Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry freaking Christmas

... and a happy winter soltice, too.

As you've figured out by now, posting will be basically non-existant while I'm away over the holidays. In the meantime, go take a look at this Mallard Fillmore cartoon (scroll down). The "War on Christmas" silliness is just getting out of hand. I'd ask the author of Mallard Fillmore to produce a single example of someone being disciplined for wishing someone a Merry Christmas, except he's probably busy right now dealing with yet another of his drunk driving arrests.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Anti-gay news OK, pro-gay news not OK

Ex-Gay Watch reports that Florida's Palm Beach County School District is blocking access to a number of gay websites like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, while simultaneously allowing access to anti-gay sites like National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and Focus on the Family.

The district uses Blue Coat Systems's WebFilter software to filter out websites. It seems that Blue Coat lumps any site having anything to do with being gay as part of their "Sexuality/Alternative Lifestyles" which consists of:

Sites that provide information, promote, or cater to gays, lesbians, swingers, other sexual orientations or practices, or a particular fetish.

So being gay is now the same as having a fetish.

A article says that "[The District's] computer security manager, Bob LaRocca, says the filtering software being used comply with the Child Online Protection Act and the Children Internet Protection Act." That makes no sense. COPA was blocked by the courts in 1998, ruled likely to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and went back under trial in October, 2006. CIPA, which has been found constitutional, is very specific about protecting children from porn, not GLAAD. Therefore, the district is applying this web filtering software to comply with laws that aren't relevant.

Blue Coat has a page where you can check on the filtering category for a website. I plugged a few in. Any pro-gay site falls under Sexuality/Alternative Lifestyles. Focus on the Family falls under Religion, Education, and Health. The vehemently anti-gay Illinois Family Institute, run by Porno Pete, is classified only as "Education."

Most objectionably, Love in Action is classified as Health. You may recall from a year or so ago when a teenager named Zach was forced his parents to attend their program, which claims to turn gay teens straight. The head of the program has said that, "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle." After Tennessee sued LIA, claiming they restricted LIA's patients captives access to their own medication, LIA countersued, claiming religious discrimination. The suit was settled. LIA, whose slogan is "Finding freedom in Jesus Christ," continues their anti-gay programs, but does not need a license as a mental health facility. Clearly, their classification as a Health website by Blue Coat is inaccurate.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A crazy thought

Just before the November elections, President Bush lied about keeping Secretary Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense for the rest of Bush's term. The very day after the election, Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation. The conventional wisdom seems to be that this was a tacit acknowledgment that the Iraq war is not exactly going swimmingly well, and that a change was needed.

It looks like Rumsfeld reported to Bush before the election that the Gulf War II was going poorly and that something needed to change:

Prior to his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presented a classified memo to the White House acknowledging that the administration's strategy in Iraq was not working and suggesting a major course correction.

Everything about this administration has shown that it is incapable of admitting error. After all, Bush says God Himself told him to fight this war. (If the we don't win the war, was God wrong?) Bush has also said that the conclusions from the Iraq Study Group are crap.

So is it crazy to think that maybe it was this memo that made Bush give Rumsfeld the boot? He was actually fired, rather than retired?

UPDATE: David says in the comments:

I never thought Rumsfeld voluntarily resigned. I've always believed Bush told Rumsfeld he had to go, but allowed him to say he resigned/retired. That allowed Rumsfeld to save face...

Maybe I wasn't clear. I agree with David; I don't doubt Rumsfeld was given the boot. Joe Solmonese says in this week's Advocate:

Rumsfeld is gone. So [Bush has] shown a willingness to change course based on the election results."

What I was trying to say was that there seems to be a prevalent attitude, like Solmonese's, that Rumsfeld was fired because the election went so well for the Democrats and that it was a signal that Bush accepted the need to change his attitude on Iraq.

I think it was the exact opposite. I think Rumsfeld told Bush in this memo that things needed to change and that Bush fired him for daring to do so. They just lied and conspired so that he would leave after the election. That may have been deliberate, so people took this very impression from Rumsfeld's departure, or just so he could save face. Everything we've seen is consistent with this administration being unable to admit error. After all, Bush has said God Himself told him to go to war, so how could it fail?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Polyester being the tool of the devil, of course

Fig over at Sing a Song of Sixpence warns of a looming theological schism:

The Episcopal Church, along with the Presbyterian Church, and the United Methodist Church are probably experiencing the greatest amount of conflict over equal rights for their members who choose to wear cloth of blended fibers. More liberal Christian denominations have already largely accepted cotton/poly blends as simply another normal, natural, and morally neutral clothing choice. More conservative denominations have retained the historical Christian belief. They condemn all mixed fiber clothing, regardless of the stylishness or comfort of the garment.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A dumptruck full of stupid

This is really making the blogger rounds, so I'm probably the last person to weigh in on it and you're already probably tired of hearing about it. But, just in case you live under a rock, here it is: Jim Rutz, a columnist at World Net Daily, has written a column about how soy-based foods make you gay. Seriously. I am not making this up. The title of the article is, "A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals." After reading it, I'm honestly surprised such a short piece of writing can contain such a high level of weapons-grade stupidity.

There has got to be at least one factual error, stereotype, or just flat-out fabrication in every sentence, if not every word of this article. His thesis is that soy products contain estrogens, and those are "feminising" and that's bad. This is basically the money quote:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products.

Oh, Stupid, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

  1. Rise in homosexuality? There are really more gay people now than previously? Based on what, he doesn't say. Maybe it was all those studies on gay people done in the 1880s that he's referring to. If there's been such a big rise in queers, that just makes it doubly frustrating that I can't find a date.

  2. Note the implication that gay men are feminine. Fags lack masculinity. We all walk around lisping, bending our pinky fingers when we drink tea, and carrying a purse. A pink purse. With sequins. Good God, someone get this man to a leather bar, quick.
  3. So soy leads to femininity, which leads to small dicks and all the faggotry, huh? The only study I've been able to find suggests that gay men have bigger dicks, not little ones. (Bogaert and Hershberger. "The Relation Between Sexual Orientation and Penile Size." Archives of Sexual Behavior. 28. 213 (1999).)

I could go on, but I'm trying not to. (Did you notice I didn't mention his claim that childhood leukemia has increased by more than one-fourth in a single year? One-fourth! Argh.) There is so much stupid in this article, it burns on contact.

This was published on World Net Daily, and there's a reason it's sometimes referred to as World Nut Daily by people with a functioning cerebellum. What I fear, is that there are people that use it (and probably FOX News) as a primary source of information, and will read this, internalize quite a bit of it, and never begin to suspect the yawning chasm of stupid that lies within it.

Others, smarter than me, have already weighed in: Sing a Song of Sixpence, Feministing, Ex-Gay Watch, Americablog, Pam's House Blend, Wayne Besen, and Pharyngula are a few.

(Just no one tell John Bambenek about this article, please. He likes to quote studies done by the Heritage Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and calls it "research.")

Anyway, Jim Rutz is a putz.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Yeah, but what about Chip?

Wow, that was quick:

Lance Bass and his boyfriend, Reichen Lehmkuhl, have called it quits, People magazine reported on its Web site Monday.

Bass, who was part of the boy band 'N Sync, revealed earlier this year that he is gay and was in a relationship with Lehmkuhl, a former Air Force captain and winner of season four of CBS' "Amazing Race."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

An orgy of studies

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

An alternative title for this post could be "Slutty feminists, chapter III: In which my chair at the adult table is permanently revoked." For background information, there was my first response to John Bambenek's letter in the Daily Illini, and then a look at the data he used to support his statement that "99% of abortions are for sexual convenience."

Last time I showed why Bambenek's claim in his recent Daily Illini silliness that "99% of all abortions are for 'convenience'" wasn't supported by the very Institute he cites. Now, I'll take a look at the three studies he finally cited on his blog that (he says) show sex causes depression in women. He cites three studies:

The first of these, the Heritage study, I just don't find credible. This study was never anything other than vanity published and was never peer-reviewed. Furthermore, the Heritage Institute is a conservative think tank. Their very mission statement says that they "formulate and promote conservative public policies." Of course, this study is going to reflect bad on sex; it's the job of Heritage employees to produce such studies. If the study had shown otherwise, it probably wouldn't have seen the light of day.

Because this study is so useful to conservatives, even if it is unscientific, it has been cited often in the conservative media, including World Net Daily and More importantly, it caused fellow conservative Joseph Sabia to publish an actual peer-reviewed study examining their results: "Does Early Adolescent Sex Cause Depressive Symptoms?" J. of Policy Analysis and Management. 25. 803 (2006). It's a long study and I won't bore you with the details. Here are the juicy bits from the conclusion:

[Recent] claims about the causes and consequences of early teen sex have been overstated... This study presents consistent evidence that early entrance into sexual intercourse is not the cause of depression, but rather is an observable indicator of depression... it is inappropriate to infer a causal link between early teen sex and depressive symptoms.

Turning to Bambenek's second study, actually it's a news article on the actual study, which I assume is Hallfors, et al. "Adolescent Depression and Suicide Risk." American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 27. 224 (2004). This study looked at the incidence of depression and suicidal ideation in boys and girls 16 ± 5 years old. This study did show an increase in the rates of depression and suicidal ideation in boys and girls having sex. "Ah ha," you say? "Bambenek was right, you say?" Well no. From the study's abstract:

Although causal direction has not been established, involvement in any sex or drug use is cause for concern, and should be a clinical indication for mental health screening for girls;

And from the study's conclusion:

There was some indication that substance use ... led to depression rather than the reverse, but there are other studies indicating that adolescents may become involved in risk taking in response to preexisting depression.

In other words, these fact that these teens were having sex may well have been a symptom of their depression, not the cause of it.

Furthermore, this was a study on teenagers, not the slutty college-age-and-up feminists Bambenek was berating. The study included girls and boys down to age eleven, which I don't think tend to be avid readers of Gloria Steinem.

(Also, the study showed that having highly educated parents led to a slight decrease in depression, but a large increase in suicidal ideation. Go figure.)

On to the third study. This is the most relevant study to Bambenek's assertion, in that it studies casual sex among college students and a possible link to depressive symptoms. At first glance, it seems to support what Bambenek is saying, that sex causes depression. Except that's only true for the women studied. In the case of men, casual sex actually correlated with a decrease in depressive symptoms. But the authors of this study specifically do not draw the conclusion Bambenek claims:

Perhaps depressed females may be seeking external validation from sex. They may be maintaining a vicious depressive cycle by unconsciously engaging in sex in doomed relationships. Possibly, these females' negative feelings of self-worth or isolation may increase their desire to be wanted by or intimate with another... Furthermore, the more depressive symptoms females reported, the more partners they had. We speculate this may be associated with either little sexual satisfaction or increased efforts to fill an internal void.

So, again, we see speculation from the researchers involved that sex may be a symptom of existing emotional problems, rather than being the cause of the problems themselves. The Grello study was done at a "university located within the Southern Bible Belt with a fairly conservative student population." If this university had attitudes like Bambenek's, referring to women as sluts and harlots, I don't think it's a big leap to suspect engaging in sex could lead to feelings of guilt and shame which could lead, in turn, to depression.

I wonder why Bambenek didn't find this in these studies, if he was using them to support his position. After all, the Hallfors study says that they did not find a casual link between sex and depression right in the abstract. Perhaps it's unfair of me, but I suspect it's because Bambenek started out with his conclusion, and cherry-picked studies that supported it. For an intellectual study of any subject -- and a scientist should know this -- that's exactly the bass-ackwards way to go about it.

Of course, all this analysis on my part was pretty much a waste of time, because Bambenek's main assumption, that feminists think women should be slutty, is ridiculous. Just to check that my belief was correct, I went looking. At the website for the National Organization of Women (and what bigger group of man-hating, inner-slut-mentality-having feminists could there be?). I couldn't find anything relevant when searching on "sexuality," "casual sex," or "hooking up." Unable to think of any more search terms, I went to their "Issues" page, where there really isn't any information about sex. Economic equality, women's health, rights for mothers, sure, but nothing about living in slut-dom. The closest thing I found was in their Health section, on how to prevent STDs. What's the first method they suggest for not contracting an STD? "Do not have sex."

Obviously, they're not very good harlots.

(Wow, you read to the end. I'm impressed. Hope you're not too bored.)

Update (2007-10-30): Added icon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Finally, some data

After insulting the intelligence of anyone who dared question him, John Bambenek has updated his anti-feminist tirade at his blog to include the studies he used in his DI editorial. So lets take a look at what he's basing his opinions on.

His first point was that "99% percent of all abortions" are for "sexual convenience." Unfortunately, the link he posted is broken, so it's hard to judge that. But, he said that he used the Guttmacher Institute for his data. Instead, lets take a look at an article they list in their Abortion section: Lawrence Finer, et al. "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives" Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2005, 37(3):110–118. The reasons that women have abortions are varied and complicated, but the largest reasons are that a child would interfere with the mother's education, job, or their ability to care for their current children. Seventy-three percent said they wouldn't be able to afford to care for a child. (Respondents could select more than one answer.)

Bambenek wraps all of these up in the petty-sounding description of "convenience," as this reason is not listed anywhere in the study. It's a term that he's invented, he's defined, and which he can use to over-simplify this complicated into a nice, tidy sound bite. I'm not sure how in anyone's mind "I can barely feed the children I have now, and I'll get fired if I have to take off time from work to have another baby" can reasonably be called a matter of "convenience." Obviously, Bambenek concern here is to trivialize the reasons women have abortions to make them sound petty and selfish.

The Guttmacher paper also says that 25% of women cited concerns with their health or the health of the fetus as a consideration. Bambenek casually disregards these concerns with:

Now I don’t regard "health" of the mother as particularly indicative of anything because pregnancy is, by definition, a HUGE factor for the health of the mother and comes with no small share of risk. It’s used flippantly in debates and I have no reason to see the same crowd doesn’t use it flippantly in research.

Wait, what? First he says that pregnancy is a "huge factor for the health of the mother" and then disregards these concerns as "flippant." In other words, there's this huge issue, which one in four women consider when having an abortion, and Bambenek is just going to ignore it because he finds it inconvenient.

Well, next time my cousin in lying in the hospital with pre-eclampsia, pumped full of steroids to where she looked like a balloon so that the baby's lungs would develop enough that he would be able to survive when they delivered him prematurely, I'll make sure to tell her to stop whining because she's being "flippant."

Actually, it looks like Bambenek's choice of the word "convenience" may be part of a tactic of the anti-choice movment as a whole. Quoting from the Guttmacher paper:

Yet some broad concepts emerged from the study. A crosscutting theme was women’s responsibility to children and other dependents, as well as considerations about children they may have in the future. Most women in every age, parity, relationship, racial, income and education category cited concern for or responsibility to other individuals as a factor in their decision to have an abortion. In contrast to the perception (voiced by politicians and laypeople across the ideological spectrum) that women who choose abortion for reasons other than rape, incest and life endangerment do so for "convenience," our data suggest that after carefully assessing their individual situations, women base their decisions largely on their ability to maintain economic stability and to care for the children they already have.

(I was also going to look at the studies he offers showing how women become emotionally "devastated" if they have sex, but I just don't have time tonight. More later.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Excuse me, your knuckles are dragging

Every once in a while, I check out what John Bambenek has written for the Daily Illini, and every time I regret it. He writes with this bizarre combination of seething anger, pompous self-righteousness, and Freeper-esque zealotry. His letter published in today's DI is no exception. Today he's blathering on about some very odd concept of feminism, one that seems to bear no resemblance to real feminism.

He begins reasonably enough:

Originally, feminism was about changing attitudes, particularly that women are of equal dignity as men. Women can be just as capable to become doctors, lawyers, CEOs or politicians. Far from being merely sperm receptacles, they are people entitled to the full balance of human dignity. The rallying call of these feminists was "love me for my mind, not just my body."

It's hard to disagree with most of that, though I would suggest the origins of feminism largely originated with the radical request of "Hello, may I vote too, please?" However, though I haven't studied the history of the movement in great detail, I don't think feminism was much about "being loved" so much as the idea that women should be allowed to take part in society just as much as men.

