Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sorry No Blogging

I'm taking the Louisiana Bar Exam all week. I started Monday and I'm about 75% sure that I failed Monday.

But since Jude's still out of commission, I just thought I would try to stimulate a little discussion around here. One of the most interesting parts of my law and religion class centered on the legitimacy of laws and acts of public officials who were motivated by religion. Apparently Bush's veto of the stem-cell law (which I watched on TV, lots of kids crying in the background didn't stop him) has prompted a bit of conversation on this topic around the 'net.

You can start with this post and bounce around the trackbacks to read some other opinions.
His veto statement does not speak in clearly religious terms at all. Rather, he simply argues that the bill does not strike a proper ethical balance. Surely the President's sense of what is ethical is substantially derived from his religious beliefs, but the same could be said, directly or indirectly, of many Americans. And for those whose ethical beliefs are at least nominally untethered to any religious views, those of us who are non-philosophers are likely at some point to come to rest on arguments that are equally publicly inaccessible: "It's just right." "It's just wrong."

Monday, July 17, 2006


Hello, faithful readers. I'm in the Punch and Jude backup command bunker. Which might look like a library to you, but that's just because it's camouflaged so well.

Anyway, the normal platform for my various rantings is undergoing renovation. As we speak, Punch and Jude Tech Support is tech-supportin' the shit out of that little machine.

But posting will be light on my end for a bit. It's a long walk to the backup command bunker, and, some days, it's hard to make it.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Happier News

I wanted to thank all of you who donated so generously to Relay for Life.

I really appreciate your kindness. Thank every one of you so much.


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Sleepless Night

It's 3:25 a.m. here local Punch and Jude time, and I'm not dozing.

Yes, I'm stoked about the Relay for Life later today, but that's not all of it.

I got home tonight at about 11:30 and, in a ritual as old as time itself, checked my e-mail.

There was, among other things, a message from me.

That I didn't send.

The body of the letter simply said "hahahaha gott u fukr! ROFLMAO!!!!!"

So it looks like I've got a lot of virus scanning, password-changing and bank-account-checking to do.

Before any of you can upbraid me for it, yes, I'm an idiot. Almost all of my passwords were the same (or slight variants on a theme), and I usually don't change them often. Like for years at a time. Mercifully, one exception is my bank account. Unfortunately, almost all the rest are straight from the Stupid Zone. All of my e-mails, my messaging programs, and even my e-bills (although if some jackass wants to anonymously pay my bills for me, then knock yourself out, jackass).

Anyway, if any of you get e-mails from me with attachments in the next day or two, for god's sakes, delete it! In fact, delete anything you get from me until I send out an all clear.

I'm gonna have to consult with Punch and Jude tech support and see if I need to wipe this goddamn hard drive (again) and reinstall everything. This is Major Computer Problem #4 since I've been in Madison. Shit shit shit shit.

Anyway, if you don't see any posting from me for a couple of days, it's not because I don't care.

UPDATE, 4:35 a.m. All passwords changed. Hooray. Still scanning for viruses.

UPDATE, 4:50 a.m. Some of you are very lucky that another manifestation of my Internet laziness is that I don't often update address books, either.

UPDATE, 9:20 a.m. Changed to make things that should be obscure more so. Also, virus scans not working. Shit.



Thursday, July 13, 2006

Last Chance

Donate to Relay for Life, people.

Well, it's the last time I'm gonna make this request this year. Please, please chip in a few bucks.

We all know someone who's had to deal with cancer. Some of them haven't been lucky enough to pull through. Others have. Just do your best to give people a chance.

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How I Wish This Site Was a Joke

Because these people really shouldn't be able to find dates. Then they might make more idiots.

Only after a church- and state-approved marriage, of course.

However, all might not be lost. I used good old Sean's Quick Search feature to check for conservative women near here.

It turns out, after repeatedly broadening the search parameters, I couldn't find a single conservative female within 500 miles of my location. Not one. Between the ages of 18 and 65.

I guess there are a lot of Blue conservative balls in Red America.


Irony: As Dead as Ken Lay

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Ken Lay, pension-stealing cocksucker, Bush crony, convicted felon, and current resident of Hell, received some stirring fucking eulogies down in Houston. You would have thought that he was another Mother Theresa, if you knew nothing about him but his funeral. You wouldn't know that he absolutely fucking ruined the retirements, savings accounts, and college funds of thousands of people, or that his company was responsible for the fake-ass "energy crisis" in California a few years ago.

I swear, I am not making up any of what follows.

His stepson talked about what a great and persecuted man he was.

A "longtime friend" noted what a stand-up, law-abiding guy Kenny Boy was in this life.

His brother-in-law, speaking on behalf of the Almighty, assured everyone that Lay was, in fact, seated at the right hand of The Father.

I know that, generally, at funerals, people talk about how swell the stiff was in life. But this shit was completely over the top.

A preacher said the following:
The Rev. Bill Lawson, pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, likened Lay to James Byrd, an African-American man who was dragged to death in a racially motivated murder near Jasper eight years ago.

"Ken Lay was neither black nor poor as James Byrd was," Lawson said. "But I'm angry because he was the victim of a lynching." Lawson, who also spoke at Lay's Colorado memorial service, likened the businessman to President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus — all of whom, the minister said, were wrongly victimized.

Lawson noted that Lay was rich and powerful and gave to many political campaigns over the years. "He was a lover of people," Lawson said.

"Those who did not like him have had their say, and I'd like to have mine," Lawson said. "And I don't care what you think."
Sure, Jesus went through a trial, this preacher would have us believe, but it was Ken Lay who really suffered. That's very Christian, isn't it?

Irony: You will be missed. Ken Lay: You won't.

Come on. Comparing him to James Byrd? That's offensive on so many levels I don't know where to start. Zizou needs to headbutt that preacher. Right in the nuts.

I'd like to note that neither James Byrd, nor MLK, nor JFK, nor Jesus were ever convicted of six federal counts of fraud and conspiracy. Ever. I'm going to say this very clearly: Ken Lay was a criminal--A convicted felon, a thief on a massive scale. I don't care what you think (to borrow a phrase)--he was a hoodlum. Say he loved his family, he was great with kids and dogs, whatever. But don't say he wasn't a criminal. He was, and on a level so vast it's hard to comprehend.

I hope he heard all that shit, and saw all of the crocodile tears, from where he is in hell.

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Slow-Motion Suicide

It continues in the Levant.

I get the feeling that this can only end badly for the Israeli state, and this is where a familiarity with history comes in handy.

The Kingdom of Jerusalem existed for 88 years, from the conquest of that city by the knights and footmen of the First Crusade to its reconquest by the forces under Salah al-Din. The Franks took the city in June 1099. Saladin entered in October 1187.

During most of the 88 years when the Latin Christians held the kingdom, they faced many disunited foes--the Seljuk Turks, the Fatimids in Egypt, the Sultan of Baghdad, Kerbogha of Mosul, and a host of others. The internecine squabbles of the various emirs, maliks, shahs, and sultans prevented them from inflicting any decisive victory on the Crusader states.

Then came the Light of the Faith and his successor. Nur ed-Din managed to subdue most of the Muslim principalities surrounding Palestine. However, he died before he could march on al-Quds.

