May 31, 2006

Driving and crying

from - RSA

I filled up my car today at the gas pump. Total cost: about $30. I realized, in thinking about it, that while I find the topic of rising gas prices interesting in the abstract, it hasn't seemed to affect me much personally. (I already have a very low opinion of George W. Bush, independent of gas prices, apparently unlike the average American.)

Here's one possible explanation for my attitude. My car gets about 30 miles to the gallon. I drive it about 9,000 miles a year. With gas around $3.00 a gallon, that works out to $900 per year. If the average price, say, three years ago was about $1.50, then I'm paying twice as much as I used to, an extra $450 per year, or $37.50 per month.

Is that a lot? It could be that I'm not representative. Let's check out the numbers for the average person in the U.S. The average car is driven about 12,200 miles per year, and the average new car/SUV mileage is 21 mpg. Using the same computation as above, that gives $1740 per year, or $145 per month. That's an extra $72.50 per month, compared with three years ago. Let's estimate the after-tax income of this average person (household, actually) at a conservative $35,000. Instead of paying 2.5% of this in gas, it's up to 5%. Hmm.

The numbers above are in non-adjusted dollars; they're just ball park estimates, and of course the "average person" doesn't really exist. Still, I thought it would be interesting to see where potential boundaries could lie between those affected and those not affected by the price of gas.

Posted by RSA at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2006

Not only that

from - smijer

Funny new anti-Gore ad makes ridiculous factual error, trying to paint Gore as hypocrite; possibly lifting the smear from Greg "The Science Guy Without a Science Education" Easterbrook...

Well, even with the correct numbers, the hypocrite charge doesn't quite stick... From the Media Matters Easterbrook link, quoted originally in Wired:

The Gores and all the employees of Generation lead a "carbon-neutral" lifestyle, reducing their energy consumption when possible and purchasing so-called offsets available on newly emerging carbon markets. Gore says he and Tipper regularly calculate their home and business energy use -- including the carbon cost of his prodigious global travel. Then he purchases offsets equal to the amount of carbon emissions they generate. Last year, for example, Gore and Tipper atoned for their estimated 1 million miles in global air travel by giving money to an Indian solar electric company and a Bulgarian hydroelectric project.

This new ad is from the same group that brought us the ones I mentioned last week, so we can assume that we are probably paying for this ad when we pay at the pump, too.

Posted by smijer at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2006

You Can Use Them To Sneak Up On People

from - smijer

...which could be scary.

Posted by smijer at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

More Headlines

from - Buck

Military Expected to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians

Well hell, the Air Force does that all of the time!

'Tis a fine line that separates cold blood from collateral damage I guess.

Posted by Buck at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2006

Not All Feel this Way

from - smijer

Hippy Dave points us to this article on the death penalty, from a victim's family member...

But I don’t want him executed. That would be revenge, not justice. [...] I shudder at the idea of government imitating this killer by killing him. All the talk about the “closure” given by an execution is a myth. Heather is gone. Her chair is forever empty, and killing her murderer will not change that. [...] And I don’t want his family to be forced into grief and sorrow. Why create another family of another slaying victim?
The pro-death-penalty argument which normally gains the most sympathy for me is the one that looks at the feelings and wishes of the victims' loved ones. The loss can never be healed, but can they find closure with the execution of the perpetrator? My guess is that many, if not most, family members of victims feel they can - at least until the execution takes place and they learn whether or not they can from experience. Not all, to be very sure, but many.

But I look at the statement from Ms. Wright, and I notice that much of what she says is true of all families of murder victims. The closure hoped for from the death penalty is one that comes from the (quite) understandable motivation of revenge - not an ethical standard. Executing the murderer really will leave that chair empty, that victim gone forever. That empty chair, that knowledge of a loved one suffering, those are the real harms, and execution does precisely nothing to undo them. And, no matter whether there is some "closure" for the victim's family, there is the much greater negative result for antoher family - a family innocent of any wrongdoing apart from having loved the wrong person. If there is some "closure" that comes from execution, is it worth the price of creating a whole new family who will carry the same burden that the victim's family carries?

