February 23, 2003

intro to poly-psi

A few unorganized thoughts on politics. Most of these were placed at 3:00 in the morning during a bout of insomnia.

Dubya Bush didn’t hijack our planes. Bill Clinton didn’t hijack our planes. George Bush Senior didn’t hijack our planes. We weren’t the victims of terrorism because we drive big cars or because we built a McDonald’s in Moscow or because we refuse to let the Palestinians push the Israelis into the sea. We were the victims of terrorism because we are free, because we are successful, because we send humans into the heavens on pillars of fire.

I believe in a strong stance. We were whooped, which is no reason to go curl up in a corner and whimper. “Why can’t America just leave the world alone?” Lunacy. “The best way to avoid conflict is to not have any enemies.” Like, are you not thinking???

Where they fail and continue to fail we have succeeded. The only way they see to pull themselves out of their rut is not to build themselves up, but to tear us down. This cannot be allowed. The enemy cannot be bought by kindness. From the liberation of Iraq will come the liberation of the Arab peninsula.

Perhaps the reason I am so vehemently for this war is because it is all I have. There is nothing else that I have so thoroughly and continually researched that I feel justified in holding an opinion about. I do not believe on professing opinions on something that I am not well-versed in. I often have gut-feelings on issues, but I’ve never been one to merely trust my gut on things of importance. I need facts, I need arguments, I need reasons. To hold an uninformed opinion, I believe, is wholly irresponsible. An argument for war based on supporting our armed forces no matter what? Based on patriotism? Please. Clumsy and inelegant arguments to the core.

I can’t even read the claptrap, anti-war or otherwise, that oozes across the pages of the Ripsaw anymore. I used to feel that by reading alternative newspapers I was getting the real scoop on what’s going on in the world, but really it’s just a bunch of wool-pulling in the other direction. Every single insufficiently developed argument they print I have seen systematically refuted a hundred times over across the blogosphere.

And thus the blogosphere. To grossly simplify, I really have two choices for where I want to go from here: Liberal or Conservative. The liberal stance has never sat with me very well. It sounds all fine and dandy, but I’ve always had the sensation that somewhere, underneath all the calls for social reform and grassroots revolution, that it’s all based on a deeply flawed premise. I can’t place the flaw, but I know it is there.

The problem as I see it is related to the lack of robustness in the political/economic theory of liberalism. It is delicate. Under an ideal setting socialism and a benevolent dictatorship would be by far the best governing body for a people, but it is too easily corrupted. Government quickly becomes too powerful.

Liberalism also has a certain amount of moral elitism to it. The ability to cast stones is granted only to those who can say they sold their television, bike to work every day and weave bonnets out of hemp.

Really, I suppose I end up with three choices. I can remain on the sidelines and watch the fight with my hands in my pockets. I can side with the liberals and feel like I’m doing the ‘right thing’, which for me feels like the wrong thing, but must be the right thing because it’s the Right Thing. Right? Or. I can side with the conservatives and have a good time throwing punches.

Conservativism has an intuitive wrongness to it; a kind of cold and uncaring attitude that nevertheless holds an appeal for me. It seems more real than liberalism. What it lacks in intuition it makes up in rationality. Sweet, sweet, cold draughts of logic. Delicious and refreshing.

When people find out I support military action in Iraq, or even when they find out I’m conservative to begin with, they need to wind their jaws back up from the floor. Dane? Conservative? Impossible! I might as well tell them I’m a werewolf or something. I think it may have something to do with my demeanor. Most creative, artistic, funny people find themselves on the left side of the spectrum. Very few writers and artists are right-wingers. The right wing is reserved for computer geeks, political science majors and business majors.

Or engineers. Mr. Den Beste grapples with the same question of political tidings and does a wonderful job at it:

I am a humanist. I am a liberal, in the classic sense of the term, meaning that I think that the goal of a political system should be to liberate the individuals within it to have as much ability to make decisions about their own lives as is practical, with as little interference by other citizens or the mechanisms of the state. I strongly believe in diversity at every level: diversity of opinions, diversity of political beliefs, diversity of lifestyles. When in doubt, permit it unless it is clearly a danger to the survival of the state or threatens the health and wellbeing of those within the state.

Which, in 2003 in the United States, makes me a “conservative”, at least in the reckoning of self-anointed “Liberals” in this nation. I’ve never been comfortable with that term, myself, and indeed I’m uncomfortable with almost any “ism” as a label for my beliefs (except for “humanism” and “populism”). Is there such a thing as “ain’tism”, as in “I ain’t any ism”?

