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 16, 2008


Asian Eateries and Fascism

I officially never want to hear that Israel is a 'democracy', or the natural 'ally' of the United States, again.

Ok? Just stop it. You're embarassing yourself.

The country is an official theocracy, with special rules and status for Jews and those of Jewish descent, a brutal apartheid against the Palestinians, an aggressive and paranoid military complex ruling the country in conjunction with religious elites, etc. There is no way you can reasonably look at Israel and not conclude that it is a fascist nation, and I thought that World War II established once and for all that fascists are NOT our friends. Still, people persist, and fail to see the problems that stem from our strongest 'ally' in the Middle East being a theocratic, fascist police-state.

The problems still exist though.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Asian restaurants went on a one-day spring roll strike on Tuesday in protest over government plans to rid kitchens of foreign chefs, and said sushi and noodles would be the next items off the menu.

The restaurants are angry at government plans to purge Japanese, Chinese and Thai eateries of Asian cooks and replace them with Israelis as part of a broader programme to cut the number of foreigners working in the Jewish state.
Purge is an appropriate term; they're trying to get rid of these people, legal immigrants, some of them having lived in Israel for decades, solely because they can then hand their jobs to Israelis. They won't let these people BECOME Israelis because their skin's the wrong color and they worship the wrong god.
Israel attracts virtually no immigrants from Asia since anyone seeking citizenship here must prove they have Jewish family or links to the country.

Seeking to plug a gap in the labour market during the first Palestinian uprising, Israel allowed foreigners to work in the Jewish state. But now it is trying to limit those numbers to create more jobs for Israelis.

This year the government is granting 500 permits to Asian chefs compared with 900 last year. Next year no permits will be issued, although restaurants willing to pay twice the average national salary will be allowed to employ chefs as "experts".

The government argues Israelis can be trained.

"Everyone can make Chinese food it's not impossible to learn," said Shoshana Strauss, a lawyer working on foreign worker issues for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.
Hey, Strauss? Fuck you, you insensitive asshole.

Job training isn't the point here, dipshit. The point is that you've made an entire class of people into second-class citizens and are trying to deport them, after firing them from their jobs, because of their RACE AND RELIGION.

To quote the great Keith Olbermann, 'You're a FASCIST! You should have a t-shirt printed that says FASCIST on it!'

Never, ever tell me that Israel is just like the United States, that as a government or on a national level they share our values. They do NOT. They are the last bastion of fascism in the world today, an enemy we thought we had beaten back decades ago, but which got a new lease on life, ironically from the very refugees who had seen its terrible power first hand, and decided, for whatever reason, that they should have that power for themselves. What a Faustian bargain that turned out to be.

Source: Reuters

Our Friends and Neighbors

Continuing the Proud Tradition of US Foreign Policy Blunders

Russia and Putin (Who Has a Good Soul!)
So the Russians are hopping mad at El Presidente for his harebrained scheme to build a system of useless missile interceptors to use against so-called Rogue States, like North Korea or Iran, which, in his rather wild imagination, have the potential to assemble functional ICBM systems out of string and posterboard and launch them at the United States.

Of course, the idea that countries which can barely fashion a working fission device on the ground under ideal conditions (or in Iran's case, might be able to DREAM of such success, in twenty years...) could suddenly put one on top of a missile capable of soaring around the globe and hitting a target in the continental United States is patently stupid... and the fact that we could instantly and brutally wipe anyone who did such a sub-moronic thing off the face of the earth with a searing nuclear hellstorm would seem, to me, to be a more effective deterrent against an attack by such magical pony riding super-terrorist-states than a missle interceptor system that has never worked, not once, in any real world conditions.


For reasons having entirely to do with national pride, I imagine, and not the 'threat' our pitiful system poses (none), the Russians are mad. Maybe it's the fact that we pulled out of the treaty banning such systems unilaterally. Maybe it's the fact that we're building the interceptors on their doorstep, in countries they formerly controlled in the Warsaw Pact.

For whatever reason, poking them with a stick is a really bad idea... so, of course, that's what Bush is doing, trying to arrange to deploy them not just on the border of the old USSR... but inside it!

However Putin warned that if Ukraine followed the lead of ex-Soviet-bloc countries in eastern Europe and hosted missile-defense facilities "to neutralize our nuclear potential" that Russia would be forced to respond.

"It is terrible even to think that in response to this ... Russia cannot theoretically exclude aiming our offensive-missile systems at Ukraine," Putin said.

Moscow sees the expansion of NATO, as well as the deployment of a US anti-missile shield in central Europe, as threats to Russian security.

Putin last year threatened to aim missiles at European cities if elements of the anti-missile shield were deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Ahh, El Presidente... is there anything you can't turn into the threat of World War III?

Source: Raw Story

Saudi Arabia, Bush Loves Your Oil So
Ahh, Saudi Arabia. Rich with oil, though that's running low... even richer in depravity and corruption.

Home of Osama Bin Laden and the treasury for Al Qaeda, run in a chaotic and murderous fashion by an authoritarian oligarchy, barely clinging to power with the force of U.S. arms... a nightmarish theocracy, where it seems the Dark Ages are hip again. Who says history isn't cyclical?
A leading human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Thursday to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the kingdom's religious police who arrested and interrogated Fawza Falih, and the judges who tried her in the northern town of Quraiyat never gave her the opportunity to prove her innocence in the face of "absurd charges that have no basis in law."

Falih's case underscores shortcomings in Saudi Arabia's Islamic legal system in which rules of evidence are shaky, lawyers are not always present and sentences often depend on the whim of judges.

The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions on daily life in Saudi Arabia: They cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.
This must also be ok, after all -- Bush has had King Abdullah over for long romantic walks! Complete with hand-holding!

Surely that's worth a few murdered women, right?

Source: Raw Story

England has decided they're tired of their image, I guess, because they're trying to be the 21st century Texas, with an official ruling that tasers are ok to use on kids -- despite research showing that tasers cause heart attacks in kids.

It is the decision not to ban their use against minors that is likely to raise serious concerns.

Home Office Police Minister Tony McNulty said medical assessments had confirmed the risk of death or serious injury from Tasers was "low".

But he failed to mention Government advisers had also warned of a potential risk to children.

The Defence Scientific Advisory Council medical committee told the Home Office that not enough was known about the health risks of using the weapons against children.
Honestly, Texas, you should be offended. These guys are stealing your schtick! It's not much, and it's certainly not funny, but it really is all you've got.
The committee, which is made up of independent scientists and doctors, said that limited research suggested there was a risk children could suffer "a serious cardiac event".

It recommended that officers should be "particularly vigilant" for any Taser-induced adverse response and said guidance should be amended to "identify children and adults of small stature" as being at potentially greater risk from the cardiac effects of Tasers.

The Government scientists were also asked to test whether the weapons could cause a miscarriage if used on a pregnant woman.

While not saying whether police would be allowed to Taser an expectant mother, the Home Office said the DSAC committee had "specifically asked" for computer simulations to be carried out to analyse the effect on "a pregnant female".

Amnesty International claims Tasers have been responsible for 220 deaths in America since 2001. Many cities and police forces there have banned their use against minors
Just stop it, you limey punks! Leave Texas alone!

Source: The Daily Mail

Iraq and Afghanistan
For our puppet government edition, we move to Iraq and Afghanistan, where our puppet regimes are allowing health conditions to continue to deteriorate, and massive plagues to spread unchecked.
At least 275 children in southern Iraq have been infected with a disfiguring skin disease, an outbreak some health officials are blaming on the war's devastating effect on the public health system.

According to the United Nations — citing reports from Iraq's southern province of Qadissiyah — 275 children have been struck with leishmaniasis, which is spread by sand flies. Most have a form that causes skin sores, but others have a type that strikes internal organs and can be fatal.


Though the disease was first identified in Iraq more than a century ago, outbreaks were rare during Saddam Hussein's regime. But since the conflict began, experts say the destroyed health system has opened the way for diseases lurking in the environment.

"The war has exacerbated the problems in Iraq that are one or two decades old," said Claire Hajaj, a spokeswoman for UNICEF's Iraq office. "Their health system has been undermined by violence, insecurity and sabotage."


Leishmaniasis also surged in Afghanistan after decades of civil war and the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Though data about the historical number of cases are sketchy, experts say Afghanistan now has about 200,000 cases per year.

