Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Peruvian Penny Pinchers

Shrinking revenues can cause unrest while simultaneously reducing the budget for quelling mobs of violent protesters. Peru was lucky to be able to buy Darth Vader Star Wars costumes on the cheap to outfit her valiant peace keepers. They only use the capes if it's rainy (Just kidding, but seriously, I wonder if their commander has breathing problems.)

Worthless Wingnut Resolution In Oklahoma Legislature

This is the actual text of the resolution introduced in the Oklahoma legislative session. Don't feel like you have to read all of it, but I will highlight some words in boldface to make skimming it easier. Basically they are saying that our economic woes are because God is displeased with Obama's leadership of our debauched country. This resolution is basically a prayer of contrition so God will forgive us and make us prosperous again. Of course there is no acknowledgment that the economic troubles began before Obama took office.

Honestly, this whole tract is so religious in nature that it seems completely inappropriate to be a resolution in a legislature-----even in Oklahoma!

We the People of Oklahoma, Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of Liberty; to secure just and rightful Government; to promote our mutual Welfare and Happiness, do establish this proclamation and call upon the people of the great State of Oklahoma, and our fellow Patriots in these United States of America who look to the Lord for guidance, to acknowledge the need for a national awakening of righteousness in our land.

WHEREAS, "It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon
which Freedom can securely stand" (John Adams); and

WHEREAS, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with
human passions unbridled by Religion and Morality" (John Adams); and

WHEREAS, "Our Constitution was made only for a Moral and Religious people" (John

WHEREAS, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the
power of government...but upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God" (James Madison); and

WHEREAS, "Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that
belongs to us by the laws of God (Benjamin Franklin); and

WHEREAS, "God who gave us life gave us liberty and can the liberties of a nation be
thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the
people that these liberties are of the Gift of God" (Thomas Jefferson); and

WHEREAS, "Whether any free government can be permanent, where the public
worship of God, and the support of Religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state" (Joseph Story); and

WHEREAS, "We hold sacred the rights of conscience, and promise to the people...the
free and undisturbed exercise of their religion" (Roger Sherman); and

WHEREAS, "This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians"
(Patrick Henry); and

WHEREAS, "When you...exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be
impressed upon your mind that God commands you to choose just men who will rule in the fear of God" (Noah Webster); and

WHEREAS, "The principles of genuine Liberty and of wise laws and administrations
are to be drawn from the Bible" (Noah Webster); and

WHEREAS, the people of Oklahoma have a strong tradition of reliance upon the
Creator of the Universe; and thought secure when we have removed

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national
moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion,
pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and
many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking
the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused
to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States
disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned elected officials of the people of Oklahoma, religious leaders and citizens of the State of Oklahoma, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, solemnly declare that the HOPE of the great State of Oklahoma and of these United States, rests upon the Principles of Religion and Morality as put forth in the HOLY BIBLE; and

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, believers in the One True God and His
only Son, call upon all to join with us in recognizing that "Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord," and humbly implore all who love Truth and Virtue to live above reproach in the sight of God and man with a firm reliance on the leadership and protection of Almighty God; and

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, humbly call upon Holy God, our
Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, to have mercy on this nation, to stay His hand of judgment,
and grant a national awakening of righteousness and Christian renewal as we repent of our great sin.

Signed on the second day of July in the year of our Lord Christ Two Thousand and Nine.

A Helicopter, Pepper Spray, Lesbians,a PA System, Seven Deputies and a Canine Unit, ------This Story Has It All!

(This image is not part of the story, but reflects my take on the goofiness of the excessive police force in this case. This image is actually of Polish riot police-----hey hey hey, no polack jokes!)

A fund-raising party for a Democratic candidate for a Congressional seat in a strongly Republican district in the San Diego area was interrupted by an officer responding to a noise complaint.

