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?
Ya damne righte!

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

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

Alle clepe tha carl ane badde mooder-
Speken of Shaft bene I.

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

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


Tom DeLay fingerprinted and released

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.


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


As the Blood

Drawn by its


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


Kashmir International Relief Fund

Red Cross/ Red Crescent

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