Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Friday, 2020.08.14
Question: Is it better to abide by the rules until they're changed or help speed the change by breaking them?


Making Pretty Pigs

From the people who brought you “getting ahead of the news cycle,” We now have several freshly minted euphemisms to help us in our daily battle to dodge responsibility from our “mis-appropriated” squeals and rants. Yes, the cache of cosmetics available to us for prettying up our warty hogs has just grown by two. No longer are we limited to simply putting lipstick on our pigs.

Back in May, Jason Leopold with “reported” that Karl Rove would be indicted in the CIA leak case and that he would then immediately resign his White House job once the charges were announced. For months leading up to this…ummmm…broken story, Leopold and truthout had been hyping the imminent indictment of Rove. And for months, much to the frustration of Leopold and truthout, the indictment kept not happening. And so it continued. In the hours and days after Leopold broke the news on truthout, the indictment kept not happening. Even so, some of the MSM was sucked into this scoop of slop. Truth out. Reality in. No indictment.

Finally, buried within the comments sections of truthout’s web site was a kind-of-sort-of retraction whining about having “gotten ahead of the news cycle.” Translation: “We wanted this wish to come true soooooooo much we marshaled all our journalistic sources for news substrate to focus on this issue and so extract the truth: our crystal ball, under cover garden faeries and the magic 8-ball – we even threw the runes! And our sources told us Rove would be indicted.” Or, to put it more succinctly, truthout pulled the truth out of its collective ass and peddled it as fact.

This past week the last remaining pebbles of ground beneath truthout’s feet gave way as it was announced that Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald told Rove’s attorney that Rove will not be indicted in the CIA leak investigation. Jason Leopold and truthout have jumped both the shark and the couch in a single bound. Impressive.

Yesterday, on a front page post, truthout retracted their story…sort of.

Instead of saying “we were wrong and you were right,” truthout says “there is a major contradiction between our version of the story and what was reported.” (Note to Mr. Leopold and truthout: facts don’t have versions. You’ve confused them with opinions.)

Instead of saying “we are retracting our lame new story,” truthout says they are “going to stand down on the Rove matter at this time.” Stand down? Sounds like they have legions of news reporters who will now holster their pens (They don’t have pencils. Those eraser thingies are waaaaaay too dangerous.) At this time? I guess they reserve the right to spill their version of the news on this matter at some point in the future, based on their sources, of course.

Finally, you gotta love this: “We defer instead to the nation’s leading publications.” Translation: “If its news you want, go somewhere else. We don’t do news.”

And so, my friends, we now have at our disposal the following cosmetics for our boarish flubs:

  • We got ahead of the news cycle.

  • There is a major contradiction between our version of the story and what was reported.

  • We’re going to stand down on this story.

Use as needed, then exit stage left.

[Edit History]

2006.06.17 – Tim Blair has similar notes.

2006.06.18 – Jason Leopold gets spanked pretty good by Joe Lauria in the Washington Post.


Government Demands Censorship Apology

Not good:

House Democrats from Long Island and New York City on Friday joined the chorus of critics slamming Ann Coulter.

The lawmakers signed a letter drafted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) demanding that the conservative commentator apologize for saying in her new book that widows of some 9/11 victims are “enjoying” their husbands’ deaths. The book refers to the four New Jersey women as “the witches of East Brunswick.”

I’ve been working on a more considered response to Ann Coulter’s remarks and the reactions that followed. But this development breached my patience and demanded an immediate response.

Is our Congress so out of touch with, you know, reality-based reality that they believe it appropriate and worth the time to issue what measures up to a demand for censorship? “Apology,” my ass. Coming from Congress, such a demand carries a far greater implication of intimidation than a similar letter from, say, the local cub scout troop.

In light of this pointed abuse of power, I care less about what Ann Coulter said specifically, and more about showing Congress with my finger just which Constitutional Amendment I’ll die fighting to protect. It is neither appropriate nor a good use of their time for the Congress to meddle in this issue. I felt just as strongly when they meddled in the life of Terri Schiavo. Neither party, indeed no elected official has any business here except to fulfill their oath to office and protect the Constitution.

