Saturday, December 31, 2005


Recently Time Magazine published a list of significant novels of the last 75 years. It included the novel Ubik by Philip K. Dick. This is a "science fiction" novel written in 1968 and is, well, how can I put this? It is not a good read. It is set in a dystopian 1990's. I always think of that novel when I hear of Uzbekistan, that State that truly epitomizes Orwell's 1984.

Everyone has now been appraised of the current disclosures by the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan concerning the use of torture in Uzbekistan. The U.S. has also "rendered" prisioners there too. They like boiling people alive. If you haven't discoverd this, the Guardian will update you. I was particularly struck by the following:
In one memo, Murray said he was told by Foreign Office legal adviser Sir Michael Wood that it was not illegal to use information acquired by torture, except in legal proceedings. Intelligence officer Matthew Kydd had also told him the intelligence services sometimes found such material "very useful indeed, with a direct bearing on the war on terror," he said. (emphasis added)
This, of course, is straight out of the mouth of Albert Gonzales and shows how the two countries that one had always considered at the forefront of progressive society, Britain and America, have now fallen to the bottom.

Fac me cocleario vomere!

Irony and Pity = ?

Apparently the U.S. Government of Iraq is unhappy with the bad press that the Iraqi "Special Police" are getting. You remember, they're the ones that had a prison where detainee's were "emaciated" and had been "tortured." Well, we are going to put some America Soldiers with these units so that:
"What we're trying to look for is that moderation," a senior official told the Los Angeles Times, "that you can't just go and attack that neighbourhood because it's primarily a different sect or a different race or a group of foreigners ... and just arrest them because they're different and put them in secret facilities and hold them for undetermined periods of time." (emphasis added)
Oh, Really? Since when. Did the Boss aprove this?

Oh, Aristotle, where did we go wrong?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

International Team to Review Iraq Results

Hey! Let's get us some of dem teams for Florida and Ohio!

In a Nutshell

In a great piece about the media, polls and George W. Bush breaking the law in the NSA spying scandal Greenwald has this to say:
It cannot matter what public opinion polls show, particularly in these initial stages. The President violated the law. Repeatedly and deliberately. And he has vowed to continue to do so. The harm from allowing him to do so with impunity would be incalculable on almost every level.
So, we shall see what we shall see. Sounds like the end of the road to me.

Dear Mr. DeLay - You've Got Mail!

SEOUL, South Korea -South Korea will begin sending legal notices — including indictments — to people through mobile phones instead of ordinary mail next year.

Hugo Chavez

There is an excellent blurb on Talking Points Memo Cafe (TPM Cafe)that deconstructs a recent Foreign Policy article on Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. While Chavez is not a saint, he is certainly not the Saddam Hussein of Latin America. In this article, all the Bush Administration complaints about Chavez are aired and, as outlined in the blurb, they are, as usual, way off.

In summary:

1. The article suggests Chavez is a dictator, this is almost completely false. The major media are controlled by the opposition and constantly spew anti Chavez propaganda. This doesn't happen in a dictatorship.

2. It suggests that Chavez has been keeping a database on the opposition. While George W. Bush has been keeping a database on Americans via the NSA, this has not happened in Venezuela.

3. It states that he has been in office "approaching a decade." It has been six, approaching seven, years.

4. It suggests that the poor do not support Chavez. This is just patent baloney. The poor support Chavez en masse.
Chavez' recent approval ratings have ranged from 65 to 77 percent.
5. It suggests that Chavez has failed to improve poverty in Venezuela. Again, just as in Cuba, there has been major improvement in nutrition, due to a food support program, and health care. The latter is a particularly galling issue to me since our State supported health care for the poor (Medicaid) is in tatters and only due to get worse after the recent vote in the Senate cutting support to Medicaid. Chavez also introduced a literacy program. This has, by any standard, been very successful. Instead of unfunded mandating of testing, as in "No Child Left Behind," it actually provided money for teaching. Yes, Mr. Bush, children in Venezuela is learning.

6. The article suggests that the audit of the recall election was flimsy. Actually,
...the Carter Center and the OAS did not simply "condone" an audit by the Venezuelan Electoral Council but were closely involved in the audit as observers and verified the results.
Of course the Carter Center is one of them "librul, pinky groups." The analysis of the article goes on to point out that the opposition party in Venezuela (the rich who have been deprived of all the oil revenues by Chavez) have actually boycotted elections rather than participate in them as in a true democracy. They boycott the elections because they invariably lose. The similarities to the situation in Iraq were not pointed out, but they are there.

7. Finally, the article accuses Chavez in meddling in the politics of his neighbors including Brazil. Interestingly enough, Chavez has good relations with Brazil. On the other hand, it is George Bush who supported the attempted coup d'etat against Chavez. Talk about meddling in the politics of a foreign country!

Hugo Chavez is not a saint. No man or woman is. But he, along with Fidel Castro, has improved the lot of a large number of desperately poor people. This has been at the expense of the very rich of Venezuela and they have the ear of the president of the United States. We have three more years of this man, unless the Democrats can take the House and Senate in 2006 and do a double impeachment: Bush and Cheney in 2006!

It is sad that the fate of Venezuela should rest in the hands of the American electorate.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Long Race

Sometimes it seems to me that the political situation in this country is like a race. Decisions and policies are not presented and debated, then adopted after rational discourse. No, the policies are crammed down our throat and then, when we object, we get into this long, protracted argument which seems to extend on into infinity.

As the argument extends, many of us lose heart (which is, of course, the purpose of such an extension) and eventually the question becomes moot or trivial. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would be arguing the merits of torture performed by representatives of the United States Government. But, when we try and counter this horror, we are greeted by Dick Cheney who argues that this is an acceptable practice at the same time that his putative boss states categorically that "we do not torture."

The search for a Supreme Court Justice has extended into the future; the Plame affair, even after the Italians seem to have broke the story wide open, is still with us. All of these things are like leeches or ticks. They sit there and suck the blood of the body politic. Soon we will be too anemic to do anything. And, I guess, that is the purpose of the Bush, Cheney, Norquist government. To drown us in a bathtub.

Our Dear Gov - 34


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Will the real pope please stand up

Something about this guy that just doesn't come across right. Its almost as if central casting hired someone to do "that pope thing." Maybe when gets in the popemobile.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

Mr. Cheney's Imperial Presidency

Once more into the breach. What's wrong with these pictures?

Ray of Hope

You know, it is one thing to have an imperial Presidency. But to have an imperial Vice Presidency? Jeez. What happened to Harry Truman's fifth tit on a cow?

But, just when Bush and Dickie thought they were going to get away with it:
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have insisted that the secret eavesdropping program is legal, but The Washington Post reported yesterday that the court created to supervise this sort of activity is not so sure. It said the presiding judge was arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges and that several judges on the court wanted to know why the administration believed eavesdropping on American citizens without warrants was legal when the law specifically requires such warrants. (emphasis added)
As I said, ray of Hope.

This is so much horse baloney

From the NYT:
"The record is clear; Congressional leaders at a minimum tacitly supported the program," Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the chairman of House Intelligence Committee, said this week. Mr. Hoekstra said Democrats should "attempt to understand why their leaders did not feel the same sense of outrage about the program" that some in the party are now expressing.
This doesn't make a damn bit of difference, Mr. Hoekstra. There are laws in the United States of America. Even the President has to follow the laws or our country disintegrates before our eyes. It is up to the courts to decide if this activity was illegal (is illegal, he's still doing it.)

What you think and what Democrats thought is of absolutely no consequence. Let the Courts decide.

Let the games begin.

Friday Cheney Blogging

Dick Cheney Trashes Medicaid (CLICK ON PICTURE TO ENLARGE)

(The Crabs are asleep)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Our Gun Toting Friends

I was directed to this picture starting at Paul the Spud who links to U.S. Newswire who links to the picture.

I find this picture deeply disturbing on many levels.

These are not American children. American children are, on the whole, happy, even those that live in reduced circumstances. What, you say, they've seen the terrorist? Well, why is the Christ Child not frowning?

So many threads are mixed up in here: Santa Claus, the Christmas Tree (a pagan festival), the Christ Child, and a terrorist. I assume this is an Islamic terrorist given the garb. It is all unsettling.

The concept that a Santa Claus with a gun can protect us against terrorism is also deeply disturbing. It plays to the idea that it is individuals acting alone who are important when the exact opposite is the case; it is only by concerted group action that anything can be done against this threat.

Finally, the whole thing is ugly. Just ugly. How could anyone feel that this was an appropriate picture to circulate at Christmastime?

The Crux of the Domestic Spying Scandal

I don't know why so many people bury the following. I found it deep in Juan Cole's post of today:
In fact, with all its powers, it is hard for the Federal government to point to any successful domestic investigation and prosecution of al-Qaeda-type terrorists in the US.
So, why spy?

(Oh, dumb question.)

As with the big expose of the Homeland Security Department in the WaPo, it does not seem as if the Bush Administration can do anything right (except put $$$$ into their friends pockets.)

Caribou get reprieve

Senator Stevens drills for oil in Alaska. Alaska is not happy.

Not so fast, Senator:
Oil drilling in Alaska voted down
Decision in Senate a huge setback for administration


WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists scored a major victory yesterday when eight Senate Republicans departed from their party line and voted with Democrats to reject a plan that would have allowed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
If only we could have blocked the spending cut vote (see below). But, it took Cheney hustling down to the Capitol to do that. Maybe we're getting somewhere.

Next up, Fitzmas. Impeachment time.

Yummy! Yummy!

"I like Medicaid kiddies for breakfast. They're so crunchy."

"And then there's child support kiddies for lunch. They go well with a few units of AB neg, savor the bouquet."

"And for dinner, give me those tasty college kids and their loans. Five Star, I tell you. I'll have to go to Weight Watchers."

(Dear Mr. Cheney. I think you are going to be in jail before the end of 2006. Live it up now.)

Apology pro vita sua

We're seeing 40-50 patients a day, so blogging is slow. Bear with us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh PETA, PETA, how could you?

Kos directs us to this:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show. (emphasis added)
Now, just think about this. How, for the love of Nixon, could PETA be a terrorism threat (unless someone I know is going to spray Ann Coulter's fur coat with red paint.)

But then, it might be the height of fashion. You never know. All those dead minks running around Ava Gardner's neck. Endlessly chasing one another. Looking out with their beady glass eyes.

...and there will be signs in the heavens

Apparently, Ken is not watching:
LONDON - Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics.

"The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity," said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."
Gee, sounds like fun!

(Welcome to Abu Gharib, Ann)

Little Tidbits

Trolling on the net brings surprising information. In a piece (Monday, 19 December) about the nasty current prime minister of Iraq who,
tripled the price of gasoline and made substantial increases in the price of gas and heating oil, in contravention of its campaign promises.
Juan Cole has this to say:
It is the sort of policy that would have been pushed by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq's Adil Abdul Mahdi, a former Marxist who has become a free marketeer, and who is a leading candidate for prime minister. (emphasis added)
Whooops! I thought once a Marxist always a Marxist. How can you change? Its like Catholicism. How interesting. George Bush invades Iraq and we get a Marxist government.

"I am not Santa Claus's brother. And stop saying that."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dear Mr. President

In case you were wondering, that is, in case you flunked 5th grade Civics (or were already out getting drunk), THIS is where the Laws of the United States of America are interpreted.

You do seem to be confused about this. Please ready your Attorney General (Alfred "Torquemado" Gonzales) to take a trip there and explain your flagrant violation of MY rights.

Our Congress

Senator John McCain and another unidentified angry young man explain why Congress wants to screw children, old people, the poor and just about anybody who isn't a wealthy Republican.

(Oh, and by the way, here is some Alaska primitive land to drill the shit out of. Every last drop counts!)

What the President says

The President says that surveillance is legal. It must be legal.
The President says we can torture (even though we don't). Its legal.
The President says we can kidnap and torture. Its legal to kidnap and torture.
The President says there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorists. There's a connection.
The President says that there are WMD in Iraq. There's WMD in Iraq.
The President says we're winning in Iraq. We're winning in Iraq.

After a while, what the President says doesn't mean a damn thing.

History to Ponder

Bush said that despite setbacks, "Not only can we win the war in Iraq — we are winning the war in Iraq."

Meanwhile, German progress was already slowing down. The Germans had been almost paralysed when the autumn rains set in, turning roads into stretches of mud. When the frost set in early November, the Germans could use the roads again, but faced the problem of not being well equipped for winter warfare, as Hitler had anticipated a quick victory in the summer. Warm clothing and white camouflage suits were lacking, and more and more tanks and other vehicles were immobilised as temperatures dropped below freezing. Indeed, the winter of 1941-1942 was unusually cold even by Russian standards.
In February of 1943, the lengthy Battle of Stalingrad ended with the complete encirclement and destruction of the German 6th Army by the armies of the Soviet Union. Both defeats were turning points in the war. After these, the quality of Hitler's military judgement became increasingly erratic and Germany's military and economic position deteriorated. Hitler's health was deteriorating too. His left hand started shaking uncontrollably. The biographer Ian Kershaw believes he suffered from Parkinson's disease. Other conditions that are suspected by some to have caused some (at least) of his symptoms are methamphetamine addiction and syphilis.
Edward Kennedy:
Bush should acknowledge, "as his own generals do, that the Iraq war has emboldened the terrorists and increased their ranks," Kennedy said.

Extinct Species Sighted

An extinct species was sighted in Yellowstone Park today. The lowly snoMobil was felt to have died off in the late 20th century. However, avid watchers scoured Yellowstone park and achieved this rare picture.

The snoMobil is known for it noisy call. Some people liken it to "Varummmm, Varumm." Unfortunately, it is also very destructive to the environment and its extinction was greeted with great joy by some groups (the reviled "damn treehuggers"). However, those of the tribe erythema nucum never gave up searching for snoMobil as the above picture demonstrates.

(Incidentally, the other "thing" in the photo is known as a bison. It also was felt to be extinct but no one gives a damn about it. Its just one of God's creatures.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Frist in War; Frist in Peace; and Frist in the line at the Bank

If Wild Bill Frist didn't have enough on his hands being investigated for insider trading, now it looks like he's been involved in a Abramoff/DeLay look alike where he laundered money donated to his AIDS Charity to his "buddies." Nothing wrong with this is there, Bill?
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.

The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.
I'd like to get me onto that consultant list:
World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans _ Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example.

The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.
That's 25% overhead for a Charity. That's the "overhead" Blue Cross/Blue shield, a not for profit health insurer, takes out of your premium (pretty outrageous, don't you think.) Oh, wait. There's more:
The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm. (emphasis added)
Ever wonder why Blue Cross/Blue Shield pays $19 for a Chest X-Ray when the cost to you is $75(they do), and doesn't pay for Cardiac Rehab (they don't)? Well, now you have your answer. Your insurance dollars are going to a doctor.

Unfortunately, the doctor is Dr. Bill Frist.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No Alternative; No Exit

We all feel like we are in John Paul Sartre's play, No Exit.
For Sartre, hell is not a lake of brimstone, a perpetual fire, nor a place where the devil and his torturers forever hound their victims. To Sartre, hell is other people.
And the other people in our Hell live in a White House. What is one supposed to do when the Chief Executive of the Unites States of America admits to violating the Constitution and vows to continue to do so?
WASHINGTON -President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S., lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.
If our Congress does not institute impeachment proceedings, we will not survive as a nation. It is that serious.

Arlo and the City of New Orleans

Arlo doing the right thing. Riding the City of New Orleans down and getting support for the flooded out musicians. His father was pretty good too.

This is my all time favorite song. It, more than any other set of lyrics, encapsulates the late sixties, early seventies:
The City of New Orleans
by Steve Goodman

Riding on the City of New Orleans,
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin' trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son,
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

Dealin' card games with the old men in the club car.
Penny a point ain't no one keepin' score.
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor.
And the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpets made of steel.
Mothers with their babes asleep,
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.


Nighttime on The City of New Orleans,
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee.
Half way home, we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea.
And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news.
The conductor sings his song again,
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues.

Good night, America, how are you?
Don't you know me I'm your native son,
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

©1970, 1971 EMI U Catalogue, Inc and Turnpike Tom Music (ASCAP)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Peeping W

From here:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 ­- Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.


The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad.(emphasis added)
And then there is this:
Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. (emphasis added)

Friday Mom Blogging

(The Crabs are sleeping)

From the Hinterland:

This is what middle America is thinking. Kind of interesting, don't you think?:
A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender.

The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, biomimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nano-technology, and
sexual proclivities. The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool." He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man responds, "about a 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time, about football, NASCAR, baseball, supermodels, favorite fast foods, guns, and women's breasts. Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks,What's your IQ?"

The man replies, "Er, 50, I think."

And the robot says... real slowly...
"So............... ya gonna vote for Bush again?"

Yes, Laura, We Is Reading

One in 20 adult Americans can't read. That's 5%.
WASHINGTON -- About one in 20 adults in the U.S. is not literate in English, meaning 11 million people lack the skills to handle many everyday tasks, a federal study shows.

The adult literacy rate in Cuba is 96.9%.

And that ain't Russian.

Logic 101

George W. Bush "renounces" torture. Agrees to Senator McCain's prohibition on torture.

Not to ask a stupid question, but why was this needed?

I know, I know, I'm showing my simple mindedness. But isn't this exactly what we used to do back in the 50's and 60's when something was announced in Tass? We all laughed. Should never laugh. It comes back to haunt you.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

By the way, I have a bridge for sale

It sounds exciting. The Feds are going to rebuild the levees in New Orleans. Yea! (forget about the fact that they were repeatedly warned that the levees we had there wouldn't survive a Category 5 hurricane which is exactly what happened.)
At a news briefing at the White House, officials dodged the question of whether the levees would be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, using broader language instead to promise that the city's citizens would be safe and the levees would be "stronger and better.
But not strong enough to get them insurance. Who would underwrite a structure in a New Orleans that might go sub aqueous next summer? After all, we just had the last of the summer hurricanes and we were in November and up to the middle of the Greek alphabet.

Aye, Carumba.

Hey, what's going on here?

Scott McClellan: "We do not comment about an ongoing investigation."

Scott McClellan: "The president does not want to inject himself into an ongoing investigation."

Scott McClellan: "We are not going to get involved in that, Scooter Libby is on his own."

etc., etc.

And then this from here:
President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.

In an interview with Fox News, Bush said he hopes DeLay will be cleared of charges that he illegally steered corporate money into campaigns for the Texas legislature and will reclaim his powerful leadership position in Congress.
Message to W: "Get your act straight. You're the alleged leader of the Used to Be Free World."

Message to Little Scottie: "Helen be on your tail, man. You better be ready!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Curse of Power Point

I will admit, back in the days when I was giving talks, Power Point seemed the way to go.

Years and years ago, one made up one's slides on paper and sent them to the institution photographer who took a week or ten days to get back to you with a bunch of white-on-dark blue slides. They looked like blueprints. They were always sort of second rate.

Next, one generated slides on the computer using Power Point (circa 1988-89) and plugged a slide machine into the computer to transfer the slides to film, which then was developed. One always made a few mistakes that were irrevocable.

Finally, as this caught on, we had the video projectors. Just make the slides in Power Point and project them from the laptop. This has led to all sorts of things like dynamic slides with words dropping in from nowhere to little animations and movies. All very cute.

Enter Christmas and Kids:
In hopes of receiving exactly what she wants for Christmas this year, Katie Johnsen, 11, created a Power Point presentation to show her parents what's on her wish list.
Back in the dark ages (1960's) the reigning guru was Marshall McLuhan. He famously wrote a book, Understanding Media:
McLuhan's most widely known work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), is also a pioneering study in media ecology. In it McLuhan proposes that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study -- popularly quoted as the medium is the message. More controversially, he postulates that content had little effect on society -- in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children's shows or violent programming, to illustrate one example -- the effect of television on society would be identical. He notes that all media have characteristics that engaged the viewer in different ways; for instance, a passage in a book could be reread at will, but (at least until the advent of the videocassette) a movie had to be screened again in its entirety to study any individual part of it.
Professor McLuhan died before Power Point became extant, but I wonder what he would have had to say about the power of Power Point to change the way we discourse. No longer does one "talk" at a lecture. One gives, well, points. The more powerful the better. It is not a question of conveying information allowing the person attending the lecture to make their own decision. It is convincing them of your point. Thus the "power."

And so it has evolved to children convincing their parents of to get them goodies using "power."

Have you seen any kids in line for Santa with a laptop in hand?

Why is this man laughing?

You got to wonder about those Christians out there. You would think they would be all over the budget cuts for poor people like chicken pox. But, well, NO:
When hundreds of religious activists try to get arrested today to protest cutting programs for the poor, prominent conservatives such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell will not be among them.

That is a great relief to Republican leaders, who have dismissed the burgeoning protests as the work of liberals. But it raises the question: Why in recent years have conservative Christians asserted their influence on efforts to relieve Third World debt, AIDS in Africa, strife in Sudan and international sex trafficking -- but remained on the sidelines while liberal Christians protest domestic spending cuts?

Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family say it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage and seating judges who will back their position against those practices. (emphasis added)

"It's not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important," said Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, Dobson's influential, Colorado-based Christian organization. "But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that."

What happened to this:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven....

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth....

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy."
I don't see:
"Blessed are they who discriminate against the poor
For they will be sent to Iraq...


Blessed are they that bash gays,
For they will pick boogers for ever...


Blessed are the conservative judge pickers
For they will also pick boogers for ever."
Oh, those born again Republicans. Can't get anything right.

(Oh, and by the way, Mr. Hetrick, no one does third term abortions unless its to save the life of the mother. Did you hear me. NO ONE!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Human Brain Cells Are Grown In Mice - II

Something in this article struck us here at Data Central:
The research offers the first proof that human embryonic stem cells -- vaunted for their potential to turn into every kind of human cell, at least in laboratory dishes -- can become functional human brain cells inside a living animal, reaching out to make connections with surrounding brain cells.

The human cells had no apparent impact on the animals' behavior. About 100,000 cells were injected into each animal and just a fraction survived in their new hosts. That means the animals' brains were still more than 99 percent mouse -- a precaution that helped avoid ethical objections to creating animals that were "too human." (emphasis added)
We are glad that there was no effect on the mice's behavior, becoming human they might have invaded the kitchen looking for WMD and turned our house into a graveyard.

...creating animals that were "too human."
Think about this statement for a minute. Of course, one has to look at it from the mouse's standpoint. Was it ethical for the mouse to have human cells injected into it? I mean, give me a break.

Aye, Carumba!

Human Brain Cells Are Grown In Mice

Holy Carumba! Get me some of them mice. Get me some brain cells. Karl is on the way out. I need another brain!

(from the peanut gallery: "You need a brain, period.")

Monday, December 12, 2005

Arnie's World

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Not Dottie

It is pretty sad when:
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. - Dottie Neeley, 87, was fingerprinted, photographed and thrown in jail, imprisoned as much by the tubing from her oxygen tank as by the concrete and steel around her.

The woman — who spent two days in jail after her arrest last December — is among a growing number of Kentucky senior citizens charged in a crackdown on a crime authorities say is rampant in Appalachia: Elderly people are reselling their painkillers and other medications to addicts.

"When a person is on Social Security, drawing $500 a month, and they can sell their pain pills for $10 apiece, they'll take half of them for themselves and sell the other half to pay their electric bills or buy groceries," Floyd County jailer Roger Webb said
A country that does not care for its sick, its elderly or its children is no country at all.

30,000? 50,000? 100,000?

Pretty soon you're talking about real bodies.

Our Dear Gov - 33


Let there be an Accounting

Let me get this straight:

1. Saddam Hussein is not a good man. Agreed?
2. Saddam Hussein is responsible for the death of a large number of people. 100,000?
3. Saddam Hussein is on trial for these crimes.
4. It is not known if he personally killed anyone. Nevertheless, he is held responsible for these deaths. He may suffer the ultimate consequence.

1. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died including countless children. They have died during "Shock and Awe," the merciless attack on Bagdhad in March, 2003, and they have died in Fallujah. And, yes, they have died at the hands of insurgent suicide bombers.

Who will be held responsible for the civilian deaths in Iraq?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Its Gimme, Gimme time

As seen here (about the "Just Say Merry Christmas" bracelets:
Cincinnati Christian bookstore owner Jennifer Giroux told "Farah Live" listeners yesterday she and her husband were looking for some small way to "take back Christmas for the baby Jesus" (emphasis added)

Tell that to Walmart, madame.

Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)

Eugene McCarthy has died. This is a sadness but his memory should not be forgotten. Gene McCarthy vitalized and vocalized the anti-War movement of 1967-68. He entered the Democratic primaries in opposition to Lyndon Johnson. I slogged through the snows of New Hampshire
along with thousands of others in February, 1968.
On November 30, 1967, he announced that he would run against President Lyndon Johnson for the nomination of the Democratic Party. Although the press and polls were skeptical that McCarthy's candidacy could effectively contest Johnson's war policy, young people in particular flocked to his banner. Thousands left school and work to sleep on floors while walking the streets and phoning the voters for primaries throughout the Spring.
After McCarthy won 42 percent of the vote in the Demoratic primary (in New Hampshire), the contest changed. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election. Two days later, LBJ received only 35 percent of the votes in the Wisconsin primary, to McCarthy's 56 percent.
These events changed the dynamic of politics. Bobby Kennedy was viable candidate. He was assassinated. Hubert Humphrey was nominated but, in a fatal twist of History, beaten by Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon went on to prosecute the War in Vietnam including bombing of Hanoi and invasions of Cambodia and Laos. Then we lost.

Sound familiar?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Big Dogs and Free Speech


We support free speech in Iraq! We support free speech in Iraq!


Bush Threatens U.N. Over Clinton Climate Speech
Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

The Big Dog and the Best President of the last 100 years.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Why is this man grinning?

This is Representative Wayne Gilchrist (Republican). He allegedly represents the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He has voted for:
1. Cuts in Medicaid, School Lunches and Student loans. $50 Billion.

2. Another tax break for the wealthy. Minus $50 Billion.
This child would like to know why Wayne Gilchrist is smiling. Is he enjoying it?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Poor Children Cheer Tax Cuts

Children today welcomed the House vote to preserve tax cuts for the very wealthy. They said that they didn't need the medical care that had to be abolished in order to pay for the cuts. They joined students who were unable to get loans in praising the foresight of the rich pigs who were benefiting from the cuts since they liked ham sandwiches and knew that they would be thrown a bone. Doctors that depended on Medicaid were confident that they could recover costs out of the thin air that now emanated from Capitol Hill after all the wind bags had used what was there up. So Sad.
WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to preserve tax cuts for investors through the rest of the decade, safeguarding the centerpiece of the Republican tax agenda in a $56 billion package of tax breaks.

The bill, passed 234-197 along mostly party lines, would keep the 15 percent top tax rate for capital gains and dividends in place in 2009 and 2010, two years after their scheduled disappearance at the end of 2008.(emphasis added)
It was noted with some irony that $50 Billion was exactly what was cut from Medicaid, Student loans and School lunches. Republican Congressmen and women were heard to say:
"Let them eat cookies."

Not a political Committee

Oh, those Republicans.
Michael Dubke, president of the Virginia-based group, denied any wrongdoing. He said his group is not a political committee so it is not required to make such disclosures.

Americans for Job Security is registered under 501(c) of the federal tax code, a classification that allows groups to engage in political activity without revealing contributors as long as that is not their main activity. It has run about $1 million in ads in Pennsylvania television markets in support of Santorum and his Social Security plan.(emphasis added)
A million here, a million there. Pretty soon you're up with Tom DeLay.

We Do Not Torture!

We do Not Torture!




Celebration in Munich

Neville Chamberlain assures the Germans that we do not torture.
Munich, Germany - European foreign ministers said Thursday that Secretary of State Neville Chamberlain had "cleared the air" by assuring NATO allies that the Allies do not allow torture of terrorist suspects and respects principles of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.
A bystander at the proceedings (on the right in the picture) jumped with glee.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

We Do Not Torture

What can any sane American make of the following statement:
KIEV (Reuters) - The United States explicitly banned its interrogators around the world from treating detainees inhumanely in a policy shift made public on Wednesday under pressure from Europe and the U.S. Congress.

No, No, No, Mr. Bullwinkle. Don't hit me no more.

(Answer: We HAVE been torturing all along, in defience of our Constitution.)

The Perfect Storm

This is a picture of the "Perfect Storm" in 1991, the one the movie was based on. This is a picture of a lung after infection with the Bird Flu Influenza, H5N1 strain. It is known as a Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and it is brought on by a Cytokine Storm:
When the lungs are infected with the flu virus, the T cells release chemical signals that cause them to stay longer in the lungs. However, more T cells are always arriving, and they in turn release more signal and stay longer in the cells, leading to a build up of T cells and chemical signals. This is called a "cytokine storm" and it is thought that this causes damage to the lungs.
The most interesting thing about a cytokine storm is that it can inflict itself on anyone, maybe even more so on someone who is in good health. Sort of interesting, that.
When the immune system is fighting pathogens, cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. Normally this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place.


It is theorized that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults. In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset.
Let me repeat, the deaths caused by the flu epidemic of 1918 were caused by ARDS which was, in turn, a result of a Cytokine Storm which was caused by the H5N1 flu strain, the one we presume will be the cause of bird flu.

Ergo, we should be doing something about Cytokine Storms. We aren't doing a damn thing as best as I can see. The only thing we are doing is stocking Tamiflu. It is possible that Tamiflu will damp down the response of the body to bird flu and prevent Cytokine Storm. Then again, given our other hypotheses about health (e.g. AIDS is cause by the way you live), I wouldn't bet on it.

There is only one potential treatment for Cytokine Storm out there. It is an antibody.
Ways to stop the cytokine storm have focused on blocking all T cells, but this stops the patient's immune system from clearing the virus and leaves the body open to other infections. The goal is to prevent the storm forming without stopping the T cells attacking the flu virus. To acheive this, the researchers developed a way of down-regulating one of the T cells signalling chemicals (called OX40).

"OX40 sends out a survival signal instructing activated T cells to remain in the lungs for longer to help fight the infection," explained lead researcher, Dr. Ian Humphreys. "Inhibiting this signal therefore allows T cells to vacate the lungs earlier whilst leaving behind a sufficient immune presence."

The researchers blocked the action of OX40 by using a fusion protein (OX40:Ig)....
The whole interaction is fairly complex. It has to do with Tumor Necrosis Factor and receptors:
Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-receptor-associated factors (TRAFs) form a family of cytoplasmic adapter proteins that mediate signal transduction from many members of the TNF-receptor superfamily and the interleukin-1 receptor.
But this doesn't mean we shouldn't be focusing a major research effort in this direction.

No, we are stockpiling Tamiflu.

Let me remind you one more time, Donald Rumsfeld has made over a million dollars on the stockpiling of Tamiflu. So, there!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Give me Seven

"Daddy, what do these palefaces believe in?"

Lust – “Give me more oil, give me mid-East oil, give me more money, give me the wealth of the Nation. Give me the wealth of the World.”

Gluttony – “I will drive an SUV until Alaska gives up its last drop of North Shore crude. By the way, ‘giant size’ those fries.”

Greed – “No, little boy, you don’t need lunch in school today. I need a tax break.”

Sloth – “Brownie, you’re doing a great job. Just keep sitting on your ass and let New Orleans drown.”

Anger – “I just have this to say to the insurgents, ‘Bring em on!’ Oh, and we don’t torture. We just inflict cruel and unusual punishment.”

Envy - “Give me more oil, give me mid-East oil, give me more money, give me the wealth of the World.”

Pride – “We do not torture. We are bringing democracy to Iraq.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

Good Neighbors

This is a picture of Donald Rumsfeld. No, No, No, it is actually a picture of Dick Cheney. No, no, I was wrong, its a picture of a head louse. Head lice don't cause a problem. Much. Head lice are completely benign but they cause school systems to go into Red Alert Meltdown.

Recently, head lice have been very difficult to treat. They have become resistant to Rid and Nix and Kwell. They are tough little buggers.

Then there was a publication in Pediatrics, one of the flagship journals of the field. A doctor in California had a magic potion (funny, his name was Harry Potter) that you put on the lice infested head and then blow dried the hair. The lotion dried around the lice and smothered them to death. The only problem was that you had to go to Menlo Park in California to get the goodies. It was "proprietary." Until today.
CHICAGO -- Parents who paid $285 for an experimental head lice treatment for their children might be scratching their own heads, now that the doctor selling the stuff says it's really a skin cleanser available for under $10 a bottle at drug stores nationwide.

Dr. Dale Pearlman got widespread media attention and skepticism from some head lice experts last year when the journal Pediatrics published his study detailing results with a product he called Nuvo lotion. He described it as a "dry-on suffocation-based pediculocide" and the first in a new class of nontoxic lotions for head lice.
Turns out that "Nuvo" was just Cetaphil, available over the counter at most drug stores for $10.
Pearlman acknowledged that he didn't disclose the information until now "because I wanted to get rich" and had hoped pharmaceutical companies would offer him money to further develop a Cetaphil-based product for head lice. When that didn't happen, he says, he decided to write the letter.
Another guy who wants to get rich.

Anyway, this will make a lot of peoples lives easier. Trust me.

Let me remind you (one more time) that Donald Rumsfeld has already made $1,000,000 off the sale of Tamiflu to the Penatagon.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Napalm and us

This is a picture after a napalm attack. Napalm is the combination of jet fuel and polystyrene to produce a material that is highly inflammable and sticks to people's bodies when it burns. It is, in my opinion, right up there with white phosphorus as a chemical weapon.

The United States is the ONLY country that has not signed the United Nations ban on napalm.

You would have thought that we would have learned from Vietnam. The above picture was very instrumental in turning the American people against this awful War, which we lost.

It is the height of irony that we are currently trying Saddam Hussein on the grounds that he used chemical weapons against his own people when in Fallujah we used both White Phosphorus and Napalm.

Our experience of History is that the worm always turns. I don't think we have ever fully paid for Vietnam and now we have this albatross of Iraq about our neck.
Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung."