Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Backstory: A pill they won't swallow | csmonitor.com
"Against this backdrop, students are still convinced their cause is worth fighting, even if it means giving up a hot meal every day. 'I don't think patients can trust us anymore,' says Kristin Rising, a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco. 'By accepting gifts, we're taking in biases that are going to affect patient care.'"

Good news at last on the medical front. I think these students, once they get into practice, should place PharmFree stickers on their windows so patients can see it. It's a long road to hoe against an incredibly well-established tradition-bound profession, but at least it is a start. A tiny glimmer of hope maybe?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NTI: Wolfowitz Says Iraq War Might Not Have Occurred if United States Knew Hussein Had No WMD

"When asked how he accounted for U.S. intelligence failures before the war, Wolfowitz said, 'Well, I don't have to, and it's not just because I don't work for the U.S. government anymore. In my old job, I didn't have to. I was like everyone else outside the intelligence community'"

I've never wanted to punch somebody in the nose more than I do right now. Read this little article and try not to feel sick to your stomach.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - GM pea causes allergic damage in mice: "He adds that slight differences in protein synthesis might also occur in other plants with other genes, meaning each new GM food should be very carefully evaluated for potential health effects. “If a GM plant is to go up for human consumption, there should be a detailed descriptive list of how one should go about analysing that plant,” he says.

Tager agrees. It is rare for an investigation of the potential health effects of a GM product to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, he adds. “If it had been a private company doing this, it might never have seen the light of day,” he says."

Once again, of course theoretically speaking genetic modification of plants, humans, etc. COULD be perfectly safe and beneficial. But we all know that theory and reality are two very different things. Should we continue to leave the safety of our food supply in the hands of private companies?

Monday, November 07, 2005

So Iraq Was About the Oil: "Wilkerson made clear that what made Iraq such a strategic concern was the oil.

“We consume 60 percent of the world’s resources,” he said. “We have an economy and we have a society that is built on the consumption of those resources. We better get fast at work changing the foundation – and I don’t see us fast at work on that, by the way, another failure of this administration, in my mind – or we better be ready to take those assets (in the Middle East).

“If you want those resources and you want (Middle Eastern) governments that aren’t inimical to your interests with regard to those resources, then you better pay attention to the area and you better not leave it in a mess.”

So, it appears those Iraq “blood-for-oil” accusations were right all along, at least in identifying one of the real reasons for invading Iraq. The present danger, however, is that U.S. policy-makers have no better solution to the quagmire in Iraq than continuing indefinitely to barter more blood for a continued supply of oil."

There is only one solution to any problem with these people, and it involves other people risking their lives. I don't see a way out of our leadership problem. Hard, hard times appear ahead.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The six Star Wars films form the greatest postmodern art film ever made (kottke.org): "Aidan Wasley argues that taken collectively, the six Star Wars films form the greatest postmodern art film ever made."

Mr. Kottke has not provided a comments area for this link and probably with good reason since this would be one huge-ass thread. I don't want to link to Slate directly because of their idiotic pop-up hell, but Mr. Wasley writes in the opening paragraphs that Star Wars is about plot and the mechanics of storytelling itself. That is far-fetched. I really don't feel it is a "meta" anything. It is about what it intends to be about and nothing more. He states that the fact that the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 end up on Tatooine is a huge coincidence and proceeds to build his argument upon that. The problem is, for all the praise Mr. Kottke gives him for attention to detail, this is NOT a coincidence. R2-D2 KNOWS where Luke is. Only C-3PO had his mind wiped at the end of episode III. They both stay with Bail Organa and Leia.

The protagonist of the whole cycle is really R2-D2.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Benigni film finds love, laughs in Iraq war - Yahoo! News: "Benigni masterfully creates room for comic release in otherwise tense moments, making audiences laugh during a slapstick dash into a minefield and an uncomfortable run-in with soldiers at a U.S.-manned roadblock."

Sounds like a real knee-slapper there! I don't want to judge a film pre-release and pre-having seen it so I won't. I'll just say that maybe it is just me but I don't have any desire whatsoever to see Benigni hamming it up in the middle of such a senseless tragedy.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Lynndie England blames lover for abuse photos - Yahoo! News: "She said that early in their relationship, Graner would sometimes blare bluegrass music from his room, apparently knowing that sounds of the fiddle and the banjo might lure the Kentucky-born England from down the hall. 'He would change certain little things and he'd pick up certain little things that I liked just to lure me in more,' she said."

Gets 'em every time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division"[At FOB Mercury] they said that they had pictures that were similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, and because they were so similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, the soldiers destroyed the pictures. They burned them. The exact quote was, 'They [the soldiers at Abu Ghraib] were getting in trouble for the same things we were told to do, so we destroyed the pictures.''

