Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Freddie Mercury

A moment of silence for one of the greatest vocalists of all time, the one and only Freddie Mercury. He passed away eighteen years ago today.

I'll link to a vid later when I'm at home and not behind a firewall that blocks YouTube.

UPDATE: Here we go.

I get chills listening to him.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Obama on Facebook

Slate has been doing a great series where they have a faux-Facebook page for the President. It's all done for humor, of course, and the star of the show is Joe Biden. The current update has Biden volunteering to do mammograms for women that need them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekly Secret


Not knowing what happened thirteen years ago makes it hard to make any sort of judgment here, but I do know that there is a lot of pain here and there probably is on the other side as well. Now is as good a time as any to begin work to patch up any family rifts for anyone out there. Don't let more time go by.

A Charter School to Watch

This is interesting. I'm going to have to get more info on their curriculum and methods.

Lieberman is Worthless

Even when confronted with lies, Lieberman still peddles them.

"This is a kindof [sic] 11th hour addition to a debate that's gone on for decades," Lieberman told reporters tonight. "Nobody's ever talked about a public option before. Not even in the presidential campaign last year."

I asked in response, "How do you reconcile your contention that the public option wasn't part of the presidential campaign given that all three of the [leading Democratic] candidates had something along the lines of the public option in their white papers?'

"Not really, not from what I've seen. There was a little--there was a line about the possibility of it in an Obama health care policy paper," Lieberman said.


I said, "And at the time Senator Clinton, and John Edwards also had..."

"Edwards probably had it more than anybody else," Lieberman said. "But Clinton, Obama, McCain--I don't see it. Anyway, I'm opposed to it."

Thanks, Connecticut. You did good.

Not Worrying About the Next Election

This is a story I would like to read about more often. Michael Bennett (D-CO) has said that he will vote for health care reform even if it costs him his seat. Perhaps it's naively idealistic, but I wish more politicians thought like this. I think that they should stand up and do the right thing even if it means they lose a re-election bid. There is something craven about not supporting a position or cause because you are worried about losing your job especially when your job is in public service. Unfortunately for us, the vast majority of politicians are in politics to serve their own ends and are only concerned with doing what's best for themselves. Even if a member of Congress took a position that I disagreed with, I could respect them if they said they were more concerned with doing what they felt was right than getting votes.

I guess I like people with principles.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Politics in State Creation

This is a fascinating anecdote about the creation of North and South Dakota.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekly Music Video

The 80s were great.

Alphaville - "Dance With Me"

Weekly Secret


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Never Forget

"All Things Will Die" - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing

Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing

Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating

Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call'd—we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Thro' eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
For all things must die.

Patrick Roy Kramer - May 6, 1977 - October 22, 2006

Game of Thrones Pilot to Start Filming

Excellent news for geeks everywhere as the pilot for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is about to start filming. This does not guarantee it will air, but as Poniewozik notes is a very good sign.

Oh, and here is an update from Martin on the status of the long-delayed fifth book in the series.

Finished a Jon Snow chapter, and have just passed the 1100 page (manuscript pages, the page count in the final printed book will be different) mark on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That's counting only finished chapters in something close to final form. I have considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs.

Even with just the finished portions, DANCE is now longer than A FEAST FOR CROWS and A GAME OF THRONES, and I'm closing in on A CLASH OF KINGS. I do hope I can wrap things up before I approach the 1521 page length of A STORM OF SWORDS.

Making a new run at the Meereenese knot, but maybe not tomorrow. I think I'll hang around at the Wall a bit longer, and maybe visit Winterfell.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Putting on the Pressure to Close Gitmo

Want to see the detention center at Guantanamo closed? Sign the petition.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Dishonesty of Glenn Beck

I don't get Glenn Beck. Or more accurately, I don't get the people who watch Glenn Beck. On the occasions that I've watches his show, I've been left dumbstruck by his circus antics - making a dramatic point with a misspelled word, crying, or rudely yelling at a caller. I just can't figure out how he can be taken seriously. Obviously he's making a ton of money doing it, so why shouldn't he keep doing it? The fact that so many people buy into his shtick, though, just boggles my mind.

What is perhaps most egregious, however, is his reckless dishonesty. Check out Media Matters pwning Beck for his lying about Anita Dunn's remarks. The video that he keeps showing has been edited to take her remarks out of context! Not to mention that many conservatives have quoted Mao. It's sickening that he does this and people don't care. They live in their little bubble where Beck is an outcast prophet speaking truth to power. Beck is a dangerous demagogue and shouldn't be given the time of day let alone a regular TV spot to spout his garbage.

UPDATE: And here's another example of Beck's intellectual dishonesty.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tough Times for the Vatican

They're having to hire temps to fill vacant Priest positions. I bet I could do that gig. Maybe I'll look into it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Your Money at Work

Check out this incredible visual breakdown of the federal budget. It certainly helps to put things in perspective.

Weekly Secret


Weekly Music Video

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to my Arcade Fire channel on Pandora when this song came on. After about 30 seconds, I was hooked. I had never heard of the group before, but I tracked them down on iTunes and downloaded Sam's Town, the album this song was on. The whole album is good, but this song is just brilliant. I've been listening to it over and over. It's hard not to feel good when listening to the earnest vocals, the soaring sound, and the beautiful lyrics. A new favorite of mine.

The Killers - "Read My Mind"

Speaking of "I don't know"

Listen to this very fascinating speech given by Tom Honey, a Canon Pastor at Exeter Cathedral, that grapples with our notion of a loving, all powerful God and the fact that great tragedies occur.

H/T: Sullivan

Friday, October 16, 2009

"I don't know."

That's the answer the lawyer defending the California gay-marriage ban gave when a judge pressed him on how gay marriage threatened heterosexual marriage. This is going to be the biggest problem for proponents of banning gay marriage. There is no logical basis for it. Outlawing it rests on religious beliefs or the "ick" factor. There is no concrete proof that it harms children, raises divorce rates, or in any way has an adverse affect on society.

Gay marriage will be legalized. It's only a matter of when.

Only Mostly Dead

A scientist is working on a method of "slowing time" for people which could be used in caring for critical patients.

You see, Roth thinks he's figured out the puzzle. "While it's true we need oxygen to live, it's also a toxin," he explains. Scientists are starting to understand that death isn't caused by oxygen deprivation itself, but by a chain of damaging chemical reactions that are triggered by sharply dropping oxygen levels.

The thing is, those reactions require the presence of some oxygen. Hydrogen sulfide takes the place of oxygen, preventing those reactions from taking place. No chain reaction, no cell death. The patient lives.


After that, and after his conceptual breakthrough, Roth was ready to experiment. First up: developing fish embryos. He found a way to drain the oxygen from their cells, and they wouldn't die -- they'd just stop growing. When he put the oxygen back, they'd pick up where they left off. If he suspended them for a day, they took a day longer to develop. No more, no less. Nothing else was different.

Next up were fruit flies. This time, he gassed them. They seemed to die; they stopped moving. Then he returned them to fresh air, and the flies came back to life. New CPR beat back death for a young mom

The air we breathe is 21 percent oxygen. At 5 percent, those fish and flies -- like us -- would be dead in a few minutes. At 0.1 percent, it was another story. "You get a state of suspended animation and the creatures do not pass away, and that's the basis of what we see as an alternative way to think about critical care medicine," Roth says. "What you want to do is to have the patient's time slowed down, while everyone around them [like doctors] move at what we would call real time."

If the patient's time -- the process of your death -- were slowed down, doctors would have more time to fix you. In medicine, time is key. An analogy is the history of open heart surgery. For years, surgeons had the technical tools to make simple repairs on the heart, but they couldn't help patients until the development of the heart-lung machine made it possible to preserve the body for more than a few minutes without a heartbeat.

This is an incredible time to be alive.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama's Nobel Prize

I've thought a lot about what I think about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize and I wasn't sure exactly what to think. I do think, though, that Ezra Klein probably best sums up how I feel.

I had a good time making fun of Barack Obama's Nobel prize this morning. It is undeserved. It is a bit ridiculous. But it's a laugh in the way that finding a $900 antique chair in the attic is a laugh, or getting paid $120,000 to be a celebrity dog walker is a laugh. It's an absurdity worth celebrating. It's an absurdity that can help you.

During the campaign, one of the arguments for Obama's candidacy was that his election would give us a costless shot of international goodwill. That the symbolism of his election would aid America's international standing without forcing any substantive policy concessions. At the time, that was a very big deal: Leaders were winning elections in other countries in no small part by tying incumbents to George W. Bush. That made it a lot harder for our allies to loudly support our initiatives. Fixing that was not going to be easy. Candidates and countries pay a lot of money to better their public image. Obama, some said, could do some of it on the cheap.
This prize, which came as Obama contemplates a troop build-up in Afghanistan and hectors the international community on financial regulation and global warming, suggests that there is some reservoir of relief and amazement for America's young president. The international gushing may seem absurd to us, as the schoolyard lionization of an older brother often seems funny to a sibling, but it can be used to our advantage. Leaders in allied countries no longer run against America, and now the Nobel Committee is attempting to welcome America back as the leader of the free world. And it didn't cost us anything. Would that life told more jokes like that one.

Last Words

I don't believe in the death penalty. Even if we were able to be 100% certain that the person was guilty, I would still find it barbaric. Killing someone is not justice; it's vengeance. Maybe that's why I found a recent NYT article rather poignant. It has a list of the last words spoken by some of the people executed in the state of Texas. Here are some.

Death row is full of isolated hearts and suppressed minds.

Mistakes are made, but with God all things are possible.

I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken. I am sorry for what I did.

I can’t take it back.

Lord Jesus forgive of my sins. Please forgive me for the sins that I can remember.

All my life I have been locked up.

Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.

I am tired.

I deserve this.

A life for a life.

It’s my hour. It’s my hour.

I’m ready, Warden.

Now, to be clear, I am not feeling sorry for these people (unless they were innocent). But I do pity them and I do think that this is wrong, no matter how heinous of a crime they may have committed. How can killing someone in cold blood ever be considered an acceptable course of action? Don't we teach our children that two wrongs don't make a right? That we should not sink to the level of those who perpetrate wrongs against us?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saturn's New Ring

New to us anyway. Scientists have discovered a new ring around Saturn. This one is quite different from the others.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Iran is a military nothing"

Juan Cole, a Middle East expert, reminds everyone of some basic facts, not that those are welcome in the debate.

Remember, God is a Conservative

What a great idea.

Since the landmark 2008 general election, there can be no doubt that a very large percentage of our Nation's leaders have a liberal mindset. The undeniable fact is that the 111th Pelosi-Reid Congress and the Obama Administration demonstrate a far left political philosophy. And since the President nominates federal judges and Justices of the United States Supreme Court, the judicial branch of government could take on a decidedly more liberal bent as the Obama Administration wears on.

Liberty Counsel has therefore named this special new prayer-in-action program Adopt a Liberal. And that's exactly what we invite you to do -- adopt a liberal who is in authority for regular, intense prayer in accord with St. Paul's admonition to his disciple, Timothy. In fact, we expect that many of our friends and supporters will choose to adopt many liberals as subjects of regular prayer!

I would think that there would be better uses of prayer, but I guess that's just me.

H/T: Sullivan

The Politics of the Olympics

Regardless of how one feels about Obama's campaigning for Chicago to host the Olympics, the crowing from some on the Right about Chicago losing is just bizarre. As Roland Martin said:

Whenever President Obama has traveled overseas and offered pointed and direct assessments of the United States, some of them critical, Republicans have ripped him for criticizing America, saying a president should always defend the United States.

So I want to hear the explanation by these so-called patriots of their giddy behavior over the United States losing the 2016 Olympic Games.

This is an example of what I was talking about in a previous post about how the Republican Party is treating politics as a zero-sum game. It doesn't matter what Obama and the Democrats propose, the GOP proclaims that it is against it. The Republicans have adopted this strategy rather wholeheartedly, but it is hard to see how this can pay off in the long run. Can anyone (Republicans included) even say what the GOP stands for right now? If the Republicans expect to govern effectively in the future, they need to stop the slash-and-burn tactics and take a stand on something. I guess I'm not optimistic about that happening, however. It's much easier to paint the other party as EEEVIL! than to actually make a case on the merits. Unfortunately both parties are well-versed in this, but right now at least the Democrats are standing up for something whether or not you agree with any of it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekly Secret



Check out this very cool and very heart-wrenching "sand animation" by a Ukrainian woman on the cost of war.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Current Republican Party

Courtesy of the Boston Globe

Identity Crisis

Back in June, my friend, Jeromy, sent me an email inquiry.

