On 5/28/07 1:28 PM, “g” <g> wrote:

> http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-6883441047197474365&q=richard+gage

I have to respect you for continuing to try, but I’d love to have that hour of my life back.

All of the sources in the presentation cite each other or sources I’ve already read. There is no new material here except a presenter who has consumed all the same material you have — the same material you’ve already presented to me — and believes what you believe. The movie segments that get played over and over again show nothing new, because those are the same movie segments I’ve seen over and over again already.

Also, I challenge you to go through this presentation and make a collection of all the sensationalist adjectives: “shocking”, “devastating”, “damning”, etc. You’ll need several pages of paper. These go in the same category as the “nearly” and “almost” from previous discussions. These words have no value except to manipulate the emotions of the viewer/reader, and if your argument can’t get by without them, then you don’t have an argument. I’m offended as a journalist and a scientist, and I’m insulted as someone who is theoretically capable of looking at evidence and making my own decisions.

The more I look at these video segments, the more I am utterly convinced that this is not any kind of demolition other than the kind planned for and hoped for by the building designers.  No controlled demolition would involve “squib” demo-packs on every single floor blowing out every single window. The flames we see popping out of the windows are clouds of superheated material getting sudden access to oxygen and igniting — something every trained firefighter on earth knows about. I see nothing in this presentation that is inconsistent with trapped air from a collapsing building being puffed out floor-by-floor as the ceiling above comes down in less than a tenth of a second.

And even more importantly, nothing ever addresses the most important question of “Why?”. Here are a bunch of “why?” questions that, if there were a conspiracy that blew up the WTC buildings, need some plausible conjectural answers, at minimum:

If the buildings were going to continue to stand, why bring them down at all?

If there were ways that the buildings could have come down that would do more damage, i.e., toppling, why (hypothetically) go to truly exceptional lengths to bring them down in a manner that would cause the least amount of collateral damage?

Why go through all that trouble to pancake the buildings then and there when, as damaged as they were, demolition companies would have to have done so later anyway?

Why involve planes at all if the buildings were already mined with explosives? Why not just pin the bombs on whoever they chose?

Why involve planes at all if the building designs show that planes wouldn’t be sufficient?

Why pin the crime on someone other than Saddam Hussein?

I’ve asked all of these questions before. I assume you don’t have answers. I can’t come up with any either without resorting to the same unfathomable bullshit spewed supporting “Intelligent Design” theories — a vast all-powerful intelligence that makes deliberate mistakes in order to amuse and confound. I understand that we’re not dealing with cosmic-level intelligences, but an alliance of imperfect human beings, but that’s yet another strike. Conspiracies keep things simple to keep down the risk of mistakes creeping in and compounding. Conspiracies keep just a couple of people involved to keep down the chance that someone will rat the rest of them out.

Each time a level of complexity is added to the theory, if becomes less likely to have succeeded and less plausible. Each time you add in a factor that means another individual, another expert, another team had to be involved, that’s another strike. For someone who already has some personal credibility invested in the theory, each new explanation is an angel — an endorsement and a salvation. For someone who hasn’t bought in, however, each new addition that doesn’t simplify other details is just another elephant to swallow.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? As many as you like. How many elephants? Zero. Your angels are my elephants here. Every explanation that complexifies rather than simplifies? I can’t swallow ’em.

The simplest solution is that these buildings were designed to collapse like a stack of pancakes if overstressed beyond their tolerances, just so they would not topple and wreck the entire south end of Manhattan. I know this to be the practice of engineers who design skyscrapers.

I know these buildings were designed to withstand the impact of the largest aircraft known at the time. I also know they’ve been standing for forty years ungergoing normal stresses. I know that buildings tend to get weaker instead of stronger as they age. I also know that builders and subcontractors skimp if they think they can get away with it because it improves their profit margins. Suburban Atlanta is rife with houses and buildings that have been shown to have been built deceptively out of poorer materials than the specs called for. There have been many scandals, including people who have disappeared or been murdered before they could testify.

On one hand: 19 terrorists. Planes larger than designed tolerances. Old buildings. Buildings designed to collapse into their own footprint.

On the other: 19 people pretending to be terrorists. An individual or team of individuals who could design a non-standard building demolition scenario that specced out explosives to demolish three buildings, including possibly a fourth that no plane ever impacted. An individual or teams of individuals who could build those explosive devices. An individual or team of individuals who could deploy those devices. An individual or team of individuals who could trigger those explosives. (I concede the possibility of one bomb designing/deploying/triggering genius, but odds are low that a single individual would be up to the task. Odds are better that a single team of individuals could do all three tasks.) An individual or team of individuals dedicated to subtly poisoning an ongoing investigation with disinformation. At least semi-rational answers to absolutely all of those “why” questions above, plus possibly a couple more that I haven’t thought of.

Occam’s Razor is frequently too sharp. I don’t like to use it much, because I also know that sometimes complex things happen to simple people. Occam’s Razor has sent plenty innocent people to jail. However, our current administration over here has already shown themselves to be incapable of running a conspiracy, which is why Scooter Libby is headed to jail.

