Tuesday, November 23, 2004

 

Mistakes were made...

The investigation of the Istook Amendment, the provision in the omnibus spending bill allowing committee chairmen and staffers to peruse income tax returns, has taken on a life of its own. It's another example of the "mistakes were made" syndrome, a Washington disease by which something bad occurs but no one is responsible. As the Washington Post reports:

"On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) referred to the provision as the "Istook amendment," and congressional aides said it had been inserted at the request of Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the IRS.

But yesterday Istook said in a written statement that he had been left in the dark about the provision: "I didn't write it; I didn't approve it; I wasn't even consulted. My name shouldn't be associated with it because I had nothing to do with it.""http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5738-2004Nov22.

This syndrome has probably been around since the founding of the Republic, but has become epidemic and endemic since Iran-Contra when President Reagan admitted that "mistakes were made", but never identified who made them.
Finding the author of the Istook Amendment should not require Sherlock Holmes or a blue-ribbon commission. Some individual typed the provision. Some individual requested the amendment. It will be a test of the Republican House leadership to find out who. Maybe they could hire Ken Starr...


Monday, November 22, 2004

 

Another reason to vacation in Australia...

The Clockwork Family is seriously considering vacationing in Australia this summer (their winter). This is not because South Carolina has been invaded by fire ants and the "Christian Exodus" is coming, but because we can. Another good reason may be that (remarkably) Stralians are actually fatter than Muricans! Maybe I'll be considered svelte! Maybe koalas can fly! http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,11450540%5E28102,00.html
I've been appointed chief vacation planner. I've never tried to plan a vacation to visit a continent before. Spain, the U.K., various Caribbean islands, yes, but not a continent. I've realized that every vacation, I've planned is dwarfed by this prospect. I feel like Eisenhower contemplating D-Day ("Boats, yeah, we'll need boats...) Any worthwhile ideas or suggestions from the Blogosphere would be appreciated.

 

Christmas in November?

The NCAA has announced that the lacrosse Quarter-finals will be at Homewood Field on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University May12, 2005. It had been previously scheduled to be at Byrd Stadium at the University Of Maryland, but scheduled improvements to the football field will not be completed in time (or Ralph Friedgen doesn't want his field messed up). I thought that lacrosse was the official Maryland state team sport?

 

Consumer alert!

I've found the perfect Christmas/Kwanza/Channukah gift for all the good little Natalies, Noreens, Natashas, Nicholsons, Nadias, Naomis (Why are my friends fixated on the letter "N" Could we already be up to the "N" series of clones?) on my list. A talking (or maybe shrieking) Ann Coulter action figure http://www.talkingpresidents.com/products-af-coulter.shtml They list some of the refreshing phrases the doll utters (oops, says), but what actions does it perform? Blowing up the DNC? Repainting all the route signs on I-69? Censoring Private Ryan? Converting the heathen, Islamic masses? What fun!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

 

And I thought the priority item was re-naming I-69...

The Senate voted 65-30 for the legislation late on Saturday that sets aside funds for a range of priorities including a presidential yacht, foreign aid and energy. It is one of the final pieces of work for the 108th Congress and they may return to finish a spy agency overhaul before the end of the year.

Friday, November 19, 2004

 

Stress Test

Courtesy of my Spousal unit:

I'm not sure exactly how it works, but this is amazingly accurate.
The photo below has 2 almost identical dolphins in it. It was used
in a case study on stress level at St. Mary's Hospital. Look at both dolphins jumping
out of the water. The dolphins are identical. A closely monitored, scientific
study of a group revealed that in spite of the fact that the dolphins are
identical, a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins. If
there are many differences found between both dolphins, it means that the person
is experiencing a great amount of stress. Look at the photograph and if
you find more than one or two differences you may want to take a vacation.



 

2 Dolphins

 

Job Opportunity...

I know that there are many (some) CSI fans among my vast readership. Did you know that you can make big money playing a corpse on CSI? http://entertainment.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=172758 One of my old girlfriends would be perfect for this spot! BA-DUMP!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

 

Creationists say that 4.5 billion years is too short for life to evolve.

