Quickies 8

Feel the Quickening!

Experience past quickies: one. two. three. four. five. six. seven. Experience even more recently past quickies.

March 2004
Thursday 26
An Oklahoma couple were surprised when they woke up and found a drunk burglary suspect asleep in bed with them, police say.

The couple from the south Oklahoma city of Ardmore called police, ran out of their house and watched officers arrest the man who was still sleeping in their bed despite the sirens and commotion, police said.

Dan Johnson, 24, was arrested on the scene in the incident that took place on Sunday and was charged with burglary.

Officer Chad Anthony said in his arrest report that it took quite an effort to rouse the suspect from a deep slumber.
Condoleezza Rice is lying about ability to testify under oath before Congress.
digby has been watching the Clarke story. More and still more.

Thursday 25
You may think of Ping-Pong as a goofy game that bored adolescents play in suburban basements until they lose the ball under the radiator. But talk to Reed and her teammates and you learn that table tennis is an intense sport with all the earmarks of big-time athletics -- steroid scandals, colorful characters, Byzantine romances and groupies. Also, there's a lot of glue sniffing.

"We're all a little mental," Reed says. "Look at old movies. Where do they play table tennis in movies?" she asks.

She pauses. "In jails and mental hospitals," she answers, laughing.
Review of two new books on and reprinting Mark Twain.
Now interviewed Hal Holbrook. They also provide more information (and link to outside sources) on Mark Twain and the state of American political satire.
Noam Chomsky is blogging.[mefithread]

Wednesday 24
Thanks to the National Review...my site now gets over 2,000 visits each weekday, with 75% being returning visitors. More importantly, I've made contact with lots of folks who are equally appalled by the campaigns against science and science education, many of whom only discovered my site thanks to the NRO smear job.
One of the weapons in Bush's arsenal is an old family heirloom. Bush fired it himself at his big Florida rally over the weekend. He asserted that John Kerry had voted for higher taxes 350 times during Kerry's 20 years in the Senate. Vice President Dick Cheney and other presidential surrogates have been using this statistoid for several weeks, and it has been picked up and repeated in the conservative media echo chamber. In 1992, Bush's father charged that Bill Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, had raised taxes 128 times. This shabby and deeply disingenuous allegation ultimately became an embarrassment to the elder Bush, but it took weeks and months of pounding by the media and the opposition to make it this way. I'm hoping to spare us all that with a Powell-Doctrine-like strike early on.

The purpose of a phony statistic like this one isn't really to persuade people of its own accuracy. The purpose is to trap your opponent in a discussion he doesn't want to have (in this case about his past votes about taxes), bog the discussion down in silly details that few people will follow, and leave a general impression that where there is smoke, there must be fire. And certainly, if what matters to you above all else is paying fewer taxes, you'd be a fool to choose Kerry over Bush. But this isn't about taxes; it's about honesty. Honesty means more than factual accuracy, it means avoiding disingenuousness: not talking crap when you know it's crap. If that matters to you above all, you may be out of luck with either candidate this election. But if you wish to measure comparative crapology, this 350-tax-increases business may be hard for Kerry to top.

Tuesday 23
Vanilla flash game. Grow a tree. Simple.
It makes sense that Brian Doherty of Reason would writ this kind of review of Cerebus.
One detail of the practice of the theocratic dictatorship that Cerebus sets up toward the work's end will give you a hint as to why, within the narrow community of comics fans, its creator is embattled and widely despised. Cerebus the religious leader arranged the public executions of women who didn't meet the approval of a gathered crowd of men.

Because of his very public animus toward feminism, which shades toward pure misogyny in the eyes of many readers, the comics community at best damn Sim with faint praise, raising the glass to his maniacal productivity and dedication -- a fully written and drawn page pretty much every weekday for 26 years without fail or falter. But they mostly just damn him, and Cerebus, for ideological reasons.

Sim's representation of himself as the embattled last defender of reason and masculinity against the Marxist-feminist axis that he thinks rules the world has marginalized him, to the point that he seriously seems to expect an angry mob of feminazis to lock him up for thoughtcrime. (Well, he is Canadian, so perhaps that's not so unrealistic a notion.)
Either Sim change the nature of his "axis," which I doubt, or Brian felt "Marxist" was a better broad brush than "homosexual." Dave doesn't deny misogyny, why should Brian shy from it?
How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary, by Robert L Read.
Watch The Elegant Universe online.
A bold paper which has highly impressed some of the world's top physicists and been published in the August issue of Foundations of Physics Letters, seems set to change the way we think about the nature of time and its relationship to motion and classical and quantum mechanics. Much to the science world's astonishment, the work also appears to provide solutions to Zeno of Elea's famous motion paradoxes, almost 2500 years after they were originally conceived by the ancient Greek philosopher. In doing so, its unlikely author, who originally attended university for just 6 months, is drawing comparisons to Albert Einstein and beginning to field enquiries from some of the world's leading science media. This is contrast to being sniggered at by local physicists when he originally approached them with the work, and once aware it had been accepted for publication, one informing the journal of the author's lack of formal qualification in an attempt to have them reject it.

In the paper, "Time and Classical and Quantum Mechanics: Indeterminacy vs. Discontinuity", Peter Lynds, a 27 year old broadcasting school tutor from Wellington, New Zealand, establishes that there is a necessary trade off of all precisely determined physical values at a time, for their continuity through time, and in doing so, appears to throw age old assumptions about determined instantaneous physical magnitude and time on their heads. A number of other outstanding issues to do with time in physics are also addressed, including cosmology and an argument against the theory of Imaginary time by British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Monday 22
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and leader of the Hamas militant group that targeted Israelis in suicide bombings, was killed by missiles fired from Israeli helicopters as he left a mosque at daybreak Monday, witnesses said.

Metafilter thread
The assassination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin may well turn out to be a blow, not to Hamas, but to the Palestinian Authority. In the power struggle waged for the past several years in Gaza between the PA and Hamas, it was Yassin's organization that enjoyed an ever-increasing advantage in the sphere of public opinion.
The more Israel hits Hamas leaders and rank-and-file members, the more their popularity climbs. In tandem, they become increasingly immune to operations by the PA's security force, since any such operation would only be interpreted as treacherous collaboration with Israel. Recently, there have been a few cases in which the PA's security forces tried to arrest Hamas activists, but hundreds of the organization's activists physically blocked their path and prevented the arrests.
New York, N.Y.: Killing a crippled, blind old man shows how baser and meaner a regime can go. These missiles are paid by US tax payers money. Now we more buying more enemies than we can handle. Your comments?

