Rebecca MacKinnon : “The American School in Shanghai turned a bunch of North Korean asylum-seekers over to the Chinese police, who will send them back to North Korea and thus to j
Sep 30th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Rebec­ca MacK­in­non: “The Amer­i­can School in Shang­hai turned a bunch of North Kore­an asylum-seekers over to the Chi­nese police, who will send them back to North Korea and thus to jail/torture. The media is total­ly not report­ing this. It would be great if the blo­gos­phere raised a stink over the ques­tion­able actions of our fel­low Amer­i­cans over­seas.” [Script­ing News]

The Feds love to charge for­eign­ers who have nev­er set foot in Amer­i­ca with vio­lat­ing Amer­i­can laws. Here’s a sit­u­a­tion where it’s worth con­sid­er­ing charg­ing actu­al Amer­i­can cit­i­zens with a crime against Amer­i­can laws comit­ted over­seas. If those poor Kore­ans are in fact sent back to their deaths, per­haps the school staff that called the police should be charged with mur­der under the doc­trine of “depraved indif­fer­ence to human life.”

Private Rocket Unofficially Reaches Space .
Sep 29th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Private Rocket Unofficially Reaches Space. [Yahoo! News]

The first flight was a success! The next flight is scheduled for Monday, and if that goes well they'll win the X Prize.

Nikon recently announced a new digital SLR, the D2X .
Sep 28th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Nikon recent­ly announced a new dig­i­tal SLR, the D2X. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it has the same under­sized sen­sor as the ear­li­er D-series cam­eras, so it’s of no inter­est to me. If Nikon ever comes out with a full-frame dig­i­tal SLR, I’ll buy one.

Sep 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Game. Nar­ra­tive. Sim­u­la­tion.. This impor­tant and thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of role play­ing game the­o­ry by Ron Edwards was rec­om­mend­ed by Para­noia leg­end Greg Costikyan. It starts at an unusu­al place:

“My straight­for­ward obser­va­tion of the activ­i­ty of role-playing is that many par­tic­i­pants do not enjoy it very much. Most role-players I encounter are tired, bit­ter, and frus­trat­ed.”

A key les­son (and nice­ly turned phrase) on inco­her­ent game design is a use­ful cau­tion for inter­ac­tive dra­ma the­o­ry:

“… The Great Impos­si­ble Thing to Believe Before Break­fast: that the Game Mas­ter may be defined as the author of the ongo­ing sto­ry, and, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, the play­ers may deter­mine the actions of the char­ac­ters as the story’s pro­tag­o­nists.”

Costikyan’s review of the No Press Anthol­o­gy is the occa­sion for a fas­ci­nat­ing sur­vey of inde­pen­dent RPG design, which I strong­ly rec­om­mend to every­one inter­est­ed in inter­ac­tive nar­ra­tive. [Mark Bern­stein]

I’m not so impressed. Mr. Edwards could have saved him­self a great deal of time by sim­ply writ­ing, “I am an aca­d­e­m­ic,” fol­lowed by six pages filled with “Blah, blah, blah.” It wouldn’t have sig­nif­i­cant­ly altered the result.

I took a quick look around the site, but could find no descrip­tion of the author’s back­ground. I would be very sur­prised if he wasn’t some sort of grad­u­ate stu­dent or pro­fes­sor in a “human­i­ties” field at some uni­ver­si­ty or oth­er.

After the X Prize .
Sep 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

After the X Prize. rscraw­ford writes “‘Robert Bigelow, chief of Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aero­space, is appar­ent­ly set­ting high­er goals for pri­vate space­flight endeav­ors with America’s Space Prize, a $50 mil­lion race to build an orbital vehi­cle capa­ble of car­ry­ing up to sev­en astro­nauts to an orbital out­post by the end of the decade,’ accord­ing to Any­one think it’ll hap­pen?” [Slash­dot]

I have no idea if any­one will real­ly put up the mon­ey for such a prize, but if they did I think it could be done.

not silent, not even close .
Sep 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

not silent, not even close. Couldn't resist this one:

You could tell he'd had enough. I'm talking about Ibrahim Hooper. If the name is familiar, it's because Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., has become the news media's go-to guy on issues related to Islam and terrorism.

This particular morning, he was being interviewed on an all-news radio station in Washington when the anchor asked a pointed, predictable question: Why don't we ever hear Muslims and Muslim leaders condemn terrorist atrocities carried out in the name of their faith?

You could almost hear the vein in Hooper's temple begin to vibrate. He answered in a frustrated voice that he in fact condemns such barbarity all the time, and that he e-mails statements saying so to a wide variety of news outlets, including this particular anchor's own station. The newsman said he'd never received such a statement. Hooper asked for his e-mail address.

