Archive for July, 2006

Bruce is an all-around cool guy in my book. He’s got a big mouth, but that’s a lead singer thing. Anyway, it’s great to hear he’s helping out:

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson reportedly came to the rescue of hundreds of British citizens stranded in war-ravaged Beirut. Dickinson who is also a jet pilot, flew a Boeing 757 to Cyprus where he scooped up the evacuees and flew them back to Gatwick. No word on whether Dickinson cranked “Run to the Hills” on the PA.

“Run to the Hills”? Wouldn’t it be “Aces High“?! Or hell, even “Tailgunner“! But “Aces High” has that great line, “Got to get airborne before it’s too late!” Hell, let me post the video in honor of Bruce’s heroics.

Proving once again that they are not interested in attaining peace in the Middle East, the neocons and their UK allies have rejected UN calls for a cease-fire and expressed support for Israel’s actions:

Criticism has mounted that the two countries are blocking the 15-nation Security Council from endorsing the UN secretary-general’s call for an immediate suspension of fighting.

More than 300 Lebanese civilians and nearly 30 Israelis have died since the fighting started, and half a million Lebanese civilians have been displaced. Israel has warned that it is now preparing a ground invasion to eradicate Hezbollah strongholds in the south of Lebanon, a move that can only add to the misery of the civilian population.

The British and American proposal called for the Security Council to express its intention “to create the conditions for a permanent solution and to bring about an immediate end to hostilities.” It also called on all sides to exercise restraint and to allow humanitarian access.

The neocon position is merely a stalling tactic. “Create the conditions for a permanent solution?” How are they supposed to do that in the midst of open war? The ceasefire is necessary first step. You can’t replace the brakes on a car while you’re driving it.

It’s clear that peace is not the goal of the Bush administration. Let’s hear it straight from the mouthpiece of the neoconservative movement:

William Kristol, writing in the neo-conservative US magazine Weekly Standard, does not see the crisis in Lebanon as a local war requiring a local solution. Rather, he depicts the conflict as part of a global struggle between Islam and “liberal democratic civilization.”

“What’s happening in the Middle East, then, isn’t just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What’s happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West.”

Kristol called upon the US government to focus less on Hamas and Hizbollah and more “on their paymasters and real commanders – Syria and Iran.” The United States needs to forcefully reassert its power in the region and “pursue […] regime change in Syria and Iran,” even considering “a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.”

The US has stood aside for too long, making itself appear weak in the eyes of its Islamist enemies, Kristol said.

Weakness, to Kristol, is the failure of the U.S. to rule the world with an iron fist. This man is a fascist.

Kristol is trying to start a war between the West and Islam. That seems to be the plan, anyway. He accuses the Islamists of waging a war on the West. Is he fucking serious? The Islamic nations would never try that — they would get crushed. Kristol is, as usual, lying out his ass. He’s got it exactly backwards. Fascist Westerners like him are trying to wage war against Islamists because they know the West will win, thus gaining more power for him. He knows he’s full of shit. These guys are some really cynical assholes.

So, I hope you like war. ‘Cause there’s a lot more of it on the way as long as the neocons are in charge.

Things are heating up in Lebanon:

Israeli troops met fierce resistance from Hezbollah guerrillas Thursday as they crossed into Lebanon to seek tunnels and weapons for a second straight day, and Israel hinted at a full-scale invasion.

Israel warned residents to “immediately” flee a nearly 20-mile swath of south Lebanon along the border. Its warplanes also launched new airstrikes on Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, shortly after daybreak, followed by strikes in the guerrillas’ heartland in the south and eastern Bekaa Valley.

This is getting pretty bad. Hezbollah seems to be launching rockets at Israeli towns, which certainly isn’t helping the Lebanese government arrange a ceasefire. The Lebanese government is in tatters anyway, so if we want to see an end to the crisis it will need to come from the international community.

The United States House of Representatives’ response was swift: They passed a non-binding resolution supporting Israel’s right to blow the living shit out of everything in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and anybody else who we don’t like. Whoopee.

I would’ve thought that a solemn declaration of solidarity with the victims on both sides would’ve been more appropriate. But I guess war is big business. And business is good.

Meanwhile, religious nuts are eagerly awaiting the rapture. Boy Jesus is gonna be impressed… with their selfishness and stupidity. Did he say anything in Revelation about killing people and supporting war so that he can come back quicker? I don’t remember reading that part…

If you’re an old-school gamer geek like me you probably played and loved Super Mario Brothers 2. But the version that was released in the States is completely different from the Japanese version. Nintendo actually rebranded a game called Doki Doki Panic as a Mario game and released it in the U.S. In my opinion, it’s a much better game than the Japanese SMB2.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out both Doki Doki and Super Mario 2 (Japanese) at this location.