On to my question: In part these diseases (M.S., Diabetes, and Chronic Trekkyism) become part of your identity. Their consuming nature dictates as much. Do you find it difficult not to have these diseases become your identity? Do you have to intentionally combat the trend of these diseases identifying who you are?

I know with my asthma there is a tendency among some people to identify me according to my disease. Asthma places me in convenient "can and can't do" compartments as well. Because it is also a constant (though perhaps not like diabetes or MS) it easily enters into my psyche, my conversation, and of course plays a part in my decision making processes. I could see that if it was more of an issue it could be consuming.

I told him that it sounded like a blog post, so here I am finally getting around to answering his question.

The question of identity is not an easy one. We humans are an incredible mass of pieces, emotions, experiences, thoughts, and dreams. Can any one part of us overwhelm the rest to become the core of our identity? I don't think so. We are an amalgamation of many seemingly disparate elements that are forged together to make up who we are. To whit, I am:

Shane the male.
Shane the father.
Shane the person born in Billings, Montana.
Shane the geek who was picked on in school.
Shane the white guy.
Shane the procrastinator.
Shane the lover of books.
Shane the diabetic.
Shane the admirer of Star Trek.
Shane the boy whose parents divorced when he was 12.
Shane the person who dreams of saving the world like his heroes.
Shane the guy who can't dance, but would like to.
Shane the person with multiple sclerosis.
Shane the sarcastic.
Shane the guy who likes memorizing digits of pi.
Shane the dude who has never tried alcohol.

And this is only a small fraction of who I am. I don't think my two diseases become my identity any more than any one of these things listed becomes my identity. Most of the time. I have had to make lifestyle adjustments since contracting them, but these are actions I take, not who I am. I admit that when I am feeling depressed, I can feel like these diseases are overwhelming me, that they are who I am. But those moments are not common. Most of the time these diseases are just another brick in the wall of me. I am more than the sum of my parts.

Now, as to other people's perception, I'm not really sure. I doubt there is anyone who has put me in a box labeled 'diabetic' or one labeled 'M.S.' but that is probably just because neither show much outwardly. The MS will eventually, of course, but the diabetes has few outward indicators other than me pricking my finger to check my blood sugar or playing with my insulin pump. Still, I'm sure that there are some people who have put me into some little box based on some aspect of me they have seen. It's only natural. That's how our brains function. We have to fight against it all the time, struggle to see someone for the multi-faceted person they are rather than the surface bits we see. If anyone sees me as just one part of who I am, it is there loss, not mine.

As Whitman said
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


That's the number of books in the world according to the Google Books team. I want to know how many of them are good, though.

Speaking of lots of books, check out this peek at Neil Gaiman's library. Very impressive.

Weekly Secret


Me, too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kitty Survivor

Oh, who doesn't love a good cat story.

"Smoka" was last seen on Aug. 9, the night that Fitzgerald's Flowers and the apartments above it burned, which included the cat's home.

For 26 days, there was no sign of Smoka in any of her old familiar haunts.

"Whenever my neighbor kicked the door in to get me out, she hid under the bed and that was the last I've seen of her," said Sandy LaPierre, Smoka's owner.

Then, as a crew from Starks Wrecking was tearing down and clearing away the collapsed shell of the building, one of the workers suddenly saw what looked like a head poke up from under a pile of rubble.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Geek-Nerd-Dork: A Helpful Guide

Here is a helpful Venn diagram for determining whether or not a person is a geek, a nerd, or a dork. The X where I would peg myself.

Politics is Not or Rather Should Not Be a Zero-Sum Game

The problem with the current state of politics is that politicians treat it as a zero-sum game. We are at a point where if one party says they support daytime, the other denounces daytime as the first step to socialism/fascism/armageddon/whatever. Honest debate is no longer accepted. Now I don't think that politicians of yesteryear were pinnacles of upstanding morals always looking out for the best interests of the country. However, I do think that there was less of an inclination to automatically oppose the views of the other party no matter what they were. There were more instances of pols working together or at least not saying, "Your idea is bad because you are in the opposing party" in a knee-jerk fashion.

How else can one explain much of the furor over Obama's speech to school children? We have people like Jim Greer, GOP chairman in Florida, throwing a fit over it, accusing the President of playing politics with kids. Guess what Greer has done in the past, though? Well, he's gone to schools to talk to kids and made jokes about Hillary Clinton. He also tell people that he has a simple explanation for kids on the differences between the two major parties.

"Republicans get up and go to work," he would tell his son. "Democrats get up and go down to the mailbox to get their checks."

That he has done this and can now turn around and claim the President of trying to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda" is a clear example of "if I do it then it's good, but if they do it it's evil."

Politics should not be like this. It only hurts our nation.

Liberal Capitulation

What he said.

No good comes from appeasing a lunatic bully like Glenn Beck.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Things That Don't Make Sense (In Science)

Okay, science junkies, check out this cool list of thirteen things that don't make sense. The idea of the universe as a "holographic projection" is the most fascinating to me. More about that here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Would a Loving God Make a Creature Like This?

Tom Smith wonders about parasitic wasps and God.

Just found one of these guys in the pool.  I've blogged about them before;  everybody needs their little obsessions.  These creatures sting spiders, paralyze them, carry off the still living bodies, lay an egg on them, which hatches into a larvae, which then eats the paralyzed spider alive, avoiding key body systems so as to make sure it stays alive until the last possible moment.  You really have to hope spiders have no awareness, or else that they are reincarnated Nazis or something.  As I have said before, Darwin apparently found the existence of God and parasitoid wasps incompatible.  An alternative that worries me sometimes is that God did create parasitoid wasps and thinks they're really cool.

It is an interesting question. When a human does something bad, we can chalk it up to free will. These insects, though, have to do this. It is their essential nature. If one believes in God, what does it mean that God created a creature whose existence is based on torturing other creatures? As fascinating a thought experiment as it is, however, I don't see how any conclusion other than "ineffable mystery" can be reached. It's just one of those things that is beyond human ken.

Weekly Secret


I wonder how many people are in similar situations.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Napping on the Job

Without a doubt the worst and the most frustrating side effect of my multiple sclerosis has been fatigue. I take Provigil to help with this because without it I would be a zombie. Most of the time it does it's job, however there are days (or weeks) when the MS comes out on top.

This past week has been rough. In fact, on Thursday I was so tired shortly after lunch that I had to punch out, close my office door, turn out the light, and take a 30-minute nap. Now, it's nice that I have a job where I can get away with this, but I would much rather not have days where I have to take a nap or be unable to function. Even with the Provigil and on a better day, I often still feel at least a little tired. Trying to work up the motivation to get anything done is hard when you always feel exhausted.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mice Have a Cure for MS

Could one for humans be far behind?

A new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) completely reverses the devastating autoimmune disorder in mice, and might work exactly the same way in humans, say researchers at the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University in Montreal.

MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune response attacks the central nervous system, almost as if the body had become allergic to itself, leading to progressive physical and cognitive disability.

The new treatment, appropriately named GIFT15, puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response. This means it might also be effective against other autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, lupus and arthritis, the researchers said, and could theoretically also control immune responses in organ transplant patients. Moreover, unlike earlier immune-supppressing therapies which rely on chemical pharamaceuticals, this approach is a personalized form of cellular therapy which utilizes the body's own cells to suppress immunity in a much more targeted way.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Max Baucus Is...Captain Ineffective

Max Baucus is taking a lot of flak (and rightly so) for his bizarre tactic of working primarily with Republicans on health care reform and shutting out his fellow Dems. Check out this cartoon dubbing Baucus 'Captain Ineffective.'

Of course, this post would not be complete without a link to Baucus's essay on his own shitty record.

How Do People Spend Their Day?

Check out this very cool chart at the NYT that breaks down how various groups of people spend their day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ah, the News Media

Watch and be amazed at how stunningly stupid our news programs can make us.

This is an example of why I rarely get my news from the TV anymore. It's easier to find more reliable voices on the internet. Really.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taser Overuse

Digby subbing for Greenwald writes about the abuse of Tasers by law enforcement officers.

But that isn't the real problem, although it may eventually be the path by which tasers are banned for use in civilized countries. As awful as the possibility of death is, tasers would be a blight on any free people even if they weren't so often deadly. Tasers were sold to the public as a tool for law enforcement to be used in lieu of deadly force. Presumably, this means situations in which officers would have previously had to use their firearms. It's hard to argue with that, and I can't think of a single civil libertarian who would say that this would be a truly civilized advance in policing. Nobody wants to see more death and if police have a weapon they can employ instead of a gun, in self defense or to stop someone from hurting others, I think we all can agree that's a good thing.

But that's not what's happening. Tasers are routinely used by police to torture innocent people who have not broken any law and whose only crime is being disrespectful toward their authority or failing to understand their "orders." There is ample evidence that police often take no more than 30 seconds to talk to citizens before employing the taser, they use them while people are already handcuffed and thus present no danger, and are used often against the mentally ill and handicapped. It is becoming a barbaric tool of authoritarian, social control.

The issue of Tasers is one that I think about a lot since I am certified to carry one at work. Part of this involved taking a hit from the Taser, a full five-second ride. As I wrote then:
Yes it is the most painful thing I have ever done. I will certainly be very cognizant of what will happen if I make the decision to draw and employ it.

It was stressed to us in our training and frequently since that the Taser is not to be used as a behavior modification tool. It is used to prevent serious injury to the officer or anyone else on the scene. And for this, it is a fantastic tool. The electricity locks up the muscle's in a person's body. The cycle (with the darts) lasts five seconds which in a heated situation is an eternity and gives the officer time to get control of the subject whether that is pinning them to the ground, handcuffing them, or whatever is needed to deescalate the situation. I have yet to even draw it, but I like knowing that it's there if the situation calls for it.

Unfortunately, there are a number of officers out there who use them when a person gets a little mouthy or doesn't comply right away or just simply makes the officer mad. This is, of course, completely unacceptable; but the fact is that our society has really failed to crack down on this and put a stop to it. We tut-tut when we see videos of abuses, but no one does anything. I think that many of us deep down feel the person deserved it, that they should have just shut up and done what the officer told them. Sometimes this is the case, however it also a fact that many people are Tased who should not be. It's easy for an officer who deals with a lot of scumbags to let their temper get the best of them, to give someone a 50,000 volt shot, because they want a release and since the Taser is billed as less-than-lethal, why not? I'm not saying it's right, far from it. However law enforcement officials and security officers who carry Tasers are human beings with all of the foibles that comes with.

Anyone with the authority carried by a law enforcement official should be held to a higher standard, though, and Taser abuse should be dealt with swiftly and harshly. We as a society do need to come together and ask ourselves, "What should cops be allowed to do?" It's easy to see something happen to someone else and not worry about it, but if we become complacent it could be us or a loved one riding the lightning for no good reason.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekly Secret

Isn't it funny how religion and politics can so easily get in the way of friendships? I think it's the way that these things are so personal to us. Someone with a differing view isn't just rejecting our view, they are rejecting us personally. Or at least that's how it often feels. Somehow we need to learn to respect each other's beliefs and to not take a difference of opinion as a rejection of ourselves. This is, of course, easier written than done, but still a goal worthy of striving for.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Too Much Security?

Despite working in security and constantly pushing for increased security measures at the hospital I work at, I can understand where David Ignatius is coming from.

The hyper-security has added as much to public fear (and annoyance) as to public safety. The Transportation Security Administration is so pervasive at airports that we forget how bizarre it is to see old ladies and pregnant mothers and 8-year-old kids frisked and searched as if they had just arrived from Waziristan. Does this really make sense?

21 to Drink

Seems that one of the main drivers of the law to make 21 the legal drinking age is now saying that it has not worked.

Since that time, however, Chafet has apparently had a change of heart. The Los Angeles Times reports that in an editorial that has yet to be published, Chafet describes his effort to raise the drinking age as the "single most regrettable decision" of his career. "To be sure, drunk driving fatalities are lower now than they were in 1982," Chafet notes. "But they are lower in all age groups. And they have declined just as much in Canada, where the age is 18 or 19, as they have in the United States."

This is one of those laws that I have never understood. How could anyone think that having a law like this was going to stop young adults from drinking? It just drives them underground so they are doing it out of sight. Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems to me that laws should reflect reality (to an extent) and be enforceable. If not, then I think we need to examine whether it should be a law or not.

Of course, none of this even gets into the dubious notion of restricting an adult's rights before they have even done anything wrong.


If you haven't checked out this webcomic about "romance, sarcasm, math, and language," you are missing out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm St. Vincent Healthcare

The hospital I work at just announced the expansion of our Walk-In Clinic and Emergency Department. This is very exciting news for the hospital, of course, and something we very much needed. Anyway, there was a press conference with the usual pomp and circumstance. The media was there and if you look carefully at the next couple of videos, you'll see some creepy looking dork in a green shirt. I hope that guy doesn't work at St. V's because I sure wouldn't want to get healthcare at a place that would employ a guy like that.

