Friday, January 28, 2005

Bush to Blacks: You're going to drop dead

Ok, this article is seriously disturbing. During a private meeting with 22 black religious and business leaders, the prez said that blacks are short-changed by social security because they die earlier than whites, but pay the same in payroll taxes. I'm not clear on how private accounts fix this.

The most disturbing thing is that he doesn't give props to Chris Rock, who says that black folks should get social security at 29: 'We don't live that long - hypertension, high blood pressure, NYPD, something'll get ya'."


Sorry about my long absence. I've been touring the country on job interviews, a process which is about as fun as it sounds.

You can imagine my surpise to return home and find the following photo on the AP wire. It's a picture of Cheney at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.


Note the appropriate attire of the other heads of state. Cheney looks like he's about to plow his driveway. Is that a ski lift tag on his jacket? WTF?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Guess he won't be back

Looks like Austria wants nothing to do with its most famous export these days. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...

The Immoral Minority

Thursday, January 20, 2005

are you ready for the football?

Last week had the feel of a high school pep rally here in the 'burgh, as the beloved hometown Stillers (as it's pronounced here) prepared to dispatch the jets in their first playoff game. This week feels like full wartime mobilization, as the defending champion Patriots come to town for the AFC championship game. The secretaries in the dept. office have covered the door with laser-jet printed pictures of our boys, sayings from the hometown announcer, and a giant black and gold ribbon. This is not unusual. "Yellow ribbon-style" suv-stickers letterd with a black-&-gold "go pittsburgh" have been spotted. Any man or boy wearing fewer than 3 pirces of nfl-licensced apparel is regarded as suspect.

One notable byproduct of the stillers experience is the number of "fight songs," theme songs, and polkas penned in honor of the team over the years. Local radio station WDVE has collected a few of them (if you search the net, or turn on the radio around here, you can find others). My personal favorite, (i.e. the only one even mildly listenable) is the legendary "here we go" song from the 2001 season. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

My ribbon is bigger than yours

It's time to get serious about reappropriating symbols, people, and I think we might as well begin here.

SUV not included.

Via Tom Tomorrow.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


woo hoo, what a victory! maybe, someday, women will get the right to vote!

Judge orders removal of evolution stickers from textbooks in Georgia school district
By Doug Gross, Associated Press, 1/13/2005 12:12

ATLANTA (AP) A federal judge on Thursday ordered the removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks that call evolution ''a theory, not a fact,'' saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in suburban Cobb County in 2002.

''Adopted by the school board, funded by the money of taxpayers, and inserted by school personnel, the sticker conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling others they are political insiders,'' U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said in his 44-page ruling.

''This is a great day for Cobb County students,'' said attorney Michael Manely, who represented parents who brought the suit. ''They're going to be permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma.''

Doug Goodwin, a spokesman for Cobb County schools, said officials did not have an immediate response but were preparing a statement.

Six parents of students and the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the stickers in court, arguing they violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

The case was heard in federal court last November, where the school system defended the warning stickers as a show of tolerance, not religious activism as some parents claimed.

''The Cobb County school board is doing more than accommodating religion,'' Manely had argued during the trial. ''They are promoting religious dogma to all students.'

Lawyers for Cobb County disagreed, saying the school board had made a good-faith effort to address questions that inevitably arise during the teaching of evolution.

''Science and religion are related and they're not mutually exclusive,'' school district attorney Linwood Gunn said. ''This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science.''

The schools placed the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.

The stickers read, ''This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.''

The case is one of several battles waged in recent years in the Bible Belt over what role evolution should play in science books. Last year, Georgia's education chief proposed a science curriculum that dropped the word ''evolution'' in favor of ''changes over time.'' That plan was soon dropped amid protests by teachers.

PS-This rocks:

Friday, January 07, 2005

They're killin' me

The New York Times has this nasty habit of making you register and such, so i'm including the article herein. Sorry for the length. Here's my favorite soudbite if you don't want to read on, "You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore... It's comforting to start the new year in the hands of a party that cares so much about morals and values. "

Seriously, are we still a two-party system? When will we find Democrat Godot?

Op-Ed Columnist: Don't Torture Yourself (That's His Job)

January 6, 2005


The Associated Press headline that came over the wire yesterday said it all: "Gonzales Will Follow Non-Torture Policies."

You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore.

Alberto Gonzales may have been willing to legally justify something that was abhorrent to everything America stands for, but it's all relative. Given that Mr. Gonzales is replacing the odious John Ashcroft, Democrats didn't seem inclined to try to derail the Hispanic nominee, even though
his memo fostered the atmosphere that led to disgusting scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.

