Saturday, October 22, 2005

Another Lovely Day

Of procrastinating on sending in job applications (shudder). Yesterday, this process involved seeing Wallace and Gromit: The Cures of the Were-Rabbit with friends, then, not wanting to head home just yet pressing on to see The History of Violence by Cronenberg.

An odd double-feature, to be sure, but both amazing, each in its own way, though I daresay the latter impressed me a bit more than it did Miriam.

Today, however, there is a wine and food festival out in Fredericksburg, and the day is beautiful. so.... those applications can either wait or write themselves...

The wine calls!


Friday, October 21, 2005


It occurs to me now that I have not slept in about forty hours or so. So I shall leave you with these, at least, along with a warning that posting today might be a tad sparse...


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Common Damn Sense

Well done, Australians:
Intelligent design is as unscientific as the flat Earth theory and should not be taught in school science classes, a coalition representing 70,000 scientists and science teachers has warned.

Yesterday they expressed "grave concern" that the subject was being presented in some Australian schools as a valid alternative to evolution. Proponents of intelligent design claim that some living structures are so complex they are explicable only by the action of an unspecified "intelligent designer".

But the scientists and teachers say this notion of "supernatural intervention" is a belief and not a scientific theory, because it makes no predictions and cannot be tested.

"We therefore urge all Australian governments and educators not to permit the teaching or promulgation of intelligent design as science," they say in an open letter to newspapers.

"To do so would make a mockery of Australian science teaching and throw open the door of science classes to similarly unscientific world views - be they astrology, spoon bending, flat Earth cosmology or alien abductions."


Gymnast Jesus!

Apparently a sculpture in Prague, this masterwork was brought to my attention by the luminous Vestal Vespa.


Romance Novel Cover of the Day: Canadian Edition


Katrina Has Left Us Limp

Interesting that we don't mind having completely screwed up priorities until disaster strikes:
It took a hurricane to do it, but Congress has finally ended federal subsidies for users of Viagra and other sexual performance drugs.

The Senate on Wednesday passed without debate and sent to the president legislation that ends Medicare and Medicaid payments for erectile dysfunction drugs as part of a package that extends medical help for the poor and provides unemployment benefit aid to states hit by Hurricane Katrina.

"This legislation extends very important benefits for people who live on the edge of poverty," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.


Chronic Idiocy

I imagine this "issue" will keep arising, annually, for years to come:
The Senate Sub Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold hearings today in a new push to amend the Constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

Attempts by Republicans in Congress to pass the proposed amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman failed last year.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Backdooring ANWR

A Senate committee voted Wednesday to include drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge in a massive budget proposal, assuring that drilling opponents won't be able to use the filibuster to thwart oil development there.


American Barbarism

The good times just don't stop, do they?
US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.

"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."

The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam requires burial within 24 hours.


America Continues to Fall Behind

And Korea is stepping up to take the lead:
South Korean scientists have announced the creation of a World Stem Cell Foundation, to be headquartered at Seoul National University but with tentacles reaching to the United States, the United Kingdom and beyond.

The new venture, unveiled early Wednesday morning, is intended to accelerate international progress in the field by bypassing ethical and regulatory constraints in the United States, according to Dr. Susan Okie, who wrote a perspective article in the Oct. 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that was released to coincide with the Seoul announcement.

"Korea is being very entrepreneurial, not just in creating novel stem cells but in how they're marketing and doing business," added Paul Sanberg, director of the Center for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa. "The [Korean] government is putting significant amounts of money into it. I think Korea sees that it can be a global player."


Christians Steal High School Radio Station

Absolute fucking madness:
Today's lesson: Don't cross Christian broadcasting.

Maynard High School's radio frequency, 91.7 FM, is being seized by a network of Christian broadcasting stations that the Federal Communications Commission has ruled is a better use of the public airwaves.

``People are furious,'' said faculty adviser Joe Magno.

Maynard High's WAVM, which has been broadcasting from the school for 35 years, found itself in this David vs. Goliath battle when it applied to increase its transmitter signal from 10 to 250 watts.

According to Magno, that ``opens the floodgates for any other station to challenge the station's license and take its frequency.''


Arrest Warrant Issued for DeLay

And today is a happy day:
An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday and bail set at $10,000 for former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ahead of his scheduled court appearance this week in Austin, Texas for money laundering and conspiracy charges, a Texas court clerk said.

The so-called "capias" was a "purely procedural event" but would require DeLay to turn himself into authorities to be fingerprinted and photographed, Travis County Grand Jury Clerk Linda Estrada said.


Here We Go Again

This is the kind of record we don't need to keep breaking:
Hurricane Wilma, which has swelled into a dangerous Category Five storm, is the strongest hurricane ever recorded, the US National Hurricane Center says.

It says the storm's barometric pressure - a measure of its strength - was the lowest on record in the Atlantic basin.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Failed Biological Attack in D.C.?

Unnerving, to say the least. And odd that it hasn't been all over the headlines...
On Sept. 24, 2005, tens of thousands of protesters marched past the White House and flooded the National Mall near 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. They had arrived from all over the country for a day of speeches and concerts to protest the war in Iraq. It may have been the biggest antiwar rally since Vietnam. A light rain fell early in the day and most of the afternoon was cool and overcast.

Unknown to the crowd, biological-weapons sensors, scattered for miles across Washington by the Department of Homeland Security, were quietly doing their work. The machines are designed to detect killer pathogens. Sometime between 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 25, six of those machines sucked in trace amounts of deadly bacteria called Francisella tularensis. The government fears it is one of six biological weapons most likely to be used against the United States.


Miers: Liar

Well, she does have one key characteristic of those who succeed with Bush in power. She tells people what they want to hear:
Newly released documents show that when Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers was running for a seat on the Dallas City Council in 1989 she was telling conservatives she would oppose civil rights protections for people with HIV/AIDS and at the same time telling gay activists she would support such a measure.

The new documents, turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, contain a questionnaire filled out by Miers for the conservative Eagle Forum of Texas. The group is affiliated with the national Eagle Forum, founded by anti-gay activist Phyllis Schafly.

The questionnaire was distributed to all candidates during the 1989 Dallas Council race.

One of the questions asks: "Would you support an ordinance that would force individual property owners and businesses to provide accommodation to persons with AIDS and those perceived to have AIDS." Miers answered 'No'.

A second question asks if she would "support an ordinance that would force businesses to hire persons with AIDS and those perceived to have AIDS." Again, Miers answered 'No'.

But, responding to a similar questionnaire from the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas Miers was asked if she would support a law protecting people with AIDS from discrimination she answered 'Yes'.


Canadian Comeuppance

When Bev Desjarlais was the lone member of the New Democratic Party to vote against same-sex marriage she knew she might be in trouble. Now she's about to be out of a job.

Desjarlais has failed to win her party's nomination for the next election after the party turned against her. Niki Ashton will carry the party banner in Churchill, in northern Manitoba. Ashton is the daughter of a provincial NDP cabinet minister.



The things we can do when we really put our minds to it. Just imagine if the power of the federal government of the United States were truly put to work in this area:
What if you had a power unit that generated substantial electrical energy with no fuel? What if it were so rugged that you could parachute it out of an airplane? What if it were so easy to set up that two people could have it running in just a few hours?

Now there is such a device - built by a small Virginia start-up - and the federal government has taken notice.

SkyBuilt Power Inc. has begun building electricity-generating units fueled mostly by solar and wind energy. The units, which use a battery backup system when the sun is down and the wind is calm, are designed to run for years with little maintenance.

Depending upon its configuration, SkyBuilt's Mobile Power Station (MPS) can generate up to 150 kilowatts of electricity, says David Muchow, the firm's president and CEO. That's enough to power an emergency operations center, an Army field kitchen, or a small medical facility.


Voting Rights

Interestingly, Kemp comes out swinging in favor of a good cause, raised by Nadler:
Jack Kemp, the former Republican vice presidential candidate and HUD secretary, urged Congress on Tuesday to require states to restore voting rights for felons once they complete their sentences.

Kemp, who was Bob Dole's running mate in 1996, made the recommendation during the first in a series of hearings about the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits literacy tests, poll taxes and other infringements on minority voting.

Some key provisions of the 40-year-old law expire in 2007. One requires areas with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their election laws.

Congress is expected to extend that provision for 25 years, but the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution is trying to determine whether the law should be tweaked.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., stirred the lone moment of dissent among witnesses with his suggestion that Congress should amend the act to guarantee voting rights for ex-felons.

"It's important, if we're going to call ourselves a democracy, that everybody more or less have the right to vote," Nadler said.

Kemp quickly endorsed the idea, pointing out that minorities are disproportionately charged with felonies.

"My answer is unambiguously yes," said Kemp, a former congressman from New York, one of a handful of states that restores voting rights to criminals once they complete their prison term or probation. "It is a restriction that needs to be modified."


Victory in Afghanistan

As seems to be the case will all American victories lately, it looks a lot like failure:
A former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two massive 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign was elected to the Afghan parliament last month, officials said Tuesday as results from two provinces were finalized.
Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, who was the Taliban's governor of Bamiyan province when the fifth-century Buddha statues were blown up with dynamite and artillery in March 2001, was chosen to represent the neighboring province of Samangan, according to results posted by the U.N.-Afghan election organizers. Election law did not bar former Taliban officials from participating in the Sept. 18 polls.


He Was Just Asking for It

Nasty end to a nightmarish prison rape case:
Jurors today rejected a gay burglary convict's federal lawsuit claiming that six prison officials violated his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his pleas for protection from inmate rapes.
The defendants and other prison employees testified that they could not substantiate Johnson's half a dozen or so rape claims because he changed his stories or there was no medical evidence.

They said Johnson usually seemed upbeat in prison, wearing tight pants and flirting with a corrections officer.

Johnson had testified that prison gangs forced him to be their sex slave while officials never investigated his reports of abuse or kept him in a safer area for vulnerable inmates.

Johnson testified about nine hours over three days, saying some employees made fun of him during committee hearings and told him to fight the other inmates or get a boyfriend for protection. Five current prisoners testified, including one who said inmates had sex with Johnson and paid the prison gang that owned him with commissary items worth $3 to $7.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Shocker: Rich still getting richer

Not that it comes as a surprise, but the numbers are impressively appalling.
For the first time in the census, the top 20% of earners in the US took over half the total income. The bottom 20% took just 3.4%. Only the top 5% of households enjoyed real income growth during the year. A recent survey released by market research firm TNS said the number of millionaires in the US has reached a record 8.9 million, rising for the third successive year.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Jackass Homophobe Arrested

Police have arrested a man, who was soliciting names for a petition to ban gay marriage, outside a Pittsfield, Massachusetts supermarket.

It is the latest in a series of complaints about the methods used by Vote On Marriage - an umbrella group made up of the Catholic Church and evangelical groups - who are trying to get a proposed amendment on the 2008 ballot.

The amendment, if approved, would prohibit same-sex marriage and prevent the state from offering civil unions. Pittsfield police say that the manager of a local Stop & Shop superstore asked to have the man removed when he refused to go voluntarily. The manager said that a number of shoppers complained about the man and the aggressive manner in which he was trying to get them to sign.


Romance Novel Cover o' the Day



Thanks to an e-mail from a previously unknown fan of my site, U G, I am able to direct you to an excellent article, which details the extent to which Bush has gutted government in favor of political favoritism.



But, sadly, not surprising, as African-American homophobia marches on:
Gay African American leader Keith Boykin was prevented from speaking Saturday morning at the Millions More March on the National Mall, despite an invitation from march organizer Louis Farrakhan.

Boykin, President of the National Black Justice Committee, had been invited on Wednesday by Farrakhan after the organization publicly criticized Farrakhan for excluding Black gays and lesbians from the planning process.

As Boykin was about to climb the stairs to the podium, Rev. Willie Wilson told a speech coordinator to tell Boykin that the decision to allow him to address marchers had been rescinded. Boykin said that Wilson was smirking as he spoke to the woman.


Good Cheer

It is a rerun, but miriam's computer just died, and hers has the digital camera software, so there ya have it.


Time to Move to Iraq

Or, rather, to "Iraq." Excerpts of the new Iraq constitution, sent to me by my brother-in-law (already known to you as father of the lovely Palomi):
Article 22:

First: Work is a right for all Iraqis so as to guarantee them a decent living.

Second: The law regulates the relationship between employees and employers on economic basis and with regard to the foundations of social justice.

Third: The State guarantees the right of forming and joining professional associations and unions. This will be organized by law. ...

Article 30:

First: The state guarantee to the individual and the family -- especially children and women -- social and health security and the basic requirements for leading a free and dignified life. The state also ensures the above a suitable income and appropriate housing.

Second: The State guarantees the social and health security to Iraqis in cases of old age, sickness, employment disability, homelessness, orphanage or unemployment, and shall work to protect them from ignorance, fear and poverty. The State shall provide them housing and special programs of care and rehabilitation. This will be organized by law.

Article 31: First: Every citizen has the right to health care. The state takes care of public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and medical institutions.


The Phelps Klan

Still, full of class, and now, taking it one step farther? Even if it's not the Phelpsies threatening this, they do much to foster the ignorance and intolerance that leads to such actions:
Police in Helena Montana are investigating threats to disrupt a speech at Carroll College by the mother of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard.

Judy Shepard is scheduled to speak at the private Catholic college Tuesday about the impact of Matthew's death.

Nancy Lee, spokeswoman for Carroll, said the purpose of the lecture is to promote tolerance. But the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for its strongly worded anti-gay literature, has threatened to picket the event.

One flier distributed on campus makes reference to the use of "improvised explosive devices," Lee told the Associated Press.


Every Baby a Wanted Baby

Well done, Clarence:
The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday temporarily blocked a federal judge’s ruling that ordered Missouri prison officials to drive a pregnant inmate to a clinic on Saturday for an abortion.

Justice Clarence Thomas, acting alone, granted the temporary stay pending a further decision by himself or the full court.

Missouri state law forbids spending tax dollars to facilitate an abortion. However, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple ruled Thursday that the prison system was blocking the woman from exercising her right to an abortion and ordered that the woman be taken to the clinic Saturday.


And She Once Directed Something Other Than the Passion Play

Obscene, and downright unlawful:
Officials from Loretto High School, a Catholic high school in Sacramento, announced on Friday that a drama teacher had been fired for her previous volunteer work at an abortion clinic, RAW STORY has learned.

Marie Bain was terminated after a student's parent sent pictures to the head of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento which showed her escorting patients into a Planned Parenthood clinic last spring before being hired to teach at the school in August. The Sacramento Bee reported that Bishop William K. Weigand wrote a letter on October 5th to the president of the all-female school urging the teacher's dismissal.