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March 31, 2006

They keep bringing Liefeld back.

I don't get it. And now they're bringing back the Heroes Reborn world? I really don't get it.

For those who don't know, here's the story. About 15 years ago (Jesus!) Magneto went totally crazy and Professor X had to take him out by wiping his memory. 10 years ago Professor X, his mind having absorbed a portion of Magneto's psyche, went crazy himself and became Onslaught. In order to kill Onslaught, all the major non-mutant super-heroes (minus Spider-Man, who was busy dealing with all his clones, and plus Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who Marvel forgot were mutants), had to absorb Onslaught's essence and let the X-Men kill them.

So far all of this is perfectly normal comic books stuff, although a little on the cheesey side and done during a low point in terms of talent at Marvel.

But then it turned out that the heroes hadn't really died. Franklin Richards, the extremely powerful mutant son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, saved the heroes by placing them in a pocket dimension.

Still nothing too out of the ordinary for comics.

While they were in the pocket dimension, however, they were turned over to Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. These are two creators who worked for Marvel in the early 90s and then left to form Image comics. Jim Lee is a great artist and a terrible plotter. Rob Liefeld is a talentless hack with absolutely no redeeming qualities. He can not draw. He can not draw. I don't mean "he's a bad artist". I mean, he can not draw.

So fan reaction to this was pretty negative. Plus, the hype at the time was that the heroes really were dead in the real Marvel Universe and they really were starting over here. This was called Heroes Reborn. I read this garbage because I had caught onto the hints that Franklin Richards (a favorite character of mine) had saved them, and for once I was right (unlike, for example, the time i thought Doom 2099 was the "real" Dr. Doom, who had escaped death in Tom DeFalco's FF run by travelling to future. I read that crappy FF run, and Doom 2099, for at least a year waiting to watch them execute my brilliant idea. Never happened.) Everyone hated this, but i guess it sold really well due to the controversy. Liefeld was even fired during the middle of this due to the negative response and the fact that he can't get a book out on time.

Eventually the heroes figured out what was going on and they "escaped" the Franklinverse, and went back to the real MU where they were assigned good writers, beginning the current long stretch at Marvel where the writing has been quite good. Heroes Reborn was more or less forgotten.

Now they are bringing it, and Rob Liefeld, back along with it. And they're involving Franklin Richards (one of my favorite characters, who's been depowered and out of use lately). Which means, god help me, i may end up getting this.


By fnord12 | March 31, 2006, 4:16 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link



Vain Brain

Our brains are filthy liars. They only like evidence that reinforces beliefs they already hold, they are extremely susceptible to self-flattery, and they cherry pick personal memories that fit best with our current self view.

There is in fact a category of people who get unusually close to the truth about themselves and the world. Their self-perceptions are more balanced, they assign responsibility for success and failure more even-handedly, and their predictions are more realistic. They are the clinically depressed.

Link


By min | March 31, 2006, 10:01 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



March 30, 2006

We love our mafia

(Thanks Josh)


By fnord12 | March 30, 2006, 7:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



March 28, 2006

Am I going deaf?

Don't tell min.
Also, people who listen to classical music are a little snooty.


By fnord12 | March 28, 2006, 1:34 PM | Music | Comments (3) | Link



Anybody Have Anything to Trade for a Recording Contract?

One Red Paperclip

He started with a red paperclip and he's traded up to a recording contract. He's currently taking offers on it. I've checked out some of the offers. There's pretty steep competition. Except from that chick who offered to trade the contract for a donation to the World Wildlife Fund. I bet she makes all the good deals.


By min | March 28, 2006, 9:49 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



That Decision Not to Attend Grad School Keeps Looking Better and Better

Alzheimer's disease progresses more rapidly in highly educated people, research suggests.
...
Each patient underwent a battery of tests to assess their neurological function.

Overall mental agility declined every year among all the patients.

But each additional year of education equated to an additional 0.3% deterioration per year.
[emphasis mine]

Link

The rest of you losers are so screwed.


By min | March 28, 2006, 9:26 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



March 24, 2006

GOAT!

When politicians' actions stop making sense, conspiracy theories flourish. It's a way to avoid having to face up to the fact that our political system is so hopelessly broken that we would elect grossly incompetent people into office. The theory that George Bush invaded Iraq to fulfill a biblical prophesy isn't new (in fact, i heard the same thing during the first Gulf War as well), but it's been picking up steam lately. It's discussed in part in this article by Kevin Phillips about his new book American Theocracy:

The excesses of the Religious Right in the Bush years represent a particular danger.. Some 45% of U.S. Christians believe in the End Times and Armageddon, and Tim LaHaye's lurid Left Behind series helped mobilize them and shape Washington awareness of their importance. Centrist religious leaders believe it's a gross distortion of the Bible, but there’s no doubt that a large percentage of the Bush electorate believes that war and chaos in the holy lands (including Iraq) heralds the Second Coming.

More here from the NYT's review of American Theocracy:

Phillips is especially passionate in his discussion of the second great force that he sees shaping contemporary American life - radical Christianity and its growing intrusion into government and politics. The political rise of evangelical Christian groups is hardly a secret to most Americans after the 2004 election, but Phillips brings together an enormous range of information from scholars and journalists and presents a remarkably comprehensive and chilling picture of the goals and achievements of the religious right.

He points in particular to the Southern Baptist Convention, once a scorned seceding minority of the American Baptist Church but now so large that it dominates not just Baptism itself but American Protestantism generally. The Southern Baptist Convention does not speak with one voice, but almost all of its voices, Phillips argues, are to one degree or another highly conservative. On the far right is a still obscure but, Phillips says, rapidly growing group of "Christian Reconstructionists" who believe in a "Taliban-like" reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a "myth" and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent "rapture" - the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven.

Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse — among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. He convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public. Phillips's evidence for this disturbing claim is significant, but not conclusive. (My emphasis)

It's easy to actually start believing that Bush believes this. There's plenty of crazy religious fanatics out there that do believe it, and Bush seems to be very religious himself. He also has made enough comments indicating that he talks to God and that God wanted him to invade Iraq. Furthermore, every rationale given for the invasion has turned out to be forced, so either the people in power are incredibly stupid or they are wacky enough to believe in this sort of thing. I lean towards stupid (and corrupt, and blinded by ideology), but maybe it's a case of Bush himself believing some of this, and his handlers going along with it for their own reasons. In any event, i see more people out there turning to the idea that this is a religous crusade.

Here's Christopher Priest, comic book writer:

The popular notion floating out there is that Bush somehow sees himself as being an agent of the APocalypse and that Iraq (Babylon) is some kind of holy war.

I have severe doubts Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be comfortable with the notion of President Bush ushering in the Apocalypse, but religious fringe groups are already speculating about Daniel's biblical prophecy (Daniel 8: 3-8), noting that ancient Babylon is modern day Iraq and claiming that the ram signifies fundamentalist Islam and Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant Dr Ayman all-Zawahiri represent the horns of the ram described in Daniel's dream, one horn being taller and younger than the other. Bush's 2001 call for a global organization against terrorism happen to spell the acronym "GOAT." This is, indeed, fringe thinking, but what if this business somehow plays into the president's motives? That the United States must act as the arm of God and sword of righteousness? Could this all be some Christian version of an Islamic jihad or holy war?


By fnord12 | March 24, 2006, 4:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Tuned to the Frequency of Evil

Nightman/Manimal Crossover


By min | March 24, 2006, 12:25 PM | TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link



We lurk among you

Found on Digby (and his link to the original article doesn't work):

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today's atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past-they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy-and in America, that 'core' has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.


By fnord12 | March 24, 2006, 9:05 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 23, 2006

Start Again! And be more responsible!

From Firedoglake. Colin McEnroe is a local talk show host.

McEnroe: You probably know that I wrote in the Currant last Sunday that if I had to vote in the primary right now I would, with some sorrow vote for Ned Lamont simply because you have kind of drifted so far towards the Bush Administration whose policies I do't approve of very much. Tell me why I'm wrong, tell me why I should vote for you.

Lieberman: Well I-I think that your statement just then was as ridiculous and unfair as your column was. I was really upset by it. I don't get to hear you a lot because I'm in Washington but if you're saying that on the air really I hope your listeners are taking it with a grain of salt.

