David Deutsch in a rare attempt at satire (the rest of this post is written by Deutsch):

Rondo a la Turque

Turkish troops have reportedly entered northern Iraq
despite opposition from the US. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Turkish forces had moved across the border to prevent a flood of refugees.

According to Turkish military sources, more than 1,000 commandos crossed the border.

The Turkish military Saturday denied reports
that some 1,000 Turkish commandos crossed into northern Iraq, a military move that would likely increase tensions with Iraqi Kurds and Washington.

And
A military official said Friday that soldiers, in M-113 armored personnel carriers, rolled into northeastern Iraq from near the town of Cukurca, where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran converge. He said the soldiers were reinforcing several thousand Turkish troops already on the Iraqi side of the border and were not ordered to go deeper into Iraq.

Similar reports were front-page news in Turkish newspapers Saturday and were carried on Turkish television stations throughout the night.

And
A spokesman for the Turkish General Staff denied the reports.

?Turkey has not entered northern Iraq,? the spokesman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. ?Such news is a lie.?

A dastardly lie! Turkey would never do a thing like that. They?re shocked. Shocked, do you hear?

With me so far? OK, next:
Germany said Saturday it would withdraw its crew members from NATO surveillance planes that are patrolling Turkish airspace if Turkey moves its troops into Iraq. The threat was announced by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defense Minister Peter Struck following a meeting of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Security Cabinet.

They threatened to withdraw if Turkey moves troops into Iraq? Do they mean if Turkey moves more troops? BTW Turkish troops already were in Iraq -- they have been for years. Perhaps the Germans are confused, and think that incursions of up to 150 km are OK, but now they've moved to 180km. Or something.

Anyway -- good news everyone:
UN weapons inspector Hans Blix announced today from Ankara that a preliminary inspection of the city ?has revealed no evidence that Turkey has moved any troops into Iraq?. He said there is evidence of previous incursions, and the inspectors are ?vigorously pursuing the issue?, demanding that the Turkish government deliver ?credible evidence? that all the troops had been withdrawn in the mid-1990s. He praised the Turkish government's cooperation ?on process? and said he was confident that cooperation on substance would be forthcoming during the coming months. Meanwhile, inspections would continue. ?There are a lot of interesting restaurants in downtown Istanbul?, Mr. Blix remarked.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry at first issued the following statement:
Who is this idiot?

But later amended this to:
We reiterate that there are no, absolutely no, Turkish troops in Iraq. They are there for humanitarian reasons only, and the land they are seizing is not for territorial purposes. UN inspectors are welcome to search for them anywhere in Turkey.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Stephen Den Beste replied to my previous blog about the ACLU (quoted with permission):

I'm afraid I must deeply disagree with you. Our dedication to freedom absolutely must include defending the speech of those we hate. The entire point is that the protection of speech must indeed be moral neutral. If protection of speech becomes broadly related to the content of the speech and the extent to which it is approved by the general populace, then it ceases to be protected.

While it's true that we should not censor speech because it has content we do not like, there are certain types of speech that are unacceptable, such as yelling "Fire!!" in a movie theatre. Speech intended to intimidate or harass or frighten people, is also objectionable. I would say it is immoral. Someone more into rights, could simply say I don't agree with a right to intimidating speech.

You cannot come up to me and tell me I should be killed, and expect your "right" to harass me to be protected. Neither should you be able to go find a bunch of Jews and start talking about how Jews should die, or Hitler wasn't so bad (less direct, but same thing).

The entire point of it is that sometimes we need revolutionary ideas introduced into the political process, and that it is often the case that such ideas are found to be deeply offensive by many.

As a standalone, I agree with this bit. But it misses the point: my criterion is not to ban unpopular ideas, but intimidating and harassing ones.

If the idea is worthless or vile, it will fail in the "marketplace of ideas". But if it's unpopular but also important, then it must be given that chance.

Again, it's not that the ideas are bad, it's that speaking them hurts people.

Originally, the idea of giving women the vote was seen as radical, absurd, immoral. We now view it differently.

Going around saying "I think women should be allowed to vote" didn't harm men.

Nazism and bigotry are also immoral, and I want to make clear that I don't equate them with Women's Suffrage. But if we have confidence in our population, we defend ourselves against evil and harmful ideas by arguing against them, not by using the power of law to suppress them. The problem with use of censorship in that way is that it makes us stand on the edge of a precipice, where we can fall off. Once we start suppressing the Nazis, where do we stop?

