Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shorter Oil Companies "I lie a lot - it's really useful..."


Pic of ANWR in public domain.

That charming quote is actually from Morrissey, that charming man. But seriously, the Oil companies have more drilling fields than they know what to do with now, specifically they "have access to some 34 billion barrels of offshore oil the haven't even developed yet." What do they possibly want with the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve? Someone had a really bad experience with a herd of Caribou, and this'll show 'em?

From the wonderful energy site Gristmill.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kill a polar bear, or a thousand, save a penny.


How much would opening up ANWR to oil exploration save hard-working American families? Basically nothing. Nothing. Nothing. But it would make some moola for someone or other, I forget who. Woops, forgive me, I just had a McCain moment. According to the well-known liberal organization, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, in a study commissioned by that even better-known liberal Ted Stevens (R-Paleozoic), gas will go down by an entire penny/gallon.

From the report:
The recent run-up in the price of crude oil has prompted new calls for the Federal government to increase its petroleum production by allowing exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) along the northern coast of Alaska. While there is a strong incentive to provide much needed relief to American families who are currently struggling with high gasoline prices, analysis of ANWR’s projected contribution to crude oil markets suggests that relief will be neither substantial nor timely in its effect. Based on Energy Information Administration (EIA) projections of the effect of ANWR on crude oil prices, we estimate that opening up ANWR will reduce gasoline prices by just one cent, starting in 2018.



Both pictures from ANWR, licenced under Wikipedia Creative Commons Licenses.

Much Love to TBogg for the links. All my best to Satchmo.

McCain - "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself, and falls on the other."--Macbeth

A McCain compendium. Rather than thumbs, three planes up (all crashed, but that's a different post.)



The Commander-in-chief test. Watch. Laugh. Learn.

Why are you voting for McCain? I'm voting for him because I, too, believe that Al-qaeda is in Iran. Or possibly Iraq, or perhaps somewhere along the Iraq-Pakistan border.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Things not to do with Trader Joe's Frozen Chicken Fried Rice



Go to sleep with it used as an ice pack for a terrible, terrible headache. The bedroom smells strangely of Chinese leftovers in the morning.

News Flash! Girls as good as boys in math.

Girls now score equally as well as boys on standardized tests in grades 2-11.

Barbie needs to update her resume.
Back in 1992, Barbie stopped saying math was hard after Mattel received complaints from, among others, the American Association of University Women.
So far, while her current career choices include baby doctor and veterinarian — and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, too — Barbie has not branched out into technology or engineering.

bin Laden's top bodyguard let go from Gitmo in '04

Breaking news from McClatchy News service.

This gent, Abdallah Tabarak, helped bin Laden escape by the very clever trick of taking bin Laden's satellite phone. We honed in on the phone, capturing Tabarak, oops.

So, we let Tabarak free; instead we're trying a driver that cooperated with us from, pretty nearly, the start.

Michael St. Ours, an agent with the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service, NCIS, provided the first tidbit. He testified for the prosecution that his job as a prison camps interrogator in May 2002 was to find and focus on the bodyguards among the detainees.

And Hamdan helped identify 30 of them — 10 percent of the roughly 300 detainees then held here. They had just been transferred to Camp Delta from the crude compound called Camp X-Ray, and U.S. intelligence was still trying to unmask them.

Chief among them was Casablanca-born Abdallah Tabarak, then 47, described by St. Ours as ''a hard individual,'' and, thanks to Hamdan, ``the head bodyguard of all the bodyguards.''


What is the purpose of Guantanamo again?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bush v. Contraception, round 1 1/2

The New York Times has an article up, where it describes the HHS's recent proposal to broaden the definition of Abortion as follows:

The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.


The Huffington Post also comments, as follows:

This proposed rule will put women's access to birth control and the information they need to make health care decisions at risk. It radically redefines abortion to include some of the most common and effective methods of birth control. As a result, women's ability to manage their own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology. And it will limit the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health information and services.


This is terribly harmful to humans (women, whom the rules directly impact, and men and children whom the rules also impact, just in a slightly more indirect fashion.) The rules also permit organizations (or people in said organizations) to not perform sterilizations. Truly scary stuff.

