Due to a lawsuit. It seems like an interesting way of holding governments (or the vague similarity of a government in this case) responsible. The article in the Atlantic Monthly (September 2005) on the failures of the PA is especially good.
Never heard of them? Assumed it was a porn site? Nope, Suck was the original daily updated humor and deep thoughts website which had sadly come to a close many years ago now. The legacy runs deep however. I refuse to link to their most famous alumnae (wonkette) and instead offer for you the Rabbit Blog.
Who would have guessed that a new report in Lancet describing the worthlessness of homeopathy would get a lot of press? Does anyone really believe in this nonsense? Oh wait, I've seen homeopathic "medicines" in my drug store.
Trying to understand what Bush wants to do with Iraq now that the quagmire is clear to everyone? Aren't we all?
Reduces liver cancer risks? Coffee as a potent source of antioxidants. And a tasty source of caffeine.
...gay Americans? Bizarre even for the Christian Right I'd think.
Good coverage at the New Scientist. We're getting a better overall picture gradually on this worst natural disaster in modern times. (I think it is...hmmm...can't think of anything worse.)
India...New Mexico...twice, including at the moment: Bloomington, IN...Maryland...headed to Maryland...Wallops Island...Palestine, TX...and Fort Sumner, NM again. There are definitely times when I travel too much!
As radical cleric Pat Robertson may have made money on making those comments about Chavez I worry a little about whether the bad guys are smarter than we are. Some of his previous quotes would be evidence against that contention though...
On Who Should Be In Charge Here:
"We have enough votes to run the country. And when the people say, 'We've had enough,' we are going to take over." — April 1980 "Washington for Jesus" rally
"I think 'one man, one vote,' just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights." — 700 Club broadcast of March 18th, 1992 on why white South African votes ought to count more than non-white votes.
Pat Robertson — constitutional law expert:
"A Supreme Court ruling is not the Law of the United States. The law of the United Sates is the Constitution, treaties made in accordance with the Constitution, and laws duly enacted by the Congress and signed by the president. And any of those things I would uphold totally with all of my strength, whether I agreed with them or not.... I am bound by the laws of the United States and all 50 states ... [but] I am not bound by any case or any court to which I myself am not a party.... I don't think the Congress of the United States is subservient to the courts.... They can ignore a Supreme Court ruling if they so choose. — Interview in the Washington Post June 27th, 1986"
"The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. — 700 Club broadcast of December 30th, 1981"
"Supreme Court decisions are binding in the court systems ... but in terms of general law, which binds every citizen, why should you and I be bound because of the ineptitude, if you will, or the skill of one or more defense lawyers, or the plaintiffs in any particular lawsuit?" — 700 Club broadcast of October 23rd, 1987
On why September 11th happened:
"We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools. We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And then we say, 'Why does this happen?'
Well, why it's happening is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us." — 700 Club broadcast of September 13th, 2001
Pat Robertson on gender issues:
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." — 1992 fundraising letter
"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period." — 700 Club broadcast of January 8th, 1992
The continuing story of how we define this country. Whose country? Whose ideas? Which freedoms? Which path? The BBC reporting on the growing number of scientists concerned about the anti-science being pushed by the religious leaders of the US. There's so much back material to this. What happens when I mention that I do physics for example. Comments of "I did badly in math" or the like are really the most typical connection. Add in a virulently anti-modernist agenda from the right-wing theocrats-in-waiting, and you have the current situation in the States. (Don't believe that the Intelligent Design and related attacks are a planned afront to rationalism? Read their own "Wedge Plan.")
Does it make sense to quote the "founding fathers?" Of course one could find rival quotation I suppose.
"It is owing to this long interregnum of science, and to no other cause, that we have now to look back through a vast chasm of many hundred years to the respectable characters we call the Ancients. Had the progression of knowledge gone on proportionably with the stock that before existed, that chasm would have been filled up with characters rising superior in knowledge to each other; and those Ancients we now so much admire would have appeared respectably in the background of the scene. But the christian system laid all waste; and if we take our stand about the beginning of the sixteenth century, we look back through that long chasm, to the times of the Ancients, as over a vast sandy desert, in which not a shrub appears to intercept the vision to the fertile hills beyond." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law, and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man. They are still so in many countries and even in some of these United States. Even in 1783, we doubted the stability of our recent measures for reducing them to the footing of other useful callings. It now appears that our means were effectual." - Thomas Jefferson, 1800
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution." - James Madison, 1785
"As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case. You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New." [...] "It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No. Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don't is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?" - Thomas Paine, 1797
Turkmenistan's president bans lip synching. This follows bans on opera, ballet, gold teeth, and restrictions on long hair and beards. Saparmurat Niyazov's cult of personality has always been a bit weird, but seeing lip synching as a threat is sure evidence of deep thinking about the future direction of his nation. All hail Kibo!
The fearless leader has also banned recorded music on TV and at live events. I'm starting to see a trend here! In fact, "radio and television programmes are dominated by performances of his own poems and philosophical writings set to music." Must be a fun country.
Ah yes, there are ongoing efforts to Turkmenify the population. They recently celebrated Melon Day and the fearless leader had a 300 square meter rug commissioned entitled "The 21st century: the epoch of the great Saparmurat Niyazov." That's ego! (Of course, by writing this, I have virutally eliminated the possibility of visiting Turkmenistan without getting to visit a finely crafted prison cell for a couple of days. Darn!) On the other hand, they granted citizenship to 16,000 refugees from neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan so they are at least responsible in that way.
Are there other good Saparmurat Niyazov stories? Post them here!
Looking at the Wikipedia, there's also the closure of libraries and hospitals, replacing doctors with army constripts, building an ice palace in the middle of the desert, the statues of himself, the super-expensive mosque, and banning makeup for TV announcers. Sounds like a lower-rent, maybe somewhat friendlier, version of North Korea.
Oh yeah, and from the opposition website some English language news on Turkmenistan including banning converted LHD vehicles.
The English papers have been asking the question. We know that Dubya spends most of his time snorting coke and on vacation in Texas, but the Brits aren't used to their leader disappearing.
Though there is a rumor that Blair is in the Caribbean on holiday, we know better! He's taking some time off in Vancouver, BC to learn how to skate.
Skateboarding that is. Reliable reports indicate that Tony Hawk and Tony Blair are practicing some phat moves in parking lots and the stairs of government buildings across the Hong Kong of the West. The Tonymeister was last seen wearing a "Skateboarding is not a crime" cutoff and demanding that The Urinal's first 7" be played louder.
Downing Street had no comment, but unnamed sources in the government confirmed that the Blairster had indeed taken up a new "recreational activity" and would be training the best experts in the world. Earlier reports that this activity was bicycling were proven wrong when Lance Armstrong showed up in Crawford, TX to ride with Dubya and ask for some political cover. The French have finally proven his performance-enhancing drug use, but we know that just starting to call that certain food item "Freedom Fries" will shut them up.
We now speculate that skateboarding is intended as a second occupation for Bliar. He had noted that he would not stand for PM in the next elections, so what would be a more natural job than as a professional skateboarder? He would be the clear front-runner in the "former leader of a nation" skate class/category.
Though I hesitate to call it music...they perform at a Wal-Mart! The pathos is palpable.
Or more reasons why no one in the world trusts the US. How long will it be before crypto-fascist theologists make official US foreign policy?
Interesting items to note in the article:
Although a single man has been president before, this is bound to help his chances in 2008. And would whoever stole the Kucinich sign from my lawn last summer please return it!
I had sent these recommendations to a grad student of mine...
You need, or should have, the following things to take with:
- 100% UV sunglasses (perscription sunglasses are fine)
- if you care about the fashion, a pair of ski goggles, otherwise the ones they issue are okay
- wool socks (4-6 pairs)---smartwool is good (sierratradingpost has them on special)
- pair of medium boots, not mountaineering boots, not "Arctic" boots, but insulated comfortable boots for around town (I like Asolo mid-weights, backpacking boots like the 535)
- an extra duffel bag (you are issued two red duffels that you must take with you, you carry one and check the other, you can also check an additional bag down to the ice, but you need an extra duffel to store stuff in New Zealand (shorts/sandals/that sort of thing) since the checked bags leave your control and you might find yourself back in NZ without checked bags!)
- just before going down there, update antivirus software (check the site licenses)
- soap (in theory it's supposed to be biodegradeable, in practice whatever you take is fine, Dr. Bronner's covers both requirements)
- towel or two
- a good set of thermal underwear, either silk or polypro, mid-weight rather than "expedition" weight
When getting your gear in New Zealand:
- make sure things are the right size!
- turn down most of the extra gloves, you just need a basic pair and the overgloves (latter is required)
- try to get a pair of Blue EBX boots rather than the standard rubber boot (mickey mouse)
- if they have your size, get the military wool pants rather than the nylon overalls
- another option instead of the nylon overalls are the cotton duck work overalls (it'll make you more of a blue collar person in McMurdo, your choice)
Hotels in Christchurch:
- the B&Bs are European-style B&Bs, not American, so think bathroom down the hall, very basic inn
- don't stay near the airport, there's a good bus service between downtown and the airport/Antarctic center
- the quality order is Backpackers, B&B, Motel, Hotel, "Others" are way out of town mostly
- Devon Hotel and Windsor are popular, Pacific Park is a trip (US western theme, a little further out of downtown, but close enough to walk easily), Croydon right next to Devon is also supposed to be good, Camelot was liked by one of my colleagues
Amnesty International got some film out of Zimbabwe showing the squalid conditions after the slum clearances. Despite claims to the contrary, the evictions and home demolitions appear to continue. No sign that the UN, or South Africa, have any real interest in doing anything.
And he couldn't even play the piano. Just the silliness of the media which needs to make a story compelling.
BBC obit. In his honor, I will play the theremin tonight. If you don't have a Moog or a theremin at home, you can take a listen to Wendy/Walter Carlos. Downloadable if you don't have the vinyl...
Where do they get these names? Whaler is the current let's-kill-some-Taliban-supporters operation in Afghanistan. Remember that war?
Though we usually hear only bad news about Africa, this article has an interesting mix (and good links) of news on the human "footprint" on the continent. Hippo overcrowding, green policies in Namibia, the effects of war...
"I live in Ketchikan, Alaska, the city which will be getting the now-infamous bridge, and I'd like to tell those of you who have never visited Ketchikan a little bit about the area so you can judge for yourselves what a flagrant and shameless waste the bridge project is.
To start with, a short list of facts.
Having established a bit about the location of the bridge, let's look at a map of the road systems that it will connect. Notice how, apart from the airport, there's no road system on Gravina Island for this bridge to connect to. That's because the only development on Gravina Island to date consists mainly of (a) the airport, (b) about 30-40 homes and cabins scattered along the shoreline, accessible only by boat. Return for a moment to the Google map above and click the "Hybrid" button to overlay a satellite image of the area on top of the street map. Notice all of the small bodies of water on the portion of Gravina Island where the bridge will connect. That's muskeg, a common terrain type here in the north — treacherous soft bog, particularly unsuited for development or road construction. Here in Ketchikan we receive about 160 inches of rain per year. Ground that is level is practically never dry, and ground that is dry is practically never level. Ground that's already soft and boggy to start with is just a disaster to try and build on; it can swallow houses, roads, anything you try to put on it.
Why would you build a bridge to an island with no people and almost no developable land under private ownership? Only a few convincing reasons come to mind:
None of which strike me as adequate reasons to ask the rest of the country to pick up the tab for a $220,000,000 bridge.. But I guess that's (one of many reasons) why I'll never be an Alaska Congressman."
At New Scientist. Some interesting back articles there...
The march of science is relentless. More seriously, this is a great little gadget for medical test kits and the like. Maybe even usable for survival situations? Though the power is very low for anything even vaguely transmitter-like.
Do check out the advice here especially on shelter. There's no reason why you have to suffer out in the sun.
"Survival Kit Check...
- one .45 caliber automatic
- two boxes of ammunition
- four days concentrated emergency rations
- one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
- one miniature combination Russian (pronounced 'Rooshan') phrase book and Bible
- one hundred dollars in rubles
- one hundred dollars in gold
- nine packs of chewing gum
- one issue of prophylactics
- three lipsticks
- three pair of nylon stockings
.... Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Reno with all that stuff."
[from: Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb]
Though I think the scientific catch-phrase du jour is overused and probably overrated, this article in the Guardian points to an excellent example of where the concept of 'tipping point" comes from. Global warming is melting the Siberian Tundra which hosts a huge stockpile of methane (perhap 70 billion tons, 1/4 of the world's ground-stored methane). The release of the methane (a greenhouse gas) will then speed the heating of the atmosphere.
Oh yeah, the lab is new since the US invasion. False alarm, nothing to see here. More along.
Sometimes Rolling Stone is able to put out a good article. Here their writer, Matt Taibbi, follows Bernie Sanders around as he tries to do a little good in the midst of the energy bill corporate giveaway and the Patriot Act machinations.
It'll probably be a while before I write on the blog my reactions to the suffering, the horrific living conditions of the urban poor, and the stench of sewage in the streets. Good food, and good science at the meeting, only go so far...
$1 Billion of arms and defense fraud. Out of a $1.3B budget?
Spacecraft sizes. Small, medium, large, ridiculously large, and larger still.
"Masculine overcompensation is the idea that men who are insecure about their masculinity will behave in an extremely masculine way as compensation. I wanted to test this idea and also explore whether overcompensation could help explain some attitudes like support for war and animosity to homosexuals," Willer said. [...] Masculinity-threatened participants also showed more interest in buying an SUV. "There were no increases for other types of cars," Willer said.
Everyone has their lists of what they have read, should read, are embarassed to have not read, and read but regretted the hours we so wasted.
I feel pretty good about this list. I may be doing well for having never been an English major. Some more reading to do though...
Yup, our employers can ban fraternizing off-work-time of their workers. Might hurt with union organization? I'll bet they never thought of that! We can think of the other uses of such a ban, can't we?
But no more often than that!
I'm not looking for...
But there are huge stacks of Mein Kampf in every bookstore in Pune, and I have finally figured out the lay of the land here in the city. Did a lot of walking about with occasional autorickshaws to travel longer distances. Am still trying to find some cloth to bring back to the States. And other gifts.
It's raining hard again. That whole monsoon thing. If it slows up or stops I'll try to head out again for a bit.
This is definitely a good place for vegetarians. Menu items note the presence of meat, not its absence. That is, vegetarian food is the norm---the type of meat is then noted if present.
Travel for lack of a better suggested category.
Bombay, Bollywood, Monsoon season. It was quite an experience seeing the city shortly after the huge, killer floods. Garbage, sewage, and water all over the streets. But not over all of the streets. And no longer waist or neck deep.
- saw about 1/2 hour of a Bollywood flick at a little shack/street vendor...ate samosas there and watched the film...looked like he was stealing electricity for the TV with a bunch of tangled wires running down from a building...I am going to get the plague I fear, but the food was good!
- speaking of food...Indian food...yup, it's one of the luxuries of the US I think...we get good food of most every type (okay, I know, we also have some really crappy food, but we have good stuff of most types available)...so the good Indian food I've had here is not too different from good Indian food in the US...Udupi in Minneapolis for example
- my hotel in Bombay (or Mumbai, we can talk about those politics some other time) also tried to do "English breakfast" with limited success...they had potatoes with "paprika" but the paprika was some truly hot pepper...tasty, but not exactly what was planned I think...and it's hard to picture some older Brit biting into a four alarm breakfast
- Garlic Naan, yay!
- Politics also...what to say? It definitely feels evil to stay in a nice hotel, drink bottled water, type on a laptop, while outside people slop around in sewage, live on the sidewalks, scrounge for a basic existence. Of course that's true whether I'm here visiting or not. Whether I'm in my first world home in the States or my substitute first world hotel home in India. But what to do about it?
- The meeting looks a bit muddled at this point. There's no posted schedule. In theory there will be transportation tomorrow AM to the meeting leaving from the hotel. No one seems to know about that.
Well, everyone keeps asking how it is. Not bad is what I have to say. There's water, sewage, and garbage in the streets of Bombay, but only in places, and nothing like the images of a week ago.
There was power, water, and no water in the streets near my hotel (just a little ways from the airport) in Bombay. I drove up to Pune today (my Sringar plans had fallen apart) and the roads were okay. Damaged in places, but basically okay. Well...that's all for a quick report. More soon!