I'm sure you know by now the last remaining pieces of Terri Shaivo died today. I figure the media circus around her will die down in two weeks or so. Canonization by the Religious Right will soon follow. (Or whatever it is Southern Baptists do instead of making people saints.)
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Monday, March 28, 2005
Manya sent me email saying that legislation that just passed the Michigan House would allow health care providers to refuse to treat gay people. I'm assuming this bill now has to pass the Michigan Senate before becoming law. (Emergency care may not be refused, thankfully.)
That's pretty Cro-Magnon, you have to admit. Then I was shocked and rather horrified to find that Illinois already has such a law.
(745 ILCS 70) Health Care Right of Conscience Act
It is the public policy of the State of Illinois to ... prohibit all forms of discrimination ... [against] persons ... refusing to act contrary to their conscience or conscientious convictions in refusing to ... deliver ... health care services and medical care.
Sorry for the extreme editing, but the statue is in very circuituous, legalistic language.
I got my eyes checked a few years ago, and was rather -- not offended, that's not the right word -- put out that there were a number of little crocheted things saying "Jesus" scattered around the waiting room. It certainly made me feel rather uncomfortable; someone like me probably wasn't welcome there. I don't think I've ever actually come out to an optometrist before, or ever been in a situation where it would be relevant, but what if I had been in a similar doctor's office for something of a more, shall we say, delicate nature?
Both hospitals in town are Catholic. Now, abortion aside, Catholics are actually quite generous in their good works; I don't expect them to start turning gays away at the door. I'm not sure if that would be the case if they were run by any of the more fire-and-brimstone Christian denominations. Do the Southern Baptists run any hospitals? Let's hope not.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
I don't mean to harp on the Schiavo thing. It's just that there's basically a media blitzkrieg going on now about it, so it's often in my mind. Good thing there isn't anything important going on in the world right now to distract us from this coverage. Can you imagine what would happen how unimportant this would seem if we were involved in a war or something at the same time?
And the Christian right is being their typical hypocritical selves:
I guess the correct term is "culture of life for you people, not me."
Also, there's an article over at DailyKos that makes this point:
My answer is that the radical right hasn't taken a moral position at all.
The radical right has not argued for reinsertion based on a moral position. Instead they are disputing the facts and claiming that Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state...
The radical right say there are "factual questions" about Terri's condition and wishes that are open and have not been resolved. They aren't arguing a moral position -- they are playing amateur detectives, marriage counselors and neurologists.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Radio host and right-wing racist whackjob Hal Turner had this to say on his radio show today:
I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death.
Something tells me that what he really means is:
I advocate the use of force by someone other than myself to rescue Terri Shiavo from being starved to death.
Unless he actually has the courage of his convictions, which I strongly doubt.
I won't even dignify his website with a link. If you want, Google for it. Then go wash yourself.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office in 2003 after defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building, claimed that "there's no scientific evidence of evolution."
From the March 22 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MOORE: There's no scientific evidence of evolution. Evolution is a theory and has been recognized so by many. You have always heard of the missing link, haven't you?
MOORE: It is still missing. In other words, they can't explain how male and female came and every species from one atom or one amoeba.
Again, we see the "evolution is just a theory" bugagoo which creationists bring out constantly, showing their complete ignorance of what the word means in a scientific context.
And this nonsense about the "missing link"? The missing link harkens back to the 19th centry idea of the Great Chain of Being, back when all living things were considered to be reside on a ladder, having God at the top, all the different kinds of angels beneath him, white men directly underneath the angels, then the other races, then all the different animal species. The missing link was supposed to be something between the different races of man, and the apes. That it had never been found was supposed to be "proof" that evolution was wrong. Roy Moore has no idea what he's talking about.
Of course, the whole evolution vs. creationism debate isn't about rational discourse. It's about setting back the Enlightenment, the 18th century revolution of reason against the superstition and irrationality of the Dark Ages.
There is a Culture War going on around us. It is not a war we can afford to lose without losing our soul as a country and a people and a society.
We must rage against the dying of this light.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
We've all heard that Terri Schaivo is, to all intents and purposes, brain-dead. Most of her brain has liquified. So how is it that places like FOX News can come up with a doctor that says not only does she respond to those around her, but can essentially communicate? How come she's so responsive to this doctor, and no others?
That doctor is William Hammesfahr. MediaMatters points out that, according to FOX News and his website, he was nominated for a Nobel prize. Hammesfahr's Senator wrote a letter to the Nobel committee nominating him for the Nobel. The problem with that is that you can't just up and nominate someone for a Nobel. Making a nomination for a Nobel prize is by invitation only. The only people that get invited to make a nomination are themselves doctors and scientists. Hammesfahr's Senator is, by trade, a lawyer and engineer. So his letter to the Nobel committee was a meaningless gesture. By this logic, I would send an email to someone at nobelprize.org and nominate my ass for the Peace Prize.
Furthermore, even if Hammesfahr had been legintemately nominated for the Nobel, we would never know. The names of nominees are not released for fifty years after the prize is awarded.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Republicans jumped onto the Terri Schiavo wagon as fast as they could, beating their pro-life drums with all the hypocritical fervor they could muster. I came across the last-minute debates on C-SPAN this evening, and am having a hard time turning away. The speed and ruthlesness with which the Republicans have politicized this issue is truly repulsive.
One thing I've noticed is that the parents and siblings of Ms. Schiavo is referred to as "the family of Terri Schiavo." Why is Michael Schiavo, her legal husband, no longer considered her family? So much for "preserving the sanctity of marriage."
The News-Gazette now has a weblogs page. They don't have much of the newspaper online, but they have some links to local blogs. I was poking around in the ones they to which they currently link, and came across this amusing exchange between a U of I senior and a creationist putting up flyers all over campus. His replies to the creationist are remarkably well-written and thought out. I've read quite a few undergraduate (and even graduate) writings, and you'd be surprised at how bad the writing is. It's always good to see someone in the science able to put a sentence together.
The problem is: you can't have a rational argument with a creationist. They're not coming from a rational mind-place. They've already made up their minds; they know the way the world was put together, and anything that disagrees with their Biblical worldview is, by definition, wrong. Oddly, that's what puts science at a disadvantage. Science needs hypotheses, experiments, data, and all that stuff, while creationism just needs the Bible. Anything fact in dispute with creationism is just part of the evil, athiest conspiracy to either "force God out of our schools" or "force God out of our society."
OK, I guess you can argue with a creationist. You can't debate one. Their position is primarily an emotional one. There is no fact or fossil or theory that can get them to change their view, which is why creationism is inherently un-scientific. (Don't get me started on misuse of the word "theory.") That's why their arguments are usually directed at school boards and laypeople rather than the scientific community. The belief doesn't hold up under scientific scrutiny (Evolution is just a theory. Life is really complicated; it had to be designed.), but it sounds good. The problem is that sound-good, feel-good soundbites don't a scientific theory make.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The Illinois House today passed the Safe Games Illinois Act, a completely useless law that bans the sale or rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors. The penalty for doing so would be up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Furnishing alcohol to a minor will only get you at most a $2,500 fine, even though both are Class A midemeanors.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that minors should be getting their hands on these games. From what I've heard, Grand Theft Auto is not a game that should be played by anyone of, shall we say, a more impressionable age. Governor Blagojevich said of the passing of this bill,
I would like to commend and thank the Illinois House of Representatives for moving Illinois one step closer to protecting our children from violent and sexually explicit video games. In today's world, parents face unprecedented challenges in monitoring and protecting their children from harmful influences. This bill will make their job easier."
"Protecting our children from video games"? He makes it sound like they jumping off the shelves and attacking people. Every video game out there is ESRB rated right one the front of the box, just like movies. You can't miss these ratings. Grand Theft Auto, which is basically the game being demonized this week is rated Mature, inappropriate for those under 17. Apparently this law will make it easier for parents to protect their children because they're too damn lazy to pick up the game and look at the front of it.
Even though movies are rated using similar criteria as video games, and movie theaters (in theory) don't let kids into R-rated movies, a kid getting a ticket to see Constantine or Sideways isn't a criminal act. Why should movies be treated differently?
Andrew O'Hehir has a fascinating article in Salon today about the myth of violence in media and how it affects children. It is taken as gospel that violent media and violent video games turns kids violent. Whereas, it turns out that there is no scientific basis to make that claim. The article points out that there is no such consensus in the fields of psychology, criminology or media studies about the effect of the media.
The author says there are two assumptions that underlie this debate:
- We live in an unusually violent era.
- Our entertainment avenues, our media, is significantly more violent than previous generations', and therefore the cause.
He points out that we do not live in violent times. In fact, over the past five centuries, violence has been decreasing. The murder rate now is lower than it was in medieval Europe. Perhaps a steady diet of Scott Peterson, OJ, and the War on Terror just has us hypersensitized to it.
Nor is our entertainment more violent than previously. Now we watch movies and TV and play video games. O'Hehir points out that in previous generations, as recently as the 1930s, public executions were actually attended by thousands of people, recreationally. Now we watch fantasy violence. Our grandparents watched real violence.
This stupid law is just a hysterical overreaction to an imaginary problem.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Yes, I'm hooked on a reality TV show. I really do think that The Amazing Race is a really good show. I do have a blog entry running around in my head all about the Big Asshole From Boston, so that will be coming sometime.
One thing I really like about TAR is that they go to all these amazing places and incorporate local traditions and costumes and historical sites. This season in Peru, one of the challenges was herding llamas. Last season in Argentina, they had to find the grave of Eva Peron. This week was the disgusting food challenge, where contestants had to eat a traditional Argentinian barbecue consisting of a whole lot of beef, some of more ... obscure parts of the animal. Four pounds of barbecue.
From what I can find on the Web, that's about 4500 calories of beef, or more than two days worth. (That's 190 to 330 calories per 3.5 oz serving, depending on the cut of beef, cooking method, and fat content.)
This is the only part of the show that I really don't like. We're already a fat country. Obesity kills a lot of us. Do we really need to watch people stuff their big fat mouths with literally enough food to feed an entire family? Much of the rest of the Race can be overcome by either physical strength or cleverness and the ability to not get lost in the middle of nowhere in Urgblechistan. This challenge just seems out of place, and I get the feeling it's only in there because Survivor and Fear Factor all have a disgusting food challenge.
Another thing is that it seems very disrespectful to the cultures the Racers are visiting. Like I said, the show goes all over the world and incorporates local, ahem, flavor into each episode. Then comes an episode where the challenge is, "Welcome to our country, now eat enough of a local dish until you're vomiting all over everywhere, and eat some more!" Two seasons ago, the Racers had to eat the equivalent of a dozen eggs (one ostrich egg) in a less-than-particularly-opulent African village. The locals didn't look particularly overfed, and here are a bunch of rich Americans eating so much that they puked, only to continue eating.
It is sometimes considered a sign of the decadence of Ancient Rome that the highest classes would deliberatly vomit after a huge meal so they could contiue to feast. (The existence of the vomitorium, or a room specifically dedicated to the practice appears to be a myth.) Bulemia is a serious and completely un-entertaining problem for many in this country. Is watching it as entertainment something that's really appropriate?
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Sci-fi has done some really good shows. Farscape and Battlestar Galactica both come to mind. Unfortunately, they also have a penchant for really crappy movies with at best B-grade actors and some CGI monster of the week. Giant insects, giant snakes, giant worms from the depths of the sea, etc. Usually with about five people trapped in some remote location trying to not get eaten, except most of them do.
This week's pile of crap is Mansquito. I can't decide if that sounds more like a crappy sci-fi movie, or some sort of sci-fi porn movie.
Friday, March 11, 2005
If you've ever been in the gay.com chatrooms, you're familiar with the gay.com porn spammers. Previously confined to putting links in their bios, and dropping nonsense phrases into the chatroom, they're now starting to advertise directly.
This particular spammer always has the same MO. A geocities link redirects to gayonlinevideos.com, which hosts a page containing nothing but links to his many other porn sites. And by many, I mean many:
HardcoreGayBondage.comWhew! All of these are hosted on reliablehosting.com, a completely spam-friendly outfit. In fact, it appears they are not even a legitimate hosting firm, but rather just part of a long term porn spam gang.
Every one of these sites (every one I checked, anyway) is owned by onlinemedianetwork.com.
whois -h whois.namesecure.com hardcoregaybondage.com ...
Online Media Network, Inc. Online Media Network, Inc.
Online Media Network, Inc.
2805 East Oakland Park Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306-1813
Created on 08-25-2003
Expires on 08-25-2005
Online Media Network, Inc. Online Media Network, Inc.
Interestingly enough, onlinemedianetwork.com is apparently so very successful, the are not mentioned anywhere on the web at all. They have no website. www.onlinemedianetwork.com returns a 403 forbidden error. The only Google hits I got were two posts by someone named "Antonio" looking for gay porn models ("no over weights sorry") and a gay porn webmaster.
Motherfucking, parasitic, spamming bastards.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I got Half-Life some time ago, played it about half way through, and reinstalled it last night to finish it. Anything that won that many awards and often gets named the best game of all time is something I have to play. Rather than work through the half that I played again, I figured out some of the cheats, and am playing through in god mode. Even in god mode, the game still scares the crap out of me. Now *that* is a sign of an effective game.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go change my underwear.
Monday, March 07, 2005
I did not realize this until just today. From the Texas Constitution:
No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
Fortunately, the US Constitution overrides that clause and nullifies it, unless Clarence Thomas gets his way.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
I just had a guy in the chatroom, who I've never seen before and certainly never chatted with, private me to call me an ugly bitch. What the fuck? The sad thing is he's the only gay man who's looked at me in months.
If you live in Illinois or Michigan you can get a free copy of your credit report from the three big credit agencies for free. Actually it applies to a number of states other than those, but I know that all the people that regularly read this blog are from one of those states. I haven't checked mine in quite a while. As a previous victim of identity theft, yes, I know that's bad of me.
You can get your credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by phone at 877-322-8228. I just did it, and it really is painless. Now we'll see if my credit is just as painless.