We’re still evil.

Or, at least, evil is still being perpetuated in our name. We can tell, because government hacks are still insisting that they can’t be held accountable for kidnapping an innocent Canadian and ending him to Syria for torture:

Maher Arar is both a Canadian and Syrian citizen of Syrian descent. A telecommunications engineer and graduate of Montreal’s McGill University, he has lived in Canada since he’s 17 years old. In 2002, he was returning home to Canada from vacation when, on a stopover at JFK Airport, he was (a) detained by U.S. officials, (b) accused of being a Terrorist, (c) held for two weeks incommunicado and without access to counsel while he was abusively interrogated, and then (d) was “rendered” — despite his pleas that he would be tortured — to Syria, to be interrogated and tortured. He remained in Syria for the next 10 months under the most brutal and inhumane conditions imaginable, where he was repeatedly tortured. Everyone acknowledges that Arar was never involved with Terrorism and was guilty of nothing.

[…] [T]he U.S. Government has never admitted any wrongdoing or even spoken publicly about what it did; to the contrary, it repeatedly insisted that courts were barred from examining the conduct of government officials because what we did to Arar involves “state secrets” and because courts should not interfere in the actions of the Executive where national security is involved.

Just so we’re clear: This is the “there are no checks and balances,” imperial executive POV. They get to do what they want, and nobody gets to second-guess them. Down this path lies all sorts of abuses, and it absolutely must be stopped. Mr. Arar cannot be alone; he’s the unlikely guy who escaped the nightmare of extraordinary (and illegal) rendition. Someone needs to go to jail over this, but it’s increasingly likely that no one will.

And that’s very, very bad.

More from Mullins

Aimee Mullins’ guest columns at Gizmodo continue with an excellent discussion of the use of prosthetics in competition.

Basically, she points out that it was totally kosher for people like Oscar Pistorius and herself to compete in regular track-and-field events — right up to the point where they might win, at which point they were DQ’d for having an unfair advantage despite the fact that even advanced prosthetics pale in comparison to the real thing. So far.

Mullins also points out where we may be going: What if paralympic sprinter times are lower than regular, able-bodies sprinter times?

Here’s something you don’t see every day

A review of the $2.1 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport. This is a vehicle that generates over a thousand horsepower from an 8-liter, 16-cylinder engine, and uses it to get to 60 in under three seconds.

The author’s takeaway? It turns out not to be nearly as much fun as you’d expect:

The car comes with a great cocktail-party boast: if your Veyron, at rest, were passed by a $500,000 Mercedes McLaren SLR doing 100 m.p.h., you could floor the accelerator and still reach 200 m.p.h. before the Mercedes could match its speed.

That kind of physics-textbook problem is where my issues begin. At speeds where cars from a $40,000 Nissan 370Z to a $90,000 Porsche 911 become your wingmen, delivering pure blasts of driving joy, the Bugatti feels bored to death. The artillery-shell acceleration is diverting, but the Bugatti leaves you nowhere else to go, except directly to jail.

Yeah, you read that right. The official sports car of Heathen Central costs less than 5% of the Bugatti.

Many Bugatti buyers surely have access to racetracks, yet I’m equally sure that 90-some percent of them won’t have nearly enough driving talent to exercise this car. Mostly, I picture Euro-poseurs needing valet assistance to back up the Bugatti in Monaco, while jaws drop and the owner barks orders into his diamond-encrusted cellphone. When your car makes a Lamborghini seem tasteful, there’s a problem.

As with the New York Yankees or most Picasso paintings, I respect the Bugatti as an engineering exercise and a conglomeration of overpriced talent. Yet I might argue that any $2 million car should be powered by hydrogen, electricity — even nuclear fusion — not a gas engine blown up to overkill proportions. The Bugatti isn’t the future of the fast car; it’s the past writ in extra-large type.


For half the Bugatti’s price, one could buy four genuine exotics that I find better looking and more rewarding: the Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi R8 V-10 and Aston Martin DBS. That would still leave $1 million for a 10-car garage filled with classics like a Jaguar E-Type and a Corvette Sting Ray fuelie.

Update from the comments: I thought my old climbing buddy Joe was making a joke when he said “If you want to pick one up cheap, someone parked one in Galveston bay,” but it turns out someone really did put a Veyron in the marsh this week. Whups!

It’s like a perfect football weekend. Hail Saban, Geaux Saints, and Praise Breesus

First, obviously, Roll Tide. By quashing LSU, Bama ensures its place in the SEC title game, and therefore a path to the championship if we can get past Florida. Even better: the new BCS puts Alabama back in the #2 spot, behind Florida and ahead of Texas. The gap between the top 3 and the next 7 is large, with virtually no chance of TCU, Cincy, or Boise powering up high enough to challenge a lossless Texas or lossless SEC champ for a Pasadena berth. (And upset for Bama or the Gators prior to Atlanta might change that, but it’s not a given.)

Second, jumping ahead to Sunday and the pros, the Saints are 8-0 for the first time EVER, firmly atop the NFC South (actually, the whole NFC) and one of only two remaining perfect squads in the NFL — the other is the AFC’s Colts.

Third, say goodbye to any title hopes from previously perfect pretenders Iowa (dropped by unranked Northwestern) and Oregon (who lost in a shootout to unranked Stanford 51 to 42; does nobody out west play D?), and also to USC given their loss to now 2-loss Oregon looks even worse today than it did on Halloween.

The icing on the cake, though, is Notre Dame’s 2nd loss to NAVY in three years. At home, even. The Irish’s hopes of a BCS berth floated away as they found themselves unable to beat a Midshipmen team they outsized and outproduced. That’s some fine coaching there, Charlie. I sure hope the ND faithful rally to keep him, because I love this coach.

No, dumbass, “prayer” is not health care.

LA Times via JWZ:

Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

How about we just limit it to scientifically valid treatments? How would that be?