These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ~~~ Thomas Paine, 1776

Stack Of Reports Proves It: Office Furnishings Killed Building 7

In a press conference yesterday, Shyam Sunder, who represents the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] as Lead Investigator of the World Trade Center Disaster, [...] said:
Our take-home message today is that the reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery. WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings. It did not collapse from explosives or from diesel fuel fires.
No kidding. Office furnishings!

you can read more here or comment below.

Good News: Feds Are Tracking Your Border Crossings!

If you travel internationally and return by land, you'll be pleased to know about a newly announced federal weapon in the war on terror -- a program which has already begun recording (and will continue to record) all your land entrances into the US in a database designed to protect the nation from people like you.

By keeping this data over a long period of time and mining it aggressively, the government will be able to identify the dangerous people who cross the border often, or seldom, or at the same time every day, or at different times every day. This sort of analysis works best with a massive collection of data, so you will be very happy to hear that this is exactly what they're building.

You can read more here, or comment below:

Pakistan After Musharraf: Same As It Ever Was, Only A Bit More So; Kinda Like What We Have Here, But Different

Celebrations were widespread and general in the wake of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's resignation -- but they were cut short by a bomb and a bombshell.
You can read more here, or comment below:

Flip-Flop: Musharraf Resigns

Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has resigned in the face of impending impeachment, just a few minutes after his spokesman told the press for the final time that Musharraf was not about to resign.
I have three new posts about Musharraf's sudden resignation at my main blog:

"Spokesman Says Embattled Musharraf Will Soldier On; AP Twirls",

"Musharraf Resigns!", and

"Panic And Jubilation In The Wake Of Musharraf's Resignation"

but we don't need three separate threads here.

We can comment on the whole situation on just one thread. And here it is.

Shoot the fuck and walk away

Here is a piece from George Carlin's last show: It's all bullshit. I created subtitles of course, because the primary reason I put it up on the internet is because I wanna share my favorite comedians with other French people. Who otherwise would never hear about them.

Here it is.

I would like to simply talk about the first part of Carlin's rants: pride. I hesitated to do that, because I'm always unsure whether Carlin is serious about the things he says on his shows. Is this simply comedy material or is this serious ? He certainly showed he was able to use logic. But then, how much did he know and how much did he fake not knowing, in order to make us laugh ?

I still want to talk about this one, because it's a position I held for a long time, at least until recently. Why would you be proud of being American, or Italian, or Irish ? As Carlin says, being Irish isn't a skill. It is of course true and this is what I've been thinking to myself for years.

But then, he also mentions Black and Puerto-Rican pride. And now, if no one sees a pattern emerge, when you bring up the Italians, the Irish, the Blacks and the Puerto-Ricans... Well what the hell are you doing in America ? I'm the one who sees the pattern and you don't ! Come on ! Switch places with me !

This should be obvious to everyone, that each of these groups has been discriminated against, in its time. And is there not a gay pride as well ? Aren't gays the most reviled group in history ? I think they are.

And this is how I saw through Carlin's unability to understand ethnic or national pride. Because I recently read an article by Arthur Silber, about how Whites could never understand Blacks or Gays. Arthur had favorably mentioned an essay by Madeline Moore, where she said that all Whites were racist from the moment they were born. Another blogger took notice and destroyed that statement with cold logic. But Arthur had this to say:

I acknowledge that, viewed in isolation, Moore uses the term "racist" imprecisely and inaccurately in the excerpt above; without grasping the entire context in which Moore makes the statements that elicit Larry's anger, those statements are wrong -- even obviously wrong, as Larry says repeatedly.

But the surrounding context ought to be painfully obvious: Moore is discussing a society and a culture which are founded on, organized around and which embody white, straight male privilege across the board, and in virtually every aspect and particular. That critical, broader context must inform how one interprets Moore's narrower statements. Instead, Larry takes a great deal of time and attention to make a very delimited philosophic point which is (as he himself argues) painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain, while the much more complex and infinitely more significant cultural realities entirely elude him. As a result, Larry's argument is, to use his own word, "trivial" given his avoidance of the overriding political, social and cultural dynamics in play.

And so you see, even though the national and ethnic pride, taken alone, do not make any kind of sense, when you consider the 'broader context' they take on a completely new meaning: it was a way for those groups to fight against discrimination. When someone tries to deny your rights, what they really say is "You're not one of us, you're inferior, you should be ashamed."

There are two options when you're confronted with this: either you lie low and live with what you've got, or you resist, and that comes in the form of 'pride'. "I'm not inferior, and I'll never be ashamed. In fact, I'm at least as worthy as you, if not more. I'm proud of what I am."

This gets homophobes annoyed at gay pride. "You would think they could be quiet. But no, they have to shove it in your face." Well, maybe they can't be quiet. Maybe the only way to resist discrimination is to be exuberant.

One last quote from a very important essay by Arthur and I'm out:

Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you do not know what it's like. You just don't. And don't tell me you do. Yes, you can understand it, and you can offer genuine and meaningful sympathy. But you don't know what it's like to feel that, and to experience that to the very core of your being -- to realize that no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you work, some people just won't give a damn. And they won't give you a chance -- when they would give the same chance, and much more, to someone who wasn't gay, or who wasn't a woman, or who wasn't black, and who deserved it much less than you did.

British Papers Paid Hundreds Of Thousands To Families Of Alleged Liquid Bombers: Why?

Mistakes were made when the so-called "Liquid Bombers" were arrested, and in two instances, British national dailies reported information which turned out to be false. These false reports led to claims of defamation which have cost the publishers hundreds of thousands to settle out of court.
And guess who got the money?

You can read more here, or comment below:

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