 

No teacher left behind

 

I'm glad the GOP has its priorities straight...

First, we take care of I-69 http://www.hoosiergazette.com/News/Nov2004/news003.htm then we'll change it to turkey "bosom"(in time for Thanksgiving).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

 

Can I stop when I just need glasses?

A new spin on Portnoy's complaint....http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/14736790?source=Evening%20Standard

 

For those of you tired of Adam Sandler...

A new Hannukah...Chanuka...(whatever) carol: http://home.nc.rr.com/keehyun/stuff/jew-heyya.html
Be aware that if you work in a Republican/red state/creationist/Christian office, this song may be nsfw.

 

Did you expect her to evolve boobs?

Former Georgia state school superintendent and virulent creationist, Republican Linda Schrenko, was indicted on federal charges of stealing over $500,000 of federal funds intended to educate deaf students. She used most of the money in her (excuse the expression) abortive gubernatorial campaign, but $9,300 was evidently used for cosmetic surgery. Republican Schrenko evidently felt that she was just "liberating" tax money stolen by the federal government, and that deaf children don't need education just healing. http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/hall/newfullstory.asp?ID=86284


 

Might Have to Find a New Vacation Spot...

First, fire ants, now this...http://christianexodus.org/

Monday, November 15, 2004

 

Way too much security!

Both my spousal unit and I have observed security guards in D.C. (the Capital of the Free World) hassling tourists who want to take photographs in front of government buildings. The scenario generally runs something like this:

Mr. Cleaver (waspy looking tourist father, undoubtedly from Appleton, WI, home of Harry Houdini and Sen. Joe McCarthy): "Dear, why don't you and the kids stand over there next to that stylish Jersey barricade in front of the Bureau of Obfuscation and Pork Barrels, so that I can get a snap for the folks back home".
Security Guard: "Sir, its illegal to take pictures of that building. Stop or I'll have to confiscate your camera."
Mr. Cleaver: "But I was just taking pictures of June and the kids!"
Security Guard: "It's a matter of national security, sir. Please move on!"
Mr. Cleaver: Okay, c'mon kids, we don't want to be the cause of another 9/11.

What the hell is going on?

Who gave these rent-a-cops the idea that they could prohibit Americans from photographing non-descript government buildings that were paid for with their tax money? I could understand if the tourists were photographing the control panel of a nuclear power plant or the blueprints of our nifty new anti-ballistic missile system, but pictures of the boxy exteriors of the Department of Transportation or the Department of Education do not seem to pose any immediate danger of anything. I suppose in a James Bond novel, swarthy Middle Eastern types would go to Acme Rent-a-Wasp, pick out a family of apple-cheeked, red state Americans and dispatch them to photograph the one weak concrete panel which when pushed by a terrorist Samson would bring the entire edifice down. Why aren't these fearsome sentinels guarding the chlorine tank cars which pass through downtown D.C. almost every day on their way to the Blue Plains water treatment plant? Or perhaps this says something about departmental budgets being increased for post 9/11 security.

In a related item, the Secret Service, relying on reliable tips from sharp-eared radio talk show listeners swooped down on a Colorado high school to investigate a possible threat against the president. It seems that some high school students were going to read Bob Dylan's 40 year old anti-war screed "Masters of War". Since the song ends with the words "I hope that you'll die and your death will come soon", these super sleuths investigated whether the performance by high school kid would pose an actual death threat against our chief executive.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_3323602,00.html Whoever authorized this insanity should be hung out to dry. Perhaps if these agents don't have enough to do, they could be assigned to help with chemical plant or port security. Nah! that's not exciting enough...


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

 

Was Darwin Wrong?