Then we find out that feminism has been hijacked by ... those damn, evil, feminists:

Enter groups such as the Feminist Majority at the University of Illinois. The motto of this group and those like it can be described as "love me for my body ... PLEASE!" The slogans they chose to put on their T-shirts revolve around sex toys and genitalia. In psychology this would be called a "fixation."

No, I think in psychology, this would be called a T-shirt. They usually have short, witty, and often slightly provocative sayings on them. Quickly glancing at some available T-shirts at, I found such slogans as, "I reject your reality and substitute my own," "I'm not a gynecologist ... but I'll take a look," and "You say potato ... I say fuck you." Now, these T-shirt slogans and those wearing them are not actually supporting schizophrenia, medical malpractice, or overdoing it with carbs. They're just trying to be funny. It's not a good idea to attempt to analyze a whole movement based on what's printed clothing handed out on a college campus.

It's not even clear what shirts Bambeneck was referring to. He doesn't say. But I did check out the Feminist Majority at UIUC's webpage, and I couldn't find anything about sex toys or genitalia, much to my inner straight man's disappointment. I did, however, find a mission statement saying that they make their "best efforts to inform the student population about the issues related to women's rights and equality in society." I also found information on women's health issues, and links to other sites, at least two of which are dedicated to stopping domestic violence. Links to the sellers of dildos and vibrators? Not a one. Not even a measly French tickler.

Then the gloves come off and the real derangement begins:

Women traditionally have been looked upon as sexual objects. So what do these neofeminists do? ... They've gone one step further from the prostitution of women to preaching harlotry. The difference between a prostitute and a harlot is that the prostitute at least has enough self respect to demand payment for services rendered.

Wow. I can almost see the flecks of foam at the corners of Bambi's mouth now. On a thou-shalt-not-judge scale of 1 to 10, where Preacher Dan is a 5 and Fred Phelps is a 14, that rates about a 7.

Now he gets to what evil, evil feminism has cost us:

It has lead to the rejection of the biggest trait distinctive of women - motherhood.

For you women readers ... and who the hell taught you to read anyway? A waste of perfectly good time that could have been better used teaching you to cook and sew, if you ask me. Anyway, for you women readers we now see what your options in life are:

  1. Madonna.
  2. Whore.

You may pick only one. You can be a raving feminist slut that spreads her legs for any man that comes along, or you can be an innocent chaste virgin that thinks babies are left under cabbage leaves who is gently deflowered on her wedding night to the sound of harpsichord music and the fluttering of angels' wings.

Seriously, this apparent inability of Bambi's to visualize a woman as anything other than the Whore of Babylon or an automated progeny cannon seems positively unhealthy.

(And what's up with this being printed as a "letter," anyway? Has his tenure as a DI columnist ended, or does this have something to do with the fact that the DI suspended all staff-written editorials a few weeks ago for an unstated reason?)

UPDATE: Bambenek himself visited and comments:

Argumentum ad hominem. I win.

First of all, Bambenek doesn't get to call women "sluts" and "harlots" and them complain about ad hominem attacks. It's a rule. There's even a word for that. Hippo-something...

Secondly, mine wasn't even an ad hominem argument. That's when someone ridicules the arguer rather than the argument. I was pointing out, in a biting, witty, and sarcastic manner, that Bambenek's argument was one giant false dilemma. Namely, that the only possible options he presented were that women are all raving whores or vestal virgins. That's it. Nothing in between. I didn't even get around to pointing out the false statement about the Guttmacher statistics (they don't even list "sexual convenience" as one of the reasons women have abortions, 25% do so because of concerns for their health or the health of the fetus). Then there's the fact that his whole letter is a straw man argument that feminism (oh, excuse me, "neo-feminism") tells women to hump anything even slightly pointy. He also vaguley quotes "studies" which I can't seem to find. I did a Google Scholar search for "inner-slut mentality" and came up with no hits. I suspect that, even if he did find some sort of study, it doesn't say what he thinks it says.

Need I even mention how he portrays women as the Guardian of the Temple of Chastity, while men are simply slathering, mindless slaves to their urges that bear no moral responsibility of their own? It's a mild form of the same attitude that forces women to wear the burqua in Middle Eastern countries: men are unable to control themselves when it comes to those "feminine wiles," so it's the women who are to be blamed if they have sex.

UPDATE II: Feministing also has a good slap-down of Bambenek's "argument."

UPDATE III: Bambenek also posted this over at, where there has been a few interesting comments. The first commenter is skeptical asks John to explain what studies he was talking about that inspired his "devastation from the inner-slut mentality" line. John responds with:

How fundamentally unamerican for you to tell me what I can and cannot say. This is America, you don't tell me what I can and can't say, you don't pre-select who gets to talk about issues, and you don't get to stack the deck.

Um, no. Someone asking you to put your money where your mouth is when you spout off about dubious "facts" isn't censorship.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's not easy being purple

Sigh. I had one idea for a blog post, found a better one, then found this. I need more hours in the day.

Last night, I was having a conversation about the past election, and I remembered that, after 2004, there were a number of red and blue maps going around showing how red the country was. Somewhere, someone had made similar maps, by county, but colored them different shades of purple, showing how false the red-vs-blue divide really is. Here are the maps for the 2004 Presidential election.

He also adjusted the map to shrink or enlarge each district based on its population, which makes for a really bizzare looking image, but gives better insight into voting patterns. Looking at that image reinforces why I don't think it's a good idea to eliminate the Electoral College: candidates would basically ignore every place other than the Eastern seaboard, California, Chicago, and Florida.

He's now done the same thing for the 2006 election, for both the House and the Senate. Here's the image for the House:

One thing that's surprising about this image is how there are pockets of blue running through the South (and there are similar pockets of purple for the 2004 Presidential election). A commenter elsewhere claims that these are the counties with largely black populations, and they tend to vote Democratic, while Southern whites are overwhelmingly Republican.

The West looks incredibly red, until you realize that states like Montana are only a single district because they have about 3 people living there. He does another chart that adjusts all the counties so they have the same area (since all districts elect exactly one Representative), and those states are less imposing.

Via Pam's House Blend.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tased and confused

I assume everyone has seen the video of the UCLA student getting Tasered multiple times, even after he's been fully incapacitated. It's difficult to watch, to say the least; it took me three days to make myself go past the first minute or so. In case you're not the blog addict I am, a UCLA student forgot his ID, became unruly when either asked for it or was asked to leave, the campus police came, and as he was leaving the library Tased him. Not just once, but multiple times, demanding he stand up and comply with their instructions.

A Taser fires and electrical shock which is extremely painful, and robs you of the ability to control your body. From what I've been able to find online, recovery from a single Taser strike varies with the individual, but can take up to several minutes. So these cops demanding he stand after multiple strikes were being unreasonable.

What I find really disturbing is their demands that he "stand up or be Tased again." The cops are using it as a form of punishment and discipline, which is not appropriate for a potentially lethal weapon. There's not a lot online but police policy in Hawaii states:

...that the drive stun feature is used "where an officer or someone else is physically confronted, serious bodily injury is imminent and no other alternative exists except for the use of the drive stun."

Obviously, an incapacitated student poses little threat to several security officers.

The thing that really disturbs me is that, toward the end of the video, some of the crowd of students are asking the campus cops for their badge numbers. One of the cops tells a student to stand to the side "or you'll get Tased too."

UCLA appears to be in damage-control mode, rather than ensure-the-safety-of-students mode. From Talking Points Memo:

...the officers involved have not even been put on administrative leave pending completion of the internal and external reviews of the incident. Why not? It's not clear from the article.

But to hear UCLA's acting chancellor talk, it looks like the university is managing the perception of a problem rather than the problem itself: "Norman Abrams said he ordered the probe after the university received numerous calls and e-mails from parents and alumni raising concerns about the officers' actions during the videotaped Tuesday night arrest, which has been widely seen on TV news and the YouTube website."

The video itself apparently didn't prompt an outside review, but concerns from alum (i.e., donors) and parents did. Nice.

One thing this incident shows is the power of the Internet. A student with a cameraphone, YouTube, and the blogosphere have given this story nationwide attention, when, only a few years ago, it might have made only the local newspaper or might possibly have been completely ignored.

Archpundit and Americablog have more.

