Today, some unscrupulous person and/or merry prankster hacked into my personal email account and used it to spam everyone in my contacts list.

Among other things, this means that if you didn’t get spammed by me, then you are not in that particlar contacts list. But more importantly, this kind of thing can happen to anyone, so watch out. Fortunately, I knew immediately that something had happened. How? Two ways.

First, by keeping a couple of obsolete and invalid addresses in my contact list. The mailer-daemon (or whatever your system calls it) sent me a message for each one telling me that the email which I knew I never sent was undeliverable.

Second, I have multiple email addresses, and each of them has at least one of the others in it’s contact list.  I have my reasons.  Among others, I was able to view the spam that I sent to all my contacts.

Either of these methods, assuming you check your email regularly (read: obsessively), will let you know that you’ve been hit by a spambot. Change your password and scan your computer right away so it doesn’t happen again.

This has been a public service announcement from the Mister Pterodactyl Consortium. Eternal Vigilance!

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So there was this speech the president did the other day

Where he talked about the Middle Earth East and Israel and the Palestinians and various related topics.  The speech was followed, coincidentally, by a visit to the White House by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Obama and Netanyahu, suffice to say, don’t seem to see eye to eye, exactly.

Now I know you’ve all come to expect detailed and thoughtful analysis on all things geostrategic from Mister Pterodactyl, but I’m afraid I have to disappoint just this one time.  Because when I try to think seriously about all this a single thought always interrupts:

Has anyone ever registered the email address Benjamin_Netan@yahoo.com?

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Remember Gilbert Brown?

Pictured: Gilbert Brown

Mr. Brown is best known for his close proximity to Reggie White during Super Bowl XXXI (Green Bay 35, Losers 21), and for his trademark post-tackle gravedigger dance, which he is performing above.

Mr. Brown retired from football in 2003, after a very successful career.  Today, he misses football and aspires to become a head coach in college.  He realizes, of course, that despite his previous experience as a player he still has to put in his time and pay some dues in the coaching world.  So he’s paying those dues the hard way: in the Lingerie Football League.

That’s right, Mr. Brown will be the head coach for the inaugural (apparently) season of the Green Bay Chill, which according to their website has yet to recruit players and will nevertheless start their first season in August of this year.

I presume that Mr. Brown will not be wearing the same gear as the players.

IN THE COMMENTS: Grandpa Steve links to some new information, but I advise everyone to pretend he didn’t.

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Random thoughts about tonight’s Republican debate

Contrary to VodkaPundit’s supposition, somebody else did watch.  And it was OK.  So here are my immediate impressions of this cycle’s first salvo:

0- What, already?

1- Everybody had good command of the issues, with a couple minor hiccups.

2- I wish Mitch Daniels would throw down already.

3- Herman Cain is what Trump could be if Trump was serious, which Trump isn’t.

4- Rick Santorum looks way too much like Steven Colbert for my comfort.  Mark my words, if he’s the nominee we’re gonna see Colbert on SNL.

5- Also, Santorum misquoted Bush as saying ‘you are either with us or you’re against us.’ And I’m gonna pick on him for that a little bit.
That’s not what GeeDub said.  He said ‘you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.’  Big difference.  The way Santorum says it implies that a deliberate effort to aid us is required.   The actual quote means that all one has to do is not support terrorists in order to be on our side.  Do nothing, and you’ll be all right.  Do something, and it better be the right thing.  Something like that.

GeeDub’s detractors made great hay out of the same interpretation, that failing to  support the administration amounted to support of terrorism.  Don’t do that.

The context was the apparent support of OBL by the Pakistani government, which ‘ahem’ “didn’t know” that he was living in their backyard ‘ahem’.

I am not a candidate for president, but it’s clear to me that when it comes to the Paki government the left hand and the right hand aren’t being all that honest with one another.  They may be an ally on paper, but there are elements that aren’t toeing the party line, if you know what I mean.

If I were in charge, fresh off the OBL kill, I’d back-channel a message to the Paks that they just aren’t reliable allies any more, if they ever were.  And if we get actionable intel that leads into their territory, we’re taking advantage of it.  And there’s nothing they can do about it, so shut up.

6- Ron Paul with the best line of the night (quoted from memory, therefore paraphrased), lampooning the tendency of both sides of the ideological chasm to demand government solutions to perceived problems: “I don’t want to use heroin!  So I need a law against using heroin!”  Heh.

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Hey, batta batta batta, saa-wing, batta

Never mind the upcoming government shutdown and next year’s elections.  We’re about to have a close encounter with a cosmic fastball.

“…asteroid 2005 YU55, a round mini-world that is about 1,300 feet in diameter. In early November, this asteroid will approach Earth within a scant 0.85 lunar distances.”

Okay, it’s not until November, so maybe the government will be back on it’s feet by then.  Maybe they can pass a resolution condemning YU55 for it’s aggressive behavior, or something.

Or maybe the thing will come a lot closer than .85 lunar distances, and we’ll all be spared from Snooki’s new TV show.

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from our Things I Wish I’d Thought Of Department:

I do my April Fools jokes in the middle of October. Fool more people that way.

Wait for it….

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What, already?

Obama preparing re-election bid.

I’m already sick of the 2012 election cycle.  Check that – I’m still sick of it from 2008.

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We need to talk about this union thing

Because I don’t get it.

The “American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees” has been asking Wisconsin businesses to display this sign to show their support:

(It’s the rectangular white one with the green print.)  They haven’t had many takers, and some local businesses are getting leaned on.  “Many Union Grove businesses Tuesday received a letter from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Each of them declined to display a sign stating, ‘This business supports workers rights’ – with a prominent AFSCME logo below that. As a result, the union threatened them with a ‘public boycott.'”

Is a public boycott different than a regular boycott?  I hereby promise to go into any business (and buy stuff!) if I see it being picketed by union people who don’t work there.

Go ahead and read the article.  Notice the unstated premise (which is very, very common in current discourse) that ‘support for workers rights’ is synonymous with support for unions.  I don’t get that.

More importantly, I don’t get the notion that public sector unions and private sector unions are the same thing.  They’re not. Or at least they shouldn’t be.  I’ll explain.

In the private sector, you’ve got unions and you’ve got management.  And they have a sort of adversarial negotiating relationship, in which each is trying to get the most for it’s side.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In the private sector, though, the unions realize that the company has to make a profit too. An enterprise that isn’t profitable is one that nobody wants to be involved with.  It’s one that will be going away soon, and then nobody has a job.  Private sector unions understand that.

In the public sector, the employer is the government.  The government doesn’t need to make a profit; it (in theory, at least) is just trying to break even.  That means that public sector unions are trying to get their slice of the government pie.  For them to get a bigger slice, somebody else has to take a smaller one.  I’m sure that public sector unions understand that too, but there’s no reason for them to care.

Bottom line: public sector unions are lobbyists.  And they should be treated like lobbyists, not like unions.

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Well, I guess I’m rooting for Butler

If your team can’t be champion, at least you can say your team got beat by the champion.  Right?

The photo may be seen as imitating some other guy who’s celebrating the receipt of 1292 visits per day for the last 774 days.  Or maybe it’s just some sweater puppy action.

In fact it’s just an illustration.  When I say I’m rooting for Butler I don’t mean the bad guy in some old Sherlock Holmes story.

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Buy a truck, get a free Kalashnikov

“A Florida car dealership trying to drum up business is offering an unusual perk for potential used-truck buyers: A free AK-47 assault rifle.”

It’s actually a $400 rebate in the form of a gun shop voucher, that can be redeemed for any sort of gun shop merchandise, or for cash.  So they’re not really giving away weapons.

Still, it’s a very creative promotional stunt.  I like it.  And you know what it says to me?  Nobody’s buying used trucks.  We need to think up some more incentives.

Also, check out the cop in the video (at the link).  I am far too lazy to enumerate all the ways in which he is clueless.

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This item exists to facilitate the shameless link-whoring

1: Shameless link-whoring: “One Million Hits…Probably not tomorrow. Unless I get a bunch of links, that is. Not that I’m hinting or anything.” As of this writing he’s about 2300 shy. I’m sure I’ll provide as much as 0.5% of that.

2: Non-kinetic military action is when you gently place the Tomahawk missile next to it’s target, then run away with your fingers in your ears.

3: The longest Marquette cheerleader’s shirt, and shortest Wisconsin cheerleader’s shirt, ever captured on film.

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from our Things I Wish I’d Thought Of Department:

XKCD:

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Hey look, another stupid article about determinism

[‘Determinism’ in this case is the idea that everything, including your thoughts and actions, is causally determined by everything that happened prior.  The philosophical opposite of free will, in other words.]

Amusingly, the article is even titled “Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice.” Blah, blah, blah.

Do you believe that you have free will?  That your actions aren’t governed by anything other than your mind and your conscience?  You’re wrong, and I’ll prove it: if you have free will then stop reading this post RIGHT NOW.

See?  Gotcha.

Okay, just kidding.

Basic scenarios on offer:
“1) In this deterministic universe, is it possible for a person to be fully morally responsible for his actions?
2) This year, as he has often done in the past, Mark arranges to cheat on his taxes. Is he is fully morally responsible for his actions?
3) Bill falls in love with his secretary, and he decides that the only way to be with her is to murder his wife and three children. Before leaving on a trip, he arranges for them to be killed while he is away. Is Bill fully morally responsible for his actions?”

So who’s morally responsible, and who isn’t?  Wouldn’t you say that if one is then all are?  I would.  Still, the study’s respondents disagree, apparently: “Most respondents will absolve the unspecified person in Question 1 from full responsibility for his actions, and a majority will also give Mark a break for his tax chiseling. But not Bill. He’s fully to blame for his heinous crime…”

It goes on to suggest that the disparity is due to a lingering belief in free will, and not to the respondents simply exercising moral judgment.  But notice that the more heinous (and specific) the crime, the less likely respondents are to buy the no-free-will argument to excuse it.  Doesn’t that imply some kind of moral reasoning on their part?  Yes, it does.  Seems like the writer wasn’t thinking very hard.

Moving on, we’re treated to some studies that show people more willing to commit minor unethical acts after being “exposed beforehand to arguments against free will”, thus showing that belief in free will is central to moral agency.  Et cetera.  Whatever.

Bottom line: the existence of free will is irrelevant.  It’s simple: if Bill, Mark, and the unnamed abstract person cited above aren’t morally responsible, due to a lack of free will, then I am not responsible for my judgment of them and their actions for the same reason.  Neither are you.  The argument that ‘they don’t really have free will, so they aren’t really responsible’ doesn’t prevent us from disapproving or from sanctioning the malefactors because if they don’t have it, neither do we.  So you might as well quit trying to figure it out, okay?  You’re just trying to make yourself look smart and it’s not working.

Yes, yes, you can’t help it.  I know.

Disagree?  Got a problem?  Think I’m a lousy writer?  Hey, not my fault.

That’s right, I linked my own post.  It’s recursive blogging.  I invented that.  Whatcha gonna do about it?

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Happy PI day

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Panel Wants Women In Combat Arms

For the uninitiated, ‘combat arms’ refers to those branches of the Army and Marine Corps that are designed to do actual on-the-ground fighting – infantry, armor, artillery and the like.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission was established as part of the 2009 defense appropriation act.  The commission members are largely, but not entirely, current and retired officers and senior NCOs, and it’s job is pretty much what you would expect from the name.  It recently released a report on how to improve the diversity of the armed forces.  Here’s a summary; there are 20 recommendations, most of which look like standard political gobbledygook to me.  The pertinent bit, for my purposes, comes toward the end in recommendation #9.  Go read.

It came to my attention via this article from military.com.  I get the newsletter.

Here’s some quotes.
“Based on 2003 data, the [1994 combat exclusion policies] keep women out of 9 percent of Army occupations and 8 percent of Marine Corps occupations.”

Guess what those occupations are:
“The importance of combat arms occupations in career advancement is reflected in the 2006 stats the commission referenced. While infantry, armor, artillery, cavalry and Special Forces make up just 7.7 percent of all Army career fields, 80 percent of Army general officers came from those occupations.”

I am of two or more minds.  On the one hand, I don’t fault the logic that people, particularly minority groups, would be more eager to join up if they saw members of minority groups reaching the highest levels.  I don’t necessarily endorse it, but I don’t fault it.

On the other hand, does diversity really have to be priority #1 all the time?  Nothing against it in general, but maybe institutions like the military should have other things on their collective mind, know what I mean?

On the other other hand, the article also says this:
“‘The commission is not advocating lowering of standards with the elimination of the combat exclusion policy,’ the final report states. ‘Qualification standards for combat arms positions should remain in place.'”

Combat arms specialties tend to have much higher physical fitness standards than the military in general.  It is possible for a woman to meet those standards, although it is more difficult for women than for men ( I read a study on that once).  In the meantime there are already women seeing combat on a regular basis these days anyway:
“In 2005, Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman since World War II to earn a Silver Star.”

And on the other other other hand, they say that amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.  Combat units work hard to build esprit de corps.  That means training together, living together, playing together.  It’s true that (some) women can meet the physical demands of infantry life, and that women deserve the same chance to rise in the ranks.  But I expect that the social and psychological demands of said infantry life are going to be difficult to account for.

Bottom line, while it may not be fair, it’s as fair as it’s going to get. And, “Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, whose forces would see the most dramatic changes with women moving into combat jobs, did not comment on the recommendations.”

I predict this is the last we hear of this.

UPDATE: Here’s a predictable and by-the-numbers critique of the report from the NY Post.

