••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

climate cleopatras (queens of d nile—but i don't have to tell you that unless your name's rip van winkle)

it's common to hear cato-insitute/reason-foundation types pooh-pooh global warming, and many of us don't always know how to respond. after all, we're basically ignorant—and we know it.

a 1° rise in average global temperature over the past century, for example, doesn't sound all that alarming.

john cox, speaking on his book climate crash at the national academy of sciences' museum in DC a few weeks ago, put it in perspective. he pointed out that the present average global temperature is only about 5° higher than it was at the depths of the ice age....


since congress is talking about saving energy by extending daylight-saving time, it might be good to be aware that it may have a downside.

30-some years ago they did the same thing in response to the energy crisis.

one of the first unexpected consequences was that a number of little kids—unused to walking to school in the dark—got hit by cars apparently driven by commuters equally unused to having to watch out for little kids crossing streets in the dark.

Friday, July 29, 2005

open letter to Jerry Falwell

Not long ago I was reminded of a remark you made shortly after 9/11:

...pagans...abortionists...feminists...gays...lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America...I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.

Since then I've gathered some information, and the magnitude of your error looms large.

Do you know that in 1998 Osama bin Laden founded an umbrella organization named the International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders?

Clearly, it was not the attempt to "secularize" America that "helped this happen." It is far more likely that it was the attempt to Christianize America, and our president—along with his loyal followers such as you—has played right into bin Laden's game.

You, and he, and "Christian soldiers" who make war on women and deny their liberty, and cold warriors who thought to fight the "red menace" by the blasphemy of joining god to mammon and divided "one nation indivisible" by the sacrilege of blurring the church-state border, have polarized America within and united the world against us.

Be not deceived: those who hasten Armageddon will not be among those saved from the fiery pit.

The cock has crowed too many times to count. Time is long past to wake and note the light that has shone in your eye each day since you left the womb. Use it no more to blind, but to see.

The bible holds much wisdom, but it's not the only source. I'm sure you recall some of the following American sayings:

"Whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong."
"Two wrongs don't make a right."
"Be SURE you're right, THEN go ahead."
"There's always one more thing."
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know that just ain't so."
"Face facts."
"One man's fish is another man's poisson."

Or is that last one French?


hey bible thumpers,

kid i met at library said he believes in creationism, takes bible literally, and is fan of jack van imp and rush limbo.

also interested in fractals and astrophysics, so doesn't necessarily fit a religious-right stereotype, but he did eventually get banned from the place for antagonizing a person of color by making racist remarks on more than one occasion.

before that happened we sometimes had short conversations when we both left at closing time.

since i occasionally read the bible, i got curious about what he had to say on some things i'd noticed.

i wondered what he thought about the number of the beast in the book of revelation, but i approached it indirectly, which may not have been the best way:

since the last verse (new king james) reads "here is wisdom. let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: his number is 666," i asked if he knew anything about numerology.

he said numerology is "of the devil," which left me at a loss for words.

i never discussed it with him again, but i wonder about the motive of whoever taught him that, since it makes him hide from such forbidden knowledge, even when the bible calls it wisdom.

but i did think more about that number. i knew that in biblical times jews had no numerals, so they made numbers with the alphabet, as did romans, tho a different way. jews used the first 9 letters to represent 1 thru 9. the next 9 stood for 10, 20, 30,...up to 90. the remaining letters were 100, 200, etc.

when i tried that method with our alphabet i saw that 6=f, 60=o, and 600=x.

of course, there must be lots of other words and names that add up to 666, but "fox" is the shortest, and a fox is a beast, and it is reputed to be sly....

don't look now...

...but the church may have just bitten off more than it can chew.

some bigshot cardinal (schönborn, archbishop of vienna) just issued a pronouncement that all critters might be physically descended from a common ancestor—as in darwin—but it had to've been guided—as in "intelligent" design.

on the surface that may appear to be an attempt to reconcile extremes. trouble is, darwinian theory ain't extreme no more. it's mainstream science.