My fear is definitely not that people would agree with the Nazis, and I agree censoring ideas for fear people might like them is wrong.

I do not agree with the Nazis. I despise what they stand for, and everything they advocate. And it is precisely because of this that I feel obligated to defend their right to express their point of view.

There are ways the Nazis could express their point of view that I would not object to. But finding some Jews to harass isn't one of them.

Would you feel safe walking through a crowd of Nazis with your children to spend some time at the park? Would there be police at the march? Why do you think they are there?

The point is precisely that law is not morality, and I do not think we should use the power of law to enforce morality.

I don't make distinctions about what it is and is not legitimate to make laws about. There is no system under which the vast majority of people think something is morally imperative, and then don't act on this. Regardless, laws certainly should be able to stop harassment as takes place at actual Nazi speeches (as opposed to the imaginary Utopian ones where they are all nice and friendly).

Morality enters into the situation in a different way. In the marketplace of ideas, it is public morality which will guarantee that the ideas of the Nazis will never become widespread. Since I have faith in the fundamental decency of the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I do not fear letting them be exposed to the ideas of groups like the Nazis, because I know they'll react to them the same way you and I do.

I too have such faith! That's really not my objection ^_^

Therefore, our nation and our system are not in peril because the Nazis are free to spout their hateful garbage. But if we start using the power of law to suppress those with whom we disagree, that actually creates the potential for a different peril in future which could end up endangering us all.

Letting the Nazis speak may be evil, but it is the lesser evil.

I understand concerns of a police state, but on the other end of the spectrum, are concerns of tolerance of evil, and moral relativism, and a society that doesn't stand up for right, which is also terrible. Thus "do everything possible to avoid a police state" would be the wrong strategy -- we must make judgments about what should be stopped.

So, to sum up, because Nazi rallies involve more than just communicating ideas (and this one in particular was intentionally targeted at a Jewish community), the ACLU need not and should not help them take place.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)
(see Gil's comments on last entry)

Police wanted to ban Nazi march b/c of threat to public safety.

Nazi march banned on basis of fear of violence. nazis march anyway.

Therefore, it seems odd the ACLU looks at Nazi marches as a "freedom of unpopular speech" issue, doesn't it? The issue is really how dangerous they are.

And about the Skokie/ACLU case in particular:

thousands fear him

For more than a year he terrorized the citizens of Skokie

and OMG look at this: The park district responded by informing Collin that he would be required to come up with a huge liability insurance policy to cover possible damages at the rally - a requirement the district knew he could not fulfill.

They wanted him to have insurance to cover the risks involved in the march, and knew he couldn't pay for that, so told him to go away. that's like QED

but that's not all: A simple recital of the events from April 27, 1977, to July 9, 1978, does not convey the mood that existed. Skokie's Jews were both terrified and infuriated at the prospect of Nazis marching in their midst.

Get it?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
We have decided to answer some common misconceptions. They shouldn't be common. *sigh*

Guns hurt people, therefore they are bad

Elliot: ummm, guns can be used to defend people too, they're just a tool to help us further our intentions.

curi: Guns only hurt monkeys unless you have crap aim.

Dolphins are intelligent

Elliot: ummmm, so if they had hands, they would have built underwater cities already, right? The obstacle is simply being stuck in a really useless body....

curi: Me thinks dolphin researchers can't tell the difference between dolphins and themselves. Me thinks this comments more on the researchers than the dolphins.

We have to hurt children to prepare them for a life that won't always be happy

Elliot: What if we didn't do this, and when our children had problems, we helped them, and so they never found out that life sucks? Wouldn't it then be true that it doesn't?

curi: just b/c *your* life sucks...

Liberals mean well

Elliot: Hence they wanted the torture of children in Iraq to continue indefinitely

curi: Hence they wanted the torture of children in Iraq to continue indefinitely

Recycling will save the world

Elliot: Most recycling uses tons of energy, and takes lots of work to do, and is actually *inefficient*. And save the world? From what?

curi: I have a really good recipe for hippie soup, to put all those atoms to better use.

The Sky Is Falling

Elliot: I don't have any bumps on my head, and I don't see anything falling, and there aren't any pieces of sky on the ground. It seems a rather good explanation that the sky is not falling.

curi: Are you on crack?

The quest for Iraqi oil costs the lives of too many babies to be justified

Elliot: We aren't going to Iraq to steal oil, and we aren't shooting at babies either.

Isyn: Actually, at 17,400 barrels per baby, we are doing better than the minimal justification mark of 15,000 barrels per baby.

curi: Heh, I thought the Iraqi program to crack open baby heads in search of oil was a better kept secret.

curi: oh wait, better response: BLOOD LIBEL!!!!!!!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I wrote this to the ARR list
Subject: Re: Too Close For Comfort


On Thursday, April 10, 2003, at 03:34 AM, Alice Bachini wrote:

XXXXXX wrote:

What if cutting one's own hair distresses long term friend?

As soon as one suspects that this might be the case, for example when one notices than one's friend starts crying whenever one mentions barbers', one should get sufficiently distant from one's friend that he no longer minds what one does to one's hair

Well, that is *one* approach (one can't help but notice the subject line, at this point). And it is true that with sufficient distance from everyone else, one will never have relationship problems. But this would be a lonely life.

There is another approach to relationships, which embraces intimacy instead of seeing it as a threat to autonomy. With this alternative approach, we will be wary of condemning our friends for hangups or even for moral wrongdoing. We will see joint problem solving, not as something to avoid via distance, but as an enjoyable venture conducive to more intimacy. We will not be frightened of "erosion of our personal domain" -- rather the opposite: we will welcome caring and closeness.

(presumably he is able to co-exist on the planet with others who cut their hair, it's only when he gets close that the problems start).

That certain problems only occur in close relationships, does not mean we should not have them. Certain problems only occur when you have kids, too. Or when you go out to dinner.

One should stay distant, and negotiate from there, until the problem is solved. If it remains unsolved, one should stay distant.

What if intimacy is conducive to solving problems of these sorts? It seems that the solution depends on detailed personal knowledge of each other.

But this reveals another divide: Is the goal to let the person with long hair do whatever she likes, or is it for the two friends to reach agreement? If we have the first goal, distance seems a good plan. But if we have the second -- if we find people caring about us to have value rather than be a burden -- then distance is not the right answer.

All this should happen before "long-term" has become one of the expectations of the friendship. People should not get involved with those who would impinge their basic freedoms against their will.

If one values these "basic freedoms" above all else, Alice is perfectly right. But that is not the only approach to life.

Note the "above all else" clause includes morality! For morality tells us that to get what we want -- to fully realise our intentions -- we must be open to changing those intentions to ones that are better realisable. And so, we cannot hold up rights as the be-all, end-all of everything. We must be willing to compromise them when doing so will help us.

When the wrongness is very ingrained, problems are very serious and it's simply too late to get away (distance) easily, gradually and carefully can sometimes work. Other times, bombs are required (laser-guided recommended).

Is the suggestion really that if we find our life intertwined with someone, and we find this person cares about our hair, we must destroy the relationship to get back our "freedom"?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
i'm reading my old TCS posts. one esp cool feature, is rediscovering good ideas *of my own* that i'd forgotten. here's one:

Sometimes there are arguments about what things should be offered to kids. Some people acknowledge they should let their kids try things the kids might like, but then deny that kids might like ice cream, or chocolate, or whatever. And then people debate this. But doesn't the very fact that the item is worth debating, mean the kid *might* like it? By the very act of arguing about it, the anti-ice cream people lose the argument.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
An Unsealed Room posted a response completely missing the point.

I've Just Been Accused of Child Abuse

No, cruelty to children. Child Abuse has connotations of doing something illegal, and getting children sent to a foster home by CPS (Child Protective Services in US) and such. Child abuse usually involves hitting children, or neglecting to feed them, or raping them or the like. Trying to paint my claims as absurd by changing them, is wrong.

Why? Because I have the audacity to complain about the schools being on strike on the heels of a 19-day vacation. (And it looks as if this strike could stretch beyond a week.)

Well, no. I wasn't supporting the strike. I was upset that Allison finds having her children home from school insane-making. And would deny them the pleasure they get from holidays.

[short snip]

Elliot Temple left the following comment: Doesn't it seem a bit perverse for a parent to moan and groan that he or she "has to" (gets to!) spend more time with his or her children? And don't you know how much children tend to like breaks from school?

I sure did. And though Allison knows every word I used, she still hasn't understood a sentence of it. (She doesn't find my comment worthy of a reply, either.)

