All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Are All Conservatives Perverts?

Seriously, I Think It's Time We Asked

A while back you may have heard about a company, Clean Flix, that was providing a way to censor Hollywood movies for religious families that were both too lazy to read books instead and too prudish to stand a bare breast or gory scene.

Well, see, funny thing. The directors and Hollywood hated someone selling their stuff, repurposed, and sued that company out of existence for commercially infringing their IP.

Now though, it seems there was something more going on than just selling bible thumpers movies without the swear words:

Well, cover your eyes for this story. Clean Flix founder Daniel Thompson has just been arrested and is accused of having sex with underaged girls. And according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the "booking documents state Thompson told the 14-year-olds that his film sanitizing business was a cover for a pornography studio." Police found a "large quantity" of porno movies inside the business, "along with a keg of beer, painkillers and two cameras hooked up to a television." Thompson has been released after posting $30,000 bail.
Yep, you read that correctly. The service was a front for a child molesting pornographer conman.

Honestly. Is there a single conservative in America that isn't doing something disgusting and unseemly?

Can we locate one for the zoo exhibit at least?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter ESQ

Friday, February 1, 2008

Republican Update

Grand Old Party It Is

Huckabee Bunny
By now most people have surely seen this gem, but Huckabee in a recent debate compared Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq to an Easter Egg hunt.

"Now everybody can look back and say, 'Oh, well, we didn't find the weapons.' Doesn't mean they weren't there. Just because you didn't find every Easter egg didn't mean that it wasn't planted."
Damn, now I have an REM song stuck in my head.

It's the end of the world, as we know it....

Source: The Huffington Post

Overheard on a Train
Last night, Keith Olbermann ran a story about how McCain is proving an extremely divisive figure in the Republican party for being imperfectly loyal to their plutocratic masters and insufficiently xenophobic about the Brown People. He may well lead to a Republican party schism as the nominee, the thinking goes.

In light of that, it's worth noting this overheard train conversation with Man-on-Dog former Senator Rick Santorum, who apparently spent an afternoon bashing McCain to other arch-conservatives on his cell phone, in public, in full earshot of a known liberal activist.

Reagan's commandment about not criticizing your fellow Republican seems good and dead now.

Source: Open Left

Ron Paul Watch
So Ron Paul raised more money in the fourth quarter of 2007 than Romney and McCain *combined*.

He's making a heavy push in the 'quirky' state of Maine, which has a little watched caucus coming up... and the state Republican party thinks he might win it.
Paul is the only candidate who has visited the state, which is known for its independent streak. In 1992, Ross Perot placed second and scored more votes than former President George H.W. Bush, who owns a summer home there.

Lindelll told AP that hundreds of Paul supporters have been organizing around the state, and their efforts, such as organizing caucuses in towns where none had been planned, have not gone unnoticed by party bigwigs, including the state's Republican executive director, Julie O'Brien.

"I have felt strongly for three weeks," she told AP, "that he stood a better chance (in Maine) than any other candidate."
Shoot me. Shoot me now! I like the smell of cordite and burnt feathers!

Source: Raw Story

Even The Nation has been infiltrated by at least one Ron Paultard now!

I'm losing my mind here.

Bush Determined to Leave U.S. in Utter Ruin
So Bush seems determined to leave the United States in complete and utter ruin. First, he's spent every last thin dime of our national reserves on this pointless meat-grinder of Iraq, and now he's slashing healthcare budgets to the bone and freezing domestic spending to try and cover it up for the last year before he scurries off to Crawford to continue his vacation:
Bush has proposed nearly $200 billion in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare as part of his $3 trillion budget to be unveiled Monday, and he will provide miniscule increases in spending on other domestic programs.
In fact, he's taken on so much debt that he may actually ruin the credit rating... of the entire nation:
"The next president, if he or she serves two terms, could find the U.S. government so deeply in hock that it would face losing its Triple-A credit rating, something that has never happened since Moody's Investors Service began grading U.S. securities in 1917."