This has got to be stopped. And I guess it is just an amazing coincidence that The White House counsel writes a memo outlining what is considered torture and our Army proceeds to institutionalize it. Oh that's right, it was all Lyndie England's fault.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pharyngula::Singularly Silly Singularity
...Or "Future Shock Redux". I think Kurzweil has some pretty interesting ideas, but he falls in love with them too easily. If his premise was correct, why don't we have all those jetpacks we were all promised back in 1965? In 1972 the average automobile fuel economy was something close to 30mpg. Today, 33 years later? About the same. Yes, we have super computers of yesteryear available in handhelds today and what do we use it for? Phones and games. Progress! We may someday build artificially intelligent robots and have them play solitaire for us and answer our phones. Some singularity that will be.
This should really be filed under the "dog bites man" section. But what really ticks me off is that these people always rail about the demise of their "profession" WHEN THEY RETIRE! Why don't they take a stand when it could actually matter, when someone might be actually listening like oh I don't know ON YOUR NEWSCAST? And you know all that talk about reporters finally getting a backbone? That was very short-lived. Once they got out of NOLA and back to their comfortable homes that went away QUICK. On to the next "story"!

Friday, September 16, 2005

The New York Review of Books: The Body Hunters: "Yet the story is based on the premise that a pharmaceutical company would be so threatened by disclosures of its activities that it would have someone killed. That is what is fantasy. In fact, many of the practices that so horrified le Carre's heroine are fairly standard and generally well known and accepted. They seldom provoke outrage, let alone murder. A company like KDH would not kill someone like Tessa even if it were willing to do so; it wouldn't have to. Her concerns would have seemed isolated and futile, and the companies would hardly have taken notice of them."

And this is what is so frustrating today. It just seems like 20 years ago or so if a journalist could find someone to blow the whistle and tell the truth he could almost bring down a government. Today, not so much. We have whistleblower after whistleblower on every issue under the sun from the Iraq War to Pentagon corruption to the travesty of Katrina to all sorts of corporate scandals one seemingly more unbelievable than the next. All the evidence is there. All the evidence has been published in mainstream newspapers, magazines you name it.

And no one seems to give a shit.

Roberts will be appointed without even a QUESTION about his failure to recuse himself from the Salim Ahmed Hamdan case. Rove is still employed by the White House and his outing of Valerie Plame is forgotten. Bolton is destroying the UN and wreaking havoc with our allies and no one does a thing. Billions are going unaccounted for in Iraq and also in the USA thanks to the Pentagon's refusal to use basic accounting principles and nobody forcing them to do so. Drug companies and oil companies continue to gouge the system without recourse.

And who are you going to turn to for help? The Democrats? Please. They are in this up to their eyeballs. Forget them. There is no one. Do you ever talk to your fellow citizens on the plane or bus or at the ballgame? It is frightening. It's like listening to Bill O'Reilly. No, this is all over.

Friday, September 02, 2005

onegoodmove: Incompetence
Finally, FINALLY, the MSM gets a backbone. Also see this.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NOLA.com: LEVEE BREACH SWAMPS CITY FROM LAKE TO RIVER:"As the day wore on, the only dry land was a narrow band from the French Quarter and parts of Uptown, the same small strip that was settled by Bienville amid the swamps. On Tuesday night, it appeared the city was returning to swamp when a daylong effort to shore the levee near the Hammond Highway failed. Mayor Ray Nagin said pumps were being overwhelmed and warned that a new deluge would bury the city in up to 15 feet of water. With solid water from the lake to the French Quarter, the inundation and depopulation of an entire American city was at hand. "Truth to tell, we're not to far from filling in the bowl," said Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security. The waters were still rising at 3 inches per hour, and eventually could move close to the French Quarter levee."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Matador Records | The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

Buy this. Their best so far.
The Brothers Grimm

It's obvious Terry Gilliam's heart was not in this picture. It is comparable to Sleepy Hollow and
The Pirates of the Caribbean except there is no Johnny Depp who might have saved the picture. Monica Bellucci nearly saves the day just by showing up. I have enjoyed nearly all of Gilliam's work except Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and now this one.

One other thing: when I saw it, the picture seemed very dark and grimy. This could have been the theatre's fault as they barely had it aligned properly (some sub-titles were not shown completely) and the colors looked faded. I can't believe Gilliam intended this and chalked it up to poor projector lighting. It would have been a much more enjoyable viewing experience if it had been lit properly. I will re-review it when it comes out on DVD.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Newsday - Roberts meeting 'illegal'
: "The article changed the mind of Hofstra University law professor Monroe Freedman, who at first backed the White House. He said Roberts probably broke the law but that it wasn't enough to disqualify him from the high court."

Certainly not nearly enough for THIS court! In fact, if things go to form, Roberts should be the next Chief Justice because of this!

It must be tough at places like The Onion to keep up with this stuff.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00 - New York Times (reg. required): "In a telephone interview from his home in Pennsylvania, Mr. Weldon said he was basing his assertions on similar ones by at least three other former intelligence officers with direct knowledge of the project, and said that some had first called the episode to his attention shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The account is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks. Among the 19 hijackers, only Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been identified as potential threats by the Central Intelligence Agency before the summer of 2000, and information about them was not provided to the F.B.I. until the spring of 2001."

The NY Times article is a bit confusing, but the upshot is military intelligence had some double super secret operation that used data mining techniques and had apparently identified 4 of the 9/11 hijackers, among others not involved, and did not tell the FBI about it until Spring 2001. The article is trying to say that there was some sort of problem with that. Sounds to me like everything was working fine. FBI was given the information well in advance of the attacks. I don't think civil laws/rights were violated. There may have been a breakdown in the FBI itself in using this information though. They may be indifferent to information that comes from outside the bureau. At any rate, this refutes the need for The Patriot Act doesn't it? We were able to gather information to prevent an attack without it weren't we? And the information was shared among military and domestic intelligence. If this report is to be believed then, the FBI fucked up big time. Maybe Richard Clarke is right that a little "shaking of the trees" from the top in the Summer of 2001 may have produced some action from the FBI on this information.

The article says there is no mention of this incident in the 9/11 Commission's report and hints that they did know about it. That in itself is very curious. Yet another commission designed not to get to THE truth, but to give them SOME truth.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Snow isn't so cool on Fillmore / Neighbors unhappy with ski jump plans: "Neighbors are afraid Icer Air 2005 spectators, like bike race enthusiasts, will trample flowers, litter and sit on front steps, rooftops, railings and porches to watch the festivities, Scott said.

'It's strange -- you buy into a quiet residential neighborhood thinking this won't happen,' he said. 'There are people who are less than happy about all this.'"

Now let's be honest here. They didn't move to Pacific Heights to escape hordes of folks watching events from rooftops, railings and porches. They moved there to feel exclusive, above the fray, "special". And when the fray gets a little too close for comfort for half a day, they become "less than happy".

Tough shit.

This is a part of what is known as A SOCIETY. You don't like it? Move to Montana and buy a few thousand acres and you can be as exclusive as you want. But cities involve OTHER PEOPLE and in order to make a city work, not all other people are going to be exactly like YOU. Get over it.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Informed Comment - On How US Troops Aren't Coming Home Any Time Soon "Mind you, I'm all for withdrawing US troops from Iraq as soon as humanly possible. I think they have the wrong rules of engagement and the wrong tactics for waging counter-insurgency in a clannish society like Iraq, and it is a toss-up whether they are keeping some peace or making things worse. (Fallujah last November demonstrably made things much worse). But I think you need some sort of realistic bridge from that withdrawal to the time when the new Iraqi army can stand on its own. I don't know where you get that bridge, but nature abhors a vacuum. If the US is gone and the Shiite Iraqis are under siege from Sunni guerrillas, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will certainly come in to help the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party. Even a covert Iranian military presence in Iraq would provoke even more Sunni jihadis to go fight there. A regional war could easily break out, with dire consequences for us all."

I think the dire consequences have already occurred. Furthermore, it seems apparent that Iraqi civil war is inevitable, just like Yugoslavian civil war was inevitable when Tito was toppled. I know it will look bad if we pull out now, but I don't see how it will EVER look good for us no matter what we do. Given those parameters I think the best course of action now is to pull out as soon as the Iraqi government tells us to. I know we want some permanent bases there but those plans have GOT to be scrapped. There are ways of getting what you want OTHER than violence. It is time we admit our mistake, offer to help, but get out of the way and stop making war.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bush Aide Learned Early of Leaks Probe: "Asked on CBS why he did not investigate the leak when it first became public, Gonzales said: 'This is the kind of issue that I felt that we should wait and see whether or not there would be some kind of criminal investigation. And of course, there was.'"

Because as we now know, according to the EXTREMELY high moral standards in place in the Bush administration, if it ain't criminal, it's all right. And even if it IS criminal, if you can beat the rap it is all right.
The New Yorker: Shouts and MurmursLest anyone reading this blog should think I am all about GM food problems, Bush's stupidity, pit bull attacks, etc., I present a very funny essay from Mr. David Sedaris. Enjoy!
STLtoday - News - Polish bishop's visit fails to resolve rift: "'I will go to this church because we're supposed to follow our shepherd,' he said. 'The church was built for God and the archdiocese, not for us.'"

Exactly wrong, Mr. Mendyka, and this is the crux of the matter. The archbishop believes the sentiment expressed by Mr. Mendyka. The people of St. Stanislaus parish understand that the people ARE The Church. If Mr. Burke expressed one-THOUSANDTH of the actual humility necessary to be a capable and compelling bishop, this issue could be resolved quickly. But authority is what gives his life meaning it seems.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | GM crops created superweed, say scientists: "A reviewer of the paper has appended to its front page: 'The frequency of such an event [the cross-fertilisation of charlock] in the field is likely to be very low, as highlighted by the fact it has never been detected in numerous previous assessments.'

However, he adds: 'This unusual occurrence merits further study in order to adequately assess any potential risk of gene transfer.'

Brian Johnson, an ecological geneticist and member of the government's specialist scientific group which assessed the farm trials, has no doubt of the significance. 'You only need one event in several million. As soon as it has taken place the new plant has a huge selective advantage. That plant will multiply rapidly.'"

The scary thing is these people were surprised by this. SURPRISED! Oh, well then, that's all right. Not your fault. YOU DIDN'T EXPECT IT! Who could. huh?

Unbelievable. I would mind so much but they are tinkering around with our FOOD SUPPLY is all. What else are they not expecting?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bush: CIA leaker would be fired if crime committed - Yahoo! News: Gee that Bush is TOUGH on those leaks! I would have thought that if a crime was committed the person would be in jail so they COULDN'T come to work in the administration anyway. But as we all know, Karl Rove would probably have to stab an 8 year old child to death on the front steps of the White House in broad daylight in order to get even a reprimand from Bush. As it is, I would not be surprised if Rove was Bush's nomination for the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Look at what Rove says when he talks to Cooper though: "I've said too much", "more WILL BE declassified". This is an admission that he is telling Cooper something he shouldn't and that it is currently classified. Part of that information was the identity of a CIA agent.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Informed Comment - Rove Unfit For Public Office: "Rove can only have thought it would discredit Wilson to associate his missiion with the CIA if he viewed the CIA as the enemy. This is the Richard Perle line. If Wilson was sent to Niger on the recommendation of a CIA operative, then he was not an objective ex-ambassador but a CIA plant of some sort, attempting to undermine the Bush administration and the military occupation of Iraq."

This is exactly right. They can parse this all they want to escape criminal prosecution, but the fact of the matter is that Rove was trying to tear down Wilson. He's done this countless times before to others but we never had a smoking gun. We could see his fingerprints, but now we have evidence of his despicable behavior.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bloomberg.com: U.S. - Time Reporter's Testimony Is Needed, CIA Leak Prosecutor Says: "Miller hasn't turned over any information and contends that incarceration won't force her to change her mind. She conducted interviews related to the leak but didn't write any article about it."

I want an explanation as to why 2 reporters who DID NOT write about the Plame case and about to be sent to jail and the columnist who DID sits back smugly and just laughs and laughs. I don't even really care who in the White House was the leaker because they will get off. But I want to know why Bob Novak is walking around a free man.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pit bull attacks girl in her Santa Rosa yard / Third mauling in Bay Area in a month amid calls to crack down on the breed:"I don't put any blame on anyone except that damn dog," Whitaker said. "They are a wonderful family and just want their kids to have things. Unfortunately, they got the wrong dog."

Oops! Wrong dog? I'm sorry but I am fed up with these people. I don't want them to be fined. I want them to be mauled by somebody else's pit bull. I want them to understand. You can have OTHER FUCKING DOGS! Why would you get a pit bull? What is the reason? It's not that these animals attack people invading their space. They go looking for things to kill. They are bred for that. And all the tender loving care in the world cannot change that. The purpose of the breed is to kill. There is no reason to allow them as family pets.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan: "Testimony by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of Iraq policy, before a House subcommittee on Feb. 28, 2003, just weeks before the invasion, illustrated the optimistic view the administration had of postwar Iraq. He said containment of Hussein the previous 12 years had cost 'slightly over $30 billion,' adding, 'I can't imagine anyone here wanting to spend another $30 billion to be there for another 12 years.' As of May, the Congressional Research Service estimated that Congress has approved $208 billion for the war in Iraq since 2003."

Well this is really unfair to criticize Mr. Wolfowitz in this way. I mean, did you expect him to have PERFECT KNOWLEDGE or something? I can't bring myself to read the full interview with him in this month's Atlantic Monthly. I saw some quotes though and they were enough to make me ill. This man, like nearly all of those in Mr. Bush's orbit, never NEVER admit a mistake. There just wasn't enough information is their line. The sad thing is, it seems to me the majority of the American people buy that line.
Mother shut boy in basement to protect him from pit bull / 12-year-old was killed by family dog; owner sees death as tragic accident but defends the breed as loving pets: "'I put him down there, with a shovel on the door,'' said Faibish, who had left the boy alone with the dogs on June 3 to run some errands. 'He had a bunch of food. And I told him, 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me.''

Faibish said she was concerned that the male pit bull, Rex, was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat. Apparently, Nicholas found a way to get the door open and come upstairs. At that point Faibish believes he walked in while the dogs were mating and was attacked by Rex.

'It was Rex, I know it in my heart,'' Faibish said. 'My younger dog (Ella) was in heat and anyone who came near her, Rex saw as a threat. He may have been trying to mate. It was a freak accident. It was just the heat of the moment.''

Faibish felt compelled to call The Chronicle, she said, because she was upset by comments in a Saturday column that disparaged family members who own pit bulls.

In the column an Oakland surgeon who often treats bites by pit bulls said, 'when you have an animal like that in your house you are recklessly endangering your family.''

'They made it sound like we put our kids in a war zone,'' Faibish said in a phone conversation. 'That's not true. My kids got along great with (the dogs). We were never seeing any kind of violent tendencies.''"

Yeah, they got along so great she had to PUT HER CHILD IN THE BASEMENT! I guess it was out of the question to put the fucking DOGS IN THE BASEMENT you asshole! Jesus Christ Almighty, I just don't understand human beings.

Friday, June 10, 2005

LA Times: Memo on 9/11 Plotters Blocked: "The reason the CIA official, identified by the fictitious name 'John,' put a hold on the communique remains a mystery, the report said. It said the officials involved didn't recall the incident. Even when the author of the memo followed up a week later with an e-mail asking if it had been sent to the FBI, nothing was done.

"The memo was written by an FBI agent on assignment to the CIA's special Bin Laden unit. According to the report, rather than send his memo directly to the FBI, he sent it to the deputy chief of the CIA unit because only supervisors were authorized to send such memos to the FBI."

I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish that FBI agent had done extensive follow up on that memo. I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish he had taken it upon himself, when noone in the CIA would do it, to stop by his former office at the FBI and talk with his superiors about it. Maybe he could have gone to that mythical "grand jury" everyone says we can turn to when nobody in charge will listen.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

This is the guy they want to be my representative at the United Nations? This is worse than insulting. This is blatant contempt. There should be an investigation into determining just how someone like this manages to have a career in foreign affairs.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I saw Episode III today. Technically, this is an outstanding film. The CGI
characters and the human actors' integration is virtually seamless. George
Lucas' visual acumen is superb for the most part. The bulk of the action
sequences are stirring and entertaining. There are several scenes that are
also, if you are a fan of the series, quite powerful and moving. Numerous
reports of the stilted dialogue and wooden acting seemed to have been
exagerrated. It's not Shakespeare, but it's not THAT bad. And let's be
honest here: these are difficult roles to play for any actor. I thought
Natalie Portman was good as well as Ewan MacGregor and Ian McDiarmid.

I thought some scenes, especially at the end, went on too long and were too
repetitive. The story became weaker and weaker as it went along. I was not
convinced by Anakin's turn to The Dark Side. I don't think that was handled
all that well. Still, it was an enjoyable film for a fan of the series and
not as bad as episodes I and II. It does add depth to episodes IV and V and
I look forward to viewing them again. Incidentally, if you watched The
Clone Wars animated series, it may also add some depth to your experience of
this film.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

newsobserver.com - A growing stake in the biotech crops debate: "The issue has immediate relevance in Eastern North Carolina, where Ventria Bioscience has a permit to grow an open-air, experimental plot of rice engineered with synthetic human genes (to produce artificial human milk proteins) near the state Agriculture Department's Tidewater Research Station in Plymouth, in Washington County. Two earlier attempts by Ventria to grow its genetically modified 'pharma rice' -- a crop that yields drugs for use in human and veterinary medicines -- were opposed by farmers, food companies and environmentalists in California and Missouri because of concerns that the genetically altered pharma rice could cross-pollinate with conventional rice, thus contaminating the food supply."

Forget about Kansas, what the hell is wrong with North Carolina? It is going to take some big corporate entity with a rather large stake in locally grown crops to oppose this, like Anheuser-Busch did in Missouri. This is ludicrous.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

TV's 'Sopranos' final season will focus on money - Yahoo! News: "Network television, particularly hour-long drama shows, 'gives such a false picture of life,' he said.

'So much of it is a glorification of authority and an attempt to convince the American people that life isn't tragic, that everything works out and all those cops and all those firemen and all those judges and all those doctors, they really care,' he said."

Well put and right on the money. That's what is so ridiculous about the so-called 'reality' shows. There's no reality there. It is all editing. Superb editing, I might add. The best art doesn't avoid reality.
Culture of Life Breaking News: I HAD A DREAM: "So here we are, the Democrats in the Senate 'get to keep' the filibuster but only if they never use it. Only Thurmond was allowed this privilege because he was trying to oppress blacks which is evidently OK, no?

Guess what?

Sometimes you have to walk out. And yell. A lot. And show you are really committed to being pissed off. I spent much of my life fighting for things I wanted or needed or thought were just. This involved being beaten up, put in jail, harassed at home, spied upon and yelled at all the time."

What a travesty. What are they POSSIBLY thinking? Does Harry Reid really believe his words that he has sent some sort of message to Republicans? Can he be that stupid? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? So who do we get for 2008? Clinton? I don't hear her saying much. Obama? Can't hear him either. These Democrats are about nothing but getting elected. They stand for nothing except the next fund raiser. They all make me sick.

UPDATE: The more I think about this, the more I realize that this means it is all over. Bolton will be confirmed (as if that was ever in doubt). There will be major cuts to social security and increasing public debt. We will most likely invade Iran and possibly Syria this summer. There is NOTHING the Democrats will oppose or even attempt to oppose. They are merely going to sit around until 2007 when the campaign for president gets going in earnest. They are sick, sick people.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New York Daily News - Movie Reviews - Jami Bernard: Last 'Star Wars' is a bit Forced: "The fundamental, overarching 'Star Wars' theme, established in 1977 and still going strong, is that when you are old enough to leave the farm and responsible enough to take the wheel, then — and only then — will you be allowed to drive fast. In 1977, Luke chafed at the bit to be taken seriously, and in 2005, his father, Anakin, pouts about how everyone gets promoted to Jedi master except him. When Samuel L. Jackson's noble Mace Windu effectively tells Anakin to go to his room, you know the Dark Side is just a temper tantrum away. This theme of wanting to be treated like a grownup, with its hints of displacing the father, is why kids love 'Star Wars' while older audiences are cool to it. This also explains why 'Sith' opens with yet another video-game-like space chase, in which Anakin's and Obi-Wan's driving skills help determine the outcome of the Clone Wars."

I haven't seen the film yet and I intend to, but I thought Bernard's take on the "theme" of "Star Wars" was interesting and novel. It's also pretty much the "theme" of Lucas' "American Graffiti". Bernard also reiterates that "Sith" continues in the series' trademark awful dialogue and wooden acting. But I wonder if this is not a deliberate choice Lucas made. The same complaint gets made frequently about Stanley Kubrick's films and definitely Kubrick wanted, and usually got, a certain acting style that was a bit distant and odd. He said once that movies can be about more than just the characters. Maybe this is giving Lucas too much credit and in reality he just finds writing dialogue and directing actors boring or uninteresting. I'll see the flick and let you know.
George Gallow Senate Testimony

Just once I would like to hear something similar from an American politician. No spinning, no couching your words in plausibly deniable vague-speak. Just plain English calling a liar a liar. The Scottish brogue does help though...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Huffington Post | David Rees

I was not exactly bowled over when The Huffington Post debuted yesterday, but then at that time I had no idea that David Rees of "Get Your War On" fame was going to be a contributor. He and he ALONE is reason enough to give this place a slot in your RSS aggregator. His first post had me in tears. An extremely funny guy.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Amid Poll Woes, Bush Proposes Social Security Fix - Yahoo! News: "But for Americans concerned about investing in the stock market, he also proposed a relatively safe investment option for private accounts, one invested entirely in U.S.-backed treasury bonds."

Yes, that's right. Those same treasury bonds that Mr. Bush recently said were worthless. He can't be a liar because the contradictory lies don't make any sense at all. I think he is just plain stupid. I don't really believe he understands what he is saying. It's just extremely curious. I would like to know someday just what in the hell is going on here. This is all just too bizarre.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Yahoo! News - 'The Simpsons' Hit 350th Episode Milestone: "'That isn't to say we don't do some bad shows now and didn't then. But I say that by and large, the shows we're doing now are just as good as any I've been involved with.'"

I would have to agree. When you press those who claim the show has gone downhill, they admit they haven't watched the show regularly in about 5-10 years. I was not a big fan of the show at first, especially during the Bart-craze. I think it was somewhere around season 6 or 7 when I started to watch it on a regular basis. It has been a marvel of consistency to me. They cram a great many jokes into those brief 22 minutes, a lot of them in the background. How many shows can do that?

Friday, April 22, 2005


Now THIS is what the internet is all about! Absolutely awesome app that finds music for you based upon how you rate what it finds. A great idea, elegantly executed. Brilliant all around. THIS is what the music industry should have come up with in response to Napster. If they think file sharing was hurting their business, wait until Indy reaches a tipping point.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

NBC.com > The_Office > Episode Guide - Basketball

As an ardent admirer (ok, HUGE fan) of the BBC original, I have been watching the US version since the pilot hoping that the series would eventually reach a tipping point of its own. I believe with this episode it has. Very funny, very American, and for once the Michael Scott character becomes believable and almost recognizable. That seemed to be the 'magic' of the BBC version that Gervais was able to pull off this loathsome character and make him not just recognizable but sympathetic. Cannell, who I think has significant comedic talent, has been unable to get me to that point but with last night's episode he is starting to. Maybe it is also the writers are becoming more comfortable with the whole concept and able to make it their own. It is a question now as to whether NBC will renew the series, which is certainly one of the most daring and intelligent sitcoms on network TV today, just as it is seeming to gather some steam. The season finale is next week.

Friday, April 15, 2005

STLtoday - Genetically modified rice won't be planted near Bootheel fields: "The California company whose plan to sprout pharmaceutical rice in Missouri's Bootheel triggered a boycott threat from the Anheuser-Busch brewing company said Friday that it would seek a new Missouri planting site removed from commercial rice fields. After a meeting in St. Louis with brewery officials and political leaders, the California company, Ventria Bioscience, said it would amend its application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture so that its genetically engineered rice would be planted at least 120 miles away from the prime rice fields of southeast Missouri. "

I guess the market actually does work...thanks to worldwide consumer opposition to GMO crops. I will have to do some research on this, but I can't recall anyone having open-air fields of pharma-crops. There are many instances of cross-contamination of crops hundreds of miles away so this is merely a temporary setback. How Missouri can allow a company to plant this in an open-air field when you cannot even TEST to see if something has been contaminated by it is beyond me. Not even mentioning the fact that if it does contaminate other crops, it would more than likely render it worthless for human consumption. From a business standpoint, this GMO stuff is simply not going to work. ANd I love this line: "Blunt called the agreement 'a huge step forward' for agriculture, Missouri's plant-science industry and Ventria's goal of finding medicines that can help children." Oh please. There are already plenty of medicines and FOOD available to help all the children you want. It is a distribution 'problem' (read: no profit). GMO's are not going to help that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / The evolutionary revolutionary: "He's certainly returning to the ideas generated by that work. The book on deceit and self-deception that he's now starting grows out of a brief but widely cited passage from his introduction to Dawkins's ''The Selfish Gene.'' If deceit, he wrote, ''is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray-by the subtle signs of self-knowledge-the deception being practiced.'' Thus, the idea that the brain evolved to produce ''ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution.'' We've evolved, in other words, to delude ourselves so as better to fool others-all in the service of the great game of propagating our genes. For Trivers, this isn't a mere technical question but the key to unlocking all sorts of deep human mysteries."

