Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Science News IV

Dang, the hits just keep on coming. I declare today Science Blogging Day. Now this little development is one I saw coming a mile away:

Fuel is the thing with feathers. Hoping to find an efficient way to help power automobiles and trucks, researchers at the University of Arkansas say they have developed a way to convert chicken fat to a biodiesel fuel.


R.E. Babcock, a professor of chemical engineering, said chicken-fat fuels are better for the environment and the machines.

"They burn better, create less particulate matter and actually lubricate and clean things like cylinders, pistons and fuel lines," Babcock said.

Traditionally, biodiesel producers have used refined products like soybean oil because they are easier to convert to fuels. However, the refining process makes soybean oil more expensive — and fuel producers must compete with grocers for the oil supply. Chicken fat can be a less-expensive substitute because it is available at a low cost. However, fatty acids in raw chicken fat can lead to the creation of soap during the various chemical processes.

As someone who is inordinately fond of baked chicken and who always feels guilty just THROWING AWAY all the grease that collects in the bottom of the pan, I'm quite looking forward to saving all my chicken fat in coffee cans and turning it in for Energy Credits.

Science News III

Been a great day for news from the world of science, I guess... Now this:

The attitude that there's something wrong with introverted people is widely shared in society, where fast talk and snap decisions are often valued over listening, deliberation and careful planning. Extroverts seem to rule the world or, at least, the USA, which hasn't elected an introverted president for three decades, since Jimmy Carter.

"The signals we get from the world agree that extroversion is valued," says Sanford Cohn, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction at Arizona State University. "A lot of the messages we get from society have to do with being social, and in order to be social you have to behave a certain way."

But that is impossible for introverted kids. Raising them isn't easy, particularly if parents, family members, teachers, coaches and other adults don't allow them to be who they are.

Introverted children enjoy the internal world of thoughts, feelings and fantasies, and there's a physiological reason for this. Researchers using brain scans have found introverts have more brain activity in general, and specifically in the frontal lobes. When these areas are activated, introverts are energized by retrieving long-term memories, problem solving, introspection, complex thinking and planning.

Extroverts enjoy the external world of things, people and activities. They have more activity in brain areas involved in processing the sensory information we're bombarded with daily. Because extroverts have less internally generated brain activity, they search for more external stimuli to energize them.


Introverted children need time alone more than do extroverted children, says Laney, whose book, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, is due in January. "Extroverts gain energy by being out and about," but "being with people takes energy from introverts, and they need to get away to restore that energy."

Now leave me alone, you vampires you. (Thanks to Praxxus for the link.)

Don't Bomb Us

The Staff of Al Jazeera launch a blog.

Deep Discounts

Wow, you can get a steal anywhere these days, even Southeby's.

The painting by renowned artist Gilbert Stuart, which depicts America's first president during his final year in office, was expected to command between $10 million and $15 million, according to Sotheby's in Manhattan. Instead, it sold for a mere $8.1 million.
That's a 20 to 50% discount! Walmart has much to answer for.

Science News II

The Columbia Journalism Review has a lengthy article about the controversy over mercury-laden childhood vaccines and their link, or lack thereof, to the incredible increase in autism nationwide.

If you haven't been following this story, here's something that may startle you:

Since the late 1980s the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased sixty-fold, from one in every 10,000 in 1987 to one in every 166 in 2003. Much of this spike overlaps with a period when, due to recommendations by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the number of suggested immunizations on the childhood vaccination schedule more than doubled, raising the doses of mercury that some children received to levels that far surpassed federal standards for mercury exposure... Until the late 1990s, health officials were unaware of the total amount of mercury children were receiving in their vaccinations. It’s not unreasonable to ask how this went unnoticed, and unreported, for so long. The answer is simple: no one had ever done the arithmetic.
The author goes on to describe the state of the research and why the CDC's statement, that no link between mercury and autism has been found, didn't end the issue right there. Also alarming is his report on the extent to which journalists have been discouraged by groupthink from covering this story.
Some reporters who have portrayed this as an ongoing scientific controversy have been discouraged by colleagues and their superiors from pursuing the story. A reporter for a major media outlet, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, told me that covering the thimerosal controversy had been nearly “career-ending” and described butting heads with superiors who believed that the reporter’s coverage — in treating the issue as a two-sided debate — legitimized a crackpot theory and risked influencing parents to stop vaccinating their children or to seek out experimental treatments for their autistic sons and daughters. The reporter has decided against pursuing stories on thimerosal, at least for the time being. “For some reason giving any sort of credence to the side that says there’s a legitimate question here — I don’t know how it becomes this untouchable story, I mean that’s what we do, so I don’t understand why this story is more touchy than any story I’ve ever done.”
I fail to see how covering this story could discourage parents from immunizing their children, since mercury-free vaccines now exist, and many states are now outlawing the use of mercury as a preservative in vaccines.

Read the whole thing.

Science news I

Okay, I think we all kind of knew this already but:

ROME (Reuters) - Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It's all part of falling passionately in love -- and scientists now tell us the feeling won't last more than a year.

The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF), according to Pavia University researchers.

The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term relationships.

