July 31, 2009

when you tolerate torture as official government policy

You get this (a slippery slope) and this:

Why was Mohammad Jawad tortured? Why did military officials choose a teenage boy who had attempted suicide in his cell less than 5 months earlier to be the subject of this sadistic sleep deprivation experiment? Not that anything would justify such treatment, of course, but at least in the case of the other detainees known to have been subjected to sleep deprivation, they were believed to possess critical intelligence that might save American lives.

Unfortunately, we may never know. I've asked to speak to the guards who actually carried out the program, and I've been denied. In the absence of information to the contrary, which the government would surely provide if it existed, we are left to conclude that it was simply gratuitous cruelty.

The government admits that Mohammad Jawad was treated "improperly," but offers no remedy. We won't use any evidence derived from this maltreatment, they say, but they know that there was no evidence derived from it because the government didn't even bother to interrogate him after they tortured him. Exclusion of non-existent evidence is not a remedy. Dismissal is a severe sanction, but it is the only sanction that might conceivably deter such conduct in the future.

February 7, 2002. America lost a little of its greatness that day. We lost our position as the world's leading defender of human rights, as the champion of justice and fairness and the rule of law. But it is a testament to the continuing greatness of this nation, that I, a lowly Air Force Reserve Major, can stand here before you today, with the world watching, without fear of retribution, retaliation or reprisal, and speak truth to power. I can call a spade a spade, and I can call torture, torture.

...Sadly, this military commission has no power to do anything to the enablers of torture such as John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Haynes, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the jurisdiction of military commissions is strictly and carefully limited to foreign war criminals, not the home-grown variety.

- Major David J. R. Frakt

Whether or not there is a utilitarian case for the utility of torturing (though (a) I don't believe that there is and (b) I don't subscribe to a utilitarian ethic in any case), I hope we can all agree that torturing twelve year old boys and then detaining them for seven years is a very, very bad thing. And if we're honest, we'll admit that these cases are the unavoidable result of a government policy that permits and endorses torture.

July 25, 2009

July 24, 2009

kenan laboratories

kenan-labs.jpg

Kenan Laboratories building at the University of North Carolina, taken yesterday while traveling for work. May be a bit short on windows, and, like many brutalist buildings, intimidating at the street level, but quite a nice object. Haven't been able to find the architect.

July 22, 2009

July 14, 2009

restricting antibiotic use

What Megan McArdle said:

Cheap meat is not worth having your kiddie of an antibiotic-resistant infection. Farmers use these things indiscriminately because it allows them to pack the animals into filthy conditions that would otherwise make the animals very, very sick.

Obviously, for someone like me who is basically opposed to factory farming, the tradeoff seems even less compelling than for someone who likes to pack in a Tyson's chicken every other day. But even if you're a big fan of treating animals like widgets, I don't see any way that somewhat cheaper meat is worth the risk of returning to an era when the president's son could die of an infected blister he picked up playing tennis. It is possible to have a perfectly rich and fulfilling life without eating most of a pound of meat every day. On the other hand, the world pre-antibiotics really was visibly much grimmer.

Incidentally, the representative who proposed the measure to restrict the use of antibiotics is Congresswoman Slaughter; no idea whether she's kin to Sergeant Slaughter or not.

metablog

This is going to be quite entertaining, in the same way that I occasionally enjoy a stop at Robert Stacy McCain's place or the Corner followed by a chat with Stephen on the found inanities, but much easier, because the commentary is already provided:

Ace of Spades HQ began in 2004. Its eponymous blogger, Ace, started the site for three reasons: he wanted to inject his views about American foreign policy into the media, he desired a vanity project, and he sought an outlet for his spite.

His blog is a success on all counts.

On an average weekday, it isn't unusual for it to attract 80,000 visits. Fans site his sarcasm and humor as draws. Introducing Ace as the 2008 Blogger of the Year at CPAC, an annual conference attended by movement conservatives, the presenter described him as a man of colorful language who isn't afraid to take note and take names, saying that Ace "describes himself as being hard right, with a left-leaning sense of decorum and taste, meaning he has none at all."

...

Atop the banner on Ace's site is the motto, "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting floats." Shtick? It's hard to say. In the circles of the Blogosphere where Ace writes, there is this weird idea that battle analogies map onto public discourse. So there is little doubt, for example, that Ace thinks he is doing the rhetorical equivalent of slitting throats. The problem is that this makes no sense at all. In piratical battle if you slit someone's throat you kill him, and take one step closer to vanquishing the opposing ship. There is no parallel in the world of political conversation, where success is to persuade, not to vanquish.

This week, I'll be posting each day on Ace of Spades HQ, delving deeper into its mysteries.

(Astute readers, or at least the three of you who bother to click on the links I provide you with, will note that the quoted passage is from Friedersdorf's previous post, which introduces the target of metacommentary, rather than the linked post, which is the beginning of said commentary.)

July 13, 2009

enviro-bear 2000

I think we can be fairly sure that Enviro-Bear 2000: Operation Hibernation is the world's most advanced game simulating being a bear trying to drive a car. I hear the control scheme is kind of difficult, but surely the frustration is all worth it when the command "Hibernate!" flashes on the screen and you successfully steer bear and car into the cave.

[via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

July 10, 2009

maserati::inventions (at 40 watt)

Maserati don't really do anything terribly unusual, but what they do, they do very well.

July 9, 2009

santino

santino.jpg

Great goal (seriously, a very classy team move; haven't seen a video of it yet, but its worth hunting down) and an even better story (background from last year here).

July 8, 2009