When he arrived after 9:00, there was no loud music, no one was using the PA system; (although the candidate says she did use a microphone between 8:00 and 8:30)there were just 30 or 40 elderly people chatting as the event wound down. Nevertheless, the officer decided to issue a citation for a noise disturbance. Interestingly enough, while the candidate was making her pitch, a heckler hidden in the bushes yelled obscenities about democrats and gay people------the hostess of the party and her lesbian partner have one neighbor who disapproves of their relationship.

All the other neighbors say the event was quiet and did not bother them at all.

So why did the officer think that it was appropriate to issue the citation based entirely on the say so of one angry caller who may have just been trying to cause trouble?

When the officer started to issue the citation, and asked the hostess her date of birth, in disbelief she turned to walk away, and the officer grabbed her roughly by the arm.......well, to read about the pepper spray, and the helicopter and the rest, just read the article.

A follow up article also reveals that the people at the party were also getting in trouble for using their cell phone cameras to document the incident.

This will be a story to watch. The local newspaper is reputed to have a republican bias, as does the sheriff's office as well. Read through the comments to the article and you'll get a sense of the local loathing of liberals.

Because of the local politics involved, the victims of the excessive force used in this case are hoping for outside involvement by perhaps the US attorney.

It will be a sad day for democracy when local law enforcement strives to serve the interests of just one political party.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dresden Dolls vs. Michael Jackson

Amanda Palmer, of the Dresden Dolls, performed this majestic version of "Billie Jean" the night Michael Jackson died. I confess to never particularly liking this song, but Amanda's version is sweet and heartbreaking.

And just because one Dresden Doll video isn't enough, my favorite Black Sabbath cover ever (other than the five or so bars the Replacements played one night).

I bring you War Pigs! Turns out piano and drums is just what Ozzy would have ordered, if we wasn't so busy biting the head off bats, or echolocating, or trying to see through his runny mascara, or buying big-ass crosses, or something.

Gotta Have One------And I Don't Even Have A Cat

Does anyone know where to get a helicopter like this? I guess I'll have to google around.

Feeling Like This?

Perhaps a little baby panda watching will perk you up. There are----count 'em---- eight of the little critters, and they are definitely more interesting to watch than Octo-Mom's unfortunate brood.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital in a coma, then he didn't die of a heart attack.

Though his heart certainly stopped.


I must confess; first, Michael Jackson and I are the same age, so the news that he has died hit me hard. The man who had no childhood, and then got even by never growing up.

When I was 13, all my friends were oogly googly about him (poor messed-up freak), and Donny Osmond (who seemed to turn out fine) and David Cassidy, and others that I didn't bother to even learn the names of -- (someone named Shawn?). I thought that they were out of their minds. Back in 1973, I was pretty hardcore. I watched Jackson's career from the sidelines with a certain amount of amazement. What???? Confusion; and when he ruined his beautiful pug nose I was horrified. (Having a pug myself, you may understand my dismay.)

But even I would never wish the life Michael had on anyone. The weirdly religious uber-strict upbringing, complete with beatings via a cartoon-worthy tyrannical father, the early fame with money falling from the clouds, the Beatles catalog, what was it, 7 pedophilia lawsuits to the tune of 25 million, monkeys, ferris wheels, Elvis's daughter, and so on.... oh, the mixed drinks served in pepsi cans. Lawsuits to numerous to mention. What a long, strange trip it was. Did I mention we were almost exactly the same age?


BTW, I hear that Michael Jackson left his 1/2 share in the Beatles Catalog to Paul McCartney as forgiveness for taking Sir Paul's advice about investing in song publishing rights, and then outbidding him on the Beatles catalog in 1984. I don't think they've talked since. Here. Here, Here, etc.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This charming phylum

Turns out, everybody's gay! Well, to be more exact, some members of (pretty close to) all animal species exhibit gay behaviors. Dolphins, giraffes, and sheep are especially likely to be found in the Castro when visiting S.F. fwiw.

Read about it here.

Those two penguins are, of course, gay.

What does it mean to be open-minded?

On the heels of kerfuffler's American Taliban post, a video on what it means to be openminded vs. believing in (**something without evidence.**)

Sceptics rock!

"Openmindedness isn't about believing in things."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

American Theocracy?

I read an interesting piece comparing the political aspirations of the religious right in this country to the regime in place in Iran. Since it was written by a onetime, inner circle religious wing-nut, Frank Schaeffer, this is not just speculation. He knows what the intentions are because he was involved when plans were laid out and goals identified. Just click to read his piece, and be very thankful that we do not have to go through what the Iranian people are experiencing to be free from such authoritarian governance.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sam Imam?

For anyone feeling overwhelmed by the tension in Iran, a light hearted summary a la Dr. Seuss can be enjoyed here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What Does Ahmadinejad Stand For?

I was really hoping that the Iranians would vote Ahmadinejad out of office as a signal that they wanted Iran to move forward in a reality-based way. Now it appears that even though he was voted out, he is unwilling to let Iran move in a different direction.

This is terribly important as Ahmadinejad is even more extreme in his beliefs than most Westerners seem to want to understand. To get an idea of just how extreme he is, one need only consider his role during the Iran-Iraq war. Ahmadinejad was a trainer and organizer of the basij, the children martyrs that would roll on the ground, detonating the mines so that soldiers and expensive equipment would be spared. (Handicapped children were often preferred for this duty, because that way families could keep their able-bodied children.)

In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields, even against the objections of their parents. Before every mission, a small plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise....

....Today, however, Ahmadinejad appears in public in his Basiji uniform. During the war, he served as one of the Basiji instructors who turned children into martyrs. The generation that fought in the Iran-Iraq War has come to power along with Ahmadinejad. He owed his election in Summer 2005 to the contemporary Basiji movement. In Fall, he announced a “Basiji Week.”

Ahmadinejad subscribes to the extreme fundamentalist view that this life is of no value, and that suicidal, homicidal acts in the name of Islam are the highest form of virtue. His anti-Israel and the West rhetoric needs to be taken at face value. His regime would be likely to use nuclear weapons against Israel and the West, should they be able to build them.

Some would rationally argue that that would make no sense as it would kill even more Palestinians than Jews, but that consideration is meaningless to anyone of Ahmadinejad's mindset. Any Muslims killed during an assault on Israel would be guaranteed martyr status, so really, he would be doing them a favor. Any Iranian citizens killed by the inevitable retaliation would likewise join that enviable designation, so Ahmadinejad would be doing them a huge favor too.

Sadly, the restraint imposed by MAD just does not apply when delusionally apocalyptic tyrants are at the helm. Let's hope that Iranians are able to dislodge this evil megalomaniac once and for all.

Protesters equal Terrorists, according to DOD.

From the Contra Costa Times:

Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course — an annual training requirement for all DOD personnel that is fulfilled through Web-based instruction — the department asks the following: "Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?" To answer correctly, the examinee must select "protests." The ACLU wants that changed immediately, and it wants corrective information sent to all Department of Defense employees who received the training.

News from Tehran

The MSM appears to have given up on the story, but due to the miracle of Youtube, twitter, and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, we can watch events unfold in real-time. Sullivan seems to have the market cornered on Farsi speakers.

The video below, I think, distills events to their essence: A large street protest, police on truncheons riding motorcycles beating the crowd, a crash, the crowd protecting the injured policeman. Harshness, kindness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In the second part of this clip, Kevin Atkinson's art uses sophisticated mathematics to create perturbations in response to movement. Really cool stuff! But I also really enjoy the works he shares in the beginning because they reveal so much about visual perception and how we perceive so clearly what is just hinted at.

I hope he doesn't put his mind to writing software that can recognize numerals and letters after they are distorted!

Engine Room Audition... from Kevin Atkinson on Vimeo.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Terrorists come in more than one flavor.

By now, everyone has heard that Dr. George Tiller--one of only two doctors in the country to perform medically-necessary late term abortions--was gunned down at his church. Women whose pregnancies went terribly, terribly wrong documented the kindness, competence, and compassionate care they received at Dr Tiller's clinic here. As an aside, it is illegal to perform late-term abortions unless medically necessary. Dr. Tiller spent quite a bit of time in court proving that each and every abortion was medically necessary. You can read the legal documents here, if you like.

