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Debating 9/11

Seeing as how today is a day ending in Y, I got into an internet argument about who was responsible for 9/11.  9/11/01 that is.  Even the CIA now admits it was responsible for 9/11/73, which gives you some idea just how blatantly evil they are.

I understand that a lot of people, even the majority, accept the official bullshit version of what happened on that day.  It’s what’s been reported in all the papers.  I don’t agree with their position, but I can understand how they came to believe what they do.  But there are some arguments frequently used by the anti-truthers which strike me as completely invalid,  and we could have a more constructive discussion if they could be stricken from the  record, so to speak.

1.  You’re nuts.  Sometimes they just preface their statement with that, sometimes that is their whole statement.  It’s an ad hominem attack, it doesn’t  in any way refute what we are saying and it is undoubtedly, at least in some cases, untrue.  Sure, we’ve got Alex Jones on our side and he’s nuttier than a fruitcake, but so?  There are crazy people who like pizza and chocolate, that doesn’t  mean that it’s crazy to like pizza and chocolate.

2.  I’m from New York!  I saw the towers fall!  I have friends who died!  Sorry for your loss.  It doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about.  There’s another point I’d like to raise here, and I’m not accusing any individual specifically.  But, here goes:  3,000 people died that day.  Let’s assume that they had 100 friends each, on average.  If we’re talking about real friends and not facebook friends,  that’s a fairly high number.  So, assuming that number, there are approximately 300,000 people who can claim they lost friends on that day, or slightly less than 1 out of 1,000 Americans.  As often as you hear the statement, you know some people are lying.

3.  I just can’t believe that people in our own government would do such a thing.  That is your problem.  Your inability to believe it is no indicator that it didn’t  happen.

4.  All of your arguments have been debunked!  No, they haven’t.  They have barely been addressed.  There is a difference between debunked and shouted down.  Rebuffed is not refuted.

5.  Why would they have done it?  Cheney’s company, Halliburton, made $39 billion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Larry Silverstein got $10 billion in insurance money.  George W. Bush and his minions got total power to do whatever they wanted.

6.  A conspiracy of that size is impossible!  Says who?  There are lots of jokey statements about how impossible it is to keep a secret but I don’t think any scientific studies have ever been done on that subject.  Of course, maybe they’ve been done secretly.  I wouldn’t know.

7.  Our government isn’t competent enough to pull that off.  And  yet you think Al Qaeda is?  If Al Qaeda were actually capable of pulling off something like this, why have they done nothing comparable since?  (the London bombings were not comparable.  No airplanes were involved.  No buildings were destroyed.)

Those will do for now.  If you accept the official version, and can avoid using these 7 completely ridiculous arguments, I’d  be happy to debate the issue with you.

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Putin, Rearing his Ugly Head

Sarah Palin has taken to social media to defend her family’s egregious and embarrassing behavior at that party a week or so ago.  “Bristol is a real straight shooter,” she tweeted.  Sarah, she punched a man in the face.  Several times.  While you watched.

Vlad "The Bad" Putin

Vlad “The Bad” Putin

I’m guessing the punches were fairly ineffectual, since the man, who was hosting the party, simply continued to ask her, politely, to leave.  Nonetheless, it’s not a sign of a ‘straight shooter’ as much as a sign of an out-of-control young hooligan.

This incident, of course, will fade from memory.  Nobody got any video, so it will be less remembered than the famous turkey grinding episode, or Sarah’s brilliantly moronic answer when Katie Couric asked her which newspapers she read, or even the “I can see Russia from my house” statement, which wasn’t even her, it was Tina Fey.

It will fade from memory more than Sarah’s  statement about Putin rearing his ugly head and flying over Alaska like some weird, disembodied, Russian cloud monster.    She was actually sort of proved right on that one this week.

Curse you, Putin!

Russian jets have, within the past couple of days, flown much closer than is friendly (unless you actually are a friendly nation) to both the U.S. and Canada.  It’s not actually an invasion.  It’s more like Francis Gary Powers, 50 years on and in reverse.

I don’t really know what can be done.  What I do know is that I’m tremendously relieved that Barack Obama is president.  He will respond to this situation with both intelligence and caution.  Can you imagine John McCain in this situation.  He’d be coming up with one crazy response after another, and shitting in his pants the whole time.  He does not have JFK’s coolness and negotiating skills, nor even  Reagan’s luck.  He’d probably have us involved in WW  III by now.  And his shrieky, ignorant Vice President wouldn’t be helping at all.

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I Support the Drag Queens!

There is a conflict simmering between facebook and several of its customers, those who are male but like to dress as female.  Probably most men who do that actually just do it at home, when nobody’s looking, but some do it on stage, for a show.  It is their profession.

