Monday, May 30, 2005

Carefully Disguised Bullshit 

At first glance, this article by a high school science teacher on how he teaches evolution to students seems a good thing. He gives them both (scientific) sides, pro and con, shows where areguments have been made against evolution, etc., etc. He says that, by the end of the class, the students had no idea what his position was personally. He seems to hint, though, that he's an intelligent design fan (i.e. "evolution" light), which makes me question why he's teaching science in the first place.

It also demonstrates how the apparent "benign" appearance of the ID argument is actually quite dangerous. A quote from the teacher:
I push them to behave like competent jurors - not just to swallow what some authority figure tells them to believe - not even me - but rather to critically analyze, with an open mind, the evidence set before them.
Okay, fine. Can we have this same degree of freedom in teaching religion and theology?

Because, it seems to me, all of religion is based on its followers just swallowing what some authority figure tells them to, without question. I have no problem with that -- if they keep it in their own churches and their personal lives. But as soon as they try to change my world with their dogma, I draw the line. As soon as they try to insert their unfounded beliefs into the study of science, I say enough.

'Cause you know what? You can put all the evidence in favor of evolution in one bucket, and all the evidence in favor of creationism in another bucket, and you'll end up with one pretty full bucket and one totally empty one. You can believe, and guess and imagine all you want, but the simple fact is, there is absolutely not a single, solitary shred of evidence in favor of the universe having been created instantly by some invisible gaseous anthropomorphic being, whether it was 6,000 years ago or 15 billion. The only evidence, in fact, is that the universe is here -- but that's like looking at a roll of scotch tape and stating, with certainty, that it was fabricated out of gummi bears and pig snot by a sixteen foot tall pixie named Edna on a planet orbiting a star in the Eta Carinae system. You can say it all you want -- but until you can show me the chain of evidence from point A to B, you don't even have a theory. You have a fairy tale.

In contrast, a scientist would examine the scotch tape. He might notice that the label includes a mention of the 3M Company. He would track down the company, find the people there who maybe made the tape. Perhaps observe the assembly line -- the same assembly line that manufactures only the gloss finish transparent tape in the half inch roll. And then he'd compare samples from that assembly line to his tape at home. Then, and only then, might he put forward the theory that his roll of tape was created on assembly line A, sub-group W, building 17, southern fabrication plant, etc., etc. But he won't state that with absolute certainty, perhaps having heard that gloss finish production was moved some time in the last year.

You get the point. Charles Darwin didn't just wake up one morning and say, "Hm. Men and apes have two arms and two legs, and kind of look alike. Therefore, men must have descended from apes." Nope. He spent a lot of time studying a lot of species, testing a lot of ideas, working his way toward a possibility.

Contrast with: men think. Therefore, everything was created by a thinking man in the sky. No testing necessary.

Funny story: I went to a Catholic university (despite being a heathen) because they had a good film school. But... everybody had to take two theology classes. I approached my first one with dread, thinking that they'd just lock us in a room and beat us until we converted. It was called History of the New Testament, and it was taught by a nun. Visions of penguins and wooden rulers danced in my head.

Cut to: First day of class. The nun walks in, dressed in civvies, and she's a 40-ish MILF,. (Well, for the straight guys in the class, but I can appreciate a MILF even if I gravitate toward the DILFs.)

Anyway... she walks into class, goes up to the lectern, says hello, and then says the following sentence, which made me realize forever that Jesuits aren't really a religious order; they're partiers with collars (she was a member of the Jesuit girl gang). She said, "Some people think that every word in the bible was personally written by god. Well, that's just ridiculous..."

In that instant, you could tell who went to Catholic school and who didn't. The parochial kids all inhaled waiting for the lightning to strike. The rest of us just looked at each other with collective relief, realizing, "Damn. They're not going to stick us in the rack until we convert."

For the rest of the year, she showed how which documents wound up in the New Testament were determined by people and politics, and if there were any sort of divine intervention, it was a very convoluted process. Yes, she did cop to the "if you have faith, you'll see how god worked it this way" excuse, but she didn't hold back from the "it could just as easily have been Matthew, Mark, Luke and Timothy" story.

Funny thing is, the religious kids didn't lose faith by her lessons, and the atheist kids didn't see the light because of it -- even though, ultimately, her argument was toward the "god had nothing to do with it" side.

Which makes me wonder why the super-religious, born-again, rightwing loon-nut fundies are so insecure about their religion. After all, if they really really have the truth on their side, it doesn't matter what some biology teacher says about evolution, right? If god can get involved enough to edit the bible, he should be able to make sure kids aren't fooled by lies.

Right? Right?

I want the fundies to put their money where their mouths are. If they really believe, let them stay the hell out of science classes -- and we'll stay out of religion classes.


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Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Must-Use Site 

Thanks to Masson's Blog for pointing this one out (and for adding me to their Judge Bradford/Anti-Pagain Ruling blog roll): there's now a site that uses PERL scripts to automatically create blogs for each Congress critter, so you can easily follow what legislation your representative is proposing and how they're voting.

Called Plogress, you just go there, pick a state, then pick your rep. It couldn't be easier, but it shines a big old light on things that representatives hope would only happen in dark rooms -- or on C-SPAN, where they're too boring to tolerate.

For example, my Congressman is co-sponsor of this law, which sounds like a good one:

Co-Sponsor of H.R.1652: To establish certain duties for pharmacies when pharmacists employed by the pharmacies refuse to fill valid prescriptions for drugs or devices on the basis of personal beliefs, and for other purposes.
Anyway, if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of government (with the ability to keep your foot on its neck), go to Plogress. Today. Right now. Go, go on...

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Stupid Drivers 

I live in LA and I drive in LA and, daily, I'm appalled by the stupidity of my fellow drivers. Now, while I don't think LA has the worst drivers in the US (out of staters from Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and anywhere in Canada take the awards there), I still think that all drivers, everywhere, suck, with few exceptions.

Now, there's a study to prove my point. (Ah yes -- a study for everything.) According to this auto insurance funded study, 1 in 10 American drivers would fail their state licensing test if they took it today. And I have no doubt at all that that figure is true.

When it comes to even the basics, I think that most drivers are clueless. For example, most of them don't seem to know that "right turn on red" means "turn right when traffic is clear and you have the right of way", not "turn right after you've sort of kind of stopped for the red light." And when it comes to exiting driveways into traffic, they seem to think the rule is this: "If you take up the entire driveway so that nobody can get in, you obviously have right of way pulling out." Um... nope.

Other traffic rules people apparently follow: you don't need to signal to change lanes if it's obvious you're going to change lanes because you suddenly hit your brakes in the fast lane; if two freeways merge, you have a divine right to move to your left immediately, whether or not there are cars there, and whether or not you're going as fast as traffic in that lane; right turns should be made from as far to the left as possible, without signaling, and after coming to a complete stop in traffic; the bigger car always has the right of way; when two lanes of traffic are merging, it's best to get as close as possible to the car in front of you, so that merging traffic will slow down.

And so on. Although I lay a lot of the blame on state DMVs for this. I took the drivers' test exactly once in my life, when I first got my license at sixteen. Ever since then, it's been "Send us the money and we'll send you the document." Which is pathetic. Hell, I think my father hadn't retaken the test since before I had my license, and he was driving up until his eighth decade on the planet.

Which gives me an idea that will end the joke concept of traffic school and put some teeth into driving law. It's simply this -- if you get a traffic school-worthy infraction, to clear it, all you have to do is go to the DMV and pass the written and driving test. Simpler than sitting for eight hours in a classroom, right? The catch is, if you don't pass the tests, you don't get your license back.

Yeah, I can hear people bitching and moan about that right now, but y'know what? (Tiny violin). Driving truly is a privilege, not a right -- and in order to get a privilege, you have to earn it. From what I see on the roads every day, two thirds of people with cars do not deserve the privilege of driving. I'm sure most of them haven't taken the test since the day they crammed for it, either. And most of them have forgotten the rules in the mean time.

Or, here's a fair variation -- gradated licenses, denoted by stickers on the car license plate. Let's say we group the drivers as A, B and C based on their tests. A drivers get to use the left lanes, not stop for freeway onramp meters, etc., basically getting all kinds of goodies that make rush hour easy. B drivers get some of those privileges at rush hour. C drivers do not. D drivers and below do not get to drive. And everyone gets retested every ten years. Yeah, sure -- it's a meritocracy, so sue me.

But driving -- by which people get into and operate multi-ton machines at high rates of speed, and via which thousands die every year -- is not something to be taken lightly. Whether or not this auto insurance funded survey is biased, I don't know -- I doubt not -- but the bottom line is this: most professionals are re-tested constantly for recertification -- doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, accountants. There's no reason that drivers shouldn't have to do the same. After all, out of those other professions, very few will kill people if they screw up.

And the only accidents I've ever had while driving were caused by asshats who didn't know the rules, or who didn't care. One drunk driver, one who ran a red light, one who thought she didn't have to look before she pulled her SUV into traffic.
According to the study, many drivers find basic practices, such as merging and interpreting road signs, difficult.