Grudge Match: Kevin Smith versus Joel Siegel

Film critic and all around smarmy punster Joel Siegel has managed to piss off Silent Bob, er… Kevin Smith, filmmaker and fart joke master. From Smith’s website:

So last night, at a press screening of “Clerks II” in New York City, “Good Morning America” movie critic Joel Siegel decided he’d had enough of my shenanigans, and walked out of the flick at the forty minute mark. You’d imagine this would bother me, and yet, I’m as delighted by this news as I was with the eight minute standing ovation “Clerks II” received in Cannes.

I mean, it’s Joel Siegel, for Christ’s sake. As Paul Thomas Anderson once said of the man, getting a bad review from Siegel is like a badge of honor. This is the guy who stole his mustachioed critic shtick from Gene Shalit years ago, and still refuses to give it back. This is a guy who seemingly prides himself on being “punny” – that is, he likes to add his own nyuk-nyuk wordplay into the reviews he writes/gives.

For “Pirates 2″, he made us all titter with “Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Fun”.

Oh man, I’m rollin’. That was so funny. How long did it take Siegel to think up that one? Days? Weeks? Months? Fucking tool. Sorry, I’m not very objective in this fight. Siegel is a kiss-ass dumbshit and I really like Smith’s films, so I am very biased. But check this part out:

Apparently, rather than quietly exit, both Joel and his Cum-Catcher (my slang for the fancy kind of mustache he sports) made a big stink about walking out, calling as much attention to himself as possible, and being generally pretty disruptive.

Check this shit out: roughly forty minutes into the flick, when Randal orders up the third act donkey show, Siegel bellowed to his fellow critics “Time to go!’’ and “This is the first movie I’ve walked out of in 30 fucking years!’’

Read Kevin’s site for more evisceration.

…Wait, “third act donkey show?” Well, maybe I should withhold judgment. Oh hell, donkeys aren’t as funny as monkeys, but they’re close. Pretty damn close.

Anyway, Clerks II sounds pretty good. I’ll check it out one of these days. Maybe not on the big screen, but I’ll see it.

Man, for $8.50 that better be the best damn donkey show ever. I somehow managed to pay only $4.50 for Pirates II and I still felt like I got ripped off since there was only $1.25 worth of plot. I suppose Keira Knightly makes up for the rest…

I look forward to the next round of this fight in which Joel Siegel threatens to “pun-ish” Kevin Smith physically.

Stop World War IV

InfoWars has an interview with Daniel Ellsberg on the coming war with Iran, the government’s involement in false flag terror attacks and more.

This may seem like some heavy shit, but Ellsberg knows a thing or two about the government. Daniel Ellsberg is the guy who leaked the Pentagon Papers back in 1971. The Nixon Administration made his life a living hell and tried to track him down and put him on trial, or kill him. The New York Times was ordered by President Nixon to cease publication of anything related to the Pentagon Papers immediately, which sparked a case that went to the Supreme Court. The Court decided in favor the Times allowing further publishing.

Ellsberg knows what the government’s capable of; he used to help them come up with their crazy schemes as a military analyst for the RAND Corporation. He eventually used his access to leak documents providing an important insight into the government’s inner workings which revealed a contempt for “the public” and a sinister resistance to accountability or oversight. Also revealed were attempts to goad enemies into firing on us, including the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

In recent years Ellsberg has been arrested many times as he’s protested various government lies and atrocities. Now he’s joining a growing group of people including scholars, engineers, pilots and military officers who are questioning the events of 9/11. Of the upcoming war with Iran Ellsberg says:

If there’s another 9/11 or a major war in the Middle-East involving a U.S. attack on Iran, I have no doubt that there will be, the day after or within days an equivalent of a Reichstag fire decree that will involve massive detentions in this country.

I urge you to do some research and consider the possibility that our government may have had forehand knowledge of the attacks — and the even more horrible possibility that the government was complicit and an active partner in the attacks.

We have to think about this before the War on Iran. We can’t let the Bush Administration and its neo-conservative masters take our rights — our lives — away from us so easily. If these allegations are true then we are dealing with a government far more ruthless and psychotic than most Americans realize.

Quite frankly, I’m nervous even publishing this post. But people are starting to speak out, including celebrities Charlie Sheen, Richard Linklater (who claims to have convinced Bruce Willis), Tom DeLonge (from Blink 182) and scholars/researchers like James Fetzer, Dr. Steven E. Jones, Michael Ruppert and many more. It seems that Hunter S. Thompson was researching 9/11 when he died. Strange that he would kill himself before finishing his inquiry, isn’t it?

We shouldn’t have to feel afraid of our government. We shouldn’t have to deal with government censorship and lies and terrorism carried out against its own people. I hope that the government didn’t really have any involvement…. but I know how these fascists work. 9/11 is a perfect 21st century Reichstag Fire. Cui Bono?

And if Iran somehow manages to “attack us” will the government declare martial law like Ellsberg says? How important is freedom to the Bush cabal? Do you really think that they will go to bat for regular people or do you think they will use the crisis to expand the government’s power? What’s to stop them from increasing the government’s powers to overtly totalitarian levels after our system of checks and balances has been stripped away in order to fight “The War on Terror“?

In a way, it doesn’t matter whether the government is behind the attacks or not. They’re so busy getting rid of our rights that it’s a moot point.

I guess the terrorists — whoever they are — have won.

Think Progress has this escalation of the insanity of war and profiteering:

WOOLSEY: Without talking to Lebanon about it, frankly, John, I think we ought to execute some air strikes against Syria, against the instruments of power of that state, against the airport, which is the place where the weapons shuttle through from Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas. I think both Syria and Iran think that we’re cowards. They saw us leave Lebanon after the ‘83 Marine Corps bombing. They saw us leave Mogadishu in 1993. They saw us back off in 1991 when we had Saddam on the ropes and there were revolts in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, and we stood there. I think they think Israel, similarly, by backing out of Lebanon a few years ago, and by backing out of Gaza, they’re fielding their oats. In that part of the world, the most dangerous thing to do is look like cowards in the face of these totalitarian groups.

QUESTION: Mr. Woolsey, are you saying that we should be hitting Syria? We should be hitting the airport? We should be hitting Bashar Assad’s office?

WOOLSEY: Yes. The last thing we ought to do now —

QUESTION: You mean we the United States, not Israel?

WOOLSEY: Yes, yes. The last thing we ought to do now is to start talking about cease-fires and the rest.

My Thug Side: My God, the man is talking about cease-fires?!!!! hang him!! Kill the fucking hippy who dares to argue for restraint!! Ain’t that right, Mr. Woosley? [/thug]

Man, these fucking neocons are serious about this World War IV shit.

You might be surprised at this shit, but I am not. There is a dirty secret out there in the defense industry and the media and Washington: War is Big Business. These people are heavily invested in the military-industrial complex. They want war because they will benefit from it. No other reasons are as compelling as that one. And they know they can get away with it, too.

“The last thing we ought to do now is to start talking about cease-fires…” That’s what he said. That’s what he fucking said.

War is Big Business.

The military-industrial complex feeds on the strife, the money, the blood. It needs it. This beast is some amoral demon that we created to win the last great war. It didn’t leave after the war ended. It stayed. It fed. It grew stronger and bigger, it hooked into everything, every aspect of society. The military needs it. The government needs it. The business interests need it.

We will go to war to feed the beast. Let there be no confusion. If we enter Iran and Syria, there is no turning back from that. It’s all-out war with the Islamic nations and anybody else who doesn’t like us. World War IV.

Does Woosley really know what that means? He must know there will be sacrifices. And these wars the elite start, they tend to get out of control. Who knows where the cards will lay when the time comes. Does he really want to bet it all on this horse?

The neocons — Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, Woosley — they all want war. That is all there is to say about them, about their character. If you’ve ever wondered why I give them so much shit — this is why! They want to bring about this horrible and dangerous war in a last stakes gamble to get more control. They are evil.

I can’t believe it’s already coming to this. We have to get ready. We have to mobilize, we have to rally and strike and disobey! We have to stop this war like we should’ve stopped Iraq! This will be Iraq but 10 times worse.

Does anybody receive my signal? Is America still asleep? Distress code: 9.11.1984. Send word if you are still there, over! Are we going to stop this war, or are we gonna let it happen?

So says this blog:

Even more alarming, Dobson admits in one of his books that as a child he arranged a fight between two mismatched dogs. The battle involved a tenacious bulldog and a “sweet, passive Scottie named Baby,” and Dobson provoked it by throwing a tennis ball toward Baby. He writes what happened next: “The bulldog went straight for Baby’s throat and hung on. It was an awful scene. Neighbors came running from everywhere as the Scottie screamed in terror. It took ten minutes and a garden hose for the adults to pry loose the bulldog’s grip. By then Baby was almost dead. He spent two weeks in the animal hospital, and I spent two weeks in the doghouse. I was hated by the entire town.”

As any child psychologist will tell you, this type of cruelty toward animals is a sign of a serious psychological disturbance.

There’s a lot more. Check it out for the full tale of woe. Basically, his parents were complete hardasses and they treated him like shit, and he was a pathetic child who acted out and was violent towards others.

So now he’s some big shot minister, huh? Great. Can you imagine for a second, James, that maybe other people had fucked up childhoods too? And that maybe they reacted differently than you? Or even weirder — that some people didn’t have messed up childhoods? Maybe some of us don’t need your strict rules to behave kindly.

I have no problem with Dobson having weird beliefs and a strict interpretation of the Bible. That’s fine. But when he tries to push his beliefs onto others and tries to turn our great nation into a fucking theocracy, then we got beef.

So, sucks to be you with your crappy childhood, James. But leave the rest of us out of it.

I was reading about the study on telepathy over at the usually extremely skeptical slashdot and there were actually some good links and ideas from people open to the idea of “paranormal” abilities, which are really just abilities that modern science has not yet been able to fully explain.

One poster pointed to this article as evidence that serious scientists are studying psychic abilities and having some success in proving that certain people have these abilities:

But what few may realize is Dubois’ prime power – making contact with people after death – has been subjected to three years of UA research scientifically designed to determine if she is an authentic “medium” or a fraud.

Although the studies have stirred controversy nationwide and have been slammed by several skeptics, the Harvard-trained UA professor who ran them strongly defends their legitimacy, as does Dubois.

“There is no question this is not a fraud – some people really can do this, and Allison is one of them,” said psychology professor Gary E. Schwartz, who directs the UA’s Human Energy Systems Laboratory where the experiments with Dubois and other well-known mediums – including John Edward of TV’s “Crossing Over” fame – have been conducted.

“Many people claim to do this, and there are clearly frauds out there. Allison was repeatedly tested and passed every test.

“As a scientist, I approach all this as an agnostic – I don’t believe it; I don’t disbelieve it. After testing her under conditions that ruled out the possibility of fraud, I came to the conclusion she’s the real deal.”

That’s exactly the attitude you need to have to investigate something like the paranormal. You can’t assume it exists and you can’t be a raving nut like James Randi who refuses to even entertain the possibility of paranormal activity. You need to keep an open mind, unclouded by bias.

As I said, paranormal is just something observed that hasn’t been proved or thoroughly debunked yet. Randi thinks of himself as a debunker, but he’s not objective. Later on in the article Schwartz deals with Randi:

Perhaps more entertaining is the ongoing public feud Schwartz has with the flamboyant magician and professional skeptic James Randi, who has offered $1 million to “anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.”

Randi even wrote a letter to the University of Arizona Foundation in 2001, asking the university to submit Schwartz’s research data to an independent panel for evaluation, to see if the UA might win the $1 million.

In one critique, Randi called Schwartz “an academic who has abandoned reason to accept everything and anything offered him by scammers from John Edward to the gypsy down the street.”

Schwartz rejected Randi’s million-dollar bait.

“I refused for the same reason all serious scientists in America and Europe have refused. The process of this prize lacks scientific credibility and integrity,” he said. “This guy is not a scientist – he is a mediocre magician who loves the public eye.”

Booyah! It’s true: Randi is fucking clownshoes. He’s a sideshow, and he has too much vested interest in keeping his money. How can he claim to be a scientist if he’s offering huge cash prizes? That’s not science. The reward is the discovery itself, not a million bucks.

Besides, James Randi asks you to take a great many things on “faith.” He assumes that psychics and mediums are frauds and hucksters before he even hears their claims. This is not science. This is not even rational. It’s faith. Randi has “faith” that there are no paranormal abilities. It’s an article of faith for him that every claimant is a fraud.

Personally, I prefer to keep an open mind.

Apparently, so does the CIA. The Central Intelligence Agency has been experimenting with “remote viewing” for decades. Here’s the abstract:

In July 1995 the CIA declassified, and approved for release, documents revealing its sponsorship in the 1970s of a program at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, to determine whether such phenomena as remote viewing “might have any utility for intelligence collection” [1]. Thus began disclosure to the public of a two-decade-plus involvement of the intelligence community in the investigation of so-called parapsychological or psi phenomena. Presented here by the program’s Founder and first Director (1972 – 1985) is the early history of the program, including discussion of some of the first, now declassified, results that drove early interest.

It’s probably been reclassified by now, but at least some data got out and onto the net.

My main problem with “skeptics” is their irrational behavior and scientifically unsupported claims — all of which are ostensibly meant to prove the superiority of sound science. Talk about ruining your own case. Take a look at this example of “logic” by some leading skeptics:

Hyman’s research has included examination of alleged psychic readings and critiques of parapsychological experiments. He acknowledges that Schwartz has excellent academic credentials but blasts his medium research.

“Probably no other extended program in psychical research deviates so much from the accepted norms of scientific methodology as this one.”

After reviewing Schwartz’s book, “The Afterlife Experiments,” he said readings by Schwartz’s “star mediums,” like Dubois, “strike me as no different in kind from those of any run-of-the-mill psychic readers and as completely consistent with cold (fake) readings.”

He criticized Schwartz for other research errors, such as using only subjects “predisposed” to believe in this phenomenon and for “inappropriate statistical tests.”

In response, Schwartz said Hyman ignored and omitted facts that do not support his biases. “This is like a skeptical sports reviewer focusing on Michael Jordan’s few air balls and fouls, and drawing the conclusion that Jordan can’t play basketball,” he said.

Excellent response by Schwartz. Hyman is blantantly ignoring everything that doesn’t fit into his worldview, then Hyman turns around and blasts Schwartz for the failures in his model.

Basically, Hyman’s logic seems to be that if the psychics (and the researchers) fall short of infallibility in any way, then that means they are total frauds in every way. That’s not logic. From perusing A List of Fallacious Arguments, it would seem to point to “Moving The Goalposts (Raising The Bar, Argument By Demanding Impossible Perfection)” or maybe “Argument By Selective Reading”. Either way it’s a crutch for someone who can’t make a decent argument without resorting to fallacy. I thought Hyman was supposed to be defending rational thought. Instead he is abusing it to defend his preconceived notions. I should also note that the list above comes from a skeptic — one who appears more reasonable than Hyman or James Randi.

Anyway, I don’t expect that we’ll “prove” psychic powers are real anytime soon, but I think it’s worth exploring whether certain people have the gift. Actually, I had an interesting idea
about how to prove the old cliche “mind over matter” isn’t just a cute saying: Study a bunch of psychics like Dubois in a controlled environment. Then, for some psychics, bring in some flaming skeptics like Randi and see if Randi’s uncontrollable hatred and bias actually affects the accuracy of the psychic, just by being in the same room.

Could it be that skepticism is a psychic power?! 🙂

In order to accurately test for the existance of telepathy (and not be made fun of by other scientists) the researchers at The University of Manchester have created a virtual computer world to control for variables normally outside of their control:

The system, which immerses an individual in what looks like a life-size computer game, has been created as part of a joint project between The University’s School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences.

Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals using the system. The project will also look at how telepathic abilities may vary depending on the relationships which exist between participants.

The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.

Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer generated world.

Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects. These include a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.

The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them.

Sounds like a good plan. There’s always a lot of hucksterism in paranormal circles so using normal people and placing them in a virtual world is a good control system. There really isn’t another way to make scientists pay attention to the possibility of ESP and other abilities.

Personally, I think it’s pretty obvious that humans have psychic abilities. Whenever I’m staring at a beautiful girl from across the room she almost always feels my gaze and looks at me. As long as people aren’t really distracted (i.e. talking to someone else, reading, working) you can usually get them to look at you after staring at them for only a dozen seconds or so, even if they didn’t know you were there and there was no line-of-sight. Try it next time you’re at the mall.

Whether this experiment will be able to “prove” telepathic abilities exist is an open question. From the sound of it, they were more concerned with not being made fun of by other scientists. It’s good that they’re trying, but you have to wonder if they’re taking the right approach. Scientists really hate the idea that there’s something out there that they can’t explain, can’t be accurately measured or predicted and behaves in a way that can only be described as irrational. My question is: Why do you expect the universe to be easily explainable, rational and predictable? What evidence do you have that states that reality (all of it) should play by your rules?

until the 20th century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see and hear. since the inital publication of the charged electromagnetic spectrum, humans learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear… is less than one millionth of reality. — Incubus, “New Skin”

What if “reality” doesn’t play by your rules?

Massive crowds in Mexico protest stolen election

Close to a million people spilled out into the streets on Sunday to protest possible fraud in the recent presidential election:

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the Mexican capital on Sunday to demand a manual recount in the disputed presidential election, led by a leftist candidate who says fraud cost him the presidency.

As a precaution, the Roman Catholic Church canceled Mass at the city’s downtown cathedral as supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador began to overwhelm the central plaza to the sound of firecrackers and bands. Police officials in the pro-Lopez Obrador city government estimated the crowd at 900,000.

900,000 is a lot of people! Visit the linked article to see just how many people showed up. Why can’t Americans get off their asses and protest when our elections are stolen. Good for Mexico!