Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Heh, He Said "Chimperor"

Nanovirus has a good article/linklist about some things Bush won't ever be saying, although he put it in the context of the SotU Address. Check it out.

"Good God, Cleanse It With Fire!"

Hehe. I may never get the image of Jenna Bush on Mayor McCheese's lap out of my head again.

Check out Xoverboard's Newest Comic for an explanation.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cartwheel Galaxy Image

Here's a link to a beautiful image of the Cartwheel galaxy, which had another galaxy rip right through it over 100 million years ago. Recently, demon-boy at work expressed the opinion that he thinks it's crazy to believe the universe is over 6500 years old. When we look at pictures like this one, and ponder how much time it takes for things like this to happen, we are left with only two options: either that darn Bearded One created the universe with this kind of thing already in place for some mind-boggling reason, or the universe is billions of years old. How much simpler could it be?

Seriously, though, check out the picture. It's beautiful.

Clever Photoshopping

Wow, someone combined my two favorite things to do alone, write on Revolvo Inritus and listen to my iPod. I want me one of these inriPods...heh.

Click here for a link to the original post, and all the other hilarious ones.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Quote Cleanup II

Previous Favorite Quote: Your DNA may be destined to mingle with mine. Salutations!
-- Richard Dawkins

Previous Favorite Quote: Man will never truly be free until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

Previous Favorite Quote: Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them.
-- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations (ch. IV, 36)

Previous Favorite Quote: (courtesy of Ranson) "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Amazing Take On The Pledge Debate

In reading through the most recent COTG submissions, I stumbled across this essay. The author reimagines the "under God" Pledge debate in racial terms, replacing "under God" with "white", and seeing how it would play out in a hypothetical classroom setting. It's a very powerful essay, and does something very rare. It gives us a new analytical tool. Any time a religious issue comes up, just switch it with a different controversial issue, preferably one that is recent, but essentially resolved.

I know, I know. This may not be strictly new, but this essay is truly amazing. It's well worth reading, and brings the Pledge debate into crystal clear perspective.

More Proof Of Bush's Criminal Stupidity

See this Washington Post article for the whole story. It details the 41 page detailed report of what Hurricane Katrina would do to New Orleans that the White House got days before Katrina hit. Remember, the Shrub said just days after the disaster started that "no one expected the levees to breach."

You know, forget the fact that he's a lying son of a bitch. The old saw says that ever politician is a liar. Forget the fact that he's a warmonger. At least the war in Iraq is doing some good for someone. Forget the fact that he's doing his best to strip the civil rights of the people of his own country away. There's an argument that at least some of that is necessary to ensure security, and the liberty/security spectrum has always been a balancing act.

No, forget all his other transgressions and indiscretions. Just look at George W. Bush's sheer criminal stupidity, and you see why the Republicans don't deserve power. They have it all, the presidency, the courts and Congress, and this asshole is the best they can come up with for President? That's pathetic at best and treason at worst.

Monday, January 23, 2006

And Speaking Of Evolution...

...here are a couple of truly amazing bits of evidence that go a long way towards showing the "man on the street" how much evidence there is for evolution.

First is the California insect species discoveries. Those creepy-crawlies are really interesting, for a lot of reasons. The amount of specific adaptation is truly fascinating.

Second is a bit of a sadder note. It concerns the adaptation of killifish to the toxic waters of New Bedford Harbor, Mass. This wouldn't be so disturbing if it weren't for the fact that these will continue to introduce the toxins into the food web for decades or even centuries to come, and there's very little we can do to stop it in the foreseeable future.

Edit: Wow, I just realized this is my 200th post. And right after my birthday, no less. Sweet!

Orson Scott Card Disappoints With Intelligent Design Article

Orson Scott Card, relatively well-known science fiction / fantasy writer, has written an article lambasting us "Darwinists" for using bad arguments against the poor, defenseless IDiots. The bulk of it is surprising incomprehensible, especially considering his relatively crisp work as an SF author. But it becomes clear very early on that he hasn't done his research. I'd like to deal with his two most egregious mistakes, and then take a quick review of the entire piece of dreck he calls an article.

He starts out quoting Michael Behe (hehehehehe), and that's just a bad way to start any argument for anything, anytime, anywhere. Remember, this fool actually said on the stand, on record, that his definition of science would have to be so broad as to incorporate astrology. And his biology arguments are weak, to boot. Card brings up that tired old chestnut, irreducible complexity, an argument Behe himself has apparently stepped away from officially, even though he and his IDiot cronies continue to drag it out from time to time. Here's a little excerpt of Card defending Behe:

It would be impossible to believe that the entire series of steps in the complex system could randomly appear all at once. But any one step along the way, since it does nothing by itself, could not give the organism that had it any competitive advantage. So why would each of those traits persist and prevail long enough for the complex system to fall into place?

Behe's conclusion is that since complex biochemical systems in advanced organisms could not have evolved through strict Darwinian evolution, the only possible explanation is that the system was designed and put into place deliberately.

This argument has been shown time and again to be false, and not by the specious list of talking points Card quotes a bit later in his argument. For a simple, layman's refutation of the irreducible complexity argument, check out this old post by PZ Myers, of Pharyngula fame. He explains how so-called irreducible complexity might arise without Jeebus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster diddling with biology. And it's quite simple, really. Irreducible complexity is essentially this:

A man puts a ladder against his house. He then climbs up there and puts his satellite dish in place. The wind comes along and blows down his ladder, taking his satellite dish with it. He then decides to repair the hole in his roof, since he can't get down anyway. Meanwhile, a neighbor comes along and proclaims that the house must have been built with a man on the roof to repair holes, since there's no way he could have gotten up there to do it otherwise, and there's no other reason for him to be there.
That simple little analogy has apparently escaped the well-educated Card. And he apparently is getting ALL his data from Behe's crap-ass book, Darwin's Black Box, since he has never run across any of the numerous scientific refutations of IR. And this is what he harps on the most, the fact that scientists aren't standing up and taking the questions the Discovery Institute and their ilk bring up seriously. The problem is that these questions aren't capable of being taken seriously, since, among other things, THEY AREN'T TESTABLE!

Argh! When are these ignorant goobs going to stop poking their noses in where they don't belong? First it was Scott Adams weighing in, and what a fatuous gasbag he turned out to be. Now its Card. And he is even disingenous enough to try to claim that William Dembski and crew don't mean their Christian God when they talk about their unnamed Designer.

His very first section is even wrong:

A few years ago it was "Creation Science" they were trying to teach in the schools.

Creation Science was an attempt by fundamentalist Christians to give the Genesis account, as interpreted by them, a scientific veneer.

But it was only that -- a thin surface -- and any student who actually believed that Creation Science had anything to do with science would have been educationally crippled.

Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists. And some people want you to think it's the same argument.

It isn't.

Excuse me, Mr. Card, but it is. Have you even heard of the Kitzmiller trial in Dover, PA? I mean, it was established early on that the textbook in question had a hasty rewrite that was essentially cutting the words "Creation Science" out and replacing them with the words "Intelligent Design". How is that not the same thing? I defy you to explain that, you goob.

Here is the complete list of his IDiot talking points:

1. Intelligent Design is just Creation Science in a new suit (name-calling).
2. Don't listen to these guys, they're not real scientists (credentialism).
3. If you actually understood science as we do, you'd realize that these guys are wrong and we're right; but you don't, so you have to trust us (expertism).
4. They got some details of those complex systems wrong, so they must be wrong about everything (sniping).
5. The first amendment requires the separation of church and state (politics).
6. We can't possibly find a fossil record of every step along the way in evolution, but evolution has already been so well-demonstrated it is absurd to challenge it in the details (prestidigitation).
7. Even if there are problems with the Darwinian model, there's no justification for postulating an "intelligent designer" (true).

