- It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything.
- I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency.
- This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
- ~ H. L. Mencken
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
A historic paper that was never put to use sparks a tug of war between a state and an elderly lady.
The giant group of man, woman and infant perched on a hill overlooking the capital Dakar is bigger than New York's Statue of Liberty and is due to be inaugurated in April.
But the pet project of President Abdoulaye Wade has been mired in controversy and condemned by religious leaders in the overwhelmingly Muslim country as un-Islamic for presenting the human form as an object of worship.
Naga Sadhus are using the upcoming gathering of Hindus in India as a means to promoting a campaign against global warming.
When thousands of naked Hindus speak, will the world listen?
That's what the Naga Sadhus hope will happen starting later this month, when they spread their anti-global warming message during Kumbha Mela, the largest gathering of Hindus in the world.
A German man was temporarily detained at Stuttgart airport on Tuesday after he repeatedly told security personnel that he had explosives in his underwear, police said.
The 42-year-old man apparently was joking about the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day by igniting explosives concealed in his underwear.
Behavior, not religion or ethnicity, should be the focus
But the 23-year-old Nigerian with reputed ties to al-Qaeda did succeed at doing one thing.
He restarted the debate in this country over whether U.S. efforts to improve airline security should include racial, ethnic or religious profiling of passengers.
Even when we come this close to tragedy, the answer is clear: No. It shouldn’t.
It’s wrong to single out whole groups of people based on some arbitrary characteristic.
For instance, just because a majority of terror suspects arrested or killed by U.S. officials since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were Muslim males, it does not logically follow that all or most Muslim males are terrorists.
But aside from the moral objections, as we’ve seen, profiling by characteristic isn’t very efficient.
The couple soon found themselves standing in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, welcoming them to Heaven. The young woman asks Peter if they could get married in Heaven, since their time on Earth was cut short. He replies that he'll get back with them on that request.
A month later, St. Peter finds them and announces that they can - in fact - get married in Heaven. To his surprise, the woman asks "Just wondering, if things don't work out will we be able to get a divorce?"
With a stern look in his eye, Peter blurts out "Look lady, it took me a month to find a preacher up here... you really think I'm gonna find a lawyer?"
A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, “Jesus is watching you.” He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, promised himself a vacation after the next big score, then clicked the flashlight on and began searching for more valuables.
Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard, “Jesus is watching you.”
Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice.
Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. “Did you say that?” the burglar hissed at the parrot.
“Yep,” the parrot confessed, and then squawked, “I’m just trying to warn you.” The burglar relaxed, “Warn me, huh?” Who in the world are you?
“Moses,” replied the bird. “Moses?” the burglar laughed. “What kind of people would name a bird Moses?”
“The kind of people that would name a Pit Bull Jesus!!!”
Image credit: mattspinner/Flickr
In South and Southeast Asia, monkeys and people are synanthropic. It sounds complicated, but all this means is that they share the same ecological niche.
Some species, like macaques, are very similar in behavior, diet, and even anatomical composition to their human neighbors. Now, some scientists are taking advantage of these similarities by using macaques as sentinels for urban toxicity.
Photo via NY Times. A satellite image of East Siberian Sea
The US has revived a promising CIA data-sharing program that was shut down by the Bush administration. In it, the nation's top spies and best climate scientists are collaborating to study the effects of climate change on the environment, making use of some of the world's most cutting-edge intelligence gathering equipment. From spy satellites to state-of-the-art censors, the CIA has given the scientific community access to tools with which to uncover a veritable goldmine of climate and environmental data. More declassified satellite imagery after the jump.
Screenshot via BBC video
Thousands of octopuses have washed up on the shore of northern Portugal and scientists are stumped about why. They're calling it an environmental disaster, and are issuing a rather strange warning.
With a title like "Red Hot Chilli Consumption Is Harmful in Patients Operated for Anal Fissure—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study", you know you're in for a wild ride.
Yes, doctors in India really did take two groups of patients scheduled for a sphincterotomy and randomly assign one group to receive 1.5 grams of dried chili powder twice a day, while the other got a placebo. And—perhaps unsurprisingly—it turned out that ingesting 3 daily grams of chili powder makes an already painful anal area even more uncomfortable.
But why—aside from some sort of perverse sadistic streak—would anyone conduct such a study? (And, more importantly, why the hell would anyone sign up to be one of the research subjects?) What seems like a pointless waste of time and money makes a lot more sense when you consider culture.
Indian food, as you may have noticed, is generally on the spicy side. Cutting peppers out of your diet in Mumbai is more of a challenge than in, say, Peoria. So, even though everybody pretty much already agreed—anecdotally—that hot peppers were a bad thing for anal-fissure patients, the researchers wanted some hard cause-and-effect proof that the relatively big lifestyle change those patients were being told to make was actually worth making. Even the amount of chili powder the subjects received was modeled to mimic the amount eaten by an average Indian at lunch and dinner.
My point: Sometimes, "stupid" studies really do have a point—one that's easy to miss if you're too tightly focused on "common sense". Besides, if it weren't for research like this, we'd all miss out on such fabulously titled graphs as "Effect of chili consumption and placebo on anal burning in the first 7 days after sphincterotomy". Small price to pay, really.
Full text of paper from the journal Digestive Surgery
Scientists reveal there is not one but two types of killer whale living in UK waters.
China Accused of Piracy by California Software Maker Seeking $2.2 Billion
Keepers at London Zoo are counting more than sheep. Three giant Galapagos tortoises, a Komodo dragon, and a critically endangered baby mangabey monkey are among the new residents at the central London zoo to be included in this year's annual head count.Full Story
Now that we've begun a new decade, the right wing will begin their new con game, and their "mark' will be the American people. What's a mark?
A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle or bamboozle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills.
Typically con men feed on dishonest people, but in politics they focus on the unsuspecting. What we've learned from the previous decade is that conservatism is a total failure when it comes to governance. Under Bush and Cheney we've had a massive terrorist attack, two wars, torture and a global financial meltdown. We've had Hurricane Katrina expose how conservatives respond to Americans after a natural disaster hits two states. We've had government corruption at the highest order, which resulted in Cheney's chief of staff being convicted of multiple felonies. We had the horrendous Terry Schiavo affair. We had a news network actively become a propaganda arm of the GOP. We had Wall Street inflate a mortgage bubble that almost turned into another Great Depression.
I can go on and on, but because of a timid media, they will be allowed to perpetrate their newest con. "Only conservatism can save America," will be their motto. If the media actually acted like an independent monitor of the news, we might stand a chance against the new scam, but we know better. Drudge rules their world.
The GOP is brilliant at one thing, and that is tearing people down. Because they left this country in such tatters it's an easy scam to pull off, because hard-working Americans are vulnerable pickings. They have to try and survive in a world destroyed by conservative values. The con is easy. Just blame everything on President Barack Obama. All your job woes, all your fears about how your life will recover and the future that it holds for your children. If we had a real media that would expose the Bush regime for the manifest failure it was, it would be a much harder task, but we don't, and instead news programming has turned more into endless right/left opinion discussions.
"Don't Get Fooled Again" should be our national slogan, because even if we disagree as liberals in the way our president has handled the situation he was elected into, we are engaged enough to know what conservatism has done to this country.
Devilstower at DailyKos reminisces about the previous decade also:
Don't forget the naughts, because this decade, no matter what anyone on the right might say, was conservatism on trial. You want less taxes? You got less taxes. You want less regulation? You got less regulation. Open markets? Wide open. An illusuion of security in place of rights? Hey, presto. Think we should privatize war by handing unlimited power given to military contractors so they can kick butt and take names? Kiddo, we passed out boots and pencils by the thousands. Everything, everything, that ever showed up on a drooled-over right wing wish list got implemented -- with a side order of Freedom Fries.
They will try to disown it, and God knows if I was responsible for this mess I'd be disowning it, too. But the truth is that the conservatives got everything they wanted in the decade just past, everything that they've claimed for forty years would make America "great again". They didn't fart around with any "red dog Republicans." They rolled over their moderates and implemented a conservative dream.
What did we get for it? We got an economy in ruins, a government in massive debt, unending war, and the repudiation of the world. There's no doubt that Republicans want you to forget the last decade, because if you remember... if you remember when you went down to the water hole and were jumped by every lunacy that ever emerged from the wet dreams of Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney, well, it's not likely that you'd give them a chance to do it again.
And they will. Given half a chance -- less than half -- they'll do it again, only worse. Because that's the way conservatism works. Remember when the only answer to every economic problem was "cut taxes?" We have a surplus. Good, let's cut taxes. We have a deficit. Hey, cut taxes even more! That little motto was unchanging even when was clear that the tax cuts were increasing the burden on everyone but a wealthy few. That's just a subset of the great conservative battle whine which is now and forever "we didn't go far enough." If deregulation led to a crash, it's because we didn't deregulate enough. If the wars aren't won, it's because we haven't started enough wars. If there are people still clinging to their rights, it's because we haven't done enough to make them afraid.
Forget the naughts, and you'll forget that conservatives had another chance to prove all their ideas, and that their ideas utterly and completely failed. Again.
The point of remembering bad events is to stop them from repeating. So remember, and remind others if they start to forget. Because really, this is one trip to the water hole we can't afford to repeat.
And as Digby points out:
I don't deny that the corporate Democrats are screwed up too. But they didn't invent this political world. As I quipped before, they just learned to stop worrying and love the money. This world of graft and corruption and unfettered greed was the conservative movement's idea of utopia. And they got it.
We won't get fooled again!
Actually some of us weren't fooled the last time.
A recent FAUX News Saturday guest, retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney offered a solution to terrorism on American airliners, religious profiling: "If you are an 18-28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched. And if we don't do that there's a very high probability we're going to lose an airline." McInerney's solution is many things (swift and decisive, for instance), but is primarily ignorant of two portions of the US Constitution, The first and fourth amendments.
The FAUX anchor implied that such violations would, and rightfully so, cause unrest: "That's just not going to go over, not in this country," she told McInerney, who simply declared that religious freedom and protection from such profiling through illegal searches were "part of the problem".
As Bob Cesca noted... what could possibly go wrong? Even the Faux newsmodel Julie Banderas was freaked out by the suggestion. I would like to know how the general would determine just who is a Muslim and who is not?
Cause 'unrest' - that is not the term that would apply here.
The 2010 tally goes beyond categories such as black, white, American Indian, or even multiracial.
Advocate uses texting to warn of AZ crime sweeps
Staff quits after Alabama congressman switches to repugicans
photo: Stewart Butterfield via flickr.
One more quick one on the tragedy of bluefin tuna's trajectory towards extinction: BBC News reports that a single bluefin tuna has been sold for the highest price in the past nine years at a Tokyo fish auction. The 232 kilogram (511 pound) fish fetched 16.28 million yen, or a bit over $175,000:
On January 20, this country will come to a standstill: Tea Party Planning National Strike.
As President Barack Obama's first year in office draws to a close, Tea Party groups are planning to mark the occasion with a national strike - something local leaders say could demonstrate the conservative groups' burgeoning strength.
The strike, planned for Jan. 20, the first anniversary of Obama's inauguration, is being promoted online through Facebook and Web sites run by various national Tea Party groups.
"What's proposed is a nationwide strike by all Tea Party members, no matter where they are," said Lloyd Rekstad, an organizer of the Yucaipa Tea Party. "The idea is to strike where we are, in our communities, at our employment, to make an impact that will be diverse and spread out."
That would mean, Rekstad said, not going to work, not buying groceries, not going to restaurants or movie theaters.
"You just stay home," he said, "so that the person participating would become, for that one day, a nonentity - that they would give no support to the economy."
The strike even has a Web site: National Strike - January 20, 2010.
Authorities have charged a second teen in the shooting death of a 14-year-old Concord boy shot on New Year's Day.
Ceabastian Rojas Hernandez, 18, was arrested Monday and charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in the killing of Oscar Martinez, 14.
The teens lived several houses apart on Melrose Drive, police said.
A 15-year-old was arrested and charged with shooting Martinez on Saturday. Because the suspect is under 16, Concord Police declined to release the alleged shooter's name.
Martinez was shot and killed shortly before 4 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of Dover's Supermarket on Cabarrus Avenue West.
Police have not said what they think led to the shooting.
A newly discovered species of crab gives the expression 'fruit of the sea' a whole new meaning. Photos via AFP/Getty
Marine biologists from the National Taiwan Ocean University discovered a new species of crab off the southern Taiwanese coast. With a bright red shell covered with small white spots, the crab resembles a large strawberry. Scientists at the University say that the newly discovered species is similar to the previously discovered Neoliomera pubescens, which is native to the waters near Hawaii, Polynesia and Mauritius--but has a broader (1 inch), clam-shaped shell that makes it a distinct new species.
Pest controllers were called to an office in Kennington, south London, used by weapons and technology experts at the Metropolitan Police after reports of 'mice everywhere'. According to internal police reports, a family of mice even set up home in one police worker's desk - burying themselves in his paperwork.Full Story
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond rejected an effort by Moussaoui's attorneys to send the case back to federal court in Alexandria, where he pleaded guilty in 2005 to an al-Qaeda conspiracy that led to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
as well as Singapore, and the United States
An elder relative or authority figure who's had their eye on you for a while now is just about ready to let you know how well you've done -- especially based on recent stressful situations that you've passed through with flying colors.
In the meantime, don't ignore someone new and interesting who's due to come along early today, sent by the charming stars to take your mind off of this situation and anything that's even remotely unpleasant.