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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Since I'm so very tired from watching the Weather Channel and otherwise tracking news sources to keep an eye on this storm, I'll keep it brief.  If you read my post on August 21, you'll notice that I mentioned my love of the South, and my passionate hatred of this time of year which exceeds that love.  I'm still in the Hurricane Warning area, and I thoroughly hate it.  I imagine I have a very small taste of what it is like to be a soldier in a combat area, always looking over my shoulder, not knowing when the next attack will occur.  This in no way mitigates what our soldiers experience, but it's simply the best analogy this tired brain can think of at this time.  If I've offended anyone, I'm sincerely and deeply sorry.  If fate is willing, I'll be back soon.  If not, it has been very nice knowing all of you.  Everyone, be safe and live well.

Friday, August 26, 2005

VERY Random Thoughts

First, I've started to wonder if I'm becoming a bit of a leech in cyberspace, or at least, more than a bit of a slacker for someone who runs his own blog.  I honestly can't think of a single piece of code on my site that I didn't get elsewhere or modified from things I saw elsewhere.  The basic page layout, including background, are provided by  The counter comes from somewhere else, I have Haloscan trackback and comment functions as well as the Comment function provided by Blogger.  I'll probably be phasing that out just for clarity.  As (I believe Sheryl) pointed out, there is more than a bit of confusion caused by there being two comment links.  Do you like the fact that the links on the left open in their own window?  Although I have an HTML book, I viewed source and found that off of a site I like.  LeftyJones and JB at PettyRage, I think it was you, and apologize if I caused offense by taking that one line of HTML code.  There's also the "email this page" thing provided by yet another site, with the proper credit being attached.  Finally, there's the newest function:  The fuel efficiency conversion.  I got the basic source code from this site, and once I had done the math myself on good old-fashioned pen and paper, I modified the code that had originally been used in the example for Fahrenheit to/from Celsius conversions to come up with the two buttons you see at the bottom of the sidebar.  Damn, I sound almost Catholic with the guilt...  It isn't that I'm incapable of learning to code in Javascript, HTML, or XML.  It's that, frankly, I'm too lazy.
The newest function brings me to the second point:  Why on earth would I put that on a site?  It came to my attention that Europeans find miles per gallon to be unnatural since they measure fuel efficiency in the opposite manner.  They use volume per unit of distance, specifically, Litres per 100 kilometres.  The one surprising thing I found (though in retrospect, it should've been fairly obvious) as I laid the groundwork on pen and paper is that the same formula used to convert from Miles per Gallon to Litres per 100 kilometres can be used to do the reverse.  It should have been obvious since the basic ideas involved in each are inverted.  The American system of miles per gallon is, in essence, distance per unit of volume, while L/100km is unit of volume per distance.  So, naturally, the only thing that really changes is the variable, not the method for handling it.  The definition of gallon I used was that found on Yahoo Education.  For clarity, the conversion was from U.S. gallons to mL, moving the decimal place to the proper position to convert the result into Litres.  The formula, therefore, is as follows:  378541.1784/(x*5280*.3048), where x is the variable.
Third, lest you believe that I can actually get through a post without mentioning weird occurrences or politics or go into a rant about the teen angst I got over years ago, alas, this is not the case.  I can't help feeling that I'm going to go to hell for saying this, but I actually agreed with some editorial comments made by Fox News personality John Gibson about Code Pink.  While he's unabashedly very conservative, he does, on occasion, make some good points.  He took serious issue with their "vigil" outside of Walter Reed, and with good reason.  Soldiers have TV, radio, and print media to see their views.  Soldiers at Walter Reed are there for one of two reasons:  They're there to get better and to a point where they can get at least some of their lives back, or they're there to provide medical support to those wounded soldiers.  I agree wholeheartedly with his equation of that to spitting on soldiers when they came back from Viet Nam.  I further agree with him that if they want to protest, they should go to Crawford, TX, or the White House, or Congress, or any other organization/company they feel aided in the decision to go to war.  Just leave the wounded soldiers alone.  In short, for once, I would like it if they showed some goddamned humanity instead of proclaiming their "humanity" in the same manner that Pat Robertson proclaims his Christianity while advocating the assassination of a foreign head of state.
This brings me to my last point for now.  For the record, I REALLY don't like President Chavez of Venezuela.  I think he's a seriously bad actor, as evidenced by the people he calls "friend", one of whom is good old Fidel Castro.  I find baffling his close alliance with the current government of Iran, given the statement of either him or his Vice President that religious extremism is one of the greatest threats currently facing the world.  If these are the men President Chavez calls "friends", maybe being on his shit list isn't such a bad thing.  That being said, I think he should be removed from office, by his own people in the form of an election or impeachment proceedings, should the latter have a legal basis.  He's clearly a dangerous man and has the potential to become a serious destabilizing force in that region.  Feel free to bring on the rants.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Random thoughts:

First, you may notice that I have given a new name to the Comments area, at least, the Comments area provided by Blogger as opposed to my Haloscan comments area.  I called it "Fractal Musings" since I have a random mind and thought that, since the name of my blog is Mandelbrot's Order From Chaos, I may as well have something on my site aside from the "Why the Name" stuff on the sidebar that references Benoit Mandelbrot, though this site has far more to do with politics than math.  In fact, I think I only have one or two math-related sites in my Cool Links area, and that is the extent to which my site is about mathematics.
Second, I would like to welcome four new sites to my Cool Blogs area.  HomoCon is a blog run by a conservative gay person, and I think he (I'm assuming he's male) has some interesting things to say.  Donal's Ex-Liberal is another interesting conservative blog run by a man who may be disabled in body, but certainly not in mind.  His is one of the best I've run across lately.  The Cassandra Page is yet another interesting blog with a more libertarian bent but with some undeniable elements of conservativism.  If I were gay, I could kiss the guy who runs that, well, that and the owner of HomoCon.  The final site that is getting a link is Michael Yon's Online Magazine.  He is an independent observer reporting from Iraq, and provides an interesting and different perspective on the goings-on there than we may see here in the States.  This site was recommended to me by a fellow reader of Iraq The Model, and upon my own reading of the commentary and reporting posted on that site, I have to agree.
Third, I feel the need to go back to Cindy Sheehan again in light of the last of those new links.  I understand that her son is dead, her marriage is disintegrating, and her family is increasingly wanting to have nothing to do with her.  I understand that she's in pain, and that she was unhappy with her son's choice to re-enlist 5 months before his death.  That being said, she's far from alone in that pain.  Perhaps her time and efforts would be better spent going to grief counselling, talking to people from both sides of the aisle who have lost loved ones in Iraq.  However, she's already made it abundantly clear that she doesn't want to listen to views that oppose hers from people who have lost as much as she has in this war.  It is this unwillingness to listen to or even consider the possibility of differing viewpoints that strike me as a touch disingenuous.  I wonder if she would be willing to talk to wounded soldiers who served in Iraq much like her late son, though given her statements, I find that unlikely at best.  Grief makes people do stupid things.  That's a lesson I know well.  The one thing I can suggest is that she be allowed to grieve in peace.
Fourth, as I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I was struck by two thoughts.  The first was, although they've helped numerous families in the process of doing their shows, I wonder how much larger their actual impact has been.  I wonder how many normal people that show has inspired to contribute their time, money, and resources to Habitat for Humanity and other related charities, or to otherwise contribute to the betterment of their communities.  I see the show as setting a very positive example, one we would all do well to follow.  The second thought, of course, is a question of how many megaphones they've lost from them being shoved up Ty Pennington's ass.  I think he's a great television personality, and probably a pretty okay guy, but that megaphone of his would get old after about two minutes.  I seriously wonder how much of the outtakes we don't see involve struggles to forcibly remove the megaphone from his hands.  If I were there, I would probably be among the first in line for just that thing.
Finally, I want to make it absolutely clear that I'm deeply in love with the South.  It's the home and birthplace of generations of my family, and though the history here may not always be proud, at least we face it bravely and without too many attempts to sugar-coat it.  The land is lush and green, the people to a decreasing degree with the exodus of people from the North to this region are warm and courteous, and the food...  The food is what gives us a connection to the generations that came before.  I've seen serious arguments started over whose potato salad and fried chicken was best, and the first lesson every kid learns is to never spark that type of argument.  lol  I feel the need to express this love of my home region as I'm seeing that, to an increasing degree, we're losing much of that which makes the South different and special.  I understand and, indeed, welcome the many positive changes that have been made in the South in even my lifetime, but I'm struck with the sense that, in getting rid of most of the bad, we've also lost much of that which is good.  One thing I admire about the Japanese culture is that, while they've evolved as a nation and a people, they've managed to do so in a way that hasn't deprived them of their identity as a people.  It is with great sadness that I find I'm less able to say the same about the South.  The only thing I would not miss about the South if I were to leave it for another region of the nation is the climate.  The summers are too hot and last far too long.  Also, hurricanes scare the everlasting hell out of me, and if you've ever had a Category 3-4 bearing down on your home, you would understand exactly what I mean.  That doesn't mean that I hate the South.  That means simply that I recognize that some things about my region could be better, and yes, there are some aspects of it that I hate.
And on that note, good night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thoughts on California, or, News on the Environment:

There was a time when I thought the only thing I would have in common with California was a President and our probable hatred of modern country music.  Then, I read this article on Yahoo News about plug-in hybrid vehicles.  I think, in particular, that a Toyota spokesperson's comparison of the do-it-yourself plug-in hybrid modifiers to the hotrodders of yesteryear is particularly apt.  Furthermore, this has the advantage over hydrogen-powered vehicles in that it uses existing technology, and has as an advantage over liquid propane-powered vehicles in that the gasoline/diesel infrastructure is more than established, and also would not require much of a shift in the mindset of the general public.  For more information, I strongly recommend following the link at the bottom of the article, the California Cars Initiative.
I've said before that my main support for alternative fuels has been because it reduces our dependence on the whims of nations whose leaders don't like us very much and haven't, regardless of the party affiliation of the president, in my lifetime.  Also, if there's a less wasteful way of getting something done, I'm in favor of it.
Sorry for the silence.  Some of you whose sites I visit will know that I've been far from quiet the last few days.  I just haven't had a chance to update my site.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

I know that pretty much everyone in the blogosphere, except for me, has posted on Mrs. Sheehan. To be more accurate, I've posted, but not on my site. First, I would like to offer my deepest condolences on her loss. I'm sure most of us have experienced the loss of loved ones in the past, and it's a particular pain I would not wish on anyone. In accordance with the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States for which her son fought and died, she has the right to peacefully protest. Whether or not such protest is wise is another issue altogether. I would post further, but I feel I would not be as eloquent in my expression of said opinion as this post on the blog of Neptunus Lex, which had in turn linked to the Mudville Gazette. However, far greater in my eyes than either of those posts is that on Iraq the Model. So instead of continuing with my opinion, I cede the remainder of this post to that site, written by Mohammed on Iraq the Model on August 12, 2005:

A message to Cindy Sheehan

"I realize how tragic your loss is and I know how much pain there is crushing your heart and I know the darkness that suddenly came to wrap your life and wipe away your dreams and I do feel the heat of your tears that won't dry until you find the answers to your question; why you lost your loved one?

"I have heard your story and I understand that you have the full right to ask people to stand by your side and support your cause. At the beginning I told myself, this is yet another woman who lost a piece of her heart and the questions of war, peace and why are killing her everyday. To be frank to you the first thing I thought of was like "why should I listen or care to answer when there are thousands of other women in America, Iraq and Afghanistan who lost a son or a husband or a brother…”

"But today I was looking at your picture and I saw in your eyes a persistence, a great pain and a torturing question; why?

"I know how you feel Cindy, I lived among the same pains for 35 years but worse than that was the fear from losing our loved ones at any moment. Even while I'm writing these words to you there are feelings of fear, stress, and sadness that interrupt our lives all the time but in spite of all that I'm sticking hard to hope which if I didn't have I would have died years ago.

"Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.
Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.
Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

"Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

"We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

"We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over.
We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation.
For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom.

"The mothers went to break the bars of cells looking for the ones they lost 5, 12 or 20 years ago and other women went to dig the land with their bare hand searching for a few bones they can hold in their arms after they couldn't hold them when they belonged to a living person.

"I recall seeing a woman on TV two years ago, she was digging through the dirt with her hands. There was no definite grave in there as the whole place was one large grave but she seemed willing to dig the whole place looking for her two brothers who disappeared from earth 24 years ago when they were dragged from their colleges to a chamber of hell.

"Her tears mixed with the dirt of the grave and there were journalists asking her about what her brothers did wrong and she was screaming "I don't know, I don't know. They were only college students. They didn't murder anyone, they didn't steal, and they didn't hurt anyone in their lives. All I want to know is the place of their grave".

"Why was this woman chosen to lose her dear ones? Why you? Why did a million women have to go through the same pain?

"We did not choose war for the sake of war itself and we didn't sacrifice a million lives for fun! We could've accepted our jailor and kept living in our chains for the rest of our lives but it's freedom ma'am.
Freedom is not an American thing and it's not an Iraqi thing, it's what unites us as human beings. We refuse all kinds of restrictions and that's why we fought and still fighting everyday in spite of the swords in the hands of the cavemen who want us dead or slaves for their evil masters.

"You are free to go and leave us alone but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq too? Should I leave too? And what about the eight millions who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land too?
Is it a cursed land that no one should live in? Why is it that we were chosen to live in all this pain, why me, why my people, why you?

"But I am not leaving this land because the bad guys are not going to leave us or you to live in peace. They are the same ones who flew the planes to kill your people in New York.
I ask you in the name of God or whatever you believe in; do not waste your son's blood.
We here have decided to avenge humanity, you and all the women who lost their loved ones.
Take a look at our enemy Cindy, look closely at the hooded man holding the sword and if you think he's right then I will back off and support your call.

"We live in pain and grief everyday, every hour, every minute; all the horrors of the powers of darkness have been directed at us and I don't know exactly when am I going to feel safe again, maybe in a year, maybe two or even ten; I frankly don't know but I don't want to lose hope and faith.

"We are in need for every hand that can offer some help. Please pray for us, I know that God listens to mothers' prayers and I call all the women on earth to pray with you for peace in this world.

"Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause…No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom.

"His blood didn't go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness.
God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil.
God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom.
God bless all the freedom lovers on earth."

New Links

You may have noticed couple of new links in the "Cool Links" area to your left: Information on Canada, and North Korea News. Before I go further with this post, I want to make it absolutely clear that, by adding them to the site at the same time, this is in no way an attempt to equate the two. Canada is a free, representative democracy where the people have a high level of civil liberties and a good average standard of living. In short, they are, by and large, a good nation and a good people. I may not entirely like their leadership, but I certainly have a measure of respect for their leaders, or at least, as much respect as I have for our own in the U.S. North Korea, on the other hand, is a brutally-oppressive dictatorship whose leader is clearly suffering from a variety of severe mental illnesses and is significantly more detached from reality than Michael Jackson. The standard of living in North Korea is quite poor, and civil liberties are nonexistent.

Furthermore, I have added links to the Lebanese Political Journal and Done With Mirrors blogs in my Cool Blogs area. The former is a very reasoned look at the political situation within Lebanon and offers a perspective you may not have seen here in the United States. The latter seems more along the lines of viewing current events in the United States with a more balanced historical perspective, though the blogger in that case does quite a bit more than that.

This gives rise to the question of why I would add the two Cool Links at the same time (13:27 Central Daylight Time) and two more Cool Blogs at the same time (14:28 Central Daylight Time), and the simple fact is that I don't like adding just one link at a time. If I have that area of the editor open, I'm going to do more than just add one thing. Otherwise, it would seem like a waste of effort. Call it "obsessive-compulsive" or "neurotic" if you want. I'd probably agree with you on some level. I hope you visit all of the sites mentioned above. Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The necessity of debate

The problem I see all too often in the blogosphere, and in fact, to an increasing degree in society at large, is that people are becoming less likely to read and listen to opinions that challenge their own. This is a grave mistake. By listening only to opinions that mirror or closely parallel your own, there can be no intellectual growth. It takes the challenge of opposing opinions and the act of debating opposing opinions in a civil and intelligent manner to not only cull bad ideas, but to refine good opinions. If you look to the left sidebar on this site, you'll find that most of the blogs to which I link, I disagree with to a greater or lesser extent. Even the ones with which I agree run contrary to some conventional wisdom.

There are other, slightly less obvious, dangers to listening only to those with whom you agree. Without listening and truly debating, it becomes easier to demonize those who disagree with you. By debate, I don't mean this "Crossfire" crap. I mean an honest discussion of issues, cordially but firmly expressing your disagreement, and explaining why you hold a particular stance. I would go so far as to say that listening only to opinions with which you agree is nothing short of intellectual incest, and as with the royals in medieval Europe, incest is a very detrimental thing. As a result, whenever I see this occurring, I challenge it, and I'm not always nice about it. Though I regret the fact that I sometimes channel my inner jackass, I do not and will not apologize for the end result. If I have caused someone to think and challenge their own ideas, I consider it a good thing. So I encourage everyone to find blogs with which they disagree, engage the hosts thereof in friendly debate, and further hone your own views, and allow yourself to be swayed. Think for yourself, but keep an open mind. Remember that no one is perfect, and no one is correct all of the time. I certainly know that I'm not. But when looking for opposing opinions, expect the same standards of quality you should demand of any other source of opinions. It's hard to hone your opinions by only challenging weak opinions, in much the same way that people don't become physically stronger unless they push themselves beyond their current physical limits.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The United States: A Nation Karamazov

For those of you who haven't read "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, I highly recommend that you do so. Though the term "karamazovism" typically refers to the negative aspects displayed by the father and two of the brothers, my meaning also includes strong hints, if not focus, on Alesha, the youngest, a saintly lad who recognizes the fact that he also is seriously repressing some of the more negative aspects of his family's nature, and you see hints in the book that he's leaning towards completely abandoning the gentler aspects of his nature. In a more generic sense, I refer to a tendency to gravitate towards extremes. Hell, for that, maybe the term "bipolar" would be more accurate. And perhaps the first paragraph of this post has been, despite my intent, the intellectual equivalent of a rich person saying, "Look at my nice Bentley."

But anyway, on with the show. As the above (probably bloated) paragraph states, we Americans are a nation driven by extremes. A generation or so ago, Twiggy was the ideal, an anorexic, skeletal figure who, frankly, had a figure that makes me want to vomit. As a result of her, Jack LaLane, and a variety of other reasons, we had kids and adults who eventually took physical fitness to the extreme. What came after that? Due to increases in technology and other complex causes, a boom in childhood and adult obesity to the extent that both are true epidemics, as are the attendant diseases. I'm sure we can all remember a time when Type II diabetes was still called "adult-onset diabetes," as that was the time of onset in all but a minuscule proportion of sufferers; yet it's becoming common in increasingly younger children.

On a rant with which you may or may not be familiar, as I don't know how many visitors I had at the time, we once had a society where teachers were expected to have the authority in the classrooms, and if a child behaved poorly, we punished them, sent them to bed without dinner or spanked them. Though there were unconscionable abuses, such were rare and brought about generations of responsible, well-adjusted children. If a kid fucked up, they knew it PDQ, and corrective action was taken. But now, much like the Salem Witch Trials, it appears that the children are running the show when they are the least capable of doing so. In essence, our society has become one where the inmates run the asylum.

In my nearly 30 years, we've gone from The Big Three networks plus CNN, to a veritable hodgepodge of media sources, both professional and wildly unprofessional, each with varying levels and types of bias. When I was young, at least we knew what standards our society had, and it was the rebellion against those standards that gave the previous generations an identity uniquely its own. No one can mistake the culture of the 1980s with that of the '70s, '60s, or '50s. This trend carried over into the first half of the 1990s, with the music and culture of our society being significantly different from what came before. But look at us today. PettyRage has ranted about this recently, and I feel the need to add my tuppence. Turn on the radio if you dare. Country stations sound like early rock only without the vitality. Rap is now covering the same ground it did 10 years ago, with only the faces and names changing. And rock, my deer, sweet, beloved, dead, rock. Were I more of a dramatic bent, I would wear sackcloth and ashes and wail about the loss of my beloved Absalom... No, wait, that's the Old Testament. Anyway, I would be very upset. Turn on the radio, or the Fuse network, or one of the MTV or VH1 channels, or any of a host of other music television stations, and you'll find the "best" sounds like it should've come out in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, and the worst is some complete sellout Madonna wannabe with a tendency towards Japanese affectations. Gwen Stefani, this means YOU. Hot Hot Heat sounds like the Beatles before their rebellion and, frankly, without the talent. My Chemical Romance and a variety of other interchangeable, disposable groups all sound alike to the degree that they even reference each other in their songs. Even Coheed and Cambria, who I like simply for the fact that they're a different voice in that mind-destroying void that is modern pop music, sound like melodic rock from the early 80s.

Where are the true heirs to The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Talking Heads, and The Beatles? Where are the new voices bravely blazing new trails for others to follow? Or is this merely a taste of what is to come, breathing though hardly living proof that, when there's nothing against which to rebel, rebellion becomes utterly pointless and impossible? It seems to me that modern culture is merely the two-headed children borne of years of creative and intellectual incest, and we should all be ashamed for not being better and not demanding better of our society and those whose words and guitar riffs we allow into our homes.

While these are all disparate problems, I believe they are united by a common source: a lack of balance. Chaos needs order to define and balance it. Freedom needs responsibility to define and balance it. Either without the other is meaningless at best, and unlivable at worst. So I advocate this balance, freely and wholeheartedly. I advocate more activities, more unifying figures who, regardless of your stance on such people's views, at least unify our nation by their very presence, by giving us all at least some common ground. In short, we are in unimaginably desperate need of another Walter Cronkite, and sadly, he's too old and feeble to reprise his role as the voice of a nation. That is tragic, because he has no more heirs to his mantle, and we as a nation are far poorer for the lack. And that's the way it is, as I see it, August 11, 2005.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Upon much consideration of a post topic for tonight...

And realizing that I had a choice between something intelligent and probably related to science, or a smattering of weird shit culled from the Odd News section of Yahoo, I went with the obvious choice. So, I bring to you this lovely, though sweltering, evening, a varied selection of weird shit.

Fucking amateurs: Thieves go to the trouble of robbing the Munch Museum, and instead of grabbing genuine artwork by Munch, they get worthless copies. I'm no expert, but wouldn't the lack of brush-strokes be a clue?

Australia: Like America, only with dumber bureaucrats: Apparently, when one of their top architects, a Holocaust survivor who had immigrated from Austria, had had his Australian citizenship revoked without notification 19 years ago when Austria, without his authorization, reinstated his Austrian citizenship. This brings to mind several questions to their beleaguered Citizenship Ministry, first and foremost that of why it took them NINETEEN YEARS to notice that one of their top citizens was, in the eyes of their law, no longer a citizen and subject to deportation, and why, in all that time, they couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone and inform him. His Australian citizenship has been reinstated, as was right, but this raises serious legal and security questions for the Australian government.

Truck driver is naughty, files charges against strippers: A 31 year old truck driver, at a birthday party held in his honor at a strip club, was handcuffed and spanked on stage, with his head being restrained by a stripper's legs. He has filed 3rd degree assault charges. So if I'm understanding this correctly, he's being spanked by a scantily-clad and possibly partly skyclad woman, while having his head restrained somewhere near the crotch of another, and he's pressed felony charges against them? I'm sure many people, in his same situation, would've considered the 5 days he had trouble sitting down a reminder of one HELL of a party.

Can you have a "white wedding" in a graveyard? A young couple in love is looking for a peaceful place to have their wedding. As such, they have petitioned their local City Works board for a permit to have their wedding at a cemetary. I guess there'll be no one in the back rows to say, "I object," that is, unless Hell becomes full and it all turns into a giant George Romero movie...

Apparently, "Live Nude Nude Nudes" wasn't a nasty enough name: Howard White has long owned a strip club near LAX with a sign saying "Live Nude Nude Nudes," but apparently felt the need for a change. So, being the classy individual he is, what did he rename it? "Vaginas 'R Us". In a case that can only happen in California, the City of Los Angeles is powerless to change the name directly, but called in the big guns: A kids' toy store. Which toy store? Toys 'R Us. Why not bring a giraffe into a story that already includes naked women and a pervy man?

Skip the ski mask, remember the clothes: A 50-something year old man entered a restaurant wearing only a ski mask. He's now in a hospital for an undisclosed illness. Talk about things that make you go UCCCCCCCHH!

To qualify for the "Mile High Club", both partners must be awake and consenting, you perv: A 55-year-old businessman has been sentenced to 7 years for sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman who was asleep on the flight, returning from a vacation. This guy also gets serious mention as a dumb-fuck because there just so happened to be FOUR Secret Service agents on board, and he tried to escape.

And finally, This cop's career is so OVER: A policeman and his friend have been charged with indecent exposure after posing nude in a hotel window. The policeman was actually flexing his muscles and posing to get the attention of onlookers. If he wanted to engage in that stupidity, there are plenty of naturalist beaches and resorts. Dumbass.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

People who REALLY Suck: PETA (The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

Before I start, I want to make it absolutely clear that I support, in principle, the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other, legitimate organizations who are truly concerned with the well-being of animals. Furthermore, I am completely neutral on the topic of people choosing to live vegan lifestyles. As long as you're not evangelical about it and are simply abiding by the dictates of your conscience without infringing on the rights of others, I have no problem with you (such as Moby). My main concern for those who live a vegan lifestyle is that they be intelligent about it. I hope those who do so find and avail themselves of alternative sources of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly those in the B-complex, for the sake of their health. The consequences of failing to do so can be devastating not only for themselves, but for any children they may have, as deficiencies in B-vitamins have serious neurological consequences, especially for infants and children.

By that same token, I want to make it absolutely clear that I do NOT support extremist groups for whom animals are merely their prop, particularly those with ties to those who have, in the past, had direct dealings, including but not limited to membership therein and/or in their "support groups", with ecoterrorist organizations such as the Animal Liberation Front, et al. PETA, that means you and your ilk. There is never a justification for terrorism, and the only thing that separates the ALF, ELF, etc., from other terrorist groups is the type of bullshit in which they believe. Though this link has more to do with the Humane Societies of the United States than PETA, the points are still salient. I'm sure we all remember with disgust bordering on rage their "Holocaust On Your Plate" ad campaign, though the reasons for its cessation would be humorous if it weren't true. PETA even gained mention for its alleged support of the ALF on the website of an anti-terrorism consulting firm based in DC. They certainly have provided monetary aid to the Earth Liberation Front, and have an uncanny knowledge of some ALF activities extremely shortly after they take place, so any potential ties to the ALF would, to this humble observer, seem believable and consistent with past patterns of behavior by PETA. For more information on these and other questionable and downright stupid actions by PETA, please visit Also, there are more interesting though more generic articles at the Foundation for Animal Use Education.

Those, however, are sites owned by opposing groups. It may be more interesting to see what they have to say in their own words. Read this article they've written about Animal Testing. Despite their contention that animal research is of limited usefulness in treating and curing human diseases, the truth is quite the opposite. A partial listing of the benefits to both humans and animals derived from animal testing is available here. Also, I'm sure everyone is familiar with the use of insulin to control diabetes, a treatment that has saved numerous lives and would not have been possible without animal testing and insulin derived from animal sources. PETA may try to talk a good game, but their actions and their own words betray them.

And now that I'm done writing on this topic, I'm want a huge glass of milk, which I'll drink while deciding whether I want a 2-lb. steak lightly charred on the outside and dripping blood with a nice fat stack of garlic bread with butter oozing from it, and maybe as a midnight snack, battered sticks of cheese fried in lard, with some horse-derived gelatin for dessert. And after that, I'll be thankful for the coronary bypass procedures perfected on animals many years ago and the pacemaker which was similarly tested so that, if I were of a mind to do so, I could do it all again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Problems with the Democratic Party:

Before I get started, I will take this opportunity to express my deep happiness that all 309 people on board the Airbus that crashed in Toronto today made it off the plane with only minor injuries at worst. Looking at the footage, I didn't see how anyone could've survived, but to see even the captain and co-pilot able to walk off the plane... Being an agnostic, I am unsure about the existence of a god or gods, but I do believe in luck and solid engineering, and a healthy dose of the former and a huge heap of the latter contributed to this crash having a toll that will only be measured in dollars and euros, not lives.

Now on with the show.

Some on other blogs, most notably Various Miseries, have posited that the Republican Party will have significant internal problems to overcome to remain a potent political force in 2008. Whether or not that is true is, while interesting and even relevant, far from a description of everything that's going on in the Big Two. Two years ago, were someone to ask any random person the nature of the two largest problems with the Democratic Party, they may have mentioned Hillary Clinton, or Senator Kennedy, a lack of a coherent voice, or, if the person were more astute and actually paid attention to national politics, possibly Senator Byrd. Nowadays, I think there's a strong argument for those two problems are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Nancy Pelosi: She has attacked the current Republican Congress as being marked by missed opportunities, even going so far as to say that it is out of touch with the American people. American people, above most Supreme Court decisions in the last generation, were deeply concerned by the Kelo vs. Weare, CT, decision, and were and remain afraid that this may give the government carte blanche to raze people's homes for strip malls to be built. What was Congresswoman Pelosi's stance on this issue? She said, "This is almost as if God has spoken." She went further to say, “It’s an elementary discussion now; they’ve made the decision.” She even convinced 32 of her fellow House Democrats to vote against the resolution to condemn the decision, and convinced 15 of her fellow House Democrats to vote "present." Though the resolution passed 365-33, the very fact that opposition to this and the companion bill to strip federal funding from any municipality that acts on this decision originated with the top leadership of the Congressional Democrats, and that the major impetus to put a check on this ruling was spearheaded by Congressional Republicans, and was thereby echoed in various Governors' Mansions and state legislatures around the nation, with one of the first of those states being my own. This could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections coming up next year, and, if the world were just, should spell trouble in Pelosi's district, though I doubt it will actually happen.

Howard Dean: Where do I begin with him? I'll ignore my bias against addressing people with non-medical doctorates as "Dr." as this is not an annoyance limited to him. For someone whose job is to bring people to his Party, he's done an excellent job of alienating people. He would be far more effective if he didn't so enjoy the taste of his own shoe leather. From his "NASCAR-dads" comment, to his "Confederate flag-waving comment", to... The list goes on and on, to the point that every time he gets in front of a camera, I'd wager his handlers scream a collective, "Oh shit!" For the rest, I go to the most widely circulated newspaper in my region of Alabama, the Mobile Register. Looking online, I saw an editorial about Howard Dean that clarifies the difficulties he will have in gaining the respect of "red state" voters. Fact-check it if you want. While I may not fully agree with the opinions expressed therein, the facts used to support those arguments are indisputable.

Dishonorable mention: Durbin for his comments comparing American soldiers to Nazis, Gulag guards, and associates of Pol Pot will certainly hurt. Also, election fraud and voter intimidation, as outlined in the American Center for Voting Rights' recent report on the 2004 Presidential election, with the number 1 hot spot being identified as Philadelphia.

In summary, though there are significant problems the Republican Party will be facing in the coming months and years, I wouldn't be popping the champagne corks yet if I were a member or supporter of the Democratic Party.

Congressional Republicans really hate the environment:

That's why, as part of new energy legislation, the tax credit for hybrid vehicles will increase, and be on a sliding scale with more efficient vehicles getting a higher tax credit. Also, this bill will allow for credits for new fuel-saving diesel cars expected out within the next couple of years. Score one for Big Oil. Just makes you want to run to your nearest Congressman's office and say, "Fie, fie, why do you hate the environment so!" In case you're wondering, yes, this is sarcasm. As a random thought, does anyone even say "Fie" anymore? Oh well, sounded cool. In all seriousness, though, this is a solid bill and a good step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil. For me, the issue has always been more about doing less business with people who don't like us and, for that matter, who don't like their own people if their actions are an accurate gauge of the opinions of their leaders. In short, oil has, to me, been more of an issue of national security and human rights than one of the environment. On those bases, I urge President Bush to sign this bill into law.

Now on to some weird shit:

Smelly fungus sparks search for corpse: The fungus was a giant stinkhorn, scientific name Phallus impudicus, and grew to a size of 20 cm (roughly 8 inches), far larger than such fungi usually grow.

No wonder Belgium is the worst curse word in some Douglas Adams books: A Belgian electric company has announced plans to reimburse customers for ruined appliances in the wake of a strong power surge that affected a number of homes and businesses. The voltage was raised to 380 volts from its normal 220 volts around the town of Turnhout.

They've gotta be kidding: Leftist politicians from Berlin are asking for the government to re-erect a giant statue of Lenin. In my book, that's as offensive as asking to raise a re-raise a giant monument to Hitler. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they apparently lack the wit.

World Cup may be boon to German sex industry: A new 60-room brothel is setting up shop a walk away from Berlin's Olympic Stadium in time for the 2006 World Cup. I guess the theory is watching men try to score on the field, then go "score" after the game.

Oh no, not another one: Pilgrims are flocking to see an image of Jesus in a section of a cut tree branch in Bijeljina, Bosnia. I thought that went out of style with pet rocks.

Man, this man's wife picked a winner: In the same courtroom where, only minutes before, he had pled guilty to the gang-related stabbing death, Joshua Martin Miracle was married. He faces either the death penalty or life without parole. What a winner. If I were a woman, he'd be my first choice. *rolls eyes*

And that's all for now.