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La la la la I can’t hear you, Charlie Sheen

Tired of hearing about Charlie Sheen?  Now you can download an app for your mobile device that will automatically redact any mention of Charlie Sheen’s name, Charlie Sheen’s picture, or Charlie Sheen’s various new catchphrases such as ‘tiger blood’.
The downside is that if you have the Charlie Sheen app, you won’t be able to understand any news articles (or blog posts) about the Charlie Sheen app.  Bummer, Charlie Sheen.

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HEY, WHAT DID WE TALK ABOUT?

Bad Congressman!  No hooker!

“Restrict abortion or cut spending?  The Republicans’ ‘Pledge for America’ says the new majority will do both. But negotiations over the federal budget threaten to force the GOP, including its 87 House freshmen, to choose between them…
Rep. Chris Smith, perhaps the House’s most fervently anti-abortion member, said he’d vote against any budget that doesn’t ‘preserve life.'”

This was not the plan.

“Government spending is too high and getting higher…this is the only important issue in this election, and probably in every election for the foreseeable future.  If other issues are important to you personally, that’s fine.  Pissed off about the ‘gay agenda?’  Fine, enjoy that.  Want tighter immigration controls?  Fine, enjoy that.  Think marijuana should be legal?  Fine, enjoy that.  Got a problem with trans fats or Wicca or selling beer on Sunday?  Okay, well, you get the idea.  Everybody has pet issues…But focus, people.

If you’re willing to bail on spending cuts to defend your pet issue, then you’re not on the team.  If you prefer to insist on your idea of social mores rather than enforcing fiscal discipline, then you won’t have to worry about either for much longer.  If removing anti-abortion provisions from a spending bill results in bigger overall spending cuts, then just do it and stop whining.

Full disclosure, I fall on the pro-choice side of that particular fence.  I have no problem with Planned Parenthood’s stated mission.  At the same time I shall happily welcome the federal government not funding Planned Parenthood.  And I eagerly lie in wait for the jackass who refuses to cut spending unless the bill includes abortion-rights assurances, okay?

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Islam doesn’t kill people, people kill people

Some members of the Tennessee legislature are proposing to make it illegal to “follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah.”

Notice, the linked WaPo article doesn’t give up much detail about the bill.  In fact it boils the whole situation down to one group of people going “Aiiieee!! Islamic terrorism!!!” and another group going “Aiiieee!!  Anti-Islamic bigotry!!!” No real description of the actual bill, no sober consideration of the ramifications, just random quotes and fluff.

One would think they could do better than that in an organization like the Washington Post.  [I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not keep a straight face while typing that sentence.]

This Moderate Voice post does a much better job of discussing and analyzing, even supplying a link to the bill itself. But even the bill is kinda vague as to its intent and implementation.

In my opinion it’s neither wise nor helpful to try and criminalize religious practices, especially if you can’t clearly define what’s illegal and what’s not, and why.  So by way of counterproposal (although I don’t live in Tennessee so it’s not really my business), consider this list of things that come to mind when I think of the ‘bad’ kind of Sharia:

  • Murder
  • Wife-beating
  • Bigamy
  • Hijacking
  • Setting off bombs in public places
  • Conspiracy to do same
  • Attempting to overthrow the government of the United States

And what do these things have in common?  They’re already illegal. [The ‘good’ Sharia is stuff like praying and singing and beards and stampedes at Mecca, none of which is against the law here in the USA.]  There’s really no need to pass laws about Islam if you’re actually enforcing the laws you already have.  Are you?

I realize that this law is really less about protecting America than it is about politicians grandstanding to get their names in the paper.  Politicians do that.  The thing is, they do it so often that we pretty much  expect it now, and we know it when we see it.

Summing up (for those trying to score cheap political points): old and busted: pissing off Muslims; new hotness: pissing off public-sector unions.  Get with it, Tennessee.

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Hey look, crazy people

So the Supreme Court has ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church can continue “demonstrating” at the funerals of people they don’t know. I’m sorry to say, I have to agree with the ruling. The whole point of the First Amendment is protecting speech we find disagreeable or offensive.

Still, you’d think there would be some way to convince them to knock it off. After all they’ve pretty much held up in the face of near-universal disapproval. Have you ever heard anyone at all try to stick up for them? I haven’t.

So first of all, I assure you if I’m ever attending a funeral and I see these bozos show up, I’ll wait for the funeral to end and the mourners to disperse, then I’ll mosey on over and the wig-splitting shall commence. Time was, we had the concept of “fighting words” in our culture. If we still had it, Phelps and his ilk might have adjusted their methods by now.

Also, these guys have awfully nice signs, don’t you think? Professionally made, looks like. I wonder who made them. I wonder if there isn’t a privately-owned printer making those signs, that maybe has other clients who would be interested to know about that. Just thinking out loud here, so to speak.

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Submitted without comment

Via TheoSpark

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