Update: It looks like the campus cops in this case were using the Taser in "drive stun" mode. That may be less incapacitating than the mode where the Taser shoots too electrodes into the skin of the target. Again, there's not much online, but this was reported in the case of a Florida police department:

A recent amendment to the DeLand Police Department's Taser policy is clearer, saying that the "drive-stun" mode can be used only under exceptional circumstances

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Only a few months left to protect traditional marriage

Now that we only have a few months left with a Republican-controlled Congress, they need to act now to protect traditional marriage. Namely, Britney and K-Fed's. Jon Swift (not dead, as previously reported) says that it needs to be done for the sake of the children:

One of the arguments opponents of gay marriage make is that every child needs exactly one mother and one father to grow up to be a healthy adult. Isn't it clear that Britney's and K-Fed's children also need a mother and a father? They need a mother who can provide them with all of the material goods they require, which their father can't provide, and they need a father who can pick them up without dropping them. I think it is clear that neither of them alone can provide the care essential to the well-being of these children.

If Republicans really want to protect the institution of marriage, and were not simply trying to ban gay marriage to use it as a wedge issue in the campaign, then they should prove their dedication to this cause by introducing the Defense of Britney's Marriage Act as the first order of business in the lame-duck session of Congress and President Bush should sign it.

Please, won't someone think of the children?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Maybe not so tradtional, after all

Stephanie Coontz has an editorial in todays New York Times about how our fixation on marriage as a deep and overriding emotional bond may be misplaced. She makes the argument that it is not the historical view of marriage, and that it may be costing us other relationships, traditionally viewed as more important than one with a spouse:

Until 100 years ago, most societies agreed that it was dangerously antisocial, even pathologically self-absorbed, to elevate marital affection and nuclear-family ties above commitments to neighbors, extended kin, civic duty and religion.

Weirdly, the change in our view of marriage that began in the 1950s may actually be detrimental to society as a whole:

By the early 20th century, though, the sea change in the culture wrought by the industrial economy had loosened social obligations to neighbors and kin, giving rise to the idea that individuals could meet their deepest needs only through romantic love, culminating in marriage. Under the influence of Freudianism, society began to view intense same-sex ties with suspicion and people were urged to reject the emotional claims of friends and relatives who might compete with a spouse for time and affection.

The right-wings fetishization of "traditional" marriage isn't about returning to some historically accurate version of a bond that has been changed by the homosexual activists. If that were the case, they'd be arguing in favor of arranged marriages, which were the standard in the Western world for thousands of years, and exist in more traditional cultures to this day. Rather, it's about being holier-than-thou.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Shoot 'em if they can't take a joke

When I heard the "controversy" surrounding Kerry's recent botched joke, and how Republicans were demanding he apologize for "insulting the troops," it pissed me off. It is not possible for any reasonable person to listen to what Kerry was saying and think he was talking about the troops. Remember, he used to be one. He's actually seen combat, unlike Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, and of course, George W. Bush. They know that. So all the Republican shock and outrage is just a cheap fucking political stunt. Crocodile tears. Republican tears.

The most frustrating thing is that, the moment that I heard about this whole nonsense, the very first thing that came to mind was George W. Bush's joking a few months ago about not finding the WMDs in Iraq. Bush actually mocked the very reason he has sent those 3000+ men and women to die in Iraq, yet no demands for his apology are forthcoming.

Here's his mockery:

Somehow we've entered a time when those in power make light of those they've sent to die, and feign outrage against their opponents, who stood up and fought when called.

Tomorrow, please vote.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sexual harassment is illegal!

I've never tried posting a Google Video, um, video here, but this one cracked me up so much I have to try. I think I may have ruptured something.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's hard to argue with this

Billy writes:

I pay my fucking taxes, I have job, I don’t sponge off the Government, I contribute to society and yet I am not allowed to have a recognized union that affords me rights equal to my, so called, heterosexual counterparts. I don’t ask that I be allowed to perform my ceremony in a Church that does not agree with it. I don’t want special treatment. I just want the chance to live my life as it was handed to me without someone else’s religious beliefs getting in the way.

Those don't sound like "special rights" to me at all.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I go out of town for a couple of days, and it's revealed that a major evangelical, gay-bashing minister is a screaming queen. I miss all the good stuff.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hi ho, hi ho...

Posting will be light lighter than usual, as I have to go out of town for a few days. I will leave you with this thought about the upcoming election:

I worry that the Democrats will take back the House, and possibly the Senate, and things will get worse. Iraq will further quagmireify. There will be another possible terrorist attack in this country. Then, come 2008, the Republicans will sweep the House, Senate, and Presidency again.

David is less optimistic, thinking that this will be another 2004. Things will be very close, but the Republicans will eke out another win. Boy, are we in for it then.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Remember, these people vote

There is, apparently, a actual discussion going on over at Christian Forums about whether Barack Obama is the Antichrist. Not a tongue-in-cheek discussion. Not sarcasm. Actual discussion about whether a U.S. Senator is a demon from hell sent by Satan. I can't get to the discussion yet, because registrations at that forum require administrator approval. But here are some tidbits over at,Cynical-C Blog, and kynns LiveJournal page:

While I was watching him, the VERY FIRST thought that came to my mind was asking the Lord if I was looking at the AC. I don't have a big opinion either way, but man, that was pretty scary. Even my life is good and no where neare to over husband was transfixed. I turned off the tv, it was just too much. This in not paranoia, it's actively waiting for prophecy to be fulfilled.

No, crazy lady, that is paranoia.

This is just the type of person that the antichrist is.......A BIG DECEIVER!!!!!!! Do you expect the antichrist to come on the scene and be the biggest jerk imaginable, and immediately order everyone to take the mark? Half the world would tell him "where to get off"!!!! The AC has to be the kindest person in the world in the beginning, so he can draw people into his web of deceit. I already know that there are going to be tons of people who are going to fall right into his trap, just by reading the type of replies on this topic. I find THAT a tragic worldview.

Hey, it could be worse. He could be perceived as an aw-shucks, God-fearing, down-to-earth Texas boy that then demands laws that allow him to imprison and torture people without cause, warrant, or oversight. But, naw, that would never happen.

I just found a post on Obamas website from a Jewish girl. Barak (different spelling) means "lightening" in Hebrew. Luke 10:18 ~ And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Good God! Conclusive proof!

The scary part is that this really isn't unreasonable, given the apocalyptic nature of fundamentalist Christianity. They truly believe the world is going to end within their lifetimes, and that a great evil force will bring it about. So discussing who and who is not demon-spawn is predictable.

Now many of these good Christians are not absolutely convinced that he is the Antichrist, just that there is clearly something demonic about him. Perhaps we should try to come up with some sort of test to determine who has been seduced by the Devil and who has not. I have no doubt they would be difficult to perform, so they should probably be done only by trained professionals. And, if they do manage to find the Evil Ones among us, the souls corrupted by the Beast should be dealt with by those who are right with the Lord. I hear that fire is very cleansing.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I do love a cowboy...

Americablog was having a fund drive for Scott Kleeb, a candidate for a Congressional spot in Nebraska. After looking over his website, I figure it will be a good thing if he wins, not just because he seems like a sane person, but becuase he is smokin' hot. The one picture of him with his horse is so Brokeback Mountain, it isn't funny. Unfortunately, he's wasted on Nebraska.

OK, so I'm shallow. Sue me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The "moral values" voter?

I've just had three people in the past two days come to my site after Googling for "studds the fag death", "fag-hag by proxy to Elizabeth Taylor", and "gerry studds fag". I just thought y'all should know.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Go, Wayne

Wayne Besen, author of Anything but Straight, has been named the Sexy Gay Blogger of the Day. Congratulations to Wayne. And with that picture, I can see why.

(OK, it was Sexy Gay Blogger of the Day, September 29th. Sue me, I'm a little behind on my sexy gay bloggers.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

I am not a "moral floor"

John Emerson has a post over at Seeing the Forest (it's short so I'm just going to steal the whole thing:

The big reason for the anti-gay fervor within the hard right is that it puts down a moral floor. Normal sleazy backsliding Christians can always say "I'm a sinner, I've succumbed to temptation many times and I probably will do so again -- but I've never done anything as disgusting as that. And I never will."

