Inhuman Swill : Page 171
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Fulfilling our natures

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You hear a lot of voices this week pointing out how much worse al Qaeda is than the United States. All we do is torture, abuse, and humiliate our captives. They cut heads off on videotape.

In absolute terms, out of context, that's true. But think about who we are and who we claim to be and contrast that with who the terrorists are and who they claim to be. Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have the explicit stated goal of wreaking a bloodbaths among their enemies for the political purpose of achieving a worldwide network of radical Islamic states. When they cut off Nicholas Berg's head, they were acting in accordance with their nature and goals. Their goals are repulsive, yes, but that they were capable of such a thing should surprise no one.

The United States, on the other hand, is a country that claims to champion democracy, to protect and defend the weak, and to value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness above all else. The systemic torture at Abu Ghraib is jolting and horrifying precisely because it's so at odds with our stated goals and our own understanding of what we represent. Since when does America represent the values on display at Abu Ghraib?

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A much larger belt

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I had a strange dream recently, in which I learned that scientists had been mistaken about locating the Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Instead Solar System diagrams were updated to locate the Asteroid Belt outside the orbit of Pluto. What this means in psychological terms, I have no idea.

In related news, I finished Dan Simmons's Ilium this morning before work. Finally. It took me six months to wade through the first 188 pages. (I was reading other books as well.) I reached the tipping point then, and finished the remainder of the 570-page book in less than a week. Boy, did that thing take a while to get moving.

In unrelated news, Ilium was the worst-copyedited book I've read in a very long time. Typos were rampant, including ones where dialog was attributed to wrong characters, or where entirely wrong names were used for characters. (The character Savi was billed once as "Siri," who was actually a character in Hyperion.) If I were Dan Simmons, I'd be impaling someone on my Shrike statue.

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Making an example

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After seeing yet another example of how to format an email address (e.g., yourusername@example.com) printed somewhere in some instruction manual, I began to wonder what I would find if I visited example.com.

D'oh! Now I know.

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A convocation of peters

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I know most of you who read this are looking for uplift and enlightenment. Which is why I will now report that this past Saturday evening, during intermission at a Broadway performance of Stoppard's Jumpers, I peed next to Peter Bogdonovich.

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Don't you hate it when you have headphones on and someone just comes up to you and starts talking?

Me, I just let them talk. Then I take the headphones off and say, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear a word of that. I had headphones on."

My question is, why is it always the same people?

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The midnight fathers

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Harken to Ken MacLeod....

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You might not necessarily guess it unless you knew, but one who performs gymnastics is in fact a "gymnast" and not a "gymnist."

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Observations on the cone

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Ella has had the cone on for nearly six days now. Tomorrow she (we hope) gets it off. We can't wait, and neither can she. The saddest thing is when she tries to scratch her head or neck. It's just the scrape of claws on plastic. It has woken us up many times, and we've done a lot of her ear-scratching for her this week.

The other pathetic thing is that she still hasn't figured out quite what her clearance is, either sideways or up and down. Often she'll be padding along and the cone will catch on the side of a door or piece of furniture and she'll have to back up and try again. Last night when Laura got home from a rollerderby photo shoot, Ella went running for the door—and caught the cone on the bookshelves, and completely turfed it.

However, the e-collar has forced her to learn to use her paws for tasks she didn't need to before. She now coaxes toys and balls out of corners and tight spaces with her paws because she can't get her snout into them.

We've been calling her Conehead (in the nicest possible way). It's funny to watch her snuffle around in the backyard with the cone down to the ground, completely obscuring her head. She looks like a vacuum cleaner, or a geiger counter, or some weird bio-plastic cyborg. When we're out for a walk, she sometimes has this loping gait that makes her head swing back and forth very slightly. Of course, the motion is magnified with the cone. I took to calling her Radar last night.

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Memo to Al Gore

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You fucking wimp. People like to blame it on Nader, but this is your fault. You were elected president. You were the man we put our confidence in, yet when push came to shove you stood back instead of continuing to push. You stood back and let that snake slither past you into the White House. You probably handed over your lunch money in elementary school before a single punch landed. You said you were doing it to keep from embroiling America in a divisive, destructive battle. Guess what? We got it anyway, and it's worse than the one you would have started. A fuck of a lot worse, and growing worse still every day.

And where are you now? Running a cable network for international news produced by the CBC. You should have been in the Oval Office. Instead you'll be disseminating pictures of what you could have prevented. Is that what passes for penance in Goreland?

If there's any justice, history will treat you at least 10% as badly as it's going to treat our moron-in-chief. And you know what? You would have been a lousy president. Your idea of defending the Constitution was to stand aside and open the door for a man intent on burning it and stomping on the ashes. If you couldn't even stand up to Bush, how would you have stood up to Osama bin Laden?

Get out of my face, bitch.

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In other news...

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Sgt. Shunn and kids
...my brother is entirely home.

Thank goodness he made the journey breathing. Otherwise, there would be no photographs of his arrival.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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