Category Archives: Military

Freedom of speech…for all?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the Westboro Baptist Church have the right to protest at the funeral of vetrans.

The church believes that the wars in the Middle East are the work of God punishing Americans for the sins of homosexuality. Members show up outside churches and funeral homes across the nation with signs like “God hates f-gs” and “Pray for more dead soldiers.” Initially, a lower court ruled that the church had to pay damages to the family of a soldier killed in action for protesting, but that ruling has been overturned.

Is it right that people can use other people’s funeral as a soapbox for their own radical ideas? Probably not. But is it right that the Supreme Court is sticking up for the citizens of the United States and their right to say whatever they’d like to say?

Stick with The Pendulum, and pick up next week’s issue to read our staff editorial on this issue.

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Filed under Media, Military, Pendulum, Religion

I was wrong about Sen. Al Franken

And I’ll be the first to admit it. I was never fond of his books, his characters on SNL were amusing, but never gratuitously hilarious, and I thought that the same warmed-over smarmy attitude would be ill fit for the Senate, regardless of whether he won the election fairly or not.


Which he didn’t, by the way, if you agree with Bill O’Riley.

But Franken has done a fabulous job winning over, starting with his solid line of questioning with Justice Sonia Sotomayor (though it was a bit cheesy), continuing with his excellent filmed debate with his own constituents regarding health care, in which he only revealed his pretentious liberal side a few times, and then subsequently apologized for it while defending his viewpoint and perhaps swaying a few opponents.


Watch this, it’s pretty enlightening. And no, they’re not an “angry mob” as the video’s title alleges them to be. Sheesh, the left loves its labels.

And just two days ago, Franken proposed Amendment No. 2588, which has the following purpose: “To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.” This is a direct response to the alleged rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, who says that while at a Halliburton/KBR camp in the Green Zone of Baghdad she was raped by several co-workers and placed under guard in a shipping container.

The amendment passed by a vote of 68-30, as it darn well should have, further giving credence to the theory that Franken is a senator who actually has his wits about him, and would like to use his office to actually accomplish something. Also, he made the Republicans look like they’re pro-rape (though 10 Republicans did vote for it). It seems as though Franken really is good enough, smart enough and dog-gone it, I like him.

As for Franken’s speech on the Senate floor…

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Filed under Crime, Culture wars, Government, Health, Military, Morgan

District 9: Rewind

Great sci-fi isn’t built upon the bluster of battlecrusiers exchanging laser fire while orbiting far-flung planets, nor is it initially constructed with an ornate, complex back-story with confounding names and outlandish technological advancements.

Great sci-fi hinges upon changing just a few major elements in the universe the visionary is creating, and then observing and analyzing natural human responses to these strange and wondrous alterations. All of the robots, lightsabers and ray guns in the world cannot corral a intriguing and compelling story, instead, truly engaging work uses them as garnish atop a story that ultimately hinges upon character interaction, not arbitrary set-pieces and tedious explosions.

Plenty has been said about District 9, and the praise has come in swarms, both from the critics corner and from the box office returns. So I won’t talk about just how fantastic the movie is, how its direction perfectly fluctuates between brutal realism, heartbreak and fantastically captivating action, how its allegorical and simple premise which, although dealing with familiar themes, is nonetheless refreshing.

Instead, I’d like to highlight something that I haven’t seen discussed much in the criticism or discussion of the film (and if it has, do be kind, I can’t be privy the Internet in its entirety).

Isn't this true of all films? It's not too often you see cats or fish in a movie theater...

Isn't this true of all films? It's not too often you see cats or fish in a movie theater...

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Filed under Hollywood, Media, Military, Morgan, Technology

Finish your veggies dear, there are starving robots that would love to eat you

It was reported earlier this week that a military robot, the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR, aren’t they cute with their acronyms?) would have the ability to feast upon the remains of dead people. This assertion has since been retracted and corrected, since there was a bit of dismay at the thought of an army of self-sustaining mechanized warriors going from battle to battle, flaying the human populace and then sitting down to chow, complete with steel bibs and $1,000 Pentagon-designed silverware.

Robot Technology Inc., the madmen behind this piece of work, presented their vegan side of the story.

“Despite the far-reaching reports that this (the robot’s food source) includes “human bodies,” the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone (Cyclone Power Technologies Inc.) has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips — small, plant-based items for which RTI’s robotic technology is designed to forage. Desecration of the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI.”

Did you read all of that? I didn’t, I zoned out thinking of just how much flesh-eating robots fit in line with the progression of military thought. To illustrate, let’s take a look at a timeline.

There might have been a few details inbetween the events detailed here, but they're not nearly as important.

There might have been a few details between the events shown here, but they're not nearly as important.

