November 2006

The best video* take on the Michael Richards thingy.

(* Work-safe, but loud. On my browser the sound was not adjustable)

[Thanks to Ken S. at “It comes in Pints”]


Scott Kirwin posted this teleporation thought experiment (thanks to the New Scientist):

Imagine being teleported. A special scanner records the state of every cell in your brain and body and digitally encodes the information for radio transmission. Your body is destroyed in the process but reconstructed as soon as the signals are received and decoded at your destination. You “arrive” in precisely the same condition that you “left”, identical in body, brain and patterns of mental activity. Your memories, beliefs, plans, skills and emotions are perfectly intact and you go about your business feeling and believing that nothing about you has changed in the slightest. It’s just like waking from a dreamless sleep and getting on with the day.

If you are comfortable with this scenario then you should be comfortable with bundle theory. You appreciate that the observing “I” is no more than patterns of energy and information, which can be disrupted and reconstituted without destroying the self – because there is no self to destroy. The patterns are all. If, on the other hand, you believe that some essential “you” would be lost in the process then you are an irredeemable ego theorist. You believe that the reconstituted body is not “you” but a mere replica. Although the replica will know in its bones that it is the very person who stepped into the scanner at the start of the journey, and friends and loved ones will agree, you insist it could not be you because your body and brain would have been destroyed.

Incidentally, we see here a neat inversion of conventional thinking. Those who believe in an essence, or soul, suddenly become materialists, dreading the loss of the “original” body. But those of us who don’t hold such beliefs are prepared to countenance a life after bodily death.

Scott concluded that he was “an irredeemable ego theorist”:

..because I don’t believe that I would awaken in the replica. The destruction of my body would somehow sever the link between “me” and my body that could not be repaired through the reconstruction down to the finest detail of the latter. I would be dead, but what about my replica? Would it have its own consciousness – or would it be a zombie-like automaton?

I guess I’m a bundle theorist. Every cell in the body is changed over a period of seven years. After every seven years, our souls, if they exist, are still consistent with what we call our selves. This process would have the same effect, it would just be a little faster.

A machine that could digitally store and restore human life could do more than just transport people – it could possibly guarantee eternal life. When someone dies, just re-transport them. If the process worked without any virus or “The Fly” effects, it would be one of the greatest inventions ever. I’d do it.

Speaking of transporters, I often wondered why anyone was allowed to die in the Star Trek universe. They didn’t have to.

Yesterday on Dean’s World I posted about the lessons we should have learned from the assassination of Meir Kahane.

One thing we should have learned: to be aware of the extremist groups that exist within our own borders – like Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Al Muhajiroun (the “Islamic Thinker’s Society”) and Jamaat Al-Fuqra. We should also be aware of which mosques or community centers are associated with them.

In the post, I asked the web-based interactive news and discussion site, why:

“…they call the terror-cell hosting al Farooq [mosque] “Another very accessible masjid in good location on main strip amongst Muslim businesses” and why do they give it three stars?

Thanks to the response of Shahed Amanullah,’s editor, the Al Farooq masjid (mosque), which was once headed by the leader of the first attack against the World Trade Center, no longer rates three stars – it rates zero out of five.

While the comment recommending the mosque remains, here’s the revised description:

The Al-Farooq masjid has a controversial and troubled history in the Brooklyn area, starting with fundraising for Afghan mujahedeen that may have been associated with Osama bin Laden. In the early 90’s, FBI investigators linked several members with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, one of whom (El-Sayyid Nosair) later murdered Jewish radical Meir Kahane in New York in 1990. In 2003, federal investigators linked members of the mosque to $20 million in alleged fundraising for Al Qaeda, though little evidence of direct support was linked to the mosque itself. Other allegations include the use of Saudi-funded literatureand extreme sermons by some of its imams. Many members maintain that they are kept in the dark about any illicit activity that may be taking place and that the relatively poor community can barely keep the mosque functioning. Other members dismiss the allegations and say they are against terrorism and extremism, though deep cultural customs remain.

Shahed also pointed out the less-than-favorable description of the Illinois Bridgeview mosque (also rated zero out of five)

The automated and fairly anonymous nature of alt.muslim’s Mosque/School finder (salat-o-matic) could be a great resource for people who want to express their feelings about extremist political activism within their places of worship. Vocal critics of extremism, like Tulsa’s Jamal Miftah and Asra Nomani are often shunned by other members of their mosques. Web-based anonymity gives people who don’t want to risk an unkind response a chance to speak out. It would be encouraging if people would take advantage of that.

Thanks to Shahed and to Ali Eteraz for notifying him about it. And, as a techie note, that was the best web-page customer response I’ve seen.

..and John Kerry is the least.

Kerry’s even less likeable than Newt Gingrich. Hang it up, John.