He was still fuming when I reached him by phone an hour later. The question, he said, surfaces in every radio interview. "I spend half my time writing condemnations of terrorism," he told me, "and nobody seems to be paying attention. And when we say something like, 'Gee, an Islamic center in El Paso was firebombed on Friday, isn't that worthy of condemnation, too?'... it's almost as if people believe Muslims deserve it."

The reference was to an incident a little more than a week ago wherein a man tossed a beer bottle full of gasoline with a makeshift wick at a group of Muslim kids. Tragedy was averted when the gasoline failed to ignite. CAIR has asked Texas officials to speak out against what it calls "Islamophobia." At this writing, there has been no response.

I support CAIR's contention that it condemns Islamic terrorism, having frequently seen such statements in news coverage and on the group's Web site. "I don't know what more we can do," Hooper said...

..."This thing of, you've got to jump through these certain hoops, and if you don't jump through these hoops you're with the enemy, it's getting kind of old," he said.

Indeed, it's a paradigm that's as old as pluralistic society. It would never occur to us to require that the Rev. Billy Graham condemn Eric Rudolph, the nominal Christian who allegedly bombed two abortion clinics, a gay nightclub and the Atlanta Olympics.

But the rules are different for minorities, whether religious, sexual or racial. Them we keep on probation, their acceptance conditioned on an unspoken understanding that their loyalty to our mores is always suspect.

It's not fair, but it is real. So Hooper swallows his frustration and dutifully sends out a statement of condemnation every time some Muslim fanatic misbehaves.

At the end of our conversation, I thanked him for his time. He asked for my e-mail address.

Seriously, folks, Muslims have been saying these things for a long time. Maybe it's time others started listening. [Al-Muhajabah's Islamic Blogs]

I've noticed this myself.

BBC .  Branson contracts five “Virgin Galactic” spaceliners from Rutan.  [ John Robb’s Weblog ] More on the Virgin/Scaled Composites story.
Sep 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

BBC.  Bran­son con­tracts five “Vir­gin Galac­tic” space­lin­ers from Rutan.  [John Robb’s Weblog]

More on the Virgin/Scaled Com­pos­ites sto­ry. A tick­et price is final­ly men­tioned, but unfor­tu­nate­ly it’s very high: 

My Pismo came back from Apple today, and (somewhat to my surprise) it’s actually fixed! I should be able to get another year of service out of it before it needs a new motherboard again.
Sep 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

My Pis­mo came back from Apple today, and (some­what to my sur­prise) it’s actu­al­ly fixed! I should be able to get anoth­er year of ser­vice out of it before it needs a new moth­er­board again.

# Margaret Talev at The Sacramento Bee — Rifle ban signed by governor — Current owners
Sep 15th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Mar­garet Talev at The Sacra­men­to Bee -

Rifle ban signed by gov­er­nor
— Cur­rent own­ers of .50 BMG rifles
are direct­ed to reg­is­ter them. I used

this online form
to send the Gov­er­na­tor the fol­low­ing mes­sage:

I read in the on-line edi­tion of the Sacra­men­to Bee that you signed
AB50, ban­ning .50 BMG rifles and ammu­ni­tion in Cal­i­for­nia. I thought
you were a decent human being, and now I dis­cov­er that you’re noth­ing
but a girly-man.

Shame on you, sir. Shame.

-Bill St. Clair
[End the War on Free­dom]

I don’t have such a rifle (too expen­sive and heavy for me), but if I did I cer­tain­ly wouldn’t reg­is­ter it. I’m not at all sur­prised that Schwartzeneg­ger signed it. It was obvi­ous dur­ing the cam­paign that he was just anoth­er lib­er­al run­ning as a Republican–something we have in abun­dance in Cal­i­for­nia. I was annoyed at the time (and still am) at the idiots who claimed to be con­ser­v­a­tives who vot­ed for him and not McClin­tock, who was gen­uine­ly con­ser­v­a­tive. I didn’t vote for him either (because he was gen­uine­ly con­ser­v­a­tive), but if he was in office he would have vetoed the ban.

My new PC Laptop, a Micron Transport T2200, arrived yesterday ahead of schedule.
Sep 15th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

My new PC Lap­top, a Micron Trans­port T2200, arrived yes­ter­day ahead of sched­ule. I’ve been get­ting it set up, and so far I’m impressed with the design. It’s more solid­ly built than my Pis­mo, despite being the same weight. The key­board has a good feel, and the screen is nice and large. The only flaw is an awk­ward design of the track­pad buttons–a flaw shared by the TiBook. The Pis­mo has the best but­ton design I’ve seen.

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