Sleazy Christians think of Jesus the way they think of their connection at the county courthouse -- a get-out-of-hell-free card. "I may not seem like a believer, but Jesus is there when I need him", one scuzzbag told me.

One day the real Christians (wrong-headed as they are in some respects) are going to understand how badly they've been used, and how their combination of self-righteousness, ignorance, and political cynicism (politics is the fallen world, so anything goes there) has caused them to become evil.

Christians will be judged too.

I think he's got a good point, and I'd never thought of the anti-gay platform that way before. It has occurred to me that the lifelong celibacy they're always trying to push on anyone not like them must always sound so easy when it's someone else that has to do it.

My worry is that this day of reckoning, when Christians discover what patsies they have been, and how they have been used by the Republicans to gain power will only push them to become more extreme, to become more doctrinaire, and things will just get worse.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pardon my language

You may wish to remove small children, your grandmother, and potted plants from the room before continuing.

Monday, on MSNBC's Scarborough Country Pat Buchanan said this:

Look, Kolbe is gay. He is an out-of-the-closet gay. Foley was gay. The House clerk who was in charge of the pages was gay. Foley's administrative assistant, Mr. Fordham, The New York Times tell us, was gay. You hear about a lot of others. What's going on here, Joe, is basically these, this little mafia in there looked upon the pages, I guess, as their -- sort of their personal preserve. And it stinks to high heaven what was done. And it stinks to high heaven that it was not exposed and these types of people, thrown out by the Republican Party

This is not a statement deserving of a calm, rational, and well-researched refutation. Here is what it is deserving of:

Fuck you, Mr. Buchanan.

Fuck your insinuation that being an "out-of-the-closet gay" is something to be ashamed of.

Fuck your idiotic and paranoid claims of a secretive gay cabal lurking in the corners of Washington D.C.

Fuck you for saying "these types of people" should be thrown of of the Republican Party. How do you even throw someone out of the Republican Party, anyway? Stop them from ever voting?

But most of all: fuck your dirty and vile insinuation that gay men are sexual predators of children. Fuck that disgusting lie that you and your cohorts in the Christian Right have been spreading for years, backed up by no evidence, and contradicted by mountains of it.

You are a man without honor, Mr. Buchanan.

Fuck you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ice spikes

Ever open your freezer to get some ice out, only to find your ice cube trays have strange spikes of ice sticking up from them? I've finally found an explanation of why those things occur.

Materials science at work, in your freezer.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Who they're not talking about

The Foley scandal continues to dominate the media. The right-wing response has been simultaneously dismissive of it and misleading about it, as expected. All facilitated by the "liberal media." Matt Drudge and the revolting Michael Savage have started the meme that the sexually charged IMs were a "prank" perpetrated by these boys. It's now being repeated by none other than James Dobson. Hastert and the White House are pushing the idea that Hastert forced Foley to resign, which is a flat-out lie. Foley resigned before the IMs were made public, and Hastert has said he found out about them was in the press. Truly laughable is the idea being put forth by many Republicans that there was a Democratic plot to hold the information back until it was convenient to release it. Yeah, that's why CREW sent the emails to the FBI in July.

There's a more disturbing trend, as well. Since Foley sent the emails and IMs to young men, his behavior is being blamed on the fact that Foley is gay, and that's what queers do. Predictable for the Right, it's still despicable.

Lou Shelden of the Traditional Values Coalition:

To understand Rep. Mark Foley's attraction to teenage boys, one must realize that pederasty, the act of a homosexual to engage in sex with a teenage male is part of the overall homosexual lifestyle... Foley's attraction to teenage boys is not considered abnormal within the homosexual activist community.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

it appears clear that Foley is a homosexual with a particular attraction to underage boys. While pro-homosexual activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two.

I will assume that it is unnecessary for me to find the citations on the web that show Perkins' statements aren't based in fact, just his own bigotry. (Why is it that any organization with "family" in its name is so disgusting?)

Porno Pete of American for Truth (now there's irony):

[B]ut even his homosexuality, as we know Martha -- we want these guys to get out of this lifestyle. It's not a healthy lifestyle. It does tend toward promiscuity. There is a higher element of this...the word is "pederasty," which is adult...ah...sexual contact, or wanting of these...ah...adolescent male boys. We've...we've seen this throughout the world of homosexuality

But I'm getting off-topic, the whole point of this post is that numerous people are talking about the Foley scandal, and citing the Gerry Studds scandal from 1983 to show how out of control these evil homosexuals are and how they can't be trusted around young boys. Ann Coulter did it on Bill O'Reilly's show last week, and again in her column last week, and Charles Krauthammer did it in a column this week. Both Coulter and Krauthammer say that the fact that Foley (Republican) resigned and Studds (Democrat) didn't is proof that Republicans are honorable and do the right thing, and Democrats don't. But there's something that they're both not saying, and it's significant because they both leave it out.

Yes, in 1983 Gerry Studds was censured by Congress because he had had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page ten years earlier. Studds was about 35 during the relationship. (Mind you, having sex with anyone 16 years or older was legal in D.C. then and remains legal to this day.)

What both Coulter and Krauthammer don't mention is that on the very same day that Studds was censured for his relationship with a male page, Dan Crane, a Republican, was censured for having sex with a female 17-year-old page. Not only was Crane having sex with this 17-year-old, he was having adulterous sex with the 17-year-old, since he had a wife. (Studds was unmarried.) Yet Coulter and Krauthammer both say that this shows the hypocrisy of the "left." Crane did not resign, but did not win reelection the following year.

I suspect that they are both ignoring the Crane affair largely because it was (a) heterosexual and (b) because it involved a Republican and so wouldn't allow them to sound quite as holier-than-thou. But it is disturbing that two different right-wing columnists are able to distort the situation without any response from anyone. (Other than over at, of course.)

Some other Republican sex scandals that did not result in the resignation of the Republican:

  • Don Sherwood is accused of trying to strangle his mistress. He has since been reelected.
  • Henry Hyde carries on a four-year, adulterous affair. He dismissed the affair, which began when he was 41, as a "youthful indiscretion." Hyde is currently chairman of the House International Relations Committee
  • Newt Gingrich carries on an adulterous, three-to-five year affair with a House aide twenty-three years younger than himself. He was cheating on his second wife.

For some reason I don't understand, both Coulter and Krauthammer also make the claim that Studds "turned his back" on the other House members when the censure was read. This is also false. Studds walked to the front of the room and faced the Speaker who was reading the censure resolution. See "House censures Crane and Studds for sexual relations with pages." New York Times. July 21, 1983.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome to the b-sphere

Possibly because all the cool kids are doing it, Dr. Manya has decided to join us in the blogosphere. So every one skooch over and make room. Her blog, Sing a Song of Sixpence has been added to the blogroll over on the right. I'm guessing the design is a template (?) but it looks really nice. I especially like the little icon-things that may have a significance I'm unaware of. Even with getting married, and being an ER resident, she's already out-blogging me. It's just not fair.

It's the first blog over at Livejournal I've blogrolled, or even read regularly. I feel so ... dirty. But, you know, in the good way.

How not to design a website

The other day, I was listening to random music I've burned to my computer, and a Monte Montgomery track came up. He's a fairly unknown artist from Austin, but I think a remarkably talented one. I realized that the two albums I had by him were rather old, so I went to his website to see if there were any new ones.

So this is a guy that makes his living (presumably) making and selling music. He's apparently quite popular on the Austin live music scene, and has won a few awards. Yet on his website, there's no discography! There's no way to find out what albums he's put out. You can find mention of a few spread in various pages over the site, but there's no central location. For the website of a professional musician, that's inexcusable.

There's a little information about him and his music, and even a small gallery of photos. The largest of which is 100 by 70 pixels. It's not even a clickable thumbnail. (And he doesn't seem hard on the eyes at all.) Again, for a performer, for whom presentation to the public is vital, this is a bad idea.

I won't even discuss the (shudder) text crawl that's on the main page that goes by so fast it's nearly unreadable. Hint to the web designer: when you are displaying a single line of text, you don't need to have it scroll on and off the screen. Especially when it's a mention of how to buy your product.