Now he has ceremoniously delinked me from his blog because of my "cruelty to children." (he also didn't like that I let my son go on a field trip without a gas mask after the fall of Baghdad, but before the official "all clear" sign was given.)

No, my objection wasn't that she "let" her son go without the mask, (what is he a dog that you let run off leash...sometimes?) it's rather that her son *wanted* the mask, and she refused to stand up for him to the trip supervisor. She only does that if he's really hurt. Not merely distressed (coerced).

Anyone who would like to support me in the position that a month away from school is not something that a working parent who cares about their child's education should celebrate is welcome to do so....

It's notable that she appeals to the parental conspiracy for support. It's also notable that her appeal lies about what the issue is. She must know perfectly well my objection is not "children shouldn't learn".

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
ok started reading another but i got all the way to the 2nd paragraph and just had to bitch about it!

It would be their first time alone together, without a group of friends around. Jane's heart raced as she realized what it meant to be on a real date with Eric. For so long, they had just been friends, and she wasn't sure how she should act.

You can't just change a relationship by fiat (declaring that you are dating).

Interactions are interactions, again declaring one to be different doesn't work.

Although if we take "date" as a codeword for "now we're allowed to fuck" I suppose it makes sense. Even the bit about not being sure how to act.

For fun, go around asking dating couples if by dating they mean "allowed to fuck". heheh, ask some no-premarital-sex Christians why they are dating. maybe to be allowed to kiss -_-o

Joe: I want a girlfriend
curi: you're horny?
Joe: *gets offended* lonely!
curi: so you want a friend?
Joe: that's a girl
curi: why a girl?
Joe: not attracted to guys
curi: what difference does that make? you said this isn't a horny thing.
Joe: erm, uhhh
curi: you make no sense
Joe: SHUT UP
Joe: Yo, Dianne, will you go out with me?
Dianne: yes
curi: why'd you agree?
Dianne: i wanna date, and no one else asked
curi: you slut!
Dianne: excuse me? i'm a total prude!
curi: so you just want some free meals?
Dianne: nooooo
curi: you'll kiss him in return?
Dianne: noooooo
curi: fine, you explain it
Dianne: he'll buy me stuff, and then we might fall in love. Isn't that romantic?
curi: what if he doesn't wanna pay?
Dianne: i'm new agey. i might allow it.
curi: how kind!
Dianne: aren't I, though?
curi: so anyway, if you two were friends, who didn't date, you might fall in love, right?
Dianne: I guess
curi: so what's the point of dating?
Dianne: how else would i meet my soul mate?
curi: you think going out with one person at a time, who you pick by who asks you, is a good way to find a soul mate?
Dianne: Joe, help!
Joe: *punches curi*
curi: *falls over*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Worst Romance Story Ever

Eric and Jane had been friends for as long as they could remember -- which wasn't very long given the amount of pot they smoked. Eric and Jane were always at the same parties, 'cause they had the same group of friends. One day, Eric got up the courage to ask Jane out. He'd had a crush on her for six months.

Jane liked Eric too, but she never said anything. She secretly hoped he would ask her out. Then, one day, he did, totally out of the blue. Jane went weak in the knees and said yes. They would go out Friday night, just the two of them.

Eric couldn't wait for Friday to come, he was so excited. Soon he would be with Jane alone! But on Thursday Eric got nervous. He worried he wouldn't be a stud and Jane would dump him. He worried Jane might forget the date. As a precaution, Eric didn't smoke pot all week. Except twice.

Jane did forget the date. But fortunately on Thursday Eric's friend reminded her. She was so happy, again! That night she dreamed that Eric would give her a rose and buy her a nice dinner, and they would talk, and then they would go to the beach and walk in the moonlight, and then Eric would kiss her. Then Jane woke up, a little embarrassed.

When the time came to pick Jane up, Eric was scared. But he liked her a lot, so he went. Jane looked beautiful, and Eric said so. Jane blushed and smiled. When they got to the restaurant, they were nervous. Eric said if only they were high, this would be easier, because he would be more relaxed and right now he was nervous. Jane was nervous too, but Eric's comment broke the tension. After that they relaxed and talked and had a nice meal.

Jane felt so comfortable with Eric that she completely trusted him and was really happy. Eric felt like he never had before. The date was going so well. The waiter even made a comment about young love, and Jane blushed, and Eric stammered for him to go away. But the incident only brought the young couple closer together.

