Friday, January 30, 2004

Eh, so maybe I did die

I'm going to officially call a hiatus. As skippy would say, I've caught Ted Barlow disease.

UPDATE: In the meanwhile, play with this neat toy. Thanks to my grandfather for emailing it to me.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

No, I didn't die

Sorry about the dearth of blogging lately. I've got a delicate computer situation going on at home so I am left with only posting at work. Promise more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Wow. I'm messed up...

Borderline:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

Ooga Booga, and various other crazy person noises.

Via Naked Furniture. Now, if only my health insurance covered therapy!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

You be the Judge is encouraging its readers to rate the State of the Union address. There's a scorecard you can download to rate Dubya's performance. Later, you would enter your results back at Click on the blinkey thing below for more information.

Clicker Here to Download the State of the Union Scorecard
Do not mess with Punk Girls!

Via Eschaton I find this story.

A Democratic rally at Drake's Olmstead Center, urged young Iowans to get out and vote. It was targeted toward high school and college students. A group known for not voting. The rally featured comedian Janene Garafalo and classic rock star Joan Jett, but it got a surprise visit from some unwanted guests.

A group of college republicans at their Midwest caucus leadership conference heard about the rally and stormed in.

... One of the Bush supporters shoved Jett and she pushed back in anger.

Man, I would have paid to see that!

skippy has more...

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Democracy, Whisky, Sharia?

Yes, in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussien, we freed the Iraqi people.

Well, less than half of them anyway.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 15 -- For the past four decades, Iraqi women have enjoyed some of the most modern legal protections in the Muslim world, under a civil code that prohibits marriage below the age of 18, arbitrary divorce and male favoritism in child custody and property inheritance disputes.

Saddam Hussein's dictatorship did not touch those rights. But the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council has voted to wipe them out, ordering in late December that family laws shall be "canceled" and such issues placed under the jurisdiction of strict Islamic legal doctrine known as sharia.

...This week, several moderate council members spoke strongly against the decision in public forums, calling it a threat to both civilized progress and national unity. Nasir Chaderchi, a lawyer and council member who heads the National Democratic Party, criticized the council's action at a professional women's meeting Thursday. "We don't want to be isolated from modern developments," Chaderchi told the gathering of the Iraqi Independent Women's Group. "What hurts most is that the law of the tyrant Saddam was more modern than this new law." He said he hoped women would continue to protest until the order was reversed.

Great. So not only is Iraq showing huge signs of becoming a theocracy once we withdraw, but prominent Iraqi women are actually saying they were better off under Saddam! Not only do I have some doubts as to whether or not we have planted the seeds of Democracy, there's that ever present hearts and minds issue. Sharia is probably going to be implemented, and Iraqi women are saying that at least the tyrant didn't single out women for opression.

Story via Body and Soul.

Friday, January 16, 2004

New Rule

In the spirit of the first new episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher" that I just watched (thank you TiVo), let me present a New Rule.

Politicians are no longer allowed to talk about science.

First there was the president's stupid moonbase idea, but this one really pissed me off.

During this episode's shouting match (side note: What did Bill Maher expect with guests so polarized?) Bill tried to point out that a newspaper article about the high level of pollutants that are found in the food supply of the Innuit people should be read by our famously isolated President. California representative Darrell Issa then commented on the Kyoto Treaty, an attempt to reduce global warming that was famously dumped by President Bush.

Issa: Kyoto is specifically regarding emissions in the air which happen to lead to global warming but are in fact exactly what's polluting the blubber [that the Innuit eat].

Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide, and chloroflorocarbons, AKA CFCs (which also destroy the ozone layer, but that's another issue.) These are gases. G-A-S-E-S. Methane becomes liquid at about 300 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Carbon dioxide and CFCs both turn into a gas unless kept at high pressures. I don't think whale blubber is 300 degrees below zero or highly pressurized. Also, I've never seen blubber myself, but I don't think it's all fizzy with gases.

In fact, the pollutants the article specifically mentions are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are completely man made, DDT, a pesticide, and mercury, one of the deadliest poisons known to man. None of these deadly chemicals are greenhouse gases, and none of them, as far as I could tell from half-assedly scanning the text of the Kyoto Protocol were in danger of being banned by this treaty.

