Saturday, May 31, 2008

Angry Clinton Supporters

If I was a politician, I would be embarrassed to have people like this supporting me. I suppose that's probably reason #1,627 that I wouldn't ever run for office.

Alexander Courage Passes Away

Alexander Courage, composer of the Star Trek theme, has passed away. I can't help but think of that theme music whenever I think of Star Trek; it's just such an integral part of the show and eerily awesome. Mr. Courage will be missed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Insight About Stonehenge

Researchers have determined that it was used as a burial site for much longer than was previously thought.

Dating of cremated remains shows burials took place as early as 3000 B.C., when the first ditches around the monument were being built, researchers said Thursday.

And those burials continued for at least 500 years, when the giant stones that mark the mysterious circle were being erected, they said.

"It's now clear that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages," said Mike Parker Pearson, archaeology professor at the University of Sheffield in England and head of the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project.

In the past, many archaeologists had thought that burials at Stonehenge continued for only about a century, the researchers said.

Writing Competition Update

I just found out that the links I put up for my two entries in the writing competition were not working. I didn't have my settings on Google Docs set properly. I went back and fixed them, so they should be working now. I also put the links to the pictures and the stories at the bottom of this post.

Round 1: Pics, Story - "Cycle"
Round 2: Pics, Story - "A Great Illusion of a Dream"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Intelligent Americans

College may not be for everyone, but surely stupidity like this can be dispelled without a four-year degree.

One relevant piece of context: Large minorities of Americans consistently say they hold wildly out-of-the-mainstream views, often specifically discredited beliefs. In some cases, those views should make them pretty profoundly alienated from one party or the other.

For instance:

22 percent believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.
30 percent believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
23 percent believe they've been in the presence of a ghost.
18 percent believe the sun revolves around the Earth.

People aren't that dumb, are they? Are they?

Okay, they probably are. :sigh:

Bring on the Sugar Pills!

Some doctors are arguing for the legal right to prescribe placebos in certain cases. The mind is a fascinating beast.

Writing Competition, Part II

I wrote last week about an informal writing competition that I entered at EN World. Again, you are given four pictures from which you have 72 hours to craft a story around. I basically got a freebie in the first round because my opponent turned in his story late and unfinished.

Well, I got my second round pictures Sunday and turned in my entry today. In some ways this round was easier in that the writing came much more easily. On the other hand, the pictures were definitely more eclectic than the first round. I aimed for a fairy-tale feel with this tale, but I'm not sure how well I accomplished that. I think it turned out alright, but I'm not sure how great it is. Here it is if anyone is curious. Feedback, good and bad, is welcomed.

UPDATE: Fixed story link.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Misplaced Money

Your boss is auditing your department and finds that there is some missing money unaccounted for anywhere. You would probably be in trouble, right? Now, what happens when it is the Pentagon and $15 billion is missing.

But this story from Friday's Washington Post, which talks about $15 billion in spending on Iraq that can't be accounted for properly, or in some cases at all, shows that the other stage of federal budgeting -- implementation -- is similarly broken, not working properly, certainly get this picture as well.

In fact, it appears as if virtually every procedure and law designed to prevent just this type of malfeasance was circumvented.

This spending was done in the midst of a national emergency and some of the usual safeguards couldn't be followed in the interest of national security and getting the job done quickly, right?

Nonsense. The Pentagon's own inspector general confirmed that this lack of concern for procedural safeguards was blatant and commonplace. That makes it hard to come to any conclusion other than that they were ignored rather than expedited or poorly executed.

It's also hard to come to any conclusion other than that the spending of taxpayer funds in Iraq bordered on, or actually was, simple and straightforward corruption.

Given the magnitude of the spending involved, Iraq may be the Bush administration's contribution to the biggest public corruption scandals of all time like Boss Tweed in New York, James Michael Curley in Boston, and Teapot Dome.

Now who wants to bet that the Dems in Washington will do a lot of grandstanding about the outrageousness of this, but nothing substantial will come of it? I mean, we wouldn't want to do the right thing after all. If anything happens (*snort*), it will be a couple of low-level flunkies who resign, but no one will face any serious repercussions or prosecution over this.

I'd love to be proved wrong, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's a Conspiracy!

According to our esteemed former President, "they" are directing a "cover...up" that his wife is "winning the general election and [Obama] is not." I used to have some respect for Bill as a politician (not personally), but the way he has handled himself during his wife's campaign has shown him to be clumsy, desperate, power hungry, narcissistic, and manipulative to a new level. About like his wife, I guess. Why would anyone want them back in the White House again?

Rembering the Fallen

Here is heartbreaking and moving story of a Marine who just passed away. After being injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2005, he went through 100 surgeries. Unfortunately, he did not live through the most recent one. While it is tragic, it is also a powerful testament to the tenacity and will of mankind. It also serves as a powerful reminder whether you support the war or not of what the costs of combat are.

RIP, Merlin German. You are in a better place now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oh, Snap

Joe Klein takes Lou Dobbs to task.

Now, I know that Dobbs brings in some serious ratings. And he is certainly entitled to his own opinion. But he is not entitled to his own facts--especially not on a network that makes a real effort to separate truth from falsehood and represent all sides of the political debate. Shouldn't someone be editing this swill? Doesn't CNN have a responsibility to tell its viewers that, in this case, one of their presenters is engaged in flat-out anti-immigrant fearmongering? Perhaps the network could employ a simple superimposed title--THIS IS NOT TRUE...or LOU HAS JUMPED THE SHARK ON THIS ONE--whenever Dobbs pretends that there is such a thing as the NAFTA Superhighway.

What I always wonder is does Lou Dobbs actually believes all of the crap he spews or does he do it for ratings? Both probably.

Fair and Balanced

Check out this disgusting clip from Fox News.

What is wrong with these people?

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan

Weekly Music Video

Who's not going to take it? We're not. Twisted Sister with "We're Not Gonna Take It."

Weekly Secret


Tales From the Noble Library

What have I been reading lately?

Well, I finally read the two other books in the Prince of Nothing trilogy by R. Scott Bakker, The Warrior Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought. Bakker has a PhD in Philosophy and that really shines through in these books. Much of the plot revolves around philosophy and no, it is not boring. This is a very dark series with no clear good guys. It also explores some interesting territory such as the nature of belief and what it means to be a messiah/savior. The only let down for me was that even though this is a self-contained trilogy, these three books are only the opening salvo for a larger story and thus the ending feels rather abrupt and leaves you hanging, wanting more. All in all very good, though.

I also read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I don't remember ever reading something so grim. This story of a father and son struggling to survive in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event is riveting and moving. McCarthy plumbs the depths of human depravity but also waxes poetic on the very best aspects of our species. The book was not a complete smash for me, though. I found the ending to be somewhat contrived. I won't spoil it here and further reflection has somewhat dampened my dislike for it, but I still think McCarthy could have done it better.

In the last week, I have read a couple of graphic novels - the Dark Phoenix Saga, a classic X-Men story and one of the inspirations behind the second and third movies featuring those wacky mutants as well as Preludes and Nocturnes, volume one of The Sandman, one of the most highly celebrated and award-winning comic book series. Both were excellent.

I think the next book I am going to read is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.

Will Someone Please Shut Her Up?

The longer the Democratic race goes on, the more ridiculous Hillary Clinton sounds. She is crying that the process Democrats have in place to nominate a candidate is broken and needs to be fixed. I think you will find few who disagree that the Dems do need to revamp the system, but the problem for Clinton is timing. She had no problem with anything a year ago when everyone assumed she was the presumptive nominee. But now that she is going to lose the nomination to Obama, she wants to complain about the system and compare the situation in Florida and Michigan to the rigged elections in Zimbabwe. Will someone please put America out of it's misery and get Clinton out of the race? Pretty please.