Friday, October 30, 2009

Better Weather, Richer Color

It's been so gray, rainy, cold and dreary here that I feel compelled to post a picture from my garden from last Spring. Behold one of my favorite peonies------a named variety called Old Faithful. It's too early to be looking forward to Spring, but still.....

Have a great Weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Democratic Senators Against Health Reform, For Themselves

At least they made a reasonable amount of money. How embarassing for us all if our dems went cheap; say, 30 pieces of currency, or something.

Sen. Evan Bayh (theoretically D, from Illinois) has stated that he won't even vote to allow the current health care bill to be debated on the floor of the senate. This is serious, as it only takes 40 senators to block debate. This is terrible. Why has he decided to switch sides? Well, for the all-to-usual reason. It'll make him a truckload or two of moolah. What about his approx. 1.4 million uninsured constituents? They sure as heck don't pay his bills. Seeing as how they don't even have the money for their own health care, silly.

Who pays those bills? Why, Wellpoint insurance, who has paid his wife, Susan Bayh, at least two million dollars. Add to that, another two million or so from other health insurance company boards she sits on, and we're talking a Senator who knows what he's worth, and who his real constituency is. Hint, it's not those that vote for him, or anyone else that can't weild a 6ish figure check.

Now onto Sen. Lieberman, who has threatened to filibuster any bill with a public option. He has made his distaste for health care known. He hasn't made his wife Hadassah's work for Hill and Knowlton so well known. "The legendary lobbying and PR firm hired her as a 'senior counselor' in its 'health and pharmaceuticals practice'" in 2005. She has since quit, but Lieberman has accepted about two million from health care and pharmaceutical companies for his reelection fund in 2006 and has already taken in another cool million from them for his 2010 run. With money like that, why should he care that his constituents favor the public option 64-36?

Pic thanks to

Rare Exile on Main Street Footage Surfaces

Robert Frank is a renowned photojournalist and photographer that changed the look of photography in his book "The Americans," published back in 1958. In 1971, he took the photos for the Rolling Stones "Exile on Main Street" cover. Super-8 footage used for those photos popped up on youtube. Be the first in your state it watch it. For a music and photography geek like me, it's pretty exciting. All hail Youtube.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leiberman is derailing public option and looking longingly at Canadian Health Care.

Yes, you read that right. TPM reports "Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact filibuster any health care bill he doesn't agree with--and right now, he doesn't agree with the public option proposal making its way through the Senate." ... "Therefore I will try to stop the passage of the bill."

At the same time Mr. Lieberman doesn't seem to be able to figure out why Canada is having a much easier time getting sufficient H1N1 vaccine.

A U.S. senator looked longingly at Canada's H1N1 vaccine supply Wednesday, as Americans rushed to get vaccinated against the swine flu virus and some places ran short of doses.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, attributed the U.S. shortage in part to countries such as Canada, where H1N1 vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline faced pressure from Ottawa to "fill Canadian needs" for the vaccine before supplying the United States.
Reported by CBC News.

Now why do you think Canada could strong-arm GlaxoSmithKline and (insert random doctor from the US) couldn't? Hmmm? Any takers?

ps. Sorry, Barney.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a Costume!

(Left click on pics for greater clarity.)

Last year when we were visiting Antwerp, I really liked the sculpture depicting the "ongoing" work of finishing the Cathedral there. When the church was originally built (starting in the late 1400's), they ran out of funds, and one tower remains incomplete. In the 1800's, a sculptor fashioned these figures which stand alongside the church, continuing to "work" on what is now considered a permanently unfinished building.

When I first saw them, it was too late and dark to take pictures, but since it was not far from our hotel, I decided to double back the next morning, and take advantage of better lighting. When I arrived, I saw that a street performer was puttering about amongst the figures, putting on the finishing touches of a costume to make him blend in .

In vain, I struggled to get shots that did not include him. I felt too shy to ask him to get out of the way for a few moments, but now what I like best about these pictures is the fact that he was getting ready. You can also see the mirror (top pic) that he used to apply his make-up, and of course, his tip-jar.

All he needs now are his gloves.

Orginal " Cold Pizza for Breakfast"

Christine Lavin wrote that really fun song way back when....

She has recently changed some of the the lyrics to something about Oprah instead Dr Tarnower. She decided retroactively that the lyrics were too mean.(No wonder this part was my favorite .)

Another good reason to change the lyrics might be that people no longer know who Dr. Tarnower and Jean Harris are. Short version: he wrote the Scarsdale (low fat) diet book, and she shot him for being unfaithful.

Now you can enjoy the original lyrics (they're better), if you're mean enough, that is. The "mean" part starts around t=1:24

Herman Tarnower would never approve
I can hear him spinning in his grave
He could be alive eating pizza right now
Except for when it came to dating women,
The good doctor did not know how to behave!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Herman was healthy
But Herman is dead.
A pizza surely didn't do him in.
Jean Harris is behind bars lookin' quite sad.....and thin!
Do you see what I'm gettin' at?
You tend to kill when you're skinny
But not when you're fat!

So give me pizza for breakfast.....

I'm pretty sure she is re-releasing this tune with the new lyrics on a new album. Rather than changing the lyrics, I wish she had gotten rid of the gasping after the words 'warm coke'. I could do without that.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not an Alien, and Way Stranger Than Fiction

Cymothoa exigua is a salt water parasite that grasps the tongue of its host fish to begin feeding. The tongue dies eventually, and the parasite replaces the tongue staying put right there in the fish's mouth. A claustrophobic Cymothoan would have a pretty miserable existence it appears.

(The above pictures came from here.)

So, this unusual creature may not be an actual alien, but it was an inspiration for the creatures in the movie "Alien". Remember the mouth-within-a-mouth look of the aliens in that movie? (See picture below.)

Giant Seagull Steals the Show

As the newscaster read the news, a seemingly gigantic seagull strolled past.

The explanation?

The backdrop of the city for the show is not just a fixed shot. An outdoor camera mounted high up on a building streams the backdrop for the show. Apparently it is right next to the ledge that this seagull was strutting around on.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Fashion Was Not Intended For Halloween!

Reid Peppard is the designer to blame for these atrocities. Truly, fashion has jumped the shark when people start festooning their hair with preserved rodents.

..... or using a rat for a coin purse.

.....or mice for cufflinks.

I know there was a time when people bought brightly dyed rabbit foot keychains, but they were featureless. Fox stoles often used to have the faces and extremities intact, but it's hard to believe that anyone wants that look to come back.

My Favorite Deli

I just saw a poll being taken at the Huffington Post about the best delis in New York City, and was pleased to see Russ and Daughters near the top. ( #2 )

Russ and Daughters is an old fashioned (in a good way!) deli on the lower east side that specializes in smoked fish, pickled herring, lox, caviar and other delicacies.

We chanced upon it many years back. It was crowded with customers (a good sign), and everyone listened carefully as they called out which number was "next". While we were waiting for our pastrami lox-----beautiful salmon coated with crushed peppercorns------we saw an angry looking woman thrust a large tin of caviar onto the counter and demand a refund.

Naturally, they asked what the problem had been, and she declared, "It does not say anywhere on the package, 'refrigerate after opening', and my husband left it out. This was expensive, and the container should have included that information."

The clerk looked at her in disbelief and responded, "We cannot give a refund for that. The caviar was good, and you left it out, so that's your fault."

She reminded him that she thought the packaging was inadequate without the appropriate warning about refrigeration. The exchanges went back and forth a few rounds and when finally all the customers in the store were rolling their eyes and shaking their heads, the clerk said, "The can does not have to say that. Caviar is fish. Any idiot knows that you have to refrigerate fish!"

"But we're not talking about 'any idiot'! We're talking about my husband!"

There was a lengthy pause. "Number 87!"

"But I'm not finished!"

"Yes ma'am, you are!.....Next!!"

Customers surged between her and the counter, and she backed up, mouth gaping and gasping like a sturgeon out of water. The whole store erupted in laughter when the door finally closed behind her.

We've been back whenever we get the chance. If you ever want to check them out, be advised, they are closed every Saturday (naturally).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A dog hero

Here's a story (and a video) of a homeless dog behaving completely altruistically. He (or she) dragged a dog that had been hit out of heavy traffic.

As mentioned earlier, dogs and humans have been companion species for about 135,000 year, it now appears. What benefits have accrued? Dogs can read human expressions. As proved by scientists. Humans can also read dog expressions. As proved by me.

Thanks to my daughter apricot blossom for showing me this video.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Larval Jewelry?!?

©heatherkh via flickr
I don't know that I would buy one, but this is pretty interesting.

A jewelry maker and former naturalist, Hubert Duprat has made jewelry using the larvae of the caddisfly. The larvae of the caddisfly have evolved to coat themselves with gravel to camouflage themselves (first picture).

Duprat removed their gravel coverings, and placed them in tanks with gold flakes and other precious materials.

Here are a few of the results.

(Photos Jean-Luc Fournier. Courtesy Art:concept, Paris, and Zero Gallery, Milan.)

When will someone surround me with gold flakes and precious gems and let me cover myself with them?

Puppy Love

Another story about dog fighting and animal cruelty has come to national attention. An owner was found to have about 80 dogs, mostly pit bulls, living in horrific conditions, hidden in the woods. He is thought to have been providing dogs for fights even if not directly involved in the organizing or attending the fights himself.

I only wish the penalties for this beastly activity were more severe. Although I am allergic to dogs and can't have one as a pet, I am a dog lover. The degree of emotional connection between humans and dogs, and their astonishing loyalty to their owners demand reciprocal loyalty and protection on our part. (The linked story is a real tear-jerker!)

Humans and dogs are known to have been living closely together for at least 15,000 years. New genetic studies suggest that humans started domesticating dogs more like 135,000 years ago. Some scientists believe that wolf social structure inspired humans to behave more cooperatively. (Chimpanzees, by comparison, are found to be relatively non-altruistic.) Another study reveals that dogs (wild ones) are even better at reading human gestures such as pointing than chimps are.

The picture I posted above I found at Izismile. To me it reveals this loving pet's ability to channel his master's innermost feelings.

Poltergeist-----the Rag

Composer, William Bolcom, has written piano pieces continuing in the ragtime tradition, though with a more modern feel.
I love the playful and spooky spirit of this piece masterfully performed here by Olivier Cazal. Check out the eyebrow action at t=2:23 or so!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scott Joplin's Platinum Hit

The Maple Leaf Rag was written in 1899, and was the first piece of sheet music to sell over a million copies.

I remember my grandmother telling me about how my grandfather would play the Maple Leaf Rag to impress her back when he was wooing her. She still had the sheet music, yellow, brittle and flaking around the edges. She gave it to us when my sister and I started taking piano lessons, and my sister has it to this day. It looks exactly like this edition. (I love the access that we have to cherished memories through the divine intervention of the internet.)

I learned the first two strains, but never the third which is harder. Looking around on You-Tube, there were a lot of versions, but I kind of liked this one. He plays it "shuffle style" rather than straight which many musicians argue about tediously, and he improvises and embellishes frequently which would probably enrage yet more scholars. But I really enjoy his version more than just about any of the others. (Sometimes a potentially good version is ruined by poor recording quality.) Often it is simply played way too fast.

The piano he used also sounds perfect for this. Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Since I live in an upstate town with limited shopping, I lead a very sheltered existence with respect to fashion. I was really not prepared for the wild and bizarre offerings in the purse department of the TJ Maxx in Boston.

New to me was the idea of a bag made from fur, a furbag if you will. The name alone should have tipped designers off that it was a bad idea. Fur hats, coats, and so on at least have the purpose of keeping someone warm. What do people want to keep warm in their purses? (The one below was also poorly constructed, and all bunched up.)

Even though they were at TJ Maxx, the furbags were expensive, like five or six hundred bucks-----down from initial prices like $900. Given that the purses were even at TJ Maxx, I suppose that people have cast their dollar votes, and the furbags lost.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkin carving is an art

My inestimable brother-in-law carved this pumpkin of him, my dear sis and my two most charming nieces. A round of applause, please.


I just saw this video at thedailydish.

Where Have You Heard This Before?

Check out Carl Stalling's performance of Raymond Scott's 'Powerhouse'. Do you remember where you have heard this? There are at least couple of times it's been used in popular culture. I'll post the answers later. No cheating!

But meanwhile, the menacing energy of Edgar Ordonez's version of the Beatles tune "A Hard Day's Night" kind of reminds me of 'Powerhouse'. (Sorry, there is no visual component. The melody from the Beatles starts around t=24, so patience!) He concludes his arrangement with a boogie-woogie feel take, t=2:20. It's a bit much, but it is fun and different.

October Weather?

My camera battery had to be recharged, so most of the snow had melted before I took these shots. The snapdragons, salvia and carnations all held up pretty well against the wintry blast.

I guess I don't have to feel guilty about not raking before the snow fell this year.

By the way, this is not proof that global warming is a hoax.

Green Pumps!

They even go well with my green purse.

Too bad they're just earrings.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Couple Halloween Costume Do's and Don'ts

I thought of some things I forgot to mention last year.

Be inventive! (Like this kid's Mom was.) Sushi costume with wasabi and ginger headband!!!! Brilliant....

Reconsider if your costume just simply makes you look horrible. I was astonished once to see a (single!) friend show up at a party wearing what looked like a tarp with some leaves and twigs glued to it. She said she was a pile of raked leaves. When we introduced her to someone hot, I suspect she wished she could be siphoned up by one of those giant leaf collection trucks. Awkward...

If you are making a costume for a child, make sure it is something that almost everyone recognizes so they don't have to explain it to everyone.

Again, if you are making something for a child, and if there is a head portion of the costume, try and make it detachable especially if they are going to wear it to a party, or to school.

When I was five, my mom made me a costume that broke both those two rules. I was a 'Nauga'! A Nauga was the fictitious creature from which Naugahyde brand vinyl was taken--------according to their ad campaign. Nobody knew what a Nauga was back then either, and it was hard for a five year old to explain.

The worst thing was I wore it to kindergarten.

In addition to the fact that there was no way to take off the 'head', she had not made an actual opening for the mouth. She simply appliqued that toothy grimace in felt right onto the face. When it was time for lunch and the Halloween party, I discovered that I could not eat with my costume on! Being very motivated by the treats, I discovered that if I withdrew one arm from its sleeve inside my costume, and brought my hand up to an eye-hole, I could slip jelly beans and the like through the small opening and eat them that way.
Another problem was that I needed help to take it off to go to the bathroom....

Which reminds me, if your young child insists on being a mummy, make sure they go to the bathroom before you wrap them up!

And ladies, remember, it's Halloween, not slutfest! If you want to wear one of these tacky outfits, just keep it in your bedroom and role-play to your heart's content.

If you do buy one anyway, be careful about what is included------in the Warrior Princess one, the shoes are the best part, and yet are not part of the get-up. And the sex kitten costume does not include that bod.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Unfinished Project Looming?

I guess I am just too fond of certain shades of green. When looking for handbags just recently, I found one in a green that I just could not resist. But it had unappealing brown handles, and a positively eye-zorching shade of rust for the lining. Rust with that gorgeous fresh green????

I felt I had an obligation to rescue the green suede from it's ignominious coexistence with those poorly chosen materials. I bought it, and grabbed my seam ripper. Here in the pictures it is already partially dismantled. See what I mean about that lining?

I am debating between blue or black for the interior and handles. Navy blue would make it perfect to pair with any of my three favorite scarves, but the green positively sings when paired with black.

Now that I have blogged about it, I have to finish it, right?

Think You've Seen Everything?

I posted this just because it is such a peculiar oddity. Who would have thought that people would spend time doing this? I suppose if you wanted to listen to tango music while unicycling that could be fun, but pretending that their routine is some sort of tango is preposterous. Although the guy struts out boldly with a proper tango attitude, that's the closest thing to footwork in the entire thing. And because they are on wheels, they lose all snap in their motions. What is tango without footwork and snap? It's whatever that ill-conceived performance above was.

Don't get me wrong, I think that they are both very good at unicycling. But there is clearly a reason why this has not caught on as a spectator event. Unicyling may be fun and challenging, but it is unsatisfying to watch.

Seems Like a Subliminal Confession

It's hard to believe, but in 1973, this was the logo of the Catholic church.
I wonder when they retired that logo.....

Two to Tango?

This exciting piano tango was composed by Edgar Ordóñez. Although the melody sounds very traditional, his composition exhibits intriguing counterpoint and novel textures. I find myself wondering if it is in fact a duet. Or maybe he has three or four arms....

He has also written several fugues, nocturnes, and interesting arrangements of both Eleanor Rigby and the Pink Panther theme.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not Men In Bear Costumes After All

A commenter suspected that the picture for the following post had men in bear costumes. I wasn't so sure.

I guess this clinches it. They are real.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Bear Of Peace

Fifteen years ago, the Nobel Prize for Peace was shared by three recipients, Arafat, Peres and Rabin, prompting an Israeli citizen ( I imagine with a very heavy Russian accent) to comment, "The bear of peace has not yet been caught, but already they are making coats from its fur." (I could not find the quote-----it's too old but not famous enough.)

I have always wondered where the phrase "bear of peace" came from, and what it meant. I can find nothing on the internet other than New Age Bears with peace pipes.....

My best guess is that it refers (like the 'bear market') to the famous skittishness of bears-----the way they disappear into the menacing forest when they hear humans puttering nearby. Just like peace!!! Peace does not just fly down from above and perch coyly on one's shoulder like a dove. It must be pursued into dangerous territory, and is remarkably elusive.

Anyway, today many are shaking their heads that Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with something rather short of a lifetime of achievement in this field. He has stated good intentions-----nuclear disarmament, a commitment to peaceful negotiation and global co-operation on climate change------but has as yet to achieve any of these goals. Like Arafat, Peres and Rabin, Obama has been awarded a prize in anticipation of good works. We all saw how well that worked last time. Perhaps this time will be better.

Frankly, the award reveals the degree of the world's (Sweden's?) desperation for the US to join other countries in confronting the dangers facing us all. After eight years of Bush, awarding such a prize to our new president seems like a way of rewarding the American citizenry for having done a better job voting.

Makes more sense than assuming it was an affirmative action pick.

Beck Loses Yet More Advertizers----And I Helped

A few week back, I used one of my main skills-----writing mean spirited screeds-----to help the campaign against Glenn Beck's show. An organization ( provided me with addresses, and I sent off my missives detailing how Beck was a loathsome, fear-mongering huckster whom they could not possibly wish to be associated with their products. After receiving a huge volume of such letters and e-mails, Beck lost about half his advertisers.

Of course that left half.

Then, just last week I got phone numbers for five of the communication departments of companies still advertising on Beck's show. I placed five calls and left recorded messages explaining why their companies could not possibly want to be associated with a such a phony "news" show, and how Beck maliciously made outrageous claims about the President, and invented "facts" to suit his fancy. I pointed out that Beck's credibility depended on advertisers being willing to back him; too many viewers falsely assume that he must be telling the truth, or they would not have put him on TV.

Only in one case did I get through to an actual person. Interestingly, the fellow who took my message lives in New Delhi, India. It seems Target outsources their customer service. He seemed very interested though in American efforts to dislodge such corruption from the media.

Apparently the phone blitz has paid off! Glenn has lost 19 more advertisers. I think that is almost all of them.

If he is kicked off the air, no doubt he will grouse about free speech; but he can say whatever he wants. He cannot, however, insist that people pay him to speak when they don't like what he says.

Of course, I do have qualms about this line of attack and reasoning. After all, Bill Maher was kicked off the air because advertisers were afraid to be associated with his impolitic remarks. But the people who complained about his show were idiots!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Enjoy some Scarlatti (eventually) while learning about fun, and how it changes our behavior.

Hat tip to Rob!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bizarre Fashions

I suppose I should not be surprised. After all, ridiculous haute couture clothing has been around for a long time. But this collection is staggeringly awful, and leaves me wondering, "someone got paid for this?""
I will make one exception and note that with the right lighting and background, this outfit achieves a fun "woman-sawed-in-half" effect, so it might work for a Halloween party.

And I suppose there is some enjoyment to be had from the orange gown that appears to have suffered extensive damage from tunneling rodents------a good laugh, that is.

But really, what the Hell are these designers thinking? Do they actually think some woman wants to venture forth looking like a flounced pillow sham?

I don't even know where to start enumerating the deficiencies of the lavender outfit, except that I have heard that last year's Elizabethan collars are Way Out now------of course I thought they went out of style over four hundred years ago, but I suppose fashion is cyclical.

Mostly it just seems like they cannot even conceive of a woman coming across as attractive.

In fairness, it must be said that the designers don't know how to make themselves look good either. The cuffed, too-short, plaid pants, the ill fitting jacket (on the guy on the left) the patterned lapels that clash with his tie, a too formal black jacket with jeans (sport jackets can go with jeans, but this looks more like a suit jacket), and a possible dress-shoes-without-socks violation again on the left all suggest that they are fashion poseurs without originality or vision who feel the need to be merely outrageous (in the currently accepted ways, of course) to establish their cred. But at least they look better than the woman on the right in her pink shoulder tutu!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Single Payer explained.

More Ravings From a Conservative Wingnut

Yesterday I posted about a conservative effort to retranslate the Bible and purge it of suspect "liberal" corruptions. Not content with rewriting history, conservatives now have the Bible on their list. Astonishingly, they would like to leave out the story about Jesus protecting the adulterous woman from being stoned to death! They also have problems with Jesus saying, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." I imagine "Judge not lest ye be judged" is probably on their list to things to omit.

It really seems like they want to create a document that would justify biblical punishments against gays, liberals, feminists, atheists or abortionists. Curiously, while professing to be Christian they seek to dismiss all the teachings that promote gentleness, compassion, humility and generosity, and instead seem to long to "go Old Testament on peoples' asses".

Here, in their own words, are the benefits of this undertaking. (My use of boldface)

Benefits include:

* mastery of the Bible, which is priceless
* mastery of the English language, which is valuable
* thorough understanding of the differences in Bible translations, particularly the historically important King James Version
* benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses
* liberals will oppose this effort, but they will have to read the Bible to criticize this, and that will open their minds

Why on earth the author believes that this new text would be acceptable material for public school, I have no idea. But then, he is not very smart. Check out his understanding of the concept of open-mindedness! I copied this large tract just in case he decides to remove it for some reason----like someone convinces him people are laughing at him!

Essay: Quantifying Openmindedness

We quantify intelligence (IQ), academic performance (grades), body weight (pounds or kilograms), running speed, and all sorts of other personal characteristics. But perhaps more useful than any of those numbers would be a measure of open-mindedness.

By "open-mindedness" I mean a genuine willingness to consider the evidence before rejecting an idea. I do not mean tolerance, or a rejection of absolute truth, or skepticism. Open-mindedness means here what the dictionary says: "receptive to arguments or ideas."[1]

One way to measure open-mindedness is to test for close-mindedness, and then take the converse. A subject for our measurement can be asked if he views certain proposals as impossible. By impossible I do not mean mathematically impossible, but so unlikely as to be considered absurd. Belief in impossibility is a sign of close-mindedness, because it reflects the unwillingness of the subject to be "receptive" to the possibility.

Example Questions and Topics

1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?
2. Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?
3. Do you resist the possibility that Hollywood values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?
4. Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?
5. When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?
6. Did you think, or still think, that the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") is impossible?
7. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?
8. Do you think that there must be a material explanation for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?
9. Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have been different in the past?
10. Do you think that it is impossible to measure openmindedness?
11. Do you think that evolution [2] must have occurred?
12. Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?
13. Do you resist admitting that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?

A dozen such questions can be posed, and one's closed-mindedness can be scored based on how often they answered "yes" above. Answering more than half as "yes" reflects acute closed-mindedness.

Seems rather like his definition for open-mindedness is gullibility for notions without any evidence or support whatsoever. What a tool!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anne Frank on video

I just learned of this video. When I've been to Amsterdam, I've been unable to make myself go to the Anne Frank house; too sad. Anne Frank's story has driven a life-long interest in why some people behave with uncommon decency in difficult times, and why others in the same circumstances, who would otherwise be decent people, do not. But I have no answers. The glimpse of Anne in the video above is so bittersweet.

An "Updated" Conservative Bible ?

Conservatives are eyeing the bible with suspicion as it does not really fit in all that well with their belief system. (Too much sharing, caring & forgiving and not nearly enough judging, stone throwing and smiting!) Some of them are now proposing to update it, to make the conservative values more apparent, and to eliminate the "liberal bias" that permeates many translations.

I'm not making this up!

Included in the list of ways to improve the bible is the following suggestion.

Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

Gee, so much for teaching about the love of money being the root of all evil. They also reccommend:
Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God.
"Liberal wordiness"! This is funny especially because just a few lines before they object to the "dumbing down" in many other modern bibles. Another linguistic peeve of theirs is the inclusion of so many "liberal" terms in the Bible:
Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle"........(Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians. For example, the conservative word "volunteer" is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word "comrade" is used three times, "laborer(s)" is used 13 times, "labored" 15 times, and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") is used 55 times.)

It does not seem to bother them that 'volunteer' means something very different from 'laborer', that is that laborers are supposed to get paid------perhaps that's against their conservative principles. (And don't even get me started about their need to use pomp-speak------they used the bombastic "utilize' where 'use' would have been sufficient.)

And then there's this:

Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census

Sure, it makes sense to use modern words like 'gamble' or whatever. But they just might want to run this one by Conservative word smith and spin guru, Frank Luntz, who earned a pretty penny from the casino lobbies by spearheading the campaign to have 'gambling' referred to as the more innocent sounding 'gaming'. And how on earth is using the modern term 'register' rather than 'enroll' supposed to "combat harmful addictions"? Their logic on this point escapes me.......

The writing throughout their proposal suffers from poor grammar, inferior structure, faulty logic and questionable style. Given their evident inability to write well, this new Bible should be a doozie! Given their audience it will probably be a bestseller.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Texas Rethinks Sex-Ed

After years of embracing and championing a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of sex-ed-------otherwise referred to as "abstinence only sex ed", Texans have been forced to acknowledge that the program has been a terrible failure. According to Brenda Bell of the American Statesman (the Austin Newspaper):
More government money has been spent on the cause of sexual abstinence in Texas than any other state, but it still has the third-highest teen birth rate in the country and the highest percentage of teen mothers giving birth more than once.

The rate of student pregnancies in Austin high schools has increased 57 percent since the 2005-06 school year, and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising among Travis County teens.

STD rates are rising dramatically as well, leading Texas politicians to devise new plans to educate their state's teenagers regarding health and sexuality.