Friday, December 23, 2005

Reason's Greetings!

Happy Newtonmas!

Sir Isaac Newton, PRS

(25 December 1642 – 31 March 1727)

English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and philosopher

One of the most influential scientists in history

Most importantly, Newton wrote the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica wherein he described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from this system, he was the first to show that the motion of bodies on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws. The unifying and deterministic power of his laws was integral to the scientific revolution and the advancement of heliocentrism.

Among other scientific discoveries, Newton realised that the spectrum of colours observed when white light passes through a prism is inherent in the white light and not added by the prism (as Roger Bacon had claimed in the 13th century), and notably argued that light is composed of particles. He also developed a law of cooling.

Newton, often regarded as an "unrivalled mathematical genius", shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of integral and differential calculus, which he used to formulate his physical laws. He also made contributions to other areas of mathematics, for example proving the binomial theorem. The mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736–1813), said that "Newton was the greatest genius that ever existed and the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish.

from Wikipedia

Saturday, December 17, 2005

On Earth, Peace!

Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.: Mahabharata 5:1517

Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.: Matthew 7:12

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.: Udana Varga 5:18

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.: Talmud, Shabbat 31:a

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.: Analects 15:23

Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.: T’ai Shag Kan Ying P’ien

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself. : Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

Blessed Be!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Somethings require no comment


Thanks to doghouse riley at Bats Left, Throws Right for the image.

I just had to share.

OH GREAT, another just trust us from BushCo

from BBC:

Bush spying claim causes US storm

George W Bush
Bush's top aides say he did not break the law
Allegations that President George Bush authorised security agents to eavesdrop on people inside the US have caused a storm of protest.

The New York Times says the National Security Agency was allowed to spy on hundreds of people without warrants.

The NSA is normally barred from eavesdropping within the US.

Republican Senator John McCain called for an explanation, while Senator Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said he would investigate.

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Mr Specter, also a Republican, adding that Senate hearings would be held early next year as "a very, very high priority".

The allegations coincided with a setback for the Bush administration, as the Senate rejected extensions to spying provisions in the Patriot Act. (more)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Robert Sheckley 1928-2005


from WikiPedia:

Robert Sheckley (born July 16, 1928, died December 9, 2005) is an American author. He first appeared in the science fiction magazines of the 1950s with stories and novels, fantasies that are often moralistic (in the sense that they have a moral), but more often absurdist and broadly comical

During a recent visit to Ukraine for the Ukrainian Sci-Fi Computer Week, an international event for science fiction writers, Sheckley fell ill and had to be hospitalized in Kiev on April 27, 2005 [1]. His condition was very serious for one week, but he appeared to be slowly recovering. The official web site of Robert Sheckley [2] ran a fundraising campaign to help cover Sheckley's treatment and his return to the USA. However, only a large donation from a Ukrainian businessman allowed him to pay the hospital bill and return home.

On November 20 he had surgery for a brain aneurysm, and on December 9, 2005 he died.


from Locus Online:

SF writer Robert Sheckley died today in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the age of 77. One of the field's great humorists, Sheckley was a prolific short story writer beginning in 1952 with titles including "Specialist", "Pilgrimage to Earth", "Warm", "The Prize of Peril", and "Seventh Victim", collected in volumes from Untouched by Human Hands (1954) to Is That What People Do? (1984) and a five-volume set of Collected Stories (1991). His first novel, Immortality, Inc. (1958), was followed by The Status Civilization (1960), Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962), Mindswap (1966), and several others. Sheckley served as fiction editor for Omni magazine from January 1980 through September 1981, and was named Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2001. Sheckley was hospitalized earlier this year in Ukraine, then recovered sufficiently to return to the US, though he was unable to attend the World SF Convention in Glasgow where he'd been scheduled Guest of Honor.

from SFWA site:

*************************** Robert Sheckley (1928-2005) ***************************

Robert Sheckley passed away at Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie New York on Friday, December 9, 2005. He was 77.
He was first hospitalized while in the Ukraine in April of this year. He returned to the US in late May, and recovered in the summer. On November 20, he had surgery for a brain aneurysm at Mount Saini Hospital.

Robert Sheckley wrote scores of novels and hundreds of short stories. When Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honored Sheckley as Author Emeritus in 2001, then President of SFWA Paul Levinson said that Sheckley's "writing helped our genre grow up by giving it an irresistible sense of humor."

Funeral information will be available later today. The arrangement is being handled by Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home of Kingston, New York.

Funeral Arrangements:


Arrangements by:

Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home
411 Albany Ave

Kingston, NY 12401

845-331-0631

http://www.simpsongaus.com/

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blog Against Racism Day.

from Rexroth's Daughter at the dharma bums, this sad and wondrous meditation on racism as the American disease. Read it and take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for freedom in this their own country. And weep for your country.

