Friday, April 27, 2007

Well Said on Masculinity

A version of the same advice I've given to my son on many occasions. It didn't occur to me at the time to view it through this lens, but it's quite apt.

The basic good code of a certain brand of masculinity, as opposed to macho, is that you don't pick fights, and that you never tolerate the strong bullying the weak. Bullying, in fact, is seen as a declaration of weakness - if you were strong, you wouldn't be picking fights with weaklings, now would you? And if you were confident, you wouldn't need to prove anything, would you? Certainly you don't back down from a fight - but you don't go looking for it either.

It also summarizes my early, instinctive opposition to war, i.e. we were picking a fight, not finishing one.

You Had me at "Opportunist"

God is not Great

If the followers of the prophet Muhammad hoped to put an end to any future "revelations" after the immaculate conception of the Koran, they reckoned without the founder of what is now one of the world's fastest-growing faiths. And they did not foresee (how could they, mammals as they were?) that the prophet of this ridiculous cult would model himself on theirs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—hereafter known as the Mormons—was founded by a gifted opportunist who, despite couching his text in openly plagiarized Christian terms, announced that "I shall be to this generation a new Muhammad" and adopted as his fighting slogan the words, which he thought he had learned from Islam, "Either the Al-Koran or the sword." He was too ignorant to know that if you use the word al you do not need another definite article, but then he did resemble Muhammad in being able only to make a borrowing out of other people's bibles.

Better Dead than Red

From Cryptogram:

Announcing: Second Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest
The first Movie-Plot Threat Contest asked you to invent a horrific and completely ridiculous, but plausible, terrorist plot. All the entries were worth reading, but Tom Grant won with his idea to crash an explosive-filled plane into the Grand Coulee Dam.
This year the contest is a little different. We all know that a good plot to blow up an airplane will cause the banning, or at least screening, of something innocuous. If you stop and think about it, it's a stupid response. We screened for guns and bombs, so the terrorists used box cutters. We took away box cutters and small knives, so they hid explosives in their shoes. We started screening shoes, so they planned to use liquids. We now confiscate liquids (even though experts agree the plot was implausible)...and they're going to do something else. We can't win this game, so why are we playing?
Well, we are playing. And now you can, too. Your goal: invent a terrorist plot to hijack or blow up an airplane with a commonly carried item as a key component. The component should be so critical to the plot that the TSA will have no choice but to ban the item once the plot is uncovered. I want to see a plot horrific and ridiculous, but just plausible enough to take seriously.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in security lines, usually 2 a week but sometimes more. It irks me to no end to watch people give up their small amounts of hair jell, baby formula and toothpaste for no constructive purpose what-so-ever. While waiting, I have often wondered what the TSA could try to ban that would clearly be ridiculous and would point out to everyone just how foolish the banning business is.

I decided on the color Red.

I think I have worked out a way that the color Red could be critical to hijacking plot so that the TSA would no longer allow red objects though security. No red soda cans, no red lipstick, no red childrens' toys, no red sneakers, maybe even no red hair. I think it would take something of that catastrophically stupidity to wake folks up to the security theatre of the TSA. I'm going to winkle out the last details and enter Bruce's contest. Obviously I'll post here too

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert ... garlic?

I was talking to a colleague a few motnhs ago about the various, unusual foods I have eaten in my travel career and how, oddly, I have taken a liking to some of the spicy ones, kimchi being a prime example. This is odd becuase I don't really care for spicy Tex-Mex food, but like a lot og garlic and exotic spice.

"You know, I bet you would like pickled garlic", he said.
"!!! They make that?"
"Hahaha, oh yes! I'll bring you some"

Today, on my desk when I came back from Vegas, I found a jar of Mother's Garlic Pickle (South Indian Style) with a note reading, "Hot Style! Go Easy on this!!!"

Time to put up or shut up....

Book-Learned Liberals Destroy the World

Damned elites with their book-learning! They're the ones causing global warming....

As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?
Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

From PZ (with some skepticism)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Aladdin Hotel

I'm currently in Las Vegas, giving a security speech at Computer Associates World. When I booked the trip, I decided to stay at the Aladdin Hotel. It's one of the new mega-properties that have gone up in the last few years, so it;s built arcology style, i.e. it's a self-contained hotel/mall/entertainment complex. These things cost about $5B to build, and I've been making it a habit to staying in as many as I can before the bubble breaks.

I noticed something odd on the way in... the cabbie took me to the Planet Hollywood arco, not the Aladdin arco. The PH arco seemed odd. Clearly finished, the entire outside of the complex was an shambles of recladding and brickface... this isn't right...

"I'm sorry", I said, "I wanted to go to the Aladdin"
"This is it!"
"Really? I hadn't realized they changed the name. When I booked it said Aladdin"
"Oh, they changed it and ... re-educating? it."

So I asked at the front desk...

"Why did you change the name?"
"Well, we didn't think it was very good business to be catering to .... that crowd... with the war and all"

that crowd? Yes, I am sure all middle eastern terrorists heading to Las-Fucking-Vegas, would stay at the Aladdin hotel, to remind them of the comforts of home... Clearly all things middle eastern are now verboden. They are attempting to remove every single scrap of middle eastern myth from the hotel (which, btw, is owned by the multinational Hilton corportation). It looks like a cheap rip-off of Mandaley Bay now, with a crapier mall.

utter foolishness.

One wonders what the hotel's fortune would have been if everything in Iraq had worked out.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Essential Child Rearing advice


I wish I had had this when my son was 8. It will be helpful for nieces and nephews...