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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pre-Dinner Science

Soon I Shall Explore the Science of Tacos

Emo Tree
What terrible force can lead a tree to such depths of depression?

We may never know.

Source: The Daily Telepgraph

Similar Features
Not an Etheridge song, but a solar system very similar to our own, if a bit small.

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.

They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun.


"It's a kind of scaled-down version of our Solar System. The star the planets are orbiting is half as massive as the Sun and they orbit half as distant to their host star as Jupiter and Saturn orbit around the Sun," said Dr Dominik.

The researchers hope to find Earth-like worlds soon using these techniques, which would be great. The more stuff like this we find, the further the religious fundies have to bury their heads to ignore it, and eventually they'll just wander off into their own little dreamworlds. I hope.

Source: BBC News

A NASA office building apparently may have an astonishing rate of cancer.
CLEVELAND -- There are 40 cases of cancer among people who work in the same building at NASA Glenn Research Center.

Dozens of the employees fear that their cancer was triggered by years of working in the developmental engineering building, NewsChannel5 reported.

The union that represents hundreds of scientists and other workers said nearly half of the 100 employees on the third floor of the building have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer in the past three to four years.

"What we've seen in the way of cancer here has just been astronomical on this third floor alone and we're just a little scared," said Dennis Pehotsky, of the Lewis Engineers and Scientists Association.

In a written statement, the head of safety at NASA Glenn said an employee survey shows cancer rates among workers are within the normal range, saying "Glenn management has no evidence of the number of cases that the union is reporting."

Union officials said they believe many employees feared reprisal for answering the survey honestly.
Wow. If this is right, there has to be something off about that building. I wonder what could have changed recently to make it so toxic. A chemical spill? Exposed insulation?

Source: WEWS Cleveland News

Stem Cells Again
Yet another possible cure for a heinous disease derived from stem cells or their artificial equivalents.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Skin cells re-programmed to act like embryonic stem cells eased symptoms of Parkinson's disease in rats, researchers reported on Monday in a first step toward tailored treatments for people that bypass concerns about using human embryos.

The experiment suggests it may be possible to take a small sample of skin and turn it into a transplant perfectly matched to patients with Parkinson's and other diseases, the researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It also supports the usefulness of newly created cells that resemble powerful embryonic stem cells. The stem cell experts used so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, which are skin cells reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells.


Stem cells taken from very early embryos appear to be the most malleable and the most powerful. But many people object to their use because the embryo usually must be destroyed to extract them.

Several teams have reported a way to re-program ordinary skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells by adding several genes. Jaenisch's team tested some of these cells in rats and mice. They first got such cells to take up residence in the brains of unborn mice.


Then they damaged the brains of rats to resemble Parkinson's, which is caused by the destruction of certain brain cells that produce a message-carrying chemical called dopamine. Patients lose abilities associated with movement, and progress from a type of shakiness to paralysis and death.

There is no cure. Transplants of cells from fetuses have offered some relief from symptoms in a few people.

In the rats, the cell transplants improved symptoms markedly, the researchers said.


Viruses are used to carry the new genes into the skin cells and transform them, an approach that could cause cancer.

But the researchers said their approach is equivalent to so-called therapeutic cloning, which uses cloning technology to create perfectly matched cell transplants. Last month a team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York said they used the cloning approach to treat Parkinson's in mice.
It's a big breakthrough, but wouldn't it be simpler to just create real embryos to fix people, from their own DNA/cellular material?

Oh wait, we can't do that, because God in his infinite wisdom wants us to suffer and die. So sayeth the religious right.

At least until they get sick.

Source: Raw Story

Our water infrastructure is as badly off as our roads, trains, bridges, power, energy production and agriculture, it seems.
The Environmental Protection Agency says utilities will need to invest more than $277 billion over the next two decades on repairs and improvements to drinking water systems. Water industry engineers put the figure drastically higher, at about $480 billion.

Water utilities, largely managed by city governments, have never faced improvements of this magnitude before. And customers will have to bear the majority of the cost through rate increases, according to the American Water Works Association, an industry group.

Engineers say this is a crucial era for the nation's water systems, especially in older cities like New York, where some pipes and tunnels were built in the 1800s and are now nearing the end of their life expectancies.
This isn't entirely the fault of the GOP, but their constant 'lower taxes, fewer services' mantra has hurt a lot.

On the brighter side, check out the amusing anecdote they start the story with.
Two hours north of New York City, a mile-long stream and a marsh the size of a football field have mysteriously formed along a country road. They are such a marvel that people come from miles around to drink the crystal-clear water, believing it is bubbling up from a hidden natural spring.

The truth is far less romantic: The water is coming from a cracked 70-year-old tunnel hundreds of feet below ground, scientists say.

The tunnel is leaking up to 36 million gallons a day as it carries drinking water from a reservoir to the big city. It is a powerful warning sign of a larger problem around the country: The infrastructure that delivers water to the nation's cities is badly aging and in need of repairs.
People are so stupid they will drive out of their way to drink MYSTERIOUS WATER.

Man, where's dysentery when you need it?

Source: Raw Story

So the Pentagon is issuing a new 'lie detector' to troops in Iraq, whose results will be used to help make life and death decisions.

Pity it doesn't work worth a damn and the whole thing is a con.
planning to give US troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan "hand-held lie detectors" aimed at rooting out potential insurgents and terrorists. But polygraph experts doubt the system's accuracy and Defense Department memos show results of the few tests that were run were manipulated to demonstrate more success with them than was achieved, according to an MSNBC investigative reporter.

"The Defense Department says the portable device isn't perfect, but is accurate enough to save American lives by screening local police officers, interpreters and allied forces for access to U.S. military bases, and by helping narrow the list of suspects after a roadside bombing," MSNBC's Bill Dedman reports. "The device has already been tried in Iraq and is expected to be deployed there as well."

