Sunday, May 31, 2009

What did the FBI do with their top Arabic speaking counterintelligence agent after 9-11?


The FBI has 6 (that's SIX) Arabic speakers. One of them, Bassem Youssef, had previously spotted the al-Quaeda threat; waaay ahead of the curve. So, of course, the FBI let him cool his heels till, well, now.

Read about it here. The article is only two pages long. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Republicans shoot themselves in their (choose vital organ of choice.)

G. Gordon Liddy (right wing talk show host) on Sonia Sotomayor:

"Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

Wow. Just wow. Way to insult half your (presumed) base.

Speaking of Republican women, how do they feel about Judge Sotomayor? Well, 33% of Republican women approve of Sotomayor, compared with 19% of Men according to this Gallup poll.

Newt Gingrich (remember him?) said, via twitter: "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

Tom Tancredo (R-suspicious vowel at end of name), not to be outdone, accused Judge Sotormayor of belonging to the "Latino KKK" only without hoods.
You can watch it here, if you like.

I just checked the US Census bureau website and discovered that Hispanics, as of 2006, make up 14.8% of the US population. Moreover, the Hispanic growth rate is 24.3%, compared to an overall US growth rate of a measly 6.1%.

Awesome. Infuriate Women (50% of the population, roughly), infuriate Hispanics more (male hispanics equal another 7.4% of the population, roughly), infuriate random sentient creatures (Uhhh, too difficult to count), but not angry white, Republican males. Infurated people = 50 + 7.4 + (unknown). This doesn't even take into account Democrats that give Judge Sotomayor an 81% approval rating. At this rate, Republicans will be unelectable next go round! I can't wait for the next intemperate comment!

{Oh, you Dems in Congress, suck it up for once, and don't buckle to this sorry Republican pressure. If you haven't noticed, Sotomayor is hardly a liberal. She's center, maybe a bit center-right.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

The last gasp of the Republican party

Everyone now, point and laugh. Not because it's a conservative rap--which theoretically could work, I think--but because it is so amazingly lame. Ha ha. /nelson.

My favorite line? "Jesus made me conservative and told me to waterboard." Good t-shirt. Plus, "Three things taught me conservative love: Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged." Oooh, aren't the Randians cuuute?

Here's the real thing: "La Rage," by the French kick-ass rapper Keny Arkana. I know, I know, they can't sing rock and roll, but oh, say can they rap.

Interesting Stuff About Junk

Mary Roach, the author of "Stiff" (a book about what happens to the body during decomposition) has another book out, "Bonk". Here she is presenting some of her findings about scientific studies of sex.

(Sensitive souls may want to avoid the demonstration of Danish techniques to increase sow fertility starting at t=10:45.)

I wonder what she will write about next. Mary Roach, please keep'em coming.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Green Porno!

Biology is Fun, people. If you need convincing, Go Here.
The engine of evolution, reproduction, is even stranger and more wonderous than you might imagine, as Isabella Rosellini illustrates using gigantic origami sculptures, limpet hats, naughty puppet whales...

Warning, many reproductive strategies represented, most of which can't be tried at home, not to mention that you may be forced to hear the phrase "sequential hermaphrodites."

Bizarro post of the day: AT&T for the American Idol Kris Allen Win!

Read about it here.

In short, Adam Lambert (I might call him Screechy McScreech on a bad day), the flamboyant Queen-fronting Kiss-singing-off-the-stage (not that that's difficult) colouratura trilling American Idol superstar lost to Kris Allen, a sweet guy from Arkansas who couldn't hold a tune. How could this happen? Now we know.

According to the New York Times link above,
AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of “American Idol,” might have influenced the outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.

Why would they want Kris Allen to win? Thinking...Thinking....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A brief reminder of middle-school civics class

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

John Stuart Mill

Straights win rights to string of 8 letters -- M A R R I A G E


We now all know that the California Supreme Court ruled for Proposition 8. However, the ruling was on the narrowest possible grounds. To quote (page 37) "Proposition 8 reasonably must be interpreted in a limited fashion as eliminating only the right of same-sex couples to equal access to the designation of marriage, and as not otherwise affecting the constitutional right of those couples to establish an officially recognized family
relationship." (Emphasis added.)

In non-lawyer-speak, opposite couples get the sequence of letters M * A * R * R * I * A * G *E, Same sex couples get all the rights that "traditionally" go with the word marriage. So, the battle was over a couple of phonemes.

But wait, there's more!
in all other respects same-sex couples retain the same substantive protections embodied in the state constitutional rights of privacy and due process as those accorded to opposite-sex couples and the same broad protections under the state equal protection clause that are set forth in the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases, including the general principle that sexual orientation constitutes a suspect classification and that statutes according differential treatment on the basis of sexual orientation are constitutionally permissible only if they satisfy the strict scrutiny standard of review.
p. 41
Shorter version: second verse, same as the first. Except louder and stronger. Same-sex, uh, nuptials, have exactly the same rights as those other ones.

Oh, but this is not sufficient. Why is actual marriage (I'm looking at you DOMA) important? Read this story of a woman and her three chidren unable to visit their dying partner/mother Lisa Pond because they had the misfortune of being in Florida when Lisa collapsed with a brain aneurysm. Family values? As I have said previously, only for very small values of "family."

Just another example of those that rather mysteriously call themselves "Pro-Family" kneecapping actual families.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dolphins are hip, humans are square, or Whole lotta hoopla goin' on.

Here dolphins demonstrate their awesomeness by blowing air bubbles in some magical way (I suspect rainbows are invoved, though I can't see any in the video) and then playing with them. One dolphin figured out how to make these air rings at Orlando SeaWorld, and then taught his compadres. Pretty cool, huh? I am reminded of a Douglas Adams quote:
Man has always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much...the wheel, New York, wars and so on...while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man...for precisely the same reason.

I suspect the dolphins are on to something

How do they do it?
Several months ago, curators noticed a bottlenose dolphin at Dolphin Cove had learned to expel air from its blowhole. With a flick of its head, the dolphin then created a circle of air -- a silvery bubble ring. Curators then saw the dolphin using its rostrum (the "bottlenose" part) to twist, spin and re-shape the ring, sometimes biting a bigger ring to make a smaller one.
Full article found here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

RIP John Martyn

John Martyn was a very good friend of Nick Drake's, who didn't die young. But yet, the world has lost his beautiful voice. I must confess that I love his music. I must also confess that this allows me to put off posting something substantial about the total mess we're in now. Everybody altogether "Torture B A D." "Healthcare G O O D." Thank you. As a reward, the following clip. PS. Don't be lulled by this beautiful song--layers upon layers of complexity with just a guitar and a voice.

One more, to make no mistake (hee hee.)

I guess I'm at that age where all my favorites are dropping like ever-so-musical two winged creatures. Makes me worry. But still, such beauty.

You've got everything now--Happy 50th, Morrissey

Can one use the words "Happy" and Morrissey in the same sentence? The video below is from 1983. Oh, you handsome devil.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Heartwarming" isn't always a swear word

Sometimes a heartwarming story is just what one needs. I spent the last two days in bed basically unable to move, except for the trip to the dentist, and don't we all look forward to such outings, all?

However, my head feels clearer, and I'm out of bed, so I'm tentatively typing in time today, or something not quite so alliterative.

Anyhoo, happy squirrel!

RIP Lux Interior

I somehow missed the late, great Lux Interior's death, 62 wonderful years, back in February. I saw the Cramps about 5 years ago here in Portland at this beautiful old venue, "The Crystal Ballroom." It was just after I got divorced, and my ex--who left me, hadn't yet figured out that the parting wasn't mutual--had just called me to tell me that he had met someone he liked oh-so-much better than me; (my current love tells me he was similarly clueless when ending his first relationship, so please understand ... but yet, I was, well, heartbroken doesn't begin to cover it.) I left work wearing my oh-so-business suit without changing into appropriate Portland attire; three bands were on prior to the Cramps; two or three times (it seemed like many more) random people came up to me and said "are you OK?" Everyone at the venue was much younger than me, to grant the concerned some courtesy, and not wearing suits; but, needless to say, it didn't improve my mood. Did I mention that someone yelled at me, as I walked to the venue "CHEER UP?"

The Cramps came on. Lux, twelve years older than me, rocked the leopard spandex; Poison Ivy, the guitarist, equally perfect. Did I mention that they were a couple for 35 years? Rumor has it that he picked her up hitchhiking, and the rest was history.

Everything I like in music: funny, rather louder than required, Psycho-rockabilly punk, literate; and, of course, stilettos!!!!

Thank you Lux; my best thoughts, such as they are, P. Ivy.

Love, djinn

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Random Terry Pratchett Quote

There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.

Actual child vs. NOM child

The National Organization for Marriage (whose founder, Maggie Gallagher, currently gets 42% of the fundraising essentially deposited directly into her bank account) has a shiny new ad, where we are warned about the dangers of, and I kid you not, our kids "learning a new way of thinking." I didn't realize thinking, even, heavens, new thinking, was so very very dangerous. I wonder what these NOM people think happens in those buildings that kids go to occassionaly, and have the quaint name of "schools?" Oh, and one of the kids admits to that problem we all know is destructive of western culture as we know it--that would be, wait for it, confusion. Yeah. Eeek! Better outlaw Geometry while we're at it. Don't believe me? Watch it yourself. No sniggering now. (Well, some light mocking and derision just can't be helped.)

What are actual children up to? One 3rd grader in Colorado is organizing a pro gay marriage rally after he learned a gay couple in his neighborhood can't get married.

We have a winner! Real children 1, scripted children 0.

(on edit) Whe Calla lily and Apricot blossom were just tykes (about 1991) and we were living in Ann Arbor, MI; I overheard the following: To set the stage, Apricot blossom was playing with two Barbies; they were getting married. Calla Lily stormed in, watched the goings on and the following dialog ensued:
Calla Lily: Those two Barbies can't get married.
Apricot Blossom: Oh yes they can.
Apricot Blossom (for the win) Not when they're wearing swim suits!

My take? Will kids be confused by same sex marriage? Not if the appropriate clothing is involved. I also suspect the presence of cake is more important than the genders of the parties involved.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The crashing trainwreck that's life in the aught 9's got you down?

Perhaps you need some Slovakian polka nurses!

For your listening enjoyment:

If "Atomik Harmonik Turbo Polka" doesn't cheer you up, uh... how about aging, bow-tie wearing, umbrella-brandishing, banjo-wielding Swedish rappers?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's Eurovision time again!

Although there's nothing as stunning as the rather distubingly shiny Verka Serduchka/Ukranian entry from last year, I previewed a number of exceedingly macaroni and extra cheezy entries, so you my dear reader(s) don't have to. What did I find? Well, besides the rather disturbingly wholesome and, uh, eurovisiony Norwegian singer/violinist winner (sorry ancestors)which you needn't watch, I did find the Czech entry--dancing penguins and a rap-like kinda thingie!!! Let's hear it for fake fur! (Always a fan.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fun Stuff! European Genetic Map

The above map, from the deliciously named website strange maps, shows the genetic overlap of European populations. One of the hypotheses concerning the findings is that the English (and Irish) population still consists of the desecendents of the original pre-Celtic, pre-Danish, and pre-Norman invasions. Being mostly English, myself, I find this oddly comforting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Classic rock radio if we lived in a perfect world -- NRBQ

The best rock and roll band you never heard of. 1/3 Jerry Lee Lewis, 1/3 Thelonious Monk, and 1/3 the Stooges (That's Moe, Curly, and Larry; not Iggy and friends, well, maybe a little.)

And, for an encore:

watch Terry Adams pound on the piano with a closed fist, in tune, and on key; and slap that clavinette!