Monthly Archives: January 2003

End of January: Image update today

I woke up this morning from a dream that Rob's house was a giant warehouse space (but still located out here). When I got home, he was scribbling all over the walls and floor, building a giant skate ramp inside he house… If I've reached the point where I'm projecting my desire to build the skate barn onto other people even in my dreams, I think it's safe to say it's going to happen.

Anyway, I could tell you a scare story about how Japan lost 206kg of plutonium, and how al Qaeda (yeah, the guys Bush defeated in the “war on terror”) has a nuke now… Or I could explain the details of the fraudulent and misleading evidence that Bush plans to use to justify war. But you don't really want to hear that, do you?

There are (in some ways) greater concerns closer to home. The new “Big Brother” database system, the TTIC that Bush announced in his SOTU speech, represents the death of privacy in America. The fact is, if you know every website a person visits, every credit card purchase they do (Shannon predicts: cash will be made illegal or at least largely unobtainable within a ten year window in the US), and so on, you basically know their thoughts. Now, that tool in the hands of a benevolent omnipotent God might be appropriate, but we all know that no man should have access to that level of power over other men — it has never worked, and never will. I believe that we are inherently good, but we are also inherently weak. The temptation to corrupt this is too great.

I'm also rather concerned at Bush's announcement that the US government will start paying to have churches constructed — as long as a church is also used for social services (and very few are not; on the whole churches do good for the community, but obviously with extreme bias) it can be covered by these vouchers. Not only that, but drug addicts may be forced by circumstance to accept God in order to get treatment. I have no problem with private programs preaching — but it is utterly inappropriate for the government of a modern multi-cultural nation to make it the default.

Government must be unbiased to be fair. As soon as a government accepts religious overtones, it ceases to be fair. As soon as funding is given to a specific religious demographic, it is being given unfairly. No matter what one's faith, that should be obvious. Am I saying Christianity is wrong somehow? Of course not. I'm saying that in order to protect our own freedom in the long game, we need to ensure an even playing field for all.

The end effect of giving government backing to religious organizations is to amplify the power of the dominant religion in a given area (since they are who are eligible for these vouchers). This is a thinly veiled attempt — only a fool can't see it clearly — to financially drive Christianity back into a dominant sociopolitical role in the US, and, more importantly drive out all faiths “invading” on their territory.


I just got around to updating the BME newsfeed for the day (sorry it's so late). Anyway, I wanted to draw people's attention to two main stories, and then one quick follow-up:

  • Does this mean we can't be drafted? The US Navy just released their new policy on body modification in the service, and to my surprise they specifically banned tongue splitting, implants, stretched piercing, and a number of other very niche activities. I guess this means we've really hit the mainstream, right?
  • Florida teacher fired for Wiccan tattoo (another and another link). I haven't seen the full details, but in some ways I agree with the schoolboard. I'm not entirely sure that it's appropriate to have a teacher with religious tattoos on their face, let alone one that's using the class as a forum to talk about his religious ideas. Separation of church and state, to me, implies that teachers can't use the classroom as a religious forum.
  • Reasons for banning piercings are unfounded. This is a follow-up to the current cover article on BME. Thanks to the person who wrote the letter!

"You are stupid and evil and do not  know that you are stupid and evil."

I justed added a “So you hate me” page (click here to see it) which I hope will address some of the complaints and issues that have been raised lately so people can go on with their lives with a minimum of hatred clouding their vision and their souls. I hope it helps…

Oh, and I just pushed Jason out of the ditch. He wanted to see just how fast he could back out of our icy driveway — of course he slid off the side and hit a tree… Makes his “Follow me to certain destruction” bumper sticker very fitting (Want one? The title of this diary is one of their latest stickers).

You've seen my comments below regarding the State of the Union address, now I'd like to mention a couple other people's feedback on it. MSN.Slate points out the obvious: the state of the union was never mentioned. It was just a bunch of shallow misdirections about the recent past, and then some giant empty promises about the future. The AP is carrying a story about how the speech was nothing but allegations without evidence.

The Green Party makes an even bolder statement:

Americans want security, not unending war. In its eagerness to invade Iraq, the political establishment has revealed its true purpose. Not security for Americans, but control over oil. Not peace in the Middle East, but military bases across the globe. Not rule of law, but violation of the Constitution. Bush is no reluctant warrior, he is a warmongering draft-dodger, and together with a weak and compliant Democratic Party in Congress, he is threatening American interests.

Along those lines, Ralph Nader adds,

The military economy drains the civilian economy and this trend has been accelerating ... The states and cities are reporting deeper deficits. This year, the states will be over $60 billion in the red. Taxes and tolls are going up. Necessities are being cut -- outlays ... for schools, libraries, fire and police departments, sanitation department, child welfare, health care and services for elderly people. But there are hundreds of billions for Soviet-era type weapons driven by the weapons corporations and their campaign cash for key members of Congress who decide the distortions of your tax dollars.