We Still Have a Dream
Chris over at Creek Running North has asked that bloggers blog against racism today. I was trying to come up with something that was current and meaningful, but kept tripping back to 1963: The year that changed my life. It wasn't the war in Vietnam that radicalized me when I was a kid in the 60s. It was the civil rights movement. There was something about the image of fellow human beings being attacked by police dogs or with fire hoses that seared the brain of this eleven year old. There were things that happened in 1963 and 1964 in this country that were so horrific, so inhumane, so abjectly cruel that it shook our country to its constitutional roots. How do I blog against racism today? I invoke the names Medgar Evers; Carol Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson; and Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. They paid for our racism with their lives
.
Medgar Evers was assassinated 6/12/63

(more)




chris at Creek Running North adds his own essay on a life lived in a society suffering from racism in the small and in the large things of life

Racism in Pinole

Pinole is a town under siege. An island of rusticated charm in a burgeoning megalopolis, our traditional way of life is under attack. We are hard up against the deepening crime of Richmond, the most dangerous city in California according to recent rankings. A short ride on the local bus, or in a (presumably stolen) car along Interstate 80, and the barbarian hordes are at our gates, had we gates, which we do not. So we are vulnerable.

Or so some of my neighbors would have it.

Two years ago we fought a development on church land immediately behind our house. Those neighbors who, like us, were adjacent to the project, thought mainly of engineering and traffic concerns. The plan would have shunted storm runoff into our property - likely destroying our foundation – and killed the live oak that overhangs our yard. Landslides would have threatened others' houses. Our next door neighbor would have had the project's traffic driving five feet from her bedroom window. We killed the project for those reasons. (more)


from Neil Shakespeare, this visual tribute to Fredrick Douglas:


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy Hurlidays!


Time for my annual Xmas rant.

One from the vaults.
(Daily Blatt 12/17/04)
Yeah, a retread, but I figure if they can give us that damned Rudolph every year, I can recycle this.

I truly hate this time of year. All the forced jollity, the commercial bonhomme, the insipidness of the music, and the false once-a-year concern for 'Christian' values all combine to make me ill. I am filled with so much bile against my fellow humans, I fear for the health of my liver at Xmas time.

I am what I would describe as a secular Taoist, a observer of the lifestyle of Taoism without any belief in the supernatural aspects thereof. I haven't been a Christian for many years now. I left the faith in my teens after an argument over evolution with the minister of my family's church. Can't say that I've missed it much, nor do I spend much time looking over my shoulder for the iron fist of God out to smite my sinful ass.

But the dominant culture of these United States, being largely derived from a candy-ass bizarro version of Protestant Christianity, insists on inflicting this Xmas stuff on me.

If I have to hear the blasted Little Drummer Boy one more time while out shopping for a book I swear that I'll tear out my own eardrums. And who out there can deny that the playing of the Barking Dogs doing Jingle Bells should be a crime punishable under the Geneva Convention? Or that the wanton infliction of 24/7 Xmas music warrants the mass fire bombing of radio stations all across the country? And please, please, won't someone kill Troy before he can skreech again?

And what's with this insanity of every show on TV being some sort of Xmas special, beginning right after Halloween and continuing on for the next 8 weeks? What happened to Chaunukah, Yule, Solstice, and Kwanzaa? Suddenly everyone in in America is expected to be interested in the artificially fixed date of birth of the 'miraculously' conceived child of the God of some of the Americans. It is a puzzle.

I mean the idea of most of the folks on sitcoms commenting on (Ch)Xmas is obscene to begin with. Raymond, whom everyone DOES NOT love, by the way, is even more obnoxious when he remembers that this is the time of year that he's supposed to be nice and for some reason goes out of character and is. Right. Or the folks on Will and Grace will smirkingly remind us to be happy and Gay. It is to retch. Or the kids on South Park will ask Santa NOT to kill Kenny. All in the spirit of the season.

And how many times do we have to save bloody Bedford Falls, find the missing Rudolph, and listen to Bing Crosby dream of a White (preferably segregated) Christmas? Or, horror of horrors, why must we glimpse, even briefly, the spectacle of Jim Carrey in Grinch drag gnawing on every piece of scenery in sight? It's only a short while until we'll have Survivor: Arctic Ice Cap to suffer through as well, I predict.

We also have the all singing all dancing parade of the International Has-Been Pop-Stars Xmas Specials to live through. I daresay that most of them wouldn't know a good old fashioned Christian ethic if the damned thing bit them on the bum. Kenny G playing the love theme from Handel's Messiah. Andy (I Left My Talent in Sheboygan) Williams tottering across the stage and singing I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Now there's a threat that will keep me up nights.

Don't get me wrong. I do know people for whom Christmas is a source of genuine joy and religious wonder. To them I say good for you. Enjoy the season.

My former Mother-in-Law was one such person. It was great to see the happiness Christmas brought to her life. Her faith had not been buried by the excesses of the American Xmas celebration. Yes she bought gifts for everyone, often going to great lengths to find something special, but to her this was just a part of the observance of a day most holy.

Which makes the overall cultural Xmas even more offensive in my eyes.

Give me a good Yule log, a nice drum circle and a ritual sacrifice or two. Ah, that would be a Solstice gift to remember!

Till then thankfully, we have the antics of the killer Robot Santa on Futurama or there would be no hope at all during this season.

Cool Yule to you all.

Blessed Be!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cheer Up!

Looks like Dubya's gonna have to hide out in the Bitterroots when it's all over. Even Texas is turning on him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WOO-HOO!

62 lbs!

That's 62 lbs since January 5th this year.


So sayeth my Doc!


There'll be a lot less of me to me to kick around this New Year's Eve.


And he took me off of one of my bloodpressure meds as well.


Only a one pill a day wonder now.


WOO-HOO!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poem of the Day

A Hole In The Floor by Richard Wilbur

for Rene Magritte

The carpenter's made a hole
In the parlor floor, and I'm standing
Staring down into it now
At four o'clock in the evening,
As Schliemann stood when his shovel
Knocked on the crowns of Troy.


A clean-cut sawdust sparkles
On the grey, shaggy laths,
And here is a cluster of shavings
>From the time when the floor was laid.
They are silvery-gold, the color
Of Hesperian apple-parings.


Kneeling, I look in under
Where the joists go into hiding.
A pure street, faintly littered
With bits and strokes of light,
Enters the long darkness
Where its parallels will meet.


The radiator-pipe
Rises in middle distance
Like a shuttered kiosk, standing
Where the only news is night.
Here's it's not painted green,
As it is in the visible world.


For God's sake, what am I after?
Some treasure, or tiny garden?
Or that untrodden place,
The house's very soul,
Where time has stored our footbeats
And the long skein of our voices?


Not these, but the buried strangeness
Which nourishes the known:
That spring from which the floor-lamp
Drinks now a wilder bloom,
Inflaming the damask love-seat
And the whole dangerous room.

Joyeux Anniversaire


François-Marie Arouet Voltaire
(1694 – 1778)
French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher.




René François Ghislain Magritte

(1898 – 1967)
Surrealist artist
Born in Lessines, Belgium.

What Kind of Humanist Are You?

Handholder




You go out of your way to build bridges with people of different views and beliefs and have quite a few religious friends. You believe in the essential goodness of people , which means you’re always looking for common ground even if that entails compromises. You would defend Salman Rushdie’s right to criticise Islam but you’re sorry he attacked it so viciously, just as you feel uncomfortable with some of the more outspoken and unkind views of religion in the pages of this magazine.


You prefer the inclusive approach of writers like Zadie Smith or the radical Christian values of Edward Said. Don’t fall into the same trap as super–naive Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge who declared it was okay for clerics like Yusuf al–Qaradawi to justify their monstrous prejudices as a legitimate interpretation of the Koran: a perfect example of how the will to understand can mean the sacrifice of fundamental principles. Sometimes, you just have to hold out for what you know is right even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Poem of the Day

Postscript by Seamus Heaney


And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open



Happy Birthday


Georgia Totto O'Keeffe
( 1887 – 1986)

American artist
One of the greatest modernist painters of the 20th century.

Cartoon of the Day

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Poem of the Day


Old Man by Neil Young


Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
Twenty four and there’s so much more

Live alone in a paradise

That makes me think of two.


Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things that don’t get lost.

Like a coin that won’t get tossed

Rolling home to you.


Old man take a look at my life I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through

Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that’s true.


Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.

Doesn’t mean that much to me

To mean that much to you
.

I’ve been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.

But I’m all alone at last.

Rolling home to you.


Old man take a look at my life I’m a lot like you

I need someone to love me the whole day through

Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that’s true.


Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,

I’m a lot like you were.

Happy Birthday


Neil Young
(
1945- )

Canadian singer-songwriter

One of the most influential musicians of his generation
.



Better to burn out than to rust away...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Nice little town you have here - would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

via PZ Myer's Pharyngula:

Thugs for God
Hey, gang, this quote from Pat Robertson is not a joke.

On today’s 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson took the opportunity to strongly rebuke voters in Dover, PA who removed from office school board members who supported teaching faith-based “intelligent design” and instead elected Democrats who opposed bringing up the possibility of a Creator in the school system’s science curriculum.

Rev. Robertson warned the people of Dover that God might forsake the town because of the vote.

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.”

I like it. The message is clear, it's not hard to figure it out…Christianity is like an extortion racket, see, and if you don't cough up, well, Lew here might have a little accident with your car, or your house, or your little girl. And then Mr Big wouldn't be able to do nothin' for you. He doesn't mean nothing by it, he likes you, see, but if you don't show him a little respect, you can't expect him to trouble himself with your worries, OK? Me and Vinnie'll be by tomorrow, and you will have that little donation ready.

Poem of the Day

Elegy by Joseph Brodsky

About a year has passed. I've returned to the place of the battle,
to its birds that have learned their unfolding of wings
from a subtle
lift of a surprised eyebrow, or perhaps from a razor blade
- wings, now the shade of early twilight, now of state
bad blood.

Now the place is abuzz with trading
in your ankles's remnants, bronzes
of sunburnt breastplates, dying laughter, bruises,
rumors of fresh reserves, memories of high treason,
laundered banners with imprints of the many
who since have risen.

All's overgrown with people. A ruin's a rather stubborn
architectural style. And the hearts's distinction
from a pitch-black cavern
isn't that great; not great enough to fear
that we may collide again like blind eggs somewhere.

At sunrise, when nobody stares at one's face, I often,
set out on foot to a monument cast in molten
lengthy bad dreams. And it says on the plinth "commander
in chief." But it reads "in grief," or "in brief,"
or "in going under."

Happy Birthday, Wanda June


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
( 1922 - )
American satirist

Author of Cat's Cradle, one of my favorite novels.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

When I Went Looking for the Pot at the End of the Rainbow, I Really Had Something Different In Mind

Duck and Cover


from Kolchak:

The infamous phrase "duck and cover" doesn't appear in "
Survival Under Atomic Attack." Basically, though, that's the advice the booklet offered Cold War America.

I found a copy of "Survival Under Atomic Attack" a few months ago at a nearby antique store. It doesn't have a publication date in it, but it does have an old-fashioned Civil Defense emblem on the cover, and it refers to another government publication which, it says, was published in 1950. Some of the facts mentioned may be correct, or were considered correct at the time, but they still seem unlikely to me. With that disclaimer, I think I'm going to let this one speak for itself, as much as I can.

"Even if you have only a second's warning, there is one important thing you can do to lessen your chances of injury by blast:

"Fall flat on your face..."

"If you are inside a building, the best place to flatten out is close against the cellar wall. If you haven't time to get down there, lie down along an inside wall, or duck under a bed or table."

"When you fall flat to protect yourself from a bombing, don't look up to see what is coming. Even during the daylight hours, the flash from a bursting A-bomb can cause several moments of blindness, if you're facing that way. To prevent it, bury your face in your arms and hold it there for 10 or12 seconds after the explosion. That will also help to keep flying glass and other things out of your eyes."


"Should you be caught upstairs or in the open at the time of a bombing, you might soak up a serious dose of explosive radioactivity. Even so, the first indication that you had been pierced by the rays probably wouldn't show up for a couple of hours. Then you most likely would get sick at your stomach. However, you might be sick at your stomach for other reasons, too, so vomiting won't always mean you have radiation sickness...For a few days you might continue to feel below par and about two weeks later most of your hair might fall out. By the time you lost your hair you would be good and sick. But, in spite of it all, you would still stand a better than even chance of making a complete recovery, including having your hair grow in again."


"It was said earlier that 15 percent of Japanese A-bomb deaths or injures were caused by radioactivity. But not one of them was caused by the lingering kind. Explosive radioactivity killed them all."


"Naturally, the radioactivity that passes through the walls of your house won't be stopped by tin or glass. It can go right through canned and bottled foods. However, this will not make them dangerous, and it will not cause them to spoil. Go ahead and use them provided the containers are not broken open."


"While we cannot hear, feel, smell or taste radioactivity, its presence can be easily detected with Geiger counters. However, you won't have to use one of these. Instead, you can rely on your local radiologoical defense teams--a small specially-trained corps of 'meter readers'--to warn you of the presence of lingering radioactivity."


"Be careful not to track radioactive materials into the house."


"Neither explosive nor lingering radioactivity has any effect on the operation of most mechancial or electrical devices. Unless the wires are down, or there is a power failure, both your lights and telephone should continue to work...The bomb's radioactivity will not interfere with the operation of your radio."


"Should you help to clean up a contaminated area, you might get some radioactive materials on your body and clothing. So don't go home and sit around in your work clothes."


And the ever-popular:

"Don't start rumors. In the confusion that follows a bombing, a single rumor might touch off a panic that could cost you your life."


For a (very) in-depth look at Cold War propaganda,
check out: www.conelrad.com.

In the Meme Time

from John Scalzi's Whatever:

The 50 Most Significant Comedy Films of All Time,

For those of you want to make an online meme out of this, the idea is to put the list on your own blog/journal, bold the ones you've seen and blue color the ones you own on DVD/video. You can/should also add your own comments on the list and what you think of the films chosen, which I have done immediately below.

Make sure to attribute the Canon correctly (to Bob McCabe and The Rough Guide to Comedy Movies).

The "canon", in alphabetical order:

Airplane!
All About Eve
Amelie
Annie Hall
The Apartment
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (I couldn't finish watching the dvd)
Blazing Saddles
Bringing Up Baby
Broadcast News (Why is this mediocre movie here?)
Caddyshack
Le diner de con
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (I walked out of theatre after about 30 minutes not having laughed once.)
Duck Soup
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The General
Ghostbusters
The Gold Rush
Good Morning Vietnam
The Graduate
Groundhog Day
A Hard Day's Night
His Girl Friday
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Lady Killers

Local Hero

Manhattan

M*A*S*H

Monty Python's Life of Brian

National Lampoon's Animal House

The Odd Couple
The Producers
Raising Arizona

Roxanne
Rushmore (I watched about 5 minutes of this on cable tv. Dreadful.)
Shaun of the Dead
A Shot in the Dark
Some Like it Hot
Strictly Ballroom
Sullivan's Travels
There's Something About Mary (Walked out after 20 minutes. May have been the longest 20 minutes of my life.)
This is Spinal Tap
To Be or Not to Be (the Jack Benny version, not the Mel Brooks one)
Tootsie
Toy Story
Les vacances de M. Hulot (Not my glass of pastis)
When Harry Met Sally...
Withnail and I


My comments:

Films Whose Presence in the Canon I'm Particularly Gratified to See (pick up to five):
Dr. Strangelove, Duck Soup, Local Hero, Animal House, The Producers

Films in the Canon Whose Presence Should Not Be (pick up to five):
Austin Powers, Dodgeball, Life of Brian, Rushmore, There's Something About Mary

Films I'd Pick to Replace Them (pick up to five):
The Court Jester
, A Fish Called Wanda, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, any compilation of Looney Tunes written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones, Young Frankenstein

How any list of the 10 best let alone 50 best comedy films could not include Young Frankenstein is beyond me. It is a brilliantly funny movie, full of verbal wit and wonderful sight gags. And it remains as fresh as the day it was made.

And Life of Brian over MP and the Holy Grail? Someone's not paying attention. LoB is the weakest of the Python's films and I'm including ...And Now For Something Completely Different in that evaluation.

And finally, what's with the bunch of the 'ooh, I said potty' films? Austin Powers, Dodgeball, There's Something About Mary are all one joke abominations totally lacking in wit or nuance. The same foul joke repeatedly offered as evidence of humor. Feh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thoughts on the Christian Rite of Communion

from Marissa Lingren, this short meditation on communion that has made me think generously of Christianity for the first time in many years:


(Sometimes when I take communion, I gloat about the people who have to be Body of Christ with me against their will. James Dobson is a big one that way. This is because I am Not A Good Christian. 'We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,' and there ain't nothin' you can do about it, suckahs. Ahem. Sorry. But it was a great theological revelation for me to realize that the Body of Christ has AIDS, has diabetes, has cancer, has everything. The Body of Christ is gay, is bi, is straight, is asexual, is not sure, is sure of something rather more complicated than any of that. Because you can't say, 'Oh, well, I'm not bi, my right thumb is bi.' Doesn't work that way. So as long as people like James Dobson and the aforementioned worthies of Undefined Cosmic Circumstances keep taking communion, they're part of being transsexual lesbians and unwed mothers and the whole mess of the rest of us who also take communion. Neener neener.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ahhh, Bliss!

So Fine!

from A Townie's Tale via Boing-Boing, Shaft meets Chaucer:


Wha be tha blake prevy lawe
That bene wantoun too alle tha feres?
SHAFT!
Ya damne righte!

Wha be tha carl tha riske is hals wolt
Fro is allye leve?
SHAFT!
Konne ye?

Wha be tha carl wha ne wolden flee
Whan peril bene all aboughte?
SHAFT!
Verray!

Alle clepe tha carl ane badde mooder-
SOFTE!
Speken of Shaft bene I.
THAN KONNE ALLES WE!

He be a man konne unnethes
Namo save is mayde konnes im.
JOHN SHAFT!

The Ballad of Patrick Fitzgerald

from my brilliant blogging buddy Dr. Corndog over to Corndoggerel:


"With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot and especially to the crew and families of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Ballad of Patrick Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the press corps on down
Of the big Veep they called ’Dickey Cheney’

Halliburton, it’s said, never goes in the red

When the no-bid contracts start raining

Still the rumors round town said the Veep might go down

If young Patrick Fitzgerald did his duty

If the stories don’t jibe, then someone must have lied

Was it Karl Rove, or Scooter, or Judy? ( more)

In Memorium

Rosa Parks
Activist and Citizen


Thank you, Ms. Parks.

Your courage and example helped us all become better people .

Thursday, October 20, 2005

OH JOY!

Tom DeLay fingerprinted and released

By R.G. RATCLIFFE and DALE LEZON
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's booking mug from today.


U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay dodged reporters and photographers awaiting his arrest in Fort Bend County today to surrender to Harris County sheriff's deputies on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

DeLay, accompanied by lawyer Dick DeGuerin, arrived shortly after noon at a Harris County Sheriff's Department facility at 49 San Jacinto, said sheriff's Lt. John Martin.

The Sugar Land Republican was fingerprinted, photographed, taken before a judge, posted $10,000 bail and left shortly before 1 p.m. His lawyer told reporters DeLay was put through the process because of a political vendetta by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, the Democrat who brought the case.



UPDATE:

The Arrest Warrant

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Poem of the Day

...Is a Rose... by Loyal F Ramsey

A Rose thrown

In anger

Is still a Rose,

With Scent

So sweet

And Petals

Red

As the Blood

Drawn by its

Thorns.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ten Things That Are Pissing Me Off Today

First in a Continuing Series






1.) W's Upper Lip

I hate it.

A pale wormlke bit of flesh, it clings to that blank neo-chimp face, poised above his rich boy pout, one moment twitching in a pseudo-Elvisian tremor of anger, the next moment rigid in James Deanian disdain, a lip for all seasons, ever treatening to give forth a full force vicious sneer that would reveal what W truly feels for the rest of humanity...
The fact that it's attached to the rest of him doesn't gain it any slack with me, either.
2.) Whining Hypocritical NeoCon Media Toadies ( WHNMTs®) like Michelle Malkin who are complaining about 'Bush cronyism'
Jesus woman, have you no pride at all? Or no memory of your own words? At least have the intellectual honesty to admit that you've viciously shelled those on the Left for making such a statement in the past. Sheesh.
3.) WHNMTs® like Ann Coulter who are complaining about Bush not asking the Senate for input on Harriet Miers
See above.
4.) WHNMTs® who continue on with their blubbering about how mean the Lefties are and how they (the WHNMTs®) should all take their balls and go home
Ahh, time to have a pity party. Seems I've been mean to some of those poor innocent NeoCons in comments on their nice little bloggies. My Bad! But as I've said many times in the past, I am not a gentleman. And nobody ever paid me to be nice.
5.) WHNMTs® who continue to insist that W is not the worst President since Andrew Johnson

6.) WHNMTs
® who lack a sufficient grasp of American History to even know who Andrew Johnson was

7.) Current TV versions of 50's Paranoia films that masquerade as contemporary science fiction
I don't get it. What's the attraction of shows like Surface, Invasion, and Threshold aside from their incredibly 'imaginative' single word series titles and their photocopy back stories and plots?

All three feature attractive women scientists/doctors and studly male army/law men. All three have sidekicks who are weird porn loving/ panty stealing/ computer game playing/ beer drinking brothers/dwarfs/geeky kids. All three tell us to be afraid, very afraid 'cause 'THEY' are lurking out there, in the water, waiting to poke out our eyes, suck our brains out via our noses and munch on our tender bits.


And, as Dan Ackroyd's Leonard Pinth Garnell would have it, all three are BAD remakes of 50's insect fear films. Instead of pods or giant manti, or lurking mama spiders we get a bunch of eels and squid and armored trout attacking us. Still the unknown enemy. Unseen. Ready to steal our precious bodily fluids.

I mean, give me a break.


Does anyone besides me find it oddly significant that in a time when the evil most feared by America skulks about in the driest part of the world, the monsters of TV hide in the water? Just sayin....
8.) Barbara Bush
Babs, born with a silver spoon for every orifice, managed to make Marie Antoinette look like Karl Marx with her remarks on the sheer unbridled luck of the New Orleans refugees who were evacuated to Texas.

You go, girl.

Straight to Hell.

Hope that works well for you.

9.) Global Warming Deniers

People who deny the reality of global warming, climate change and the other human compounded environmental catastrophes that we are now facing are no better intellectually or morally than those who deny the reality of the Holocaust. Both groups work hard to prevent remediation of the conditions that led to the disaster in the first place. Both would have us believe that these things just happen. Both refuse to admit that they were wrong and in the process perpetuate the danger.

Just as governments and individuals in the late 1930's refused to heed the growing evidence of the crimes committed by the Nazis, for the past two decades business and government have refused to see the hand of man in the rapidly changing deterioration of the global environment.

And just as the failure to take action in the 1940's resulted in the deaths of millions, it is likely that the blindness of the climate change deniers will result in the deaths of hundreds of millions.

Even now, the lust for profit wins out over the lives of people in climate policy. By waiting these twenty years, we have allowed a process that we can now neither stop nor predict to begin.

Which crime is greater?
10.) The New York Yankees
The NeoCon Revolution in pinstipes and cleated shoes.

Bloated. Lazy. Greedy. Arrogant. Profoundly unaware of the damage they do.


They epitomize everything that is wrong with America.


A clear refutation of the old adage that you can never look too good or have too much money.

Giuliani: I Plan to Return to Politics


from Yahoo! News:

Wed Oct 5, 3:55 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Rudolph Giuliani said Wednesday that he plans to return to politics but that it is too early to say if that will be for the 2008 presidential campaign.

'I think I'll return to politics,' Giuliani said in a speech to business leaders.

Called 'America's Mayor,' after his performance in leading New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks, Giuliani has spent the years since working as a corporate executive and public speaker.

The business event, hosted by Visa USA, brought together corporate leaders, anti-fraud experts, and government officials to discuss credit card security. But the first question from audience members was about Giuliani's possible return to public office.

Asked if he had any 'political visions,' Giuliani laughed and rubbed his forehead.

'I have some political visions. I don't know what they are yet, they're a little foggy,' he said." (more)

Kashmiri Earthquake Relief Sites

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

http://www.oxfamamerica.org/

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_you_can_do/give_to_oxfam/donate/asian_quake.htm

Unicef http://www.unicef.org

Kashmir International Relief Fund http://www.kirf.org

Red Cross/ Red Crescent http://www.ifrc.org

http://www.mercycorps.com

http://www.savethechildren.org/

http://www.directrelief.org/

http://www.opusa.org/

http://www.irw.org/asiaquake/

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Richard Dawkins on the Opiate of the Masses

from Prospect via Cruella-Blog:




Gerin oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of characteristic symptoms, often of an antisocial or self- damaging nature. If administered chronically in childhood, Gerin oil can permanently modify the brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which have proved very hard to treat. The four doomed flights of 11th September were, in a very real sense, Gerin oil trips: all 19 of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniol intoxication was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem witch hunts and the massacres of native South Americans by conquistadores. Gerin oil fuelled most of the wars of the European middle ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and, on a smaller scale, Ireland.


Gerin oil addiction can drive previously sane individuals to run away from a normally fulfilled human life and retreat to closed communities from which all but confirmed addicts are excluded. These communities are nearly always limited to one sex, and they vigorously, often obsessively, forbid sexual activity. Indeed, a tendency towards agonised sexual prohibition emerges as a drably recurring theme amid all the colourful variations of Gerin oil symptomatology. Gerin oil does not seem to reduce the libido per se, but it frequently leads to a prurient desire to interfere with, and preferably reduce, the sexual pleasure of others. A current example is the horror with which Gerin oil users view homosexuality, even when expressed in long-term loving relationships.

Gerin oil in strong doses can be hallucinogenic. Hardcore mainliners may hear voices in their heads, or see illusions which seem to the sufferers so real that they often succeed in persuading others of their reality. An individual who reports high-grade hallucinogenic experiences may be venerated, and even followed as some kind of leader, by others who regard themselves as less fortunate. Such following-pathology can long postdate the leader's death, and may expand into bizarre psychedelia such as the cannibalistic fantasy of "drinking the blood and eating the flesh" of the leader.

Strong doses of Geriniol can also lead to "bad trips," in which the user can suffer morbid delusions and fears, notably fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a punishment culture which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment culture fostered by Gerin oil culminates in the sinister drug-induced fantasy of "allo-punishment"—the belief that individuals can and should be punished for the wrongdoings of others (known on the in-group grapevine as "redemption").

Medium doses of Gerin oil, though not in themselves dangerous, can distort perceptions of reality. Beliefs that have no basis in fact are immunised, by the drug's own direct effects on the nervous system, against evidence from the real world. Oil-heads can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of mild violation of the laws of physics. This autolocutory disorder is often accompanied by weird tics, hand gestures or other stereotypies, for example rhythmic head-nodding towards a wall.

As with many drugs, refined Gerin oil in low doses is largely harmless, and can even serve as a social lubricant on occasions such as marriages, funerals and ceremonies of state. Experts differ over whether such social use, though harmless in itself, is a risk factor for upgrading to harder and more addictive forms of the drug.

Gerin oil acts synergistically with sleep deprivation, self-mutilation and starvation. Addicts have been known to fast, whip their own backs, or perform other painful "penances" as means of enhancing the drug's potency. Mutilation is not limited to users themselves. Various Gerin oil-based sub-cultures ritually injure their own children, especially when they are too young to resist. These mutilations usually involve the genitals.

You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would top the list of proscribed substances, with exemplary sentences handed out for trafficking in it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don't even need a prescription. Professional pushers are numerous, and organised in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and even in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at parting clients from their money. Their "godfathers" occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of presidents and prime ministers. Governments don't just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidise schools with the specific intention of getting children hooked.

I was prompted to write this article by the smiling face of a very happy man in Bali (see picture). He was ecstatically greeting the news that he was to be executed by firing squad for the brutal murder of large numbers of innocent holidaymakers whom he had never met. Some people in the court were shocked at his lack of remorse. But far from remorseful, his mood was one of obvious exhilaration. He punched the air, delirious with joy that he was to be "martyred," to use the jargon of his particular sub-culture of Gerin oil substance-abusers. For, make no mistake about it, this beatific smile, looking forward with unalloyed pleasure to the firing squad, is the smile of a junkie. Here we have the archetypal mainliner, doped up with hard, unrefined, unadulterated, high-octane Gerin oil.

It is easy to regard such people as evil criminals, from whom the rest of us need protection. Indeed, we do need protecting from them. But the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from becoming hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Observations indicate Arctic thaw


from CNEWS:


(AP) - New satellite observations show sea ice in the Arctic is melting faster, while air temperatures in the region are rising sharply, scientists said.

Since 2002, satellite data have revealed unusually early springtime melting in areas north of Siberia and Alaska. Now the melting trend has spread throughout the Arctic, said a U.S. collaboration of scientists.

The latest observations through September show melting in 2005 began a record 17 days earlier than usual.

The observations showed 5.3 million square kilometres of sea ice as late as Sept. 19. That's the lowest measurement of Arctic sea ice cover ever recorded, the researchers said. It's also 20 per cent less than the average of end-of-summer ice pack cover measurements recorded since 1978.

At the same time, average air temperatures across most of the Arctic region from January to August 2005 were as much as three degrees C warmer than average temperature over the last 50 years, said the team of researchers from two universities and NASA.

"The melting and retreat trends are accelerating," Ted Scambos, of the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center, said in a statement released by the university.

The results have not yet been published in a scientific journal.

"The one common thread," Scambos said, "is that Arctic temperatures over the ice, ocean and surrounding land have increased in recent decades."

The scientists stopped short of directly blaming the melting trend on global warming but said they have few other explanations at this point.

During the 1990s, a cyclical atmospheric circulation pattern called the Arctic Oscillation was believed to have been pushing sea ice out of the region and into adjacent waters. But the oscillation has weakened in recent years and yet the melting continued and even accelerated.

"Something has fundamentally changed here and the best answer is warming," said Mark Serreze, another researcher at the snow and ice data centre.

Sea ice records in the Arctic are sketchy before 1978. Since satellite observations began in earnest, researchers said Arctic ice has been retreating at a rate of more than eight per cent a decade.

And, they suspect, the melting may only contribute to even higher arctic temperatures in the future. That's because the bright white ice tends to reflect more of the sun's radiation. With more of the dark ocean exposed, the seawater tends to absorb more heat and reduce the amount of solar energy reflected back into space.

The researchers used satellite data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Defence Department, as well as data from Canadian satellites and weather observatories.

The Colorado institute led the study that also involved two NASA laboratories, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Washington.

Did warm waters fuel Hurricane Katrina?

from PhysicsWeb:

5 October 2005

Global warming could have been responsible for the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina according to researchers in the US. Menas Kafatos and colleagues at George Mason University say that higher sea surface temperatures, caused by an increased concentration of greenhouse gases, caused Katrina to grow from a category 1 hurricane to a maximum category 5 hurricane. Although other factors could be responsible, the results suggest that hurricanes like Katrina will become more common in the future (physics/0509177).

Figure A

Spatial distribution of sea surface temperatures in August 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico (image:physics/0509177).



In papers written before Hurricane Katrina various researchers - including Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Nature 436 686) and Peter Webster of Georgia Tech and co-workers (Science 309 1844) - reported that hurricanes have steadily become stronger over the last 25 years, and particularly in the last few years. This could be due to higher sea surface temperatures providing "fuel" for the hurricanes. Generally, the sea surface temperature must be above about 26°C for hurricanes to form and intensify.

Figure B

Sea surface temperature anomaly for August from 1982 to 2005 peaking in August 2005 with an increasing positive trend -- the trend is indicated by dashed line (image: physics/0509177).



Using satellite data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Instrument, Kafatos and co-workers analysed how sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have varied over the last 30 years. They found that mean sea surface temperatures were over 30°C throughout August this year, with a patch of 33°C next to the state of Louisiana (figure A). Furthermore, sea surface temperatures in the Gulf reached a record 0.8°C above normal compared to previous years (figure B). Hurricane Katrina caused devastation in New Orleans and the surrounding area when it reached the Louisiana coast on 29 August.

Figure C

Daily variations of surface latent heat flux and sensible heat flux values for August 2005 -- their average values for the period 2000-2005 are indicated by dashed lines (image: physics/0509177).



In addition to sea temperatures, hurricane behaviour is dictated by two other phenomena: surface latent heat flux, which is related to water evaporating and condensing; and sensible heat flux, which leads to changes in the temperature of the atmosphere. Inside a hurricane, latent heat can be converted into kinetic energy to produce secondary circulation which, in turn, can intensify the hurricane. Kafatos and co-workers found that daily variations of surface latent heat and sensible heat fluxes increased significantly during the intensification period of hurricane Katrina, so further adding to its strength (figure C).

"The Gulf waters should be continuously monitored using satellites to discern whether the increase continues in the following years," says Kafatos. "If this turns out to be the case, it will mean similar catastrophic events in the future."

However, further evidence is needed before climate scientists can be sure that there is a direct connection between global warming and the recent increases in hurricane intensity. For instance, the increase in the temperature of the sea needs to extend deep below the surface, whereas most satellites can only measure the temperature of a thin layer of water at the surface.

About the author

Belle Dumé is science writer at PhysicsWeb

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Guy In Philosophy Class Needs To Shut The Fuck Up

As a returning adult 'gradual' student all I can say is "Oh yes. So very yes!"


From the Onion:


HANOVER, NH—According to students enrolled in professor Michael Rosenthal's Philosophy 101 course at Dartmouth University, that guy, Darrin Floen, the one who sits at the back of the class and acts like he's Aristotle, seriously needs to shut the fuck up.

His fellow students describe Floen's frequent comments as eager, interested, and incredibly annoying.

"He thinks he knows about philosophy," freshman Duane Herring said. "But I hate his voice, and I hate the way he only half raises his hand, like he's so laid back. We're discussing ethics in a couple weeks, but I don't know if I can wait that long before deciding if it's morally wrong to pound his face in."

"Today he was going on and on about how Plato's cave shadows themselves represent the ideal foundation of Western philosophical thought," said freshman Julia Wald moments after class let out Monday. "I have no idea what Plato's ideal reality is, but I bet it doesn't include know-it-all little shits."

Wald added: "If he uses the word 'dialectical' one more time, I'm going to shove my copy of The Republic down his throat."

Although he demonstrated a familiarity with Peter Singer's view on famine relief during a discussion of John Locke's theory of property, Floen is reportedly unfamiliar with the theory of cramming it for a change and giving someone else a chance to speak.

"Just last week Professor Rosenthal was talking about Russell's Paradox, and that jackass starts going off: 'But what about Heraclitus' aphorism: Everything flows, nothing stands still?'" classmate James Luers said. "At first I was like, 'That's totally irrelevant,' but then I was like, 'Well, actually, it does apply to the nonstop flapping of your trap.'"

Among the 40 students who regularly attend Philosophy 101, the one who has endured the most suffering is freshman William Deekes.

"Some people know Darrin as just 'that guy in philosophy class who needs to shut the hell up,'" Deekes said. "I, however, also know him as 'the douche in African history who seriously needs to chill' and 'the a-hole in environmental sciences who could really use a girlfriend.'"

"I enrolled in this course because I was fascinated by the question of God," said sophomore Miriam Blank. "After spending six hours a week in the same room as that unbearable windbag, I think I have my answer. Life is as long as it cruel."

The outspoken student has not gone unremarked by the course's professor.

"Mr. Floen is a valuable contributor to our in-class discussions," Rosenthal said. "His tendency to question and challenge everything before him captures the very essence of philosophy itself."

Rosenthal added: "Having said that, I do wish he would occasionally do me the valued service of shutting his damn cake hole."

Van Morrison sings to George


OH FRABJOUS DAY!

DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe: "DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

By William Branigin and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; 1:33 PM

A Texas grand jury today indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on a criminal count of conspiring with two political associates to violate state campaign finance law, and DeLay announced he would temporarily step down as House majority leader.

The indictment was disclosed in Travis County, Tex., on the last day of a grand jury investigating a campaign financing scheme involving allegedly illegal use of corporate funds."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy Birthday

Ray Charles
(1930 – 2004)

Pioneering American pianist and soul singer


Frank Sinatra called him "the only genius in the business."



Bruce Springsteen
( 1949 - )
American singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

A man who has grown better with age, like the finest of wines.
Rock on, Boss!



John Coltrane
(1926 – 1967)

American jazz saxophonist and composer.

A profoundly innovative tenor saxophonist, who fundamentally altered expectations for the instrument.

One of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.