A life in the day


US Kidnap and Torture Policy

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:49 am

Today’s New York Times Op-Ed column by Bob Herbert is a clear-cut sign of what kind of government we are developing in the United States:

In the fall of 2002 [Maher Arar], a Canadian citizen, suddenly found himself caught up in the cruel mockery of justice that the Bush administration has substituted for the rule of law in the post-Sept. 11 world. While attempting to change planes at Kennedy Airport on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities, interrogated and thrown into jail. He was not charged with anything, and he never would be charged with anything, but his life would be ruined.

Mr. Arar was surreptitiously flown out of the United States to Jordan and then driven to Syria, where he was kept like a nocturnal animal in an unlit, underground, rat-infested cell that was the size of a grave. From time to time he was tortured.

Mostly, I’m just sickened, but there’s a part of me that can’t help but feeling that a country that would elect — and re-elect — George Bush deserves this sort of government. (Okay, make that a country that would re-elect GWB; it was the Supreme Court that elected him.)

Herbert ended his column with this:

A lawsuit on Mr. Arar’s behalf has been filed against the United States by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. Barbara Olshansky, a lawyer with the center, noted yesterday that the government is arguing that none of Mr. Arar’s claims can even be adjudicated because they “would involve the revelation of state secrets.”

This is a government that feels it is answerable to no one.

I’m afraid that this is quite literally true. The Bush Administration sees itself above our law, and our country above international law. How is the country going to fare with four more years of this evil?


North Korea

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:15 pm

I can’t wait for this one.

How is the Bush Administration going to react to the news that North Korea now has announced that it has nuclear weapons?

“But that’s against the non-proliferation treaty. You’re breaking an important nuclear treaty, and that’s just plain — what’s that Condi? ABM Treaty? — well, nevermind.”

“Nuclear weapons are a grave threat to the entire world and nobody should be allowed to have… um, err. Next question please!”

Nicholas Kristof must be reveling in his own timing. Yesterday’s column was Bush Bites His Tongue about how Bush doesn’t want to talk about or have Americans think about North Korea, because there don’t seem to be any good options. Let’s see, we invade Iraq because of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction they claimed not to have. Now North Korea is claiming to have them. They have an equally evil dictator, and no freedom or democracy. But it would probably be an even bigger quagmire to invade than Iraq. But hush, Bush is busy making noise about Iran.

Ten gross days left in the Bush administration.

And counting.

Cool hunting is real

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:32 am

It turns out that coolhunting is a real job. William Gibson’s marvelous book Pattern Recognition introduced Cayce Pollard, whose job it is to spot the coolest trends. I thought it was a wonderful conceit, just close enough to the edge of reality to be plausible. But no, I’m sure Gibson must have read Malcolm Gladwell’s 1997 New Yorker piece (hat tip to wetciv for the link).

I can’t figure out if that enhances my memory of the book or detracts from its edginess. And now I’m starting to wonder if there might have been interviews with Gibson back when which even mentioned the Gladwell essay, things repressed by my admiration for Gibson and my general feeling that an author who mostly writes science fiction is supposed to invent subjects like this.

In any case, if it turns out that the Footage is real, I want to know immediately!


Iraq Vote

Filed under: — Scott Sauyet @ 4:23 pm

Epic’s latest article says it exactly right:

Without question, the Bush administration should not confuse Iraq’s election (nor the U.S. election) as an endorsement of its pre-emptive invasion of Iraq nor its abysmal handling of the aftermath. Furthermore, without strong institutions and the rule of law, it is far too early to claim that the Iraqi people are free from tyranny and human rights abuses. The real test will be what happens next, after the elections.

Nevertheless, defying very real dangers, millions of Iraqis have taken an important step towards a fully sovereign, representative government and a step away from continued U.S. control over their affairs. And that, we must acknowledge, is progress.

I’ve heard too many opponents of the war denigrate the recent election. While the war was immoral and illegal, and Bush’s pre-emption doctrine is pure evil, the vote is still a significant milestone for Iraqis. Let’s not forget that, folks!


Fwd: I love you

Filed under: — Scott Sauyet @ 10:55 am

Scott Sauyet wrote:
My five-year-old misses her Grandma, who’s in Florida for three long
months. She wanted to write her a note. But rather than mailing it,
she wanted to try email. As always, she asked me to write the words for
her to copy. I set her up with a blank email to Grandma, and let her go
to it. She came back several times for consultation on my poor
handwriting, but that was it. This is the message she sent:


She didn’t know how to make a space, but “that little curly line” would
do for a space right?

I love my kids!

(This message brought to you by blog-to-email. I think it’s working!)



Filed under: — Scott Sauyet @ 10:52 am

What took me so long? I’ve been using the default WordPress theme from day one. It’s not ugly, but it’s awful generic. Several times I’ve started developing my own look and feel, but each time I’ve stopped quickly. It’s not that I can’t develop decent looks, but that’s just never been important enough to take precedence over everything else I want to be working on.

Finally, yesterday, as I did my upgrade, I thought about looking at the existing themes, and there is a very nice collection at alexking.org (which I learned of on the WordPress Wiki.) This blue and orange theme seems a nice simple one to use until I either get tired of it, create my own, or set up a style switcher.

Maybe I’m just tired of grey.


Upgrading WordPress

Filed under: — site admin @ 4:33 pm

To load the anti-comment-spam plugins, I needed a later version of WordPress (v1.2.2) than I was using (v1.0.2). Upgrading was relatively easy, although I did it entirely manually, by just adding the missing DB tables and columns to my existing database, and using things like post-date to calculate post-date-gmt, then overlaying my PHP code with the new one, copying back in only the stylesheet I’d adapted. Everything seems to be working, and I added Kitten’s Spaminator plugin. I haven’t seen any comment spam since. Now if I can finally get around to doing something about the look-and-feel…

Update: Oh, maybe comment spam isn’t coming because comments aren’t working at all! :-) Let me go see what’s up!

Further update: Comments are working now — forgot to copy over a column. But I can’t seem to turn off column moderation. Hmmm.

Still another update: After working to convert to a fairly recent version, and getting that to happen successfully, I decided to go whole-hog and convert to the very latest and greatest, the bleeding edge. (I didn’t actually get the CVS version, but I did get last night’s daily build.) Upgrading was much easier, and it’s much nicer to administer. This is a really cool tool!

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