Friday, August 21, 2009

As Long As The World Is Ending

For a mere $110 an athiest group, Eternal Earthbound Pets, will save Fido. Christians who believe the rapture is forthcoming can rest assurred that their pets will be cared for.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each
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We are currently active in 20 states and growing. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life.

Gloom And Watery Doom

Here's some news to perk up your weekend.

Despite the cool summer in the East and Midwest, global ocean temperatures are higher than they ever have been since record keeping began... in 1880. The Gulf of Mexico is averaging 90 degrees, the Mediterranean is 3 degrees above the rolling 30 year average, the Pacific and Atlantic are at records, and the Arctic is 10 degrees above normal.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Let The Truth Get In The Way

Snowbilly is at it again. First the lady goes nutso with her "death panel" lies, working the nation into a tizzy that grandma and Trig are headed for Soylent Green. Now she lathers it on with more lies.

The U.S Export Import Bank is considering a 2 billion dollar loan to the Brazilian Petrobras oil company to do more exploration of the coast of Brazil.

Palin said,

"the Obama White House is prepared to send more than 2 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars to Brazil so that the nation's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, can drill offshore and create jobs developing its own resources" and that Obama "chooses to use American dollars in Brazil that will help to pay the salaries and benefits for Brazilians to drill for resources when the need and desire is great in America."

Of course she's lying again. The bank doesn't use tax dollars from us. It's capitalized with it's own earnings. Secondly, the Export Import Bank's charter requires that any loan it approves must be used to buy American goods and services. The money will create American jobs. It is going to do exactly the opposite of what Caribou Barbie says it will do.

From Politico:

A spokesman for the bank, Phil Cogan, noted to POLITICO that the bank does not rely on tax money and that Palin's statement ignores the bank's central function: To lend money to foreign companies for the purchase of American goods and services.

"It has to be produced by U.S. workers," Cogan said. Palin's statement refers to "creat[ing] jobs and health benefits in the U.S."

"That's exactly what a purchase financed by the U.S. government would do," Cogan said.

Innocence And The Constitution

Yesterday the Supreme Court in an out of session ruling sent the case of Troy Davis back to a federal court for re-examination. The vote was 6 - 2 (Sotomayor was not a part of the ruling) with the two dissenters being Scalia And Thomas.

Troy Davis was convicted of murder 20 years ago and sentenced to die. By all accounts his trial was fair and followed procedure, but in the intervening years 7 of the witnesses that testified against him have recanted their testimony saying they were wrong - it wasn't him. In addition several of them have said that the killer was in fact the key witness against Davis in the crime. Davis's attorney has tried to get a court to listen to this but to no avail. The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the lower court must take another look at the evidence. This is very unusual.

The interesting thing is that Scalia, in his dissent said essentially that there is nothing in the constitution that says if a fair trial has taken place we can't execute an innocent man.

“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.”

Yes, Scalia's argument is that it doesn't matter if you're innocent; if your trial was fair and you were found guilty you get to die.

Legally I understand his reasoning and he is right in as much as the constitution does prohibit punishing the innocent, But I think we can all agree that to execute an innocent man qualifies as cruel and unusual.

Today Alan Dershowitz weighed in and offered perhaps the easiest, funniest, and clearest hypothetical example of the breadth of Scalia's argument.

If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect: “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”

Scalia isn't an idiot, just a man who believes the law should always trump justice, and doesn't that make a wise jurist rather pointless.


I made the kids lunch today - peanut butter sandwiches and sliced apples. A total kid lunch. Halfway through the meal, the Girl lets out a scream and begins crying. I race to her to investigate.

"Did you bite your tongue, honey?"


"Your finger?"

"Noooo," she screams again and points to her mouth in tears.

It dawns on me what has happened.

I take a deep breath, reluctantly put my finger into her mouth and pry out a huge chunk of peanut butter stuck to her upper palette. She smiles and goes back to her meal. I sigh before heading to the kitchen to rinse my finger thoroughly of the saliva covered brown mass.

When does this end?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Lost Art Of Listening

JD went to Europe. His girlfriend apparently didn't hear him when he said he was taking a trip, so he started getting emails.

via Sully

Monday, August 17, 2009

Better The Second Time Around?

I've always found those Civil War re-enactors an interesting lot. Nothing against them. I'm sure they're fine people and have loads of other good qualities, but I basically lump them in with those Renaissance Faire folks. Dress up, play knight or soldier with your buddies, have a good time, go back to your crappy job on Monday. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Then today, I come across this. Seems that a group of these folks have now found an interest in something a little closer to home - Vietnam. Yep, the re-enactors are going back to the 60's, complete with the Tet Offensive and Ho Chi Minh.


Just one question?

When is "My Lai" weekend?

I actually know a few vets who unfortunately reenact that war every night in their sleep.

Good times, huh?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul

Les Paul dead at 94.

The Accidental Hipster

Suddenly, I am hip. That belly I've developed ever since 40, and over which I have fretted ocassionally, is suddenly the "in thing."

The New York Times reports that the belly is now the newest expression of male coolness. Termed the "Ralph Kramden", the protrouding abdomen is all the rage in New York's hippest neighborhoods. Contrarian though it may be, guts are all the rage.

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine.”

All you six-pack abbers and gym rats out there, you're suddenly out of favor.

...hypertrophied He-Men with grapefruit biceps and blister-pack abs have come to resemble specimens from a diorama of “A Vanished World.”

“When do you ever see that guy, anyway?” Mr. Morea asked, referring to those legendary Men’s Health cover models, with their rippling torsos and famished smiles. “The only time you really see that guy, he’s standing in front of an Abercrombie & Fitch store.” Perhaps, he suggested, there is really only one of them. “It’s the same guy. They just move him around.”

And to think I was worried I would never see hipness again (even if it's a little hard sometimes to see my knees.)

Of Birth, Death & Tinfoil Hats

The Birthers and Deathers (yes, that's apparently the term) have had a field day the last couple of weeks. If they aren't going off about Obama's citizenship, they're ranting about "Death Panels." It's more than one can possibly take in.

Although the birthers have fallen a little on hard times of late as even Bill O'Reilly has called them out, they continue to scream. A recent poll of North Carolinians showed that only 25% of Republicans polled believe Obama is a citizen, but even better than that, 8% of them don't even believe that Hawaii is a part of the US. The Prez can't win with them, regardless.

Orly Taitz, the lawyer/real estate agent/de facto Birther movement leader sported her tinfoil hat last week in an interview on MSNBC. She came unhinged in the extreme which led to a viral video as entertaining as it was enlightening. Sadly, with all the focus on her birth certificate issue we missed some her better conspiracy theories. Those showed up two days ago in Esquire. Among the other things she believes:

Goldman Sachs runs the treasury.

Obama is a puppet.

There's a cemetery somewhere in Arizona where they just dug 30,000 fresh graves, which wait now for the revolution.

Baxter International — a major Obama contributor — developed a vaccine for bird flu that actually kills people.

Google Congressman Alcee Hastings and House Bill 684 and you'll see that they're planning at least six civilian labor camps.

Google an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about train cars with shackles.

The communist dictator Hugo Chavez way back in 2004 purchased the Sequoia software that runs our voting machines and the mainstream media won't report any of it — not even Fox because Saudi Arabia bought a percentage of Fox in 2007.

Ummmm, ok.

This week Ms. Taitz has been buried under an avalanche of Deathers - the anti-healthcare reform faction that believe that any change in healthcare will lead to euthanasia, and socialism, and gulags, and tainted clams, and whatever else Zoltar tells them through their tinfoil. Prompted by Palin's ballyhooed "Death Panel" quote (that she walked back the next day, and then reiterated today), they have swarmed the townhall meetings to vent their rage at the proposed changes.

Heathcare reform is a tricky subject and a reasoned debate regarding solutions is not only desired, but required. Most people can agree that costs must be contained and that waste and fraud are unbelievable (doctors, clinics and hospitals spend $400 billion just administering the billing for their services - that works out to $80,000 for each and every uninsured person in the country.) Obviously something must be done. There are informed and thoughtful people on both sides of the issue. The Deathers, sadly, aren't part of that equation. Their fear of forced euthanasia of the elderly and disabled is groundless and filled with nonsense. Their baying over socialised medicine is even more absurd since... well what the hell is Medicare or the VA?