Den Beste’s platform can be elegantly summed up as “It is better to be free than to be correct.” I agree entirely, and therein lies the problem. Yesterday at a party I tossed out the word libertarian to express my leanings and was immediately shot down by people that knew me better. We were obviously working from different definitions, but who has time to establish premises when there’s beer to be drunk?

February 22, 2003

alternative mumbo-jumbo

Lileks’ Friday Bleat was good. Read it with this in mind:

It takes a particularly rarified variety of idiot to look at a Jew-hating fascist with a small mustache – and decide that his opponent is the Nazi.

But what kind of idiot would be so foolish and cruel to do such a thing? A special idiot. One that unreflectively digets the Ripsaw. Or the Weekly Reader. Or One. Or the City Pages. Or any of those alternative tripe newspapers that you turn to with the thought that now you’re getting the real story by not reading the Wall Street Journal.

Be careful out there.

February 21, 2003

airport insecurity

Ryan and I are flying out to Portland to go backpacking over spring break. To make sure we don’t end up subsisting merely on roots and dirt we need to bring a camp stove along. The stove consists of two parts: the stove and the white gas fuel bottle. Aware of the serious security concerns these items could raise at the airport, we made phone calls to find out how in the hell we could bring the gift of Prometheus to the west coast.

We considered mailing the fuel bottle out to a friend in Oregon and picking it up after we arrive. The post office would not let us send the bottle even if it was empty, as it would still have gasoline residue and pose a serious threat to teenage postal workers that may be involved in gas-huffing rackets. We called Northwest, and it took them some time to figure out that we weren’t asking if we could smuggle explosives onto a plane, but were making a genuine request for policy information. It also took them a few minutes to figure out what their policy on fuel bottles really was. I found their delay in response curious, as I would assume that amongst all this heightened security that questions of personal freedom, such as our right to transport cooking materials by plane, would have already been answered. I got the feeling they were making it up on the spot.

As expected, Northwest would not let us check the empty bottle in with our luggage, as anything that has been associated with gas will trip the sensors and summon the FBI. What’s more, they said we wouldn’t even be able to bring the stove itself, as it has been used with gas in the past. I assume that under this logic gas station uniforms are also rightly banned from airplanes.

Finally we contacted UPS. Their first concern was how much the stove and bottle would weigh. We can’t mail the bottle and we’ll need to buy a new one out in Oregon, but they said that we could send the stove so long as we pledged it would not explode. Being a profit-oriented enterprise, UPS finds the risk in serving us acceptable.

February 20, 2003

self-less self-promotion

I’ll bet you’re wondering where this one is going:

With the national security level raised from chartreuse to goldenrod, some extra precautions might be necessary to ensure your longevity. The media has added their own spin to the situation, but they’re too busy whimpering like a pack of school girls in a drowning submarine to be of any legitimate use. If we are to believe their take, most Americans are currently raiding grocery stores as though stocking up for a hurricane. I’ve got news for all you folks: THE TERRORISTS WILL NOT ATTACK US WITH A HURRICANE.

My latest article in the Statesman is up this week: TERROR-ISM: Your Guide to Survival. Go check it out.

Oh, and if you missed it, here’s my last article: Everything’s Better With Handguns.

cold brains unmoved, untouched, unglued

The temperature in Duluth has a direct effect on the weirdness of its people. When it’s all cold and grimy everyone stays indoors except for the pushy homeless that camp out on Superior Street. Duluth has to be the worst/stupidest place to be homeless. I mean, it’s fargin’ twenty below for 9 months out of the year. Sure, for those other 3 months you get to push around tourists from Minneapolis that bleed greenbacks when you poke them, but otherwise you’re screwed. Cold and screwed. Sometimes your homeless bunker gets buried by snowplows, and if you’re lucky you don’t get arrested for it.

When, after a long haitus, a warm Duluth morning finally dawns, everyone scrapes their brain out of the freezer and throws it in the kitchen sink to be thawed by dinner. Now, most people that have flashes of activity in their brainstem know well enough to not run out into traffic. Not running into traffic is one of those cultural universals that you never hear of because it’s not very interesting. No one writes home on a postcard: “Wow! These people don’t take unnecessary risks, just like we do! Please send more iodine and guns!”

Unfortunately in Duluth, darting into traffic is not only common but encouraged (usually by the crazy people on the sidewalk that shuffle back and forth, muttering to themselves). You drive down the road in white-knuckle terror, convinced that a 10 am drunk is going to burst out of every thorny hedge and wrap himself around your catalytic converter.

