Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No paintings today

Haven't had time to get to the easel. I did get to photoshop today, however, so here's some new tees:

Two designs:

Scary bear

and Fanged Bear:

Also buttons and mugs here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Quoting myself...

Hey, recycle, reuse... This is something I just posted on my metaphysics site:

The Dalai Lama at MIT: Science meets Spirit

While Christian leaders in the US fight against the teaching of evolution in our schools, the leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community embraces modern science.

Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, the Dalai Lama has joined forces with MIT and the Mind and Life Institute to study the effects of Buddhist meditation on human cognition, mental imagery and emotion.

"(T)he Dalai Lama has said that the nature of Buddhism is open to exploration and change. And should the collaboration with science disprove the benefits of meditation, he has said, he would always be willing to rethink thousands of years of Buddhist tradition.

"If science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. We should always adopt a view that accords with the facts," he wrote recently in the forward to a book about the most recent scientific collaborations."

Now results of the studies are coming out, and it's clear that a habit of meditation effects one's mental abilities positivitely. In fact, " long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice" (whatever that means!)

The Dalai Lama is clearly secure enough in his spirituality that he needn't feel threatened by advances in scientific understanding. Would that more people did likewise.

Commentary too bitter for metaphysics:

If science discovered a health benefit of following Christianity, do you suppose its most vocal proponents in the US would be equally generous? Say, if taking communion cured cancer? Or would they rather reserve the benefit for their faithful, and require a 'faith check' to include an audit to insure your 'dues' were fully paid up before allowing you to partake?

Follow link above for more links to cool 'mind and spirit' type articles.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Well, I tried to stay away from the topic...

The whole Terri Schiavo story is a spectacle that shouldn't be playing out in public, if you ask me. Many people have had to deal with end-of-life issues for their loved ones; they must be cringing at this debacle.

I can have some sympathy for the parents; they've invested so much emotion in the concept that their daughter isn't dead, just severely handicapped, that I'm sure they quite believe it at this point, brain-activity evidence be damned.

Congress, of course, is doing what Congress does; pandering to their 'base'.

I was perplexed at the involvement of the right-to-lifers, initially; they've shown little to no interested in post-fetal life to date. But today I had an epiphany that explains their position.

Terri Schiavo is, to right-to-lifers, the perfect woman. If impregnated (by artificial means, you beasts - get your minds out of the gutter), she would cheerfully, or at least without complaint, carry as many infants to term as you could wish.

It's too bad the RTLers are so short-sighted. If they had embraced human cloning at the outset, they could by now surely have been able to grow their own cortexless human incubators; ones who would never want a career or an education, and who would crank out baby after baby. As it is, those annoying women with working minds are still required. Too Bad.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Conversations we keep on having

I'm old enough to remember the 'hair' conversation from the sixties. It went something like this: "Get a haircut, freak". Or "Are you a boy or a girl, huh-huh." As the sixties gave way to the seventies, the anti-hair faction fell silent, the pro-hairs winning by default. Soon long hair on men was just another way of proclaiming your 'creativity' and ponytailed 'art directors' reported to CEOs. Glad that's over, I thought, and how nice that something as peripheral as the length of one's hair is no longer a factor in judging one's worth. Then my peers' children reached their teens.

Boom. "Get a haircut or lose the car". This from guys I knew from personal observation had long flowing locks twenty years ago. Why do we have to do this all over again?

The Evolution 'debate' reminds me of the Hair Debate in that it's both ever recurring and ever pointless. The debate is over. The science of evolution is established. That some people want to enshrine their particular creation myth is one thing - to try to pretend it is science is absurd.

Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, almost 150 years ago. It is now an accepted part of the science of biology. To continue to debate it is to embrace willfull ignorance.

Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe was completed in 1522. Do you suppose that in 1670, with well-established colonies in Virginia, and a burgeoning global trade, there were people still be arguing the shape of the earth? Galileo was forced to recant that the earth moved around the sun instead of vice versa in 1633. Do you suppose that in 1783, after the American Revolution, people were still arguing the Stationary Earth Theory? Endowing university chairs and foundations to research the Stationary Earth?

The 'Debate' is over. Species evolve. Get over it.

(For those who would claim that evolution does NOT explain the actual origins of life, I offer the following recommendation: A. G. Cairn-Smith's Seven Clues to the Origins of Life.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Now for something a little more intellectual...

The Tao Te Ching is thought to be one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, books in the world. Legend has it that Lao Tzu, an elderly sage and imperial archivist at the court of Chou, composed it at the request of the 'Western Gatekeeper' on his retirement to the country.

Now recent discoveries sent back by robotic explorers investigating an ancient world that apparently was called Dagobah raises new and intriguing questions about the age of the document; in fact, it may have originated...

... a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...

Visit The Tao Te Ching of Yoda.

Time to sell more cars


Tuesday Boob Blogging

Stormy; painted in aquarelles (watercolor pencil) on watercolor paper.

Further proof that our glory days are behind us

From the NYT:

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject [of evolution] - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.


"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

You know, I think it's blasphemous that willfully ignorant hillbillies are able to force science museums to not present and discuss science, but I sure don't notice everybody falling all over themselves in their rush to kowtow to my opinions.

Thanks to the Ace from Space for the tip.

When special interests collide

You know, the opportunity exists for a smart Dem to highlight Republican hypocrisy at its finest. All's he/she would have to do would be to introduce a bill that specified that 'extreme measures' must always be taken in our hospitals. Brain dead victims must be kept alive by whatever mechanical means is currently technically feasible, just in case the wandering soul should decide to return and reinhabit their discarded husk.

Oh, and in the case of patients who are indigent and have no family to beggar to pay for their care, the cost of the care must be borne by the hospitals. Special investigators will be stationed in all health-care facilities to ensure that all unresusitatable coma-victims are treated with the maximum care and that there are no midnight 'accidents' with breathing and feeding apparatus; any deaths of these poor creatures will be investigated as de facto suspicious, since of course there will be a rather big financial disincentive on the part of the care-givers to provide Quality Care.

The sincere and principled Right-To-Lifer ought to be able to withstand the pressure from the healthcare industry and be more than willing to forego their campaign contributions to stick up for what they believe in.

Heh. Indeed. To coin a phrase...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

From the YLTGTH* Files

*yeah, like THAT's going to happen

Today's NYT Editorial:

As everyone knows, Mr. Blair has made Britain an unwavering member of President Bush's coalition of the willing in Iraq, at his own political peril. The favor he asked in return was a noble one - for America to join other wealthy countries in dramatically raising aid to Africa to cut poverty there.
The question this administration will ask: "Do they have any oil to make up for being the wrong color?"

Return to the Victorian Era

Robber barons, 'undeserving poor' and all. This from Nick Kristoff:

A study for The Wall Street Journal by Mercer Human Resource Consulting found that at 100 major U.S. corporations, bonuses for C.E.O.'s last year rose more than 46 percent, to a median of $1.14 million. Both the amount and the percentage increase were the highest since comparable studies began five years ago.

Companies have shaved costs by laying off workers and reducing health care coverage - and then using those savings to slather more pay on top executives. It's true that companies are now cutting back on stock options for C.E.O.'s, but it's hard to be impressed by that restraint when bonuses are soaring.


That study also found that public companies devoted about 10 percent of their profits to compensating their top five executives, up from 6 percent in the mid-1990's. That's a hijacking of corporate wealth by top managers.


Boards sometimes argue that they need to pay huge sums to hang on to talent. Really? Consider Mr. Eisner, who did a great job in his early years but has been a walking pay scandal ever since Disney earnings fell 63 percent in 1993 (after an accounting change) and he received $203 million. He has been so desperate to stay at Disney that he virtually Super-glued himself to his chair. If the board had wanted to pay the market price necessary to keep him, it could have offered a penny.

Here's a proposal - why don't they sell off the chance to sit in the CEO chairs on eBay?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Women, Blogging and Torture

Kevin Drum, bless his heart, doesn't let go of the 'where are all the women pundits and bloggers' question. Several reasons for the paucity of women in punditry have been posited, one of which is that 'the ladies' (my interpretation) just don't like the rough-and-tumble of shout-discourse and prefer a cozier, more supportive and collegial style. Another reason put forth (not by Kevin, but quoted by him) is that women are interested in different topics than men are, and that therefore men don't read and link to women bloggers.

Interestingly, in an earlier post, he mentioned not feeling quite up to blogging just then about torture, and links to a woman blogger who is "made of sterner stuff".

(WARNING: Generalizations ahead.)

I think this is an interesting juxtaposition for the following reason - if you took all the females of my acquaintance and summed them all up into one huge Average Woman, and all the men of my acquaintance and summed them all up into one huge Average Man, the Average Woman would be far more outraged at what the US is doing vis a vis torture than the Average Man.

Just to make sure you understand my point; I am not saying that I don't know men that are outraged at children being held at Abu Ghraib, or who don't think that the deaths in Afghanistan are a national disgrace, but they are cancelled out by men who think it's no big deal, and you can't be squeamish when dealing with terrorists, and you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs and it's just all just overgrown frathouse pranks and oh too bad when people die.

None of the women I know think torture is okay under certain circumstances, and that holding children as pressure against their parents is anything but obscene. I'm not saying that there are no women out there who don't hold views more similar to the 'frathouse pranks' men, but I don't personally know any. And women that express their views are routinely called 'soft on terror' and 'coddling criminals' by men of the more 'making omelets' school of foreign policy.

So. Does this make torture a 'women's issue'?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Being Busy

Yeah, it's kinda busy in Leesburg VA. On top of my duties at the store, I'm building a website for a client (no, you can't see it; it's not in a state fit for viewing yet) and the metaphysics site for the AllInfoAbout network. You can see the latter here. No, I don't have any control over the look/feel, and if you see that damned 'pop a zit and win an iPod' ad, it's not my fault. I hate it too.

Ace asked about my 'What is the Tao Te Ching?' article - it has finally web-surfaced here. One presumes that others of my 20-odd articles will eventually emerge here as well.

Pagewise is a click-site. That is, informational content is provided on which to display ads. The content exists so that the ads will appear and hopefully create click-thru. God, I feel like a sitcom writer...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sorry, no boobs today

I knew what I wanted to do and tried to do it, sort of a chiaroscuro thing on black paper with pastel pencil... And I tried, and erased and tried again... and finally last night had to admit that my imagination had outstripped my technical skills. Or maybe I was just in the wrong medium - I plan to try colored pencil on a different type of black paper, or watercolor pencils...

Meanwhile, a repeat of an earlier work. Yes, it's...

Tuesday Buddha Blogging!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

New bumperstickers

Domestic Policy Edition:

click sticker to purchase

Friday, March 11, 2005

These guys really miss the old days

Josh Marshall points to this essay as the "New pencil-neck line of attack: Social Security contributes to free love and the decline of marriage. " But it's actually more noisome that that:

Policymakers and citizens pondering the merits of Social Security reform should consider new evidence showing that "social security" adversely affects decisions to marry and have children.

A new University at Buffalo study, examining the experience of 57 countries over a 32-year period, concludes that in the U.S. and other countries where social security is instituted as a defined-benefits, pay-as-you-go system, marriage and fertility rates fell sharply over time -- partly as a result of social security itself.


"Current Social Security systems in the U.S. and elsewhere have some unintended consequences, which include disincentives to form families and have children," explains Ehrlich, who also is Melvin H. Baker Professor of American Enterprise in UB School of Management. [emphasis mine]


Prior to the establishment of current form of Social Security in the U.S., the family was the main form of social security, Ehrlich points out. "Working children took care of retired parents as they aged, and so there was an incentive for parents to have large families," he says.

No, Professor Ehrlich, SS doesn't include disincentives, it simply removes the necessity (incentive) of having children to support your old age. Is it now our national position that excess children, conceived and raised solely for their parents' future financial security, is a good thing? It would certainly seem to me that people who have children because they want them, rather than as a means to support themselves in their old age, are probably going to be better parents.

But I forget - the war machine needs fodder.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Language Nanny

I was getting a kick out of Kevin Drum defending his erroneous use of the phrase 'begging the question' to mean 'raising the question' rather than 'ducking the question'. Then I went over to Eschaton and found Atrios quoting a press release wherein some nimbnut thinks 'equivocates' means 'equates'!

Is NOTHING sacred?

If people have to change the meaning of words and phrases, do they have to change them to mean the exact opposite of what they started out meaning?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The State as Robber Baron

Have you been following the scary story in Connecticutt? We're moving closer to true communism (the state owns your butt) every day.

BEGINNING his oral argument in Kelo v. City of New London, the Connecticut eminent-domain case the Supreme Court took up last week, Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice puts the stakes bluntly:

‘‘Every home, church, or corner store would produce more jobs and tax revenue if it were a Costco or a shopping mall,’’ he says. If state and local governments can force a property owner to surrender his land so it can be given to a new owner who will put it to more lucrative use, no home or shop in America will ever be safe again.

That’s just what New London wants to do to Bullock’s clients, the last remaining homeowners in the city’s working-class section of Fort Trumbull. When Pfizer, the big pharmaceutical firm, announced in 1998 that it would build a $300 million research facility nearby, the city decided to raze Fort Trumbull’s modest homes and shops so they could be replaced with more expensive properties: offices, upscale condos, a luxury hotel.


When Bullock argues that New London wants to throw people out of their homes for the sake of ordinary economic development, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks why that’s a problem. New London is depressed, she says; what’s wrong with trying to ‘‘build it up and get more jobs?’’ If the city could buy property on the open market and turn it over to a developer, wonders Justice David Souter, why can’t it use eminent domain to achieve the same end? Justice Stephen Breyer notes that there is bound to be some public benefit from almost any land taking. Isn’t that enough to satisfy the Constitution’s ‘‘public use’’ requirement?

It is a depressing colloquy for anyone who believes that property rights are fundamental to liberty. But there is worse to come. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor presses Wesley Horton, the lawyer for New London, on whether eminent domain can really be deployed to condemn any property that could be put to better use.

‘‘For example, a Motel 6,’’ O’Connor says. ‘‘A city thinks, ‘If we had a Ritz-Carlton, we’d get higher taxes.’ Is that OK?’’

‘‘Yes, that’s OK,’’ Horton replies.

Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘‘You can take from A and give it to B, if B pays more in taxes?’’

Horton: ‘‘Yes, if it’s a significant amount.’’

So there you have it, freedom-fans. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's ART, you philistines

Also Know As Tuesday Boob Blogging

Click pic for larger version.

It's perhaps of technical interest (or perhaps not) that I only used four sticks of pastel here. And I am forced to admit - I can't do a thing with hair.

James Wolcott, wordsmith of the gods

Is any blogger now blogging funnier than James Wolcott? Dig him on Greenspan:

Used to be, when someone retired or something was cancelled, that was it, goodbye, sayonara, sorry to see you go, don't forget your scarf. Now everyone and everything gets an eternal farewell tour, or an endless sendoff at the departure dock. When long-running shows such as Dick Van Dyke or Gunsmoke went off the air, they simply went, there wasn't a national period of rumination and speculation as to what the last episode would hold for the characters "we've come to love." But ever since the last episode of M.A.S.H. was inflated into a cultural event, we've been subjected to closure on the installment plan. Hush-voiced announcers perform a solemn countdown in the network promos. "Only five more episodes of Friends before Ross stops whining forever..." "Only two more episodes before Star Trek: Enterprise faces its final frontier..." I thought CNN had cancelled Crossfire and The Capital Gang, yet everytime I stumble across their time slots, they're still on, as if nobody told them to clear out their yogurt cups from the green room minifridge. We'll never get rid of them.

This is why I dread the last year or so of Alan Greenspan's tenure at the Fed before he retires in 2006, assuming he doesn't ascend to heaven before then in a cone of light. Otherwise, we're stuck watching him shuffle in slow motion to the exit like that geezer Tim Conway used to play and listening to him mutter his fubsy equivocations as elected officials and a bovine press cling to his ankles begging him not to leave. What will we do without your guru wisdom? your guidance? No one in the history of public service has woven a thicker aura of bogus infallibility than Greenspan, which is why hail to Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid for blurting the bitter truth and calling Greenspan "one of the biggest hacks we have here in Washington."

Help me out here....

Seen on a license plate:


John Brown?
Jethro Boudine?
Josephine Baker?
Jeremiah Bullfrog?

Monday, March 07, 2005

From the YCMTSU* files

*You Can't Make This Shit Up

The office phone number of the National Transportation Security Administration ombudsman hired to listen to public complaints about airport security has been classified as "sensitive security information."

Thanks to local tipster Space Ace.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Greed: an American Value

A great big Yay! to Kevin Drum for picking up the issue of credit card company greed. Read about it here, here and here.

This situation - even more, I think, than the travesty that is our health care delivery system - has the potential for exploding into downfall-of-Mussolini riots in the streets.

For what it's worth, I really don't expect to see bankers hanging from lamp posts. But when people with reasonable salaries and expectations start losing their homes to Citibank because of uncovered medical expenses, I do expect that we'll begin to see a few Columbine-in-a-bank scenarios, complete with conservative commentators characterizing any talk of circumstances that drove the rampager over the brink as 'blaming the victim' and 'justifying terrorism' (you know they'll call it terrorism - everything is now terrorism), and quickie Very Special made-for-TV Movies featuring brave bankers praying together in breakrooms as the killer stalks the corridors.

Oh, wait. Forget I said that. (Gotta call my agent again.)

Friday, March 04, 2005


Read this story.

Thanks to Ralph at Newsfare for the link.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


This site is certified 39% EVIL by the Gematriculator This site is certified 61% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What a difference a mere 30 years makes

First, this story:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A California high school teacher was arraigned on Monday at a Sacramento court accused of having sex with a student in a car as her two-year child was strapped into the back seat.

Margaret De Barraicua, 30, a teacher trainee, was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, a 16-year-old student. The married woman was caught having sex in the late afternoon last week in what was apparently a consensual agreement, officials said.

This is weird on so many levels, but I want to say, uh, Margaret? if a two-year-old isn't talking yet, it's usually because he can't think of anything to say. No witnesses, okay?

But other than that, the whole infantilization of young adults kind of bothers me. When we make no distinction between a sixteen-year-old boy enjoying a sixteen-year-old boy's more common fantasy and a toddler victimized by Bad Touch (tm), what message are we sending? Do we really need to create yet another generation of grown-up helpless children?

Please understand that I am in no way advocating the practice of authority figures trolling the junior and senior class for playthings. That said, doesn't it bother you that if they were filming a remake of Summer of '42 today, it would end in the arrest and stoning death of the beautiful and tragic young widow? (Ooh, gotta call my agent.)

It's Estrogen Month!

... and me without a THING to wear!

Oh, never mind, just go on over to Pen-Elayne's and vote for the Prairie Angel (afer visiting all those great other femme-blogs, of course.)

Is our children learning?

Wow. Thanks to DED space for pointing out this Cynthia Tucker piece on Black History Month:

Dutiful celebrations of Black History Month did not stop last year's decision by a suburban Atlanta school board to continue using a supplemental third-grade history text that claimed Africans were "brought to America to help" work on plantations. Complaints from at least one black parent had no effect.

Indeed, the textbook's distributor, Don Klein, said he didn't "understand the nature" of the parent's complaint. The textbook "is not going to be all-inclusive about anything, including African-Americans. It's a survey book," he said.

Someone should explain to Don the difference between summarizing and lying.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

They sell cars, don't they?

Having laughed out loud at Lauren's Pungent Commentary on Women and Blogging, I've decided to run a little experiment. Many of you may know I paint in pastels as a hobby. My preferred subject is typically a ripped male torso, or luscious buns. However, that's not what apparently sells the beer around here. So I'm initiating...

Tuesday Boob Blogging


click pic for larger version.

US rejoins civilized world

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday abolished the death penalty for juveniles, an important victory for opponents of capital punishment in the only country that gave official sanction to such executions.
Lest you think I exaggerate with my 'civilized world' comment, I offer (from the same article):
Only seven countries other than the United States have executed juvenile offenders since 1990, he said. They are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China.

Nice company to be parting from, you ask me. (Read all about it. WashPost Article, same topic.)

Bobo wants an allowance

Is there any pundit currently pundicizing that is more consistently moronic that NYT's David Brookes? Today, the Modern Culture Maven decrees that separate accounts for married-couples is another sign of the downfall of the institution of marriage.

Here's an idea for a future book, David. Turn all your finances over to a trusted individual, such as a spouse, for a significant period, such as six months. Determine what would be a generous allowance for yourself, and have that trusted individual give you that amount weekly, in cash. No credit or debit cards allowed. It is understood that your 'financier' will give you more cash for the asking. Then at the end of the period, write a book about how cozy and warm it felt, being treated like a baby for six months.