••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, December 31, 2005

happy new year to all!

let's hope 2006 is a lot better, because otherwise it'll suck!

i try to be optimistic, but it ain't easy.

btw, did anybody notice who won the "war on christmas"?

cobwebs between the ears

this morning book tv played a talk by chris mooney, who wrote the republican war on science even before revelation of egregious antiscience actions of the bush administration like the ideological rewrite of a scientific report and override of a scientific opinion by nonscientist political appointees.

at the end of the q&a a biologist, who said he spent much of his career with the national science foundation, added that the reagan administration zeroed out the nsf's science education effort.

coincidentally, last night the pbs show now dealt with climate change and had footage of sen james inhofe (r-ok) claiming global warming is an environmentalist hoax, a phobic notion that, as far as i know, began with a writer named ronald bailey, who was supported by the cato institute and the inexplicably misnamed reason magazine, and who exhibited right-wing projection (in the psychological sense) in his claim that the environmental movement is a conspiracy to gain political power by terrifying the rest of us with urgent warnings of disaster.

if by now you haven't noticed who really has gained power by exploiting ignorance and using scare tactics, you need a louder alarm clock.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

non-condom nation

Condoms Don't Prevent AIDS, Vatican Official Says: In a BBC Program, Cardinal Argues Against Scientific Evidence About Containing the Virus (Post, Oct. 10, 2003)

that washington post article may no longer be available, but the ignorance it reflects has not expired, as gwb might say.

when are these self-righteous church people gonna wake up?

a half million children in africa died from AIDS last year

no religion in bible?

today's topic for discussion comes from something a friend told me some years ago. to the best of my recollection it came from one of his coworkers. he was a photographer in a hospital, and a lot of the doctors on the staff were from india, so it seems likely one of them was the source.

at any rate—and don't ask me why—someone told him "i've read the bible, and i didn't find any religion in it."

so what do you think? was he right or wrong? why? and what did he mean?


man! they really had me going for a few days. thought i was sitting pretty.


i hate those guys. and that's not good, because i hate to hate anybody.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

wow! lookit all these workouts! (download'em while u can!)

Nun Bun Stolen From Tenn. Coffeehouse

how many new orleans cops does it take to change a light bulb?

i don't know and i don't care.

if 12 (twelve!) fully-trained cops can't disarm one obviously unskilled knife-waver without shooting, then i'll continue to screw in my own damn lamps, thank you.

i'm also t.o.'d [which has a whole new meaning for eagles fans] by ill-informed and unquestioning coverage of the killing, from the "photojournalist" who told CNN the cops acted properly to the anchor who thanked him for his "insight," then in her summary described the victim as "knife-wielding."

wield comes from a blend of words meaning "with form," "be strong," "rule," "control," &c. the modern word implies mastery or effectiveness.

the man in the video was clearly as inept as the cops who slaughtered him.

hope y'all had a happy yule!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

sorry, i couldn't resist

looks like gif pix don't reproduce too well. o, well.

2006 breakups

this morning's washington journal gave viewers a chance to phone in predictions for next year.

my favorite:

i think that iraq will break up, i think the british labor party will begin breaking up, and i think the republican party will also begin to break up. i think brad pitt and angelina jolie will break up, i think the king will divorce kong, and i think that intelligent will break up with design.

crossed signals

ok. da prez wants the revised patriot act passed NOW.

but he got caught cheating.

so the dems (and a few gops) want to extend the old patriot act 3 months so they can upgrade the revision.

so da prez threatens to veto.

so, to save da prez's face, the senate passes a 6-month extension instead of the shorter one.

then rep james sensenbrenner (of da prez's own party), r-wi, says it should go the other way, and the house passes a 5-week extension to make congress work faster.

get it?

i don't.

gops brag about passing deficit "reduction" bill

yes, tho 5 gops crossed the aisle so vp "darth" cheney had to cut short his asia trip to break a 50-50 tie in his role as senate prez, a gang of leading gops got the chance to go before tv cameras yesterday and castigate dems for trying to block deficit reduction.

what they never mentioned is that their "reduction" will actually raise the deficit, since the $40B in cuts dems opposed—mostly in medicaid, medicare, and student loans—is more than offset by a $70B tax cut gops no doubt will crow about in the next election campaign, tho over half of it goes to folk with incomes above $1M a year.

all told, the new budget will raise the national debt by $700B in its first year and more than $600B annually for 5 years. that's at least 3 trillion bucks more debt we the people will have to pay interest on when congress is forced to raise taxes.

that more responsible future congress will likely have a dem majority gops will attack for raising taxes, and we the people will likely vote for those gops.

meantime, the gop service cuts will hurt the folk who most need those services, and this country will slide further down the slope toward mediocrity.

will we the people ever see thru the never-ending gop con? i doubt it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Remarks by the President in a Conversation on the USA Patriot Act

Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
—President Bush, April 20, 2004

afterdowningstreet.org link

monkey do

the judge in the dover pa trial says he'll probably get labeled "activist" for ruling against "intelligent" design in schools but the school board members who voted for it are the real activists for acting when they were so poorly informed.

whee! monkeys win!

enlighten up!

man! somebody sent an eml to talk of the nation complaining that the producers portrays hitler as gay.

whew! hey, pal, whoever you are: the whole concept is that the protagonists try to cheat their investors by overselling shares in a musical so offensive it's guaranteed to fail.

it may be too subtle for you to grasp, but they get their comeuppance when the show is a smash hit. it's both poetic justice and a comment on public tastes.

do the words "irony" and "satire" mean anything to you?

maybe you thought forrest gump's a docudrama?

undisclosed relocation

At one stop, Cheney heard from a U.S. Marine who told him, "We don't see much as far as gains."

"Iraq's looking good," Cheney told him, adding that for the Bush
administration, Iraq is "probably the single most important problem on our platter."

—CNN World, December 18, 2005

darth's unannounced baghdad visit took even the heads of iraq's government by surprise.

we sure have great security, don't we?


byron dorgan (d-nd), on the senate floor today, showed a photo of a 5-story building in the cayman islands that 12,748 corporations use as their headquarters address to avoid paying US taxes—and our law allows it.

he also mentioned that billionaire warren buffett says when all the gop cuts go into effect he'll pay a lower tax rate than his office receptionist.

meanwhile, the poorest americans and their children lose out on medicaid, food stamps, school breakfasts and lunches, child support enforcement, and tuition loans.

Monday, December 19, 2005

zarqawi caught...

...by iraq a year ago and released, because nobody recognized him.

so how do they know now?

hoo boy!

about last nite

bush's nonanswers

Great White Brother twice today evaded the question of why no warrants were sought from the secret intel court after he authorized electronic eavesdropping.

after wasting time disparaging the "shameful" leakers, da prez finally said going to court would've taken too much time.

another reporter picked up the loose thread and pointed out that the national security agency could have legally begun the bugging, then gotten court authorization a few days later, so why hadn't they?

bush just echoed his previous "answer" about the need for speed.

as in invading iraq, haste trumps law again.

bug gripes

one thing that bothers me most about bush is that he apparently doesn't even see that his failure to "faithfully execute" the law is the reason somebody leaked the nsa story.

what bothers me about the ny times is that they held the story for a year at government request. can you imagine that happening after watergate?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

the war on the "war on christmas"

the controversy over whether folk should say "merry christmas" or "happy holiday" is totally contrived bullshit.

the same for complaints about spelling it "xmas."

if i didn't know better, i might suspect somebody was trying to divert my attention from something important.

know what "contrive" means?

how 'bout "diversion"?

Friday, December 16, 2005

today's prayer

Once we can place all our hope in you, Lord, where it belongs, we can rest and enjoy, because then the incredible can be believable, and the impossible seem within reach.—Rev.Daniel Coughlin, Chaplain, US House of Representatives, 12/16/05

so that's why we're in iraq.

Great White Brother

guess who's been watching—or should i say "spying on"?—you!

politics trumps security

at least to some extent in reaction to today's ny times report that bush issued a secret executive order allowing spying on americans without court approval, senate dems, plus a few gops, blocked a vote to reauthorize the usapatriot act—or, actually, replace it with a partly rewritten act.

dems proposed a 3-month extension to keep the old version in force while congress adds better personal liberty protection, but da prez threatened to veto it, saying he wants the long-term act or nothing, so at the moment it looks like gops will block the temporary measure.

they'd rather let the act expire so they can claim the dems endanger the country by blocking the vote.

only time will tell if we're still as easily fooled as we were for bush's first 4 years.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

the more things change...

The United States did not choose war—the choice was Saddam Hussein's.

—guess who, 12/14/05

ok. bush says we didn't want war, saddam did.

so how does he explain why we started the air war on iraq in june 2002?

abuse victims

auto workers respond to company manipulations much like children respond to abuse.

first gm announces they'll lay off 30k workers. then the union agrees to a cutback in company contributions to worker healthcare. then ford does exactly the same thing, with the same result.

cosmos regained

picked up a first edition of carl sagan's cosmos—one of the best books to get nonscientists familiar with today's key science issues—for half a buck at a library sale.

the bottom edge of the dust jacket's a little torn in back, and the back cover's a bit warped as if the book stood leaning sideways for a long time—it was donated, not a library copy, and folk just don't read their hardcover books—but otherwise the 25-year-old volume looks like new, tho it does have a very slight musty odor.