So no, Darrell Issa, these chemicals are not what's polluting the blubber. Taking measures to prevent global warming will in no way make the breastmilk of Innuit mothers contain less PBCs, or their blood less mercury. (Read that article, it's really heartbreaking.)

It may seem like a small mix-up, but it's really indicative of a larger pattern of ignorace. If you can't figure out what's causing the problem in the first place (environmental or otherwise...I think politicians often fail to understand the science of sociology, anthropology, and economics as often as the science of the environment), how are you supposed to fix it. And these people are in charge of fixing problems!

Let me append this by stating that all of the science in this post I got from my own feeble knowledge and some googling. So if any of it is blatantly wrong, please let me know. (Yes, I know it's ironic to say that in a post stating that politicians shouldn't talk about science unless they know what they're talking about...but there you go.)

Because you can't f*cking say that sh*t...

I was reminded of a childhood memory today.

When I was younger, my father used to play in a softball team. One afternoon, after a particularly grueling game in which they lost in the last moments, he came home from the field, threw down his cleats and said "Man, that really sucks!"

To which my mother replied, "Don't f*cking use language like that in front of the kids! I don't want them to pick up that sh*t!"

Now where's the logic in that? Don't ask me. Italian women have tempers.

I believe the conservatives who attacked Margaret Cho for her use of profanity during the Bush in 30 seconds awards ceremony the other night are using the same strange logic. How can you possibly claim that someone is wrong for using profanity in an email that is laced with some of the worst, most racist, disgusting, sexist, lewd, misspelled words I've read in print in awhile? Read here for some examples.

They sound like Ann Coulter! Oh, wait, I get it now.

Margaret Cho's blog is one I have been reading off and on for awhile now. I think after this I'll blogroll it permanently.
Remember Maher Arar?

Jeanne at Body and Soul makes some very good points in this post about Maher Arar.

Who, you may ask? A quick informal poll of my housemates gave me a "Familiar" and a "No Idea" on his name. (Although it gave me hope that the name "Scott Peterson" illicited the same responses.) As his name has gone down the news media memory hole, let me remind you.

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was deported to Syria, a nation known for being torture-friendly, because of a suspected connection with a man named Abdullah Almalki, another Canadian citizen who is still languishing in a Syrian prison.

The huge connection that warranted his deportation by the United States? This other guy, who is allegedly an al-Qaida suspect (although the evidence against him seems to be that he...gasp...travelled to Malaysia) apparently signed Arar's lease as a witness in 1997. Arar needed a person in a pinch, and asked Almalki's brother, who wasn't available and sent Almalki instead.

That's it.

For this Maher Arar is sent to a country where we know he will be tortured. And he is tortured repeatedly. Read this account of his stay.

Charles Manson didn't get this kind of treatment. Hell, to use an example of someone who's not an American citizen, Ferdinand Marcos didn't get this kind of treatment.

Imagine if an American citizen were, say, passing through France on their way back home and something like this happened to them. Do you think their name would have fallen down the memory hole? I suspect there would have been two book deals and a Made-For-TV movie by now.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

And then there were eight...

So Carol Moseley Braun has quit the presidential race and is now endorsing Howard Dean.

CARROLL, Iowa - Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (news - web sites) quit the Democratic presidential race Thursday and endorsed Howard Dean (news - web sites) as the best choice to "renew our country and restore our privacy, our liberty and our economic security."

I must admit I sort of have mixed feelings. While less candidates can only improve the Democrat's chances (an overcrowded field, I think, spreads the supporters too thin,) I am kind of bummed that there's no longer a woman involved. Not that she had much of a chance.

Someday, my sisters, someday...
Go, Spirit!

Forget about Dubya's stupid Martian plans and concentrate on the heartwarming news coming from NASA. The Spirit probe is now happily rolling around on the surface of Mars.

PASADENA, Calif. - The Spirit rover successfully rolled onto Mars early Thursday, placing its six wheels on solid martian ground for the first time since the robot bounced down on the Red Planet nearly two weeks ago.

