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Swords Into Plowshares?

Friday, Sept. 12, 2008 4:06 AM

War is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself that war is inevitable, you're usually not committed to those options that would keep war from breaking out, and inclined to seek justifications.

Which brings us to Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who, in her first interview on national television, expressed the belief that, "... we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable."

First, there's the issue of credibility, since one of McCain's senior advisors is also a lobbyist with ties to the Republic of Georgia.

Secondly, let's remember that South Ossetia sought to secede from Georgia and was denied. Whether that's an issue of self-determination or not is unclear.

Third, we're not completely innocent of stacking the deck against Russia. We continue to push for missile defense emplacements - ostensibly against Iran and their photoshopped missiles - but in open defiance of some serious language from the Russian government. And the push to fold Georgia into NATO seems to be a transparent 'give me a reason' ploy.

Here's the thing - you don't gamble unless you can afford to lose. If you're betting that Russia will look NATO in the eye and flinch, you'd better be prepared for Russia to do the opposite and go to war. We're not talking a nuisance state like Iran or North Korea, we're now talking about a former superpower with MAD (mutually-assured destruction) potential - not just WMDs.

By the time Palin gets around to talking about working towards a time where war is not the first option, there's no reason to believe her.

I'm beginning to see a pattern in the Bush Doctrine mentality and that of a certain flavor of Christianity.

Ask an evangelical about turning the other cheek, and you'll likely get a lesson about how Christ didn't mean sitting there and taking it, that at some point you have to fight for what you believe in.

Now compare that to the Bush Administration or the McCain/Palin ticket, where we Have To Fight Against Those Horrible People Who Want To Destroy America. We Need To Do Whatever It Takes.

Revealed therein is a bizarre kind of insecurity - the inability to accept that there are people out there who don't want any part of your faith or your politics - and a knee-jerk fight or flight response.

These are the people we want to have the authority to launch nuclear weapons?

Palin also didn't recognize the phrase 'the Bush Doctrine,' nor was she able to make a coherent statement when spoon-fed the essence of Bush's policy of preemptive, unprovoked strikes against potential aggressors.

Of course, now her national security experience isn't because Alaska is kinda sorta near Russia, but rooted in her knowledge of energy.

Because We All Know our national security is a simple, one-dimensional problem.

Palin also claimed she would never presume to know God's Will, except that's exactly the phrasing she used when addressing the congregation at her church in speaking about an under-construction natural gas pipeline.

And now that I've had a chance to watch Sarah Palin without cutaway shots to smiling, rapt convention attendees, here are my usual observations about a politician's body language.

She's angry. She's confrontational. She's leaning forward as she speaks to Charlie Gibson - not an instant down-check, as we tend to seek closeness when we're sharing information about which we feel strongly - but combined with her habit of punctuating *point* every *point* word *point* by *point* pointing *point*, it's a combination of talking down to someone too dumb to understand and stern parent.

I wonder if that's how she talks to her children. You *point* will *point* eat *point* your *point* vegetables *point*.

Also, while she's making eye contact with Charlie Gibson, she narrows her eyes slightly - again pointing to anger or perhaps suspicion that the Evil Media Guy is just waiting to spring a trap.

Will Wright, the creator of SimCity, has released a new game, Spore. In the game, you guide a lifeform through an evolutionary path, from single-cell organism, creature, tribe, civilization, and space-faring empire. The animation is whimsical, and the play is a nice balance, never bogging down in micromanaged details like some of the later SimCity games did.

But out of the woodwork come the nutcases, in this instance a woman who believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, that God created everything, that science has it all wrong (apparently because whatever God did, it didn't involve anything remotely close to the physical laws that govern things). That's fair - believe what you want.

The site, and the author, take a sharp left at Alberquerque when she opines that that Will Wright is some kind of Evil Pervert, and Electronic Arts is *gasp* *horror* teaching our children evolution!

It's a game. And with a limited selection of parts, which have specific functions and impact on various stages of the game, it's pretty clear it's not an accurate portrayal of evolution or even a serious trashing of creationist claptrap. And, once you get to the tribal stage, you can no longer alter the appearance or function of your creatures. It locks in. It doesn't change.

So much for teaching evolution. (Not to mention which, the civilization stage involves planning buildings, and the space phase involves starships. That's not evolution, either.)

One of the other complaints is that players can create *gasp* naked humanoids.

Well, sort of. You're certainly free to create anything you want out of the collection of parts and blob-shaped body. You can even capture the images and post them outside via YouTube or your personal website.

However, the construction tools are very much along the lines of Mr. Potato Head. You can form the body by adjusting the spine along three axis, and you have a selection of arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouths, offensive weapons (claws, spikes), and special features (frills that add benefits to certain skills). There are no options to add secondary sexual characteristics; you'd have to take an acorn-shaped feature and place it on the front of a humanoid to approximate a breast or a phallus, and even then, it's embarassing more than titillating.

Nor can you create, for example, a giant male sex organ and have it wind up in the shared game database. It gets reviewed. And players have the option to play offline (excluding all non-Maxis/EA content) or limit content to your friends. (And if little Johnny next door is making creatures resembling a giant phallus, it's Johnny's parents that need some talking to, methinks.)

Beyond that, within a week of the game's release, there are over 13.5 million user creations in the database. You'll only run into a couple of dozen in the course of gameplay.)

A Boot to the Head, however, to the legions of people posting profane/rude comments and sending similar e-mails to the author. You're not helping - you're just convincing her she's right.

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