Sunday, December 18, 2005

Light posting

I am leaving for the Obligatory Family Visit soon, so posting will be light to nonexistant for a while. I'm sure you will manage.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season. (Just to irritate Bill O'Reilly.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Welcome back, ILPundit

I was about to remove ILPundit from the sidebar the other day, when I visited his blog and found he had resumed his insightful, yet entertaining, political blogging. Plus, he's fabulous; it even says so right on his blog.

Welcome back.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In defense of marriage

Matt over at It's Matt's World applauds John Bambenek for bringing up the question of same-sex marriage in his latest Daily Illini editorial. John basically says our society needs to have a discussion about what the role of marriage should be in our society. I say we've gone and had that conversation while John was napping. Marriage is about a loving couple coming together and making a life together. The only question that our society is grappling with is about who gets to take part in that institution.

Conservative, including Bambenek, always like to trot out the "gays can't have kids, so they can't get married" argument. Bull. Nothing about heterosexual marriage requires children. Children are a happy consequence of sex and, historically, marriage has been the approved gateway to having sex. Yes, children and marriage have always been closely linked, but marriage has never existed because it provides for "well-adjusted and well-raised children," as John asserts.

A woman can spend about half her life out of her childbearing years. I don't want to hear any more conservatives saying how marriage is only important because chidren can come of it until they also start objecting to post-menopausal women getting married. There is no reproductive reason for a woman "of a certain age" to have sex. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Therefore, insofar that marriage is intended to provide for the healthy upbringing of children, there is zero reason for a woman past about-forty to be able to get married.

Bambenek's column generated several letters to the DI's editor, and he responded to some of them on his own blog (toot!). He again brings up the issue of children when he says

If someone chooses not to have children because of their life circumstances, they can change their mind in one cycle. No amount of mental wrangling will allow for gay couples to produce their own children.

Not only has John just spit in the eye of all the loving adoptive families out there, he's never heard of a sperm bank. All it takes these days for a lesbian to "produce her own children" is an intimate encounter with a turkey baster. There are thousands of gay couples, male and female, out there with their own children. But, for some reason, their lifelong committment to each other doesn't count. The argument goes: they're not really a "family" so they shouldn't be allowed to get married.

My roomate from my freshman year and his wife are in the process of adopting a baby from Guatamala. I'm not sure why, and I wouldn't dream of asking. There may be fertility issues; they may just be incredibly generous people. I just don't understand why they count as a family, but Matt and his husband don't.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mmmm, sacrelicious...

Best. Slashdot. Post. Ever.

If you don't think that what is in the Bible is literal, you CAN'T be a Christian.

So when Christ said "I am the door" (John 10:9), do you suppose he had hinges and a doorknob?

This response is a close runner-up.

When I read your comment, I imagined a female voice (such as that in your car) saying "Your Christ is ajar".

Friday, December 09, 2005

Edumacation in Kansas

Go read the new Kansas Teacher's Guide for Intellegent Design. Put out by the Kansas State Board of Edukation.

UPDATE: The Squire has posted his response to his current pet creationist. It's worth a read. I'm not sure I've ever seen as good a bitch-slap in letter form before. Plus, he quotes me, apparently under the impression I know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Now here's some intellegent design

Science vs. Norse Mythology, on Creation

Clearly, we need to start teaching the controversy. Give elementary school students all the information and let them decide for themselves.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So I know this guy...

Yes, I know, a lot of confessions start out with "I have this friend...", but that's not what this is about. I really do know this guy. Not all that well, we've only met once, but have corresponded online for a few years now. We initially met in the gay.com chatrooms, and he seemed like a nice enough guy that, for a while, I was trying to decide if the three-hour drive that separated us was too big an impediment to dating. He's now in his first year at a seminary in Chicago studying to become a Catholic priest. So much for that fantasy.

The Vatican released a new document this week about the ordination of gay priests. (Matt also has some comments on it.) The document has apparently been in preparation for years, and came to light during the child molestation scandal. If you want, you can read the entire document here. This is the money quote (emphasis mine):

...the Church... may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

The "practice homosexuality" bit I get. Sexually active gay men in the priesthood are verboten. Check. That makes (some sort of) sense. Sexually active straight men in the priesthood are also not allowed. Of course, you will never hear of the Vatican putting out a policy document saying that men who "practice heterosexuality" should not be ordained.

The second bit, the part about the "deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies" is the part that pretty much says gay people can't be priests anymore. Notice that they've left quite a lot of wiggle-room with the terms "deeply-rooted" and "tendencies." As in, "Oh, he's not really homosexual, he just has homosexual tendencies." That's very odd wording. It does fit with the Church's stance that gay people are really just broken straight people that have been contaminated with evil homosexual cooties. I wonder if we will start to see a Catholic increase in the rise of the loathsome "ex-gay" movement. That has pretty much been a fundamentalist, evangelical, Prostestant phenomenon until now.

The third part in the proscription above is just so unnecessary. The "so-called gay culture"? I'm not even sure what that means. Does this mean no shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch? No more Lifetime television? Is it five Hail Mary's for humming a showtune? Oh, you have to just love the snide "so-called" modifider on that phrase. Sure, no more tweaked-out circuit queens in the seminary, but something tells me they weren't exactly lining up in tonsures and hairshirts in the first place.

I was chatting with my proto-priest friend online this evening. From what he's described, it sounds like this instruction from on high is basically being ignored by the American clergy. J. is still openly (ex?) gay and still in the seminary. So it doesn't look like "deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies" are enough to stop you from becoming a priest.

The reason for this new document is obvious. Since the dawn of the Catholic Church's child-raping scandal, they have been trying to blame it on the presence of gays in the priesthood. The Church and it's officials don't seem to understand (or find it convenient to misunderstand) that pedophilia and homosexuality are as distinct as statutory rape and heterosexuality. By coming out with this new document the Church appears to be doing something about cleaning house with respect to its sexual problems, while not having to go to the trouble of actually doing anything. Since it appears (from my one data point) that seminaries are not necessarily doing anything different about accepting gay people, the Church gets to have it's gay priests and eat them, too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Attack of the 50 foot twink

There's a fairly new billboard on Green St. that I have to go by on the way to work every morning. It's a huge black-and-white Abercrobie and Fitch ad, with some shirtless, twentysomething, heavily waxed, twinkie guy on it. It just occured to me that the ad doesn't actually have the advertised product in it anywhere.

So I guess this really means the only thing A&F sells is the label, not really the clothing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wikihelp

I recently had to revert some vandalism over at Wikipedia. Does anyone know how to make a contributors name or IP address linkable to their contributions in the edit summary? Like in this one. I've been playing around in the sandbox, and can't figure out how to do it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A voice of reason

I'm listening to the C-SPAN stream I previously blogged about, and I'm listening to the interview and call-ins with Michael Chapman. Chapman is the descendant of Darwin, and wrote Trials of the Monkey, about when he visited Dayton, Ohio, where the Scopes Monkey Trial took place.

He said something in the interview that I thought was so well put, I'd share it.

If you had a sick child, and if you were in a room full of a hundred doctors, and ninety-nine of them said, "We diagnose this disease as X, and we think the best treatment for it would be Y." And one doctor said, "I think we should pray for this child." Which one would you go with?"

Then he mentioned the National Center for Science Education's Project Steve as a good way to measure the ninety-nine evolutionists vs. the one ID proponent.

Frankly, I think it's more like as if that one doctor said, "I've never seen any of these things called germs all these other doctors are talking about. They've never proved they cause sickness. This disease is clearly caused by the child's sin, and the Devil should be beaten out of the child and that will make him better."

LATER:

Oh man, this interview ends on a great note. This guy's not a scientist, and he's not shy about saying so. He's a writer, and you have to feel bad for him because all of the caller's are talking about evolution, and not his book. But he's very well-spoken and quite insightful.

[Talking about the idea that evolution is a big fraud perpetrated by amoral atheist scientists.] In the history of science, you often see supernatural explanations for things that later are found to have a natural explanation. There will be probably things that remain a mystery, but it doesn't seem to be a logical way of looking at the teaching of science. To simply speculate about something that can't be proven.

And this part surprised and really cracked me up. A great way to end the program.

