Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Universal Completion

There is a group of people that thinks the world will end in 2012. Some people believe in such end dates and the idea that the universe will stop existing or fall in to some kind of Armageddon/Rapture at some predestined point in time (I think the JWs had it pegged in 1925, then 1974, 1978 and some time in the 90s).

I am not one of those people.

I believe, rather, that a certain number of events must occur and a certain number of objects must be fashioned. When all of those events have happened and all of these objects exist, only then can the universe close itself up and cease to be.

Some of these things can be predicted in advance: for example, I don't see how the universe can close up until we have a sensible theory of quantum gravity and a Crash Test Dummies cover of The Gambler.

Other things, like a fully automatic, tripod mounted, belt fed Nerf machine gun, could not be predicted in advance. Nonetheless, in hindsight, such a thing is absolutely pivotal to finishing our universe.

Today I discovered something just like the Nerf machine gun. Something that, in retrospect, now seems absolutely, in a blisteringly obvious way, crucial to any declaration that the universe has fulfilled its potential and can just quit now because there's nothing else worth doing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, "Shakira covering Back in Black":

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Wait Just a Minute, Mr. Hillier

General, I'm having a hard time understanding your statements about what you knew about torture in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, we have these quotes from General Hillier:
The former general, who was Canada's top soldier during Colvin's posting in Afghanistan in 2006-07, said he has reread all of the diplomat's widely circulated reports to ensure that Colvin's alleged concerns did not escape his notice the first time around.

"There was simply nothing there," Hillier told a House of Commons committee on Afghanistan. "There was nothing there to warrant the intervention of the chief of defence staff."

So the General is telling us that there was never anything in those reports that amounted to torture. As far as he knew, there was no torture taking place. Nada. No need for anyone to take action.

Then what's this stuff doing in his book:

Rick Hillier, when he was Chief of the Defence Staff, says he kept his political masters fully informed about the harsh conditions of detainees in Afghan prisons, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper and cabinet ministers claim they were told nothing.

In Spring 2007, The Globe and Mail reported on allegations of abuse of detainees in Afghan prisons. Mr. Hillier acknowledged that was to be expected.

"Their judicial and prison systems were still somewhat nascent, and there was always some risk that abuse could occur," he wrote.

... "we lost confidence that basic, responsible measures were in place to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners."

Throughout the process, Mr. Hillier writes, the federal government was kept fully informed of the military's handling of prisoners, which contradicts statements from the Prime Minister's Office.

So if we put that all together, there was nothing that made General Hillier worry about torture happening, and of course he kept the politicians in Ottawa informed of the torture.

In other words, if I may paraphrase: "I was unaware that a buck needed passing, but I passed the buck right quick."

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