Fawaz Gerges: The assassination of Yassin introduces a highly volatile factor into the Palestinian-Israeli equation. Until now Hamas made it very clear that its struggle was internal and that it would not expand its attacks outside Palestinian territories. Today there are signs that some Hamas officials accused the United States of being indirectly responsible for the killing of their leader and insunated that they could retaliate against US interests. Other Muslim clerics also denounced Washington's call for restraint and called on Arabs and Muslims to stand up to Washington and assist the Paletsinians in their struggle.

One point must be made clear: American vital interests in the world of Islam are not served by exerting pressure on on side to show restraint, instead of doing so on both sides.
An Islamist website published a statement on Monday purporting to come from an Al Qaida-linked group vowing revenge on the United States and its allies over Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

"We tell Palestinians that Sheikh Yassin's blood was not spilt in vain and call on all legions of Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades to avenge him by attacking the tyrant of the age, America, and its allies," said the statement by Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade carried by the al ansar forum website.
The world's greatest humanitarian crisis is happening in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The unqualified directness of Zinn's prose clearly appeals to his readers. Unlike scholars who aspire to add one or two new bricks to an edifice that has been under construction for decades or even centuries, he brings dynamite to the job. "To understand," wrote Frederick Douglass, "one must stand under." Although Zinn doesn't quote that axiom, the sensibility appears on every page of his book. His fans can supply the corollary themselves: only the utterly contemptible stand on top.
-Michael Kazin, Howard Zinn's History Lessons
The German car company known as Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG has fought a series of battles to protect the name CARRERA. But another contender is a Swiss village, postal code 7122. ''The village Carrera existed prior to the Porsche trademark,'' Christoph Reuss of Switzerland wrote to Porsche's lawyers. ''Porsche's use of that name constitutes a misappropriation of the good will and reputation developed by the villagers of Carrera.'' He added, for good measure, ''The village emits much less noise and pollution than Porsche Carrera.'' He didn't mention that José Carreras, the opera singer, was embroiled in a name dispute of his own. The car company, meanwhile, also claims trademark ownership of the numerals 911.
A good Metafilter post with lots of links on the new movie, Dogville.
Statistics Lie on the True Cost of Living, by Robert Kuttner.

Friday 19
Interview with Senator John McCain, By Bill Moyers
Oliver Willis maps out another smear against Kerry.
Tetris Dreams: How and when people see pieces from the computer game in their sleep tells of the role dreaming plays in learning, by Kristin Leutwyler

Wednesday 17
Donald Rumsfeld revealed. Match with Liar in Chief:
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people. The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other." -George W. Bush, Address to the Nation, March 17th, 2003.
This thread is good for Metafilter
The main link is a report on the future of banking due to the forces of globalization and is followed by an excellent interview with the author of that report, Bernard Lietaer
The DCSD has backed down from Bjorn Lomborg. It's no surprise that the folks at Reason, Tech Central Station, and Economist favor Lomborg's "don't worry" attitude about the environment because it fits with their no-holds-barred economic plans. Lomborg offers lengthy replies to critics and some like Scientific American have hurt their case by pushing a copyright issue. Thankfully, the slack has been picked up by Grist and the UCS. Other recaps and resources: "A Scientific Controversy In Progress" | "The Skeptical Environmentalist: A Case Study in the Manufacture of News" | Disinfopedia on Lomborg | Wikipedia on the The Skeptical Environmentalist | Slashdot on the book | Debate on Kyoto pro / con | WRI warning on the book | A collection of Lomborgisms
Green Myth vs. the Green Revolution
Fallacies and frustrations: why skeptics dread conversations with true believers
Al Franken and Rich Lowry debate. Somehow it only makes them both look like jerks.
The Iraq on the Record Report, prepared at the request of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, is a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
How the bombing in Spain got turned into another political tool by Kerry, Bush, and the pathetic pundits on either side was beyond the pale. There was a thread in Metafilter so vicious that I am just about done with that place.
This letter from someone that lives there should end the claims that the Spanish people acted in line with the terrorists.
Of course, this has to happen.
I just noticed that Steven is blogging again. The story about Richard Fuisz is worth checking out.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.
- Thomas Pynchon
When Ralph Nader announced his presidential candidacy on Meet the Press, that he’s running wasn’t as surprising as his rationale for doing so. Nader offered as his principal reason his “desire to retire” George Bush. Just how did Nader assert his candidacy would do that? Why, because he’ll take votes from “conservatives furious with Bush over the deficit” and “liberal Republicans who see their party being taken away from them.” The notion that Nader this year could ever peel off enough right-wing votes from Bush to tip the election against him is, quite simply, delusional. Pretending he could do so is only the latest evidence that Nader has completely lost his judgment.
I wanted to give Nader the benefit of the doubt, but damn....

Sunday 14
Physicists have observed 16 particles that make up all matter under the Standard Model of fundamental particles and interactions.

But the sums do not quite add up for the Standard Model to be true if these particles are considered alone. If only 16 particles existed, they would have no mass - contradicting what we know to be true in nature.

Another particle has to give them this mass. Enter the Higgs boson, first proposed by University of Edinburgh physicist Peter Higgs and colleagues in the late 1960s.

Their theory was that all particles acquire their mass through interactions with an all-pervading field, called the Higgs field, which is carried by the Higgs boson.

The Higgs' importance to the Standard Model has led some to dub it the "God particle".
A coalition of 140 groups, Whalewatch, says many whales do not die quickly when hit, and tests to decide exactly when a whale is dead are inadequate.

The well-known UK naturalist Sir David Attenborough says in a foreword that Whalewatch's report shows "there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea".

But whalers say their methods are not cruel, and reject calls to end whaling.
Smoke is clouding our view of global warming, protecting the planet from perhaps three-quarters of the greenhouse effect. That might sound like good news, but experts say that as the cover diminishes in coming decades, we are in for a dramatic escalation of warming that could be two or even three times as great as official best guesses. This was the dramatic conclusion reached last week at a workshop in Dahlem, Berlin, where top atmospheric scientists got together, including Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin, former chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Amazon's most remote regions have changed dramatically over the past two decades, with slower-growing trees losing out to other species in what scientists believe is a manifestation of climate change, the London Independent reports today. Faster-growing tree varieties are starting to dominate because the Amazon is being artificially "fertilized" with increased levels of carbon dioxide, the scientists said in a study published in Nature.