In Iraq, WHO officials estimate there are nearly 3,000 leishmaniasis cases per year. But in neighboring Jordan, there are only about 300 cases annually.
Man I just can't see why they didn't greet us as liberators. Don't they know that liberty means war, famine, pestilence and death?

Oh wait, that's the Apocalypse.

Source: Raw Story/AP News

More Iraq
Before the sanctions after the first Gulf War, Iraq had one of the best healthcare systems in the developing world. It was the crown jewel of Saddam Hussein's corrupt and murderous government, one of the ways in which he bought off his population. Nevertheless, it was real and it worked.

The sanctions, enthusiastically continued under Clinton, are often said to have resulted in 500,000 deaths over a decade. Oh, for the days when that seemed like a high number of deaths for Iraq...

So they've gone through a lot under our guidance. From world-class health care to cholera outbreaks, a plague of skin lesions, and now, apparently, there's not even money to get paralyzed kids wheelchairs.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Mothers cradle children in their arms. Fathers smile softly at the helpless bodies they hold. Other parents are bent over from the weight of their teenage kids whose legs fall limp, almost touching the ground. In the absence of basic medical equipment, these parents do this every day.

An Iraqi boy gives a thumbs up after receiving his wheelchair. Brad Blauser, center, created the program.

Khaled is a father of three. On this day, his young daughter, Mariam, is getting fitted for her new wheelchair. Her arms and legs are painfully thin, little more than skin and bone. She's 7 years old, but looks barely half that. She and both her siblings, a sister and brother, suffer from varying degrees of polio. None of them can walk.

Asked how he and his family cope, Khaled chokes up, fighting back tears.

"I am sick of life -- what can I say to you?" he says after a long pause.

One man, Brad Blauser, has vowed to try to make life a little easier for these families by organizing the distribution of wheelchairs, donated and paid for by his charity, Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids. He first came to Iraq in 2004 as a civilian contractor. Struck by the abject chaos surrounding him and seeing helpless children scooting along the ground, he pledged to find a way to help.
Remind me again, what are we spending all that money on?
Enlisting the help of generous supporters and an Iraqi humanitarian group, "Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids" was born in August of 2005. Thirty days later, its first 31 chairs were delivered. To date, more than 250 Iraqi families have received the wheelchairs.

Blauser has partnered with a nonprofit group called Reach Out and Care Wheels, which sells him the chairs at a manufacturing price of about $300.

The chairs are made by prisoners at the South Dakota State Penitentiary and ultimately delivered in Iraq by the U.S. military.

"Getting these prisoners involved, it just means the world to them," said Andrew Babcock, the executive director of Reach Out and Care Wheels. "Even the prisoners, I've been there and visited, and they're so excited. They come up with different design ideas and ways to make things better for the kids. They want to know where the chairs are going and what kids we're helping."

Blauser said it's unbelievable to be there when the chairs are delivered.

"The most affecting thing about this whole wheelchairs for children is when the parents realize the gift that is being given to their children and they reach out to hug you." he said. "The tears are running from their eyes and they say, 'We never thought that you could do this.' "

Blauser is helped on the Iraqi missions by the civil affairs division of the U.S. military, which helps organize the safe transport of the families to the distribution point and adjustment of the wheelchairs to fit each child.

He said it gives "the troops something when they go home, something good to remember where they know they have contributed, they know they have done a good thing."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Jurack agrees. "It brings a smile to your face. It really gives a different image to the Army as a whole -- helping people out, putting a smile on local nationals' faces, little kids that need our help."

It's a sentiment that is echoed by Samira Al-Ali, the head of the Iraqi group that finds the children in need. On this day, she tells the soldiers she hopes that this humanitarian act will give them a different image of Iraq, not one of a gun and war, she says. Her words are simple but effective.

"I wish the world would see with their own eyes the children of Iraq and help the children of Iraq, because the children of Iraq have been deprived of everything," she said. "Even a normal child has been deprived of their childhood; a disabled child and their family is dealing with so much more."
Look, it's a good thing this guy's trying to do, there's no doubt about it. But, CNN, it might be helpful to note who's actually RESPONSIBLE for all this mess that some guy with his prison made wheelchairs is trying to clean up a few at a time.

Also, I know the article says the prisoners are happy being used as chattal labor to make wheelchairs, and I'm sure some of them are happier to do that than, say, laundry, but the fact remains, we're using convict labor at home to put a handful of wheelchairs in the hands of children abroad, whose lives we ruined and whose healthcare system we destroyed.

Wow. Go us.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Privacy Under Attack

Privacy is Another of Those 'Quaint' Notions I Guess

Telecom Immunity
So the Telecom immunity bill passed the Senate, thanks to Hero of the Bush Revolution Harry Reid.

With just a few days until a stop-gap surveillance measure expires, the Senate finally seemed ready to acquiesce to President Bush's demand that telecommunications companies that helped him spy on Americans be let off the hook.
Meanwhile, having been betrayed for the ten thousand time on this issue by Reid, actual American hero Chris Dodd has abandoned the by-now-farcical effort to get a fair hearing in the Senate and moved on to the House, where he has some powerful allies not as yet completely corrupted by the Telecom lobby.
After failing to strip immunity from the Senate bill, Sen. Chris Dodd announced he would abandon his effort to block the bill with a filibuster, arguing that the House, which has passed an immunity-free bill, would be a better place to try to strip immunity from Congress's final piece of legislation.

"We lost every single battle we had on this bill," Dodd said on a conference call Tuesday with reporters and bloggers. "And the question is now, Can we do better with the House carrying the ball on this bill?"
Now we're likely to get shafted, though the House is showing signs of resistance to Bush's little fascist power grab.

Meanwhile, as soon as the fix was in on the Senate bill, Bush admitted that the telecom companies DID definitely spy on us, as opposed to the whole 'maybe they did, we won't admit what we know until we have blanket immunity, la la la' game they have been playing at.
Well, he finally dropped the "allegedly." President Bush at long last admitted what everyone has suspected for years -- the nation's telecommunications companies closely cooperated with the National Security Agency and his administration to implement large-scale spying on Americans.

Bush was praising the Senate for approving his long-sought update to a foreign surveillance law. Critics say the bill legalizes his warrantless wiretapping program, which was implemented outside the boundaries of the law, and frees phone and internet companies from any responsibility for violating customers' privacy.

"The senate bill also provides fair and just liability protections for companies that did the right thing and assisted in defending America, after the attacks of Sept. 11," Bush said.
The 'right thing' was violating the Fourth Amendment on a scale never before seen in the history of this country.


Sources: Raw Story
Raw Story (Bush changes tack)
Jesus' General (Hero of the Bush Revolution)

Doctors or Rats?
Which is it gonna be?

Well, Blue Cross of California (operated by an Indiana company, go Heartland Values!) has decided that they should be informants on their patients first, and practitioners of medicine second.
The state's largest for-profit health insurer is asking California physicians to look for conditions it can use to cancel their new patients' medical coverage.

Blue Cross of California is sending physicians copies of health insurance applications filled out by new patients, along with a letter advising them that the company has a right to drop members who fail to disclose "material medical history," including "pre-existing pregnancies."

"Any condition not listed on the application that is discovered to be pre-existing should be reported to Blue Cross immediately," the letters say. The Times obtained a copy of a letter that was aimed at physicians in large medical groups.

The letter wasn't going down well with physicians.

"We're outraged that they are asking doctors to violate the sacred trust of patients to rat them out for medical information that patients would expect their doctors to handle with the utmost secrecy and confidentiality," said Dr. Richard Frankenstein, president of the California Medical Assn.
Outraged, but not surprised, most likely.

Shocking, an insurance company that betrays its customers.
Anthony Wright, executive director of HealthAccess California, a healthcare advocacy organization, said the letter had put physicians in the "disturbing" position of having to weigh their patients' interests against a directive from the company that, in many cases, pays most of their bills.

"They are playing a game of 'gotcha' where they are trying to use their doctors against their patients' health interests," Wright said. "That's about as ugly as it gets."
Have faith in American know-how! It'll get even uglier!

Source: The LA Times

The TSA and Computers
So the Transportation Safety Administration, an oxymoronic organization if there ever was one, has decided that any brown person with a computer is a suspect. Though increasingly, they'll raid white people too, for kicks, or to steal their corporate secrets if they're traveling on business.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Asian Law Caucus announced on Thursday that the groups had filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its invasive electronic searches at the border.

The civil-liberties groups filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to gain access to any public records on the United States' policy of questioning travelers and rifling through their electronic files at the border. Nearly two dozen residents in Northern California have complained of searches of their computers and cell phones when entering the United States, the groups stated in a press release. The groups filed a FOIA request with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol last autumn but have not received any information.

The residents claimed "they were grilled about their families, religious practices, volunteer activities, political beliefs, or associations when returning to the United States from travels abroad," the EFF and ALC stated in a news release. "In addition, customs agents examined travelers' books, business cards collected from friends and colleagues, handwritten notes, personal photos, laptop computer files, and cell phone directories, and sometimes made copies of this information."
Naturally, from what I've read on Slashdot (and from personal conversation with a friend in the IT industry whose company has found itself on the wrong end of these illegal searches), these practices have only led to people being sneakerier about the data they carry when they travel.
Companies are increasingly creating explicit policies for employees that travel internationally so that business-sensitive information is not revealed by such border searches.
In particular, people are being issued 'blank' laptops, that is laptops with no personally identifiable information on them, that can be used to dial into a secure server at the business' home location, and access data securely.

Thus defeating the entire point of spying on these individuals. Unless you're telling me the BIG BAD SUPER SECRET TERROR network can't use encryption properly.

Source: Security Focus

Intelligent Intel Chair
So the chair of the House Intel committee has taken objection to the whole 'approve telecom immunity or we all die!!!!' ploy Bush is trying to use on the country.

Good for him. He wrote an angry letter to Bush, and it seems that this manuever has backfired in a big way on El Presidente. Check out this ending.
I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.


Silvestre Reyes
Member of Congress
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Source: Raw Story

A Conclusion
Offered, in its entirety and without further comment, a brief article that illustrates why giving these clowns all the power in the world is, in and of itself and without reference to abstractions or philosophical principles, a bad idea, as they are, in fact, very, very bad human beings.
A 14-day-old infant traveling here for heart surgery died at Honolulu International Airport on Friday after he, his mother and a nurse were detained by immigration officials in a locked room, a lawyer for the boy's family said.

The Honolulu medical examiner's office yesterday identified the infant as Michael Futi of Tafuna, American Samoa's largest village, which is located on the east coast of Tutuila Island. Autopsy findings have been deferred.

According to police, the child died at 5:50 a.m. It is unknown why immigration officials detained the mother, the nurse and the child.

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the child went into respiratory failure while in the customs office, which is located near the baggage claims area of the overseas terminal. Airport paramedics were called about 6:10 a.m., he said.

The group arrived on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that landed at 5:30 a.m.

"We were later told the baby was coming here for heart surgery," Ishikawa said.

Attorney Rick Fried said the child had come to Hawai'i from American Samoa for heart surgery.

The boy's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Fried said.

Source: The Honolulu Advertiser

Funny News (Also, Entertaining)

Because We All Need A Laugh

Tokyo Frogs
So there's been a bit of a kerfluffle in Japan, where the nationalist governor made some.. humorous?... remarks about French that weren't taken too well.

Tokyo's outspoken governor, who was taken to court for a jibe against the French language, insists that he in fact loves France -- and even once had a French girlfriend.

Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for his nationalist views, said in 2004 that French was disqualified as an international language as it was impossible to count in it.

Twenty-one scholars, teachers and translators, including seven French people who live in Japan, sued Ishihara for damages, saying they were defamed and their careers hurt. A judge threw out the suit.

Ishihara, 75, an acclaimed novelist who majored in French in university, stood by his remarks in an interview with AFP.

"Even the French ambassador told me he couldn't count in French," he said with a laugh.

But he added: "I love France. I was really good at French back in the day."
The man's really not kidding; he *is* good at French, and even worked as a translator for bringing French works into Japanese at one point.
Ishihara said he was friends with French writer Andre Malraux and philosopher Raymond Aron. He was also the first to translate into Japanese some of the "Contes Cruels," or "Cruel Tales," by 19th-century author Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam.
Meanwhile, it seems that the French system for counting really is pretty retarded.
The French numbers 0 through 19 are easy enough, right?

For 20 through 69, counting is almost just like in English: the tens word (vingt, trente, quarante, etc.) followed by the ones word (un, deux, trois). The only difference is that for 21, 31, etc., the word et is introduced between the tens word and one: vingt-et-un, trente-et-un, quarante-et-un, etc.

70 to 79 is trickier. In French, 70 is soixante-dix, literally "sixty-ten." 71 is soixante et onze (sixty and eleven), 72 is soixante-douze (sixty-twelve), and so on, up to 79.

80 is quatre-vingts, literally four-twenties (think "four-score"). 81 is quatre-vingt-un (four-twenty-one), 82 is quatre-vingt-deux (four-twenty-two), and so on, all the way up to ninety. 90 is quatre-vingt-dix (four-twenty-ten), 91 is quatre-vingt-onze (four-twenty-eleven), etc.

100 to 999 work just like in English, except that when you have cent at the end of the number, it takes an s, but when cent is followed by another number, the s is dropped. Also, note that you cannot pause after the word cent.
200 = deux cents
500 = cinq cents
350 = trois cent cinquante
872 = huit cent soixante-douze

1,000+ are similar to English, except that the separator is a period or space, rather than a comma (learn more). When reciting a number, you can pause to take a breath at the separator (after mille, million, or milliard). Note that mille never takes an s.
So French has at least sex separate ways to organize their numbers, including four under 100.

I have to say, I'm with the Governor on this one.

Sources: Raw Story








Source: Progressive Ruin

Schlussel Part Two
So, I tore Debbie Schlussel up a bit in the last post. Something about her being a colossal retard, I dunno. Just to be fair to the, ahem, lady, let's take a bit of a biographical look at her work, shall we?
Debbie Schlussel, 37 years old, supports her pundit habit by practicing commercial law in suburban Detroit. She is among the most proactive B-list pundits. Almost daily, she emails her appearance schedule, availability or sharp-elbowed conservative commentaries to 5,000 people in media and politics.

In the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear test, a hawkish Ms. Schlussel hit the radio circuit, saying U.S. officials responded too mildly in calling the test "a provocative act." "A Paris Hilton video is a provocative act," she said. "What North Korea did was an act of war." To get noticed, Ms. Schlussel says, "I've become the master of the confrontational sound bite."


Ask her to survey the punditry landscape, from the A-list on down, and she gets contemplative. "Who is good who does what I do?" she says out loud as she thinks. Soon enough, the answer comes to her. "Me!"
Ahh I see. She's a useless fame whore.

That explains a lot really.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (how's THAT for making my blog 'fair and balanced'?)

Half-Baked Reasoning
Sometimes you can make the right legal decision for the completely wrong reason.

Case in point, a Canadian court considering a traffic stop and drug search.
A Saskatchewan appeal's court upheld a decision that the smell of burnt marijuana is not evidence of illegal drug possession since by definition the proof has gone up in smoke, it said Wednesday.

"The smell of burnt marijuana does not reasonably support the inference that additional marijuana is present," the three-judge panel said in newly-released court filings.
Ok, ok, that sounds logical. We don't want a world where any cop can search any person on the basis of 'odors' that could be entirely in their minds, or better yet, fictitious.

Surely that's the logical reason that the Court used to reject this search, right? That the 'cause' for the search was a completely subjective 'I think it smelled like pot' excuse from a cop?

Archibald's lawyer Ronald Piche successfully argued the warrantless search and seizure were "unreasonable" because the aroma of burnt marijuana -- as opposed to raw marijuana -- infers that the drug has dissipated.

"How can you say you're in possession of something that doesn't exist," Piche told the daily Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
Interesting perspective. If you test positive for cocaine in a blood test after a traffic accident, can you then argue that the cocaine no longer exists, as it's been assimilated into your blood?

Probably not. Marijuana smoke is still marijuana, pointdexter.

Except in Canada.

Source: Raw Story

They Were 11
They Were 11 sounds good. A psychodrama about 10 people who are supposed to spend 50something days alone on a survival expedition in space as a final exam for school entry... only 11 people show up on the ship, and then things start to go terribly wrong.

Duh duh DUH

Ok, this isn't so much funny. It's more entertaining.

