Friday, December 31, 2010

a message to you, rudy

it is a dog-bites-man story. the military justice system proceeded in a way that was not merely predictable but predicted. the case makes our top-10 list largely because the dog was barking-mad and there was a three-ring flea circus performing on its back.

i'm not gonna mince words, rudy: we told you so.

we told you so from the very beginning and at key steps along the way, but you refused to listen and you continued to insist you were right, in the face of folks actually paid to know what they're talking about and in the face of your perfect 0-70+ record for being wrong — though if you were the type to listen, you'd never be a birther, now would you? and as a birther, you thought that this was the case that was somehow gonna be different.

well, rudy, as it turned out, you were right: terry lakin's court-martial was in fact different. your hero and would-be martyr pulled an about-face on you, chose not to carry your cross and entered a guilty plea. i know that had to hurt, rudy.

as you jeered from the sidelines of previous court thrashings you could always find yourself some space where you could pretend you'd won something. you could always find some rickety perch where you could self-righteously puff yourself up (often just over the effort of getting into a courtroom) in preparation for the usurper's demise, where you could ignore all your previous losses and crow and spin and dive feet-first down the throat of anyone rude enough to point that out.

but not this time, rudy. because this time you were up against the u.s. military and like an efficient, well-oiled machine, they took your nonsense and checked it at the door, leaving you nothing to salvage from this trial, nothing to take home and proudly show off to momma:

no obama, no birth certificate, a guilty plea, a lengthy, thorough and painful allocution by the accused rejecting birthers and everything you claim to stand for, real punishment, no throngs of supporters or admirers or protestors and no military rebellion as a consolation prize.

and last but not least of all, the knowledge that just about every turn of the case was predicted, weeks in advance, by everyone you love to hate. clearly that proved just a bit too much for your bloated ego to take:

... as my friends fall away, and as my social circle of friends gets smaller and smaller ...

i guess sacrificing friends and family is a small price to pay for your country and constitution, but on this trial you bankrupted yourself thinking that the outcome was ever in doubt or could be spun any other way.

Monday, December 06, 2010

computer comix v2.0

we are currently seeing the business world transformed by a microcomputer implementation called desktop publishing. ... it can be likened to having your own little printshop right on your desk.
— mike saenz, 1988

color. vector drawing tools. page layout. 3d modeling. less than three years of rapid advances in technology allowed artist and graphics software pioneer mike saenz to follow up 1985's "shatter" — the first comic series created entirely on computer — with 1988's "crash", a full-length 63-page graphic novel featuring marvel comics' high-tech hero, the invincible iron man.

... however, today's off-the-shelf tools are still evolving and are not yet suitable for my own specific need: the ability to create professional quality film for color offset lithography. that capability is a tall order. but it can be done. crash is proof.

... the macintosh ii was forthcoming from apple at that time. it was generally known that the mac ii was a powerful, color, open architecture machine. this was vital to the concept. only with the emergence of the mac ii in the early summer of 1987 could i enlist the help of fellow associate william bates of knowledge engineering.

... i presented bill with a written and illustrated wish list of the program that i wanted for crash. from there, bill coupled my ideas with his and code that he'd developed over the course of two years. bill called the resulting program lithographer.

also, i enlisted the help of michael miller ... of umecorp ... a diversified research and development company which has developed such products as high tech toys to real-time expert system shells — the kinds of things tony stark would use. mike functioned as a technical consultant on the character iron man.

... finally, i enlisted the help of fellow comic artist pepe moreno. pepe is well known throughout europe and the u.s. his books, rebel, zeppelin, joe's air force and gene kong are much acclaimed.


rounding out saenz' software arsenal was a new type of drawing program called illustrator '88 and a dimensional modeler called pro 3d. the results were a futurist's wet dream narrated in glorious techobabble.



working in a commercial program that i co-developed called comicWorks (mindscape), i was able to create the 10 megabytes of bitmaps that compose a good 75% of crash. while comicWorks was designed to create black and white, low resolution comic art pages, it was used on crash as a dedicated bitmap editor/creator. using a selection of graphic tools that i designed into that program, i was able to do just about everything required for raw black and white bitmap entry. once imported into lithographer, we could color them.

... lithographer was written as a 32-bit program, stepping beyond the 256 color limit of color quickDraw (apple's graphic system for drawing color images on screen) and utilizing the full range of the mac ii's color capability for display: 16.8 million colors. lithographer can process black and white images into 24-bit color and allow the user to blend the images.

the resulting graphics are free of the jaggy-edged quality of low res bitmaps. the higher resolution and greater range of colors can fool the uninitiated into thinking that parts of crash were created by conventional means. this process can be seen on many pages in crash. it looks like oil painting.


a much more precise and memory conserving method of creating complex graphics is to use computer drawing tools. computer drawing involves designating points, lines and curves without being forced to render all of the bit data in between points. for the mac, adobe illustrator is such a program.

using illustrator, i was able to create the crash cover, recreate marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. logo (designed by bill sienkiewicz) and other graphics throughout crash. the result is black and white artwork with smooth and precise bezier curves and lines. ... while the results were very satisfying, due to the inherent time limitations of computer drawing input and output, i could not use this technique to create more graphics in crash.


using pro 3d (enabling technologies) for the mac, i built all of the 3d models required for the book. fury's osprey, stark's limosine, the robots, the shield levicarrier and others were created with pro 3d. using pro 3d's tools — which resemble a carpenter's lathe and jigsaw tools on screen — i was able to fashion the models and take "snapshots" of their various positions in a postscript file format. the pro 3d data was black and white so bill wrote code in lithographer that could import the data, display it, and allow me to compose it on the page and assign colors to it.

finally, lithographer automatically created 4 files for each page, one for each process color (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and downloaded them to a linotronic 100 machine. the lino is a laser raster imaging device. it uses a small helium-neon laser to image and expose all of the millions of tiny dots directly onto black and white film. after proofing the film on a color proofing system, we could tell, and marvel's printer could tell, just how well the color separations came out.

there really is no "original art" created for the production of crash. the entire book exists as magnetically encoded data on floppy disks. to my way of thinking, this is an advantage. that data is flexible and could be useful again some day.


(story, art and software design by mike saenz; art assist by pepe moreno; programming and software design by bill bates)

see also:
computer comix v1.0

computer comix v3.0

computer comix v1.0

back in a galaxy not too far away, back before photoshop, back before color even, back when there were only two programs, called macpaint and macdraw, and back when only a few guys actually knew how to use them[1] ...

as first comics managing editor mike gold wrote in december 1985:

well, of course it had to happen.

when we released the first shatter special last february, we thought it would do well — after all, nobody had ever done an entire comic book on a computer before.

but curiosity value wears thin pretty fast. we took a chance with the shatter special and printed higher than our distributor's orders might indicate — something that is very, very rare for first comics (when our books are gone, they're gone; we're not in the back issue business and nearly all of our comics "sell out.")


those extra copies sold out very, very quickly. the distributors could not keep the book in their warehouses. in fact, we were under a lot of pressure to do a second printing.