"intelligent" design, however, is as extreme as ever. it doesn't just challenge what it insists on calling "darwinism." it also contradicts quantum mechanics. in other words, the believers in "intelligent" design are in way over their heads, and now rome is trying to save them.

so now it's just a question of whether "intelligent" design drowns alone, or if it drags the vatican down with it.

frist's flip-flop & kitten torture

one can only speculate as to whether the majority leader's change of heart is calculated to further presidential ambitions. motives—unlike actions—are rarely visible.

he clearly miscalculated re terry schiavo, apparently staking out what he and his mostly-gop colleagues assumed to be the conventional—therefore popular—position. he found out assumptions are not quite as reliable as opinion polls.

whether or not he aims for the white house, he now seems to be trying to regain high ground.

he's come a long way—but maybe still has a long way to go—baby:
Frist sometimes revealed too much of himself. In his autobiography, he owned up to a youthful obsession with science that drove him to adopt cats from animal shelters so he could perform medical experiments on them.
—from Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America: 1998, the 105th Congress, p.1333
remember, frist just used the full weight of the gop majority to block those mean-spirited dems from sneaking an anti-torture provision into law.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

does GOP stand for Guns Over People?

yeah, i know. it's not scientific proof. but just check out the graph.

the death penalty clearly had no effect on the homicide rate, but it started dropping as soon as gun control became federal law and kept dropping at least till 9/11.

what's more, the drop is virtually all in gun homicides. the non-gun rate hardly changed at all (till 9/11), contradicting the NRA claim that if somebody wants to kill and can't get a gun, he'll find some other way to do it.

but what really got me was what scott mcclellan said when asked why the administration let the assault weapon ban lapse: his boy bush believes the best way to fight gun crime is to "enforce the laws already on the books."

are we in the same universe? the law WAS "already on the books"!

NOW it's NOT.

free advice to the reproductive rights movement

every now and then, instead of saying "a woman's right to choose," try saying "a woman's liberty."

it's the same thing, after all....

hearing things

a couple weeks ago—or whenever it was that NASA announced all problems had been solved and they were ready for the current mission—i got confused.

just one day earlier, BBC news said scientists announced the problems had NOT been solved.

did i imagine it?

just when i thought i was starting to understand politics....

you'd think forbidding subsidiaries of US corporations doing business with our enemies would pass the senate 100-0, wouldn't you? you might even think such a law must already exist, no?

well, frank lautenberg offered it as an amendment the other day, and some republicans actually voted "nay!"

here we go again

i see gops in congress gearing up to give oil companies—record profits and all—"incentives" to do more deep water drilling.


drill more

1. the military's main method of teaching discipline

2. an oilman's solution to ANY imaginable problem

3. the NRA's solution to any problem from crime to deer getting hit by cars to bears getting into your garbage (and these guys don't mean "march!")
[feel free to expand this list by posting a comment.]

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


politics is pursuit or use of power, influence, or authority. ever-presence of competition requires support of others, so politics depends on suasion.

it's akin to selling, so it operates in the metaphorical "marketplace of ideas"—though it also makes opportunistic use of any factor perceived to give advantage over opponents: charm or charisma, esteem or notoriety, physical attractiveness, wealth, personal history....

politics also draws concepts and images from the information environment, including games and sports, since it is also akin to play. thus, in the political "arena," we hear "home run," "curve ball," "slam dunk," "full-court press," "fast break," "media blitz," and "verbal jujitsu"—the last two unusual in that they came from war and from enemies, one imported to sports slang first, the other as a sport in itself.

such words and phrases appear in media comment and in political rhetoric, but greater significance lies in application of the concepts to strategy. recall what wellington said about waterloo being won on the playing fields of eton. the difference between sport, politics, and war is mainly a matter of degree. once the name of the game is known, the rules are known without further discussion or conspiracy. "king of the hill" is the bigger game: entirely improvisational, a player need only observe his friends to know whom to attack and how.

ultimately, though, it comes back to selling—or, rather, marketing. images, rhetoric, and strategy are used to gain public support, whether for election, legislation, or policy. business long ago learned advertising and public relations can motivate buying behavior. it didn't take long for politicians to begin to imitate industry—monkey see, monkey do.

marketing is a kind of education or indoctrination. the techniques of advertising and pr train the audience, which learns mainly by association and repeated exposure. aristotle's essay on rhetoric has a chapter titled "fear and trust," which advises a speaker to associate an opponent's ideas with something feared by the audience, and to win their trust for himself, his party, and his ideas as the solution to those fears.