Patrick Buchanan accuses Bush of becoming an Imperialist:

Though Iraq does not threaten us, has not attacked us, cannot defeat us, and does not want war with us, the United States is about to invade and occupy that country. If we do, it will be the first purely imperial war in our history, a war launched to reshape the domestic politics and foreign policy of another nation to conform to our own.

Stormin' Norman, the 180 IQ “reluctant warrior” general that ran the first Gulf War says that it would be a mistake to lauch this war now, and that it was very important to wait until there is real evidence… He also made some carefully restrained comments about Rumsfield.

I think though that the most telling response is the US dollar continuing to crash… I also find it interesting that Comcast rejected any anti-war ads during the SOTU speech claiming they were “unsubstantiated claims” (I'm pretty sure the unsubstantiated part was during the non-commercial periods). Anyway, the part that really got me was that six thirty-second ads only cost $5000. That's a really good deal!

In some related stories, while Bush promised in his State of the Union speech that America would provide evidence before going to war (officials are already backing down on that claim), Senator Edward Kennedy says he will be introducing a resolution that will require Bush to present Congress with “convincing evidence of an imminent threat before we send troops to war with Iraq.” It doesn't seem unreasonable that if Americans are going to die for this “cause” that they at least know it's real.


Wow, go away for a day and all sorts of drama breaks out… One small-dicked guy even took it upon himself to start attacking Rachel when he didn't get a rise out of me (seriously, what kind of loser attacks a guy's wife when his main target proves unreachable?). I've said it a zillion times, but this is a free world — if you don't like the way things are set up here, move on. No one is stopping you… Consuming yourself in anger will simply make you and the people around you unhappy. Why make that a life quest?

Anyway, I'll quickly recap my yesterday in Toronto. I started out by going to my bank to deal with some things related to my move, only to find out that my “personal account manager” who I have never talked to in ten years of banking was moved to some branch out in the middle of nowhere and that I'd have to go there in person to make changes. Forget that.

So then I headed off to visit my automotive sponsors for the Gumball 3000 to see exactly what my options were. So much to choose from. Some of the options for what Team BME will be driving include the cars below:

This 450 HP Porsche 996 AWD was what I'd originally considered. Very fast, and a car I'm very familiar driving at high speed. Or maybe go with a modern classic, a Viper? Nah, that's probably considered in bad taste. It's like showing up at a porn shoot with a 24″ weiner. Too silly. How about a classic AC Cobra? Many would argue this is the greatest car America ever produced. Others would argue it's a British car. I have to admit being a little partial to the new SL500 but to be honest, it's a really small car. Probably too small for all our gear. Maybe a Ferrari 360? Or would that just be trying too hard? Now this looks promising — loads of power, and an overkill on luxury.

Let's take a closer look at that big AMG Mercedes — an almost identical car to the one that Kimble won the 2001 race in. So yes, it's a little dated, but still a very sweet car, and once you imagine it loaded with wireless internet tech, laser/radar jammers, and piles of communications and media gear, it gets a whole lot more interesting. Plus the seats massage you, definitely a plus on a 3000 mile rally.

After that I met up with Saira and Michael and headed down to Badur's martini party at the the Labyrinth. That was nice; got to see people I hadn't seen in some time, and I scored an awesome VX-1000 video camera for probably half to a third its street value.

Oh, and on the way back I read an awesome book by a bishop (John Shelby Spong) on the Jewish tradition of midrash (basically a way of integrating myth as a storytelling element into the events of the time) and its relevance on the Bible and the life of Jesus, and specifically his resurrection (or lack of physical resurrection). Amazing…

On the way to Toronto I read a book called I think The Victorian Internet, a book about the history and culture surrounding the telegraph… Also fascinating in its similarity to modern times. There were even chat rooms via telegraph. Anyway, it was very nice to be able to have a few hours just to sit and read, given that most of my time is normally spent working.

January 29th, 2003

There are lots more in the newsfeed, but Oregon is tattoo crazy in the news right now, with two big stories, starting with Body art 'pierces' through cultures, demographics, making the case that bod mod has gone totally mainstream. It's probably true, now that we're effectively in a second generation of pierced people. Will things like navel rings and tongue bars be as common — and invisible — as earrings in twenty years? I kind of think they might be… The second story (moving backwards through time), A marriage made in ink, is basically a BME tattoo experience!

Now I'd like to talk a little about Bush's State of the Union Address (full transcript). If you don't care for my political commentary, there's nothing else in this entry so you can stop reading now. The text below in boldface are quotes from the Address and the normal text is my commentary.

To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform which must now be carried out in every school and in every classroom so that every child in American can read and learn and succeed in life.

Hmmm…. If you “achieved” this “historic” reform, then why do you now have to carry it out? That's like saying, “This year Shannon achieved a historic visit to the Mars, becoming the first human to set foot on that planet. Now he hopes to carry out that plan and actually do it.”

To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation.

So decreasing taxes for the ultra wealthy and corporations, along with plunging the economy into the greatest national debt it's had in all of US history is bringing the economy out of recession? Cool. I'm hurting for money right now, I think I'll reduce the cost of membership (taxes) and then go out and buy a Lamborghini. Makes sense, right?

To insist on integrity in American business, we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account.

How can he say this with a straight face? Unless I've been hallucinating for the past couple of years, these corporate criminals are not only largely unaccountable, but are in fact running the country… Ahem… Mr. Bush, if you really believed that statement, why are you and Cheney blocking investigation into your own corporate scandals, and why have you hired all your dishonoured rich kid buddies?

Our economy is recovering.

No, it's not. It's still on a downward spiral.

I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year.

Bush goes on to list all the money he's giving to various programs. Think about it. The country is already in deeper debt than it ever has been in all of its history. You can't massively increase spending and then slash taxes as well. It doesn't work — the end result of that is debt. And debt results in interest. That is, Bush's plan guarantees that generations of Americans will have to pay trillions of dollars in interest to international banking cartels.

We should also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It's fair to tax a company's profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits.

We've been over this before and Marty offered a nice simple explanation on his page. Dividend taxes are “good” because that type of double taxation basically institutes a geometric rather than linear tax curve. That is, it's a tax on the rich. Bush eliminating it simply reduces the tax load on the wealthy, in effect shifting its burden to the poor.

Our second goal is high quality, affordable health for all Americans. … These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. … Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit; I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform.

So basically what he's saying is that there will be no universal healthcare, and that doctors will be protected from litigation… What a weird pile of doublespeak that is. I'm guessing he was trying to hit every idiots “yeah” button, because if you were only half listening, it sounds great.

Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment.

Do I need to point out that statement runs contrary to every action this government has taken? Isn't this the guy that's an oil baron and tied personally to the oil economy and may well be waging several wars over oil? Isn't this the guy that wants to drill the Alaskan wildlife reserves for oil, and pulled America out of the Kyoto Accord?

In Afghanistan, we helped to liberate an oppressed people, and we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society and educate all their children, boys and girls.

Is that why, after the oil pipeline deals were signed, the Taliban was allowed back in power, and all the “freedoms” are already getting overturned? Is that why the government just banned cable TV in Kabul? Do I need to say something stupid like “don't piss on my head and tell me I'm sweating”?

Across the Earth, America is feeding the hungry. More than 60 percent of international food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States.

What a load of bullshit — here's something closer to the truth. American factory farms are given massive subsidies, and as a result produce far more grain than the nation needs. This junk grain is then dumped in Africa as “humanitarian” aid and sold at rock-bottom prices or given away. As a result, it puts small local farmers out of business, pushing them into the cities to look for work that often isn't there, turning them into criminals. Many of America's “aid” programs are thinly described corporate welfare that have the end effect of destabilising the nation they are helping.

To date we have arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of Al Qaeda.

You'll notice Osama's name is missing from this Address.

All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

OK, that's just crazy. Is Bush actually boasting or joking about illegal assassinations carried out internationally by the CIA? I will remind people again that shortly after 9/11 Bush signed into a law a bill that allows the CIA to assassinate not only foreign enemies, but also American citizens on American soil should they be considered “enemy combatants”. That needs to be footnoted with the fact that this includes computer hackers, drug criminals, protesters and activists, and so on.

One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.

The entire world is learning the meaning, and it's not reflecting well on America. America's popularity is at an all time world low.

We've intensified security at the borders and ports of entry, posted more than 50,000 newly trained federal screeners in airports, begun inoculating troops and first responders against smallpox, and are deploying the nation's first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack.

So basically the nation is becoming a police state, privacy is being eliminated, and people are being inoculated against a disease that would be virtually impossible for terrorists to launch and disperse? Bush goes on after that to describe a number of other ludicrous plans like the missile defence shield.

Tonight, I am instructing the leaders of the FBI, the CIA, the Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location.

First, isn't that what Homeland Security was supposed to do? And unless I'm hearing that wrong, it it actually a reference to that crazy Poindexter Total Awareness project?

Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world.

That is exactly what has happened in the United States, isn't it? The US is being run by a small group of men that are not representative of the larger population. It has built a massive army. It has built the largest arsenal on the planet. It has more troops in other nations than any other country. There is only one country one the planet right now that meets the above description, and it is the United States.


I'm sorry, but calling the Nazi party's philosophy “Hitlerism” is just plain weird! Yes, I know it's a real word and all, but it's a really weird choice of word.

Militarism [was] defeated … by the might of the United States of America.

Militarism was not defeated by the United States in any way. The US is the largest producer and proliferator of weapons (including weapons of mass destruction) that the world has ever seen, in all of history. Ignoring the oxymoron of destroying militarism with military might, suggesting that the US is a leading pacifist nation is simply offensive.

We are strongly supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in its mission to track and control nuclear materials around the world.

Is that why they say that your “intelligence” is actually “lies”?

The North Korean regime will find respect in the world and revival for its people only when it turns away from its nuclear ambitions.

I guess that doesn't apply to the US, right? Didn't Bush just authorise all sorts of new nuclear weapons testing and development, taking the arms race up yet another level?

It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see and destroy them as directed.

So basically, it's guilty until proven guilty? Is that the legal philosophy we're adopting here?

Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax.

Yet the only anthrax attack we've seen on US soil was committed by a (potentially) rogue US scientist, and the government shelters him from prosecution. Did you think everyone had forgotten that already?

Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin.

Big deal. So do I. Botulism is very easy to produce. Mexican revolutionaries made it themselves by burying beans and ham in canteens. The fact is, any joker can make simple biological weapons. The fact that you can't find them doesn't prove that they will. I have no intent of ever making any, let alone deploying it. But I could, and so could anyone.

He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

(Bush says this for a long list of thing that he claims Iraq has.) I guess that the US and UN not being able to find any evidence doesn't imply that it's not there? I may well have a nuclear bomb hidden in Rob's barn. Maybe it's buried in a corn field somewhere. The fact that you can't find it doesn't prove that I have one. In fact, it implies that I don't have one, if anything. You can't decide someone is guilty because of a lack of evidence. It's contrary to the basic rules of evidence.

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

A story which was quickly debunked.

Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminium tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

Again, totally debunked… Does Bush think the American people are morons? This stuff was in the mainstream news! And the rest of it is just ludicrous — “defectors tell us” and “secret sources tell us” type crap. Given the amount Bush has lied — some say more than any other President — he's reached a point where he has to give credible backing for his statements.

Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda.

Is that why Tony Blair said last week that there was no link at all, and every credible source has suggested that as flat-out ludicrous. I'm not saying Saddam doesn't have ties to terror — I have no idea. But the fact is that bin Laden and Hussein are ideologically opposed and probably even enemies. To suggest they are working together again sends the message that Bush believes Americans are too stupid to understand international politics.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?

What?!?! Did Bush just announce that not only has America switched from a defensive posture to a preemptive strike posture, but that it will do so without evidence? Will America start bombing nations “on a hunch”? I have a crazy hunch that the US might invade Canada — but that doesn't give me the right to bomb New York!

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.

Many say Bush is a dictator, and there's certainly evidence backing that statement up, even if one ultimately disagrees with it. He certainly holds the world's most dangerous weapons. Not only that, but the US government did test them on its own citizens, killing about 15,000 citizens in the New Mexico area as a result of their testing. They've also tested biological agents on their own people (black and Hispanic citizens anyway), and continue to illegally drop experimental biological weapons on Canada as a part of the “war on drugs”.

And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country.

Replace Iraq with “United States”. Listen carefully.

And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military, and we will prevail.

I absolutely fail to see how war has been or is being “forced”. Iraq has not invaded or attacked America and poses no risk to the American people. None of the surrounding nations have asked for help or have stated that they felt at risk. The international community is opposed. The American people are opposed… And so on…

I urge you to pass … my faith-based initiative … to … transform America one heart and one soul at a time. Our nation is blessed with … the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man in the program said, “GOD does miracles in people's lives, and you never think it could be you.”

Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people. … The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world; it is GOD's gift to humanity.

We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving GOD behind all of life and all of history. May he guide us now, and may GOD continue to bless the United States of America.

Again, maybe I'm missing something, but did Bush just declare Jihad? If that was any other nation and any other religion, would these combined statements not be a declaration of holy war?

Let me quickly reword that for you to illustrate. Imagine it's Osama bin Laden saying it:

We will transform Afghanistan one heart and one soul at a time. Great work is being done in the Mosques around this nation. As one man in Khandahar told me, "Allah is rewarding us for our faith."

Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the Muslim people. ... The liberty we prize is not my gift to the world; it is Allah's gift to all people.

We do not claim to know all the ways of Allah, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life and all of history. May he guide us now, and may Allah continue to bless the warriors of Al Qaeda.

Am I saying I support Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, or Krazy Kim? Of course not. I'm saying that being opposed to evil doesn't make a person good. The evil have no honour, and the evil have no unity — they attack each other constantly, battling for control of this planet, its people, and its resources. We are simply their pawns.

The world gets scarier all the time, doesn't it.