If the anti-abortion movement were really serious about preventing abortions, they'd ensure that women had access to contraception, the real preventer of abortions. Instead, there is a very large overlap between the anti-abortion and the abstinence-only crowd. There's an obvious problem with this. Making abortion illegal doesn't reduce, but rather, increases the number of abortions. So, I don't see any scenario where the ostensibly "pro-life" people really are. Pro-life, that is. Making abortions more difficult doesn't decrease the number of abortions, but rather, counter-intuitively, seems to increase them. Read about it here.

Some excerpts:
ROME, Oct. 11 — A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.

Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.
In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was 54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the United States, 21 per 1,000 in that year. The lowest rate, 12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and widely available contraception.

Also, the anti-abortion culture produces women who have more abortions than the pro-choice culture. How do I know? Women at private religious colleges have more--not less--abortions than women at public schools. So, yeah. Everything the anti-abortion fools do increases the abortion rate. You can find the report here.

Aside from all the women they're harming by not allowing access to safe medically necessary procedures, christian terrorists have now attempted murder 25 times, with 8 successes (four doctors, four clinic workers). Pro-murder equals pro-life? Not seeing it.

People like Dr. Tiller's killer are terrorists, and they have pretty much succeeded in terrorizing the entire abortion-providing population. Now there is only one doctor (in Colorado) who has the guts and integrity to protect the lives of women whose pregnancies have gone horribly, horribly wrong past 21 weeks. Oh, and could the "pro-life" people please call themselves something not quite so painfully ironic?

Prior to Roe v. Wade, women could get abortions only if they were really, really, really near death. What were things like for woman who had terrible complications but weren't near enough death back 1n 1971? Here's a personal story from here at comment 30.
I have known quite a few women who have faced the choice of abortion, all for health issues and including my mother, who was denied a life-saving late-term abortion in 1971 because she was not "close enough to death" for the judge who heard her case. Instead she bled out for 18 hours until the doctors could assemble enough pieces of the fetus to prove she was no longer pregnant. They were able to save her life but she was unable to ever have more children; she was 32 at the time. Needless to say, she was vehemently pro-choice.

Here's another testimonial, this time about Dr. Tiller here.
My x-wife worked in his office as an assistant. Few know he provided abortions for Middle Eastern girls who would have been stoned to death as a "mercy killing."

These girls would fly in from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and various other locations to have services they needed but could not safely get at home. Usually they had been hidden away until they could not be hidden anymore. Frequently money was raised by various sources to help these girls get out of their countries. He saved many girls lives this way.

Did you know that if you live in California (and many, many other states) and the fetus dies after 15 weeks, you cannot get a Dialation and Extraction (now known as partial birth abortion) even though the fetus is dead? So what do you do? I guess your only choice is to wait until sepsis sets in. Here's one woman's story.
Here's the story of a woman who had the good luck to have her pregnancy emergency prior to the "partial birth abortion" ban.
I was lucky. Are you surprised that I would say that? I was lucky because the partial-birth abortion ban was not yet in effect in October of 2004. If it had been, I would have been forced to undergo labor and delivery, no matter the risks to my health, and I might right now be either dead or so brain damaged I would be unable to type this. I was additionally lucky because even though I live in Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in the country--a city, Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton, you two will be visiting a great deal in the next month--my doctor happened to be only one of two doctors in this entire city that was willing and able to perform this life-saving medical procedure....

Here's a story of a woman whose fetus died in the third trimester and she began to spontaneously abort: even if the baby is dead, it's almost impossible to find a doctor to do a D&E (which now falls under the non-medical rubric 'partial birth abortion.')
Don’t come in, they told me again and again. “Go to your emergency room if you are hemorrhaging to avoid bleeding to death. No one here can do a D&E today, and unless you’re really in active labor you’re safer to wait.”

Thanks to many commenters on the Tiller threads at scienceblogs.com/pharyngula for various links and ideas.