For instance, one out of five drivers doesn't know that a pedestrian in a crosswalk has the right of way, and one out of three drivers speeds up to make a yellow light, even when pedestrians are present, the study said.
Yep. And I've seen all those mistakes every single day I get on the road.

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We Get Searches... 

Regular readers know I like to do the occasional "Strangest Searches that Got People Here" feature, such as here and here. I'm amazed -- although I shouldn't be -- at some of the completely pornographic searches that manage to point to pages here, entirely because widely separated phrases taken out of context match up with some perverse online porn-hunts.

This week's winners are:
  1. "wanking in petticoats", which led to a reference to Ajai Raj's wanking gesture after asking Ann Coulter a certain question, and a much separated reference to the Spokesman review's outing of the mayor of Spokane, as in "the Spokesman review snooping under your petticoats." Now, I forgot to check the ISP of this user at the time, but there's just something so veddy veddy British about that search.

  2. "what can I dry hump to make me horny", winner of the "most strangely specific request of the week", it took the hapless hunter to an article about the ridiculousness of teen abstince programs, probably including each of those words in entirely different sentences.

  3. "'adult man' needs spanking", from a Roadrunner user (ah, they're a filthy bunch), landed them on my advice that Rick Santorum just needs a good spanking.

  4. "fuck boyfriend in the ass" again landed on the Ajai Raj page. Now, granted, one look at Ajai's cute face certainly makes me think about ass-fucking, but this search was targeted at what I suggested a reporter should ask Ann Coulter: "Do you still fuck your boyfriend up the ass?"

  5. "pictures of father fucking his fifteen year old daughter", winner of the most disturbing search of the year if not decade; this came from a user at Dreamscape.com. Whether he was trying to find and suppress the evidence of his past crime or look for ways to commit a new one, I don't know. Let's hope, if he ever even attempts to act on that fantasy, he winds up in prison calling some fat, hair sweaty man daddy.
And that's it for this week's installment of "Strangest Searches that Got People Here", brought to you by SiteMeter.com -- more than just a hit counter.

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Revenge Impending? 

My god, even Matt Drudge is trumpeting this one, noted over at Eschaton: a majority of Americans say they would vote for Hilary Clinton as president in 2008, including 33% of conservatives. The figures break down to 80% of Liberals (no surprise), 58% of moderates (nice surprise) and 33% of conservatives (big surprise). If nothing changes about those numbers, you do the math -- whoever the Republicans pick to run in that election is going to have a tough time of it. Maybe.

We don't know yet. The (R) candidate could be McCain or Giuliani, which would make it a horse race, since both appeal to moderates. Or, the party could go all stupid and pick someone like Frist or DeLay (we can only hope), in which case I think Al Sharpton could win for the D's. (That's only a little bit facetious).

I think it's really too early to start guessing or projecting, obviously. The election isn't for nearly three and a half years, and it's a long time before the campaigning starts. A lot could happen by then -- world war, Civil war, impeachment, terrorism, resignation, scandal. So I take this poll with a grain of salt. Although, if it turns into a Hilary/Condi competition, I think the only way to pick the winner would be a full-on Dynasty-esque catfight, including fountain.

I keed, I keed... but, sadly, I know a lot of wingnuts who'd hear that idea and think, "Yeah, why not?"

No one would ever make the same suggestion about, say, a McCain/Dean contest. Although seeing Dean standing on McCain's head and screaming "Yearrrrgh!" as he declares victory would be priceless.

Yes, I think it's time that we had a woman running this country. Actually, that time was, oh, about 1920. Or earlier. Although it's more on the principal that women make up just more than half the population, and yet represent exactly zero American presidents in over two hundred years. And it has nothing to do with the idea that no woman could ever act like a testosterone-laden, belligerent, war-mongering man.

Margaret Thatcher and Condi Rice, anyone? Imelda Marcos? Madame Mao?

Still... there's one hidden factor in a Hilary nomination that I don't think the Republicans are even aware of yet, or don't take seriously. She'd be going into such a nomination practically bullet-proof, thanks to the Republicans. You see, Bill and Hilary are probably the two most-investigated politicians currently alive. Every aspect of their lives has been dug into, gone over, contested, picked apart and analyzed. And neither one of them has even been caught doing anything criminal; neither one of them was ever caught doing anything more scandalous than having a little extramarital thinga-thinga with a young intern. And if you don't think that activity isn't rife in the halls of power in Washington, well... you're just plain old naive. And don't forget, also thanks to Eschaton: Hilary's former finance director, David Rosen, has just been acquited.

So, thanks to the Republican witch-hunt, there will be no surprises, no scandals, no further dirt that can be thrown up against Hilary in a campaign. It's all done been dug, and there was no "there" there. Thanks to the Republicans, Hilary would be about the most scandal-proof candidate any campaign could ever hope to run, provided she keeps her nose clean for the next three years. And how could she not? I'm sure she can't walk out of the ladies room with a micro-square of TP stuck on her heel without some Republican flunky noticing it and reporting it to their superiors.

In that regard, then, a Hilary vs. Anybody competition in 2008 would be hilarious. With no further mud to fling, the Republicans would be helpless and unable to smear her. But, given typical Republican behavior, they likewise have no chance in hell of fielding a candidate who doesn't have a dozen hidden skeletons in their closet. Probably the only way they could do that would be to dig up the corpse of John Paul II and put him in a red tie.

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Found on Swing State Project:
Governor digs fixing potholes
San Jose crews tear up part of road for staged event [San Francisco Chronicle headline]
I find the imagery of Der Governator filling in a hole dug by a state crew to be interesting. First, why is he filling in a fake hole when, as anybody who lives in LA knows, there are plenty of real potholes everywhere? Second, why didn't he dig the damn hole himself? Or is he just a gurleeee-man?

Come to think of it -- didn't Ahnold pick up that expression from somebody else's parodic impression of him? Or, in other words, is Ahnold becoming self-parody?

The man is nothing but a suntan in a suit, with no substance. And now he's filling in fake holes, pretending to solve real problems in the state when he's doing jackshit. There is something funny about the whole image, though... huge (union) state work crew comes in with backhoe, breaks up asphalt, digs out pothole. Assemble media. Ahnold arrives and they hand him the shovel. He spews some scripted bullshit, then scrapes asphalt into the hole -- probably not even completely finishing the job. Applause, flashbulbs, some wisecrack about spedzhil indyrezts, and then back into the air conditioned stretch-limo.

The whole thing reminds me of a moment in the film Dragonslayer. It's at the end, after the wizard and his young apprentice do battle with the dragon. The wizard finally gives his life to kill the dragon once and for all. After the steaming reptile corpse crash-lands in pieces, the feeble king stumbles out, barely able to move, and pokes a sword into the remains. The nearby cleric declares the king, not the wizard, to be the great Dragonslayer.

Cast Arnold as the king, and you're not far from the spectacle in San Jose earlier this week.

If you are in Caleeeeefornya, might want to check the Gropenator's schedule, see if he's coming to your town, and then joining up with the protest crowd to ask him which special interests have him in their back pocket? Populist groups like unions and teachers and nurses? Or corporations?

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Governator for Sale 

Update 2: Wow. Beat the big boys on this one. Eschaton and Slumdance only just caught onto this one...

Update: Swing State Project has more on the product placement brouhaha, and encouraging numbers that indicate we may not be stuck with Governor Bozo much longer.

Either he just doesn't get it, or someone isn't paying attention -- but Der Gropenfuehrer's latest political ad is rife with product placement:
The TV ad, released in May, features Schwarzenegger talking to people in a lunchroom, and places Pepsi and Arrowhead Water in prominent spots next to the governor for one-third of the ad...

"Schwarzenegger has turned the governor's office into a vending machine. It is inconceivable that Schwarzenegger didn't know that Pepsi and Arrowhead were in his commercial, or that the free air time and lucrative association with the Governor of California would benefit them. The governor should return their quarter million in campaign cash, and repay the state for misusing his office as a corporate spokesman for his political donors," said Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with FTCR...
Rather tasteless and appalling, isn't it? But, hey, that's what happens when those damn liberal conservative actors get involved in politics. And how dare AhNOld give away the secret that most politicians are owned by major corporations, anyway.

I wonder if the trend we've seen in stadiums will carry over to government as well. Hey, it could help reduce W's $7 trillion deficit. I can see it now -- The Glaxo-Wellcome/Blue Cross Capital Building. The Lockheed-Martin Senate Office Building. The Halliburton White House. The possibilities are endless.

You can see the Governator's ad at www.JoinArnold.com -- although hurry up, because I have a feeling the negative attention will make them pussy out and pull it quickly.

I have watched the ad, and on first glance, it may seem totally innocuous. The thing is set up to look like a spontaneous "Ahnold chats with the students" moment. Yes, there are identifiable product labels visible frequently, but they appear to be just incidental background items. I say "appear to be," because an unfortunate shot of one of the extras nodding in agreement with Arnold gives it away. This moment was completely staged, obviously; ergo, nothing that appeared in any shot was accidental or casual. The crew could have quite easily turned the labels away from the camera, or used non-brand mock-ups. In fact, TV crews do this all the time, and if you watch carefully, you'll notice that you rarely see actual brand names or labels in most TV shows. The exceptions, of course, are in cases of obvious product placement, in which case Det. Smith will aim that Pepsi can right at the camera as he stands in front of the Pepsi machine and talks to a colleague.

But, anyway -- again, while what you see on screen appears harmless, it definitely was carefully planned. Whether as an intentional and consensual payback to Arnold's donors, or a little tactless nod by the governor, I don't know. But it should never have happened, and Arnold needs to be taken to task for this.

Remember -- he hates the spetzial inteerists. Unless those special interests are his wealthy, deep-pockets, corporate donors.

What a fucking sell-out he's turned out to be.

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Strap on Your Jackboots 

Update: Masson's Blog, which is based in Indiana, was kind enough to comment here, and they have some background on the judge, as well as promise to follow the case.

As pointed out over at Eschaton, where I found the link to this story, this is exactly the kind of judge that W wants to pack the bench with; exactly the filibuster is so important. Read the story, then think of the implications.
An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."
Okay, I'm stealing the same pull quote, but it is the money shot. As pointed out at Eschaton, this wasn't a case of mother and father practicing two different religions and the judge sided with one of them. Nope. What is absolutely outrageous, what should get this judge permanently disbarred, is that neither parent made this request, and both of them practice the same religion. The judge just decided, unilaterally, that their religion wasn't right for their own child.

Read that very carefully. A judge, with no other reason to do so, declared a couple's religion inferior, and told them they could not raise their own child that way.

Read that very carefully. A judge has committed an act of religious intolerance and bigotry, has committed a hate crime, using his courtroom to do it.

Ah, family values and non-intrusive government for you. But what do you want to bet that this dipshit judge is one of those fundie born-again types, who thinks he's doing god's work from the bench. He needs a good re-education in the Constitution; someone needs to make him write out the First Amendment ten thousand times until he understands exactly what it means.

Let me reiterate why this case pisses me off so much: A judge, with neither reason nor request, told a couple of parents how they can and cannot raise their own child when it comes to religion. It so happens that the parents are Wiccans, which is probably what gave judge Cale J. Bradford the balls to try to pull this trick in the first place.

But imagine for a second. What if the couple had been Jewish, and their son is twelve. And suddenly a judge says, "Sorry. No Hebrew School, no Bar Mitzvah." You'd hear the outrage all the way to the moon. Likewise, if they were Catholic just before first communion, or just christian in general.

Personally, this is the kind of bullshit order that I would defy, and in spades. Or maybe follow it to the letter -- only expose my child to "mainstream" religion, but by way of educating them about every negative thing those religions have brought to the world -- the Crusades, jihads, inquisitions, fatwas, ignorance, violence, hatred, pogroms, genocide. Yes, technically, Judaism is mainstream, but that's really only because of its grandfather relationship to the other two. And, well, no "good" American really thinks Islam is a religion, right? Right...? [Note to Imams reading: that was sarcasm.] When an asshat like Bradford says "mainstream", he really just means Christian, and chances are, he isn't talking about Catholics or Lutherans. Or he might be; the Catholic church certainly has its own crazed loony division. But, ultimately, no judge in this country, under our Constitution has any right whatsoever to tell anyone for any reason what religion they can or cannot follow.

Luckily, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union is pretty sure that they can get this ruling drop-kicked damn fast. I just wish they'd kick Bradford's sorry ass off the bench right after. Luckily, he's an elected judge, and I'd urge everyone in Indiana in his district to start working to get him out.

But... his philosophy is not that different from wingnuts that W has been trying to push into court appointments for life. We need to give the Senate the ability to stop the whackiest of the whack-jobs, like Bradford.

Some points to remember here:
  1. Sure, there are places where judges make their rulings based strictly on religion. Like... Iran.

  2. You may have no problem with christianity being given the advantage in our system, but giving this kind of power to any judge would give it to all of them -- Muslim judges, Jewish judges, Wiccan judges, Atheist judges... sooner or later, you'll have trouble because what you believe (or don't) is different than what the judge believes (or doesn't).

  3. This ruling should outrage conservatives as well. Talk about the ultimate intrusion of government into family affairs. Not to mention the parents being forced to expose their child to something against their will. Where are all the fundies who complain every time a school tries to include a(n entirely optional) mention of homosexuality in a sex ed class? Well, this little legal motion is exactly the same thing, but worse. The Joneses, after all, aren't being given the choice, unlike parents whose children might be exposed to Heather Has Two Mommies. (Between that book and the bible, I know which one I'd rather have my kids read...)
Imagine the outrage if an Atheist judge had told a Catholic couple they couldn't expose their child to that religion?

Or the outrage if a Theistic government told people they couldn't be Jews anymore. Or, rather, told Jews they couldn't be anymore.

Oops, right. We have seen that last one before -- but I don't have to invoke Godwin and mention any names, do I? Cale J. Bradford, judge from Indiana, is behaving like a good little jackbooted foot soldier for hatred christianity, a brownshirt under a black robe.
"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,'" said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"
That's the memo we have all got to send if we want to save this country from insanity.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

—First Amendment to the Constitution

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TV the Right Way 

Despite the lurid headline, this article from the Guardian (UK) describes the new guidelines for television programming across the pond. They're the kind of thing that would make the religious right bitch and scream stateside. Well, they're probably bitching and screaming in the UK, too. The difference is, over there the government don't give a fig for what the fundies say.

The policy is based in common sense instead of morality, as summed up thusly:
Ofcom has drawn up a 117-word definition of "context" that broadcasters can use to justify the depiction of sex or violence and the use of bad language, including the time the programme was shown, the channel on which it was broadcast, the size of the audience and whether viewers were warned about the content.

"It's about telling the punter what they are going to get before they get it," said Mr Hooper.
Indeed. It still baffles me that, in this age of V-Chips and parental controls on media devices, that there's still any regulation (read: censorship) of the public airwaves. For some reason, a sizeable number of Americans just don't get the simple concept: If you don't like it, don't watch it, and take control of your children's viewing habits.

They put it this way in the article from Britain:
The broadcasting code is intended to give broadcasters more "creative freedom" and allow audiences more responsibility in deciding what they watch.
And those are the keywords there. No artist should be told, ever, what they can or cannot do, short of harming other people. And viewers are the ones who are responsible for what they see on their TVs. After all, the things don't automatically turn themselves on and switch to soft-core cable porn.

In an ideal universe, people, parents in particular, would take responsibility. They'd learn how to use the parental controls, figure out what the ratings mean, and then make the decisions as to what their children could or could not watch. And the FCC (and MPAA) would get the hell out of the censorship business. Broadcasters would be free to show what they wanted to, provided the content carried the proper rating to make the V-Chip meaningful. But beyond that, there should be no content control whatsoever. Period. If the WB wanted to run a hardcore porn version of The OC, they could. People would either tune in or they wouldn't. But I'd bet that a show like that would be a huge ratings hit, at least for its pilot episode.

The irony of all the rightwing loonies trying to dumb everything down until it's safe for everyone and interesting to no one is that it contradicts that other facet of conservatism, the belief in a capitalist free market. If it's really true that "most people" (to use a Fox Newsism) don't want to see the naughty stuff, then lets put it to a free market test. Take the reins off the creative people. Anything goes. At the end of the season, we'll see which shows are hits.

After all, MTV's The Real World would be unwatchable if it weren't full of attractive, often pixelnaked, horny young people. And it's been on the air since 1992.

But we all know that Baywatch and its variations ran for a combined fourteen years, spawned five made-for-TV movies and an upcoming theatrical film, all because of its scintilating plotlines and brilliant dialogue...

(Funny story addendum: I once saw (and I have a witness) an episode of Baywatch with a hidden surprise. See, during one of those slo-mo, let's watch the wet hooters bounce while the women jog moments, some dude in the background on the beach with his friend suddenly turns around, drops trou and moons us, all in slo-mo and for quite a long time. I've never figured out whether it got through because: a) none of the production crew was watching anything but the boobies, or b) the producers saw it but said, "You know what? I'll bet no one will notice that naked ass because nobody will be watching anything but the boobies." In any case, it would be interesting to know whether anyone ever complained. The guy did have a mighty fine ass, after all. Mighty fine...)

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There Are Two Kinds... 

I start off from the old joke: "There are two kinds of people. Those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who don't." It's an aphorism worthy of Oscar Wilde for its paradoxical truth.

And there are two kinds of people -- those who think there are two kinds of liberals and conservatives, and those who don't. Ironically, the latter fall into the more extreme of the two kinds of liberals and conservatives.

I have to admit that I do have good friends who are Republicans, and we rarely get into arguments, beyond their blanched expressions when I say something critical of the current administration in my out loud voice. Even then, we're friends, so they don't really say anything, except maybe a muttered defense under their breath. But we don't come to fisticuffs.

Imagine the difference if I found myself in a room full of hardcore fundie wingnuts. I think the cursing and brawling would soon reach drunken sailors on shore leave levels.

That's because I actually like my Republican/Conservative friends -- and I like them because they are not part of the wingnut group. Yes, there are two kinds of conservatives, just like there are two kinds of liberals.