Enter Salah al-Din. Of all the Muslims that westerners faced throughout the long, long history of Crusading, Salah al-Din was the only one who was celebrated by the Franks--so much so that he was given a latinized name: Saladin. Saladin completely unified the territories surrounding the Crusader states, and finally reconquered the holy city. He was as merciful to most conquered cities as the Franks had been cruel.

The Horns of Hattin

The crucial day in the entire history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was not the day Salah al-Din entered the city. It was three months earlier--3 July 1187. The battle at the Horns of Hattin was fought on that day. On that day, Salah al-Din crushed the entire Frankish army. Jerusalem was his for the taking after that, even if it required a few more months.

The lesson to take away from this is as follows: The Crusaders lost their kingdom in one day. Just one. Despite all of the humiliating defeats inflicted on the Muslims in the previous 88 years, the Kingdom of Jerusalem could not withstand one major strategic defeat.

The state of Israel is in much the same position. Despite the victories of 1948, 1967, and 1973, they only need to lose one big battle, and the viability of that state will no longer be a question.

And they will lose a big battle some day. Hell, it was a near thing in 1973. It took 88 years for the Muslims to find a unified response to the franj. Time, though, was on their side. It is again.

There can be no military solution from the Israelis that will result in complete security. And bombing the shit out of neighborhoods, airports, and electricity generating plants does nothing to advance that state's long-term security. This conclusion is as obvious as it is ignored.

If you want to learn more about the Middle East, check out Juan Cole. That guy's wicked smart.

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So How Is This Different than a Robbery?

The FDA approved a new AIDS drug yesterday. Well, it's not really new, it's simply a combination of three existing pills into one (insert lame-ass joke about Arian heresy failing again).

Not bad news. What astonished me was the price tag.

$1150 per month.


Once again, I am astonished at the for-profit medical system. I know that it's expensive to create drugs. But damn.

You gotta cough up the dough if you want to live.

Interestingly, the three drugs, sold separately, cost the same. I had no idea that simple survival could be so expensive.



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not So Clever Monkey

Via First Draft, via Blonde Sense, I direct you to this post.

Please. You must read it. But beware! Spew alert, big-time.

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More Incompetent Bullshit

Terrorist Target

Terrorist Target

NOT a Terrorist Target

Yeah, it's a good thing that Bush created the Department of Homeland Security. So they can dole out primo pork to small towns who are afraid that they might be the targets of terror attacks and generally be bumbling idiots. Michael Chertoff is inspired by Jacques Clouseau (the good Peter Sellers one).
U.S. Terror Targets: Petting Zoo and Flea Market?

WASHINGTON, July 11 — It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.

The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.

The database is used by the Homeland Security Department to help divvy up the hundreds of millions of dollars in antiterrorism grants each year, including the program announced in May that cut money to New York City and Washington by 40 percent, while significantly increasing spending for cities including Louisville, Ky., and Omaha.

“We don’t find it embarrassing,” said the department’s deputy press secretary, Jarrod Agen. “The list is a valuable tool.”

But the audit says that lower-level department officials agreed that some older information in the inventory “was of low quality and that they had little faith in it.”

“The presence of large numbers of out-of-place assets taints the credibility of the data,” the report says.

In addition to the petting zoo, in Woodville, Ala., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn., the auditors questioned many entries, including “Nix’s Check Cashing,” “Mall at Sears,” “Ice Cream Parlor,” “Tackle Shop,” “Donut Shop,” “Anti-Cruelty Society” and “Bean Fest.”

Even people connected to some of those businesses or events are baffled at their inclusion as possible terrorist targets.

“Seems like someone has gone overboard,” said Larry Buss, who helps organize the Apple and Pork Festival in Clinton, Ill. “Their time could be spent better doing other things, like providing security for the country.”

Angela McNabb, manager of the Sweetwater Flea Market, which is 50 miles from Knoxville, Tenn., said: “I don’t know where they get their information. We are talking about a flea market here.”

New York City officials, who have questioned the rationale for the reduction in this year’s antiterrorism grants, were similarly blunt.

“Now we know why the Homeland Security grant formula came out as wacky as it was,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Tuesday. “This report is the smoking gun that thoroughly indicts the system.”

The source of the problems, the audit said, appears to be insufficient definitions or standards for inclusion provided to the states, which submit lists of locations for the database.

New York, for example, lists only 2 percent of the nation’s banking and finance sector assets, which ranks it between North Dakota and Missouri. Washington State lists nearly twice as many national monuments and icons as the District of Columbia.
I feel much safer. Don't you? I'm so goddamn glad the "grown-ups" are running shit.

I've been to Columbia, Tennessee. There are no terrorist targets there. None. I don't know if local officials feel pressured to put crap like "Mule Days" on the list of possible terror targets, if they really feel that al-Qaeda hates them some mules, or if they're just looking for that federal dollar.

Or if it's some combination of those three. But, seriously. Indiana? No one is coming to blow your shit up. If someone did blow up, say, Gary, then that's a net improvement.

Someone with some pull should've called bullshit on this nonsense a long time ago. The NY Daily News had an article on this a few weeks ago, and we talked about that bidness, too. 'Cause we're on top of shit for you, America.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tom Cruise's Fake Baby

That's right you heard it here first. I'm going out on a limb and saying Suri Cruise is not real. Why am I so confident, you ask? Let's ask CNN:
The recently born children of Gwen Stefani and Rachel Weisz are confirmed to exist.
Well there you have it. Suri Cruise has not been confirmed to exist, so why should we believe such a mystical creature exists? Do a google image search and what do you find? No Suri. We have photographs of the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti, and many still don't believe in them.

If you ask me, Suri Cruise is fairy tale.
Clever, Clever Monkeys

See that picture? It's eleven billion years old. 11,000,000,000 years. When that light left its origin, there was no earth. There was no sun. And there wouldn't be for another six-and-a-half billion years. Humans? Fuhgeddaboudit. They wouldn't appear for another 10.9 billion years. That's some amazing, amazing shit.

God damn, we humans can be clever.

It's astonishing, really, that we can figure out the things we do. When you think that we're just apes who adapted to a treeless savanna, it's absolutely mind-blowing to think that we have explored (albeit only with EM radiation) the vastness of the universe and have figured out some of its fundamentals. Even if we're still working on it.
Scientists Question Nature's Fundamental Laws

Public confidence in the "constants" of nature may be at an all time low. Recent research has found evidence that the value of certain fundamental parameters, such as the speed of light or the invisible glue that holds nuclei together, may have been different in the past.

"There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant," says astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are."

The observed differences are small-roughly a few parts in a million-but the implications are huge: The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to.

Lines of evidence

The evidence for varying constants focuses primarily on quasar studies.

Quasars are extremely luminous objects, powered by giant black holes. Some of them are so far away that their light was emitted 12 billion years ago.

Astronomers study the spectra of this ancient light to determine if the early universe was different than now. Specifically, they look at absorption lines, which are due to gas clouds between us and the quasars.

The lines reveal exactly what is in the clouds, since each type of atom has a "fingerprint"-a set of specific frequencies at which it absorbs.