What to do? Write someone.

An inadvertent 50th birthday present

Yeah, I'm turning Five-oh. Monday.

Last night GeeBee and I went to the Crystal Ballroom for a Ray Davies solo acoustic seated show. For those of you not in the know, Ray Davies is the singer/songwriter/driving genius behind the Kinks. For those of you that can't read my mind, I think that Ray Davies is one of the finest songwriters of the last half of the 20th century--better than those poseurs the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Stones.

The show started at 8:00 the doors opened at 7:00; Geebee was waiting in line at 3:15. I use the word "line" metaphorically, as he was the only one there for about an hour; Geebee asked, somewhat bewildered, "Am I the biggest Kinks fan in Portland?"

We got front and center seats.

I have previously pointed out that in written communications, and in arguments of any stripe, I have a very thick skin. It's difficult to insult me-about ideas. But this doesn't extend into all areas of my life. Being a twentieth century woman, my, let us delicately say--unconventional--looks have always been a source of great insecurity, and getting older, greyer, and chubbier hasn't helped any.

Cue Ray Davies. I'm front and center. He gets on stage, settles down. The stage lights light up the first couple of rows. He says "Hello Portland." "You're (looking and pointing right at me, not that far away) looking good." He then smiles. At me. Happy Birthday to me. Thanks, Ray.

Oh, and he (and his Irish attack-guitarist) sounded great.



The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset sung by Elliott Smith.


Due to popular request, here's the actual Kinks, "Lola," based on a "Great War" song about an eponymous girl of easy virtue "with a shape like a bottle of coca-cola."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The US Gov't Hates Contraception and Doesn't Want You to Use It.



Thanks to our friends at Reproductive Health Reality Check, I found out that on Monday, July 14th, the Department of Health and Human Services [proposed regulations to redefine (modified by ed.)] common methods of contraception, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification "abortion."

This is crazy. This is beyond crazy. What this means is that if one more anti-abortion Supreme Court judge is appointed, not only will women not be able to have abortions, but we will not be able to use most forms of birth control. You better hope as hard as you can hope that McCain (who wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade) isn't elected in the fall.

This also means that many more Pharmacists, if the regulations go through, will be able to deny women contraception perscribed by their doctors, should they feel like it. Did you hear about this on the news? Me neither. Someone should be paying attention.

I have a difficult time understanding such rationales. Around 80% of fertilized eggs are naturally aborted. Yeah, only one in five fertilized eggs make it to birth. What happens to those other 4/5ths? Are they really people? Is heaven knee deep in blastomeres?
(Link, above, is from the Bush administration.)

Naomi Wolfe, in only a partial post-jack, explains how to turn America into a facist country, in 10 easy steps.

Cue "Every Sperm is Sacred."


A slightly modified version of this post is now up at feministmormonhousewives.org.

What will the next bubble be?



Source, The Onion.

The Onion has some other suggestions:

Current bubbles being considered include the handheld electronics bubble, the undersea-mining-rights bubble, and the decorative office-plant bubble. Additional options include speculative trading in fairy dust—which lobbyists point out has the advantage of being an entirely imaginary commodity to begin with—and a bubble based around a hypothetical, to-be-determined product called "widgets."


I'm banking on "The Future" being packaged up into futures, myself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You like your wimmens barefoot and preggers?

Have I got a candidate for you.

John McCain, pro viagra, anti birth control.



More tellingly, he voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy using those well-known tools of the devil, education and contraceptives. It's abstinence only for our boy.

And don't forget, he is seriously anti-choice. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, for starters.

He's also not big on condoms.

When asked the quesion "Do condoms stop sexually transmitted disease?" his reply was as follows:

A long pause.

A stern look.

"I've never gotten into these issues or thought much about them," he said, almost crying uncle.

Jesus' take on the wafer brouhaha




From Jesus and Mo.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Catholics and Cannibals, or who knew?