The Pentagon argues the portable polygraphs have accuracy rates up to 90 percent, but Dedman reports the military arrived at those figures by omitting some results from the tests. The Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, or PCASS, uses a hand-held computer that analyzes readings from censors attached to an interviewees hand and wrist. The computer displays "Green" if it believes the person is honest, "Red" if they are being deceptive and "Yellow" if it is unsure.

The Pentagon, in a PowerPoint presentation released to through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the PCASS is 82 to 90 percent accurate. Those are the only accuracy numbers that were sent up the chain of command at the Pentagon before the device was approved.

But Pentagon studies obtained by show a more complicated picture: In calculating its accuracy, the scientists conducting the tests discarded the yellow screens, or inconclusive readings.

That practice was criticized in the 2003 National Academy study, which said the "inconclusives" have to be included to measure accuracy. If you take into account the yellow screens, the PCASS accuracy rate in the three Pentagon-funded tests drops to the level of 63 to 79 percent.
63 percent. That's the best they can manage?

People are going to DIE because of this device. Our guys and Iraqi civilians. We're going to see actual bombers let go and innocent people shot, all because the Pentagon wanted to roll out a shiny toy.


Source: Raw Story

More Hep
Basically, 'Made in China' means 'DO NOT CONSUME' these days.
More than 100 people have died from taking the blood thinner heparin, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday, after imports of the drug were halted due to contamination linked to production in China.

The 103 deaths reported to the FDA of patients who had been using heparin occurred between January 2007 and February 2008, the agency said on its website. Sixty-two of those deaths were reported to have involved allergic reactions.

The FDA on March 5 said it had detected an unidentified contaminant in heparin injections sold by Baxter International pharmaceuticals.

It was determined that most of the active ingredients in the drug came from a plant in Changzou, China working with Wisconsin-based Scientific Protein Laboratories, which supplies Baxter.
Nice job, FDA. Nice job screening our medicine supply.

Source: Raw Story

An article about quasars, which apparently dwarfed hypernovae in terms of raw power. I apologize to quasars for not paying them enough attention.

On the other hand, they apparently no longer exist, so hypernovae are still the current champs.

Source: The Independent

Polar Bear Madness
So apparently the Germans have a polar bear war on their hands.
You might not think it, to look at these cuddly pictures, but the prospect of a polar bear "war" was looming large over Germany yesterday.

Flocke, a recently born cub who caught the public imagination by being rejected by parents and raised by humans, was making a long-awaited public debut – accompanied by her keepers, including Horst Maussner (right), before a 350-strong crowd of excited press photographers, TV camera crews and cheering fans. The four month-old female, whose name translates as "snowflake", has been described by the local media as the arch rival, in the battle for Germany's public affection, to Knut – another polar bear cub, who was born at Berlin Zoo in 2006 and also raised entirely by humans.

At present, Knut can still claim the title of world's most famous polar bear (after all, a Hollywood film has been made about him), but Flocke is catching up fast. Her backers spent yesterday plastering Nuremberg with hundreds of pink posters bearing a suitably cuddly image of Flocke and the barbed message, "Knut was yesterday".
Honestly Germans, is there nothing you can't fight about?

Meanwhile it seems there's a campaign against raising these bears with human keepers.
While some insist that bears born in zoos have a right to human intervention to save and secure their lives, others such as the German animal rights activist, Frank Albrecht argue that they become so dependent on man that they end up divorced from nature and turn into hyperactive, disturbed freaks.

"Knut is a problem bear who has become addicted to human beings," he said.

The German zoologist Peter Arras has described Knut as a "psychopath".

The debate has grown following the birth of three polar bear cubs at Nuremberg Zoo to two different female bears. A team of highly experienced zoologists initially argued that nature must be allowed to take its course. They allowed one of the females, which had rejected its two cubs, to kill and eat her offspring because they were too weak to survive.

But the zoo's "bear infanticide" policy coincided with television pictures designed to melt the heart of anybody who cannot help assuming that polar bears are just like human beings. They showed the zoo's other female polar bear, Vera, carrying her female cub, called Flocke or Snowflake, by the scruff of its neck through her enclosure.

Within hours of the images being broadcast, Nuremberg Zoo had performed a complete policy U-turn: a keeper was sent into Vera's enclosure and Flocke was removed "for its own safety". Amid growing fears that the last remaining cub might also be eaten the zoo promptly announced that the cub would be fed from a bottle.

"I don't think anyone could have stood it, if we had allowed our last bear cub to be eaten by its mum," said Nuremberg's deputy mayor.
I'm not sure a dead bear is inherently better than a live one. It's entirely possible that in the wild the mother bear would have been less stressed and not eaten them.

In any case, Knut's mother was a disturbed circus reject. There's nothing 'natural' about that. You might as well save him as not, given the circumstances.

Finally, the article repeats the old canard that polar bears aren't in trouble.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Environment Minister, has adopted the bear, claiming him as a symbol of the world's endangered species. Yet evidence suggests that polar bears are not facing extinction, even if the ice caps are melting. Alaska. home to a fifth of the world's 25,000 polar bears, currently has its largest bear population in 40 years.
Sigh. From my post about Glen Beck:
There is currently an estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears worldwide who are threatened with “losing their habitat and becoming extinct over the next 50 years” because of global warming and melting sea ice. The U.S. Geological Survey predicts that without action, “11 of the 19 subpopulations will be extinct by the middle of this century, with an additional three subpopulations vanishing shortly thereafter.”
Those flakes at the USGS! You know they're just a bunch of dirty hippies.

Source: The Independent
The Independent

H Plane
So Boeing has developed a hydrogen powered plane. Sort of.
The first aircraft to use only a hydrogen battery for power in the air has successfully completed a test flight. The US company Boeing said that the flight, in Ocaña, central Spain, was “a historical technological success for Boeing [and] full of promises for a greener future”.