I find this approach extremely fascinating. While I have no idea if his conclusions will hold up to scrutiny, it should be quite apparent, especially in America at this point in time, that deception, of ourselves and others, is if not hard-wired then pretty darn close.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Susie Bright's Journal : "Aggressive Verbal Dominant Top" Seeks Submissive Male Who Can Reinstate White House Press Pass"If Jeff was a drug dealer (I’ll get to that part later) the investigative reporters would be eager to provide a profile of how drug dealers behave in similar situations. If he was a classical violinist, we’d be hearing about that. It would be part of our understanding of his background, his peers; it would lead to analysis how his social network came to include such powerful men.

Well, this is certainly the case with high class sexual services... and that is why anyone who’s ever done sex work understands that Jeff is not some wacky fluke... that the only way his access happened was because Gannon was dialed in, connected via his cock, to all the right people. The reason he got his little laminated press card was because someone was plying his favors."

And isn't the identity of the purchaser of those "favors" a legitimate news story? Isn't the fact that this issue has been shut down hard and quick also a legitimate news story?
Ohio's Odd Numbers"I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people would have to be “in on it.” This is because of the small number of firms engaged in the manufacturing and the even smaller number of people, subject as they are to the hiring practices of these firms, who understand the technology. “Machines were put in place with no sampling to make sure they were ‘in control’ and no comparison studies,” she explained. “The code of the machines is not public knowledge, and none of these machines has since been impounded.” In these circumstances, she continued, it’s possible to manipulate both the count and the proportions of votes.

In the bad old days of Tammany Hall, she pointed out, you had to break the counter pins on the lever machines, and if there was any vigilance in an investigation, the broken pins would automatically incriminate the machine. With touch-screen technology, the crudeness and predictability of the old ward-heeler racketeers isn’t the question anymore. But had there been a biased “setting” on the new machines it could be uncovered—if a few of them could be impounded. The Ohio courts are currently refusing all motions to put the state’s voting machines, punch-card or touch-screen, in the public domain. It’s not clear to me, or to anyone else, who is tending the machines in the meanwhile …"

Hitch wakes up.

Monday, March 07, 2005

March 2005 Columns Magazine Feature: Wake Up Call“'I don’t believe any of those studies have ever been replicated,' says Joe Farren, director of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry consortium that provides $1 million a year in funding for cell phone research. 'We believe you should follow the science. The science to date shows there is not a health risk associated with the use of any wireless device.'

"Technically, Farren may be correct about Lai’s study, but that’s because no one has tried to replicate Lai and Singh’s exact experiment. And a 1998 experiment that used common cell phone frequencies did find biological damage in some cases. More recently, a European research effort by 12 groups in seven countries also documented DNA damage from cell phone radiation. "

How many times have we heard this sort of response from corporate groups? "The results have never been replicated." Liars.
CNN.com - 'My truth' - Mar 6, 2005: "The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less than a kilometer away...when...I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier.

The driver started yelling that we were Italians. 'We are Italians, we are Italians.' Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain. I didn't know why. But then I realized my mind went immediately to the things the captors had told me. They declared that they were committed to the fullest to freeing me but I had to be careful, 'the Americans don't want you to go back.' Then when they had told me I considered those words superfluous and ideological. At that moment they risked acquiring the flavor of the bitterest of truths, at this time I cannot tell you the rest."

Monday, February 21, 2005

robot wisdom weblog
Jorn's back! And without the slightest acknowledgment that he has been gone for almost 18 months. Just picked up where he left off. Cool.

Friday, February 11, 2005

THE BATTLE OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE / Mayor argues cause at Harvard / Nuptial ban called a civil rights issue: "'I can't stand my party right now. They offend me,' he said. 'I have no interest in the majority of the Democratic Party that becomes Republican Lite.'"

I totally agree, Gavin. Keep it up!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

President Participates in Class-Action Lawsuit Reform Conversation: "Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem."