In 1999, Murphy and his colleagues found the first convincing evidence that these fingerprints change with time. Using data from the Keck observatory in Hawaii, they detected a frequency difference between billion-year-old quasar lines and the corresponding lines measured on Earth.

Some of these Earth-bound lines were not well characterized, so Murphy and others recently performed careful lab experiments to confirm that there is indeed a shift in the quasar spectra. A spectra is basically light split into its component frequencies, much like when white light goes through a prism to produce a rainbow.

What's in a constant

Because the frequencies of absorption lines depend on various parameters, the quasar observations are sometimes interpreted as indicating that light was faster in the past, or that the electron had a weaker charge.

But theorist Carlos Martins of the University of Cambridge tells LiveScience that this is not entirely correct: "It doesn't make sense to talk about a varying speed of light or electron charge."

This is because the values of these parameters include units that might change. The speed of light, for instance, might be measured one day with a ruler and a clock. If the next day the same measurement gave a different answer, no one could tell if the speed of light changed, the ruler length changed, or the clock ticking changed.

To avoid this confusion, scientists use dimensionless constants-pure numbers that are ratios of measured quantities.

In the case of the shifts in Murphy's data, the relevant dimensionless constant is the fine structure constant (often designated by the Greek letter alpha), which characterizes the strength of the electromagnetic force.

The researchers found that alpha was smaller in the past, but other "famous numbers" would not be immune to the vagaries of time.

"You would expect variation in all the fundamental constants," Murphy says.

It was therefore not entirely a surprise when-in April of this year-Patrick Petitjean of the Astrophysical Institute of Paris and his collaborators detected a change in the proton to electron mass ratio from molecular absorption lines in quasar spectra.

The mass variation can be interpreted as the strong force's coupling constant being larger in the early universe, Petitjean says.

A hole in the theory

Time-varying constants of nature violate Einstein's equivalence principle, which says that any experiment testing nuclear or electromagnetic forces should give the same result no matter where or when it is performed.

If this principle is broken, then two objects dropped in a gravitational field should fall at slightly different rates. Moreover, Einstein's gravitational theory-general relativity-would no longer be completely correct, Martins says.

A popular alternative to relativity, which assumes that sub-atomic particles are vibrating strings and that the universe has 10 or more spatial dimensions, actually predicts inconstant constants.

According to this string theory, the extra dimensions are hidden from us, but the "true" constants of nature are defined on all dimensions. Therefore, if the hidden dimensions expand or contract, we will notice this as a variation in our "local" 3D constants.

Even if string theory is not correct, the current model of gravity will likely need to be revised to unite it with the other three fundamental forces.

"We have an incomplete theory, so you look for holes that will point to a new theory," Murphy says. Varying constants may be just such a hole.

Here's an artist's conception of a quasar:

Clever monkeys.

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Rogue Waves

After this breaks over the ship, no one will notice that you've pissed your pants.

Okay, so I'm putting up a lot of stuff from the New York Times today.

There's a neat article on rogue waves, which are awesome to behold. I mean that in the actual way you're supposed to use the word "awesome;" that is, "inspiring some fucking awe."
The storm was nothing special. Its waves rocked the Norwegian Dawn just enough so that bartenders on the cruise ship turned to the usual palliative — free drinks.

Then, off the coast of Georgia, early on Saturday, April 16, 2005, a giant, seven-story wave appeared out of nowhere. It crashed into the bow, sent deck chairs flying, smashed windows, raced as high as the 10th deck, flooded 62 cabins, injured 4 passengers and sowed widespread fear and panic.

“The ship was like a cork in a bathtub,” recalled Celestine Mcelhatton, a passenger who, along with 2,000 others, eventually made it back to Pier 88 on the Hudson River in Manhattan. Some vowed never to sail again.

Enormous waves that sweep the ocean are traditionally called rogue waves, implying that they have a kind of freakish rarity. Over the decades, skeptical oceanographers have doubted their existence and tended to lump them together with sightings of mermaids and sea monsters.

But scientists are now finding that these giants of the sea are far more common and destructive than once imagined, prompting a rush of new studies and research projects. The goals are to better tally them, understand why they form, explore the possibility of forecasts, and learn how to better protect ships, oil platforms and people.

The stakes are high. In the past two decades, freak waves are suspected of sinking dozens of big ships and taking hundreds of lives. The upshot is that the scientists feel a sense of urgency about the work and growing awe at their subjects.

“I never met, and hope I never will meet, such a monster,” said Wolfgang Rosenthal, a German scientist who helped the European Space Agency pioneer the study of rogue waves by radar satellite. “They are more frequent than we expected.”

Drawing on recent tallies and making tentative extrapolations, Dr. Rosenthal estimated that at any given moment 10 of the giants are churning through the world’s oceans.

In size and reach these waves are quite different from earthquake-induced tsunamis, which form low, almost invisible mounds at sea before gaining height while crashing ashore. Rogue waves seldom, if ever, prowl close to land.

“We know these big waves cannot get into shallow water,” said David W. Wang of the Naval Research Laboratory, the science arm of the Navy and Marine Corps. “That’s a physical limitation.”

By one definition, the titans of the sea rise to heights of at least 25 meters, or 82 feet, about the size of an eight-story building. Scientists have calculated their theoretical maximum at 198 feet — higher than the Statue of Liberty or the Capitol rotunda in Washington. So far, however, they have documented nothing that big. Large rogues seem to average around 100 feet.

Most waves, big and small alike, form when the wind blows across open water. The wind’s force, duration and sweep determine the size of the swells, with big storms building their height. Waves of about 6 feet are common, though ones up to 30 or even 50 feet are considered unexceptional (though terrifying to people in even fairly large boats). As waves gain energy from the wind, they become steeper and the crests can break into whitecaps.

The trough preceding a rogue wave can be quite deep, what nautical lore calls a “hole in the sea.” For anyone on a ship, it is a roller coaster plunge that can be disastrous.

Over the centuries, many accounts have told of monster waves that battered and sank ships. In 1933 in the North Pacific, the Navy oiler Ramapo encountered a huge wave. The crew, calm enough to triangulate from the ship’s superstructure, estimated its height at 112 feet.

In 1966, the Italian cruise ship Michelangelo was steaming toward New York when a giant wave tore a hole in its superstructure, smashed heavy glass 80 feet above the waterline, and killed a crewman and two passengers. In 1978, the München, a German barge carrier, sank in the Atlantic. Surviving bits of twisted wreckage suggested that it surrendered to a wave of great force.

Despite such accounts, many oceanographers were skeptical. The human imagination tended to embellish, they said.
To hell with a bunch of oceanographers. They sound like a horde of desk-bound dipshits who think that when they fart in the bathtub that's a rough sea. Bunch of non-salty jerks.

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Poseidon's coming for you, oceanographer. Doubt his power at your peril.

It's not like sailors were talking about mermaids with this shit. How many pictures and wrecked ships did they need?

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News from Wisconsin

The New York Times has a profile article on US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Klan).

He's the fat racist prick from Wisconsin who hates him some brown people. Which is pretty odd, when you think of it. I mean, if you check your atlas, you'll see that Wisconsin does not border Mexico. So why is Sensenbrenner so up in arms about immigration?

'Cause he's a fat racist prick.

Okay, his being fat probably doesn't have anything to do with it.

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Have a Coke and an AK-47

Coca-Cola opened a bottling company in Mogadishu, Somalia a couple of years ago. Yes, Mogadishu. The same Mogadishu where about 140 people were killed in a two-day battle that ended yesterday.

'Cause there's money to be made.

Somalia is one of those well and truly fucked places in the world. And, maddeningly, there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do about it. Oddly, Somalia has one of the best and cheapest cellular phone services in all of Africa. Well, maybe not so oddly, since that's how all the various clan militias handle their comms.

Anyway, I was reading the NYT article, and one name leapt out at me: Mohammed Hassan Awale.
MOGADISHU, Somalia — When a Coca-Cola bottling plant opened here two years ago, the 400-plus investors invited to finance the project were carefully chosen by clan.

There were Abgal investors and Habar Gedir investors, and representatives of other clans around Somalia as well. All kicked in a minimum of $300 to help start the United Bottling Company, Somalia’s only Coca-Cola maker. It was a deliberate effort to create a feeling of communal ownership for the factory in a place where clan-based conflict has long been the rule.

It was a bold business venture, building a sparkling, $8.3 million facility in such a tumultuous capital. The thinking was that Somalia had huge business potential and that the anarchy that erupted after its last government collapsed in 1991 would give way to economic recovery.

But Somalia is a difficult place to read, and now, two years after the plant went up, the Coke brand faces a much changed business environment, one with both opportunity and peril. Islamic militias took over the capital in June and brought stability to the city, so much so that the Coke bottler here predicts its sky-high security costs will soon plummet.

“Before, we had gunmen accompanying our distributors,” Mohammed Hassan Awale, the sales manager and acting general manager of the plant, said in an interview. “Now, no guns are needed.”
Now, I'm not sure, but it's probable that this man is the same Mohammed Hassan Awale who was Mohammed Farah Aidid's principal adviser and "foreign minister" in 1993.

If it's the same guy, he was one of the targets of the 3 October 1993 raid in which 18 US troops were killed. The events of that day and night provided the basis for the book and movie Black Hawk Down. That Awale was a high-ranking Habr Gidr clan member, and would rate a job like general manager of a multimillion dollar investment.

Now, if it's the same guy, what the hell? Thanks, Coca-Cola, for pissing all over the graves of the 160th SOAR, Rangers, & Delta guys, and of the 500 to 1000 Somalis killed that day.

I know that Somalia needs jobs and stability. Badly. And I suppose it's inevitable that powerful Habr Gidr men will benefit, should those investments ever come. But it still makes me sad.

Oh, and if you've seen Hotel Rwanda, you can't really understand what happened in Kigali without understanding what happened in Mogadishu. Just saying.

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So Sad

All gone.

This morning, I made the last of the Community Coffee I'd picked up when I went down South in March.

Jon, if you'd send me a few bricks, I'd gladly have your babies.

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Mr. Bush Is Mr. Pink

Did you know that your President, born into wealth, a millionaire many times over, is one cheap son of a bitch?
Only Lou Mitchell's owners and invited business leaders knew the president was coming for his cup of Joe Friday morning. Sitting next to him was business leader Irene Rosenfeld.

"He talked a lot about his agenda and how we might be able to help him. We felt privileged to be there," she said.

But now the president has moved on. For a 23-year Lou Mitchell's veteran, Sheri Wassberg, it was just another day, and the president was just another customer who only ordered coffee and juice.

"We've waited on different movie actors and actresses," Sheri said.

When asked if he wasn't all that special, Sheri laughed.

"Well, he's the president, but, yes," she replied.

She might feel differently if only he had left her a tip. In the president's defense, someone, maybe one of the invited business leaders, left a few bucks on the table.
I found this gem at First Draft.

Does it remind you of anything? Reservoir Dogs, perhaps?
Okay, everybody cough up green for the little lady.

Everybody whips out a buck, and throws it on the table.
Everybody, that is, except Mr. Pink.

C'mon, throw in a buck.

Uh-uh. I don't tip.

Whaddaya mean you don't tip?

I don't believe in it.

You don't believe in tipping?

I love this kid, he's a madman, this guy.

Do you have any idea what these ladies make? They make shit.

Don't give me that. She don't make enough money, she can quit.

Everybody laughs.

I don't even know a Jew who'd have the balls to say that. So let's get this straight. You never ever tip?

I don't tip because society says I gotta. I tip when somebody deserves a tip. When somebody really puts forth an effort, they deserve a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, that shit's for the birds. As far as I'm concerned, they're just doin their job.

Our girl was nice.

Our girl was okay. She didn't do anything special.

What's something special, take ya in the kitchen and suck your dick?

They all laugh.

I'd go over twelve percent for that.

Look, I ordered coffee. Now we've been here a long fuckin time, and she's only filled my cup three times. When I order coffee, I want it filled six times.

What if she's too busy?

The words "too busy" shouldn't be in a waitress's vocabulary.

Excuse me, Mr. White, but the last thing you need is another cup of coffee.

They all laugh.

These ladies aren't starvin to death. They make minimum wage. When I worked for minimum wage, I wasn't lucky enough to have a job that society deemed tipworthy.

Ahh, now we're getting down to it. It's not just that he's a cheap bastard--

--It is that too--

--It is that too. But it's also he couldn't get a waiter job. You talk like a pissed off dishwasher: "Fuck those cunts and their fucking tips."

So you don't care that they're counting on your tip to live?

Mr. Pink rubs two of his fingers together.

Do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin, playing just for the waitresses.

You don't have any idea what you're talking about. These people bust their ass. This
is a hard job.

So's working at McDonald's, but you don't feel the need to tip them. They're servin ya food, you should tip em. But no, society says tip these guys over here, but not those guys over there. That's bullshit.

They work harder than the kids at McDonald's.

Oh yeah, I don't see them cleaning fryers.

These people are taxed on the tips they make. When you stiff 'em, you cost them money.

Waitressing is the number one occupation for female non-college graduates in this country. It's the one jab basically any woman can get, and make a living on. The reason is because of tips.

Fuck all that.

They all laugh.

Hey, I'm very sorry that the government taxes their tips. That's fucked up. But that ain't my fault. it would appear that waitresses are just one of the many groups the government fucks in the ass on a regular basis. You show me a paper says the government shouldn't do that, I'll sign it. Put it to a vote, I'll vote for it. But what I won't do is play ball. And this non-college bullshit you're telling me, I got two words for that: "Learn to fuckin type." Cause if you're expecting me to help out
with the rent, you're in for a big fuckin surprise.

He's convinced me. Give me my dollar back.

Everybody laughs. Joe's comes back to the table.

Okay ramblers, let's get to rambling. Wait a minute, who didn't throw in?

Mr. Pink.

(to Mr. Orange)
Mr. Pink?
(to Mr. Pink)

He don't tip.

(to Mr. Orange)
He don't tip?
(to Mr. Pink)
You don't tip? Why?

He don't believe in it.

(to Mr. Orange)
He don't believe in it?
(to Mr. Pink)
You don't believe in it?


(to Mr. Orange)
Shut up!
(to Mr. Pink)
Cough up the buck, ya cheap bastard, I paid for your goddamn breakfast.
I guess Bush needs Joe to come by and explain shit to him.

Cough up, ya cheap President

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Study: Water Is Wet

That's the only possible follow-up to this study.
Study: Mushrooms produce mystical experiences

Findings could lead to treatments for addiction, depression

NEW YORK (AP) -- People who took an illegal drug made from mushrooms reported profound mystical experiences that led to behavior changes lasting for weeks -- all part of an experiment that recalls the psychedelic '60s.

Many of the 36 volunteers rated their reaction to a single dose of the drug, called psilocybin, as one of the most meaningful or spiritually significant experiences of their lives. Some compared it to the birth of a child or the death of a parent.

Such comments "just seemed unbelievable," said Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, the study's lead author.

But don't try this at home, he warned. "Absolutely don't."

Almost a third of the research participants found the drug experience frightening even in the very controlled setting. That suggests people experimenting with the illicit drug on their own could be harmed, Griffiths said.

Viewed by some as a landmark, the study is one of the few rigorous looks in the past 40 years at a hallucinogen's effects. The researchers suggest the drug someday may help drug addicts kick their habit or aid terminally ill patients struggling with anxiety and depression.

It may also provide a way to study what happens in the brain during intense spiritual experiences, the scientists said.

Funded in part by the federal government, the research was published online Tuesday by the journal Psychopharmacology.
I really like the "Wow. This is the greatest experience ever. But don't you ever try it!" bit. And that my tax money went to pay for such an obvious conclusion.

File under "N" for "No Shit, Dick Tracy."

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This Might Be a Bad Idea

I suppose the pre-emption genie is out of the bottle for good now.
Japanese officials also said Monday that negotiations may not be enough, using rhetoric unprecedented in the country that adopted a pacifist constitution after its defeat in World War II.

"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack ... there is the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles is within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen discussion," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

"It's irresponsible to do nothing when we know North Korea could riddle us with missiles," echoed Tsutomu Takebe, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. "We should consider measures, including legal changes" required for such an attack, he said.

Japan's constitution foreswears the use of war to settle international disputes, but the government has interpreted that to allow defensive forces. The question is whether such a pre-emptive strike could be defined as self-defense.

Even if Japan resolves the constitutionality issue, its military capability to launch such a strike is another issue. The Defense Agency has said Japan does not own weapons such as ballistic missiles that could reach North Korea, only defensive ground-to-air and ground-to-vessel missiles.

The Japanese were big into pre-emptive attacks, once upon a time.

For instance, in China.

And in Hawaii.

Executing a prisoner for sport.

These were Korean resistance fighters.

Yeah. This might be a very, very bad idea. The rest of Asia would be, to put it mildly, pissed.

But hey, you might finally get the two Koreas reunited. The Chinese would go absolutely batshit if Japan launched a strike on North Korea. Not just because Beijing is the closest thing Pyongyang has to an ally. No, because the Japanese did things in China in the 1930's and 1940's that you can't begin to imagine. Read Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking if you want a hint. No one in East Asia has forgotten the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese act like none of what they did ever happened. Torture, murder, rape, extortion, and experimentation on prisoners (with chemical and biological weapons, as well).

Look all that shit up if you don't believe me. It's out there.

This would be a massively destabilizing strike, to put it mildly.

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More CraigsList

First, for those of you who are interested, for the last time -- I do NOT know where Suri Cruise is! Now that we've gotten that out of the way, more craigslist.

Searching for an apartment in New Orleans is quite interesting. Craigslist is really the only place I know where there are lots of places with descriptions, locations, and often a pic. NOLA.com is good because you can look at the listings from the Times-Picayune, but those don't have pics and the site is less user-friendly.

Lately on Craigslist there have been lots of "Stop Price Gauging you Asshole Landlord" posts. Of course the landlords have responded with their "Our Costs have Gone Up after Katrina Too," but I'm sure plenty of them just jacked up prices because they could. I don't really know if this is price-gauging or simply supply and demand at work, or both. Some of the posts are spoiled college kids who think they have some sort of human right to live 10 blocks from school, without roommates, paying cheap rent. Newflash guys, most college kids who want to live alone have to pay a premium in big cities. Get a roommate and stop crying.

I think the real issue is that New Orleans needs lots of low wage workers to rebuild, especially in the tourism industry. Unfortunately low wage workers can't really live in the city. This doesn't strike me, a Boston resident, as too uncommon. Boston, NYC, and San Fran are probably the three cities with the highest rents and I'm sure most low wage workers commute into the heart of those citites.

New Orleans, however, doesn't have a widely used public transportation system like those other cities. Thus living outside the city means owning a car, paying for parking, insurance and a host of other costs. I'd love to hear comments and more insight into the problem.

In the meantime, you can check out this advice from a friendly landlord. Strangely, he seems more interested in giving a lecture than renting an apartment. My favorite line: " Use that wonderful tool called goggle map." Hehehe.
Let's Mock Donald Rumsfeld

I was thinking about Rummy today, and that just makes me mad. He's such a tool. I mean, he's enamored of the "Revolution in Military Affairs," which is a desk nerd's wet dream--it ignores the reality of warfare, and proposes high-tech (and very expensive, contractor-friendly) solutions when what the military needs is more goddamn grunts. He's said dumb shit like "You go to war with the army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." He also knew where Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were before the war: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." You know, that area includes the entire earth.

So, instead of getting mad, I'm just going to make fun of him today. With pictures. Some real, some altered. They're all funny.

Ahh, the good old days.
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Old friends.

Here's Rummy with some recruits for his fantasy army:
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See? What a tool. Flexing with Captain America.
Who knew the RMA included the Super Soldier formula?

Unfortunately for Rummy, that's not Spider-Man.
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It's Spider-Hitler! Noooooooo!

But never fear. Rummy has nothing to worry about from Spider-Hitler.
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He will destroy him with his Cobra Style. Rummy is a Shaolin monk, fool! This ain't Channel 5, bitches!

Rumsfeld's not one-dimensional, though.

Check out DJ Rummy on the wheels of steel.

Finally, we note that, despite his busy days of wrecking the military and alienating the world, it's heartwarming to note that Rummy finds time for love.
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This goddamn picture always makes me laugh.

I hope you've all enjoyed this. Could you spot the altered photos? Ha! Gotcha! They're all 100% real. I swear.

Oh, and Image Shack? You kick ass.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

You Better Recognize

When it's time to throw some props.

So congratulations, Liz!


Allez Les Bleus!

Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

This half of Punch and Jude is going to be cheering for the French today. I'm wearing a beret, eating croissants, and drinking wine. And it's barely eight a.m.

Enjoy the match today, everyone.

UPDATE: Merde.

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Friday, July 07, 2006


Because I'm spending so much time on craigslist these days (looking for an apartment/addiction), I thought I would have a series of posts enlightening you, our faithful readers, to this Magnificent Mecca of Miscreants.

For starters, this post reminds me a bit of the Gift of the Magi. He'll give you his adult DVDs for your TV.

NBA Trade Value Index by Bill Simmons

His annual off-season column assessing NBA players is up on Page 2 -- lots of chuckles but nothing side-splitting. Here's my favorite bit:
By the way, I've been watching the World Cup for four weeks trying to decide which NBA players could have been dominant soccer players, eventually coming to three conclusions. First, Allen Iverson would have been the greatest soccer player ever -- better than Pele, better than Ronaldo, better than everyone. I think this is indisputable, actually. Second, it's a shame that someone like Chris Andersen couldn't have been pushed toward soccer, because he would have been absolutely unstoppable soaring above the middle of the pack on corner kicks. And third, can you imagine anyone being a better goalie than Shawn Marion? It would be like having a 6-foot-9 human octopus in the net. How could anyone score on him? He'd have every inch of the goal covered. Just as a sports experiment, couldn't we have someone teach Marion the rudimentary aspects of playing goal, then throw him in a couple of MLS games? Like you would turn the channel if this happened?
It's a good read if you know the NBA and have a couple minutes.
Drafting, Mock Drafting, and Losing Sanity

Now that Jude has started up the fantasy football league this year, I'm begining to lose my shit. I've been mock drafting on Antsports, not so much because it helps during the real thing, but just because I strangely enjoy drafting for it's own sake. If you think I'm alone, check out this website, where bloggers draft everything from mascots, to cities, to beer (which coincidently can be "drafted" in a much more enjoyable sense of the word).

I don't know what it is about making a "team," but mock drafting is just really fun for me. Sort of like how I used to play with my baseball cards (about 10,000 of them). I wouldn't actually do anything with them except put them in protective cases, look up their values, write it down, organize and reorganize them, etc. But I always really enjoyed it.

So here I am about 2 weeks from the bar exam and I'm trying to decide if Larry Fitzgerald is going to have a better season than Anquan Bolden. I hate you Jude.
NFL News

Yes, it's getting to be that time of year again. The time of year when my church opens its doors every Sunday and says "Come in, get drunk, and watch giant men try to grind each other into dust for a few hours."

That time is still a couple of months away, but I do like the anticipation. Just because there's no football on, though, doesn't mean there's no news. Check this out: The Denver Broncos might have trouble the first few games. You see, their punter, Todd Sauerbrun, is facing a four-game suspension for testing positive for ephedra.

That's right. The punter. Banned substance.

This must be a sign of the apocalypse.

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Bad Ideas

1. Letting white racists into the Army*.
2. Giving said racists good weapons, lots of ammo, and sending them to a country full of brown people.
Hate Groups Are Infiltrating the Military, Group Asserts

Published: July 7, 2006

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem."

A Defense Department spokeswoman said officials there could not comment on the report because they had not yet seen it.

The center called on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to appoint a task force to study the problem, declare a new zero tolerance policy and strictly enforce it.

The report said that neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance, whose founder, William Pierce, wrote "The Turner Diaries," the novel that was the inspiration and blueprint for Timothy J. McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, sought to enroll followers in the Army to get training for a race war.

The groups are being abetted, the report said, by pressure on recruiters, particularly for the Army, to meet quotas that are more difficult to reach because of the growing unpopularity of the war in Iraq.

The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members."

Mr. Barfield said Army recruiters struggled last year to meet goals. "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military," he said, "because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

The 1996 crackdown on extremists came after revelations that Mr. McVeigh had espoused far-right ideas when he was in the Army and recruited two fellow soldiers to aid his bomb plot. Those revelations were followed by a furor that developed when three white paratroopers were convicted of the random slaying of a black couple in order to win tattoos and 19 others were discharged for participating in neo-Nazi activities.

The defense secretary at the time, William Perry, said the rules were meant to leave no room for racist and extremist activities within the military. But the report said Mr. Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, Wash., had said that he had provided evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year, but that only two had been discharged. He also said there was an online network of neo-Nazis.

"They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," he said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq."

The report cited accounts by neo-Nazis of their infiltration of the military, including a discussion on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront. "There are others among you in the forces," one participant wrote. "You are never alone."

An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identified the author as Steven Barry, who it said was a former Special Forces officer who was the alliance's "military unit coordinator."

"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.' "

He concluded: "As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood."
Oh, but the Army's not broken. No, sir. Not at all.

There's this little thing called "unit cohesion." You might have heard of it. It's what keeps live soldiers from becoming dead soldiers when shit gets serious. As you might have guessed, having racists--serious, hard-core racists--in the ranks tends to destroy unit cohesion. What's one of these crackers gonna do when a guy named Rodriguez needs his help?

And you thought things were bad in Iraq already? Hell. Just wait.

*Yes, I know it's a bad idea to have any racists in the Army. But this article is specifically about the white supremacist assholes, so I got specific. Live with it.

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The extra "B" is for "bougie."

As in, "What bougie motherfucker gonna pay this much for a hot dog?"
The star of the wienie roast has fallen on hard times.

Mary Scott gets her dog just right at the Let's Be Frank stand outside AT&T Park in San Francisco.

In a country increasingly enamored of specialty sausages and natural beef, hot dog sales have slumped. But a new dog might save the day, one that is better for the environment and the animals, healthier for the body and, perhaps most important, doesn't taste like some kind of jailhouse punishment lunch.

The politically correct frankfurter.

In the past four years sales of packaged organic hot dogs have increased sharply. Although organic dogs have been around for at least a decade, the new models on the market taste better, have healthier fat profiles and are made from animals that spend their lives eating nothing but pasture.

The key is that the curing code has recently been cracked. Instead of relying on sodium nitrates or the more common sodium nitrites for color, texture and shelf life, hot dog makers have found a magic solution of celery juice, lactic acid and sea salt that rescues the organic dog from its tough brown reputation and rockets it to pink juiciness. It also addresses the concern among some consumers and scientists that nitrites and nitrates might contribute to cancer.

For parents like Andrea Slonosky, a media librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn, a better dog is a big relief. She has a toddler who loves them. If it is meaty and cylindrical, he'll eat it.

She often buys packages with an organic label, however uneasily. After all, they're still hot dogs. "I really have to try not to think too hard about the fact that organic unthinkable meat scraps are still unthinkable meat scraps," Ms. Slonosky said.

The reasonable reader (and, certainly, the reasonable vegetarian reader) might be wondering why Ms. Slonosky gives her family hot dogs at all. But that reader probably does not have children and has never worried about getting enough protein into their little carb-stuffed bodies. Besides, why try to deny a kid a hot dog?

Americans eat almost $2 billion worth of hot dogs a year, whether deep-fried Italian style in Jersey, spiked with sport peppers in Chicago or batter-dipped in Texas. Almost 30 million hot dogs will be eaten at the nation's ballparks this year.

Still, the national appetite for conventional hot dogs is waning. The amount of packaged hot dogs sold has dropped by more than 6 percent over the past four years, to 772.4 million pounds from 825.8 million pounds, according to a new report from ACNielsen, the market research company. (Figures don't include sales at Wal-Mart, which doesn't release such data.)

Hot dogs labeled organic, although still a tiny slice of the market, have boomed. During the same period, the number of pounds of organic dogs sold has increased 21 percent, to 1.2 million.

Stephen McDonnell, who founded the natural meat company Applegate Farms in 1987 and remains its chief executive, argues that the hot dog revolution should center on beef from animals that eat only pasture rather than the standard diet of grain. Beef from cattle raised on grass is leaner and has a healthier dose of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish like salmon and mackerel. As a result, he said, the dogs are healthier.

After working for a decade on the formula, Mr. McDonnell this month introduced low-priced nitrate-free hot dogs made with grass-fed beef from Uruguay.

Sold under the name the Great Organic Hot Dog, they look just like those plump, salty, chemically pink dogs served on buns at sporting events and from street carts. The suggested price is $4.99 a pound; that's a dollar or so more than a pound of Ball Park franks, although on the third of July Great Organics were $5.69 at one Brooklyn supermarket.

What the fuck? Five bucks a pound? I guess you should replace your charcoal at the cookout, too. Maybe with this:
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Bougie charcoal

It's a hot dog, motherfucker! What's next, gourmet scrapple?

I thought I'd ask a real rich person what he or she thought. Since I don't know any rich people, I figured I'd look up what some famous rich person might have said.

Is John D. Rockefeller famous enough for you? Here's his take on the matter.

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The authority has spoken.

I mean, shit. I guess, if you want to pay all that money for artisanal sausage made from fuckin' condor eggs and tiger dicks, knock yourself out. But it's a goddamn hot dog. Let it be.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's Thursday, July Sixth

And Kenneth "Kenny Boy" Lay, famous Bush crony, convicted felon, and pension-stealing cocksucker, is still dead.


NY court says no gay marriage

I haven't had time to read everything but here is the opinion in pdf and here is some initial commentary from Dale Carpenter, both are from Volokh. Should be some interesting stuff if you have a half hour.
What does this remind me of?

Apparently the Mexican election was decided by a very narrow margin.
With all of the 41 million votes counted, Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party had 35.88 percent to 35.31 percent for Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party. The two were separated by about 220,000 votes.
According to the story 300,000 votes were cast in favor of Pat Buchanon. That's a joke guys.

The amazing thing about this though is that almost 30% of the votes went to other candidates. Why can't third party candidates in the U.S. gain that kind of support?
Lack of Inspiration

Maybe that's what's wrong with me these days. I'm on the 'net plenty I just can't find anything to talk about . . . . until now!

That's right, bitches. "My trigger finger is itchier than chicken pox."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our President, Our Sweaty Shame

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Honestly, can someone get this man some Right Guard?

How about an undershirt?

Why does the leader of the USA look like a sweaty moron?

Oh, right...


Hell's Just Not Hot Enough

So it appears that Bush crony, convicted felon, and pension-stealing cocksucker Ken "Kenny Boy" Lay is dead.

He should've gasped out his last in a cell while some huge Aryan Nation asshole laughed at him.

But that would mean that we live in a just world.



Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Relay for Life

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We all need a helping hand.

Have you donated to Relay for Life?

You should. Be a pal, like this froggy here.

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Dead or Alive

Or maybe not at all.
CIA Disbands bin Laden Unit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has disbanded a unit set up in the 1990s to oversee the spy agency's hunt for Osama bin Laden and transferred its duties to broader operations that track Islamist militant groups, a U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday.

The bin Laden unit, codenamed Alec Station, became less valuable as a separate operation as counterterrorism operations eliminated top al Qaeda operatives and the movement's focus shifted more to regional networks of militants, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Al Qaeda is no longer the hierarchical organization that it was before 9-11. Three-quarters of its senior leaders have been killed or captured," said the official, referring to the U.S.-led response to the September 11 attacks.

"What you have had since 9-11 is growth in the Islamic jihadist movement around the world among groups and individuals who may be associated with al Qaeda, and may have financial and operation links with al Qaeda, but have no command and control relationship with it," he added.

The official described the ending of the bin Laden unit as a "reallocation of resources" within the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. But he said the spy agency still has staff devoted full time to the tracking and analysis of intelligence related to bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda leaders.

"The bin Laden effort has been absorbed into a larger effort. It's now one part of an effort that looks at all of these jihadist organizations," the official said.

Alec Station, established in 1996 after bin Laden's initial calls for global jihad, employed about two dozen people. The operation was bolstered after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the bin Laden unit was disbanded late last year and quoted its first director, author Michael Scheuer, as predicting the move would denigrate the CIA's effort to find bin Laden.

Bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed hiding in the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

John Negroponte, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told the Senate in February that al Qaeda was a "battered" organization but that it remained the top concern for the intelligence community.

Negroponte noted the rise of other organizations inspired by al Qaeda. But he told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "These groups pose less danger to the United States homeland than does al Qaeda, but they increasingly threaten our allies and interests abroad and are working to expand their reach and capabilities."

The Times said the decision to close the CIA's bin Laden unit was made by former Counterterrorism Center chief Robert Grenier, who decided the agency needed to reorganize to better address constant changes in terrorist organizations.

Attention Democrats: You might want to remember this come October and November. Maybe.

Also, has anyone kept count of how many seconds- and thirds-in-command al Qaeda had? Damn, that outfit had some redundancy.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day Goodness

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. On this, our country's birthday, we should take time to reflect on the man who was "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Thanks to Errol, we have for you this entirely accurate account of the life of George Washington.


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Swimming in the Sewer

I took a dip in Michelle Malkin's cesspool earlier. I wanted to see her weigh in on Superman, America's favorite illegal immigrant. She's predictably inane and pointless. It must be tiring to be so outraged and paranoid all the time.

Anyway, at the bottom of her Superman post, she dug up one of her own meanderings from a couple of years ago where she asked her readers to submit their favorite World War II movies.

Now, Michelle Malkin's an idiot. However, compared to her readers, her IQ is positively stratospheric.

Some of them listed All Quiet on the Western Front as a great WWII movie. In addition to the movie being set in the First World War, it doesn't at all glorify war the way these permanently stunted people think. Quite the opposite, really. Also: Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper, was set in World War One. Not Two. And don't even get me started on including High Noon.

One dumbass actually wrote about "The biggest patriot of them all, the Duke..." without noting that John Wayne avoided military service during World War II. Unlike, say, Jimmy Stewart or Tyrone Power, "The biggest patriot of them all" didn't go overseas to fight. Now, while I like some John Wayne films (Red River, True Grit, and The Quiet Man come to mind), he has an image as a war hero that is entirely the creation of movie studios.

A few people were upset about The Sum of All Fears, the screen adaptation of the Tom Clancy book. Neither the book nor the movie have a damn thing to do with the Second World War. It's kind of hard for these people to stay on topic, I guess. I read some of that book, years ago. It was a typical Tom Clancy book--heavy on technical descriptions, light on everything else. The baddies in the book were terrorists from some Arab/Palestinian organization. They acquire a nuclear weapon and proceed to blow up Denver. As for the movie, I didn't see it (fool me once...). However, it seems that the screenwriters/producers/directors/whatever changed the bad guys from Arab terrorists to Neo-Nazis. That they did so has earned them the undying ire of Michelle Malkin's posse. Let's go to the tape:
My favorite roll-over by Hollywood was the switch from radical islamisists to European neo-nazi's when they made the film "Sum of all fears." Imagine how impactful the story, as written, would have been in a film released in 2002!
Posted by: Bob at June 23, 2004 11:08 AM

What they did to "The Sum of All Fears" was crimminal. They took a book that will give you nightmares and made it almost comical!
Posted by: John Yesford at June 23, 2004 01:21 PM

The simple fact is that the makers of "The Sum of All Fears" chickened out, changing a plot that's very believable to one that's just plain silly.
Posted by: SBK at June 23, 2004 02:29 PM

This makes all the "bad guys" (the terrorists) FAR less threatening and scary, and the movie plots far less believable and less interesting. This change in the movie version of Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" took a great book and turned into a terrible movie.
Posted by: Bill Holland at June 23, 2004 02:45 AM

See what I mean? I only added emphasis. All else is as it appeared in the original posts.

