Monday, January 31, 2005

 

"When Resarchers Wanted to Better Understand Men..They Decided to Look at Pond Scum..."

University of Massachusetts scientists have teamed up with a Norwegian company, SpermaTech, to create a male birth control pill some 50 years after the development of the female pill (The Pill). The approach involves turning off the tails of sperm that allow the sperm to swim to a woman's egg for fertilization.

"When researchers at the foundation, its scientific operations merged with UMass in 1997, wanted to better understand how they might be able to prevent men from reproducing, they decided to look at pond scum. Algae are propelled through water by flagella, microscopic engines of locomotion. And, it turns out, sperm use similar structures for movement, said George B. Witman III, a UMass cell biologist. For many years, people probably wondered why we were interested in studying pond scum," Witman said. 'Pretty much anybody studying male sperm would acknowledge the debt we owe green algae. When you get down to the cellular level, the building blocks are essentially the same.' "

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2005/01/31/way_seen_to_male_birth_control_pill?pg=2

 

SPEECHLESS

Today, MSNBC (and others) published an article telling us that free speech no longer matters:

The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes “too far” in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

I am speechless over this, although it is not surprising given the current trend of the Bush Administration to control the media by paying commentators to promote its agenda. But to believe that the text of the First Amendment goes "too far" is scary. Schools no longer receive funding to teach journalism classes or political science; I guess this is somehow related to the No Child Left Behind plan.

I researched this survey and discovered that it is sponsored by the John S. and James Knight Foundation, http://www.knightfdn.org, established by the Knight newspaper brothers. I am sure that based on this origin, some paid commentator will suggest the liberal media somehow fixed these results to scare the public. But the survey seems legitimate--about 113,00 students, teachers, and administrators at 544 schools nationwide were questioned over the past two years.

Isn't it ironic that this attitude has become apparent at the same time the Administration has vowed to spread American freedoms and values across the globe.

Friday, January 28, 2005

 

Maybe they could name the baby Stuart Little...Nah, that's the other way.

The National Geographic considers the ethical problems created by "chimera" (human/animal hybrids) :


"For example, an experiment that would raise concerns, he said, is genetically engineering mice to produce human sperm and eggs, then doing in vitro fertilization to produce a child whose parents are a pair of mice."
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0125_050125_chimeras.html

 

Is this the line for the chair lift?


WHERE'S WALDO? V.P. CHENEY DRESSED FOR SNOWBLOWING AT AUSCHWITZ

Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

God Hates Shrimp!

Our brand new Secretary Of Education has declared jihad on PBS, in general, and Buster Bunny, in particular.

The nation's new education secretary denounced PBS on Tuesday for spending public money on a cartoon with lesbian characters, saying many parents would not want children exposed to such lifestyles.
The not-yet-aired episode of ``Postcards From Buster'' shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont -- a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Education-Secretary-PBS.html?oref=login&oref=login


If you want to check out this outrageous lesbian scene click here: http://pbskids.org/buster/blog/vt_hinesburg_bl.html
[NOTE: Due to the hot nature of this scene PBS has removed it from its website]

This pisses me off. I've been after PBS and the other networks to stop showing forbidden seafood on the public airwaves. Those Red Lobster commercials with their flogging of "Lobster Fest" offend me. The fact that the networks have shown the immoral Forrest Gump with its glorification of shrimp and shrimp fishing utterly disgusts me. We know God hates shrimp! http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/ As God has clearly said in Deuteronomy 14:9-10:

"Whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. "

I think that we need a new cabinet position: the Department of Biblical Interpretation. There is controversy between our fundamentalist Christian brethren and the orthodox Jewish heathens as to the morality of showing cheeseburgers on McDonald's commercials. There seems to be controversy between our Amish brethren and some other Christians as to the morality of depicting actual full-frontal automobile driving on network television. It will be the mission of the Department of Biblical Interpretation to determine which of the many prohibitions enunciated by God in Deuteronomy and Leviticus are in full force and effect and advise the F.C.C. as to what cannot be depicted on television. It is of paramount importance that we create this department quickly as something called the "Super Bowl" is scheduled for the Christian Sabbath on February 6. Some might find it offensive for such blatant Sabbath-breaking to be shown on the public airwaves.



Monday, January 24, 2005

 

THAT TIME OF THE MONTH

Apparently scientists have determined that January 24 is "the most depressing day of the year." So, if anyone reading this has had a bad day, there is a mathematical explanation:

"Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery peaks Monday. [January 24]
Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point.
The model is: [W + (D-d)] x TQ M x NA
The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action."

According to an article published on MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6847012/, Jan. 24 is the date by which most people have received their holiday bills, broken their New Year's resolutions, and are experiencing the effects of winter weather. Of course, this study was funded by a travel group seeking to convince peole of the need to take trips to warm, sunny places after the holidays.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

 

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

If there was a towering figure on the American literary scene in the '60's and early '70's, it was Norman Mailer. The author of novels like The Naked and the Dead and An American Dream, as well as (and perhaps more importantly) non-fiction like Advertisements for Myself, The Armies of the Night, and The Executioner's Song dominated American arts and letters as well as the artistic Left like no one since Hemingway. What better person to address the question posed by Parade Magazine: "If you could do one thing to change America for the better, what would it be?" Mailer's answer: ban television commercials.

I guess he couldn't figure out how to work his TiVo.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

Why is it okay to call someone a liar and wrongheaded, but not okay to say she's a puppet?

Colbert King seems to have fallen for Condoleezza Rice. Either that or he's gone stark blooming bonkers. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27818-2005Jan21.html

In a column in the Washington Post entitled "Why the Crass Remarks about Rice?", King says that Rice:

"one of the principal architects of the administration's Iraq policy, was clearly vulnerable to charges of helping produce a misguided, if not misleading, rationale for the Iraqi invasion, as well as poor postwar planning". But Senator Barbara Boxer " rather than sticking to Rice's performance as national security adviser and her qualifications to direct U.S. foreign policy, [Boxer] chose instead to gratuitously characterize [Rice] as a Bush loyalist who was blindly parroting pro-Iraqi war lines without regard for whether they were true".

Then King attempts to come to the Secretary-Designate's rescue:

Boxer said to Rice: "I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war. Ponder the weight of that statement. It comes close, at least in spirit, to the picture of Rice sketched by political cartoonist Pat Oliphant a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, Oliphant drew a big-lipped, bucktooth Rice perched like a parrot on President Bush's arm. Bush was speaking to Rice in baby talk, with Rice replying: "Awwrk!! OK Chief. Anything you say, Chief. You Bet, Chief. You're my HERO, Chief.

The key is the magic words "It comes close at least in spirit..."
In other words, King has a little beef with Boxer but he's really pissed at Oliphant and also some talk-show knucklehead in Wisconsin named "Sly":


"But slurring her as a hollow-headed marionette controlled by Bush? What's that all about? It calls to mind John Sylvester, a white radio talk show host in Madison, Wis., who recently went Boxer and Oliphant one better -- or worse. "Sly," as he calls himself, went on the air and caricatured Rice as a servile black, laboring slavishly for the Bush White House. He called her, of all things, an "Aunt Jemima."
The Boxer-Oliphant-Sylvester take on Condoleezza Rice stands in sharp contrast to the assessment offered by Dorothy Height, chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, who wrote in a letter to The Post this week: "Despite the challenges she will face, Ms. Rice's appointment is a time for women of color to smile."
Of course, Height's grouping didn't include folks such as the senator, the cartoonist and "Sly."


"It comes close at least in spirit..." and "It calls to mind..." WTF? Somehow Boxer's questioning the Secretary of State Designate on her unbounded loyalty to the President links Boxer with a cartoon portraying Ms. Rice as "big lipped & bucktoothed" and some radio nut calling her an "Aunt Jemima". Only in Colbert King's mind...

Somehow King has divined that Rice is no puppet--she's been running the show!

" As I was leaving a Post dining room after participating in my first off-the-record session with Rice and other Post editors and reporters a couple of years ago, it struck me that Rice could be where Bush gets it from. Subsequent meetings only have reinforced that supposition. Rice's notions of preemption, unilateralism and America's responsibilities as the dominant power in the world are not hand-me-downs from Bush. They strike me as very much her own."