Posted by smijer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006

For the One or Two Who Don't

from - smijer

I long ago stopped doing line item links to anything on dKos or Eschaton - I figure you've seen it there already, or on one of the innumerable blogs that do still link it, or who link to discuss it. But just in case someone out there doesn't stay in tune with the liberal echo-chamber.... you've got to see this, via ThinkProgress:
The one and only Delay Defense Fund web-site - the real thing, not a parody, offers up a front page (link now fixed) beginning with a video. Of Robert Greenwald. On the Colbert Report. Watch while you can.

Posted by smijer at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Cool scientists missing from TV and movies

from - RSA

While on a cross-country plane ride the other day, I was reading the New York Times and ran across an article that, in passing, observed that there are no breakthrough movies or TV shows that present scientists as being cool. The article mentions The Godfather and The West Wing showing criminals and politicians as being gritty and cool. I'd add the innumerable shows and movies demonstrating the coolness of doctors, lawyers, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, cowboys, and even, sometimes, business people. . .have I left anyone out?

Somehow scientists (including college professors like me) are never on such lists. And, really, there should be no expectation that they'll ever be in such highly publicized company. Why is that? I think there are a couple of reasons. First, there's very little in the way of drama in the average scientist's life that's specific to being a scientist. (Forensic scientists on CSI-related shows may seem to be an exception, but imagine if they were using identical techniques to determine the causes of cancer, without specific deadlines, without crimes, without specific bad guys, without overbearing bosses, and without the need to go interview people. . .you get the idea. It's the context, not mention the acting, that makes the stories compelling.) Scientists make incremental progress, occasionally a breakthrough, but if there's any drama, I think it goes on inside people's heads rather than in external events that might make for a good visual portrayal. Second, while the work of many scientists affects people's lives, it's not nearly as immediate an effect as the work of gangsters, cops, doctors, and even lawyers. If I do a good job in my work, no one's going to live or die or even go to jail; I'll write a paper that may gain me the respect of my peers and be possibly incomprehensible to the greater public.

I've become resigned to the belief that I'll never be a media celebrity. Such is life--I'll have to look elsewhere for happiness.

Posted by RSA at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Kindly old ladies

from - RSA

There's an interesting story being followed by the Los Angeles Times. That is, it's interesting in the same way that TV shows like Law and Order are interesting--it makes you think about the creativity of criminal minds.

It seems that there was a recent hit-and-run accident in which a homeless man was killed. A detective handling the case wasn't making much headway until he ran into another detective who had worked on a very similar case several years ago. The similarity? The same two women (in their 70s) were collecting a couple of million dollars in life insurance on the "accident" victims. They'd taken out about a dozen life insurance policies on each homeless man and listed themselves as his beneficiaries, in exchange for giving him an apartment to live in. Two years afterwards, each was mysteriously killed.

Apparently the women were serious hardasses about getting money from the insurance companies and they know the intricacies of insurance laws inside and out. I'm reminded of stories by Roald Dahl, which gives you an idea about the surrealism of the plots.

Posted by RSA at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

Taking the Long Way

from - Buck

From The High Priest of The Church of the Painful Truth we get this

I come to you with bad news today. The Ditzy Twits have a new album out, and it's not doing all that well.

But if you make the mistake of actually reading the link he provides you get this

Regardless, the Chicks seem on the verge of more success. Taking the Long Way is the top seller on Amazon.com and the No. 1 download on ITunes. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and the trio is launching a 43-city U.S. tour of major arenas, with a Sept. 30 date at Toyota Center.

I noticed on their website that the June 15th show in London is already sold out.

I think they will do just fine and I do not think either of the three will be relegated to eating Pork and Beans if they stop making music right now.

As for me I committed the ultimate act of treason yesterday by purchasing their new CD and it is fabulous all of the way through. You can hear "Not Ready to Make Nice" by going to their website.

My personal favorite is the last song entitled "I Hope"

So do I girls. So do I.

Posted by Buck at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

Al Gore's Movie - A *Very* Inconvenient Truth

from - smijer

couldit.bmp

Yeah, you read that right - we're looking at a movie that has the power to destroy our economy. Go watch it at the peril of our nation.

The image credit, by the way, is kind of difficult. It's an image grab from Fox News, replayed on MSNBC's "Countdown", K-Ol's "Worst people in the world" segment to be precise, and excerpted on a clip at the world-famous One Good Move.

So, the movie doesn't open until next week or something, but it's already created a clean-drawers crisis among the nation's conservative leadership. And Exxon... Apparently, some part of those gas prices that are exclusively determined by the oil futures market goes toward paying the CEI to make hilarious TV ads combatting Al Gore's extreme threat to the economy. Thinking about the risks to the economy, I'm not going to begrudge Exxon the chance to use some of my money to help combat the ill effects of knowing what anthropogenic climate change may hold in store for us.

So, anyway, it looks like - for better or worse - Gore's movie is going to be big news for a while, and a source of heavy duty hand-wringing and sweaty denials from both conservative punditry and some sectors of industry.

But, just to maintain a semblance of balance, I thought I would provide a few links to some of those crazies who, having seen it, like the film.

Real Climate...

How well does the film handle the science? Admirably, I thought. It is remarkably up to date, with reference to some of the very latest research. Discussion of recent changes in Antarctica and Greenland are expertly laid out. He also does a very good job in talking about the relationship between sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity. As one might expect, he uses the Katrina disaster to underscore the point that climate change may have serious impacts on society, but he doesn't highlight the connection any more than is appropriate (see our post on this, here).

There are a few scientific errors that are important in the film. At one point Gore claims that you can see the aerosol concentrations in Antarctic ice cores change "in just two years", due to the U.S. Clean Air Act. You can't see dust and aerosols at all in Antarctic cores -- not with the naked eye -- and I'm skeptical you can definitively point to the influence of the Clean Air Act. I was left wondering whether Gore got this notion, and I hope he'll correct it in future versions of his slideshow. Another complaint is the juxtaposition of an image relating to CO2 emissions and an image illustrating invasive plant species. This is misleading; the problem of invasive species is predominantly due to land use change and importation, not to "global warming". Still, these are rather minor errors. It is true that the effect of reduced leaded gasoline use in the U.S. does clearly show up in Greenland ice cores; and it is also certainly true that climate change could exacerbate the problem of invasive species.

Several of my colleagues complained that a more significant error is Gore's use of the long ice core records of CO2 and temperature (from oxygen isotope measurements) in Antarctic ice cores to illustrate the correlation between the two. The complaint is that the correlation is somewhat misleading, because a number of other climate forcings besides CO2 contribute to the change in Antarctic temperature between glacial and interglacial climate. Simply extrapolating this correlation forward in time puts the temperature in 2100 A.D. somewhere upwards of 10 C warmer than present -- rather at the extreme end of the vast majority of projections (as we have discussed here). However, I don't really agree with my colleagues' criticism on this point. Gore is careful not to state what the temperature/CO2 scaling is. He is making a qualitative point, which is entirely accurate. The fact is that it would be difficult or impossible to explain past changes in temperature during the ice age cycles without CO2 changes (as we have discussed here). In that sense, the ice core CO2-temperature correlation remains an appropriate demonstration of the influence of CO2 on climate.

Lawrence Lessig:

Even if you want to reject the argument, understand it first. This is a perfect opportunity to understand it.

kottke.org:

But the film really shines when it focuses on the presentation and Gore methodically and lucidly making the case for us needing to take action on global warming. An Inconvenient Truth opens in the US on May 24...do yourself a favor and seek it out when it comes to your local theater.

Just be careful not to let this thing destroy our economy.

Posted by smijer at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2006

Anti-Terrorism Surveillance Program Related .... You know

from - smijer

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H.L. Mencken


This one appears randomly at the top of the page from time to time, but it's worth preserving in static form today, I think.

Posted by smijer at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

WWJD, redux

from - RSA

I wrote in an earlier post, concerning illegal immigration:

. . .what would Jesus do? I think I know, and it wouldn't involve building a big fence.

I was wrong. I confess I had forgotten that Jesus was a carpenter. . .

Just kidding.

Posted by RSA at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

A rose is a rose

from - RSA

Buck's recent post on the cluelessness of Donald Rumsfeld, plus a comment by Michael Hayden during his confirmation hearing on the radio yesterday, reminded me of one of my hobby horses: the misuse of metaphorical language. Here's Rumsfeld in a speech a while ago:

If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D' or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the world today.

The phrase "battle of ideas" or "war of ideas" comes up often when we talk about the war in Iraq; Hayden used the latter phrase today. If I'd been the Senator questioning Hayden, I might have asked, "So we're fighting a metaphorical war?" And Hayden naturally would have replied, "We're fighting a real war, but part of it is which side's set of ideas is accepted in the end, and that's what I meant by a 'war of ideas'."

All this is fine. What's problematic, though, is when the distinction between the metaphorical war and the real war is blurred. If you say that you're fighting terrorism, when what you're really doing is promoting the ideas of democracy, peace, moderation, and so forth, then you're fighting only in a metaphorical sense. You won't get killed or injured in your fight if you lose; you won't get as much as a bloody nose (unless perhaps you pursue your metaphorical battles with drunks in a bar).

What are the dangers of conflating a war of ideas with an actual war? The first danger is obvious and relatively minor: confusing talking with actual fighting. The 101st Fighting Keyboardists are possibly the worst offenders, by giving themselves a name that implies that they're in some sense doing the same job as soldiers who are doing the actual work of fighting in a war. Soldiers themselves have traditionally ridiculed such comparisons; fans of Bill Mauldin, for example, will be familiar with the contrasts between soldiers working on the front line and those in the rear echelon. The second, more insidious danger is thinking that the war of ideas can be won using tactics appropriate for real war. We've seen this in Tom Tancredo's infamous suggestion that Mecca might be bombed. Bombing Mecca was suggested as an appropriate retaliation for a nuclear attack on the U.S. by Islamic terrorists. Consider that none of these terrorists would presumably be in Mecca at the time, which undercuts the retaliation aspect of such an action. Tancredo's view seems to have been that the ideas behind Islamic extremism could be eliminated by force, which is questionable at best. For another example, we see a constant stream of commentary on the right calling for the imprisonment and sometimes even the execution of those holding liberal views, based not on their actions (e.g., releasing classified information to the public) but on their opinions alone (e.g., we are losing the war in Iraq; Bush is incompetent; some U.S. soldiers have committed atrocities and their superiors should be held accountable). In the battle for people's hearts and minds, it should be obvious that killing people is not an effective means of persuasion, either for those who have been killed or those who share their views. In a war of ideas, you win not by killing anyone who disagrees with you, but rather by persuading them to move to your side.

Posted by RSA at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Speaking of Headlines.....

from - Buck

I got a real kick out of this one

Americans Predict New War in 10 Years

What makes Americans think that the war we are currently in will be over in 10 years?

The Global War on Terror is perpetual and is a politicians dream come true. It will be the rallying cry for every power grabbing politician who comes on the scene from this day forward. It provides a never ending pasture of funding from which the military industrial complex and the C.O.W.'s can forever graze.

Get comfortable with this "war" because the only thing that can stop it is The Second Coming.

I hope that despite all of this ya'll will have a fantabulous weekend.


Posted by Buck at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

He Bows to the Pressure

from - smijer

I'm giving in today - I'm blogging from a Krystal wireless hotspot. As you may have guessed by my lack of posts this week, I am on vacation. And, one thing led to another and I find myself doing something I never thought I'd do. From a hotel room? Maybe. But I really didn't see myself as the sort of SOB who would pull out a computer in the middle of a fast food restaraunt and start surfing the internet. I'm waiting on a car to be serviced and I don't want to go all the way home, so this is how I'm killing time. If I could log on VPN to work on my side project, I would be doing that instead of this, but the VPN is wisely configured not to work on an unsecured wireless network.

And, I'm going to watch the horrid Da Vinci Code movie today. Yes, I resisted, but I have a friend who liked the book (a), and (b), I like Tom Hanks... and, well, the Google game with its previews promising action and suspense managed to get me hooked. Maybe, if I catch up enough to do it, I'll blog all of the poor reasoning, wrong facts, and sly hoodwinks in it afterward. But probably not - I'll just be another Rube shelling out $7.50 to help Dan Brown and his Hollywood sponsors get lots of $7.50's.

I'll try to check back in later. I'm going to go kill precious time at the Barnes & Nobles now.

Posted by smijer at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Rumsfeld speaks

from - Buck

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

But Rumsfeld says

Armed militias in a country with a democracy is inconsistent with the success of that democracy."

I guess according to Rumsfeld the operative phrase is "well regulated".

Nation building is a pain in the ass.

Posted by Buck at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

WWJD?

from - RSA

I gather from various news articles that the evangelical Christian right is split in the immigration debate, and there are big evangelical organizations who have not come down on one side or the other. I rarely have useful insight into conservative Christian thinking, but I'm surprised that this isn't a relatively straightforward issue: You've got a lot of poor people who have come to American in the hope of making a living, and the vast majority of them are Christian--what would Jesus do? I think I know, and it wouldn't involve building a big fence.

Posted by RSA at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2006

Fun with headlines

from - RSA

I was reading the New York Times front page, and my browser window size was such that I misread the headline describing Bush's speech last night, as if it were punctuated as follows:

Behind Bush's Adress: Lies, a Deep History

Of course, there was no punctuation at all. I wonder how many other headlines have such messages? Someone's probably compiled a list.

Posted by RSA at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

How's the weather?

from - RSA

We had the craziest five minutes of weather I've seen in the Raleigh, NC, area in the past ten years or so. Between 65 and 75 degrees, slightly cloudy in the afternoon, and suddenly, big chunks of Texas-sized hail. I took a couple of quick snapshots. Here's what was landing on the sun umbrella in my backyard:

umbrella.jpg

All that white stuff on the left is hail. You can see the blurs of hail still falling at the time. Fortunately, there was little to no damage, aside from a few dings on the copper cover of a solar light I'd put out on a post not thirty minutes earlier. A bit later we see what remained on our front porch.

porch.jpg

Those are pretty ordinary sized maple leaves, which gives you an idea about how big the hailstones are. Of course, half an hour later they were all gone, and the usual heat caused pretty much every outdoor surface--grass, road, etc.--to start steaming. Interesting images, overall.

Posted by RSA at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

Fascism

from - Buck

Here, according to Veterans for Peace, are the 14 characteristics.

Any of them look familiar?

Posted by Buck at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

Fame at last!

from - RSA

Hey, I was one of the people whose question to Tony Snow was quoted in Dan Froomkin's latest column. Cool. (I'm the one from Raleigh, NC.)

Posted by RSA at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Guns and telephones

from - RSA

I've been discussing the current NSA eavesdropping scandal with a dwindling number of half-hearted conservatives, who are less and less willing to defend the actions of the Bush administration. The arguments on their side tend to run along the same familiar tracks: it would be naive to think that this kind of thing wasn't happening all the time; it all started with Bill Clinton; blame the phone companies rather than the government.

In trying to figure out how to reach people who are living with only a toehold in the real world, I thought to bring forward an argument that they might appreciate for its familiarity, one made by guns rights activists. Would you be happy if the government kept a record of whether you own a gun or not? Of course not (we can presume the answer to be). But what's the harm? It's not an infringement of the right to bear arms. But it's the first, necessary step toward such infringement. The possibility for misuse of gun ownershipe records is tremendous. Do you think there's any possibility of the government's misusing records of whom you call on your telephone? Oh.

Posted by RSA at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

Depends on how you look at it

from - Buck

"Islam, Bush has said, is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a few fanatics. Some, observing him, might say the same about Christianity."

I hope you all have a fantabulous weekend. Just be careful who you talk to and what you say over the telephone!

Posted by Buck at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

An Italian car

from - RSA

Some time ago I mentioned a trip to Italy, in which I drove around with my wife in a Smart Car. Here's a picture I took at lunch one day; while the car might cause drooling among teenagers, it was a bit over-styled for our tastes. I would have preferred the little two-door job, though we probably wouldn't have been able to fit our suitcases in it.

smartcar.jpg

The Smart Car was fine and trouble-free, for the most part, except for this:

gear.jpg

This is the best picture I could find of the gear shift knob, but it's not quite the same as the one I saw; replace the "N" with an "A", and add some other arbitrary letter to the left hand side of the diagram, and you get the picture. Oh, and no clutch. The rental car person had asked me whether I knew how to drive a manual transmission, and I'd said, "Of course." This was a bit different, though. In case it isn't obvious (as it wasn't to me at first), this shifter is hooked up to an electronic gear box. It has a neutral position in the middle left, and to shift to a higher gear you push forward, and to a lower gear you pull backward. After each shift you let the shifter return to its neutral position in the middle. A little electronic display on the dashboard tells you which gear you're in, if you can't tell from the engine noise, and the car shifts to lower gears automatically as your speed drops.

So far, so good (even slick), except that the car sometimes refused to go into first from neutral. (Imagine being stuck in the middle of a busy Milan intersection, unable to move. If your imagination includes being gestured at and cursed in Italian, you have the right picture in mind.) I had to turn the car off and restart to get it to work. Okay, once I figured that out, things went more smoothly.

But not quite. After twenty years or so of driving, I have habits that turn out to be deeply ingrained. For example, when I drive my own car, I start in first gear, with the shifter in the forward position, and when the engine starts revving too high, I shift into second by pulling the shifter hard back toward me. Ditto for third gear to fourth. Wrong instinct. In the Smart Car, it turned out that sometimes my hand wanted to shift to a higher gear by yanking backward on the shifter (while my foot wanted to stomp on the nonexistent clutch pedal on the floor). Not good: the result was to shift the car into a lower gear, causing some consternation to my brain once it realized what my hand and foot had been up to.

It's little things like this that make me realize how difficult it is for people to change their ways.

Posted by RSA at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2006

What is a blogger?

from - Buck

I guess this pretty much covers it.

Maybe it ain't only the Left that is angry.

Posted by Buck at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Who are the Republicans?

from - RSA

I've been reading the polls recently on Bush's approval ratings. Here's a sample:

Mr. Bush is even losing support from what has been his base: 51 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Republicans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job. In both cases, those figures are a substantial drop in support from four months ago.

Here's what I don't understand: My impression has been that Bush's Republican base is conservatives of one stripe or another. And yet self-identified conservatives are less approving of Bush than generic Republicans. What does this suggest? If conservatives are a subset of Republicans, then taking some proportion of conservatives out of the approval column leaves more liberal (on an artificial conservative-to-liberal scale) Republicans still supporting Bush. Can this be right? This would mean a kind of upside down U-shaped approval curve for Bush: higher in the middle, and lower on both ends. Certainly people disapprove of Bush for different reasons, and so there's no reason to expect liberals and conservatives taking up common cause against Bush, but it does seem to pose a difficult political problem for him. The strategy of tacking to the middle will not work, because he'll lose more conservatives, while the strategy of moving hard to the right means moving very hard, to capture the extremists, which is likely to turn off moderate Republicans.

Disclaimer: I am not a political strategist.

Posted by RSA at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2006

NAMGLA

from - smijer

Wouldn't Sean Hannity just throw a fit (and rightly) if someone from NAMBLA served in the Massachussets legislature? Wouldn't he be eager (wrongly) to cite this as proof of the slippery slope from gay marriage to institutionalized pederasty?

What? you say he would be right? 'K then

put this in your pipe and smoke it.

(H/T: the General)

Posted by smijer at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

Stephen Colbert

from - Buck

I wonder if he is going to get a piece of any of this action.

C-Span, the nonprofit network that first showed Mr. Colbert's speech, wrote letters to the video sites YouTube.com and ifilm.com, demanding that the clips of the speech be taken off their Web sites.....No, it is not political censorship but a smart proprietary business move. One of the former host sites YouTube reported that "41 clips of the speech had been viewed a total of 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours," C-Span has chosen to stream the entire event at its own site, thus driving up its own traffic, and to sell DVD's "of the event for $24.95, including speeches and a comedy routine by President Bush with a President Bush imitator."
Posted by Buck at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

The Yellow Deli?

from - smijer

A friend saw people passing out fliers for the Yellow Deli a few weeks back. He heard they were an old '70's cult coming back in Chattanooga after having been run out of town back in the day.

Naturally, I was curious, and I googled them. Here's their side.

Very little that sounds especially sinister - they sound a lot more like the people at the Baptist churches I grew up in than the do the Jim Jones cult, this much is for sure.

It certainly is troublesome that they are vocal about their "Biblical" disciplinary methods, and that this led to investigations of child-abuse. In this part of the country, *everyone* uses "Biblical" disciplinary practices, and it is very rarely a cause for investigation into child abuse - even when it, to my mind, crosses the line into the realm of abuse. So that's scary.

Rick Ross is a "cult researcher", more respectable than most - at least these days. He gives his take here.

Here, they certainly don't sound much like anyone you'd want your kid hooking up with. Still no Heaven's gate, but... well...

But Wiseman’s own son fled Twelve Tribes and later told the Boston Herald “growing up in there…things…just weren’t right."
In 1978 the elders of the group reportedly conceded that their church had an “authoritarian character” reported the Chattanooga Times.
Twelve Tribes has also been frequently criticized for its racist teachings.

Spriggs has taught his followers that “Martin Luther King and others have been inspired by the evil one to have forced equality” (”Unraveling the Races of Man” 1988).

Spriggs once observed, “It is horrible that someone would rise up to abolish slavery. What a wonderful opportunity that blacks could be brought over here to be slaves so that they could be found worthy of the nations” (”Cham and Servitude” 1991).

The group has also been called “anti-Jewish.”

Twelve Tribes teaches that “‘Jews are hostile to all men’ except those in Messiah…they are contrary, antagonistic…opposite…opposing…against…opposed…obstinate…The Jews double fallen nature is inclined to be a reproach…to the Gentiles…”(”Jews” August 1996).

Then there's this:

CultNews has learned that when members leave they most often take virtually nothing, despite whatever gifts they may have given the group and many years of hard work.

Meanwhile Spriggs lives in relative luxury, spending his time at various homes in the United States, France and Brazil, while many of his followers subsist modestly in group housing.

Whenever Twelve Tribes or its “prophet” has been criticized and/or scrutinized by anyone, this has frequently been characterized as “persecution.”

It their recent public postings group members claim that “prejudice” and “fear” led to them being “driven from Chattanooga” and compared that experience to the “Salem Witch Trials.”

Twelve Tribes members also say that Spriggs and his wife Marsha moved to New England much like the “brave Pilgrims…fleeing…for freedom of religion.”

Spriggs followers then blame everything on public officials and accept no meaningful responsibility for the group’s bad behavior

.

Interesting. I guess I'll have to keep track of them for a while & see what it's really all about.

Posted by smijer at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2006

The price of oil

from - Buck

I read today that the price of oil fell by $1.00 per barrel simply because of a letter written to President George Bush from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I'll bet that dumb-ass doesn't write another one any time soon. If he wants the price of the product he is peddling to increase in value he needs to have guys dancing around in front of camera's holding vials of enriched uranium while chanting things like, "Eat shit Georgie Boy!"

Some people just do not understand the free market.

Posted by Buck at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2006

I should mention

from - smijer

The 16th Annual Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival started yesterday. My dad took me there last, and we had a good time. The big event is Saturday 11a to 11p - make it out if you can.

Here's my apology for being MIA over the last week. I've been working on a side project, and my hours of availability to blog just diminished to nothing. I should be back soon!

Posted by smijer at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2006

George W's Palace

from - Buck

In case anybody wonders whether or not we have any intentions of staying in Iraq here is some fascinating proof.

After roughing it in Saddam’s abandoned palaces, diplomats should have every comfort in their new home. There will be impressive residences for the Ambassador and his deputy, six apartments for senior officials, and two huge office blocks for 8,000 staff to work in. There will be what is rumoured to be the biggest swimming pool in Iraq, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, a cinema, restaurants offering delicacies from favourite US food chains, tennis courts and a swish American Club for evening functions.

Reckon they will ever sell time shares for the place?

Even though the project is supposedly on time and on budget take a look at a few of the things that are not on time or on budget

BEHIND SCHEDULE

A US Inspector General’s report into reconstruction found that although $22 billion had been spent, water, sewage and electricity, infrastructure still operated at prewar levels

Despite “significant progress” in recent months, less than half the water and electricity projects have been completed

Only six of the 150 planned health centres have been completed

US officials spent $70 million on medical equipment for health clinics that are unlikely ever to be built. More than 75 per cent of the funds for the 150 planned clinics have been allocated

Task Force Shield, the $147 million programme to train Iraqi security units to protect key oil and electrical sites failed to meet its goals. A fraud investigation is under way

Oil production was 2.18 million barrels per day in the last week of March. Before the war it was 2.6 million

I guess it is easy to see where the priorities are.

I remember when this thing was first proposed it was budgeted at about 1.5 billion dollars. Currently they have it down for 592 million dollars.

I can't wait to see the "secret" finished product and the final tab.

I guess the white mans burden carries some tremendous sacrifice...for somebody.


Posted by Buck at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2006

Is anybody else embarrassed?

from - Buck

Alan Shore says it better than I ever could have.

The power grab that our current President has engaged in since day one has been fascinating to watch. He governs as if his day in the sun will never end. His only concern with law is the affect it has on others. He sincerely believes that his position is above the law and as long as he holds that position then he too is above the law.

I do not believe he is an evil person. I believe he is a person who sincerely believes that if a President does it then it is not possible for it to be illegal. He believes that the Executive branch is the law and that the law is the Executive branch. I really believe that he has no concept of the balance of and sharing of power.

I am not so much scared by the actions of Bush the Son as I am by his ability to do the things he does with absolute impunity. He has a 33% approval rating and yet he still rattles his sword? Where is the Congress? Do they also believe that absolute power should rest with the executive branch?

Our bellicose foreign policy is exactly why gas prices are at $3.00 per gallon and I am beginning to believe that this is not an unintended consequence. If we start shooting in Iran and the price of gas goes to $6.00 per gallon or higher I am not so sure that I will believe that even that is an unintended consequence.

Sometimes I feel like I am living in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Posted by Buck at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2006

A Riddle

from - smijer

You will go to hell for me, but I am a good thing. What am I?

Respect != submission.

Posted by smijer at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Decider

from - Buck

The Beatles are back!

Posted by Buck at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

Shadrach, Meshach & W-bednigo

from - smijer

What we witnessed at the WH Correspondents Dinner was a true miracle - that anyone walked out of that room alive. If you haven't already, go witness this act of providence.

Shadrach was played by the popular press - the liberal media despised near equally from "the right" and "the left" - the same liberal media that perceives this abhorrence from politically interested people as a sign that it is "doing something right" - the same liberal media that has fluffed the news hour until there is no news left, even on the 24-hour cable channels.

The role of Meschach was played by the military generals who still swear loyalty to Rumsfeld, and coincidentally, are still working for the military.

One is tempted to think of Stephen Colbert in the role of Nebuchadnezzar - but no, the wicked King was absent from this performance. Colbert was the furnace, and he overplayed his role. Where W-bednigo and his friends are meant to walk out unsinged, Colbert forgot this was a staged roast and left third degree burns on the trio. The miracle that they even survived must have been the result of actual divine providence, rather than careful stage-managing of the stunts.

I believe the President and First lady - and their staff - were truly surprised that their hostile roaster had the temerity to put on the hot act. Normally even the president's media foes are reduced to scraping and fauning before the big round Presidential Seal while actually in the room with the Leader of the Free World. That Colbert behaved as though the Emperor were a human being, and laughed at His invisible attire must have been quite a start.

Best lines - "the last third is usually backwash." Touche, Mr. and Mrs. Diehards. Number two wasn't a line - it was the delivery of a big, non-verbal vaffanculo to Justice Scalia, who alone was able to prove that he could laugh at himself with real merriment. Kudos to Nino.

Peerless satire, and much needed.

Posted by smijer at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)