Saturday, April 30, 2005
Legal Tales From Gilligan's Island, a Santa Clara Law Review article written by Robert M. Jarvis, analyzes legal issues surrounding the Castaways stay on Gilligan's Island. It makes me proud to think I was almost a part of this classy and intellectual profession. The article does not tackle the mystery of why they took so much stuff with them for a three hour tour. I guess here are some questions even legal scholars can't answer.
A new ethics report endorses mingling human cells with lesser beings. The National Academies, a private, nonprofit agencies chartered by Congress to provide public advice on science and technology, now endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue. the research is considered vital to determining the safety of drugs on human bodies. Even scientists admit such research is not without its horror movie risks:
"Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head?"Such fears haven't stopped scientists. In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells. In case
"...the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior"I am all for research to repair spinal cord injuries, and cure Parkinson's diseas and the like, but I have to admit this is a chilling development. It's one of those things that I find uncomfortable, but then am glad it has happened once I need it. Such a scenarion has happened to me before, medically speaking. it makes me a hypocrite, but I've got lots of company in that regard.
I just can't end a post like this without asking the obvious question: what are these mice going to do tonight? The same thing they do everynight--try to take over the world! (Via Bird of Paradise)
Friday, April 29, 2005
The sequel to last week's fine episode was a wee bit of a letdown--probably due to ridiculously high expectations--but a few shining touches made watching it time well spent. both of those touches were nods to TOS. Unfortunately, two other inexplicables give this episode a lower rating than it could have if things had been spelled out more clearly.
The plot is pretty basic. Mirror Archer has taken the ship from the future and plans to crush the alien rebellion with it, then take over the Empire. But T'Pol, Soval, and Phlox have been reading the databanks of the ship from "our" trek Universe, and discover that aliens are not subject to Earth's Empire. they decide to plot a mutiny to keep Mirror Archer from gaining power. maybe they can even start a revolution. It matters nought. The mutiny fails and Archer heads to Earth to assume his role as Emperor--but not behind Hoshi btetrays him. She poisons him and makes herself Emperoress Sato.
I didn't see the end coming. While Mirror Hoshi is viscious and manipulative, I never figured her for a megalomaniac. That was obviously for shock value, and Isuppose it worked. I am a jaded soul about such things. It was nice to see Linda Park have a juicy role for once.
What's good about this episode are the two TOS touches. First, the crew ditch their spacesuits for TOS era uniforms. it was a nice throwback, even if they are from the future are far as the characters are concerned. The second nifty bit is the sabatuer subplot that goes through the first act. It's like old home week when we see our "hero" is a Gorn, the same critters that can be stopped by being smacked with foam rocks. Someone needs to explain why we haven't seen them in nearly forty years.
What's bad about the episode? Another two points. First, inexplicably Mirrir Archer sees visions of himself egging him on to betray the Empire. I'll bet this was supposed to be the rumored return of Capt. Kirk before that fell through. it certainly would have made more sense. Second, there was an Orion Slave Girl in Starfleet, but she did not have the power over males that was established in "Bound" just two weeks ago. Maybe the Orions are different in the Mirror Universe, but that's a big assumption to make when the revelation of their true influence was made so recently. Someone dropped the ball by not explaining things. Those little careless errors have killed the show.
Rating: *** (out of 5)
Next week: T'Pol and Tucker have a kid. Really.
This article relates how John Bolton got the UN resolution designating Zionism as racism reversed. I am growing more solidly in his corner everyday. Bolton is exactly the kind of ambassador we need in an organization that just elected Zimbabwe to its Human Rights Commission. With straight faces, no less.
North Korea Must Return to Six Way Talks: it's not that simple. With North Korea now capable of arming nuclear warheads that could reach the west coast of the US, there are no really good options for dealing with the Norks. The most populat ideas are all extremely costly.
The possibility of the Nork's improvements in their nuclear missile technology necessitate the revival of the SDI program. It's expensive and it has yet to be successful, but at the moment, the only defense the US has against nuclear attack is Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). MAD worked fine against a society like the Soviet Union, who were more interested in influence and conquest than the absolute destruction of their enemies. That doesn't work so well against a closed, isolated, and fantatical society like north Korea. If we set up SDI, we'd have something to work with in improving missile defense. We can't afford not to.
We could allow japan to go nuclear. It's an uncomfortable proposition, as in a perfect world, i'd like for the US to have nuclear weapons and no one else. This is not a perfect world. Asia will quickly become the center of the world economic and political power by the middle of this century, and Japan will fall far behind if it maintains a pacifist stance. The inclusion of Japaneses soldiers as peacekeepers in Iraq is the first step towards Japan flexing its military muscle. how far behind can possessing nuclear weapons be?
The US has abandoned the policy of assassinating world leaders since the fiasco with Allande in Chile, but why not whack Kim Jong Il? Yes, assassination in Chile brought Pinochet to power, and North korea probably has another kook waiting in line, but with the hero worship that the Norks have for their "Great Leader," having him killed by infidels might disrupt the hold the dictatorship has on the hearts and minds of the North Korean people. This would efintiely prove the resolve of the US. The best way to play chicken is to rip your steering wheel off and toss it out the window where the other driver can see it. the invasion of Iraq was a move like that, and it has paid dividends in Libya's abandonment of its nuclear ambitions, and democratic reforms from Afghaniistan to lebanon. It might cause a simlar chain of events in Asia.
Finally--and worst-- North Korea should invade the South. Yes, it will be bloody and costly, but before the Norks gwt two miles past the DMZ, something strange will happen. The norks will see 2 story house with two cars in the driveway for the first time. They will see big screen TVs, personal computers, and megamalls. When they see this, they are going to find out they have been lied to about the West. It won't be pretty.
None of it will be pretty, but the future always has a painful birth and troubled childhood.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
There wasn't much new or compelling in Bush's press conference tonight, but one thing did stick out to me. Asked if he believed those who are opposing his judicial nominees are "against people of faith," as the "Justice Sunday" crowd has said, Bush commented that he "didn't agree with" that conclusion. "I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy," Bush said.
That was a great answer, and I hope it will end the viciousness surrounding attacks on religion, pro and con, that are plaguing politics currently. The issue is not who is too Christian, but that there are too many progressive judges and not enough strict constructionists.
I am seriously losing my touch at predicting who is going to be fired. I thought for sure it would be Tana after her silly obsession with the Bedazzler beads--and then has the audacity to explain the importance of those beads to Trump. Thst was hilarious. Trump has a point. Beads are beads. Why couldn't she find some in Manhattan? Heck, Manhattan was orginally purchased by beads! Oh, the delicious irony.
I really thought early on that Trump was positioning Alex to win the whole shebang. He's young, intelligent, driven, and has experience as a lawyer and lobbyist in the pool of sharks that is our nation's capitol. It surprised me that he was fire, particularly considering the candidates that are left. I just can't picture Trump handing over a multimilllion dollar project to one of the "street smarys" candidate, but the only college grad left is the mousey and insecure Kendra.
Kendra is involved in real estate,so I'll bet that gives her a leg up. Only a small one, though. This has been the weakest group of candidates the show has had yet. I imagine Trump would prefer to can the lot of them rather than hand over the keys to the kingdom to the best of the worst.
I haven't found any bits from a reputable news source, but rumors are Gen. Tommy Franks may run for the Senate against Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in 2006. If anyone has the celebrity power to unseat an incumbent senator (or beat Katherine Harris in a Republican primary), the thinking goes, it would be the former U.S. Central Command chief who enthusiastically campaigned for President Bush and Mel Martinez last year.
Two former politicians from other states, Gov. William Weld (R-MA) and Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) consider running for office in New York. Weld is a possible candidate for governor and Kerrey has been waffling between joining the reelection campaiggn of Mayor Bloomburg or running against him. His loyalty to the Mayor is awe ispiring, no?
With Robert Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, William Weld, and Bob Kerrey all moving to New York to get involved with politics, maybe we should rename it from the Empire State to the Carpetbagger State.
My sister's Yorkshire Terrier, Lexi, has recently discovered she is big enough to jump on the furniture. Now, much to my dismay, she spends an obscene amount of time in my computer chair with me. Dogs seem to have this attraction to people that do not like them. Optimists say it is unconditional love. i think it is just proof that God appreciates irony.
The cat, Boo, isn't fond of the dog, either. Lexi spends a great deal of time in hot pursuit of Boo. During wuiet moments when Lexi is penned up or asleep, Boo roams freely. She has been declawed for years, but is in denial. She often uses my chair to sharpen her "claws." She is unaware of Lexi's new climbing abilities--or at least she was until today.
Boo casuasually strolled up to my chair to sharpen her claws, blissfully unaware that Lexi had a bird's eye view of her. Poor Boo got kamikazed. Lexi made this yelping noise that I know has to be the canine equivalent of the navy Seals battle cry. I usually pull for Boo in these conflicts, but I have to admit, Lexi got in a good shot today.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Thanks to a campaign begun by a young boy, Warner Bros. has scrapped plans to give Bugs Bunny and his cohorts an edgy makeover. The plan was for a new series to feature future versions of the popular characters in an outer space setting. Dedicated fans, including myself, were not happy with the idea.
Purists rejoice. We've held back the night for the first time in ages.
I notice many conservative denizens of the blogosphere are miffed at the President for walking hand-in-hand with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I believe many of my right thinking brethren are being a bit harsh. Prince Abdullah appears to be suffering from early dementia just like his father, King Faud. Appreciate what is taking place here. President Bush is making an old man feel useful and important. I can't criticixe that, even if Saudi Arabia is a lukewarm ally in the war on terror. Besides, have you ever wondered what would have happened if FDR had shown more solidarity with Paul Von Hindenburg?
Russian President Putin makes Historic Trip to Israel: Tops on the agenda will be economic ties between the two nations and Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran. this would be a fine opportunity to discuss aiding the exodus of Russian Jews to Israel, as well. With the rising tide of antisemetism throughout Russia (and Europe, unfortunately) we have a sad reminder that Israel is the only place where it is truly okay to be a Jew.
Forget the latest cash cow from George Lucas. This year is going to be just like 2002 when a certain webslinging hero beat out the latest Star Wars paint-by-numbers offering. This summer, the Fantastic Four are going to hand the Sith their light sabres blade first.
Dr. Doom here looks cooler than just about anything Marvel Comics movies have turned out yet. Rumors are the movie isn't going to be entirely faithful to the comics in much the same way the Hulk wasn't. It is understandable, as the FF's origin was tied into the Cold War space race of the early 1960's and wouldn't make much sense in today's setting. A comics purist like myself winces at the changes, but anything that brings publicity and new readers into my favorite hobby is all right with me. I's like to see increased circulation and more brick and mortar comic shops.
I've resisted the urge to read the script, but I know it deals with the team's origin and Dr. Doom's scarring. It will not feature Dr. Doom's comics origin, which disapoints me. It was not tied in to the Cold War and could easily have been included. Victor Von Doom was scarred when a machine he was using to contact the Underworld exploded in his face. Had he listened to Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastiic), he could have avoided the mishap. Doom was attempting to rescue his mother, a gypsy witch, from the Underworld. The source of Doom's anger against Richards is that Doom blames him for the scarring and the failure to rescue his mother. It would have been cool to see that on the screen.
I'm expecting this to be a hit. I'm also hoping for sequels to be more faithful to classic FF storylines, if for no other reasons than Stargate SG-1 fans can see where 90% of that show's concepts were swiped from.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I reported back in late November the controversy surrounding recount ballots in the San Diego mayoral election. With write in ballots counted, it appeared that surfer/activist (exactly what it sounds like) Donna Frye had defeated incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy. Murphy was certified the winnner regardless.
Frye will get another shot at becoming mayor. Mayor Dick Murphy has resigned amid a scandel involving prison funds. The Deputy Mayor will assume the role of mayor until a special election is held this November.
Arhbishop of Canterbury Invites Pope to Visit Great Britain: The leader of the Chruh of England, Rowan Williams, made the invite at a Vatican meeting. The Catholic Church and the Anglican Church have been split ever since Henry VIII wanted a divorce and the Pope would not grant him one.
Williams praised the new Pope for his ecuminicalism, which makes me think this is more a peace offering than an attempt at unity. Pope Benedict XVI used similat language in his conversations with Muslim leaders, hoping together they can build "bridges of friendship" that could foster peace in the world.
Still, this will be a monumental meeting should it come to pass.
The fan effort to raise money for a fifth season of Enterprise has ended. Desperate trekkers raised $144,173 towards the effort, falling far short of the $42 million another season would cost. All of the money will be refunded to its original donors.
Paramount has publicly stated that it will not accept fan money for a new season, even though TrekUnited incorporated several weeks ago, rendering such a deal to be regular corporate sonsorship. Paramount is adamant about getting rid of Enterprise and make way for a revamp. Noting the success of the Battlestar Galactica "re-imagining," The studio is gearing up to refresh Trek for a younger, hipper, and more jaded audience. Expect a two or three year hiatus before a new movie or TV series relaunches the whole kit and caboodle.
Will it fly? Probably, as long as Berman & Braga are not attached to the project (s). Fan have accepted variations and continuity glitches between the movies, TV series, novels, and comics for years. Ihave to think any group of people who raise six figures through PayPal to save a dull show like Enterprise will try just about anything that has to do with Star Trek.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Countries struck by the December tsunami are opting to relocate displced villagers and open their former land for devlopment. From the May 2 issue of The Nation:
"In January Condoleezza Rice sparked a small controversy by describing the tsunami as "a wonderful opportunity" that "has paid great dividends for us." Many were horrified at the idea of treating a massive human tragedy as a chance to seek advantage. But, if anything, Rice was understating the case. A group calling itself Thailand Tsunami Survivors and Supporters says that for "businessmen-politicians, the tsunami was the answer to their prayers, since it literally wiped these coastal areas clean of the communities which had previously stood in the way of their plans for resorts, hotels, casinos and shrimp farms. To them, all these coastal areas are now open land"I am of two minds about this. For one, i think it is ridiculous to celebrate a natural disaster as a opportunity for financial gain. in reality, disaster relief takes resources away from creating wealth and diverts them to recovering loss. You don't have to be an expert economist to realize that's no gain.
The late Austrian analyst Willi Schlamm once quipped, "The problem with socialism is socialism. The problem with capitalism is capitalists," which bring me to my other mind. When presented with an opportunity for advancement, you've got to take it. theses dirt poor countries are now planning to grow their tourism and shrimping industries, both of which will provide more revenue for the economy as a whole than it's previous residential and small fishing village use. Yes, it is bad that people are going to be displaced, but let's not lose sight of the standard of living increase that comes with the new employment opportunities.
Now, if we could just get them to can the casino idea and crack down on child prostitution, they'd really have something good going.
The only serious defense of John Bolton's nomination to be UN ambassador is coming from Eye of Polyphemus favorite Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. The White House's campaign to support Bolton looks like it was organized by the Marx Brothers, but like in the UN Oil for Food investigation, Sen. Coleman has taken a strong leadership position, which I value.
I have speculated in the past that Coleman is making an ovely ambitious VP bid. I am quickly changing my mind. I now think he desrves the VP nod.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
The nomination of John Bolton to be the next UN ambassador seems to be crashing and burning. I have a feeling, with all the durm und strang, Bolton will lose confirmation even if he toughs out the personal assassination he is being subjected to, If he loses, i think Bush should not compromise. he should bounce right back with another hardline reformer--one Democrats can't shoot down so easily. Some choices:
Rudolph Giuliani--Yes, he wants to be president, and won't settle for lesss. But everyone else knows he has no shot at the White House. Still, it would boost his foreign policy credentials, so he might go for it.Any one of theses would do, although none would be as satisfying a presence as Bolton. That's the main reason he won't be confirmed, I'm afraid.
Zell Miller--He's made enemies of Democrats, but I'll bet he has enough friends in the Senate to be confirmed. maybe this time, he'll challence Kofi Annan to a duel instead of Chris Matthews.
John Breaux---Another conservative Democrat. He's a tough talker with horse sense.
Joe Leiberman--Follows his conscience, and the irony of him being in the Bush Administration would just kill me.
Naked Woman Flushes $90,000 original Peanuts Art Down the Toilet: After a lover's spat with a guy who carried the original art everywhere he went. Is it any wonder the general public thinks comic fans are oddballs? i'd like to see panelogists get some positive press for once.
"The threat of nuclear terrorism is not limited to New York City or Washington, DC. While New York is widely seen as the most likely target, it is clear that Al Qaeda is not only capable but also interested in mounting attacks on other American cities, where people may be less prepared. Imagine the consequences of a 10-kiloton weapon exploding in San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, or any other city Americans call home. From the epicenter of the blast to a distance of approximately one-third mile, every structure will be destroyed and no one would be left alive. A second circle of destruction extending three-quarters of a mile from ground zero would leave buildings looking like the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. A third circle reaching out 1 mile would be ravaged by fires and radiation."How far ranging would the destruction be in a nuclear weapon was detonated in your hometown? Go here, type in your zip code, and find out.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
If you decide to play Russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol, your odds of dying are one in six. If you decide to climb Mt. Everest instead, your odds of surviving are also one in six. The former is stigmatized and the latter is romanticized as an heroic adventure even though they both present the same odds of risk. That fact got me to thinking about how readily one accepts contradictory concepts based on the way they are packaged.
It is a sign that, en mass, people are easy to manipulate. I studied political polling in college. Learning the basics of gathering and calculating the data took only a handful of classes. The majority of the semester was devoted to the real purpose of polling: gtting the results you want. More to the point, getting the results your patron wants. It was all about the wording of the question. For example, ask howa respondant feels about unmarried women driving to the grocery store with her five kids to by groceries with food stamps will illicit a more conservative response while asking how a respondent react to seeing the same women rummaging through a restaurant dumpster to find food for her kids elicits more sympathy.. Extreme examples just as a for instance right now. Experienced pollsters are much more skilled in the art of subtle manipulation.
You don’t change someone’s mind with a deep, philosophical discussion about the nature of personal identity over a cup of coffee. You do so with extreme imagery. The thrill of standing at the top of Mt. Everest v. staring down the barrel of a pistol in a game of chance. There isn’t a lick of difference between the two. Don’t get fooled.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Now this is more like it. A riveting storyline plus links to TOS concepts makes for one fine episode. Too bad it comes too little, too late to save the show. The episode deals with the Mirror Universe, which is the regular universe's evil twin. The MU has made previous appearances to great effect in TOS and DS9, and this episode stands neck and neck with those other outings.
Mirror starts by showing us the origin of the Starfleet Empire's conquest of other worlds: when the vulcans make first contact with Zefram Cochran, he kills them all and steals their technology. Flash ahead to the Enterprise, who, under the command of Capt. Forrest, are at war with the Tholians. Commander Archer plots a coup, because he has heard of a Tholian experiment that has brought a ship from the "real" universe into the MU. Not only is it from the other universe, it is from the future. With it's future tech, Archer can destroy the Tholians and take over the Empire for himself.
Skulldudgery ensues as T'Pol sides with Capt. Forrest and Hoshi goes for whoever happens to be in charge at the moment. it is an intrigue sorely missing from typical episodes. The empire orders Forrest to find the ship and use it to their advantage. When they reach the coordinates, they find the TOS era U.S.S. Defiant from the episode, "The Tholian Web." Archer takes an away team to the Defiant, while the Enterprise is caught in a Tholian web. They watch as Enterprise is destroyed. To be continued.
This was Enterprise's best episode. The characterizations were down pat, we finally get to see a Tholian, and the connections to TOS were perfect. They even remembered the two dead crewman on the bridge from "The Tholian Web." It is finally made clear that TOS technology is more advannced than its prequel, even though it doesn't look as sleek. The previews for the next episode look just as promising. i can't remember the last time I actually anticipated an episode of Enterprise. if they had done episodes like this in the first and second seasons, it would be flying high right now instead of being cancelled.
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Tune in next week for a catfight between T'Pol and Hoshi.
Or so he may be afraid to have you think. The Royal family of Spain is preparing to sue Marvel Comics over the likeness between a photo of King Juan Carlos I and the perennial X-Men villian, Magneto. The offeding photo and drawing are compared here.
Because the photo was taken by the Royal family, they argue they hold the copyright. It will be interesting to see what the courts decide on fair use laws should this go to trial--which it will likely not. I can't help but remember all the famous photos and scenes that have been used for artistic inspiation in other media forms and have a difficult time believe drawing similiarities to real life can be illiegal.
My readership has jumped enormously in the last month, due in large part to an increased number of other bloggers linking to me. This I do appreciate. no matter how many visitors come from theses links, the vast majority of my visitors come from Google, Yahho, and MSN searches. I said this before, but it bears repeating for the newbies: virtually everyone of theses searches, with few exceptions, are for "diverticulitis" variations and "polyphemus." There isn't much more i can do for the former and nothing for the latter. But, evil genius that i am, hatched a plan.
The Collossus has several posts up regarding an increase in his readership, not because of his intriguing content (which it is) but because he mentioned Jennifer Love Hewitt once and posted a picture of her. Google and Yahho's spiders picked up the pic and sent many an unsuspecting traveller to his blog. I figured, sounds like a plan to me.
I had to decide whose photo to pick. I want folks to stick around once they visit, so I figure I'd need to attract visitors who think like I do and find the same type of girl attractive. As I am founder, president, CEO, COO, and majority shareholder of Reese Witherspoon Stalkers of America, this was partly a no brainer:
Class, charm, wit, and a Southern belle whose ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence. What's not to love--other than the whole married to Ryan Phillippe thing that I really don't want to talk about right now. Alas, I am aware that Reese doess not seem to attract the male attention that I would expect. Thus I said choosing Reese was partly a no brainer.
Many of you Googlers have some dirty minds. since someone actually came here searching for "Inez Tennebuam miniskirt," there is a pretty low class of pervert visiting. Either that or cataracts patients, I'm not sure. So, i feel it is necessary to place some here who you might expect to see a little skin from, though not nude or naked: (I'm covering my Google bases.)
There you go. Jessica Simpson in a bikini. Rejoice my new Googling friends! Rejoice!
There are more of her bikini pics here.
Here are some more half naked pics, too.
Yes, i have even more bikini photos.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
After my filly, Erin, was fired, (for her attitude, which was the reason I liked her. Well, the most important one, anyway. Hush.) I started to pull for Bren. He was a lawyer from the South, so it was a natural fit. He was fired tonight, and while fans are going all over the internet tonight and talking about how he was spineless in not defending himself, I respect him more than ever. You see, Bren got it. It came a little late, but he got it.
The Apprentice is a fun show to watch, but it is ultimately a belittling and humiliating experience for anyone willing to participate in it. The tasks are silly and frivolous. the berating by the ridiculously pompous Trump is a cartoon character masquerading as a businessman. Donald Trump would be worthy to shine Sam Walton's shoes, yet 16 people uproot their lives to play a game for 16 weeks just to be a footstool for him.
But not bren. he finally realized how stupid it is to fight for a job with that self important doofus. He knows the he belongs with his family and the job he loves. Let the others lower themselves. bren rose above it, and i appluad him for it.
There will be another season, and people will fight each other just for a slot on the show. one million applied for this season. Have you ever notice more people would sell their souls if only there was a buyer?
Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Committee voted to lightly chastize Cuba for its human rights violations. It sounds like a positive step in the right direction for that unelected body of do-nothings--until you actually analyze the votes. The more peculiar votes are broken down below. ("Yes" meant chastise Cuba, "no" meant don't, and "abstain" means the country couldn't care less.):
Canada (Surprise; has big economic ties with Cuba.)
France (Check the thermostat in Hell.)
Germany (See Canada)
Saudi Arabia (Paint me shocked.)
Ukraine (Fledging democracy doing it right.)
Russia (Still needs its satellite country?)
Argentina (Avoiding hypocrisy)
That Cuba, China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo, and Nigeria are on the Human Right Committe in the first place tells you all your need to know about the United Nations.
Did the New Pope Swing the 2004 Election for Bush? After presenting himself to the Vatican as staunchly pro-life, President Bush convinced then-Cardinal Ratzinger to work on the American Catholic Church on his behalf.
What was Ratzinger's response? This memo in which Ratzinger claimed that anyone (especially a Catholic politician - like Kerry) who campaigned and voted pro-choice was not only on the side of evil but was unworthy of receiving Communion and Americans probably shouldn't vote for him. According to Salon, this was perhaps what was behind Bush's 6 point increase in Catholic support from 2000, and the difference in the 2004 election.
Given the bitter hatred the world over for Bush, coupled with the conspiracy theories surrounding his father's claim of a "New World Order," (Don't laugh. Leftwing loony Bartcop refers to it as the Bush Family Evil Empire. What do you expect from one who proudly proclaims an IQ of 64, though.) how long will it be before the tinfoil hat crowd proclaims Bush controls the Catholic Chruch, too?
The South Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled unenforceable a prenuptial agreement signed by a Ukrainian mail-order bride who married William Holler, a York businessman who has run for governor twice. The blushing bride was told about the premarital agreement while still in the Ukraine and believed she "needed to sign some papers under the law of South Carolina" before getting married. She told the Court her English wasn't fluent enough to comprehend the prenuptial agreement, which stipulated both would support themselves if the marriage broke up.
So Holler dragged a woman who spoke little English to the US and was ready to hang her out to dry if she wouldn't be the ready made family for his next gubernatorial bid. It sounds like a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, but it is actually a typical day in the life of South Carolina.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
There were many horrors that occurred after the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990's. A Serbian general has recently surrendered the the War Crimes Tribunal to face trial for atrocities dating back to 1999. Dragan Kolundzija (Duda), a former camp guard, has now served his time for war crimes, and tells his story.
"We guards were much closer to robots than to human beings... we were all doing things which were not connected to our true selves... "Muslims had been officially declared vermin, and had to be exterminated. Every night, Serbian soldiers would go to the camp wanting revenge for fallen comrades. Of all the guards, only Duda refused to hand over the key--until one fateful night:
"It was dark, the soldiers somehow got into the room and Kole was shouting, stop shooting, stop shooting!" Duda says. "By morning there were 200 bodiesThe saddest part? This was the mid 90's, not the mid 40's. Europe fell into madness yet again on the cusp of the 21st Century.
Apparently Sen. Jim Jeffords' (VT-I--and no relation, darn it.) nearly insane, frothing at the mouth, Lyndon LaRouche-esque rant a few weeks ago was a kiss off. He has decided he will not run for relection, citing concerns for his wife's poor health.
Considering a run for Jeffords's seat are Gov. Jim Douglas (R) and Rep. Bernie Sanders, the nation's highest elected Socialist.
The South Carolina House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee took up two bills this week. One would make cock fighting a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The other changes criminal domestic violence from a misdomeanor up to a felony. Does it surprise you the committee decideed battling chickens are more important than battered wives?
Rep. John Graham Altman 9R-Charleston, and a neanderthal dope) rationalizes the killing of the CDV billfates:
""There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them. And I've asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, John Graham you don't understand. And I say you're right, I don't understand."Rep. Altman is one of the few "old school" conservatives in the SC Legislature who stopped his politization in about 1940 and hasn't changed his mind since. House Speaker David wilkings came out later with a more clarifying statement regarding the bill, stating it had tmany technical and legal complications which were unworkable.
Now that the issue has attracted attention, a new bill is likely to be introduced clearing up the difficulties of the old. perhaps we can also finally get rid of Rep. Altman and a few other bozos while we are at it.
(You can read the bill and see for yourself the poorly written baggage that killed it.)
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Noting that the new pope was forced to join Hilter's Youth as a boy (under penalty of death for refusal), I was curious to see how long it would take the militantly anti-Christian crowd to begin "Poe Benedict XVI is a Nazi" spiel. You'll not be surprised to note that on several apologetics boards I often persuse, it only took a matter of minutes after the smoke cleared (literally). It's amazing how self proclaimed freethinkers march in lockstep with ideas.
Wait...no it isn't.
From hence forth all super villians, aliens, and other assorted would-be-conquerors need to seek other employment. All of your many intricate plots, brilliant though they may have been, failed. None shall succeed in the future, either, because this is one tough planet to destroy.
Meet the new Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. In retrospect, Ratzinger was an obvious choice. He was the man John Paul II trutsted with Church doctrine.
The name Benedict is a good indication of what is to come. Benedict XV was Pope durinf World War I, Bebedicta XII and XIII worked to end decadence among the Priesthood, and Benedict II is the Patron Saint of Europe. This could be an indication that the new Pope's priorites are cleaning up after the recent sex scandals involving priests and working against the increasing secularization of Europe. I wish him God's blessings in his efforts.
Ten years ago today, Americans were faced with the reality that Israelis have faced years--that we, too, can be killed by terrorists on our own soil.. To our added horror and sorrow, not all terrorists come from the other side of the world. They can be home grown, former All-Americans. Long before September 11, 2001, there was April 19, 1995. On the day, a bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 men women and children. Before the image of firefighters defiantly raising the flag at Ground Zero, the sad image of OKC firefighter Chris Fields cradling the lifeless body of Baylee Almon, a day past her first birthday, was etched in our national mind.
It was sunny on that fateful day, and at 9:00 AM, the building was bustling with employees and visitors casually going about their business. Young children were at play in the day care center. At 9:02 AM, there was a huge explosion, and the walls came crashing down, both literally at the Murrah Building, and figuratively, at our perception of impervious American Fortress. The oldest victim was 73; the youngest was only four months. But we were all scarred victims. Americans were outraged. It had to be Muslim terrorist. Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman had just tried to blow up the World Trade Center, after all. Imagine the shock of Americans to realize the suspects weren’t Muslim extremists, but two young, white males. Now we not only had to deal with the fact that we could be killed by terrorists, but the terrorists could be living next door.
The bombers were Timothy McViegh and Terry Nichols. Both men were born and raised in the united states. By all appearances, they were red blooded American noys from the middle class. But something was horribly wrong.
Understand that I don’t believe in any of the conspiracy theories. I don’t think this was an Al Qeada plot, an Iraqi plot, a Palestinian plot, or any of the other myriad of theories that are floating around. MsVeigh and Nichols carried out the bombing themselves. It is a defense mechanism for Americans who don’t want to imagine their countrymen can commit such an atrocity against their fellow citizens.
It is the same discomfort that allows conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of JFK to run rampant. We want major crimes to have major perpetrators. Six million Jews were slaughtered by a national war machine. As horrible as that is, it fits our perceptions. We can fathom that. We cannot imagine that a lone gunman can take the leader of the free world away, and we cannot imagine two hate filled bombers can take away our national sense of solidarity and security. But they can.
McVieigh and Nichols chose April 19 possibly because it was the same day the American Revolution began, maybe because it was Hitler’s birthday, or most likely because it was the anniversary of the Branch Davidian Raid. Whichever reason was either a perversion of a noble ideal, or terribly misguided loyalty to madmen. Either way, we paid the price, and do so still with ever vigilance.
Timothy McVeigh was tried and convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges. He was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001 at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. His conspirator, Terry Nichols, is serving multiple life sentences on federal and state charges. But terrorism against fellow Americans has not ended there.
In fact, ninety percent of the terrorist acts committed against Americans are perpetrated by Americans. In 2003, William Krar, a Texas white supremacist, was arrested for possessing a sodium cyanide bomb. Had it been detonated, the bomb could have killed hundreds. Just last week, Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber, plead guilty to his acts of terrorism, which killed 2 people and wounded 150. Neither offers any apologies for his actions, rationalizing that any deaths are collateral damage in their “holy” war.
Despire this, I hope the swell of patriotism that has risen in America since September 11 has impeded domestic terrorist recruitment. For all her faults, America is a good country, made up of decent people who can be, in our best moments, a shining beacon in the midst of dark places. The more people that come to know that fact, the fewer who can be sold on the idea of murdering their fellow countrymen.
If, say, an asteroid were going to strike the earth in 24 hours, spelling certain doom for the entire planet, what would be your thoughts on that final day?
I am a reflective soul, not prone to any desires of hedonism, nor am I prone to panic in the face of imminent danger. Such characteristics are the benefits of a Christian lifestyle. The final day of my life would be a time to take measure of my life. Not to measure any sense of worthiness to enter the next life, for we are all unworthy of that privilege, but to figure out what it all meant.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From the dirt of the ground we came, and to the ground we return. A man is soon forgotten, and so is the ledger of his work. With this reality, it is easy to understand why the “eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy of life is so popular. But that is even more empty than not mattering after you are gone. It is the pain of not leaving an impact that causes most people to drown their sorrows in pleasure.
I think that is silly and irrelevant. Those being rewarded in heaven now care nothing for what they were on Earth, or what their actions wrought. Those punished in hell now are likely too occupied to worry about the past, or are full of regrets . Memories of life are either then irrelevant or things that need to be blocked out for the sake of sanity, assuming any sanity is to be had.
So, the measure of my life is between me and my God, who does not find me worthy, yet puts me in His grace nonetheless. I may have much to answer for, but it is inevitable that I will be called upon to give that accounting. Whether that be tomorrow or sixty years from now, it will come. Life is a gift, as is salvation. Gifts have no meaning. They just are. So from now until the end, I do not have to worry about meaning. I just have to be.
With this in mind, on my final day I would sit under a palm tree in the warm sunlight, share a glass of peach wine with Death. We will talk of opportunities gained and lost.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Althouse has a fine post up today asserting that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were the ruination of rock & roll. I have to respectfully disagree. When you discuss the downfall of rock, you have to start with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. That’s right. The Beatles ruined rock music forever.
Rock & roll was born in the American South with Elvis Presley at Sun Records. You don’t hear much about Sam Cooke, the founder of Sun Records, but you know his discoveries: Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy orbison, and Johnny Cash among many others. Cooke created magic in that little studio, introducing a hybrid of country, soul, blues, and gospel that is as distinct a hodpodege creation as America itself. It was white boys singing black music, and it was good. You want to talk about the political impact of music? I promise you Chuck Berry did more to integrate the South than martin Luther King ever could. The music was fun, and how could you hate something like that?
Rock & roll was country meets the blues. It hadn’t yet become the deil’s music, what with Little Richard heading off to seminary and Jerry Lee Lewis meeting cousin Rev. Jimmy Sawggert at the family reumion. It was risqué, but not obscene. Wet eyes, not wet crotches.
Here in South Carolina, the trinity of country, blues, and rock thrived on the Grand Strand in the early 1960’s. Beach Music, a precurser to Motown, erupted, with teenagers bopping along to the Drifters, the Tams, and the Catalinas. Just as much as they swooned over Elvis. It was soulful, fun music--the kind that fond memories are made of.
The Beatles ruined all that.
Here’s what I blame the Beatles for: long haired hippies, Hindu mysticism in music, rock stars as political activists, Vietnam war protests, LSD use, end of danceable music, popularizing pot smoking, overt sexuality replacing musical talent, the death of melody, screaming electric guitars, Del Shannon’s suicide, the idea that Bob Dylan is a poet, MTV, Michael Jackson, Madonna, hair styles that look like a birth defect, grunge music, emo music, punk music, techno music, and a host of other poxes (Poxi?) on the landscape. If it weren’t for the Beatles, Britney Spears would be a Wal-Mart check out girl and the members of N’SYNC would be delivering pizzas where they belong and not recording CDs.
I lament the death of rock & roll in the same spirit as Don McLean’s American Pie. McLean traces The day the Music Died to the day the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed. He may be onto something, but I think he should have moved the cause of death up a few years.
Investigators have discovered several mass graves in southern Iraq that are believed to contain the bodies of people killed by Saddam Hussein's government, including one estimated to hold 5,000 bodies. At least 290 grave sites containing the remains of 300,000 people have been found since the U.S. invasion two years ago.
Three hundred thousand. Let that soak in a minute before you listen to anyone else call this an illegal or unjust war.
Marla Ruzicka of Lakeport, California, an antiwar activist and the founder of human rights group Campaign For Innocent Victims In Conflict (CIVIC), was killed by an insurgent car bomb on Saturday. Ruzicka stayed in Iraq to help civilian casualties when most other activists left to avoid the conflict. She had lobbied the US congress for aid, and raised $20 million for her effort at the time of her murder.
I don't advocate her kind of activism, and I am a supporter of Iraqi Freedom, but I have to admire her spirit. She was only trying to help.
Bangladesh Baptist Pastor Killed by Extremists after Attempt to Share Faith: A Baptist pastor and evangelist was found beheaded in Jalalpur, a village in the district of Khulna, south-western Bangladesh. The 35-year-old pastor from the Bangladesh Free Baptist Church, Dulal Sarkar, was believed to have been killed by Muslim extremists who had threatened his family because he discussed his faith with some Muslim villagers.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Why haven't we had a terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11? There is evidence to think that increased security and vigilance have done the trick and Al Qeada is unable to stage an attack in the US, even though they would if they could. The disco bombing in Bali and various bombings in Saudi Arabia indicate a desire to stage terrorist acts against targets, but an impotence to do so in the US itself. But it seems to me incredibly easy to detonate a car bomb in dowtown Manhattan or fly a private Lear Jet into the Sears Tower. So why hasn't it been done? It could be that the US is winning the war on terror and Al Qeada is being soundly defeated. It could also be that the battlefield was brought to their backyard, in which case this could be a lull before the storm.
Al Qeada is full of religious fanatics, but they are not stupid. They knew the US would come and hit them hard as a result of 9/11. I think they were hoping we would overthrow the Saudi Royal family instead of the Taliban--there's a reason 15 hijackers were Saudi--but now that we have taken the battle to the Middle East, they welcome it. It is a chance to defeat us on their home turf. To drive out the infidels is a holy cause.
The problem is they've failed. Oh, they've driven the UN and Spain out of Iraq. That doesn't shock any thinking person. But the US has overthrown the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq and helped set up democracies--an anathema to the Middle Eastern mindset. American success means a humiliating defeat for Al Quaeda at home. With no success at home, they may turn to their only success--a 9/11 style attack.
The question is, after you've destroyed a skyscraper, hit the Pentagon, and killed 3,000 people, what do you do for an encore? I fear they have had nearly four years to think about it, and don't have Afghanistan and Iraq to distract them. Are we on the verge of seeing an act of desperation that will top 9/11? I hope not.
For two years now, the media has insisted up and down that the United States would lose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and would never establish stable governments in them, much less democracies. The bush Administration has been critixized soundly and brutally for promoting democratic ends in both countries. But now the media is starting to warm up to the idea of purple Iraqi fingers and the first Afghan election in 5,000 years. Are they crediting the Bush Administration and the sacrifices of our armed servicemen. Nope. Check out who gets the credit:
"The Arab movements are, in many cases, increasingly tethered by the work of U.S.-funded democracy programs, international anti-corruption groups and Arab satellite television. Seminars funded by groups such as Transparency International and the philanthropist George Soros have brought together novice parliamentarians, activist journalists and human rights advocates from Morocco to the Persian Gulf region."That's right. George Soros and journalists are responsible for bringing democracy to the Middle East. How a journalist can right that claptrap in a article and still sleep at night is beyond me. First, the media is wholeheartedly against the war. Then when the goals of the war are successfully met, the media dismisses the role of the "war mongering America" and takes credit for themselves. The saddest part is that pretty much no one really cares what the truth is.
Too bad for us that the truth is what journalists are supposed to seek out. (From the Washington Post)
Woman Sues Alex Trebek Over Missing Horse: Noted "jeopardy" host and thoroighbred owner/breeder is being sued over a missing $100,000 broodmare that was delivered to his rack in California. The horse allegedly becaome sick during the night and had to be euthanized.
Perhaps when Ken Jennings wins the Ultimate Tournameent of Champions in July, he can bail Trebek out of trouble with the $2 million in prize money.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
So says Federal Appeals Court Judge Richard A Posner in his new book, Catastrophe: Risk and Response. The book examines various disasters that could befall humankind. The usual suspects are present--global warming, pandemics, massive earthquakes and so on — but the following gem really stands out:
"Superintelligent robots with a silicon or other inorganic base (or an organic one, for that matter) may be the next stage in evolution,” Posner writes. “Human beings may turn out to be the 21st century’s chimpanzees, and if so the robots may have as little use and regard for us as we do for our fellow, but nonhuman, primates. The robots may kill us, put us in zoos, or enslave us, using mind-control technologies to extinguish any possibility of revolt, as in the movie ‘The Matrix."I read some of Posner's articles relating econimc utilitarian theories in judicial decisions back in law school. He is a brilliant man, but suffers from a common ailment of academics: he is so brilliant, he doesn't criticize his own ideas and no one calls him on them, no matter how wacky. Interesting to note that I studied law books and read comics. Apparently Posner read law books and studied comics.
Cancer Preventing Agent Found in Cocoa Bean used in Chocolate: Note this study was funded by Mars, Inc., makers of M & M's and Snickers. One must question the results of this research. RJ Reynold's would claim cigarettes prevent cancer if their sense of the absurd wasn't working properly.
Then again, it can't hurt and any excuse to eat more chocolate is a good one.
|"Sin is incurable by the strength of man, nor does free will have any validity here, |
so that even the saints say: 'The evil which I do not wish, this I do.' 'You are not doing the
things which you wish.' 'Since my loins are filled with illusions,' etc."
|You are Martin Luther!|
Yeah, you have a way of letting everyone know how you
feel, usually with Bible quotes attached, and will think your way through the issues, although
sometimes you make no sense! You aren't always sure of yourself, and you can change your mind about
things, something you actually consider a strength. You can take solitude, especially with some music.
What theologian are you?
A creation of Henderson
Well, I'd never write a pamphlet entitled The Jews and Their Lies, but I suppose these "What ________ Are You?" thingies are super acurate, no?
Justice Scalia Faces Protest, Inappropriate Question at NYU Visit.: The potesting law students themselves were bad enough. The law is a venerable profession for serious people. Chanting rhyming slogans at a visiting Supreme Court Justice is something for irresponsible jippies, not future members of the bar. But the worst bit was the question asked by one boorish student in response to Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas: "Do you sodomize your wife?"
A gross, inappropriate question to ask anyone publicly or privately, particularly to a Supreme Court Justice. The questioner wrote a defense for himself that doesn't justify his actions in the slightest.
One of the big reason the Left is losing so much ground today is because its members are viewing such events as a proper expression of greivance and not the temper tantrum that it is. No matter how eloquent a defense this fellow makes, it will never outweigh that soundbyte of his idiotic question. I'm guessing many on the Left don't care that this is true.
I think if they would actually analyze Scalia's opinions and dissents, rather than assume a political agenda, they would see a different picture. I don't know for a fact Scalia's opinion on every act of moral terpitude, but I do know that he is not using his position on the SCOTUS to pursue his moral agenda. He is against the Supreme Court inventing new "fundamental rights" that need to be protected. If a state wanted to legalize (sodomy/flag-burning|etc) then they would be free to so long as there was not an explicit prohibition on that in the Constitution.
I just cannot for the life of me figure out why so many people think strict constructionalism is evil.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Can a Republican Governor Tame South Carolina?: An interesting article regarding Gov. Sanford's continuing fiscal conservative ways and the obstacles he's facing in our staunchly traditional (and stubborn) state. Sanford's broad reform agenda include market competition, fiscal conservatism and government accountability.
Sanford has run into trouble because South Carolina is a Legislature-dominated state. His proposals would generally strengthen the governor's office at the expense of the Legislature. Currently, the governor has authority over something less than 20% of government. Such a limitation may hurt his chances of making a name for himself in national circles. The party addresses the growing national rumblings:
"Elsewhere, the governor is being mentioned as a national political candidate because of his consistent conservatism, engaging "aw shucks" manner and winning campaign record. Recently, the Cato Institute rated him fifth on its Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors. (The folks at Cato will be pleased to know that he has informally indicated his intention to run for a second term.)"The article ends by stating much of the headway Sanford has made is due to his eadygoing personality. With it, he has pursued and won some lofty aim. Can it carry him to the White House? Time will tell.
There are only five episodes remaining in Enterprises' run, and this episode shows you exactly why. This season it appears the show is trying to become the Original Series in the worst way--and is succeeding in the worst way imaginable. Tonight's episode has shades of TOS's "The Naked Time" and "Mudd's Women," but just can't pull it off.
Enterprise encounters an Orion privateer who strikes up a deal with Archer. He wants to mine a planet of valuable resources , but does not have the manpower and equipment to do so. He'll allow Starfleet to mine on his property if they split it with him. Archer successfully negotiates the deal, and is given three Orion Slaves girls as a gift. The slave Girls have hyper pheromones that that drive the men on board crazy, except for Comm. Tucker, who is saved by his intimate bond with T'Pol. Tucker eventually saves the day by incapacitating the irrational command staff and placing the Slave Girls in the brig. At the end, T'Pol reveals her feelings for Tucker, and he reveals that he requested a transfer back to Enterprise days ago.
The idea of an insanely irrational crww has been done to death on Enterprise alone, much less on the rest of Trek. They didn't break any new ground here. The guys all acted like tomcats--sometimes literally, like the fist fight between Tucker and Kelby. That's about it. the writer's hoped we wouldn't notice by slipping in a *lot* of T & A. While that was...stimulating...to watch, it didn't help the enjoyability of the show much.
The episode reveals the hold Orion Slave Girls have on their men. They are not really slaves, as the men are actually subject to their whims instead. Why wasn't the sexual politics of this explored more? Wasn't trek designed to beat the viewer over the head with social commentary? now all we get is green jiggling to boost the rating on a show that is DOA in the first place.
Dedicated fans will enjoy that Tucker and T'Pol share a kiss, but that didn't do much for me. Their whole intimacy was based on therapy sessions to help Tucker get over the grief of losing his sister. The ethical concerns of a relationship emerging from that soured me to the whole idea. The one decent moment was Dr. Phlox injecting himself with stimulants absentmindedly in order to resist the pherimones' effects on him. that was the funniest moment the show has had in a while. It just wasn't enough to carry this episode.
Rating: ** (out of 5)
United Nations' Human Rights Panel Wary on Cuba: The panel has issued a "mildly worded" document on human rights abuses in Cuba. Mildly worded, presumanly because Cuba cochaired the Human Rights Panel a few years ago with that other shining beacon of human rights, Libya. Their first order of business? Chronicle the abuses perpetrated by the United States, what else?
Chirac: A 'No' Vote on the EU Constitution Will Benefit the Americans: Goodness gracious, we can't have that! Why do we still consider France an ally? When was the last time the country acted like one? President DeGualle saluted President Eisenhower's casket in 1969 and that's about the last positive, grateful bit we've heard out of France.
Quick quiz: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy dies because of love for girl. Have I just described Romeo & Juliet or King Kong? The answer is yes. There are only so many story themes to go around, but so many interesting and wonderful ways to tell them.
I'm a bit miffed at Peter jackson's April Fool's day joke about turning his remake of King Kong, due to be released later this year, into a trilogy. now, normally I am a stubborn purist. The idea of stretching out such a well known character and story into a series of movies would strike me as crass commercialism, and I'd be deadset against it. But peter Jackson handled the trilogy format masterfully in The Lord of The Rings. Granted, he had good source material, but I thought the joke plots for additional Kong films sounded worthy.
Picture the original Kong remade with Peter Jackson's touch. Then a Son of Kong sequel, hopefully starting with the same elements of the original secquel: Carl Denham having the watoosis sued out of him by all the New Yorkers who suffered damage in Kong's fall. (Maybe only a law student could love that.) Imagine, as rumored, giant gorilla battling evil Nazi mutants.
Corny? You bet. As corny as Iowa. But that's what was cool about it. It was film Noir. A love song to 1930's cinema that was one step above movie serials. Think about how much you love the Indiana Jones movies or Star Wars the first time you saw it. That is what this series could have been, but Peter Jackson has reduced it down to a cruel joke. That's too bad, really. With this and The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jacksod have solidified himself as this generation's George Lucas.
Republican Sems. McCain and Cochran, of Arizona and Mississippi respectively, are split on the nuclear option to end filibusters on Bush's judicial nominees. Sen. McCain is in favor of keeping the current rule of allowing unlimited filibustering. Sen. Cochran opposes the internal Senate rule.
I will go on the record as believing filibusters are a bad idea. The Constitutional role of the Senate is to "advise and consent" the president on his judicial nominees. Filibusters serve neither purpose well. Bring the judicial nominees to the Senate floor, debate over them, and then vote. I would advocate this under a Democratic president as much as I would a Republican, even though a number of "progressive" judges will find their way to the bench. It's the sign of a healthy democracy that sometimes the other guys win.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
The United Kingdom holds elections in a few weeks to select a new government. I confess, while being a jeffersonian red stater in the US, I like Tony Blair. He's a leftist, but a pragmatic one. I can't forgwt that he is a staunch ally in the War on Terror, either.
With all that said, I imagined my position on UK issues would line up with the Conservatives, and I was right. Kind of a shame really. I have seen the Conservative Michael Howard on Prime Minister's Questions, and the poor fellow gets zinged so badly by Blair I want a referee to call the whole thing off. I'm wondering how long it will be bofore the Liberal Democrats replace the Conservatives as the party in opposition?
Labour 8 Conservative 25 Liberal Democrat -22 UK Independence Party 11 Green -5
You should vote: Conservative
The Conservative Party is strongly against joining the Euro and against greater use of taxation to fund public services. The party broadly supported the Iraq war and backs greater policing and ID cards. The Tories are against increasing the minimum wage above the rate of inflation, and have committed to abolishing university tuition fees. They support 'virtual vouchers' for private education.
Take the test at Who Should You Vote For
I've been scouring around the net for sites regarding anthropology and the like. It's one of those subjects I really like, but had too much tunnel vision regarding attending law school to bother with exploring in college. Ah, the ignorance of youth. I did take one course on the origins of Latin America, as well as the geography of Latin America, and two years of Spanish. Those classes were all fun and interesting. As I look around the internet now, it seems the study of humanity has taken a dark turn in the few short years since I was in college.
Where did the sense of value of human life go? The greatest resource on Earth is people, but you wouldn't know it by listening to academia. Our academic minds have fallen down serious slippery sloprd from well thought out ideas regarding the problems mankind faces to radical, unreasoned political dreck. How did we fall from conservationism to environnmentalism to a human extiction agenda? How did we go from all life has meaning to abortion to infanticide? How did we go from revering our elders to tossing them in nursing homes to euthanising them? I don't know, but we have, and our "finest" minds are appluading the downward spiral as good tidings of a better future.
We are entering a dangerous time. It is a metaphysical crisis in which we can no longer agree on the beginning and end of life. The next step--and it's already happening--is to question the value of the middle of life. Who deserves a chance to live, considering the health and social stigma problems he or she might face because of disabilities, intelligence level, or socioeconomic status? I'm not sure these are questions we should even be pondering, much less struggling with.
I think people are about to get their fondest wish: a life where the pursuit of pleasure and happiness is the only goal, and God help anyone who gets in the way.
Global Gene Project to Trace Humanity's Migrations: This is a nifty project to trace the migration of human ancestors from Africa 60,000 years ago up until, well, you. For a $100 fee and a DNA sample taken by cheek swab, the Project will trace your ancestor's route right on up through time to you.
"Our DNA tells a fascinating story of the human journey: how we are all related and how our ancestors got to where we are today," said American geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells, the project leader. "This project will show us some of the routes early humans followed to populate the globe and paint a picture of the genetic tapestry that connects us all."There is a sense of urgency regarding the Project, as wars, environmental disasters, and globelization are causing more people to move, therefore the world is becoming less gentically diverse. Alll information gathered will be public domain for all to study--a virtual gentic museum of humanity.
I wish this was an April Fool's joke, but it is legitimate, believe it or not. The online csasino GoldenPalace.com has won the rights to name a new species of monkey. The casino paid $650,000 in an auction for the right to name the new species. The new species was discovered in western Bolivia’s Madidi National Park by Dr. Robert Wallace of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
"This species will bear our name for as long as it exists," Golden Palace CEO Richard Rowe said. "Hundreds, even thousands of years from now, the GoldenPalace.com Monkey will live to carry our name through the ages."The good news is it was a charity auction, so the money went for a good cause. The bad news is that biology textbooks everywhere will now list a monkey named after an online casino. At least they didn't brand these monkeys with a logo, or shave it into their fur.
There is something immensely disturbing about all this, although I can't articulate it. I do know in the future, when humans are dominated by apes and Dr. Zaius is running the show, we are going to be so screwed for this.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
As a good Jeffersonian agrarian, I must mark the occasion of Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Democrats claim him, but I think Jefferson would freak if he saw what they have done with federalism. He'd probably freak at what the Republicans have done, as well.
Why, oh why did anyone ever listen to Alexander Hamilton?
While conspiracy theorists and antiwar activists are freeting over the coming war with Iran, true scientists abd geopoltical specialist are advocating the development of alternative energy soucres because we are reaching the end of the age of oil. Good thing, too, since Saudi Arabia's biggest oil field is running dry. The Middle East is going to be a worthless sandbox within the next 20-30 years whether we have alternative fuel supplies or not.
Last month, former New York City mayor and longshot semi-presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani appeared with Sen. Trent Lott at a Mississippi fundraiser. publicly, the two more supportive of one another, but privately, the Mississippi senator informed the former that his his support of abortion and gay marriage will be insurmountable obstacles to overcome in GOp strongholds in the South and heartland. While Giuliani insists he supports only gay unions, Lott assured him conservative voters see no distinction.
Sen. Lott is correct. A pro choice, pro gay marriage neoconservative from New York isn't going to make any headway in the South. The GOP might as well dig up Gen. Sherman and run him. I have often said said to politicallly astute friends who have poop pooed it, implying that Rudy is riding a wave of popularity from 9/11 that could carry him to the White House. U remind them that media polls had Howard Dean beating Bush by 30 points as late as March 2004 and look how little support he actually mustered.
Giuliani has also ruined himself in top GOP circles by supporting Bernie Kerik for Homeland Security Secretary. That fiasco with Kerik's adulterous affair and his withdrawal of nomination has hamstrung Giuliani's popularity with the White House when it really wasn't all that strong to begin with. Don't expect Bush enthusiasn in supporting Giuliani unless he catches lightening in a bottle and somehow captures the nomination.
Which he won't, and he is finally getting that message. Reports are now that Giuliani is eyeing the New York Governor's race instead. Note how his handlers are speaking about the possibility. They are actively not discounting the Governor's race. Political operatives would normally shoot down any rumors of lower office if a candidate were shooting for the presidency. It is clear they are trying to tell Giuliani he has no shoot in 2008, and are trying to placate him by opening the door for 2012 or even 2016. If Giuliani persists in a presidential bid for 2008, expect to see many of these political operatives to quietly jump ship.
Movie buzz has it that Will Smith wants to remake one of my favorite movies, Bridge on the River Kwai. Yes, I am enormously upset about it. I would hope he only wants to direct or produce, but I have a nagging suspicion he wants to star and earn his Dramatic Actor Legs(tm). There is no way Will Smith can replace William Holden or Sir Alec Guinness. Can you imagine the fresh prince playing a stiff upper lipped British officer? He's already thought he could play a Secret Service agaent in 1869 Louisiana to disaterous effects. Will Smith has ruined on of my favorite TV shows, The Wild Wild West, is going to much with a favorite sci fi movie, I Am legend, and is now going to ruin a true classic. Next you'll tell me Paris Hilton wants to remake The Seven Year Itch.
What do you mean she does? Paris Hilton replace Marilyn Monroe? Are you people trying to kill me?
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Wisconsin Considers Law Allowing the Hunting of Feral Cats.: Now, I'm a big cat fan. My cat Boo is parked right beside me staring out the window right now. I can understand the need to get rid of feral cats, as they aren't anything like your granny's Mr. Whiskers. I do realize, however, that windows kill more birds than can do. But I suppose you can't go around shooting out every window you see. My biggest gripe? The odds ought to be evened up a bit:
I also have to wonder if Wisconsin lawmakers are aware that the Black Plague swept through Europe, killing a third of the population, because superstitious people killed cats that would have normally controlled the rat population? Oh, what am I saying? Of course they don't.
I haven't completely made up my mind on US policy towards Iran. On the one hand, I am certain the government is protecting Al Queada operatives and is meddling in Iraq. On the other hand, Iran is one of the only countries in the world whose people stage pro-American rallies. Nothing would upset that apple cart quite like sabre rattling by the United States, even if for good reason.
To stay on top of things, I've been reading the somewhat unfortunately named Regime Change Iran. Despite the title, it is not a neoconservative effort to influence US foreign and military policy, but a well written blog regarding news from inside Iran.
Wes Clark has been a busy little beaver of late. He has testified before Congress regarding Iraq, posed with Democratic House Leaders in photo ops, and addressed a meeting of state Democratic Party Chairmen, all in a jousting windmills effort to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. The big problem id that Clark believes he is Eisenhower. He's actually Westmooreland.
Eleven years ago this week, the Rwandan Genocide began and did not end until almost a million Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were dead. they were killed by their own countrymen in a fit of mass hysteria in the span of 100 days. The motivation for the slaughter were clearly ethnic racism, but few realize the role the United Nations and Belgium played in allowing the tragedy to happen.
Romeo Dallaire was Force Commander of the UN troops in Rwanda at the time. Increasing unrest and killings along with intelligence obtained from an informant led him to conclude that the genocide was coming and that it could be stopped if action was taken quickly and decisively enough. He requested 2000 additional troops and the authority to plan and execute an operation to halt the genocide before it began. The UN Security Council denied both requests, and reduced the UN force in Rwanda to 260 troops. One million Rwandans died. Romeo Dallaire and the 260 Canadian, Ghanian, and Dutch soldiers are directly credited with valiantly saving over 20,000 Tutsis that would have otherwise died.
What part did the Belgian government play in all this? The country switched its support and played the previously subordinate Hutu caste against the ruling Tutsis. It was attempting to smother the Tutsi cries for independence from Belgium; part of the increasingly successful chorus of African nations claiming sovereignty over themselves. Much like how the europeans ingnored the Serb slaughter of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, Europeans seem more than happy to allow people inconvenient to their political aims be mudered en mass.
This can't be blamed entirely, or even mostly, on the West. Africa is a harsh continent where human life seems to have little value. Over two million have been killed in the Congo in the battle for diamond mines, and no one even blinks. Americans lose 3,000 four years ago in the World trade Center and still we moutn. Not to completely absolve the West's past and ongoing sins in Africa, but ultimately the responsibility for genocides in that continent lies at the feet of those who picked up a machete and started hacking other people to death, and those who actively incited the violence.
Witness an accounting by a Hutu now imprisoned for his role in the genocide from the book, Machete Season:
"When the Tutsis were caught, many died without a word. In Rwanda people say "die like a lamb in the Bible." Of course in Rwanda there are no sheep, so we have never heard their cry.It may already be too late to stop history from repeating itself in Darfur.
It sometimes touched us painfully that they awaited death in silence. Evenings, we would ask over and over, "Why no protest from these people who are about to die? Why do they not beg for mercy?"
The organizers claimed that the Tutsis felt guilty of the sin of being Tutsi. Well, I knew that was not true. The Tutsis were not asking for anything in those fatal moments because they no longer believed in words. They had no more faith in crying out like frightened animals, howling to he heard above the mortal blows. An overpowering sorrow was carrying those people away. They felt so abandoned they did not even open their mouths."
Monday, April 11, 2005
My readership has increased greatly in the last few months. That increase has been due, not to the inherent purpose of this blog, but because of very specific searches. In the last ten days, there have been 56 Google searches, 26 Yahoo searches, and 19 MSN searches relating to terms such as diverticulitis, divaticulitis (an incorrect spelling), colonostomy, prednisone, perotinitis, and detached retina, among others. To satisfy curiousity, I've tried the same searches and was surprised at how deep in the results the searcher had to go in order to reach my site. That tells me there are some desperate people looking for answers and personal accounts of dealing with these health problems. I note these searches all turn up posts from the late summer and early fall of last year. Posts on my health have been noticeably absent for the last few months, and they will continue to be so for reasons I am about to explain. Hopefully the search engines will pick this post up along with the other "popular" ones.
First, I started this blog to have some fun. I read my Constitutional Law professor's blog and liked the idea of having one. Up until that time, I had stumbled across mostly online journals that were written by 16 year old goth/emo chicks who posted lyrics and whined because some pimply guitarist in her chemistry class didn't smile at her today. I didn't realize there might be an audience out there for the things that I wanted to write about, namely politics, law, Christianity, science fiction, and nifty web links. So I started up this blog to talk about those things. I thought this was going to be a place where i could discuss my studies, my transition from law school, and my establishment of ties to my new job and community. I didn't want to discuss very many personal things, although they slipped in with more frequency as what i see now as my sense of foreboding started to emerge. I clock that in at around November 2003. You will notice my posts then take on a darker tone, even though nothing serious had actually gone wrong yet.
By the spring of 2004, my health fell apart for the resons most of you are searching for--and reading--this site. For the sake of making this an ultimate post for searchers, I'll recount it all here for what will be the final time, barring something extraordinary.
I had a detached retina in my right eye repaired in 2000. In April 2004, that retina detached again. I am legally blind in my left eye, so this was a dire emergency. I was forced to leave law school two weeks before graduation, go back to South Carolina, and have it repaired. The eye surgeon told me point blank there was a large amount of scare tissue in that eye, and that makes it unlikely the retina will stick in place if repaired. We had to try anyway. He put a gas bubble in my eye. To keep the bubble in place, I had to law face down for six weeks so the gas would hold comstant pressure on the retina. After three weeks of doing that, we realized it was all futile. The surgeon referred me to Duke University's Eye Center to see if they had any innovative ideas.
I was greatly fortunate, all things considered. The Dean of the School of Opthomology was my surgeon. His assistant told me that if president Bush's retina detached, this is the surgeon who would repair it. They did have an innovative idea: they had success with giving steroids before surgery to prevent scar tissue from forming and there alowing the retina to stick. So I took predazone for four days and was once again face down for another five weeks. It did not work out that way.
I felt terrible after this surgery, much more so than the last. Two days after surgery, I had a burning pain in my abdomen, then a pressure. I doubled over in pain on the bathroom floor. I spent two nights in the hospital with no one knowing what was wrong. Theory was a new bout of kidney stones, as I am prone to developing them. it was by pure accident that a CT discovered my colon had ruptured. The burning I felt earlier was the rupture. the pressure was air escaping through the hole and filling my abdomen. I had a gaping hole for nearly three days that no one knew about.
I had emergency surgery to repair it. Turns out I had diverticulitis. it is virtually unheard of for someone my age 927 at the time) to contract it. It is a condition for the elderly, but then again, so is a detached retina. No one was looking for it, and they were shocked to find it. The condition is aggravated by steriods, so the predazone I took in the days surrounding my eye surgery caused it to spread and flare up enough to literally rot a hole in my colon. The surgeon gave me what was to be a temporary colostomy and said he had gotten all the parts of my colon infected with diverticulitis out.
In the meantime< I was flat on my back. I couldn't position correctly for the gas bubble in my eye. I slowly watched by retina peel off into pitch blackness in my only truly functional eye. there was nothing i could do. I was anemic from bloodloss during surgery, had lost 20 pounds (I weighed less than 100 to begin with) and was being pumped with IV antibiotics to prevent what could have been a fatal perotinitis infection from waste from the colon entering the blood stream.
Colostomies are not fun. It was thought i would keep it for eight weeks and then have it taken down. Those were hard weeks. it was difficult to find food i could hold down. I was never hungry, but I was painfully empty. It was trial and error to find bland food for me to eat. Even my loss of vision took an emotional backseat to the whole affair. At the end of eight weeks, we were prepared to take the colostomy down. I had to have a BE scan first. That scan showed some anomalies. this was the first sign something was wrong. The suspicion was that it might be Crohm's disease. A gastrointestinal specialist performed a colonostomy, was is a humiliating procedure even when doped up on valium and morphine. He saw no Crohm's disease, so my regular surgeon decided to go ahead with the takedown. Why they missed what was really happening neither one can tell.
I went into surgery for the takedown. I was on the operating table and cut open before the surgeon could tell that he could not reverse the colostomy. later, when the anasthetic wore off, he explained to me that there was too much scar tissue for him to reverse the colostomy, and he wanted me to see a surgeon who specialized in such surgeries. It was understanding that mean it could be reversed, but it was out of his expertise. I accepted this as a setback, not a brickwall.
I was wrong.
He wanted to see me twice in the weeks after surgery to give me time to recover before referring me to a specialist. I expected the second visit to set the referral. i did not expect what I got instead. There was scar tissue, yes, but it was caused by spreading diverticulitis. The surgeon didn't see any in May after my first surgery, but it had spread to another rupture risk by September. He explained to me that in the extremely rare cases of contraction by the younf, diverticulitis is particularly agreesive. Add to that the effects of the steroid, and it becomes even more unpredictable. Cutting out the infected parts of the colon now would involve another colostomy, but the diverticulitis is likely to spread out further, making that piintless. Each subsequent surgery decreases in success rate. So i am stuck with a colostomy and diverticulitis. Plus, I think I hit all the buzz words you've been searching for. Yay me.
Which brings me to my second point: there isn't much left to talk about. There is no other treatment other than to avoid foods that irritate diverticulitis, like nuts, berries, leafy vegetables, and anything with seeds, all of which i have done. Itt is all a waiting game to see what happens next. It has likely continued to spread. There's nothing that can be done about that. I may be fine for years, i may rupture again in six months. I don't know, neither do the surgeons, and there is no point in speculating about it on a public blog.
Which brings me to my final point. Theses health issues have destroyed my life's plans in the most intimate of ways, and robbed me of more personal aspects of human life than I would ever admit publicly. I do have issues to work through, but they are reserved for a more personal setting, not here amongst what is often frivolous and satirical posts on the world as I (barely) see it. So, at the risk of alienating a majority of my readers looking for a blow by blow of how my life is affected by my health problems and other issues of the sort will be disappointed, as i have moved those to a more private setting. they are not for you to see, but i wish you all of God's blessings as you stroll down life's road hand-in-hand with diverticylitis.
It has been this way in posting for months, actually, but not it is noted blog policy. i note through my Technorati profile that most of you linking to me do so for the political, religious, and science fiction commentary and humor anyway, which is what I was hoping for, albeit under better circumstances. You folks shouldn't notice anything different, and I apologize if reading through this treatise wasn't your cup of java. i had to note that most vistors are coming here for something they aren't going to find, and I felt it was unfair for me to not explain why.
Next up, I'll be back to our regular round of blogging topics.