria, war, natural disasters, and heart disease.
- While you're about reducing human suffering so much, maybe you could tweak the whole species (us, I mean) so we don't so radically *need* suffering for self-definition and self-understanding.
- I guess that last one might be kind of hard. Not that you are very likely to be able to manage any of these. I mean even C.S. Lewis likes to point out that miracles are called that because they are relatively rare.
- Could you arrange for Nancy Pelosi to ascend to the presidency. Immediately--so she could serve out the next 8 months until Obama takes over.
- (God, wouldn't that freak out/piss off a few people? That would just seriosquiolio make my week.)
- Thanks for sending the lovely Karen family our way. They are *yotta* brilliant.
- I need some energy/motivation for the whole job hunt thing.
- I understand people who commit suicide.
- Thanks for Helen Dewitt. She's fucking brilliant:
Following is a section from Helen Dewitt's brilliant brilliant brilliant novel. It doesn't really do it justice. You should read the novel. You can get if free from your local library. If your library can't get you a copy, email me and I'll mail you my copy.
"I’m better on mechanics than pharmaceuticals, I said. I can make a noose. You want to break the neck rather than suffocate, if possible; apparently that’s quite difficult with a sheet. My mother thought I should know how in case I was ever put in prison and tortured—I’m terribly sorry.
That’s all right, he said. He drank a lot of the drink. She’s probably right. It’s not a bad thing to know—if you’ve use of your hands. I was tied up the whole time, so it wouldn’t have helped.
Except when you played chess, I said.
No, I was tied up then too. He made my moves for me. Sometimes he’d deliberately move a piece to the wrong square and pretend not to understand if I objected. You wouldn’t have thought I’d have cared, with everything else, but I made me absolutely furious. I’d refuse to play, and he’d beat me. Or he’d beat me if he lost. He didn’t beat me if he beat me.
He was kind of split up. He’d be quite friendly when he brought out the board, and he’d smile. That would last for a few moves and then sometimes he’d start to cheat, and sometimes he’d lose his temper and hit me with the gun, and sometimes. The friendliness was the horrible part, because he’d be hurt, genuinely hurt. When I wasn’t please to see him or took offence because he’d beat the shit out of me the day before. An dnow that I’m back that’s all I see. That horrible friendliness everywhere. All these people who simply don’t realise, it just doesn’t occur to them that
That’s what I mean about the ordinariness. That’s why it’s not enough. It’s not enough to stand up to what’s there, but people go on smiling pleasantly
My wife smiles and I see that horrible friendliness on her face. My children disgust me. They’re delightful, extroverted, confident. They know what they want, and that’s what interests them, and it disgusts me. They allowed me two weeks to be a bit strange, and then they all came to me separately.
My wife said she knew what I’d been through but this was hard on the children. My daughter came to see me and said it was hard on Mum, I didn’t know what they’d been through. My son said it was hard on his Mum and sister.
So then I think, this is bloody ridiculous. It’s unfar. They’re perfectly OK. It’s not their fault. What do you want? Do yo uwant htem to be shell-shocked and dreaming of horrors? You want them to be safe from all that. You want all the rest to get away to be ordinary. And I think, we’ve got so much. Let’s celebrate life. We’ve got each other, we’re so bloody lucky. And I throw my arms around them with tears in my eyes and I say, Let’s go along the canal and feed the swans. I’m thinking, we can walk straight out of the house, there’s no one to stop us, and we can walk by the canal because there are no land mines and no one’s shelling us, let’s not waste this. And they all look absolutely appalled because it’s such a totally wet thing to do, but they come to humour me, and of course it’s awful.
When you’ve seen things, or things have been done to you, this badness gets inside you and comes back with you, and then people who’ve never been near a war, people who’ve never struck an animal never mind tortured anyone—people who are completely innocent—get hurt too. The torture comes out as disgust, and it comes out in that gush of sentimentality that chokes them. I see that but I can’t kill the badness, it just sits inside like a poison toad.
Is it really doing them any good to keep the toad alive? Or even if it is can I go through a lifetime of it?
It would obviously be better to die before rather than after years of suffering; no one would condemn an innocent man to a life sentence to make someone else happy; the question is whether it is really the case that nothing will blot out these memories and that nothing could be good enough to make it worth undergoing them. If that’s the question you can’t seriously expect me to know the answer.
He began laughing again. Could I give a word of advice? he said. Don’t every apply for a job with the Samaritans.
He could hardly speak for laughing.
My mother, I said, called the Samaritans once and asked whether research had been done on thwarted suicides to find out whether they had spent the time after the incident happily.
What did they say?
They said they didn’t know.
I said My mother. She said they should recruit people like Oscar Wilde, only there isn’t anyone like Oscar Wilde. If there were enough people like Oscar Wilde so that you could staff Samaritans with them, no one would want to commit suicide anyway—they would joke themselves out of a job. You could call and someone would say
Do you smoke?
And you’d say
And they’d say Good. A man needs an occupation.
My mother called once and the person kept saying Yes and I hear what you’re saying, which would have been reassuring if my mother had been worried about being inaudible.
So my mother said
Do you smoke?
And the Samaritan said
And my mother said
Do you smoke?
And the Samaritan said
And my mother said
You should. A man needs an occupation.
And the Samaritan said
And my mother said
That’s all right. It’s your life. If you want to throw it away, fine.
Then she ran out of 10p coins.
It’s your life, but you should give these things a chance. You know what Jonathan Glover says.
No, what does Jonathan Glover say? And who is Jonathan Glover?
Jonathan Glover is a moder Utilitarian, and the author of Causing Death and Saving Lives. He says before committing suicide you should change your job, leave your wife, leave the country.
Would it help to leave your job, leave your wife and children, leave the country?
No. It would help a little not to have to fake it all the time. But wherever I went I’d see the same things. I used to think I’d like to see the Himalayas before I died. I thought I’d like to see Tierra del Fuego. The South Pacific—I’ve heard that’s beautiful. But wherever I went I’d see a child clubbed to death with the butt of a rifle and soldiers laughing. There’s nothing I can do to get it out of my mind.
He looked at his glass.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
That weighs upon the heart
Therein the patient
Must minister to himself
He put his head on his hand.
It is a pretty story.
The world would be quite a pretty place if the only people tormented by atrocities were those who’d committed them. Would you like another Coke?
I asked whether I could have orange juice instead.
He went to the refrigerator with his glass. He came back with the glass and a can of Coke.
I don’t mean it wasn’t hard on my wife. She had to shoulder responsibility. She had to write a lot of letters to people who weren’t very helpful. She had to keep going for the sake of the children.
Does she want to die?
I don’t think so.
He said after a pause
It changed her a lot. She became much less
Or rather she became much more
That is she turned into the kind of person who
That is she developed a lot of skills. She organised a successful campaign, you know, that is she organised a campaign that was successful as a campaign, it had a lot of supporters who gave money when she wrote to ask them for money and went on demonstrations when she told them there was going to be a demonstration and wrote letters to their MP when she said everyone should write letters to their MP. The papers published her letters when she wrote letters and they covered the demonstrations when there were demonstrations, and she got interviewed on radio and TV on a regular gasis. That kind of thing doesn’t just happen, you know. Anyway once it happens you become quite confident that you can get that kind of thing to happen.
Would you like another Coke?
I said OK.
He came back with another drink. He said he was sorry but they were out of Coke, he had brought me an orange juice instead.
It sort of spoiled things for the campaign, in a way, my just escaping like that. Apparently negotiations had reached quite a promising stage or anyway my wife thinks they looked quite promising. I could have joepardised everything by just making a run for it. It’s irritating for her to have this have-a-go-Grandad type of attitude to deal with because she thinks it was just luck that it worked whereas she doesn’t think that if a campaign works that’s luck. It’s not that it’s a major irritant, more of a minor irritant, it’s just that I ahd to keep hiding how happy I was to see the dog. He practically went insance as soon as I came into the room, it was all I could do not to or actually I think I did break down and it wasn’t as if he’d developed any media skills worth mentioning or made a significant contribution to the campaign or anything. What I mean is that my wife has spent, well all of them had spent five years making progress or facing setbacks whereas I’d just spent five years
So obviously when the dog died
From Helen Dewitt's The Last Samurai
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 10:35 PM
Monday, May 26, 2008
The Iridium Satellite communication system provides voice telephone capability everywhere on earth, as well as very slow internet access. But it's really expensive.
They have 66 satellites in low earth orbit to accomplish this.
Here's the really kewl thing. The system cost over 6 Billion Dollars to put in place. The service became available on November 1, 1998 (5 days before my 24th birthday). Al Gore made the first phone call on it. And then due to mismanagement and/or a lack of subscribers, they went into chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 13, 1999, about 9 months later.
And the system was more or less *shut down*.
There's something amazingly kewl and creepy about that. Do you sense that? It has the sense of a creepy old ghost town, out of some sci fi novel, with the added element that the buildings and everything are still in top notch condition--everyone has left--no one lives there, but everything still gleams, and there's no dust (It's nearly vacuum!) and with the push of a few buttons, everything can come back on line. 6 Billion Dollars plus of equipment all silently circling the earth--able and willing to connect telephone users anywhere on the surface, but doing ... *nothing*.
Kind of creepy and kewl.
And then some amazingly savvy group of investors bought the whole thing for 25 Million Dollars. Wow. That's getting the equipment for 1/240th of the cost--all almost brand new.
And they started it up again! That's yotta kewl. The ghost town suddenly comes back alive, miraculously, in 2001, more than 16 months after it became a ghost town. 16 months of creepy, clean, waiting-ish silence finally over.
If you're planning to travel somewhere very out of the way where there's no phone service, you can have voice phone service for a mere ~$1.50 a minute (outgoing) or $3.00+ a minute (incoming). That's only ... $90 to $180+ per hour. (not counting the cost of the equipment. Steep for the average individual user, but pretty affordable for lots of organizations.
An interesting side note: The 66 Iridium satellites, which costs $5 million each to build, and something like $35 million each to launch, all have processors running at 200 megahertz, which is about 1/8th the speed of the processor in the practically free laptop upon which I'm writing. But that's what was available back in 97-98.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 12:24 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Words from President Bush's weekly radio address in which he talks about Memorial Day, which is tomorrow:
Sacrifice, freedom, brave, valor, sacred, independence, proud, responsibilities, dignity, honor, good, devoted, commemorate, liberty, bravery, win, secured, heroes, thanks, opportunity, served, delivered, loved, dearly.
On memorial day, 2 U.S. veterans will commit suicide. U.S. troops will kill 7 civilians in Iraq, comprising fully 1/7 of the 47 civilians who will die from war related violence in Iraq on memorial day.
So raise your glasses and be upstanding. I propose a toast. To the American War Dead--to honor, valor, freedom, sacrifice, liberty, dignity, untreated PTSD, and suicide. And to all the other deaths that the American War Dead helped bring about. To the 1 million Iraqi War dead, and the 5 million Vietnamese War Dead. And the 30,000 Nicaraguan War Dead. And the 200,000 Guatemalan War Dead. And the 75,000 Salvadoran Civil War Dead. And finally, to the millions and millions of internally and externally displaced people whose displacement is directly traceable to American military interventions, and thus to the American War Dead. To the dead and displaced!
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 2:10 PM
Friday, May 23, 2008
My mom is dying. I am am not at all convinced that I'll ever see her again. The world is full of shades of gray , and they lean excessively toward the black rather than they white in their overall tone.