hitler's "big lie" technique worked not because of the size or outrageousness of the lie but because of repetition. because today's young folk have heard it so often during their lives, many fully expect to get no social security at retirement, so they tend to be receptive to schemes that claim to let them keep the money. their support may well turn their fears into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

memory makes no distinction between true and false. intellect and intuition can know the difference, but both can be fooled—by false data, logical fallacies, and pleasant or unpleasant associations—so they need training to get and keep in shape. in addition, reason gets clouded by feelings, so the ability to remain objective and make valid inferences depends on ability to suspend emotion.

marketing techniques exploit both strengths and weaknesses of memory—its ability to learn and its inability to discriminate—and suppress critical thinking by using emotional associations such as attractive actors and models, children and childhood, home, family, country, and symbols related to them, which evoke love, fear, greed, trust, and so forth. trained voices and body language help produce the desired response.

the great danger of gaining support by conditioning the audience is that it may produce mass phobia. a person can develop intense fear of something quite harmless by hearing it repeatedly associated with something threatening.

unfortunately, many politicians have done just that to their opponents—probably even before aristotle. in my lifetime, political careers have been made and broken by red-baiting, gay-baiting, and terrorist-baiting.

when i listen to talk shows or watch "washington journal" on c-span, almost every day i hear at least one caller whose words are filled with denial, rationalization, and projection, and whose voice is tense with anxiety about a UN-led conspiracy to take away US sovereignty thru world government and gun control or to destroy innocent life or to undermine the institution of marriage.

and now i've seen pics of brit tourists in nyc forced to kneel in handcuffs and heard reports of a brazilian running for a train in london and getting shot 8 times. when a cop kills an innocent man that way, it's a victory for terrorists.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
—FDR, march 4,1933
well, yeah, but maybe he shd've added greed, ignorance, aggression, poverty, disease, disaster, accident, ego....

Saturday, July 23, 2005


f u hav a shotgun
n a bully threatens
2 break down ur door
f u don' giv 'im d gun
wha u gon' do?
deny u hav it?
bury it in yard?
ask neighbor 2 hide it?

course not

u tell 'im
f 'e comes in
'e gets both barrels
in 'is face

some say too few dots...
some say too many...

led nowhere either way...

but some folk look at clouds
see elephants...giraffes...

why not see

wd saddam keep

a secret
no deterrent

u may ask
how i knew
no proof
o gas or germ or nuke...

answer simple...

they kept sayin
connect dots...

so i did...

Thursday, July 21, 2005


this is (slightly re-edited) e-mail text i sent to usnews.com last year—was it december? but who's counting?:

i noticed the article on phobias doesn't mention homophobia. maybe that's because you focused on phobias as anxiety disorders, or because—though the word was coined by a psychologist—it's not recognized as a psychiatric term.

nevertheless, the phenomenon exists, and the meaning of the word fits some dictionaries' definitions of phobia as intense and illogical fear, dread, dislike, aversion, or hatred.

racism, sexism, religious prejudice, and extreme intolerance toward immigrants, environmentalists, or liberals can also be described by those definitions and perhaps should be called phobias.

even if none of those fear-based behaviors ever gets recognized for clinical purposes, they should be matters of concern in our society, particularly when they are institutionalized, as has happened historically and most egregiously through slavery and genocide and—both in the past and more recently—with voting rights, educational and job opportunities, use of public accommodations, marriage, and military service.

the latter rises to the level of a national security issue, because people with something to hide are vulnerable to blackmail, so gays in our military are potential targets for recruitment by foreign agents as long as pentagon policy makes them fear getting outed.

banning same-sex marriage may not rise to that threat level, but it's bound to alienate many individuals, who may react in ways we can't predict.

frankly, we don't need that. i say let's get rid of institutionalized phobias and return to liberty and justice for all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Do you loathe liberals? Does mention of gun control or environmentalism or reproductive choice or immigrants or equal rights for gays make you see red? Do you seriously believe the UN is the leading edge of a conspiracy to set up a world government and take away America's sovereignty?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above, you may suffer from a type of anxiety disorder known as a phobia.

Phobias are learned. Your fear and loathing of liberals was taught to you by radical Republicans, who intentionally or unintentionally used behavior modification, starting when you were still a child, to condition you to associate liberals with something threatening and to believe that Social Security will no longer exist when you retire.

It's an ancient method—going back at least to Aristotle's essay on rhetoric more than 2300 years ago—made more effective by modern marketing techniques and frequent repetition.

You need to take the cure. It's not easy, but you can unlearn your phobia. You need to study hard and contemplate deeply till you see the truth.

For, as you know, truth will make you free.