Showing posts from 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Bloomberg news:
Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in an election-rally attack in Rawalpindi, threatening the stability of a nuclear-armed nation that is a focal point of the West's war on terror. At least 16 people died and more than 60 were injured in the gunfire-and-bomb attack on Bhutto's rally, police said. The opposition leader, 54, had survived a previous attempt on her life when she returned from exile two months ago. Rioting broke out as her supporters gathered outside the hospital where her death was confirmed and in cities across Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf, who had allowed her return to participate in parliamentary elections planned for Jan. 8, appealed for calm in a message broadcast on state television. Not good. This country seems like its getting more and more out of control. And they have nukes. All of our nation's paranoia about Iraq and Iran would be b…

I am in my mid-thirties

Thanks to all who sent birthday well-wishes! For my birthday, one of the places Sarah took me was the Musée Mécanique at Pier 45 in San Francisco. They have a number of well-maintained classic video games, including Moon Patrol, Deathrace, Star Wars, and a Robotron 2084 on which both joysticks were fully functional. The latter occupied most of my attention. I managed to get the top 5 daily scores, and 5 entries on the all-time best table. On my best game I got over 220,000 points, though I must point out that the machine was not on a hard difficulty setting. I think in my heyday during my Microsoft years I could do better, but I'm glad I have retained some of my skills.

It has occurred to me that I am now definitely in my mid-thirties. There's no way to construe 34 as early thirties. If a decade of life is divided into three roughly equal parts (early, mid, and late), there is one extra year that has to be assigned to one of the categories. But even if you assign the extra year…

Excessive Christmas lights

If there's a war on Christmas, then I think this display should win it on behalf of consumerism's most sacred day. (This YouTube has been around a while, but I just saw it again on Sullivan's site).

Tattoo of the day

I don't normally blog about tattoos, but this is a pretty good one:

Merry Christmas!

Lift the (virtual) rock...WITH THE POWER OF YOUR MIND!

Tan Le, the president and co-founder of Emotiv Systems

Big announcement: the author of Internal Monologue (i.e. me) has accepted an offer of full-time employment at Emotiv Systems. I will be starting Jan 7th as a game producer and technology evangelist. Emotiv Systems is developing a headset that uses EEG and other sensing techniques to allow you to control video games with your thoughts, and allows games to respond to your facial expressions and emotional states. But video games are just the first step. Ultimately, Emotiv has broader goals:
Communication between man and machine has always been limited to conscious interaction, with non-conscious communication -- expression, intuition, perception -- reserved solely for the human realm. At Emotiv, we believe that future communication between man and machine will not only be limited to the conscious communication that exists today, but non-conscious communication will play a significant part.Our mission is to create the ultimate interface…

Boob job for a tattoo

This is just sick...

...but undeniably fascinating (via Sullivan):
After getting a tattoo of a gynormous breasted woman, Lane Jensen wanted more so he asked his tattoo artist/body modifier to add some silicone bobos beneath his skin -- with nipples! I'm sure this is exactly what J. Franklin Hyde, the father of silicone, envisioned when created fumed silica.

Will the Oscars be cancelled?

Crooks and Liars thinks so:
Well, no one wants to say it but you will be reading this shortly: The Golden Globes and the Academy Awardswill be cancelled. On Monday December 17th, the WGA turned down requests for waivers by the Oscars and the Golden Globes to put those telecasts on air without the Guild’s writers. With the rejection of the waivers for the Academy Awards (ABC), set for Sunday February 24th, and the much faster approaching Golden Globes (NBC), set for January 13th, the WGA has essentially cancelled both awards shows by its actions.

He has a welding torch, jump jets, a holoprojector, a universal computer interface...

...but I bet you didn't know R2-D2 could do this as well (HT: Mad Latinist via email).

If the speaker in Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" ever finds his lost shaker of salt, maybe he could get one of these to go with it. Of course, Internal Monologue readers know that "Margaritaville" is actually about something else entirely.

Can we leave Iraq? They don't want us there

Picture of wall outside Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, April 26 2003

Image stolen from VIEWIMAGES, who foolishly believe that by disabling right-click on their site they can prevent me from stealing their intellectual property. Yo, ever heard of the Print Scrn button? It takes a snapshot of the current window and copies it to the clipboard. Open up Windows Paint, paste the image, crop it down to the picture I want, and presto!

Via rubber hose, we have this from theWashington Post:
Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some "shared beliefs" that may eventua…

Quote of the Day

I don't normally link to Reason magazine, but this quote (via Sullivan) is pretty good:
Tom Tancredo has dropped out of the presidential race. He will be replaced by Montezuma Aztlán Calderón, an undocumented worker from Oaxaca who will denounce the Brown Peril for just $3 an hour plus room and board.Given how desperate Republicans are for a candidate, I suspect that Mr. Calderón has as good a shot as anyone at getting the nomination.

I'm glad that Tancredo, the most xenophobic candidate, has dropped out. I'm glad that his message didn't get him anywhere. I'm still saddened that sane immigration reform is impossible due to brown peril scare-mongering. Immigrants, legal and illegal, generally commit fewer crimes than native born folks. And the reason the American working class is getting shafted is because of Republican policies that tilt the scales of power away from labor and towards crony capitalism. (And because Democrats aren't fighting hard enough on …

Mmmm, ramen! Yum!

Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City

Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
Favorite foods: sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips

If you haven't seen it already, check out this series of photographs showing what families around the world eat in 1 week, and how much it costs. People seem to drink a lot of Coke.

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina

Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

Slacktivist on I-35/Isaiah 35:8 nonsense

A Christian perspective on the wackos who think that Interstate 35 is the road referred to in the Book of Isaiah:
My own church youth group never laid siege to a gay bar, but I still wince when I recall some of our forays into "radical" evangelism. We did "boardwalk evangelism" down the shore. I personally handed a gospel tract to Madame Marie herself. Unlike the many mission trips our youth group also did, that wasn't something I enjoyed at the time or felt proud about afterward.This is the dynamic at work in so much of what fundamentalist and evangelical churches think of as "youth ministry." Tell a bunch of good church kids what God expects of them and they will do their best to comply. Tell them God wants them to pass out tracts to strangers and they'll go along. Tell them God wants them to lay siege to a nightclub and they'll get on the van. They will go along because their conscience will be telling them that if this is what God would hav…

101 dumbest moments in business

If you're wanting to sneer at your fellow humans for their foolishness, you could do worse than to peruse Fortune magazine's "101 Dumbest Moments in Business". Some highlights for me:
13. Disneyland It's a fat world, after all Disneyland announces plans to close the "It's a Small World" attraction to deepen its water channel after the ride's boats start getting stuck under loads of heavy passengers. Employees ask larger passengers to disembark - and compensate them with coupons for free food.

15. Bindeez But officer, it was the Toy of the Year! Australia's Toy of the Year, a bead toy called Bindeez made by Moose Enterprise, is pulled from stores after scientists discover that the beads contain a chemical that converts into the date-rape drug GHB when ingested.

Putting other people's poo in your butt

...for bona fide medical reasons, of course. If your intestine has been invaded by nasty bacteria, it's important to restore a healthy in-ass ecosystem. This can be a difficult process, as the antibiotics used to kill the invading bacteria also kill the helpful bacteria that form part of the healthy "gut environment". Apparently, there is a clever, if somewhat icky, way to jump-start the rebuilding of a normal up-the-butt environment:
What if, instead of re-constitituing healthy gut flora one species at a time, you could simply take the entire fecal contents from a healthy person and use it to re-colonize your own gut--in other words, undergo a fecal transplant? Yes, it's like probiotics on steroids: getting an infusion of someone else's gut flora in order to re-establish a healthy gut ecology of your own, and squeeze out some potentially harmful organisms along the way. A recent story discusses this treatment for patients suffering Clostridium difficile infection…

Mitt Romney attended Planned Parenthood fundraiser

In 1994, Mitt Romney attended Planned Parenthood fund raiser. But he changed his mind and is now pro-life. And the fact that this position is incredibly politically convenient had nothin' to do with it. Yeah, right.

Why does anyone take this guy seriously? The level of blatant pandering he's willing to engage in exceeds the usual political chameleonism by at least a standard deviation and a half.

Krugman column crystallizes my objection to Obama

I've had this complaint about Obama for some time, but today's Krugman column, "Big Table Fantasies", in the New York Times really expressed it well:
At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so “bitter and partisan,” and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a “different kind of politics.” At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes. Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve. I agree with Krugman here, and that's why I find myself leaning towards Edwards: the current ideologies and practices that dominate the R…

Was Jimmy Buffett beaten by one of these women...

Image of Shaker sisters from the Enfield Historical Society

...and did he enjoy it? This is the hidden question within Buffett's Karaoke staple hit "Margaritaville". Allow me to explain. The first line of the classic refrain is traditionally (but incorrectly) parsed as:
Wastin' away again in Margaritaville,Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.Emphasis added. But if you listen closely, it is obvious Buffett is not singing "shaker of salt". He is actually singing"Shaker assault". Listen to the recording; it is obvious that "Shaker assault" is the actual lyric.

This understanding demands a complete re-interpretation of the song. The booze-induced lazy funk described in the song is not brought on by a failed romance or by alcoholism. It is the result of a deep, unfulfilled, sado-masochistic longing to be beaten by a member of The United Society of Believers In Christ's Second Coming. The reason the Shaker assault is "lost" is …

Lieberman to endorse McCain

All those Democrats who endorsed Lieberman over Ned Lamont can now take a look at this:
Democratic and Republican sources say that Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut and fierce supporter of the war in Iraq, will formally endorse Sen. John McCain tomorrow in New Hampshire.A McCain spokesperson declined to comment.A source familiar with the endorsement said that the two will appear of NBC's Today Show tomorrow morning and at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.I expect a chorus of "I told you so's" from the lefty blogosphere. We'll start with one from Internal Monologue: I told you so.

The Obama-Clinton moment everyone is talking about

Commentary from a reader at Sullivan's blog:
I was undecided up to now, but forty seconds of YouTube has decided me: There's a sword at Obama's throat. Hillary grabs the sword and brandishes it, gloating. Obama reaches out, takes the sword from her hand, and runs her through. What an aphoristic moment. Or as the YouTube commenters put it, PWNED.In the larger context, this was a grievous unforced error on Hillary's part. In my eyes, her crowing reaction damages her as much as Obama's comeback benefits him. All she needed to do was listen politely as Obama squirmed, and the moment was hers. Instead, she reacted like a comic book supervillain and handed a superhero moment to Obama. I don't know who's got an exact count, but I suspect her team this season has racked up the most errors, both forced and unforced. In sport, that has a lot of significance. In politics, I think it's about to.

We already knew he was a conehead. We didn't know this...

Darth Vader truly revealed...(HT: Grishnash via email)

Another "Why are the Dems ineffective?" answer

thereisnospoon on DailyKos thinks Democratic inaction on Iraq is a cynical ploy to sacrifice American lives and treasure in order to win the 2008 elections:
What they truly care about is winning the next election. They're politicians. That's what they do: strategize to win the next election. It's the only thing that matters to them. And strange things start to happen when all you care about is winning the next election: you start to do really, really amoral things that make you look much more stupid than you really are.Let's get a few things clear. Our Democrats are not actually ignorant of the political situation. Though it may not seem like it, they really do know what's going on.They know that both Bush and the Occupation of Iraq have horrible approval ratings.They know that the public trusts Democrats more than Republicans on nearly every major issue polled.They know that voters are upset and looking for change.They know that the public thinks America--bot…

Lost in Translation last whisper revealed (allegedly)

OK, this little YouTube video claims to reveal, via digital signal processing, what Bill Murray's character whispers to Scarlett Johansson's character at the end of Lost in Translation. I don't know if it's a fake or not. And I don't think knowing what he says really adds anything to the movie. But there is a naughty pleasure in knowing that which was meant to be hidden. So here it is (HT: Sullivan):

One way for the Catholic church to alleviate its shortage of priests

HT: Pablo via e-mail.

There's probably a sign like this that would work on me

xkcd has a strip about "Nerd Sniping" (HT: Mad Latinist via email).

Huckabee thinks women should "graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership"

Now that Huckabee is surging in popularity, it's time to give him a little more scrutiny. Let's take a look at a USA Today ad Huckabee signed his name to back in 1998:
The evangelical leaders' USA Today ad states to the Southern Baptist Convention:
"You are right because you recognized that the family was God's idea, not man's, and that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman for a lifetime.
"You are right because you called husbands to sacrificially love and lead their wives.
"You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership.
"You are right because you affirmed that the husband and wife are of equal worth before God.
"You are right because you reminded us that children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.
"More importantly, you are right because your statement is based on biblical truth."Emphasis added (HT: 4fx on DailyKos). Of course, that was nine years …

If philosphers made attack ads

Not as funny as it could be, but worth a mention (HT: Sullivan):

Legalized Bribery

Every once in a while, when we're gnashing our teeth and decrying the horridness of our politicians (Democratic complicity in American torture is my latest trigger; what's yours?), we should remember that campaigns are financed by a system of legal bribery. People pay politicians to get what they want. Given that reality, I think we're pretty much getting the politicians one would expect. (If Guantanamo inmates had a decent PAC and a top-flight lobbying firm, I'm sure they'd be getting better treatment. Heck, they'd probably getting subsidies and tax breaks.)

So I guess it's only fair that a politician, in this case Mitt Romney, is now bribing people to get what he wants:
One big strength of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is that he has a lot of institutional support from establishment-minded social conservatives. One big weakness of Romney's presidential campaign is that he seems like a great big phony all the time. To liberals, he looks like a …

My Christmas Tree

Here's our Christmas Tree!

If you're curious why I haven't been posting as much, here are two reasons:
Season 4 of The Wire came out on DVD and we got it on Netflix.Civilization 4. You gotta play just one more turn. I just completed my first game. I was playing at the "chieftain" level, which was way too easy for me.

Yet another metaphor attempting to explain Democratic capitulation to Bush

It seems that one of the main preoccupations of the progressive blogosphere is figuring out why Congressional Democrats won't tell Bush (one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history), to take his stupid war (also very unpopular) and shove it up his ass. Indeed, it is a puzzling subject. Here's another attempt at getting our heads around it, from smintheus on Daily Kos:
Haggling with a poker player just doesn't work and almost never ends well. As Cernig reminds us again today, it's foolish and positively dangerous to try to haggle with George Bush.Democrats in Congress really ought to think long and hard at some stage, maybe soon, about the implications of seeking to reach a middle ground with a man who sees politics as a game of poker, where there are only winners and losers.Bush is not a good poker player. In fact, he was exposed long ago as godawfully bad. By this year he had run out of cards to play, in any round, other than the veto. With Bush it's alw…

Hitchens not impressed with Romney

Hitchens is rather disdainful of Romney's speech:
Romney does not understand the difference between deism and theism, nor does he know the first thing about the founding of the United States. Jefferson's Declaration may invoke a "Creator," but, as he went on to show in the battle over the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, he and most of his peers did not believe in a god who intervened in human affairs or in a god who had sent a son for a human sacrifice. These easily ascertainable facts are reflected in the way that the U.S. Constitution does not make any mention of a superintendent deity and in the way that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention declined an offer (possibly sarcastic), even from Benjamin Franklin, that they resort to prayer to compose their differences. Romney may throw a big chest and say that God should be "on our currency, in our pledge," and of course on our public land in this magic holiday season, but James Madison did no…

The shame of torture

The front page of the New York Times today:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
Outrageous. Reminds me of the time the DVDs of Jose Padillia's interrogations were "lost". People need to be punished for this kind of destruction of evidence.

Congressional Democrats are not happy. Let's hope their inquiry has some teeth.

Huckabee's problems

Kevin Drum:
In other Huckabee news, apparently Huckabee was completely unaware of the new NIE on Iran two full days after it was released. Heckuva grasp on foreign policy, Huckie.
Oh dear. You'd think God would have kept him up to date.

And if you don't know about Huckabee releasing serial rapist Wayne Dumond, read about it in the same post. Dumond became a darling of the Clinton haters, because one of his victims was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton. Huckabee apparently either believed Dumond was framed by Clinton, or didn't believe it but pandered to the Clinton haters anyway. When Dumond was released, he quickly committed another rape and murder.

Now any time a prisoner is released there's the risk of the prisoner committing another crime. And a governor can't be blamed for everything a released prisoner does. But in this case, it seems like Huckabee specifically intervened for dubious political reasons. So it seems he does bear some responsibility.

Romney tries to thread the needle of religious prejudice

Here's a copy of Romney's religion speech. Here's my rough summary:
All religious questions regarding matters on which Mormons and Evangelical Christians agree are fair game. All religious questions regarding matters on which Mormons and Evangelical Christians disagree are dastardly attacks that have no place in a presidential campaign. And people who people who aren't religious can't support freedom.
Other reactions:

This kind of intolerant horseshit is basically gibberish, but since words mean things let's try to figure out the implications of what Mitt's saying.
It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
Really it would just be crazy if anyone tried to start a new religion in America... oh, wait.DemocratDad:
As an atheist and a father of three young children, the speech Mitt Romney delivered at the George H. W. Bush presidential library today shocked me to my core. If this is th…

The right-wing echo chamber

Recently retired Bush adviser Dan Bartlett talks about conservative blogs in an interview with Texas Monthly:
That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.That's why the conservative blogosphere isn't as powerful or interesting as the liberal blogosphere: because usually they're saying the same stuff the Republican establishment is saying. There already is a Republican establishment, so their blogs don't fill any gap. The lefty blogosphere has a very critical stance towards the Democratic establishment, and says things that you generally don't hear from Democratic leaders. It's powerful because it addresses a need that our political leaders aren't paying enough attention to.

Rove laments that DC politics has become too nasty

This is not an Onion headline. Pandagon:
Without a trace of self-consciousness, Rove complained that politics in DC have become too negative because it’s gotten personal and nasty. He blames it on the Beltway predilection for carrying a grudge, unlike the folks down in Texas, where he says everyone shakes hands, moves on, and gets along.You can hear him talk about it here.

Computers are better than people

"Yield control, pathetic human! Driving is far too demanding for your antiquated biological systems to handle!" Image from

OK, it seems like the flying car is still a long ways off. But maybe the car that drives itself is a bit closer. Yesterday's Science Times section had this article:
“Within five years, it’s totally feasible to build an autonomous car that will work reliably in several limited domains,” says Sebastian Thrun, a computer scientist at Stanford and head of its racing team, which won the 2005 Darpa competition and finished second in last month’s. In five years he expects a car that could take over simple chores like breezing along an expressway, inching along in stop-and-go traffic, or parking in the lot at a mall or airport after dropping off the driver. In 20 years, Dr. Thrun figures half of new cars sold will offer drivers the option of turning over these chores to a computer, but he acknowledges that’s just an educated guess. While he doesn’t…

Eliminate the middleperson

Via Blogometer, we have Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) on how to improve Las Vegas:
Now the casinos have people trained, like chickens hoping for pellets, to take money from one machine (the ATM), carry it across a room and deposit in another machine (the slot machine). I believe B.F. Skinner would agree with me that there is room for even more efficiency: The ATM and the slot machine need to be the same machine.The casinos lose a lot of money waiting for the portly gamblers with respiratory issues to waddle from the ATM to the slot machines. A better solution would be for the losers, euphemistically called “players,” to stand at the ATM and watch their funds be transferred to the hotel, while hoping to somehow “win.” The ATM could be redesigned to blink and make exciting sounds, so it seems less like robbery.I share Adams' disdain for slot machines and other forms of chance-driven gambling. Why play when you know the odds are against you?

If you can get into Harvard, do you really need it?

This economist suggests that parents are better off spending education dollars on an expensive high school rather than an expensive college, if they are forced to choose (HT: Sullivan).

I'd go further and suggest that if you have limited resources, you're better off spending them on preschool and elementary school than on high school or college. By the time they're teenagers, they've already decided whether they like school or not. In the Montessori system (in which I was educated until 8th grade), the primary time for intellectual development is before puberty. Once the hormones kick in, many kids are more concerned with social, romantic, and worldly matters. (It would be interesting to see some data on the long-term effect of quality early childhood education.)

Of course, we have to keep in mind that parents' ability to determine what kind of person their children will be is quite limited. The right schooling can be a wonderful thing, and I am certainly grateful …

Giuliani in VERY big trouble

The latest development in Giuliani's "Sex on the City" scandal (if you go by what DailyKos is calling it. Personally, I prefer TPM's "Shag Fund"):
Yesterday, every reporter who wanted a copy, was allowed to go down to City Hall and pick up copies of the city financial records that were the basis of the original Shag Fund report in the That's how we found out about the weird $400,000 prepayment to American Express, which appears to have been yet another method of taking city money and running it through enough buckets that it could be used for pretty much anything Rudy and his crew wanted to use it for. Some stuff legit, other stuff pretty questionable. The Daily News asked top Giuliani advisor Anthony Carbonetti about the prepayment and were told that, "it's fiscally responsible to anticipate predictable expenses and prepay them."And what did this document reveal? TPM broke in a new intern looking over the stuff, and here are …

A conservative take on improving social conditions

This Commentary article (via Sullivan) talks about the dramatic improvement of a number of social indicators since the early 1990's:
But a strange thing happened on the way to Gomorrah. Just when it seemed as if the storm clouds were about to burst, they began to part. As if at once, things began to turn around. And now, a decade-and-a-half after these well-founded and unrelievedly dire warnings, improvements are visible in the vast majority of social indicators; in some areas, like crime and welfare, the progress has the dimensions of a sea-change. That this has happened should be a source of great encouragement; why it happened, and what we can learn from it, is a subject of no less importance.The odd thing is, some indicators of family strength have not improved. Indeed, they have gotten worse. This challenges the conservative notion that the breakdown of the family is the primary driver of social ills in our society:
Murray may well have been correct about the importance of ille…

Who said it?

The object of this 12 question quiz is to determine whether a given quote came from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, politician Bill Clinton, jedi master Yoda, or Radiohead songwriter Thom Yorke. I got 75%. Hint: word order normal does Yoda use on occasion.

Department of Irony

The reason the sign is up in the air is because they don't want you to look at the ground.
Image from Pharyngula.

The evolution denialists who built the Creation Museum in Kentucky probably didn't take this into account:
[The geology field guide] also pointed to the great irony that the Creation Museum is built on one of the most fertile fossil beds in all of North America. The Ordovician strata is the remnant of the great inland sea that inundated much of the Midwest 500 million years ago. It is the purple region on the map from yesterday's entry. The rock strata are so close to the surface that just about every road cut, stream bed and construction site offers an opportunity to discover fossils. At these disrupted sites, you can expect to trip over corals, crinoids, brachiopods, nautiloids and trilobites. Todd and I scrambled through a creek bed and found some crinoids and brachiopods.Emphasis added. Of course, fossils don't shake the world view of these folks. But it&#…

A frightening glimpse into the right-wing mind

This is scary. Joe Klein got to sit in on a Republican focus group watching the Republican candidate debate. They held little dials so they could register instant approval or disapproval with what the candidates said. The results validated every stereotype I have about the thuggish right-wing authoritarian personality:
In the next segment--the debate between Romney and Mike Huckabee over Huckabee's college scholarships for the deserving children of illegal immigrants--I noticed something really distressing: When Huckabee said, "After all, these are children of God," the dials plummeted. And that happened time and again through the evening: Any time any candidate proposed doing anything nice for anyone poor, the dials plummeted (30s). These Republicans were hard. But there was worse to come: When John McCain started talking about torture--specifically, about waterboarding--the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, whic…

Washington Post front-pages blatant falsehoods about Obama

Your mainstream media at work.

Glenn Greenwald, as usual, points out what's wrong:
This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims -- particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear -- to any critical scrutiny. For various reasons, they simply will not investigate such claims and, when warranted, identify such claims as false. The most they are willing to do is simply write down each side's claims and treat them equally, even when one side is blatantly lying. GOP operatives know that this is how the press functions and thus know that they can easily get away with spewing lies, and can even recruit the media into helpfully spreading them (using the predominant "he-said/she-said" template). That's the same process that led us into Iraq, kept us there for so long, protected endless presidential lawbreaking and enabled all sorts of f…

Latest fundie lunacy: Interstate 35 is "Way of Holiness"

Does this mean you're just 1/4 miles from heaven? Or that you're about to enter hell?
Image from Interstate Guide.

I guess the Bob Dylan song "Highway 61 Revisited" was wrong: it turns out God prefers Interstate 35:
Running right through the heart of the Twin Cities is a spiritual road that dozens of evangelical churches say is specifically mentioned in the Bible as the "Way of Holiness." They call it the "Highway of Holiness." Others call it Interstate 35. Evangelicals throughout the Midwest, from Laredo, Texas, to Duluth, Minn., have been praying at 24-hour prayer rooms for a month for Interstate 35 in order to "light the highway." Young people in the movement have been holding "purity sieges" in front of LGBT businesses, abortion clinics and stores that sell pornography. So far, Minnesota has been spared of "purity sieges," but 24-hour prayer rooms have been set up in Minneapolis, Albert Lea and Duluth. The scriptural…

Republican Senate candidate has a Geocities site as official page

Kos sneers at Republican John Kennedy (running for Senate in Louisiana) for having a website hosted by Geocities. Indeed, if you go to and look at the page source, you'll find it's a redirect to
That is the Web equivalent of setting up your campaign headquarters in cardboard box in a deserted alley in a seedy neighborhood.

To be fair, I too have a Geocities page. But it's just a placeholder to point to this blog, which is I guess the Web equivalent of a handwritten message thumb-tacked to a public bulletin board at the local library. And I'm not running for Senate.

Of course, maybe John Kennedy is getting some super-deluxe Geocities hosting package, rather than the crappy free hosting just anyone can sign up for. In other words, maybe Geocities is being gentrified.

Control video games with your mind!

Emotiv Systems is trying to make it happen (Disclosure: I had a job interview with them this morning).

Giuliani in BIG trouble

"Don't worry, my dear, my taxpayer-funded escort will protect us during our adulterous trysts, and by billing it to the Office for People with Disabilities (among others), no one will ever find out!"
Image from New York Daily News

Expensing your adultery to the City of New York is not cool. Trapper John on DailyKos claims "Beginning tonight, Rudy is more likely than not done as a serious candidate." I'm not so sure. Never underestimate people's ability to forgive those they look up to for things they would never tolerate in others.

Now it makes sense that the Mayor of New York should have 24-hour security. But why hide the expenses this creates in obscure branches of the municipal government? And is it really right for taxpayers to fund your escort to the Hamptons (where your mistress happens to live) eleven times? Now perhaps some of these times Giuliani had legitimate business there. Three of those trips were on his official schedule. But 11 times doesn&…

I love it when other people think like me

I was worried that I was going out on a limb when I wrote this a few days ago:
I think what Republican primary voters want to hear is that you're such a partisan hack that you'll say anything, repudiate any position, dissociate yourself from any vote, sell out any principle, in order toe the party line and pay homage to the dear leader. Republicans eat that stuff up. Far from being a disadvantage, these transparently opportunistic position changes send a signal that says: "Don't worry: if elected, I won't let my integrity get in the way of pandering to you."Republicans lap it up.But here's Scott Horton of Harper's saying something quite similar:
But polling has shown that the core group of Republican primary voters are not terribly troubled by the charlatan like qualities of candidates—they seem to take a certain perverse pleasure in it.So if I'm out on a limb, at least I have some company.

Will the Euro become the new reserve currency?

Image from Bank of Finland

Jerome a Paris on DailyKos looks forward to it. Given Republican reckless mismanagement of our nation's finances, I wouldn't be surprised if the Euro becomes the new "safe" currency. I hate to see America weakened, but I can't blame people for betting against the dollar right now.

Of course, a Democratic administration might start to clean things up, just as Bill Clinton helped do in the 1990's (with a huge assist from a booming economy). But the destructive Republican ideology will still be there, ready to waste it all on wars, giveaways to the rich, and corporate handouts. Looking at America from the outside, I might be thinking, "Do I really want to bet on a country that re-elected Bush in 2004? Sure, they might get their act together, but why risk it?"

We need more than just a Democratic victory in 2008. We need a re-alignment of our politics. I don't see how else we can regain our moral and financial standing in the …

Romney says he wouldn't appoint qualified Muslim to cabinet

"Don't judge people by their religions...wait, I mean don't judge me by my religion. It's OK to judge other people by their religions. Especially if Republican primary voters have a prejudice against that religion. Yeah. Oh wait, I mean especially if Republicans don't like that religion, unless that religion is the Church of Latter Day Saints, in which case not liking it would mean you're being unfair."
Image from Out in Hollywood (and no, Romney isn't gay as far as anyone knows.)

Romney's statement isn't surprising, given the anti-Muslim bias of those he's catering to, but pretty execrable nonetheless. Here's the quote:
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as…

Game with unique interface banned in Belgium

Image from engadget.

Nintendo has a unique controller called the Wii, but this game has an even more unconventional interface: your wee wee. Too bad the Belgian police banned it:
As reported by Engadget, Place to Pee, a driving game controlled via urination, has been given the chop by police in Gent. The game was on display at the GamePower Expo, but cops there ultimately found it indecent.

Oprah will be stumping for Obama

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Oprah has on Obama's campaign. She's got an enormous media empire and a huge audience, but will that translate into votes in a primary election?

Electric cars on the way

This front page story on Kos has some pictures and previews of electric vehicles on the near horizon.

Giuliani voted for McGovern over Nixon...

...and is now backpedaling furiously:
"I had traditionally been a Democrat," Giuliani told me in a recent interview in Las Vegas. "It was almost like a reflex mode. I actually remember saying to myself, 'If I was a person really deciding who should be president right now, I'd probably vote for Nixon, because I think the country would be safer with Nixon.'"What does it say about today's Republican party that Giuliani has to defend a vote against the disgraced Richard Nixon? The guy was a crook. Of course, this is the same Republican party that demands fealty to Bush, the most reviled president since...Richard Nixon. OK, maybe it makes sense.

I think what Republican primary voters want to hear is that you're such a partisan hack that you'll say anything, repudiate any position, dissociate yourself from any vote, sell out any principle, in order toe the party line and pay homage to the dear leader. Republicans eat that stuff up. Far from being a …

What conservatives think about

Well, we don't really know. But we do know what the most viewed pages on Conservapedia are (as of this posting):
Main Page‎ [1,935,866]Homosexuality‎ [1,625,236]Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [518,141]Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [434,518]Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [422,222]Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [402,128]Homosexual Couples‎ [374,132]Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [332,115]Homosexuality and Anal Cancer‎ [294,478]Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [293,805](via The Agonist via Crooks and Liars)

When I read this list aloud to my wife, she innocently asked, "Is Conservapedia a gay site?"

I'm sad to see that the famous Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus page didn't make the list. Oh, they removed it.

Doonesbury on the possibility of an atheist president

A good one on a favorite subject of mine (HT: Bill in Minneapolis via email).

What do forced pregnancy people think the penalty for abortion should be?

Digby is pointing out an interesting wrinkle in the abortion debate: If the anti-choicers really believe that abortion is killing a human being, shouldn't women who get them and the doctors who perform them be prosecuted for murder? Do anti-choicers want this? Apparently not:
MATTHEWS: I have always wondered something about the pro-life movement. If—if you believe that killing—well, killing a fetus or killing an unborn child is—is murder, why don‘t you bring murder charge or seek a murder penalty against a woman who has an abortion? Why do you let her off, if you really believe it‘s murder?

O‘STEEN: We have never sought criminal penalties against a woman.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

O‘STEEN: There haven‘t been criminal penalties against a woman.

MATTHEWS: Well, why not?

O‘STEEN: Well, you don‘t know the circumstances and how she‘s been forced into this. And that‘s...

MATTHEWS: Forced into it?


O‘STEEN: ... to be effective.

We‘re out—we‘re not out—we‘re out to try to protect unborn…

Financing solar panels on homes

An interesting post on Berkeley's program to have the city help finance people installing solar panels on their roofs:
Berkeley's City Council has a plan for the city to finance solar panels for its residents to then have the homeowners pay for their panels through a 20-year additional assessment on their homes that is guaranteed not to exceed what their electricity would cost from the utility. There are a number of genius elements to this path. One is that the city government will be able to achieve lower cost financing that, by definition, will lower the long-term cost of each installation. And, the City's commitment will foster educated inspectors (a real issue), a concentration of installers, knowledge in the community, etc, capacity for executing installations. The increasing number of installations (along with lower hassles for installers, like inspectors who know what they're doing) will also drive down costs as quantity of installations mount.This does seem lik…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a minute away from bemoaning the insanity of the Republicans and the ineffectiveness of the Democrats in stopping it and be be thankful for the things we do have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Who needs science fiction when you have reality?

Neuromancer author William Gibson in an interview with Rolling Stone:
You made your name as a science-fiction writer, but in your last two novels
you've moved squarely into the present. Have you lost interest in the future?
It has to do with the nature of the present. If one had gone to talk to a
publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect
the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too
complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually
transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy
terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more
than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all
and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door,
they'd probably call security.

This is the future, man.

Bush and Musharraf: kindred spirits

Bush seems to be climbing in bed with Pakistan's military dictator:
President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."
Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry.Let me go on record as predicting that this backing of Musharraf is going to blow up in our faces. I hope not literally, but that's a possibility. I'm no Pakistan expert, but from where I'm sitting Musharraf looks like bad news. And he's not even useful to us. The guy is a military dictator with nulclear weapons who is duping the United States into giving hi…