The "good" conservative is really only concerned with two things -- not paying a huge amount of taxes, and keeping government out of their business -- or out of businesses' business. I completely understand that point of view. I don't totally agree with it, but I have no qualms with people whose political outlook is to keep government small and to keep more of their own money. Why? Because, for the most part, they don't give a damn what I do in my own home. They really couldn't give a rat's ass whether gay people can get married or whether women can get abortions or if the local court house displays the ten commandments. But... they see the Democratic party as the tax and spend, super-nanny party, and so they vote R.

The "good" liberal is really only concerned with two things -- protecting the disadvantaged with the power of government, while keeping government out of their personal lives. They have no qualms about government stepping on business, because that's the sort of thing that prevents big companies from, say, dumping mercury into ground water; they do not object to redistribution of wealth because, after doing the math, they still can't figure out why someone making $20 million a year would object to still having $12.4 million after taxes -- especially when those taxes can help feed and educate the inner-city child of a single mother. They also object strenuously to the same government telling people what they can think or say, feeling rather strongly that government has no business saying what consenting adults can do in the privacy of their own homes.

On that latter point, I think that the "good" conservatives and "good" liberals are not so far apart. Screw the "culture wars". There is no culture war between these two groups. I think they'd both agree that the government has no business whatsoever in telling adults what to do, provided that said adults do not harm or coerce other people.

But, to quote a particular politician from the past, "It's the economy, stupid." The good parts of the opposing viewpoints will never get together as long as they have the economic wall between them, with one camp declaring, "You want to steal the fruits of my labor" and the other replying, "You're just a greedy bastard."

I'd argue that there's got to be a very easy way to find an economic middle ground, a tax system that both sides could be happy with. And, through that, I think we could create a viable third party that would marginalize the others -- the Moderate Party. Hey, let's bring back an old name from the early days of the Republic. Let's resurrect the Whigs. Their platform now? Equitable taxation without complicated code, fair help for the needy who don't abuse it, government regulation to protect people from corporations, the end of prohibition for all victimless crimes. And the first thing we do is, kill all the lawyers...

The trouble is, the good conservatives and liberals will never unite because, thanks to all the flak and chatter, all each side ever sees of the other is the dark side. That's right -- we've got a huge contingent of Jedi who is convinced that every member of the opposite party is a Sith Lord.

Why? Because there are two kinds of liberals, two kinds of conservatives. But the good kinds only perceive the other side as the bad kind.

"Bad" Conservatives... think that business should be free to do anything they damn well want to, that it's the government's job to stop abortion and gay marriage and to put the ten commandments and the bible at the center of every part of public discourse; that it was the will of the founding fathers to persecute anyone who wasn't christian, that only judges who are anti-abortion should be confirmed, that creationism should be taught as legitimate science, that it is government's job to stick its nose into your bedroom and up your ass and make sure you aren't having any fun at all, and everyont on the planet should be required to own guns; that "zero tolerance" is a good idea when it comes to weapons, drugs or sexual behavior.

"Bad" Liberals... think that business should be so strapped with rules and regulations that commerce is impossible, that it's government's job to pay for everything that middle class and lower people can't afford, that censorship should only apply if the material in question is christian in nature, that parents should not have the right to determine their children's behavior or education, that common sense does not apply if at least two leftwing pundits say otherwise; that "zero tolerance" is a good idea when it comes to humor, commraderie or fun.

Needless to say, the "Bad" camps all have their heads right up their asses. While I consider myself liberal, I think that there is a solution, something that will save our country, and it falls somewhere outside of the strictly D and R definitions. Yes, I think tax cuts, or tax reductions, are okay -- provided that the rich and the huge corporations pay out the ass to make up the difference. In Bush-land, they don't. But in "good" conservative land, they might. I do think that corporations have to be strictly controlled when it comes to what they do to their people and their environment. And yes, I think that a (high) Federal minimum wage, and overtime rules are very, very necessary.

"Zero Tolerance" needs to be stricken from the language immediately. The end result of this stupid concept is merely to remove all thought and responsibility from school administrators. End it now. Make the fucking principals actually have to think, make a decision and take responsibility for it.

And... etc.

But, there are two kinds of people. Those who think that moderate liberals and conservatives can find a common ground, and knock the nuts off the radicals -- and those who are so far off into (left or right) wingnut land that they can't ever understand the concept of compromise.

Tell you what, moderate Conservatives... I'll let you have tax cuts and deregulation if you let me have same sex marriage and legal drugs. And we'll both agree that the bible was never, ever intended to be the law of the land.

And, together, maybe we can drive our mutual wingnuts away, and can find a sensible compromise, just as fourteen senators did regarding the filibuster -- until Frist went and said "to hell with you all." Arrogant bastard.

End transmission...

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Winning It for Us 

I have to say that I wasn't exactly bowled over by the nuclear option avoidance deal that fourteen Republicans and Democrats came to. It seemed like too little a loss for the other side, not enough of a win for the Democrats. Yes, it seems like (once again) the Democrats have caved in on an issue. Or maybe not; the Republicans certainly seem to think they've lost, as this quote from Focus on the Family's James Dobson, reported at The Unequivocal Notion:
This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.
There are so many things wrong with what Dobson says that I have to wonder where the hell he studied civics, if at all -- and I'd bet a dime he couldn't pass the test given to every immigrant seeking citizenship.

For starters, the filibuster was in place when Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist were confirmed. And yet, somehow, they're serving on the Supreme Court right now. (Did he even listen to what he was saying there?)

As for "unconstitutional filibuster" -- you mean the same one that the Senate was given leave to create by the Constitution itself? The same one that's been around for several hundred years? And someone should remind Dobson that any senator can use the filibuster, conservative, liberal, moderate. It's not some secret stealth rule that can only be used by Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton.

But Dobson is a total asshat, as he's made apparent every time he's opened his mouth. This is the same man, after all, who decried Spongebob Squarepants as gay. In fact, he's so stupid that he's actually given out a meme that, with any luck, will echo through the Mighty Wurlitzer and be repeated by the 101st Fighting Keyboarders: "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats".

I like that. And we have to push it from our side as well, whether it's true or not. Truth to tell, I'd guess that half the electorate (or much much more) has no idea what a filibuster is, why it is, and why this fight was so important. But they can understand the phrase "a great victory for united Democrats." We have to take charge of the spin here, and pitch this in terms of, "Even such a noted conservative as Focus on the Family's James Dobson is calling this..."

A great victory for united Democrats.

Like I said above, I don't buy that, but we can turn this compromise into a win if we keep the meme going, if we control the spin, if we get conservatives to parrot Dobson on our behalf.

A great victory for united Democrats.

A great victory for united Democrats.

A great victory for united Democrats.

It's about time we start playing the Republican Humpty-Dumpty game -- saying a thing makes it true. This is too much of a nice wedge issue to let go, and we can slap it right between the far right wingnut fundies and the more rational branch of the Republican party, pry the pieces apart and sweep up the remains in the midterm elections.

A great victory for united Democrats -- if we play it that way.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Putting the "ID" in "IDiots" 

Over at The Two Percent Company, a site I've just discovered and totally love, they give the smackdown to the moronic witnesses appearing at the Kansas School Board Evolution hearings -- i.e., the Scopes Monkey Trial II, i.e. the "trying to claim that not believing in the fairytales is a religion itself, therefore the opposing loony viewpoint must be forced into science classes, but of course we mean the 'right' loony viewpoint, which is our viewpoint, and none of those other religions, because this isn't really about teaching children all the options, it's about stopping them from learning something that scares us because it forces us to realize that all our loony fairytales are complete and total bullshit" hearings. Whew. Got all that?

Anyway, check out How Many Licks Does It Take to Get to the Center of a Creationist. The most telling whackjob fundie quotes from the piece: this bit of tortured logic that breaks down upon examination, but which exposes the dangerous dark heart of the whole "Intelligent Design" (oxymoron) concept:
(1) Evolution as it's now taught in Kansas schools is based on methodological naturalism, that is, the search by science for explanations only in the natural world...

(2) Methodological naturalism always implies philosophical naturalism, the belief that there is nothing beyond the natural world. (This, say anti-ID scientists, is the fatal flaw in the argument.)...

(3) Philosophical naturalism is atheistic.

(4) Atheism is a religion. (Needless to say, this is a proposition not universally accepted.)...

(5) Therefore, religion is already being taught in Kansas biology classes...

(6) So religious fairness requires that evidence for intelligent design and against evolution through natural selection also be allowed in the classroom....
I think a close examination of points 3 and 4 there expose the flaw in their entire argument. Hm. Atheism, the lack of any belief in a diety whatsoever, is a religion. Shit, man. You mean I've been forgetting to go to that Athiest Church down the street every Sunday? Between steps three and four is such a big jump that I'm not even sure I can come up with an analogy for it.

