merkin

Stoopid americans

They couldn't find their asses if they were on fire

The Guardian has an article describing how one of the Guantanamo prisoners listed four witnesses who could prove his innocence. The US military said that they could not be found. However the Guardian looked into the matter and found all four, one now dead, and one of them was living and teaching in Washington DC – at the National Defence… Read more →

Hollywood merchandising is amazing

Look at the list on this page about the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Given that the whole franchise is based on a Disney ride, it’s not really surprising that they want to use the movie as a launching pad for a sales blitz. Now you can buy Jack Sparrow doilies and napkin holders – just the things for… Read more →

An expected result

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that military commisions set up for for Guantanamo prisoners are illegal. I wonder how John Howard will spin this – an statement that US judicial systems are strange and out of touch with the real world? That would fit with the way that Australian judges are treated whenever they argue that people before the… Read more →

Airports and photography

Salon runs a regular set of article called Ask the Pilot. Here’s an interesting one on the collision between amateur photography – plane spotting – and the “different world” we now live in. I’ve come across that particular piece of Unspeak before, and still hate it. The good news is that photography is not illegal in such places, but the… Read more →

The Police State

The Washington Monthly is reporting on a story about an author coming back from the middle east after doing research and working with a humanitarian program for the provisional government in Iraq. He was stopped by the DHS and pulled aside for questioning – quite naturally in his view. However, the questions he was asked revolved around a missing court… Read more →

Schneier on Security: Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner

Bruce Schneier has announced the Movie-Plot Threat Contest winner. It’s a nice and reasonably low-tech attack on America’s water infrastructure. It’d be good to see some of the others submissions, since Bruce seems quite pleased with (all 892 of) them. I wonder if the creator of the winning entry will now be getting a visit from the Secret Service?

Don’t quote bad people

Youll get suspended from school. Guess who said: Strength lies not in defense, but in attack and The great masses of people … will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one It’s our mate, Adolph, of course. Never mind that the quotes contain truths that are worth rembering. He said them – you can’t… Read more →

Possible US military secret weapons

Apparently the US military has investigated the development of: a “gay bomb” to make enemy soldiers sexually irrestible to each other Wasp attractant chemical weapons a weapon to cause severe and lasting halitosis a fart bomb The last one has been in suggestion papers since the 40s. Unfortunately researchers concluded that the premise for such a device was fatally flawed… Read more →

The Pit of Despair

Apart from being the name of the dungeons in The Princess Bride, this is the name of the laboratory equipment used by Harry Harlow in his ground-breaking research on rhesus monkeys in the ’70s (which is, I expect, where the movie got the name from). I just finished watching an interesting special on Harry Harlow on 4 Corners, which informed… Read more →

The latest unspeak – “apparent suicide”

The ABC news tonight had more on the deaths at Guantanamo. The piece talked about an investigation into the “apparent suicides”. Let’s be blunt. 3 prisoners are dead. Either they killed themselves – suicide – or else someone killed them – murder. If the investigation is looking at confusion on the cause of death, and the possibility that the status… Read more →

acts of war

When I saw the headline for this article about the recent suicides at Guantanamo Bay, I though that the reference was from outrage over the way the prisoners had been driven to such desparate measures by the US torture. Instead I found this: They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets,” base commander Navy Rear… Read more →

Purity Balls – the new American marital aid

A columnist in the San Francisco Chronicle has skewered the new concept of making pre-teen girls promise to protect their virginity, with the fathers cast as “high priests” who will be their guardian until they’re handed over to the husband as the new male protector. As described it’s an utterly misogynistic affair. It begins. At some point the daughter stands… Read more →

1 in 5 non-combat US troop deaths in Iraq are suicides

Apparently the US army is violating requirements to mentally assess all troops before deployment. The mentioned statistic comes from FOI data obtained by a newspaper. The army’s top mental health expert “insisted the military works hard to prevent suicides, but it is a challenge because every soldier has access to a weapon”. I imagine a disturbing trend is developing –… Read more →

The lonely metrics man

Here’s a story about a man in America who is fighting an uphill battle to advocate use of the metric system. Unfortunately he’s fighting against inertia, and against people who argue that standard units are superior because they are human-based and have history. One such person is Seaver Leslie, the president of “Americans for Customary Weight and Measure “. The… Read more →

Dude, where’s my war?

A CNN article states that 63% of American 18-24 year olds can’t locate Iraq on a map. 75% don’t know where Iran or Israel are. Only 50% know where New York is! Combine that with the increase in religious fundamentalism and the corresponding decrease in science in America, and we have a very dumb and dangerous 800 pound gorilla.

Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner– President Does Not Seem Amused

Editor and Publisher have a story on the Whitehouse Correspondents’ Dinner. A faux-talkshow host on Comedy Central gave a “tribute” to Bush. The talk was apparently full of gems like the following: Colbert […] urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Minnesota Marine on terror watch list

We all know the system is broken. Here’s another way that’s true. Soldiers sometimes fly on commercial flights in the US (when going on furlough etc.). They may be in uniform and that uniform may not be immaculately cleaned from combat operations. This poor guy’s name (Dan Brown) was also on the watch list as a possible terrorist name. That’s… Read more →

Rocks are very very old

Here’s an interesting article from America, where, in the deep south of an increasingly redneck country, teachers are being told to avoid mentioning the age of rocks when teaching geology. I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD … but I… Read more →

Intellectual poverty

I love this quote from the International Herald Tribune: Intellectual poverty is the most striking quality of the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy statement, issued on Thursday. Its overall incoherence, its cliches and stereotyped phraseology give the impression that Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and his fellow authors assembled it from the boilerplate of bureaucratic discourse with contempt… Read more →

%d bloggers like this: