Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: December 2002

Death from above

The White House has approved executing US citizens as a matter of policy, as long as they’re working for Al Qaeda.

Well, that’s interesting.

The spin is that any such action will wait for Presidential approval. However, the White House is not saying that it must wait for Presidential approval — just that in practice it will. The underlying assumption is that the President has the right to authorize executions without court approval, under certain conditions.

I don’t think this works. The justification is that Al Qaeda acts against American interests. There are plenty of NGOs that act against American interests. If Amnesty Internation convinces Britain to pressure the US on human rights issues, they’d be acting against American interests. By this precedent, the President would have the right to authorize executions of American members of Amnesty International.

Previously, such authorization has been reserved for cases where the American citizen is directly threatening the lives of other Americans or their allies. I.e., yes, on the battlefield you don’t have to double check with a judge and jury. This goes somewhat outside that scope.

It’s certainly true that the situation we’re in as a nation is different than any we’ve been in before. We need new rules, as I’ve noted before. However, this one fails the sniff test.

True fables

True Porn Clerk Stories has ended. If you never read this, it’s worth reading. There’s nothing spectacular there; it’s just a literate intelligent writer working at a video store that does a lot of porn business, talking about her experiences. “Just,” in this case, encompasses a lot of good writing and some quietly sad stories and some really funny stories. I admire her willingness to talk about taboo issues head-on without resorting to the easy outs of mockery or condemnation.


I want to open a movie theater. That’s not a new thing; I’ve fantasized about it for a while. Not a first run theater, or even a first run art house; I want to open up a quirky little theater that shows second run movies of quality (whether that means Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys or Matrix) and retrospectives of directors and actors I like and so on. There’s no evidence this would make money, mind you.

I want to attach a little bookstore to it. With a coffeeshop. Someplace to hang out after the movie, or before the movie, with a good stock of genre books. I sort of want to make it one of those dinner theaters, where you can order a pizza and bring it into the theater and sit on comfy chairs, but I’d have to find out whether that’s anything close to cost-effective.

I think it’d be really cool if you could come in for brunch, order a nice omelette, and eat it in the movie theater at no extra charge. Do an 8 AM and a 10 AM showing of some classic black and white. Or, hm, maybe a program of short flicks would be better.

I’d want one big screen, in the kind of space that you can use for concerts if you want, and one small 35 person screening room.


2001 ways to spend a campaign

I don’t really read the RPGnet forums, cause they are big and bulky and populated by flamers. (Not unlike the blogosphere.) Fortunately, people occasionally point me at the good threads. Here’s one entitled Campaigns I Have Never Run (but want to), which is now up to 11 pages of weird little campaign ideas. I could just use this, and never have to come up with an original campaign idea for the rest of my life. That’s not saying much, mind you, given the rate at which I GM.

Who's got the industrial equipment?

The UN weapons inspectors found their first irregularity today; a bunch of equipment tagged by previous inspectors has gone missing.

This is important for a few reasons. First off, it’s evidence that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the efforts of previous inspection teams. This counters the claim that previous UN inspectors were useless or worse than useless. Second, it’s evidence that the current UN inspection teams are capable of noticing something wrong and that they aren’t tipping the Iraqis off before the inspections. These guys aren’t a rubber stamp for Saddam. Third, and probably most important, it’s evidence that Saddam is up to something. Having positive evidence one way or another — which we don’t yet, but it’s a step in that direction — beats the hell out of maybes. I’m still anti-war but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the situation to be crystal clear no matter which way the US goes.

Isn't it Alannistic?

Once again by way of Instapundit, we bring you James Lileks on politics. This time he’s talking about the inevitable decline and fall of Europe. I don’t really have a lot of debunking to do here; I just wanted to point out the vast irony inherent in this sentence:

“Like a religion unhinged, it is desperately intense, gripped with eschatological certainties and devoted to an unswerving belief in a caricature that bears little resemblance to the actual nature of its enemy.”

The links are, of course, mine.

Level four

Ha, there’s the first sale. I’d been thinking for a while that the real importance of Warren Buffett’s investment in Level3 was that they’d have a war chest for buying other telecoms. Genuity just announced that Level3 was buying its assets. This isn’t any kind of a surprise, but keep betting on Level3 to come out of the telecom crunch in good shape.

And a child shall lead them

I spent some time roleplaying with my nephew Sparky the last time he visited and again this weekend. He’s 12; it was an interesting experience.

I gave octaNe a try, on the principle that the mechanics wouldn’t be too complicated and it’d be good for him to get his feet wet with some storytelling techniques. However, I think I was wrong — he was pretty clearly looking for more structure while we were playing, although he certainly had fun. I’d been hoping that his experience with spy flicks (we were doing a James Bondian scenario) would be enough but it wasn’t really. Also, 12 year olds are not good at saying “Hm, I could do anything I want but I will restrict myself for the sake of the story.” Next time I’ll try D20 Modern or Feng Shui.

However, this weekend, he was running all over the house with sheets of paper with dungeons drawn on ‘em. When I sat down and played with him, it turned out he’d taken this little supersimple pen and paper wargame we play in my family and turned it into a dungeon crawl, with a single “PC” and a bunch of monsters and some very very basic move and attack rules. He was very keen on the idea that people should make up their own characters (“What does your guy look like?”) and he was meticulous about handing out treasure for various victories.

Kinda cool.