The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Conflict (page 2 of 5)

Students assaulted on Guilford College campus

A sad story. I guess not everyone understands the whole Quaker college thing.

Link courtesy of Automatic Writing.

There are Klingons in the White House

Congressman David Wu (D-Oregon) warns: “Don’t let faux Klingons send real Americans to war!” Sage words, indeed.

Link courtesy of TV Squad

Update: Yes, by including the video in the page, the XHTML 1.1 validation is completely screwed up.

Improvised Explosive Device Improvised Detector

Silly String as safety device? Brilliant!

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

Imperial History of the Middle East

5,000 years of history mapped in 90 seconds.

Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

Random stuff from the past

When I run across interesting things to link from my blog, I usually send them to my Gmail account with the best intentions of blogging about them “when I get some time.” Well, that doesn’t happen as often as it should, so I’ll clear out a few items now:

5 Lamest Charlie Brown Cartoons – 10 Zen Monkeys covers the five worst Peanuts animated specials. I can’t agree with the inclusion of Snoopy, Come Home, though. Link courtesy of TV Squad.

The Last Panel – A dedicated fan adds the all-important last panel to some For Better or For Worse comic strips. They finally become funny. Link courtesy of The Comics Curmudgeon.

Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala – Wikipedia creates reality. A take-off on the Encyclopedia Brown books I devoured as a kid. Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave – Did a comet hit the Earth 4,800 years ago?

PHP Eats Rails for Breakfast – Is tracking new lines of code the best way to compare the relative popularity of two languages? That assumes languages evolve to the same level of code complexity when addressing common problems. Might not be a bad assumption, but it would be nice to see some analysis of it. Link courtesy of O’Reilly Ruby blog.

Empires with Expiration Dates – Niall Ferguson examines the short shelf lives of modern empires. Empires are defined as largely political and military entities, with direct power. The question I have is whether global capitalism encourages indirect power, namely economic and cultural. Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

Myths of British ancestry – Who were the Celts…and does it matter? Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

synerG Web Site Design Competition – Deadline December 31, 2006.

An Introduction to’s AppExchange – How to build your own hosted application to sell to users.

Election Day 2006 – Whose Side is your Favorite Superhero on? – Dave’s Long Box predicts how superheroes would vote. The Hulk’s a Libertarian…he just wants to be left alone.

Twitter – There’s no way I’m using this, but I can see it being pretty interesting for a lot of folks. Kitta, for one.

The Robot Revolution Begins…as soon as they get wheels

Samsung has a promo video out for a sentry robot armed with a machine gun. The video is disturbing, at least partially due to overly celebratory music.

The only question now is do we end up hooking the robot gun platforms to mouse brains, or to Skynet?

Donald Rumsfeld is gone…

…there’s a Democratic majority in the House and Senate…

Who could have predicted such a thing?!? 🙂

Seriously, when I — who grew up Republican and liked Reagan in the Eighties — think the best news I’ve heard all week is that the Democrats won and Rumsfeld is out…well, you know you probably aren’t energizing the base to come out and vote for your party.

I don’t expect too much of my government, I don’t think, but here’s what I hope happens the next two years that didn’t happen in the last six:

  • Our government doesn’t lie to us about the big things.
  • Bills are publicized and debated.
  • We admit to failed policies and past mistakes.
  • We try to fix those mistakes cautiously, trying not to screw things up any more than we have to.
  • We at least make a showing of not selling every vote.
  • And who knows…maybe we actually think about civil liberties.

Would that be too much?

This Week in North Korea

A selection of DPRK press releases, brought to us by NK News.

Just as long as they aren’t ninjas…

Should we treat terrorists as pirates?

What is needed now is a framework for an international crime of terrorism. The framework should be incorporated into the U.N. Convention on Terrorism and should call for including the crime in domestic criminal law and perhaps the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This framework must recognize the unique threat that terrorists pose to nation-states, yet not grant them the legitimacy accorded to belligerent states. It must provide the foundation for a law that criminalizes not only terrorist acts but membership in a terrorist organization. It must define methods of punishment.

Coming up with such a framework would perhaps seem impossible, except that one already exists. Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

Doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but I wonder what would actually change? Piracy was used as a strategic tool by states, which then united against pirates when their activities came to be viewed as threatening common order and commerce in an intolerably uncontrollable fashion. That seems to me to be similar to the journey the world is taking right now in regards to terrorism. One dissimilarity is that pirates committed many of their crimes in a commonly held geographic area. However, the idea of “lawless places” where pirates dwell and can be hunted down legally seems to be a common thread in our current actions.

Link courtesy of Bruce Schneier

Greensboro, Land of Guns and Knives

Joe Killian went to a Gun and Knife Show at the Greensboro Coliseum and reports back. Good stuff:

Apparently people who are selling Nazi flags, bronze busts of Hitler and Rommel and stocking “The Turner Diaries” in the non-fiction section (all of which we saw) don’t like having their pictures taken.

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