Engineers and scientists at NASA (news - web sites)'s Jet Propulsion Laboratory cheered loudly after receiving confirmation at 5 a.m. EST that the maneuver was a success.

"Mars now is our sandbox, and we are ready to play and learn," said JPL director Charles Elachi.

Hearing all those scientists babble like happy children is almost enough to make me respect my country again.
The Peace Walk

Everybody check out this here site. It's a cool organization that deserves more press than it's getting.

The Jewish-Muslim Peace Walk.

Go Read!

Monday, January 12, 2004

Okay, I know I screwed something up...

Anyone wanna tell me why on this blog that I am helping someone create, the permalinks don't work and yet the archives are fine? I thought they were kind of the same thing...

I know just enough about web publishing to be dangerous...

*UPDATE* Thanks to C Bryan Lavigne for helping me fix it!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Every child left behind...or...No child left at all

Via Mad Prophet, the best looking Anarcho-Syndicalist on the web (but I do kind of miss the mohawk) I find that 60 Minutes II is doing a report on the “Texas Miracle,” and what a load of crap it was.

All in all, 463 kids left Sharpstown High School that year – for a variety of reasons. The school reported zero dropouts, but dozens of the students did just that. School officials hid that fact by classifying, or coding them as leaving for acceptable reasons: transferring to another school, or returning to their native country.

“That’s how you get to zero dropouts. By assigning codes that say, ‘Well, this student, you know, went to another school. He did this or that.’ And basically, all 463 students disappeared. And the school reported zero dropouts for the year,” says Kimball. “They were not counted as dropouts, so the school had an outstanding record.”

Yet another hint to Democratic Presidential Candidates...this would make a great campaign ad!

Friday, January 09, 2004

Loons on the Moon

So, George Jr. wants to build himself a moon base. This might have been the sort of thing to plan with, say, a record budget surplus. But now that we have a budget deficit so huge that the IMF is actually claiming that it "threatens the financial stability of the global economy," (hint to Democratic candidates...there's a good campaign ad for ya...) I don't think this is a good time to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a moon base. Let's fix Afghanistan, Iraq, and, oh, I don't know, America before we take on the frigging moon!

Not to mention that the United State's lunar exploration has hardly ever been scientific in nature. The first scientist and the last human to walk on the moon were exactly the same person, part of the Apollo 17 mission I believe. The lunar landings of the 1960's were nothing more than Cold War posturing, the scientific findings that came from them just a nice bi-product of one-upmanship with the Soviet Union. If the United States beat the Soviets in the Space Race, then small Southeast Asian nations might be less likely to go Commie. I have no doubt that our new sudden interest in a moon base carries similar intentions.

Also, with the recent Columbia disaster fresh in my memory, and with news that the International Space Station has sprung a leak I don't think that we've got the hardware to do something like this. I can already see accident footage repeated again and again on MSNBC of some horrible lunar decompression or something that kills several promising and brave young scientists.

If that weren't enough to make this sound like a very bad idea, via Counterspin Central I find this excellent article by Gregg Easterbrook which eviscerate Bush's plan. Easterbrook pays particular attention to the idea that a moon base might prove a jumping-off point for a manned mission to Mars.

And a Moon base would not only not be useful to support a Mars mission--it would be an obstacle to a Mars mission. Any weight bound for Mars can far more efficiently depart directly from low-Earth orbit than a first stop at the Moon; a stop at the Moon would require huge expenditures of fuel to land and take off again. The landing, in turn, would accomplish absolutely nothing--any mission components on the Moon would have been sent there from Earth, which means they could have departed directly for Mars from low-Earth orbit at a far lower cost.

In the days to come, any administration official who says that a Moon base could support a Mars mission is revealing himself or herself to be a total science illiterate. When you hear, "A Moon base could support a Mars mission," substitute the words, "I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about." Hint to reporters: If any administration official says "a Moon base could support a Mars mission," quickly ask, "What was the fuel fraction of the Lunar Excursion Module?" The answer is two-thirds. The LEM was what landed on the Moon during Apollo, and rocket propulsion has not changed much since, meaning that any future Mars spacecraft that stops at the Moon will expend two-thirds of its weight merely to land there and take off again. This renders the idea of stopping at the Moon on the way to Mars patent drivel.

Note to Karl Rove: not all Americans are as stupid as you think they are. You can't have your president saying that a moon base would be useful support for a mission to Mars without people who actually know about science noticing that such a base would actually require more fuel and expense.

Happy Now, California?

Movie productions, Hummer dealerships, and smoking bans in bars have all started to crop up in Albuquerque recently. That can only mean one thing. The Governator is on a rampage and Californians are fleeing to New Mexico. (Although they probably are all buying houses in Placitas. Albuquerque is where the plebes live.)

Schwarzenegger did not include any new taxes in his budget plan Friday, but in addition to the cuts, he requested higher state park fees and tuition increases of as much as 40 percent for college students.

...The biggest hits are aimed at the state's Medi-Cal program, which would lose close to $900 million next year under the governor's proposal. The state's program to bring welfare recipients into the work force is also targeted in his plan with a $800 million cut.

I just hope the Frontier doesn't start making lo-cal, lo-carb breakfast burritos.

Remember, new Californian migrants, green chilies and green bell peppers are two different things.
Solidarity, Brother!

Everyone please read this Salon piece (part 1, and part 2) about working in a call center. It's so accurate and depressing that I may just not go to work tomorrow! (But then again, with news like this, maybe I should be grateful for this face-draggingly soul-deadening job.) I myself sympathized with the author's desperation to get fired. Some excerpts:

Here, there were always calls waiting, always telephones buzzing with urgent anger. Customers barely holding in their contempt, scarcely masking their disappointment in the poor quality of necessary human interaction they have just inherited, toll-free.

...The phone does not stop. Problems, catalogs, orders, ringing, ringing, ringing. The phone does not stop. It's easy enough if you're young and this is your first job. It's a way to pay the rent and get some experience, a stepping stone. But if you've got a college degree and talent and the curse of self-awareness, the job scrapes at your soul, call by call, day by day

...This day, I'm near tears. It's self-pity, regret, and just feeling void of any sort of hope. I've been trying to expand my horizons. I have two part-time radio station shifts, and I write music reviews for a local Web site, as well as maintaining my own. I'm hoping a door will open, somewhere in the legitimate business world, where I can get off this treadmill. I don't want to take calls anymore. I'm afraid I'm going to die this way. The phone's "heavy queue" light is blinking. There are 14 calls on hold, waiting for us. For me. There aren't enough of us. Some calls have been on hold for as long as 10 minutes.

In Albuquerque alone there are call centers for AOL, TiVo, Earthlink, MCI, Sprint, T-Mobile, People PC, and Mailstation. Most people I know between the ages of 20-40 either work at, have been fired from, or ran screaming from a call center. These are the kind of jobs my state give huge corporations tax credits for. Companies based in California that give their "real" employees huge, bust style salaries for doing not much of anything can get away with paying us less. We might as well be in actual Mexico.

Meanwhile, at least 3 times a month one of my co-workers or another will burst into tears after being chewed out by some rich, whiny, irate customer. I know several people who have started taking anti-depressant medication since working where I do. Everyone drinks, or smokes weed, or something. And everyone hates this job. We used to take bets as to who we thought was most likely bring a gun to work and kill everyone. After awhile, it was so not funny anymore that we stopped.

Sigh. I think I'm going to watch Fight Club in hopes it will make me feel better.
See, Democrats, more like this!

I've just checked out the finalists for's Bush in 30 Seconds political ad contest, and let me say, they're pretty devistating. The Democratic political canditates should pay attention. Instead of attacking Howard Dean, they should all be doing things like this ad, "Army of One," or this one, "What are we teaching our Children?", which takes one of the memes shouted by Republicans during Bill Clinton's whole Monica situation and turns it into something important and meaningful (and funny).

With political ads like this, again, fighting the real enemy, Karl Rove could be losing sleep at night.

The first Democrat who spends all of his time attacking George W. Bush and not another Democratic canditate gets my respect, and probably my vote.

Unless it's Joe Lieberman.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Shameless link whoring

Wanna hear (read) me bitch about movies for 1500 words? Then click here!