October 28th, 2005

Brad @ Burning Man

Emptying the Bit Bucket - Quicktakes

I've got way too many links saved back, and you know what? Even after thinking about them, I don't really have more than a few sentences on a bunch of them. And the list is getting unmanageable. So, have some Quicktakes.

Yep, I'm definitely Davan. See the latest Something Positive, which continues to be my favorite web comic.

"A Hoax Most Cruel," Andrew Wolfson for the Louisville Courier-Journal, October 9th. Most of you probably saw this newspaper article weeks ago, or at least the abbreviated version of it that went out on the news wires. Super-short synopsis: guy calls a fast food chain, impersonates an officer accusing an employee of theft, talks the manager over the phone into strip searching her. When he finds out this works, with each new call he pushes his luck further and further, eventually even showing up in person to get their managers to make the employees make out with him and give him fully nude lap dances. And this goes on for dozens of times before anybody actually checks with the cops to see if he's legit. I thought I'd have a lot more to say about this, but I'm sorry, everything that needed to be said about this was said fifty years ago. Those who don't know the works of Stanley Milgram are destined to repeat them.

"Towns Increasingly Telling Sex Offenders to Stay Out," Oliver Prichard and Ira Porter for Knight Ridder, last Friday. Before we even get into an argument about the constitutionality of these measures, can I ask a stupid question? Given that you can become a registered sex offender for being convicted of any sex crime, not just crimes against children, is there any reason to think that registered sex offenders are more likely to be child molesters than a similar size group of the general public?

"Negotiators on Torture Bill Feeling Heat," Liz Sidoti for the Associated Press, October 25th. Lovely title, by the way; I wonder if the pun was intentional. The only member of Congress who's ever been a victim of torture is, unsurprisingly, not letting up the pressure to make it flatly illegal for anybody working for the US government to torture anybody, anywhere, ever, period. I'm enjoying the spectacle of watching the Bush Administration oppose this, while insisting that it's against their policy and their orders to torture anybody, anywhere, ever, period. But more important, it seems to me, is the real message that opposing this bill sends: our intelligence services are blithering idiots. I mean excuse me, but half of the stuff the CIA operations division does is illegal, and it always has been. For crying out loud, we've been hearing "If you or any of your team are caught or killed in action, the Agency will disavow any knowledge of your actions" since the opening credits to Mission: Impossible back when I was a child. The CIA only needs it to be legal to torture people if they actually expect (a) agents to get caught having tortured people, (b) under circumstances where it could actually end up in a US court, and (c) where some idiot left actual evidence that could be found with a subpoena that the agent did so under orders. And how freaking stupid would anybody have to be for that to happen? And does even the Bush Administration really want to protect the CIA careers of people that stupid? (The McCain amendment will pass, and it will make it through the conference committee. It's an election year.)

Harriet Miers -- I told you so. Every freaking news outlet on Thursday described the fact that she withdrew her nomination as "stunning" news. (Jon Stewart had a nice parody of that tonight, too, by the way, showing just about every cable news reporter saying almost that exact sentence, one after another.) On Wednesday, Slate.com was still giving her a 60% chance of confirmation. I predicted on day 2 that she wasn't the real nominee, wasn't going to be confirmed, and probably wasn't even going to get a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. I'm baffled to find out that so many people thought otherwise. If the Bush Administration were that impossible to thwart when they're obviously wrong, we'd have privatized Social Security by now. Repeat after me: Paranoia is the delusion that your enemies are competent.