First off let me go to something that really bothered me. You have this line saying that I’ve come to a point where I’m saying that those who do not parrot my support of the war are unpatriotic and then you take TOTALLY out of context something that I said in a speech that I gave last December when I came back from Iraq and I urge you to go back and look at that whole speech.

McEnroe: Okay, tell me why-

Lieberman: Let me just finish this!

McEnroe then went on to try and read the quote in question and force Lieberman to respond but Lieberman kept cutting him off, he wouldn't have it:

McEnroe: Let me read the line to you and then you tell me how to interpret it.

Lieberman: I know what the line is! I said it!

McEnroe: Okay but the listeners don't.

The line actually reads:

"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril."

Lieberman: This quote is totally out of context. You might have gotten it from the bloggers, who love to do this.

McEnroe: No actually I got it-

Lieberman: Read the whole speech, it's below your standards.

McEnroe: Senator actually I got it from the New York Times.

Lieberman: Well that's just as bad! Go back and read the speech, be more responsible.


By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 2:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



2nd Warning

"Richard Rainwater doesn't want to sound like a kook," began a profile of the super investor in Fortune magazine (the italics below are mine). "But he's about as worried as a happily married guy with more than $2 billion and a home in Pebble Beach can get. Americans are 'in the kind of trouble people shouldn't find themselves in,' he says. He's just wary about being the one to sound the alarm.

"Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type--at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil. Or a coalition of communist and Islamic states may decide to stop selling their precious crude to Americans any day now. Or food shortages may soon hit the U.S. Or he read on a blog last night that there's this one gargantuan chunk of ice sitting on a precipice in Antarctica that, if it falls off, will raise sea levels worldwide by two feet--and it's getting closer to the edge.... And then he'll interrupt himself: 'Look, I'm not predicting anything,' he'll say. 'That's when you get a little kooky-sounding.'

"Rainwater is no crackpot. But you don't get to be a multibillionaire investor--one who's more than doubled his net worth in a decade--through incremental gains on little stock trades. You have to push way past conventional thinking, test the boundaries of chaos, see events in a bigger context. You have to look at all the scenarios, from 'A to friggin' Z, as he says, and not be afraid to focus on Z. Only when you've vacuumed up as much information as possible and you know the world is at a major inflection point do you put a hell of a lot of money behind your conviction.

"Such insights have allowed Rainwater to turn moments of cataclysm into gigantic paydays before. In the mid-1990s he saw panic selling in Houston real estate and bought some 15 million square feet; now the properties are selling for three times his purchase price. In the late '90s, when oil seemed plentiful and its price had fallen to the low teens, he bet hundreds of millions--by investing in oil stocks and futures--that it would rise. A billion dollars later, that move is still paying off. 'Most people invest and then sit around worrying what the next blowup will be," he says. "I do the opposite. I wait for the blowup, then invest.'

"The next blowup, however, looms so large that it scares and confuses him. For the past few months he's been holed up in hard-core research mode--reading books, academic studies, and, yes, blogs. Every morning he rises before dawn at one of his houses in Texas or South Carolina or California (he actually owns a piece of Pebble Beach Resorts) and spends four or five hours reading sites like LifeAftertheOilCrash.net or DieOff.org, obsessively following links and sifting through data. How worried is he? He has some $500 million of his $2.5 billion fortune in cash, more than ever before. 'I'm long oil and I'm liquid,' he says. 'I've put myself in a position that if the end of the world came tomorrow I'd kind of be prepared.'

We aren't all billionaires so we can't ever be as prepared as this guy. But we can get ourselves a nice farming community with Earthships. Go watch End of Suburbia!


By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 2:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Pentagon investigates itself, finds no evidence of wrongdoing

In the Lincoln Group propaganda case.


By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 12:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 22, 2006

New New Gore

Ezra Klein writes a lengthy article in the American Prospect about Gore and his campaign against the state of the media today.

The most important speech of Al Gore's post-non-presidency was neither well-covered nor particularly dramatic. He delivered it against a plain blue curtain, and when he finished, the applause rippled but never roared. None in attendance, however, would have dared call it boring.
...
They must have been wondering what changed. Over the next 48 minutes, Gore laced into the state of the media, lamenting the "systematic decay of the public forum," and echoing Walter Lippmann's belief that the propaganda emanating from the press corps was rendering America's "dogma of democracy" void. Journalism, Gore said, had grown "dysfunctional," and now "fails to inform the people."

One of Gore's tactics in this campaign is to bypass the media entirely. He has his speeches sponsored by Move-On. They email his entire speech to the millions of Move-On members who pass it on to whomever they choose - friends, neighbors, family - and blogs promote it. They call it "viral marketing". The advantage is the ability to avoid that media filter that emphasizes things like what color shoes Gore's wearing as opposed to the more important content of the speech.

Something else he's done is Current TV, an independent tv station that broadcasts content made by viewers.

If the problem with television is that the audience can't talk back to the flickering box, then the answer, clearly, is to have them talk through it. Thus, Current devotes a large chunk of its programming hours to viewer-contributed content. The Web site offers instructions on how to create videos ("pods"), which amateur auteurs then upload to www.Current.tv. The Current community then watches and rates the pods online, elevating the better ones, eventually, into rotation on the channel. The content is surprisingly strong -- including everything from clever, animated political shorts to reports from the Katrina-devastated Gulf and even a poignant, artfully done pod following a birth -- but the response has been tepid. No matter. If the revolution is indeed to be televised,it'll be because Current helps do for television what blogs have done to punditry: democratize it, decredentialize it, open it to the masses.

Those of us who don't get Current TV from our cable/satellite masters will have to watch the programs online, if at all.

In May, Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" comes out. It's about global warming. It received a standing ovation at the Sundance Festival. After his dismal public appearances in the 2000 election, you wouldn't expect that sort of a response to a film with Gore talking about science.

I like the new new Gore. Free from his handlers and advisors, he's a much more engaging speaker. How long will it take the rest of the Democrats to realize their political advisors can't advise on anything except how to dig the hole deeper? I'm banking on never. The advisors would never put out a poll asking what people thought of their advice and as we've seen of late, Democrats can't make a decision without poll numbers.


By min | March 22, 2006, 12:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 21, 2006

The further wisdom of Paul O'Brien

He's talking about the comic book industry, of course, but it applies anywhere:

As everyone knows, monopolies are bad news all round. With no competition, the monopolist no longer has an incentive to keep prices low, to maintain quality of service, or to offer a decent range of products. They can just sit there and do what they feel like. Of course, this is the basic problem with unregulated competition: if you're not careful, somebody could actually win.


By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 5:00 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



The Bubble Squad

More examples of republican operatives impersonating the Secret Service to keep Bush away from opinions or questions he can't handle - like the old people.

Mrs. Snyder said no one at the meeting was given an opportunity to speak to the president and many, including herself, were prevented by security at the event from talking to the press after the president's town meeting.

Mrs. Snyder said after the meeting a group of television reporters at the back of the room asked her a question. When she tried to reply, she says she was herded out of the room.

"We were answering questions and this big guy in a suit came along and said, 'move along,'" she said. "I said, 'Why can't we answer questions?' And he said, 'I have been given my orders.'"

Mrs. Snyder said she felt threatened by the security officer.

"He kept saying 'move along' and kept blocking my way and I kept saying, 'I'm a U.S. citizen I have a right to answer some questions,'" she said. "It felt like if you were out of order at all, someone was going to take you away. It was very threatening."

"I think America is going in a very scary direction. I felt like I was in a police state and that as a citizen I don't have many rights," she said.

Bush really needs these people. Without them, he winds up blurting out stuff like this.



By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 3:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Who says Eliot Spitzer is too busy running for office to do anything useful?

From the AP:

A federal appeals court Friday blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from easing clean air rules on aging power plants, refineries and factories, one of the regulatory changes that had been among the top environmental priorities of the White House.
...
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington declared that the EPA rules violate the Clean Air Act and that only Congress can authorize such changes.

Fourteen states and a number of cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, had sued to block the change in 2003, saying it would allow more air pollution.

"This is an enormous victory for clean air and for the enforcement of the law and an overwhelming rejection of the Bush administration's efforts to gut the law," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who led the lawsuit for the states. "It is a rejection of a flawed policy."

But it may have been a bad move, according to a spokesman for the energy companies (and who is more trustworthy?):

Friday's decision "is a step backward in the protection of air quality in the United States," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a Washington-based group representing several power-generating companies. "What is it the environmental community thinks they've won? They've won the ability to place roadblocks in front of energy efficiency projects. This is terrible news."

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 2:59 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Get productive, people!

Found on Billmon, who seems to have woken up:

"Confronting critics of the Bush administration's economic record, Treasury Secretary John Snow said the widening gap between high-paid and low-paid Americans reflects a labor market efficiently rewarding more productive people . . . Mr. Snow said the same phenominon explains why compensation for corporate chief executives has climbed so sharply."

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Heh

Bad Arguments 101

by digby


I just heard someone say "they've been calling it a quagmire for years!"


By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 9:54 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 20, 2006

New Benzene-Flavored Cola!

How's your soda? Nice and cold? Full of cancer-causing benzene?

The British coverage:

Traces of a carcinogenic chemical have been found in soft drinks at eight times the level permitted in drinking water, it was revealed last night.

Tests conducted on 230 drinks on sale in Britain and France have identified high levels of benzene, a compound known to cause cancer, according to the Food Standards Agency. There is a legal limit of one part per billion of benzene in British drinking water. The latest tests revealed levels of up to eight parts per billion in some soft drinks.

Benzene has been linked to leukaemia and other cancers of the blood. Traces found in Perrier water 15 years ago led to the withdrawal of more than 160 million bottles worldwide. The disclosure has prompted food safety campaigners to demand that the Government reveal which products contain benzene. At present, the drinks' identities have not been revealed.

Versus the American coverage:

When small amounts of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, were found in some soft drinks 16 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration never told the public.

That's because the beverage industry told the government it would handle the problem and the FDA thought the problem was solved.

A decade and a half later, benzene has turned up again. The FDA has found levels in some soft drinks higher than what it found in 1990, and two to four times higher than what's considered safe for drinking water.

Both the FDA and the beverage industry said the amounts were small and that the problem didn't appear to be widespread.

"People shouldn't overreact," said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. "It's a very small number of products and not major brands."

Yes, that's right. We covered it up because the soft drink companies asked us to. People shouldn't overreact. It's just benzene, afterall. I mean, here are the possible health effects:

Short-term: EPA has found benzene to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: temporary nervous system disorders, immune system depression, anemia.

Long-term: Benzene has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: chromosome aberrations, cancer.

Nothing to get too worked up about. Just a little cancer. Mebbe a little failure of the nervous system.

I think my favorite parts are when the FDA's "top food safety expert" says we breathe more benzene than we get from drinking a can of soda, and that it's "tough to compare" the levels of "acceptable" benzene in soda to the levels set for water because people drink more water. Hi. Who's reassured now? We breathe more benzene than there is in a can of soda so we can all go back inside and continue on with our lives. Let's not consider the side of the argument that says benzene is bad for us and we already have a problem because it's in the air so we certainly would be at greater risk ingesting it, as well as inhaling it. Also, I've seen people. They drink soda. Lots of it. If they're drinking water, it's only because they snorted it by accident in the shower or because you need water to make soda. Water and benzene, apparently.

We're off the soda again. That's a warning to any of you who plan on visiting us and expect liquid refreshment. It's warm beet juice for the lot of you.


By min | March 20, 2006, 3:03 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link



3/19/2006

This dream i don't remember so well since i had it saturday night/yesterday morning. It's starting to get a bit fuzzy. Especially the order of events which are none too clear to begin with. Here goes.

Rod and i were staying in a dorm. The dorm was basically a long corridor with rooms on either side. At the end, there was an entryway. Joe D. was apparently staying in one of the rooms. I knew this because i could hear a Yamaha keyboard being played and i recognized it because it was the same keyboard that we owned. And i knew that Joe owned the same.

I don't know when it happened, but at some point Dracula entered the plot. He had a castle way over there. But he wanted to take over our castle/dorm. His plan involved enthralling those on our side, ofc. That is Dracula's usual MO. The one girl he got, I knew she was in his thrall so that didn't work out so well. Plus, she didn't want to be enthralled. Since she had been bitten once and I was worried that Rod had also been bitten, I had them sit in the sun for a bit. For future reference, the cure to the first stage of vampirism is getting a tan. Clearly.

Then, I had to create a shield of some sort to protect us. We knelt in the entryway and I drew a circle. The problem was I didn't have nearly enough power to keep Dracula out. Even with the additional energy I was getting from the others in the circle. So I tapped into fairy magic. Fairies are older and have stronger magics. The magickal barrier changed from blue to green and sometimes had a scaly/armoured appearance. Bush Jr. was not in the circle. He got put under Dracula's thrall. So did Rumsfeld. Needless to say, this didn't really concern us much. We figured they were pretty much on the side of evil anyway. And both so stupid that they couldn't help getting caught.

Ok. This is when it starts to get really hazy. We had to get to Dracula's castle in order to defeat him. But we needed to distract him so that he'd be at the dorm while we were at his castle. I don't remember exactly what the distraction was, but there was definitely a huge carnivorous vine involved. It had a Petey Pirahna type head. It ripped up the ground as it travelled because it was so big. Dracula had one, too. I'm pretty sure they collided.

Rod and I hurried to Dracula's castle. There was a car involved. It had to travel along a very specific path. Straying from the path caused the ride to be much rougher. We did a couple of Dukes of Hazzard fly over cars type moves. Until we landed in a parade heading towards us. The people scattered appropriately. I think it was a Mardis Gras parade because there were costumes and lots of feathers. Got to Dracula's castle and all the protection runes had disappeared from the doors and floors. This was because Dracula planned to move into our castle/dorm, so he had them removed from his old residence. This made it much easier to get thru the place. Got to the secret floor entrance to something. And somehow by stepping on it, we defeated Dracula. Very anti-climactic.

On the bright side, we were able to recover all the rings that had been stolen from each of my Apostles. The rings were magic, obliviously, marking them as apostles.


By min | March 20, 2006, 11:19 AM | My Dreams | Comments (1) | Link



Utilities Charge You For Taxes They Don't Pay

New York Times reported this last Wednesday. Here are the important bits:

Many electric utility companies across the nation are collecting billions of dollars from their customers for corporate income taxes, then keeping the money rather than sending it to the government.

The practice is legal in most states. The companies say it is smart business.

But some representatives of utility customers say that the practice, which involves using losses from other subsidiaries to reduce taxes owed, is not fair. They say that money that utilities are required to collect for federal and state taxes - typically a nickel on each dollar paid for electricity - should go for just that, or not be included in electric bills.

Otherwise, they argue, these legal monopolies make more than they are authorized to, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference in higher taxes or reduced services.

...

But in recent years many utilities have expanded into unregulated businesses, like energy trading and aircraft leasing, while others have been acquired by companies that own other businesses. When those other businesses lose money or create artificial losses through tax planning, those losses can be used to offset income earned by the utilities.

As a result, the parent companies owe less in taxes than their electric customers paid. Sometimes these companies owe nothing, or receive large tax refunds. By not remitting the taxes, the parent companies effectively have more money to invest in their operations or pay to shareholders in dividends.

The ability to intercept tax payments is not limited to electric utilities. Natural gas, water and telephone utilities can use the same techniques. The potential tax benefits are much smaller for gas and water utilities, however. And most telephone companies are no longer regulated as monopolies and their rates no longer include income taxes. (The taxes and fees that phone companies add to monthly bills are not corporate income taxes.)

...

Only a few states have mechanisms to prevent pocketing such money. West Virginia and Oregon require that taxes be paid to the government, although the Oregon law, enacted last year, is under attack by utilities there.

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that "fictitious" expenses, such as taxes government never receives, cannot be included in utility rates.

Needless to say, I'll be contacting PSE&G and our reps on Congress about this one. I can't wait to get the generic prepared reply from PSE&G.


By min | March 20, 2006, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 17, 2006

Lamont is officially in.

Here's the article announcing it.

Some key quotes:

"We're going to fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party," Lamont told more than 100 supporters at the Old State House. "With your passion, your enthusiasm, the grass roots, the Net roots - we're going to show people on a hot day in August that we can win. We can win not by being Republican Lite, but by being proud Democrats."
...
Lieberman's campaign monitored the announcement and quickly accused Lamont of negative campaigning, signaling that the senator views Lamont as a serious threat in a Democratic primary, where the voters tend to be liberal.
...
Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager, said Lamont attacked Lieberman's record, not his integrity.

"That's what their focus groups tell them they have do, portray Ned as angry. That's asinine," Swan said. "We're going to talk about Lieberman's record. It would be a good record - for a Republican from Mississippi."


...

The Democratic establishment is with Lieberman.

"They tell me, `Ned, don't rock the boat,'" Lamont said in a quavering voice, mocking party leaders. "Baby, I say it's high time we rock the boat."

Lamont intends to campaign on the full range of progressive Democratic issues, including universal health care and abortion rights, but his comments on the war generated the most enthusiastic applause Monday.

Bush and Lieberman have dragged the U.S. into a civil war that has made the world a more dangerous place, he said.

"They said the war would be easy. They said we would be greeted as liberators. And here we are three years later, America is no safer. Israel is no safer. The Middle East is destabilized. Iran is on the prowl. Osama Bin Laden is still on the prowl. We have 135,000 troops stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war," he said. "And I say that those who got us into this mess should be held accountable."

I happen to know for an absolute fact that the reason Rodriguez lost in Texas was because the people who read this blog wouldn't go and donate the $25 to his campaign. Don't let it happen again, folks.


By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 5:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



White Collar workers, your time has come

We stood by while the blue collar workers lost their jobs to third world factories.
Now it's our turn.

But the president's assertion that the answer to foreign outsourcing is education, a mantra embraced by Democrats as well as Republicans, is being challenged by a growing body of research and analysis from economists and other scholars. Education — at least as delivered by most of the nation's colleges, universities and technical schools — is no longer quite the economic cure-all it once was, nor the guarantee of financial security Americans have come to expect from college and graduate degrees.
...
"One could be educationally competitive and easily lose out in the global economic marketplace because of significantly lower wages being paid elsewhere," said Sheldon E. Steinbach, general counsel of the American Council on Education, an umbrella group that represents most of the nation's major colleges and universities.
...
"What's missing here from both parties is a global economic strategy and a worker adjustment strategy," said Anthony P. Carnevale, a scholar at the National Center on Education and the Economy who was appointed to major commissions by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

"When they don't know what else to do," he remarked, "there's a tendency among politicians to stand up and say 'education.' "


By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Bush beaten up by old people

I guess this is why he usually only goes to staged events.


By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 3:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Am I right? Am I wrong? My God, what have I done?

FAIR has compiled a list of what all the people in the media were saying in 2003 about the war.

They start off with pro-war syndicated columnist Cal Thomas who said:

"All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

So it's only fair...



By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



More cyborg madness

Min has previously shown you Slime Mold Cyborgs. Today i bring you cyborg insects.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting research proposals in the area of Hybrid Insect MEMS. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems. Specifically excluded is research, which primarily results in evolutionary improvement upon existing state-of-the-art.

DARPA seeks innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects, during their early stages of metamorphoses. The healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable bio-electromechanical interface to insects, as compared to adhesively bonded systems to adult insects. Once these platforms are integrated, various microsystem payloads can be mounted on the platforms with the goal of controlling insect locomotion, sense local environment, and scavenge power.

...
The final demonstration goal of the HI-MEMS program is the delivery of an insect within five meters of a specific target located at hundred meters away, using electronic remote control, and/or global positioning system (GPS). Although flying insects are of great interest (e.g. moths and dragonflies), hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals. In conjunction with delivery, the insect must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed. The insect-cyborg must also be able to transmit data from DOD relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc.
P.S. - DARPA really is the research division of the Department of Defense. This is no joke. I don't know if it's better or worse than trying to train people to kill goats with their mind, but it's up there.

P.P.S. - Linking to the Goat book, i noticed that the author has left a bunch of disturbing, desperate comments on the page. Kind of sad.


By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 9:03 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link



Stirring Up Trouble Part 2

A follow-up to an earlier post about police infiltrating protests. Today the New York Times has an article about memos that have been released as a result of a lawsuit. The memos state very bluntly that police use what they call "proactive arrests," covert surveillance, and intimidation techniques at demonstrations.

One point the memos reveal is that despite the denials made by the police department, they do in fact infiltrate the demonstrations in order to pass on misinformation.

The reports also made clear what the police have yet to discuss publicly: that the department uses undercover officers to infiltrate political gatherings and monitor behavior.

Indeed, one of the documents - a draft report from the department's Disorder Control Unit - proposed in blunt terms the resumption of a covert tactic that had been disavowed by the city and the federal government 30 years earlier. Under the heading of recommendations, the draft suggested, "Utilize undercover officers to distribute misinformation within the crowds."
[...]
In another report, a police inspector praised the "staging of massive amounts" of armored vehicles, prisoner wagons and jail buses in the view of the demonstrators, writing that the sight "would cause them to be alarmed."
[...]
Daniel M. Perez, the lawyer representing the people arrested at the animal rights demonstration, argued that the police tactics "punish, control and curtail the lawful exercise of First Amendment activities." The Police Department and the city have said that preserving public order is essential to protecting the civil rights of demonstrators and bystanders.

Mr. Perez maintains that the police documents, taken together, show a policy of pre-emptive arrests. The draft report discussed how early arrests could shape future events. "The arrests made at West 59th Street and Fifth Avenue set a 'tone' with the demonstrators and their possible plans at other demonstrations," the report stated.
[...]
Capt. Timothy Hardiman also took note of what he saw as the helpful presence of city corrections buses, which are used to transport prisoners and have reinforced windows, protected by metal grids.

"It was useful to have buses with corrections officers on hand," Captain Hardiman wrote. "They also had a powerful psychological effect."
[...]
Mr. Perez said the show of force sent a deliberate warning to people expressing their opinions. "The message is, if you turn out, be prepared to be arrested, be prepared to be sent away for a long time," he said. "It sounds like something from a battle zone."

Demonstrators arrested during the economic forum were held by the police for up to 40 hours without seeing a judge - twice as long as people accused of murder, rape and robbery arrested on those same days, Mr. Perez said.

So, they arrest people before they've committed a crime, they line the streets with cops in riot gear and corrections buses to intimidate protestors, and they deliberately spread misinformation in the hopes of goading people into committing a crimes so that they can be arrested and hauled away on a bus. In order to protect the public.

It sounds to me like the public need to be protected from the police. This isn't the behaviour of a democratic country. This is the behaviour of a fascist state. The gendarmes "protecting" us from the stresses of dissent and free thinking. "Stop protesting. It's just un-American."

They want to cry about how there are rioters and violent protesters that they need to deal with. Well, it's true that there are violent factions in lots of demonstrations. They should arrest people who are destroying public property, setting fire to things, breaking windows, cause, gee, there is a law against that. But 5 cops don't need to tackle and beat down a 135 pound 17 year old cause he started to spray paint a bus stop. They shouldn't be allowed to arrest people who haven't committed a crime in order to "set the tone" and cow the demonstrators. They shouldn't be allowed to silence dissent. They shouldn't be allowed to send in plainclothes cops to incite a riot. I'm pretty sure there are laws against incitement, and there are certainly laws about entrapment.

You don't like being called "pig"? Well, how about "gestapo"?


By min | March 17, 2006, 8:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



March 16, 2006

We're peaking

BTW, if you haven't seen The End of Suburbia yet, i really do recommend renting it as soon as possible. Then you can come back here and start planning our post-apocalypse Earthship commune with us.


By fnord12 | March 16, 2006, 5:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Listen, you little geek, i wrote those stories in 3 minutes.

If you had He-Man figures as a kid, you may remember that the original line of toys came with little books, where He-Man was a Conan-type barbarian. The later toys, beginning with Ram-Man and Man-E-Faces, started coming with comic books instead of little books, and in those the story was much more like how the cartoon (which I hated) ended up. The original books were relatively dark and mysterious compared to the comics. I was looking to see if anyone had put the original books online and i found this interview with the author. It's a pretty funny interview. The geeky interviewer just keeps asking all these involved questions about the back story, and the guy just keeps going, "Look, it was 4 tiny books i wrote for peanuts over 20 years ago. I didn't put a lot of thought into it."


By fnord12 | March 16, 2006, 3:43 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



It's about time for another terrorist attack

Or at least another "high alert". After all, there's an election coming up.


By fnord12 | March 16, 2006, 12:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



If You Thought the Ozone Problem Was Fixed

You thought wrong.

Martin Dameris, who led the research at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Wessling, said: "The ozone hole will stay around for another four to five years. We can't expect it to start to recover until 2010 and then it will take another 40 to 50 years to repair completely."

[...]

The German team pins the blame on the 11-year solar cycle, which makes the amount of solar radiation striking Earth periodically rise and fall. Scientists already knew the cycle influenced ozone, but Dr Dameris says its role in controlling the layer's recovery has been overlooked.

[...]

Some chemicals introduced to replace CFCs still damage ozone, [an ozone scientist at Manchester University] said, and there are worrying signs that climate change may be making the situation worse. Scientists are particularly worried that increased amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere could start to cool the stratosphere, accelerating ozone loss.

Link


By min | March 16, 2006, 9:20 AM | Science | Comments (4) | Link



March 15, 2006

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiird Flu

Bird Flu is caused by factory farming. Go vegan! Or at least, free range/organic.

But we've been told how to prepare for Bird Flu:

In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.

I promise this is my one and only post on Bird Flu unless something actually happens.


By fnord12 | March 15, 2006, 3:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Oops

Former Supreme Court Justice "swing vote," Sandra Day O'Connor now thinks that we are headed towards a dictatorship.

This is the same Sandra Day O'Connor who helped put Bush in office because she didn't want to retire under a Democrat:

In a story published the following day, Christopher Hitchens, the United States correspondent for the Evening Standard of London, wrote that "O'Connor . . . has allegedly told her friends and family that she wishes to retire from the Court but won't do so if there is to be a Democratic president to nominate her replacement." Helen Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote that "[t]he story going around [Washington] is that a very upset Justice Sandra Day O'Connor walked out of a dinner party on election night when she heard the first mistaken broadcast that Vice President A Gore had won. The ailing O'Connor apparently wants to retire, but not while a Democrat is in the White House and could pick her successor."

By fnord12 | March 15, 2006, 1:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Web 2.0 or Star Wars Character?

I'm not even sure what Web 2.0 is, but i got a 33/43 on this quiz.


By fnord12 | March 15, 2006, 12:54 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (4) | Link



March 14, 2006

Super-Villain Team-Up

I finished up Essential Super-Villain Team-Up yesterday morning. The Essential books make large runs of comics available very cheaply. This book contained a run of Dr. Doom stories from Astonishing Tales, and the entire run of the Super-Villain Team-Up comic, and even included issues of the Avengers and the Champions where there were cross-overs. It's such a bargain that these books are hard to pass up, but there are some problems.

The first is that they are printed on thin newspaper-like paper, and only in black and white. For some books, especially books by classic comic artists like Dikto and Kirby, the black and white can supposedly make the art actually look better because it's not covered up by the limitations of glaring 60s comic book colors (i think the fact that it's newsprint negates that to a degree even for the good artists). For stories like Super-Villain Team-Up, the art is pretty bad and the cheesey colors are part of the charm.

The second problem is probably specific to my personal insanity. I keep my comics in chronological order, as opposed to alphabetical by title. This means, for example, that if Spider-Man appears in an issue of the Avengers, i keep that issue of Avengers in between my Spider-Man comics. This way, when i re-read my comics, they're all in the order in which things "happened." The problem with having a big chunk of comics in one volume like the Essentials is that i can't split them up if i have to. So for example, in SVTU, The Beast appears in the Avengers cross-over, and then later in the Champions cross-over. If i have any other Beast appearances that are supposed to take place in between the Avengers and Champions issues, i can't place them in their proper spots.

But that's form. What about substance? The Astonishing Tales stories start off with an interesting story that establishes the tradition of Dr. Doom battling Mephisto for the soul of his mother once every year. It's a cool concept because it focuses on the mystical side of Dr. Doom, and i have the graphic novel where Doom finally wins (with the help of Dr. Strange), so it was nice to see how it started. After that, the AT stories deal with people trying to take over Latveria - first the former king that Doom deposed, and then the Red Skull. On the cheesey side, but pretty fun anyway.

Dr. Doom is one of my favorite Marvel villains. In one sense, he's like Darth Vader, and was probably an inspiration for Darth Vader. He's the reserved, super-intelligent arch-villain, Lawful Evil in D&D terms, hidden in armor with a combination of technological and mystical powers, and in command of a country. He wants to rule the world... because he thinks he can do a better job than anyone else. And the interesting thing is that he's probably right. Latveria is a third world Baltic country that under Doom rises from third world poverty to an international power independant of both the Soviet Union and western nations. The people are shown to be reasonably well off, but stuck in a Potemkin Village type civilization. It's generally left ambiguous whether Doom's people really love him, or if they pretend to love him because he has ordered them to and they fear him. But Doom is a super-genious and super efficient, and it's entirely possible that if he were to conquer the world he could bring an era of world peace and prosperity, so he raises some interesting moral questions. These stories never deal with that. Generally, SVTU keeps it ambiguous - most of the time when comments about the people being forced to love him are made, they are made by Doom's enemies. However, there are a few times when the comments are made by the narrator or Doom himself. And Doom is sometimes portrayed the way I described above, and sometimes as a generic megalomaniac bad guy.

I think that lack of consistency has a lot to do with the number of creators in charge of this book. There was no consistent writer or artist on SVTU. None of the writers were top writers at Marvel, and most were bottom of the barrel. It was also a pretty bad time for Marvel - this was when the only really good writers at marvel were Chris Claremont and Jim Starlin. But even if it were one bad writer throughout the run, it would have been better than the patchwork storytelling that occurs when there's a new writer every other issue.

Now one would think that the concept of Super-Villain Team-Up would include Super-Villains... teaming-up. Sure, the cliche is that super-villains are always scheming and never trust each other, so i was fully expecting that the villains would team-up for a while and eventually betray each other. I also know that bad guys can never win so i wasn't expecting any great victories, either (although it would have been nice to see both of those cliches avoided). However, i was certainly expecting that there would be super villains teaming up. Never really happened. I think Marvel wasn't really all that comfortable with the concept of having bad guys as the stars of a book, which is why they never really went with the concept and kept throwing in heroes, and why they never assigned a consistent creative team to it.

Besides Doom, the other major character for most of the book was Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. He's an interesting character whose been a good guy and a bad guy over the years, but even at his worst he's always been in the "noble but misunderstood" category, not really evil. After the Astonishing Tales Doom story, SVTU starts up with Namor going to Doom and asking for an alliance and Doom refusing, and then Doom going to Namor and asking for an alliance, and Namor refusing. The logic being "We're both bastards, and you know in the end one of us is going to betry the other." I really liked that. Then Doom decides that he needed to prove to Namor that they could be partners, so he waits until Namor is in trouble (with Tiger Shark and Attuma), sweeps in and provides the rescue. It all goes well until Doom kills an Attuma flunky in cold blood, upsetting Namor's delicate sensibilities and ruining the alliance. All of which is pretty good stuff.

Then the concept goes south. Doom manages to keep Namor around by getting him dependant on some chemical that keeps him alive and playing off his sense of honor. Then Doom makes Namor do nasty things against Namor's will (like fight the Fantastic Four). All of which is more or less in character, but a little cheesy, and not the Super Villain Team Up concept i was looking for. Eventually Namor breaks free when they bring in a new super hero called The Shroud who is a total Bat-Man rip-off (complete with a Batarang and an origin involving his parents getting killed in front of his eyes after going to a play). The Shroud gets into a fight with Doom and believes he kills him, and so Namor is released from his oath.

Then the series really gets bad. Doom teams up with the Avengers to fight Krang (more Atlantean villains... yawn). Then Doom teams up with Captain America to fight the Red Skull. With Sub-Mariner out of the picture, i was expecting Doom to team up with other bad guys, not team up with heroes to fight them.

Next Magneto shows up in Latveria (acting completely out of character compared to what Claremont was doing with him in X-Men at the time) and finds that Doom has already conquered the world by releasing a chemical that makes everyone obey him. But Doom is bored (this is a recurring theme when Doom conquers the world, which i like), so he frees Magneto, and lets him pick one Avenger to team-up with to see if the two of them can overthrow Doom. Magneto, in a room with Thor, Iron Man, The Vision, The Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and Captain America, chooses... The Beast, who even he admits is the weakest Avenger. He first says he chose him because he used to fight him all the time. Makes sense(?). Later he says he chose him because he thought he could help Magneto convince Xavier to help them. I guess he forgot that everyone was under Doom's control. The X-Men turn out to be out of town anyway, so Magneto and Doom go to try and get help from the third-stringers known as The Champions... who are under Doom's control (duh) so they end up getting into a fight. Eventually Doom's face mask accidentally breaks open, and Doom breathes in his own controlling gas, which apparently defeats him. "Doom... must be obeyed... but i am Doom! Why does Doom not give me orders?? Why???"

With Doom also out of the picture, the story gets even worse. It turns to the Red Skull, who has teamed up with a really minor villain called the Hate Monger. But the Hate Monger turns out to be... Adolph Hitler. No, seriously. Oh i forgot: earlier, Dr. Doom teamed up with Henry Kissinger, who signs a non-aggression pact with Doom and tells the Fantastic Four to leave him alone. I'm still not kidding. Eventually Hitler and the Red Skull betray each other, and the story is over.


By fnord12 | March 14, 2006, 11:17 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Tubular Drums

Link from Mike: a North Double Marathon Drum Kit. Check it out. Very interesting. (I couldn't find a permalink so you may have to hunt for it a little if they make a new post.)


By fnord12 | March 14, 2006, 9:00 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



March 13, 2006

Lost again... Nader's fault?

So the progressive Democrat, Ciro Rodriguez, that we were supporting because he was running for a house seat in a primary in Texas against a conservtive Democrat lost. And the comments at daily kos... are blaming Ralph Nader. I think. I'm not really sure what this guy is saying:

This is doubtless the 99,000th time someone has said this to those of you for whom this applies but:

It sure would have been nice for the progressives who demanded such purity that they voted for St. Ralph in 2000 to remember that UNLESS you win important elections, in the end all you have in the end is some "energized grassroots efforts" that nonetheless failed to win anything but "moral victories". Meanwhile, instead of having an imperfect, but at least sane and more usually than not responsibly sound person in some vital office, you get a malignantly destructive, arrogant reactionary whose goal it is to destroy not only everything progressive that's ever been accomplished, but to salt the earth against even the slight possibility any progressive-minded goals could be accomplished ever again, even should you win office in the future.

You're right, I'm still big-time angry at some of you for all that's happened the last 5 years.


By fnord12 | March 13, 2006, 7:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



Sad songs (say so much)

Ever wonder why we think of the musical scale (do - re - mi - fa - so - la - ti - do) as beginning at middle C on a piano? C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C. Those are the notes of the major scale, in C major, which uses all white notes. And all the classical modes are based on iterations of that. From C to C is the major scale (aka the Ionian mode). From D to D is C major's relative Dorian mode. From E to E is the relative Phrygian mode. Etc. All the modes are defined based on their position in the major scale. Dorian is the second mode, Phyrgian the third,etc.

But doesn't it make more sense that we would start at A? A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A? From an alphabetical standpoint, it makes the most sense. Why start at C? But from A to A is the minor scale (aka the Aeolian mode), the saddest of all the scales. I haven't done any research on this, and i'm sure that there's an explanation based on the instruments that came before the piano like the harpischord and the pipe organ, but it seems to me that our earliest music theory seems to assume that music is naturally sad.

This makes more sense to me. When i think of music based on the major scale, i think of gratingly annoying music like Happy Birthday, advertising jingles, and Country music. Most music that has resonance with people is sad, because people's lives are generally sad, or at least because it is the tragic things that have the most impact on us. I don't know when we started thinking about things in terms of C instead of A, but i bet it was based on a decision by the Roman Catholic church in medieval times, thinking that music should be used to uplift peoples' spirits (although a lot of church music is also sad). Whenever it was done, it almost seems like a sloppy job of brainwashing. I guess it was too late to actually rename the actual notes, but it's a pretty big clue to leave behind.


By fnord12 | March 13, 2006, 4:15 PM | Music | Comments (2) | Link



There's always someone geekier than you, pt. 2

Justice League of New Jersey


By fnord12 | March 13, 2006, 2:18 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



March 10, 2006

Food Uniformity Bill

This bill basically requires that all State food safety laws be identical to Federal laws. The catch is that if the FDA hasn't made a regulation for some food threat, then the States can't either. And if the State already has such a regulation in place, it's now voided.

And, since the states regulate many food safety issues not covered by the FDA, many food safety laws will be voided and replaced with no law at all. For example, the bill would preempt Alaska's newly passed law to label genetically engineered fish and California's Proposition 65, a very effective law that requires labeling of food and consumer products that contain substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. It also threatens state laws governing the safety of milk and shellfish.

It passed in the House 283 to 139. Check out this site to see how your Representative voted. Take a second to yell at your Rep if he voted for the bill and thank them if they voted against. My guy voted against. Yay Rush Holt!

Also, take a minute to contact your Senator and ask them to oppose the bill in the Senate. Here is the Center for Food Safety's webform if you want to do it that way.


By min | March 10, 2006, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Endangered Wildlife Park

I received this email from the NRDC:

The National Park Service is considering building a new road through 30 miles of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the crown jewels of America's national park system.

We need your immediate help to stop the proposed North Shore Road, which would slice through the heart of NRDCs Cumberland Plateau BioGem and destroy one of the largest pristine wildlands in the eastern United States.

Please go to http://www.savebiogems.org/cumberland/takeaction.asp right away and urge the National Park Service to reject the North Shore Road proposal.

At a cost of at least $600 million in taxpayer dollars, the North Shore Road would lay waste to portions of the celebrated Appalachian Trail, as well as vital habitat for black bears, migratory songbirds and other wildlife.

Road construction would pollute local waterways with acidic runoff and heavy metals, contaminating nearby streams with toxic chemicals and killing aquatic life in one of the world's most species-rich watersheds. In fact, much of this area has already been recommended for formal wilderness designation -- and is already managed as wilderness -- by the Park Service.

The Park Service is currently accepting comments on whether to build this ill-conceived road or, instead, offer Swain County, North Carolina, a monetary settlement.

If they truly are accepting comments and aren't just making a show of it, then please do send them one. Considering the size of our ecological footprints, I don't think we can afford to destroy any part of the planet. If you'd rather not use NRDC's pre-written submission, you can leave a comment directly on the National Park Service's webform.


By min | March 10, 2006, 10:12 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Slime Mold Cyborgs

For those of you who (like me) fear that as soon as they figure out how to make AI work, the robots will turn on their creators, you can add "sentient slime mold" to the list.


By min | March 10, 2006, 9:41 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Firestone: Plantation Owners - Slavers

What brand of tires do you drive on? If they're Firestone brand, you'll be happy to know that you're helping to prop up a rubber plantation owned by Firestone in Liberia.

Three or four times a morning, depending on how strong they feel, Mulbah and his mates go back and forth between the plantation and the weighing machine. They belong to the Firestone plantation's (officially) 6,000-strong workforce. Mulbah's worn-out sandals say it all. Struggling to earn $3 a day, he can't afford a $10 pair of Firestone rubber boots.

Liberia was in a civil war for 14 years. This caused many people to be displaced, seeking refuge in the plantation, the one place that somehow managed to avoid damage. Firestone, seeing an opportunity, has taken full advantage of desperate times and a bad situation.

"In a country where there is no work, we have little alternative," says Mulbah. "I spent 12 years at school and studied mechanics. I know the words for all sorts of things. This is slavery, just like in the history books."

[...]

The staple food is rice, supplied by Firestone and deducted from the workers' pay: $25 for two 50kg bags.

[...]

According to a report published in November on the internet by the local NGO Save My Future Foundation (Samfu), 10,000 people, including children, work indirectly for Firestone.

[...]

Effluents from the processing plant flow directly into the adjoining Farmington river..."We try to explain to the women not to wash clothes in the river." Dr Lyndon Mabande, the senior consultant at the Firestone hospital inadvertently confirms this situation. "Apart from falls and ammonia burns, we see a lot of patients suffering from gastric complaints," he says. "When they work in the bush, they drink contaminated water."

With the UN embargo on diamonds and timber (but oddly, not rubber....hmmm) and all rubber exported out of Liberia for processing, it doesn't seem likely that Liberians lives will improve. As Firestone is making the profit, not Liberia, it's doubly unlikely.

Old world style plantation, child labor, hazardous working and living conditions. When confronted with these accusations, Firestones public relations manager Edwin Padmore brushes these claims aside.

Padmore dismisses such claims, explaining that average pay amounts to $3.38 for an eight-hour day, well above the national average in a country with 80% unemployment.

Nice guy.


By min | March 10, 2006, 9:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 9, 2006

We Are Like A Disease

We're infecting everyone around us. First Mexico pulls a Jessica Lynch and now Britain has caught the creationism plague.

He did not feel that a belief in evolution was necessary to study medicine although he added that, if writing about it was necessary for passing an exam, he would do so. "We want to become doctors and dentists, we want to pass our exams."

[...]

Most of the next generation of medical and science students could well be creationists, according to a biology teacher at a leading London sixth-form college. "The vast majority of my students now believe in creationism,' she said, "and these are thinking young people who are able and articulate and not at the dim end at all. They have extensive booklets on creationism which they put in my pigeon-hole ... it's a bit like the southern states of America." Many of them came from Muslim, Pentecostal or Baptist family backgrounds, she said, and were intending to become pharmacists, doctors, geneticists and neuro-scientists.

Students of science who believe in creationism. People who want to become doctors and neuro-scientists who think evolution is a farce. When does the cognitive dissonance kick in and the spontaneous head combustion start?

Also, I hope very much that I'm never stuck in Great Britain and need to see a doctor.


By min | March 9, 2006, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



TV Made Us Do It

The Mexican government faked a kidnapping rescue back in December to show they're winning the fight against organized crime.

The authorities had sought to share the blame with journalists that they claim asked the police to replay arrests carried out hours before. "All we tried to do was serve you, the media," the attorney general, Daniel Cabeza de Vaca, told a news conference.

Who's having Jessica Lynch flashbacks?


By min | March 9, 2006, 8:38 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 8, 2006

3/7/2006

Me and two other girls sneak into an apartment building via the laundry shute. Casually stroll into the apartment of the guy we've come to protect except there's some stranger sitting there in the foyer. We just as casually stroll right back out of the apartment. The stranger's working for the bad guy. Think mob boss and thug. As we're nonchalantly standing out in the hallway, the guy we're supposed to be protecting walks out in cuffs, wearing a gorilla suit (minus the head) with a group of people. He sees us, smiles and thanks us. As it turns out, the whole gorilla suit thing was part of our plan to smuggle him out of the apartment safely. We're zooming down the street in 2 cars and he takes off is "disguise".

Flash to Rod and me driving down some local street in ourSUV (which shall hereafter be referred to as "Earth Punisher"). Up ahead is a grassy median and the lane splits in either direction around the median. Rod drives right over the median instead of choosing a lane. As we stop at the light, he tells me he couldn't decide which way to go. I should have seen what happened last time when it was dark out. We turn down a street and now we're driving our Earth Punisher in a department store display window. The floor and walls are white. It's full of female mannequins displaying outfits. Faceted blue and green glass/plastic are scattered on the ground around the mannequins. Even the clothes are in blue-green hues. The store's closed. We have to get out of here or we'll get in trouble. But we can't get out cause we're lost in the store. The store's layout is a room with a door that leads to a hallway that leads to a door that leads to another room that also has a door that leads to a hallway, etc. Lots of right angle turns. One door leads to a room full of computer terminals. Keep going. Now it's someone's house. We have to find a way out before the people wake up and catch us. Try another door. Crap. There's a couple in there. They're awake. It's nearly dawn. The woman asks us what we're doing here. I explain that we're lost. They live in an old, rustic looking house but it's in the middle of the city (imagine Times Square). The living rooms got 2 walls that are just huge windows so you can look out onto the street. The couple say it's awful. It's so noisy.


By min | March 8, 2006, 9:17 PM | My Dreams | Comments (0) | Link



March 7, 2006

No official reluctance to report the truth

Pat Tillman was a pro-football player who, after the WTC attacks, decided to pass up on a contract so he could join the army and fight in Afghanistan. He was also a reader of Noam Chomsky, and when Tillman was tranferred to Iraq, he began speaking out against the war, calling it illegal. Then he was killed. At first the Defense Department tried playing him up as a hero who was killed by an enemy attack. Then it came out that he was killed by friendly fire. Since then there have been four investigations and they are working on the fifth. Any "investigation" where an organization investigates itself will always be more of an ass-covering operation as far as i am concerned, and i don't think anything will come of this either. They are calling his death the result of "gross negligence." To me that means they sent him in from of someone else's machine gun on purpose to shut him up, but i guess i'm a conspiracy theorist.

Here's my favorite part of the article:

A report by the Army later found that troops with Tillman knew at the time that friendly fire had killed the football star. Officers destroyed critical evidence and concealed the truth from Tillman's brother, also an Army Ranger, who was nearby, the report found.

More than three weeks after a memorial service in San Jose, Calif., the Army announced on May 29, 2004, that friendly fire rather than an enemy encounter caused Tillman's death. However, even at the time of the memorial, top Army officials were aware that the investigation showed the death had been caused by an act of "gross negligence," the report said.

Despite the Army's findings, the officer who prepared the Special Operations Command report, Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, concluded there was no official reluctance to report the truth. Army officials have acknowledged that they should have better handled the information they released on Tillman's death.

Sure, they destroyed evidence and lied, but they really wanted to tell the truth. I'll tell you what: if you don't want me to be a conspiracy theorist, stop acting so damn suspicious.


By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 11:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



It is the duty of patriotic americans to keep spending.

Only terrorists don't like being in debt.

They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.

...
They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 10:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Use your harpoons and tow cables.

(Thanks, Rose)


By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 9:22 AM | Science & Star Wars | Comments (0) | Link



Watching The Watcher

My first new Marvel toy in a long time. He's not quite in scale, as you can see in the picture. He should be about the same size as Galactus, minus the helmet, as you can see here. (That's pre-diet Watcher, by the way.) But he's bigger than Mr. Fantastic, and i guess as a Cosmic Being he can be any size he wants.


By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 9:16 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



March 6, 2006

Hedgehog Voting Time

Time to vote on a name for the hedgehog.

Here are the 5 entries submitted:


  • Pointy

  • Harold

  • Horace

  • T.G. Cid

  • Penelope


Please vote for your first and second choices via the comments. Write-ins will be considered. Voting ends Wednesday, 4pm.


By min | March 6, 2006, 8:30 AM | My stupid life | Comments (9) | Link



March 3, 2006

Day of the Shark

I think the Pentagon has been watching Day of the Dolphin while smoking doobies. That's the only reasonable explanation for this.

Military scientists in the United States are developing a way of manipulating sharks by remote control to turn them into underwater spies or weapons.

I can only hope that they are also growing George C. Scott clones in short shorts.


By min | March 3, 2006, 1:11 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Race to the End of Everything

China had a policy of isolationism for decades. This caused them to fall behind many other countries in the world technologically, economically, etc. Now they've finally realized they can't live as if the rest of the world doesn't exist so they're playing catch-up. Except they're not doing it intelligently. Once again they fail. Instead of observing the pitfalls of industrialization and using current and new technology to avoid it, they are just repeating all the mistakes others have already made. With their drive for expansion and development, they are killing the land and ultimately killing themselves.

More than four-fifths of the wetlands along northern China's biggest river system have dried up because of over-development, the state media reported yesterday in the latest warning of the dire environmental consequences of the country's economic growth.

Fifty years ago, the Haihe River and its tributaries formed an ecologically rich area that included 1,465 square miles of wetlands. But in the years since, the expanding mega-cities of Beijing and Tianjin have sucked much of it dry. The Xinhua news agency reported that the wetlands have shrunk to 207 square miles.


By min | March 3, 2006, 8:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



March 2, 2006

Hedgehog - Last Chance to Submit a Name

This is your last chance to submit an entry in the Name the Hedgehog Contest. We will have a run-off vote Monday.