But after a year with the same lover, the quantity of the 'love molecule' in their blood had fallen to the same level as that of the other groups.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's like a dream come true!

Aspiring rock gods can at last create their own guitar solos - without ever having to pick up a real instrument, thanks to a group of Finnish computer science students.

The Virtual Air Guitar project, developed at the Helsinki University of Technology, adds genuine electric guitar sounds to the passionately played air guitar.

Using a computer to monitor the hand movements of a "player", the system adds riffs and licks to match frantic mid-air finger work. By responding instantly to a wide variety of gestures it promises to turn even the least musically gifted air guitarist to a virtual fret board virtuoso.

Thanks to HuffPo for the link.

Best Headline Award

... goes to Arianna Huffington for: Bob Woodward, the Dumb Blonde of American Journalism

Oh, yay!

U.S. troops fly cheetah cubs to safety

U.S. troops flew two endangered cheetah cubs to the Ethiopian capital Tuesday after instigating their rescue from a remote village where a restaurant owner had held them captive and abused them.
Warning - heartbreaking photo at link.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Oh yeah... he's running.

In case there was any doubt in your mind... Gov. Warner weighs in on foreign policy.


Here's to the New Boss, different from the old boss, at least as long as the old boss wasn't also a Rock Icon:

Born to Run--but for Public Office?

On the 30th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run, Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, proposed a resolution congratulating The Boss on his contribution to American culture. It's the sort of thing that normally sails through Congress. But the resolution was shot down by Senate Republicans, presumably for the support Springsteen lent John Kerry last year. Now, as Corzine mulls over possible replacements for his Senate seat (he was elected governor of New Jersey earlier this month), there is a push among his constituents for him to name--who else?--The Boss. Anthony Coley, Corzine's press secretary, says it's not a bad idea--"especially," he adds, "if you're a Springsteen fan."

Heck with Senator - run him for Prez.

Do you believe in omens?

If you do, there's this:

WASHINGTON - A basketball-sized piece of marble moulding fell from the facade over the entrance to the Supreme Court, landing on the steps near visitors waiting to enter the building.
Just saying.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fun with memos

It's getting fun. First the Tory PM says he'd publish the memo, if he had it, alleging that Bush had to be talked out of bombing the Al Jazeera news agency, and now everyone in America is doing likewise. Kind of funny - both Bush and Blair claim the memo is bogus, yet if someone in Britain were to publish it, they would be arrested for violating the Official Secrets Act. Hey, if it's not true, then it's hardly an Official Secret, is it?

Here's John at Americablog offering the memo a good home.

Not to feel left out or anything, I want to go on record with my own claim. If anyone wanted to send me the memo, I'd walk it and feed it and name it George. I'd make sure it did all its homework and I'd see that it got into a good college. Over here, memo people!

The Plot thickens

But what does it all mean? Second Time (Magazine) Reporter to Testify in Leak Case.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Did Bush want to blow up Al-Jazeera?

So there's reporting in the UK that in the runup to war, our fearless leader wanted to take out news entity Al-Jazeera, never mind that would mean bombing in friendly Qatar. The Bush White House is saying they won't dignify the charge with an official response, a good way to keep from lying on record, perhaps? Here's a conservative MP offering to print the memo if someone would be so kind as to pass him a copy:

Some of us feel that we have an abusive relationship with this war. Every time we get our hopes up, we get punched by some piece of bad news. We yearn to be told that we're wrong, that things are going to get better, that the glass is half full. That's why I would love to think that Dubya was just having one of his little frat-house wisecracks, when he talked of destroying the Qatar-based satellite TV station. Maybe he was only horsing around. Maybe it was a flippant one-liner, of the kind that he delivers before making one of his dramatic exits into the broom-closet. Perhaps it was a kind of Henry II moment: you know, who will rid me of this turbulent TV station? Maybe he had a burst of spacy Reagan-esque surrealism, like the time the old boy forgot that the mikes were switched on, and startled a press conference with the announcement that he was going to start bombing Russia in five minutes. Maybe Bush thought he was Kenny Everett. Perhaps he was playing Basil Brush. Boom boom.

Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison?

We all hope and pray that the American President was engaging in nothing more than neo-con Tourette-style babble about blowing things up. We are quite prepared to believe that the Daily Mirror is wrong. We are ready to accept that the two British civil servants who have leaked the account are either malicious or mistaken. But if there is one thing that would seem to confirm the essential accuracy of the story, it is that the Attorney General has announced that he will prosecute anyone printing the exact facts.

If Bush were to do something so uncharacteristic as to read this piece, he wouldn't understand a good 30-40% of it.

This is just cute.

Hey, I can post cute stuff, can't I? You don't mind the panda cub...

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- Thousands of people, some in tears, streamed into the Audubon Zoo on Friday, the first day it was open since Hurricane Katrina.


The reopening was so emotional for many visitors that the zoo decided to post huggers at the front gates, Forman said.

Tis the season to act like animals

How much would you humiliate yourself to save $22?

Police were eventually called to calm unruly shoppers who climbed over a display case and shouted in a desperate effort to get their hands on one of a couple-of-dozen Hewlett-Packard notebook computers -- on sale for just $22 off the regular price of $400.
Think this through, people. Twenty bucks off a four hundred dollar item is a whopping five percent savings - this is a deal? Also each store has about twenty of these. So only twenty people are going to get one. If there are more than twenty people in line at 3 AM, you are NOT going to be one of them.

When did people start buying into this? For the modest cost of around 400 dollars (the 22 dollars they did not make on the sale of 20 computers), stores get hundreds of people to stampede in their aisles. You know that the 980 people who did not get a computer didn't just say 'oh well' and leave - no, they stayed and shopped for other things.

Fools. You were had.

UPDATE: Promoted from the comments section - Early Morning Shoppers Pepper Sprayed At Beaumont Wal-Mart. Beaumont, if you recall, was evacuated during Hurricane Rita, and evacuees were famously not allowed to leave the buses even to go to the bathroom until they reached their destination. I guess empathy isn't something you can learn, is it?

Friday, November 25, 2005

You can get anything you want.

Something I stumbled across just now; the complete lyrics to Alice's Restaurant. For those of you who want to revisit the 15 tons of garbage, the red VW microbus, and the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction. Not to mention the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. A Thanksgiving Day classic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


FEMA Extends Housing Deadline: Hotel Room Subsidies for Most Hurricane Evacuees to Continue Until Jan. 7

Isn't this sweet?

Dobson's 'Focus on Family' is certainly MY first choice for advice on sexuality...

Focus on the Family, which has a long history of opposing LGBT rights, plans to distribute 5,000 stress balls at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade carrying the address of the organization's advice Web site.

"Too many people are living their lives in quiet desperation, hurting and struggling through troubling situations because they just aren't sure where to turn for help," said Steve Watters, director of marriage and family formation for Focus on the Family.

"Our objective with this campaign is to reach as many of those people as possible and offer them the help they desperately need," Waters said in a press release.

On second thought, before I'd send people to the FOF website, I'd recommend a hearty icepick in the eyes - it'll hurt less, and not feel quite so demeaning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Time to leave

This ought to merit some attention:

Iraqi leaders at a reconciliation conference reached out to the Sunni Arab community by calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and saying the country's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.
Face it - we're making it worse. It's time to entertain the possibility that if there actually is a solution to the mess in Iraq, it is unimplementable by us. Because we're the cause and catalyst of the 'insurgency'.

Go, Josh!

Heh. MSM starts paying attention when the blogs are hiring as the papers are laying off:

As newspapers across America race to shrink the size of their news staffs, a prominent liberal blogger is doing something virtually unheard of these days: hiring new reporters.

Over the weekend, the proprietor of, Joshua Marshall, announced that he is seeking two journalists to work for a new blog that will offer "wall-to-wall coverage of corruption, self-dealing, and betrayals of the public trust in today's Washington."

In an interview, the blogger said he does not aspire to be an Internet mogul, but simply seeks to fill a niche he sees in the journalistic marketplace.

"I'm never going to have the resources to compete with the big papers," Mr. Marshall said. He said his new site will be able to follow long simmering stories more consistently than mainstream outlets do. "A scrappy blog can provide a different service. I think there's a market out there for that," he said.

Find ANYbody!

Check this out - it pinpointed MY exact location!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mercury retrograde

Man, this better not give Bush any ideas:

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said he will not answer reporters' questions until next year because the alignment of the planets is not in his favor.

"Right now Mercury ... is in a corner perfectly aligned with my star. Mercury is no good, so if it's not good, I am going to request not to speak. I'll just wait until next year to talk," Thaksin told reporters Sunday after returning to Bangkok from a trip to South Korea and China.

He added that Mercury moves slowly and will not steer clear of his star until next year.

"Sorry, Mr. Fitzgerald. I can't respond to your subpoena until Mercury is out of my sign." You think it would fly?

ADD Nation

Sometimes it's actively embarrassing to live in a country with the collective attention span of a hyperactive two-year-old.

New Orleans Today: It's Worse Than You Think
Neighborhoods are still dark, garbage piles up on the street, and bodies are still being found. The city's pain is a nation's shame

Read it. Read it all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It's Time

From today's Times-Picayune, reprinted in its entirety:

An Editorial: It's time for a nation to return the favor

The federal government wrapped levees around greater New Orleans so that the rest of the country could share in our bounty.

Americans wanted the oil and gas that flow freely off our shores. They longed for the oysters and shrimp and flaky Gulf fish that live in abundance in our waters. They wanted to ship corn and soybeans and beets down the Mississippi and through our ports. They wanted coffee and steel to flow north through the mouth of the river and into the heartland.

They wanted more than that, though. They wanted to share in our spirit. They wanted to sample the joyous beauty of our jazz and our food. And we were happy to oblige them.

So the federal government built levees and convinced us that we were safe.

We weren't.

The levees, we were told, could stand up to a Category 3 hurricane.

They couldn't.

By the time Katrina surged into New Orleans, it had weakened to Category 3. Yet our levee system wasn't as strong as the Army Corps of Engineers said it was. Barely anchored in mushy soil, the floodwalls gave way.

Our homes and businesses were swamped. Hundreds of our neighbors died.

Now, this metro area is drying off and digging out. Life is going forward. Our heart is beating.

But we need the federal government -- we need our Congress -- to fulfill the promises made to us in the past. We need to be safe. We need to be able to go about our business feeding and fueling the rest of the nation. We need better protection next hurricane season than we had this year. Going forward, we need protection from the fiercest storms, the Category 5 storms that are out there waiting to strike.

Some voices in Washington are arguing against us. We were foolish, they say. We settled in a place that is lower than the sea. We should have expected to drown.

As if choosing to live in one of the nation's great cities amounted to a death wish. As if living in San Francisco or Miami or Boston is any more logical.

Great cities are made by their place and their people, their beauty and their risk. Water flows around and through most of them. And one of the greatest bodies of water in the land flows through this one: the Mississippi.

The federal government decided long ago to try to tame the river and the swampy land spreading out from it. The country needed this waterlogged land of ours to prosper, so that the nation could prosper even more.

Some people in Washington don't seem to remember that. They act as if we are a burden. They act as if we wore our skirts too short and invited trouble.

We can't put up with that. We have to stand up for ourselves. Whether you are back at home or still in exile waiting to return, let Congress know that this metro area must be made safe from future storms. Call and write the leaders who are deciding our fate. Get your family and friends in other states to do the same. Start with members of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations committees in the Senate, and Transportation and Appropriations in the House. Flood them with mail the way we were flooded by Katrina.

Remind them that this is a singular American city and that this nation still needs what we can give it.

Visit link above for contact information.


Fun with screencaps. (Warning - not dialup friendly)

Is the cult shrinking?

Quickvote poll on CNN today asks: Is it unpatriotic to question the president's Iraq policy while troops are still fighting there?

Yes has 17% of the vote. The cult of unquestioning devotion used to be in the 20+%, I think.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

And here we go.

Warner Visits N.H. Amid Much Speculation

Friday, November 18, 2005

Oh, those smart sexy men...

A new grand jury for Fitz, newly inducted into People Mag's pantheon of men who are both sexy AND smart.

Friday Tai Shan Blogging

Look how BIG he's getting!

And doesn't mama love him? yes she does!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gasp! You mean they LIED??

Today's WaPo:

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't lying to congress indictable?

Yeah, well

Bill Clinton Calls Iraq 'Big Mistake'. But he got a blowjob once, so what does he know?

Take no shit

A number of blogs are mentioning Anderson Cooper's story on 360 last night about the people returning home to New Orleans to find dead bodies of missing relatives in their homes. I note that this is mainly of interest in the Pink Collar Ghetto of the feminist side of the blogosphere (see Shakespeare's Sister, Pandagon, Pam's House Blend and others). I guess the more manly blogs (Americablog being a manly notable exception) think coming home to find your house destroyed AND your grandmother's moldy body in what's left of it isn't that big a deal.

So since others are mentioning the Dead Body problem, I thought I'd give a bit of space to the story on the politicization of the FDA and their decision to refuse OTC status to emergency contraceptive Plan-B. Anderson had on two women with opposing views on this drug; the Concerned Woman for America was trying to cling to the fiction that she was speaking only to health and science concerns and not trying to impose her version of morality on the rest of the planet. Let's listen in:

COOPER: Wendy, let's just be clear. You were opposed to this also because you believe it's tantamount to abortion, yes?

WRIGHT: No. What we have put forward is it should -- it can be available with a prescription. It needs to have medical oversight. It's when it's available without a prescription that it will put adolescents and women's health at risk.

COOPER: Do you view it as contraception or do you view it as a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: Well, the proponents of the drug say that it operates in three ways. One is delaying ovulation, one is preventing fertilization and one is inhibiting implantation. Well, in order to implant, something must exist, and that's an embryo. Now women should --

COOPER: So, what you're saying -- I just want to be clear about this -- you view this as a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: Women should at least be given full information before they make a decision whether to take this drug or not.

COOPER: OK, I know it's a tough subject, but and maybe you don't want to talk about it. I'll just try one more time. Yes or no, do you think this is a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: As I mentioned, the third way of it operating would be ending a new life and women should at least be given that full information and not given just this false assurance that it won't end a pregnancy.

COOPER: OK, subtlety I'm not used to. I'll take that as a yes.

Secretary of Take No Shit, indeed. (Not to mention teh sex.)

Why is this guy still writing?

So Bob Woodward was the first leakee? I hope you're following this - I haven't been writing on it because everyone else is. Just peruse my blogroll and visit Josh, Kevin, John, etc for all the latest on Woodward.

Here's my question. Well, one of them. Why is this guy still writing on this topic for the Washington Post? Why don't they just assign stories to Dick Cheney directly and cut out the middle-man?

Sauces for geese and ganders

I love this story in today's WaPo:

To protest Virginia's laws banning same-sex marriage, Ensign and the church's governing council decided recently that Clarendon Presbyterian will no longer have any weddings, and Ensign will renounce his state authority to marry couples.

Any heterosexual couple who has their union "blessed" in a "celebration ceremony" at the tiny church will have to take the extra step of being officially wed by a justice of the peace at the courthouse.

Esquire's Most Influential

Wow, I bet this is going to make the White House extra-special cranky... Link.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is "The Most Influential Man in the World," according to Esquire magazine.

The magazine has designated him as "the most powerful agent of change in the world" despite his lack of electoral standing and the fact he was laid low by a heart attack ahead of last year's presidential election.

The magazine highlights Clinton's accomplishments in its December issue, which goes on newsstands on Thursday, profiling the world's "Best and Brightest" men and women.

Hmm... 'profiling the world's "Best and Brightest" men and women' - do you suppose anyone from the current adminstration made the cut? "Brightest" isn't an adjective you usually hear applied to the Executive Branch these days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Must read

From Salon - Gulf Coast slaves: Halliburton and its subcontractors hired hundreds of undocumented Latino workers to clean up after Katrina -- only to mistreat them and throw them out without pay.

(Watch the ad to read the story for free.)

I hate to say 'I told you so'.

But I did. I remarked only last week that the current regime takes its inspiration from Imperial Rome. Now our troops are throwing 'detainees' in with lions. It's clear that our fighting men and women received, read and understood the memo.

I knew it, I just KNEW it


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, November 14, 2005


An Ode to the Mammogram or The Boob Poem

Wow. Just... wow.

From today's WaPo:

As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

Divine Right of Kings makes a comeback, I guess.

Depressing indeed

From Political Animal Kevin Drum:

.One of the most depressing stories of the weekend was William Broad and David Sanger's piece in the New York Times about a laptop computer captured last year that shows that Iran is actively trying to figure out how to design and build a nuclear warhead. It's depressing because a nuclear-armed Iran isn't exactly a comforting notion to begin with, and doubly depressing because after the Iraq fiasco the Bush administration is having trouble convincing our allies that the laptop isn't a fake:


This is what it's come to. A European diplomat talks openly about the possibility that the entire thing is a U.S. fraud. The Bush administration is forced to lean on France to establish its own credibility. And the Chalabi fiasco in Iraq combined with the dubious track record of Iranian resistance groups makes the provenance of the laptop about as iffy as Dan Rather's National Guard memos.

As recently as five years ago, none of this would have even occurred to anyone. Today it's the first thing that comes to mind.

Playing to your base

My TV Boyfriend Anderson Cooper has had a week at his new two-hour timeslot now, and it's beginning to become clear what the plan is.

The first hour is all hard news with A-List interviewees (John McCain on prisoner torture, Queen Noor on terrorists in Jordan), and the second hour gets considerably 'softer', with more lifestyle features like 'having a baby at 56' and 'are Americans getting ruder?' (this latter featured elderly doyenne Letitia Baldridge chewing him out for making her wait until after eleven to be interviewed - "I know your mother!")

The intent is obviously to appeal to the Oprah viewers, which actually makes a lot of sense - white male Republicans are going to be watching Fox in any event, so you might as well go for any or every demographic BUT that one.

Tonight, however, I think Anderson's playing partly to his base - the core of AnderGroupies who followed him from ABC to The Mole to 360-at-7 to 360-at-10. Because tonight, one story will be "Should you spank your kids? Some revealing answers about how you should discipline and what really works."

I'm fairly sure that a certain percentage of dedicated Anderviewers are going to be watching to giggle every time Gorgeous Mr. Serious Journalist says 'spanking'.

American Star Chamber

Isn't this special?

Human rights campaigners are calling it the 'November surprise' - a last-minute amendment smuggled into a Pentagon finance bill in the US Senate last Thursday.

Its effects are likely to be devastating: the permanent removal of almost all legal rights from 'war on terror' detainees at Guantanamo Bay and every other similar US facility on foreign or American soil.


If the amendment passes the House of Representatives unmodified, one of its immediate effects is that Stafford Smith and all the other lawyers who act for Guantanamo prisoners will again be denied access, as they were for more than two years after Camp X-Ray opened in 2002.


None of them were given any kind of hearing when they were consigned to Guantanamo. Instead, the Americans unilaterally declared they were unlawful 'enemy combatants', mostly on the basis of assessments by junior military intelligence personnel, who were often reliant on interpreters whose skills internal Pentagon reports have criticised.


A senior Pentagon lawyer who asked not to be named said that the Graham amendment will have another consequence. The same Pentagon bill also contains a clause, sponsored by Graham and the Arizona Republican John McCain, to outlaw torture at US detention camps - a move up to now fiercely resisted by the White House. 'If detainees can't talk to lawyers or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have been abused,' the lawyer said.

They're not even pretending to espouse American principles any more.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Fun Facts about our Friends

Did you know that while King Abdullah of Jordan was still Prince Abdullah, he appeared in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager? He was an extra, and they couldn't give him any lines because he wasn't a member of the Screen Actors Guild. (You'd think they'd make a one-time exception for a Prince, for heaven sake. What's the point of royalty if you can't get the little perks in life?)

Radical Clerics at home

Not even talking about Pat Robertson for a change... Today's WaPo:

A private missionary group has assigned a pair of full-time Christian ministers to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where they are training cadets to evangelize among their peers, according to a confidential letter to supporters.

The letter makes clear that the organized evangelization effort has continued this year despite an outcry over alleged proselytizing at the academy that has prompted a Pentagon investigation, congressional hearings, a civil lawsuit and new Air Force guidelines on religion.

I think WitchVox ought to send some Wiccan recruiters.


Who knew???

Go ahead, pile it alongside your country-style spare ribs, have a bigger helping with those pork hocks, and if you choose to defile your Sheboygan bratwurst with sauerkraut, the more the better.

Wisconsin's favorite cooked cabbage staple is enjoying a rebirth as a healthy food.

Extract from kimchi sauerkraut has been effective in fighting fatal avian flu in infected chickens, according to a South Korean study getting lots of media attention in recent weeks. And other scientific studies have shown that eating several servings of sauerkraut a week can help prevent some forms of cancer.

Gotta get me some galbi with a side of kimchi.


Interested in the Niger forgeries?

Then if you're not already reading Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, you should be. Josh is the Go To Guy on the story.

Most recent developments are perplexing and/or telling, to say the least. As I understand his reporting, the forgeries were being touted to US Intelligence by Italian intelligence. The one dead give-away that the package was bogus was that the names of Nigerian officials being cited were people who had been out of power for some time - ten years, in one case, I believe. Yet in the first transcript seen by US Intelligence, from Italian intelligence, the officials' names had all been updated to names of current officials.

Yes, they altered the transcript to make the transcript appear to reflect a less bogus original.

What do you suppose US Intel said to Italian Intel when they saw the original (or a facsimile of the original)? Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall during those conversations?

What a hick

Much as I hate giving clicks to Useful Tool Novak, I thought this was too too pathetic not to mention:

WASHINGTON -- President Bush was furious with the staff preparation for last week's inter-American summit in Argentina where his trade proposals ran into unexpected opposition.


The crowning indignity for Bush was the Friday night state dinner starting at 10 p.m., an hour when the president normally is in bed. He left the dinner early, but it was midnight by then.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a leader who could stay up past his bedtime without getting all cranky and stuff? And how rude of the hosts not to schedule the entire summit around our leader's pathetic little quirks, huh?

Hah! Meditation good for you!

Take that, all you Type-A go-getters.

Meditation alters brain patterns in ways that are likely permanent, scientists have known. But a new study shows key parts of the brain actually get thicker through the practice.

Brain imaging of regular working folks who meditate regularly revealed increased thickness in cortical regions related to sensory, auditory and visual perception, as well as internal perception -- the automatic monitoring of heart rate or breathing, for example.

The study also indicates that regular meditation may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex.

So when your frontal cortex is all thin and old, remember this even as you forget your street address - that I told you so.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"You can't touch the 'stick"

Wonkette challenges San Francisco to the Baby Panda Throwdown.

Friday Tai Shan (Cubby) Blogging

It's Friday and you know what that means! Time to check in on His Adorableness, Tai Shan. And adorable he is:

He's up and running around after mama these days. Four months old and soon to be on public view.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heh. Word.

Dan's quite a diagnostician.

It's not a good sign for the president of the United States when respected political reporters start paraphrasing Shakespeare in their leads. It's just a short step from there to Greek tragedy.

Nice headlines

Former FEMA chief Brown off payroll

House suspends Alaska drilling push

BTW, I'm having keyboard issues at home, which I hope to have resolved tonight.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Data Point

Sorry I haven't gotten around to the news yet today - doing other stuff that, like, earns me money. But I thought I'd just mention a milestone: I filled up the car for the first time since Katrina, rather than just getting 10-15 dollars worth. Total: $26.16.


An atriottic posting: Mr. O'Reilly, I shouldn't have to answer that. Don't neglect to follow the in-post link.

Virginia Black Out!

YAAY! For the first time in, well, forever, my representative in Virginia's House of Delegates is NOT a Republican. Rep. Dick Black defeated by David Poisson.

Defeat couldn't have happened to a more deserving dick. Black was the guy who, when the local high school put on a play featuring a male-male kiss, turned into a raging inferno of outrage.

Arachnae to Black: Buh-BYEEEE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Drum circle ROCKS!

We have drum circle every Tuesday from 7 to 9; they're downstairs in our instore gazebo and I'm upstairs in my office and they're shaking the rafters tonight. They rule.

Just thought I'd share.

Style 2

To better suit your decor, our Blowjob Bumpersticker now comes in another style as well as the classic red-on-black shown below.


New product in the Wonkery:

Awww. Aren't they cuuuute?

from New Scientist:

Hundreds of new stars are igniting in the wake of intense gravitational interactions between four galaxies, new observations reveal.

The four galaxies – called Robert's Quartet – lie about 160 million light years from Earth in the southern constellation Phoenix. They are crowded into a space just 150,000 light years across – only 1.5 times the width of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Babies are just so sweet.


I like her style:

I always dress up to go to the polls. I pull up to the door in my (ten-year-old) Infiniti, carrying my Coach bag and wearing my best jewelry, and it works every time: The Republican committeeman always assumes I’m one of his.

He approaches me with a broad smile, hand outstretched with literature.

“Oh no,” I say, waving him off. “I won’t vote for the torture party.”

More at link.

Literati Awards

Nominated for Best Use of poetic metaphor: Mediabistro's New York Fishbowl, for vamping a link to a piece on avian flu with a line from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, to wit: And lo! the bird is on the wing. Full verse:

Come fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
The Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
Or as Jimmy Buffet paraphrased this immortal verse: "Why don't we get drunk and screw?"

Oh shit... here we go again.

Boston Globe:

The United States has cut off nearly all contact with the Syrian government as the Bush administration steps up a campaign to weaken and isolate President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to US and Syrian officials.
Man, I hope we can remember where we stashed the emergency backup army we used to have somewhere. Oh wait... they're all in Iraq. D'oh.

Monday, November 07, 2005

From the No-Duh Files

This just in:

The difference between the sexes has long been a rich source of humor. Now it turns out, humor is one of the differences.
Well, Duh. Two words - Three Stooges.

NOW with the curfews??

from CNN:

Following 11 days of violence that have rocked France, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday that the government will deploy more police and will take the unprecedented step of allowing mayors to declare curfews in French cities.
A, what's so unprecedented about curfews? B, what the hell took you so long?

If I was a conspiratorially minded kind of girl, which lord knows I'm not, I'd suspect that Villepin was in cahoots with the Bush Family Evil Empire and International Crime Syndicate and under orders to make the Shrub look good by screwing up the French response to the riots worse than Bush screwed up with Katrina.

Novak gone?

Apparently Bush-Tool Novak is no longer welcome at CNN? The only question in my mind is 'CNN, what the fuck took you so long?' Keeping that stenographer and adminstration apologist on the payroll for so long, AND allowing him to offer up opinions on the leak investigation when he was a prime player was the very antithesis of journalistic standards.

Hail, Caesar!

GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- House Republicans tackling illegal immigration were reported looking closely at ending birthright citizenship.

They also were discussing building a barrier along the entire U.S.-Mexican border, The Washington Times said.

Those two ideas have floated to the top of the list of possibilities to be included either in an immigration-enforcement bill later this year or in a later comprehensive immigration overhaul.

"There is a general agreement about the fact that citizenship in this country should not be bestowed on people who are the children of folks who come into this country illegally," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

Birthright citizenship, or what critics call "anchor babies," means that any child born on U.S. soil is granted citizenship, with exceptions for foreign diplomats.

You gotta hand it to these guys - their ambitions know no bounds. By making citizenship hereditary rather than a simple matter of birth geography, they're trying to turn us into Kuwait.

No, I take that back - not Kuwait. Imperial Rome.

Shit, first they just wanted to repeal the New Deal. Then they got cocky and decided to cancel the Renaissance. But I think they really need to think through this latest push.

I mean, if they get us back to before the birth of Christ, what will the Fundamentalist Christians do? Become Fundamentalist Apollo-ians? No, he was too enlightened - maybe Mars, or do I mean Ares?

Tipped off by Oliver Willis via Atrios.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

How's it feel to live in a police state? You probably didn't even know it, did you?

You poor sap. Read this.

Rove Agonistes

Man, Time Mag is really trying to humanize the toad:

He's weary. His wife and only child, who is approaching college, miss him. He has monstrous legal bills. His unique bond with the President is under stress. His most important work is done.
Oh, rest, weary soldier. Your important work is done! You have turned Iraq into a minefield for the next generation or two, caused the deaths of several thousand American boys and girls, broken the US Army and the US economy and dealt a blow to our national reputation from which we may never recover.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

Whoa. Flashback.

Go here. Then come back

Isn't that eerie? Even down to the amount of white cuffs exposed. Of course, Nixon had a nicer smile...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Paris still burning.

Time Mag on why.

Blog Rollin'

I belatedly added T. Rex's Incomprehensible Demoralization to the blogroll at right. Coulda sworn I did that a couple weeks ago; did I forget to hit 'save'?

Also adding new find Ted Gideonse Bible. Ted, poor guy, is now famous for NOT dating Anderson Cooper.

And if you're not visiting Shakespeare's Sister at least once a day for her Question of the Day, why aren't you?

Blogger's back

Blogger's been up and down all day, but it appears to be back now.

I note that someone's planning a remake of the classic Lavender Hill Mob from 1951. No one attached to the project yet but a director, so I can't say yet if that's a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. The director in question is Dean Parisot, who directed Galaxy Quest, so I'm not panicking yet. Still, rent the Alec Guiness original and laugh yourself silly.

Here's a headline you don't see every day

Cruise liner fends off pirate attack

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Cubby (Tai Shan) Blogging

Thank god for cubby, is all I can say:

Look how good he's standing up on his cute little feetsies! And he has his mama's smile.

Bring back the rack

Meanwhile, back in the US, concerned that France might be cutting into our lead, our own troglodytes just keep 'em coming:

The mayor of Las Vegas has suggested that people who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

"In the old days in France, they had beheadings of people who commit heinous crimes," Mayor Oscar Goodman said Wednesday on the TV show "Nevada Newsmakers."

What a great idea! But it needs expanding. Thiefs lose one hand. Second offense, second hand. Rapists get neutered. All on Live TV! And the state gets the revenue from the ad income. It'll probably be so popular (at least in red states) that Nevada can syndicate it.

Is Paris Burning?

I don't know if those of you who get your news solely from blogs have noticed, but Paris is now entering its ninth day of riots and general civil unrest. Proximate cause was the electrocution death of a couple teens who fled police into a power substation, but the ultimate cause is poverty and bigotry. Most of the rioters are immigrants from African muslim countries, and rightwing elements in the French government seem to be fanning the flames by their rhetoric. Stories here and here.

If misery really did love company, I'd enjoy this proof that we're not alone in our ignorance and apathy at dealing with poverty. But come on, people, this is Paris!

The title of this post is taken from the book of the same title by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre, about the liberation of Paris in WWII. "Is Paris burning?' is the question Hitler put to his commander in the area, a question that required an affirmative answer. Years later, right-wingers apparently restore burning Paris to their agenda.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fuck Kansas

I'm serious. Just fuck 'em and forget 'em.

Kansas evolution vote nears, scientists fight back

I say let 'em go. Let them have their freaky little fundie enclave. Because it's always fucking Kansas that keeps trying to enshrine their particular religious beliefs in law. So let's just leave them to it for a generation or three. It's too bad for the non-fundies living there, but there's a lot of other states where their beliefs might actually be respected, and we can just leave Kansas to the inbred.

Sigh. Got no patience for this shit any more.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

If the summit fails, the lasagna will have won!


The massive security force deployed by Argentina for an Americas-wide presidential summit this week suffered its first glitch on Wednesday -- food poisoning.

At least 70 federal police officers guarding the beach resort hotel where U.S. President George W. Bush and others will meet were overcome by diarrhea and vomiting after dining on lasagna at a nearby hotel late on Tuesday, police commissioner Daniel Rodriguez told local radio.

Does anyone know where Patrick Fitzgerald was at the time in question?

And a pretty picture.

Just because it's pretty.

Original here.

Black hole in the center of the galaxy!

Wonder what the fundies will make of it?

I will survive

People are sending me all kinds of goofy stuff today. Try this.

Why I read HuffPo

Because they link to important stories like this: Designer creates wall of breasts

The wall consists of rows of silicon breasts in all sizes. By look and touch, male shoppers can work out the right size, she says.
So guys come in and fondle the WALL?? You think this store is going to have trouble keeping staff? Who wants to look at that all day?

CNN: Dishes it out, can't take it.

Okay, this is a little 'inside baseball', but I think it's funny, for reasons that will become clear...

First, media-gossip blog TVNewser breaks a story that speculates that CNN anchors Aaron Brown and Anderson Cooper will be switching time slots, with the more prestigious 10 PM slot going to My Favorite Boyfriend Anderson Cooper. Brown is supposedly PO'ed (as who wouldn't be when the younger, cuter ones take over your turf.)

The tale is picked up by Reuters and Variety. Shit hits fan. CNN Launches Leak Investigation! Who, tell me, WHO, within our organization is leaking to ... the media??

How do we know CNN launched an internal leak investigation? From an anonymous tip to ... What's Happening at CNN blog.

*GASP* Do you realize what this means??

Exactly. We need another leak investigation. Who leaked the leak investigation to WHAC?? Heads are gonna roll, fersure.

Stick to your guns, TVNewser! Don't give up your source! What are they gonna do, throw you in jail for Contempt of Company? As my friend Eliza so sagely remarked:

You know, if CNN went as batshit about the leak that threatened the security of, well, EVERYONE, as they have about this leak regarding their programming maybe more people would watch their network.
Word, girlfriend.

UPDATE: CNN is now admitting that what TVNewser was reporting is true. Anderson Cooper 360 moves to 10-12PM (gaining an hour) and the Situation Room with Wolfie moves to 7 PM.

Sadly, Aaron has apparently left CNN. Willingly? unknown.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Scottie's no-good, very-bad day

From the gaggle:

McClellan doesn't seem to be having any better luck getting the White House press corps to trust him. ABC News's Terry Moran informed McClellan that "we can't vouch for you" and said he couldn't "carry your water for you." Moran added: "There's been a wound to your credibility here. A falsehood, wittingly or unwittingly, was told from this podium."
Terry Moran is really doing outstanding work on the Boyfriends Farm Team.

Patrick Fitzgerald = Mighty Mouse?

As in 'Here he comes to save the day'. Seymour Hersch:

Seymour Hersh, one of journalism's crankier bulldogs, was in an upbeat mood. At least for him. A confidential, well-placed source had told him that U.S. special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's 22-month inquiry into the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson IV, would go further than anyone had heretofore thought.

"He's going to save America," Hersh predicted, on the phone from his home in Washington, just days before Fitzgerald announced indictments against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on Friday.

Heh. Ugly job, but someone's gotta do it.

Best. Lede. Ever.

From E.J. Dionne in today's WaPo: Has anyone noticed that the coverup worked?

Give 'em hell, Harry

While I'm off doing other things, I recommend you visit Americablog. They're all over the Democratic Senate revolt today.

I should have a few things to say later in the day. Tawlk amongst yourselves.

Laying the Presidential Egg

Bush releases another Supreme Court Nomination:

Seriously, what is so fascinating about his butt that they all have to stare at it??