Source: Anime News Network

Republican Values

Vicious Little Children

Today the House of Representatives voted to hold two Bush aides in Contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the Attorney General scandal.

Democrats passed contempt of Congress citations against two Bush administration figures Thursday after the charges had spent months in limbo.
They do so on the basis of executive privilege, despite Bush having not claimed said privilege to Congress.
"This is not a confrontation we have sought, and is one we are still hoping to avoid," Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said earlier Thursday. "However, I believe on the merits our case is quite strong. Unlike other disputes involving executive privilege, the President has never personally asserted privilege, the Committee has never been given a privilege log, and there is no indication the President was ever personally involved in the termination decisions."

Michael Mukasey has already indicated that he will refuse to do his job and prosecute the contempt citations, because Bush told his minions to do it, and that makes it ok. If Bush told them to fillet small children and serve them tartare, I guess that would be ok as well.

Meanwhile, House Republicans staged a series of disruptive protests designed to shield their junta from embarassment, if not (likely any) legal jeopardy.
House Republicans staged a walk-out Thursday afternoon to protest the contempt vote and the failure by the chamber's majority members to bow to President Bush's demands on a controversial spying law.

The worst point in the day came when the GOP caucus stooped so low as to interrupt the memorial service for Representative Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and long-time Congressman from California, to force the Dems to come running back to the House floor for a vote. Absolutely disgusting.

Sources: Raw Story

Transgender Issues
Man those Republicans are insecure, aren't they? So insecure in fact that they have to viciously attack anyone who makes them feel 'weird'. The kind of 'weird', as Stephen Colbert put it, when someone disagrees with you about how to use their genitals.

Which is the kind of thing that only keeps you awake at night if you were obsessed with their genitals to begin with, as many Republicans seem to be. Then they turn out to be having cybersex with underage pages, or hanging out in bathrooms at the airport, and it all starts to make sense.

At any rate, today we have Fox News showing off their usual standards of excellence by attacking Transgendered people. In one case, a child. But first, here's your usual Fall of Rome bile from Laura Ingraham.
CODEPINK peace activist Medea Benjamin and pundit Laura Ingraham square off over a proposal to close down a Marines recruiting office.

The ballot initiative, which has already prompted retaliatory action in Washington, would ask the citizens of Berkeley, California whether or not to allow the Marines to continue to recruit within city limits.

Ingraham uses Benjamin's transgender status to counter such a proposal, suggesting that Americans are more accepting of war than they are of an upcoming transgender conference.

"A transgender conference is not killing people," Benjamin responds.

"Just killing the culture, maybe," Ingraham rebuts.
Naturally, this was on the O'Reilly Factor.

What kind of 'culture' is Laura referring to here, anyway? The Conservative 'culture'?

Is it really that easy to wipe it out? Hold some transgender conferences?

Honestly? Huh.

Can I host one? Please?

Source: Page One Q

Transgender Issues Cont.
I'm putting this one under a separate headline, because it really deserves its own space. Fox News Neil Cavuto, who really ought to have an illustration beside 'weasel' in the dictionary, went on a tear today about the news that a second grade kid with gender dysphoria (the clinical term for being transgendered) will be accomodated by their grade school.

Yes, this is the sort of thing that gets Cavuto frothing with rage: when a school accomodates a child with special and diagnosed medical or psychological needs.
In two clips, broadcast on February 12 and 13, Fox News' Neil Cavuto expresses his opinion, in response to one Colorado school's move to accommodate a transgender second grader, saying that the situation is robbing the students of their childhood at taxpayer expense.

"Can we just respect childhood enough not to put them through this nonsense at this age?" he asks.

Child psychologist Jeffrey Gardere calls for more schools to be sensitive to the needs of children with gender dysphoria, but Cavuto disagrees that such accommodations should be made in the sight of children as young as the Colorado student; he feels that they are being made more at the expense of the majority of students, rather than for the equal benefit of the minority.

"What we're finding out," contends Gardere, "is that these kids get these gender dysphoria issues as young as four, five, six years old; they believe that they were born into the wrong body."

"We live in a country where majority rules," counters Cavuto. He worries about what parents of the "other 99%" are going to have to tell their kids about, as he calls them, "Johnny who wants to be Jenna."

"I think many kids can grow from knowing that there are children who lead a different lifestyle, who have these psychological and physiological issues," says Gardere.

"You are robbing kids of their childhood," says Cavuto back to Gardere, "and forcing me as a dad to talk to my sons, sit them down and say, 'All right, now. Some boys like having that penis, now others don't.' And it's weird, doctor."
What's really weird is how you think an obscure news story 'forces' you to talk about penises with your kids, Neil.

Maybe you were just, err, looking for a reason? Just guessing here.

After just being FORCED to talk to his kids about something he clearly doesn't understand in the least, Cavuto responds by soliciting, and then airing, viewer mail attacking a SECOND GRADE STUDENT.
Wednesday's segment includes viewer mail, largely mocking the student. Cavuto calls the situation "stupidity" and "too much damn tolerance," repeating his disagreement with the notion that the majority have to "bend over backwards" for their classmate.
I agree. We have too much damn tolerance. For assholes like Neil Cavuto, that is.

Source: Page One Q

Debbie Schlussel is a real class act, I'll tell you that much.
Summary: In an entry on her website, Debbie Schlussel posted "Valentines," in the form of candy hearts, about Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The hearts for Obama were black instead of the usual pastel colors and referenced widely debunked allegations that Obama is, or has been, a Muslim. A number of the candy hearts Schlussel posted for Clinton referenced David Shuster's remark, "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
Ha ha ha! Obama's black! We'll make him deny being a Muslim, like it's any different from being a Christian in any substantive way! Hillary's a pimp! Hilarious!

What a tool.

Source: Media Matters

Fear the Press
Dana Perino (Peroxide) is showing her usual high caliber gutlessness, refusing to call on a reporter after they asked one too many probing questions about her boss's little adventure in the desert.
I didn't think the question I asked Tony Fratto on January 17 was that outrageous. It merely questioned the huge discrepancy between President Bush's year-ago description of the Iraqi government's domestic security "plan," and Iraqi officals' recent statements about that "plan." But evidently someone in the White House didn't like the question, because since that date, Press Secretary Dana Perino has repeatedly ignored my attempts to ask questions during the daily briefings.
A press secretary who's completely unable to handle the press; another incompetent Republican hire.

Wow. What a surprise.

Source: Raw Story

2008: A Good Year for Whine
Virginia Republicans are mad, or were (sorry, slow at clearing out the clutter), at the idea that, gasp, they might have to support the Republican nominee, or, you know, resign from the party!
Members of the Republican Party in Loudoun County, Viriginia met last week, and took up a variety of business, including a requirement that members of the party's committee support all Republican candidates. With McCain looking set to march away with the nomination, some party members objected.

"I am really concerned that John McCain is going to become the nominee," Erika Jacobson of the newspaper Leesburg Today reported committee member Susan Falknor saying. "He has been against a lot of conservative values."
Look folks. You can vote for whoever you want. That's your right. But the GOP is a private organization; they can enforce whatever silly rules they want, within what few laws apply, like any other elitist club.

Man, I can't believe I just defended the GOP. I feel so dirty.

Source: Raw Story

Gibson the Alcoholic Anti-Semite
So Mel Gibson, famed anti-semite and creator of the submoronic Passion of the Christ (where for 'authenticity' he had everyone speaking a form of Latin that wouldn't exist for at least a thousand years... moron) is out of his court ordered supervision after the drunken tirade that landed him in the news, his career in the toilet, and his future Oscar chancers forever out of reach.
A California judge congratulated star actor-director Mel Gibson for fulfilling the conditions of his probation, a year and a half after he was arrested for drunk-driving, when he blurted out anti-Semitic remarks.


At the time of his arrest Gibson -- who was criticized for anti-Semitic portrayals in his 2004 Biblical film "The Passion of the Christ" -- swore at the officer who stopped him, cursing Jews and saying: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

He later asked forgiveness, explaining that he had battled with alcoholism his whole life.
Yes, it was the BOOZE that made him a raging bigot. Not his lunatic fringe religious beliefs... Riiight.

