28 June 2005

Souter Faces Kelo Backlash

Following up on the Kelo eminent domain decision in SCOTUS last week, this is rather interesting:

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter’s vote in the “Kelo vs. City of New London” decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter’s home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called “The Lost Liberty Hotel” will feature the “Just Desserts CafĂ©” and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon’s Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

I have several immediate reactions to this. The first is, “Wow, NICE, that’s really clever!!” which is followed closely by “Geez, that’s a pretty drastic thing to do, despite his role in Kelo” and then “Well, however it ends up, it’ll be a good object lesson for him about the ramifications of his rulings.”

In the end, I hope/suspect that this will end up not going much of anywhere. But, if it makes Souter and his compatriots aware that the American citizenry is fully prepared to use their crappy decisions against them, perhaps it’ll make them think twice before pilfering liberties like they did last week.

(Hat tip: Volokh, though this has been linked all over the place)

Unspeakably Cute, Indeed

A sample from the Moggy Horde:

Check out the site... the feline contortions displayed therein are rather remarkable. And, of course, are... well, ‘unspeakably cute.’

(Link and phrase ‘unspeakably cute’ from By The Way)

26 June 2005

Some Unreal Scenery

I bought a whole bunch of old(er) games on eBay recently—probably far more than I should have—ranging from a copy of the original System Shock (1994) to Unreal II (2003). I think I may have gotten some that date from before ’94, but that gives the gist. Despite the difficulty of getting some of these old creakers to run on my new box, I'm quite satisifed with my purchases.

In any event, I've been playing U-II quite a bit lately, and I have to say, it’s really pretty, which holds true to how impressive the original Unreal was visually for its time. U-II’s soundtrack is also very impressive—high quality stuff with lots of dynamic music changes in response to game events.

The gameplay is excellent, with lots of fun weapons and challenging enemies. Some of the levels I’ve played thus far have been genuinely tough, requiring strategy and planning and often a bit of light-footed dodging. :-) There's a solid storyline there as well, with plenty of mystery and uncertainty about surrounding events and your character’s role in them. I think I’m close to a turning point in the plot, as I’ve got a pile of unanswered questions as big as the pile of enemies I’ve left in my wake. :-P

In any event, I grabbed some screenshots to share with y’all—the vista from this one level was really awesome, and one of the following levels had some... interesting landforms. So, here we go... the first set here covers various angles of aforementioned vista:

(This one’s my favorite, I think)

This next is a view through the scope of the sniper rifle, which I think is pretty nifty looking:

The next two are on the planet with the ‘interesting geoforms’—the first shows one of said geoforms (which might actually be a big skeleton or something) and the second shows the rolling rust-red hills:

25 June 2005

I Could Never Live In The South

Weather.com’s forecast for Boston:

Now, this is definitely unusual—if it hit 100 degrees today it’d completely blow away the previous record high. It strikes me as the kind of weather you'd expect in, say, New Orleans (with the possible exception that the nighttime low wouldn’t be as cool ;-). But, after checking New Orleans:

and Baton Rouge:

and Houston:


If you need me just holler, I'll be sitting over next to the A/C. :-P

24 June 2005

Thinly Veiled Socialism

For those of you who follow the news, the simple mention of ‘eminent domain’ should be enough to tell you what I'm writing about. For those who don't, read the backstory here. Essentially, the Supreme Court (of the United States --> SCOTUS) case Kelo et al v. City of New London says that local governments can make use of the ‘eminent domain’ clause in the Fifth Amendment to essentially transfer ownership of private property from one group/person to another so long as said transfer takes place for the nebulous purpose of ‘providing benefit to the public at large.’ From the Reason Public Policy Institute:

The New London case is a direct outcome of the judiciary's tendency, going back several decades, toward a “hands off” approach to eminent domain. Case law, including the groundbreaking 1984 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court in Poletown v. the City of Detroit, broadened the power of local governments and gave them license to effectively void individual property rights as long as they say it is for a public benefit.

The Poletown case, in particular, was important because the Michigan Supreme Court allowed a city to raze an entire neighborhood to accommodate a new General Motors plant to meet an explicit economic development goal.

Although Poletown was a state court decision, it had nationwide impact. Building on federal law that granted increasingly broad authority to state and local governments, cities and states across the nation have used eminent domain to seize property from some private owners and hand it over to others, with economic development as a justification.

The Michigan Supreme Court overturned Poletown in July 2004, however, when it ruled against use of eminent domain for a private business and office park in County of Wayne v. Edward Hathcock. The effects of this reversal are unclear because eminent domain has become so pervasive in urban redevelopment. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London thus carries even more significance.

John over at Power Line disagrees somewhat about the significance of the ruling, noting that cases such as these (where the local legislature is given free hand in deciding whether to apply eminent domain) aren't entirely uncommon:

Here in Minnesota, we have had a couple of famous cases that have stretched the boundaries of "public use" at least as far as Kelo. In one instance, a block in downtown Minneapolis was condemned so that a local company could build its new corporate headquarters there. Thriving businesses who had no desire to sell out were evicted, and their buildings razed. In another instance, a Minneapolis suburb condemned a stretch along the metropolitan area's major beltway to serve as the new headquarters for Best Buy Company. This was prime real estate, which was already occupied by other profitable businesses--a major car dealer, restaurants, etc. They resisted the taking, but it was upheld.

My point is not that these decisions were correct--I have considerable sympathy for the other side--but rather that the Kelo decision shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who has been following this area of the law.

In any event, there's general agreement on the Right side of the blogosphere and among some more toward the center that this ruling is really pretty awful. Remarkably, there’s actually some agreement on the Left on this issue as well (in the comments—the post itself makes the argument that only right-wing extremists would want to keep the government from ‘improving’ the neighborhood by kicking everybody out), though for somewhat different reasons (e.g., giving Wal-Mart more land is BAAAAAAAD). I really don’t like the ruling—IMO eminent domain should be applied very rarely and only for projects that are explicitly “for public use” (quoting the Fifth Amendment verbatim!) such as roads and parks. A nebulous argument that the new (private, not public!) owner will bring about an improvement in the public welfare is not sufficient reason for the government to seize a citizen’s property.

This actually now ties into the title of the post. The SCOTUS decision in Kelo leaves to local governments (G) the power to transfer property (P) from one private entity (A) to another (B) and also to set the amount of the compensation provided to A. If this transaction were to take place in a purely capitalistic environment, free of governmental intervention, A and B would negotiate fair compensation based upon the value that A has vested in keeping control P. If A would accept no less than (say) $20 million as the cost of giving up the intangible benefit (in economics terms I believe it's called ‘utility’) of retaining posession of P, then that cost would have to be factored into B’s calculations to determine if they really want to pursue the transaction. But, with eminent domain in play, G gets to choose whether the ‘transaction’ takes place and what the compensation should be, regardless of the value that A places on P. Thus, it represents an egregious penetration of government into a matter strictly between two private parties. From m-w.com (emphasis mine):

socialism: 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

Thus, granting the government the power to redistribute goods (land) among private entities is socialist. I don't use the term lightly (and to forestall accusations that I'm calling the Kelo majority Supremes socialists, I hereby restrict its application to this one instance while reserving the right to apply it again if I so choose), but I think it accurately describes the mindset of the opinion. SCOTUS is effectively saying, “We hold that government knows best how land should be allocated to private entities.”

I dissent.

Link Roundup

(Most of these were linked above, this is just for clarity)

22 June 2005

An Interesting Topical Convergence

First, watch the movie here.

As I was watching that movie, the headline for this article popped up in my RSS aggregator. :-P

(I'm not, of course, attempting to make light of the news article!)

(Hat tips: Movie - Aurora; News story - AP)

21 June 2005

A Vaguely Unfortunate (But Mostly Just Amusing) Product Name

See here.

Fans of first person shooters should enjoy this. Others may just end up being confused. :-)

The Hubris Of The Time Travel Paradox

From BBC:

Researchers speculate that time travel can occur within a kind of feedback loop where backwards movement is possible, but only in a way that is “complementary” to the present.

In other words, you can pop back in time and have a look around, but you cannot do anything that will alter the present you left behind.

The new model, which uses the laws of quantum mechanics, gets rid of the famous paradox surrounding time travel.


The main headache stems from the idea that if you went back in time you could, theoretically, do something to change the present; and that possibility messes up the whole theory of time travel.


According to Einstein, space-time can curve back on itself, theoretically allowing travellers to double back and meet younger versions of themselves.

And now a team of physicists from the US and Austria says this situation can only be the case if there are physical constraints acting to protect the present from changes in the past.


“Quantum mechanics distinguishes between something that might happen and something that did happen,” Professor Dan Greenberger, of the City University of New York, US, told the BBC News website.

“If we don't know your father is alive right now - if there is only a 90% chance that he is alive right now, then there is a chance that you can go back and kill him.

“But if you know he is alive, there is no chance you can kill him.”

To my knowledge, the ‘time-travel paradox’ has always been cast like this in science fiction—the laws of causality forbid you from altering ‘something’ in the past that alters the progression of human (or alien) history otherwise you might not ever go back in time to make the change resulting in the necessity of the change simultaneously both happening and not happening. Rather mind-bending. Even, well... paradoxical. :-P

Taking a step back from this human-centered view of the universe, in my mind the principles described in the article make an argument against time travel in any form. They posit that the space-time curvature/intersection necessary for Einsteinian time travel “can only be the case if there are physical constraints acting to protect the present from changes in the past.” But, one of the most fundamental tenets of science is that measuring a system inevitably alters the state of that system. If a theoretical time traveler looked at something in the past, his eyes would absorb photons that would otherwise strike an object in that past. The simple act of ‘entering’ the past would disturb air molecules from the trajectories they traveled in his absence. Thus, any time travel event would cause changes, and thus by the logic presented in the article, no time travel is thus possible. Only our prideful assumptions permit us to assume that the only changes that matter in our hypothetical mucking about in the past are those that perceptibly affect human events.

But, I'll give you... SF would be a lot more boring if everybody held to a strictly fundamental position on this. ;-)

More information on quantum measurement here; feel free to skip the heavy mathy stuff and start here. The Copenhagen interpretation is one (still rather imperfect) attempt at a resolution for all of these quantum questions. And this is something I ran into while I was Googling around that's even more technical and paradoxical and confusing than the other stuff, but at the same time is really neat.

(Hat tip: Strife)

19 June 2005

The (Science Fiction) Future... Today!!

Looks like we don't even need sentient AI to have robots running amok...

(Hat tip: Strife)

18 June 2005

Ford Fires

One reason why parking your Ford on the street might not be a bad idea.

This is an inherent problem with any product, from cars to toys to pharmaceuticals. A company can only carry out ‘quality assurance’ for a certain length of time. There is no way to tell what might happen after that QA period. The burden inevitably falls to the consumer in the form of perpetual vigilance.

Potential Identity Theft

On LATimes.com:

In the largest reported security breach of personal financial information, hackers infiltrated the computers at a Tucscon credit card processing center and stole as many as 40 million card numbers, it was disclosed Friday.

MasterCard International said card numbers and expiration dates were harvested by a rogue program planted inside the computer network at CardSystems Inc., one of the firms that process merchant requests for credit-card authorization. When a retailer swipes a customer's card, the information goes to companies like CardSystems for approval before getting passed along to banks.

At least 68,000 accounts have already had fraudulent charges posted to them, said MasterCard Vice President Linda Locke. Most credit card companies reverse bogus charges that are reported to them. Social Security numbers and other personal information were not taken.

The attack exposed the numbers of 13.9 million MasterCards and an unknown number of other brands of cards, including American Express. Atlanta-based CardSystems processes $15 billion in charges annually for MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover and other cards. Visa did not return a call seeking comment.

Keep a close eye on your credit statements - check them online daily for the next week or so, if you can. Be very prepared to report bogus purchases if they show up.

Is it just me, or has there been a lot of identity theft and loss/improper transmission of personal information in the news lately? The Berkeley laptop, the lost Citibank tapes, the data swiped from LexisNexis... it's getting out of hand. I guess the real question is, has there been an uptick in identity theft, or are the stories just making it out to the news more frequently?

16 June 2005

They Really Do Mean “This Side Up”

From The Sneeze:

Little did I know when I innocently bought a box of microwave Kettle Corn, it would result in a: Hidden Splenda Expose, A Destroyed Microwave, A $43 Auction, and A Cross-Country Trip for my little popcorn meteor...

Read the whole thing. And then be really careful the next time you make microwave popcorn. Especially the certain people I know who've had similar troubles in the past... ;-)

Additionally, if you have a strong stomach, consider reading the Steve, Don't Eat It! special. (Be warned, this guy is kinda fond of vulgarity and obscenities.)

(Hat tip: You know who you are :-)

And This Is Just INSANE!

Click only the red rectangle, as quickly as you can. If you miss, you go back to the previous layout.

My best time through the whole thing so far is 144 seconds. I bet y'all can beat that pretty easily. :-)

Update, 6/16/05 2:11 PM: New best, 53 seconds.

(Hat tip: Also By The Way)

This Makes Me Feel Less Like A Hopeless Geek

I like science fiction. Most who know me are probably not surprised by this revelation. However, I have a better-than-average knowledge of the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe than most people I know. <spreads hands> I like the show, what can I say?

However, when I run into something like this, I am quietly relieved that there are others out there who put a whole lot more time and effort into analyzing science fiction worlds/universes than I do:

If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.

What I've read so far of this is quite well-thought-out, and (I think) very interesting. I'm just glad that somebody else came up with it. :-)

(Hat tip: By The Way)

15 June 2005

‘Healthy Candy’—Rrrrright...

Via AP:

Apparently energy-packed sports drinks aren't enough. Now there are vitamin-laced jelly beans and ginseng-stoked chews.

The nation's candy makers are targeting fitness enthusiasts seeking to boost athletic performance or quickly grab a jolt of energy.

Industry insiders and analysts who gathered this week in Chicago for North America's largest candy trade show say the odd pairing of candy and fitness might just make economic sense. Consumers are scooping up more than $3 billion a year in "energy" gels, bars and drinks, and the crowded, $25 billion confection industry must continue to innovate if it's going to sweeten the bottom line.

And when you consider that more than 60 percent of adults say they exercise, the new products stand a good chance of catching on, said Harry Balzer, vice president of a consumer marketing firm that tracks the food industry.

Oh goody, more processed, refined, extracted, extruded, treated, preserved, re-treated, modified “health food” for people to binge on, just what we need! Sports drinks with electrolytes and stuff, I can understand (though the food coloring really isn't the best). Sports bars probably aren't too bad, what with (as I understand it) mostly ‘real food’ contents with some extra nutrients thrown in. But candy? I guess it's the logical follow-up to all of the vitamin C lozenges and stuff.

<shrug> Just give me real, actual fruits and vegetables with an occasional granola bar and some really good dark chocolate every once in a while. Now that’s snacking!

13 June 2005

A Challenge For A Certain Subset Of My Friends

Here. (A certain member of the titular subset has very probably already seen this. :-P to you, I say.)

I admit, I'm completely unqualified to even begin to think about how to tackle something like this. However, I suspect several of the people I know could come up with something very respectable (even if the contest isn't ;-).

(Via Slashdot)

Chat With A Potential Employer

On Wired.com today:

In Hollywood, where everyone's a freelancer and career networking veers between art and warfare, a new weapon is emerging as champion: instant messaging.

Movie producers, directors, actors and crew workers bouncing from one job to the next have traditionally relied on agents and Rolodexes for finding their next gigs. But these days, many are discovering it's easier to post their job availability on IM.

Instead of displaying simple "away from my computer" messages, Hollywood buddy lists now overflow with come-ons, from "need work" to "wrapping up shoot." Producers hiring for a new production can tell at a glance who's available now, who's not and who might be free in the near future.

This seems like a really effective use of instant messaging - I mean, heck... I've been using it in much the same way ever since I first started using IM back in high school (oh-so-scarily long ago). It's almost like a personal classified ads board.

However, I'm forced to wonder if this job-posting use might entice the messaging service providers to try to charge for the service. I don't think pay-to-chat would work in the long run, though, because they'd lose many of their casual customers - either the users would stop messaging, or they'd go to a different, free application. I suppose they could encrypt the communications between the client and the server to prevent third-party tap-ins, but... I'm pretty sure it'd outright kill the medium for a lot of folks.


And This Is Just Neat

Via AP.

Given that (to my knowledge) date palms aren't the source of any kind of medicinal substance today, I'm afraid I'm a bit skeptical about the prospects of something coming from this seedling. But, hey, anything's possible!

Inspiring Story

This is really remarkable... powerful read.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

11 June 2005

One Hope Or Two?

Ghent over at Star Wars Blogs has some theories
on why Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn't seem to consider Leia a 'Hope' (follow link for more details). His conclusions:

What do we know for sure? Obi-Wan and Yoda's opinion of Leia's status as a "hope" differed. This difference was one of opinion, not sexism or a lack of knowledge.

There are plenty of possible reasons Obi-Wan may have favored Luke... his familiarity with Luke and unfamiliarity with Leia creating a bias, Luke's level of training vs. Leia's, evidence of differing gifts as the twins developed, secret midichlorian tests, or maybe just a difference in what was being hoped for as discussed above. There simply isn't enough evidence to know for sure.

Since there's no stretch of logic (if I do say so myself) for this line to make sense, this is no plot hole.

Personally, I'd like to propose another reason, if I may: Obi-Wan, knowing the intensity of Luke's feelings and the strength of his connection to Leia, feared that if Luke had any knowledge of his blood relationship to Leia it would pose a threat to Leia. In the Emperor's throne room battle scene at the end of ROTJ, this exact situation plays out - Vader picks through Luke's mind and finds out about Leia, and this drives Luke out of hiding and into an attack on Vader (likely motivated by Dark Side emotions). Thus, I think Obi-Wan's thinking was, "If he doesn't know she's his sister, then she will be safe."

However, Yoda had a different plan. I think Ghent's theory on this point is quite valid - that Yoda was thinking longer-term and attempting to ensure the continuation of the Jedi by making sure that Luke knew that he could (and should) train Leia in the Jedi arts. Perhaps he felt that Luke training Leia was important enough to risk revealing her existence to Vader and the Emperor.

In any event, it brings out yet again the mild conflict of style and foresight/insight between Kenobi and Yoda that was (if my memory serves) brought up in Episode I. (What I'm thinking of could've been between Kenobi and Qui-Gon in E-I, or Kenobi/Yoda in E-II...it's been awhile since I've seen either.) In the end everything works out, but it brings a bit of chaos to Luke's world, with various sides of the truth being thrown at him depending on who he talks to.

<shrug> My ten cents says, "No plot hole either." :-)

(Hat tip: Slashdot)

10 June 2005

This Is Just Ridiculous

Need some celebrity air?

You are bidding on ONE Jar of Celebrity Air which was captured at the movie premiere for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

In addition to the jar of celebrity air are two t-shirts from the Mr. & Mrs. Smith premiere.

As of this post there are 53 bids, with the current going price of $15,099. Wonder how long it'll take eBay to pull this one down...

Update, 6/11/05 3:40 AM: 83 bids, $21,100. And there are still more than nine days left to go!!

Update, 6/12/05 1:23 AM: eBay has removed the auction. However, there are plenty of copycat auctions up now, if you're really desperate to get your hands on this stuff. :-P

(Hat tip: The Corner)

09 June 2005

Got Tornado?

This is incredible, and a wee bit frightening at the same time (mainly the second of the three clips). The probe that they came up with to do this was very cleverly designed, too... something like a radially symmetric airfoil. Props to 'em for some darn nice footage.

(Hat tip: By The Way - John has a good point that this footage on an Imax screen could cause... errrmm... problems :-P)

06 June 2005

Even Judges Were Once Embryos

Over at Volokh Conspiracy, quoting Charles Lane of WashPo:

To be sure, when people hear the words "Supreme Court justice" these days, they probably do not think "youth." The youngest justice is Clarence Thomas, 56. The eight others are 65 or older. Yet each of them was once a child.

Connecting this observation to another ever-so-slightly controversial current issue, each of the current Supremes was also once an embryo. Who knows if they'd even be here, if their mothers had carried them in a post Roe v. Wade world! Craziness!

(Sorry, I don't have any documentary proof that the judges were once embryos. You'll have to take my word for it.)

05 June 2005

Truly Worthwhile Science

From CNN.com:

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -- Canadian and U.S. scientists have developed vaccines that protect monkeys from the deadly Marburg and Ebola viruses and show promise for humans, a study published in Nature Medicine magazine said Sunday.

It will take five or six years to complete the research to show the experimental vaccines can be safe and effective for people exposed to the contagious viruses, which are almost always fatal, said Steven Jones, one of the Canadian-based scientists behind the study.

"The data would suggest that instead of 100 percent chance of dying, they would have an 80 percent chance of survival," Jones said.

There are lots of dangerous jobs. Some people walk around on the top levels of skycrapers under construction. Others grab highly venomous snakes with their bare hands while cracking jokes in front of a camera. These people work daily with viruses that kill in the most vicious, painful, awful ways imaginable. Very worthy of respect, I must say.

Me, I'm chicken... I don't do anything like that. :-P

The Public Face Of The Democratic Party

In the interest of disclosure, I believe I'm registered as a Republican. At the very least, if memory serves, I voted in the Republican primary. To my understanding, this requires that I be registered as a Republican. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

In any event, official or not, I'm probably best considered a Republican, as I tend to side more with the GOP than with the Dems, in terms of ideology and votes. In that light, I'm really glad that this guy isn't representing my party:

While discussing the hardship of working all day and then standing in line for eight hours to vote, Dean had said, "Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Enh, who cares about substantive argument and debate, anyways - it's WAY more fun to just toss insults around! Nyah!

(Although... I guess if you want to get technical about it, couldn't you probably say that no politician, Repub or Dem, really makes an all-around "honest living?" :-P)

(Article from Boston.com)

"A [Statistically] Rare Occurrence"

Michelle Malkin has a quality overview post covering the Pentagon's investigative report out of Guantanamo. From the official news release (three page PDF):

Since Korans were first issued to detainees (JAN 02), the JTF has issued more than 1600 copies, conducted more than 28,000 interrogations, and thousands of cell moves during which detainee effects, including Korans, were moved. From those activities, the inquiry team identified 19 incidents involving Koran handling by JTF personnel.

Ten of these incidents did not involve mishandling the Koran. They involved the touching of a Koran during the normal performance of duty.

“With the other nine incidents, there was either intentional or unintentional mishandling of a Koran,” said Hood. “We defined mishandling as touching, holding or the treatment of a Koran in a manner inconsistent with policy or procedure. We have confirmed that five of these alleged mishandling incidents took place. After thoroughly investigating the four remaining alleged mishandling incidents, we cannot determine conclusively if they actually happened.”

“Mishandling a Koran at Guantanamo Bay is a rare occurrence. Mishandling of a Koran here is never condoned,” said Hood. “When one considers the many thousands of times detainees have been moved and cells have been searched since detention operations first began here in January 2002, I think one can only conclude that respect for detainee religious beliefs was embedded in the culture of the JTF from the start.”

In the course of the inquiry, 15 incidents were identified where detainees mishandled Korans. These included using a Koran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Koran, attempting to flush a Koran down the toilet, and urinating on the Koran.

So, some quick math. Assume 'thousands of prisoner moves' means 3,000 moves. That's 31,000 'guard action events' (I'll call 'em GAEs). Nineteen incidents involving the Koran, divided by that 31,000 figure gives us... a 0.058% chance of an incident involving the Koran (not necessarily even 'abuse,' mind you) over the course of any given GAE. Additionally, note that the probability of a detainee mishandling a Koran is comparable to that of a guard doing the same.

Would that our enemy afforded their prisoners as much consideration. <shakes head>

See Michelle's post for more good info and links. Specifically, the Pentagon's full findings (six page PDF) and the regulations in place regarding the handling of Korans (two page PDF) make for enlightening reading.

04 June 2005

Today's Public Service Announcement

Why we wear polycarbonate safety glasses where there's a risk of small flying objects.

(Obviously, in this dummy's case, he was foolish enough to stand in front of a BB gun. No hope for some people.)

(ASX format - requires Windows Media Player)

03 June 2005

Oops... But It's Still The Repub's Fault

No harm in a wee nip of Photoshopping, right?

Not when you make a campaign ad for a GOP gubernatorial hopeful by transplanting him into a shot of a certain well-known Democratic figure in front of a cheering crowd. At least the creative director of the ad company that pulled this little cut-and-paste was kind enough to "[issue] a written apology to Schundler [the GOP hopeful] and [say] the candidate had no knowledge about the photo's origin." I'm not entirely certain how this sounded like a good idea to the guy who put the ad together.

However, note the headline: "GOP candidate's Web site used doctored Dean photo" - this, err...doesn't exactly give the impression that the GOP candidate was innocent in the matter, despite the quote in the article stating that the GOP candidate had no knowledge of the photo's origin.

Granted, this was published on Boston.com, probably not the source most favorably disposed towards Republicans. But, this was an AP release, and thus (I have to assume) was geared towards generalized media outlets and should (ostensibly) be presented as neutrally as possible. Doesn't strike me that that's the case, though.

To those who say, "What liberal media bias?" I say, "Uh-huh, whatever."