As we progressively become more and more ridiculous and inhuman with our means of combat (a smart bomb is, rumor has it, still a bomb), why impede the natural evolution of our weaponry? Just as a man of the 14th century would marvel at our landing on the moon, vehicular transport or television, so should he be in awe of our flesh-eating robot servants.

“There are certain signatures from different kinds of materials that would distinguish vegetative biomass from other material,” Dr. Bob Finkelstein, president of RTI and owner of the most appropriate name ever, said.

But is anyone really going to be terrified of a giant weaponized robot that takes a break from wanton destruction to peek around its surroundings and poo-poo its dietary selection, worried about its robo-carbs? Even if Synthetic Swim Season was around the corner, if we’re building robots that aid in killing folks, they shouldn’t be limiting their food choices, let them eat what they please. So what if they gobble up a dead body every now and then, it doesn’t mean they’ll be barging into orphanages for a midnight snack (provided we don’t let them get a taste for orphans at least).

The real ethical dilemma here is RTI wimping out to liberal sensitivities and keeping our mechanized armies from being all that they can be built to be. Oh, and the continued dehumanization of warfare, leading to a society that views suffering incurred by their military actions as a distant problem, thereby creating a culture in which warfare is progressively a passive activity, as opposed to one requiring a careful weighing of the ideals a hand and the cost of defending or attacking them.

Names RIT turned down during the development stages of EATR…
FEAR (Fiendish Eater’s Autonomous Rampage)
DESTRUCTOR (Doling Evil Submission to Renegades Using Teeth or Rice-o-roni)

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This week in The Pendulum…

For the first issue of the summer, the opinions section will have a nice little balance of that warm, fuzzy optimism that you’ve grown accustomed to reading in other publications, and the typical grizzled, commentary that tends to dominate the editorial pages. If you’re on campus (all three of you) then pick up your copy on Wednesday, but if not, take a look on the Internet. I heard it’s the hip, new thing.

As for a few sneak peeks at this week’s content…

  • Learn about the humility and honor in charity, no matter how small the contribution may seem.
  • Can Obama’s new “Can’t we all get along?” policy for the Middle East accomplish anything?
  • Reality TV doesn’t just hurt the pride of super models and the crotches of the contestants on “Wipeout.”
  • The revolution in Iran will be televised, and the West can do nothing but watch.
  • Hard times don’t mean that deplorable behavior is inevitable, it means that ideologues will have an excuse for their depravity.
And find out just what this cat and his bumper car have to do with Obama's economic policies...

And find out just what this cat and his bumper car have to do with Obama's economic policies...

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Filed under Business, Culture wars, Elon, Government, Hollywood, International, Iran, Media, Military, Morgan, Obama, Pendulum, Religion

News briefs!

Put down those preemptive Peeps, it’s not Easter break yet. Here’s a quick rundown of everything that you’ll need to know until tomorrow…

  • Somali pirates boarded the U.S. container ship Alabama and are currently holding its captain, Richard Phillips captive, though the remainder of the ship is reportedly back in the control of its crew. The Alabama, which was carrying food aid intended for Mombasa, Kenya, was boarded at 7:30 a.m.. The crew has made contact with the media and some of their families, and it seems as though none of them have been hurt, despite their unarmed disadvantage against the gun-toting pirates.

    This comes just two days after the Malaspina Castle, a British ship, was boarded by pirates. Last year, almost 100 ships were attacked across the globe by pirates, 40 of which were assaulted close to Somalia. There’s been a strong international effort to bring about an end to such activities, with the American, Chinese, Japanese and Russian warships all patrolling the region.

    It’s nice to think that by tossing some battleships into the sea, this growing pirate problem can be put to an end, but they operate in such small groups, and can vanish so quickly that they’re akin to the small group of terrorists who laid siege to Mumbai last year.

  • Three cheers for diplomacy! If the State Department is to be believed, the U.S. will soon join up with Iran, the U.N. and other European powers discuss Iran’s nuclear program. This is, of course, pending Iran’s acceptance of its invite. Sure, Iran isn’t the most lovable of countries, but this is certainly an improvement over the U.S. wrinkling its brow and poo-pooing them from behind plate glass while they step ever closer to the bomb.
  • In a report that’s sure to shock everyone, the International Association for Dental Research in Miami concluded that prolonged partaking of sports drinks, with all of their hydrating, sugary goodness, can be bad for your teeth. Next week, they’ll decide that eating a diet comprised entirely of Fruit-Roll-Ups is also detrimental to one’s health.
  • Newt Gingrich has come out and said that the Obama administration is “intensely secular” and “anti-religious,” though Obama hasn’t done anything regarding religion one way or the other. Could it be that he’s creating a space, a void, perhaps even a separation between the church and the state? Meanwhile, I’ll go listen to Pearl Jam and boot up my Sega Genesis, because apparently it’s 1994 and Gingrich is important.

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Filed under Crime, Government, Health, International, Iran, Military, Morgan