"what the hell," we figured. "it's not a regularly published comic book, let's do a second printing."

that second printing "sold out" four days before it shipped from the printer — every copy we had was committed to the various distributors' warehouses all across north america and england.

so as we were thinking about doing a third — and final — printing on the shatter special, mike saenz and i started talking about what we'd do about shatter after our experimental six-issue back-up series in jon sable, freelance. we couldn't stay there — mike grell wanted his book back!

... actually, there was only one possible solution: shatter would have to appear in his own book.


the only question was how we would approach the project. we learned a lot from our six short experiments, and computer technology — particularly as it relates to apple's macintosh — evolved quite a bit since we started working on shatter.

what you are seeing in this issue is a far cry from what you saw in the shatter special. the library of type fonts has expanded greatly, so the words in the balloons should be a lot more readable. we learned when to use digitizers and special effects, and — just as important — when not to use them.

apple came out with two giant leaps forward: they perfected macdraw, a new graphic arts program that can be used along with their macpaint. macdraw is fantastic: among other things, it allows mike to draw each object as a separate entity which he then can place behind or in front of other objects. shatter is no longer simply dots on paper.


better still, apple came out with their laserwriter, an unbelievable printer that produces crisp, sharp printouts of mike's work. for graphic art reproduction, the difference between the laserwriter and traditional dot-matrix printers is like the difference between glossy coffee table art books and paintings on cave walls.

and even better still, the folks up at apple gave us a laserwriter. that sucker isn't exactly cheap; it's nice to know you're appreciated. thanks, apple!


(story by peter gillis and art by mike saenz)

see next:
computer comix v2.0

computer comix v3.0


[1] in fact, when artist saenz left the series after only a few issues, the book temporarily returned to traditional production methods since no one else knew how to use the computer equipment!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

life imitating art

art:


life:


actually, allow me to set the record straight: birthers aren't imitating cartoons — birthers are cartoons ...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the friendly skies


(photo by m. trombly)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

quote of the day

john cole @ balloon juice:

why the hell do we even make pilots go through security screening in the first place? if they want to bring a plane down, they don't need nail clippers, a lighter, four ounces of hand lotion, or the rest of the stupid shit the TSA morons confiscate from the rest of us. all they need to do to bring a plane down is to ... point it down.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

thank you for your concern

con•cern troll |kən'cərn trōl|

noun

a creature out of greek mythology; a pretend pal, notorious for bearing gifts of dubious merit:

one and done: to be a great president, obama should not seek reelection in 2012

president obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

by douglas e. schoen and patrick h. caddell
the washington post

in recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country's problems. at one point, he spoke of the need for "mid-course corrections." at another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. and before this month's midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve "hand-to-hand combat" with republicans, whom he also referred to as "enemies."

it is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution in his own mind as to what he should do and how he should do it.


glad you asked, mr president! we just happen to have a great idea you're just gonna love ...
this is a critical moment for the country. from the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, america is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. under these circumstances, obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. the only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

to that end, we believe obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.


that's right! quit — for the sake of the country! look how happy everyone is after sarah palin quit!
if the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it. but by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

we do not come to this conclusion lightly. but it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. the midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the obama presidency. and even if it was not an endorsement of a republican vision for america, the drubbing the democrats took was certainly a vote of no confidence in obama and his party. the president has almost no credibility left with republicans and little with independents.


... and no one cares what democrats think!
the best way for him to address both our national challenges and the serious threats to his credibility and stature is to make clear that, for the next two years, he will focus exclusively on the problems we face as americans, rather than the politics of the moment — or of the 2012 campaign.

quite simply, given our political divisions and economic problems, governing and campaigning have become incompatible. obama can and should dispense with the pollsters, the advisers, the consultants and the strategists who dissect all decisions and judgments in terms of their impact on the president's political prospects.

obama himself once said to diane sawyer: "i'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." he now has the chance to deliver on that idea.


no need to thank us, obama ... this was all your idea! really!
in the 2008 presidential campaign, obama spoke repeatedly of his desire to end the red-state-blue-state divisions in america and to change the way washington works. this was a central reason he was elected; such aspirations struck a deep chord with the polarized electorate.

obama can restore the promise of the election by forging a government of national unity, welcoming business leaders, republicans and independents into the fold. but if he is to bring democrats and republicans together, the president cannot be seen as an advocate of a particular party, but as somebody who stands above politics, seeking to forge consensus. and yes, the united states will need nothing short of consensus if we are to reduce the deficit and get spending under control, to name but one issue.


because, after all, we can't — and shouldn't! — expect republicans or anyone else to rise above politics!
forgoing another term would not render obama a lame duck. paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with republicans and would make it harder for opponents such as senate minority leader mitch mcconnell (r-ky.) — who has flatly asserted that his highest priority is to make obama a one-term president — to be uncooperative.

and why would the GOP back down? duh! because we say so, that's why!
and for democrats such as current speaker nancy pelosi (calif.) — who has said that entitlement reform is dead on arrival — the president's new posture would make it much harder to be inflexible. given the influence of special interests on the democratic party, obama would be much more effective as a figure who could remain above the political fray. challenges such as boosting economic growth and reducing the deficit are easier to tackle if you're not constantly worrying about the reactions of senior citizens, lobbyists and unions.

moreover, if the president were to demonstrate a clear degree of bipartisanship, it would force the republicans to meet him halfway. if they didn't, they would look intransigent, as the gop did in 1995 and 1996, when bill clinton first advocated a balanced budget. obama could then go to the democrats for tough cuts to entitlements and look to the republicans for difficult cuts on defense.

on foreign policy, obama could better make hard decisions about iran, north korea and afghanistan based on what is reasonable and responsible for the united states, without the political constraints of a looming election. he would be able to deal with a democratic constituency that wants to get out of afghanistan immediately and a republican constituency that is committed to the war, forging a course that responds not to the electoral calendar but to the facts on the ground.

if the president adopts our suggestion, both sides will be forced to compromise. the alternative, we fear, will put the nation at greater risk. while we believe that obama can be reelected, to do so he will have to embark on a scorched-earth campaign of the type that president george w. bush ran in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election, which divided americans in ways that still plague us.


and why would anybody else back down? duh! because everyone loves a quitter, that's why! (and because we say so!)
obama owes his election in large measure to the fact that he rejected this approach during his historic campaign. indeed, we were among those millions of democrats, republicans and independents who were genuinely moved by his rhetoric and purpose. now, the only way he can make real progress is to return to those values and to say that for the good of the country, he will not be a candidate in 2012.

should the president do that, he — and the country — would face virtually no bad outcomes. the worst-case scenario for obama? in january 2013, he walks away from the white house having been transformative in two ways: as the first black president, yes, but also as a man who governed in a manner unmatched by any modern leader. he will have reconciled the nation, continued the economic recovery, gained a measure of control over the fiscal problems that threaten our future, and forged critical solutions to our international challenges. he will, at last, be the figure globally he has sought to be, and will almost certainly leave a better regarded president than he is today. history will look upon him kindly — and so will the public.


and everyone gets a pony!
it is no secret that we have been openly critical of the president in recent days, but we make this proposal with the deepest sincerity and hope for him and for the country.

