30 August, 2005

Plan (To Kill) B

Again, random news sites are good things on occasion. I would seriously recommend clicking random links and seeing what there is to see... Like this little blurb from News-Medical.net:

Many groups, including reproductive rights groups, say easier access would help women get the pills in time following a rape or broken condom, leading to fewer abortions, while Conservative opponents claim that wider availability would lead to more promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.

Kirsten Moore, president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project accuses the FDA of continually procrastinating and says there there is no way to ensure underage girls would not get the pills and "that this is the end of it".

But the group, Concerned Women for America (CWA), a conservative group that opposes over-the-counter sales, has welcomed the FDA decision.

Wendy Wright, CWA's senior policy director, says it is naive to assume any over-the-counter scheme for the morning-after pill would be effective, as a 17-year-old could buy it for a 13-year-old girl, or worse yet, a pedophile could purchase this drug for his victims.

Now, the last part of the blocked section really gets to me... The old "But a pedophile..." argument rears its ugly head yet again. You folks out there should remember the good old days back before the ACLU took the Communications Decency Act to court? And won handily at that?

This same line was the one used by those that wanted this here Internet to be age-restricted and porn-filtered and chatroom-monitored until even Adolux Huxley and George Orwell would find it absurd. Didn't work then, did it. Didn't work the next time with Children's Online Protection Act either...

But those are different subjects, you say? And you're making our argument for us, you say? By equating the morning-after pill with hardcore smut merchants, you say?

Wrong... I'm equating the arguments that this Wendy Wright person seems to be making with arguments done in the past that attempt to equate their own moral standard as "protecting childdren from pedophiles" rather than simply allowing their moral standard to stand for itself.

And that, to me, is the worst part. I'm fine with people making their arguments and standing by their moral standings. But don't use atrocious scare tactics that involve things you can't prove.

27 August, 2005

Un-Intelligent Design

The L.A. Times put up a piece today that I find personally disturbing.
The 45-foot-high concrete apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists.

Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution."

The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.
Now, I grew up within an easy drive of the Cabazon dinosaurs. From long before I was a kid, they were the most kitchy spot in all of southern California. Even when I was in college, we'd occasionally drive out there just to have a late-night study session at the little roadside diner out there. And now, the owners are turning it into an argument for the exact wording of the Book of Genesis:
The nearly 7-acre museum, low-tech theme park and science center embodies its founder's belief that God created the world in six days. The dinosaurs, even super carnivores such as T. rex, dined as vegetarians in the Garden of Eden until Adam and Eve sinned — and only then did they feast on other creatures, according to the Christian-based young-Earth theory.

About 4,500 years after Adam and Eve arrived, the theory goes, pairs of baby dinosaurs huddled in Noah's Ark, and a colossal flood drowned the rest and scattered their fossils. The ark-borne animals repopulated the planet — meaning that folk tales about fire-breathing beasts are accounts of humans battling dinosaurs, who still roamed the planet.
And then there's Dinosaur Adventure Land out in Florida:
Kids romping through the $1.5-million Florida theme park can bounce on a "Long Neck Liftasaurus" swing seat; launch water balloons at a T. rex and a stegosaurus, and smooth their own sandbox-size Grand Canyons, whose formation is credited to the flood. A "fossilized" pickle purports to show that dinosaur bones could have hardened quickly. Got an upcoming birthday? Dinosaur Adventure Land does pizza parties.

"Go to Disneyland, they teach evolution. It's subtle; signs that say, 'Millions of years ago' " said evangelist Kent Hovind, the park's founder. "This is a golden opportunity to get our point across."
Holy meteor strike, Batman! The anti-evolutionists are coming out of the woodwork!
The creation museums are riling mainstream Christian denominations that believe the Earth is billions of years old and that God uses evolution as a tool. This conviction makes modern science compatible with their faith in a creator.

"Taking the Bible as astronomy or physics is blasphemy. They're treating it as an elementary textbook and it's not," said Francisco J. Ayala, a UC Irvine evolutionary biology professor and ordained Dominican priest.

"We believe that God created the world…. They misread, misquote and misuse the Bible, but they will lose out to science," said Ayala, a past president of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.

Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and founder of Reasons To Believe ministry in Pasadena, frets that "young-Earth theologians" damage the credibility of scientists who are Christian and push intellectuals away from religion.

"I'd put them in the same category as flat-Earth people and the people that think the sun goes around the Earth," he said. "They think they're defending the truth, but the young-Earth model has no scientific integrity."
This is just getting silly, folks. "Fossilized pickles" proving that the dinosaurs could've existed four thousand years ago? Baby dinos on the Ark? Vegetarian T. rex? And they really expect their alledgedly scientific theory to be taken seriously?

Open challenge to all creationists: Do an actual study, based off of scientific principles (which means that you should not use the Bible as the main support of your argument), and submit it to a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Then, and only then, will I be willing to listen to this.

(Via NewMexiKen.)

26 August, 2005

Call Me Unconvinced

From the Los Angeles Times (via Kevin Drum), this little gem comes out:
The potential changes would allow cellphone towers and low-flying tour planes and would liberalize rules that prohibited mining, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Larry Whalon, chief of resource management at Mojave National Preserve, said the changes would take away managers' ability to use laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act to oppose new developments in parks.

Although Interior and the Park Service are free to change the service's management polices at any time, they have been amended only twice. The last time was in 2001.
So they want to open it up for cell-usage, air travel, and mining, do they... I wonder who came up with such a brilliant idea? Answers to that just happen to be a single paragraph down:
The changes are the brainchild of Paul Hoffman, who oversees the Park Service and was appointed deputy assistant secretary of the Interior in January 2002.

Hoffman came to the Park Service after serving as director of the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo. He had previously served as Wyoming state director for then-U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney from 1985 to 1989.

"Paul Hoffman had some initial suggestions and prompted us," said David Barna, a Park Service spokesman. "Paul Hoffman was playing devil's advocate. He was saying, 'Show us, the political appointees who make policy, why do you do things the way you do?' It was a starting point. We're a long way from that now. They have drafted a new raw draft."
Is this a Cheney plot to take all our natural resources... Nope. I won't go that far. But it does seem a bit suspicious, doesn't it, especially after seeing the press release that the DoI put out after his appointment...

Paul Hoffman has a long and impressive record as a Wyoming community leader and conservationist,” Norton said. “He is an avid outdoorsman who has worked to improve the conservation and the recreational benefits of parks and other natural areas in Wyoming.

Hoffman joined the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce in 1990 after working as state director for then-U.S. Representative Dick Cheney from 1985 to 1989. During that time, he helped initiate the bipartisan effort to designate Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River as Wyoming'’s first wild and scenic river.

In 1984, Hoffman co-founded the Park County Resouce Council, now known as the Northwest Wyoming Resou[r]ce Council, a grassroots group dedicated to protecting the environment of Northwest Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park.
This does not sound to me like the type of man that would even suggest this sort of action, even in Devil's advocate format. From what I am reading, that Northwest Wyoming Resource Council lives up to the eco-friendly billing, even being a co-applicant in a legal case versus the timber industry.

Le sigh... If these guys just had a website to make the checking-up easier. And if someone would take up the cause to get Paul Hoffman's name in lights, too... (Maybe I should?) Regardless, I'll be keeping an eye out on this one.

24 August, 2005

Snark Fin Soup?

Ah, the snark has been flying today, hasn't it just? Especially about the No Child Left Behind Act and Connecticut's recent lawsuit, the snarkyness is so thick, you could cut it with a spoon.

Margaret Spellings:
I just see that as a red herring. What are they afraid of knowing, I guess, is one of the things I'd like to know.
Richard Blumenthal:
Three words for federal officials - read the law. Under the law, the federal government must pay for any additional testing. They have not done so.
Now, you'd think that the Secretary of Education could do simple math, right? Well, apparently not. And neither can the staffer that came up with the idea that $41.6 million less than a number is equal to that number.

Damn that New Math!

Even They Don't Buy It

Even the Christian Science Monitor is joining in on the Bash Robertson bandwagon.
So much for the respect [of/for] pro-life positions that Robertson has long espoused. How inconsistent to fight to protect the life of the unborn and then call for the assassination of a foreign leader who holds opposing political views. Not that Robertson or anybody else shouldn't defend the right to live. But it's difficult not to see the contradiction between his two positions.
But the CSM goes even further than most articles have gone. They looked at the possible impact to evangelical missionaries in Latin America.

There's another aspect to Robertson's misguided statement: the impact of his words on his own evangelical brothers and sisters throughout Latin America, and the difficulty he may cause missionaries in Venezuela.

There's already enough tension between Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders in Latin America. Violence still erupts against evangelical churches, pastors, and congregations, particularly in the Andean region of South America and isolated parts of Mexico.

There's also concern for local Protestant workers in the region. "We could see a backlash in Venezuela against US missionaries," one missionary colleague of mine with years of experience in Venezuela told me.

Uninformed nonevangelicals and skeptical nonbelievers often see prominent spokespersons such as Robertson as broadly representative of evangelicalism that has moved into their formerly all-Catholic neighborhood.

Why does Pat Robertson hate Christianity?

And to end this one, let me put in my own two cents on the matter. Especially on this part of his original speech:
a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism
Doesn't Robertson realize that he's talking about two completely separate worldviews here? Communism and any religious viewpoint cannot coexist. This is clear to anyone who has actually looked into the original writings of Marx and Lenin rather than the Cliff Note version. Especially Marx, with his famous line that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

And I can see what Robertson was trying to accomplish here. He was trying to wave the old bloody shirt of Us v. Them that was so commonplace in the days of the Cold War. Whenever anyone wanted the true-blue Americans on their side of an argument, all they had to do was mention the looming threat of the Red Menace and there would be a line of people outside their door to offer support.

Unfortunately for Robertson, and fortunately for the rest of humanity, that mode of thought went on life support once the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. And once the old idealogues that guard the machines finish fading away, we can finally pull that plug.

And it couldn't come fast enough.

P.S.: Just to make something perfectly clear to the reader (if there are actually any of you out there), even though I cited Marx above, I do not, in any way, shape, or form, hold to his philosophy. I am capitalist born, capitalist bred, and once the cigarettes finish killing me, capitalist dead. I may be liberal, but liberal does not equal communist, regardless of what some people might have you believe.

22 August, 2005

A Question About Sport Trends

Based off the KRT Wire story, the Contra Costa Times (and the San Jose Mercury News) have a good piece of reporting out tonight regarding the post-game death of Thomas Herrion. But I saw one line and experienced a big "hmmmmmm" moment:
Thirty-nine NFL players weighed more than 300 pounds in 1990.

There were 378 300-pounders on preseason rosters last year.

Fifty-eight of 61 offensive linemen at February's NFL scouting combine weighed at least 300 pounds. Two others weighed 298 pounds and one tipped the scales at 299.

Whatever happened to technique?

Yes, indeedy. Whatever did happen to technique being the deciding factor in football? Or most sports, for that matter? Basketball is the same way, with it being highly rare that someone under six feet being drafted. Hockey is another ditto, with height and weight increasingly becoming a factor in the scouting reports. Baseball does the same, with more height equating to more reach on the field and more force at the plate.

Part of it, I can already see. Physical dimensions are mostly preset due to the specific genetic make-up of the athlete. Technique can be trained into muscle memory. That much is simple enough for me to see.

What I can't see, though, is if there would be a benefit to training less hefty guys in techniques for out-maneuvering those guys that have to move around an extra 50 pounds or so. If basic physics is remembered correctly, if Player A weighs 255 pounds and Player B weighs 305 pounds, Player B would need to expend more energy on a per-play basis to achieve the same range of motion as Player A, which has the effect of decreasing the long-term performance of Player B. This difference becomes more prominent when the difference in weight is in body fat, which has absolutely zero positive effect on raw physical performance.

If I had a bunch of money to throw around, I'd set up someone to seriously look into this concept. Regretfully, I don't have any cash to throw around right now (not even for a new bed), so all I can do is hope that someone out there decides to start a link-fest (not too bloody likely, given my almost-negative-readership right now) and give the concept of "normal"-sized professional players a serious scientific study.

POSTSCRIPT: Please note the use of quotations for the word normal in the last paragraph. I'm not suggesting that the next trend in professional sports be guys that are 5'5" and 140 pounds... But if you happen to be interested, let me know so I can get an agent! 'Cause that'd be a physical dimension that happens to fit me perfectly.

Ways To Choose A Good Restaurant

While NewMexiKen has his list of 10 signs that you need to pick a different restaurant, I have my own list of the top 4 indicators of good eats.

  1. If you see a place with cop cars appearing at random times, odds are it's good food. Same rule applies if you see paramedics, firefighters, park rangers, truckers and cab drivers as well. These guys live with a vehicle strapped to their backs and usually know their areas better than someone who grew up there.
  2. People who are overweight always show up to eat there. Not to sound cruel, but those that are overweight don't usually get that way by eating lousy food. They know where the good places are, so listen to them.
  3. If inspecting a ethnic restaurant, regardless of which ethnicity's cuisine you happen to be hungering for at the time, take a peek at the kitchen. If that ethnicity is well-represented in the kitchen staff, immediately seek out your favorite dish. However, there is no one from that specific ethnicity in the kitchen, turn around and leave.
  4. Also regarding ethnic restaurants, if there is a good sampling of people from that ethnicity actually eating there, order with all due speed. If it's good enough to remind them of their mother's cooking, (or well and truly beat out their mother's cooking to the point that the mother in question recieves the recipe tucked into a Mother's Day card with a small note saying "Learn, Mom.") then they have to serve the real McCoy there.
And that's all she wrote... All my culinary wisdom boiled down to 4 easy signs. Oh, and here's number 5... If more than one of the above conditions are met, the odds of that being a source of good food shall improve exponentially.

But most important to me is the latter half of Rule 3. If I wanted to have a bunch of white folks cook Mexican food for me, I'd go to Del Taco. Or, better yet, do it my own damn self.

19 August, 2005

What Really Is Wrong With The Far Left

My roommate is in full-out rant-mode today. Most of what she's saying is incoherent, but it boils down to accusing President Bush of conspiring to destroy the current space/time continuum. How?

By her logic, messing around with Daylight Savings Time.

Of course, seeing how she's a complete blue pill when it comes to politics, she has most of the little details wrong. Like Bush only signing the bill that Congress passed. Or that it will change the way time is measured for the whole world. Or even that he has a Caesar complex, wanting to remake the entire world into his image... Okay, she might be onto something with that last one. Maybe.

And this is where the far left wing of the Democratic Party seems to have the problem as well.

You see, nothing is too far into the pale to pin on Bush for some of us (coughmostKossackscoughcoughAtrioscough) on the left side of the road. If the sun failed to set, they'd blame it on Bush rather than a breakdown of Newton's Second Law of Motion. If their beloved pet disappears, they'd point to the inane nature of Fox News before checking to see if there's any coyotes in the area (or even making sure that the pet isn't behind the closet door in the hallway). If their skin was to turn a lurid purple, they'd send up Action Alerts and instantly-fax-your-Congressman websites before they check to see if someone put dye in their swimming pool.

Indeed, anything that goes wrong will be instantly attributed to Bush, just as anything that went wrong between 1993 and 2000 was instantly considered by the far right wing of the Republican Party to be Clinton's fault.

Which is about as fair to Bush 43 as it was to Clinton. And remember the howling that we Loud And Proud Democrats did whenever Limbaugh started off on his it's-Clinton's-fault meme?

Is that an echo I hear coming from the right edge of the road?

Face it, people. All we Democrats seem to be doing is repeating the history of the GOP. And making all the errors without gaining any of the successes. However fleeting their collective successes they may seem, they are the cornerstone of the Republican philosophy and will be so for the next 20 years.

Unless we Democrats can get off our collective asses and pull a Contract For America for the left. Or just something similar. And the odds of that happening? I'm putting that around 25-1 before the 2006 midterms, and 20-1 before the 2008 Presidential.

Okay, so I'm not exactly an optimist...

17 August, 2005

Gods Damn!

Sometimes, browsing random news sites is a good thing.

The tiny town of Great Falls may have to pay a hefty legal bill after losing a battle over whether the town should stop using Jesus Christ's name in prayers before council meetings.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused in June to hear the town's appeal of a lower court ruling over the prayers.

Now Wiccan priestess Darla Wynne wants the town to pay her more than $65,000 legal bills. A judge should rule on the matter by next month.
Yes, kids. You did hear that one right. Wiccan priestess. Few times over the next few days will you come across a mention of this in a positive light, so why not actually do it myself.

13 August, 2005

The Reverse Of What They Wanted

By now, half the politically coherent people in the country have heard the name of Cindy Sheehan. Yet most of them have already forgotten, due to the limited life-span of the news cycle, why her name has permeated the political dog-days of summer so completely as this quote from John Cole indicates:

As I write this, there are 2,560 current media stories about Cindy Sheehan listed by google news. Technorati coughs up another 4967 blog posts. Google, when asked, coughs and sputters and reveals 729,000 archived stories. By comparison, Todd Beamer, of “Let’s Roll” fame offers up 69,000 hits.
Tell me this one, folks... Would this story, and Cindy herself, drifted downward into relative obscurity if it wasn't for the constant attention paid to it? Particularly by Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, and the rest of the GOP's organized media team?

Think about it. If they hadn't been beating the Sheehan drum for all this time, would there be any international attention at all? Hell, thanks to the firestorm of coverage, even Viggo Mortensen paid her a well-publicized visit. (And anyone that has Aragorn on their side simply must win, right?) So without this added snarky coverage, how long would this really have lasted?

Maybe 5 days tops. Then, the media will have gotten bored, the cycle would have ended, and she would sit there in the hot Texas sun while wilting into obscurity.

It's so hard to find things to thank FOX News for these days.

11 August, 2005

The Real Doublespeak

With a turn signal from Atrios:
I am not hanging up. I am returning the handset to the cradle…
Tucker Carlson at his best, apparently. And remind me to use that on my ex-girlfriend...

(Thanks, Americablog!)

09 August, 2005

Quick Question

As per my comment here, I'm asking if there's a way to filter off specific authors via the RSS feed.

Doubt I'll get a response, though, but I'll ask anyways.

UPDATE: Wow. Can't believe I actually got a response to that one!

Been using Feedreader for almost a week now, and I'm starting to feel the relaxation that comes from not having to read all of Amanda's angry-feminist-in-waiting tripe. Which is a very good thing...

06 August, 2005

A Wake For The Good Doctor

Rocky Mountain News:

[P]reparations are under way for Thompson's final body of work: the launch of his cremated remains on Aug. 20 from a 153-foot-high "cannon" on his Woody Creek property outside Aspen.

While Thompson's family stresses that the ceremony remains a private, and solemn, event, they are looking forward to fulfilling the writer's wishes.

"He would definitely say, 'Hot damn' to this," daughter-in-law Jennifer Winkel Thompson said, using one of Thompson's favorite expressions.

Now there's a man that knew how to go out in style.

Death to the weird. Res ipsa loquitur. And let the good times roll.

04 August, 2005

Turning The Tables

Ah, how sweet the irony... Washington journalists anonymously revealing a gaggle of the most frequently used anonymous sources. From Mary Matalin to Big Eddie Gillespie, Ryan Lizza goes down the list of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the nation's capital...

Of course, I found this to be the absolutely best quote in the entire article:

"Does Bush have any genuine friends in the Congress?" asks Ed Chen, who covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not sure he does."
Priceless. Read the whole thing yourself.

Turn signal (otherwise known as a hat tip) to Josh Marshall.

03 August, 2005

And This Is How We Respect Our Allies

While President Bush travelled to his ranch in Crawford, I think he missed a stop in his flight plan:

Muslim leaders and Saudi princes have bid a final farewell to King Fahd before his body was buried in an unmarked grave in a desert cemetery in keeping with Saudi Arabia's austere Islamic tradition.

The private ceremony in Riyadh Tuesday took place after prayers at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque where Fahd's body, draped in a brown robe, was carried by his sons on a wooden plank.

Later on in the article (emphasis mine):

Western leaders and dignitaries, including Britain's Prince Charles, French President Jacques Chirac and Australia's governor general were also offering condolences.

U.S. President George W. Bush, who has promised a "close partnership" with Saudi Arabia under Abdullah's leadership, sent a delegation.
So let me get this straight... The head of state dies, and Bush doesn't even go? Now THAT is showing some respect to our allies, isn't it just?

02 August, 2005

ICANN Reform And Pissing Off Senator Coleman

This is an issue that only a blowhard and geeks can really get into... Well, maybe more than that, seeing as how I'll be paying attention as well.

Since its inception and creation in the United States, the U.S. has assumed the historic role of overseeing the Internet'’s growth and has overseen its development. The U.N. taskforce report suggests that in addition to terminating the U.S.'’s leadership role, the authority and functions of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce, should be transferred as well.
From what I can tell, the good Senator is upset with this particular paragraph in the Working Group on Internet Governance's proposal:

52. This model envisages a Global Internet Council (GIC), consisting of members from Governments with appropriate representation from each region and with involvement of other stakeholders. This council would take over the functions relating to international Internet governance currently performed by the Department of Commerce of the United States Government. It would also replace the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).


55. The GIC should be anchored in the United Nations.
Seriously, what's wrong with that? This happens to be an international issue, running completely outside the borders of the United States. So why should we be the ones calling the shots for the entire planet's Internet usage? Sure, we've accommodated the rest of the world, allowing for the .co.??? domains to be created (and they have been used with great gusto), but this could easily be done on the UN's dime rather than solely on ours.

Maybe we should take up an old song's advice and make letmyicanngo.co.uk? (Apologies to Louis Armstrong.)

When Is It Considered Obsessive?

Atrios today linked to this post over at Santorum Exposed today, and I don't know what's sillier: that a group of people sits down and combs over everything a single man says, or that there's a man out there that gives a group of people so much good material to work with.

Then again, this is a man that's been thinking about running for president. Even though that's on the back burner these days, it still might be of going concern.

"Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has 'no intention' to run for president in 2008, but a media communications firm that represents him has registered a slew of relevant domain names in case the senator changes his mind," The Hill reports.
Frightening, isn't it?