Aug 16 2006

Stick with the traditional definition of “planet”

The only way out of the muddled debate as to whether Pluto is a planet or not is to go back to the source of all truth. Consider: when he walked the earth, would Jesus have considered Pluto a planet?

At the time, the key distinction was between “fixed stars” and “wandering stars.” (The very word “planet” comes from planan, Greek for “wander.”) Pluto is not a wandering star—it’s not visible at all under ordinary circumstances. Nor are Ceres, Xena, or all the rest of the miscellaneous rocks and ammonia-soda flavored snowballs floating around out there. Ergo, they’re not planets. Nor is Earth a planet. By definition, where Earth is, the sky isn’t—and a thing that’s not in the sky can’t be a wandering star.

Now, if a light in the sky moves fast enough, it’s a shooting star. This means that we’ll have to reclassify the ISS as a shooting star, of course—that’s how a man of Jesus’ time would have classed it upon seeing it pass overhead. For that matter, a jet visible high above at night would also be a shooting star—unless it turned off its running lights. The Goodyear Blimp is a comet.

This does bring up the question as to just what Pluto and the like are, however. But given that they only become visible when someone tries to study the celestial sphere yet totally misses the point of gazing heavenward, I believe we should err on the side of caution and classify them as demons. (This certainly works well in the case of Pluto—a pagan “god” that rules the underworld. If that’s not Satan hiding in plain view, I don’t know what is.)

Going back to the definitions Our Savior and/or the medieval Church would have used would be inconvenient for professional astonomers, perhaps—but science must ever bow to traditional spiritual values and what the masses believe about the nature of the universe.



Clare and the Reasons, “Pluto”:

Rumors that this song causes me to mist up are PERFIDIOUS LIES.

Aug 15 2006

Three plus one plane-killing things current security cannot stop

(#2 in a series of unoriginal and obvious points I want to be able to say that I made publicly back in August 2006.)

  • Bomb in the cargo hold.
  • Artificial limb containing 460 ml 50% hydrochloric acid and 432 grams of sodium cyanide. When mixed, these form enough gas to contaminate the 703 cubic meters of a 747 with 300 ppmv of hydrogen cyanide—which can kill you by entering through your eyeballs. (With a long enough exposure, it can even enter through your skin.)
  • Sealed glass capsule containing 40 ml GB—which enters through your skin quickly. Assuming 10 ml for the glass itself, this can be carried in the rectum for hours at a time without incurring so much as a funny walk. (VX is worse, on a deaths per gram scale, but is a bit harder to weaponize.) Neither nerve gas requires a government-sized organization to produce—Aum Shinrikyo made (and killed people with) both.

I am not the first to think of these schemes, nor the first to speak of them. Thus, defeating them requires, at a minimum, inspection of all cargo, a qualified radiologist to take and inspect X-rays of all prosthetics, and full cavity searches of all passengers. Any airliner security program that does not include all three things does not protect passengers from threats known to be within the capabilities of private organizations.

Ergo, I argue that the debate is not whether airport security is sufficient. It is known not to be. The only question is why we’re bothering to implement measures that do not solve the problem they’re intended to. What benefit do you figure we derive? Are you sure it’s worth the price?

Further, even if we were to implement all three, there is one last scheme:

  • Corrupt a mechanic to install a bomb on the jet during routine maintenance.

No security measure inflicted on passengers can prevent this. Knowing this, does all the delay and indignity of passenger inspection still make you so much as make you feel safer?

Even ignoring the wasted time and subsequent loss of productivity, the security infrastructure is not free. You understand now that the security measures are pointless. How much of your money are you willing to pay—in the form of taxes and higher travel costs—to buy the props for a fool’s paradise?

Aug 1 2006


I have no new insights. I just want to be able to point to my having made these points out loud way back in August 2006.

There is one solution to the USA’s involvement in Iraq. When I say “one,” I mean that it is the solution we are doomed to implement—whether we plan for it or not, and whether we like it or not.


As in, get everybody the hell out as quickly as possible—where “as quickly as possible” is measured in DAYS. Call it 72 hours. Pull the units out of the cities, form them up into proper field deployments under air cover, and head for a coast or border.

This will be an absolute disaster for Iraq. There will be blood in the streets—rivers of it. There are factions atop factions, and most loathe each other. They’re going to fight it out. Many people will die horribly. Whatever government emerges is going to be a nightmare.

This is bad. The trouble is, this is what’s going to happen sooner or later anyway. The Fall of Baghdad is going to be a bigger disaster than the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single thing the USA can do to prevent it. The fire selector on an M16A4 does not include a setting for “Eliminate ethnic hatred.”

Understand that Iraqization is not going to work any better than Vietnamization did. Supporting a specific Iraqi government is not going to work any better than supporting a specific South Vietnamese government ever worked. As with Viet Nam, these realities transcend specifics of the USAen administration—Republican or Democrat, left, right, or center. No matter who takes power in 2009, 2013, or 2017, no matter what their politics or motives, any plan predicated on these notions will fail.

Further, a pullout with a timetable of months or years is just a slow, agonizing buildup to the finale. Recall Nixon and Ford: they understood the USA had to get out of Viet Nam, but they pursued Vietnamization for years. It didn’t help a soul. The final result—total defeat—was the same. They might as well have pulled out the day Nixon took office: it wouldn’t have been any worse for the Vietnamese, and fewer USAen soldiers would have died.

Sooner or later, that finale comes and it’s 72 hours to have everyone out of the country. Putting off the inevitable just costs money and lives while we sit around moaning about how tragic it all is.

Bite the bullet, cue up “White Christmas”, and hope the door doesn’t hammer our collective ass too hard on the way out.