[snicker]
we have both advised presidents facing great national crises and have seen challenges from inside the oval office. we are convinced that if obama immediately declares his intention not to run for reelection, he will be able to unite the country, provide national and international leadership, escape the hold of the left, isolate the right and achieve results that would be otherwise unachievable.


patrick h. caddell, who was a pollster and senior adviser to president jimmy carter, is a political commentator. douglas e. schoen, a pollster who worked for president bill clinton, is the author of "mad as hell: how the tea party movement is fundamentally remaking our two-party system."


ok, everyone can stop laughing now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

395 days ago

... but who's counting?

Monday, October 11, 2010

it isn't a costume

rich iott, ohio teabagger, republican congressional candidate and goose-schtepping playboy, inspires yet another winning untergang redub:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

she who denied it, supplied it

there is an apocryphal story that is told about former president lyndon johnson, who built his reputation as the most effective majority leader in the senate's history on his no-holds-barred style of political warfare. the tale is placed during his first congressional race, when he purportedly directed one of his aides to spread rumors about his opponent that alleged a too-familiar knowledge of barnyard livestock. the aide balked at the assignment, protesting that no one would believe the stories, to which johnson countered: "i know that, but i just wanna hear the s.o.b. deny it!"

... which brings us to connecticut teabag darling christine o'donnell and her first television ad in her long-shot senate campaign:

"i'm not a witch ..."

o'donnell's problem is, of course, that the charges of witchcraft she's now forced to publicly deny can't be blamed on shameless political opponents.

Monday, October 04, 2010

an occurrence on owl creek

over the weekend birther soldier terry lakin, who invited his own court-martial by refusing to report to duty until the kenyan usurper in the white house shows him a birth certificate, seems to have decided on a change of strategy:

there’s been or is about to be a change of counsel in the lakin case with the highly experienced military justice practitioners from puckett & faraj, P.C. entering the case as LTC lakin’s counsel.

lakin's dog-bite attorney paul rolf jensen, whom we met on anderson cooper's show, appears to have been consigned to the dog house, along with lakin's birther cheerleading and fundraising squad:

"safeguardourconstitution.com" was the official lakinista website. it’s gone. go to that link now, and you are transferred to the american patriot foundation’s homepage.

and paulrolfjensen.com was a website tied to mr. jensen’s representation of LTC lakin. in fact, it included what appeared to be pictures of mr. jensen assisting LTC lakin in making his youtube video announcing his intention to disobey all orders. that link now takes one to the jensen & associates APC homepage.


ever since he was first charged, LTC lakin must have been experiencing something like what occurred with larry in animal house. remeber the scene where larry was in bed with the mayor's daughter and the devil popped up and said — well, we all know what the devil said. and then the angel popped up and gave contrary advice. that must be what it's been like for LTC lakin with mr. jensen playing the role of the devil and MAJ kemkes, his detailed defense counsel, playing the role of the angel. the angel finally won the argument in animal house. maybe MAJ kemkes finally prevailed with LTC lakin. or maybe the realization that he was about to say bye bye to his military retirement and be shipped off to the USDB caused LTC lakin to flinch. whatever the reason, LTC lakin will now be represented by counsel who will see their duty as zealously representing their client's interests rather than advancing a dubious political cause.

so we've probably seen the last of the guano crazy in the lakin case. the case is now likely to become an exercise in controlling the damage caused by LTC lakin's and his previous defense counsel's decision that it would be a really good idea to make a video of LTC lakin asserting his determination to disobey orders and placing that video on youtube, then carrying through on his promise (including by refusing an order to report to his medal of honor recipient brigade commander in arlington, virginia as ordered). it will still be interesting to see how the case unfolds and concludes, but it will now be much more of a dog-bites-man story than the man-bites-dog story it's been to this point.


it's of course possible that lakin actually thinks his highly competent new counsel will be able to get him what jensen could not — obama's birth certificate — but if he believes that for even a second, there's a bridge on owl creek that i'm sure i can sell him:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

fright wing

burning up the interwebs this past week was the village voice's cover story on white fright, but i thought the cover itself, by unforgiving longtime favorite stippler of the stars drew friedman, was worth the trip for its own sake. if you've ever wondered who actually got the commission to paint the portrait of dorian gray ... look ye no further:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

not all losers created equal

on phil cave's military law blog CAAFlog a birther smugly asks:

it would be interesting to see what most of the posters here would be saying if, say, the president in question were GWB. and the issue was whether he was legit based on the election fiasco of 2000. you guys would be crying just like the birthers over the MJ [military judge] denying discovery. i think this case is the only time i have ever seen any one on this blog attack a defense counsel.

to which accusation phil effortlessly responds:

actually you have the answer to your question already. no-one who refused deployment orders while president bush was in office did so because they thought he was a usurper or illegal office holder. and clearly none of those on this blog did. the refusniks did refuse or go UA [unauthorized absence] did so on personal animosity to the wars and a belief the wars were illegal, not that the president was an illegal. so your question has been answered and refuted with fact, IMHO.

it seems that the differences between the losers of the 2000 and 2008 elections are invisible only to the losers of 2008. only one set of losers has filed and failed more than 70 eligibility lawsuits when in the same circumstances the other set filed none. only one set has flooded the coffers of gun dealers in every state when in the same circumstances the other set put gun dealers into a slump.

only one set has called for rewriting the constitution; only one set has called for military overthrow and violent revolution, whilst waving the long-discredited flags of long-dead seditious movements; only one set has obstructed all efforts to move forward and threatens to repeal all efforts they cannot obstruct; only one set is still throwing a tantrum two years running and childishly insists on holding the entire nation hostage until they "get their country back".

does it really need to be made any more clear that one set does not deserve to win?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

any day now

y'know, now that i've had some time to think it over, i think you're absolutely right — the goalposts do look so much better over here ...

once BO leaves office, however, there will be a thorough public discussion and a race by *renowned* journalists to publish blockbuster exposes.

WRT rush [limbaugh] — IMHO he may be a closet birther but does not have access to irrefutable evidence and will not risk his reputation at this point. BUT once BO becomes a former POTUS — rush's career will be sustained & enhanced by bringing up all the clues that were ignored by the congress and the media with special reference to his, rush's *prescience* in the matter.


be patient grasshopper! The Truth will eventually come out! it always does ......

i believe that obama will be turned out in 2012, and if re-elected, someone in the congress will object, forcing obama to withdraw or be forced to defend the indefenseable in court.

as an alternate scenario, i believe that obama will not run for re-election (placing him squarely in the ranks of failed preidencies by that simple act alone) and, after the fact, a court case will be allowed to rise up the system to the USSC court who will re-affirm the constitutional intent and definition of NBC as born of the soil to 2 citizens ..... negating obama’s presidency in toto ......


rush will strike when the iron is hot.

i pray that you are right. it's been more than 2 years. it's like "waiting for godot".

i stopped holding my breath long ago.


semper fi, birfistani!

Monday, September 20, 2010

the art of the backdown

former white house spinmeister karl rove sizing up delaware republican senate primary winner christine o'donnell (sep 14):

i've met her. i wasn't frankly impressed by her abilities as a candidate ... one thing that o'donnell is now going to have to answer in the general election that she didn't in the primary is her own checkered background.

... there were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that don't add up.

... why did she mislead voters about her college education? how come it took nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree? how did she make a living?

... we were looking at eight to nine seats in the senate. we are now looking at seven to eight in my opinion.


it does conservatives little good to support candidates who at the end of the day while they may be conservative in their public statements do not event the characteristics of rectitude, truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for.

... but we also can't make progress if we have candidates who got serious character problems, who cause ordinary voters who are not philosophically aligned with us to not vote for our candidates out of concern of what they said and what they do. ... but look, she attacked him by saying he had a homosexual relationship with a young aide with not a bit of evidence to prove it.

... she had already previously spread the rumor. come on! look, she's got a chance now. let's you and i have a private side bet on this one. i think at the end of the day she has to answer these questions in a way that people of delaware find convincing or we are going to find ourselves with somebody who says conservative things, but doesn't have the character that the people of delaware want to have.


i believe the questions [about] why she had a problem for five years with paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed on and put up for sale, why it took sixteen years to settle her college debt and get her diploma while she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate," rove said. "i think a lot of voters in delaware are going to want more than she is offering to them right now, and we'll see.

conservative pundit michelle malkin:

might as well have been olbermann on MSNBC. the establishment beltway strategist couldn't even bother with an obligatory word of congratulations for o’donnell.

... rove came across as an effete sore loser instead of the supposedly brilliant and grounded GOP strategist that he’s supposed to be. expect more washington republicans to start sounding like tea party-bashing libs as their entrenched incumbent friends go down.


conservative blogger dan riehl:

... fox should suspend him and investigate. ... rove was working behind the scenes on behalf of the castle campaign to negotiate a deal that would have led to some delaware tea party groups not supporting christine o'donnell, while giving mike castle a pass.

especially given his comments on fox news tonight, until this is resolved, it seems impossible to trust rove as an objective analyst. in terms of the conservative movement, we should not simply ignore him, but proactively work to undermine rove in whatever ways we can, given his obvious willingness to undermine us.


conservative bitch-slapper rush limbaugh (sep 15):

this is about conservatives taking back the republican party. ... who the hell are they, anyway, to anoint or disanoint somebody as electable or not electable? i'm in charge of that! ... that's always been my purview and nothing's changed.

... look at the petulant attitude. 'screw you — christine o'donnell wins, she's on her own. you're on your own.'

... we're going to throw in the towel here? why not fight for it?


christine o'donnell (sep 15):

[rove] is the same so-called political guru that predicted i wasn't going to win. and we won and we won big. so i think, again, he is eating some humble pie and he is just trying to restore his reputation.

anti-establishment teahadist karl rove (sep 16):

i, i don't like being called the establishment. i've supported marco rubio and todd tiahrt and a lotta — sarah palin and i tuesday night backed kelly ayotte in new hampshire, so before you start calling me that establishment guy be, be careful.

... i'm helping raise fifty million dollars, three million of which we've already spent on behalf of sharron angle in nevada so be careful when you call me an establishment republican. i'm not certain what that is.

... no, no, look, i'm a huge tea party fan. i've enjoyed meeting with people as i go around the country, i've got a great many friends who i've made during the book tour and leaders in the tea party movement. in fact, i met christine o'donnell when i was in delaware last december to do the sussex county christmas day, GOP christmas day party and in one of the interesting parts, i got to meet with about twelve tea party leaders from southern delaware and had a wonderful conversation. this has given us energy, enthusiasm and in many instances it's given us highly qualified candidates who are going to be able to take the fight to the democrats this fall.

... look, i, i endorsed [o'donnell] the other night, i said i'm for the republicans in each and every case. i mean, i was one of the first to do it. look, i'm also helping her. i've gotten so many people have written me an e-mail saying i'm irritated with you, saying what you said the other night, i'm giving her a campaign contribution, i'm sending her a lotta internet contributions.

... fox had one thing wrong on election night. we mistakenly said that the republican senatorial committee said they weren't going to send her my money. i called rob jesmer, the executive director of the committee, the morning after and said "why the heck did you say that?", and he said we never said that, in fact we're cutting a check, the maximum we're allowed to give her, $42,000, and we're raising money from the PACs, and campaign funds and republican senators, including cornyn and mcconnell to send her additional cash immediately.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

giddy-ap (updated*)

congrats to christine o'donnell and her fellow triumphant teabaggers (and apologies to isaac asimov):

"there is an old fable," said hardin, "as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. it runs as follows:

"a republican horse having a democratic wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of permanent minority status. being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. whereupon he approached a teabagger, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the teabagger. the teabagger accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at his disposal. the horse was willing, and allowed the teabagger to place bridle and saddle upon him. the teabagger mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.

"the horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the teabagger, and said: 'now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.'

"whereupon the teabagger laughed loudly and replied, 'the hell you say. giddy-ap, dobbin,' and applied the spurs with a will."


(* see "giddy-ap" from january 2008)

Friday, September 10, 2010

hell on earth

a gas pipe explosion incinerates a bay area neighborhood in san bruno, california:








(see slideshow for more photos, via ap)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

birther quote of the day

when obots [obama defenders] claim we shouldn’t buy this birth certificate because it comes from a convicted forger, i reply "yes, but he was not convicted of forging THIS particular document, so what else do you got?" it ususlly shuts the obots up.

(hat tip to patrick mckinnion @ bad fiction)


update: oops ... looks like patrick and i have been victims of a clever execution of poe's law — courtesy of our anti-birther friends at politijab (registration required).

as much as i enjoy smacking around birthers, with such an overabundance of genuine idiocy to work with, there's no need for me to frame a guilty man ...

master of communication

yes, this guy claims to have earned a degree in this stuff:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

birther on toast

u.s. army lieutenant colonel dr. terrence lakin is toast:

and he can't say i didn't warn him.

of course it's always possible that what looks, to both layfolk and seasoned practicioners, like a fatal drop kick to the groin, may be, to more astute eyes, a carefully orchestrated manuever in a larger overarching strategy:

if convicted, easy reversal and remand by SCOTUS [*].

this is a case where def[ense] adnits the alledged action but claims justicication in doing so, so pros[ecutor] must show "criminal intent." they are denying him the ability to show the lack of a "criminal state of mind," a "mens rea" in latin, a criminal intent.

[* supreme court of the united states]

umm, ok ... whatever.

or it's possible that he knows he's tilting at windmills and wants all the glitz and glory that comes with martyrdom — or at least as much as he can get from his cheerleading squad.

but whichever narrative is unfolding, everyone seems to agree that he's one step closer to his all-expense-paid vacation to fort leavenworth:

CNN — a judge on thursday denied a request for president barack obama to testify at a court martial for a U.S. army flight surgeon who refused to deploy to afghanistan until he saw proof that obama was born in the united states.

the judge, army col. denise lind, said any evidence or witnesses related to obama's citizenship is irrelevant to the charges against lt. col. terrence lakin, who has 17 years of service in the U.S. military.

after failing to deploy with his unit in april, lakin was charged with missing a movement, disobeying a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

the uniform code of military justice says the maximum punishment for both offenses -- missing his plane and disobeying lawful orders -- is a dishonorable discharge and up to two years in confinement. a guilty verdict could also result in forfeiture of lakin's pay, which totals $7,959 a month, according to a charge sheet provided by a group sponsoring his defense.

lakin's lawyers argued that all military orders stem from the commander-in-chief. without evidence that obama is eligible to be president, they say, the doctor's deployment order was illegal.

in addition to putting obama on their witness list, lakin's lawyers had asked lind to order obama's official birth records from hawaii be brought to court for trial.

"if the president is ineligible, you need to know that," lakin's civilian attorney, paul jensen, told lind. "col. lakin needs to know that, the government needs to know that, america needs to know that."

the prosecutors in the case argued that obama's eligibility is not relevant because the officers who ordered lakin to go to fort campbell and then ordered him to answer questions about why he didn't go were his proper superiors in the military chain of command, and they gave him legal orders. jensen later conceded that point.

the judge ruled that the matter of obama's eligibility is not relevant because he did not give any orders in the case. she pointed out that while the president is commander-in-chief of the military, it is congress that is constitutionally empowered to raise armies, pay them and equip them.

any contention that any orders are invalid if the president is ineligible "is erroneous," the judge said.

lind also said that military law says that a soldier's personal beliefs or convictions are not sufficient to allow that soldier to determine that an order is illegal. the soldier has to have "no rational doubt" that the order is illegal before he or she can ignore it.

finally she ruled that a military court martial is not the forum in which to determine a president's eligibility, because the constitution says only congress has the power to impeach and remove the president.

afterward, jensen said he respected the judge's ruling, but called it distressing.

"it completely deprives us of any opportunity to present a defense in this case," jensen said.

the court martial is set to begin in october, but jensen said he's not giving up on the matter of obama's eligibility.

"we will be giving the army court of criminal appeals in the next week or two the opportunity to take up the issue, and we are going to fight on for justice to be served in this case."

lakin is among 27 percent of americans who doubt or deny that obama is american-born, according to a recent CNN/opinion research corp. poll. they compose the birther movement, which demands that obama present a birth certificate signed by the doctor who delivered him in 1961.

CNN and other news organizations have thoroughly debunked the rumors about the president's birthplace. the obama campaign released a copy of a birth record issued by the state in 2007, called a "certification of live birth," and allowed reporters to examine the document in person in 2008.

last year, hawaiian state officials issued a statement that they had personally viewed the president's original hawaiian birth record, called a "certificate of live birth," and verified it to be authentic. state law bars the release of the original certificate. in addition, two hawaiian newspapers ran notices in 1961 announcing obama's birth in the state.

lakin's fate was sealed the moment he disobeyed his orders to report to duty. under military law all orders are presumed to be legal, which places the burden of contesting an order on the subordinate. there is only one perilous defense for disobedience:

an order requiring the performance of a military duty or act may be inferred to be lawful and it is disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate. this inference does not apply to a patently illegal order, such as one that directs the commission of a crime.

but lakin wants to argue that:

  1. his orders come from the president.
  2. barack obama might not really be president.
  3. obeying obama's orders could therefore be a crime.

unfortunately for lakin, his argument fails on all three points.

first, while obama is certainly his commander-in-chief, lakin's april orders to report came from his immediate superiors, as reflected in the specific formal charges leveled against him:

CHARGE I, VIOLATION OF THE UCMJ. ARTICLE 87
THE SPECIFICATION: in that lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin, US army, did. at or near arlington, virginia. on or about 12 april 2010, through design, miss the movement of US airways flight number 1123. departing from baltimore/washington international airport arriving in charlotte. north carolina. in order to deploy for a temporary change of station in support of operation enduring freedom with the 32nd calvary regiment, 101st airborne division (air assault), fort campbell, kentucky. with which he was required in the course of duty to move
CHARGE II, VIOLATION OF THE UCMJ. ARTICLE 92
SPECIFICATION 1: in that lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin. US army. having knowledge of a lawful order issued by lieutenant colonel william judd. to report to the office of his brigade commander. colonel gordon r. roberts. at 1345 hours. or words to that effect. an order which it was his duty to obey. did. at or near arlington, virginia. on or about 31 march 2010, fail to obey the same by wrongfully not reporting as directed.

SPECIFICATION 2: in that lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin. US army. having knowledge of a lawful order issued by colonel gordon r. roberts. to wit: a memorandum signed by the said colonel gordon r. roberts, dated 31 march 2010, an order which it was his duty to obey. did, at or near arlington. virginia. on or about 31 march 2010, fail to obey the same by wrongfully not reporting as directed.

SPECIFICATION 3: in that lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin. US army. having knowledge of a lawful order issued by colonel peter m. mchugh. to wit: temporary change of station orders 099-17. dated 9 april 2010, issued by colonel peter mchugh. requiring the said lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin to report to fort campbell, kentucky not later than 1500 hours on 12 april 2010, an order which it was his duty to obey. did at or near washington. district of columbia. on or about 12 april 2010, fail to obey the same by wrongfully failing to report to 32nd calvary regiment. 101st airborne division (air assault), fort campbell, kentucky.

SPECIFICATION 4: in that lieutenant colonel terrence l. lakin. US army. who knew or should have known of his duties at or near washington. district of columbia. on or about 12 april 2010. was derelict in the perforrmance of those duties in that he willfully failed to report to fort campbell, kentucky in accordance with temporary change of station orders 099-17. dated 9 april 2010, issued by colonel peter mchugh. in support of operation enduring freedom. as it was his duty to do.

note that the name "barack h. obama" does not appear anywhere in these charges, and even if it could be demonstrated that every military order traces back to the president, no court is going to agree that every latrine assignment since noon january 20, 2009 has been illegal.

second, lakin takes careful pains to avoid claiming that obama isn't the lawful president (possibly to avoid added charges of contempt). he only claims that he's unsure and just needs his mind put at ease. unfortunately for soldiers, there is no room for doubt in the chain of command, no matter how sincere. lakin is obligated to follow orders unless he has damning evidence in hand at the time of his refusal. asking for the judge's help to find the evidence that he's required to bring to court himself counts for real chutzpah if nothing else.

third, even if obama were proven ineligible, his orders would nonetheless remain perfectly valid, according to the de facto officer doctrine:

the de facto officer doctrine confers validity upon acts performed by a person acting under the color of official title even though it is later discovered that the legality of that person’s appointment or election to office is deficient.

... the de facto doctrine springs from the fear of the chaos that would result from multiple and repetitious suits challenging every action taken by every official whose claim to office could be open to question, and seeks to protect the public by insuring the orderly functioning of the government despite technical defects in title to office.

all of lakins arguments collide head-on with well-established mechanisms essential to maintaining military discipline and those mechanisms are designed to turn recalcitrants like lakin into toast, which he must full well know:

i attempted all avenues i could over a year ago. i submitted an article 138, which is the only way that i could research how to &mdash how to address this issue, asking and begging my leadership for guidance in how to — how to address this issue. and the answers that i got were not ...

... answers that he wanted to hear, apparently — confirmed by former JAG defense attorney charles gittins:

i told LTCOL lakin that he was being badly advised when he called me to join his legal team. i gave him my (very) candid advice. i told him to seek opinions from other military justice experts if he was not willing to accept my advice. he is where he is for a reason. i am very sad for him. he has been deluded by a very incompetent attorney, who has done a disservice [to] our profession and military justice.

now that lakin's legs have been predictably cut from under him, his attorney and his cheerleaders claim that he's not being allowed a defense. but the judge, rightly, wants lakin to defend against the charges he's facing. all that lakin's being denied is the opportunity to rant incoherently. during his trial for the murder of dr. george tiller, scott roeder was not allowed to rant incoherently about perfectly legal abortion procedures. instead, facing a charge of first degree murder, roeder was allowed only to explain if he believed someone's life was in imminent danger or if he were legally insane when he pulled the trigger, because those are the only justifications allowed.

as noted in the cnn report above, lakin's attorney has already been forced to concede in court that lakin's orders were legal. if that leaves lakin without a defense, the person at fault is not the judge.

the toast is ready. it is only waiting to be served.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

time for a new ticker?

fool me once for thinking that my first ticker would be enough.

meet mariner energy inc.:

new orleans, LA. — a mile-long oil sheen spread thursday from an offshore petroleum platform burning in the gulf of mexico off lousiana, west of the site of BP's massive spill.

coast guard petty officer bill coklough said the sheen, about 100 feet wide, was spotted near the platform owned by houston-based mariner energy inc.

... the coast guard says no one was killed in the explosion and fire, which was reported by a commercial helicopter flying over the site around 9 a.m. CDT. ...

the platform is in about 340 feet of water and about 100 miles south of vermilion bay on the central louisiana coast. it's location is considered shallow water, much less than the approximately 5,000 feet where BP's well spewed oil and gas for three months after an april rig explosion.

... the platform is about 200 miles west of BP's blown-out well. on friday, BP was expected to begin the process of removing the cap and failed blowout preventer, another step toward completion of a relief well that would put a finals eal [sic] on the well. the BP-leased rig deepwater horizon exploded april 20, killing 11 people and setting off a three-month leak that totaled 206 million gallons of oil.

this ap writer seems to think that bp's well was shut down back on july 16, as noted on my ticker. while we wait for bp to finish installing that "final seal", i'll keep my ticker running, thank you ...

almost famous

dreams die hard, sometimes.

thankfully this time, for the sake of everyone within the probable blast range of this aspiring young celebrity, his dreams of glory fell victim to the same reckless killer that's snuffed the dreams of many a would-be super-predator — his own lack of maturity:

sisseton, SD — an 18-year-old high school student stockpiled bomb-making materials in his bedroom and wrote about wanting to blow up his school, target individuals he hated, rape women and "become the world's most infamous sociopath," authorities said.

joseph thomas hansen, of claire city, was arrested aug. 23 after someone tipped off a police school resource officer that hansen had talked about an attack, authorities said.

... hansen pleaded not guilty tuesday to selling, transporting or possessing an explosive device and possessing substances with the intent to make a destructive device, and is due back in court sept. 14. if convicted of all charges, he could face up to 25 years in prison, jackley said.

... during a search of hansen's room, investigators found a list hansen wrote of things he wanted to do, including blow up sisseton high school — where he was set to begin his senior year the day after his arrest — torture and rape women and "become the world's most infamous sociopath," according to an affidavit filed monday.

he listed 39 people he hated and the reasons why, and he researched the 1999 columbine school massacre in littleton, colo., in which two student gunmen killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 26 others before committing suicide, investigators said.

detectives also found drawings of swastikas, documents outlining two attempts to make napalm, instructional materials on how to make bombs, four guns and a video showing two explosive devices detonating, according to the affidavit.

two people whose names were redacted in the affidavit told roberts county sheriff's investigators that hansen told them he "had enough fireworks to blow up sisseton and that the first day of school would be a short one," the court documents state.

during an initial interview with police, hansen said he was fascinated by mass murder, read books on the subject and wanted to know what makes killers tick, authorities said. he also expressed an interest in the marine corps, demolitions and becoming a criminal profiler, according to the court documents.

... amanda ostby, a 24-year-old hairdresser at little shop for hair in claire city, said she was shocked by the arrest.

"he was a nice kid, well mannered," said ostby. "he was a super nice kid so it's pretty unbelievable."

hansen sounds like a highly motivated young man and he seems to have come close to realizing his dream, since it appears that, above and beyond petty teen revenge, spattering his name across the pages of history was his real ambition. he "wanted to know what makes killers tick" and immersed himself in his chosen craft for a shot at outclassing everyone that's come before him.

but most sociopaths with violent tendencies succumb to those yearnings well before the time they reach a level of emotional maturity and intellectual aptitude that might help them better resist crime, better plan bigger and more ambitious crimes and better evade detection and capture. once captured, all development not related to simply surviving in prison comes to an abrupt halt. this means that unless they are born in an essentially lawless culture that exploits their talents and gives them license to operate freely and openly (think hitler's germany or pol pot's cambodia), most sociopaths fail to advance to the higher levels of sociability and status that would make them as dangerous and terrible as any tyrant straight out of history, such as vlad the impaler. the upwardly-mobile ted bundy was the exception that proves the rule and outside of hollywood there are no hannibal lecters. such monsters can only be scripted, not born.

so a closer inspection of hansen's dreams reveals some of their more childish aspects. he wanted to both blow up his school, for starters, as well as torture and rape (and presumably kill) women. it is difficult to envision how he hoped to fulfill both, since his first wish, without an escape plan, amounts to an apocalyptic suicidal act, while the second demands a commitment to an continuing career. one is the act of a mass murderer and the other is the act of a serial killer. one brings instant notoriety, the other requires prolonged anonymity. a person cannot have both and, after hansen's arrest, it is all but certain that, beyond the scope of local news, he will never have either.

hansen's dreams need not have ended this way. his interest in "the marine corps, demolitions and becoming a criminal profiler" shows that he knew full well that there are options on the civil side of the law for people like him who are attracted to high-octane violence. unless, that is, one is dreaming of instant fame ...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

alkies awake!

burning up the interwebs this week have been some very encouraging reports for incorrigible alkies everywhere:

... a new paper in the journal alcoholism: clinical and experimental research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one's risk of dying, even when you exclude former problem drinkers. the most shocking part? abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

i'm sorry, but announcements of this sort always remind me of the longstanding faddish nature of nutrition lore, which took a bit of a ribbing in woody allen's 1973 comedy "sleeper", wherein health food store proprietor miles munroe wakes up from an unplanned cryogenic nap 200 years into the future:


dr. melik: well, he's fully recovered ... except for a few minor kinks.
dr. tryon: has he asked for anything special?
dr. melik: yes, this morning for breakfast: uh, he requested something called wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk ... ?
dr. tryon: [chuckling] oh yes, those are the charmed substances that some years ago were felt to contain life-preserving properties.
dr. melik: you mean there was no deep fat, no steak or cream pies or hot fudge?
dr. tryon: those were thought to be unhealthy. precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
dr. melik: incredible ...

miles: and, and ... where am i anyhow? i mean, what, what happened to everybody? where are all my friends?
dr. aragon: you must understand that everyone you knew in the past has been dead nearly two hundred years.
miles: but they all ate organic rice!

dr. aragon: [to dr. melik] he's ranting ... we'd better tranquilize him.
miles: i knew it was too good to be true — i parked right near the hospital!
dr. aragon: now here, you smoke this. and be sure you get the smoke deep down into your lungs.
miles: i don't smoke.
dr. aragon: it's tobacco! it's one of the healthiest things for your body! now go ahead — you need all the strength you can get.

(don't dawdle, folks! catch the movie in its entirety while it lasts ...)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

birther bait

oh no, he didn't ...

did the kenyan marxist muslim usurper just go there? just when we thought we'd already seen the last involuntary twitch from the nontroversy that just won't die?

via politico:

[NBC "nightly news" anchor brian] williams, sitting under a tent in a rain-soaked new orleans, where the first family commemorated the fifth anniversary of hurricane katrina, asked obama why so many people were uncertain about something so fundamental as his faith.

"i can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead," quipped obama, who took a deep breath to gather his thoughts when asked if the poll reflected his inability to communicate with voters.


cool!

for popcorn-loving birther-watchers, it's christmas in august as the switchboards light up at our favorite freedumb-loving wingnut watering hole:

1) "obama says he ignored beck rally":

why the psychopath reply?

spoken exactly as one would expect a demonic liar to answer.

always the arrogant, dishonest divisive tyrant.

the proper response for a real president: "i can appreciate the hopes and prayers of these fine people. i want us all to find common ground in our love of america. with this shared bond, we will move forward into a bright future."

this, or similar human sentiment, is utterly alien to the democrats and obama.


can he start by spending any time with his birth certificate plastered on his forehead?

i'm not into that particular conspiracy, but i am very concerned that he refuses to show it at all. especially because it would do massive damage to the credibility of those who oppose him and use that particular argument. the fact that it has not been resolved and he's making jokes like that is insult to injury.


(i'm sure the usurper is deeply touched by your concern ...)

how about chuckles the mulllah explaining whose paying his legal bills for attorneys trying to keep his birth certificate hidden?

this is one narcissistic s.o.m. (son of a muslim). "to hell with what the people think. i don't understand why they don't still worship me."

yep - it really makes me want to see it now. perhaps it's really not about his birthplace, but the fact that it's been amended to show indonesian citizenship by virtue of his adoption, without him ever declaring u.s. citizenship at the legal age.

the indonesian adoption would be a link to islam, since he had to be a muslim to go to school there.

it's mindboggling that someone so anti-american in his upbringing could occupy the oval office.

2) "obama blasts lies, disinformation":

yeah because "666" is already plastered there.

for once, he tells the truth. he cannot show his birth certificate because he has none.

thanks, brian, for your brilliant follow-up questioning, like, "what birth certificate? they say you haven't shown it." what is this talking head being paid?

he does have a kenyan BC as the people in kenya have said. go home ZERO!

we'd like to believe him, but it's OK for mooselimbs to lie to infidels.

could you use a nailgun instead?

OBAMA WANTS to make this the focus instead of his disasterous presidency. i hope people will drop this soon and focus again on the pathetic job he's doing.

(hmmm — i find this one's lack of faith disturbing ...)

3) "barack obama will not be getting a birth certificate tattoo":

obama could end all of this and make so many critics look like fools easily. all he has to do is to release his actual birth certificate.

(but why spoil everyone's fun?)

i too wonder why he hasn't just made it up yet, faked it or something.

i remember when all the moonbats were going on and on about george bush and the weapons of mass destruction. they blamed him over and over, nailing him to a cross.

i used to point out "if george bush were half as evil as you people think he is, don't you think he would have faked the wmd?"

well here we are, and obama still hasn't presented it.


(i haz a confuzed ... so does this mean the factcheck bc is legit?)

"the lady, she protest too much." (hamlet)

the BC, if there is one, may say MUZZIE on it, his "father's" religion


i think the american people would be happy to know who his father was and that he was truly born in the states, i however think he is an imposter because he is not natural born, native born does nothing for me.

i am a native born citizen, my parents were born in italy.
i cannot be president of the united states.

in fact down deep inside i feel a tremendous loyalty to italy in sports and politics. which is what i think the founders wanted to prevent.


(well, at least one of these pretend patriots is willing to admit to high treason!)

he is clearly losing his ability to maintain his composure. i think he knows it's over. one and done.

4) "I CAN'T SPEND ALL OF MY TIME WITH MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE PLASTERED ON MY FOREHEAD":

if he's actually talking to it then you can be assured that he is scarred to death about this issue.

marxists use ridicule as a weapon and he's using it here to marginalize people who ask that this be demonstrated in accordance with the law.


all he had to do was show it during this interview.

produce a lefitimate one one time and the issue will disapear just as soon as you get on a plane to kenya!

(absulootly!)

this is backfiring on him big time.

drudge has this on the front page and linked to politico/journ-o-listers which has over 1200 comments so far. the comments are running 99% against imam obama.


the fact that drudge is touching this at all tells you how far we've come. the word of mouth is revealing what no media entity would touch. he can't control us all.

nice straw man bam, just show the real long form once to a "credible" new source (not CNNABCNBCCBSMSNBC) and it will probably go away. unless of course it was typed with the same version of msword used to produce the TANG memos.

(if i were a betting man, i'd put my money on: "probably not" ...)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

who wants to live forever?

while i for one have no hesitation in answering that question with an "ooh-ooh-ooooh! me, me, me! pick me!" and an enthusiasm that would embarrass arnold horshack, quite a number of people roll their eyes and "pshaw!" the very notion, as if their contemptuous dismissal of the question were based on principle rather than sour grapes. truthfully, as long as the fantasy lies far beyond the furthest demonstrated capabilities of our best doctors and scientists, it's a sane response. still, one need only pick up the news on any given day to conclude that the instinct for self-preservation handily trumps the instinct for sanity-preservation and i would even argue that the will to survive — or more fundamentally, resistance to entropy — is intrinsic to the very nature of life itself.


immortality through licensing: not everyone's first choice.
curiously though, many of the same folks who look down their wrinkled nostrils at what appears to be a selfish and unseemly desire also fail to see the hypocrisy in adopting a religion, every example of which, without exception, dangles the promise of everlasting life as the ultimate door prize for membership. immortality of course resurfaces again and again as a favorite literary trope in science fiction and fantasy, and would merit inclusion among my "great fictions of science fiction" were even the most credulous trekwars fanboy actually taken in by any of sci-fi's most seductive claims. clearly, religion continues to win this contest.

why most popular conceptions of technology-conferred immortality remain so wanting was recently summarized by commenter cerberus at pz myers' science blog pharyngula, in a conversation originally catapulted from futurist ray kurzweil's claim that within ten years we could "reverse-engineer" the human brain, which would allow us, in myers' words, "to write software that simulates all the functions of the human brain":

creating a robotic brain to "download your consciousnes" into or the "i'll make a clone version of myself with all my memories" sci-fi fiction immortality ideas are kinda false immortalities.

it's at best, assuming a complete successful procedure a process of ending one's consciousness so that a puppet version of yourself can emulate your life possibly for all eternity.

great, but what does that do for [the] real you?

real you is just as dead and gone and unable to be a part of and appreciate what your puppet is doing in its absence. i'm sure this has been repeatedly addressed in the various thread wars during my absence, but it seems kind of stupid.

i'd love to extend lifespans, i'd love to live forever if that was possible, but as long as we're talking fantasies, asking for the power to fart sparkly flying unicorns seems less stupid than asking for a robot facsimile to live forever on your behalf.

i mean, if you're going to be all cult about this, pick something that wouldn't be completely contrary to your intended desire if you got it.


the problem is that neither of these techniques provides any continuity between the real, original you — the unique, dynamic but amorphous energy pattern that emerges as a product of your brain activity — and whatever it is that will emerge from your shiny new robot body or your baby-fresh clone body, even if it seems identical. this is the component that must be bodily transferred (pun intended), and not merely copied or "downloaded", to its new host, in order for the real you to live past your expiration date. otherwise, if all you're accomplishing is creating a vanity being as a monument to yourself, there's still nothing more simple, more efficient, more tried and tested, more mundane and less controversial than finding a partner and just having a child.

however ... since we're already vacationing here on futurist fantasy island with a white-suited ray kurzweil, where we already have his schematics for building an entire artificial brain right in front of us, it's suddenly possible to provide the continuity we need in order to engineer our transference into everlasting life. the means is in fact quite simple: by replacing the brain, in a series of discrete, stepwise procedures, with kurzweil's robot circuitry, we can preserve the continuity of consciousness by progressively swapping out sections of the original organic substrate (ie, the gray matter) with new artificial upgrades until we've completely replaced it, right from under the still actively running pattern! by conducting each procedure without rendering the subject unconscious for even a moment, but instead continuously maintaining communication with and monitoring feedback from the subject and assessing our progress after each procedure, we can assure ourselves that the same person who laid down on our operating table is the same person getting back up.

let's say that kurzweil's brain can be broken down into 100 discrete modules, and let's say that the first step is replacing the area that processes smell. so we open up our patient, reroute her smell center to the new robot smell module, turn it on, then shut down the corresponding area of her gray matter, excise it, and pop the module into place, all the while maintaining a continuous stream of realtime communication with her. now, if we were to end the operation right here with just this one module, with our patient's brain now 1% artificial and sporting a new (and perhaps even improved) smell center, no one would credibly question whether she was in fact still the same person who woke up that morning instead of some soulless android changeling. she'd certainly be no more android than anyone else who's ever received any other kind of artificial limb or organ.

and if we fast-forward to the end of the hundredth and final procedure, in which, let's say, we've replaced her libido, making her brain now 100% artificial, could anyone credibly argue that this individual was not the same person who successfully emerged from the 99th procedure, and who successfully emerged from the 98 procedures before it? it would be very difficult to make that argument without being able to pinpoint any moment or period when our patient, or more precisely, when her uninterrupted brain pattern changed in such a way that would no longer allow us to still call it "the real her". it is precisely because that pattern was not allowed to be interrupted that "the real her" was preserved as we built its new chassis under it. so, in geekspeak, instead of attempting to "download" our nebulous and intangible consciousness into a new machine, we've merely installed a live upgrade or "sidegrade" of its existing hardware and firmware as a series of modular patches, without turning off or rebooting the system. voilà — immortality v1.0! or at the very least a new lease on life until her android body is finished, but considering what we've already accomplished, the rest is just child's play.


afterword: of course, immortality does become somewhat problematic in about five billion years from now, when our friend the sun finally implodes. we'd most certainly want a ticket out of town, preferably on a ship capable of faster-than-light travel (not bloody likely) with lots of dvds on board for the tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of years ahead of us in the tractless void before we arrive anywhere interesting. of course, we need not be awake for the whole adventure: i know my android body will definitely have a "sleep" mode installed.