Source: Raw Story

Stuff We Have to Ban Because They Just Can't Keep Their Hands Off
So Texas' law banning various sex toys from sale has been overturned by a federal court, mercifully relieving the world of the possibility of an endless series of CourtTV appearances by embarassed Texans whose closets got raided by Vice.

Thank the Lord.
FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal appeals court has overturned a Texas statute outlawing sex toy sales, leaving Alabama as the state with the strictest ban on such devices.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy.

Companies that own Dreamer's and Le Rouge Boutique, which sell the devices in its Austin stores, and the retail distributor Adam & Eve, sued in Austin federal court in 2004 over the constitutionality of the law. They appealed after a federal judge dismissed the suit and said the constitution did not protect their right to publicly promote such devices.

In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples.
Ahh, yet again, Progress comes to the South at the end of a pen.

I'm fine with doing it at the end of a sword, if that's what they'd prefer, though.

Source: Houston Chronicle

Torturers abound in the United States government, our response to gruesome injustice is further gruesome injustice.
The most famous journalist you may never have heard of is Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who is on a hunger strike to protest abuse during more than six years in a Kafkaesque prison system.

Mr. Hajj’s fortitude has turned him into a household name in the Arab world, and his story is sowing anger at the authorities holding him without trial.

That’s us. Mr. Hajj is one of our forgotten prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.
Sigh. We're as low as we can go without finding a shovel.

There are the usual particularly gruesome details at the site, but I'm tired of pasting that stuff here.

Source: Firedoglake

Esser Ethics
An old ethics 'complaint' against Luke Esser, the man who cheated Huckabee out of the Washington GOP Primary, shows that people, glass houses, yadda yadda yadda.


Private Stasi
Who says the Bush administration has a completely naive grasp of history? Bush has apparently decided to revive that most beloved secret police organization from East Germany, the Stasi!
"At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector," the InfraGard website states. "InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories."

In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website,, which adds that "350 of our nation's Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard."To join, each person must be sponsored by "an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization." The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.
Ahh, networks of secret informants, whatever could go wrong?

Oh, riiight.
One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation -- and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, "Partnership for Protection." On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.

"The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage," he says. "From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we'd be given specific benefits." These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out. But that's not all.

"Then they said when -- not if -- martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn't be prosecuted," he says.
And people thought it was paranoid to worry about Bush declaring martial law and seizing power in a coup.


Source: Hullabaloo (Digby)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Randomness Randomized

Very Random

Post-It Project
A comic blog with a twist; this one features comics drawn on post-it notes. Tiny art!

Source: The Post-It Project

Ogier the Dane
Here he sleeps, the greatest Danish king, until the day Denmark needs his help once more.

Huh. You'd think World War II would have qualified for the Sleeping King Myth, but we didn't see Ogier, or Arthur for that matter. Gee, if something worse is coming up and they're sleeping in for that, it's going to be ugly.

Source: Wikipedia

So B.C. ran a strip recently with the last panel blank, joking that they'd be dropped for a decidedly apolitical political joke.

This was taken up as a blank canvas, with the following glorious result.

Scientology has been making itself an ever more ridiculous name of late. Their best nonsense has to be the stuff about how they can grant you superpowers if you submit to enough brainwashing and spend enough money.

The thing is, their superpowers are a bit bizarre. I'm not sure why you'd want some of these at all.

The Ferengi Tax System
Toward the very end of Deep Space Nine, the Ferengi undergo dramatic social reforms, including institution of a dreaded program of... taxation.

Naturally, however, bribes were tax-deductible.

As opposed to the real world, or at least Israel.

ome companies request tax deductions for philanthropy, others for restaurants bills. But one Israeli business tried to push the envelope by asking to deduct nearly $860,000 it paid in kickbacks.

A Tel Aviv district court rejected the petition on Feb. 8.

The business, whose name was withheld by the court, asked to deduct the sum for kickbacks that were paid to help spur a business deal. The Israeli daily Maariv reported that the deal took place in an unidentified African nation. The company alleged the kickback was necessary as a part of the local business custom and therefore should be exempted from the Israeli law.
This didn't go over very well, needless to say.

Source: Raw Story

Star Wars Movie
Another new Star Wars movie, this one animated and a sequel to the fantastic Clone Wars cartoon.

Man I hope they don't screw it up.

Source: The Register

Action Science!

As Seen In Atomic Robo

Space Has a Smell
The Science Officer on the International Space Station has announced that space has a smell, oddly enough.

The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.
A commenter on Slashdot pointed out that this smell he thinks is akin to welding may in fact be Ozone, which is often generated by high voltage, such as that used in many forms of welding (it does sound like he's talking about arc welding there).

I seem to recall a smell not unlike what he describes from my days using a MiG welder, but it's been a long time.

Source: International Space Station Blog (NASA)

Oil Beyond Imagination
The ESA (European Space Agency) has announced a preliminary study of the depth of Titan's reserves of hydrocarbons, or as they're known on Earth, 'fossil fuels' (though they're not from dead creatures on Titan... we hope).
Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new Cassini data. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.


At a balmy minus 179º C , Titan is a far cry from Earth. Instead of water, liquid hydrocarbons in the form of methane and ethane are present on the moon's surface, and tholins probably make up its dunes. The term ‘tholins’ was coined by Carl Sagan in 1979 to describe the complex organic molecules at the heart of prebiotic chemistry.

Cassini has mapped about 20% of Titan's surface with radar. Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with each of several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth's oil and gas reserves. The dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth's coal reserves.
That's right. Titan has seas of methane and ethane, and its land is made up of, in essence, a complex peaty coal dust. Only without the peat.

The whole planet is one giant ball of fuel, supercooled and stored far beyond our reach.

It boggles the mind to think about a small planet made, in essence, of OIL. But that's what Titan turns out to be.

There's even a theory that the planet is essentially hollow, and filled with more methane.


Source: ESA Space Science

Saturn has another bizarre moon that Cassini has been studying in more detail of late -- the black and white cookie of outer space, Iapetus. Iapetus has puzzled scientists for some time because of its odd appearance.. the moon is half white, snow white, and half jet black, with almost no other variation, divided right down the middle. But there's a theory emerging now.
This 'thermal segregation' model may explain many details of the moon's strange and dramatically two-toned appearance, which have been revealed in exquisite detail in images collected during Cassini’s recent close fly-by of Iapetus.

Infrared observations from the fly-by confirm that the dark material is warm enough (approximately -146°C or 127 Kelvin) for very slow release of water vapour from water ice, and this process is probably a major factor in determining the distinct brightness boundaries.

"The side of Iapetus that faces forward in its orbit around Saturn is being darkened by some mysterious process," said John Spencer, Cassini scientist with the composite infrared spectrometer team from the Southwest Research Institute, USA.
So the side of Iapetus that faces ahead in its orbit is getting blackened by something, and warms up. In turn, this vaporizes water, which moves to a colder part of the planet... the other hemisphere, where it condenses into white, reflective ice, making that side colder...
"It's interesting to ponder that a more than 30 year-old idea might still help explain the brightness difference on Iapetus," said Tilmann Denk, Cassini imaging scientist at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. "Dusty material spiraling in from outer moons hits Iapetus head-on, and causes the forward-facing side of Iapetus to look slightly different than the rest of the moon," said Denk.

Once the leading side is even slightly dark, thermal segregation proceeds rapidly. A dark surface will absorb more sunlight and warm up, explains Spencer, so the water ice on the surface evaporates. The water vapour then condenses on the nearest cold spot, which could be Iapetus’s poles, and possibly bright icy areas at lower latitudes on the side of the moon facing in the opposite direction of its orbit. So the dark stuff loses its surface ice and gets darker, and the bright stuff accumulates ice and gets brighter, in a runaway process.
So there you have it. One moon has both runaway cooling AND runaway heating at the same time.


Source: ESA Space Science

Vocoders and Voders
I was looking into the Spiderman theme song and read that the 94 TV series version was done by the lead guitarist of Aerosmith, and he used a Vocoder to do the sci-fi sounding voice. A vocoder, it turns out, is a computerized instrument to capture and synthesize a human voice. Interestingly, there's a counterpart, the Voder, which creates a purely synthetic voice from playback like a very complex musical organ of sorts that only plays voices.

That would be spiffy to see in a concert. I bet it's a real pain to learn though.

Source: Wikipedia (Vocoder)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Political Update


Olympics: No Free Speech Zone
So the problems with holding the Olympics in China continue to roll on in. This time? Free speech for athletes has to go out the window, lest they make noise about Tibet.

Or the people that China is forcing out of their homes to make room for the Olympic complex... nah, what am I saying? Athletes never complain about the damage caused by stadiums. Still, here we go:

LONDON -- British Olympic athletes must sign a new clause in their contracts prohibiting politically sensitive remarks or gestures during the Beijing Games.

"The reality is, given the level of political scrutiny of the world's media on these games and the way China will handle them, the BOA felt it was sensible and proper to flag that rule to our athletes," British Olympic Association communications director Graham Mewson said Sunday.

The International Olympic Committee already has a rule that states that "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."


Mewson said the clause will not bar British athletes from "honestly answering" questions they are asked during interviews at the Aug. 8-24 games about "politically sensitive issues."

"An athlete who decides to lift up his team shirt to show a 'Free Tibet' one below it, that's very different," Mewson said.
Hey, Mewsom. The t-shirt thing's already banned. What is this supposed to solve?

Oh that's right. They can only speak up if they're directly questioned. And I'm sure the press corps in China will be all about irritating their government during the games... riiiight.

Source: The Washington Post

Insurgency Update
The insurgents are now targeting the gas pipelines that fuel what little power generation Iraq still has with car bombs.

Yeah. No electricity, no potable water, no sewage, cholera outbreaks.. the standard of living was probably higher under the Mongols.

Source: Reuters

The Sons of Iraq!
In other insurgency news, we needed a catchier propaganda term for the Sunni militias that we arm now to act as vigilante police (who used to shoot at us, before they remembered how much they hate their Shiite rivals).

They used to be Concerned Local Citizens... now?

They're the Sons of Iraq.

Wow. Does Bush think he's Lawrence of Arabia or something?

Source: Your New Reality

Putin's Russia: Crazier By the Minute
So the Russkies are buzzing Japanese and US military forces in the Pacific with their bombers.

Yeah, they're not getting out of hand AT ALL.
A pair of Russian TU-95 Bear bombers overflew a US aircraft carrier in the western Pacific at an altitude of 2,000 feet (660 meters) over the weekend, prompting US fighter jets to scramble, a US defense official said Monday.

Four F-18 fighters jets intercepted the Russian bombers Saturday morning, but not before they had overflown the USS Nimitz, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Japanese F-15 fighters had earlier scrambled to intercept another pair of Bear bombers, and escorted them out of the area, said a US military official who asked not to be identified.


Source: Raw Story

Spies Like Us
So apparently the US has been aggressively using the Peace Corps and our embassies in South America to undermine any government to the left of Mussolini... and Bolivia is not happy about it.

Sigh. Can we get any more amatuerish, please? Make any more boneheaded foreign policy mistakes?

Source: Firedoglake

Sure We Can!
By, say, starting an arms race in space!
China and Russia challenged the United States at a disarmament debate Tuesday by formally presenting a plan to ban weapons in space — a proposal that Washington has called a diplomatic ploy by the two nations to gain a military advantage.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament that "weapons deployment in space by one state" — a reference to the U.S. — could cause a "new spiral in the arms race both in space and on Earth."

Lavrov's call came with an implied threat, noting that the Soviet Union caught up with the U.S. after World War II by developing its own nuclear weapons.

"Let us not forget that the nuclear arms race was started with a view to preserving a monopoly of this type of weapon," Lavrov said. "But this monopoly was to last only four years."
So now the Russkies are saying that they'll develop satellite killers if we don't stop with this posturing nonsense.

Greaaaaaaat. It's not like our economy and military heavily rely on satellites or anything.

Oh wait. Crap.

Source: Raw Story

Sci-Tech News

Because Until We Have Giant Robots, Life Just Isn't Worthwhile

Insert 'Joystick' Humor Here
So the Israeli air force has found that a commonly prescribed medication has the unintentional benefit of easing the stress on the lungs caused by high-altitude, low-oxygen flight.

The medication? Viagra.

A recent study conducted by Israeli doctors among mountain climbers in Africa found a link between erectile dysfunction drugs and improved performance in high altitudes, the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot reported on Thursday.

The active ingredient in the drugs was found to make climbers perform better in an environment with less oxygen, which causes fatigue and dizziness.

This has led army doctors to consider giving jet fighter pilots -- who can fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet (15,000 metres) -- the same drug, the report said.

"The Viagra family of drugs is considered effective in these conditions because when there is a long shortage in oxygen it leads to high blood pressure in the lungs, and the drugs help fight that," the report quoted military medical sources as saying.
Make up your own immature jokes. Though I do wonder if they can manage the primary intended effect of these drugs with dosing changes, or if pilots will just have to put up with the.. distraction.

Hey, astronauts have to wear diapers. Sometimes the bleeding edge of technology is personally embarassing.

Source: Raw Story

Under the Sea
So progress is being made repairing some of the rash of cables that went out mysteriously last week or so.

No word on why they got cut/slashed/whatever though.

I'm betting it's Dagon.

Source: Reuters

Polaroid Out of Instant Film Business
Headline pretty much says it all -- Polaroid is closing down their instant film business line.

Which leaves them more or less as a brand-name outfit, i.e., they sell their name to unrelated products, like tvs and digi-cams, as a marketing ploy. Much like Atari in the 90s.

Interesting fact: they apparently made commercial versions of that instant film stuff. I had no idea.

Source: The Register

Astro Blog
Apparently this is a good audio-blog for astronomy topics.. I'll have to check it out sometime.

Source: Astronomy Cast

Seven League Boots
I read up on the myth of the Seven League Boots the other day (common Euro-folktale about boots that let you take 21-mile long strides), and that got me to remembering a story I'd seen about mechanical boots some Russkie engineer had designed to let you walk really fast.

Thus, I found this article.
UFA, Russia — Being a star engineering student at the top-notch science university here wasn’t enough to exempt Viktor K. Gordeyev from his physical education class.

Mr. Gordeyev, a specialist in airplane piston engines, sweated it out with everyone else, running laps in lumbering heavy boots in this town in the foothills of the Ural Mountains.

He vowed to find an easier way. Eventually, he found one — or at least came close. Mr. Gordeyev invented a gasoline-powered boot that looks like pogo sticks that strap to your shins, and they work on the same principle as the air-cushioned basketball shoe.

But rather than being dismissed as a crackpot invention, his boots — which use tiny pistons — became classified as a Russian military secret until 1994.
Ironically, his boots have the same drawback the boots in the myth did -- they're too physically exhausting.
One result of the Russian space agency testing was a calculation that the energy in calories used to move the two-pound boot at a run would exceed the energy input from the gasoline engine. That meant, it was more tiring to run with the motorized footwear than without it, undermining the original rationale.

Only if the weight could be reduced to below 2 pounds per boot would the wearer have a net energy gain. So far they have failed at this.
Of course, the average human can't run, at all, at 21 mph for any sustained amount of time (that being the top test speed of said boots... apparently it's pretty reliable to run at 10-12 for average peoples, which is still impressive). I wonder if the soviets examined this aspect.. trading off a bit of energy for the option of having a really high speed dash.

Silly Soviets. Just because a technology is monstrously impractical, that doesn't mean it can't be fun!

Source: The Herald Tribue

Polling Science
Interesting comparison of the reliability of various pollsters in this primary season.

I need to take a look at the analysis of the method they used later though. I know some of the results are relatively accurate; Zogby has just sucked this year, because they've been badly weighing various demographics... in SoCal they vastly underestimated the Latino vote and overestimated the Black vote, for example.

Source: Firedoglake

Dragonball Tech (Capsule Corporation Gone Wild)
Sadly, these devices don't fit into magical capsules that can be stuffed into a pocket until needed. But they're still pretty cool for cheap toys. By cool I mean 'possess the potential to be incredibly irritating and fun at the same time'.
On February 8, Bandai announced Dragonball Items Neo, four gadgets with electronic lights and sounds inspired by Akira Toriyama's Dragonball fighting manga and anime. Bandai notified retailers of this series last month, but did not publicly describe the details of each item until this past Friday. The items will be released in Japan at the end of February for 525 yen (about US$4.90) each, including one lemon-soda-flavored candy.

The series includes two wristbands that will automatically "shout" attack calls in Son Goku's voice when the user makes the appropriate hand gestures. For example, the Son Goku Voice Band (Kamehameha ver.) will utter "KA—ME—HA—ME—" when the user presses his or her wrists together while forming the chi energy blast. The Son Goku Voice Band (Genki Dama ver.) will shout "Minna no genki o ora ni wakete kure!" when the user raises his or her hands up in the air to form the sphere of the worlds' life energy.
Man, imagine if you had to shout the full descriptive name of an attack before you used it in real life.

"M-16A2 5.56x45mm NATO Rifle Attack!!"

There's also a replica of the Scouters used in the show that fits over one eye and apparently displays stats on a couple of characters. This is bound to lead to a lot of kids hilariously running into doorframes.

Sources: Anime News Network
Wikipedia (M-16 NATO)

Gamer Girls
So there's something of an uproar over this free mini-mag Nintendo is giving away in the UK, called Girl Gamer. The front cover hits the trifecta of girl stereotypes, involving lots of pink, cooking games and a baby simulator.


On the other hand, as noted, this was bundled with a preteen magazine... so the audience were already braindead to start with, and big words would have turned them off.

Still, food for thought, on why you'd choose to advertise there in the first place. I mean, sure, you can make a lot of money marketing offensive crap (see Ron Paul for details), and if you are selling to idiots, you might have to, in fact, sell idiotic stuff (again, Ron Paul, newsletter)... but that only flies so long as you accept the proposition of getting into bed with morons for cash (Ron Paul.. no wait, I'll refrain from that joke).

VGCats did an amusing take on this idea as well.


All Time Biggest Flop
Sure, it may have earned this title by a technicality where the producers exploit a SAG loophole to show a movie domestically so they can pay the cast less. So what? It's still an amusing record.

Budget for Zyzzyx Road? 1.2 million dollars. Box Office Gross? 30 dollars.


Source: Wikipedia
(Note: I heard about this on Olbermann first)

Old Timer
So the Hubble is still doing great science. Not that we have a plan to repair it yet... there's no money for real science when Bush still wants a moon base!
NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, with a boost from a natural "zoom lens," have uncovered what may be one of the youngest and brightest galaxies ever seen in the middle of the cosmic "dark ages," just 700 million years after the beginning of our universe.

The detailed images from Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) reveal an infant galaxy, dubbed A1689-zD1, undergoing a firestorm of star birth during the dark ages, a time shortly after the Big Bang but before the first stars reheated the cold, dark universe. Images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope's Infrared Array Camera provided strong additional evidence that it was a young star- forming galaxy in the dark ages.

"We certainly were surprised to find such a bright young galaxy 12.8 billion years in the past," said astronomer Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a member of the research team. "This is the most detailed look to date at an object so far back in time."
Oh well. I shouldn't let Bush get me down EVERY day if I can help it. This is spiffy, let's just reflect on that.


Interesting Premise
If I didn't already have so much to read, I'd want to check this book out. The premise is that the reason we have such a litigious society (about which I'm not sure I agree), is that Republicans have gutted every social institution that people would normally use to resolve problems without the civil courts... so the last resort has become the first.

Wait, this is the tech news section. Hmm. Well, is the law a technology?

I dunno. I'm lazy. It stays here.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Random Item Alert

Best of the Interwebs? Worst of the Interwebs?

First up, a lengthy examination of the merits of various superheroes and their powers. The verdict?

The Flash has the greatest powers of all time. (A bit surprising I know).


Next up, The Onion takes on the Patriots' Perfect Season -- Perfect for Everyone Else, at least.

FOXBOROUGH, MA—As the once-invincible, still-insufferable Patriots attempt to come to grips with their 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the Giants, the death of their dream to go undefeated, and the possible end of their dynasty, almost every other person in America is reveling in what they consider the perfect ending to New England's season.

"I just couldn't imagine a better ending to the Patriots odyssey," said Simon Williams, a Kansas City-area football fan who usually watches the college game but found himself caught up in the Patriots' sheer loathsomeness during the season. "The utter lack of humility they displayed alongside an equal lack of any joy in the game, that toad of a coach, and that cologne-ad quarterback… If they have to act that badly while playing that well, you really want to see them fail in the biggest way possible. Thank God almighty, that's what we got."

I feel that way about all pro-football players, myself, but it's nice to see it in print. Thank you, Onion.

Source: The Onion

British Store Sells A Great Model
Would look great in many a bedroom.

Source: The Register

Spidey vs Lead Pipes!
Newspaper Spiderman is notoriously lousy at the actual superheroic game, but he is also, apparently, a lot less powerful than his large format self.

His previous interaction with a falling brick to the back of the head (and subsequent amnesia) is well known among a certain class of internet snarks, but twice over the last two years he has been felled by an ordinary human swinging an ordinary lead pipe.

How can the most agile and alert superhero of all time be hit by mere mortals with a bludgeoning tool? Is this an example of lame writing and terrible, terrible inconsistency in the newspaper strip? I say Nay, friends. Paper-Spidey is secretly weak against LEAD PIPES. They must block his Spidey-sense, which could indicate that it is in fact merely a form of harmful ionizing radiation that his body emits as part of his superpowers.

Thus giving everyone close to him cancer... no... wait, sorry, that's from an Alan Moore comic.

Hmm. I still say it's the pipes. Maybe the ancient Roman god of Plumbing hates Spiderman?


Amanda Marcotte takes apart a hilariously outmoded opinion piece written by a bitter single woman about how it's better to settle for an unhappy marriage than be... a bitter single woman.
"To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist — vehemently, even — that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family. And despite growing up in an era when the centuries-old mantra to get married young was finally (and, it seemed, refreshingly) replaced by encouragement to postpone that milestone in pursuit of high ideals (education! career! but also true love!), every woman I know — no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure — feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.

Oh, I know — I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about."

Thanks for doing my work for me! In exchange, I’ll be generous enough to point out that my lack of desperation to get married and have kids has a lot to do with a general unwillingness to get married and have kids. Some people are allergic to cat hair. I’m allergic to strollers. Tragic, I know.
Me, I have a pathological aversion to screaming, wailing, and disgusting dirty diapers. So I definitely get where she's coming from there.

Seriously, read the whole thing. This is classic.

Source: Pandagon

So Hockey is showing its gruesome, crimson true color.
Florida Panthers left wing Richard Zednik was recovering in hospital Monday after he was gashed in the neck by a skate blade, the National Hockey League team said.

In a statement posted on the team website, the Panthers said the Slovakian born player continued to recover, but gave no further information on his condition.

Sportsnet of Canada reported that Zednik underwent a two-hour emergency operation Sunday night to repair a cut to his carotid artery.

Zednik was inadvertently slashed in the neck by the skate blade of teammate Olli Jokinen of Finland in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Oooh... nasty.

And here's the part where I say, "It gets worse"

It gets worse:
Zednik bled profusely from his neck but was able to skate toward his bench where he was met by the trainer and taken to the locker room.

The game was delayed as blood was cleaned from the ice and both coaches waited to hear if the player was all right.

Only when they were informed Zednik was in stable condition and on his way to the hospital did they decide to continue with the game which was eventually won by Buffalo 5-3.
This has happened before in Buffalo, it seems.
The play brought back memories of when then-Buffalo netminder Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein sliced in a 1989 game against the St. Louis Blues.

Then again, maybe it's hockey.. a sport where every player is armed with a blunt object and sails around hard ice at 30 mph on sharpened serrated knives..
This is the second skate cut incident for the National Hockey League in two days.

Veteran NHL linesman Pat Dapuzzo was injured when Philadelphia Flyer's Steve Downie inadvertently struck Dapuzzo in the face with his skate in a game between Philadelphia and New York on Saturday.

The 25-year veteran suffered cuts to his nose, cheek and jaw requiring dozens of stitches.
I *KNEW* hockey had potential.

Those Canadians know how to live, man. Violence Ball is their Kingdom's Number One activity.

(AKA, Hockey)

Source: Raw Story

Republican News Update

They're Creepy and They're Kooky...

Huck is NOT Fucked
So Mike Huckabee has been written off by the McCain loving media narrative as an also-ran, less than a speed-bump on McCain's way to the nomination.

There are two major problems with this. One is that the 'math' they use to assume he can't score enough delegates assumes that Romney won't throw his delegates to Huckabee, or that they won't go Huck's way at the national convention. Romney voters are overwhelmingly Huck voters. If Huck gets most of Romney's delegates, McCain's lead is cut in half or more.

The other factor is Huckabee himself, who is simply too good and too crazy to put down that easily.

Over the weekend the GOP held two caucuses and a primary, and Huck took at least two out of three on a massive wave of public support.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee upset front-runner McCain in Saturday's Republican contests.

The former Arkansas governor beat McCain in Kansas nearly 3-1.

Huckabee also took Louisiana, narrowly edging out McCain, according to CNN projections. With both Huckabee and McCain falling short of the 50 percent mark, the 20 delegates will be allocated at next Saturday's Louisiana state GOP convention.
That Kansas win was a real kick in the teeth to McCain, who lost badly to Huckabee, and was (almost) within striking distance of RON PAUL.
Huckabee also won in Louisiana, where the former Arkansas governor had 43 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Arizona Senator McCain, Fox News Channel reported. Huckabee captured 60 percent of the vote in Kansas to 24 percent for McCain and 11 percent for Texas Representative Ron Paul.
Well, ok, striking distance is a bit much. He was closer to Ron Paul than victory. By a LOT.


Party Boss
That leaves us the third contest, the bigger primary in Washington. A green and verdant land, sharing only two things with the swampy mess on the Potomac: a name, and outrageous Republican skullduggery.

In this case, it's GOP on GOP in a brazen electoral theft that has left the Huckabee camp enraged and outside observers wondering just what in the hell is going on with the Washington GOP, anyway...
According to our records (and I would strongly suggest other people with information check this against their data), the first report came in at roughly 9:30 PM eastern. With 16% of the vote, McCain ahead 27% to 26%.

Then at 10:15 PM, with 37% of the vote in, Huckabee moves ahead 26% to 23%.

Then there was an hour delay until the next update. That comes shortly after 11:15 PM, with 78% counted, McCain has moved ahead -- 25.4% to 23.8%.

Then there's another delay of an hour and twenty minutes. Shortly after 12:35, they get to 83% of the vote and now it's McCain 25.6% and Huckabee 23.8%.

The next update comes at 1:30 AM eastern. By this time they've counted a whopping 4% more of the vote. And with 87% reporting, it's McCain 25.5% to 23.7%.

So just to summarize here's basically how this works. We start out with McCain ahead. Huckabee jumps ahead with a 3% margin with almost 40% of the vote counted. Then everything slows waaaaay down. And we don't see anything else until about 40% more of the votes been counted and McCain is back in the lead. Things then proceed a glacial pace with Huckabee a little less than 2 percentage points back until 9% more of the vote is counted. And then they decide to declare McCain the winner. Not quite as cut and dry as the conclusion of a Scooby-Doo episode. But pretty close.

Sound fishy to you?
Positvely Tuna Casserole.

Don't worry though, we have Boss Esser on the case.
I already noted in the post below the comically unfolding story of Washington state GOP chair Luke Esser, who decided to stop counting the votes in the state GOP caucus with 13% of the votes still uncounted and has spent the last 24 hours coming up with increasingly ridiculous explanations of his actions.

TPM Reader NM just flagged this article in the Seattle Times which quotes Esser now saying that the state GOP is going to try to get as "close as we can to 100 percent" of the vote counted.

I mean, don't knock yourself out, right?
Indeed. No need to get flustered about VOTES in an election year or anything.

Sources: Talking Points Memo
Also Here

So what does Huckabee intend to do, if he succeeds in his mission to turn a McCain juggernaut into a trench warfare campaign against McCain, a split right down the middle of the GOP ala Obama and Clinton, only a lot less nice?

Simple. He's in it to win it, and a tie in delgates leading to a vicious convention fight doesn't scare him at all.
LYNCHBURG, VA. -- It may be miracles he’s espousing, but Mike Huckabee’s done a little math of his own. Even if he might not be able to attain 1,191 votes necessary to win, he’s banking on the possibility John McCain can’t either.

“If John McCain doesn’t get 1,191 delegates, this goes to the convention, all bets are off,” Huckabee told reporters. “And after the first ballot anybody can end up being the nominee.”
Yes, he's declaring civil war in his own party.

Oooh yeah. That hits the spot. Like an icy cold drink on a bright, hot, dry summer day. Man.
Referencing Hillary Clinton’s tearful moments in recent months, Huckabee said, “If I cried and whined every time someone ignored me in this, I’d quit a year ago. But you have to realize that in every stage of this, there’s yet to be a time when the pundits said, Huckabee’s the guy to pull this off…I’m enjoying it if no other reason than to just intimidate the daylights out of all the other people who feel like they have it figured out.”

Following what he called an “overwhelming” win in Kansas and “shocking” victory in Louisiana, Huckabee said he felt “confident” going into Virginia.

"When [your opponents] really don’t think you have a chance, they ignore you. When they say bad things about you, they fear you. So the fact that I’m being asked to leave and all these things are being said, it’s an extraordinary honor. I don’t necessarily enjoy it, but I sure appreciate it."
*shudder* Ok now I think I might need a real drink after all.

I don't necessarily agree with the reporter that he's referencing Clinton there, but did you see that tone? Man he's mean when he's angry. I've heard that anecdotally, but until this interview the mask hasn't slipped in public that I know of. You can hear the oiled leather of the jackboots there, just a little bit. Huck's got a bit of that Corporate-Clerical sort of fascist in him.. more Franco, less Mussolini, but it's there all right.


Source: CBSNews

Theohuck (Not a Danish Hero, But an Ugly Trend)
Huckabee's been busy campaigning on Sunday (GASP), and firing up the evangelicals like the good old southern bible-thump he is.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has won electoral contests by focusing his pitch to religious conservatives around the country. And in a Sunday visit to the church of the deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell, Huckabee threw that base some more red meat.

"We really don’t need a lot of law if we’re people of morality," Huckabee said at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, according to a report in the Lynchburg News Advance. "There are only 10 basic laws that we need … the reason that the law is more complicated is because we try to find clever ways around those 10."

Additional reports at CBS News showed Huckabee taking his statement a step farther.

"I hope you know Jesus Christ personally…because the level to which he rules you and governs you, you need less and less of man’s law to tell you how to live and that is what our Founding Fathers understood and we must understand," he preached.


The Baptist minister and former governor isn't new to calling for more Biblical influence on America's system of government. On the stump in Michigan in January, Huckabee declared that there was a need, "to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."
I believe I wrote previously on the Constitution thing, but it bears repeating. THE MAN IS INSANE.

The Ten Commandments are the only laws we need? Really? Which one tells me how to drive my car? Even if we're all good people, good, Godly people, we need rules to dictate how we drive our cars! We can't make it up as we go along!

How about taxes? The Bible says taxes are ok, render unto Caesar and all that. The Ten Commandments don't say how we should pay them, though.

What about national defense? Healthcare? Property disputes? Contracts? Rape? The Ten Commandments don't forbid rape, I think we need a new law on that one, can we at least OH I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE MY BRAINS ARE LEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAKING.

Source: Raw Story

The Empty Side of the Aisle
I need to mellow out here. This is getting a bit too intense.

Breathe... breathe... find some encouraging news, yeah, that's the ticket....

Aha, here we go!
Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) announced Monday that he would not seek reelection

Shadegg, 58, was first elected to represent Arizona’s 3rd congressional district in the Republican wave of 1994. Known for his staunch opposition to earmarks, Shadegg ran for House majority leader in 2006 after Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) resigned from Congress. He lost that race to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“The bottom line is that this is a personal decision between my family and me, about our dreams, goals, and ambitions, and we have concluded that it is time for me to seek a new challenge in a different venue to advance the cause of freedom,” Shadegg said in a statement.

He added that his health is great and that he had raised more than $1 million for his planned 2008 re-election race last year. His expected Democratic opponent, Bob Lord, had raised more than $612,000.


Shadegg is the 29th Republican House member who will not run for reelection this year.
HAHAHAHAHA.... whew... ok, that's better. I feel better now. 29 House Republicans quit in one year. ONE YEAR. This latest one? No, it's not for health. Not for lack of money. Not even just to 'spend more time with his family'.

He realizes he's going to get smoked, and it's not as much fun being in the minority side of the aisle anyway.

Ahh... nice.

Source: The