See, Boxer, Oliphant, and "Sly" (whoever the hell, he is) have got it all wrong. Rice isn't a "Aunt Jemima" parroting what her master, the President, wants her to say--she's a Machiavellian, lying bitch from hell who has twisted the moronic President around her little finger. And what's King's evidence for this (other than his"supposition")? Rice is "a former Stanford University provost who managed a $1.5 billion budget, 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students".

Wow! She's no puppet--she's an academic bureaucrat! No wonder she can influence a stupid Texan to follow "her" foreign policy--she's a veteran of the trenches of Academe.

To cut out the malarkey (No, I wasn't going to say "to call a spade..."), Colbert King seems to see some kind of racism in Boxer's criticism of Ms. Rice. He doesn't use the word, but his point in using images like "big-lipped" and "bucktoothed" in describing the Oliphant cartoon and dredging up "Sly's" characterization of Rice as an "Aunt Jemima" from the lost air waves of Wisconsin make it clear where he's coming from.

But isn't the Machiavellian Black woman subtlely influencing the White boss, just as racist an image? You don't have to be a racist to question Ms. Rice qualifications as Secretary of State. You just have had to have read the 9/11 Report and watched her lying testimony in support of her President and his/her policies.



 

The Second Coming

I read this for the first time when I was a senior in high school. I remember feeling that it could have been written that morning. Every time I've read it since then, I've had the same feeling. Maybe it's that sense of immediacy that makes this a great poem. Then again, maybe it's just a great poem.

The Second Coming

W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all convictions, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?






Friday, January 21, 2005

 

Brain Food

A piece of sheep's brain from an anatomy class at a high school near Binghamton, New York, was taken out of the class and put in some salad dressing in the school cafeteria, according to officials. Police are investigating Wednesday's food-tampering incident at Vestal High School. School officials said a student found the piece of brain at the bottom of a container of dressing at the salad bar. Students used some of the dressing before the material was discovered, but officials say there's no evidence anyone ate any of the preserved brain matter, and no one has reported getting sick.

Parents were sent a letter informing them about the incident. Health department officials say there wasn't enough preservative in the brain matter to cause health problems.

But was there enough preservative to prevent health problems from decay? Ahh, there's the rub, getting just enough preservative to prevent decay but not enough to cause health problems.



 

VACATION PARADISE

All the recent whirl of activity in D.C. has gotten the Parkers to thinking that it might be a good time to get out of town and take a vacation. And while the Bluejays are absorbed in planning for their summer escape Down Under, the Parkers are not quite so decisive. Today's USA Today offers some suggestions ranging from a volunteer mission to Thailand to help clean up Tsunami damage-- good for the soul, maybe not so good for the spirit-- to a spa retreat at the exclusive Elk Mountain Resort in Telluride, Colorado. Refreshing to the spirit, I think, and click on the website http://www.elkmountainresort.com/index.cfm.

Listening to a new age symphony, I view photos of mountain views, candlelit suites, and gourmet dinners. Then I notice the activities: climbing, spa treatments and courses in carrying concealed weapons, combat shooting, the use of an M16 , and my favorite, Executive Cane Fighting. ( " This four hour course is designed specifically for those on the move who do not have the opportunity to be more effectively armed, but could carry a cane in their everyday life. This short course is designed to convey a few efficient and effective techniques that anyone can easily learn and retain, which could mean the difference between life & death during a violent attack. Students learn how to use the cane to create distance, avoid an attack, control an attacker and launch their own counter-strikes. Cost: $250 plus cane purchase, if necessary").

And here's a fun event for a family reunion-- Live Fire Scenario Day-- for just $100 and the cost of ammunition, you and six guests can spend up to eight hours shooting at cardboard people and each other! "The centerpiece of the Valhalla Facility is the Scenario House. Here guests shoot for entertainment or education under the supervision of our staff. Inside the scenario house, guests engage 3-D, automated and reactive targets....Or even Each Other (with proper safety equipment and Soft-Air or AirMunition's training pistols)."http://www.valhallashootingclub.com/training.asp (If you view this web site, also check out the "staff," many of whom declined to be photographed).

So, there it is. Two soulful vacation options. I think we may just have to go to Disney World.

 

TASTES LIKE CHICKEN?

A student in rural Ohio served up guinea pig and rabbit to his classmates in a high school living skills program.

"The student-whose name was not released-described what he did in terms of harvesting meat to fix a dish for classmates, Gage said.
The principal described the boy as an active hunter. The Ledgemont district covers the rural communities of Montville and Thompson townships, where killing - and then eating - wild game is fairly common.
The hunt, however, usually doesn't take place at Pet Supplies Plus."

Authorities are considering bringing charges of animal cruelty against the boy, whose teacher allowed him to display the furry carcasses to classmates, skin the animals , and pass around samples of the cooked meat. http://www.cleveland.com/education/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/geauga/1106303675248671.xml

 

A Thought for the Next Four Years

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?


 

GIVE ME LIBERTY

Led by Inauguaral Chair Trent Lott, a man whose political demise was engineered by the first Bush Administration, and following stirring renditions of songs written by our most talented conservatives (John Ashcroft and Orrin Hatch), George W. Bush was sworn into office for a second term, liberally tossing out the words freedom and liberty some fifty times in his 1800 word speech:

"At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use but by the history we
have seen together. For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical. And then there came a day of fire. "

So, the President and his advisors were clearing some brush during the first term and missed the pre-9-11 warnings, and I guess the Clinton Administration was merely reposing as it sent envoys to the actual distant borders of the Middle East to negotiate peace.

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. "

So, examples of liberty in our land would include the rooftop snipers, the chain link fences, the banning of apples and fruit from the parade route.... See http://www.dc.indymedia.org

"This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. "

I guess the freedom chosen by our allies in the war on terrorism (and defended by our soldiers) in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tibet, Chechneya,Egypt, and Morrocco just reflects different customs from ours.

"America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal, instead, is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way. "

And this would be reflected in the 30,000 or so Iraqis who live here but who will go to the Ramada Inn in New Carrrollton, Md to vote for a government in a country in which they no longer live. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16474-2005Jan17.html . This would also be reflected in the tolerance the Administration is showing toward the 58 million people who did not vote for this Administration.

I won't belabor this, everyone can draw their own conclusions. I can't wait for the State of the Union...




Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

Inauguration Day Special


New Poster For The Office of Homeland Security

 

WE HAVE OUR WAYS OF MAKING YOU TOLERANT!


Sponges are useful in brainwashing!

 

Wacko Dobson Whacks Spongebob

Dr. James ("I like to whack children & dogs") Dobson has now taken on Spongebob Squarepants. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/20/politics/20sponge.html?oref=login&oref=login&oref=login
Spongebob hasn't been my particular cup of tea (I'm a Samurai Jack fan), but anything that provokes Dobson's ire must be better than I thought.
Do these wingnuts ever realize how absolutely looney they sound when they tilt at their windmills?

 

More about shockwave lithotripsy than you wanted to know

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones. In ESWL, shock waves that are created outside the body travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the denser stones. The stones break down into sand-like particles and are easily (I hope!) passed through the urinary tract in the urine.

Illustration of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy(Oh my God! They cut off his head!)

There are several types of ESWL devices. In one device, the patient reclines in a water bath while the shock waves are transmitted. Other devices have a soft cushion on which the patient lies. Most devices use either x rays or ultrasound to help the surgeon pinpoint the stone during treatment. For most types of ESWL procedures, anesthesia is needed. (No! Demanded)

In some cases, ESWL may be done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is short, and most people can resume normal activities in a few days.

Complications may occur with ESWL. Most patients have blood in their urine for a few days after treatment. Bruising and minor discomfort in the back or abdomen from the shock waves are also common. To reduce the risk of complications, doctors usually tell patients to avoid taking aspirin and other drugs that affect blood clotting for several weeks before treatment.

Another complication may occur if the shattered stone particles cause discomfort(!) as they pass through the urinary tract. In some cases, the doctor will insert a small tube called a stent through the bladder into the ureter to help the fragments pass. Sometimes the stone is not completely shattered with one treatment, and additional treatments may be needed. ESWL is not ideal when stones are larger than 2 centimeters (mine is allegedly 8cm, uh oh!), about 0.8 inches. Is this what Alberto Gonzales calls waterboarding?


 

What if you don't know anything?

 

Words of Wisdom from the late Dr. Zevon

Readers of this blog, may recall that lately I've been having adventures with the medical establishment. (See, "C.B.'s Big Adventure", December 8, 2004 http://aclockworkbluejay.blogspot.com/2004_12_01_aclockworkbluejay_archive.html). Two weeks ago, a very good friend of my died, unexpectedly, in an absurd accident. This Friday, I get to experience the tender mercies of the disciples of Hippocrates again when I get a kidney stone "blasted".

For some reason, I've been listening to the songs of the late, great Warren Zevon. Two of them seem to "speak" to me in a very direct way.

The first is a cheerful little ditty entitled "My Shits Fucked Up":

Well, I went to the doctor I said,
"I'm feeling kind of rough"
He said, "I'll break it to you, son
Your shit's fucked up."
I said, "my shit's fucked up?"
Well, I don't see how--"
He said, "The shit that used to work--
It won't work now."

I had a dream
Ah, shucks, oh, well
Now it's all fucked up It's shot to hell
Yeah, yeah, my shit's fucked up
It has to happen to the best of us
The rich folks suffer like the rest of us
It'll happen to you
That amazing grace
Sort of passed you by

You wake up every day
And you start to cry
Yeah, you want to die
But you just can't quit
Let me break it on down:
It's the fucked up shit

The second seems oddly appropriate for people (like myself) who have entered their second semi-century and have intimations of mortality:

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The sky was on fire
When I walked to the mill
To take up the slack in the line
I thought of my friends
And the troubles they've had
To keep me from thinking of mine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I'm lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight.

I've begun to feel that once you let doctors start poking, prodding, and cutting you (much less blasting you with sonic waves), you've let them take control of your destiny. Maybe the best we can do is follow John Cheever's advice in the Wapshot Chronicle:

"Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house. Courage tastes of blood. Stand up straight. Admire the world. Relish the love of a gentle woman. Trust in the Lord."


 

This is not Titan, Mars, or Tolkien's Mt. Doom


The cloud-cloaked peaks of Semeru, Java’s highest mountain, and its smaller neighbor Mount Bromo seem newly formed at first light. This is a photograph (not a painting) from National Geographic. (left click to enlarge).

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

 

Rosebud...

Ruth Warrick, who played Charles Foster Kane's first wife, Emily, has died. She was the last survivor of the featured members of the cast of Citizen Kane (the Mercury Players). Only the two juveniles, Sonny Bupp, who played Kane's son, and Buddy Swann, who played the young Kane, remain.

 

JURY OF ONE'S PEERS

What is this world coming to when a Tennessee trailer park resident accused of striking her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick can't seat the following citizens on her jury? 1) a drug addict ("I'm high as a kite); 2) an alcoholic with a history of soliciting prostitutes ("should have known she was a police officer, she had teeth"); 3) an alleged attempted murderer ("shot my nephew because he wouldn't come out from under the bed") and 4) a man who said it was common knowledge that the defense attorney, Leslie Ballin, only represents guilty folks. Despite the challenges, a jury was seated and acquitted the defendant. http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/18/shallow.jury.pool

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

Part-time Job Vacancy in Texas?

The SAT I is now requiring a mandatory essay as part of the test. The College Board and Educational Testing Service (the developer of the test) have gone to great lengths to assure parents and students that he grading of the essay will not be subjective. In an attempt to demystify the process, the College Board allowed a Washington Post reporter to sit in on a pilot scoring session last week that is like the ones that will be used to train thousands of part-time test scorers around the country. The reporter agreed not to divulge questions that could be used in future tests but was otherwise free to describe what took place at the meeting. In the resulting front page article in Sunday's Post, in a discussion about scoring:

An essay that does little more than restate the question gets a 1. An essay that compares humans to squirrels -- if a squirrel told other squirrels about its food store, it would die, therefore secrecy is necessary for survival -- merits a 5. Brian A. Bremen, an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin, notes that the writer provides only one real example. Nevertheless, he says, the writer displays "a clear chain of thought" and should be rewarded, "despite his Republican tendencies."

I'd like to think Professor Bremen was "joshing" in that good, old boy Texas way. I'd also like to think a professor at the University of Texas has enough brains not to josh about "Republican tendencies" (at least in front of a reporter for the Washington Post). Want to bet somebody in Texas is looking for a new part-time gig?


Sunday, January 16, 2005

 

Everyone seems to be doing this: 10 Random Songs from mp-3 Player

  1. Sail Away--Randy Newman
  2. Baba O'Reilly--The Who
  3. Time Has Come Today--Chambers Brothers
  4. Take This Job and Shove It--Johnny Paycheck
  5. That Thing You Do--New Found Glory
  6. I Fought the Law--Clash
  7. Knock on Wood--Wilson Pickett
  8. Mission Impossible--Moby
  9. Bittersweet Symphony--Verve
  10. 6 Days on the Road--Gram Parsons & Fallen Angels

All I can say, is that I'm depressingly OLD.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

 

Titan Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids


The Sirens of Titan

 

Get your bleeding heart t-shirt

http://www.threadless.com/product/59/Bleeding_Heart courtesy of Majikthise http://majikthise.typepad.com/

 

A t-shirt for all of us bleeding heart liberals

Thursday, January 13, 2005

 

If only a tsunami would hit Saudi Arabia...

You may recall that in reaction to the 9/11 attack Ann Coulter wrote in a syndicated column on September 12 that "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

A Virginia-based missionary group said this week that it has airlifted 300 "tsunami orphans" from the Muslim province of Banda Aceh to Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, where it plans to raise them in a Christian children's home. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5018-2005Jan12.html

The tsunami has evidently saved us the time and expense of stages one and two of Ann's plan.

 

Long Term Memory Loss

Prince Harry of England seems to have forgotten the "late unpleasantness" between the United Kingdom and the Third Reich known as World War II. My readers might remember a guy named Winston Churchill (short, fat, bald, seemed to always be smoking a cigar). In one of his famous speeches during that slight disagreement between members of what is now the glorious European Union , he said:

"Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

Of course, Winnie was wrong. The British Empire would only last about 20 years from the date of his speech. The Commonwealth does still exist in some atrophied vestigial form, but at least one drunken twit of its ruling family seems to have forgotten all about its history. Some Jewish group has suggested that Harry the Twit be sent to Auschwitz for a history lesson. I disgree. This is not insensitivity to one ethnic group. This is insensitivity to one of the proudest moments in British history and Western civilization. Perhaps he should literally be sent to Coventry...



Sunday, January 09, 2005

 

The Post Jock Sniffs Bobby Haircut

On Thursday, while reading the usually soporific Washington Post Home Section, I stumbled across a heart-warming (or gag-inducing) story endearingly entitled "Highchairs in High Places" about how the poor Ehrlich family struggles to make-do in the 54 room rent-free Maryland Governor's Mansion. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49590-2005Jan5.html
It seems that Governor Haircut and his wife and two kiddies are just lost in so much space. Poor Mrs. Haircut was just "intimidated" by decorating, but:

"she installed a tub in the third-floor bathroom nearest the children's rooms, and had the bedrooms painted and carpeted in comfortable beige and pastel hues. She imported Drew's bunk beds, and added a changing table, baby gates, a video monitor and a crib for Joshua, "which I ordered directly from the Pottery Barn catalogue."
Having children in the mansion also meant immediate changes to the rambling public space. The first lady ordered up several subtle but safety-conscious alterations, including raising the handles on the walk-in freezers so Drew could not get in by himself.
She loved the long cherry wood stairway banister that swoops dramatically down from the second-floor hallway into the main foyer. But she feared Drew could accidentally flip himself over the rail, so she had it raised six inches. Master carpenters were brought in to make the alteration appear seamless. "


Somehow, I don't think "she" installed a tub, unless she used to be a plumber as well as a public defender. Somehow, I don't think the "master carpenters" worked for free. Perhaps the State Treasury might have made out better if she told her 5 year old to stay out of the freezer and off the damn banister.

But protection of the public fisc is not the agenda of my post. In a short article about the horrors of living in a rent-free mansion, the Post's Matthew Mosk managed to mention the governor:
  1. "tossing a plastic football in a private sitting room with his 5-year-old son, Drew"
  2. "tossing a football on the front lawn with Drew"
  3. accompanied the story with a picture of Governor Haircut (you guessed it) tossing a football to his son Drew.

In today's (Sunday, January 9, 2005), the Post continues the saga of poor Bobby by running an article about how mean those pesky Democratic legislators have been to him. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59747-2005Jan8.html

It seems that the poor Governor hasn't been able to get slot machine legislation passed, and his special session of the legislature didn't pass the medical malpractice reform legislation that he had in mind. And worst of all the doctors seem to like the legislation that did pass... Those twicky Democwats! They been mean again!

But again, Governor Fratboy's legislative follies are not my agenda. This time its David Montgomery's turn to sniff the jock. He manages to mention that:

  1. As Linebacker and Candidate, Bob Ehrlich Won Against the Odds. Can He Still Recover a Fumble?...
  2. "As a teenager in suburban Baltimore, the future governor of Maryland used to play a rough brand of sandlot football with older, bigger guys. He gave as good as he got. Later, on scholarship at Princeton, he had to bulk up to survive as a linebacker. He not only thrived, he became co-captain."...
  3. "This morning he is calling in to "The Junkies in the Morning," featuring the Sports Junkies, four buddies born and bred in Maryland -- J.P. Flaim, John "Cakes" Auville, Eric Bickel and Jason "Lurch" Bishop -- three Democratic supporters and one Republican, as it happens. Ehrlich has been a fan since he was commuting between Timonium and Capitol Hill. Now he calls in every week to make football picks."...
  4. Junkies: By the way, the governor is intense with his picks. He certainly is. Throughout the day he's constantly checking his games.
    Ehrlich: I have to tell you guys, after halftime when I went up to [Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's] box, and Condi Rice was there. I'm talking to her. I said, "Excuse me, Madam Secretary. Gotta go check the scores. I'll be right back to you." ...
  5. The Princeton football ring on his right ring finger catches the camera light.

The Post is evidently enamored of Governor Haircut's football prowess. Montgomery's story, "Tied in Annapolis" is filled with football metaphors. But you know, the jocksniffers in the newsroom should have checked with the sports department before falling in love with their football hero. Governor Haircut has a dirty little secret. While he was lettering for three years at Princeton and captaining the team his senior year, the fearsome Princeton Tigers sucked like a Hoover. In '76 they were 2 and 7, in '77 they were 3 and 6, and in '78 they were 2-5 and 2. They never had a winning season with Ehrlich as a letterman. Like many a bar room lout, he seems to remember "Glory Days" that never were...

He could always take up clearing brush...



Thursday, January 06, 2005

 

Twins Separated at Birth

USA Today in an article discussing the Gonzales nomination tries to explain the closeness of the relationship between the Current President and Mr. Gonzales:

Bush “likes somebody he sees as having overcome potential disadvantages, because he sees himself as having done that,” says Paul Burka, executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine and a close follower of the president.
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050105/a_gonzales05.art.htm

The same article notes that Gonzales is:

"The son of Mexican immigrants with little formal education, Gonzales had ascended from a childhood home in Houston with no hot water or telephone to the Air Force, Rice University and Harvard Law School. Gonzales' against-all-expectations success impressed Bush."

Like him or hate him, Gonzales has an inspiring story. The second of eight children, his father was a construction worker who never finished high-school. Gonzales enlisted in the Air Force after finishing high-school, served two years in Alaska, was accepted at the Air Force academy, transferred to Rice, and then attended Harvard Law. None of his siblings attended college. Mr. Gonzales clearly has "overcome potential disadvantages".

Just like George Bush?

Let's see...
The son of two prominent members of the WASP aristocracy. Mr. Bush's father attended Yale University and Yale Law School; his mother attended Smith College. Mr. Bush's father had dead-end jobs as an oil executive, congressman, Director of the Republican National Committee, Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA, vice-president of the United States, and then (oh, yeah)

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

All of his childhood homes had hot, running water and telephones. Mr. Bush attended Phillips Academy for high school. He graduated from Yale University and the Harvard Business School.
He spent an unknown amount of time in the Texas Air National Guard. All of his siblings attended college.

Geez...its amazing how these two lives mirror each other. What horrible disadvantages they both have overcome!

 

Loyalty

Loyalty to one's employer, one's family, one's friends is an admirable and important trait. But in terms of the present administration it is a scary proposition. This morning's Boston Globe highlights the career and credentials of one such loyalist-- Alberto Gonzales, who worked hard, rose from poverty, graduated from Harvard and cashed in all his "credibility" to become a part of the Bush machine.


Few people expect that Gonzales will not succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General, but today's hearing will most likely focus on some Gonzales career highlights:

. As counsel to then Gov. Bush, he argued Bush could not serve jury duty because he might have to decide a future clemency issue-- more importantly, he would have had to disclose his 1976 DWI conviction;

. As counsel to Gov. Bush, he briefed the Gov. about clemency petitions, concentrating on the gruesome details of each crime and not on significant legal issues such as attorney incompetence or evidence of innocence-- Bush executed a record 152 inmates, granting only 1 clemency;

.Gonzales accepted "staggering" amounts of campaign contributions from litigants having cases before him as a member of the Texas Supreme Court, even taking a donation between hearing an oral argument and voting on a decision;

.Gonzales was responsible for commissioning the post 9-11 memoranda declaring the Geneva Conventions would not apply to the current "war on terrorism" and he vetted Bernard Kerick.

At least it does not appear that Gonzales is a songwriter like his predecessor, although Americans will hear "Let the Eagles Soar" as part of the upcoming inaugural events.







 

Brain Drain

It appears that an enterprising state employee who worked in the Office of the Medical Examiner in Maine free lanced for a Maryland medical research lab by shipping as many as 100 brains from cadavers to the lab. The man, who was the state's funeral inspector and who answered after hour calls for the office earned $1,000 for each brain plus a bonus $1,000 for each brain of a diagnosed schizophrenic. The families earned nothing but received thank you letters from the research company. The letters were promptly turned over to investigators. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/01/06/donations_of_brains_are_probed_in_maine/

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

 

Oz is not stingy!

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Asia-tsunami/Australian-aid-sets-the-standard-Oxfam/2005/01/06/1104832185285.html

 

At least the Blue states can play football!

 

THE POWER OF THE PENNY

I have been following the Bluejay's recent posts about red state empowerment and the rise of fundamentalists in this country. And I got to thinking about our perceptions of these folks-- for example, the products they buy-- anything from Wal-Mart, or what sports they watch--Nascar...Anyway, I discovered an organization called Choose the Blue, which compiled a list of Red and Blue corporate spending. http://www.choosetheblue.com/main.php Some of the results are surprising.

Fox news and its affiliates contributed more $ to Dems than to Reps. but CNBC contributed more to Rep.

Target contributed more to Rep. than Dem. but before you panic, Target's $229,000 is nothing compared to Wal-Mart's donations which surpassed $1 million to Reps.

Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Amazon and surprisingly, Costco, are all solid Dem supporters, while JCPenney, Home Depot, and the May Company (Hecht's, Lord and Taylor stores) all squarely supported Reps.

Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical companies supported the Reps., with the exception of Eli Lily which decisively gave 50 percent of its contributions to Dems.

The imports all went Dem as well-- Bailey's, Cuervo, Guinness while the home brews-- Coors, Bud, are red.

And it appears the Coke (Dem.) Pepsi (Rep.) distinction is a myth since both companies went red this year.

"If each American who voted Blue spends $100 in 2005 on products of a corporation ...that supported Blue over Red, 5 Billion dollars in revenues would be shifted to Blue supporting corporations."

 

Why women live longer than men...

Jaquandor at Byzantium's Shores http://byzantiumshores.blogspot.com/ a/k/a "The One True Buffalo Blog" posted this link to men's "creative" solutions to problems: http://www.gophergas.com/funstuff/womenlivelonger2.htm
I personally like the one posted below the best.


 

OHSHA does not approve this method

Monday, January 03, 2005

 

The Power of Prayer?

Do you remember the "Miracle Study" published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine and co-authored by two Columbia University scientists that purported to show that "[w]omen who were prayed for became pregnant twice as often as those who did not have people praying for them''?
It turns out (big surprise) that this study is most likely hogwash. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/10553703.htm?1c
The third author and the organizer of the "prayer groups" is Daniel P. Wirth, a/k/a, John Wayne Truelove, Rudy Wirth and Rudolph Wirth, who is now doing time for embezzling $2 million from Adelphia Cable. Evidently, the power of prayer couldn't save him from 5 years in the federal pokey. I wonder if this story will get as much ink as the original study "results".

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