Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Best. Picture. Ever.

We can even work up a caption for it. Say, "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

Monday, March 28, 2005

You've thought the same thing, too. Admit it.

If our eyes use shadows to distinguish gradients of distance, and hence the dimension of depth, then would beings who cast no shadow, e.g. vampires, look flat to us?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Hippocratic Oath ain't what it used to be.

[Addendum] And now there's this:

"Our group was founded with the idea of returning pharmacy to a healing-only profession. What's been going on is the use of medication to stop human life. That violates the ideal of the Hippocratic oath that medical practitioners should do no harm," said Karen L. Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, who was fired from a Kmart pharmacy in Delhi, Ohio, for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.

As Stephen Colbert put it,

Some devoutly religious pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control, citing their moral opposition to contraception... Texas pharmacist Steve Mosher explained why he doesn't dispense the pill.

"I just cannot go with participating in taking the life of an innocent human being."

Remember, he's talking about birth control pills. The ones that prevent fertilization. Because, for Mosher, life begins as soon as you think of having sex.

By the way, the average adult male creates life every seven seconds.

"Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear," he said.

Wow. That ranks up there with "I support free speech, obviously. But equally obviously, all things must be taken in moderation. This is something we need to strongly communicate to the media" and "studying the Constitution in order to protect the people from outmoded language and ideas therein."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."

-George W. Bush, July 12, 2004


It depends on what your definition of "oppose" is....

Via, a Kansas news station, we get the headline Ministers Oppose Gay Marriage. While this is certainly true, the article is about ministers who oppose the ban on gay marriage--in other words, ministers who are supporting gay marriage:

Dozens of Kansas ministers want to make it clear that not all clergy in Kansas support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

More than 50 ministers have signed a letter to the public arguing the amendment violates basic religious principles of love and respect. They say if the amendment passes on April 5th, it would make the lives of thousands of Kansans more difficult.

The letter is posted on the Web site of Kansans for Fairness, a group that supports human rights. In the letter, the ministers say it's not the state government's role to codify one religious interpretation of the Bible or favor one religion over another.

Supporters of the amendment say the letter reflects only a small group of Kansas ministers.

Does this strike anyone else as odd?

Friday, March 25, 2005

"The goggles; they do nothing!"

Best movie ever.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Say what?

"Iraq needed fuel. Halliburton Co. was ordered to get it there — quick. So the Houston-based contractor charged the Pentagon $27.5 million to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel."

Holy soup crackers.

This is sickening.

First, their [timber conglomerate Gunns Limited] loggers come and clear-cut an area. Then, rather than hauling out the felled trees, helicopters are sent in to drop incendiary devices to light the slag on fire. (Side note: Due to Gunn’s practice of not hauling out felled trees, more than 4,000 timber-related jobs have been lost in Tasmania since 1994.) The dense hardwoods burn hot and slow for days, but eventually cool back down, and that’s when the loggers return—but not to plant new trees yet. Instead, they scatter the charred forest floor with carrots soaked in a chemical known as 1080. All the animals that then come to feed on the carrots — including wombats, possums, and wallabies — quickly die. Only when all the native life has been drained do the foresters return, to plant non-native trees in massive plantations, which are then aerially sprayed with chemicals.

Whether those chemicals are dangerous or not is anyone's guess. Gunns lobbying has eliminated most oversight — they’re not required to file environmental impact statements, nor detailed lists of chemicals used, nor announce their schedule of operations in advance — leaving communities with very little information. In one telling episode last December, a helicopter spraying near the town of St. Helens crashed, dumping some 80 liters of its load into the hillside. Gunns insisted there was no danger, and it took seven months for the Department of Health to check the small town's water supply. By then it was too late. In January, a "once in a lifetime flood" had roared through the area and within a week, more that 95% of the oyster beds in nearby George’s Bay were dead or dying. Government and industry officials chalked it up to "excessive fresh water."

And what happens when people complain? They get sued:

Two weeks before Christmas, on December 14, 2004, Gunns stunned Australia's conservation community by filing a 216 page, $6.3 million (AU) claim against a group of activists and organizations, including Geraghty. Gunns, the world's largest woodchip exporter, claimed that the group had cost the company millions and demanded their money back. The most costly allegation: environmentalists conspired to pressure Japanese buyers out of doing business with Gunns. "The demands were to be accompanied by threats express and implied," reads the writ, "of adverse publicity, consumer boycotts, and direct action against the Japanese customers and all of their operations." For corporate campaign activists, all those tactics are fairly standard fare. Gunns, however, is asking the courts to declare such activity illegal.