Ahh, we're well and truly boned now.

Source: Raw Story

Permanent Quagmire
In an attempt to ensure that we leave Iraq someday, somehow, Congress passed a law banning permanent bases in Iraq.

Bush signed the law, then overrode (or so he thinks) that provision with one of his charming 'signing statements'.

He thinks he can write whatever he wants onto a piece of paper and make it law, now. He honestly thinks he's the King.
Democratic lawmakers have also complained about the "signing statement" Bush issued Monday in signing the defense authorization bill, in which the president suggested he might ignore language that bars funding for permanent U.S. bases in Iraq as well as U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources.
Oh yeah, the oil had NOTHING to do with this war....

He also intends to sign a long-term mutual defense agreement with the Iraqi, ahem, government. Without Senate approval.

"The suggestion that he may disregard a law overwhelmingly approved by Congress, coupled with the president's intent to sign a long-term agreement obligating the United States to defend the Iraqi government from internal and external threats, only reaffirms to Americans that there is no end in sight to the war in Iraq," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
This is starting to feel like when the UK got into the Middle East, only we drink coffee, not tea, and we're NEVER GOING TO ESCAPE

Source: The Washington Post

Completely Random Notes

Of Little Interest to Others

Magic the Gathering Card

Rhys the Exiled would be a totally awesome card in the Elf Warrior theme deck I want to build.

Not a bad picture either.

So That's Who Sean Young Is
I never really got the joke in the episode of The Critic until now. She really would make a great dancing beer bottle.

Though the whole thing is sad, really.

Source: The Register

Near Dark Poster
Not bad, really.

Source: Poster Site of Some Kind

I'm Sorry I Missed This
Forgot to order it in time. Got to remember to get one next year, if they offer it.

Source: HP Lovecraft Historical Society

Anime I Want to Watch For No Good Reason
It's called Tales of Agriculture and it's about a boy who can talk to bacteria and other microbes.

Nevermind that they'd have nothing interesting to say, or that there'd be trillions of them around at a time. Still a neat idea.

Source: Anime News Network

Science News

Science is Still Awesome

So the other day I was looking up the death rate on SARS, which turned out to be something like 9.6%, higher than I thought, and it got me to thinking how SARS would compare to, say, the Spanish Flu. That in turn got me to reading about the Spanish Flu, and apparently, there's some new research on said pandemic, including its puzzling and seemingly unpredictable lethality.

One theory is that the virus strain originated at Fort Riley, Kansas, by two genetic mechanisms — genetic drift and antigenic shift — in viruses in poultry and swine which the fort bred for local consumption. But evidence from a recent reconstruction of the virus suggests that it jumped directly from birds to humans, without traveling through swine.[12] On October 5, 2005, researchers announced that the genetic sequence of the 1918 flu strain, a subtype of avian strain H1N1, had been reconstructed using historic tissue samples.[13][14][15] On 18 January 2007, Kobasa et al reported that infected monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) exhibited classic symptoms of the 1918 pandemic and died from a cytokine storm.[16]
This might lend credence to some of the bird flu fears, with the caveat that modern bird flu is almost impossible to catch unless you slaughter poultry for a living.

What though, is a cytokine storm?
When the immune system is fighting pathogens, cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. Normally this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place. The precise reason for this is not entirely understood, but may be caused by an exaggerated response when the immune system encounters a new and highly pathogenic invader. Cytokine storms have potential to do significant damage to body tissues and organs. If a cytokine storm occurs in the lungs, for example, fluids and immune cells such as macrophages may accumulate and eventually block off the airways, potentially resulting in death.
So basically what you're talking about here is an immune hyperreaction, like an allergy. The stronger your immune system was, the more likely it was to overreact. Thus the odd spike in the mortality of the Spanish Flu, the reason it hit the young and healthy HARDER than their older and younger relatives, as opposed to the normal pattern.

Source: Wikipedia (Spanish Flu)
Wikipedia (Cytokine Storm)

So some Australian astronomers figured out a way to take a 3D picture, or hologram, of the interestellar dust medium.


Sources: Slashdot
The Physics Arxiv Blog

So a new study out offers hope that many symptoms of returning Iraq vets, previously labeled as organic brain injuries, may be caused by Post-Traumatic Stress, and thus more easily treated.

This however comes with a caveat -- the military pays a lot less for PTSD treatment than it does for brain injury, in keeping with its long-standing policy of discriminating against those with mental illness (even going so far as to charge some with cowardice if they seek help).
"The military doesn't want to diagnose people with brain injury," he said. "So what they'll do is play it off as PTSD as the sole injury for everyone, because PTSD and traumatic brain injury have very similar symptoms," he said. "The disability [compensation] is a lot higher for traumatic brain injury. What the military is saying is, you can't be diagnosed from a brain injury unless you get better from PTSD. It's kind of like a paradox."
My question is, why can't we adequately treat both? Medical research shouldn't be used to harm people like this, but that's life under the Bush administration, for sure.


So the Navy's Got a New Toy
The world's most powerful rail-gun.
Which is why the news that BAE Systems has delivered a functional, 32-megajoule Electro-Magnetic Laboratory Rail Gun (32-MJ LRG) to the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., is exciting. Installation of the laboratory launcher is currently under way, and according to BAE, this is the first step toward the Navy's goal of developing a tactical 64-megajoule ship-mounted weapon.

The lab version doesn't look particularly menacing -- more like a long, belt-fed airport screening device than like a futuristic cannon -- but the system will fire rounds at up to Mach 8, drawing on tremendous amounts of electricity to generate the current for each test shot.
Yes, the Navy has ambitious plans to build enormously powerful electrically operated ships and use their spare juice capacity when at rest to fire huge rail-guns. The goal is hyperaccurate shelling from 200 miles away.

Pity we're nowhere near making it work.
While the 32-MJ LRG should start firing soon, it could take another 13 years for a 64-megajoule system to be built and deployed on a ship. The Marines, in particular, are interested in the potential for rail guns to deliver supporting fire from up to 220 miles away -- around 10 times further than standard ship-mounted cannons -- with rounds landing more quickly and with less advance warning than a volley of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Effective rail guns will require a major breakthrough in materials between now and 2020, to keep the guns themselves from being shredded by each high-velocity barrage.


Colorful Mercury
So NASA's MESSENGER probe, which is en route to a final orbit and year-long orbital survey of Mercury, which is largely unmapped to this day, swung by the innermost planet recently, and tried out a few of its gizmos.

Unlike the last probe to see Mercury, MESSENGER has, say, color optics, so they produced a false-color three-tone image to test them out as it flew away and found out that Mercury might resemble the moon in black and white, but not in color.
Color differences on Mercury are subtle, but they reveal important information about the nature of the planet's surface material. A number of bright spots with a bluish tinge are visible in this image. These are relatively recent impact craters. Some of the bright craters have bright streaks (called "rays" by planetary scientists) emanating from them. Bright features such as these are caused by the presence of freshly crushed rock material that was excavated and deposited during the highly energetic collision of a meteoroid with Mercury to form an impact crater. The large circular light-colored area in the upper right of the image is the interior of the Caloris basin. Mariner 10 viewed only the eastern (right) portion of this enormous impact basin, under lighting conditions that emphasized shadows and elevation differences rather than brightness and color differences. MESSENGER has revealed that Caloris is filled with smooth plains that are brighter than the surrounding terrain, hinting at a compositional contrast between these geologic units. The interior of Caloris also harbors several unusual dark-rimmed craters, which are visible in this image. The MESSENGER science team is working with the 11-color images in order to gain a better understanding of what minerals are present in these rocks of Mercury's crust.
The false color image is built from infrared, red and violet, so some of Mercury's colors would be human visible, and this doesn't say anything about the middle of the spectrum. Still, Mercury has splashes of red and blue at least. Better to my mind than the same old grey-white-black combo we have in our night sky.

Source: Messenger Site

Obama and Iraq

An Attempt to Settle the Issue.

Clinton (both of them really) accuses Obama of flip-flopping on the war. Did he?

Let's see.
Obama in 2002:

One thing everyone agrees on is that Obama made a speech in 2002, as an Illinois state senator who strongly opposed a war with Iraq. It was one week before Clinton voted in the Senate to authorize the use of force against Iraq.

Obama in 2003:
Obama did say in a campaign speech in 2003 that he would have voted against $87 billion in war funding approved by the Senate.

Obama in 2004
From the July 27, 2004, Chicago Tribune article:

Barack Obama, who will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, said Monday that he believes the Iraq war will be the deciding factor in the presidential contest, but that he does not think there is a great difference "on paper" between presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and President Bush on the issue.

Instead, Obama, the U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois, said he believes the Bush administration has lost too much credibility in the world community to administer the policies necessary to stabilize Iraq.

"On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago," Obama said during a luncheon meeting with editors and reporters of Tribune newspapers. "There's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute."


Obama, a state senator from Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, opposed the Iraq invasion before the war. But he now believes U.S. forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation -- a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.
Well, that's new.

Obama in 2006:
Obama did not give a floor speech against the war until June 2006. He did, however, introduce legislation a year ago — around the same time he opened an exploratory committee for a presidential bid — that called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by next April.

Obama in 2008:
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Oh so NOW he wants us out of Iraq.

Funny how a few bad years can change a position. Or is it that, in 2002, he wasn't in the Senate, in 2004 he was, and in 2006-08, he's running for President, or was preparing to do so.

It's almost like his hatred of the Iraq war increases whenever he's getting ambitious, and retreats whenever he needs to make a safe vote.

Sources: NPR
Media Matters
Barack Obama 2008

Controversies, Weirdness

Legal Eagles and Rabble-Rousers

Accountability is for Other People
So the biggest Katrina suit against the Army Corps of Engineers, who built the faulty levees and floodwalls, often skimping on parts, using poor materials and defrauding the federal government, has been dismissed despite all the evidence of malfeasance and fraud.

The reason? An old Federal law granting immunity to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control related damages.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge threw out a key class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over flooding from a levee breach after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval ruled that the Corps should be held immune over the failure of a wall on the 17th Street Canal that caused much of the flooding of New Orleans in August 2005.

The suit led to 350,000 separate claims by businesses, government entities and residents, totaling billions of dollars in damages against the agency.

The fate of many of those claims was pinned to that lawsuit and a similar one filed over flooding from a navigation channel in St. Bernard Parish. It was unclear how many claims could still move forward.

The ruling relies on the Flood Control Act of 1928, which made the federal government immune when flood control projects like levees break.

Throughout the court proceedings, plaintiffs lawyers knew they faced a daunting task because the canals were, over time, used as flood control projects by the Corps.
Yeah, it does seem like the law left him little choice. What a terrible law though! They can do anything they want in the name of flood control, run any scam, employ drunks, steal materials, whatever you imagine, and it's ok, they cannot be held to account. Ever.

God Bless America. Except the poor parts that lie near the rivers.

Source: The Associated Press

Worse than the Suit Thing, Huh?
People thought the judge suing over his lost suit was bad.
HARO, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish businessman withdrew a controversial lawsuit Wednesday against the family of a teenage boy he struck and killed while driving a luxury car.

Tomas Delgado had filed a suit asking the dead boy's parents to pay him €20,000 ($29,400) on the grounds that the collision that killed their teenage son also damaged his Audi A-8.

News of the case sparked outrage in Spain and generated deep sympathy for the parents of 17-year-old Enaitz Iriondo Trinidad. He was riding his bicycle home to a campground when Delgado's car hit and killed him in August 2004.
First of all, why is this lawsuit being filed now? Secondly, man, that's cold. I don't care if the boy was at fault, violating traffic laws or what not, who knows, it's possible, you don't sue the family; the kid's dead. Deal with your car's body work and move on.

Or you could antagonize people and make things much worse for yourself..
A traffic report said Delgado was traveling 113 km per hour (70 mph) in an area where the speed limit is 90 km (55 mph). An independent expert hired by Trinidad's family said Delgado was going 173 km per hour (107 mph).

Shortly after the collision, a judge dismissed criminal charges against Delgado after concluding that he had committed no criminal infraction, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.


A local prosecutor told reporters that he would take a second look at the case to see whether authorities can file fresh charges against Delgado.
Oops. That defense lawyer's going to cost you a lot more than 30 grand, you lunatic jerkass.


Get Over Yourself, Conservative Catholics
So there are a lot of crazy right-wing Catholic groups that get upset every time there's any even slightly risque or critical or even humorous depiction of their Church in the media, right?

A new gym in Boston thought it'd be funny to run an add featuring nuns at an art class, sketching a nude male model. This is about as tame as I can think of. The right-wingers got really, really upset.
C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said the ad shows contempt for the Catholic religion.

"It says a great deal about this perverse obsession in both the fashion industry and the advertising industry of exploiting and mocking and sexualizing Catholic religious imagery," Doyle said.

The fitness company responded with a written statement saying, "Our ad campaigns are based on personal motivation and fantasy and throughout history the body has been considered a form of art."
Yeah, where would anyone have gotten the idea that the nude body is utilized in artwork, let alone Catholic art? Heaven forfend.


Source: The Boston
Wikipedia (Various images)

P.S. These are hardly the first Catholics to get angry about art:

From the Wikipedia article on the Sistine Chapel:
The Ignudi[41] are the 20 athletic, nude males that Michelangelo painted as supporting figures at the four corners of the five smaller narrative scenes of central part of the ceiling. The figures hold or are draped with or lean on a variety of things which include pink ribbons, green bolsters and enormous garlands of acorns. The acorns are the symbol of the family of Michelangelo's patron, Pope Julius, and can also be seen as the finials on his chair in Raphael's portrait.[42]

The Ignudi, although all seated, are less physically constrained than the Ancestors of Christ. While the pairs of the monochrome male and female figures above the spandrels are mirrors of each other, these ignudi are all different. In the earliest paintings, they are paired, their poses being similar but with variation. These variations become greater with each pair until the postures of final four bear no relation to each other whatsoever. Their painting demonstrates, more than any other figures on the ceiling, Michelangelo's mastery of anatomy and foreshortening and his enormous powers of invention.[43]

The meaning of these figures has never been clear. They are certainly in keeping with the Humanist acceptance of the classical Greek view that “the man is the measure of all things”.[44] Their presence and nudity angered a number of critics, including Pope Hadrian VI who described the ceiling as "a stew of naked bodies" and wanted it stripped.[5]

He's a Loser Baby
This Beck really, really is one.
Discussing last night’s GOP debate on his radio show today, Glenn Beck and fill-in host Pat Gray mocked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by derisively calling him “Juan McCain.”


During the segment, Beck also commented on a new campaign by the National Council of La Raza that targets him and Lou Dobbs for their rhetoric, which La Raza believes “demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans.” Beck suggested that La Raza’s campaign to get him off the air “before the election” may be “connected” to McCain.


UPDATE: On Beck’s CNN Headline News show last night, Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist compared La Raza to the KKK while smearing the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Honestly, is there ANYTHING a conservative can say that will get them off the air, permanently? Anything at all?

Source: Think Progress

Tom's Pictures
My friend Tom likes to send me links to bizarre images from across the web. I thought I should put a couple of them in here for posterity.

Power Rangers
How Not to Use an iPhone

A Real Nightmare All Right

Horror Special

Dear God, No
No, no, no please, please...

Transformers director Michael Bay and his partners at the Platinum Dunes production company have been tasked by New Line Cinema to "relaunch" the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher classic gave the world the iconic Freddy Krueger, who haunted a total of nine films and two TV series. According to Variety, the new outing will represent a "complete overhaul" of the Nightmare concept.
Not Michael Bay, please, please no. Not the man who insisted on a non-asian cast for Pearl Harbor, spread malicious lies about Japanese spies in America, and had to have a Japanese protagonist added over his head by the studio after production.... not to mention one of the most talentless hack producers of our time.

Well, at least that's the worst news.. what do you MEAN there's more?
Bay and chums are also gearing up for a May start on resurrecting Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th in a new film to be helmed by Marcus Nispel. This is apparently up for a "complete overhaul" as well, and movie buffs will remember just what a complete overhaul did for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - remade in 2003 by New Line with Nispel calling the shots and Platinum Dunes lurking in the shadows.
ARGH. A bad director AND Bay are remaking Friday the 13th?

I think he's determined to destroy everything that was good in the entire decade of the 80s.

Just please let that be the end of...MOTHERFUCKER
And just to reinforce the feeling that Hollywood has completely lost the ability to come up with an original concept, Variety adds that Platinum Dunes is "prepping an exorcism thriller" for Rogue Pictures, plus a remake of Near Dark to be directed by music vid vet Samuel Bayer.

Oh yes, and the company's filling its spare time "developing a Universal remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds", in which Casino Royale director Martin Campbell will presumably ensure that slated star Naomi Watts will get plenty of unwanted avian attention.

So talentless whore Michael Bay is remaking Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Birds, Near Dark AND an Exorcist ripoff all at the same time.

This man is the devil. We need to bind him in a circle of salt, wrap him in iron and dismember the body before burning it in cleansing fire at dawn.

It is the only way.

Source, and I mean I copied almost the whole damn depressing thing: The Register

Thursday, January 31, 2008



Very quick blog post here. I'm terribly busy studying for my big LSAT exam on Saturday at some ungodly hour in the morning, but I figured I'd put something out here just for habit's sake.

Edwards Out; I Mourn
First Dodd dropped out, one of the very few men in the Senate, or anywhere else, for that matter, willing to stand up for the rule of law against warrantless wiretapping. He based his campaign on noble Constitutional principles and got completely ignored, which is a pity.

Yet, when he was free of the campaign, what did he do? He went right back to fighting the warrantless wiretapping and telecom-amnesty bill in the Senate, and won. Twice, so far.

He would have made a fine President.

Now we have Edwards stepping aside, in no small part due to the abysmal performance he got in the Nevada caucus. It was the first time they ever conducted one, caucuses are designed to ensure that only two candidates get any real support because of their run-off nature, so he was doomed from the start, but he seems to have taken it personally, which is a real shame.

Edwards stood for the poor, the downtrodden, for everyone who's lost out in the marvelous Bush 'economy'. He's fought this same fight for decades, to mockery, to attacks, and to deafening silence. I expect he'll keep fighting it. Good for him.

Now we're left with whoever the Republicans dig out of the crypt, and the lesser of two mediocrities on the Democratic side. All the idealism and vibrancy has been systematically drained out of this primary season, leaving a group of candidates with all the appeal of cold gruel, or in Obama's case, all the substance of a marshmallow.

Sigh. I keep telling myself, at least it won't be Bush...

Source: Raw Story

For information on the Telco Immunity Bill, go to Firedoglake. They have a lot of material, and liveblog it whenever the bill comes up in the Senate.

New York City Wants to Secede
So here's the deal: NYC pays the state of New York 11 billion dollars more in taxes each year than it gets back in services. This has left the city somewhat unhappy, and proposing to secede from the state of New York.

Now, I know that word secession has nasty, Confederate connotations from the Civil War, but remember, there's legal precedent for seceding from a STATE but staying in the COUNTRY; we let West Virginia do it during the Civil War, after all.

(It's a sad sign of what a comic book nerd I am that I keep thinking of Marvel when I type 'Civil War')

At any rate, there's a plan going around to change that pay imbalance the hard way:

Emboldened by Mayor Bloomberg's testimony in Albany this week that the city's taxpayers pay the state $11 billion a year more than they get back, a City Council member is offering legislation that would begin the process of having New York City secede from New York State.

Peter Vallone Jr., a Democrat who represents Queens, is pushing the idea, and the Council plans to hold a hearing on the possibility of making New York City the 51st state.

"I think secession's time has definitely come again," Mr. Vallone, who spearheaded a similar push in 2003, told The New York Sun yesterday. "If not secession, somebody please tell me what other options we have if the state is going to continue to take billions from us and give us back pennies. Should we raise taxes some more? Should we cut services some more? Or should we consider seriously going out on our own?"
I'm all for it, on paper at least. In practice though, as the article points out, there would be some issues with this plan.
He added that Albany and the rest of New York north of the Bronx border does have some redeeming qualities. "The city needs upstate — it's where the city gets its water. It dumps its prisoners upstate," Mr. Stern said.
I left out Mr. Stern's quote immediately preceding that because he said you can't secede from a state, which I already mentioned is actually not true.

There's also the matter of the fact that the people who'd have to vote on this plan are, err, unlikely to support it.

Mr. Vallone's legislation would create a commission to study the issue and then recommend whether to put it to a referendum. Since secession would have to be approved by the Albany legislators, its passage would be unlikely. Another to council member, Simcha Felder, who chairs the Governmental Operations committee, said the bill will be considered this year.
This is how governmental inertia works, folks. Revolutions are hard to conduct. That's sort of the idea.

Source: The New York Sun

Oh, Now THIS is Going to Be a Headache
The Kosovar government is threatening to announce its independence from Serbian Yugoslavia as soon as the Serbs finish their election.

This absolutely cannot go well.
Kosovo will proclaim independence within days of Serbia's presidential election on Sunday regardless who wins, the breakaway province's prime minister said Wednesday.

"The developments in Serbia do not have any influence on Kosovo. Kosovo has its own path," said Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Hardline nationalist Tomislav Nikolic will dispute the Serbian presidency with pro-Western incumbent Boris Tadic in a runoff vote on Sunday. Opinion polls indicate the political battle is too close to call.

"The independence of Kosovo will happen in the next few days, regardless if Tadic or Nikolic wins," Thaci told journalists in the provincial capital Pristina.

Pressed to predict a possible date for a declaration, a senior Kosovo government official told AFP: "I would choose the second or third week of February.
Man, Putin's going to put his boot down if that happens, and then we'll be in the mess, and we're talking thick.

Sigh. Kind of wish we still had our international credibility and military presence, huh?

Source: Raw Story

Billy Boy Earns My Respect Again
Now he's on target, putting that temper of his where it belongs: aimed directly at the lunatic fringe.
The Clinton campaign may be stopping President Bill from taking on Senator Barack Obama in his public appearances on his wife's behalf. But that doesn't mean he can't go on the rampage against '9/11 hecklers.'

"9/11 was not an inside job, it was an Osama Bin Laden job," President Clinton proclaimed in the campaign stop.

"We look like idiots, folks, denying that the people who murdered our fellow citizens didn't when they are continuing to murder people all around the world," he added. "So we heard from you, you go away."
Bravo, Billy. It's beneath the Former President of the United States to talk whacko conspiracy theories with some crackpot glue-huffer, and you told him as much, though in much nicer language.

My hat, if I wore one, would be off to you today.

Source: Raw Story

Roommate's Assignment
This is what my roommate had to turn in as an assignment for a class, when asked for a small bit of flash animation: an Old One slaughtering some poor scientists at the Mountains of Madness.