(That's Ingres up there.) My Ex shares a name with a man who was martyred in England for being on the wrong side of the transubstantiation-consubstantiation debate. What side was right? The one with the bigger guns; but what they believed, I can never remember. Anyway, this battle is still playing out. Catholics believe that when the priests bless the sacrament (bread and wine), it actually turns into the body of Christ--transubstantiation. Protestants believe that the bread is just bread, the wine just wine; the transformation is metaphorical.

I never really 'got' that (some) Catholics still really really really care about such things; however, they, apparently, do. A college student has received death threats for not immediately eating the host (bread blessed by a priest transforming it into the body of christ) given to him during Mass, and has also been threatened with being booted out of his college. He put it in a ziplock bag for safekeeping.

Anyway, on with the story. A biology professor blogger who reported on it, and threatened to desecrate a "host" (a cracker)in response, has now received his own share of death threats plus bonus letters to his college requesting (politely i'm sure) his firing. Read about it here.

The (short) LOLcatspeak version is here: A play in three acts.

In other news....


The S&P 500 has the same value it did 10 years ago, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are about to fail and take the US economy with them, but it's a beautiful day here in Portland, rilly old Velvet Underground is on the turntable, George is watering the flowers (kisses), I haven't been fired from my job for spinning during work hours, Snapdragon (who lives with her father, to my eternal despair) is flying in tomorrow, and we're about to take off to see a locally produced documentary about Noise. Uh, music, that's atonal, y'know, and, most importantly, I'm Not. Dead. Yet.

I'm getting in a car to go somewhere other than work, if only a few miles--vertigo inducing. I hope that the pounding on the screen at least rhymes with the pounding in my head; my own private music show.

Still spinning--but dealing, I remain

Djinn

Musical accompaniment--Foxy Lady, as interpreted by the Kronos Quartet.



Bonus stunning Kronos Quartet-Sigur Ros piece, because I care.

Grammar.


I don't believe in it. Yeah, all those rules, pfffft. If you're a native English speaker, yr doin it rite. Nuff said.

Slighly longer explication--English came to its grammar late. For a century or two, English gents learned Latin by hook or by crook. When these rather over-latinate folks got around to giving Engish a formal grammar, they did it wrong. That is, they imposed a number of rules that made no sense for a language that was Germanic at its root. So, all those rulz that you learned imperfectly? They have nothing to do with actual spoken English; they're imposed on the language from without. Don't worry.....



Schoolhouse Rock - Adverbs. "Suppose you're going nut-gathering...."

Shortest Possible Religious Post (Sorry for the length).






(We've already established that I. Have. Issues.) Anyhoo- on to the post.




Religion (or Christianity, at least) = Backsies!!!!11!!1!!










Oh, and that business about swearing off Ceiling Cat? I lied. Sry. Srusly. Sry. And, pay attention to Ceiling cat. Don't hook up with the krazy kitteh down teh street. No matter how sweeeet her collar.



The Rev. Gary Davis; The Angel's message to me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spinning Djinn, or an update on my health.



I'm still dizzy. Ditzy, too, but that's for a different post. The weekend before last I drove (or rather, was driven (thank you, George)) out to my company's retreat about an hour away in the Columbia gorge. There was, of course, a traffic accident somewheres along the way -- hour delay. I was late, walked into a room full of people being lectured about something or other having to do with dividing us all up into four separate communications styles. The room was big, with a high ceiling. I put my head in my hands for about 30 minutes, and then bolted. Now many people at my firm either think I'm asocial/nuts or are in on the secret that I've got something wrong with me. Not with me, so much; rather with my equilibrium. I was devastated. For one reason, I saw this as a dry run for my upcoming trip to Utah to my very good friend Jen's wedding. Not looking good.

I came back home to Portland, tried once again to get that referral from my ENT to a Neurologist--hasn't happened yet, and called my regular Dr. once again. My dizziness has been going from bad to worse and back to bad again in the course of a day, as I explained to him. In response, he took me off the alprazolam I've been on for going on 7 months and put me on another K--uh--lam, which, he explained, had a longer dwell time in my system. Picking up the new drug at the pharmacy (they said 20 min. wait, took an hour--We can't believe we're this busy!--I blame the 4th of July weekend) I again read the really scary list of side effects of my meds, the main one being addiction. So... I thought, and thought, took one of the new meds and promptly got sick. Perhaps the reason for the swings during the day was the medication itself--i'd been on it long enought now to be addicted. I spent the July fourth weekend detoxing. Yes, dear reader, I stopped my meds cold. Wikipedia says symptoms may include anxiety, dizziness (wha?), appetite loss (huzzah!), insomnia, hallucinations--i'm bored--you get the idea, wasn't a pleasant time. Now, at the other end, I'm still dizzy (does it sound cooler if I say I have vertigo instead?), but without the dramatic ups and downs. I'm no sicker now than before. Improvement? Perhaps.

I can get through a work day sitting quietly in my dark lair of an office. Having to venture out into the flourescent-lit hallways does me in--I come home too sick to do anything but type in the occasional blog post. This may be why there are so many of them. Upside, no cooking, cleaning, weeding... (I did pull a few weeds this weekend before George caught me and reminded me how sick it made me, but still, yay me!)

So, no trip for Utah; thus, no wedding for me. Too sick. So sorry Jen, plus, just darn darn darn darn.

Nietzsche updated for the new century.



Can I has Superman?

And with this I say a fond farewell to my LOLcats period.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iraq to US--U can go nao, kthxbye.

Prime Minister al-Maliki won't sign an agreement to allow US troops to stay in Iraq without a timetable for withdrawal: "The goal is to end the presence (of foreign troops)."

In response, the White House states (and this may be a paraphrase, but only barely) "uh, he didn't really mean that."

Other breakup lines Iraq might try:
We have to break up, America, because I'm gay.
It's not you, America, it's me.
My schedule is really busy right now, but maybe next Millenium.
You're Drunk (on power.) Time to go home. I'll call a Taxi.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the gas pump


Oil is not priced like most sane goods. The price is not a buyer, say, me, will pay today to a seller with a gallon of crude. Rather, the price is an average of the futures contracts for some percentage of the world's supply. Got that? The price is what people think it will cost off into the future, not what someone will pay right now. (I'm having trouble finding links, but this is the way it works, baybee--I used to work for an energy company and wrote rather bewilderingly complex spreadsheets to determine this stuff--I'm looking, google, don't let me down......) Ahh, here's something. Notice, the futures contract price is the same as the spot price (actual cost) for "light sweet crude) in OK.

Because the price (and this is the actual price) we all hear quoted on the radio is unrelated to the price some average jo would pay, Oil is destined to bubble.

Plus, Oil does not require inventory. If no demand, the producers just don't pump it out of the ground. So, there's no pile-up of inventory when the price outpaces the demand.

If oil was considerably overpriced, and if the price was not set by the consumer, then you would expect that at some point, buyers couldn't find sellers.

Here's one, Iran.

Here's an entire blog that discusses these ideas rather exhaustively. As a disclaimer, the geologists I worked with seemed to think that oil had peaked around 1998 (unlike the website I linked to here) however, the current drastic run up in price is a bubble. It will go down prior to its slow, steady rise back up.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bush misquotes Jefferson on the 4th.

Thomas Jefferson said:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

Bush, in quoting, said:
"May it be to the world, what I believe it will be -- to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all -- the signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

Shall we assume Bush is for "monkish ignorance and superstition?"

Stolen, shamelessly, from Ed Brayton. Thank you.

Cleanliness leads to sickliness


I confess, straight up, that I have bad allergies, so I am rather interested in why my body would decide that perfectly harmless substances (eggs, chocolate) are life-threatening.


Perhaps, this is explained by the Hygiene Hypothesis--kids who grow up surrounded by more pollution have less asthma and allergies than those that grow up in more desirable circumstances. Growing up with insufficient exposure to dirt gives us a bored immune system. It must find something to do...Ah ...ha! No Peanuts for You!


New research shows that roundworm infections (ewww, gross, but roundworms activate the histamine response, the same response that runs amok to create allergies) lessens allergy & asthma attacks--presumably gives our poor bored immune system something productive to do. I say let's just teach it to surf the net.


When cleanliness goes terribly wrong; Ukrainian Eurovision entrants; clearly the result of overzealous scrubbing--how else would everything be so shiny?
PS. This video is quite possibly my current fave on the intertubes.