I've read some great books. I've read some good books. I've also read some horrible books. I don't think The Sum of All Fears deserves the company of or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or A Light in August. Hell, I don't even think it deserves the company of The Hotel New Hampshire. It does, however, defnintely rate better than consignation to the same category as Bill O'Reilly's Those Who Trespass.

Jeez. You'd think that, if only the movie version of The Sum of All Fears had remained faithful to the Gospel of Clancy, we wouldn't have had any problems with al-Qaeda for the last few years.

My favorite comment, however, comes about the Lee Marvin movie The Dirty Dozen. I've seen this movie a few times. Hell, I own it. It's not really about war, or patriotism, or any of that. It's an action movie, full of cliches and bad editing and poor dialogue. It's entertaining because it's got Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and some other really fine actors. It's also entertaining, in part, because of all the cliches and poor cuts. Anyway, it's not at all a "serious" film. It's a Saturday matinee thing. Even the violence is extremely sanitized, though there's a lot of it.

But back to the lecture at hand. Commenter "Spoons" (Nabil, you must find him and take back your honor), talking about his favorite scene, has this to say about The Dirty Dozen:
It's gotta be the scene in the dirty dozen when the gang kills all of the german officers and their escorts hiding in the bunkers.

If they remade that movie today, they'd either remove that scene, or leave it in as a way of showing that "Really, there were atrocities committed on both sides."

So let me get this straight. You could make a shot-for-shot remake of The Dirty Dozen. Hell, you could even reanimate Lee Marvin and have him reprise his role as the tough but caring Major Risen, and shoot exactly the same movie again, and it wouldn't make this guy happy. On the other hand, if you changed anything, it wouldn't make him happy. If the scene gets cut, it's liberal Hollywood just trying to prevent us good 'Merikuns from enjoying the orgy of gasoline-and-hand-grenade-caused death. If the scene gets left in, it's liberal Hollywood trying to show us good 'Merikuns that we're actually just as bad as our enemies (they hate America SO MUCH in Hollywood, don't they?).

This is what passes for thought in some people, apparently. And this guy gets to vote, too.

Ain't life grand?

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I went to see it today.

You should, too. Here's a list of cities and theaters. It's showing in 48 states and, I believe, seven Canadian provinces (I don't know what's wrong with the goddamn Québécois, that they can't show it there).

Oh, I know what you're wondering. In which two states is it not showing? Is it the non-contiguous two, Alaska and Hawaii? No.

No, it's South Dakota and Mississippi.

That's right, Mississippi. Not the least populated state (Wyoming). Not either of the states that don't share borders with another one. No, it's Mississippi. You'd think people there would be very goddamned concerned about preventing the world from getting any hotter, wouldn't you?

Damn, sometimes it's especially embarrassing to be from Mississippi.

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Relay for Life

This shit sucks.

So does this.

Grab that card and make a donation to Relay for Life!

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Holy Mother Church

The Roman Catholic Church is recommending excommunication for people involved with stem cell research.

Excommunication Is Sought for Stem Cell Researchers

Scientists who engage in stem cell research using human embryos should be subject to excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, according to a senior Vatican official.

Wide-ranging coverage of Russia and the former Soviet republics, updated by The Times's Moscow bureau.

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who heads the group that proposes family-related policy for the church, said in an interview with the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana published Thursday that stem cell researchers should be punished in the same way as women who have abortions and doctors who perform them.

"Destroying an embryo is equivalent to abortion," said the cardinal. "Excommunication is valid for the women, the doctors and researchers who destroy embryos."

It was unclear if the pope supported the position, and the Vatican did not return calls for comment. But such blunt remarks from a powerful cardinal just a week before the church convenes a meeting to discuss the topic could foreshadow a hardening of Vatican policy on the issue, experts said.

On Saturday, Cardinal Trujillo will open the church's fifth World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, and Pope Benedict XVI will attend on July 9, the closing day. As head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, it will be up to Cardinal Trujillo to propose new church policies, though adopting any such measure could require a long and complicated process.

The church has long opposed embryonic stem cell research, and has campaigned against any medical procedure or research technique that harms human embryos or fetuses.

But the threat of individual excommunication — the most serious punishment meted out by the church — was previously directed at women and medical personnel who participated in abortions. Cardinal Trujillo's stand would broaden the use of that sanction to biomedical researchers who use embryos.

"The cardinal's view is that the penalty of excommunication should be extended to stem cell research," said the Rev. Brian Johnstone, a moral theologian at the Alphonsian Academy here. "The provisions of canon law about what leads to excommunication are very precise."

But Father Johnstone cautioned that it was unlikely that the church would formally adopt a final position next week. "Clarification of such a delicate point of this importance is unlikely to be made at such a large gathering," he said.

Even some Catholics who are opposed to the use of embryos in research felt that excommunication was too strong a sanction. "If we're defending the principle that human life should not be touched, it should not be done in a punitive, castigatory or burn-in-hell sort of way," said Paola Binetti, a leading Catholic politician here.

The specification of the punishment for embryonic stem cell research was partly needed so the church could catch up with advances in science.

When the 1990 Evangelium Vitae came out reaffirming that abortion would lead to automatic excommunication, "Embryonic stem cell research was not a front-page issue," Ms. Binetti said.

While doctors and scientists claim that embryonic stem cell research holds the promise to cure many intractable diseases, the church opposes the practice because human embryos are used to harvest cells for the work. Some of these embryos are left over after in vitro fertilization procedures, but scientists can also create embryos themselves.

The church regards such early-stage embryos as a human life, not to be used or destroyed. It maintains that there are other ways to obtain stem cells for research purposes — from umbilical cord blood after a birth, for example — though it acknowledges that they are significantly more cumbersome.

According to current church law, excommunication for abortion is "latae senentiae," meaning that it is automatic and does not require an action or proclamation by a church official. This type of excommunication is reserved for acts deemed so serious that no verdict or judgment is required. Even so, many women who have had abortions continue to practice Catholicism, and many parishes take pains to embrace and reintegrate them into church life.

Other acts that result in automatic excommunication include violence against the pope and consecrating a bishop without authorization. Now, experts said, Cardinal Trujillo's remarks raise the possibility that being involved in stem cell research might be added to the category.

I guess there aren't any problems with declining church attendance, pederasty among the clergy, or any other little things like war, poverty, and disease that deserve the attention of the cardinals in Rome.

Perhaps, in 400 years, the Church will admit that it was in error about stem cells. That's how long it took the Vatican to say "Uh, yeah. That Galileo guy was right. Sorry about the arrest, trial, and all that jazz. Our bad."

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