May 10th, 2004

breaking bad

polluted with falsity and madness

Christopher Hitchens may be a git, but he's bang right about torture in this article.

The images from Abu Ghraib prison do not test one's convictions about the wrongness of torture...

Junk videos made by mediocre pick-nose pornographers are evidence of a complete indifference to intelligence. ... Moral considerations apply, as they must. But the vice of the torturer is that he or she produces confessions by definition. And soon, the whole business of confession has become polluted with falsity and madness. Even the medieval church was smart enough to work this out and to drop the practice.

Another objection is that the torturers very swiftly become a law unto themselves, a ghoulish class with a private system. It takes no time at all for them to spread their poison and to implicate others in what they have done, if only by coverup. And the next thing you know is that torture victims have to be secretly murdered so that the news doesn't leak. One might also mention that what has been done is not forgiven, or forgotten, for generations.

I got the link to this article from the ever-brilliant UFO breakfast who comments on blog reactions to Abu Ghraib.

What comes out in the furious military weblogs is how they see this as an apocalyptic failure of discipline and therefore of honor. What comes out in the pundits is how instantly they emotionally identify with the power to humiliate and the complete freedom from discipline or responsibility or the requirements of honor.

Yes, yes. The emotional identification with the abuser.
breaking bad

a fun test

If you want to take part in a psychological experiment go to this site and watch the (about 1 minute long)video. Attempt to answer this question: 'how many passes do the team with white Tshirts complete'?

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breaking bad

Science brain of the week

From Reuters (

A plan to revise protections for endangered Northwest U.S. salmon drew praise from farmers and industry groups, but environmentalists and fishing advocates said future salmon runs would be gutted...

"I applaud the people that are trying to save species that are endangered," said Gretchen Borck, a lobbyist with the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. "But it might be good that we don't have dinosaurs now. We've gotten oil from the dinosaurs. If we had preserved the dinosaur, we wouldn't have that oil."

If we had preserved the dinosaurs we wouldn't have oil? What planet is this woman from?