The resulting change in composition could harm the rainforest's ability to absorb excess levels of the harmful greenhouse gas, according to William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Laurance, along with the University of Sao Paulo's Alexandre Oliveira and other researchers, studied the growth of nearly 14,000 trees in 18 plots of land scattered throughout 120 square miles. They found that 27 tree types in the Amazon out of a total of 115 had changed significantly, either by increasing or decreasing in growing density.
Giant cypresses are nearly gone. They are the great bald cypresses. Today’s few remaining giants, escapees of the lumber era, are extremely old; some as much as 600 to 700 years. Their bulbous bases flare downward and outward to root systems loosely locked in rich, wet organic peat. Their girths outstretch the combined embrace of you and 3 long-armed friends.
The police said the pens would increase safety, help crosstown traffic flow, and enable them to use fewer officers at big events. "It's not to create a hostile environment," said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the department.

Protest organizers say the pens are more appropriate for controlling cattle than people, and they point out that countless demonstrations in New York and elsewhere have been held peaceably without them.

"They're very confusing for people," said Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, the organizers of the March 20 event. Mr. Browne said that the pens, which would be closed one by one as they fill with people, would be used only during the rally, not the march, and that people would be allowed to leave at will. He said the department would post directions for protesters on its Web site. "While they're there they can go to our recruitment page if they're interested in joining the department," he deadpanned.
The Justice Department investigation that criticized FBI agents for taking items from the World Trade Center site also found that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a high-ranking FBI official kept items from the Sept. 11 attack scenes.
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday night that Rumsfeld has a shard of metal from the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on a table in his office and shows it to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared on Sept. 11, 2001.
D'Amuro, now the head of the FBI's New York office, told investigators that ''he asked for a piece of the building as a memento'' and that he was aware that agents had taken such items from other terrorist crime scenes over the years.
No one needs a scrap of metal to remind them of what happened. This is repulsive behavoir.
I missed this thread back in July of 2003, but it's a great thread. The idea is simple, "last word of an entry must be used as an acronym for the next entry."
Silence, here I teach!
posted by crazy finger at 7:52 AM PST on July 30

Touche. Every addition comes harder.
posted by soyjoy at 7:53 AM PST on July 30

Harder and radically different each recursion.
posted by jpburns at 7:54 AM PST on July 30

Really? Every comment uses rambling sentences. I orate neatly.
posted by kfury at 7:55 AM PST on July 30

Not every asshole types like yourself
posted by Fezboy! at 7:57 AM PST on July 30

Your own usage reveals self emulating lively fragrances.
posted by jpburns at 7:59 AM PST on July 30
Who is this trickster Ricky Jay?
Lots of information on anti-semitism in France with a good debate on just how much of it there is and where it's coming from.
Twilight at Easter by Jared Diamond. (mefilter thread)
Richard Feynman : The Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures
According to National Statistics figures, the answer is "not much". Since the mid-1970s, the rate of teenage pregnancies has not substantially changed. By international standards, Britain's rate remains worryingly high.

Those who wish to play devil's advocate might argue that nothing has changed because teenagers haven't been paying the slightest bit of notice to advice from well-meaning adults.

Friday 12
Looks like a nice place to live.
Looks like a Star Trek set.
Looks tiny.
Looks nasty.
Wearing a tight black costume out of "The Matrix," with pumped-up cleavage, then later turning up in a pink bra and frilly panties, among other outfits, Spears and her flock of dancers gyrated in typical synchronized moves, the women sometimes looking like sci-fi apocalypse hookers and the men at one point shirtless in just suspenders and wearing bellhop caps to keep with the hotel theme, even pushing the girls around the stage on luggage carts.
That's a sentence.
Kerry responded, informally and off camera: "Let me tell you, we've just begun to fight. We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen."

On Thursday, Kerry said he's not sorry for his comments.

"I have no intention whatsoever to apologize for my remarks," Kerry said Thursday in front of a group of Democratic senators he just met with. "I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country."
Bush-Cheney campaign chairman Marc Racicot had called on Kerry to apologize.

"Senator Kerry's statement today in Illinois was unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, and tonight we call on Senator Kerry to apologize to the American people for this negative attack," Racicot said in a statement. "On the day that Senator Kerry emerged as his party's presumptive nominee, the president called to congratulate him. That goodwill gesture has been met by attacks and false statements."
"To call people liars and crooks when you're off mike just shows who the real person is," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas. "I think America got a glimpse of the real John Kerry."
crooked- 1: not straight 2 : DISHONEST (i.e. NOT crooks) (magpie wrote about this too)
"Republicans might be heathens and out to destroy all that we hold dear, but that doesn't mean we need to take them seriously. Or be bitter or vituperative just because they are swine. I think one can still have friends who are Republicans."-Garrison Keillor
He's a beloved American figure, yes, a cultural icon, the Will Rogers-no, the Mark Twain!-of our time, a voice of reason, enlightenment, and gentle humor, piped into our homes at least weekly by our Good Mother, National Public Radio. He is, as his soulmate Garry Trudeau has been reminding us lately in Doonesbury, a "national treasure." But has anyone bothered to notice that he is also a horrid left-liberal scold, dripping with contempt for nearly everything Middle American, so eaten by hatred of anything like conservatism and Republicanism that he threatens at any moment to seek exile in Denmark? (Oh, excuse me: He already did that, in the Reagan years.)

He, of course, is Garrison Keillor, the writer and host of A Prairie Home Companion who has grown rich and famous off ridiculing his fellow Minnesotans for the benefit of smirking elites everywhere. Weirdly enough, he is often hailed as the voice-or at least the chronicler-of Everyman, when instead he is a kind of anti-Everyman, a combination of H. L. Mencken and Hillary Rodham Clinton, hammering at the "booboisie" and flaunting what he takes to be his superior education and morals.
We’re engaged in a terrorist conflict that will no doubt prove to be the longest and nastiest war in our country’s history. Which means we can’t tolerate slack such as: Three National Guard combat brigades being deployed to Iraq that aren’t good-to-go; our deploying warriors still being sent to the killing fields without sufficient armored vests and vehicles; and the outrageously high number of active-duty and reserve-component troops who aren’t deployable but are being paid to soldier anyway.

All of the above – all fixable – can be blamed on bad leadership. There are just too many Perfumed Princes sporting stars who are politicians, lobbyists and salesmen rather than soldiers. Abe Lincoln went through a squad of such spoilers before he found a U.S. Grant. Today, he’d probably have to sort through at least a battalion of the top brass to find one Ulysses.
...the broader reason why mainstream society has become more disposed to immerse itself in fantasy is because of a general cultural stagnation that exists today. At a time when we feel less certain of our ability to impact on the world around us, we tend to retreat into fantasy worlds instead. One consequence of this is that we are increasingly more comfortable contemplating the ins and outs of life in Tolkien's Middle-Earth, than we are confronting the ins and outs of life on Earth proper. As Hollywood serves up ever more lavish fantasy spectacles for us to marvel at, the society that lies outside of the cinema and the comic shop stagnates.
I call BS. The movies have always served up fantasy and just because the latest trend is to mine comics and pulp sci-fi writers it doesn't reflect on society as a whole. It is a direct result of good looking and inexpensive special effects.
This is a state of affairs that not only speaks ill of society, but actually demeans science fiction and fantasy as well, by putting them in the impossible position of having to provide us with the answers to life, the universe and everything. Fiction in these genres can be a terrific tool for exploring ideas, but it cannot satisfy the human urge to find meaning in life and to aspire to a better world. That can only come through confronting the questions that we face in the here and now.

If the geek shall inherit the Earth, then the Earth shall be the poorer for it. Both society as a whole, and science fiction/fantasy, would benefit if the latter were put back in its proper place - that is, as a satisfying diversion, rather than as life's raison d'être.
What? Most movies have "answers to life" stuffed inside. There's just as much of this crap in Shallow Hal (it's the inside that counts) and Pay it Forward (invest in caring) as in A.I. (Women love androids) or Independence Day (be kind to hackers because they will save the world by uploading a virus to the alien's mothership).

Some go hikikomori and some go get a hicky. Sandy, if your inner geek guides you to shut out the world, that's your problem. It has nothing to do with society enjoying a good movie.
We head up 18th, up Mass. Ave. to Dupont Circle, down 19th. Greene doesn't do much sightseeing -- he's trying to explain that the past is as real as the present.

"I don't think that the past is gone. I think the past feels gone," Greene says. "There you were at a party, New Year's Eve, you were experiencing that moment. I would say you are still experiencing that moment."

Greene isn't just saying that somewhere on some distant place in the universe, an astronomer can see the light finally arriving from some event in our past. That's not controversial. That's simply speed-of-light stuff. When we see the Andromeda galaxy, we're looking about 2 million years into the past, because it takes that long for the light to reach us across the enormous distances of space.

Greene's point is more radical: That there is no such thing as "now." That just as there is no center of the universe, there is no location in the "loaf" of spacetime that's more special than any other . This is an implication of Einstein's theory of relativity (his "special" theory, if you can stand the irony).

"This is really a question of what's real. You're saying what's real to me is 'now' " -- the former judo competitor is hacking at the air in a fashion that might alarm other pedestrians -- "but she" -- a woman walking by -- "would slice through the spacetime continuum at a different angle."

Tuesday 9
Job growth in February is reported as 21,000. We need about 150,000 a month to keep up with typical labor force growth. Note also that growth in government was also 21,000. So there was zero growth in the private sector, blessed beneficiary of the glorious Bush tax cuts.

Ya want household data. Here's yer household data. Job growth according to the household survey is down 265,000 in February. So what about the unemployment rate? Not to worry, there is no change, since the civilian labor force shrunk by 392,000. It's morning in America, only we've woken up with a huge hangover. Where's the Bloody Mary mix?

Others have noted that Dick Cheney seems to have endorsed John Kerry:

"If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had . . . "
"Assuming that the American work force can upgrade skills and, where necessary, move to new jobs, according to many economists, most people are likely to benefit. And so far, these economists argue, the effect of offshore outsourcing on American jobs and wages in general has not been great.
HA HA HA HA HA !!!! An article about engineers and programmers with Masters degrees not being able to find work. But to get jobs they need to "upgrade their skills." And "move to new jobs."
Dish Network drops Viacom, which sucks for me. I lose the comedy channel and have to get CBS via antenna now.

Monday 8
As one of 12 siblings taught at home by their parents in St. Croix Falls, Wis., Abram Olmstead knew he would fit right in at Patrick Henry College, the first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers. But what really sold him was the school's pipeline into conservative politics.

Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president's re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school's records.
Capping a 17-year effort by a small but committed group of activists, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to let a South Carolina physician treat 12 trauma victims with the illegal street drug ecstasy in what will be the first U.S.-approved study of the recreational drug's therapeutic potential.

The DEA's move marks a historic turn for a drug that has long been both venerated and vilified.

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is popular among casual drug users for its reputed capacity to engender feelings of love, trust and compassion. The government classifies it with LSD and heroin as a drug with no known medical use and high potential for abuse.

Although the study's approval is by no means a federal endorsement of uncontrolled use, it will give ecstasy's proponents their first legitimate opportunity to prove the drug can offer medical benefits.

"MDMA opens the doorway for people to feel deep feelings of love and empathy, which is the core of being human," said Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Sarasota, Fla., the nonprofit research and educational organization funding the trauma study. "We should be looking at that and learning from that."

As a result of the DEA action, sometime in the next few weeks the study's first participant -- still to be selected -- will check in for an overnight stay at an outpatient counseling center in the Charleston area. (Investigators have asked that the location not be precisely identified). He or she will take 125 milligrams of 99.87 percent pure 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine -- probably the highest quality MDMA on Earth -- synthesized by a Purdue University chemist.

Michael Mithoefer, the Charleston psychiatrist who will lead the research, emphasized that ecstasy is by no means a benign drug. Indeed, he said, on occasion it has proved deadly at all-night dance parties, or raves, where it is often consumed.

"The fact that we have good evidence that we can use MDMA safely in a controlled setting does not mean it is safe to take ecstasy at a rave," Mithoefer said.
Marcela Ot'alora, who in 1984 -- before ecstasy's use was criminalized -- took it under a therapist's supervision to help her deal with the aftereffects of being raped, lauded the Charleston study's approval.

For years, she had been unable to wait in lines or stand with her back to crowds because of a fear of being attacked, said Ot'alora, who today is a therapist in a western state that she asked not be revealed.

Ecstasy had a profound effect, she said: "I think for the first time in my life I was able to have compassion for myself, and also felt I was strong enough to face something that was frightening without falling apart.
The official definition for technosexual is "a dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle and gadgets; a straight man who is in touch with his feminine side but has fondness for electronics such as cell phones, PDAs, computers, software, and the web." Many of the geeks I know and adore are far from dandyish and hardly narcissistic.
"When you consider Europe as a whole, it was by far the hottest," said Juerg Luterbacher of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

According to the study, published by this week's Science magazine, European winters are also getting warmer.

Average winter and annual temperatures during the past three decades were the warmest for 500 years, it says.

Mr Luterbacher and his team collected data from all over Europe to analyse the continent's temperature history.
"I thought it would be great to support global warming," a demonstrator who would give his name only as Seymour Benjamins said. "You can see how white I am, and global warming gives better tans."
A woman claimed she was having group sex with 30 men in Nimbin, NSW, and could not get to a polling booth in Queensland on time to vote. That is the all-time best excuse, according to electoral commissioner Bob Longland. Hundreds of people have already contacted the Electoral Commission of Queensland offering reasons for their no-show as 2.2 million others voted in the February 7 state poll. "You could have walked across Moreton Bay for all the broken-down fishing boats," Mr Longland said. The most common excuse was illness, closely followed by cars, boats and planes with kaput engines. Of the 200,000 letters that will be sent to non-voters in May, about 25,000 people end up paying the $37.50 fine because they do not have a legitimate reason.
The case of Jane Fonda reveals the double standards and hypocrisies afflicting our memories. In Tour of Duty, the Kerry historian Douglas Brinkley describes the 1971 winter soldier investigation, which Fonda supported and Kerry attended, where Vietnam veterans spilled their guts about "killing gooks for sport, sadistically torturing captured VC by cutting off ears and heads, raping women and burning villages." Brinkley then recounts how Kerry later told Meet the Press that "I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others," specifically taking responsibility for shooting in free-fire zones, search-and-destroy missions, and burning villages. Brinkley describes these testimonies in tepid and judicious terms, calling them "quite unsettling." By contrast, Brinkley condemns Fonda's 1972 visit to Hanoi as "unconscionable," without feeling any need for further explanation.

Why should American atrocities be merely unsettling, but a trip to Hanoi unconscionable?
In Colombia cultivation is spreading from Putumayo to nearby provinces and regions that have previously been free of coca, including Colombia's highly biodiverse national parks, which the State Department has already targeted for spraying this year, according to both LAWG and a second report released Thursday by EarthJustice and AIDA.

"The US aerial spraying policy is spiraling out of control," says Anna Cederstav of AIDA. "Now the State Department wants to spray in Colombia's national parks!"

In the absence of either short-term food aid or long-term alternative development assistance, the spraying has caused considerable hardship for small farmers and their families, who have seen their food crops destroyed alongside coca plants.
Marines arriving in Iraq this month as part of a massive troop rotation will bring with them a high-tech weapon never before used in combat — or in peacekeeping. The device is a powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that can deliver recorded warnings in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing tone so excruciating to humans, its boosters say, that it causes crowds to disperse, clears buildings and repels intruders.

"[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on their knees."

American Technology says its new product "is designed to determine intent, change behavior and support various rules of engagement." The company is careful in its public relations not to refer to the megaphone as a weapon, or to dwell on the debilitating pain American forces will be able to deliver with it. The military has been equally reticent on the subject.

Saturday 6
The Republican National Committee on Friday asked about 250 television stations to pull a liberal group's ads critical of President Bush.

The RNC sent the stations a letter Friday suggesting the outlets may be complicit in breaking campaign finance laws if they air the MoveOn.org Voter Fund ads. It asked them to decline to broadcast the ads.

The RNC argues that the group, financed by so-called "soft money," is spending it on ads to influence a federal election. The campaign finance law broadly bars the use of such corporate, union and unlimited donations to influence federal elections.
One symptom of the fundamental unseriousness of the Bushies is that they never, ever admit they are wrong. Nor do they pay penalties for being wrong. What do you have to do to get fired in that outfit? They canned Paul O'Neill for telling the truth -- that seems to be fatal. On the other hand, when CIA Director George Tenet said intelligence "analysts never said there was an imminent threat" from Iraq, he wasn't cashiered -- they just pretended they didn't hear him. It is already a truism that this will be an event-driven election, and the spiraling chaos in Haiti and the horrendous coordinated bombings in Iraq remind us that it is good to have grown-ups in charge when serious things happen.
Here is the full text of Tony Blair's speech spelling out the terror threat facing the UK and defending the Iraq war.
The city is a game board, where every story, every piece stands on its own, but is part of an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Both public physical spaces and private interior spaces contain traces of fragmentary personal [hi]stories tied together by an invisible network of media. How people inhabit the hidden 'image spaces', discovered by a wireless surveillance camera scanner, while at the same time inhabiting physical outdoor spaces, is revealed through the practice of walking.

Dressed up like a bag lady and carrying an antenna made out of a soup can, I push a shopping cart full of televisions along a designated route in the city.
"The Passions of the Christ," a documentary by Mel Gibson on the life of Jesus Christ, is currently the number one movie in the civilized world. The movie has garnered near universal praise for its accurate depiction of the life and struggles of Jesus, an olden day muckraker turned messiah. However, the movie has not been without criticism, largely due to its extensive use of product placement, which many people feel undermines the authenticity of the movie and cheapens the sacrifice of Jesus. To find out if the line was indeed crossed, the Something Awful Forum Goons went to the trouble of illegally videotaping the movie and then posting screenshots. Please take a look at their work and judge for yourself, as Jesus surely would if he was here.
Interface with Dominique
Scientists banter endlessly these days about The Mysterious Vacuum. Like aliens in a crackpot conspiracy theory, the vacuum seems to be connected to everything: dark energy, dark matter, the anthropic principle, parallel universes (or multiverses), the theory of everything, black holes, extra dimensions, gravitational waves, you name it. Everything is connected to Nothing is connected to Everything. The surreal wordplay of confusing jargon makes you wonder: Is there any There there?
Called the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton, or BLEEX, it is part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency venture designed to help foot soldiers carry heavier loads over even longer distances, by connecting robotic supports to their legs to reduce the load.
The glass and marble shopping malls of this cosmopolitan and comparatively laid-back Saudi city on the Red Sea have long served as a meeting place for Saudi boys and girls, who slip each other bits of paper with their names and mobile-phone numbers scribbled on them. After chatting by phone, some boys and girls meet up again in the family sections of the malls' many Western-style restaurants, where mingling of the sexes is allowed.

In recent months, however, Jeddah's malls have become meeting places for another group: homosexuals. Gay Saudi men now cruise certain malls and supermarkets, openly making passes at each other, and one street in Jeddah is said to have the most traffic accidents in the city because it is the most popular place for Saudi drivers to pick up gay Filipinos, who strut their stuff on the sidewalk in tight jeans and cut-off t-shirts. (Filipinos are one of the larger groups of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.) Meanwhile, gay and lesbian discos, gay-friendly coffee shops, and even gayoriented Internet chat rooms are now flourishing in some Saudi cities; in the chat rooms, gay and lesbian Saudis discuss the best places to meet people for one-night stands. "We talk about places that aren't gay cruising areas, because they're now in the minority," says one young gay Saudi, only half-jokingly.
And then, in a moment so memorable and iconic that every true Powers fan has imagined it many times in her or his mind's eye -- he inspires just that sort of cultish worship -- Powers paused in front of a 1914 photograph by August Sander, titled "Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance."

Had a Richter scale been nearby, handily wired to Powers' soul, the machinery would've shattered from the sheer force of the blow. Calling Sander's work "the birth photograph of the 20th Century," as he did in an earlier interview, Powers realized that his eclectic reading and all-over-the-place thinking had suddenly coalesced into the powerful, overwhelming need to describe that image and its aftermath: the modern world.

It was as if the farmers -- spiffed up for their night on the town -- were glancing casually at the century's last minutes of innocence. Powers' present-day narrator finds himself drawn to the photo; the story of his efforts to track down its origin is interspersed with the farmers' lives -- imagined by Powers -- as those lives are hurled into the dark decades lying in wait for them.

Friday 5
Stern's political conversion came on Monday, Feb. 23, when he returned to the show after a week's vacation and announced he'd read Al Franken's anti-Bush book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." That morning Stern, who had strongly backed Bush during the war on Iraq, told listeners, "If you read this book, you will never vote for George W. Bush. I think this guy is a religious fanatic and a Jesus freak, and he is just hell-bent on getting some sort of bizzaro agenda through -- like a country-club agenda -- so that his father will finally be proud of him ... I don't know much about Kerry, but I think I'm one of those 'Anybody but Bush' guys now. I don't think G.W. is going to win. What do you think about that?"

Three days later, on the morning of Feb. 26, Stern was suspended from all six Clear Channel stations that aired his wake-up program. Company executives pointed to the Tuesday show as the reason for the suspension. During that program Stern interviewed Rick Solomon, who had starred in a sex tape with Paris Hilton. The conversation was graphic (Stern: "I can't believe you banged her. Did you get anal?"), and one caller used a racial slur that was broadcast. But Stern's shows are filled with such language and have been for years.
But Stern is not the first critic of Bush or the war to clash with Clear Channel. Roxanne Walker was against the war and was fired by Clear Channel. Charles Goyette wrote about his experience:
Clear Channel made it clear—“With you, I feel like I’m managing the Dixie Chicks,” said my program director—that they would have liked to fire me anyway. While a well-drafted contract made that difficult, it did not prevent them from tucking me away outside prime time.

So I’m a talk-show war casualty. My contract expires in a few more months and—my iconoclasm being noted—it is not likely it will be renewed. Among the survivors at my station: one host who wanted to nuke Afghanistan (he bills himself as “your voice of reason and moderation”) and another who upon learning that 23-year-old Mideast peace activist Rachel Corrie had been run over by an Israeli bulldozer shouted, “Back up and run over her again!”
"F" word on radio is still bad.
Cartoonist Ted Rall gets booted from NYTimes.
The world's second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned on Wednesday that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threatened to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its own making.
Wait a sec. I thought the libertarian argument was that saving the environment was too costly.
The Bush/Cheney administration is proposing to increase production of methyl bromide, an ozone-destroying and cancer-causing pesticide set to be phased out under a successful 170-nation treaty to protect the Earth's ozone layer, which protects us from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation.

The treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol, was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and has enjoyed the support of every U.S. president since then. But some pesticide, chemical and corporate agribusiness firms are trying to weaken it.

"This is the first time any country has tried to reverse the phase-out and increase production of an ozone-destroying chemical that is supposed to be eliminated," said David Doniger, Climate Center policy director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "The Bush administration is putting Americans' health at risk by catering to big chemical and agribusiness companies."
Under the guise of forest fire prevention, the Bush Administration's Forest Service has proposed logging in California's Sequoia National Monument, home to some of the world's tallest and oldest trees, reaching ages of 3,200 years or more.[1] Also at risk are the Pacific fisher, the California spotted owl, and many other threatened species dependent on ancient forest habitat.[2]
Europe's summer heat wave left elderly city dwellers struggling to survive in their ovenlike apartments—and farmers desperate to save their wilting fields. Day after day for weeks on end, temperatures in France, England, and Spain soared more than 20 Fahrenheit degrees above average, creating severe drought conditions that devastated crops. World grain harvests plummeted by 32 million tons, with the worst shortfalls concentrated in a region stretching from the United Kingdom to Ukraine. The heat wave is over, but it left researchers wondering whether the searing summer was an anomaly or an indication that global warming has started to wreak economic havoc.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D. C., sees this year's string of dog days as part of a climate trend that could lead to higher world food prices within the next couple of decades. "We now have four consecutive global harvests that have fallen short of annual grain consumption," he says. "The current generation of farmers is facing both widespread aquifer depletion and extremely high temperatures, and this is putting the world in a difficult situation unlike any we've faced before."
On April 25, 2002, shortly after the short-lived coup which ousted President Hugo Chavez, the New York Times ran an article entitled, "U.S. Bankrolling Is Under Scrutiny for Ties to Chavez Ouster." In this article, which detailed numerous grants given by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to various pro-coup groups in Venezuela prior to the coup, Times writer Christopher Marquis wrote: "[o]f particular concern is $154,377 given by the endowment to the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the international arm of the AFL-CIO, to assist the main Venezuelan labor union in advancing labor rights." As the Times noted, "The Venezuelan union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, led the work stoppages that galvanized the opposition to Mr. Chavez. The union's leader, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the businessman who briefly took over from Mr. Chavez, in challenging the government."
I usually teach English, but for a few years I was teaching history as well. I was accused of demanding "college-level" work from high school students. Parents across the board complained that I expected too much. I'm not sure which component of my program caused this perception. The open-book tests? The detailed study guides students received a week before the tests, study guides which listed every possible test question? I even let the students take notes based on the study guides and use these notes on the tests.

Don't tell me that's a college-level expectation. Still, over 75% of the students would fail every test - and they were multiple choice tests in which all questions were simple recall items. I was trying my best to make the program as easy as possible. I didn't want to fail most of the students. I learned, though, that the only way to avoid marking massive numbers of F's on report cards was to expect absolutely nothing at all of the students. I couldn't in good conscience do that.
There also are opportunities to curb pollution of the global atmosphere while establishing a commons trust fund. A new “Sky Trust” proposal is gaining momentum to require companies to bid at auction for the right to release their carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The money would then be placed into a Sky Trust owned by all citizens. Under this scheme, companies would have financial incentives to reduce their pollution, and the public would reap dividends from the Sky Trust that could be used for public purposes or rebated to individual citizens as dividends, in the style of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Gay and lesbian couples stood in a cold rain outside the brick Multnomah County administration building clutching flowers and umbrellas, their faces beaming—despite the weather, despite the protesters shouting, “You are an abomination before God.” Men sported fabulous glasses, tuxedos, pinstriped pants, with pink boutonnieres pinned to crisp blazers. Women sported flashy pantsuits, baby snugglies, matching red raincoats. Supporters with picnic baskets plied the line with food and coffee to make the wait easier. Commuters honked to signal their support as they drove by.
Another species has been added to the family tree of early human ancestors — and to controversies over how straight or tangled were the branches of that tree.

Long before Homo erectus, Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy, more than three million years ago) and several other distant kin, scientists are reporting today, there lived a primitive hominid species in what is now Ethiopia about 5.5 million to 5.8 million years ago.

That would make the newly recognizied species one of the earliest known human ancestors, perhaps one of the first to emerge after the chimpanzee and human lineages diverged from a common ancestor some six million to eight million years ago.
Two arguments in the anti-evolution lunatic line (once again) fall in one article.

Wednesday 3
Edwards backs out of the race. [metafiler thread]
Threre are many who might vote for Kerry but who would never include themselves among his 'supporters.' If those preaching so loudly about getting rid of Bush would quiet down for a minute, they might discover that the best way to achieve their end might be to hand out airplane barf bags with the inscription, "Vote for Kerry."
-Sam Smith
A report from U.N. weapons inspectors to be released today says they now believe there were no weapons of mass destruction of any significance in Iraq after 1994, according to two U.N. diplomats who have seen the document.

The historical review of inspections in Iraq is the first outside study to confirm the recent conclusion by David Kay, the former U.S. chief inspector, that Iraq had no banned weapons before last year's U.S-led invasion. It also goes further than prewar U.N. reports, which said no weapons had been found but noted that Iraq had not fully accounted for weapons it was known to have had at the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
Should we wait till the Election or impeach Bush now?
More than 140 people have been killed in blasts targeting Iraqi Shias as they celebrated the climax of a holy ritual in the cities of Karbala and Baghdad.

US military officials say 400 were hurt in the near-simultaneous attacks of the bloodiest day since the war began.
Lawrence Lessig lost a battle on copyright extension, but it's not over yet.
After 2000 years, He's ready to cast the first stone...
The idiot's article is about how gay marriages are spreading out like kudzu. Dennis Prager is not worth debating, since he slipped into insanity a long time ago. He's not even capable of offering anything new to the debate.
"I think since we have a state law, I think those issues should be left to the state," Schwarzenegger said. "So I have no use for a constitutional amendment or change in that at all."
DM: Gay characters in books don't raise eyebrows nowadays, but you wrote such characters in the seventies. Why?

[Joe Haldeman]: Well, it's an interesting thing. I was at Iowa. Iowa City is a very progressive sort of place. It was the center for gay consciousness in the Midwest. I had gay friends and students, and it was important at the time. I suppose it was a little bit daring at time; it was very daring in science fiction. So I had gay characters in The Forever War (1975). That was for a specific purpose. It wasn't about homosexuality. It was about being isolated. I had my character being the only straight in a universe of gays just to show what's "queer" is being different from everybody; there's not a universal set of things that makes one person queer and one person not queer.

Robert Silverberg brought out this collection of stories based on classics of science fiction, and he asked me to do a story based on The Forever War. I did a story called "A Separate War." I took the main character's girlfriend and put her in the same universe, that is to say everybody is homosexual except for her. And she has the opposite reaction to his. She says "well, if that's the way it is, then that's the way it is" and she gets a girlfriend. She fits in, whereas the main character [Mandella] couldn't even think of it. And he mirrored my own sentiments which were, everybody should be free to do what they want, but I couldn't see it at all. But by that time, [1975, the writing of the novel] I'd known too many people who were not just gay, but transsexual or people who just dress up, [not] to see that it's just behavior. I can't draw any moral lines. Deep in your heart you know what you are, and as much as I love these guys, they were my closest friends, I just couldn't get into the notion of having sex with a man.
Last week Mr. Greenspan warned of the dangers posed by budget deficits. But even though the main cause of deficits is plunging revenue — the federal government's tax take is now at its lowest level as a share of the economy since 1950 — he opposes any effort to restore recent revenue losses. Instead, he supports the Bush administration's plan to make its tax cuts permanent, and calls for cuts in Social Security benefits.

Yet three years ago Mr. Greenspan urged Congress to cut taxes, warning that otherwise the federal government would run excessive surpluses. He assured Congress that those tax cuts would not endanger future Social Security benefits. And last year he declined to stand in the way of another round of deficit-creating tax cuts.

But wait — it gets worse.
Seniors, unite against Alan and George!
Dr. James Garvin, lead scientist for Mars and lunar exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, said, "NASA launched the Mars Exploration Rover mission specifically to check whether at least one part of Mars ever had a persistently wet environment that could possibly have been hospitable to life. Today we have strong evidence for an exciting answer: Yes."
Star-struck teens are generally emotionally well-adjusted and popular, with their celebrity interests forming a healthy part of adolescent development and bonding, say psychologists from the Universities of Leicester and Coventry.
If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had.
That was Dick Cheney today on how much worse things would have been if the Democrats had been in instead of Bush.

Now, where to start on this?