also, astronomers have collected an awful lot of data since it was published, and cosmology appears to be undergoing a major shift: apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, which led to the idea of dark energy.

but it's still a great primer, sagan covers a lot of ground and doesn't limit himself to astrophysics, and i never had a chance to read it all the way thru before, since i had to check it out of the library.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

mene mene tekel upharsin, pt 2

educated iranians, already embarrassed by their leader's call to wipe israel off the map, have further cause to blush now that he's called the holocaust a myth—which i assume somehow explains his belief israel shouldn't exist and germany and austria should give jews some of their land instead.

those that voted for him have the reddest faces.

imagine suddenly discovering you've helped hand your country over to a village idiot.

thank god that couldn't happen here!

cowardly courage

man! am i getting tired of politicians pandering to militaristic patriotism.

this morning (on c-span) it was a dem, but it as easily could've been a gop. every time they talk about troops or vets, at some point in the conversation they make sure they praise the courage—which almost always makes the list—and resolve &/or dedication &/or some other supposed virtues of folk who "serve" the country.

courage, like talk, is cheap and found everywhere. kamikaze pilots had it. suicide bombers have it. window washers have it.

courage, strange as it may seem, is often the result of fear—fear of being a coward or getting thought of as one.

"coward" is likely the second greatest fighting word. (#1 has got to be "liar"—or maybe "shithead" is ahead of one or both.)

folk who itch to fight use language to provoke others to join with or against them, but "coward" versus "courage" has another dimension: it's programmed into us by the information environment starting in early childhood. the result, whether intended or accidental, is that most societies always have at least some folk—mainly male—with a longtime ambition to be cops or firefighters or war fighters or some other hi-risk career choice.

their determination to help and defend has a noble side to it, of course, but it also becomes a weakness, because it makes them vulnerable to less altruistic agendas of those who would exploit and corrupt their will to serve.

greatness doesn't lie in fighting. to be great, you must be right.

Monday, December 12, 2005

day 999

...this is a different kind of war.
—g w bush

guess what, pal, they all are!

get this, novak!

finally heard something that makes sense on the subject of journalists' "privilege" to grant anonymity to sources.

unfortunately i don't recall when i heard it, tho it must've been on c-span.

friday the national security archive—a nongovernment org that collects declassified official documents—celebrated its 20th anniversary with a bill moyers speech and two panel discussions, with sy hersh in the second one.

over the weekend book tv replayed something from the end of october, when the texas book festival—started, ironically, by laura bush when her husband was lord high executioner—included a panel on truth and lies in journalism.

somebody on one of those panels made this comment when the question came up of what justifies a confidentiality pledge: it's about power.

that pretty much sums it up, but let me flesh it out: the purpose of not revealing the identity of a source is to protect the person, so it should be done only for those that need protection from power, not for those in powerful positions who just want to hide while they use media to attack and/or discredit relatively powerless critics.

it has nothing to do with whether the source is committing a crime or revealing classified info. that's an issue for prosecutors, not reporters.

"knowing what i know today, i'd make the decision again"

yes, that's what da prez said about invading iraq in response to a question today in the city of brotherly love.

stirring, isn't it?

is bush a shmuck or a putz?

find out on fresh air.

white house pushes congress to ok alaska drilling

oh, yeah?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

day 998

collateral devastation

remember when da prez promised to rebuild new orleans?

the last time he visited the place was october 11.

when was the last time he even mentioned its name? looks like it was november 10.

not bad, sirreene

Thursday, December 08, 2005

day 995

man, didja see rumsfeld on the news hour today?

he actually compared himself to washington, lincoln, fdr, truman, and lbj.

so i guess the suspense is over.

it's rummy in 2008!!!!!

dodge city

on 9/11 the US had only 33 air marshals. now the number is classified but said to be in the thousands.

an "expert" on all things considered today said the response of the two at miami international who wasted a man that hadn't taken his lithium sounds like a "textbook case."

is that what they call it? textbook shoot-first-ask-questions-later or textbook trigger-happy?

i guess it never occurred to their trainers that someone who means to set off a bomb wouldn't first announce he has one.

or maybe they were just letting us all know they're on the job.

next time we go to an airport we can relax.

left-wing long distance

my latest working assets bill came with a list of 50 environmental, social justice, and rights orgs the company donates to.

the sheets of chlorine-free, 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based ink also had a few exhortations and news items i'd missed in mass media.
here's some samples:
Eye on Congress: Katrina Leaves Oily Residue
In today's Washington, no tragedy is so deep that it can't be mined for handouts to business cronies. Hurricane Katrina, for instance. As fuel prices soared, the House leapt to approve the Gasoline for America's Security Act. It does nothing to help drivers at the pump. But the so-called GAS Act is bloated with perks for oil companies. It opens coastal areas to exploration, eases drilling in Alaska and relaxes pollution laws. In a rare show of integrity, representatives voted the act down. Until GOP leaders extended the vote by 40 minutes and bullied enough moderate Republicans to change their votes and win, 212-210.

Donations Spotlight: ForestEthics
Stretching from Alaska to Newfoundland, the Boreal Forest is an astounding wilderness. As large as 13 Californias, it holds more freshwater than anyplace on the planet. It cleans the air we breathe. It's home to bears, wolves and the elusive woodland caribou known as the "gray ghost." But it's going fast. Canada's Boreal Forest is being logged at the rate of 2 acres a minute, 24 hours a day. Much of the wood ends up in catalogs and other junk mail. ForestEthics is fighting to save the Boreal, crafting a plan to preserve it and pressuring retailers to stop using wood from this endangered and irreplacable [sic] ecosystem. ForestEthics is one of many outstanding organizations you support as a Working Assets member. Learn more at ForestEthics.org.

Confirming the Worst: Fight Alito Nomination
President Bush has nominated Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Alito, who has ruled that women should get permission from their husbands for an abortion, would replace the moderate swing vote Sandra Day O'Connor. Unfortunately, Judge Alito's 15-year record of written opinions demonstrates extreme hostility to civil rights, environmental protection and reproductive rights. The religious right is ecstatic—Pat Robertson called the pick a "home run"—but the rest of us should demand that the Senate defend our hard-earned rights.

Block the Bush Plan to Gut the Clean Air Act
The White House never tires of devising dishonest legislation that does the opposite of what its title implies. Like Clear Skies, which makes our air dirtier. Or Healthy Forests, which invites loggers to cut more trees. To the list of Bush oxymorons we may add the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA now spends much of its time finding ways to undermine laws that protect the environment. Recently the agency announced plans to dismantle the New Source Review program of the Clean Air Act and allow old, dirty power plants to dodge emission standards.

Urge EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at 202/272-0167 to drop his plan to gut the Clean Air Act. Don't let old power plants spew tons more pollution.

there was also a success story:
...last summer, the EPA sought a rules change that would have let wastewater plants blend sewage with treated wastewater and dump the putrid mix into lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Gross. Thanks in part to pressure from members of Working Assets, the House and Senate forced the EPA to flush the plan.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

day 994

and pearl harbor day too.

delay poll

a usa today/cnn gallup poll says if tom delay were running for reelection now he'd lose to an unnamed dem 49%-36%.

but, as stephen colbert pointed out last night, an unnamed dem traditionally does better than a named dem.

rummy's comic relief

spinmeister rumsfeld recently brought tears to our eyes when he rejected further use of the word "insurgency" and said he intends to replace it with an unwieldy phrase [ "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"] that perhaps by coincidence just happens to be the very definition of "insurgency."

his reason for doing it was a hoot in itself: calling it an "insurgency" makes it seem legitimate, he said.

in fact, calling the iraqi resistance an "insurgency" was part of our strategy to delegitimize it.

among our strategic failures, it was neither first nor last.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saturday, December 03, 2005

day 990

quake survivors still urgently need warm tents for winter! (link)

win a no-prize!

yesterday c-span broadcast a panel discussion on greenhouse gases and climate change hosted by the american chemical society on capitol hill.

one speaker said:
  1. energy efficiency is the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. every year that you don't use energy, you don't pay for it.

  3. real men use renewables.

actually, i made up one of them. a no-prize to everyone that picks it out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

day 989

thursday's no-prize winner

my favorite caller to washington journal yesterday was the one who said "...2000 killed. it's not nice."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

day 988


ya know, there was a time—not too long ago, as i recall—when the majority believed the iraq war had intelligent design behind it.

borderline arithmetic

during today's immigration discussion on washington journal, a caller said we should put an agent every 50 yards along the mexican border.

naturally i thought that sounded crazy, so i decided to estimate how many it would take and what it would cost.

one every 50 yards is about 35 per mile or 35k per 1000 miles per 8-hour shift. so that's about 100k a day, which would cover a 5-day week. add 40% for weekends plus a little more for holidays and vacations, and we're talking about roughly 150k agents per 1000 miles.

i don't know what they get paid, so i'll assume pay plus benefits and other expenses comes to $50k/year. that's $7.5B per 1000 miles per year.

so now i just need to multiply by the actual border length divided by 1000 mi and the actual yearly cost per agent divided by $50k.

that might double or quadruple it, and more if we include the canadian border. but if it's only mexico, it might cost up to $30B a year. still, it's a hell of a lot less than our defense budget, or even just the war in iraq.

maybe it's not so crazy, after all.

then again, everything the government does always winds up costing way more than anybody figured.

confident man

We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.
g w bush, 11/30/05

i've seen such confidence before, haven't i? now, where was it?

wait! it's coming back to me.