December 8th, 2007


Now THERE'S a crazy-ass 9/11 theory I like...

When confronted by his "Saudi" interrogators, Zubaydah showed no fear. Instead, according to the two U.S. intelligence sources that provided me the details, he seemed relieved. The man who had been reluctant to even confirm his identity to his U.S. captors, suddenly talked animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would kill him. He then asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the Saudi royal family. And Zubaydah provided a private home number and a cell phone number from memory. "He will tell you what to do," Zubaydah assured them. That man was Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, one of King Fahd's nephews, and the chairman of the largest Saudi publishing empire.

American interrogators used painkillers to induce Zubaydah to talk - they gave him the meds when he cooperated, and withdrew them when he was quiet. They also utilized a thiopental sodium drip (a so-called truth serum). Several hours after he first fingered Prince Ahmed, his captors challenged the information, and said that since he had disparaged the Saudi royal family, he would be executed. It was at that point that some of the secrets of 9/11 came pouring out. In a short monologue, that one investigator told me was the "Rosetta Stone" of 9/11, Zubaydah laid out details of how he and the al Qaeda hierarchy had been supported at high levels inside the Saudi and Pakistan governments.

Oh, the amusement... the same Pakistan that recently signed a peace treaty with the Al Qaida-loving Taliban and basically gave them Waziristan!
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The Robot And The Baby

Child Welfare demanded that the mother undergo six weeks of addiction rehabilitation and three weeks child care training. Her lawyer persuaded her to agree to that. She really was very attractive when cleaned up and detoxified, and the lawyer married her. They took back Travis. It would be a considerable exaggeration to say they lived happily ever after, but they did have three children of their own. All four children survived the educational system.

There was a small fuss between the mother and Robot Central. She and her lawyer demanded a new robot, whereas Robot Central pointed out that a new robot would have exactly the same program. Eventually Robot Central gave in and sent her a robot of a different color.

The incident increased the demand for actual child-care robots, which were allowed five years later. The consequences were pretty much what the opponents had feared - many children grew up more attached to their robot nannies than to their actual parents.

An oldie but a goodie. Also, someone actually made the t-shirt.

Portal as a subversive feminist masterpiece

Since its release two months ago, Portal has met with overwhelming popular and critical success thanks to its quirky physics and dystopian humor. Yet beneath the mainstream success lies the most subversive first-person shooter (FPS) ever created. Portal is essentially a feminist critique of the FPS genre, flawlessly executed from within the margins it assails. Gender politics just got a whole lot more fun.

One the one hand, I think that some of the symbolism that this article claims to see in Portal really is worth considering. The portals as female genitalia symbol and the portal gun as a subversion of the typical phallic firearm is too amusing a thought not to consider.

On the other hand, I think the author got a couple things obviously wrong...

Weighted Companion Cube is not meant to be a father-figure, rather it's a boyfriend. It represents how modern women are at a crossroads, where society expects them to do the traditional thing (marry, have kids) when in truth, I think there are a growing number of women who basically consider men to be irrelevant dead-weight, and can't imagine how they're supposed to form some kind of close, lifelong attachment to these odd things. Well, maybe I'm making it sound more mean-spirited than the real attitude truly is. But you get the general idea, yes?

Also, the turret guns don't talk with the voice of a little boy, they talk with the voice of a little girl. I don't claim to know what that's supposed to mean, but it's obviously the same voice actress who did GlaDOS that voices the turrets. Just off the top of my head, I kinda like the theory that just as GlaDOS represents a corruption of the mother figure (she's actually an artificial construct, made by men in their own image, who falls woefully short of a proper nurturer) so also do the turrets represent a corruption of little girls.

(Though, frankly, when it comes to GlaDOS and the turrets, I think there's a whole lot more of the female psychological "I must get out from under the stifling control of my mother, and away from the savage attacks of my sisters!" drama going on there than anyone wants to admit.)

Oh yeah, one last thing... I've never gotten why some women get so insanely threated by this whole "male gaze" thing. If Lara Croft is really so disempowering to women, why is it that we see her kicking men's asses all the time? I don't think the second-wave feminists would like Priss very much, either. You don't see us guys spouting off about how we're so misrepresented and opressed because we're stereotyped as the beast-race Tauren in WoW, or as Ahnold-like hulks in 99.9% of every fantasy or combat game ever created. And when was the last time you saw an angry group of guys demanding that game developers put more skinny, pale, glasses-wearing nerd characters in video games?

I think the people who get all twisted up about that kind of stuff are forgetting that video games are fantasy. (In other words, they're not real.) And in fantasy we can all be hyper-idealized supermodels - men and women alike. And so we are.
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