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The Web 10 Years Ago

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 19:20 by John Sinteur in category: What were they thinking?

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Someone describing themselves as eKarjala has put together an amusing and eye-watering snapshot of the web ten years ago.


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The Apple Store

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 18:34 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

30 minutes before the key-note on the WWDC:

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That’s a dead giveaway: there are going to be new products for sale in about an hour or so. Probably desktop macs, but what else?


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Comments:

  1. Mac Pro for one. 🙂 Base unit is just under $2,500. Bit steep, but it’s twice as fast as the old PowerMac G5 Quad!

    My credit card is vibrating…

American Madrassas

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 17:30 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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Saw a screening of a documentary called Jesus Camp. It focuses on a woman preacher (Becky Fischer) who indoctrinates children in a summer camp in North Dakota. Right wing political agendas and slogans are mixed with born again rituals that end with most of the kids in tears. Jesus CampTears of release and joy, they would claim — the children are not physically abused. The kids are around 9 or 10 years old, recruited from various churches, and are pliant willing receptacles. They are instructed that evolution is being forced upon us by evil Godless secular humanists, that abortion must be stopped at all costs, that we must form an “army? to defeat the Godless influences, that we must band together to insure that the right judges and politicians get into the courts and office and that global warming is a lie.

[..]

There were some perfect sound bites — at one point Pastor Fischer instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future suicide bombers for Jesus — the next step will be learning to fly planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, “Oh no, we’re not like them? — but they admit that the principal difference is simply that “We’re right.?

In another scene a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, with his trademark smirking smile, is brought out and the children are urged to identify — many of the little ones come forward and reverently touch his cardboard hands.


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top atheist quotes

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 12:59 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours

— Stephen Roberts


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“Killing people is like squashing an ant:” former US soldier

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 12:57 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia

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Steven Green, 21, a former private with the 101st Airborne Division, is under arrest in Kentucky and could face the death penalty if convicted of the March 12 murders of the Iraqi girl and three of her relatives.

Writing in Sunday’s editions of The Washington Post, Andrew Tilghman, a former correspondent for the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes, said he interviewed Green several times in February at his unit south of Baghdad.

“I came over here because I wanted to kill people,” he quoted Green as saying. “The truth is, it wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be.

“I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience,” Green was quoted as saying. “And then I did it, and I was like, ‘All right, whatever.’

“I shot a guy who wouldn’t stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing,” Green was quoted as saying. “Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant.

“I mean, you kill somebody and it’s like, ‘All right, let’s go get some pizza.'”


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Scenes from an Israeli Deli

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 12:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

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It is very hard to see Lebanon–the region’s crowning hope, the Arab world’s exception–come to this, the destruction certainly, but also the ugly foundations that the destruction has now laid bare. Walid Jumblatt, the courageous and morally nimble, aristocratic jester of the Cedar revolution is holed up in his ancestral mountain estate. Fouad Siniora, a prime minister who had the support of Lebanese across the political spectrum, all of them thanking their fate to have been blessed after the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri with such a competent and clear-headed leader now clutching to the grubby clichés of Hassan Nasrallah.

The Lebanese always believed that their political class was largely craven, even Michel Aoun, the patriot who returned after 14 years abroad to make a deal with Hezbollah. But
there was also the youth, that unblemished segment of the population that fearlessly took to the streets to demand that Syrian troops leave their country. So maybe there’s hope to be found in young Lebanon, even if right now the beautiful girls and boys who draped themselves in the red, white, and green a year and a half ago are suddenly reduced to hysterical children screaming on blogs and blaming everyone who is not Lebanese for their fate.

For me anyway, Lebanon is now a very small place on the map that comes down essentially to Fawaz and his ideas of Lebanon: a free, prosperous, tolerant, and peaceful state where all of its citizens would be allowed to pursue their version of the good life. Fawaz would have liked talking to Sharansky, one of his heroes. But the impossibility of such a meeting, of crossing the border for a cup of coffee, strikes me as what is tellingly sick about Lebanon. It is a country where a person who says he wants peace with his neighbor, not a peace that comes through destruction and elimination, but a real peace, such a person is considered a traitor.

I ask Sharansky if he still believes in Arab democracy. I agree with him that the White House was unwise to focus on elections rather than the slow arduous work of building democratic institutions. But I am not sure that is the only issue; I do not believe that there are many partners for such initiatives.

For a good local view on the situation in Lebanon, check this weblog


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After Hiroshima, Terrorism Is What Bombing Is For

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 10:31 by John Sinteur in category: News

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On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atomic bomb used in warfare. Three days later, President Truman began a pattern of lies that characterized the nuclear age.
But another lie also emerged from World War II, when the kind of bombing we see today–from the air, on urban centers and civilian populations–was first done regularly, on a large scale. The lie is that bombing is an effective, reasonable and legitimate method of waging war, whereas there are other despicable and illegitimate acts committed by uncivilized and ruthless enemies, called terrorism.

The truth is that bombing is terrorism, no matter who does it, and it always has been.

As Norman Solomon recently reminds us, the immense explosion at Hiroshima was followed by an immense lie. On August 9th, President Truman told the Amercan people: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians.”

Solomon continues:

Actually, the U.S. government went out of its way to select Japanese cities of sufficient size to showcase the extent of the A-bomb’s deadly power — in Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and in Nagasaki on Aug. 9. As a result of those two bombings, hundreds of thousands of civilians died, immediately or eventually. If Truman’s conscience had been clear, it’s doubtful he would have felt compelled to engage in such a basic distortion at the dawn of the nuclear era.

In fact, Hiroshima had no military significance, and had not been bombed before–one of the principal reasons it was chosen for the A-bomb, so its destructive power would be more obvious to the Japanese and clearer for Americans studying those effects. It was considered a “safe city” to the extent that some parents in California who were forced into internment camps, sent their children to the safety of Hiroshima. So the victims of the U.S. atomic bomb likely included American children.

Truman’s was the first of many lies of the nuclear era, including the initial lies about the effects of radiation. Some 75,000 people died in Hiroshima from the blast and fire of the Bomb. Five years later, radiation effects more than doubled the dead, to some 200,000. The vast majority of those who died from the Nagasaki bomb were from radiation, months and years later.
But the biggest lie is not about the atomic bomb, but the very practice of bombing. The facts show (as described in Sven Lindqvist’s A History of Bombing and Gerard DeGroot’s The Bomb: A Life, among other works) that the effect of bombing cities is not a strategy of war but a strategy of terror, and that it doesn’t work.

The idea of this kind of bombing is not to kill enemy combatants or destroy military bases, but to destroy the population’s will by terrorizing them with the threat of random death and destruction. Although the idea of this kind of bombing is now apparently acceptable, it is relatively new in the history of warfare.

While many nations experimented with it, especially imperial powers who bombed restless colonies, it was first used as a policy by the British in World War II in Germany. It did not result in a revolt of the German people against its government. The U.S. followed in its bombing campaign against Japan, at first aimed at military and industrial support targets, but eventually using saturation bombing against cities. It was the failure of this campaign to terrorize the Japanese population into submission that led to the decision to use the atomic bomb.

As Gerard DeGroot points out, when We (whoever We are) drop bombs, it is to destroy the enemy’s capability to fight–the logic that says if you are going to destroy the enemy’s tanks, then destroy the factories that build the tanks, and kill the people who work in those factories. But when They bomb Us, using the same logic, it is brutal, indiscriminate killing. “The difference is contrived–a matter of perspective. Indiscriminate bombing means killing civilians for the sake of attrition–the killing is the object.”

But it isn’t only attrition, and in less than the kind of total war that World War II was, it is more obviously aimed at terrorizing the enemy population. Hezbollah fires bombs into Israel to terrorize the population, hoping to eventually win concessions or ultimately to destroy the state of Israel. Israel fires bombs into Lebanon to destroy rocket implacements but also to terrorize the population into not supporting Hezbollah, either by allowing them to operate out of their neighborhoods or by supporting them politically. The strategy in both cases is the attrition of terror.

Argument on the morality of targeting civilians in war go back hundreds of years. All too ironically, the first known code that forbade the killing of non-combatants was promulgated by Abu Hanifa, a legal scholar in Baghdad. Western powers adopted a double standard: war between “civilized” European nations would be conducted in this civilized manner. But war against lesser peoples was total war, against the population as well as combatants. Primitive people were not only lesser, but more easily frightened by western technology’s advances in explosives and methods of delivering them. World War II ended even these distinctions.

Now bombing is normal, and far from being the last resort, it is often the first option. Nations use it now because it is cheaper, and since no troops are endangered, there is no grumbling at home about the loss of life. Bombs of all kinds constitute a thriving business. In use, they have a very brief productive life before it’s time to buy more. And there’s plenty to chose from. Small groups can plant various kinds of bombs along roads or in parked vehicles, or use suicide bombers. Larger organizations can use bombs attached to small rockets. Nations can use bombs with sophisticated targetting capabilities, launched on rockets or fired from ships or dropped from airplanes. Long range missiles with thermonuclear weapons are still pointed at the U.S. and Russia.

From the smallest to the largest-yield weapons, bombs are instruments of terror. They sever the limbs of children, burn babies alive, destroy homes that send families into a tailspin of poverty, wreck the urban infrastructure that makes daily life possible, and send millions of traumatized people wandering into nightmare through the piles of broken homes and schools and hospitals, shards of bone, crushed bodies, smoldering flesh, hot twisted metal and clouds of toxic smoke, because they are supposed to. This is what bombs are for.

update: while my regular readers know my style of attribution with a “Quote” link, the author of this excellent piece asked me to be a bit clearer in my identification of the source, so here we go: it’s from the “60’s now” weblog over at blogspot, where the author writes as “Captain Future”. I highly recommend looking at the rest of his work there.


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World War II Posters

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 10:24 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture, Mess O'Potamia

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Declassified: Vietnam Atrocities

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 9:23 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Now, nearly 40 years later, declassified Army files show that Henry was telling the truth — about the Feb. 8 killings and a series of other atrocities by the men of B Company.

The files are part of a once-secret archive, assembled by a Pentagon task force in the early 1970s, that shows that confirmed atrocities by U.S. forces in Vietnam were more extensive than was previously known.

The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators — not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.

. . .

Among the substantiated cases in the archive:

Seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died.

*  Seventy-eight other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted.

*  One hundred forty-one instances in which U.S. soldiers tortured civilian detainees or prisoners of war with fists, sticks, bats, water or electric shock.

. . .

On Oct. 8, 1967, after a firefight near Chu Lai, members of his company spotted a 12-year-old boy out in a rainstorm. He was unarmed and clad only in shorts.

“Somebody caught him up on a hill, and they brought him down and the lieutenant asked who wanted to kill him, Henry told investigators.

Two volunteers stepped forward. One kicked the boy in the stomach. The other took him behind a rock and shot him, according to Henry’s statement. They tossed his body in a river and reported him as an enemy combatant killed in action.

Three days later, B Company detained and beat an elderly man suspected of supporting the enemy. He had trouble keeping pace as the soldiers marched him up a steep hill.

“When I turned around, two men had him, one guy had his arms, one guy had his legs and they threw him off the hill onto a bunch of rocks, Henry’s statement said.

On Oct. 15, some of the men took a break during a large-scale “search-and-destroy” operation. Henry said he overheard a lieutenant on the radio requesting permission to test-fire his weapon, and went to see what was happening.

He found two soldiers using a Vietnamese man for target practice, Henry said. They had discovered the victim sleeping in a hut and decided to kill him for sport.

“Everybody was taking pot shots at him, seeing how accurate they were,” Henry said in his statement.

Back at base camp on Oct. 23, he said, members of the 1st Platoon told him they had ambushed five unarmed women and reported them as enemies killed in action. Later, members of another platoon told him they had seen the bodies.

. . .

The next morning, the men packed up their gear and continued their sweep of the countryside. Soldiers discovered an unarmed man hiding in a hole and suspected that he had supported the enemy the previous day. A soldier pushed the man in front of an armored personnel carrier, Henry said in his statement.

“They drove over him forward which didn’t kill him because he was squirming around, so the APC backed over him again,” Henry’s statement said.

Then B Company entered a hamlet to question residents and search for weapons. That’s where Henry set down his weapon and lighted a cigarette in the shelter of a hut.

A radio operator sat down next to him, and Henry was listening to the chatter. He heard the leader of the 3rd Platoon ask Reh for instructions on what to do with 19 civilians.

“The lieutenant asked the captain what should be done with them. The captain asked the lieutenant if he remembered the op order (operation order) that came down that morning and he repeated the order which was ‘kill anything that moves,’ Henry said in his statement. “I was a little shook … because I thought the lieutenant might do it.”

Henry said he left the hut and walked toward Reh. He saw the captain pick up the phone again, and thought he might rescind the order.

Then soldiers pulled a naked woman of about 19 from a dwelling and brought her to where the other civilians were huddled, Henry said.

“She was thrown to the ground,” he said in his statement. “The men around the civilians opened fire and all on automatic or at least it seemed all on automatic. It was over in a few seconds. There was a lot of blood and flesh and stuff flying around…”

“I looked around at some of my friends and they all just had blank looks on their faces…. The captain made an announcement to all the company, I forget exactly what it was, but it didn’t concern the people who had just been killed. We picked up our stuff and moved on.”

[..]

Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found. They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.


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World Wide Developer Conference

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 9:05 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

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God is a three timing whore

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 9:00 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


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World Wide Developer Conference

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 8:42 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

It looks like Apple will be introducing Vista 2.0..

Hasta la vista, vista!


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Billboard

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 8:29 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Great Picture

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Comments:

  1. Ahoy John, this one needs a I.Y.I.M.K.Y. tag.
    It’s a viral ad for Court TV…ugh. The number of billboards polluting the eyescape here in Gotham is getting out of control.
    See link ( http://www.curbed.com/archives/2006/07/18/weird_billboard_followup_the_bullshit_deepens.php )

Parking

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 8:28 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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Cartoon

Posted on August 7th, 2006 at 8:27 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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