If they had geniuses around that could pull this stuff off, then they’d have geniuses around that could have implicated the right enemy. They’d have had geniuses around that would have double-checked the underlying reasoning and come up with something that would have been way more clear-cut, way more plausible, and way more effective in achieving a way more useful goal.

I’m tired of saying the same things over and over again, G. Feel free to keep sending me links to material. I’ll read and watch what I have the time for. But I’m not responding anymore to anything that requires me to say what I’ve already said. And all I’m doing now is solidifying my arguments to convince people of the opposite of what you believe. You can keep giving me fuel for that if you like, but it’s not in your best interests.


— X


May 30, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  
May 6, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

I had a nightmare once where I saw the moon crack in half. There was this horrible sudden feeling of lightness, like the ground was dropping out from under me, and then the moon lurched from side to side and broke.1 I remember talking to a friend or two in college about the possibility that one could throw a baseball at a system of ultra-dense objects (stars or black holes or such) with just the right trajectory for it to get slingshotted back out of the system at a substantial fraction of the speed of light, which would give it an apparent (relativistic) mass of what we decided would be a metric fuckton2 and a velocity that we just mentioned and, if it were headed our way, our ability to see it coming would be just about nil.3 In any case, tidal disruption would totally wreck the weather and proceed to destroy all life.

I’ve tried to write a story about this kind of thing several times. Another one of my favorite scenarios has our solar system spotlighted by a slowly nutating4 beam of radiation emitted from the pole of a nearby collapsing star that builds up a large enough imbalance of electrical charges between the earth and the moon that we get lightning-like static discharge between them whenever they line up with the star (not that it would ever be a good idea to be outside when the star was in the sky anyway).

Frankly, it hardly matters how the earth is being destroyed.5 The plot is always how humanity deals with the fact that the earth is being wiped clean of life over the course of a year or so in a non-preventable way that shows exactly how much God seems to hate us. The other part of the plot is a panicked and rushed attempt to archive as much of us as possible in some meaningful way before the end comes–given that five or ten years of steady baking is guaranteed to vaporize all the oceans and re-melt the earth’s crust. Not that nearby space will be any safer if anyone is thinking of escaping via rocketry, as the earth’s magnetosphere is actually providing a limited amount of protection.

I’ve done sketches for this story from a bunch of different angles–from the viewpoint of a lottery-winner being moved to an underground bunker, from the viewpoint of someone (a number of someones, even) in a not-quite-so-successful ark project…. I keep floundering. A believable drawn-out end to the world is a really big story with, at least for part of it, a cast of seven billion characters. Finding a few as tools to tell the story and then likely killing off everyone regardless of how much I like them, slowly, over the course of a few hundred pages–well, I expect I’ll need frequent breaks and/or therapy and/or a much larger liquor budget.

It may turn out that the whole storyline is a bit too grim to immerse myself in until I find a better happy place to visit, so to speak.


1 I understand that this is part of the backstory of Thundarr the Barbarian. Shut up. It could happen.
2 Work with me here. Deca-, Kilo-, Mega-, Giga-, Tera-, Peta-, Exa-, … Fuck-.
3 Absolutely nil to see it directly. If we were actively looking at specific objects in the Oort cloud at the time of the fastball’s approach, we might see them getting yanked and/or slung away with maybe an hour or two’s warning. If it came at us from the side away from the sun.
4 Not a typo. Definition here.
5 …though I do like the mental picture of humongous lightning bolts from the moon. Misery loves company.

May 6, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

Tastes like Chicken:

Like popcorn. Like popcorn, I tell you.

I like ’em when they lie real still.

Some right bastard is selling tickets. Charging admission for the ride. I’m willing to bet.

And another thing: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0.

This is a description of a large hexadecimal number. Apparently HD-DVD manufacturers use this number described as a “processing key” — basically an encrypting password — to make sure their HD-DVDs play on “approved” machines only — specifically ones that employ a recognized form of protection against copying their disks — or, as it turns out, only on devices for which one of the world’s lamest anti-piracy/anti-copy protections is actually functional.

One particular user bought a player for playing HD-DVDs, bought a few HD-DVDs, and then discovered that they anti-copy crapola in the player was busted and wouldn’t play his legally obtained media. So he took a few pains to discover the processing key so he could make copies of his discs that would play in his player. And then he posted the procedure to the system of tubes we all know and love so that other people who were having the same or similar problems would be able to play their movies on their players, no matter how poorly designed they were, and also to publicize the problem so that potential buyers of the technology and media could be suitably warned.

The manufacturers of the systems involved are now claiming that the number listed above is a “tool” for getting around anti-copy/anti-piracy or other Digital Rights Management measures, which, according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is a criminal activity punishable by law to publish and/or provide to others. They will also claim that, by reporting this news about this exciting string of numbers — and please note I have not published the actual number itself but merely the minimum sufficient information describing that number so that it may be identified with 100% certainty in a police line-up of similar numbers, plus some dashes to make it readable and, should you feel inclined, memorizable — I have also violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (although I am convinced I have not or else I would not be posting this) by publishing its description above. Be aware: if you know this number and report about it in a public place, you could also be charged with violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by people who, if they are willing to set the precedent that information — like a simple string of digits, and I would be hard-pressed to find any kind of usable information that could not also be expressed as a string of digits (you’re soaking in it right now, Marge) — is a tool, could make it a criminal act merely to know a particular item of information, like, but possibly not exactly, 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0. Maybe in fact your own name could be encoded by some process into this very same string of digits, and then possession and publication of your own name, for instance, could be a criminal act.

In fact, “enforcers” who believe that “publication” of this “tool” is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are busy even as I type this trying to send notices to absolutely everyone who is responsible for having posted the number described above, including demands that ISPs pull the plug on hosted services and that those very same service hosters pull the plug on allegedly offending posters, who also get their own copy with a chance to delete their posts — if they beat their hosters to the punch, who may or may not already have been shut down themselves. Last I heard, however, enforcement of Federal- or International Treaty-level criminal code was the purview of the FBI, who I am not sure anyone has heard from. I do hope, however, that the producers of this horribly crappy anti-piracy DRM technology (that hinges on a string of digits that you can query the player hardware to tell you) are not trying to waste the FBI’s time with trying to stop the nearly ubiquitous spread of the description of this innocent number as, by now, it is a literally impossible task and pointless as well. The FBI, I have heard, has much more pressing matters of National Security to attend to, including inappropriately spying on US citizens without a warrant and protecting us from shampoo on airplanes.

I would like one of these notices. I will probably frame the first one, although if I get as many as some people are I could consider wallpapering my study. But if I get one of these notices I will immediately turn around and sue the bejeezus out of the issuers for the attempt to improperly use a piece of questionable legislation to suppress my constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech by way of the mechanisms of frivolous lawsuits, various methods of blackmail and coercion, and malicious prosecution.


May 2, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

In honor of today being declared by our President to be Loyalty Day (please please please go read this bullshit), I just mailed the following:

From the Desk of Laszlo Xalieri

May 1, 2007

Dear Hon. Mr. President,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever concerning violations of the freedoms upon which our nation is founded,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever concerning violations of the public trust by dealing in massive untruths that have cost thousands of lives, many billions of dollars, and irreplaceable credibility domestically and internationally,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever concerning corruption and cronyism,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever concerning flagrant disregard for the Constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair and speedy trial, the Constitutionally guaranteed right to know upon what charges one is being imprisoned, the Constitutionally guaranteed right to materials and capacity to defend oneself against accusations and criminal charges, the Constitutionally guaranteed right to protection against unfair search and seizure, the Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and the Constitutionally guaranteed right to demand redress for wrongs from one’s government,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever concerning dishonoring international treaties that according our Constitution are to be inviolable law of the land,

In light of this administration having the worst record ever for the mistreatment of our soldiers and veterans, especially with respect to fair compensation, guaranteed medical care, and deserved acknowledgment of their duty and service,

In light of this administration having, as detailed above, the worst record ever for having shown its own disloyalty to this nation, the Constitution, the soldiers of the Armed Services, and, certainly not least of all, to the citizenry and the freedoms we all hold dear,

I declare the declaration of any kind of Loyalty Day by _this_ administration to be ironic in the extreme, disrespectful in the extreme to any citizen or lawful resident who has shown _true_ loyalty, and in extremely poor taste, as it recommends that the citizenry of this nation show qualities of which our government and its administrators have demonstrated themselves to be fundamentally incapable.


Laszlo Xalieri


May 1, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else  

Anti-ThoughtsThe Footnote    Dustin Grovemiller

    Dustin questions why he’s wasting a perfectly pleasant day in front of the computer.

AWCOMIX    Anthony Woodward

    The author tries to come to grips with the results of working too much. How did the problem get so out of hand?

Just the Right Bullets    Adam P. Knave

    Adam has an encounter with the Nintendo Wii.

Letters from Heck    Laszlo Xalieri

    An exploration of personal sacrifice wherein Laszlo theorizes that it’s apparently hard to make sacrifice count.

Pure Lard    D.J. Kirkbride

    Horror! There’s something wrong with D.J.’s television, which means that our hero must go to great lengths to get his lifeline repaired.

Reality Is What You Make It    John Belden

    This wonderful essay on belief manages to draw a parallel between Moses and Pecos Bill. You should read it simply because it did that. Then go out and see The Adventures of Moses and Pecos Bill, coming soon to theatres.

The Truth of the Matter    Ryan Dilbert

    Ryan’s having one of those days when he just can’t get something out of his head. And apparently today, it’s the government.

Spoiler Warning    Banter about movies

    D.J. and Dustin develop some astounding theories about Young Sherlock Holmes. But is Dustin’s failure to watch the credits an elementary mistake?

Hooray for Comics!    Words plus pictures are a good time

    A shocking expose of The Legion of Super-Heroes’ inner workings. Doubly good if you pretend to be Paul Harvey while reading it.


May 1, 2007 · Posted in Everything Else