Tag Archives: news

Bad Lawyers, Secession Talk, and Rewriting the Novel.

There are a couple of recent stories in the news that I think are worthy of comment, but I’m posting this from work so I’ll be brief.

First, I get why the Obama administration has promised that they’re not going to prosecute the CIA agents who followed Bush administration policy and tortured people in the name of national security post-9/11: they were doing a difficult job under circumstances that may (may) have made the relative morality of their actions seem, if not actually good, then at least not so bad.  Also, they were told by the administration’s lawyers, over and over again, that what they were doing wasn’t “torture” and it was all perfectly legal.

Advice of counsel is a viable defense in criminal prosecutions, so I suppose it’s reasonable for it to apply here.  That said, I hope the asshat lawyers who wrote memos to order for the Bush/Cheney cabal condoning torture all get disbarred.

Second story:  Let me get this straight. Spending a trillion dollars to fight a war in a country that didn’t commit terrorist acts on U.S. territory is perfectly fine and questioning it makes you an unpatriotic terrorist sympathizer, but spending a trillion dollars on rebuilding infrastructure and other projects here at home is a crime against the Constitution and the American people that warrants states seceding from the Union (check this link too)?

Finally, as a personal update, I went back to Scrivener and cut 12,000 words from Meet the Larssons last night, but typed in 1205 words of the new first chapter.  I’m still going through the last couple hundred pages with a pen in my hand, but the rewrite has begun in earnest.  I’m very glad to be back at the computer.

Coolest news story ever?

It looks like those radio telescopes out in the desert may finally have found somebody out there, according to a report posted on the web yesterday by KTVU in California (thanks to Mrs. Unfocused for emailing me the link). The story says that SETI researchers have found “a mystery signal has been picked up by a giant radio-telescope in Puerto Rico.” I tried a quick search on the web for more detail, searching Google News, The New York Times, Digg, The SETI Institute, SETI@home, and even, as a last resort NASA (even though we all know from watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Men in Black that if the government ever gets in contact with aliens, we will never, ever be told the truth), and found precisely nothing. If “researchers searching for signs of life in space were abuzz this week” with the news, why hasn’t anyone else covered it? Maybe I missed it — I’ll look more tonight. It does seem odd, though, that news of first contact would be broken by the local Fox affiliate in Oakland and no one else would even notice.

Enough with the skepticism. The article jumps straight to the interesting part of the discussion: if we have received a coherent signal of clearly intelligent origin from thousands of light years away, should we respond and if so, what response should we make?

The naysayers are worried that if we send a signal back out there, we may not like the response we get. The article quotes others who believe that even if the civilization that sent the signal is malevolent, what harm could they do to us?

It’s a fascinating question. I’ll post some thoughts of my own tonight.