[About how ID is a uniquely American religious phenomenon.] In a way, the Church is capable of supplying more comfort to people in their lives than the theory of evolution does, but is that the function of knowledge, I don't know. I think it's also interesting to look at the failure of the American education system... And when you look at Darwin, and when you look at how he was educated, or not educated. He didn't actually go to college; he was sort of an educated and enlightened amateur. And then you have George Bush, who went through the education system, and actually graduated from Harvard. And here is a man who has had all of the advantages of the American education system, and has the views of a basically somewhat ignorant fundamentalist crowd. It's a bizarre thing to see how a man who has reached that level, with such an apparent lack of understanding of science.

Oh, I think I like this man.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I am the monkey king

Yesterday, I was sitting down to eat breakfast, and turned on C-SPAN as I occasionally do. This should tell you two things about me. One, I am such a television addict that I don't even eat breakfast without it on, and, two, I'm really a nerd.

The topic for the last hour or so of Washington Journal was Intellegent Design. The first guest was a reporter who talked a bit about ID in general and Kansas's recent decent back into the Middle Ages. The next guest was the scientific laughingstock Michael Behe, which is when I turned the set off in disgust. Watching the archive on the C-SPAN website (yes, really, I'm a nerd) there was a third guest, Matthew Chapman, a descendant of Charles Darwin who wrote Trials of the Monkey. There are, apparently, no actual scientists in Washington.

The best part of the show is the people who call in. It's a strange combination of laughing at all nutty people out there, and being frightened that, really, there all these nutty people out there. Today was no exception. One caller:

It's really frightening to see how far our country has fallen with this debate. There was a time in our country when the Bible was taught in schools... I'm thirty-five years old, and since I've graduated from high school, the public school system has become a war zone. And there's nothing wrong with teaching Intelligent Design. In fact, if anything I think maybe it's going to educate students and educate children to maybe look into the Bible, maybe look into some other form of religion and find a meaning. There's too many children out there, they don't know why they're here. If you've got something like evolution they just assume, "Well i guess I'm just evolving. So-and-so is bad, i guess since we evolved from monkeys we're just going to continue to go down that slippery slope."

That's at 1:52:40 in the stream, if you want to hear it.

One of the things that the big name ID proponents always say is that ID isn't a religion, since it doesn't say anything about the designer. On the other hand, in every case I've seen, when cornered about who the Designer is, the ID proponent always says something like, "Well, in my opinion, it was the God of the Scriptures." It's pretty clear that that "God of the Scriptures" line is code for "fundamentalist Christianity." Behe himself has said that the mysterious Intelligent Designer was God. So yet again, we see that ID is just fundamentalist Christianity wrapped up in sheep's clothing.

But what I found interesting about the above caller's rant was the fact that the problem with evolution isn't that it's wrong, but that believing in it will rob your life of "meaning." Yet again, we see that when these fundamentalists are confronted with an aspect of the material world, of reality, that contradicts their preferred interpretation of some aspect of the Bible, they actually disbelieve the reality, rather than their supernatural beliefs. That's why you can't have an intellectual debate on this topic with proponents of ID. Even if you present them with mountains of evidence supporting evolution, they won't believe it. And that's because mountains of evidence supporting evolution is exactly what we have.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And it annoys the pig

Squire (1) is engaging an Intelligent Design apologist over at his blog. He says he's already received a response to his email, but only teases us with it. No details. The hints of biblical literalism he drops makes it pretty clear what the email contains, though.

I figure this sort of action is pretty much a waste of time. You can not do science if you go into something with your conclusion already decided on. Biblical literalist IDiods (heh, love that word) are so convinced of their interpretation of unquestionable scripture, that, when confronted with evidence that some part of reality contradicts it, they don't doubt the Bible, they doubt the reality. You just can't engage that level of zealotry on an intellectual level.

Science requires an open mind. It requires that you be willing to at least consider that you might be wrong, and question your preconceived notions. Radical notions require significant evidence, yes, but eventually they will be adopted if they are correct. ID is the antithesis of that.

(1) I assume that should be "Squire" and not "The Squire." The latter would just be too pretentious. Bordering on "The Artist" level of pretension. Which would have to be punished by being forced to repeatedly watch Doctor Who: The Movie. The atrocious FOX version.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Email woes

I owe some of you an email, and I know that. For some reason, Eudora is refusing to send outgoing messages. I can recieve fine, but not send. I'll switch to Thunderbird sometime when I get the chance and get caught up on my emails.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Touched by His noodly appendage

I was talking to David the other day, and was surprised he had never heard of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Pastafarians. What with all the press about Intelligent Design and Kansas's recent abandondonment of science, I was surprised anyone could not have heard about the FSM. So here's the link: http://www.venganza.org/

Note the scientific evidence linking global warming to the declining number of pirates roaming the seas. Arrrgh, matie.

I'm considering adding this button to the blog:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Candy corn is my kryptonite

Jon mentioned earlier the groceries in C-U are expensive. I'm not sure I agree with that, although it seems to me Schnucks is pricey for little added benefit. Plus, milk and bread I buy there go bad unusually quickly, for some reason. I've always found Meijer to have fairly reasonable prices and both their selection and their stuff seems to be better than any of the smaller stores in town.

I went this weekend, though, and it seemed some stuff was a bit more expensive than I remembered. Or maybe the stuff I needed and hadn't stocked up on lately just wasn't on sale. They seem to be in the process of up-scaling. I assume that's to better differentiate themselves from Wal-Mart now right across the street. They're putting in a bakery, and there's a new deli counter. Unfortunately, it's a lot bigger and none of the people working behind the counter can see over it.

Halloween candy was on sale. I was bad.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

CIA

It looks like the CIA may have been holding people in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe. They're not admitting anything, but the Red Cross has had reports the US has been hiding detainees from it. Which is pretty creepy if you think about it: why would the US want to hide detainees from the organization whose primary mission is do determine they are not being mistreated? There's a bill in the Senate right now that would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of US detainees. The White House wants an amendment that specifically exempts the CIA from that.

On a tangential note, Digby questions why we are hearing over and over about prisoners being raped by American interrogators. I would suggest it's because rape is probably an effective tool for degrading and humiliating someone before an interrogation, in other words, "softening them up."

What I find really dangerous is that there's this meme coming from the right wing that a terrorism suspsect has NO rights. None at all. Now, I really doubt we are doing the same things in these CIA prisons that Saddam did in his. But if we aren't willing to draw a line against torture, we might wind up being no better. There's always a stubborn suspect. Lines always get pushed. And before you know it, you've got some guy's finger in a pair of bolt cutters and you're screaming, "Where's the bomb, Akmed, you've only got six left!"

Coincidentally, the US submitted a report to the UN about our foreign detainees, although it only covered those in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gitmo. It reads:

There is no question that under the law of armed conflict, the United States has the authority to detain persons who have engaged in unlawful belligerence until the cessation of hostilities...

Of course, there will never be a cessation of hostilities. That's the whole point of the Global War Against Violent Extremism. As long as someone, somewhere on the planet doesn't like someone else, there will be terrorism. Or the threat of a bomb. Or a dictator with an active WMD program. Or at least the desire to start a WMD program. And so on.

Oceana has always been at war with terrorism.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Back

Back from NY. There are pictures, which I will put online somewhere once I bother to get them off the camera.

In the meantime, could someone plese explain to me why Ithaca, a community of 50,000 people, including 20,000 college students can support a frou-frou grocery store which is nearly as impressive as Central Market in San Antonio, but the best Champaign-Urbana can do is Schnucks and Meijer (and I'm not all that impressed by Schnucks). OK, I haven't looked extensively at Strawberry Fields, but it's tiny, and I think about half of it is taken up with the homopathic remedies, aromatherapy, and other snake oil. I mean, if I can get fourteen kinds of fresh mozarella in upstate NY at 3 am, how come I can't find something halfway as decent in C-U?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Romeo and, um, Romeo

A victory for gay rights this week, in Kansas, believe it or not.

One of the most frustrating cases on the gay rights docket has reached a happy conclusion after several years of court losses. Matthew Limon, now 23, will not have to spend 17 years behind bars for a consensual sexual episode that took place a week after his 18th birthday with another male teenager.

Basically, the law that he was prosecuted under gave special consideration to gay people when the age gap was only a few years, but didn't apply to gays. After Lawrence vs. Texas struck down sodomy laws nationwide, the law pretty much has to treat gays and straights equally.

This is one part I found particularly interesting:

The court used the lowest standard of judicial review, giving the state of Kansas every opportunity to come up with a reasonable explanation for the vast discrepancy between its treatment of gay and straight teens. But the state attorneys failed the test.

So it sounds like the judge responded with the legal equivalent of, "You're kidding me, right?"

That's a pretty good way to end the week. Have a good weekend. Blogging will be light for the next week or so, as I will have to travel for work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Crazy like a FOX

The national nannies at the Parent's Television Council have just came out with their Top 10 Best and Worst shows on TV. After noting that six of the ten are on FOX, Dave over at Davenetics says:

Anyone else see some irony here? The network news brand that makes the most dough off of the outrage over the loosening of American morals is also the the network most responsible for creating that outrage.

They are making money on both ends.

That means two things.

They are really good at what they do.

And they don’t believe a word of the moralistic hogwash on Fox News.

Rupert Murdoch is the Terrell Owens of media moguldom. You may hate some of his qualities, but the guy gets the ball into the friggin endzone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

He reads Left Behind so you don't have to

I've been reading slactivist lately. It's written by a liberal Christian, in what I think is much more the intent of the whole Christian-religion-thing. The whole "help others and don't be judgmental part" that modern religious fundamentalists forget. That's a religion I could really get into if it didn't have all that belief in the supernatural baggage.

The best part about this blog is that he's going through and reading the atrocious Left Behind, and commenting on it on every page. It's a brilliant idea. He's pointing out how terrible the theology is, how unrealistic the characters are, and just how terribly written the book is. The problem is that this is a terribly long way to respond to a book. He's been doing it since 2002, and has only just gotten up to page 156. The good news is that leaves the rest of us with entertaining reading for a while.

This, I think, the post that made it pretty clear I was going to like this blog.

This approach -- judgement for Thee but not for Me -- also helps to account for the current antigay mania of American evangelicalism. In a couple of Paul's other rants, he includes "sodomites" in his bestiaries of badness. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, the dubious assumption that Paul misunderstood the story of Sodom, and therefore used this as a synonym for "homosexuals," it doesn't follow that "homosexuals are bad" is the main lesson that heterosexuals should be gleaning from such passages. But if you read such passages looking for any excuse to exempt yourself from the apostle's condemnation, this offers an ideal escape hatch. Preaching against self-love, ingratitude, love of money or love of pleasure can be a two-edged sword. But if you're heterosexual, and you're preaching against homosexuality, then you're safe. You've found the ideal target for self-exempting, self-justifying self-righteousness.

Judgment is for Other People.

Does that remind you of anyone?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

At least there is email

I got my old computer working with my backup hard drive. Windows reinstalled. Windows upgraded. Windows rebooted. I don't have all my files yet, but at least I am not email-less.

Monday, October 10, 2005

You can't make this stuff up

Journalists for a major television news organization are ordered to falsify a story. They refuse. They're fired. They sue. They lose.

During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so.

FOX News. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Uh oh

Blogging may be sparse for the near future. My computer is refusing to boot, saying some configuration file is corrupted. Nor will it boot from the CD so I can do a repair installation of Windows. I've been thinking of replacing this machine for a while now; this may be the kick in the pants that gets me to actually do it.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Comment spam

I've started getting spam in the comments, so I've had to turn on the Blogger CAPTCHA. Anonymous comments are still allowed, but if it keeps up then I'll have to turn that off too. Fucking parasitic spammers are a blight on society.

Friday, September 30, 2005

These people are fucking nuts

I've previously blogged (1, 2) about religious leaders blaming gays and other sinners for Hurricane Katrina. It seems to be getting worse. Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin is now saying that "gambling, sin and wickedness" was the cause of Hurricane Katrina and it was God's punishment for all that sin. I don't really understand why he mentions gambling twice. Other than riverboat casinos and the state lottery, gambling is basically illegal in Louisiana. But when did facts ever get in the way of bigotry?

I know this will tag me an an evil, baby-eating liberal (in case you hadn't guessed that already) but conservative Christians are fucking nuts. These whackjob, irrational people hold way too much power in our country.

Look, morons, hurricanes happen occasionally. Regularly, even. When they happen, they tend to hit the Gulf Coast. It's not sin. It's not the queers. It's not even those Jew bankers or the porn on TV. If these things caused natural disasters, Las Vegas and San Francisco would both be smoking craters twenty miles in diameter. Katrina is neither the largest or the most lethal hurricane to hit the US. It just happened to hit a densely populated area that had a lot of poor people, and it was big enough to break the levees. That's it. There's no supernatural or mystical component to that.

The fact that Christians don't seem to be able to grasp these basic facts scares the everloving crap out of me. I've said it before: it really is not a big leap from "God is punishing us for the sin in our midst," to "we must purge the sinners from our midst."

(Via Crooks and Liars.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

When the Moon hits your wallet like a big pizza pie

Bob Park [*] has an editorial in Thursdays NY Times about the unnecessary manned space program to re-land on the Moon. I have to agree. Bush proposed this venture as part of his program to get men on Mars, and utterly pointless endevour. Sure, Big Grand Projects capture the imagination and make us, as a nation, feel big and important and manly. But those Big Grand Projects come with a Bigger, Grander Budget, and if we're going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and almost undoubtedly the lives of a few people to send some astronauts to the Moon and to Mars, there had dammned well better be a better reason than it will be a bold vision for our future.

From Park's editorial:

This week NASA described plans to return astronauts to the Moon in 2018 at a cost of $104 billion. That's nine years after President Bush leaves office. Starting from scratch in 1961, President Kennedy's commitment to put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth was realized in just eight years. What is going on?...

Two mechanical geologists, Spirit and Opportunity, are doing this even now, by searching for evidence of water on opposite sides of Mars. They don't break for lunch or complain about the cold nights, and they live on sunshine. They've been at it for nearly two years, yet their mission costs less than sending a shuttle to the International Space Station. The brains of Spirit and Opportunity are the brains of geologists back on Earth.

I'm no Luddite saying space exploration is a waste of money that could be better spent here on earth; heck, my first post-college job was working to build the International Space Station. But the ISS is now basically without a science mission, and has scaled back due to the inflating budget and the destruction of the Columbia. What little science it does do doesn't require a permanent manned presence in space. Much, if not all, of it could be done just as well in unmanned probes, or perhaps on the remaining Shuttle.

We need a good reason to go there in person first, then we are justified in spending a lot of money.

[*] If you haven't read Park's weekly newsletter What's New, I strongly suggest that you subscribe. It's pretty much always about science, but is accessible to any reader, and written with a dry wit that just cracks me up.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Puck Fanasonic

I previously blogged about my piece of crap Panasonic CT-27HL14 television. Since I posted my review and description of my problem over at Amazon, no fewer than seven people have added reviews. They all describe the exact same problem I had. I think it's pretty clear by now that that model of TV has either a manufacturing or design defect. If so, why hasn't it been recalled? This whole situation just screams class action lawsuit.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where the evacuees come sweeping down the plain

My sister was set evacuate Houston for Lubbock (How many times do you think you'll hear that in your life?) as of 3:00 am this morning. From what I've seen on the news, I'm not sure she will have made it out of the city limits by now.

The Houston Chronicle has a really good blog about Hurricane Rita and the evacuation of Houston. They report that AAA members of Texas that are evacuating are having to be placed in hotels in Oklahoma. That's like having to flee Champaign to Columbus, Ohio, and then a good bit farther. Geez.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Um, somthin' ain't right here

I just popped over to eBay for a moment. Their front page lists the "Top 10 video games" they're currently selling. The list is:

  1. Sony PSP
  2. Gran Turisimo 4
  3. Playstation 2
  4. Halo 2
  5. Xbox
  6. Resident Evil 4
  7. Game Boy Advance
  8. GameCube
  9. Nintendo DS
  10. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Do you think someone should tell them that six out of the ten things on this list aren't video games?

It's like saying that the top DVD is a 30-inch Sony Trinitron.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Maybe it was too much Southern Comfort?

Now that a number of Christian and Jewish and Muslim conservatives have declared Katrina to be a punishment from God for people who are Not Like Us, it really makes me wonder what sin North Carolinans have committed to be punished with Hurricane Ophelia. Or maybe this hurricane is just a weather pattern caused by warm equatorial waters and wasn't sent from on high?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Must ... resist ...

For some time now, I've been thinking of replacing my current computer. There's nothing really wrong with it, but it's starting to show its age, and isn't quite up to snuff for playing most of the games that are coming out these days. I was thinking about just getting one from one of the custom build shops out there. I was, that is, until Jon, as the current incarnation of the Prince of Darkness, suggested building one.

