Category Archives: politics

Twain speaking about the “damned human race”

“There has never been a just one, never an honorable one – on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful – as usual – will shout for the war. The pulpit will – warily and cautiously – object – at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and here is no necessity for it.” Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers – as earlier – but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation – pulpit and all – will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

– Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

Keep the universe small.

“Cutting the space budget really restores my faith in humanity. It eliminates dreams, goals, and ideals and lets us get straight to the business of hate, debauchery, and self-annihilation.”

— Johnny Hart


“This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issued by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.”

Citizen Spies

Thanks to Google Maps, we know that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has an awesome swimming pool, complete with a bitchin’ water slide:

(click to see it on Google Maps)

But Google Maps also shows us the cost of excess.

(click to see it on Google Maps)

This is a very small sampling of the mass graves resulting from the 1995-1998 famines (the “Arduous March”) that killed around two million people.

This hellish tour of North Korean is curated by Curtis Melvin, a PhD candidate who, along with a few fellow investigators, has spent the last two years annotating the maps of North Korea in Google Earth. He was recently profiled in a fascinating Wall Street Journal article.

Go to Curtis Melvin’s site to download the incredible kmz file which will open up in Google Earth if you have it installed.

“I’m the founder of Capitalism, and I support this message.”

We are led to believe by McCain and Palin that “spreading the wealth” is the same thing as socialism. What Would Adam Smith Do?

The principle that Obama evinced, which most economists would regard as unexceptionable, can be traced to Adam Smith. In “The Wealth of Nations” (1776), his seminal treatise on capitalism, Smith wrote:

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

– Adam Smith, quoted in the New Yorker, October 27 2008

Do you pal around with Adam Smith the socialist?

links for 2008-10-30

MTV Music – huge archive of linkable and embeddable music videos. Finally! MTV does something music-related!

Roanoke Robotics Society and Club – We actually have a Robotics club in little ol’ Roanoke? Very surprising! In fact, they are hosting a robotics competition event at our science museum this Saturday. We’re definitely taking Iris to this!

Terrorist ‘tweets’? US Army warns of Twitter dangers – Microblogging: A platform for Jihadists?

Paris Hilton In Space – “Paris Hilton will be among the passengers on Richard Branson’s first Virgin spaceflight.” OK, this article just made space less cool. We send enough junk into space as it is.

Sarah Palin Cabbage Patch dolls. *Wink*

Fake flier circulating in Hampton Roads, Virginia

A fake flier is circulating in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It encourages Republicans to vote on November 4 and Democrats to vote on November 5:

It’s amazing what people will try to do to mess with the election.


Obama held a rally here in little ol’ Roanoke on Friday. He is the first major-party presidential candidate since JFK in 1960 to visit Roanoke. So, Kathryn and I took the day off and waited in the cold, wet line with our friend Kelly to witness this historic event. Here is a video showing highlights of our day:

WARNING: The video shows an anti-abortion truck that was parked near the line. Plastered on all sides of the truck is a gruesome image of an aborted fetus, accompanied by the message “Abortion is an ObamaNation”. We’ve seen similar images and statements proudly held by protesters hanging out near the Planned Parenthood facility in town. I was hoping to see more protesters at the rally, but the best we got was two zealots holding signs with biblical quotes, and some McCain/Palin supporters dressed as Joe the Plumber, who we didn’t see but found out about later via CNN:

Despite the cold rain, everybody was in good spirits. When we got inside and Obama finally reached the stage, the crowd went wild. He spoke with his usual eloquence, hitting many of his usual stump speech points. Including his crowd-pleasing pie story. I think the only big new point he made was his accusation that McCain wants to cut Medicare, an accusation based on a Wall Street Journal article.

It was very interesting to experience the Obama visit in person. Kelly thought the crowds swarming around Obama looked like a school of fish, all changing direction simultaneously during a feeding frenzy. We all marveled at the amount of logistical planning, endurance, expense, and show business required by presidential campaigns. And it’s all going to end two weeks from Tuesday. GO VOTE!

(We also took a few photos during Friday’s rally.)

Obama releases new campaign symbol

(thanks, Chris)

VP debate: It had some words in it.

I couldn’t help but follow up my previous Wordle posts with some new Wordles generated from last night’s VP debate transcript.

As John Hodgman said recently on Twitter during the debate broadcast: “Word salad. Word salad. Word salad. I feel like I’m hearing a spam. So to speak.”

Here, enjoy re-living the word salad:




Last night’s debate gave me a headache. I think I have a hangover. And I didn’t even play the debate drinking game. Or Palin Bingo.