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

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.