Either The President is a moron, or he is a liar and a thief. Take your pick. This statement violates a number of ethical and moral principles not to mention constitutional requirements he has sworn to uphold, namely that the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned. The working taxpayers of the United States have been overpaying their payroll taxes at the direction of Congress based on the Greenspan committee's plan enacted into law in 1983 to build up reserves in the social security fund to provide for the retirement of the 'baby boomers', who are the bulk of the ones paying into the system. To deny that this is the case is thievery. It is the same thing done by companies like Enron. It is raiding the pension fund. He is right though, that there is a looming crisis in the general fund to repay the staggering debt that has been accumulating since he took office. And it appears he is proposing that we simply ignore it away and refuse to pay it. Mind boggling.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

New York Daily News - Home - Reid's Eagles bird-brained"Well, you know, I'm trying to remember back on that. I put that away a little bit," Reid said a few hours before the Eagles checked out of their hotel. "But we did try to get it going. I can't remember. I can't detail the circumstances why it didn't work as well as it should have."...The drive he can't remember, incidentally, doesn't represent Reid's only bizarre decision. He mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, too, when the Eagles had three timeouts and the ball with 1:10 remaining. Reid didn't use a timeout until there were 10 seconds left. Asked about that after the game, Reid said, "I don't remember that at all, to be honest with you."

Mike Martz made similar comments after a few games this year and was eviscerated in the press. It will be interesting to see if Reid gets the same treatment. The other thought I had is that this appears to be a problem with coaches that tend to get very involved with play calling like Reid, Martz, Holmgren, Gruden. But if you notice Bill Belicheck, he doesn't even carry a piece of paper around with him on the sidelines! He delegates the play calling to his coordinators, then focuses on the game itself. I bet he can remember EVERY drive his team had AND the Eagles' too! Now I don't believe this is THE reason why he is so successful, but it is a part of it. The Patriots might not be the most talented team in the league, but they are a team that makes very few mistakes which usually translates into a lot of wins. Not having to deal with the particulars of play calling helps the head coach to focus on the game, know the situation and make the right call when needed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Athletic Turf - Herbicide-tolerant turfgrass gets a setback: "According to [Penn State's David] Huff, it is not the ability to develop such grasses but the problems of controlling their spread and fixing liability for any escape that are the short-term hurdles...Gene stewardship is another concern. Part of the hubbub is that grasses are vegetatively propagated and their pollen can fly in the wind. Turf grasses are perennials and often grow close to native species. They can hybridize with those native plants....A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October 2004 by L.S. Watrud showed that gene flow from genetically modified plants occurred up to 13 miles away — in just one year. The 300 acres for modified plants was surrounded by an 11,000 acre control area."

And then comes the real kicker and the frightening, truly frightening part. According to Huff: "NO ONE REALIZED IT COULD TRAVEL THAT FAR"!

And you know, maybe that could be chalked up to an honest mistake. But that is precisely the point: one such mistake is all it takes to wipe out a crop around the world. There seems to be just too much we do not know about how GMO works and it seems to be too volatile to play with it. And there really doesn't seem to be any societal need for the thing. It is all about greed.

Monday, January 17, 2005

NFL Playoffs: Colts at Patriots: "Once again, it is time to marvel at the Patriots' coaching and preparation. Was there really any doubt that Belichick and his staff would figure out a way to shut down Manning and the NFL's deepest and most talented pass-catching corps?"

What I have yet to hear from any commentator or analyst is how in the world ONE TEAM is capable of stopping the most prolific offenses in the NFL day in and day out. Regardless of players because the Patriots' defense was decimated by injuries like most teams. And how come nobody copies them? I think Mike Nolan is a good defensive coach and the 49ers should improve with him at the helm, but Romeo Crennel must be an absolute genius. How can you pass up a guy like that?
Sen. John Kerry criticizes election outcome at Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast: "He reiterated that he decided not to challenge the election results, but 'thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote.'"

Does anyone STILL have questions about why this man lost the 2004 election? He was against the war but voted for it, thought the election was rigged but didn't want to contest it... When does it all end? Can you please just go away now? Please?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The New York Times > Dining & Wine > The Minimalist: A Vegetarian Haiku in Four Dishes (Reg. required): "'In Japan,' she said, 'the idea of focusing on a small aspect of something and then exploding it into many possibilities is an appealing notion, in both life and aesthetics. Working in a limited set and not letting it inhibit you but allowing it to take you to another level is part of the pleasure. Think about using just ink and paper instead of the whole palette of colors and media in painting; in the same way, the limits of cooking with plants force me to be more creative, to explode, almost into infinity, all of the possibilities.'"

This applies to any endeavor. Sometimes having more power/resources makes us lazier, creatively speaking. This probably appeals particularly in Japan because it is severly limited in space and resources and has been for thousands of years.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Scotsman - International - US 'preparing to detain terror suspects for life without trial'
Here is what bugs me about Democrats. On this issue here is what Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the armed services committee had to say: "There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process ... if you’re going to detain people, whether it’s for life or whether it’s for years". Compare that with this quote from Lord Hoffman from Britains's House of Lords: "It calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The real threat to the life of the nation ... comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these." THAT is the kind of quotes Democrats need to be making. (And to be fair Levin may have made a more substantial statement or been quoted out of context.) But I find similar statements being made about other issues like the so-called social security "crisis". You cannot go along with the language and the assertion of a problem when it is demonstrably false. To do so validates the argument from the start and you are then locked in a battle to compromise.