Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Meaning of Time

Some thoughts on Time and Eternity…

First, from a Google search we get this oddly typographic explanation:

So eternity is like a continuum, with no beginning, and no ending, just like a circle.

So what is time then? Time is simply a paranthetical insertion in eternity created by God so that man can relate to God in eternity. It’s like putting 2 “brackets” on eternity to create Time – with a beginning and an end!

You’re probably wondering, where am I getting this from? Where’s the proof? The Bible of course!
Free Community Church

Pawn much prefers this explanation from Baudolino by Umberto Eco:

“Time is an eternity that stammers”
— Baudolino, Chapter 33 Eco – Quotations

convert this post to pdf.

Minor(ity) Angel

And just how did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) end up with a Byzantine halo over his head? By calling out a President from his own party, and telling him what is expected of him (and doing it politely, of course, using his inside voice):

I think that the handwriting is on the wall that we’re going in a different direction in the fall, and I expect the President to lead it… In other words, I think he himself has certainly indicated he’s not happy with where we are, and I think we are looking for a new direction in the fall. – CNN Political Ticker

Now if only a network would run a photo of him with his horns showing…

convert this post to pdf.

In praise of the also-ran


Every election cycle brings with it the loonies, the flakes, the also-rans. This is no exception. It makes life easier for us who comment, as they tend to cast light on the inconvenient truths that leading candidates would prefer be left covered up.

A recent example is Ron Paul, perennial candidate, Republican congressman from Texas. As has been widely reported, he provided much fodder when, during the second Republican Presidential debate, he commented of Al Queada that “They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years… We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us,”

While he may have been slightly off the mark he was close: al Queada was more upset about our permanent placement of military bases in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government’s choice to rely on the US for protection instead of hiring al Queada themselves. Of course, Rudy flew into a rage and excoriated Paul for his temerity to suggest that there might be a cause. We don’t know how Rudy explains it happening, unless he just buys wholesale W’s contention of unremitting evil.

An interesting side effect of the whole affair has been the spectacle of seasoned political and foreign affairs punditry being forced to grudgingly admit that Paul is closer to the truth than Rudy. Now we have Ron Paul coming back to take another crack at the media circus brass ring with a press conference at which he proposed a reading list for Rudy G. Alongside him the former CIA al Queada desk chief, Michael Sheuer. Here is Paul’s reading list (as per The Times):

  • “Blowback” by Chalmers Johnston
  • “Dying to Win” by Robert A. Pape
  • “Imperial Hubris” by Michael Sheuer
  • The 9/11 Commission Report

Rudy’s team responded with a classic non-response, “Mayor Giuliani said it best – it is extraordinary and reckless to claim that the United States invited the attacks on September 11th… And to further declare Rudy Giuliani needs to be educated on September 11th when millions of people around the world saw him dealing with these terrorist attacks firsthand is just as absurd.”

This is like the kid caught in a fight on a playground; “And why did Tommy hit you?” “I dunno.” “Did you provoke him?” “No, Ma’m. I wasn’t doin’ nothin’ I was just sittin’ there. Honest I was.” Even worse, the second part, that he was in New York so he doesn’t need to be educated — is just patently absurd. Just because he handled the aftermath of the attacks doesn’t make him a specialist on why they happened in the first place.

But enough of that. Mr. Paul has now decided to join forces with Sens. Byrd and Clinton in promoting rescinding the original use of force authorization:

Mr. Paul also announced today his plans to introduce legislation that would sunset the use of force authorization in Iraq after six months. He said “basically I would support” a similar measure sponsored by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert Byrd that would set Oct. 11, 2007 but noted that his legislation would give Congress more time to take action. David All, the founder of a Republican consulting firm specializing in “modern media strategies,” and Jerome Armstrong, a liberal blogger at the influential MyDD, were there to film Mr. Paul for the next episode of “Under the Dome,” their politics show on YouTube. They asked viewers whether they’d prefer to see the Texas congressman or Mike Gravel, an underdog Democratic candidate, and Mr. Paul won handily, the net gurus said. The web video is available here.
Paul Offers Giuliani a Few Policy Tips – The Caucus – Politics – New York Times Blog

Let’s hope that Mike Gravel, the former Senator from Alaska has a similar effect on the Democratic side.

UPDATE:  See the comment, below, from Gravel’s campaign.

convert this post to pdf.

From the mouths of the ruling class


Every once in a while it’s worth reviewing what the candidates and pundits are saying. Here are some recent samples

At the fund-raiser for Mitt Romney at the posh 1818 Club on Friday, the candidate was making the introductions to the room. Romney gestured to Ralph Reed and said, “Why it’s good to see Gary Bauer here.” (For the detached, Bauer is a former presidential candidate with ties, like Reed, to the Religious Right.) Romney then caught himself. “Oh, I’m a little mixed up here,” he said. But Romney still couldn’t place Reed’s face — and had to move on. After the event, Romney approached Reed and apologized for misremembering him.
Thanks for coming, Mr. Bauer. Or whoever you are. | Political Insider

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, sideman to the Apocolypse, doesn’t much like Rudy Giuliani. While we seem to agree on some things, certainly not this point:

One more question: Shouldn’t the American people be able to expect a certain decorum and dignity from the man who occupies the White House? On this measure, as well, Giuliani fails miserably. Much has been written in the blogosphere about his three public appearances in drag. In each instance, he tried to be funny by dressing like a woman. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan, who loved a good joke, doing something so ignoble in pursuit of a cheap guffaw? Not on your life.
WorldNetDaily: Rudy’s not the one

Pawn does not consider Bedtime for Bonzo to be decorous. And never will.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R, OH) talking to Republicans at a private meeting about the immigration bill:

It’s a piece of shit.
When Politicians say bad words | CNN

One of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aides, Mark Penn, is also (still) a top corporate lobbyist. Here is how he talked about it on his internal corporate blog:

Workin With Hillary, I have found the mixing of corporate and political work to be stimulating, enormously helpful in attracting talent, and helpful in cross- pollinating new ideas and skills. And, I have found it good for business. Worldwide

Well, that certainly makes us feel better about his firm representing corporations whose interests come before the Senate even while Penn is working for Ms. Clinton.

convert this post to pdf.

As Naked As Can Be

A Life Exposed

Wired is running an article on Hasan Elahi, a Bangledeshi imigrant who has decided the best way to keep the G-Man at bay to to publish his entire life on the web, keeping no secrets.

Elahi’s site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you’re on, it’s hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he’s doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.
The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online

Pawn remembers back a couple of decades ago, when a Milwaukee theater group named Theater X moved into a new building and opened a new show, The History of Sexuality based upon the book by Michel Foucault. To celebrate the new building, and the opening of the show, Theater X asked a number of local artists and celebrities to contribute nude self portraits. A friend of Pawn, Dave Maleckar, accepted the invitation, emptied the contents of his wallet onto a Xerox machine, copied both sides, and displayed that as his nude self portrait. A concept well ahead of its time.

convert this post to pdf.

The Great, New, Meta

Write a Letter

It starts with Mark Helprin whining about his poor estate and why it may suffer at the hands of a capricious copyright system:

Were I tomorrow to write the great American novel (again?), 70 years after my death the rights to it, though taxed at inheritance, would be stripped from my children and grandchildren. To the claim that this provision strikes malefactors of great wealth, one might ask, first, where the heirs of Sylvia Plath berth their 200-foot yachts. And, second, why, when such a stiff penalty is not applied to the owners of Rockefeller Center or Wal-Mart, it is brought to bear against legions of harmless drudges who, other than a handful of literary plutocrats (manufacturers, really), are destined by the nature of things to be no more financially secure than a seal in the Central Park Zoo.
A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? – New York Times

And then proceeds to the hyperbolic and hyperventilating wiki-blogosphere, when Lawrence Lessig turns down the imprecations of his followers and tells them to write a response instead:

So I’ve gotten (literally) scores of emails about this piece by Mark Helprin promoting perpetual copyright terms. “Write a reply!” is the demand. But why don’t you write the reply instead. Here’s a page on Please write an argument that puts this argument in its proper place.
Lawrence Lessig

So the wikinistas take to the web, roll their avatar’s digital sleeves up, and get down to business, quickly turning out a few thousand words

At the core of Helprin’s article is the idea that physical and intellectual property are equivalent — that revoking the rights enjoyed by copyright owners after a limited (albeit long) term is the same as revoking the rights enjoyed by owners of physical property. Physical property, such as real estate, is a finite resource that operates as a zero-sum game. And the laws regarding physical property treat it as such. Intellectual works are abstract concepts and do not naturally operate as zero-sum games. Copyright law converts a work into a kind of zero-sum game so that the author can make money selling his work, but once that legal construction expires, the work returns to its natural state of a non-zero-sum game.
Against perpetual copyright – Lessig Wiki

This leads the New York Times to blog, on The Lede about Lessig blogging about them, and the wiki:

If it worked, he would pull off an interesting feat: Another copyright battle would be fought without doing any of the work himself. Indeed, it would be done by believers in a movement that he helped start, with material that he wrote and then allowed anyone to reuse, as long as they credited him (which they did, twice).
To the Editor: Please See Wiki – The Lede – Breaking News – New York Times Blog

And, of course, the blogosphere in general is blogging about the blogging and the wikying, and its getting downright dizzying:

In addition to explaining the difference between tangible works and intangible property, it clarifies the point that artists are entitled to profit from their work, but usually the ability to extract value from a work, ends after a few years. When that period is over, the rights should end in order to allow others to create…
No to perpetual copyright at Almost As Good As Chocolate

All we need now is for the letters to the editor to start flooding into The Times and we’ll be ready to start the next lap.

convert this post to pdf.