First of all Cheney seems to be caught in some sort of weird mental causality loop since what Kerry and Edwards support is a repeal of the 2001 Bush tax cuts (or most of them). So if their policies had been pursued over the last three years that means that the cuts simply never would have happpened at all, not that there would have been big tax increases.

Monday 1
Matthew in 10:34 quotes Jesus uncharacteristically telling his apostles: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." You don't see that on Christmas cards and it's not in this film, but those words can be reinterpreted — read today to mean that inner peace comes only after moral struggle.
Safire's suggestion on interpretation applies to Luke 22:35-38 too. It is also nothing new. Erasmus (1466-1536) said nearly the same thing in his own roundabout fashion within The Praise of folly. I quoted the section a while ago. Here's a part of that:
And now when the sum of all that Christ taught pressed only meekness, suffering, and contempt of life, who does not clearly perceive what he means in this place? to wit, that he might the more disarm his ministers, that neglecting not only shoes and scrip but throwing away their very coat, they might, being in a manner naked, the more readily and with less hindrance take in hand the work of the Gospel, and provide themselves of nothing but a sword, not such as thieves and murderers go up and down with, but the sword of the spirit that pierces the most inward parts, and so cuts off as it were at one blow all earthly affections, that they mind nothing but their duty to God.
It's important to scan the Reader's Digest interview with Mel Gibson. He was questioned by Peggy Noonan, who was almost as simperingly lenient in print as Diane Sawyer was on the small screen. Noonan asked him a question that he must have known was coming, and which he must have prepared for, and she asked him in effect to "make nice" and agree that the Holocaust actually had occurred. His answer was, to all effects and purposes, a cold and flat "no." A lot of people, he agreed, had died in the last war. No doubt many Jews were among the casualties. It's one of the most frigid and shrugging things I have ever read. You would not know from this response that the war was begun by a fascist ruling party that believed in a Jewish world conspiracy, and thus that all of those killed were in part victims of anti-Semitism. (Some of the more tribal ADL advocates might also bear this in mind.)

But then, you were not brought up by Mel Gibson's father, who has repeatedly and recently stated that there was a population explosion among European Jews in the years 1933-1945 and that the Holocaust story is mainly "fiction." Young Gibson, when asked about this by Diane Sawyer, told her not to press him (which she obediently did not). But when asked by Noonan, he replied by saying that "My father has never told me a lie." It's not fair to expect Mel to trash his father. But he could have said that the old man was a fine daddy, albeit with a few odd ideas of his own. It was his very decided choice, however, to say that his male parent was an unvarying truth-teller. Why pick on that formulation? It's unlikely that Gibson Sr. has made a secret of his viciously anti-Jewish views when talking to his son, who shares with him a fanatical attachment to the Latin Mass and a deep hostility to the "liberalism" of the present pope.
Maggie Gallagher over at the National Review is having problems with simple logic over civil unions.
...religious organizations will be forced to either treat same-sex unions as marriages or get out of the public square.
Religious organizations are private, not public. They have never had anything to do with civil unions nor will they ever be required to.
It will be open season on the Catholic Church and other religious groups and organizations that sustain a different vision of human sexual ethics. Hate-speech codes, yanking of broadcasting licenses, and termination of the tax-exempt status of traditional organizations — just a few of the legal threats looming. Far-fetched?
Completely! There is no slippery slope. The Constitution bars the government from dictating what Churches teach. She's lost all sense of reason on this.
Making fun of the fundies is easy as opening up Leviticus.
Making fun of the fundies is easy as making up a 12 item list.
I have previously written about so-called 'mirror neurons' discovered in othe primates and presumably active in humans as well, which activate brain regions mirroring the activity in another individual we are watching. This is more confirmation of what I suspect is a neurological basis for empathy. This New Scientist article states that humans are the only creatures capable of empathy, which has most likely been strongly selected for, given the adaptive advantages that would be provided by such a direct indication of the feelings or intentions of another with whom we are interacting. By extension, this is one of the foundations for social life. I doubt, both on the basis of the 'mirror neuron' evidence and the social organization of primate life, that we are the only species capable of empathy in this sense
"Little tiny nerve fibers, the smallest of the nerve fibers, that are supposed to record pain, send that signal to the brain, so you can interpret what it is. Those fibers are not working," Smith says.

So often we think of pain in a negative way. But it is pain, that protects us.

Because Gabby feels no pain, she no longer has any teeth.

"Didn't hurt her at all getting a tooth ripped out," Steve Gingras says.

The teeth she didn't break off while biting toys were removed by an oral surgeon after Gabby chewed up her mouth and tongue so badly she had to be hospitalized.
In the wee hours of March 1, US Marines landed in Haiti hours after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide reportedly succumbed to demands from an armed opposition movement that he step down and go into exile – although persistent rumors on the ground maintain he was actually arrested by US forces. As rebel troops entered the capital Port-au-Prince, the UN Security Council approved a resolution authorizing a multinational force to restore order, and French troops are also on the way.
This Metafilter post links to a photo journalist's weblog and contains links to Haitian history within the thread
It is no simple tale of a corrupt regime collapsing under the weight of popular anger and bad management. A cursory glance at events of the last fourteen years suggests that the fall of the Aristide regime was a foregone conclusion at the entrance of President George W. Bush and the installation of a cabal of appointees with a grim record of utilizing official and covert channels to destabilize uncooperative governments in the Western Hemisphere. What is immediately ominous about the current crisis in Haiti is the likely prospect that leaders of armed groups making a final assault on the capital will play important roles in a post-Aristide order. Such armed groups include the Tontons Macoutes, the gunmen who viciously supervised repression under both father and son Duvaliers' dictatorships until 1986. They also include members of the disbanded Haitian army that held power for three years following the coup against President Aristide in 1991, and the FRAPH death squads that mowed down the ranks of democratic civil society during that period, leaving over 3,000 dead and thousands more in exile.
Mr. Notowidigdo arrived at M.I.T. in 1999, when technological exuberance was in the air and the allure of computing was at its peak. Now, even at elite schools like M.I.T., the number of students choosing to major in computer science is down.

John V. Guttag, head of the university's electrical engineering and computer science department, points to the "worrisome" downward trend. In the current academic year, 229 sophomores selected his department as their major, down from 282 in 2002 and 342 in 2001, a 33 percent decrease in just two years.

Nationally, there is a similar trend. The Computing Research Association's annual survey of more than 200 universities in the United States and Canada found that undergraduate enrollments in computer science and computer engineering programs were down 23 percent this year.
This site: