December 26, 2004

Captain Wrong-Way Peachfuzz L. Hubbard

I stumbled across this story (courtesy of Plep) about a 1943 naval engagement in which L. Ron Hubbard bombed the hell out of some magnetic deposit on the seafloor. The Power of Electromagnetism must have been a stiff opponent, because the battle raged for 2 days and Ron's ship suffered 3 casualties when the ship's gunner shot the radio mast. His first and only naval command the story says.

Now, I'm not entirely sure I have an opinion on Hubbard one way or the other. I haven't read much of his sci-fi. Scientology seems like as good an idea as any self-help religion.

"Whatever makes you happy, whatever gives you hope, even if it a truly tasteless joke"
Bongwater - The Power of Pussy - "Folk Song"

December 21, 2004

War is hell... no, really

In a story on NPRs All Things Considered, reporters mentioned the shock and grief experienced by US troops following today's bombing of a military mess tent in Mosul. It mentioned the number of US and foreign contractors killed in the bombing. Now, I know this won't be a popular position, but damn, when you think about how many Iraqi civillians we've killed 14 dead US soldiers and 7 KBR employees is a drop in the bucket. If I were Iraqi I would target the contractors. They're stealing jobs and money from Iraq and the reconstruction. That's like what Wal-Mart does to small town America. People with no hope for a better future see no point in playing by the rules.
Speaking of playing by the rules, today President Bush made me feel a lot better about the torture of foreign detainees with his statement that Donald Rumsfeld is really a "good human being". Since he "is a compassionate man who anguishes over the nation's losses in combat" I'm sure the families of the military dead will understand his use of a machine to sign condolence letters. Words to describe our Sec. of Defense fail me. Let's just call him a danger to himself and others.

This just in: NPR hourly news reports complaints to the FCC about the Athens Olympic opening ceremony include a complaint about an anatomically correct statue. The New York Post says the "statue" was an anatomically correct man, but was not part of NBCs edited coverage.

December 19, 2004

Person Of The Year

Thanks to Xinhua for this succinct description of Time magazine Person Of The Year George W. Bush. He has earned this honor by "reframing reality to match his design". Cue the laugh track.

December 06, 2004

Birth Control

Recent news stories about pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control pills have inspired me to do some research on the history of birth control.
I'm curious about how common the use of contraceptives and abortion was in post-Roman Europe. The Greeks and Muslims used disection to study anatomy so there was some concept of reproductive physiology.
Some prostitutes and those who frequented them knew about condoms and contraceptive sponges. I wonder what common, supposedly church-going, people knew about these things.
I'm thinking about married people who can't afford any more children. Considering the danger of childbirth, abortions for the health of the mother could have been common.
I will be doing more research and will share what I learn but until I have more hard facts, onto the opinions. Most religions don't seem to approve of birth control for some reason. Could it have something to do with expanding the flock? More tithes, more soldiers or settlers for geographical expansion. It certainly isn't out of respect for life. You show me a holy book that isn't full of war and smiting and I'll call it a philosophy. If you read the Old Testament, you'll realise that the reason Israel is having so much trouble with the Palestinians is because they didn't kill them all in the 7 Days War. More on that another day, but even the Jews saw the benefits of increasing the number of Jewish people in the world, not to mention Israel. I've heard Christians talking about "stewardship of the earth" like our current problems aren't directly related to overpopulation. If birth control pills and condoms were available to every person in the world it would be a good thing. It wouldn't be enough, though. Religion and culture would prevent millions from using them.
The concept of a finite amount of stuff in the world to go around is one that most people avoid. Regardless, it is true and unless we get moving into space soon, it will only become more true as time passes.