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There’s a pervasive belief in this society that perfection is possible. So if something bad occurs, it can never be cause we just got unlucky. It must be because something went wrong and someone is at fault, and then things must be fixed. Sometimes, though, this simply isn’t true. Sometimes it’s better not to fix things: either there is no fix, or the fix is more expensive than living with the problem, or the side effects of the fix are worse than the problem. And sometimes you can do everything right and have it still turn out wrong. Welcome to the real world.

Bruce Schneier, January 6, 2010

If there is a lesson in the Christmas non-bombing, it is that you can’t defend against every nut out there any more than you can prevent every highway smash-up or household accident. To live is to accept some modicum of risk. To live in an advaned, industrailized, technological, hegemonic, militaristic, imperial society in the twenty-first century is to accept with fair certainty that someone, somewhere, wants to blow you up, like, right now. This is, as they say, the cost of doing business, an inevitable outcome of the system in which we live, work, and pretend to thrive.

IOZ, January 6, 2010

Through January 6, 2010

Sun Tzu noted, “No nation ever profited from a long war.” A headline banner at the top of the Department of Defense home page reads, “The United States is a Nation Engaged in What Will be a Long War.”

Jeff Huber, July 30, 2009

Through July 30, 2009

It is sad to see you hurtling down the road of embittered crank.

Frederick Clarkson, referring to me, January 27, 2009

… the comment thread… was invaded by anti-religious trolls!

Frederick Clarkson, referring to me and others, January 26, 2009

Through January 28, 2009


Last week we did a word search for “science” in Barack Obama’s acceptance
speech in Denver. We thought it unfortunate that Obama made only a single
reference to science. As you have surely noticed, WN is firmly non-
partisan, so we ran the same search on a transcript of McCain’s acceptance
speech last night in St. Paul. “Text not found” popped up. Could this
be? Our nation is roiled by controversies over evolution, nuclear power,
climate change, energy shortage, stem cells, Plan B, all of which must
turn to science for their resolution. Indeed, is there an issue the
nation faces that doesn’t turn on science? “Perhaps the search technology
failed,” I thought, “try another word.” I typed in “fight.” There were
25 hits. Hmmm.

Bob Park – September 5, 2008

Through September 7, 2008

I’ve read a lot of comments today concerning the news that our government now admits that we are officially a nation that not only sanctions the use of torture… but that we are a nation [that] ACTUALLY tortures.

I’ve read comments that we will only see justice if Senator Obama is our next President and I’ve read comments that only Senator Clinton is strong enough to bring the bush mafia to justice.

To those comments I only have one thing to say and that is… I think you’re all wrong.

We won’t get justice for these crimes from the United States, no matter who is our next President, or even the President after that.

You have to remember, it wasn’t just bush and cheney that are guilty of these crimes… It’s also anyone that knew anything about the crimes and sat back to do nothing… and that covers damned near every branch of our government.

  • The executive branch ordered it.
  • The Legislative branch knew about it and either did nothing or actively approved.
  • The Judicial Branch said it was legal.
  • The CIA/military departments carried it out.
  • The Justice Department excused everything.

If justice comes (and I have serious doubts that it will), it will come from the International community and NOT the United States.

- MichiganGirl, February 5, 2008

Through February 6, 2008

“Now I know we all live happy-happy lives full of nice-nice things, that the wind still blows and the rain still falls, that coffee still warms your belly on a fall morning and whiskey on a fall eve, that the earth still goes ’round the sun, that there are still beautiful books, lovely melodies, artworks transcendent of their mere moment, that the touch of skin to skin is still pleasure, that, after all, it’s still possible to have some small measure of happiness in our lives. So long as there exist orgasms, red wine, and the works of Bach, let it not be said that I’m a cynic. On the other hand.

On the other hand, I think it’s high time to face a set of uncomfortable facts, all of which are best expressed in that Orwell line I’ve lately quoted: There are no laws in Oceania. Curiously enough, though, there are plenty of jails. We live in a nation that practices the most vicious and unforgivable forms of torture. We live in a nation of men, not of laws, in which what is or is not prohibited depends on the day of the week, the inclination of the earth’s axis, the waxing or waning of the moon, the steam from the chicken entrails, the grotesque boondoggledom of the venal Democratic congress, and the halting utterances of the Warlord. Our laws are even more imaginary than our money, and that’s saying something. We live in a nation that has effectuated the death of a million people in Iraq. A million! The displacement of millions more. God only knows what we’ll do in the next year. But it don’t take no God nor angels to know for durn sure it’ll be a sight worse. To some degree, these things have always been true of America. To some degree, they’re true of all societies, everywhere, anytime. But as the saying goes, that don’t make it right.

IOZ – October 24, 2007