December 10, 2004

Al-Qaeda and its rapidly increasing technical prowess

Via Pandagon, I see that Homeland Security is now worried that terrorists might be acquiring laser beams to shoot down aircraft.

For those of you who enjoy a good flashback, you may recall that I addressed the gathering threat of Osama bin Laden's Jihad-Bot over two years ago.

One of my co-workers told me the other day, "you know what sucks the most about all this? It's not even Inaguration Day. Bush technically hasn't even started his second term yet."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:25 AM

December 9, 2004

Equal rights granted; society suprisingly does not shatter and crumble as previously suggested

The Supreme Court of Canada has approved gay marriage.

The Supreme Court of Canada gave the federal government the go-ahead Thursday to legalize gay marriage, but stopped short of saying that this was required by the Constitution.

Ottawa had hoped the court would require it to allow gay marriage across Canada, making it politically easier to push draft legislation through Parliament. The high court refused to give an opinion on this issue.

Instead, it declared only that the government had the authority to legislate on marriage and that its proposed definition of marriage as "the lawful union of two persons" would not violate the Constitution.

However, according to the Associated Press:

To pass in the House of Commons, the legislation needs the approval of about 44 of the 95 Liberal backbench members of Parliament to obtain a 155-vote majority.

One top Liberal predicted the legislation should pass easily after its introduction, likely early next year. It already has the support of the 38-member Liberal cabinet and virtually all the 54 Bloc Quebecois and 19 New Democrat MPs.

I'd hold some breath until this actually happens, but what that basically means is that it's as close at it can be to a done deal.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:40 AM


CBS does a story about how blogs are factually problematic and inaccurate, in which they completely fail to fact-check and say stuff that's completely wrong.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:09 AM

December 8, 2004


I'll need some time later to read through all of this, but if you're interested... and lord knows you should be, here's a 1994 House/Senate report on everything the United States of America gave to Saddam Hussein. (also from MeFi)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:35 AM

It's one of them metaphors

Make sure you read this to the end. Larger picture here. (via MeFi)

My computer's gone crappy again, so posting/e-mail attention will be light over the next few days.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:31 AM

December 7, 2004

This is the worst thing that happened to Jesus EVER!

This just completely confuses me:

Fed up with the political correctness that has replaced the greeting �Merry Christmas� in Federated Department Stores with more neutral phrases like �Happy Holidays� and �Seasons Greetings,� one group is encouraging all Americans to boycott its stores including Macy�s and Bloomingdale�s during the 2004 Christmas Season.

Manuel Zamorano, chairman of the Committee to Save Merry Christmas, believes that if the systematical removal of references to Merry Christmas in Federated Department Stores �is offensive to the sensibilities of millions of average Americans� and �is plain wrong.�

So let me get this straight... a Christian group is boycotting Macy's because it won't say "Merry Christmas," as a means to protect the... commercialization of Christmas?

I get the deal with feeling free expression is repressed and all that (even if I don't agree with that rhetoric), but this is ridiculous. Granted, I'm not religious, and I think "Happy Holidays" is as much decent marketing sense as it is cultural sensitivity. But amidst this culture of "protecting religion," Christians are now angry that secular concepts like Santa and "Merry Christmas" banners are being removed in favor of a generic tiding of good cheer for all people, allowing Christian (and all other religions') concepts to be placed at a more private, personal level? As if that's not, you know, a good thing?

They're not defending Christmas... they're defending Christmas-themed merchandising. Wow.

Man, here I was thinking that the holidays were about unity and the celebration of family with those you love. No, turns out it's about who gets what sign of their preference over the $7.95 DVD Bargain Bin. Silly me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:14 PM

Does vomit rust iron?

There is, for the sake of all that is good anc decent in the universe, no way this can be true.

Jesus tap-dancing Christ.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:52 AM

December 6, 2004

Reader response

Two readers sent feedback on that story about Wells college and the lawsuit over letting men attend. From reader Dave Scocca:

I noticed the mention of the lawsuit against Wells, and I thought I'd bring up a historical point. I have an aunt who graduated from Goucher (then a women's college) in the mid-1970s. When Goucher went co-ed, the reaction from the alumnae fell into two categories...

Graduates from before 1970--when many top colleges were still men-only and you went to a women's college because that was where you were expected to go--had very little problem with the change.

Graduates from the late 1970s and on had a _lot_ of problems with the change. One obvious reason: once virtually all formerly men's colleges had gone co-ed, women's colleges couldn't simply offer "college"--they had to market themselves _as_ women's colleges, and to market the idea that women would _benefit_ from a single-sex environment. By going co-ed, the college was asking students to just forget about the message it had been delivering for years and to accept that the co-ed college would be just as good (a sudden about-face from their previous message).

It is no surprise to me that the Mills College students are unhappy with their decision. Given the importance which "advantages of a single-sex school" hold in women's college promotion and recruiting these days, I don't see how the decision to go co-ed can be regarded as anything but a betrayal.

(At the same time, the demand for single-sex education is falling... So women's colleges _have_ to sell both themselves as colleges _and_ the whole single-sex experience in order to try to keep the demand from falling even faster. Since the declining demand will force colleges like Mills or Goucher to go co-ed--or shut down--they're in a Catch-22: the only way to prolong their survival as a single-sex school is to take steps that will make the eventual conversion to a co-ed school even more traumatic.)

(BTW--I lived at Bryn Mawr for three years while I was an undergraduate at Haverford, so that experience informs my comments as much as, or more than, my aunt's experiences with Goucher.)

And from Ray Reigadas:

My sister went to Wells (Class of '01), and, generally speaking, all of the alumni are as pissed off as those two who filed the lawsuit. Part of it is that there was not a mention of this to any of the students or the alumni. Not even a proposal of going coed. Everyone found out about this through the news. Already, almost 1/3 of the students have filed papers to transfer elsewhere (school's only about 400 students, give or take). There's no way that enough guys will transfer to some middle-of-nowhere school they've never heard of to make up for the plummet in admissions. About the only guys who are expected to apply are either sons of alumni, or ones who think this improves their chances of getting laid. A huge number of alumni are swearing off any future connections with the school-no donations, no recruiting, etc. There's also a theory by some that the the school can't survive for much longer, no matter what happens, and this is just a way of making it happen sooner. If the school does go under, that property would be worth a lot of money. Lots of property, located right on the Finger Lakes, not far from some wineries. Hey, who knows?
So based on these two e-mails, it seems the big problem for Wells isn't as much the outrage of men attending a womens' college per se, but the impact it will cause on the standing of the school as a whole. Now that it's not a specialized women's college, Wells won't attract nearly as many people. (Honestly, I've never heard of it either before I read the original story.)

Still, I'm mixed on that, because, going back to my earlier analogy, you can't inherently oppose a man's desire to attend a woman's college while defending a woman's to go to, for example, the Citadel. Saying it will make the school less popular isn't really a valid excuse. If Wells can't "survive" unless they implicitly forbid men from attending who actively want to attend that school, then maybe it's outlived its purpose. I feel that way about the Boy Scouts, the Citadel, and most other historically-exclusive organizations and facilities as well.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:39 AM

December 5, 2004

Okay, once more

I know I've gone through this before, but does ANYONE else out there find nothing more irritating than an e-mail that reads like this:

"Hi! I've never talked to you before and you have no idea who I am and you've probably never read my website, ever, but I just signed you up for my mailing list that you in no way asked to be on. I'll be sending you an impersonal e-mail every other day. If you don't want me to do this, write me back! See, I'm too lazy to actually write an individual person who I know might be interested in this, so instead I'll e-mail everyone at once hoping one of them will find meaning in it, and make everyone else do the work I don't want to!"

Unless you're on my blogroll or I know you personally, this is my response: you are automatically blocklisted. I have no idea where the concept came into people's heads that the best way to introduce yourself to someone is 1. Spam them, 2. Tell them they're being spammed, and then 3. Tell them if they don't want to be spammed, THEY have to do work to fix it. But for some reason I've discovered what's much easier than step 3 is simply hitting one button and preventing you from ever sending me an e-mail again.

Maybe I'm just a prick, but this happens to me at least once a week, and I really would be suprised if I'm the only one who finds this insulting. It's like someone dumped garbage all over my lawn, with a note that said "if you don't like rotting garbage, just pick it all up and put it in that trash can over there." Yeeeeeah.... umm, I think I'll just sit here on the porch with a shotgun and shoot you if you try to throw your shit on my lawn again, m'kay?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:52 AM

Important: armed insurgency to be postponed

As discovered by some readers, The Venture Bros. has almost definitely been renewed for a second season.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:57 AM