They want the right to use their stage names on facebook.  Facebook is saying no, we have a real name policy.  Bullshit.  My name is Willie Watson, but facebook wouldn’t have ever known that if I hadn’t told them in the first place.  For a while, I did have a sock puppet account under another name, but I got bored with the game fairly quickly and it was getting to be work checking two different accounts each day, and although I received lots of flattering comments from myself,  it just wasn’t worth it.  I suppose that account still exists, I just haven’t checked it in months.drag

But beyond facebook’s inability to actually enforce their rules, the point I’m trying to make here is that facebook’s objections are stupid, anal retentive and counter-productive.  Zuckerberg could just concede defeat on this point and facebook would be a happier, less conflicted space.

They say it’s to stop ‘on-line misbehavior.’  Bullshit.  The way to stop ‘on-line misbehavior’ is to monitor on-line behavior and stop people who are behaving badly.  The definition of badly, of course, varies from person to person and I am quite unlikely to agree 100% with Mr. Z’s definition, but it’s better than targeting a group of people at  random, some of whom might not be misbehaving.

I’m not anti-Zuckerberg.  He has provided the world with a great site.  So, this is more of a suggestion than a complaint.  Let facebook be itself, Mr. Z.  Your baby is growing up.   Don’t be a helicopter Dad.  Let it grow, let it evolve, let it become itself.

You’ll probably make more money that way, too.

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The Limit to the Naming and Shaming Game

It is late and I am not going to stay up all night waiting for the results of  a referendum in Scotland.  It’s not that I  am unconcerned.  I am, indeed, intensely curious.  However, there’s no way my opinions  are going to affect the outcome and I have looked at both sides of the issue and can  come to terms with it, either way.

My topic for tonight is sort of an extension of last night’s.  Last night I suggested that law enforcement would be improved if the police just outsourced the investigative work  to people on the  internet, partly because the amazing power of the world  wide web has proven so effective at actually locating  criminals, but  because  the police suck so badly at it.

Tonight I want to talk about ‘naming and shaming.’  I just saw a sight about airline passengers behaving egregiously, people would send in their photos, like a white haired, rather chubby  gentlemen sleeping with his  shirt  off and a baby pooping in the middle of the aisle, stuff like that.

I have an internet friend who actively pursues plagiarists on-line (Ira Lightman – he’s been written up in newspapers for it, so I guess it would not be a breach of  etiquette to use his name)  He gives them a warning and, if they don’t apologize and change their ways, they get named, suffering disgrace in the poetic community, fwiw.

All sorts of bad behavior gets outed  on the  internet.  The problem is that, just as in real life, the people who behave shamelessly are impervious to shame.  They see their pictures on the internet and think ‘Hey, I’m famous!”

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Keyboard Kops

A couple of evenings ago in Philadelphis, a group of guys and gals were out for an evening stroll after a pleasant dinner together at a restaurant, when they bumped into a gay couple and a couple of the lads in the group decided to start beating the hell out of them.  Being as there are apparently some social circles still in existence where gay bashing is considered socially acceptable, no one in the group tried to stop them, although it’s almost certain that some of them will use the old tried and true “it wasn’t ME” defense in court.keyboard cops

Anyway, they probably would have totally gotten away  with it if somebody hadn’t got video of the incident.  Once it went up online, the networking began and soon other people soon found photos of the group earlier in the evening, names started to be attached to pictures, and all of the culprits were identified.

How often did this kind of thing happen in the PSM (pre-social media) era?  Pretty damned often, I’ll bet.

Ditto Ray Rice.  He is most certainly not the 1st pro football player to punch his girlfriend.  In fact, it’s been happening since human beings came down from the trees, and even before.  Now, that kind of shit gets caught a bit more often.

It’s happening all over.  Crime, and all sorts of general nastiness which would have previously gone unnoticed, now gets exposed.  Nothing to do with the police.  They are just as incompetent as ever.  But, technology has changed and it’s having an effect on society.

One negative side effect of this is that the burden of proof has shifted, perhaps to a totally unreasonable point.  If there’s no video, the event gets treated as if it didn’t happen.  Like the Palin family bar brawl, which didn’t actually happen in a bar, but close enough.  It was a party at somebody’s house, but alcohol was being served.  We’ve got multiple eye witness accounts of Bristol punching the host in the face (mean right hook is no doubt an exaggeration, as she hit him several times and he just kept repeating ‘you have to leave the party.’  I imagine it was more of a rain of ineffectual blows from a hysterically angry, but not particularly threatening, woman.  More than one person heard Sarah say “Do you know who we are?”, more than one person saw Todd with a bloody nose, more than one person saw Track flipping people the fuck you finger as they came out of the party, but nobody, apparently, got any video of it.

It can happen, still, I suppose.  Not everybody in the world goes to a party with the preconceived plan of getting something incriminating that they can then upload to the internet.

So, the incident will fade into oblivion because there are so many other things where video DOES exist.  The Palins are going to get away with this one.  No video.  Forget about it.

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Nicholas Sparks is a Woman

Back in 2011 V.S. Naipaul (full disclosure, I’ve never actually  read anything by V.S. Naipaul) pissed off women the world over with two statements.  First, that he didn’t think there were any  women writers, living or  dead, who were as good as him.  Second, that he could tell if the writer of a book was a woman within a couple of paragraphs.

Nicholas Sparks (if you believe that)

Nicholas Sparks (if you believe that)

Well, I thought, the first statement is outrageous arrogance.  Mary Shelley was a revolution in literature, she pretty much invented science fiction.  Ursula LeGuin wrote The Dispossessed, which was brilliant both as sci-fi and as social commentary.  I liked all of Jean Auel’s books.  And, of course, there is J.K. Rowling, who I practically worship.

But, I wasn’t so sure about the second statement.  The way I see it, it is not sexist to point out that there are differences between the sexes and, if the man says he can spot a woman writer within two paragraphs, maybe he can.  Certainly, he’s  somebody who knows a thing or two about the craft.  I didn’t think I could do it, though.

Anyway, in response to the controversy, a quiz soon popped up on facebook: can you spot which of these passages was written by a woman?  So, I had to take the test.  I only had to discount 2 or 3 of the passages because of actually knowing them, but out of the rest I got almost a perfect score.  I don’t know how.  I was guessing wild, totally by feel, but the score was beyond a fluke.  It definitely is possible to tell if something was written by a woman or a man.  We don’t write the same, any more than we think the same.

Now, I have another confession to make.  I choose my reading materials pretty much the same way I eat, and the way I used to drink back in my alcohol loving days, i.e. pretty much anything that’s put in front of me, without a lot of premeditation or discrimination.  Which is why I’m reading a book by Nicholas Sparks.  My wife loves him and she uses my kindle more than I do, so that’s what’s there.  I swear, it was not my choice.

But, in reading this novel  (The Rescue, about a single mother with a special needs child and her trouble finding a good man) I came to a surprising conclusion.  Nicholas Sparks is a woman.  It’s probably  actually Nicole Sparks, and she just hires a random actor dude for the cover photos.  Or, maybe he is technically a man, in possession of male body parts and such, but he is totally a woman inside.

It was a conversation between two men, best friends, in a bar, that made me realize it.  Guys just don’t analyze their  emotions in that much depth, unless one of them is a psychiatrist.  It was like that facebook meme where they transcribe a woman’s conversation and then have two very hirsute men reading the lines.

I  don’t know what I’m going to read next.  But it won’t be Nicholas Sparks.  I get the stories told to me anyway.

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The Age of Archaeology

Every day, it seems, we discover new exoplanets, they are apparently as common as litter on a city sidewalk.  Likewise, every day, it seems, we discover some ancient shipwreck, or the bones of a previously unknown dinosaur, or the ruins of an ancient city which was thought to be mythical.

They'll need to actually dig it up to see it in more detail

They’ll need to actually dig it up to see it in more detail

It is no surprise.  Space stretches out, on and on, almost forever, as far as we can tell.  And the past stretches back, and back, and back.  A shipwreck from 1899.  The body of Richard III under a parking lot.  The tomb of Alexander.  Ruins of an ancient Greek city on the floor of the sea.  The extensive underground ruins of Stonehenge.  Dinosaurs.

For hundreds of millions of years, life has been leaving litter all over the place.  A little here, a little there, but it’s been adding up and now it’s pretty much everywhere we look.  The world is really not that big a place and we have pretty much blanketed it with stuff.  Most of which we’d thought was lost forever, we were living without it just fine,   and it’s kind of  bizarre to find it again.

One find I’m particularly excited about is the Stonehenge thing.  Apparently, there are lots of stone formations, just under the ground, all around it.  A lot of archaeologists, of course, are still talking about its ‘religious significance,’ and talking about it as an ‘ancient temple’ but it seems to me that’s what they say about everything.  It sounds like an ancient city to me.

Like the Nazca lines.  I was watching Discovery Channel once and they were saying that they were an ancient well worn path, as if people had had frequent religious processions along these routes, and I thought, “well, or else they were actual streets.”

Sometimes things have a mundane explanation.  More often than not, I suspect.

Anyway, with Stone Henge I think what they ought to do is go whole hog,  dig up the whole  area.  A few farmers will lose their fields,but sheep can be moved.  A small price to pay to unearth, and recreate, a full blown ancient Celtic (maybe) settlement.

It could be awesome.

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