I hate to disappoint anyone, but I'm not doing autographs. Sorry.

The Crushed Ego Gets the Last Laugh

I was orienting a student to the hospital on Monday. She is going to shadow a dietitian for a week to see if this is "What She Wants to Do With Her Life." I have to cover basic safety stuff such as what to do in case of fire, disaster, and so on. There is a quiz. One of the questions is "Who do you report to if you get injured?" She was not sure on this one, so I told her that it was me. This puzzled her until I explained that this was after she was patched up because we would have to do some paperwork for an event like that. We got that cleared up and went over a few more things. Then she smacked me down.

As she's leaving my office, she says with a smile, "Hopefully I don't get hurt so I don't have to come see you again."


Where in the hell did that come from? I hadn't been rude. I hadn't come on to her. I had been nothing but friendly and polite. And this is what I get? After a brief, stunned moment I said, "I don't know how to take that."

She smiled again and said, "In the best possible way."

I guess there's a "best" way to take "I don't want to see your ugly mug ever again, freak!" I mumbled something like "have a good day" and she went on her way.

She should have knocked on wood when she said that, though. A couple of hours later, I got a phone call. She - the girl who prayed for no harm to come to her so we would never cross paths again - had...wait for it...passed out in the ICU, fallen on her face, and bloodied her nose. No kidding. How bad am I that this made me laugh uproariously? So, notepad and pen in hand, I fairly danced my way to where she was because I had to get the info on the matter to file a report. Oh, yes, I reveled in her embarrassment when she saw me. "So, you had a little accident, hm? Why don't you tell me about it."

Ha! I said. Karma's a bitch, isn't it? That'll teach ya. Anything else you want to say now? No? Are you sure? Yeah, that's what I thought? Maybe you'll think twice next time before you say something stupid, hm?

Of course none of that was said aloud. And it's a slight exaggeration of what was going through my head. It was damn funny, though. The ending. Not the beginning.

I hope you learned your lesson reading this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama Sees the Light

I completely understand the President's change of heart, though I came to realize this many years ago.

Obama Drastically Scales Back Goals For America After Visiting Denny's

A New Fan of A Song of Ice and Fire

James Poniewozik over at Time has become a big fan of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He picked it up after hearing that HBO has a series pilot in the works. If you have not read this series, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It's heroic fantasy, but it's oh, so gritty. I wouldn't recommend getting too attached to any character as they are all fair game for the Reaper. Still, I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes rousing good characters and a gripping story. Now, if only book five would come out...

Birthers and One More Reason I Could Never Be a Politician

This video has been making the rounds lately.

Watching this amazes me on a certain level. I mean, I'm a pessimistic guy but I try (really!) to give people the benefit of the doubt. Then I see something like this and I think, "Yeah, humanity has barely more gray matter than an amoeba." What seals it is not the lady with her crazy rant. One or two loons in a crowd is to be expected. It's the mob applauding and cheering what she's saying.

This is just one reason I could never be a politician. I could not calmly stand there and be respectful toward this woman. No, I would be saying something like, "Look, lady, the fact of the matter is that you're crazy. And retarded. There's just no dancing around the issue. I hope you are not voting for me because I would consider myself a failure were I to secure votes from people as stupid as you."

Clearly, Mr. Castle is uncomfortable here. I feel for him. Up to a point. Republicans have not done near enough to quash this ridiculous rumor and so now have to sleep in the bed they've made. Of course, the media has been just as complicit. Witness Lou Dobbs raising the specter of "Obama Might Not Be an American" when the story was debunked on his own show three days previous.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our Resplendent World

Check out this series of stunningly beautiful landscapes. This one is my favorite.

Weekly Secret


Tyler has words of wisdom for us all.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We'll Save You But Its Gonna Cost You

Is it just me or does this seem a little strange?

A Massachusetts teenager who spent three nights alone on Mount Washington in April after he sprained an ankle and veered off marked trails has been fined more than $25,000 for the cost of his rescue.
Acerno said he believes Mason's fine is the largest ever sought under a 9-year-old New Hampshire law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue costs. Mason's rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.

Now, granted the kid screwed up, but how can he be charged for something he didn't ask for? I'm willing to bet he didn't call up the state and say, "Hey, you know I'm lost. Any chance you give me a lift? Just hone in on my cell signal. Oh, by the way, the terrain's a bit rough. I recommend sending out a chopper." If you take your car to a mechanic and say, "Change the oil," and you come back to find out he also replaced your carburetor and now wants to charge you for it. You didn't ask for it!

One could argue that the kid should have turned down the rescue if he didn't want to pay for it. Can't you see the headline on that? "Lost Teen Turns Down Rescue Because of Cost" But that is just ludicrous.

Of course this stuff is expensive, but there has to be a better way to pay for it than to "fine" the person who was rescued. Private donations? Taxes on people using parks? I don't know what the solution is, but I know this one is not right. In more ways than one.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Power of Money

Feel like getting riled up today? Read this post by Glenn Greenwald about the shady deals financial companies are making with the government.

This stuff is sickening and just points to the corrupting influence of vast wealth. I'm not against anyone getting rich, but I am against the people who do have more money than they know what to do with being able to use it to manipulate government to make laws and policies more favorable toward them at the expense of the not-so-rich person. That is wrong. Some have argued that the limits on campaign contributions is a First Amendment issue. Perhaps it is, but the problem is that money inflates a wealthy individual's clout to the point where they can drown out thousands of voices of the less wealthy.

Now I don't have any easy answers for this problem. But it is a problem and it needs to be dealt with. Sadly, even though this has a direct impact on the lives of Americans, I don't think there is enough anger, will, knowledge, or caring about the problem to get something done.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pet Peeves

You know what bugs me? Stores with narrow, cramped aisles that are difficult for wheelchairs to navigate. When I take my mother shopping, I typically push her around in a wheelchair. It is more than a little annoying trying to squeeze between displays only to knock things down or to have to go around a few aisles because we just can't get through. I know space is often at a premium and that the number of people in wheelchairs is a very small percentage of the average store's customer base, but still. How about some consideration for people in wheelchairs. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekly Music Video

This is from one of my favorite film scores of all time. After hearing this, I started checking out other stuff from this band and I fell in love.

Tangerine Dream - "Loved by the Sun" from the movie Legend

On an interesting note, the lyrics in this song were written and sung by Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes. Tangerine Dream was not aware that this was going to happen.

