January 23rd, 2003


(no subject)

You know the story of the woman who burnt herself on McDonalds coffee and sued them for millions of dollars?

Well, the story is largely reported in a completely inaccurate fashion. I first read the facts in an issue of Too Much Coffee Man, but hadn't seen a decent explanation since. Fortunately Heron pointed me at this look at the case. Very much worth reading.

(no subject)

Here's a NY Time article entitled Why We Know Iraq Is Lying. It's basic thesis is this:

We know for a fact that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction 5 years ago when they threw out the weapons inspectors. They have been unable to tell us what they did with them, have no record of their destruction, will not allow us unfettered access to their scientists and keep acting in a deliberately difficuly and obfuscatory way. This is not the behaviour of an innocent government.

Now, that's not unreasonable. I'm entirely prepared to believe that Iraq probably has weapons. I'm not prepared to endorse the use of force until I see proof.

If I know you used to have a knife, I never saw you put it down and you're being a smartass who denies everything, does that give me the right to arrest you for carrying a weapon? Especially when frisking you isn't turning it up.

All I want is one instance of a plant producing either chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. These things aren't tiny, they must be findable. Find that one instance and I'm happy for them to go in and kick ass. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Oh, incidentally, I don't like Saddam Hussein one little bit. I think he's (a) mad and (b) has treated the Kurds in an extremely nasty and brutal fashion. I'd be much happier if he wasn't in power and someone more reasonable is. The question, for me, is whether sending in the troops is the right way to help the people of the region.

Do you listen to Radiohead?

From here:

Do you listen to Radiohead? Do you define yourself by the music you listen to? Are you part of a subculture? Do you believe that the kid wearing the Atari shirt is more of an individual than the kid wearing the Tommy Hilfiger shirt? Have you talked about matters like this with your friends? Do you have any friends? Do you have any friends that would stick around if you listened to Britney Spears? Do you like Britney Spears? Do you like Radiohead? Do you think that Radiohead is "us" and that Britney Spears is "them"? Did you get sick of all those Amnesiac advertisements? Do you think that the concept of "us" and "them" actually exists? Does Thom Yorke?

Do you come up with new ideas on philosophical matter, or do you repeat other peoples ideas in new shapes and formats? Do you think that you're cool? Do you think that you're enlightened? Did you cry on September 11th? Do you think that America was asking for it? Do you wish there would be a draft so you could protest it like the hippies? Do you wish that marijuana was legal? Would you want to pass a joint to a guy who would only smoke it if it was?

Do you think that you're smarter than your average person? Do you think that you're average? Do you think that some people are more average than others? Do you think that most people are stupid? Do you think that stupid people can help being stupid? Do you think that ignorant people can help being ignorant? Are you ignorant? Are you ignorant towards your own ignorance? Do you value the opinion of the kid who worships Fight Club more than the kid who worships Titanic? Do you have opinions on other peoples opinions? Do you believe that there is a right and a wrong? What if the kid who worshiped Fight Club was wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt, and the kid who worshiped Titanic was wearing an Atari shirt? Would your opinions on their opinions now change?

Do you think that you're hip? Do you think that you're special? Do you think that you're in the 1-5%? What percentage of the population would you say thinks they're in the 1-5%? Are you part of society? Do you say the word "society" a lot? Is social commentary trendy? Is Britney Spears? Is Radiohead?

Is it right to assume that there is no right and wrong? Is the belief that everything is relative a relative belief? Is it possible to form a group of individuals? Is the jock with a passion for football worth talking to? Is the cop with a passion for arresting football players?

Do you live in your own reality? Do you have conversations about living in your own reality with other people? Are these people cool? Are they enlightened? Are they hip? Are they special? Are they in the 1-5%? Is this relative?

Is the opinion of Liberal #54701 more important than the opinion of Racist #41922? If we all have our own perspectives, how can the liberal's opinion be anymore important than that racist's? Are you racist? Are you racist towards racists? Do you judge the judgmental?

Are there any perspectives that are socially unacceptable? Is hate a perspective? Is sexual attraction to a 4 year old? Where to you draw the line? Have you drawn the line yet? Have you crossed it? Does it exist? Do you think that those who are sexually attracted to 4 years olds choose to be?

If there are so many socially unacceptable perspectives, can we truly claim to be free? Are we free? Is Britney Spears? Is Thom Yorke?

Are you a cyber kid? Are you emo? Are you punk? Are you a social commentator? Are you trendy? Do you fit in with those who don't fit in? Are you a DJ? Are you a free thinker? Is it possible to truly free your mind? What's on your mind? Do you mind when kids define themselves by the music they listen to? Is their music any of your business? Is another country's government any of America's business? Do you plan to start your own business? Do you plan to start your own subculture?

Is it cool to be cool? Is it cool to be enlightened? Is is cool to be hip? Is it cool to be special? Is it cool to be in the 1-5%? Do you think the 1-5% actually exists? Does Thom Yorke? Do you listen to Radiohead?

Things in my head

Do not panic!

Sometimes I feel words turn inside me, slipping fish-like out of my grasp, back to the deep waters.

Sometimes I feel nothing, words gone blank and dead, burned out from nothing more than a slight change in chemical balance.

I reach for things I know and find that the crystal clarity of conception has fled,

It's a knife edge, too tired, not tired, too hungry, not hungry, happy, not happy. Any of these can be right and any of them can be wrong and all of them are irrelevant when it's there, inside my head, pushing it's way down my spine and out through my fingertips.

I used to hate writing - English was my bane. At the age of 16 I attained a lowly D grade and even that was more than I expected. As a subject it never made sense to me, and it took another year and 2 resits before I attained the hallowed C grade that would allow me to pass through and on to University.

In all my time at university, I wrote precisely one essay that achieved a decent grade (a B, I believe). I don't remember the topic, but it was suitable vague enough for my imagination to suddenly catch fire. I saw a day and a night and a fall of snow. I saw cars carry men to work and children trudging through the crisp white, saw night fall and lights go on and off and then foxes and cats drew curving lines across the gardens and roads until the falling temperatures sent even them scuttling for the warmth of basket and den. Then a thin flurry of snow scrubbed everything white again, ready to being again.

I wrote this when I was slightly more than half my current age and it still remains in my memory, burnt there because it was something I had to say. I forced it out through fingers that never did what I wanted them to (every year, as the lore would have it, as the school year began, a shriek would emanate from the teacher's common area. And someone would wander over with a smile playing softly over the lips, gaze down at the workbook in their hands and say "Aah, so you've got Andrew Ducker this year. I see his handwriting's improved." and the shocked new teacher would disbelievingly reply "This is improved?").

When I went to university, I was given a computer (I'm a very lucky boy). A year later, I was writing all the time, overjoyed at the freedom that typing gave me. I can type at least 10 times as fast as I can write by hand. It's still nowhere near as fast as I think, but it's fast enough that I don't get completely bored and frustrated as I type. In fact, it's about the write speed that I can work out revisions as I type and get them right in my head before I get there. It also requires far less concentration - handwriting needs me to think about each line and curve that refuses to go anywhere near where I want it to. Keyboards have buttons big enough that I can be fairly inaccurate without it making a difference.

And then I stopped writing, for about 6 years. Because I thought too much about it and started thinking of my audience. And other people kept telling me I could "do something" with the writing. It stopped being fun and started being something I thought I should do. So I stopped.

Except that occasionally over that time something would get written. And I was still writing _to_ people, so occasionally I'd be a bit flowery or effectively write articles in the guise of newsgroup postings.

And then Joe pointed me at Livejournal, with the result that I arrived here a mere 2 days after him. And slowly, I got some interest back and now I'm actually enjoying getting things down on paper. I'm even getting somewhere with the plan to try and get down what it is I think about some subjects. Sure, it's taking a fair amount of time, and it's taking the help of my friends to point out the mistakes I make and the ways I'm unclear, but I'm confident that I can build on it and get somewhere. And even if I don't I'll learn a lot along the way.

(no subject)

If you liked Trinity (and I'm sure some of you did) you can read a sourcebook that was written but never released here.

Addendum: John Snead, one of the developers, has asked me to say that if anyone wants to make a donation for it, if they make it to sneadj@mindspring.com with paypal, he'll divvy it up with the other developers.

(no subject)

More on Iraq. This time a Guardian editorial.

War with Iraq may yet not come, but, conscious of the potentially terrifying responsibility resting with the British Government, we find ourselves supporting the current commitment to a possible use of force. That is not because we have not agonised, as have so many of our readers and those who demonstrated across the country yesterday, about what is right. It is because we believe that, if Saddam does not yield, military action may eventually be the least awful necessity for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the world.

(no subject)

Cheers to worldforger for the link to this article about the food pyramid, pointing out that it's nonsense and offering an alternative.

Reminds me of a lot of the Atkins stuff I've been reading recently and the advice that Erin's been getting for PCOS.