It's not just activists and politicians who are getting sued — Gunns is also going after doctors who complain about potential health risks. In 2002, Dr. Frank Nicklason raised concerns about the possible contamination in massive woodpiles left on a harbor wharf, and called for an independent analysis. What he got instead was a letter from Gunns saying he had "recklessly, irresponsibly and negligently" misused his position as a medical practitioner to draw attention to "supposed health risks existing in the local community." He has also now been SLAPPed with a potentially large fine, raising alarm in the medical community. As Australian Medical Association's president told the Australian Financial Times: "Our Hippocratic oath demands we investigate any possible cause of disease, whatever that may be—tobacco, asbestos or any other concerns. It would be a dangerous development if doctors faced legal action any time they raised concerns about public health risks."

From the Washington Post,

The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

Which shouldn't really come as any surprise. If nothing else, do you think they're going to blithely admit that what they're doing is illegal?

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Next--the Supreme Court!

Judge Says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

A cute editorial on the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, from the International Herald Tribune.
A mildly-interesting article (for me, at least) by a rabbi pointing out, in all the bloviation over the case before the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments, that there are different versions of these commandments, propagated by different sects. More on that here. Y'all may not be interested in the article, but I wanted to share the rabbi's last paragraph with you:

One final word of caution: Proponents of the public display of the Ten Commandments often point to the sculptural depiction of Moses holding the tablets on the frieze of the Supreme Court building as evidence that previous generations did not have the same problem with them as we now are facing. That may be, but beware of the results. Because Moses' beard covers most of the tablets, all one can read of them is "you shall murder, you shall commit adultery, steal."


So much stupidity....

From The Seattle Times' Gay-marriage fight in state high court,

But attorney Steve O'Ban, representing the intervenors, a group of legislators and religious leaders, told the justices that no court has ruled that marriage is a fundamental right. "And we have made the determination that the optimal environment for raising a child is in a household headed by a man and a woman."

This paragraph jumped out at me, because I noticed that their legal argument is a shameless lie. The United States Supreme Court decided marriage was a fundamental right back in 1967. From the transcript of Loving v. Virginia:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

The second sentence quoted from (and by) the Seattle Times is less of a lie, but still disingenuous. I'm sure that they "have made the determination that the optimal environment for raising a child is in a household headed by a man and a woman"; the question is, has any impartial source come to the same conclusion? I linked to a New York Times article a while back which said "experts say there is no scientific evidence that children raised by gay couples do any worse - socially, academically or emotionally - than their peers raised in more traditional households." And the Human Rights Campaign also provides some a compilation of various organizations' findings on the influence of sexual orientation in child rearing.

But HRC is not exactly a disinterested party in this debate, and I have heard people swear that there are studies proving exactly the opposite (though as one of these people is Bush, I'm not sure how much faith I can put in their accuracy). So I shall graciously give these people the benefit of the doubt, because their argument is completely irrelevant anyways. We don't test parental qualifications for anyone else seeking to get married; we don't even set out to ensure that they want to raise children. And in this case, their argument is contradictory. Observe:

In defending DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act], the state must convince the justices that the statute can pass the so-called "rational review" test, by showing that it serves a legitimate state purpose.

William Collins, the senior assistant attorney general who argued for the state, told the justices that rational basis stems from the fact that "only sexual relations between a man and a woman can create children — planned or unplanned."

So the state is trying to argue that they want to prevent gays from marrying because they cannot have children (though I'm still unclear as to why they think it's the government's business to encourage married couples to have children); yet in the same case they argue that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry because children would not fare well under a same-sex couple. Which begs the question: where do these people think those children will be coming from? That having same-sex parents is "worse" for the child than having opposite-sex parents is only relevant if you think that gays will be kidnapping children from heterosexuals and subjecting them to deficient familial standards. But the ways gays are most likely to obtain children--assisted fertility or adoption--either create a new child that never would have the option of "normal" parents anyways, or take a child out of conditions that are worse for hir growth than even the fiasco of same-sex parents.

(As an aside, am I the only one who thinks that the state's argument in this case--that it is the state's responsibility to encourage birth of optimal babies--taken to its logical conclusion serves as a cry for eugenics programs?)

That's all I have to say about that article. Turning now to HeraldNet's Gay marriage opponents, activists turn out in force, I find this gem:

"It's a slippery slope," said Daryl Bursch, a Spokane resident and event director for Mayday for Marriage. "They're not just asking for a license to marry, they're asking for tolerance."

Well, Heaven forfend that anyone should want to be tolerated!

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

It's like he's speaking to my soul.
The next time some bigot tells me that all terrorists are Muslims, or that "Christians don't carry out such wicked acts - they're not aloud to", I am going to smite them.

Smite them mightily.