Number 1. we've already dealt with. It is not name-calling. It's a legitimate argument.
Number 2. is not credentialism, since these people are trying to pass themselves off as scientists to people who might not know better, like sf authors, apparently.
Number 3. we've also already dealt with. PZ and others deal with their bogus arguments on a daily basis.
Number 4. speaks to the credibility of the person making the argument. If you are saying the system is too complex, but you show an obvious lack of understanding of the system, then you can't be making a legitimate argument.
Number 5. is accurate, and since Behe, Dembski and various others have all admitted publicly that they believe their oh-so-carefully unnamed designer is the Christian God, and since their crap-ass textbook is just a rehash of an unreleased Creation Science textbook, this is a valid argument.
Number 6. is a bit incomprehensible to me. I don't know where he's getting this one. While it's true that evolution as a whole has been proven to be quite robust, I can't think of a reputable biologist that doesn't have a stance on several different arguments that are currently ongoing within the evolutionary study field. The details of evolutionary theory will never be completely hashed out. No scientist actually says this. What they do say is that the arguments brought forth by IDiots are "God of the gaps" arguments, and thus unworthy of attention.
Number 7. is his sop to "neutrality" and it doesn't wash.

All in all, the article just rehashes these points again and again, but one section just jumps out at me as especially stupid. It deals with Number 5. above, at least in theory:

The church and state argument is deliberately misleading. First, the Designists are not, in fact, advocating "God." They are very careful not to specify who or what the Intelligent Designer might be. So they are not advocating for any particular religion, or any religion at all. For all anyone knows, the supposed Intelligent Designers might be an alien species of mortal, ungodlike beings.

To the Darwinists, of course, this is hypocrisy and deception -- of course the Designists are religious. They must be. Because only religious people would ever question the Darwinist model.

It comes to this: If you question the Darwinist model, you must be religious; therefore your side of the argument is not admissible in the public arena, and certainly not in the public schools.

This is an attempt to shut down discussion by hiding behind the Constitution. It's what you do when you're pretty sure you can't win on the merits.

First off, lay off the stupid pills. Yes, they are advocating their God. That's been pretty well established. They bend over backwards to claim to not know who their designer is, and then spread the information far and wide that they believe it to be Jehovah. And the alien argument is just silly. None of the real movers and shakers in the IDiot community believe this.

And not just religious people challenge evolution. There has been plenty of non-religious challenge to the Theory, and it has weathered it all, because it's robust. Not because it's fragile and we're overprotective mother-hens. This is just insulting.

Card then wanders on for a while with some drawn-out comparison of evolution to Christopher Columbus. I'm not sure what he was saying there, since there are not very many strict Darwinist biologists any more. Most are neo-Darwinists, at least, if not other, more advanced but unnamed factions. Evo-devo is a huge field and it has plenty of proponents of different views, and none of them feel the desire to attach snappy titles to their ideas, since they feel they'll stand or fall on their merits, not their names.

He finishes off with a preachy little sop to his so-called neutrality that falls flat, mostly because it ends with a profession of his own personal religious faith. I'll not even dignify it with more words.
All in all, a major disappointment from an otherwise good author. I doubt I'll be dishing anymore cash into his pockets, at least any time soon. This guy should really do his homework better.

(cross-posted to Eight Geeks)

Food For Thought

(spotted here)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Carnival Of The Godless #32

COTG #32 is up! Check it out. This is the last post of the first year's posts. Happy birthday, COTG!

(cross-posted to Eight Geeks)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Religious Intransigence

It's been a busy couple of weeks at work, so I've not gotten to post much, and that's a shame, because I've actually forgotten most of the religious stupidity that I had wanted to write about. My memory gets pretty rocky when I'm exhausted. But there's one bit of silliness that I just can't let go.

I got an e-mail, at work, from a co-worker about a petition to "restore the pledge". It was sent to a lot of people, too. Here's a Snopes link with details of the petition. Well, like all e-mail "pass-it-on" pledges, it's bogus. Snopes is pretty clear on that, and if you take just a couple of seconds to think about it, it makes sense. With any of these "pass-it-on" things, you're eventually going to have multiple copies of the same chunk of names floating around, and that's pretty much going to invalidate any real attempt to submit a petition. White House staffers, or any staffers really, have more important things to do than sort through emails with hundreds of duplicate names on them. The idea is just silly. Any reputable internet petition system is going to either be a website or an email address to send support e-mails to.

But this co-worker, who is normally a pretty canny woman, just sent it on in knee-jerk "God Support Mode". But when it set off my Bullshit-Meter and looked it up, I found the Snopes link above. I then pointed this out to her, and finally convinced her that she had wasted her time in sending it out. Sadly, she refused to send out a retraction, and workplace politics means that I can't realistically send out a refutation.

Now, I know part of this is just the natural resistance to admitting you're wrong. That's understandable. But, lets be honest here. A big part of it is that this email supports the churchy people out there, whether it's true or not.

It's easier to believe the lie than it is to spread truth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Strange Dream

I’m usually not one to put to much stock in my dreams. They’re mostly just random bits of my life interspersed with whatever books I happen to be reading at the time. Usually, my dreams consist of chasing werewolves through spaceships with elves, or some other combination.

But last night, ah, last night was different. I apparently had this dream just before waking, since the alarm clock jerked me out of it. Dreams at this time tend to be pretty vivid for me, so it had that little extra kick to it. So, here’s the dream, as best as I remember it:

I was driving back to my high school, and along both sides of the road were burned out buildings and other signs of destruction. I pondered aloud who the Cortellesi’s (a local family) had pissed off to warrant this. I distinctly remember being amazed at the amount of damage that had been done. At least some of it was recent, since I could see wisps of smoke against a white, cloud-filled sky.

As we came down the final stretch leading to my high school, the road pretty much petered out, and started to be covered in grass and other weeds, poking up through a few inches of snow. I parked the car in a wide spot (which actually exists near my high school) and Aradia and I started to walk. As we passed through the grassy area, I stubbed my toe on something. Looking down, I realized it was a gravestone with the first name and last initial of someone I had gone to school with. I can’t remember the name now, unfortunately. I looked around me and realized that we were in a graveyard, and I rushed over to some of the other graves to check names. They were mostly of people I knew.

Aradia was waiting for me by the first one I had come across, and I slowly made my way back to her. The snow was getting slippery now, and a light dusting was beginning to fall from the sky, to boot. We leaned on each other and helped each other to continue on to my school. When I got there, many people were sitting on a set of bleachers at one end of the football field. Everyone was dressed very warmly, mostly in reds and blacks (which is odd, since my high school colors were green and white). As I took my place amongst these people, Peter Dinklage began to tell a story of some strippers he had acquired for me for some event or other, most likely a Halloween party. He said something along the lines of it was a “Trick or View” night. Everyone laughed, for some reason. Then my first college girlfriend got up in my face and asked me if there was something I wanted to tell her. She seemed quite upset about the strippers. I told her to sit down and shut up, with a few choice words thrown in, because if anyone should be upset, it should be Aradia and I jerked my thumb over my shoulder, pointing at her as she talked to some people higher up the bleachers (I don’t know who). Then I said, “If anyone should be upset, it should be her. So shut up, bitch.” She got a shocked look on her face and …

…the alarm clock woke me up. Like I said, bizarre. I think I’ve been working too much. Maybe multiple sixty-hour work weeks in a row wasn’t such a good idea. I need a nap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

_Night_ Gets The Oprah Treatment

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Night by Elie Wiesel as her next Book Club entry. Aradia will probably be pleased. She uses this book every year.

It's Official, Hell's Frozen Over

Pat Robertson apologized for his remarks about Ariel Sharon!

But note at the bottom of the article that there was a money matter involved. Follow the money and you'll find the little monkey-looking man somewhere.

Dwindling Resources

It's good to know that scientists aren't just focused on potential oil shortages when thinking about the Earth's dwindling resources. This article from SciAm.com points up nicely how the world's population is outstripping it's support capabilities, at least at Western World levels of technology.

I guess we're going to have to go off-planet for resources. I wonder when the first asteroid will go into orbit around the Moon?

Poor White Boy Perspective

Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald is apparently going to be teaching somewhere near Huntington, WV, according to this op-ed he recently wrote. And that's cool, because he gets a new perspective on some things. It's what I like to call the "Poor White Boy Perspective". I've had this perspective for years, although I wouldn't really call myself poor anymore, so maybe I'm losing touch.

In his article, he talks about culture shock. I experienced some serious culture shock myself a few years ago. When I moved to North Carolina, I was both amazed and disgusted by the amount of racism, flowing in every conceivable direction, that was rampant in this area.

Whites think blacks get away with too much. Blacks think whites are ignorant and prejudiced. American Indians are a joke. Asians are rare, but mostly considered too smart for their own good. And everyone hates Mexicans.

And here's the kicker. Some Blacks do get away with too much, but they are also held back in other ways. Some white folks are ignorant and prejudiced. Not all, but most. Some American Indians do seem to have lost their pride, but they're raking in the dough. That's a choice a lot of Americans, and people all over the world, have made. Asians are far too rare, and they do tend to appear smarter than the local populace. That's not because they're special, though. It's because we're lazy. And Mexicans? Ah, Mexicans. Every stereotype that abounds about them is all to commonly true. But for the most part, they're just here to get a piece of the action, just like us poor mountaineers were, coming down the Hillbilly Highway (I-77) back in the day.

Leonard Pitts talks about how archetypes of poverty are just that, archetypes, and that they can apply to pretty much any skin color or nationality. And he's right. I hope he stays in the area long enough to learn a few things I grew up knowing, too.

Race matters, but class matters more. A rich black man trumps a poor white boy any day of the week. And a wealthy mexican isn't a mexican, he's just wealthy, at least as far as the poor are concerned.

Taung Child Mystery Solved

According to this article from the BBC, the death of the Taung Child has finally been attributed to a bird of prey.

Can you imagine what it was like for those early hominids? Big cats prowling around the bottom of their world and big birds flying around the top of it. Constantly having to watch two directions at once just to stay alive. No wonder we developed such a communal nature. Our ancestors had to have multiple sets of eyes to watch for danger in all its myriad directions.

This discovery also highlights how fragile the early hominids were. A large bird of prey, like an eagle, could kill and eat the brains of a young one in mere moments. I don't know about you, humble reader, but I can't remember the last time an eagle scared me.

New Horizons Launch

New Horizons, the Pluto (and hopefully other Kuiper belt objects) probe, is all set to launch today. I can't begin to describe how exciting this is for me. Space has always caught my attention in a way that nothing else has. For years, I dreamed of going to Mars. I doubt I'll ever get that chance, but the one thing Georgie Porgie did that got me to stop hating him for a few minutes was the proposed moon-Mars program. Of course, then he laid out his plan, and I went back to hating him, because like everything coming out of the White House right now, it's stupid.

Anyway, don't dwell on the Shrub today. Think about Pluto! Named for the Roman god of the dead, I'm betting it's much more interesting than anyone is suspecting. Planets always are.

And yes, I think Pluto is a planet. I think 2003 UB313 is a planet. The definition of a planet is up to us. We've called Pluto a planet for decades. UB313 is even bigger than Pluto. Ergo, it's a planet. Name it already!

Here's a nifty link to New Horizons, and one to KPC's live webcams.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eight Geeks

Hey, Ranson and I, along with Ph1lom4n, have started a new blog, that will deal with all aspects of geekdom, from philosophy, science, religion and politics to gaming, movies, books, technology and more. If it's an aspect of geekdom, we're probably going to get into it eventually. We think that Eight Geeks will add something to the geek experience, at least for us.

This grows out of some of the conversations we've had over the years, electronic or otherwise, and a desire to both have input from others and to just share our own thoughts and views.

I'm by no means shutting down RI. This free therapy is just too good for me. Expect many fun rants in the future. But don't be surprised if my posting drops a bit, on EG and here. This work month is going to be a real bear.

See you soon, and don't forget to check out Eight Geeks.

Nature's Beauty...

never ceases to amaze. Check out this beautiful picture of Saturn.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Even More Intrusive Airport Behavior

Words escape me on this one. Just read the link.

TSA Behvior Analysis

Daycare Follies

I have a friend who's about to have a baby, and I have a lot of concerns regarding that. I've written stuff inspired by converations with him before. Now, I've found out that his wife is quitting her job to take care of the baby. That's why I find this post by Bitch Ph. D. very appropriate. Her job isn't a typical nine-to-five. It seems to me that she could probably work out some flexibility into her schedule, and work at least a few days a week. And my friend and I work a twelve-hour rotating swing shift, so we only work 14 days every four weeks, although 7 of those are at night. And I can't imagine my buddy would balk at taking primary care of his new little one for a few hours on his days off. He's not the Parent-From-The-Couch type.

But she's pretty adamant about quitting her job, and she's claiming that it's a financial decision. But between the tax break for actually having the kid and the tax break for having the kid in day care, I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find affordable daycare. I mean, she's still working the same job that she was living off of when she met my buddy. It can't be that small a paycheck.

No, she may claim it's a financial decision, but it's really a Mystical Motherhood Experience decision. It's a "No one else is going to raise my baby" decision. It's a seemingly hysterical decision, judging from the way she snapped at me when I questioned her about it. In other words, it's a bullshit decision. I have seen the effects of daycare on a child. I used to work in a daycare myself. Most children just don't suffer for it.

Think about it for a second. What is kindergarten, but advanced learning daycare? And yet no one screams that sending kids to kindergarten is wrong. This carries on up to high school and beyond. Unless you want to keep your kids in a bubble, like Aradia's fundy friend is doing by homeschooling, then you're going to have to start giving your kid over to someone else's care eventually. And from observations of my "boring friends", Ranson and family, daycare doesn't cause a lack of parent-child bonding. Quite the reverse, as far as I can tell. That kid loves his mom and dad, not mention his grandparents and his aunts and uncles, real or honorary. And he's not the only one. Daycare is not evil. It's not even a necessary evil.

It is, however, sometimes a necessity, especially if women are going to equalize themselves in the power-politics of the economic world. I just wish my buddy's wife saw it that way.

Cat Evolution Nailed Down...

...unlike anything else even remotely cat-related.

This article in the NY Times about Cat Evolution is great! It's good to see the "paper of record" give such a strong write-up on solid science.

The part I found most interesting was that the common housecat most likely sprang from a "New World" lineage that back-migrated to Asia. I don't know why, but I've apparently always had this image of the Bering land bridge as being a one-way deal, and that's just silly, since there's no bar to moving both ways. I've just never heard of another species migrating from the Americas back to Eurasia like this.

Much niftiness!

Starbucks Shenanigans

This article in Slate is hilarious. We just got a Starbuck's here in Smalltown, NC. I think I'll go in and ask for a short coffee and see if they'll actually give me one.

Ranson Will Be Excited...

...to learn that one of his favorite sci-fi books has taken another step towards reality. Check out Space.com's article mentioning Ender's Game, which talks about the USAF's foray into Space Warfare.

My first thought was actually about Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, since he who controls the high orbitals controls the world.

Can you say high-energy kinetic weapons?

Ah, Sweet Tolerance

This article, from Pam's House Blend, points out something I've been struggling with at work since I started there. I'm a native West Virginian, and in NC that means I'm worse than an illegal immigrant. I'm a carpetbagger.

I've had to adjust to this ignorant hold-over from Reconstruction days, but I'll admit that there's some more modern causes for the attitude, as well. WV has a piss-poor economy, but for the longest time, only those who actually wanted something better for themselves and couldn't find it in the Mountain State came down South.

This means that the most motivated were the first into the region, looking primarily for textile jobs. But as good-ol' mountaineers kept draining out of their home-state, the bottom of the barrel kind of dribbled down, too. So, now we have the worst of both worlds: obvious examples of mountain rabble and riff-raff combined with long-term go-getters who show up the lazier of the indigenous population. That's a recipe for intolerance if ever I heard one: threaten the locals and then give them excuses to take out their anxieties on you. The only people who catch more hell in North Carolina than West Virginians is Mexicans.

I guess my half-Puerto Rican high school buddy Joe would catch double the hell here in NC.

Coulter Inspires College Masturbation Craze

My college roommate, not-so-affectionately nicknamed PeeWee behind his back by some, would have absolutely salivated over this. The Young Americas Foundation is selling full-on glamour-shot posters of Ann Coulter.

Let the gagging begin!

I can't look at a picture of this harpy without hearing that annoying waspish whine of hers. Why anyone would want her picture looking over them as they do what college-age Republicans do is beyond me.

Just in case the YAF.org website changes, here's a screenshot courtesy of CampusProgress.com.

Coulter Screenshot

Damn, but she gives me the creeping willies.

Jon Stewart Hits New Heights

According to the NY Times, Jon Stewart will be hosting the Oscars. Finally, a reaon to watch them again.

One wonders if Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report fame will host the Grammies. One could only dream.

Scary New Disease

Nanovirus reports on a New CDC Warning. Here's a direct quote:

The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and pronounced "gonna re-elect him."

The symptom list is truly frightening, as well.

Witchblade Gets Much-Deserved Recognition

I picked up my first issue of Witchblade from Top Cow Comics about seven years ago. It was issue 30, and it didn't matter in the least. There was a hot chick and a hot car on the cover, drawn by Randy Green. It was worth a couple bucks, just to get the cover. The interior hooked me like you wouldn't believe. I'm a huge mystery fan, and this book was one huge mystery, wrapped around hot women and beefy guys. It wasn't your typical superhero comic.

And yes, there was a huge T&A factor. I was engaged at the time, not dead. As it happens, Ranson was with me when I bought my first copy, and teased me assiduously about it, going so far as to bring Aradia into the discussion later on, talking about it's T&A-ness, and then letting slip that I had started collecting. Ah, friendship.

Sadly, the T&A got to be more and more of the book, and the mysterious plotlines kind of took a backseat, until it got to the point that I was almost willing to drop the book from my pull-list. But I'm a big believer in reader loyalty, because I believe comics are like the stock market. As long as the title hasn't completely crapped out, there's always the chance that it will make a comeback. This has happened over and over again. I don't need to name any names. If you read comics, you can probably think of a title or two that this has happened with.

So, I waded through incoherent plotlines like the ridiculous Excalibur thing with Ian Nottingham and finally, finally! Marz and Choi took over. It was like an overnight (well, over-month, I suppose) revolution. Suddenly, Sara Pezzini, wielder of the Witchblade, was what she had once been: a feminine, highly attractive, hard-as-hell New York cop struggling with supernatural crap and trying to keep her coworkers from finding out. She got her partner hurt severely, she picked up a new tag-along who knows all about the Witchblade and most of all, she was running into supernatural stuff that was more mysterious than gory.

Oh, there was gore. And there was a bit of the Buffy Syndrome, where you need to know the plural of apocalypse. A new character was introduced that knows way more than he's telling. All the classic supernatural bells and whistles are included now, but they fit seemlessly together. None of it seems forced, and that's thanks to Choi's art as much as Marz' writing. Everything just has a connected feel that works. It doesn't hurt that this new creative team has stopped emphasizing certain of Sara Pezzini's...ahem...assets, and turned instead to her beautiful face and slightly tarnished, slightly mournful soul. Finally, Sara's inner beauty and true character get to outshine her outer hotness and hardness.

Anywho, here's an article at HeroRealm.com that agrees with me. They name Witchblade as their top book of the year. I can't help but agree.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sago Mine Update


According to MSN, they were wrong about the survival of 12 of the 13 miners at the Sago mine.

What the hell?!? This is not an "Oops!" kind of thing.

My heart goes out to all the families who had been hoping for a miracle, thought they'd gotten one and then had it jerked out from under their feet.

What a nightmare.

"I'm Bored" Maintenance

I'm bored, so I'm finally getting around to doing some of the stuff I've been meaning to do, like setting up a proper blogroll, adding RI to the TTLB Ecosystem, and generally doing a little site housekeeping.

Let me know if anything looks screwy. My html doesn't even come up to the level of rusty, I'm afraid. Oh, and the blogroll is supposed to show randomly! :)

Multi-cultural Calendar

Here's a link to a truly nifty little multi-cultural calendar. It has cultural calendars on there that I've never heard of, and it converts the current Gregorian date into all of them. It's worth a look-see, I say. :)

Multi-Cultural Calendar

(Via Abnormal Interests)

Patriot Act Shenanigans

Bush is at it again. He never ceases to amaze me with the banality of his evil. What to me is an infuriating invasion of privacy is just another day at the office to him. Take the upcoming fight over the Patriot Act.

White House hacks are denouncing its detractors as playing partisan politics when they vote it down. The White House is developing a "campaign-style" effort at pushing it through Congress. They claim that those who are apprehensive about it's intrusive nature are holding it back to appease the ACLU?!?

Could it possibly be that the Senators and House Representatives who are against making the Patriot Act permanent have legitimate reasons for doing so? Could it possibly be that there are serious and deepseated flaws built into the Patriot Act that give the Executive far too broad a power and that these same Senators and Representatives are nervous about what someone with the moral rectitude of a dead possum could do, would do, and already has done with those powers?

No. Not according to the White House. Anyone who opposes the Patriot Act is doing it out of petty political skulduggery. No one who truly loves America could possibly disagree with the White House.


It's just more of the same rhetoric that's driven the Bush White House for five years. In the "Cowboy Way" White House, you're either for us or agin' us, I guess.

Sago Mine

Well, Aradia will be relieved when she gets up. They have found 12 of the 13 miners trapped in the Tallmansville, WV mine alive. Since she had a cousin down there, she'll be happy to hear the good news. Assuming her cousin isn't the one they found dead on the belt line.

Of course, everyone seems absolutely amazed at the number of safety violations the mine had racked up before this happened. Frankly, I don't know why. The mining industry in West Virginia has never been safe. My father was a coal miner for years and years, and he has horror stories that still fuel my mild claustrophobia to this day. When a half-ton chunk of rock crushing the leg of a co-worker is the START of your horror story, you know it's going to be bad. There's a reason dad always told me that he didn't care what I did, as long as I didn't become a coal miner. I have a friend who's dad was involved in state mine inspections and his stories would curl your hair, too. He primarily dealt with the mine owners, and there's a reason he was allowed to wear a gun at his job, too.

Coal mining just is not a safe industry, especially in WV right now. With the number of mines being shut down and the market for West Virginia coal so depressed, the temptation for companies to cut corners is always there. The logging industry in WV isn't much better. Aradia has a lot of family involved in that, and there have been several incidents in the decade that we've been together. Those tend to not make the national news though, since there's not as much drama in a single guy getting crushed under a log as there is in several men trapped in a cave-in. Unless you're the guy under the log, I suppose.

I work in the chemical industry, and I see the constant lip service paid to safety issues there, but I have to wonder how heavy the commitment to safety really is. There's always a trade-off with Safety, Health and Environment concerns. The value of a "lost time accident" versus how much is spent to prevent it is a very real consideration for companies in every industry. I'm not saying that companies put a value on a human life, or even a human limb, but the thing to remember is that the bottom line always has to be in sight for a company. It's responsibility is to it's share-holders or owners, and while it's true that accidental injury or death costs money, preventing those injuries costs money, too.

It's pretty obvious that the former owners of the Sago mine (Anker West Virginia Mining Co.) came down on the short-term side of that equation, and the new owners (International Coal Group Inc.) weren't hustling to correct the mistakes in their newest acquisition.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My Nerd Score

I am nerdier than 83% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I would have thought it would be higher. I guess being married hurts me here. Darn. :)

Monday, January 02, 2006

NY Times Show Bush To Still Be Idiot

According to this article in the NY Times, Bush already considers his presidency as "a big one in the sweep of history".

I'm sorry, but don't we have to be able to look at something from a historical perspective before making those kinds of statements? Is Bush's arrogance so huge that he truly sees himself as some kind of rock star president that will go down in the annals of history as an example of greatness?

Every time that man opens his mouth, stupidity flows out, but he's already speaking to the historians about how wonderful he is. I'm amazed he doesn't dislocate his shoulder patting himself on the back.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Updated Blog Word Count

Well, it being the new year and all, I figured I'd check my word count, and including this post, I have now written 53,052 words.


"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu