Monthly Archives: June 2005

Rant about “enemy combatants”

geekymary wrote a great entry regarding Guantanamo Bay, to which I responded, and I wanted to repost my response here. The original entry is a lot more detailed and well-researched… my contribution is clearly just a rant by comparison. (Thanks to rmjwell for the link.)

The tone of the Geneva Conventions is one of respect for the other entity, despite the fact that you’re at war with them. Do terrorist groups deserve that respect? I’d say not. However, there’s another entity – humanity.

I think this points to the problem I have had with the treatment of “enemy combatants” since I first heard about Guantanamo. Humanity.

We don’t grant civil liberties to criminals because they have done something to deserve it. We refer to robbers as innocent until proven guilty. We give rapists a hearing before a judge. We protect extortionists against unreasonable search and seizure. We grant murderers a jury trial.

Do we do these things because they did something to deserve such special treatment? No. We grant civil liberties to everyone, not because of who *they* are, but because of who *we* are, and who we strive to be. We are Americans, from the United States, and above all, we are Humans and that is how our society believes we should treat other Humans. (That includes not just our citizens but illegal aliens as well.)

I believe the whole idea behind the Geneva Convention was to extend Human Rights to a group that may not otherwise get them, especially given the nature of war and the widely varying governments and regimes that we might be at war with, very few of which have a Bill of Rights. I think whether or not someone meets the definition of “prisoner of war”, that shouldn’t determine whether they are entitled to human rights.

The whole word game the administration plays is a subtle but effective device to dehumanize the people they believe are beneath our notice. “Enemy combantants” – they are careful not to use the term “prisoners of war”, but it’s pretty clear that they are prisoners and that we are at war. But, that doesn’t even get to the heart of the matter. Even if they are not entitled to protection of Geneva, they should be entitled to something. If they aren’t “prisoners of war” should we not treat them with the same care we would be required to use if they were arrested on our own soil for the same crime?

If they are not prisoners of war, and they aren’t criminals, why are we holding them?

In 2001 I heard from a number of sources, that if we start to live in fear, then the terrorists have won. This seems to have morphed into something closer to: if we don’t go to the mall and buy big-screen TVs, the terrorists have one. Now with zero percent interest. But there is an important point close to being lost here. If we give in to our fears, and allow our fears to take control such that we are driven to strip others of their human rights when it’s convenient for us, we have surrendered something we all hold dear. We then cease to live in a country that is all about liberty and justice for all. We have started down the path of Us vs. Them.

tags test

Testing to see if others can tag my posts. (tag_permissions set via admin console to “tag_permissions friends private”).
Tag this post as either #boring or #interesting, if you can (friends only)

Edit: Strange, I was not able to remove tags on my *own* post with permissions set to “friends, private”. I set back to private, private and then I was able to de-tag.

So far I can’t think of a practical application to allowing others to tag my posts, but maybe I’ll think of something creative.

Return of the pickles

2 jars cucumbers, carrots and onions

Slice produce and cram into jars. About when they are half-full is when you want to slip the fresh dill into the sides with a butter knife or something. This time I sliced the onion across the midsection (so each slice has like 10 concentric rings) but left the slices in slice form rather than popping out the individual rings. These take up less space when crammed in the jar and you can cram in more food.

Usually a single-batch recipe is enough brine to cover the produce crammed into a 1-liter jar. A double-batch of brine solution is enough for 2 1L jars. The 2X version consisted of: Continue reading

D&D 3e starting up

[Gaming filter: If you’re reading this, you have indicated an interest in joining my next D&D 3e game.]

I would like to hold a character generation session this coming weekend. Our plans for this weekend are pretty open, so if you can drop in anytime Saturday or Sunday that would work. If you can come and spend 4 hours, that would be great, though 2 hours would probably work if you’re in a rush. We will provide either lunch or dinner as appropriate.

Please comment here to indicate if you’re able to drop in and make a guess as to the time you might come by. (Please comment even if you can’t make it to let me know whether you’re interested in the game…)

I would like everyone to generate 2 characters of different classes. That way we have some flexibility when it comes to forming a party, but more important, we will have a possibility for side-stories, and a backup plan in case someone dies. (Yes, death is definitely possible in this world… if you are averse or squicked by your character dying, please let me know ahead of time :)

What we know about the world so far: It is pretty much as described in the Forgotten Realms accessory book. This is the same world where we find Neverwinter, etc. I’ve semi-randomly chosen the Dalelands region as the starting point (based on availability of good maps :) I’m curious to know if you’ve been exposed to Forgotten Realms before, either through books, tabletop games, or computer games.

Vacation advice

We want to go somewhere on vacation where we can relax and perhaps do some stargazing. Therefore I want to find somewhere that is flat, dark, and has clear weather in August or September.

We were thinking about Sedona, AZ. Is anyone familiar with the area, enough to comment? Is there a good chance that the weather will be mostly clear in August, or September? Is it a good place to spend a week’s worth of vacation? Any other places we should consider? (Would be nice if it were in driving distance of silicon valley CA)