February 19, 2003


We’re really starting to run out of worthwhile Flash crap, but I’ll let you guys off with a bang, tonight. Courtesy of a guy named Lore at the Brunching Shuttlecocks, we have Bandwidth Theater.

Can’t decide where to start? Try meeting the latest reject from the Autobots. Or maybe check out the real story behind bladder imps. All in all, you can’t go wrong.

Can you?

February 18, 2003

world news roundup

This is reassuring. Bush isn’t budging, despite the weekend protests. Good ol’ Dubya. He’s nothing if not consistent. I can deal with that.

Weapons inspectors have hit a snarl, as Iraqi scientists are asking that their private interviews be recorded (likely at the request of Saddam, so that any untoward conversation that takes place can be dealt with effectively and the respective families tortured and burned).

The first U-2 surveillance flight took place yesterday, after Saddam made sure that everything that needed to be hidden was hidden. Iraq was given a 48-hour advance notification of the flight.

Turkey wants us to double our multibillion dollar aid package before letting the U.S. use their soil for war against Iraq. There’s speculation that the 12 million Kurds in Turkey and the Kurds in Northern Iraq may want to carve out their own country post-war, and if so Turkey could stand to lose a lot in a liberated Iraq. The U.S. considers Turkey an essential part of any military action, and says a northern front will make the war less bloody (and therefore less oily). Steven Den Beste suggests that CENTCOM may want to mull over some plans that don’t involve Turkey.

Eastern European countries endorsed a joint European declaration saying Saddam has one last chance to disarm (which, surprisingly, is what resolution 1441 said a few months ago). France is threatening Eastern Europe, saying their pro-U.S. position could endanger their acceptance into the European Union.

Keep in mind, it is still a rush to war. Anything that involves the use of force is a rush to war. Anything that involves weapons inspectors is wonderful, peaceful, effective and legitimate.

Ok folks, here’s the deal so far as I see it. I don’t want Saddam to disarm. The point of this war isn’t to get Saddam to disarm, but to get Saddam out of Iraq because he’s a cruel dictator lunatic that is a threat to HIS national security (remember, there are still 24 million Iraqis in there that aren’t quite dead yet) and OUR international security. We want Saddam to shoot himself in the head. We’ve tried sending faxes to the guy saying “SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE HEAD” in a dozen different languages (and French twice), and we’ve tried inserting subliminal messages into his Frank Sinatra record collection, and we’ve even tried shoveling little pieces of paper all over the United Nations that say “Please shoot yourself in the head pretty please or we’ll have to do it for you and if we don’t do it for you we’ll shovel more paper around that says shoot yourself in the head or we’ll do it this time and we really really mean it this time.” Nothing short of a rush to war seems to be effective! This fellow is impervious to our words! You would think he was a hardened killer or dictator or something!

Oh well. It all works out fine for the United States, anyway. So long as the United Nations (and all those smelly little protestors) prove that they’re unwilling to deal effectively with a prissy little squirt in the desert, they’ll never be able to stand in the way of an International American Imperialist United States World Domination Super Regime that grinds the world into an impossibly just democracy.

Tomorrow I’m gonna wear my t-shirt that says “I am not a terrorist” and wait for people to run up and play the moral equivalency game. The news is just making me bitter.

for great justice

This shout goes out to my old roomie Peter Keyel:


If you missed this meme the first time it went around, here’s your chance to finally know what all the freaks and dweebs are talking about. For the other 99 percent of us, just consider this an opportunity to refresh your burned out synapses. You can do worse than take the next four minutes of day and revisit the Grand Design that started everything.

February 17, 2003

brak sez change iz good

Alright. I finally got around to changing the weblog template so it is consistent with the rest of the site. I’m not sure if I like it anymore, but it’s a step in the right direction. The rest of this week will likely experience minor tweaking. If you would like to see a tweak, or want something of yours tweaked, drop me a line. I’m always open for experimental tweakage.

move yer feet, punk

An excellent music video done in 64 colors with huge pixels? It can’t be done.

Can’t be done.


Oh hell, yes it can, and it can rock my white little ass. It’s a 5 MB Quicktime file but worth every penny. Set up the download and go grab a dance partner. It’s gonna be a wild night.

All these latest links are courtesy of Grotto11. I fear tellin’ ya because you’ll never be back here again, but what’s fair is fair.

Oh, and the video is Danish. Did I mention it was Danish?