Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy (or something) F├╝hrerstodestag -- Hitler's 69th death day!

Yep. 69 years ago today, Hitler shot himself. Yay! Cake for all.

To celebrate, the only funny bit about Hitler I have ever seen. Mr. "Hilter" living in a B&B in Somerset, England. "Telephone for you, Mr. Hilter; It's that nice Mr. Goering. He says he's found a place you can rent bombers by the hour."

ps. Did you know that Hitler had massive problems with flatulence?

Condi Rice Questioned by Law Students (They Are Better At Asking Questions Than Most Journalists!)

Condi Rice justified cooperating with the authorization of waterboarding because by definition "...if the President orders it it is not illegal..." (close paraphrase)
Listen for yourself! So much for no one being above the law. But yet she was quite emphatic that she had herself authorized nothing; she merely conveyed the Presidential authorization to other departments. I always thought she would have been a better tap dancer than this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spain opens Guantanamo war crimes investigation

Read about it here.

Judge Baltasar Garzon would probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison at the U.S. naval base in southern Cuba, it said.
The judge based his decision on statements by Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, known as the "Spanish Taleban" and three other former Guantanamo detainees - a Moroccan, a Palestinian and a Libyan - who alleged they had suffered torture at the camp.
"It seems that the documents declassified by the U.S. administration mentioned by the media have revealed what was previously a suspicion - the existence of an authorized and systematic program of torture" at Guantanamo and other prisons including that in Bagram in Afghanistan, Garzon said.

Ah ha! No wonder the Bush administration did their level best to hide those pesky torture memos.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So how dangerous is the Swine Flu anyway?

The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed between 20 and 100 million people worldwide, including an aunt of mine in the wilds of Idaho. That's what the fuss is about. I don't think we have much worry that the new flu will have anywhere near this severity. Why? Trench Warfare.

Diseases, to spread in a population, must keep an infected host active enough to infect someone else before the host dies. The 1918 influenza killed people within a day or two. How did it develop such virulence?

In 1914-1918, there were millions of men shoulder-shoulder in trenches across Europe. (There were 60 million soldiers in WWI.) In such conditions, a virus could develop with extreme morbidity because it could easily spread to the next poor sod over even if it killed the original poor sod with great speed. And no one was rushing out of the trenches--into the arms of the enemy. Then the war ended in 1918and everyone went home to such remote corners of the globe as southwest Idaho, with their tiny buddies. And people dropped like flu victims.

Timing issues; the first cases of the most virulent form of the Spanish flu were detected in August 1918 in three separate places: Brest, France, Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in Boston, MA. In September, the Armistice was signed, the troops came home, and the flu started hitting communities hard. Since the flu was so virulent, it would only last in a community for about a month before moving on, as without the enforced proximity of a trench, people who became ill quickly became too sick to move around and infect others.

So, the way I see it, the artificial conditions caused by the "War to end all wars" (such optimism) allowed for the flu virus to become much more virulent than a similar virus could be today.

However, are there such immobile populations today that could breed such a virus? Prisons, perhaps? Or maybe we're safer.

The last four minutes of "Blackadder Goes Forth."

The Best Joke Ever

According to a study done at The Ohio State University, conservatives by and large don't seem to understand that Colbert is making fun of conservatives!
Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.

Just too funny! I wonder what they make of this!
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill Posey Alligator Rumors
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Last Summer I got a new digital camera with more capabilities than I will ever understand how to use. (Why do they make the print in the instruction manuals so tiny?) Anyway, once while I was out photographing flowers in my garden I inadvertently pushed a button or something that made it start making a video. I stopped it within about a second and half, just long enough to record myself saying,"Oops!"

I never looked at the video until today! It turns out the initial frame looks kind of interesting because of how fast I was moving the camera at the time. Of course the video itself is too short to be interesting itself, but I kind of like that first frame! I wish I could paint like that!

Just Looking

Recently I was able to find a few items on E-Bay that have sentimental value for me because they replace items that I grew up with that did not survive my parents' impulse to sell almost everything, every time we moved. Even though they are most assuredly not the very things we sold, I am glad to have these pieces of my past restored.

Although I also saw that lots of people try to sell all sorts of crud (other people's treasured mementos?) I discovered that it can also be an interesting museum----as long as you promise yourself not to buy anything! I love seeing some of the wonderful old things that people have made all without the fuss of finding a parking space or standing in line to pay for admittance. And it's open 24-7!

Check out some of these items.

This wonderful penguin is a heavy doorstop.

This silver topped cranberry glass perfume vial is about 3 inches tall. Surprisingly, gold is the addition to glass that makes it that luscious deep pink color.

This item is called an epergne, or a table centerpiece, and it stands 16" tall. It is made of 'vaseline' glass which means it is made with uranium and is slightly radioactive. Check out what it looks like under a black light! (It also has some cranberry glass at the edge.)

But of course you do run across a lot of dubious kitsch like this vase in the shape of a pig's head. Don't let your preconceptions fool you however! Turns out this little porker is rare----or so they say. I'll continue to follow the conventional wisdom of avoiding rare pork. How about you?

So, enjoy looking. Just try not to spend too much!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So Much For The Bad Apple Theory Of Torture In The Military

You may want to skip over about the first part of this report, but you should perk up your ears at around t=1:40. Rachel Maddow does a brilliant job laying out geometrically the involvement of the administration in the development of the torture programs. Then examining the timeline with Ron Suskind, an alternative motivation for the program emerges.

Jason Linkins reported on the interview Rachel Maddow conducted with Ron Suskind.
Suskind noted that the "impetus was not to foil potential al Qaeda attacks. The impetus here was largely political and diplomatic. The White House had a political/diplomatic problem. It wanted it solved in the run up to the war."

People were tortured, FOR THE SAKE OF "SPIN."

So much for ticking bombs and bad apples!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Amazing Tree Houses In A New Book

According to the LA Times, a new book on elaborate tree houses will be coming out soon. ( You can see more of their pics if you click the LA Times link.) I was kind of half expecting to see Gritty Pretty's tree house there as well! It's pretty amazing too. (I'll try to post a link when I find her best tree house post.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just For Fun (Or 25 Random Things One At A Time; This Is The First)

I found this at the Daily Dish. It gets much better in the middle (t=1.21) when Kouric has her duet with......whoever made this. (Does everyone but me know who these artists are?)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Torture On Trial

The Daily Kos has an interesting post on just how extreme the use of water-boarding was in certain cases, and the conflicting records of the CIA on some "facts". They also have a handy-dandy petition to sign if you want to encourage the Obama administration to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the 'legal' shenanigans that made torture possible.

Torture defenders (Scalia defends his position by citing episodes of 24!) like to refer to the ticking bomb scenario and ask, "If you were in a room with someone who knew where a ticking nuclear bomb was hidden, and when it would go off, would you be willing to torture that person to get the information?"

Of course I would!!!!!! And I would accept the fact that it was totally ILLEGAL. I would be happy to face prosecution to save the lives of so many people. Just like if I was taking someone to the hospital in an emergency, I would be fine with running a red light-----I would still acknowledge the illegality of my behavior and accept any consequences.

But I would only be willing to torture if I truly had reason to be certain that the person I had control over really had the timely life-or-death information. I agree that in such very narrow circumstances, torture is the way to go. But I also think it should only be used in that sort of rare circumstance and that keeping torture illegal helps keep it very rare.

It appears that torture was being used with alarming frequency under the Bush administration. Furthermore, the fact that they subjected the same people to torture over prolonged periods of time (months!) totally undercuts the argument that they were using it under extreme time pressure----as in the ticking-bomb scenario. The 'legal' excuses cooked up by Yoo and Bybee to make allowances for this activity also paved the way for it to be used routinely, and on fishing expeditions.

There are a lot of other techniques available for getting information, and many CIA officers have repudiated the efficacy of torture. In addition casting such a wide net with torture has to reduce the willingness of people to report suspicious activity to the authorities. We must make sure not to dry up that most important source of information in our communities.

Obama must be careful to not let it appear that he is merely making a partisan attack on the last administration. Broad citizen support for an investigation will be necessary. So do please look into signing the petition!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nom nom nom. It turns out Anti-Gay Marriage and Lolcats have something in common. I am totally stoked

In six (6) minutes, Stephen Colbert makes the unassailable case against gay marriage, plus totally rocking abs--not to mention the dangers of pink lightning. Watch and learn.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Plus extra noms, because we always need those.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Surprise, Surprise......

It turns out you don't have to be a slender, gorgeous, young blonde to be able to sing.
I'm glad the audience was willing to change their minds and give this talented woman her due after their initial sniggering reception of her onstage. Check out the derisive expressions of some of the audience members right before her number. The embed was disabled, so you will have to click here!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A day late, a song short

I am the spring, the holy ground,
the endless seed of mystery,
the thorn, the veil, the face of grace,
the brazen image, the thief of sleep,
the ambassador of dreams, the prince of peace.
I am the sword, the wound, the stain.
Scorned transfigured child of Cain.

Portugal finds drug decriminalization works!

Scientific American has an article up, here, about Portugal's five year experience with decriminalizing all formerly illegal drugs. Short answer, all good.

"Now instead of being put into prison, addicts are going to treatment centers and they're learning how to control their drug usage or getting off drugs entirely," report author Glenn Greenwald, a former New York State constitutional litigator, said during a press briefing at Cato last week.

Under the Portuguese plan, penalties for people caught dealing and trafficking drugs are unchanged; dealers are still jailed and subjected to fines depending on the crime. But people caught using or possessing small amounts—defined as the amount needed for 10 days of personal use—are brought before what's known as a "Dissuasion Commission," an administrative body created by the 2001 law.

But the results are much more positive than the article indicates. Glenn Greenwald also talks about Portugal's success here.
For every drug that was in use since 2001 -- every one -- absolute drug usage rates declined in the five years following decriminalization, and that occurred as drug usage rates in most other EU member-states was increasing, often severely.

We here in the United States are bankrupting ourselves with the money used to house non-violent drug users. For example, California spends 9 Billion dollars annually on prisons (with a recidivism rate of 70%! You learn how to be an even better criminal in prison, who would have thunk?)
The Pew Center report reveals that, nationwide, corrections spending outpaces funding for education, transportation and public assistance.

Not to mention our fourth amendment rights, which have atropied to close-to-noexistence due to the aforementioned drug war. And (there's always an 'and'), people in the US caught with drugs often then have their lives thrown away even after they've done their time; yet another casualty of the drug war.

Additionally, (one does get tired of 'and' occasionally) let's not even talk about the growing problem of the spillover violence from Mexican drug cartels that would disappear instantly (for all practical purposes)if drugs were legal--see our own dalliance with alcohol prohibition for support.

So, decriminalizing drugs would lead to less addicts, less money burned up in the prison system and less violence. Any possibility we'd implement this? I'm guessing Naaaaah.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter singalong

Stand By Me from aubreysanchez DOT com on Vimeo.
This video (originally from (RED)wire video musical magazine) is for a world-wide rendition of "Stand by me." Stunning. Really. It starts with an old guitarist-singer in California; he's joined in by (just a sampling) a slide guitarist, a Russian cellist, a South African choir, a Congolese drummer, a Brazilian ukeleleist... the list goes on.

Happy Easter all, plus my new favorite song.

I'm no diplomat,
but you look better fat
Kate Winslet.

I bring you the Silver Brazilians. Thank you, thank you Little Steven for showing me the way to this great garage song.

Moral of the story, eat up all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A New Threat-----Coming To A Neighborhood Near You.

EMBED-Strange Cat Door Surprise - Watch more free videos

I can't help but wonder what the home owner would be allowed to do----although pretty clearly this one was complicit.

Deer hunter, not just a band.

I heard rumors that certain neighborhoods infested with deer are having trouble talking people into allowing reasonable culling. It turns out, the muppets may be to blame.

And, as my attention has been momentarily caught by muppets, simply for sheer awesomness, I must include this clip--Johnny Cash (with a little help from Gonzo and assorted cows) singing "Ghostriders in the sky." I must say, I prefer Johnny Cash -Gonzo duets over the Johnny Cash - Bob Dylan ones.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's for dinner?

To simultaneously delight and horrify your friends and enemies try this--donut bacon burgers! If only chocolate were involved these would be the perfect food.

Notice the extra touch--two donuts per sandwich; none of that sissy slicing.

If your arteries aren't yet completely blocked, try

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A New Threat-----Coming To A Neighborhood Near You.

EMBED-Strange Cat Door Surprise - Watch more free videos

I can't help but wonder what the home owner would be allowed to do----although pretty clearly this one was complicit.

Spring Fashion Update

Even a super expensive handbag cannot save this look! YIKES! Her face makes clear how painful her shoes are. She's not the only one hurting------MY EYES, MY EYES!

(This picture was in the, but I can't track down the URL. The woman is the mother of a British football star who has launched his own fashion line------she is wearing a shirt from his line! What advertising! It reminds me somehow of a funny comment about ads that I read recently. "With a name like Smuckers, it's got to smuck.")

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Looks like an actual photo of Joseph Smith Jr. has emerged.

Copyright belongs to the unnamed blogger at

The image above is a comparison of the tintype in question and the death mask of Joseph Smith, Jr.

Read all about it here.

Basically, someone discovered this picture in his Grandmother's photo album. It appears to be the actual tintype that the most common image of Joseph Smith was drawn from.

He was a babe. That is all.