How to tell if you've materially supported a terrorist organization


Or, Dinner at the Kafka Cafe.

Check your political affiliation--

Are you a Republican, then no; well, maybe, but we'll let you off this time.
One of John McCain's top fundraisers paid 1.7 million dollars to a right-wing Colombian death squad. Woops. They did have to pay a fine. Poor things.

Not Republican? Then, quite possibly, Yes.

For example, here's the story of an Iraqi woman who has been denied refugee status because she paid ransom to a terrorist organization to free her kidnapped son. The ransom was the material support.

If your wife and children are kidnapped by a terrorist organization and are forced to carry water for them, then, tough. The water-carrying is "material support." There is no provision for duress.

Even if an organization isn't declared terrorist when you donate to it, if the US determines that it is at some time in the future, congrats! You're guilty!

"How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the U.S.?"
Here's the law. Vague? Somewhat?

International dispute resolution and bake-off


Billlee in the comments suggested that international disputes should be settled by interpretive dance. I think that there's an existing program that would work even better. A sing-off! All we have to do is expand the Eurovision song contest to include a few more states and raise the stakes just a tiny bit.

The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la Chanson)[1] is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)....The Contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most-watched non-sporting events in the world.



So, for example, with the oil laws now being negotiated in Iraq between the Gov't and, uh, us (read various oil companies) we just have the main parties (Iraq and the oil companies) have a sing-off! Spangly costumes and back-up dancers required.

The pic's of Lordi, last year's winner. From Finland.

Here's the French entry from last year, just to get us all in the appropriate mood. As a bonus question (prize to be determined later) what animal does the bald lead singer have sewn onto his shoulder? A weasel, perhaps?

Friday, July 4, 2008

My garden



Pic by GeeBee; also, all work required for upkeep of said garden by GeeBee.

The old, yet ever popular lie--It is good and just to die for one's country


Dulce Et Decorum Est

...

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

...
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

The virtue of the vicious - Oscar Wilde's def. of Patriotism



I've always found the idea of patriotism terrifically distasteful.

Patriotism writ small --
I remember thundering student football assemblies in High School designed to whip up what can only be described as "hate" against the opponent high school. Chance geographical location = required disdain. I persuaded a handful of friends (preen, preen) that they were the equivalent of Nuremberg rallies; we all ditched, in the name of international peace.

Patriotism writ large --

Freedom fries? Remember? Why did we invade Iraq? My country right or wrong? How many Iraqis dead (1M+) or displaced (5M+)? If this is patriotism, not for me.


Quoting a vet I heard on the radio, Chance Cox; "I look at my American flag and think: "Not that good, not that bad." Kudos.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Simple rule for being happy


Live in Denmark!

From the world happiness survey:
"The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy birthday Theory of Evolution and gigantic Siberian blast!

<


One Hundred and Fifty years ago today, July 1, 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace read their papers (Darwin first!) describing the Theory of Evolution--the modern world was born.

One hundred years ago today, (in Pacific Northwest time) a mysterious gigantic explosion rocked Siberia, the Tunguska event; estimated to be 1000 times as strong as the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima.

Happy cataclysmic July! May yours be less interesting.

McCain vs. Clark

Everyone and their pet robot seems to be tripping over themselves to distance themselves from General Clark's comment that McCain was "Untried and untested" on matters of national security. McCain was a POW for five years, a true war hero.

McCain graduated almost last from his class at Annapolis, was seen by his flying instructors as an abysmal student, but still managed to land one of the most coveted positions in the Navy, aircraft carrier pilot, where he proceeded to crash three navy planes (because he just couldn't fly.) (This doesn't count the other two plane crashes he was in, but did not cause.) Think having a four star general father helped his career?

Plus, he has confused Shia and Sunni at least three times this year.


Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics), and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.
(Wikipedia)

Go Gen. Clark!

Tyson Homosexual, sprinter. Marvin Homosexuale, singer.

Useful tips: on your news site automatically replace all instances of words you don't like (gay) with more descriptive terms (homosexual).

(Stole the Marvin line from Janine, at pharyngula. )