Survival for novices, thanks to Popular Mechanics and Instapundit

The basics:

1. Leave a detailed plan

2. Bring the right clothes

3. Stay found

4. Remain in one place if you’re in trouble

5. Stay warm

6. Signal for help

7. Build a fire

8. Find water if necessary

Also included – 5 MacGyver tricks

Via Slate

I’ve always marveled at how long the antique internal-combustion engine has survived. By 2006 standards, my car’s power plant is a noisy, heat-blasting, poison-spewing monster with way too many moving parts. One spin in a Tesla made me realize that the gas engine might finally be on its last legs—and not because electric cars will help wean us from Saudi oil and save us from global warming. Rather, the Tesla Roadster is a rolling demo that proves electric cars now outperform their gas-guzzling counterparts in comfort, convenience, and, best of all, speed…

..It’s one thing to know this stuff in theory. It’s another to experience it on Highway 101. That’s where I hitched a ride with Martin Eberhard, the Roadster’s inventor. Eberhard got behind the wheel of a Tesla prototype and put the pedal to the metal. I was flabbergasted. In the passenger seat, I was wrapped in an all-powerful force that launched me forward with a perfectly even push. I’ve been driven this fast before in high-end European cars, always with a mix of excitement and omigod we’re all going to die. But as Eberhard zoomed around slowpoke trucks and shot into traffic openings, I never once flinched with worry. I thought I’d miss the sexy rumble of a well-honed engine, but I didn’t. In the silence I felt less distracted, more alert on the road…

My offer to represent the blogosphere and do a test drive still stands.

Victor Davis Hanson has decided that worldwide Islamist aggression will not stand

It’s past time that we quit worrying whether a killer who blows himself up on the West Bank, or a terrorist who shouts the accustomed jihadist gibberish as he crashes a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center, or a driver who rams his explosives-laden car into an Iraqi polling station, or a Chechnyan rebel who blows the heads off schoolchildren, is in daily e-mail contact with Osama bin Laden. Our present lax attitude toward jihadism is akin to deeming local outbreaks of avian flu as regional maladies without much connection to a new strain of a deadly — and global — virus.

Instead, the world—if it is to save its present liberal system of free trade, safe travel, easy and unfettered communications, and growing commitment to constitutional government—must begin seeing radical Islamism as a universal pathology rather than reactions to regional grievances, if it is ever to destroy it materially and refute it ideologically.

Yet the antidote for radical Islam, aside from the promotion of democratization and open economies, is simple. It must be militarily defeated when it emerges to wage organized violence, as in the cases of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Zarqawi’s terrorists in Iraq, and the various killer cliques in Palestine.

Second, any who tolerate radical Islam should be ostracized. Muslims living in the West must be condemned when they assert that the Jews caused 9/11, or that suicide bombing is a legitimate response to Israel, or that Islamic immigrants’ own unique culture gives them a pass from accustomed assimilation, or that racial and religious affinity should allow tolerance for the hatred that spews forth from madrassas and mosques — before the patience of Western liberalism is exhausted and “the rules of the game” in Tony Blair’s words “change” quite radically and we begin to see mass invitations to leave.

Third, nations that intrigue with jihadists must be identified as the enemies of civilization. We often forget that there are now left only four major nation-states in the world that either by intent or indifference allow radical Islamists to find sanctuary.

If Pakistan were seriously to disavow terrorism and not see it as an asset in its rivalry with India and as a means to vent anti-Western angst, then Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and their lieutenants would be hunted down tomorrow.

If the petrolopolis of Saudi Arabia would cease its financial support of Wahhabi radicals, most terrorists could scarcely travel or organize operations.

If there were sane governments in Syria and Iran, then there would be little refuge left for al Qaeda, and the money and shelter that now protects the beleaguered and motley collection of ex-Saddamites, Hezbollah, and al Qaedists would cease.

So in large part four nations stand in the way of eradicating much of the global spread of jihadism — and it is no accident that either oil or nuclear weapons have won a global free pass for three of them. And it is no accident that we don’t have a means to wean ourselves off Middle East oil or as yet stop Iran from becoming the second Islamic nuclear nation.

So, what are we doing to stop the global spread of Jihadism? Not much. In fact, if we follow Jim Baker’s advice, we’ll be doing an awful lot to encourage it.

Dick Cheney is doing his best to empower the fascist/terrorist regime Saudi Arabia:

Vice President Dick Cheney is on his way back to Washington after a daylong whirlwind meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah.

On all issues, the Saudis and the United States see “eye to eye,” the adviser added.

Saudi Arabia is expected to take a lead role in the region.

That’s how we fight this war – by legitimizing and empowering our enemies.

Great plan, guys. Fuckin’ ingenious, if I understand it correctly. It’s a Swiss fuckin’ watch.

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