Shaun Tan captures the overall tone of my feelings lately in a couple pictures from his The Red Tree, especially this one (above), entitled Darkness Overcomes You. In order to fully appreciate the painting, it's somewhat important that you know that the main character in the book is the little girl with orangeish hair who is standing on the other side of the street almost under the hinge of the fish's jaw--the character standing furthest from the viewer. That's me. Tan's "Nobody Understands: (below) also works well for me right now. If I were *quite* wealthy, I would buy a couple Shaun Tan originals, and hang them in my house.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:21 PM
So there's an uproar in the media today over Hillary Clinton's comments about how it makes sense for her to stay in the race because, after all, Bobby Kennedy was assasinated in June--implying that if Obama were to be assasinated, she would then become the nominee.
I don't understand why everyone is so upset. Her words are really just a warning to all the crazies out there (and they're out there) who might have it in mind to assasinate Obama: "Look if you assasinate him, I'll probably end up being the president"
This only serves to make Obama safer, and touches on the main reason why Obama should seriously consider trying to convince Hillary to be his V.P. I posit this: Anyone who hates Obama enough to consider killing him is extremely likely to hate Hillary worse. She's like a sort of added layer of protection, in addition to the secret service. Ala Bush/Cheney.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 2:52 PM
Thursday, May 22, 2008
In week 271 of the U.S. occupation of Iraq:
- 160 civilians violently killed
- 15 directly killed by the armed soldiers employed by the U.S. military
- 21 children violently killed
- Wednesday, 21 May, Baiji: US helicopter fires on car, kills 8, including 2 children.
*probably* the helicopter was an Apache gunship
which was built in Mesa Arizona, by normal people like Daniel Breskin, and Donny McGlothlin, Diane Feeney, and Kevin Garratt
I wonder how many of the 160 people who work on the Apache assembly line attend Christian churches every week, and pray to Jesus' dad with their children every evening, and generally pretend to be Christians?
I wonder if their god has as much trouble connecting dots as they do?
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 12:01 PM
‘Honour’ is a word and a concept very much abused these days. During the past week over 160 civilians were killed in Iraq, 15 of them by US forces. Among those killed were 21 children –killed by roadside bombs, mortars, gunfire… by men who would and do call themselves ‘men of honour.’ Iraqis, Americans, British, Middle Eastern… people of various nationalities and faiths, people who think themselves honourable and commit atrocities at the altar of honour.The truth is there is nothing honourable about having the blood of innocents on your hands. Whoever you are. Whether you are a religious fanatic, a proud nationalist, a dutiful soldier, a devout Christian/Muslim or a suicide bomber. There is neither bravery nor honour in the killing of the weak, of the poor and the defenceless. It is only easy.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:59 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Caroline Glick, in attempting to bolster a president who would rather bomb his enemies than talk to them, characterized Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmejinedad as "claiming to be divinely instructed by a seven-year-old imam who went missing 1100 years ago"
She fails to mention that Bush claims to be divinely instructed by a 33 year old Rabbi who went missing 1925 years ago.
I wonder what seven year old Muhammad al-Mahdi would have to say about it? No doubt something just as shocking and brilliant as what Jesus said.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 10:31 PM
Today Senator Joe Lieberman called for Google to removed videos produced by so called "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" from Youtube, claiming that these organizations use such videos to "disseminate their propaganda, enlist followers, and provide weapons training – activities that are all essential to terrorist activity."
Mr. Lieberman does not call on Google to remove videos used by the U.S. armed forces to disseminate their propoganda and enlist followers.
Number of civilian deaths in the United States traceable to invasions of sovereign nations by foreign terrorist organizations over the last five years: arguably less than 10,000.
Number of civilian deaths outside the United States traceable to invasions of sovereign nations by the U.S. armed forces: arguably over a million.
The latter divided by the former: 10,000 (as in a factor of 10,000).
Google's motto: "Do no evil". Maybe Google should remove U.S. armed forces recruiting videos from youtube, as a community service.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 7:19 PM
I guess Jesus managed to get it approximately right all those years ago when he said those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
2006 suicide rate among U.S. veterans: 17.3/100,000
Number of U.S. veterans, total: ~25 million
2005 suicide rate among the entire U.S. population: 11/100,000
Total U.S. population in 2005: ~300,000,000
Total number of veteran suicides in 2006: ~4,498 (simple arithmetic)
Total number of suicides in the U.S. 2006: ~33,000 (simple arithmetic)
Suicide rate among *not-veteran* population of U.S., 2006: ~9.27/100,000 (simple algebra)
Conclusion: Veterans are approximately twice as likely to commit suicide than the average non-veteran.
2006 murder rate among U.S. population: 5.7/100,000
2006 murder rate among U.S. veterans serving in Iraq: (this is a little ... nuanced. But we have approx. 1.7 million troops have been in combat in Iraq. And they have killed approx 13,000 civilians. Over 5.2 years. so we have ((13000*100,000)/1700000)/5.2...)~147/100,000
So it looks like maybe Jesus' words are only proportionally true--on a sort of logarithmic scale. Killing 30 times as many people on average only raises your likelihood of committing suicide by a factor of 2.
Here's a mathematical question for you. If this model holds up, how many people on average would you have to kill in order to raise your likelihood of committing suicide by a factor of 3?
There's strong. Then there's army strong. Go army.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 1:58 PM
Friday, May 16, 2008
U.S. veterans are dying at higher rates from suicide than they are from "combat". 1000 veterans per week are attempting suicide, according to the Veterans administration. See this story.
At the same time we have psychologists overseeing their care recommending that fewer diagnoses of PTSD be handed out.
Look at me--I'm sitting here crying again. I'm a freaking disaster.
But what does it mean for *one* person to attempt suicide, in terms of their own mental and emotional distress, and the aftermath for their mom, their dad, their little sister, their twin brother, their wife, their 6 year old daughter full of questions? It's wrenching. 120 a week dying like this? So many of them are so young, and had no idea what they were getting into.
At least Bush gave up golf in solidarity.
I can guide a missile by satellite, by satellite, by satellite
I can hit a target through a telescope, through a telescope, through a telescope
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 1:07 AM
at killing people? (I was going to ask "better", but I thought better of it)
The recent earthquake in China was easily the most deadly earthquake since 2005. It killed at least 12,000 people almost instantly, and multiple sources estimate the final death toll at greater than 50,000.
The recent cyclone in Burma killed more than 40,000 people and the final death toll is estimated to be over 100,000.
But mother nature doesn't really have anything on the U.S. military. Check it out. In 1945, we killed 110,000 people almost instantly in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the final death toll from those two bombings estimated over 220,000
We've instigated a war which has killed at the lowest estimate 83,000 people over the last 5.5 years, with the actual death toll estimated at over 1,000,000, which works out to nearly 200,000 per year.
Of course not only is our *actual* death and mayhem toll way worse than mother nature's. Our *potential* death and mayhem toll is orders of magnitude worse than mother natures (at least in the short term). Name something mother nature could do tomorrow to compare with, say, an all out launch of the 10,000 active nuclear weapons we still possess. You think Nagasaki and Hiroshima were horrific? *All* of the ones we've got now (yep, all 10,000 of them) are fusion, which means they're at least 1,000 times more destructive than those relatively itty bitty things we dropped on 200,000 people in Japan.
All of which is to say that George W. Bush is currently at the helm of the largest death and destruction machine every created--called the U.S. military. But, hey, at least he has the ... grace and sense of honor to give up playing golf as a gesture of solidarity with the 4,569 dead American soldiers, along with the 70,000 wounded, injured, and ill ones.)
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 12:41 AM
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I was just playing around with slate.com's delegate calculator widget thingy. It lets you see what the delegate counts will be for each remaining state based on percentages of popular vote which you get to choose using nifty little slider bars.
I noticed something kind of kewl. If Hillary wins 3 of the remaining 5 contests by 85%, and the other 2 (at least one of which has to be Kentucky, Oregon, or Puerto Rico, since they have the big delegate counts among the remaining contests) by 86% (thus taking *all* the delegates by Obama not meeting the 15% threshold), then she can achieve a *tie* among all pledged delegates (1617.5 to 1617.5)
Oh dear, wait, that doesn't really work, since Obama picked up at least 8 of Edwards' pledged delegates today and yesterday, and slate's calculator hasn't fixed for that yet. So ... She needs 8 more. So ...
Looks like she'll need to win 3 of them by 86%, and at least two of those have to come from Kentucky, Oregon, or Puerto Rico. And she could win the other two by only 80%, and still end up with a 4 delegate lead among pledged delegates (assuming, of course, that none of the other 12 Edwards delegates endorses Obama)
And then she would merely have to stem ... er, that is, reverse, the tide of superdelegates flowing to Obama (a gain of 40 for Obama and 3 for Clinton over the last two weeks)
It could still happen. I mean she's still got another ... at least 50 million dollars to loan her campaign, right?
I wonder if all those superdelegates feel generally better about themselves these days, with the whole country using this relatively positive word to talk about them in the media, practically every day? I would. I'd get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say "You are a *SUPER* delegate! You are *SUPER*. Everybody says so." =p
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:51 PM
But God will speak in the midst of our culture and in spite of our religion, for God both transcends and subsists in all faith and all faiths, for God seeks to communicate divine love to all, each in their own language
It's kind of beautiful, in a sense. But at the enormous risk of responding to a quote taken out of context, I would point out that more often than not, to some extent, God fails to communicate what D says she seeks to communicate.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:17 PM
Jessica at indexed offers this:
(Benjamin posts with apologies to all recovering sex addicts)
Just out of curiousity--do you deal much with the issue of military recruiters in U.K, Australia, Thailand, or wherever you're from? In the U.S. it regularly makes headlines.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 6:43 PM
Obama is now officially a word in the Enlgish language, says Global Language Monitor. They also say we are 4,876 words shy (short) of 1 million current English words.
Here's a challenge--how about another word that could be used in place of "shy" or "short" in the preceeding (previous, foregoing, former, last ... penultimate) sentence?
Here's a fun CNN video about all the words based on "Barack" and "Obama".
Or check out slate's enccylopedia baractannica
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 1:43 PM
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
according to her web site.
The way she arrives at these numbers is thusly:
First, include the popular vote from Florida.
Second, include the popular vote from Michigan (where Obama's name wasn't on the ballot), but choose *not* to give the votes for "uncommitted" to Obama.
Thirdly, do some kind of funny magical math for the vote numbers in Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington, so that Obama gets these totals in those 4 states:
Iowa: 940 votes
Nevada: 4773 votes
Maine: 2079 votes
Washington: 21629 votes
as opposed to what he actually got, which was ... approximately ...
Iowa 38% of 236,000 ~ 89,680
Nevada 45% of 117,00 ~ 52,000
Maine 59% of 46,000 ~ 27,000
Washington 68% of 200,000 ~ 136,000
How silly can we get? I'm actually surprised.
If I were Hillary Clinton, and I actually believed this stuff, I would *totally* go buy a powerball lottery ticket.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 5:01 PM
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Today the powers that be (that is, "we") dismissed charges against Mohamed al-Kahtani. al-Kahtani has been held in in prison by the powers that be (that is, "us") since early in 2002--in Guantanamo Bay. While there, he has been "interrogated" (that is, tortured) by the powers that be (that is, "us"). Prosecutors have said that he is "unprosecutable" because of the things the powers that be (that is, "we") have done to him during his time at Guantanamo.
Now that charges have been dropped, one has to ask oneself two questions:
1. What shall be done with al-Kahtani, after imprisoning and torturing him for 6 years?
2. What shall be done with the U.S. constitution--specifically the fourth through the eight amendments in the Bill of Rights.
One gets the sense that what is happening is that to some degree we are choosing to throw both al-Kahtani and the document upon which our government is based in the rubbish heap.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 10:56 AM
Monday, May 12, 2008
My friend Russell has convinced me. I said "If Hillary's the VP, I'm voting for McCain."
And he said "Don't you understand the new role of the VP? It's to protect the president's life. The key is for the VP to be at least twice as offputting to the people who hate the president as the president himself. Hence no one has even seriously tried to do in George W. Bush. And no one tried to do in Clinton, perhaps for similar reasoning--those who disliked Clinton that much found Gore at least twice as repulsive. And those who dislike W. that much find Cheney at least twice that repulsive."
With Hillary as V.P., we need fear a horrifying JFK type ending a lot less. It makes sense to me.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 12:02 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008
H/T Julie Clawson
The video is devastating.
I can end the planet in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust.
It made me weep. It's easy for me to sit here and weep. I'm not directly experiencing the holocaust to which I have been a party.
My father, beyond doubt, killed beautiful little children in Vietnam 40 years ago. And then he came home, and took steps to make sure that I got enough food to eat, and love and education to get by on, and perhaps even excel. My father helped repair aircraft, beyond doubt, which were used to saturate the Vietnamese countryside with agent orange. And the Laotian countryside with unexploded ordnance. And now those others--the ones who are now 33--my age--I mean the ones who didn't get killed--
I have brothers and sisters over there who having escaped being killed by my father, and our fathers, now live with excruciating deformities as a result of their moms being exposed to agent orange during their gestation. Or else they are missing a leg, or an arm, or have other deformities because they found a piece of unexploded ordnance left by my father--our fathers.
I can end the planet in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust. in a holocaust.
My weeping is grotesque. Lying here with all my limbs, and no deformities, and 1st world medicine to provide every comfort for my dying mother.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:34 PM
in the English language, according to research among 40,000 participants, including 7,000 English learners, by the British Council
Tomorrow is very likely the last Mother's Day I'll get to spend with my mother. So I'd like to officially say:
I love you *and* like you, mom. You inspire me.
Filling out the top 10 were:
Some interesting words from further down the list of the 70 most beautiful words:
45. Paradox (Hooray!)
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 8:10 PM
Friday, May 09, 2008
Today the mainstream media is full of a report released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is headed up by John Walters, who doesn't even have a Ph.D., a man who has said, over the years, various highly stupid things which we don't need to get into here.
The report claims that "recent research" indicates various rather scary causual connections between marijuana use and depression/suicide in teens, and even goes so far as to say that marijuana use can lead to scizophrenia and "other forms of psychosis".
What an unbelievable load of crap. I can't believe we're paying this whole agency to produce these ridiculous terrifying reports that no self respecting peer reviewed journal would ever publish because they are just shoddy science.
This sort of thing would get me C's and D's at UW.
Meanwhile, more than 100,000 deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year.
Here's a one question survey: Guess how many deaths are caused by marijuana use every year.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:46 PM
was two years old when he died along with 12 other little children in the U.S. bombing of his home in Sadr City last week. We (yes--*my* ingroup) bombed their house *twice*, once to kill 30 people, and then again during rescue attempts to kill six more.
Since so many Americans claim to be lovers of the Bible, maybe they could be woken up in a Biblical way. Maybe someone should have taken the body of little Ali and hacked it into 52 pieces, and airmailed a piece to the senior U.S. senator from every U.S. state, as well as the president and the leader of the U.N., demanding justice.
How many of the 20 children killed by U.S. forces in Iraq last month would need to be thusly hacked up and airmailed in order to make an impact, do you suppose?
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 6:52 PM
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Saturday May 3: Bush seeks $770 Million in World Food Aid for the coming year.
Saturday May 3: Bush seeks $70 Billion dollars to fund the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring
Thursday May 1: U.S. airstrike kills 2 women and 2 children in Sadr City, Baghdad--part of the 65 civilians violently killed in Iraq on Thursday.