So that set me off on a bunch of reading and window shopping. A few nerdgasms later, I came up with what I think is a pretty decent system:

MSI K8N Neo4-F motherboard
Athlon 64 3000+
1 GB RAM
Leadtek GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB, PCI-Express video card
Hitachi T7K250 160 GB hard drive
Antec SLK 3800B case (black is so slimming, don't you know?)

The only question is whether or not to buy the motherboard and processor as a combo from some place that would ship it already assembled. Now I just need to work up the courage to drop that much money over at Newegg.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Quick reminder

I just wanted to let every one know that The Daily Show is starting their week-long special investigative report, Evolution, Schmevolution tonight. The saddest part is that it will probably be the only media outlet that treats Intelligent Design with the level of respect it deserves.

Update (13 Sept. 05): Naturally, I completely forgot.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ack!

Most people come to my blog looking for porn. That's largely because I've blogged about the spambots that plague gay.com, and they're searching for one of the domains. I'm used to that.

Nevertheless, this was not the sort of search I usually see in the referrer logs: manya gang bang

Yay, Magic!

Manya asked:

How goes the magicking?
Do you like it when everyone claps when you win?

I finished my league "in the money," which I think is pretty good considering it was my first tournament online or off, and the fact that I haven't played in a few years.

And now I'm about to do it again, with a four-week-long tournament this time. There used to be a theory that Wizards of the Coast put cocaine in the cards, which wore away over time, so you had to keep buying more to get your fix. I don't understand how they do that in the online version, though.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Do not think it can not happen here

Number of Christian groups blaming gays and other sinners for Katrina's devastation: 4

Number of non-wingnut Christian groups calling this shameful: 0

New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion.

-- Rev. Bill Shanks in the American Family Association's AgapePress

"... this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin.

-- Repent America

God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion.

-- Constitution Party candidate for US Congress Steve Lefemine

America is now experiencing the consequences (curses) of Middle East policies, which have been opposed to God’s Word and to the preservation of His covenant land.

-- Jerusalem Newswire, a Christian website

About three hundred years ago roughly twenty-five people were killed in Salem for being witches. Their trials rested on nothing more than spectral evidence, the notion that the witch's spirit appeared to the tormented Salem girls in a vision.

In the twentieth century, the lynching of blacks in the United States was not uncommon. There were about a hundred and fifty lynchings in the 1930s, and these continued up until a few KKK members lynched a black man in 1981. The witch trials are basically ancient history, but this happened within living memory.

I've now heard two different second hand accounts (about either the coworker or relative of a friend) of people saying how residents of New Orleans are being punished by God and that deserved their fate because they lived in a sinful city. In both cases, the sin that brought on the Wrath of God (now available in chocolate and strawberry) was unnamed, but does it really matter? I've always been under the impression that Christians believed that all people were hell-bound sinners requiring the blood of Jesus Christ to be saved from the terrible fate that awaits the rest of us sinners? I mean, isn't that the central tenet of Christianity? Why are New Orleans sinners so much more despicable than Montana sinners?

Less than a hundred years ago, the rise of a particular political movement in Germany led to the deaths of around ten million "undesirable" people. (You know which one I'm talking about.) The movement is now used in our society as the personification of all things evil. That happened two generations ago, but do not think that can not happen here.

Between 1992 and 1995, about 8000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by agents of their government in an ethnic and religious cleansing. That happened half a world away, but do not think that can not happen here.

In 1994, roughly a million Africans were killed over a period of four months. Mostly by machete. First world nations, fully cognizant of what was going on, stood by and refused to take any action. Again, do not think that can not happen here.

These horrible things did not happen because the people that lived in these places and these times were somehow more genetically predisposed to horrible acts of violence. People are capable of doing the most terrible things to each other given the right philosophical framework in which to do them. Do not think that these things can not or will not ever happen here because we live in a more "civilized" society. Do not think that the people that live around you are incapable of doing them.

I am stressing this so much for a very good reason. Take a look at the quotes above, all made by Christian organizations in the past few days. These people are blaming queers and other sinners not like them for the freakin' weather. Is that really so much different than blaming the witch down the street for your child's mysterious illness? Is that really so much different from blaming the bank's foreclosure on your property on the Jew banker* that lives a few blocks away?

There is a very real and very great danger of an avian flu pandemic breaking out in the next few decades. This is not the coughs and sniffles we're talking about, but a disease that has a 50% fatality rate. Katrina has probably killed a few thousand people, largely concentrated in one geographical area. The CDC says that just a medium-scale flu pandemic in the U.S. may kill upwards of 200,000 people, all over the country.

What do you think the right-wing Christian wingnuts will be saying then?

How long do you think it will be before "God is punishing our country because of all the sinners in our midst" becomes "God wants us to purge our country of the sinner in our midst"?

Do not think it can not happen here.


* "The 'Feed the Jew Banker' way of housing purchase is not the only way to buy a house." From: http://www.stormfront.org/archive/t-101192.html Not linked for obvious reasons.

Just a thought on Roberts

I'd like to point out that Bush has just nominated John Roberts for Chief Justice after the death of Rehnquist. Although he's been a lawyer (possibly a "trial lawyer?") for a while and has argued in front of the Supreme Court, Roberts has had a grand total of two years of experience as a judge.

Are there really no judges in the country that have a more appropriate background for being the head of the most powerful court in the nation? Then again, they probably don't have such strong political ties to the Bush family.

I guess we're lucky that he didn't nominate Justice "Oh, but the state governments can impose a religion on their citizens" Scalia for Chief.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bush does not want your $1

This is from over at Eschaton. I think it's from today's Meet the Press, but I'm not sure.

The guy who runs this building I'm in. Emergency management. He's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said. Are you coming. Son? Is somebody coming? And he said yeah. Mama. Somebody's coming to get you.. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night.

If that doesn't just break your heart, you must be a compassionate conservative.

Mr. President, no matter how many times you pat the head of FEMA on the back and tell him how great a job he's doing, someone somewhere in your administration has cocked up on a level never before seen in American history. You tell us that you care for the people killed, hurt, and made homeless by this catastrophe. But we know that you were on vacation when it was clear this hurricane was going to be devastating, and you stayed there after the devestation. You tell us that no one could have predicted the collapse of the levies. But we know that that very situation was predicted by the very people in charge of them. And then you praise the man on whose watch so many people have unnecessarily died.

Tell us President Bush, where exactly does the buck stop in your administration?

Friday, September 02, 2005

A bit of a pickle

I've been sitting on the horns of an ethical dilemma (a horny dilemma?). Hurricane Katrina's devastation has been unimaginable, and the need of all those people is both heartbreaking and overwhelming. I've been wanting to do at least a little something to help, and looked into ways of doing so. I have no applicable skills, and am a long way away, so that bascially means sending money. But who to send money to?

The biggest agency that seems to be involved is, of course, the American Red Cross. However, I have a strict, "If my blood is too queer for you, my money is too queer for you" policy. Untill the RC drops their blanket, ineffective, and irrational policy against blood donation by gay men, they're not getting one red drop of my cash. I don't think it's a malicious policy, just that it's boneheaded and stupid.

Looking at the FEMA site, they listed basically the Red Cross and a bunch of religions organizations. That includes Pat "Bring me the Head of Hugo Chavez" Robinson's Operation Blessing at #2. (Note: Since I first looked at it, they've moved Blessing down to #3, and added some non-religious groups.) So I was left with a bit of a conundrum. Give money and abandon my ethical priciples, or harden my heart and do nothing?

Fortunately, the Rainbow World Fund is calling for the GLBT community to give to America's Second Harvest, a food bank network . It seems to be a good charity, and only 2% of their revenue goes to anything other than their programs. So they are the ones getting my donation.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's sucking me in...

I was bored one day and discovered that there is an online version of Magic: The Gathering. This I did not need to know. I got sucked into that game back in college, and am surprised to find it's still going strong, albeit with lots of cards and expansions I don't know about. The online version is exactly like the real-life version, just played with virtual cards you buy and trade online. I'm trying to restrain myself from jumping in, buying a playable deck, and starting this madness again.