Just to get things started on the right foot, though, Mr. Gonzales planned to go the extra mile and offer the quaint, obsolete Senate Democrats a more nuanced explanation of why he called the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and "obsolete."

Before he helped President Bush circumvent the accords and reserve the right to do so "in this or future conflicts," you had to tune in to an old movie with Nazi generals or Vietcong guards if you wanted to see someone sneeringly shrug off the international treaty protecting prisoners from abuse. ("You worthless running dog Chuck Norris! What do we care about your silly Geneva Conventions?")

How are you to believe Mr. Gonzales when he says he's through with torture? His mission is clearly to do whatever he thinks Mr. Bush wants.

All gall is divided into parts, so what's next? The Commerce Department nominee promising that giveaways to big business will be done with subtlety? The Environmental Protection Agency nominee promising that the toxin content in water will never rise to Yushchenko level?

It's comforting to start the new year in the hands of a party that cares so much about morals and values.

Tom DeLay and oily House Republicans inaugurated their new term by gutting ethics rules just in case any of them get caught in whatever misconduct they are plotting.

Rummy continued on his oblivious, dissembling path, refusing to admit that he's tapped out the Army and broken the Army Reserve with what Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the frustrated chief of the Army Reserve, calls "dysfunctional" policies. We've gotten so numb on Iraq that when eight American soldiers and over 80 Iraqi police officers get killed, when the governor of Baghdad gets assassinated, and when our puppets plead with Mr. Bush to delay the elections, it all seems like just another week of pre-election maneuvering.

In The Los Angeles Times, we learn that Bush fave Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas "has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the high court, including $1,200 worth of tires, valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses."

A guy we pay nearly $200,000 a year can't pop for his own tires? Whatever happened to the dignity of the robe? At least we know where our possible future chief justice stands: on the side of personal corruption.

"He also took a free trip aboard a private jet to the exclusive Bohemian Grove club in Northern California - arranged by a wealthy Texas real estate investor who helped run an advocacy group that filed briefs with the Supreme Court," the paper said.

The L.A. Times reviewed the disclosures of all nine justices for the years 1998 through 2003 and found that "Thomas accepted $42,200 in gifts, making him the top recipient. Next in that period was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who accepted $5,825 in gifts, mostly small crystal figurines and other items."

Clarence Thomas follows Antonin Scalia's lead on the law. Why not also on ethics? Justice Scalia defended taking his relatives on a ride on Air Force Two to Louisiana with Dick Cheney to go duck hunting, even though the v.p. had an important case before the court, by saying that it would
have been a "considerable inconvenience" to fly commercial.

Going through a blistering confirmation hearing where his inappropriate behavior was questioned didn't teach Clarence Thomas much. Can we hope for anything better from Mr. Gonzales after he's waved through to be the man in charge of enforcing our laws?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Knowing stuff

Happy New Year, all.

Here's a nice story you can tell when anyone asks what all that book learnin's good for.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

leap of faith

The Edge, a science website, asked over a 100 prominent scientists to name something that they believed in but could not prove. The reponses are posted here , and make for some pretty interesting procrastination material. There are some big names here (e.g. Phillip Zimbardo, Steve Pinker, etc...), but the best answer has to be Dan Gilbert's (my buddy Eugene's advisor at Harvard):

"In the not too distant future, we will be able to construct artificial systems that give every appearance of consciousness—systems that act like us in every way. These systems will talk, walk, wink, lie, and appear distressed by close elections. They will swear up and down that they are conscious and they will demand their civil rights. But we will have no way
to know whether their behavior is more than a clever trick—more than the pecking of a pigeon that has been trained to type "I am, I am!"

We take each other's consciousness on faith because we must, but after two thousand years of worrying about this issue, no one has ever devised a definitive test of its existence. Most cognitive scientists believe that consciousness is a phenomenon that emerges from the complex interaction of decidedly nonconscious parts (neurons), but even when we finally understand the nature of that complex interaction, we still won't be able to prove that it produces the phenomenon in question. And yet, I haven't the slightest doubt that everyone I know has an inner life, a subjective experience, a sense of self, that is very much like mine.

What do I believe is true but cannot prove? The answer is: You!"

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! Here's a wee tidbit from James W Johnson for your 2005 pleasure....

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Fast Food

This is vaguely interesting. It's a report on the political contributions of restaurant chains. The really surprising thing here is that Hooters gave more money to the party of family values...