This development has the same stench as the on-going revelations about corruption within the ranks of Congress and, even more troubling, the lengths to which they will unite to protect themselves from the very same laws we are all subject to, including members of Congress. The sewage that is Congressional Hubris assumes each of the members are above the law, entitled even. Likewise for those for whom they wish to confer protection. Bizzzzzzzt! (That’s the sound of me voting for America’s new Third Party: the Not-An-Incumbent Party.) Protecting their darling shielded puppets, what ever the cause, on my dime makes me want to Ensz in their shoes.

Note to Ann Coulter: Don’t! The issue just spilled over into your fundamental right to free speech and I support you in protecting that right.

Note to Congress, Democrats and Republicans: Get back to work!

Fake But Accurate News: Whitehouse Press Briefing

[Ed. The following are a couple of snippets from the latest press briefing by White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, on the recent demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A US military general was also available for questions. In attendance were terrorist operatives reporters from various Main Stream Media organizations.]


Reporter: General, were the photos of the allegedly deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi “Photoshopped” prior to presenting them to the press?

General: “Photoshopped?” What’s that? I don’t understand what you’re asking. Do you mean did we have the film developed at a MotoPhoto? No.

Reporter: General, how do you explain the fact freedom fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi survived the blast from not just one, but two 500 pound IED’s?

General: First of all, the ordnance used in this operation were not “Improvised Explosive Devices,” or “IED’s,” rather very sophisticated weapons delivered with laser precision by highly trained and competent professionals. IED’s are the weapon of choice with the terrorist organizations and have killed and injured many of our brave soldiers as well as a great many more innocent Iraqi civilians. And as far as Zarqawi’s having survived the blasts, all I can say he was lucky.

Reporter: Can you elaborate on the “Conspiracy of Luck” which you just made reference to?

General: Ahhhhh…


Reporter 1: Is there any truth to the rumor that His Eminence Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was robbed by elite US combat soldiers just before he died?

Snow: No truth. Rumors? I thought you guys were professionals and dealt with facts and stuff.

Reporter 2: So, for the record, are you not saying these rumors are unsubstantiated non-truths or are you not saying they are likely un-truths pending Congressman Murtha’s investigation?

Snow: Ummm…

Reporter 3: How do you explain the growing reports which claim Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Benevolent, was robbed by US military personnel as he lay on his death bed?

Snow: “Reports?” Because two reporters asked about a goofy rumor that makes it a report? I think I got off the elevator on the wrong floor.

Reporter 4: Is there any truth to the rumor that the Exalted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was sexually abused by elite US combat soldiers just before he died?

Snow: I think I’m in the wrong building.

Reporter 5: Are you claiming these atrocities wouldn’t be true if they had actually happened?

Snow: Excuse me. I just remembered I have a dental appointment for a root canal.

Reporter 6: Are there any more rumors you care to neither confirm nor deny?


Picking Up The Politics

Too funny, puns-a-plenty and double entendre galore. Since for as long as I’ve owned dogs, my euphemism for the chore of picking up the poop in the backyard has been “cleaning up the politics.” Well today, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post report that Kathleen Yvonne Ensz, a former professor of French at the University of Northern Colorado and a Democrat, was cited for dropping dog feces through a mail slot of U.S. Republican Representative Marilyn Musgrave’s Greeley office. Apparently, Ms. Ensz has the same mind set to “cleaning up the politics” in the backyard. Except for me, its a euphemism. For Ms. Ensz, its a waste of good material and call to action. And this bit of news happening in my own backyard!


Spinning Little Worlds

As reported on Counterterrorism Blog

“Reacting to the killing of Abu Mus’ab al Zarqawi in Iraq, pro-Jihadi commentators on al Jazeera rushed to assert that the ‘death of Zarqawi won’t weaken al Qaida but will actually unify the organization.'”

If this is an accurate assessment, we’re left to wonder what prevented al Qaida from bumping Zarqawi off themselves and thus achieve the lauded organization unification sooner. Spun the other way, if eliminating the leader strengthens the organization, what do terrorist organizations think will happen when leaders of free nations are assassinated? When the world gets smaller, attempts to spin bad news as good just ends up looking like tail chasing. And yes, al Jazeera, those stripes DO make you look thiner.

Observing how jihadi spin is in such synchronization with the MSM leads me to conclude a fundamental strategy from both spheres, albeit with different agendas perhaps, depends on persons of freedom being incapable of rubbing two thoughts together. To some extent this is true, particularly among the extremes which simply have no room for more than one thought. But reading the signs, I have a growing confidence that this kind of shallow reasoning will backfire on those who presuppose its mystical, magical powers.

[Edit History]

2006.06.09 – Nice parody from Eric Raymond punctuating the freakish relationship between the MSM and terrorist organizations. But then again, the reality of it gets a little spooky.


From the We-Don’t-Need-No-Stinking-Badges Department

Its -11°F here in Denver this morning and the power to the neighborhood has been out for the past 30 minutes and counting. What caused me to shiver wasn’t Mother Nature’s biting cold, rather this from an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Houston’s police chief on Wednesday proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.

And just who is it, Chief Hurtt, that decides whether or not what I’m doing is “wrong” in your Utopian Police State? You and your stripe? That there are American citizen who think like this is not what is frightening. Its when they are leaders in the police force, and in a position to “advise” politicians, that this thinking crosses the line. Is the Fourth Amendment safe?

Signs like this have increased in frequency since the terrorists of 9/11 gave their domestic counterparts exactly what they needed to push an agenda which believes the only secure society is one that is safely tucked under the heel of a boot. The signal is above the noise and has been for some time.

This isn’t a ding against the police. I have great respect for the job they do. The concern is directed at the neo-Luddites who’s understanding of a consequence couldn’t win them a game of tic-tac-toe. Its of special concern when such thinking wears a uniform – police or military. Nano-surveillance of law abiding American citizens isn’t the way to better security. It is, however, a substantial invitation for abuse. It moves me closer to buying a gun. Not because I feel the need for one. But to do so while I still have the right. The founding fathers of America understood the only real check against a totalitarian government was an armed citizenry capable of tearing down any despots. Despots know the only sure way to stay in power is to disarm the citizens. And detailed surveillance of every citizen would be a useful tool for finding who has what and with whom they are meeting.

[Edit History]

2006.02.24 – Bruce Schneier is running an interesting thread on this story.


Mohammad in the Gutter

In an unfortunate display of example following postulation, the flame fanning by Muslim clerics behind the Danish newspaper [Jyllands-Posten] cartoons as reported by the Wall Street Journal echos points I made regarding the “War on Christmas” crusade being waged by various fundamental Christian groups (See Jesus in the Checkout Line)

In writing how unthinking followers confuse the symbol with the real thing, in this case how a tree IS Christmas:

This is where the dogmatic followers in the “War on Christmas” crusade are stuck – the label. The crusade leaders know this and use the effect on the followers to advance their agenda.

Now match this with what the Wall Street Journal reports:

Keen to “globalize” the crisis to pressure the Danish government, Mr. [Ahmed] Abu-Laban [a fundamentalist Palestinian cleric] and his colleagues decided to send delegations to the Middle East. They prepared a dossier to distribute during the travels. The document, which exceeded 30 pages, featured copies of the published cartoons and Arabic media reports about the controversy. It also contained a group of highly offensive pictures that had never been published by the newspaper, including a photograph of a man dressed as a pig, with the caption: “this is the real picture of Muhammad.”



Psycho Ward – Hijacking the Hijackers

Ward Churchill, the latest mushroom to sprout from my alma mater’s1 manure heap of unintended consequences, is a model for how to milk the random moments of fame foisted upon the equally random few.

Are Churchill’s arguments right or wrong? No one seems to be getting far enough to ask that, yet it is Churchill who carries the burden of blame for this. Interjecting parallels to Nazism without extensive context taints all preceding and subsequent arguments made by the author with irrationality and crudeness. As measured with Godwin’s Law2, it can be said that Churchill’s paper attempts to vaguely (and, having read the essay, I’m being generous here) relate his arguments to Nazism but is basically seeking to be insulting and inflammatory. At this point, all prospects for rational debate and discussion related to his central thesis are effectively over.

Like a fart in a crowded elevator, its unmistakable and offends everyone with the exception of the scatologically inclined. Most people want to exit the elevator as quickly as possible, others may want to linger with the fumes and complain while an unfortunate few will have no choice but to follow the fumes all the way to work. One of the problems Churchill is struggling with is he cannot un-fart, no matter how hard he tries. (It has been great entertainment watching him try.) The stink is out there and it is his. (more…)


Tapioca Utopia

Odd thing happened on the way to work. I was accosted by several individuals – either smallish males or bulky females, couldn’t tell really – wearing dark aviator glasses, camel hair trench coats and wide brimmed safari style hats. They were welding fresh, extra hot lattés and threatened to douse me with them if I didn’t meet their demands.

Sizing them up, I figured I could pummel the soy foam out of the lot of them even if they were bulky females. But I thought, “Why waste a half dozen perfectly good lattés?” So, I said, “Let’s hear it. Whadayawant?”

“We need a spokesperson.”, chimed a spooky androgynous voice. “Please”, said another.

“What are you selling?”, I asked.

“Nothing. We need a spokesperson for our country.”

Twenty some years of martial arts training and a sandan rank in Aikido tuned my mind for facing all sorts of dangers – weapons, tempers, politics, Paris Hilton. But it never prepared me for this attack. Here, I was being threatened with a job.

What could I do? I did what any normal, untrained person would do. I panicked and said “Ok, sure.”

The steely cold silence that followed was refreshing.

“You chose wisely,” said spooky androgynous voice as a piece of paper was pushed at me. “Post this”, was the directive with a “Please” voiced by one of the lieutenants. “There will be more,” was the parting comment as the camel haired latté mob scattered like so many coffee beans dropped on a tile floor.

Who am I to dissuade anyone’s attempt at nation building. It’s a sport so popular, even our nation’s President has fielded his own team of nation builders. So here’s my first press release as spokesperson for the new nation of Tapioca Utopia…

Proclamation: We hereby declare the creation and existence of a new country that shall be known as Tapioca Utopia.

Location: Currently, Tapioca Utopia is positioned approximately 2,000 meters above international waters off the coast of Kauai, Hawai’i.

Flag: The Shirt Off Your Back

Currency: Tree Bark – Let it be declared that money does grow on trees.

State Religion: Atheism, or maybe Frisbeetarianism (the belief that when you die your soul goes to the top of the garage and stays there for eternity. Believers live in fear of the coming of the great god Whamo.)


  • Military buildup can only consist of things that can be purchased at an office supply store – paperclip missiles, staplers, spit wads, rubber bands, etc.
  • Red states are illegal. Blue states are illegal. All states shall be purple.


The Righteous Left

Interesting article from an Iraqi perspective (How the Left Betrayed My Country – Iraq, by Naseer Flayih Hasan).

It strengthens my growing opinion that a fundamental problem with the Democratic party is it’s inability to connect with the pulse of a culture – including our own. I don’t mean the art circles and philosophy, rather the underlying drivers that emerge from the masses – things like pet rocks and weblogs. Not that the Republicans have the clearest insight, but they do seem to have a clearer view than the Democrats. Hence their popularity.

It also echos something I wrote about in my weblog last year:

War and Pieces

Feeling Libertarian more and more each day…


Infected with Hate

[Note: Much of this article was written in the months following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001.]

On September 11, 2001, the unthinkable became all anyone could think about. The stunning reality is that, in fact, the unthinkable had been well thought out. With a great deal of planning, a small group of humans meticulously thought through every step, solved every obstacle. They thought the unthinkable until it became the familiar.

We are left to ask what is the path that led to these events? Surely not the faith of Islam any more than beer makes a man psychologically capable of murder. It’s something much deeper within the individual that makes such heinous acts possible. Self-rightous self-loathing, a festering maggot riddled sense of self provides the fuel. The larger context, intentionally or not, provides the spark. In this case, shallow interpretations of Islam by warped minds, false prophets bent on installing their personal hallucinations on the world, provided the incubator to collect and raise an army of sick individuals. It didn’t have to be Islamism. There are a wide variety of candidates floating around the world. (more…)


Canary’s in the coal mine (in the land of democracy)

[Note: Much of this article was written in the months following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001.]

One of the “superpower” traits of America’s government is it’s sheer size as well as the colossal power of it’s potential military punch. However, it does not possess any “superpower” qualities we like to ascribe to comic book super heroes. Rather our government is a collection of garden variety human beings, bundles of emotions teaming with conflicting desires and tangled by primal drives. Hardly the substrate for collective superpower capabilities.

The thing about bringing groups of people together, you only get superior capabilities in rare circumstances. In the case of large groups, like governmental bureaucracies, what typically results is something that functions closer to it’s least common denominator. Expecting such an organization to protect us from other smaller groups of humans with malicious goals is a bit like expecting peace of mind when enrolling your children in a daycare run by unfit parents. (more…)


Archimedes and Parking Laws

In his column from June 04, 2004, Jim Spencer treats us with a rare and fabulous repartee – an insightful and probing exchange which delves to the very ontological foundation of our society, no less – he enjoyed with one of our city’s parking enforcement officers. (I’ll pause while you collect your ribs…)

The facts, as presented, are that Mr. Spencer pulled in next to a parking meter, turned the car off, got out of the car, blew kisses at the parking meter (or some such thing), got back in the car, drove around the block and pulled in next to the same parking meter. And yet, “I never parked.”, proclaims Mr. Spencer, when tagged with the “can’t return to the same parking space or any space within 100 feet of it for 24 hours” law. The Parkinazi1 disagreed and wrote him a ticket. (more…)


War and Pieces

The hoopla from the war hawks and peace doves over the past eighteen months on up to the present has left me largely unimpressed. The hawks pressed their war based, in part, on claims of “weapons of mass distruction”. The revelation of which had all the drama of Geraldo Reveria cracking Al Capones’ tomb. The doves, humorously, are shocked and angry that the US government could have got it wrong.

Not content to accept the government may simply be blithering idiots on a mission, the doves have assigned evil intent and malicious design to the intelligence “failures” and are set on marking the “evil doers”. All this while turning away from the stench of fact wafting from the graves of mass decompsition in the deserts of Iraq – the graves of thousands of Iraqi citizens – men, women and children – killed by agents for Saddam Hussain.

For all the claims of impending piles of corpes if war in Iraq were to happen1, the reality is the “civilized” nations were too late to prevent the massive loss of life. It appears Saddam Hussain has been quite efficient at providing the hidious body counts.

For those seeking a little perspective, an article by Brian Hayes in the January-Feburary, 2002 edition of American Scientist titled “Statistics of Deadly Quarrels”2 may be of interest.
1In a letter widely distributed on the internet and attributed to Dr. Helen Caldicott (I have been unable to confirm the source), it was implied that the impending war would result in “slaughtering up to 500,000 innocents in Iraq”, and in this group, “tens of thousands of children”. Interestingly, this same letter avocates using other people (in this case, Pope John Paul II) as human shields. No word whether the author of this letter was willing to be a human shield.

2Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, Brian Hayes, American Scientist, January-Feburary, 2002, vol. 90, num. 1, pp. 10-15 / Online reference:;_s?&print=yes


Thoughts on the “T” Word

As reported by CNN, Education Secretary Rod Paige told a room full of governors that the nation’s largest teachers union, the NEA, is a “terrorist organization”. I’ve certainly had dark feelings in regard to positions taken by the NEA, however, terror is not one of them. This, and other abuses of the “terrorist” label, have reminded me of those odd occasions where, for what ever reason, a particular word just strikes me as goofy. I say it over and over in my head wondering just what was it about that particular word was so important. What collision of human experience created this word and where has it’s meaning gone?

The Security Theater currently showing on Pennsylvania Avenue has, it would seem, thus crippled the word “terrorist” and all it’s permutations. The abuse and over use of the word has beaten the poor critter green and white and yellow and orange and red, to a final terror alert status of black and blue.

Well, being an average bear, I thought it would be better if I explored this word in hopes of discovering what all the hoopla is about before getting left behind. What I notice is that the “terrorist” moniker is most frequently applied to people, places and things that inconvenience or irritate us from time to time. They probably always have, it’s just that now we get to vent a little extra by using the “T” word. So now to experimentation.

As an example, I’ve taken to calling my dogs “terrorists” when they misbehave. They are terriers, after all. The terrorists terriers, apart from being an excellent name for a band, don’t seem to behave any differently to my elevated rants regardless the color. They’re still terriers, just more confused than usual by my behavior.

My conclusion is that splashing “terrorist” colors around and tagging anything or anybody that gets in our puny little way as card carrying members to the “axis of evil” club is making it harder to find a solution – much harder. Nobody notices anymore. When the terrorist in sheep clothing shows up again, he’ll sneak right by because we’re too busy dealing with the “terrorist” cable guy, or the “terrorist” city counsel person, or the “terrorist” [fill in irritation here].

I certainly hope you agree with my observations. If not, well, don’t be sending me any or your terrorist objections.

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