Weekly Secret


Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's Good to Be a Geek

You might get invited to conferences put on by the Department of Homeland Security to discuss future possibilities.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whack Jobs

The GOP is going to have a hard time regaining power if it continues to embrace the crazies.

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;

Isn't it supposed to be Democrats that make things easy for the other party?

The View from Space

A space-eye view of a volcanic eruption.


h/t: Sullivan

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dude! Obama is Totally a Terrorist!

I'm glad that conspiracy theories never die. They are so entertaining.

I do hope that the author of the linked piece never reads Foucault's Pendulum, though. It might drive him over the edge.

Catering to the Wannabe-Adulterer Crowd

I had never heard of this site - AshleyMadison.com - until I read about it on Time. It is a website for married persons who want to cheat on their spouse. Yes, you read that right.

Two-timing politicians, take note: Cheating has never been easier. AshleyMadison.com, a personals site designed to facilitate extra-marital affairs, now boasts slick iPhone and Blackberry versions that help married horndogs find like-minded cheaters within minutes. The new tools are aimed at tech-savvy adulterers wary of leaving tracks on work or home computers. Because the apps are loaded up from phones' browsers, they leave no electronic trail that suspicious spouses can trace.

What can you even say to something like this? The article quotes people who use the site as complaining about lack of intimacy or compliments. Well, then why aren't we setting up a website to help couples deal with these issues? Because that's a lot harder, that's why. Our society is engineered to take the easy way out every damn time, not realizing that the easy way out is typically a short-term answer. The hard way will require more effort up front, but will pay off in the long term. That's not the way we our brains work, though. We are wired for the hear and now, the quick payoff. That doesn't mean we should give up; it means we just have to work a little harder.

My favorite quote in the piece, however, was this telling bit.
And for that, Biderman offers no apologies. "Humans aren't meant to be monogamous," he says. So would this free-thinking CEO mind if his own wife used his site? "I would be devastated," he says.

Right. "Hey, if other people want to do it? No big deal. My wife? Oh, my God, what?!"

The "humans aren't meant to be monogamous" line gets thrown out a lot and I don't get it. Well, I mean I do. Some people don't want to be monogamous and they are looking for a justification. There are lots of things humans have an inclination to do that we don't condone. How many times have you felt like physically throttling someone who made you mad? This is a feeling people regularly have; it is a deeply rooted feeling natural to humans. Does this mean we allow people to use violence willy-nilly to solve their problems? Not that I know of.

The whole point of civilization is to overcome our primal urges, to rise above ourselves and be better than our base egos. The excuse of "that's just how we're made" is ridiculous and anyone who uses it should be punched in the face.


Weekly Music Video

R.I.P. Michael Joseph Jackson, August 25, 1958 - June 25, 2009

"Smooth Criminal"

"Beat It"


Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

"Billie Jean"

Weekly Secret


Monday, June 22, 2009

NPR and the T-Word

Glenn Greenwald, a new addition to my blogroll, has been one of the best voices online in regards to the torture issue. Here he is, slamming NPR hard for its decision to not call "torture" torture.

Here’s the nub of the matter – the crux of journalistic decay in America. Who cares if NPR is "seen" as siding with the White House or its critics? How it is perceived -- and who it angers -- should have nothing to do with how it reports. Its reporting should be guided by the truth, by verifiable facts, and by the objective meaning of words [notably, NPR's excuse -- "the Right will get angry at us if we call it 'torture'" -- is identical to The Washington Post's excuse for why they stopped calling Dan Froomkin a reporter (it angers the Right); it's amazing how much The Liberal Media makes editorial decisions based on a desire to please the Right].

Also, note that Shepard explicitly admits that, with its language choice, NPR has opted to be "seen siding with the White House and the language that some U.S. officials, particularly in the Bush administration, prefer." That, too, is an odd choice for a supposedly Liberal Media outlet. And note her snide and revealing assumption -- conventional wisdom among the establishment media -- that the only people who want these tactics to be called "torture" are those "who are particularly and visibly still angry at the previous administration" (or, as David Ignatius put it, "liberal score-settlers"). It doesn’t seem to occur to her that something other than base vindictiveness – such as a desire to maintain the universal taboo against torture, or allegiance to accuracy in language – might motivate those who want NPR to call torture "torture," rather than prettify it with banality-of-evil euphemisms invented by the very people who perpetrated it.

This is one of the things that has really baffled me over the past few years. Why are media outlets so afraid of what the message machine on the Right says? I think one of the reasons people so dislike the mainstream news media is that they always seem to be pandering. They don't want to lose access to politicians, so they don't want to ask tough questions. They don't want to make people on the Right mad, so they change what they write.

It's the media's job to investigate and report facts. That might make people mad. That's all right, though, 'cause it means the media is doing its job. The inability to call a spade a spade is positively Orwellian.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blogs to Check Out

I just updated my blogroll on the right. Some of them I passionately disagree with, but I always find them worthwhile to read. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on Blogging and a Milestone

I noticed that I recently surpassed 1000 posts here on this ol' blog. It's hard to believe that it's that high. I launched this ship on May 4, 2007. Over two years ago. That's almost harder to fathom than 1000+ posts. Being a writer at heart, I have to say that I have really enjoyed the journey so far and look forward to continuing it for the foreseeable future. Blogging has given me an outlet for my thoughts, helped me explore my thinking, learn more about myself, and learn more about the world.

One thing I've learned is that blogging is hard. Well, perhaps less hard than time consuming at least for me. If I'm writing anything more than a sentence with a link, I want to feel at least a modicum of familiarity with the topic. Typically that means a lot of reading, not just stuff online, but books and magazines and journals. It means spending time thinking about things and not just spouting off an off-the-cuff emotional response. Not that I've always achieved this, of course, but it is what I aim for.

Which is part of the reason my posting has been so light lately. For a number of reasons, my personal life has been quite hectic and I have not been able to devote the time to my blog that I would like. If anyone wants to pay me to blog, however, so I could quit my regular job, I would not say 'no.' Anyway, I'm going to try to be more disciplined and post more regularly. I know I've said that before, so I'm not going to make any promises. If you are at all interested in anything I have to say around here, please leave comments on my posts and thanks for hanging with me on my adventure to boldly go...somewhere.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Captain's Utility Belt

Now that I have one more thing on my belt, I started thinking about all of the stuff I regularly carry on my belt or in my pocket.

  • Cell phone

  • Pager

  • Gerber multi-tool

  • Insulin pump

  • Pocket knife

And when I'm at work, add:
  • Flashlight

  • Two-way radio

Oh, and I always have my wallet and keys on me. Not quite Batman level, yet, but I'm getting there.

Becoming a Cyborg

Well, I had my insulin pump put on this morning. So far it's seems to be working all right, but it's definitely going to take some getting used to. I'm still very conscious of its presence and I keep worrying that I'm going to pull the tubing out or accidentally push the wrong button. Changing clothes after work was interesting. I could have suspended it for two minutes while I did so, but I decided to leave it on to see how that was. I set the pump down on my dresser, but then had to be careful not to accidentally step too far back. Maybe next time, I'll just disconnect it. We'll see.

Tonight should be interesting as I'll have to learn how to get comfortable sleeping with the thing. Tomorrow, I get to disconnect it for my shower and reconnect it afterward. In fact, since this thing is my new constant companion, I'll have to learn how to do everything with it. Damn thing will be closer than my shadow.

Still, I'm sure that I will eventually come to really love it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Type 1 Diabetes and Life Expectancy

It's probably because I have type 1 diabetes myself, but the fact that Sonia Sotomayor having it has been raised as a concern irks me. By all accounts she manages her condition quite well. Even if she has a life seven to ten years shorter than average, she is only 54 and should put in a lot of decent years on the bench. This is not even close to being a valid reason to question her ability to serve on the Supreme Court. Of course, other attacks on her have been much worse.

Weekly Music Video

This goofy song always makes me smile.

Todd Rundgren - "Bang on the Drum All Day"

Weekly Secret


Comic Book Economics

Admit it. You've been sitting around thinking to yourself, "I wish their was some serious discussion about the economics of comic book worlds." Well, your wish has come true. Ecocomics has you covered. Highlights include:

Tragically, most mutants use their powers to either save the world or terrorize it. At least this is the popular depiction in Marvel Comics. Imagine what Magneto could do if he worked in construction. For one thing, all of those New York City public works project would have their completion dates moved up from 2018 to roughly five minutes from now. But instead, he spends his time sinking Russian submarines and making asteroid bases to live in. For the love of God, the man has the power to build himself a high-tech home in space. He could repair the Hubbell telescope with no trouble whatsoever.

Regardless, someone in the Canadian government was still there to provide funding for Weapon X, whatever its intended purpose may have been. And I'm sure they had to receive progress reports such as: "We created a supersoldier with a healing ability and an indestructible skeleton. And he was really cool. But then he killed all of the scientists and the guards... and he's living in the woods now. So... we need more money."

Norman Osborn started as a weapons and chemical designer. But like all wealthy industrialists do in the comic book world, he decided profit margins weren't enough. And as such he began riding around on a bat-shaped glider in a green and purple outfit and started throwing pumpkin bombs. It truly boggles my mind when i consider the amount of research and development that must have gone into the creation of pumpkin-shaped explosives. Some poor R&D guy had to sit in front of his computer screen, working on plastic explosive casings while dealing with Norman standing over his shoulder and shouting, "No, it needs to be MORE ORANGE!"

It simply boggles the mind that an industrialist who had made millions designing lucrative compounds, weapons, and technology would then perform an engineering about-face and decide that the best means of long distance transportation would be a halloween-themed glider that uses foot-grips to secure the rider. That's right, Norman Osborn expects a commando to be secured to a glider flying 800 miles an hour by the same technology that keeps boots connected to skis. Not to mention the fact that Norman Osborn decides that he is the best person to use this new technology. A company of hundreds spends millions of dollars to create a new series of weapons only to have the company CEO steal it all and fly around new york wearing a Halloween costume. In this economic downturn, it seems truly tragic for a company to nearly go bankrupt because their fourth-quarter profits were spent "trying to kill Spider-Man."

Check it out and be enlightened.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekly Music Video

'Cause the concert is coming in just a couple of weeks.

Styx - "Mr. Roboto"

Weekly Secret


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Michael Steele is Not Very Bright

Really, is he the best person to head the Republican Party. His latest brilliant idea is to cast gay marriage as a fiscal burden on society.

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

What a dumbass. How does even sound plausible to anyone? I support gay marriage, but for those that don't, there are certainly much better arguments to make than this one. Are there any intelligent Republicans left?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Torture Suspect Dead

The man who "confessed" to a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein while being tortured is now dead. Impeccable timing and how convenient.

All the Small Things

I made a woman cry at work.

Last Thursday, one of the employees at the Guest Services desk told me that a woman was there looking for her checkbook. I told her to send the woman back and I would see what I could do. She was a small woman, older with dark, slightly frazzled hair. The look on her face and the tone of her voice told a story of despair. She told me that she had been a patient at the hospital the previous weekend. She had collapsed and was found by a neighbor and rushed in to the hospital. Whatever was wrong (she didn't say), she was better and went home on Monday.

Unfortunately, she now could not find her checkbook. It had been in her purse, or so she thought, but she was unconscious when she came in and was not sure if it had been brought in with her or lost someplace else. Armed with a description of the checkbook and her name, I went to the Public Safety office to check through the lost and found as well as the patient valuables taken in. Sure enough, a Public Safety Officer had collected it, but the nursing staff apparently did not notify the department when she was discharged so that it could be returned to her.

I took the checkbook back across the street to the woman and turned it over to her. And she promptly burst into tears. She called me an angel, kissed my hand, and told me that I didn't know how much this meant to her. She was right, of course. She told me that she had thought she would have to cancel a whole string of checks and credit cards and get new photo ID. I had saved her this nightmare and she was ever so grateful. She insisted on doing something for me and nothing I said could convince her that it was unnecessary.

Yesterday, she brought me a plate of chocolate chip cookies. They were quite tasty, I must say. Anyway, all of this is to say that the smallest gestures we make toward our fellow humans are often the most important. You don't have to cure cancer or give someone $1 million to make a difference in someone's life. This didn't even take five minutes of my time and it's part of my job, but clearly it meant a lot to this woman. I challenge you to keep in mind the seemingly insignificant acts you can do for someone else. They may not be so small to the person you help.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"That's what the heck I said!"

Kids crack me up. Last night, as I was getting ready to leave to pick up dinner, I had this conversation with my five-year-old niece.

Holding a pair of pink sunglasses, she said, "I want to go with you 'cause I've got my hot sunnies."

"Hot sunnies?" I asked.

"That's what the heck I said!"

I could only laugh after that. What could I say? I'm going to have to remember that line, though.

Weekly Music Video

I love the dark, moody, slightly creepy ambiance of this song.

Toadies - "Possum Kingdom"

Weekly Secret


I certainly think my mother is amazing. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Thank you for always being there for me. I couldn't have made it without you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Off to the Movies

Going to see the new Star Trek film tonight with my daughters and a friend. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Friend

Patrick Roy Kramer, May 6, 1977-October 22, 2006

All Things Will Die - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing
Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing
Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating
Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call’d–we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Thro’ eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
For all things must die.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kids and Divorce

As is so often the case, The Onion mixes in a healthy amount of truth with the funny.

Bipartisanship at Its Finest

So, when Obama offered to make concessions on curbing medical malpractice rewards as part of overhauling health care, what did the Republicans offer to give?

Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.

Just more proof that the current crop of Republicans are not serious about governing, only about grandstanding. Like it or not, our system of government is typically about working with people of differing views and compromising with them. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Democrats hold the White House as well as a majority in both branches of Congress. They are in a position of not needing to compromise as much as the GOP. If the Democrats wanted to, they could ram quite a bit through. So, it seems as if it is in the best interest of the party for Republicans to take an olive branch when it's offered instead of throwing it away.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reconciling Science and Religion

I'm always glad to read stories like this. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and a scientist. He worked on the Human Genome Project and now he's working on a new project to bridge the gap between Christian fundamentalism and science.

Collins, 59, who with his mustache and shock of gray hair looks like former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's cheerful twin, seems genuinely pained by the idea that science could be viewed as a threat to religion, or religion to science. And so he decided to gather a group of theologians and scientists to create the BioLogos Foundation in order to foster dialogue between the two sides. The name — combining bios (Greek for "life") and logos ("the word") — is also what Collins calls his blended theory of evolution and creation, an approach he hopes can replace intelligent design, which he derides as "not a scientific proposal" and "not good theology either."

Through the Washington-based foundation, Collins says he and his colleagues hope to support scholarship that "takes seriously the claims of both faith and science." Its online component, biologos.org, is designed to be a resource for skeptics and nonbelievers who are interested in religious arguments for God's existence. But the primary audience for BioLogos is Collins' own Evangelical community.

I think this is fantastic. The person in the best position to change minds is someone on the inside, a member of the community. Being an Evangelical, Collins knows the language, knows the thought processes of the group and is in a much better position to show them that faith does not have to be in conflict with science. The two enrich each other or at least should. It's the extremes on both sides (Richard Dawkins, James Dobson, I'm looking at you two) that escalate this "battle" and make it difficult for the two to come together.

I guess I'm saying that I vote for more sanity and respect from people on both sides of the issue.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Conservatives and Humor

Via HuffPo, it seems that conservatives have difficulty detecting satire.

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert's political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.

It would be easy to just laugh at those dumb conservatives, but I'm genuinely curious as to why this is so. Why do conservatives have a harder time realizing that Colbert is a parody? By the same token, if there was a similar show with a conservative ideological bent, would liberals be able to identify it as satire?

Weekly Music Video

This is a great hard rock precursor to heavy metal.

The Sweet - "Ballroom Blitz"

No Moon Base?

NASA is saying that they might abandon their plans for a moon base in favor of other manned missions.

NASA will probably not build an outpost on the moon as originally planned, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, told lawmakers on Wednesday. His comments also hinted that the agency is open to putting more emphasis on human missions to destinations like Mars or a near-Earth asteroid.

NASA has been working towards returning astronauts to the moon by 2020 and building a permanent base there. But some space analysts and advocacy groups like the Planetary Society have urged the agency to cancel plans for a permanent moon base, carry out shorter moon missions instead, and focus on getting astronauts to Mars.

As big a proponent as I am of space exploration, I am glad that NASA is dropping the idea of a moon base. It sounds cool, but it's actually not very helpful in exploring space. It's really too far from Earth to serve as a convenient launching point for further missions. What we need are a space elevator to more cheaply and easily move materials into space, a large space station in orbit around our planet that can be spun for artificial gravity, and a plant for manufacturing craft outside of Earth's gravity. Granted, none of these are going to happen in the near term; but NASA or a private contractor should be working on these. Space exploration will increase dramatically once we have these in place.

Weekly Secret


Friday, May 1, 2009

Grandma Dope

I am going to suggest this career to my mother. She could use a way to supplement her income and 10 Gs a week isn't bad at all.

Ideas and Sense

An article at The Atlantic takes the NYT to task for just tossing out theories without any, you know, facts behind them. It was interesting if not altogether unsurprising in this day and age. What I loved about the piece, though, was this cartoon.

I'd never seen this before, but I love it. I printed it out and hung it up at work. I may have to have a copy with me at all of the meetings I have to go to. Instead of voicing dissent for every bad idea, I can just hold this up every time one comes up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kim Kardashian is a Role Model

In the "You Can't Make This Shit Up" category, Sean Hannity calls Kim Kardashian a role model for young girls. Shhh....hear that? Yeah, that's just the crickets chirping. I guess for all of the girls out there that want to be famous for being famous, "accidentally" release a sex tape, or pose for Playboy; then, yeah, she's a great role model. Of course, Hannity also equates liberals with terrorists, has no problems with torture, and brings anti-Semites on his show to smear Obama.

And to think this guy has an audience. That the bar is so low for success should give every American hope.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Chris Wilson makes the case.

If only someone had listened to computer scientist Moni Naor in 1996, proving that you're human on the Internet would have been so much more interesting. Naor was among the first to propose that simple tests only humans can solve would prevent malicious bots from infiltrating the Web. In an unpublished manuscript, Naor proposed nine possible tests, including gender recognition in images, fill-in-the-blank sentences, and a "deciding nudity" quiz in which you're asked to identify which person isn't wearing any clothes.

Alas, rather than getting to play "find the naked person" every time we sign up for a webmail account, we're now stuck with those reviled squiggly letter tests known as CAPTCHAs. Let's give credit where credit's due: These tests have been incredibly effective in combating spam. But even CAPTCHA pioneer Luis von Ahn, who received a MacArthur genius grant on account of his squiggly-letter work, admitted to me that they won't be a solution forever. For all their success, these tests are a crude way to weed out the bots among us. And they have proliferated to so many sites that the task of proving your humanity on the Internet is beginning to feel like an imposition.

I hope it's soon. Those things are damn annoying.