Oh great, and now I found out he was just playing in Champaign a few weeks ago.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A minor point on Foleygate

Glenn Greenwald brings up an interesting point. What Foley did is creepy in the extreme, but what he's accused of is just talking. I'm aware of no allegations that Foley actually did anything with these pages, just that he talked about doing stuff over IM and through email. That's illegal because of a law Congress passed recently. But had he actually gotten together with the page, and fucked around? That's probably legal.

[Greenwald] argued that the "pedophile" rhetoric being righteously hurled at Mark Foley was not really appropriate, given that many (if not most) Americans live in states where it is perfectly legal for an adult of any age to have sex with a 16-year-old. The notion that an adult who has sex with a 16-year-old is a "pedophile freak" who deserves to be imprisoned with the key thrown away is (independent of whether it's right or wrong) inconsistent with the values enshrined in the laws of many (if not most) states, which provide that 16-year-olds are capable of consenting to sex (and even getting married).

I didn't see the pun in the title of this post until just now, honestly. But I'm leaving it in place.

UPDATE (2006-10-05): In the comments, MFN points out that (a) the timing is questionable and (b) because of the age difference, any relationship between Foley and the pages might still be illegal.

First, this is a story that seems to have been building for some time. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) received some of the emails in question back in July, and forwarded them on to the FBI, where they were ignored. CREW is now calling for an investigation into why. The FBI's reponses have been contradictory.

Second, the age of consent in DC appears to be 16. According to the District of Columbia Criminal Code (isn't the Internet great?), child sexual abuse has to be between a child and someone at least 4 years older. However, the code defines "child" to be "person who has not yet attained the age of 16 years." There doesn't appear to be any other relevant statute. So the Republicans have made it illegal to talk about something that it's perfectly legal (if unethical and creepy in the extreme) to do.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I need more hours in the day

Ugh. There's a half dozen or so things I want to blog about. I just don't have time to sit down and write. Then my Internet connection goes down for a day. Argh. I just need, say, a 28 hour day. Is that so much to ask?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Via David:

You scored as Kaylee (Kaywinnet Lee) Frye. The Mechanic. You are a natural mechanic, and you are far too sweet and cheerful to live out here. How you can see the good in everyone around you boggles the mind occasionally. Still you don't seem to be any crazier than that, and it is a nice kinda crazy.

Kaylee (Kaywinnet Lee) Frye


Simon Tam


Shepherd Derrial Book


River Tam


The Operative


Hoban 'Wash' Washburne


Zoe Alleyne Washburne


Inara Serra


Capt. Mal Reynolds


Jayne Cobb


Which Serenity character are you?
created with

If you read this, you will burn in hell

Austin Cline at has made a series World-War-II-like propaganda posters for the Christian Right. They're actually pretty funny in a "wow, that's really creepy" sort of way. This one is my favorite. This one is great, not only because it mocks Ann Coulter, but because it points out the violent threats thinly veiled under a lot of what the right wing does. See, for example the intimidation and actual death threats a group of college undergraduates got after Michelle Malkin posted their personal information to her blog, and her minions reacted to it.

UPDATE: Cline is guest posting over at Jesus' General, and has a new one up. Boy, is it wrong, wrong, wrong. But oh so funny!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Judy Myers is an un-American spammer

I've been on the Internet long enough to remember when spam wasn't a problem. I remember when you could share your email address without fear of having it sold and shared and getting tons of emails for V!agra and Cia!is and Va1uable Mor1gage Offers. The world has changed; I've had to abandon one email account because it was so spammed and my Gmail and Yahoo accounts have a combined 1500 spam emails between them at this very moment.

Yes, I'm very particular about these things, and getting additional spam from supposedly-reputable organizations pisses me off. No, I'm not a BOFH, myself, but I know what responsible list management entails, and it's not that difficult to do.

So this week, you can understand why I was upset to find in my inbox a spam message from Judy Myers, currently running for State Senator.

TRUTH ALERT from Sen. Judy Myers

Hi there!

My name is Judy Myers, and I’m running for the Senate from the 52nd district. During the past year, I’ve been honored to meet many of you, and discuss the issues facing our area.

Blah, blah, blah. So I sent off a complaint via SpamCop, not that I will suspect it will do any good. Then I noticed something odd. Not only is Myers's website not hosted in our very own Champaign-Urbana, or in her home of Danville, or anywhere in the United States at all. It's hosted in Germany. Remarkably hypocritical coming from someone whose website says about jobs:

By raising more than 300 hidden taxes and fees, state government has driven away thousands of high quality jobs to Indiana, Kentucky and other states. I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create an economic climate friendly to small businesses and job creation.

So, apparently Myers objects to driving jobs to neighboring states, but overseas is just fine.

Here's the data, for those of you so technically-minded = (has no rDNS, naturally)

Here's the whois info on that IP address: (edited for space)

whois -h

inetnum: -
descr: Schlund + Partner AG
remarks: in case of abuse or spam, please mailto:
remarks: For abuse issues, please use only
remarks: For NOC issues, please look at our AS 8560
phone: +49 721 91374 50
fax-no: +49 721 91374 20

And just to be careful, I did a traceroute:

  9    71 ms    75 ms     * []
 10    56 ms    56 ms    62 ms []
 11    67 ms    61 ms    58 ms []
 12    58 ms    59 ms    60 ms
 13    59 ms    61 ms    56 ms
 14    58 ms     *       58 ms

There really is no way to tell exactly where a server is located from its IP address, but you can see above that at hop #10, it hits New York, and everything after that is owned by or The webpage redirects to the page, in German.

It's not the message, it's the messaging

Your liberal media at work.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This, too, is a chocolate city

On the way back on this trip, I was keeping track of the train's schedule. As I saw the scheduled times at each stop slip more and more, my "God, I have a four-and-a-half hour layover in Chicago?" gradually turned into, "God, I only have a four-and-a-half hour layover in Chicago?" So, when the train was finally six hours late, you can imagine I was in a bit of a pickle. Not being able to rent a car on such short notice, I took Amtrak up on their lodging and transportation.

Let me tell you, staying with Amtrak when they screw up is much nicer that riding with Amtrak when they screw up. They put me up in a fairly swanky hotel in downtown Chicago for the night, with enough cash for taxis to and fro, and meals. The next train out wasn't until four p.m. the following afternoon, so I took the alternate option of a Greyhound bus home.

I was waiting in the Greyhound terminal at 9:30 the next morning, and looked around to see that I was pretty much the only white guy in the room. Seriously, I'd estimate that the clientele and the staff were 10% white, 10% Asian or Hispanic, and the rest were black. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, of course, but it was simply unusual enough to make me sit up and take notice. It was sort of like a reverse episode of Friends, where every single person in New York City was white. On the bus itself, there's me, one Asian guy, and everyone else was black. It was fairly evenly split between the sexes.

On the train, I didn't notice this. An unusual variety of age, perhaps (see previous entry), but the crowd was pretty racially diverse. I can't help but wonder why this is the case.

The only reason I can think for this is economics. The bus is quite a bit cheaper than the train, I think, let alone flying.

It is, at least, a striking reminder that there does exist a significant class difference in our society. Whether driven by race, economics, education, or some combination of these, that difference exists.

Coming on the one-year anniversary of the Katrina devastation, it seems to be particularly important to remember that class difference. Republican pundits chastised New Orlenian residents for not preparing better and for not evacuating sooner. But it was not a sea of poor white faces at the Superdome. If such a disaster struck Chicago, or Houston, would we see pictures much different on CNN?

(2006-08-28 12:13)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Positively Kafka-esque

There are two AP articles that have got to be some of the most chilling things I've ever read:

From "U.S. War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000":

the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law... Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were "mistakes," U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross... Every U.S. detainee in Iraq "is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq... Reports of extreme physical and mental abuse, symbolized by the notorious Abu Ghraib prison photos of 2004, have abated as the Pentagon has rejected torture-like treatment of the inmates. Most recently, on Sept. 6, the Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual banning forced nakedness, hooding, stress positions and other abusive techniques... The new manual banning torture doesn't cover CIA interrogators.

This is the sort of thing we used to hear about the Soviet Union. People picked up in the dead of night, and shipped off somewhere. I had no idea that this number of people were being held. Gitmo is a few hundred prisoners, and the number removed from CIA torture facilities secret prisons is barely over a dozen. But 14,000 people?

If we're detaining "security risks" (and, by the way, exactly what does that term mean?) but getting it wrong 70 to 90% of the time, something is seriously wrong. If we're not getting it wrong that often, why are we releasing these people from detention?

The next story, "U.S. Holds AP Photographer in Iraq 5 Mos," puts a face on one of the 13,000 detainees in Iraq:

The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing... In [the AP photographer's] case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, [[AP executives]] said.

This is an AP photographer that is being detained. One of his photos was part of a group of 20 that won a Pulitzer Prize. If he's a terrorist, fine, detain him. If things are going as well in Iraq as the Bush administration says, fine, give him a trial, show the evidence, and punish him. If all they have are vague accusations, unsupported by evidence, let him go.

We're told that if we give into the terrorists and live in a climate of non-stop fear, then the terrorists will have won. I say, if we give up the very things that make us a civilized nation, then the terrorists will really have won.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, Glenn Greenwald responds to a completely lickspittle editorial by John Yoo in today's NY Times. He quotes some little-known "lefty blogger" to explain why the President should not be allowed to break the law, even in the face of the "Islamofascist Nazi" threat. Go read it. I'm seriously starting to think that reading Greenwald's stuff should be a prerequisite to citizenship.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Welcome to the blogosphere

This week brings us two new entries to the sidebar. The first is I Could've Been Clever brought to us by Billy. He also has another blog, Softcore Gaming. I'm not going to blogroll that one, because it's dedicated to console gaming, which I just don't do or even know much about. But if he wishes to discuss Civilization IV or Dungeon Siege 2, I'll be happy to check in more often.

The other is, which, oh, I just happened to come across one day. It's full of brilliant and witty prose and dedicated to stopping Ann Coulter. So tell your friends, and tell your enemies. Help spread the word.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A sad passing

Former Texas governor Ann Richards dies

Former Gov. Ann Richards, the witty and flamboyant Democrat who went from homemaker to national political celebrity, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.

It's hard to find the words to express what a shame this is. She was a great woman.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Train scenery

There appear to be largely two groups of people that take the train: old people and hot college boys. OK, there are probably some poor people on board, but nobody really cares about them. There are probably some hot sorority chicks as well, but (a) I am not really qualified to judge who is a "hot" sorority chick, and (b) Pffft, why wold I care about hot chicks anyway?

It really strikes me, though, how bimodal the age distribution is, though. (Yes, I'm a total geek.) There seem to be a large number of seniors, I assume because train tickets are much cheaper than airplane tickets and seniors are more likely to be on a fixed income. Cost is probably a big factor for the younger crowd, as well. There are very few middle-aged people here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the eye candy. I just wish that incredibly hot guy (hot in a cuddly-boyfriend sort of way, not in the underwear-model sort of way) hadn't gotten off at Reno.

(2006-08-27 11:52)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another Republican Pharisee

I picked up a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle in the train station, since I knew I'd have quite a bit of time on my hands on this trip.

There's an article on page two about some remarks Rep. Katherine Harris made this week about how "God did not intend for the United States to be a nation of 'secular laws' and that a failure to elect Christians to political office will allow lawmaking bodies to 'legislate sin.'" Speaking of sin, there was a time not too long ago that claiming to know the mind of God like that was considered blasphemy, and could get you tied to a big stick and set on fire. Fortunately for Rep. Harris, we now live in a more enlightened time when we (even women!) are allowed to speak our minds on such issues without fear of such retribution. Rep. Harris is even allowed to defy the will of God's chosen representative on Earth (i.e. the Pope).

The full quote from Harris is:

If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.

She went on to say that the doctrine of the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics." Yeah what would those Founding Fathers know about God's intentions for this country? They were probably just a bunch of commies anyway.

Keep religious people out of politics? Harris has apparently been not just been drinking the American Taliban's Kool-Aid, but freebasing it. Did I fall asleep to wake up in a world where Congress is populated primarily by atheists? The actual percentage of Congress that is Christian is 92%, as opposed to 77% of the American populace as a whole. It sounds to me like Christians are already over-represented.

Republicans are fond of saying that America is fighting a "culture war" against Satanic forces of Hollywood, the Homosexual agenda, and the east coast elites. (I prefer to refer to all the above as simply "Americans." It's so much shorter.) It seems that they are the ones trying to start such a war.

Proving that, if there is a God, She has a wicked sense of humor, page seven of the same paper has a story about how Somalia is being taken over by an Islamic militia. The militia is loyal to the Supreme Islamic Courts Council and is "setting up regional courts to rule based on the Muslim holy book, the Quran." Perhaps they could get together with Rep. Harris to compare notes.

(2006-08-26 15:39)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why America is fat

I haven't been eating in the train's dining car for a number of reasons. It's surprisingly expensive, for one thing. It runs on its own schedule, rather than mine, is another. I try to eat fairly light when traveling, and that's not really conducive to doing so.

Fortunately, the train has a snack car as well, which has drinks, nibbles, and even sandwiches. Surprisingly, the few things I've tried aren't half-bad, considering their prepackaged nature.

Anyway, I stopped down there to get a cup of coffee to, I hope, get rid of this headache I've picked up. There I saw a cinnamon roll that I swear actually called my name. Considering that, since the train is now five fracking hours late, it might be dinner as well, I decided to listen to it's siren call. Briefly checked the back and saw: 240 calories. Not so bad, so I picked it up. It wasn't until I got back to my seat that I also noticed on the package: Servings per container: 3.

This isn't a package of Pop-tarts, that are easily divisible. Nor is it something you're likely to eat part of and share the rest with a friend. This is obviously supposed to be a single-person, eat-in-one-setting sort of snack. It's forty percent of an adult's caloric intake, and sixty percent of an adult's daily fat intake. I'm a reasonable sort of person; I make an effort to read labels, and yet I was still taken in by it.

Just another reason why America is fat.

(2006-08-20 17:11)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Two ships passing in the night

I'm right outside Sparks, NV, waiting for another train to move its butt out of our way, so we can get moving again. The family in the seats in front and in back of mine has been traveling with me since Chicago, and they're about to get off. There's Thomas, about 10 years old, his mother, whose name I haven't caught yet, Grandma, who is rather frail and, I suspect has Alzheimer's, and Uncle Mickey. They were thinking of moving to a sleeping car because sitting this much isn't so good for Grandma's circulation. Thomas needs to sign up for PE for for next year. The Mom is on the phone to Michael, I assume her husband, who is waiting to pick them and drive home, I think in Carson City.

We haven't really spoken a word to each other, you just pick these things up living in close quarters like this where everyone's private spheres overlap.

Now they're going to leave and we will never see each other again. Sometimes I think it's good to be reminded that we all have these little things, relationships, whatever, that are so important to us, but then, so does every one else. I often think the same thing when driving on the freeway, to see some remnant of a house or a barn that has almost completely fallen down. Today, I saw as we went past, just a stone doorway standing out in the brush. No door, no house around it, just a door frame standing in empty space. No idea how old it was. It could have been ten years or a hundred. I can't help but wonder who built it, did they feel some sense of pride in their work, why did they leave it? Not only do I wonder if they are still alive somewhere else, but is there anyone alive that still knows the answer to these questions, or has it been lost forever. How many of the things in my life, in your life, will someone be wondering this about in a few decades?

(2006-08-20 13:39)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Plan B misconceptions

The DI editorial page today incorrectly says -- not once, but twice -- that Plan B causes abortions. I don't have time to write a letter to the editor pointing this out. Anyone else feel like doing it?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Take that Hal Lindsey!

The Israel-Lebanon conflict is settling down to a slow simmer, and doesn't seem to be about to erupt into the multinational, Middle-East-wide, End Times conflagration that the hysterical fundamentalist Christians were predicting.

FOX News had a "Middle East expert" on a few weeks ago. By "experts," of course I mean "people talking about Biblical prophecy of the Last Days." Do you think they will have him back on to say how it looks like the Rapture has been put off until at least next week? Yeah, I don't think so either.

One thing that seems fairly clear is that these sorts of prophets will always have a job. If there isn't a war this week in the Holy Land that shows the end is nigh, then there probably will be one next week.

The suckers always buy into it, and can't be dissuaded from it, no matter how many times they're shown to be wrong, because they have "faith."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good night and good luck

Blogging will be light nonexistent for the near future as I have to go out of town for a few days.

I leave you with this: A judge has ruled that the Bush warrantless wiretapping is illegal. Finally. Someone with some sense. Let the right-wing shrieking about activist liberal judges that hate America and love terrorists begin ... wait for it ... now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm in the Advocate!

OK, it's completely unattributed, so you just have to take my word for it. This was a few weeks ago, when the Phelps clan's protests of military funerals were getting some press time. Some bills were introduced in some state legislatures to outlaw protests within x yards of a funeral or burial or something. Indiana passed one in March; I think there are a few others now. I guess when they were just protesting the queers, it was OK. Do it to the soldiers, and then people care.

There was a brief moment in the media where there was actually some discussion on whether this was constitutional or not. I just happed to be on the Advocate's website for some reason or another, and saw they were having a poll. So I gave them my 2E-02 dollars. My comment made it into the August 29 edition. Maybe it's not all that big a deal, but doggone it, people like me.

Q: Do you think Fred Phelps's antigay protests at military funerals are protected by the First Amendment.

Me: He is revolting, but the same thing that protects his right to protest is the same thing that allows us to have our pride parades.

There was a great interview with none other than the wife of the Cryptkeeper himself, where the FOX News anchor (of all people) goes fairly ballistic at her.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nice doggie

After Katrina, and during the cleanup and continued evacuation, I was struck by news reports of people choosing to stay behind in the devastation with their pets. The animals weren't eligible for evacuation, so would have to have been left behind. It seemed to have been elderly people, but they may have just been the ones unable to leave on their own devices before the hurricane struck. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must have been to have to make that sort of choice.

There is a bill, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires "local and state disaster plans to include provisions for household pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency." It's been passed by both Houses, and is now in committee to work out the differences between the bills.

It's not that I can't see the point behind not letting people take their cats and dogs and birds and ferrets when evacuating, but service animals? You know, the dog that stops you a blind person from walking out into traffic? It's not like people were leaving for a weekend; many still haven't returned to their homes. What's next, some little old lady can't take her cane?

(Via Lycangeek)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Better than coffee

Yes, road construction is a pain. But it has one fringe benefit: hunky construction workers. Sure brightens up my morning commute.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Welcome home

Squire's back. Or, rather, TheSquire's back. Whatever.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some are just more free than others

Remember back when the terrorists hated us because of our freedom? Matthew links to this story at The Observer:

Hardline Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq are targeting a new type of victim with the full protection of Iraqi law, The Observer can reveal. The country is seeing a sudden escalation of brutal attacks on what are being called the 'immorals' - homosexual men and children as young as 11 who have been forced into same-sex prostitution...

Homosexuality is seen as so immoral that it qualifies as an 'honour killing' to murder someone who is gay - and the perpetrator can escape punishment. Section 111 of Iraq's penal code lays out protections for murder when people are acting against Islam.

Holy fuck. I'm looking online for a copy of the penal code, but can't find it. To be fair, Iraqis probably have more important things on their minds than digitizing law books. (Like the death squads currently roaming the streets.) But Jesus, it's actually legal to kill gays and lesbians? Why, exactly, did we liberate them again. Strike that. Why, exactly, did we liberate some of them again?

Wikipedia says this about the relevant law:

He who discovers his wife, one of his female relatives committing adultery or a male relative engaged in sodomy and kills, wounds or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty.

To add to the feeling of uncleanliness, in searching for the Iraq penal code, I came across articles talking about this same story several times. Some were just news sites, others were blogs. Then I came across the discussion at Now I need to shower.

From the "Not even literate hate" department:

Since this [article] is unsourced I suspect it more of the usual made nonsense from the Hate American First Leftists

From the "Freedom of speech" department:

Saddam was right about one takes an SOB to run an islamic country. I believe that homosexuality is a foul sin of perversion but not nearly as bad a perversion as fundamental islam.

From the "Respect for others department:

Of course its a known fact MoMo was a switch hitter himself..
Arafat is/was widely known as a pedophile..
Islam is indeed a mental disease like liberalism...
I guess it depends on the propensitys of the MOBSTER(Mullah) in charge that determines the (local) character of Islam.. Tribal governance is indeed democracy...
in Kuwait queerdom is accepted freely..

From the "Maybe the Nazis were just aiming wrong" department:

Until Iran is "eliminated" by high temperature...Iraq will always be a crap hole. (no pun intended)

From the "My God is bigger than your God" department:

The problem with Iraq.........Islam.

From the "Nope, no racism here" department: (emphasis mine)

Yes, no two ways about it. Why have we let them into the US? They just want to take over. It's a fifth column. They breed like rabbits. We're doomed.

From the "Fred Phelps" department:

but, but, but - Islam is a religion of mercy...

From the "Channeling Ann Coulter" department

Had we utterly destroyed them, especially fallujah, outlawed fundamental Islam and did other drastic things, THEN we could be in a position of strength today.

OK, I just have to stop now, but it goes on. Freepers disgust me. It's like reading Diet Stormfront.


The best part about the Lieberman/Lamont election, regardless of it's outcome, is that people will stop talking about stunning it is that Lieberman might not actually get reelected. I'm fed up with it.

It's almost as if people seem to think that Lieberman is somehow entitled to keep his seat in Congress because he's the incumbent.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Conservatives are why we have no serious political discussion anymore

After thinking long and hard about the vileness that is Ann Coulter this week, I'm next confronted with this from

Why liberals love pedophiles

Liberals love pedophiles, because they must do so to keep their own belief system intact...

Since modern liberalism's true goal is the actual eradication of God, moral values, and the ideas of absolute right vs. wrong, it should surprise no one that not a single leftist politician in America has denounced Distasio. Nor did they denounce Levine. The truth is liberals seek sexual utopia where no rules apply. Restraint has in fact become a dirty word to them. Self control - a thoroughly foreign concept...

For liberals to denounce pedophiles, ultimately they would have to denounce, lesbianism, homsexuality [sic], and their particular favorite - adultery. And that's just no going to happen.

This isn't some little-known extremist website like Stormfront. Technorati rates this website as number twenty-six on the Internet. Bill Bennett and Tony Blankley -- both mainstream conservatives -- also write for this website.

There's a reason that I refer to liberals tongue-in-cheek elsewhere in this blog as "baby-eating liberals:" because pretty soon that's all that's going to be left to call liberals. We're racist (because of affirmative action), we hate our country and love terrorists (because of the war), and we are actively working for the forces of evil (since we're all godless).

You think the idea of a conservative accusing a liberal of baby-eating is ridiculous? Twenty or thirty years ago, it's what people actually used to say about Jews, believe it or not. In this country, even.

If you can dehumanize a political enemy enough, anything is possible. We all know what happened sixty years ago in Europe. Twelve years ago, it happened again in Rwanda. There, newspapers and radio programs called the massacred ethnic group as "subhuman," shortly before the killing started.

There is a rising tide of eliminationism in this country, and it is only coming from the Right. When was the last time you heard a liberal say that conservatives liked raping babies? When they said it was part of the core of their ideology? No, you only hear this stuff coming from the Right. Why? Because other than Nazis (and there aren't really many of them left), child molesters are the closest thing we have in our society to pure, unquestionable evil. It's an intentional gambit intended to get you to stop thinking rationally and start reacting emotionally.

Last week, Deputy Sheriff Guy Adams (of our own Cook County) said that gays having sex with infants is "the new trend."

Expect to see more of this in the future.

(Via Seeing the Forest.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Remember when they were going to greet us with flowers?

Remember this?

I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.

-- Vice President Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

Then today, there was this:

Tens of thousands of followers of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr rallied in support of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah on Friday, denouncing Israel and the United States for igniting violence throughout the Middle East...

"Hezbollah, beloved! Hit Tel Aviv! Hit Tel Aviv!" the protesters said. "No, no, no, Israel! No, no, no, America!" they chanted. And, finally, "If Americans are strong enough, they should come face us!"

You know, if I didn't know better, I might think they didn't like us.