Sunday while waiting for my son to finish Sunday school, I visited my local Borders to drink coffee and survey the current periodicals. I came upon an old friend, The National Geographic Magazine. I hadn't read the National G in years, but I remembered fondly having a subscription to it when I was in grade school. (when I returned home I almost immediately got a subscription via the internet for my son--it's a real bargain only $19.00). In an article entitled "Was Darwin Wrong?" (to end the suspense, he wasn't--at least about evolution by natural selection), the author, David Quammen, pointed out that in a Gallup poll conducted in the U.S. in February, 2001 no less than 45% of responding adults agreed that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so". Quammen further notes that such statistics have not really varied in polls conducted over the last twenty years.

What the hell is going on?

Evolution is a scientific theory. The use of the word theory by a scientist does not imply a "good guess". A theory is as close as a scientist can come to scientific "fact". A theory should only be discarded when a contrary conclusion is reached or the original theory is disproved by the use of demonstrable facts. The Copernican theory argued that the earth orbits the sun; the Ptolemaic theory argued the opposite. The Copernican theory triumphed because the facts as observed by Galileo and others demonstrated its validity. For some reason, because evolution uses the word theory the unenlightened feel free to reject it and accept creationism or lately "creation science", an undemonstrable article of religious belief.

Why is evolution so unaccepted? One reason is the lack of serious science education in our schools, but more importantly I think its due to the our country's leaders' patronizing attitude toward those who refuse to accept it.

Our president, a product of some of the finest private schools in the country (Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business school) does not seem to take a position on evolution, or at least he seems to (perish the thought) "flip-flop" on its validity: "He [Bush] believes both creationism and evolution ought to be taught," his spokeswoman Mindy Tucker elaborated to Reuters. "He believes it is a question for states and local school boards to decide but believes both ought to be taught." Before blue state liberals mock our beloved leader, they should remember that the sainted Al Gore in 2000 tried exactly the same cop-out position before he was reminded of the Supreme Court's ruling in EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) which held that a Louisiana attempt to require creationism to be taught whenever evolution is taught to be unconstitutional. 482 U.S. 578 . This view by these politicians and others is deeply cynical. The typical pol thinks, so what if I cater to the creationists, who does it hurt? Another example of this catering is the sale of a creationist book at the National Park Service bookstore at the Grand Canyon. The book claims that the canyon was created by Noah's flood.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/01/08/MNGOI452ET8.DTL

The problem with such catering is that it hurts us all. Creationism is inherently irrational or perhaps better anti-rational. Anti-rational solutions to questions are based on emotion and faith not reason. This country is faced with innumerable problems. An electorate which is ignorant of science or perhaps more accurately anti-science is probably not capable of making informed choices on global warming, AID's, or stem cell research.

I am not anti-religion or religious people. I would rather deal on a daily basis with people whose world view is shaped by the compassion of Jesus Christ than the rationalism and realpoltik of Karl Marx or Pol Pot. But just because a minority of Christianity accepts the creation myth of the Bible as a cosmological and geologic textbook doesn't mean that our schools and other institutions should bend over backwards not to offend them.



Monday, November 08, 2004

 

Every cloud has a silver lining...

As a life-long Marylander, the best news of the election was that Alan Keyes lost (horrendously) & he wants to stay in Illinois. Could we send them Bob (Slot Machine) Ehrlich and Michael (Head of) Steele, too? Maybe we could start a Maryland adopt-a-Republican program? We could have commercials with Sally Struthers..."for just pennies a day, you can support a brain dead Maryland politician, donate more and we'll send you Comptroller William Donald (Speak English!) Schaefer".

 

A fun way of looking at red vs. blue states...

http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzkultur/0,1518,grossbild-405553-326686,00.html

 

What the red v. blue map really should look like

Many Republicans are crowing about how much "red" there was on the map last Tuesday. This is ridiculous. For example, Kerry received more votes in one county (Prince George's) in Maryland, a tiny state in area, than Bush received in the entire states of Wyoming, North Dakota, or Alaska. A map with the states drawn in proportion to population is far more instructive. Luckily there is one:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/statecartlarge.png

Thursday, November 04, 2004

 

If we could only get George W. to try this...

Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten
46-year-old leaps into den at Taipei Zoo, calls beasts to Christianity
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6396422/

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

 

EXCLUSIVE: GOP OUTSOURCES TO INDIA!

300 children bitten by 'blood sucking' monkeys at famous Indian temple
Monkeys lurking at an ancient Hindu temple in India's northeast have attacked up to 300 children over three weeks, temple officials said Tuesday.
"They hide in trees and swoop on unsuspecting children loitering about in the temple premises or walking by, clawing them and even sucking a bit of blood," Bani Kumar Sharma, a priest at the Kamakhya temple in Assam state, told The Associated Press. The temple, one of the most famous in India, is located in Gauhati, Assam's capital.
"I was returning home from school when a monkey suddenly pounced on me, scratched my head and hand and pushed me to the ground," said Jolly Sharma, a 6-year-old girl.
At least 2,000 rhesus monkeys roam in and around the temple, but none had shown aggressive behavior in the past, the priest said.
Monkeys are often found in tens of thousands of temples across India. They are seen as a symbol of Hanuman, the mythical monkey god, and devotees visiting temples often feed them. While occasional attacks by monkeys are not uncommon at temples, the sudden surge in attacks at the Gauhati temple has experts perplexed.
Some say the Gauhati monkeys may be turning violent because of shrinking living spaces, or because animals once kept as pets might not have been able to adjust to new lives around the temple.
"The loss of habitat due to increased human settlement in the hills around the temple and the release of monkeys kept confined at home ... could be among the reasons for some of the monkeys behaving in a weird manner," said Narayan Mahanta, a wildlife official in Gauhati.
Three monkeys were randomly tranquilized by wildlife officials over the weekend and have been taken to the Gauhati Zoo where they will be examined in search of clues to explain the changing behavior, Mahanta said.

Monday, November 01, 2004

 

Feeling a little dominant today?

Check out the subservient chicken! http://www.subservientchicken.com/

 

Another millionaire for Bush

After enjoying the tax cut on his bonus for winning the World Series, Curt Schilling had this to say on Good Morning America:

GIBSON: "Well, well said, Curt and Shonda. You both have certainly lifelong membership now in the Red Sox nation. It was a great thing to watch, and I think everybody – whether they were great Red Sox fans or not -- had to admire what this team did. It was extraordinary, and one of the great stories of sport. And sport always produces such great stories. Curt, Shonda, great to have you with us. Congratulations."
SCHILLING: "And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week."



 

The New SAT

Many people have asked me about the "New SAT". The "New SAT" is just the old SAT merged with the SAT II Writing test, some new math questions from the SAT II Math 1-C, and the elimination of analogies and quantitative comparisons. It is very coachable. The grammar on the Writing Skills section only tests about eight grammatical concepts. The Math is now more straightforward. The adverse impact of the grammar sections on minority and ESOL students will be severe. Fairtest, an anti-testing organization, has a detailed discussion of this "improved test http://www.fairtest.org/univ/newsatfact.htm.

 

American Idle

Planned Parenthood is running a cartoon encouraging young women to vote: http://www.saveroe.com/americanidle/

 

Have you heard of TISM?

TISM is a rock band from Oz fronted by Ron Hitler-Barassi and Humphrey B. Flaubert. They generally perform in ski masks. They perform songs like "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River", a tribute to the late, River Phoenix. They had a short film competition for one of their songs. The winner has some of the most brilliant simple animation that I've seen in a long time. http://www.madman.com.au/trailers/windowsmedia/tism/winner_albedit_high.wmv I would suggest that if one works in a Republican office it may be a good idea to play it softly or wait until you get home. The runners-up are pretty good, too, particularly the second runner-up that stars Ozian P.M. John Howard and our own Dubya. See them all at : http://www.madman.com.au/tism/comp.html

 

All the poll data fit to print

This link http://www.nowchannel.com/tracking/ will lead you to every major poll. To sum up all of them, it's just too close to call.

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