Here's what the numbers look like: for fighting hunger: $770,000,000. For killing Iraqis: $70,000,000,000. Civilian deaths in Iraq in April: 1,320, INC. 58 CHILDREN
122 CIVILIANS WERE KILLED BY US FORCES
So if we let C represent the children, and I represent the Iraqi civilians directly killed by U.S. forces in April, then it looks like this:
(Now if you cut and paste all those letters into a word document or an email, and then delete them, you can create a sort of typographical metaphor for their deaths. And deleting them will probably cause you just about as much real grief as their actual deaths. Because they're over there, and it's just too hard to actually get enough of any sort of real sense of connection to empathize on a real level. This of course must be true, because if it *was* possible, then we wouldn't continue, as a culture, to kill people at the rate we've been killing them since the 1940's. But we do continue. QED.)
But... God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. So it's all okay. Don't stress about it, whatever you do.
And if any shocking preacher from Chicago should call on God to damn America, make sure to shout him down very very loudly for saying such a heretical horrifying outrageous thing. Especially if he suggests that the government who did this to Nagasaki, killing 80,000 civilians, could be capable of creating this virus. In that case he should be forever outlawed from polite society, and roundly denounced by one and all. Because we're a *Christian* nation! And therefore by definition we aren't terrorists. QED.
(Benjamin--do I sense a little anger?)
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:29 PM
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The wikipedia article on grief starts out:
Grief is a single-faceted response to loss. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social and philosophical dimensions. Common to human experience is the death of a loved one, whether it be a friend, family, or other close companion. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the reaction to loss
My lovely mom is at the final stage of terminal ovarian cancer. No food goes through her GIT, because it's blocked by cancer, and so she gets hardly any nutrition. She's lost another 20 pounds in the last 3 weeks or so. I've never seen her so skinny--I can see the shape of her facial bones more distinctly than ever in my life.
She called me up Wednesday morning to say "This morning when I woke up I felt like God had grabbed hold of my big toe and was pulling on it saying 'Time to come home, Sue.' So I just wanted to say good bye, and I love you, and I'll see you in heaven, and I hope you find a good church so that your lovely amazing little girls will grow up to love the Lord. In case I don't get to talk to you again."
In response to that I cried.
So we went out to hang out with her on Wednesday afternoon. And my lovely Nana Kay was there. Nana Kay is my mom's mom. She must be 80 something years old. She looks a lot healthier than my mom. It must be really hard to have to watch your child die.
I think I'm experiencing grief. I never really had this experience before, so I'm having to feel it out as I go. I'm not functioning nearly as well as I normally do (not that my "normal" is all that brilliant, actually). I'm in my last quarter at school, and I can feel myself seriously screwing up in terms of my grades this quarter, and I can't really seem to care that much (which is no doubt partially a function of the fact that it's my last quarter).
About 5 days ago I texted a good friend of mine "My mom is dying, therefore I hate God. QED."
Today I asked Megan
B: "Do you have to believe in life after death to be a Christian?" She said
B: "But isn't it in the Apostles Creed?"
M: "Oh--yeah, that 'resurrection of the body' bit. But you don't have to believe the whole Apostles Creed to be a Christian. You just have to believe that if you want to work for World Vision or IJM."
B: "Oh. Do you think one could get a job with them if one only believed it very occasionally?"
M: "Well, that would be very honest, to tell them that, wouldn't it?"
My poor dad is very sad, I think. My best objective guess is that this whole thing is not only harder on him than it is on anyone else, but that it's *much* harder on him than on anyone else. How shall I encourage him? I don't know. I'm such a mess myself I'm not really in any postion to encourage him. Alas. They've been married since ... '72, I think. Or maybe '71. Right in there somewhere.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 11:45 PM
Taking part in this poll will take you 9 minutes.
Which version of the Chasing Cars music video is more powerful?
The first 30 seconds are to be spent finding and flipping a coin to choose which one to watch first (so as not to have order effects)
1. The UK version
2. The U.S. version.
Do you like the song? I do. =)
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 10:33 PM
Moveon.org has been running a contest for the best 30 second obama television ad. They had over 1000 submissions, and via voting it's been narrowed down to 15 finalists. The winner gets their ad run nationally, paid for by moveon.org. This one is my favorite. Stay with it to the end--it's only 30 seconds, and the last 2 seconds is priceless.
Posted by Benjamin Ady at 10:09 PM