The aircraft, which is capable of carrying two people and has a wingspan of 16 metres (52ft), flew at 100km/h (62mph) for 20 minutes. Hydrogen power involves fuel cells using the energy produced from the transformation of hydrogen and oxygen into water. According to Boeing, it provides a cleaner and renewable energy resource because it produces only water vapour as waste.

The director of the Boeing research centre at Ocaña, Francisco EscartÍ, said that hydrogen batteries could become the main source of energy for small aircraft, but that they were unlikely to power larger passenger aircraft.
In other words, it's a nice PR stunt. Nothing more.

Meanwhile of course you get the hydrogen propaganda about 'only water vapor as waste'. Nevermind that you make hydrogen by splitting water with huge amounts of electricity. Which you get from power plants.

Most of which burn fossil fuels.

Which aren't exactly clean.


Source: The Times Online

Advancing the Frontiers of Retroactive Cartography
It's a new field, but as with so many dubious things, the South leads the way.
Lawmakers in drought-parched Georgia voted Friday to ask mapmakers to redraw their state's northern boundary in hopes of tapping the Tennessee River, in a vote that potentially escalates a conflict with their neighbor.

If negotiations fail, the bill would authorize Georgia's top attorney to file a lawsuit to try forcing a boundary change.

The House and Senate both approved the measure on the legislative session's final day. It now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who has not said whether he supports it.

Congress in 1796 designated that Tennessee's southern borders stretch along the 35th parallel, but surveyors in 1818 were a bit off the mark. They now know that the border was placed about 1.1 miles south of where it should be.

The resolution asserts that the flawed survey mistakenly placed Georgia's northern line just short of the Tennessee River, which has about 15 times greater flow than the one burgeoning Atlanta depends on for water.

Tennessee hasn't taken kindly to Georgia's drought-inspired bid; lawmakers there have reacted with a mix of scorn and humor.
This instead of facing their lack of infrastructure like adults, building reservoirs and the like.

If Georgia can't solve a problem by cheating, they might have to work hard! That sucks! It would take time away from their banjo practice and moonshine distillation!

Source: Raw Story

Dimwit Analysis
So a misanthropic jerk at The Reg thinks that Al Gore's green initiatives will be bad for the public because they'll create high paying jobs.

Al Gore is unleashing the climate campaign you can't ignore, in the shape of, which will spend $300 million to sign up some millions of people who will march, write letters and like, agitate. In the face of this government and business will be forced - the plan goes - to take climate change seriously.

Clearly it's all being done for the very best of reasons: no man could need more than a Nobel and an Oscar to assure him of his status. But all that money being spent to get governments to do as Al Gore thinks they should ought to give us pause for thought.

And unfortunately, there's a flaw at the heart of the plan - a failure of economic logic which rather undermines the justification for the whole campaign:

"Thousands of new companies, millions of new jobs, and billions in revenue generated by solutions to the climate crisis - this is the clean energy economy we can adopt with today's technologies, resources, know-how, and leadership from our elected officials."

Leave aside the absurdity of our (or anyone elses') elected officials being able to create jobs, companies or revenues: if they could they wouldn't be elected representatives, would they? They'd be off getting rich. Look rather at those claims that the plan will create all those jobs, all those revenues: they clearly think that this is a good idea, a benefit of the plan. But it isn't a benefit, it's a cost.
Because everyone wants to be a rich businessman! Nobody ever does anything for altruistic reasons, or base power, ambition and advancement!
But all three of them are making the same error, what Bastiat in 1850 (clearly, 158 years isn't long enough for such a simple point to sink into politicians' brains) called the Broken Window Fallacy, or as it is sometimes known, the make work fallacy. For, as I say, all those jobs, all those revenues, are properly counted as a cost of such schemes, not a benefit.

When we come to evaluate a plan we need to know how wonderfully fabulous the results are going to be. I'm certainly not going to try and argue that a richer world without the threat of climate change would be less than wonderfully fabulous. But as well as that elysian future, we have to work out what it is going to cost us to get from here to there. That means being very careful in how we work out what are the costs. It might still be a good idea, just as it might not be, but this is exactly what our cost benefit analysis is designed to tell us: will it all be worth it?

Al's actual campaign will certainly be worth it: the dweebs that populate the green movement need opportunities to congregate and repopulate just as much as any other unfortunate section of society: otherwise who will the next generation buy their burgers from? But will the actions we are being urged to take be worth it?
HAHA dirty hippies always end up working at McDonalds HA HA HA my 150 year old economics will shatter their dirty dreams!
So consider what happens when we 'create' millions of jobs. Yes, certainly, millions of people then have jobs. That's wonderful for them of course, although quite why everyone insists that it is a good idea that these are 'high paying”' jobs rather escapes: that rather means that whoever is buying their products (i.e., us) is paying more than if they were low paying jobs. But much more important is what is unseen here. What would those people be doing if they weren't doing these newly created jobs? Something else, certainly, we've not just sown dragon's teeth to create these new workers now, have we? And what was it that they were doing previously?
Yes, it's better that people (other than the author of course) work cheap, so he can afford lots of cheap swag to line his apartment!

Everyone else can go fuck themselves!
Things are a little different if all those who take these jobs were previously in involuntary unemployment, but mass unemployment isn't something that's all that prevalent in either the US or the UK.
Check the latest figures for the US there, Kreskin. Unemployment is up SHARPLY. A huge number of people aren't even counted on the rolls as they've GIVEN UP HOPE ENTIRELY. Meanwhile, job creation has been consistently below new job seekers for about two years.

But other than being factually wrong, please, continue.
Certainly not amongst the skilled workers who would be needed to design, build and install the new glorious renewable energy systems, at least. So all of our new found workforce would have in fact come from doing something else. It doesn't really matter what else either, not to make the basic point. For we lose whatever else it was that they were doing at the same time as we gain our bright shiny new energy system. They might have been wiping babies' bottoms, stacking shelves at Albertson's or working to cure cancer. Whatever it was, that they are now not doing those things is a cost to us: smelly babies, the Great Famine that would follow Albertson's running out of food, the cancer that will get about a third of us, these are all costs.
See? You should give up your hope of gainful, meaningful employment so you can stock his shelves and wipe his baby's ass!

Or cure cancer. It's not like doctors are already a highly skilled and paid profession... oh wait. So they already DO contribute to higher costs and job defection from stocking grocery shelves!

The fiends!
They might indeed be bearable costs, they might even be worthwhile costs, it might make perfect sense for us to incur them to stop Manhattan from sinking under the waves: but costs they are and as costs we have to account for them.

Which is what makes all the willy waving so silly: what we actually want is someone to come up with a plan that doesn't create new jobs, one that doesn't cause us losses elsewhere. We actually want people to be boasting about how their plan destroys jobs, want what no man has yet done, people to boast of their micro-dicks. As, say, supermarkets themselves have:

"The New Economics Foundation has calculated that every £50,000 spent in small local shops creates one job. You must spend £250,000 in superstores for the same result."

How excellent, eh? Supermarkets use fewer resources (for the labour of a human being is most certainly a resource) but get the same job done. Our retail requirements are catered for and instead of five people working to do so, only one is. The other four are able to go off and wipe bottoms and/or cure cancer. We thus get both our groceries and fresh smelling babies (and perhaps that cancer cure will come before my Marlboros kick in). Excellent, we're richer, all of us as a society, by using less labour to complete a task.

That is why these claims of job creation should be treated as costs, not benefits, when we try to evaluate these schemes and, similarly, why the boosters of these plans are guilty of economic illogic.
Yes, it's great that people get trapped in dead end, low paying supermarket jobs forever, rather than own their own stores and contribute to their local communities in the form of taxes.

We should be on our knees THANKING Wal-Mart et all for their grotesque concentration of wealth at the top! It keeps productivity up by turning our towns and cities into wastelands of misery and poverty!
This is very closely related to the concept of opportunity cost: you can only use a resource, the labour of a person for example, to do one thing at one time. Which means that there is indeed a huge benefit to Al running this WE thing: if he's doing that he can't run for President again. Lucky, eh?
Oh yes, it's much better that we have a moron Texas-transplant oil man who has plunged the Middle East into a hellstorm of violence and death. What's a million Iraqi corpses as long as we don't have some DIRTY HIPPY running the country into the ground with his high paying jobs and clean energy programs?


This is one of the stupidest, most selfish, narcissistic loads of crap I have ever read in my life. It stands as some of the rankest hypocrisy on record. What does the author do for a living, you might ask? How does he contribute to the lowering of wages and rise of efficiency?
Tim Worstall knows more about rare metals than most might think wise, and writes for himself at, and for The Business, among others. He is a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.
Oh, he's a web columnist, psuedo economist and writer!

For shame, Tim! You could be wiping baby ass!

Idiot. Colossally elitist idiot.

Source: The Register

I need to get one of these.
Many high-voltage electronics enthusiasts make their own devices using pulsed power techniques to produce a theta pinch capable of crushing an aluminium soft drink can by pressure of strong magnetic field. (Warning! High-voltage electric shocks may be lethal).

An electromagnetic aluminium can crusher consists of four main components (1) A high voltage DC power supply which provides a source of electrical energy (2) A large energy discharge capacitor to accumulate the electrical energy (3) A high voltage switch or spark gap and (4) A robust coil (capable of surviving high magnetic pressure) through which the stored electrical energy can be quickly discharged in order to generate a correspondingly strong pinching magnetic field (see diagram below).
Of course, I'd want to use the magnetic field for evil, not can crushing.

Source: Wikipedia

Results out of the ESA's Venus Express probe suggest that Venus lost its water too quickly to become Earthlike.
In the early stages of the Solar System, Venus seems to have evolved very rapidly compared to the Earth. Data from Venus Express supports the theory that the Earth’s twin once had significant volume of water covering the surface but it appears that these oceans were lost in a very short geological timescale.

As a result of the loss of water, the geological evolution of the surface of Venus slowed right down because it was unable to develop plate tectonics like the Earth. Biological evolution was prevented altogether. Thus, in terms of Venus being another Earth in climate and habitability terms, it evolved too quickly at first, then too slowly.

'They may have started out looking very much the same,' said Professor Taylor, 'but increasingly we have evidence that Venus lost most of its water and Earth lost most of its atmospheric carbon dioxide.'

From what I';ve read the Earth, if it lived long enough, would die the same way, as plate tectonics constantly sips at our water supply where ocean plates plunge into the earth. Some water gets sucked down and locked up too where it lubricates the plate movement, and thus, eventually, there's no more water to be sucked, which would lock up the plates like Venus.

Of course we'll probably have been burnt to a cinder by then, so who cares much.

Source: Science Daily

First Korean Astronaut
The article focuses on fluff, but the event is worth noting. South Korea's first astronaut will be going up to the ISS soon.
South Korea's first astronaut said Monday on the eve of her launch to the International Space Station (ISS) that she will celebrate arrival in space by singing for her fellow crew.

"We will have food on April 12 on the Day of Cosmonauts and I will sing but it's a secret what is the song," Yi So-Yeon, 29, said at a press conference at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where she is set to blast off on Tuesday.

Yi, who has listed singing as one of her hobbies, said her first reaction on reaching the ISS would be to cry out: "Wow!"

She also told reporters that she hoped people in North Korea would share in the "triumph" of her mission, which starts Tuesday when she blasts up into space on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

A South Korean space official said that Yi's 12-day mission would cost South Korea around 20 million dollars (12.8 million euros) and that he hoped the flight would help further his country's manned space flight ambitions.

An official committee headed by Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, gave official approval Monday for the mission by Yi and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko.

The three astronauts spoke to the press from behind a glass screen at the Hotel Cosmonaut in Baikonur as they are being held in quarantine for fear of being contaminated ahead of their space flight.

Russians celebrate Cosmonaut Day on April 12, the day Soviet hero Yury Gagarin became the first man in space, in 1961. Yi, Volkov and Kononenko will be blasting off from the same launch pad as Gagarin.
Good for South Korea, I suppose. Manned space flight doesn't accomplish much in the way of science, but there are worse ways to spend that much money.

Abstinence education, creationist museums, paying Karl Rove...

Source: Raw Story

The Japanese have come up with a bank that has a face, eats your money, and looks like The Book of the Dead from Evil Dead.

Seriously, someone should reskin and reprogram it to spout lines from the movies. It'd be sweet.

An earlier entry in this article mentions an 'AI' that learns how to control your devices and respond to voice commands.

Which could be handy for my future evil lair.

Source: PC World

Uwe Promise?
Uwe Boll, one of the worst directors alive, and sometimes called the Ed Wood of our day, has stated that he will retire from moviemaking if a million people petition him to do so.


Source: /Film

Wastes of Human Skin Around the World


Insanity, Utter
What in the world could motivate someone to say something like this, in public no less.

Some 1,000 people attended a memorial service at the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary Thursday, marking the one-month anniversary of the murderous attack which claimed the lives of eight young men.

Also attending the service were many prominent rabbis of the Religious Zionist Movement, who were not shy about expressing their rage against the government's policy.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, chose to explain the attack by saying that "the Torah and the land of Israel are acquired only through agony."

Former Sephardi chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu called on the government to decree that for every life lost in the attack another yeshiva and township will be formed.

"Even when we seek revenge, it is important to make one thing clear – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.

"The Talmud states that if gentiles rob Israel of silver they will pay it back in gold, and all that is taken will be paid back in folds, but in cases like these there is nothing to pay back, since as I said – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs," added Rabbi Eliyahu.
A prominent religious leader said this. In a public gathering. And no one shouted him down.

Amazing. Thankfully there are moderate voices speaking out too, right?
Ramat Gan's chief rabbi, Yaacov Ariel, chose to deliver a more moderate message: "We do not seek vengeance, we seek retaliation. The terrorist's house should have been demolished immediately, regardless of the law. It should have been done because it was a matter of life and death – the deterrence could help save future lives."

"We are against killing innocent people or harming children," he added, "but once terrorists hide behind children, we have to strike back. The blood of those living in Sderot is worth just as much as the blood of those the terrorists hide behind."
He's referring to a vigilante mob that went to the house of the killer and tried to murder his entire family and raze his house to the ground.

That's the moderate position; kill a criminal's entire family. The hardline position is to kill a thousand innocent people of a 'lesser race' for every one you lose.

Once again, I state merely for the record: Israel is not our friend.

Individual Israelis? Of course. Israeli society as a whole? Never.

(The South is much the same way really)

Source: Ynet News

Security Guard
Now we move on to a more petty form of casual evil from our own Republican Party (also not our friends).
During a public appearance on Saturday, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) belittled a U.S. soldier in Iraq who was following orders and wouldn’t let McHenry go to the gym without the proper credentials. McHenry referred to the guard as a “two-bit security guard“:

We spent the night in the Green Zone, in the poolhouse of one of Saddam’s palaces. A little weird, I got to be honest with you. But I felt safe. And so in the morning, I got up early — not that I make this a great habit — but I went to the gym because I just couldn’t sleep and everything else. Well, sure enough, the guard wouldn’t let me in. Said I didn’t have the correct credentials.

It’s 5:00 in the morning. I haven’t had sleep. I was not very happy with this two-bit security guard. So you know, I said, “I want to see your supervisor.” Thirty minutes later, the supervisor wasn’t happy with me, they escort me back to my room. It happens. I guess I didn’t need to work out anyway.
How dare the lowly soldier question him, the Lord and Master of A North Carolina District? Doesn't he know how to treat his social betters? So what if Milord McHenry (R-Douchebagistan) didn't have his ID? Surely a servant should know the faces of all his masters!

But the GOP is the party of The Troops. Riiiiight.

Source: Think Progress

Lunatic Renders Satire Obsolete
Stephen Colbert probably thought that, when he started his comedic crusade against Bears, that he had found a bogeyman so comically absurd that no one could possibly take him seriously.

Alas, Glen Beck has found a new source of terror to wet himself about.
Last night on his CNN Headline News show, right-wing pundit Glenn Beck hosted global warming skeptic Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Beck allowed Inhofe to rant about how — with “all the liberals” running the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works — he was forced to sit through hearings on “that nice white fuzzy polar bear.”

Inhofe argued that the polar bear population isn’t endangered. “[I]f anything, it’s an overpopulation problem,” said Inhofe. Beck then jumped in and claimed that, in fact, the extinction of polar bears may be a good thing:

They eat people! For the love of Pete, they’re big, angry bears. They eat people. Not that I say we go out and kill all of them, but I mean, it doesn’t seem to be a problem here. Senator, I can’t take the — I can’t take the lies anymore.

There is currently an estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears worldwide who are threatened with “losing their habitat and becoming extinct over the next 50 years” because of global warming and melting sea ice. The U.S. Geological Survey predicts that without action, “11 of the 19 subpopulations will be extinct by the middle of this century, with an additional three subpopulations vanishing shortly thereafter.”

On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne skipped a Senate hearing on listing the polar bear as a threatened species. His agency missed a Jan. 9 deadline to decide on classifying the polar bear, in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Inhofe is a famous loon on climate issues, but this bear thing is a new one for, well, everybody. Except Colbert, who is probably having a hard time dealing with the way he has to keep moving the Crazy Goalposts to stay ahead of the right wing.

Source: Think Progress

Ahh, a classic. The inept, bumbling, hyper-corrupt dictator offering to step down in exchange for immunity and getting to keep all his stolen stuff.
Robert Mugabe's aides have told Zimbabwe's opposition leaders that he is prepared to give up power in return for guarantees, including immunity from prosecution for past crimes.

But the aides have warned that if the Movement for Democratic Change does not agree then Mugabe is threatening to declare emergency rule and force another presidential election in 90 days, according to senior opposition sources.
Then of course there's the stick; if the oppo doesn't agree to his demands, he'll negate their election win and try to murder them all.

Really, if history's not cyclical, it certainly is repetitive.

Source: The Guardian

Right wing commentator Hugh Hewitt, trying to find fault with a Hillary speech.
I played excerpts from Hillary's speech from today, in which she references "hurling" her "bookbag" across her room at college on hearing of the assassination of MLK, as well as wearing a black arm band in a protest march in Boston in the aftermath of the murder.

Listeners are e-mailing skepticism about their being bookbags and arm bands in 1968. I have no opinion, being 12 at the time. E-mail evidence to
Bookbags and arm bands? In 1968?

Why, they only had stone tablets and mammoth pelts in 1968! Clearly she's a liar!

If only there was a famous historial example of students and arm bands in the 1960s that could settle this difficult question for Mr. Hewitt. Oh, if only
MR. JUSTICE FORTAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner John F. Tinker, 15 years old, and petitioner Christopher Eckhardt, 16 years old, attended high schools in Des Moines, Iowa. Petitioner Mary Beth Tinker, John's sister, was a 13-year-old student in junior high school.

In December 1965, a group of adults and students in Des Moines held a meeting at the Eckhardt home. The group determined to publicize their objections to the hostilities in Vietnam and their support for a truce by wearing black armbands during the holiday season and by fasting on December 16 and New Year's Eve. Petitioners and their parents had previously engaged in similar activities, and they decided to participate in the program.

The principals of the Des Moines schools became aware of the plan to wear armbands. On December 14, 1965, they met and adopted a policy that any student wearing an armband to school would be asked to remove it, and if he refused he would be suspended until he returned without the armband. Petitioners were aware of the regulation that the school authorities adopted.

On December 16, Mary Beth and Christopher wore black armbands to their schools. John Tinker wore his armband the next day. They were all sent home and suspended from school until they would come back without their armbands. They did not return to school until after the planned period for wearing armbands had expired--that is, until after New Year's Day.
That's right! It's Tinker v. Des Moines School District, the landmark 1969 case which strongly held that students in public school do in fact have political rights!
First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.
One of the most important legal decisions in the modern era! One of the most famous court cases of the decade!

Ahh, right wingers. So astoundingly ignorant.


Sources: Instaputz
Boston College (though you can get the Tinker ruling about ten million places, it was just the first Google hit)

Saudi Idiots
So the Saudis are looking to murder a Canadian kid.
A Saudi Arabian court convicted a 17-year-old Canadian for involvement in the murder of a classmate and sentenced him on Saturday to a year in prison and 200 lashes, his father and lawyer said.

The boy's older brother, Mohammed Kohail, was already convicted on March 4 in the murder, and sentenced to death by beheading, along with a third man, a Jordanian.

Canada has said it would seek clemency for Mohammad, 23.

Mohammad and his younger brother, Sultan Kohail, 17, were detained in January 2007 after a school yard brawl resulted in the death of another student from internal injuries.

According to one of the defense lawyers, Mohammad had gone to the school to pick up his brother when a group of young men started harassing the younger boy. A scuffle ensued during which a Syrian classmate, Munther al-Haraki, died.

Sultan was sentenced to a year in prison and to 200 lashes, both the boy's father, Ali Kohail, and lawyer, Saleh al-Ghamdi, told The Associated Press.


Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed, usually with a sword. So far this year, 36 people have been executed in the kingdom.

Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.
Canada did, but not us!

The United States and Saudi Arabia really do have something in common!

Seriously, a bunch of kids get in a fight, one dies. You want to kill someone for that? For what is obviously some sort of manslaughter?

Prison term I can understand, but death by beheading? Are they insane?

Oh wait. It's Saudi Arabia. Of course they are.

Source: Raw Story

Gag Rule
A prominent public health school has restored the word "abortion" as an acceptable search term on a reproductive health Web site funded by a federal agency that restricts references to abortions.

The move by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health follows criticism from some health advocates and librarians that the restriction amounted to censorship.

The restriction on the POPLINE Web site — "population information online" — had been put in place after inquiries by the United States Agency for International Development, which funds the site, according to a statement from Dr. Michael J. Klag, the dean of the Bloomberg school.

USAID denies funding to non-governmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a methods of family planning in other nations. The policy was started under President Ronald Reagan and was revived when President Bush took office in 2001.
This is what's known as the 'Global Gag Rule', that is to say, if you even mention that abortions exist, you can't get money to help people. Aid agencies in Africa and so forth are required to deceive and mislead their female patients, if necessary allow them to suffer and die from pregnancies rather than get abortions.

That's the compassion in compassionate conservatism. Now it hits Americans too. Sigh.

Source: Raw Story

France Has Them Too
Vandals desecrated 148 Muslim graves in France's biggest war cemetery, hanging a pig's head from one tombstone and daubing slogans insulting France's Muslim justice minister, officials said Sunday.

President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed "profound outrage" at the "sordid" attack on the Muslim quarter of the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, near the northern town of Arras on Saturday night. He vowed that those responsible would be punished.

The cemetery is France's biggest military graveyards and commemorates tens of thousands of victims of a series of long and bloody battles for control of northern France at the start of World War I.

The attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident in which neo-Nazi vandals scrawled swastikas on 52 of the cemetery's Muslim graves.


Prior to 2007, there were four incidents involving the desecration of Muslim graves in northern and eastern France in 2004, and one in 2003.

There have also been several attacks on Jewish graves in cemeteries across France in recent years.
Just goes to show that wherever you have xenophobic conservative politics, you get mind-numbing crime. France has had a really bad run of arch-conservative Muslim bashing in recent years, and here you see the end result.

Source: Raw Story

Legendary drunkard and all around jerk Christopher Hitchens was on MSNBC the other day, which can only mean the bars were closed. He made a fool of himself as usual.
Summary: On MSNBC's Tim Russert, responding to Christopher Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan said, "And now you've made me forget my second point," to which Hitchens replied, "Oh, well, don't be such a lesbian. Get on with it."
I'm not even sure what's going on here. Andrew Sullivan is a well known and somewhat idiotic gay conservative. Is Hitchens insulting him for being gay? Confused about his gender? Does he think lesbians have conversational trouble?

Seriously. He's so wasted he isn't even making sense in his offensive comments.

Source: Think Progress

El Presidente Doesn't Just Outsource Our Jobs
The CIA secretly transported at least 14 war on terror detainees to Jordan between 2001 and 2004, making it the top "rendition" destination at that time, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

"While a handful of countries received persons rendered by the United States during this period, no other country is believed to have held as many as Jordan," the rights group said in a statement.

The prisoners were interrogated and tortured by Jordan's General Intelligence Department, according to a new Human Rights Watch report that documents eight previously unknown cases of rendition.


The report includes an excerpt of a note handwritten by a rendered prisoner while in Jordanian custody in late 2002. The prisoner is now at the US war on terror prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ali al-Hajj al-Sharqawi wrote that GID interrogators beat him "in a way that does not know any limits."

"They threatened me with electricity, with snakes and dogs .... [They said] we'll make you see death .... They threatened to rape me," the note said.

A common torture method was falaqa, by which prisoners are given extended beatings on the bottoms of their feet.

"Just about everyone at GID was beaten with sticks," a Jordanian former prisoner told Human Rights Watch. "People were beaten on their feet. They did it in the basement."

"Outsourcing torture is not only wrong, it's illegal," Mariner said. "And the US can't say it doesn't torture if it sends people to countries that do."
So naive. Of course it can! And will! Even with St. John McCain, himself a torture survivor! American hypocrisy (the Republicans call it 'American Exceptionalism') knows no earthly bounds!

Source: Raw Story

Mukasey is a LIAR
Well, either that, or the Bush administration actually did cover up the WTC attacks.
I just received the following statement from the Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Rep. Lee Hamilton, in response to my inquiries last week (and numerous follow-up inquiries from readers here) about Attorney General Michael Mukasey's claims about the 9/11 attack and, specifically, about Mukasey's story that there was a pre-9/11 telephone call from an "Afghan safe house" into the U.S. that the Bush administration failed to intercept or investigate:
I am unfamiliar with the telephone call that Attorney General Mukasey cited in his appearance in San Francisco on March 27. The 9/11 Commission did not receive any information pertaining to its occurrence.


In light of Hamilton's amazing comment, could journalists possibly now report on this story? One of two things is true about Mukasey's extraordinary claim about how and why the 9/11 attacks occurred. Either:

(1) The Bush administration concealed this obviously vital episode from the 9/11 Commission and from everyone else, until Mukasey tearfully trotted it out last week; or,

(2) Mukasey, the nation's highest law enforcement officer, made this story up in order to scare and manipulate Americans into believing that FISA and other surveillance safeguards caused the 9/11 attacks and therefore the Government should be given more unchecked spying powers.
It's binary, folks. Either Mukasey was lying, or Bush actually did cover up the true origins of the Buildings Go Boom day attacks.

We live in an unprecedented era for jerks.

Source: Glenn Greenwald

George Will
A man who just doesn't care about a few dead union workers.
Yesterday George Bush signed a "fast track" bill that allows him to force a vote within 90 days with no amendments from Congress on the Columbia Free Trade Agreement. George Will is visibly aroused at the sight, and takes the opportunity to have a swing at both Obama and unions:

Nevertheless, U.S. unions oppose the agreement, probably to preserve the moral clarity of their monomania: Damn the details, full speed ahead in opposing more free-trade agreements, anywhere, anytime. Colombia, America's best South American ally, shares a border with America's most aggressive South American enemy, Hugo Chávez's Venezuela.

Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has made stunning progress against the drug cartels, right-wing militias and FARC, the 9,000-man Marxist terrorist group that is financed by drug smuggling and kidnapping. But Obama, nimble at the art of enveloping the courtship of interest groups in clouds of high-mindedness, says Colombia has not done enough to protect its trade unionists.

Colombia's unions, however, document that the number of murders of their members has sharply declined. Edward Schumacher-Matos, visiting professor of Latin American studies at Harvard, notes that "it was far safer to be in a union than to be an ordinary citizen in Colombia last year": The murder rate of unionists was less than one-eighth the murder rate of Colombians generally.
Meanwhile, the facts on the ground seem to be a bit different.
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, according to Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS), a highly regarded labor institute based in Medellin, Colombia. Two thousand, two hundred and sixty two union officers and rank-and-file members have been brutally and systematically murdered since 1991. More than 400 trade unionists have been murdered since President Uribe took office in 2002, including forty in 2007 for exercising their fundamental right to form unions for a better life. In those cases where the perpetrator is known, government-supported paramilitary organizations or the armed forces or police are most often responsible.
That's right, only a few hundred dead unionists under the benevolent Uribe.

That's all.

And that's fine with George Will!

Source: Firedoglake

Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten won a Pulitzer for his odious article about how ignorant the working man is.
_ Feature writing, for Gene Weingarten's story on world-class violinist Joshua Bell, who, in an experiment, played beautiful music in a subway station just to see who commuters would react;
On its surface, Weingarten's story is designed to make you feel wistful about the sad state of humanity. That's the goal, to confuse the issue, to write a seemingly banal but harmless lamentation about modernity.

But a closer look reveals yet another elitist jerk. Weingarten staged his 'experiment' at a busy subway stop during rush hour. He then castigates all the people on the way to work who don't stop, miss their trains, arrive late at their jobs and possibly get fired, for not appreciating the music he considers important.

He just assumes that everyone has the liberty to waste the day away on leisure. He also assumes that his taste in leisure and culture is definitive.

And the Pulitzer people just signed off on it. Reprehensible.

You'll note he didn't try his experiment outside an investment bank, or a fancy restaurant. No no; he knows that the upper classes have respect for culture. He has to see what the lowly, common man thinks.

I'll tell you what they might be thinking. They might think that a guy who judges them so harshly for having work and lives is a colossal asshole.

Source: Raw Story

Chris Matthews
Well, the loudmouthed jerk who made his bones on the Lewinsky scandal, well-known egotist and misogynist Chris Matthews, has a big feature biographical piece in the upcoming NYT magazine. A couple of highlights:
"People are a little impressed with themselves," Griffin went on to say, continuing his commentary about the scene. "It's a bit of an echo chamber." Matthews is central to that echo chamber -- at the Ritz, as in the 2008 presidential campaign. He is, in a sense, the carnival barker at the center of it, spewing tiny pellets of chewed nuts across the table while comparing Obama to Mozart and Clinton to Salieri. At one point, Mat-thews suddenly became hypnotized by a TV over the bar set to a rebroadcast of "Hardball." "Hey, there I am -- it's me," he said, staring at himself on the screen. "It's me."


"Did you get a load of Lou Rawls's wife?" Matthews said as he left the spin room. Apparently the Rev. Jesse Jackson was introducing the widow of the R&B singer at the media center. "She was an absolute knockout," Matthews declared. It's a common Matthews designation. The actress Kerry Washington was also a "total knockout," according to Matthews, who by 1 a.m. had repaired to the bar of the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton. He was sipping a Diet Coke and holding court for a cluster of network and political types, as well as for a procession of random glad-handers that included, wouldn't you know it, Kerry Washington herself. Washington played Ray Charles's wife in the movie "Ray" and Kay Amin in the "Last King of Scotland." She is a big Obama supporter and was in town for the debate; more to the point, she said she likes "Hard-ball." Matthews grabbed her hand, and Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC who was seated across the table, vowed to get her on the show.

"I know why he wants you on," Matthews said to Washington while looking at Griffin. At which point Matthews did something he rarely does. He paused. He seemed actually to be considering what he was about to say. He might even have been editing himself, which is anything but a natural act for him. He was grimacing. I imagined a little superego hamster racing against a speeding treadmill inside Matthews's skull, until the superego hamster was overrun and the pause ended.

"He wants you on because you're beautiful," Matthews said. "And because you're black." He handed Washington a business card and told her to call anytime "if you ever want to hang out with Chris Matthews."
This is a man who was apparently only drinking DIET COKE. He's fascinated, Narcissus style, with his own reflection and strutting around like a horny dog, but he's only on DIET COKE.

God I'd hate to see him drunk.

Source: Media Bistro

You Can't Spell Lieberman Without 'Lie'
So Holy Joe Lieberman was losing the Democratic primary badly against Ned Lamont. As a last ditch measure on the day of the primary his website went down and he accused Lamont's web people of attacking and compromising it. Lamont's team said that was crap. The FBI investigated and never released the results. Now they have:
One of the stranger episodes of the Lieberman-Lamont primary in 2006 was the Lieberman campaign's charge that supporters of his rival (whose web guy, Tim Tagaris, is above) "attacked" Lieberman's website.

Anyway, the FBI has finally gotten to the bottom of it, in case you were wondering. The verdict: Not guilty.
So the FBI found out that Lamont didn't do it, and then they refused to say who did.

So who was to blame?
A federal investigation has concluded that U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's 2006 re-election campaign was to blame for the crash of its Web site the day before Connecticut's heated Aug. 8 Democratic primary.

The FBI office in New Haven found no evidence supporting the Lieberman campaign's allegations that supporters of primary challenger Ned Lamont of Greenwich were to blame for the Web site crash.

Lieberman, who was fighting for his political life against the anti-Iraq war candidate Lamont, implied that was hacked by Lamont supporters.

"The server that hosted the Web site failed because it was overutilized and misconfigured. There was no evidence of (an) attack," according to the e-mail.

A program that could have detected a legitimate attack was improperly configured, the e-mail states.

"New Haven will be administratively closing this investigation," it concluded.

The e-mail, dated Oct. 25, 2006, was included in a technical packet of information recently sent to The Advocate in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act filed in late 2006 with the offices of state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor.

The Advocate filed the requests after Blumenthal and O'Connor closed the case but declined to divulge details. They stated only that they found no evidence that Lamont supporters were to blame.


"Our Web site consultant assured us in the strongest terms possible that we had been attacked," former Lieberman campaign spokesman Dan Gerstein said in December 2006.

According to the FBI memo, the site crashed because Lieberman officials continually exceeded a configured limit of 100 e-mails per hour the night before the primary.

"The system administrator misinterpreted the root cause," the memo stated. "The system administrator finally declared the server was being attacked and the Lieberman campaign accused the Ned Lamont campaign. The news reported this on Aug. 8, 2006, causing additional Web traffic to visit the site.

"The additional Web traffic then overwhelmed the Web server. . . . Web traffic pattern analysis reports and Web logging that was available did not demonstrate traffic that was indicative of a denial of service attack."
That's right, Holy Joe! He blamed others for his own campaign mistakes, slandered Ned Lamont, and the FBI got in the tank for him!

Then fought tooth and nail to prevent it getting out in court!

Source: The Politico
The Stamford Advocate