Now, if they can show one example of a teacher in Kansas telling the class, "Because I believe in Evolution, you cannot believe in god," they might have something there. But that isn't what's happening. In teaching Evolution, they're teaching science -- we've looked at the physical evidence, tested hypothesis, thrown out those that were demonstrably false, stuck with the ones that have held up to repeated, replicable experiment and called them a theory -- which is subject to change as new methods and evidence come to light. I don't hear any mention of god or religion in there. In fact, science does allow for that wiggle room (unfortunately, in my opinion), since they haven't nailed down what happened right before the Big Bang (yet), and so true scientists can still write the whole beginning thing off to god. Or not.

But... in no way, shape or form does god (or not god) enter into science classes. Well, not quite true -- I'm sure it enters whenever some little brainwashed fundie youngling thinks he or she is smarter than the teacher and starts to bring up all those, "Couldn't god have created the world in six days?" questions, then gets all pissy when the teacher goes into the fossil record, cosmic evidence for the age of the Earth and our solar system, etc., etc., at which point fundie youngling is going, "La-la-la-la" with his or fingers in his or her ears, and then later bitches about it at the family's evening Bible study, at which point daddy gets a wild hair up his ass (after probably having goaded junior into "standing up for your religious rights in that atheistic science class" a hundred times) and pretty soon the nutjobs are marching on the schoolboard, demanding that their religion (and only theirs) be taught in the science classroom.

Fine. Can we send the PhDs in to teach real science at your church during Sunday school? What...? We can't? But, if you're teaching religion and if atheism is a religion, then it's unfair to exclude our "religious" viewpoint from your school, isn't it?


Sorry. Got a little ranty and incoherent there. But I tend to get that way every time I realize so many otherwise rational adults still believe in the fairy tales, to the extent that the less-rational, totally delusional adults can try to push their crap off on the rest of us and our children -- can, in fact, get an entire State to actually dedicate hearings to trying decide whether what the folk at Two Percent (and myself) already know (from ample evidence, mind you) -- your belief in a mystical, invisible being sitting in judgement of us all is a complete and utter, useless, pointless, stupid load of steaming horseshit.

If there is an argument against evolution, it's the mere existence of these mouth-breathing fucksticks, who insist on believing in this stuff. Homo habilus probably had better sense than they do...

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Plug 

Update: I did watch Penn & Teller's PETA episode, and I now have to say I don't agree with PETA or their methods at all. Yes, I'm an animal lover; I hate fur, although I eat meat -- which I don't consider a contradiction, because the latter is necessary and the former is useless vanity, especially if the animal was killed only for its fur. But... Penn & Teller's expose in Bullshit makes it clear that PETA is a terrorist organization and, like rabid anti-abortionists, they seem to have no regard for human life as they try to push their goals. But, these are just two examples out of many that demonstrate why extremism and absolutism are wrong, wrong, wrong.

You have to watch this series -- Penn & Teller's Bullshit. Magic's favorite badboys take on a host of subjects -- PETA, AA, The War on (Some) Drugs, the Bible, ESP, Seances, Profanity, and more. They do it with wit and irreverence, and make persuasive arguments. And they take no prisoners, going after both conservative and liberal sacred cows.

I've been a fan of P&T for a long time, pretty much since I first heard of them. I've seen them onstage several times and highly recommend their show, which turns traditional magic on its head, revealing secrets even while concealing more, and the two of them are consumate artistes.

In Bullshit, Penn & Teller take no prisoners. It's a funny, enlightening, educational series with something to inform -- and offend -- everyone. (I still can't quite bring myself to watch their PETA episode. Granted, I think the PETA folk go way off the deep end most of the time, but at heart they have the right idea when it comes to not needlessly torturing or killing animals.)

And, of course, Penn & Teller are among the most well-known and outspoken (well, half out-spoken) Atheists around. Given the religiously insane wingnuttery going on in this country, the more outspoken Atheiests we have, the better.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Tale of Two Presidents 

I received the following in an email today from my friend Hank Yuloff, and thought it was worth posting here as a reminder.
The United States was attacked on Sunday, December 7, 1941.

On that day, the country began to pull together, and, with strong leadership, put together the most awesome military complex known to man. Our military, then only the 5th or 6th most powerful on the globe, planned, grew, attacked, and conquered. They became, as they are today, a dedicated, heroic group of Americans. That is why our parents are known as The Greatest Generation.

It took 1346 days to defeat the Empire of Japan.

Why am I waxing poetic about a war fought and won 60 years ago? Because today is May 19, 2005.

Our country was attacked on September 11, 2001.

Yep... that was 1346 days ago.

I leave it to you to figure out why things are different.
Why, indeed. Why were our grandparents able to kick the asses of three different countries, while their children can't finish business in a relatively powerless country with an even bigger, better equipped army?

Hint: a fish rots from the head down.

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Newsweek Got It Right 

The thing that most amazed/appalled me in the whole Newsweek flap was that they were forced to retract and apologize -- and so quickly -- for printing accurate information. What's getting lost in the whole media frenzy over Newsweek's "lie" is, of course, the abuse of various prisoners at the hands of our intgerrogators.

I know a lot of red state loons will say, "But they're terrorists, so what?" I have two responses to that. First, no, they're possibly suspected of terrorism; a lot of the people we're talking about here are Iraqi civilians, swept up as we invaded their country. And, second, even if they are terrorists, we don't do things that way in this country, or on its behalf. Or, at least, we're not supposed to. See, the true patriots get it -- America was founded on the idea that the government derives its power from the people, and there are certain things that the government should not do, no matter what. This includes torturing detainees, no matter what they may be suspected of doing. The key word here, of course, is "suspected." We have a legal system in this country and, when it functions ideally and as designed, the punishment business doesn't happen until after a conviction based on evidence.

Yes; according to that criteria, even Osama bin Laden deserves a trial. And before the wingnuts start screaming that I love Osama, they can all shut up. See, if the US had captured Hitler before he killed himself, he would not have been locked in a small room and beaten by soldiers. He would have faced the music at Nuremberg. That was then, this is now, and I don't half doubt that if a group of American soldiers caught Osama (unlikely, because he's probably dead), they'd just as soon kick him to death and carry his head around on a pike. Yeah, that's satisfying to a certain neanderthal mentality, but it ain't the way we're supposed to do things here. This is the United States of America. We're supposed to be better than that. And when our government behaves otherwise, it just shits on everything upon which this country was founded.

So, put away the "Newsweek lied, (sixteen) people died" bullshit meme. Remind yourself instead that Bush lied, (lots and lots of) people died. And ask yourselves why the rightwingnuts are so concerned about dead Muslims now, when they couldn't have given a rat's ass about all the Muslims who died while in US custody. Perhaps the slogan, "Englund pried, people died."

Anyway, as a refresher, go read this letter to The Nation, which reiterates all of the Quran desecration charges that were known outside of the US long before Newsweek reported them.
And the Times reports: "A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the [New York] Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." (Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005, p. 35.)
And there's a lot more. Follow the link.

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Apolitical Moment 

This has nothing to do with politics, but I thought it was hilarious, so I'm linking here: Alex Blagg does the beatdown on DJs, and I agree with him. Most of these glorified record jockeys I've met are so self-important and arrogant that I think they need the constant reminder: your sole talent is playing recordings of other people's music, get over yourselves. In the ranks of "people with no useful skills who get way too much attention," DJs are right up there with professional athletes, TV Anchorpeople and most elected officials.

So, a tip of the hat and kudos to Mr. Blagg, who says what I'm sure a lot of us think every time we encounter one of these spinmonkeys in a club or wedding or bar mitzvah. (Plus, Blagg lives in San Francisco, which is one of the greatest cities on the planet.)

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High-Speed Hypocrisy 


I just found this brilliant list at NJDC Speaks. It's from March 2005, and it's a compendium of Republican invoking Godwin's law. Here's a sample, courtesy of Phil Gramm (R-TX), from September 2002:
Speaking in opposition to a Democratic tax plan: "Now, forgive me, but that is right out of Nazi Germany. I don't understand ... why all of a sudden we are passing laws that sound as if they are right out of Nazi Germany."
Whew. And where was the outrage when he said this?

End Update

Damn. It only took Rick Santorum two and a half months to forget his prior outrage. Here are dueling quotes, noted in separate articles at Eschaton (and via a link at Blogenlust.)

Item one, May 19th 2005, lead graf:
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) compared Democrats' attempts to keep the filibuster to Hitler's moves in 1942 in a floor speech in the Senate Thursday afternoon, RAW STORY has learned.

The following is a transcript of the particular section of the senator's floor speech, from the closed-captioned text taken by the Senate.
Item two, March 3, 2005:
Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, called for Byrd to retract his statement.

"Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable," Santorum said in a statement yesterday. "These comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. He should retract his statement and ask for pardon."
The more Republicans bitch and moan about other people's behavior, the more they expose themselves for what they are. Immature, spoiled, self-centered, whiny little children. They try to make up the rules as they go along, then take their ball and go home when someone points out that they lost fair and square. They want the biggest piece of the pie, but then complain when somebody else gets to slice it up. They lie and deny and bully and scream "unfair". In every possible way, they act like a pack of six year-olds.

And so we should treat them as such. Maybe sit Ricky down and very slowly explain to him, "You did this same thing in March. Why is it wrong now?" Don't let him bloviate. Just show him the belt and repeat your question slowly. When he tries to deny doing it in March, show him the transcript. If he still denies it, give him the spanking of his life, then ask him if he still thinks Byrd did the wrong thing when he did exactly the same thing little Ricky did. The lesson won't sink in. But at least it'll shut him up for a while.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Let Them Eat Shit..." 

Because that's what the BushCo. EPA wants you to do.
The EPA's proposal would allow sewage to be dumped into waterways more often without biological treatment, which EPA calls "blending" because the largely untreated sewage is mixed with treated sewage before it is discharged.
Translation -- it would be allowable, under this proposal, to combine the sanitized stuff with the unsanitized stuff, sewage being the euphemism for, well, basically everything that goes down your toilet.

Yes, another fine example of W "improving" the environment -- although his cronies are all such bottom-dwellers anyway, perhaps putting shit in your drinking water is, to them, an improvement. As always, it's a matter of money over common sense and safety:
The arguments for sewage ''blending" are short-sighted and not persuasive. The proponents of sewage blending are mainly focused on the cost savings they anticipate from using blending to further defer or avoid maintenance, or improvements, to their sewer and rainfall collection systems through this policy.
Congress is about to vote on a measure that would stop the EPA from doing this. If you'd prefer not to drink, bathe or cook with the microorganisms that came out of your neighbors colon, call your Congresscritter and tell them to tell the EPA to not even think about blending.

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Galloway to Go... 

Worth repeating, again and again. A British MP takes the American Senate to skool, and smacks them repeatedly. Just a taste from Kos:
I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
Kos also has the full speech online, and it's worth reading. Galloway pulls no punches, and all but says that BushCo. lied and people died.

Hm. Wonder how much press this will get from the so-called Mainstream Media. Sorry, none at all. Apparently, Paris Hilton got naked again. Or something...

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

43 at 43 and Falling 

Expect that Orange Terror Alert at any moment... Kos reports on a Pew poll. Both Shrub and Congressional Republicans are at a 50% disapproval rating, with W's approval rating at 43%. Guest-blogging over at Eschaton, Attaturk roots for "40 by the 4th." But I'm being more optimistic, given the impending filibuster war, possible Iranian misadventures next month, Congressional Democrats actually showing some balls over the British Memo, and British MP George Galloway handing some US Senators their asses today in an Iraqi "Oil for Food" investigation.

I don't think a president's approval rating has been lower than their number in the presidential roster since the day Richard Nixon resigned. And, hell, even in the dark days of the Republican witch-hunt, Bill Clinton's approval ratings never dropped below the 50s. Only a nitwit like W could take the post 9-11 approval rating of 90% and turn it into this number.

I'm hoping he can break the approval rating record going the other direction. C'mon, George. You set the record high of 90% approval. Let's go for the record of 90% disapproval before November...

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They Were Framed... 

If you've been following the brouhaha lately in the mainstream media, you could easily get the impression that Newsweek's editors got bored and made up a story about desecration of the Quran at Abu Ghraib and other concentration camps, then got caught lying and had to retract it. There are several problems with that viewpoint, though, as both Digby and Juan Cole point out. Read them for information all about how many times this assertion has been made in the past -- i.e., how well-known it was around the blogosphere since at least a year ago that, yeah, part of the interrogation/torture techniques used in these places was to desecrate that which Muslims hold sacred. That's why the Quran was dumped in toilets and otherwise molested. That's also why Muslim men were paraded around naked -- nudity is a shameful thing in their culture.

So -- Newsweek prints a truthful article about atrocities that occured long in the past and which were widely known, then there are riots in Afghanistan in which at least sixteen people are killed, and then Newsweek retracts the story. "Oops. It was all untrue. We made it up. Sorry."

And that retraction, more than anything, is what is disturbing in this story. It seems to me that this whole thing was orchestrated precisely for the purpose of giving Newsweek a blackeye, of tarnishing their reputation as a news source, and sending a warning to the rest of the mainstream media. Not that they need it; MSM "news" gave up any pretense of real journalism long ago, and they're nothing more but spokescritters and cheerleaders for the government. But the whole thing strikes me as a bit of pre-emptive planning on the part of BushCo. for their attempted seizure of Iran's oil, which will probably start to roll next month. This way, the groundwork is laid so that if any major media outlet tries to question the next invasion, Scottie McClellan, Donald Rumsfeld, et. al can just say, "We don't want another Newsweek." And the red state morons will nod their heads and curse the liberal media and believe that we need to invade Iran, as well, because W said so.

But the wingnuts tipped their hand when the astroturf protests began and the protestors were holding signs that read, "Newsweek Lied and People Died." Talk about co-opting a slogan, and doing it in rather poor taste.

Item 1) Newsweek was not the direct cause of the riots in Afghanistan.

Item 2) George Bush lied, and the American body count is over 1600; the Iraqi body count possibly in the tens of thousands; the wounded, uncounted, because, well, counting them would be unpatriotic, wouldn't it?

Final nail in the coffin to the idea that this wasn't a set-up from the beginning; the Administration is already putting out the propaganda, the instructions to the blind followers to just STFU. From the CNN article linked above:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the [Newsweek] flap was a reminder that people "need to be very careful about what they say."

"People are dead, and that's unfortunate," Rumsfeld told reporters. "People need to be very careful about what they say just as people need to be careful about what they do."
We've heard this rhetoric from this source before. Just too bad BushCo. didn't take that advice before venturing into Iraq in the first place. W hasn't been careful about what he's said ("Crusade," anyone?) and he certainly hasn't been careful about what he's done.

Bush lied and people died.

Newsweek tells the truth, then rolls over faster than a whore when the fleet's in, and journalistic integrity, already living a Teri Schiavo existence, dies.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Paging Godwin... 

Found on Digby, name the source of this quote:
“The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.”
Hm. Christianity and family. Was it Pat Robertson? Ralph Reed? Rush Limbaugh? George Bush?

All and none... here's the full quote from Digby:
In his first radio address to the German people, twenty-four hours after coming to power, Hitler declared, “The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.”
But it sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it?

And that is disturbing.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Scientifically Illiterate 

Perhaps cooler heads will prevail, and someone will convince Kentucky State Rep. Napier of the complete stupidity of his proposed law, which reads:
AN ACT relating to in vitro fertilization.

Create a new section of KRS 311.710 to 311.820 to define "in vitro fertilization"; prohibit anyone from fertilizing more than one egg during the in vitro fertilization process; create a penalty of a Class D felony for violations of this section.
See, what representative Numbnuts doesn't understand is that, in order to have a chance at getting one viable, fertilized egg out of in vitro, many more than that -- usually at least eight -- need to be fertilized. Most of those don't start dividing; most of those that do don't make it past the zygote stage. Or, in other words, the extra eggs for the most part don't become little proto-fetuses that are then flushed down the toilet.

This is yet another reason that legislators should not be allowed to create laws dealing with subjects about which they know nothing. Give Napier five minutes with any fertility specialist who regularly does in vitro, maybe he or she can explain the problem with the law. But probably not. Just another example of an elected official who's really too stupid to hold the job.

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So Very Out of Touch 

Yet again, proof that the wingnut faction of the Republican party has absolutely no concept of what the rest of America wants. Here are the current (May 13th, 2005 at about noon) results of the poll question, which should be taught in schools: Intelligent Design, Creationism, Evolution or All of the Above?

Yeah, look at that overwhelming support for the whacko religious view of the Ascent of Man(kind). Not! And combining the Evolution with the All of the Above choices, you can see that the ID/Creationism camp is a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of a minority. I would guess that the "All of the Above" folk are either scientifically minded individuals who believe in a benign god, or liberal leaning types who aren't afraid of exposing their children to a multitude of ideas and viewpoints.

When, oh when, will these fundie-loon nutjobs just crawl back under their Rock of Ages and leave the rational, intelligent majority alone?

It's time to start the anti-fundie campaign. "If you want to live in a country governed by theology, you can always move to Iran."

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Media on Sleepovers: Zzzzzzz... 

Thanks again to the gang at Eschaton for the tip-off to this story. As guest-blogging Attaturk points out, if this kind of thing happened when Clinton was president, it would have been a major scandal:
About a third of the 152 adult guests who slept at the White House or Camp David last year were fundraisers or donors to President Bush's campaigns, but at least half of those also are family or old friends.
Oh, wait. It did happen when Clinton was president, and it was a big scandal...
But Republicans accuse the president [Clinton] of using the White House to raise campaign funds and want an independent prosecutor named to investigate the fund-raising.

At a press conference today [02/26/1997] with Chilean president Eduardo Frei, Clinton was asked again about the fund-raising and again defended himself.

"We got strict advice about -- legal advice -- about what the rules were and everyone involved knew what the rules were," Clinton said.
Note the independent prosecutor business above. Funny how we haven't heard the Republicans screaming for one of those since the election of 2000, have we? And yet, when I hear the term "prosecutor," I know that most of the current administration deserves it, to the fullest extent of the law.

Clinton's lie about a blow job didn't start a war, after all.

Another interesting note: in researching the Clinton info, all of the scandal is in terms of dollars. In the Bush story, it's all in numbers of people, so there's no way of telling whether Bush II has used this little perk more or less than Clinton. Figuring from the numbers above, "about a third" of 152 is 50, and "at least half" of that is 25.

From the Clinton story:
The CNN study found 24 overnight White House guests who gave $100,000 or more to the DNC.
From the Bush II story:
Among the [non-family/friend] guests... People who raised at least $100,000 for Bush's campaigns...
So -- where is the material difference? Nowhere.

Harry Reid, isn't it time to start calling for that independent prosecutor to look into this? As far as I can tell, Bush II had one big-donor guest more than Clinton did. Or maybe he didn't. I guess it wasn't worth it for the media to investigate and report the exact numbers this time around.

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Nuclear Option Counter Strike 

Courtesy of Swingstate Project, this important service from PFAW, People for the American Way. Click the link and sign up to get a text alert on your cell phone when and if Tom DeLay pulls the "nuclear option" to end the filibuster. The idea is that, the instant DeLay tries to pull this crap, senators will get hundreds of phone calls objecting to it -- sending the strong message that we're watching, we're informed and that they can't get away with anything without the American public knowing.

It's quick and simple, and for most people a long distance call to DC on a cell phone will cost no more than a regular call. I encourage you to follow the PFAW link about and sign up, and tell your friends.

Yes, this is that important.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Advice for Gen Y 

I have great sympathy for those of you who are in high school right now. I was lucky enough to escape by graduating in 1987, before the days of zero tolerance bullshit or administrators who showed no common sense. Okay, that last part isn't true. They were just far less likely to suspend someone for some trivial, minor, stupid offense. In my day, if we were caught passing a note in class, the worst that could happen would be the teacher reading it out loud. (Right after we'd walked three miles, barefoot in the snow... er, no, wait. After we'd driven two miles in our used clunker of a car.)

It must be difficult trying to get an actual education out of our schools, which seem to have become nothing but junior penal institutions. Ironic too, that the same baby boomers who became hippies and were burning their schools down in the 60s are the ones mostly behind all this crap now.

We are destined to turn into our parents. Or maybe not. I've managed to escape that fate -- but then, I don't have kids. Take solace in that fact when you think your parents are making your life hell. You made them what they are by sheer virtue of being born.

That said, though, there are some things you should know that will help you get through however long you'll still be stuck in high school.
  1. The teachers hate the principal as much as you do. See, in the real world, the vast majority of people who become teachers do so because they couldn't hack it anywhere else. That's not true of all of them, of course. But for a lot of them, especially if they're over forty, it means they've given up on their dreams and are just drawing a paycheck. And yes, they're just as dorky and weird as you think they are.

    Now, where do they get school administrators from? The teachers who aren't the best but who excel at politicking and ass-kissing. In other words, the principals are all too incompetent to be teachers, and they got their jobs by doing serious brown-nosing. End result, they are deathly afraid of being pointed out as the total asshat that they really are, so they become petty tyrants.

    I point this out by way of saying, "Never point this out." Just take solace in the fact that they're losers and you'll be leaving in less than four years. And, if you're ever in trouble with the principal, your best defense is to feign the utmost respect and a little fear. They get off on that. It'll stroke their ego, and you won't become a headline on CNN. "Student expelled for wearing green sneakers."

  2. Choose your battles. Now, I'd be the first person to say that school dress codes are ridiculous. Clothes only become disruptive when the school makes a big deal about them. Short of wearing nothing but a hoodie and a jock, you're not likely to disturb anyone but the grown-ups. Your friends have seen it, probably worn it, don't really give a crap. Likewise, none of you or your friends can be shocked by any possible combination of hair color and piercing. But -- it scares the adults, who don't understand it, and so they make their stupid rules. Because, when a principal says, "That manner of dress is disruptive," it really means that the divorced, 52 year-old math teacher gets a hardon every time some girl wears saggies and a cut-off top into class, or the MILF social studies teacher will jump on the skater stud who's showing eight inches of boxer briefs.

    Ah, now you know why there have been so many cases of that sort of thing lately, don't you?

    That said, while dress codes are stupid and oppressive, it really isn't worth fighting them. It will cause you more trouble than it's worth, and you're not going to be stuck in the high school prison for that long. Better to make it through with a clean record and get into the college of your choice, where you can damn well dress (or undress) as you wish. (About ten years back, there was a student up at Berkeley who became known as The Nude Dude. Yes, he wore nothing but flip flops to class all the time. His only concession to fashion was wrapping a bandanna around his junk on cold days.) (And for those of you who are interested, no, he really shouldn't have been. But isn't that always how it works?)

    Anyway... if it's a true matter of school stupidity -- like they try to bust you for saving your girlfriend's life by sharing your asthma inhaler with her (a true case) -- then fight your ass off for your rights, and make sure your parents join the battle. But if it's just a matter of having to leave your Korn hat at home or ditching the nipple rings for PE, do it. Winning in the former case will help people down the line. Winning in the latter will mean nothing, because fashions will be totally different and subject to different rules long after you've gone.

  3. To the girls: no, he doesn't love you. He really only wants to get into your pants. Or, more specifically, he just wants to stick it in you and get off so that he can tell all his guy friends that he did it. With you. In details that will become more elaborate and less truthful with each telling. If he loves you, he'll wait. When you're done waiting, if he loves you, he'll wear a condom without claiming it's like taking a shower in a rain coat. (Never wear more than one condom, guys. It doesn't provide more protection, but it does up the chances of both of them ripping.)

    Anyway, girls, if you don't love him either but just want to get laid, fine. Just make sure he uses a condom, don't forget that oral sex can also transmit STDs, and be clear from the beginning that it's just sex, and it doesn't mean you're doing anything more than hooking up. In that case, have fun with it, don't play mind games, and be sure to tell him that if you hear about anyone else talking about what the two of you did, you'll tell all your girl friends that he's got a teeny dick and couldn't get it up anyway.

  4. To the guys: by this point in your life, you know exactly what turns you on. I'm talking now to the guys who know, deep inside, that what turns them on is other guys. If your favorite part of PE is the locker room and showers, if your nuts start to tingle when you're talking to another guy, if you'd rather hang out with one or two particular male friends instead of hitting the parties to try to meet girls... and on, and on... in short, if your crotch is telling you that you're gay, don't deny it and don't fight it. There's nothing wrong with it. It's the way you're made. And if you're getting mixed signals, if you can't decide whether you want a girlfriend or a boyfriend, go with both. You're bisexual. Don't deny it, don't fight it, etc. And if your dick is telling you that you love pussy, you're straight. Don't fight it, and don't deny other guys their right to not be.

    In other words, don't try to deny or hide who you know you are. If you know you're gay, resist the urge to be the first one to call somebody faggot or to tell some blatantly homophobic joke that isn't really funny, just to show everyone else you're not that way. If you know you're gay, don't constantly talk about getting pussy and loving boobies and on and on. If you don't feel like you can be honest with other people in your life right now, at least be honest with yourself. And if you happen to have any openly gay relatives, like aunts or uncles, talk to them. Tell them you aren't ready for anyone else to know, but that you need to tell someone about it. Believe me, they won't narc you out. They were you once and, having grown up in a different time, they were probably conflicted and in the closet a lot longer and had no one to tell when they were still in high school.

  5. Corny as it sounds, spend time with your parents now. Talk to them, tell them what you feel and think -- not as a criticism of them, but as sharing yourself. Ask them about their childhood, get as many family stories as you can. Inevitably, you will wonder where you came from one day, and it's those connections to your grandparents that will be a big help. Besides, if you make your parents grandparents some day, all those stories are the perfect revenge for every time your parents told a hot date all about that cute but embarrassing thing you did in fourth grade. And if your parents aren't around that long, you'll have gotten to know them as people. Pretty soon, they actually will start to treat you like an adult. Bond with them now and it will happen faster.

  6. Don't let corporate America co-opt you. When the adults pick up on your slang, change it -- the second "get 'er done" became a marketing slogan is when it should have died in the language. Likewise, as soon as the clothes you like start to pop up at the Gap, change your style. Invent your style. Stay a step ahead of the attempt by corporations to bottle and resell you. Seek out indie bands that aren't on a mass media company label. See movies that aren't hyped to death on every bus and billboard in town. Support your own and the corporate whores will follow. Because, although you don't know it, from now until you're 25, you are the most valuable asset to corporate America. And you increase your value by not buying their lies, by not selling out your identity for the sake of their version of teen rebellion, which is just mass-market conformity. Keep making it up as you go along, and evolve constantly.

    That's what the adults do, after all. We're only making it up as we go along. It's just that so many of us stop evolving. You can win the game if you continue to grow.
And that's my advice for the moment, an early graduation present for the seniors, useful info for the rest. Maybe, come fall, I'll offer my advice for college students. Meantime, the rest of you, get cracking. You're the ones who are going to have to clean up the mess the baby boomers have made of the world. God knows, they haven't left us Gen X-ers much to work with.

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Sneddon Blows 

I've always had a twinge of doubt about the whole Michael Jackson thing -- mainly, he never really had a childhood and has basically grown up in public. It's just possibly that he prefers the company of children, but has no interest in them sexually. Maybe they're the only people he could trust, because (unlike adults) they're not going to be gaming to figure out how they can squeeze some of his millions out of him.

And the more I see coming out of the courtroom, the more I think that Tom Sneddon, the Santa Barbara DA, is on a vendetta, convinced that he could get a conviction no matter what. Considering that they must have run with the best they've got, they haven't got much. And, apparently, they've got even less: after offering one of the "unindicted co-conspirators" immunity last December, the witness gave a statement to the prosecution. Apparently, it not only didn't help their case, but pretty much demolished it. Now, that witness is going to appear for the defense.

I'm hoping that Sneddon's head explodes.

I normally wouldn't blog about the Jackson case, but it's been a comedy of errors by the prosecution from the beginning. When Michael was first arrested, it looked like, "Whoops, they've got him this time." But the more that comes out of that courtroom, the more it looks like Sneddon doesn't have shit. Which serves him right. He's one of those people that, were he a character actor, would always be cast as "Asshole Sheriff" or "Prick in Suit #2".

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Gloves Off 

I concur with Digby and James Wolcott. The religious right deserves no respect whatsoever. And this isn't about religion bashing. I have absolutely no problem with Christians or Jews or Muslims who go to their church and quietly live whatever they believe. But I draw the line when they try to convert me or, worse, try to subvert the law so that I'm forced to live to their fucked-up standards. I'm an atheist because I have a brain. I don't need to rely on fairy tales to get through my life. (How come most kids give up on Santa and the Easter bunny before middle school, but frequently stick with the god thing into adulthood?)

But, as Digby points out elsewhere today, the religious right is full of hypocrites who preach one thing in public and perform another in private -- viz. Dr. David Hager, who had a thing for forcibly sodomizing his narcoleptic wife. Can you say, "Eeew"?

Then there's this appalling little ruling, from one of those damn activist judges who can't keep his personal beliefs out of the courtroom:
A federal judge on Thursday blocked a county school system from instituting a health curriculum that includes discussions of homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams agreed with two groups that sued contending such discussions gave preference of religions that are tolerant of homosexuality over those that reject it.
Um... huh? So, in other words, we can't teach most kids tolerance and respect and facts that may save their lives (condoms condoms condoms) because a whining minority of religious asshats may be offended? Bullshit. And tell me where the religious issue even enters into it? Hm. Preference of tolerance over rejection. WWJT -- what would Jesus think?

Yeah -- he'd come back and go all money-changer kick-ass on the bigots who are trying to force their narrow beliefs on everyone else.

Where does it stop? No more teaching of, say, Roman history because it gives preference to polytheism over monotheism? Bye-bye evolution because it gives preference to science and facts over fantasy? Oops, wait a second. They're going after that one, too...

Well, in the words of Mother Theresa, "Fuck 'em." That's it. The bigots should get what they earn, and they've earned the right to be the target of scorn, prejudice and hatred. They've earned the right to be driven out of public discourse until they learn that this country was not founded on their religion (or, in fact, upon any religion), that law is not meant to push their views on everyone else, that there is no hell, no heaven, no god. Life is here and now, and the sooner they figure that out and try to improve the world in positive ways instead of promising lies which are not to come, the better.

Oops. Imposing my beliefs on them there. But, honestly, that is the reverse argument here. Because, at the moment, the parents in that school district do have the choice as to whether their children are exposed to the (gasp!) naughty things:
The curriculum was to be used in eighth and 10th grades to teach students about the dangers of unprotected sex and about human sexuality. The 10th-grade class included a video discussing abstinence and a segment where a woman puts a condom on a cucumber to demonstrate its use.

Parents can opt out of the curriculum by signing a form, school system attorney Judith Bresler said while arguing the case. Blocking the curriculum would hurt only the students who agreed to take part, she said.
Exactly. And that's the difference between the fundie and the enlightened side. We, meaning the non-fundies, will offer the option and let the parents decide what they want their children to learn. The fundies, ostrich-heads all, would deny the choice to everyone because they're just scared little whiners who'd rather hide from the world.

It's the choice between fear and love. The fundies are afraid of everything. People who know better and love their children will let them be exposed to many options, let them learn that there are people in the world who think and believe different things. Loving parents are honest and open with their children.

But... we can't pander to the religious right anymore. It's time to tell them no, time to be as intolerant of their views as they are of ours. It's time to marginalize these fuckwits and push them back to where they belong, the punchline to a sad joke perpetrated by the likes of Aimee Semple McPherson and parodied in Elmer Gantry.

When religion ruled the world, it was called the Dark Ages. Well, I'm not about to let a bunch of fearful, stupid whiners push my world back to the 13th Century.

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Ways to Win 

Americans should take to heart the example of these tow truck drivers in Indiana. The story begins when the local DaimlerChrysler plant comes up with one of those asinine, let's screw our own employees rules: only owners of DaimlerChrysler vehicles can park in the good spots up near the plant; all others have to park much, much farther away.

To prove a point, employee Donald Campbell drove his old GMC pick-up to work and parked it in one of the holy Chrysler Only spots. The plant had it towed away. But -- here's the kicker, and here's why we should learn from the tow truck drivers:
Owner Jim Davis said he towed two cars from the plant Monday without knowing the specifics of the new policy. After learning more, Davis said he decided to stop towing cars from the lot and would not charge owners of vehicles he had already hauled away.

"I thought we were towing them for being parked illegally until I learned the full scoop of it," said Davis. "Now we're not going to do it."...

Davis is not alone in refusing to tow cars from the lot.

Don Ellmore, owner of Martin Wrecker Service, also turned down a job at the plant.

"We backed off for customer relations reasons," he said. "It's just not worth it to aggravate somebody."
Or, to put it another way, DaimlerChrysler may come up with a stupid idea, but if no one will enable its enforcement, it's effectively dead. While the company claims that 90% of its employees drive DC cars, so they don't expect to be towing very many cars, you can hear the big back-off happening now. A couple more people will take Campbell's example and park where the hell they want, the towing companies will tell DaimlerChrysler to go get fucked, some upper management in a suit will read an unflattering story somewhere, and after a frantic afternoon emergency meeting among mid-level management, the policy will be quietly changed without fanfare.

Corporate bullshit scraped away by the power of two independent businessmen who just said no. And that's the lesson we have to take. If a policy is just plain stupid or discriminatory, defy it. Make them enforce it. If your company says you can't smoke at home but you do, light up at your desk. If they fire you, sue them under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Addiction comes under that heading, you know.) If your company says you can't be co-habitating without marriage, again, fuck 'em. Don't quit, don't kick out your S.O.. Make them fire you or try to, then drag their corporate ass through the coals.

Two things that companies hate: negative publicity and unnecessary costs. If, like Donald Campbell and the tow truck drivers, we band together to toss it in their faces, big companies will stop being big bullies, and they'll remember that they'd be nothing without their worker bees.

I'll bet you anything that, while the tow truck drivers decided not to charge the people they towed, they'll be sending nice, fat padded bills to DaimlerChrysler. I know I would.

But hats off to Donald Campbell, Jim Davis and Don Ellmore. They're the winners of this week's Ajai Raj Award for Heroism in the face of Bullshit.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Real Bad IDea 

Courtesy of AlterNet, Bruce Schneier, who is an expert on security of all kinds, elaborates on something I mentioned before in my post below on Real ID. It will do nothing to stop terrorism -- but it will make us more vulnerable to a host of problems, including simplified identity theft.
My argument may not be obvious, but it's not hard to follow, either. It centers around the notion that security must be evaluated not based on how it works, but on how it fails.

It doesn't really matter how well an ID card works when used by the hundreds of millions of honest people that would carry it. What matters is how the system might fail when used by someone intent on subverting that system: how it fails naturally, how it can be made to fail, and how failures might be exploited.
Go read what he has to say, especially if you don't think Real ID is a bad idea. It's rather eye-opening...

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Muffled Media 

Incidentally, I first read the news about the passage of the Real ID act at What Really Happened. Haven't seen a peep about it on CNN, MSNBC, Drudge or any of the other so-called news sites I checked. Want to know what's so damn important at CNN today?Pretty pathetic, eh? Michael Jackson, a dead girl, a long-dead child, the usual bombing in Iraq, etc., etc. -- all of these stories are more important than the Rape of the Constitution?


The closest I find to a story on this is over at MSNBC:

States set to fight, defy driver’s license rules

States are threatening to challenge in court and even disobey new orders from Congress to start issuing more uniform driver’s licenses and verify the citizenship or legal status of people getting them.

There is concern among some states that they’ll get stuck with a large tab to pay for implementing the new rules and that getting a driver’s license will become a bigger headache for law-abiding residents.
Which actually makes the legislation sound totally benign. "More uniform driver's licenses..." WTF?

Unfortunately, I think this means California won't be leading the charge against it. We'd be a natural, because we have more cars and more people than any other state, and the expense could be enormous. However, Governor Shithead, typical of so many legal immigrants, is a thudding xenophobe, and I'm sure he'll be all gung-ho on making sure that no eeeeleeegils can get drivers licenses, failing to see the problem with the bigger picture.

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