Friday, June 29, 2007

Terrorism Is Stupid

Scott Adams has pinpointed some clear logic on how stupid terrorism is. Unfortunately, that doesn't alleviate the actual problem, or determine how to fix the problems of which terrorism is a symptom.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Class Divides and Social Networking Online

I encountered an interesting essay about class divisions between MySpace and Facebook. There's some blatant spin in the article, but it's worth a read, especially if you use or are familiar with either MySpace or Facebook.

Wacky Food Review of P.B. Loco: White Chocolate and Raspberry

Stupidly, against the advice on the label, I refrigerated this peanut butter, immediately after reading that it wasn't required. When I opened it later, I found that this product was quite difficult to spread onto celery. I left it out to warm to room temperature and tried again the next day. It was much easier, and I spread it on some celery smoothly. I theorize that this is because the white chocolate made for more fat, and naturally, fat solidifies as it gets cold, and makes it greasily smooth at room temperature.

Anyway, the product itself is good, I guess. My taste buds weren't really sensitive enough to discern the flavor of raspberry or white chocolate specifically, but I did notice that this was indeed a greasier peanut butter, which is cool, if you like that kind of food. It was also significantly sweeter.

The bottom line, literally, is that this is OK, but nothing special.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Rights for Creatures Who Can't Think Rationally

So, animal rights activists are pushing for more ridiculous legislation in their endless flurry of shenanigans. I am really just posting this to display a great picture.

For the record, I'm all for animal rights, to a certain extent. When an appeal for something like rights for tarantulas surfaces in the news however, I will then take the opportunity to lambaste the extremists of the cause.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


So I saw 1408. I'm not a big fan of horror movies, mostly because I unfairly lump them into one category of slasher flicks. I think the slasher flicks are boring, and I don't understand why gratuitous violence is entertaining, but 1408 is cool. It's a flick where it's scary, and it startles you and freaks you out, but it's not a slasher flick. It also makes you think, and plays with your head, in cool ways. It's not going to go down in the history of movies, but it's highly entertaining. Check it out if you like the thrill.


For the past week, I've been drinking three different flavors of Izze. It's pretty good, but it's nothing that I wouldn't make by myself, by just mixing these juices with seltzer water myself. I've tried pomegranate, blueberry, and blackberry. They're delicious and refreshing, and healthy! I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce this product.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wacky Food Review of Bissli: Taco Flavor

Next up in my series of two-year-old Israeli snacks is Bissli: Taco Flavor.

It smells like polyurethane, and tastes like cardboard. Again, this could just be because it's over two years old, but I'm not getting the resemblance to any kind of taco I've ever eaten. How would they know what good tacos taste like in Israel anyway? It's not like they border Mexico.

So anyway, yes, this is not good. This is not good at all. Each piece is shaped like a miniature barrel, if you will, with no top or bottom, and they're hollow.

Avoid this like the plague. Who is buying this stuff? I hope I only bought this in some sort of experimental window right before the product flopped. I can't even finish this bag.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Perspective on Involvement in Iraq

Lately I've been catching up on the Best of Craigslist. I was alerted by TWiT to the posting Hey Crackhead, but never bothered to check the "Best Of" page again. I've been catching up on all of them from January 14 on. I found this gem of a post, of which the veracity is unverifiable. Still, I have seen the sentiment firsthand, the one that is immune to reason or logic, that where patriotism can only be seen as warmongering. It's the kind of person who would say, pretty much in any context, the three words "support our troops." I would say that I support them much more than the person who wants to see them killed for no good, or even mediocre reason at all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wacky Food Review of Bissli: Falafel Flavor

When I first started posting online reviews of wacky ethnic foods I've found about two years ago, I made it through a few. I still have leftover however, three bags of a food I purchased at a Middle Eastern market. These food products are about two years old, so they very well may affect the taste and quality. However, they are sealed, so I will attempt to review them just as I would with any other wacky food! The food is wacky enough already, and there is likely extreme mutation in the intended flavor of the food. With that in mind, I'll review here, Bissli: Falafel Flavor.

When you open the bag, the potent smell of onion and garlic attacks your nostrils. Now, I'm a fan of real falafel, which is delicious if prepared properly. If you actually go to a Mediterranean country, then you'd be able to get delicious, genuine falafel.

As you can see from the picture, the snack itself looks like what you might feed a pet, or line their cage with. However, I have to hand it to Osem, the Israeli company which also produces the extremely popular Bamba, they did seem to catch the flavor of falafel. What I bit into was a bit hard, but you could probably attribute that to eating a bag that is over two years old. It's a bit greasy too, and I generally don't care for palm oil.

If the visual experience contributes to consumption of food, the labeling on the product makes that aspect nearly indescribable. This is a "cholesterol free wheat party snack." What does that mean? The two cartoon characters are oddly recognizable, and hopelessly irrelevant, standing in meaningless poses. Maybe in Israel there was a matching ad campaign that I'm not aware of, because I know the Bamba baby is featured in ads.

As I nosh on this bag while I'm writing this review, pausing to wipe my hands of the grease so that I maintain the cleanliness of my keyboard, I'm finding that I probably won't be able to finish this bag. That's probably good for my health, because while it is free of cholesterol, it's not too skimpy on the saturated fat or sodium.

I'm not going to recommend this one too strongly. Normally onions and garlic can only add to a product, but if you're not ready for it, this violently grabs onto your taste buds and won't let go until you tell it, "Yes, yes, you taste like falafel! Any person who wouldn't immediately recognize the flavor you are trying to achieve is a backwards bumpkin!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Scott Adams continues on the Middle East

Scott Adams continues his provoking discussion of the problems in the Middle East.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fertility drugs circumvent policy in China

It seems that when the state forces people do to things, people will naturally find ways to disobey. Chinese women are taking fertility drugs in hopes of getting twins, triplets, quadruplets, or even quintuplets. The limit is on pregnancies, not actual offspring.

Following Up

I forgot to mention of course, that Google has also linked the Internet to USENET. More specifically, they acquired Deja News, which was one of their earlier acquisitions that would be a foreshadowing of buying out everything that is worth owning as it pertains to the Internet. I guess that I figured it just went without saying that they also provide a pretty nifty site for news. Of course, what has brought them much attention lately though, is that they are watching us.

In other news, here's an example of how I support Israel fully while disagreeing completely with policy. Idiotic conservatives are impeding progress. For however much they want to "preserve the people of Israel," with irrelevant and outdated policies, they are making Israeli ambassadors look silly by eating at casual eateries for very important international business.

Israeli diplomats denied non-kosher dining

Mon Jun 4, 12:44 PM ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli diplomats fed up with a protocol requiring they entertain guests at less-than-fancy kosher eateries abroad have asked for the rules to be relaxed, only to be overruled by a religious Jewish cabinet minister.

Trade Minister Eli Yishai, a member of the Orthodox Shas party, persuaded the Foreign Ministry not to accept the appeal by dozens of Israeli envoys to be allowed to hold official functions in non-kosher restaurants, Maariv newspaper said.

"Keeping kosher preserved the people of Israel," the daily quoted Yishai as saying.

According to Maariv, the ambassadors had complained that in many foreign postings, most kosher restaurants are fast-food establishments far below the standards of diplomatic dining.

Jewish dietary rules ban pork and some other meat, shellfish and the mixing of dairy products and meat at meals. Orthodox tradition bars Jews from even entering non-kosher restaurants.

But most Israelis are secular and many of them ignore kosher rules.

Scott Adams and Israel

Scott Adams has written something about Israel, and I've replied. I don't know if he'll edit my comment as he moderates it. I've attached his post, along with my consecutive replies. I will say that if I could edit my reply, in the second reply, I would have just stated that I support Israel. I support them, totally, and in that context, you can disagree with policy.

Rational Evil

If you love it when I admit I was wrong, you’ll enjoy this post.

I used to think America needed to change its foreign policy if it had any hope of ending terrorism. That sort of opinion is never better than a reasonable guess about what is most likely. But it seemed to me that even terrorists have specific objectives, and if they achieve those objectives, they stop terrorizing.

My thinking was that the terrorists were asking for things we’d be better off giving them anyway, for our own selfish reasons. For example, Israel is strong enough and wealthy enough to no longer need our support. And it’s unclear that our heavy footprint in the Middle East is guaranteeing us more oil and less terrorism. It seemed like a win-win scenario to give the terrorists what they were asking for, since the only impact on us is saving some money. Or at least it would save me from transferring my wealth to the pockets of U.S. military industries.

Recently I changed my opinion. While I think there was a period in the past when a different foreign policy would have brought us to a different point, we don’t have a time machine. We are where we are. And where we are is totally fucked.

The problem is with the loose cell structure of Al-Qaeda, and the fact it has become a lifestyle for its members. If we remove all the original reasons for Al-Qaeda’s existence, I believe they would find new ones. It is unlikely the members of terror cells would decide to quit and become insurance salesmen.

While the cell structure of Al-Qaeda is an excellent way to wage war, it’s a bad way to stop a war. If all the existing cells around the world made lists of their reasons for being terrorists, and compared those lists, I think they’d look very different except for the parts about hating Israel and the United States. If the leadership of Al-Qaeda told its cells to disarm, half of the cells would just splinter off and keep on terrorizing. It’s permawar.

One of the problems is that there is a complete disconnect between reality and what terrorists believe. They think God gave them specific real estate, that a horse can fly, there are virgins waiting for them in heaven, and Jews orchestrated the 9-11 attacks. There’s no reason to believe that reality intrudes on their decisions. Tweaking reality would be a waste of time.

(To be fair, the same can be said of America’s government. Just replace “flying horse” with “a guy who walks on water,” and “virgins in heaven” with “the rapture.”)

This leads me to Israel. I used to think Israel was making a mistake to occupy disputed land and give their enemies more reasons to attack and fewer reasons to make peace. Again, perhaps if we had a time machine there was a period in history where that was true. But we’re long past that. Now I believe there is sufficient perpetual hatred against Israel that it would be irrational for them to offer any concessions. It makes more sense to grab as much land and water as they can get their hands on. And it makes sense to keep the Palestinians in a permanent state of wretchedness and powerlessness as Israel consolidates its hold on those resources. In five hundred years, they’ll be glad they have more land and water.

I don’t think there’s much chance of Israel getting nuked. Even the craziest Muslims wouldn’t irradiate their own holy lands while standing downwind and hoping for the best.

While I think Israel’s policies are a dark grey form of evil, I support them because at this point they are being entirely rational. It would be hypocritical to deny any other nation the right to pursue their self-interest.

If the Palestinians ever display an ability to offer a credible peace, I’m willing to revise my opinion. If not, the best advice I can give them is to say goodbye to their shit.

Meanwhile I’m going to invest in Halliburton and see if I can get back some of my money.


The Palestinians are some of the most tragically unfortunate people in the Middle East. If any of the Arab nations actually acted on their principles they speak of, they could reach out to the Palestinians, send money their way for education, healthcare, and development, but the Arab world would rather just maintain a reason to hate Israel. They need Israel as a scapegoat because inventing a bad guy makes politics simpler. Israel is a nation that must continue an aggressive policy to the Palestinians; Israel is defending themselves against a desperate, poor people with nothing to lose.

The Palestinians organizations are miserable liars as well. Where the Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas promise to "unite the Palestinians in a fight against the Zionist enemies," they're really just exploiting the impoverished Palestinians for their own meager gain of insignificant control.

Of course, there's always the number one reason to support Israel over its enemies. We must support Israel because they are a beacon of freedom in a vast region of tyranny, and what is so tragic is that their enemies deny Israel the right to exist. How can you negotiate with someone who says, "you have no right to exist." Maybe all anti-Zionists will try to say that the creation of the state of Israel was unfair, but that kind of talk will get nowhere to peace. If Israel should give back all its land to the Palestinians, should the U.S. give back all its land to the Native Americans?


Also, I support Israel mostly, but not all if its actions. The occupation was a terrible burden that everyone hated. Where Israel had been top-ranked in healthcare and education, they fell because they devoted an absurd amount of resources to occupying Gaza. It was totally insane for the government of a previous generation to have encouraged ultra-religious Jews to settle among populations dominated by Arabs, and then consume all the precious time, resources, and lives of Israeli soldiers to protect them. In the fall of '05, Israel made an excellent decision to evacuate these deluded and troublesome Jewish settlers from Gaza.

Friday, June 1, 2007

A pharmacist refuses to sell birth control.

Jacob Sullum hits the nail on the head.

Google has taken over my life.

So, now that Google has purchased FeedBurner, I can now say that Google owns me. This is ironic, since all their services that I use are free.

  • Google owns five of my blogs.

  • Google operates my primary e-mail account.

  • Google owns the feeds for two of my podcasts.

  • Google owns my personalized homepage, crammed with information.

  • Google owns my favorite substitute for a globe on a computer.

  • Google owns services that I use for advertising, AdSense.

  • Google owns all those cool tools and applications in their labs.

  • Google owns Google Video and YouTube.

  • Google owns the gateway to all of my information in the world.

  • Google owns pretty much everything that is good in the world.

That penultimate point is a stretch, since there are competing search engines, news sites, and Wikipedia, but I needed some dramatic emphasis, and quickly realized that my list wasn't looking long enough. OK, so it's a short list maybe, but it is pretty much everything basic for what a newbie would need online.

It still astounds me really that pretty much everything they do is free, but maybe that's why it's so successful. Google's making money behind the scenes, tons of it.

It's also pretty cool that their offices are paradise, and they host the series Authors@Google, including the cool dude Max Barry.