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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Doctors plot and the romance of purity

English media is confused over the motives of the "nice" Moslem MDs behind the recent bungled mass murder attempts.

I offer myself as an expert consultant on why good boys and girls go bad. The romance of the pure and uncorrupted has a powerful attraction to folk with excess leisure time and an awareness and regret for the fundamental unfairness of the world. This romance leads the young, unemployed Pakistanis to the fundamentalist Wahhabist Madrassas and middle class doctors to reach out to their peers, and organize to fight injustice. The rest of the horror story is cultural (in this case Islamic) norms, frustration and group dynamics. Somehow purity of religion, politics or race will fix everything and redress unjust history.

How can such evil come from good intentions? Communists came from a desire to create a better life for Victorian industrial workers, and, filtered through a hundred years of culture and history, lead to the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Don't get me started on Fascism and Christianity.

There is a romance of "The Movement" that develops over time. Worship of the Myth of Purity of Motive permits unspeakable horror if used to fight the corrupt. The appeal of being one of "The Select" is perhaps the most intoxicating wine on the market. Oh! A place in history! To make a difference! To right the wrongs! Fighting for the downtrodden! It's like being Superman without the tacky costume.

There is no military solution to combating the ideals of purity. There are some poliitcal/military/police policies that can be used in keeping the worst extreme excesses tamped down. The appeal of messy secular liberal democracy trumps The Way Of The Pure in the real world, where we all live.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Who says Republicans are incapable of learning?

George has cut Scooter's keys, acknowledging that the lessons of Watergate were learned. Never leave your flunkeys and goons out there to take the heat especially if they are following orders. Moral bankruptcy was declared by the GOP in 2006, and now we have them digging a new hole.

If we elect these jackasses again in '08 we deserve what we get.

Why stop here?

Market economics is a fine economic theory until you have a business dependent on what is euphemistically called "an orderly marketplace". The printer companies have been presented with the opportunity to hook their printers up with technology that mates with encoded ink cartridges from the manufacturer with the same maker's printers. No third party ink cartridges need apply.
Read all about it: http://news.com.com/Can+cryptography+prevent+printer-ink+piracy/2100-1041_3-6193424.html?tag=news.1
I couldn't help but note that the printer companies consider using third party inks to be "piracy". Arrrrr! Ye USB port be unrecognized!

Anyone who has ever bought a $99.00 printer knows that they make their profit on the replacement cartridges, those little plastic ink filled boxes that cost like gold. This idea shouldn't stop at printers. The horizon is unlimited.

Tires. Your Toyota or Chevy will only operate with encoded OEM wheels. Mated to third party rims or rubber the tires would deflate or fall off. Ford gasoline anyone? Starbucks could develop special cups that would only work with Mazda cupholders. There would be credit cards that only work with one store. Wait! there have been those for years.

There is a group of folk out there who want fewer choices, not more. We call them old farts, a group with which I am becoming more and more at home. But even we don't want to spend money unnecessarily. Orderly markets means we are all screwed.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"The End Is Coming Soon" and "Free Beer Tomorrow!"

The end of this wicked world is coming. Soon. Between the Rapturist Christians, Shia Moslems and so many others others there must be a billion people who believe we are all about to get our over-due comeuppance. Can they all be wrong? This week's New York Times Magazine has a lengthy piece expounding the beliefs of a group of folk they call "amateur scholars" about the end of time.

What exactly is the end of the world? Poof! The planet disappears. Hmmmm. That's an awful lot of matter to remove from the universe that doesn't seem to allow mass or energy to be created or destroyed. Perhaps the agents of destruction might want to start with a pine cone or fingernail as a proof of concept. I volunteer my neighbor brat kid's fireworks collection for transport to the ethereal plain.

Wipe out humanity? We're tough. We live and thrive in every eco system on the planet. Antarctica to Zanzibar, we're there. Killing us off is pretty much going to kill everything else, even the cute little baby bunnies. There are no wicked baby bunnies deserving destruction. Teleport us to somewhere else? Sure it works on Star Trek, but that was just because Gene Roddenberry couldn't write a believable way to land that ungainly starship the props department designed.

I have a modest proposal. If all the folk waiting for the end of the world would settle on a date certain, then we wouldn't have to mess with this stuff anymore. Of course this will never happen. The Rapture industry and 12th Imam business is booming and making millions selling spiritual pornography.

I wasn't able to finish the New York Times Magazine article because at my advanced age I have a much lower tolerance level for spiritualist crap. Read it if you will, but you have been warned.