Update (2 Sept 05): Too late, it's got me. Bought my cards, and I'm waiting to take part in my first tournament, even.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm sorry

To all the people of Louisiana, I would like to apologize to them for causing the recent hurricane. Silly me, I thought that hurricanes had something to do with warm equatorial waters during summertime. It turns out all this time that hurricane season is just God's way of shutting down Southern Decadence. I'm sure that the families of the thousands of dead will be comforted to know that their loved ones did not die in vain: Southern Decadence has been thwarted.

It makes you wonder what all the Texas queers were doing in Galveston back in 1900 to anger God so greatly, as well. (Via Americablog.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Here's something to consider

Continuing the obesity theme from the other day, Americablog goes on a bit of a mild rant about sodas in schools, and how they should be replaced by healthier choices like juice. This is in response to the American Beverage Association's release of new rules that would decrease the sodas sold in middle schools and eliminate their sale in elementary schools. The NY Times says the that the entirely voluntary policy will make no changes applicable to high schools, which is where most of the sodas are sold anyway. It also points out that Coca-Cola and Pepsi already have policies against selling sodas in elementary schools.

So is replacing sugary sodas with juice a good move to reduce childhood obesity? I looked at some quick numbers:

Drink Calories, 12 oz.
Apple juice 180
Grapeade Snapple (*) 180
Milk, 2% 180
Coke 160
Orange juice 150
Pepsi 150
Milk, skim 130
Powerade 105
Gatorade 75

(*) Note that a Snapple container is 16 oz.

So on a strictly per-calorie basis, juice is just as fattening, if not more so, than Coke and Pepsi. Sure, there are some vitamins in real juice that aren't in sodas, but how many of these kids are really lacking vitamins in their diets? I'll buy that some very disadvantaged kids don't have a good diet, but I haven't heard of a scurvy outbreak in the suburbs lately.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Little General speaks

A doctor friend wrote this. With permission, I'm reposting it here. The referenced article is about a doctor being investigated by the medical board and attorney general for telling an obese patient she was obese. This is definetly making the rounds; I've seen this doctor giving interviews on CNN, NBC, and ABC just in the past two days.

This article saddens me. Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me. As a doctor I hoped that what I was experiencing was a local phenomena, apparently I was overly optimistic.

We are encouraged not to call fat people fat. They're large, they're overweight, not fat. Fat might offend people. Our CT scanner has both a weight limit (the table can't move more than 350 lbs) and a girth limit (you can't be more than 70 inches around). I have to explain to a patient at least once a week that their "habitus prevents us from doing a CT scan." Their habitus...not the fact that they are significantly larger around than I am tall. Other technologies aren't any better. "I'm sorry Mr. Smith, the ultrasound was non-diagnostic -- the surrounding tissue prevented an accurate assessment of your gallbladder." In other words, you're too fat for sound waves to penetrate.

We're encouraged NOT to tell people to lose weight. ED docs can suggest that they cut back on foods that are high in fat and cholesterol and tell them that they should make healthy lifestyle changes, but telling someone that they should lose weight is verboten. It's more appropriately done by their primary care doctors. Except, as the article illustrates, it's not.

This is not a cosmetic issue. This is not because I think they would look better in a bathing suit if they didn't have a spare tire. This is my trying to explain to a 600lb woman why her knees hurt without mentioning her weight and without admitting I can't find the bones of her knee to do a good exam. This is trying to provide care to a 900 pounder when standard drug doses are based on a 70kg patient. This is trying to clean a diabetic ulcer in a 450lb man when the ulcer is hidden under folds of fat...and he's dropping crumbs from the moon pie he's eating on my head. This is trying to intubate a 375lb man who is losing his airway and finding out I don't have enough upper body strength to lift his jaw with the laryngoscope. This is trying to achieve adequate sedation using pediatric-approved doses while setting the broken femur on a 62 pound TWO YEAR OLD.

Fat is killing these people. More importantly from my perspective, it's a huge drain on the health care system. Their fat is causing them huge amounts of morbidity while we pick up the tab in high insurance premiums or lower wages to keep insurance. Fat people cost more to take care of. They require zoo-sized scanners, special operating tables, special elevators, three people to put in a foley catheter instead of one, a vein finder to put in a simple IV; they don't fit in standard sized wheelchairs or standard sized hospital beds or standard sized hospital bathrooms. So health care costs more for everyone who uses the hospital.

Somewhere along the line grossly morbid obesity became acceptable and sanctioned and it is interfering with my job. I can not physically, with the limitations of our technology and the hospital, give these people adequate care, I am not, however, allowed to give them less than the basic standard of care (regardless that the standard was based on a 145lb patient) and now it appears that I am not allowed to tell them how to change their life so that I can give them good care.

Why have we allowed this to happen? When did my patient's ego become more important than their health habits?

The PCness is spreading: a few months ago I was yelled at by a patient for counseling him to quit smoking. He said it was none of my business....and the head of the ED that day backed him up. Mind you, he was there for an asthma attack.

There are days I think I should be a bookstore owner.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Talk about having a thick skull!

I don't normally watch Larry King, because I think his show is generally just a bunch of puff pieces for trivial news stories that probably should have been permitted to die a natural death. (Can you say Natalee Holloway, kids?) I guess we have to have our nightly update on all the missing white women, though.

Today, however, he had Marc Cohn on, so I watched. I've always been a really big fan of his music, and it's a shame that he hasn't put out more albums. Burning the Daze dates back to 1998, and he's only put out a five-song retrospective since then. The good news is that another is coming out this year.

I didn't know this, but Cohn was shot in the head during a carjacking about two weeks ago. After passing through the windshield, and possibly grazing his road manager's chin, the bullet lodged in his skull. It was removed at the hospital, and it sounds like he's going to be fine. Wow, lucky.

I'm still up

Yay for insomnia.

Monday, August 22, 2005

That Blogger flag

You'll notice a new button in the Blogger title bar up top. They've instituted a "Flag as Objectionble" option for all the splogs (spam logs) that are filling up Blogspot. The number of these damn things is incredible. Just click on "Next Blog" a few times and you'll see what I mean. Here's one dedicated to kitchen cabinets. I especially love how that one has been hit by a spammer in the comments.

Google is also instituting a captcha to stop spam comments. I've never had a problem with those here, so I have intention no turn it on.

Dealing with the splogs is a good idea. It's in Google's own best interest, of course, too. These things dilute the Blogger brand and poison their own search index.

This phenomenon is just another example of how a few spamming parasites can make life a little more difficult for everyone else.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When will I learn?

Somehow I need to get it through my thick skull that going grocery shopping on the Sunday of the weekend before classes start is not a good idea.

On a related note, it turns out that is possible to be more annoying that talking all the time on your cell phone in a public place: use your cell phone as a walkie talkie so everyone can hear both sides of your conversation.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We, the important people...

Dave over at Davenetics (formerly Electablog) points out:

We’ve seen how the Sheehan story has pushed Iraq back into the headlines and stirred up unanswered questions. But you have to wonder, how can we be in a war and not have really been that focused on it during the pre-Sheehan months?

Quick, name the top issues being debated when it comes to the Iraqi Constitution…

We’ve grown bored with what is supposedly the struggle of an era.

You would have a hard time disagreeing with him looking at the news. CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC all have as their top story right now the Northwest mechanics' strike.

There's an AP story this morning that says the US may be softening to the idea of enshrining in the forming Iraq constitution that the Koran as the final arbiter of their law. In other words, that Sharia or at best some form of Sharia-lite will be the law of the land.

I asked before, what will we do if the Iraqis elect another Taliban to power? What will we do if women become second class citizens and gay teens are executed in the public square? I fear all we will do is pat ourselves on the back and pull our troops out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Yes, Virginia, the universe does behave rationally

I came across P. Z. Myers's excellent Pharyngula a while ago, but lost it. I remembered the name of his blog, but couldn't get the spelling right (even in the Google spell check), and so couldn't get back to it. Thanks to Squire for his post and the link.

Myers also links to an article by Kevin Drum that pretty much sums up the recent kerfluffle about Intelligent Design:

Look, this controversy isn't really about ID vs. evolution. It's about who gets to decide what's science and what isn't — and in that sense the radical Christian right understands the stakes better than much of the evolution crowd. After all, once you concede that the revealed wisdom of a millennia-old text is a legitimate substitute for empirically based science, creationism is only the start. The book of Genesis expresses opinions on much more than simply the creation of Adam and Eve.

That's why this issue is being debated at school board meetings and on newspaper editoral pages: creationists can not win the argument (and, in fact, lost it a long time ago) in the peer-reviewed pages of scientific journals.

Humanity began a new phase in its development with the Enlightenment. In some ways, creationists are trying to turn back that clock of Reason that began back in the 17th century and return us to the Dark Ages. We must rage against the dying of this light; as a people, a society, and a species, we can not afford not to.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Marines are such wusses

If you weren't paying attention to the political blogosphere, a week and a half ago there was a special election in Ohio. Paul Hackett was the Democrat running against Jean Schmidt in a district that tends to go heavily Republican (it went for Bush by 26 points in 2004). Hackett was a recently returned Iraqi veteran, and was actually criticized for it by his opponent. There was a big push of support for Hackett in the liberal blogs in the last week of the election, but it wasn't enough. The good news is that it was an astonishingly close margin of only 4%, which bodes well for 2006.

But what was most shocking was that Rush "Support the Troops or You're a Terrorist" Limbaugh treated him, an American veteran, with an astonishing degree of disrespect. Here is one exchange he had with a caller:

RUSH: He was in the Civilian Affairs Unit, and this is a Washington Post story (it says here) from July 30th. "A lawyer and a major in the Marine reserves, Hackett volunteered last year to serve in Iraq and spent seven months there in the civilian affairs job, including service around Ramadi and Fallujah...So he volunteered to serve, spent seven months in a civilian affairs job... Okay, call him a staff puke if that's what you want, but civilian affairs, staff puke.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about these two cities:
Ramadi: Ramadi is considered to be the southwest point of Iraq's Sunni Triangle. It has been a focal point of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. On April 6, 2004, at least 12 U.S. Marines were killed by guerilla forces in Ramadi, in an apparent effort to relieve the ongoing siege of nearby Fallujah.
Fallujah: Fallujah has become one of the most dangerous areas for coalition military troops during the occupation of Iraq. Since the occupation began, more than 200 Americans have died in Fallujah — more than any city except Baghdad.

Yeah, Hackett must really be a big pussy to hang around Ramadi and Fallujah.

Rush later accused him of going to Iraq with ulterior motives:

The big picture here is they got another liberal Democrat trying to hide behind a military uniform...And it appears that, you know, he goes to Iraq to pad the resume...

Can you just imagine the nuclear screaming hissy fit that Republicans would throw if anyone attacked a conservative Iraqi vet's service? There would be accusations of treason, hating our troops, and everything short of devil worship. Oh wait, that's pretty much standard fare.

It's is a testament to the power of the Right Wing Spin Machine that somehow Bush's minimal service during the Vietnam War became more heroic than Kerry's (which one took a bullet?), that it can effectively question the patriotism of Max Cleland after he lost three limbs in Vietnam, and that it can fearlessly call Paul Hackett a "puke." That last, mind you, coming from a man that didn't serve in Vietnam because he had a cyst on his ass. (It was later reclassified as his head.)

There have long been apocryphal stories of Vietnam vets getting spit on in airports as they returned from the war. (Those dirty hippie liberals, ya know.) I guess we know who's doing the spitting now.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

He didn't mean *that* kind of terrorist

(This is a bit of a follow up to this post about Joe Scarborough advocating racial profiling in random bag searches.)

A guy was caught at an Oklahoma City airport today trying to sneak what looks to be a bomb onto an airplane. From his picture, it looks like he's as white as I am.

But something tells me we won't hear much call from the Right about racial profiling of white guys.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Freaky statistic

There's an article over at Yahoo (from PlanetOut) about people not necessarily supporting their loved ones taking part in HIV vaccine trials. I rather think the article makes a bigger deal out of the findings than is justified; just because I don't want someone I care about with cancer to get the placebo in a clinical trial doesn't mean I don't want there to be a cure for cancer.

But this has to be one of the freakier statistics I've ever seen in my life:

One of the most shocking discoveries for pollsters was that several people believe an HIV vaccine already exists and is being kept a secret. Out of those polled, 47 percent of African Americans, 26 percent of Hispanics and 13 percent of MSM said they believed in such a conspiracy theory.

Let's look at that again: HALF of all African Americans believe there exists a working HIV vaccine, but it's being kept secret.

Sometimes I wonder if I live on the same planet as the rest of the world.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why won't gay.com do something about the spam bots?

I'm bored, so I thought I'd take a look at some of the spambots that are flooding the gay.com chatrooms as they so often do. Previously, I'd checked out the registration for inetmates.net. Doing a little more research, I've found one for hornydolls.com:

Registrant Contact:
sss
Edward Chretien (xxxxx@toughguy.net)
(413) 443-xxxxx
Fax: none
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Pittsfield, MA 01201
US

This is a totally different name and address than for inetmates.com, but notice that the "sss" at the top is identical. That suggests that it's the same spammer, but using faked domain registration information. I'm not sure, but it seems possible, so I've removed the identifying information above, in case he really is an innocent party.

So lets take a look at some of these spam domains:

Domain IP address Payload site
icamsonline.com 81.31.38.5 ifriends.com
hornydolls.com 81.31.38.5 ifriends.com
inetmates.net 81.31.38.5 ifriends.com
camboiz.net 81.31.38.5 ifriends.com

Hmmm, notice a trend here? All the domains point to exmasters.com, a spam-friendly web hosting service in the Czech Republic. They all then link to what are presumably porn cam sites hosted by iFriends.com / webpower.com / clickcash.com. (Here is the iFriends SPEWS entry.)

All these domains are regitered through registerfly.com. From what I can find on Usenet, this also seems to be a spam-friendly (surprise) domain registrar.

So we've got a bunch of domains with probably-faked registration information, registered through a spam-friendly registrar, hosted at a spam-friendly web host, directing to a spam-friendly porn site.

The ultimate responsibilty here lies with iFriends. This problem isn't new (you don't get put into SPEWS for just a little spam); it's been going on for years. They do occasionally take down a spammed site, but the fact that the spammer just goes on and signs up again and is spamming the next day shows that they are not really interested in stopping the abuse. After all, this doesn't appear to be a site where people put up their naked pictures, but rather one that charges money. (I'm not sure, since there's NO way I'm giving them my credit card info just to find out.) If there is a financial link between iFriends and the spammer, then there is no way they don't have names and address, or bank account numbers.

Unfortunately, gay.com doesn't appear to be interested in stopping the rampant abuse of their system, the alienation of their customers, and the loss of their ad revenue. The problem is so bad, it's given rise to alternate chat clients that eliminate the problem: the gayboi.org client and Chattage. Gay.com is the only one that can stop the problem, and they don't seem to be interested.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A dozen red Turd Blossoms, please

When asked about Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove on Monday, Dubya said, "Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team." Now, he's previously backtracked on his promise to fire any leaker in this case, refusing to comment because the investigation is ongoing. It seems almost a foregone conclusion that the investigation will reveal he was definetly at least one of the leakers. If that happens, the reluctance to fire him because the investigation is ongoing will turn into a reluctance to fire him because criminal charges haven't even been fire. If he's indicted by Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, that will then turn into a refusal to fire him because he's "innocent until proven guilty." I'm betting he would hold his office up until an actual conviction, at least, which would likely be after Bush leaves office.

But Bush's "complete confidence" doesn't wash. I can only come up with two possible interpretations of his statement:

  • Bush doesn't think Karl was involved in the leak
  • Bush actually approves of outing Plame's covert identity and the damage to our national security it caused

I just can't imagine any other way you can parse Bush's continuing "confidence" in Rove. The former possibility would be willfull blindness, at the very least, not to mention a striking lapse of judgement. The latter possibility, however, is almost frightening to contemplate. Is it even possible that Karl revealed her identity with the approval or possibly even under instruction from the President? Remember, this is an administration where even those involved in it have said it has absolutly no policy wing; everything is driven by political considerations.

The sidebar has a new blog, which I've been reading for a while, and I will quote Seeing the Forest where Dave Johnson said:

Rove outed a covert CIA agent working on keeping WMD out of the hands of terrorists. This "rolled up" her network of contacts, possibly getting some killed. And by exposing her he exposed her cover company, possibly causing damage to other agents and networks as well.

Rove did this at a time of war against terrorists. His act exposed all of us to increased danger of attack by those WMDs she was trying to keep away from terrorists.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hook this, bitch

For some reason, I'm watching Hooking Up on ABC. It's a 5-part documentary about eleven women doing the Internet dating thing in New York City.

First of all, I don't understand why it's exclusively women. That's not true, I do. It's because women are the ones that are supposed to want a relationship, and men are the ones that are supposed to just want to go out and get laid. And we can't challenge that, can we?

But secondly, these women are absolutely horrible. I'm only half-watching it (and half playing Nethack), but I'm going to take it on faith that these women have any redeeming characteristics at all. One woman not only lied about her job, but lied about her name. Sure, don't give your home address to a guy you just emailed online, that's sensible. But not to trust him with your first name? That's just nutty. Another woman actually called a girlfriend from the bathroom to give her a call back with an "emergency" so she could get out of the date early. The guy wasn't exactly a winner, but I always thought this was the stuff that only ever happened on TV sitcoms. At some point, according to the previews, one woman is going to be complaining about being dumped via email, which is something that another of the women has just done to a guy while the camera watched.

It makes me glad I've given up on ever dating anyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Get me the hell out of Scarborough country

I caught Joe Scarborough on the Today show this morning defending racial profiling:

Oh, I don't have a problem with it for the same reason why I would have no problem with police chiefs in the south focusing on conservative Christian young males if there's another abortion clinic bombing... You look at abortion clinic bombings and unfortunately extremist Christian white males are the ones that have to be focused upon because they're the ones over the years that continue to commit these crimes.

You look at a situation like this, though, and whether it's on a subway or on a plane, and it makes absolutely no sense to fo--for the TSA to frisk my two-year-old baby daughter, which they do. It makes no sense for them to frisk my 72-year-old mother, which they do. We have limited resources, got a $400 billion debt--deficit right now, and the thing is we, you know, we aren't even protecting our ports or our rail lines because we get these limited resources. It seems to me we've got to focus on the people who, unfortunately, committed the 2001 terror attacks in the U--in the US; also USS Cole in 2000, Cobart Towers in '97...

The unspoken subtext in his statement is that "the people" that want to harm us are evil brown people. You can tell who they are just by looking at them. He's making the common (and very racist) assumption that Muslim equals Arab. Which is of course ridiculous. You can't identify anyone as a Muslim extremist by his appearance any more than you can identify a Klansman if he's not wearing a bedsheet.

His opponent was Hussein Ibish, of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America. As the blog I linked to above points out, Ibish wipes up the floor with Scarborough. Of the two, Ibish is the one with lighter skin, and could probably be taken as just any white guy on the street if you didn't know better, and if you didn't hear his accent.

Even if you accept Scarborough's claim that racial profiling will help, we'd have to search:

  • Middle Easterners: OK, this one is a bit obvious. But, frankly, I'm not sure I could tell an Israeli from a Palistian from an Iraqi on sight.
  • African Americans: One-third of American Muslims are black. Furthermore, the suspects in the British train bombings were East African, not Middle Eastern.
  • Hispanics: Jose Padilla, the dirty bomb suspect currently held without charge in South Carolina, is Hispanic.
  • Asians: This would include Indians, Pakistanis, and various other South Asians. People typically forget that the only chemical weapon terrorist attack on civilians in recent history happened in Japan in 1995.
  • Brits: Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was born in South London. I had to put him in as a special section, because I honestly can't tell what ethnic group he belongs to. Go look at his picture over at Wikipedia. Honestly, can't tell if he is of Middle Eastern or Hispanic decent.

We'd basically have to profile half the population. (And, what, there just can't be any white Muslims in the world?) And the best part is that it won't work. The goal of terrorists isn't to attack any particular location or building, but to wreck as much havoc as they possibly can. They will go where the weak spot is. First, they tried to blow up the airport. When that failed, they took box cutters and made a very successful, if low-tech attack. Notice that they didn't try to do that again. The next attack was a guy with a bomb in his shoe. Terrorists adapt. When Israel was searching young Palistinean men, they started sending young women to do their bombing.

Imagine that (God forbid) there was a truck bombing of a government building, killing hundreds. Well, that sounds like we should start racial profiling of Muslims when renting trucks. Oh, but wait, that was done by a white guy. OK, so what if there was a bombing of a big sporting event, instead? Oh, wait, that was a white guy, and a Christian to boot. So why aren't we profiling white guys? Because we -- "we" being the white surburban types Scarborough is playing to -- aren't afraid of young white guys. We're afraid of the weird brown people that talk funny and don't worship Jesus in the correct way.

Basing security on what we think dangerous people will look like is no security at all.

Update (11 Aug 2005): White guy caught trying to sneak a bomb onto an airplane. No word from the Right about racial profiling of white guys.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

You mean it gets worse?

The entire civilized world was shocked at the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. (The entire civilized world except for Rush Limbaugh, who said that it was no worse than a fraternity hazing.) I knew that we had only seen a small fraction of the existing photos, and that even more were scheduled to be released this week. I'm sure we would have been shocked all over again at more of the humiliation and sexual degradation that our brave soldiers subjected captured Iraqis to.

I didn't realize it was as bad at it was, though. The rest of the world has been talking about this sort of thing for a while now, which explains why we are so beloved across the face of the globe. A blogger over at Kos, points out a passage from an article from 2004: (no that's not a typo)

The unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys, according to NBC News. [emphasis mine]

These things sound horribly unlikely on their face. But think, if we'd heard a couple of years ago that American soldiers would have been convicted for naked pyramids of prisoners or for threatening prisoners with attack dogs, how many of us would have believed it?

We know that prisoners at Gitmo were "subjected to strip-searches with no security value." (Presumably that means body cavities and everything.) We know that at least one prisoner was forcibly sodimized with a glowstick at Abu Ghraib. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller was sent from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib and told to "Gitmo-ize" it, where he told officers to "treat the prisoners like dogs." It's not clear whether that was meant literally or figuratively. It looks like the officers decided to do both.

Remember those additional pictures? The Bush administration is now refusing to obey a judge's order and release the photos. Why? We don't really know. The brief to the judge was sealed and even the ACLU, who brought the suit to gain access to the photos, doesn't know.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sweet Serenity

Just to show up David, I'm letting you know that the international trailer for Serenity has been released. (Be warned, something about that file, and all the mirrors I can find online, locks my computer up 1:43 in, just when the Serenity logo comes onscreen. Still worth it.)

Even better, is this line I found on the IMDB trivia page:

According to an interview with Alan Tudyk, this is the first movie in a three-picture Firefly contract with Universal.
Three Firefly pictures? Excuse me, I'll be in my bunk.

Aloha, BBQ

I would have sworn I'd written a blog post about the closing of the Happy Wanderer "international cafe" on Green Street and the opening of some Hawaiian barbeque place, and how it probably wouldn't manage to stay open the rest of the week. I guess I was wrong, and only blogged it in my head.

Anyway, the Hawaiian barbecue place has now closed, too. No big surprise there. I just don't understand why businesses have such a problem on Green Street. I think the real estate must be horribly expensive. That, and no one actually wants to *go* there, so they rely on the captive student audience.

Which makes the fact that they're not just putting in a Noodles and Company at Green and Sixth a bad idea, but also that they're building a whole new building to put it in. There's also another building going up on Green around, oh, Fourth, I think. Passing by that one this afternoon, it struck me that it might be a parking structure. Which is good, because they took over pretty much the only parking lot in the area to put it up, whatever it is.

It's really amazing how fast those buildings go up. The old Wendy's went away in a day. They spent a long time once the building was gone, working on the foundation and, um, other building-type stuff. The metal superstructure went up in just a couple of days. Putting the brick front on the building seems to be taking a while, but that involves lots of hand-work, I guess. I just hope it will be a useful building once the Noodles goes out of business.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Faux News

For some reason (I was bored) I went to FOX News's website today. Fortunately I don't actually get the channel on my cable subscription, or I'd have popped a gasket. Here's what's running on Hannity & Colmes today:

Was Karl Rove set up?

The controversy over Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove continues to heat up... As the Democrats demand the resignation of the president's top aide, conservatives say this is becoming a political fist fight. Who's right? Is this nothing more than a "tempest in a teapot" as some have charged?

Yeah, because Karl Rove is such a political newbie that, when he outed the wife of an administration critic, endangering her life and ending her career as a spy, it was by accident.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Very Biblical...

It looks like the bigotry of the father is being visited upon the son. Just a couple of days ago, I blogged about Zach, sent to an ex-gay boot camp by his small minded family. It turns out that Zach is indeed real, and his last name is S-------.

And wow, is his family ever small minded. Zach's father is quoted on CBN (I won't link, so as not to increase their Google PageRank):

We felt very good about Zach coming here because… to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn't give him today,” S----- said. “Knowing that your son... statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead.

Now, clearly, Mr. S is a pig. But I want to know what was left out in that bold ellipsis? CBN has already been ... shall we say "creative" with their editing.

Now I do think Mr. S is something of a bigoted nitwit, but it's hard not to think that he's doing what -- in his own mind -- is best for his son. After all, who wants their children to burn in hell for all eternity? But Mr. S has said that he put his kid in there so he wont "have AIDS or [be] dead" by the time he's 30. Why, then, would he put his son in the care of a man that says he'd rather see his "patients" dead rather than still gay at the end of the program?

Updated (27 Aug. 2005): I took out the last name. The kid's sixteen; doesn't seem right to list his full name on the public Web.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Candle blogging

IGI 941 container wax. The wick is 51-32-18 zinc core, which I think is too big. Wet spots like crazy, but I think that's expected for this wax.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Battlestar and Firefly

I think Sci-Fi's new remake of Battlestar Galactica was one of the more underappreciated TV shows of last season. Season two premiers tomorrow, and I have to say that I'm looking forward to it. I don't think it has the quirkyness or the personality of Firefly or Buffy, but it more than makes up for it in excellent acting, an engrossing plot, and a deep backstory (of which we have seen only a taste).

For the space footage, the show doesn't have the grand, sweeping, majestic cinematography that we came to expect from shows like Star Trek, but rather a shaky camera, rack-focus shots, and it just looks much more like you would expect from something a ship's crew running for their lives threw together. I kept being struck last season at how much the effects reminded me of those the much-lamented Firefly.

It turns out that there's a reason for that. The same shop that did much of the effects for Firefly, is now doing them for Battlestar. I'm glad to see they're getting work. And they have a bit of a sense of humor, too. Here's Serenity in the first episode of Battlestar:

(Pic shamlessly stolen from Fireflyfans.net.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Space age Velveelon

I just used a leftover half-brick of Velveeta, then realized it had to be six months old if it was a day. Is this stuff cheese or plastic?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Digby puts it well

Digby was talking about the recent Supreme Court finding about medical marijuana when he said this, which I think describes the entire political climate these days:

The court is operating on the same basis that the political system operates. The liberals and moderates in the minority play by the rules thinking that consistency and intellectual integrity are important and that people will hold it against them if they deviate from their stated position. The shrinking number of real conservatives pay lip service to their belief system as long as it won't affect the outcome: they are subject to the same intimidation as the moderates and liberals if they don't. The right wing radicals just power their way through using any means necessary, willingly taking the help of liberals and moderates who perform the function of useful idiots with their fealty to process and institutional integrity in a time of pure power politics.

I think that basically sums up the politics of the Right these days. It's all about power, nothing more, nothing less. See, for example, how Sensenbrenner abruptly ended the recent debate on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Gee, throw a temper tantrum much?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Love In Action, my ass

David pointed me to the Zach's blog. Zach is a 16 year old boy currently enrolled against his will in an "ex-gay" camp by his parents. I'm not going to rant about the whole ex-gay nonsense, either you know that it's a bunch of fundamentalist Christian brainwashing or, well, you're an idiot. Read the rules of the camp, posted on his blog. They're quite odd. On the whole, they speak for themselves, but I would point out that the camp clearly associates being gay with a lack of appropriately masculine traits and clothing in men (e.g. the need for short hair) and overly masculine ones in women (e.g. the requirement to shave their legs). What I find very disturbing is the requirement for social isolation: "clients" are prohibited from having any contact with anyone outside the household, whether friends or family; no non-prior-approved media is allowed, including faggy non-Christian classical music such as Beethoven or Bach; and one of the applicable punishment for rule-breaking is "isolation from the group." It all sounds very cultlike.

The really frustrating part is that I want to say that the parents are completely within their rights to do this. In a pluralistic society such as ours it is necessary that we allow families to raise children as they see fit. I don't even doubt that Zach's parents are doing what they think is best for him, in their own small-minded, poisonous way. The reason I feel that way is simple: the alternative could have the Texas state government removing kids from their gay parents for exposing them to "unhealty" lifesyles or somesuch.

That is, I did think that. I thought that until I read this quote, attributed to the head of the program, John Smid:

I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.

So we have an ex-gay camp that preaches to emotionally-vulnerable and probably emotionally-traumatized kids that they are better off dead than thinking they might be gay. That crosses the line from religious teachings and into abuse.

This is a common theme with religious groups. They are more interested in saving souls than saving lives. We see it every day with AIDS and prohibitions on teaching about condoms.

It's late and I don't want to write anymore, so I'll let stand what is probably a fairly incoherent rant. I just also want to say that I have some minor doubts about the legitimacy of Zach's blog. I am fairly sure, but not entirely convinced, that Zach is a real teenager. We will have to wait until after he gets out and see.

Oh, and we'll have to wait a bit longer than we thought to hear from Zach. His compulsory stay in the camp has just been extended from two weeks to eight.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Weird things you get in the mail

I feel so special. St. Matthew's Churches sent me a Bible faith handkerchief today. I'm supposed to open my Bible to Acts 19, place the Bible faith handkerchief on it, and send it back, and they will send me back a "wonderful, free, spiritual gift!" Wow. How could I possibly be so lucky?

OK, seriously, now. What really disappoints me is the testimonials -- everyone valid and really sent in by a lucky handkerchief recipient, I'm sure -- that are on the accompanying flier. There are eight, and five pertain to receiving some sort of financial "blessing." Because of all the problems in the world, Jesus's biggest priority is fixing up your house.

What really frosts this cake is that it appears to be a scam. They're trying to get people to send them money.

Prayer by Letters

Preying on the Prayerful

And yet there are people naiive/stupid enough to fall for this crap.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Deeper Throat

It's rumored that on tomrrow's McLaughlin group, Karl Rove will be outed as the person that leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press. You know, when he gave out the name of a covert CIA operative in retaliation for her husband's anti-administration actions?

My guess is that, within the hour, FOX News or another right-wing media outlet will have someone comparing him to Deep Throat, and lauding him for the danger he put his career in to keep the American public informed.

These days, only blowjobs get you impeached.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Queer eye for the straight homeowner

What is with the house on Springfield with the 8-foot-high fence? The one between Mattis and Prospect. It's very tall, and completely unpainted raw wood. It's not fencing anything in, because it's open to the driveway. Nor is it so you can't see the road, because the slats are so far apart you can see right through them.

I'm not saying fences are bad. A number of people in that neighborhood have small 3-4 foot high ones, painted white that can be rather attractive. This one is just freakin' ugly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I didn't get the newsletter

This past weekend was, apparently, Pride. I didn't even know. Bad queer, no biscuit.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

My experience with my Panasonic CT-27HL14

This is the review I just posted over at Amazon for my crappy TV. Here's hoping it gets picked up by a few search engines.

To make a long story short, this TV died on me in less than a year. It turns out that something is wrong inside the picture tube, and it must be replaced. Looking here, this seems to be a common problem. The tube itself is under warranty, but the authorized repair shop is so far away, and the labor costs are so high, that repairing it is not cost-effective and it's a giant paperweight after only eleven months of ownership.

The only authorized repair place is fifty miles away, and there's is no way I can transport this on my own. After spending about $200 on a diagnostic and travel for the repair technician, I find out that the total repair cost to fix the TV will be $450, about the replacement cost.

Panasonic customer support is *horrible.* I spent weeks trying to get someone there to help me. Three times I was told that my issue had to be forwarded to a "field service technician," and that he would be contact me within 24 to 48 hours. No one ever did. Only two months later was I finally able to get someone to help me. Panasonic has an "unsatisfactory" rating at the Better Business Bureau.

So now I'm going to go buy a Sony. I'm sure it and I will be very happy together.

The frustrating part is that I strongly suspect Panasonic knows there is a flaw with this model. Of the ten reviews posted at Amazon, six of them describe almost this exact same problem. Now I realize that only people really happy or really unhappy are going to go to the trouble of reviewing something, but the fact that there are so many, nearly-identical problems reported is suspicious at best. And the first review tech I spoke to said that they've been seeing a lot of problems with Panasonic picture tubes.

UPDATE: Are you coming here because you've had a problem with this same TV model? Leave a comment, please.