The sign above speaks volumes about the ignorance of these folks.

It's enough to give you hives, or a heart attack, or depression, or an ulcer.

Nonetheless, they will continue to scream about presidential illegitamacy, or socialism, or euthanasia, or tea bags, or God knows.

But if this level of "dialog" keeps up one thing is certain: somebody is going to end up needing medical attention.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Enforcers

I have discussed before the Boy's more feminine tastes. He likes things that are more often associated with girls than boys. The other day he asked me to watch him twirl on one foot. After I offered my praise he told me it was a trick only girls could do but not boys. I said that both boys and girls can do almost anything. He countered that the twirl was not one of those things and the only reason he could do it was because he was a ballerina. And so it goes...

This leads to an interesting discovery. Despite his continuing interest in those things society calls girlish, he has, of late, been more adamant regarding distinctions and limitations of gender. He got in an argument with his sister the other day regarding the wearing of necklaces. His sister had announced that anyone could wear a necklace. He argued forcefully that only girls could wear them. This disagreement went on and on (arguing anything with a two year old is a mistake.) I finally stepped in on the side of the Girl and told him that girls and boys could wear necklaces. He still would not believe me. I asked him how he knew this and he told me he had heard it at school. "From whom," I queried. "From Riley and Katy," he said, as if two 4 year old girls in his class were the final word. I just told him they were wrong.

The problem is that this is just one example and all of the gender limits he is picking up at school are coming from girls. They are the ones telling him he can't wear a necklace, or like the color pink, or be a ballerina. The boys in his class say nary a word. That's surprising. I would have expected the cultural rules for gender to be laid down by the boys in his peer group - that they would apply the pressure that forced him into the stereotype. But all indications suggest they are utterly accepting of his atypical choices. They like him regardless. It's those girls that are slapping expectations on him. The Rileys and the Katys and the Graces are the ones setting the boundaries. They are the ones telling him "no." They are the ones protecting their turf.

He remains well-liked by both genders and even the girls who disapprove of his interests seem to delight in his company. They are the ones who play with him regularly. They remain his friends.

For ages I had blamed males for the gender-enforcement that has limited us in the choices we make in life. But maybe I have it wrong. Those girls seem pretty intent on setting and enforcing the rules for what is masculine and what is feminine. They are the power.

I just hope he can resist.

So I write this post this morning and this afternoon I have an email in my garbage email box. When the boy was born I signed up with some group that sent out weekly updates regarding what the standard was for children as they age: this week your child is probably sitting up, this week your child is probably distinguishing strangers from from more familiar faces, this week your child's poo smells worse - that sort of thing. I almost never read them anymore and once the child reaches one year they only come monthly. The subject header on the one I got today caught my interest though: "Girls will be Girls."

I popped it open and here's its very topical contents:

At 4, kids' notions of gender roles are becoming more defined. A daughter, for example, knows Dad's a boy, she's a girl, and she's working on figuring out what dads do differently from moms. She may not be entirely clear, though, that all moms are female and all dads are male. While she can identify males and females by their dress and general appearance, she can still be fooled. If she sees a man wearing a kilt or sporting a ponytail — exceptions that go against the "rules" she's absorbed over time — she may think he's a woman or that his gender can change.

As children observe and imitate people of the same sex, they may adopt stereotypical attitudes in an effort to get the role just right. They may express disdain for a girl who plays football or for a boy who wants to play with the girls. Even in families that have tried to provide lots of gender-neutral play, this age brings out exaggeratedly stereotyped behaviors and attitudes like, "Girls never do that!"

While accepting such stereotypes is normal for a child this age, you can encourage your child to see beyond labels. Question any generalizations your child may make or hear in the media. If your son says, "Girls can't play hockey," show him pictures of the women's Olympic team. Remember, too, that parents often unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. Do you compliment your daughter on her appearance rather than her actions? Do you tell your son to toughen up when he cries?

Many parents are surprised to find their sons cross-dressing at this age during play, but there's no reason to think it means anything about their sexual orientation. Four-year-olds like to copy one another and build on one another's imaginary play scenes. Gender is very much an evolving concept at 4.

I think its primary aim is to allay fears for parents of children stepping out of their gender roles. Still not much help.