Chinese Silverware

Here’s another annoyance. Chinese food places always give you two pieces of silverware. A fork and a spoon. Why a fork and a spoon? Where’s my knife? Every meal I have to make a special point to ask for a knife. In every other way, Chinese food places rock. Do you know why? Service. You can waltz in with torn jeans, 3-days of stubble, reeking like the sewer, and they’ll still treat you like an honored guest. Except for the silverware.

I think they want you to use chopsticks. It’s only in a nod to Western culture they even include a fork and spoon. But if they’re going that far, where’s the knife? Don’t Aisans ever need to cut anything? Have you seen the size of those broccoli pieces? Chopsticks don’t cut anything. Chopsticks stink. I don’t care how cool it is to be able to use them, they’re stupid. Once your society passes the phase where you have to rely on bamboo for your flatware, it’s time to upgrade to actual utensils.

Give me a knife!

Let the Pandas Die

I am officially sick of hearing anything about pandas. It is not news when a zoo gets a panda. It is not news when one has a baby. They are evolutionary dead-ends that should be left on their own to go extinct.

Just because they have fur does not make them cute. They are not cute. They are big fat oafs.

They are stupid. Breathtakingly stupid. Did you know after the cubs are born, they have to be separated from the mothers? Yes, it’s because the mothers roll over in their sleep and crush their kid. That’s a good evolutionary winning strategy. I guess they’re still waiting for that one mutant gene that says, Hey maybe I shouldn’t kill my kids, wonder if that would work?

How much money do zoos spend on these drooling buffoons? Over a million bucks per panda per year. Why don’t they spend the money on something better? They’re goners. Pandas are goners, wake up and admit it.

And stop playing chinese music in the panda “pavillion”! If you play chinese music for the asian animals, then play AC|DC in the kangaroo pen.

Just let them die already.

Torture and Iraq

So here I was, trying to figure out how to state the practical case against torture, without simply regurgiating Andrew Sullivan’s excellent article.

And then I read the latest. It’s too fitting. It’s just too perfect, in a sick I-can’t-believe-it sort of way.

Remember the case to go to war in Iraq? It wasn’t about making a pretty democracy there. It wasn’t about regional geopolitics. It wasn’t about oil. It wasn’t even about WMDs(*). These were all offered up as various excuses after the fact. The original and strongest justification was that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, despite the lack of evidence, and that if we didn’t stop Al Queda in Iraq, we were going to get nuked. This is the line that was fed congress and the public, and got them their authorization to declare war if needed (no, it was not a vote for war. Learn the difference). As I’ve demonstrated in other posts, they actually got most of the country to believe this swill. They kept repeating until the lie was no longer needed, after the 2004 elections. Isn’t it interesting that shortly after the elections, the populace no longer believes? It’s simply because the Bushies don’t care if you believe anymore, so they’ve let their propoganda machine die out. Believe what you want, we’re in Iraq, they’re in power, too late chump!

At any rate, the topic is 9/11 and Iraq. There was never the least shred of evidence to connect the two directly. There didn’t seem to be much to even connect Iraq to Al Queda. They hated each other, what with Sadaam actually being a secularlist. Sure, there were very weird reports of an isolated “contact” between the two, as if that meant they were allies. We had extensive contact with the USSR throughout the entire Cold War, no one would be stupid enough to think that meant we were buddies.

So, what to do? You need some information. This is where it gets juicy. You just go out and get it. Torture until they confess.

The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

And there’s your perfect case for why torture is not only an offense against God, but completely impractical as well. Yet another of the pillars for the war completely destroyed. Is it any that those parts of planet Earth that don’t already hate us are beginning to? Every step in this lunacy has been held to the highest standards of immorality, and is fundamentally unamerican. Torture, crushing lawful dissent domestically, preemptive war, manufacturing propoganda lies for both domestic and foreign press, callous disregard for other points of view, slandering and libeling political opponents, disgracing one of the only honorable people in their administration (Colin Powell) by knowing whoring on his integrity, giving away the spoils of wars to cronies, hiring mercenary armies to do the dirty work, the list goes on.

*(WMDs covers both chemical and nuclear weapons. Everyone know there were no nuclear weapons, but we were only 90% sure about chemicals. By constantly referring to WMDs instead of nukes, Bush took a clear lie and conflated with something that was just very improbable, again avoiding being caught in a clear lie. It is helpful to translate WMD in your head whenever you hear it though.)

The Bushies & Torture

Does the Bush Administration torture? The short answer is, well, duh. The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not even truly denied by the administration, their denials take the form of “We have created legal opinions about what torture is. We do not engage in practices that we have defined as torture. Therefore, we do not torture.” Note that this is entirely dependent upon what the Bushies themselves say torture is. It doesn’t matter if international law, human rights organizations, or common sense say it’s torture; as long as Gonzales and crew have said it ain’t, it ain’t.

An stronger justification is the form of “Torture is illegal. Everything we do is legal, since we decide what is legal. Therefore we do not torture.” Bush used this one recently. Note that this is literally no way to torture then. Anything you do is legal, by definition. Since torture is illegal, nothing you do is torture.

Is torture justified? No, not at all. It’s appalling that this discussion is even taking place. Did you ever think the day would come where you could have a straight-faced discussion about whether the US should torture as a regular practice?

Andrew Sullivan, once a pro-war hawk, shows how far we’ve come. Waterboarding (one of the many non-torture tortures employed by the Bushies) is a torture popularized by Torquemada during the Spanish Inquisition. Click to the link, and compare the description of Torquemada’s techniques and the CIAs. Identical.

Andrew has a lengthier article on torture. It is worth taking the time to read in full, it does a much better job than I could ever do on laying out the case against torture. Continuing with the example of waterboarding, we read:

“According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the waterboarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said Al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two and a half minutes before begging to confess.”

If the toughest guy in the world can only take two minutes, and most garden variety toughies can only take 15 seconds — that is unquestionably without doubt torture. QED, end of story.

In addition to being fundamentally immoral, one of the most immoral actions concievable, torture is also fundamentally useless, if not counter-productive. (More on that soon)