After they finished eating, Eric stared at Jane for a while. And Jane stared at Eric. They wanted things to continue. Eventually, Eric got up the courage to ask Jane to go walk on the beach with him. In the moonlight, the beach was really pretty. Jane remembered her dream, and also she liked the beach, so she smiled and Eric smiled back. They held hands and walked and talked.

After they walked a while, they sat down on a big piece of driftwood. It was cold, so Eric put his arm around Jane. Jane snuggled closer to Eric. They felt like they were in heaven. Jane said she was so happy Eric had asked her out. Eric was encouraged and kissed Jane. The kiss was magical. It was even better than being high.

Eric looked into Jane's eyes. They were so pretty. Eric said so. Jane smiled and kissed Eric. She was happy he liked her. Jane said she liked Eric. Eric said he liked her too. They kissed again and Jane noticed Eric was hard. She touched the bulge in his pants. Eric took Jane's other hand in his and squeezed encouragingly. Soon Jane opened the fly and took out Eric's dick. Eric groaned happily.

Jane had never seen a dick before in the flesh. Eric had never had anyone else touch his dick. Next Eric took off Jane's shirt and caressed her breasts. Jane got wet and enjoyed the sensations. Eric rubbed Jane down there, and true bliss was known to Jane. It wasn't long before the couple was naked. Jane begged Eric to enter her. Eric was only too happy to oblige.

Fortunately Jane's hymen was broken doing gymnastics, so Eric entered smoothly. Jane's sweet love-hole felt so good around Eric's dick, he was in heaven. Jane got really hot, and her breathing came quickly. She had never felt like this before! Soon, she had an explosion of pleasure, and briefly lost touch with reality as she orgasmed. Eric orgasmed too, and it was so good it blew away masturbation. Eric told Jane she made him feel so good, and Jane said the same to Eric.

They lay on the beach, and looked at the stars, and held each other in their arms, enjoying the moment. Eric turned to Jane and said "I love you, Jane." Jane said "I love you too, Eric." And they drifted off to sleep together, in the moonlight.

Eric and Jane loved each other so much, that they stopped smoking pot, because they wanted to remember that special night for all their lives. Thirty years later, they still remembered, and still loved each other. And they lived happily ever after, in love.

------------

Worst Political Thriller Ever

Eric and Bill were diplomats from different countries. They had been colleagues for as long as they could remember. They were always at the same international conferences, because they had specialised in the same sub-field of international relations. One day, Eric got up the courage to sound Bill out as a possible agent. He'd had been considering the possibility of such an approach for six months.

Bill respected Eric too, but he never said anything. He secretly hoped Eric would sound him out. Then, one day, Eric did, totally out of the blue. Bill secretly congratulated himself and said yes. They would meet at a secure location on Friday night, without even their interpreters present.

Eric couldn't wait for Friday to come, he was so excited. Soon he would be negotiating for a new agent in person! But on Thursday Eric got nervous. He worried he wouldn't convey sufficient authority and Bill would not wish to negotiate with him.

Bill dreamed that Eric would give him some important piece of intelligence as a mark of good faith, and they would discuss their speciality together, and then Eric would recruit him as an agent. Then Bill woke up, a little ashamed.

When the time came to go to the secure location, Eric was scared. But he had to trust his judgement, so he went. Bill looked serious, and Eric said so. Bill smiled enigmatically. At first they were nervous. After that they relaxed and talked business.

Eric told Bill an important piece of intelligence as a mark of good faith. Then Bill told Eric one, from his country. Then Eric told Bill another piece of intelligence. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one.

Eric and Bill formed an excellent working relationship. Bill became Eric's agent and Eric was Bill's handler and the arrangement they had together was mutually profitable for over thirty years.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Two troubled turtles trotted to the temple. There they told the templekeeper their troubles. Twice they'd tried, twice trashed: transforming tricky tensors too tough. The templekeeper told them to travel to the true temple to try the tenfold tensor trial there. Three trials of transforming tensors, three tribulations to triple tempo, two to try triangulating, then turning ten tridecagons to two tensors, then throwing trigons through the target. Temple trial taken, tempo tripled, tensor transforming totally terrific, the two turtles travelled to the terrible trap: two tests Thursday.

If you want to continue the story, you can in comments. You could do a diff letter if you wanted. I might later, if I feel like it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)