By min | March 2, 2006, 3:54 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link



Chomsky fan for PM of Iraq!

Juan Cole:

The Kurdistan Alliance and the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front are attempting to block Ibrahim Jaafari from becoming prime minister. The United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, has the right to nominate the PM, and an internal party vote resulted in Jaafari's victory. Jaafari is, however, unacceptable to the United States because of his close ties to Iran and his socialist tendencies (he recently expressed admiration for Noam Chomsky and wondered if Noam would come visit Baghdad). The US appears to be working with the Kurds and the Sunnis behind the scenes to make Jaafari's candidacy collapse. The United Iraqi Alliance has 132 votes in the 275-strong parliament, but 184 are needed to choose a president. It therefore needs partners from either the Kurds or Sunni Arabs or both, and these two can essentially filibuster and prevent the formation of a government unless the UIA goes along with them.

Personally, I think that given the parlous security situation in Iraq, it is absolutely crazy to be playing these political games. In the wake of the destruction of the Askariyah Shrine in Samarra, you want to go to the Shiite community and say, 'you cannot have your choice of prime minister and there is going to be a tyranny of the minorities'? Oh, that will calm things right down.


By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 1:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Smashing Orangey Bit

Jaffa cake.

I think you want one, too.


By min | March 2, 2006, 11:01 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Land of the Lost

Ana sent me a link a few weeks ago about a previously unknown area of Indonesia that they're referring to as the Lost World. On the one hand, it's nice to know there's still someplace untouched by man. Ofc, now that it's been "discovered", it's not really untouched anymore, and I'm willing to bet it won't take long for Club Med and the rest of the tourist industry to start sizing it up for resorts and guided tours. Not to mention any natural resources so far untouched that industries can exploit. Let the good times roll!

Evidence of the lack of human presence was how many animals showed no fear of the researchers.

Everyone remember what happened to the dodo, right?


By min | March 2, 2006, 10:45 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



System Failure

More on the Katrina video from Greg Saunders from This Modern World:

The miserable, uninspired blogger who hasn't written anything interesting in a month side of me wants to write off this latest bombshell with a pithy line like "go ahead and throw this in the corner with the other smoking guns", but this really hit a nerve with me...

It's times like these when I wish we had a parlimentary system of government. In most other democracies, a fuck-up that big would be quickly followed by a "no confidence" vote and new elections. In the USA, the aggressively incompetent leaders who get us into one catastrophe after another are allowed to stay and screw up the reconstruction process as well. So for the next three years, we're stuck with the same assholes who got us into this mess, unless we can convince enough members of Congress that criminal negligence that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people isa "high crime" or "misdemeanor".


By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 10:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Vegetables Help Prevent Cancer

A study found that chemicals in vegetables and soy beans help genes with detecting and repairing damaged DNA. Link

Natural chemicals found in soya beans and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower boost the body's ability to repair damaged DNA and may prevent cells turning cancerous, scientists said yesterday.

[...]

Professor Rosen's team exposed breast and prostate cancer cells to increasing levels of the natural chemicals. Depending on the dose, they boosted the activity of the DNA repairing genes by 10-15 times.

Score another point for vegans. Besides them and the Asians, who the hell else is going to eat tofu?


By min | March 2, 2006, 10:34 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Extra Grippingness

I read this, and it amused me.

Today, an old favourite rears its head, however - namely: how stupid are women? I've been pondering this ever since I first saw the Gillette advertisement for a ladies' razor whose main selling point was its bright-green, extra-wide handle. It was then that I realised that we might be lacking something as a gender if we were so clearly incapable of picking up depilatory instruments, let alone wielding them with the necessary dexterity, unless they were carefully designed with extra grippingness.

I would say that men and women are prolly tied in the "Who's Stupider" contest. I think i know why, too. It's come to my attention that the people who shouldn't be reproducing are usually the ones most successful at it. Go figure.

The most distressing bit of information in this article illustrating stupidity is this:

Last month Headline publishers had to repackage its Jane Austen novels in foil-embossed covers showing Regency love scenes, and bill the author as "the godmother of romantic fiction" to re-educate those who were under the impression that Austen wrote essays on hypothecated taxation.

(emphasis mine)
The fan fiction wasn't bad enough. Now they're putting Regency love scenes on the covers. Ugh.


By min | March 2, 2006, 9:37 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



The liberal news media

Last night the AP released a video and additional transcripts of meetings with Bush warning him about what was going to happen regarding Katrina and New Orleans. They warned that the leevees would likely break (remember, "No one could have predicted that the leeves would break."), causing catastrophe. Bush asks no questions, and then assures state officials that "We are fully prepared."

You'd think this would be the front page story on all the news sites. It's not. No, the headline story is "Nuclear Deal With India a Victory for Bush". On Yahoo news, the Katrina video isn't even a "top story" (but "New, More Colorful $10 Bill to Debut" is).


By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 8:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



March 1, 2006

Lieberman and the PMRC

The PMRC is why when i was younger i essentially rejected the Democrats and thought i was a Republican libertarian (I was also, and probably always will be, conflicted about abortion). It's why i voted for Nader (or essentially against Tipper Gore, founder of the PMRC) in 96. As far as i was concerned, the Democrats were the party of authoritarian Big Government, trying to tell me how to live my life and what music i could listen to. By 2000 i had internalized most of Nader's criticisms and while i certainly didn't consider myself a Republican, i always figured the Democrats for a bunch of phoneys and no better. I've not really seen anything that's changed my opinion on that subject, but i've come somewhat away from the strategy of supporting a third party and now see benefits in the strategy of supporting primary challenges to longstanding Democrat milksops.

The evolution of my opinion in the last 6 years is the result of a couple of things:


  1. Watching the disaster of the Nader / Green split during the 2004 election, and the utter failure of the Greens to actually build local movements.
  2. Reading too many blogs, which with the exception of Left I On The News, tend to be of a center-left persuasion.
  3. Watching the Bush administration for the past 6 years and realizing that as bad as the Democrats are, the Republicans are much, much worse, in every respect.*

It's a compromised strategy. My politics are Green, and i disagree with the Democrats on goals and methods for a lot of issues. But at least for now, i'm seeing if it's possible to effect change from within.

So now i'm looking at primary challenges, and 'tis the season for the 2006 election, if you are interested. We've already sent money to a number of candidates that are challenging conservative Democrats, including Ned Lamont, who is challenging Joe Lieberman. I dislike Lieberman especially. In addition to the obvious stuff (he's for the war, he's for the Patriot act, he voted for Alito), he's the leader in terms of politicians who criticize video games and especially music. This blog, DownWithTyranny gives a little history of the PMRC and Lieberman that i thought was interesting in that it shows how Lieberman is basically more or less responsible for alienating young people from the Democrats (and in most cases, politics in general):

First a little disclosure. DWT is the nom de guerre for Howie Klein, former punk rock dj, former founder and president of alternative rock label 415 Records, former general manager and vice president of Sire Records and former president of Reprise Records. I am now retired from the music business but there is no question that Joe Lieberman's frontal assault on the music business was something that very much disturbed me. In fact, several of his and his allies' prime targets were personal friends as well as business associates. (And one of the albums he fussed and fretted about most obnoxiously, BODY COUNT, was a record I was Executive Producer of.)

The story starts with the founding of the PMRC and if you're too young to remember, you ought to read about that sad chapter in American political/cultural history (in that link back there or either this one here or this Gore-bashing right wing point of view here). The principals' names should all sound familiar: Tipper Gore (wife of Al), Susan Baker (wife of Bush family retainer/fixer James), Nancy Thurmond (one of the Strom wives), Lynn Cheney (lesbian pornography writer and wife of alcoholic current vice president Dick). This gaggle of powerful men's wives was the forerunner for three of Washington's most celebrated, loud-mouthed hypocrites: Bill Bennett, Sam Brownback and, of course, Joe Lieberman, who took up their campaign almost as soon as he was elected.

To quote the Republican National Committee (who carelessly hypocritically left out Lynn Cheney's participation in the PMRC, the group's mission "was to clean up raunchy lyrics and suggestive album covers in the music industry. The group pushed for a 'rating system similar to that for films, printed lyrics on album covers and under-the-counter obscurity for covers depicting violence or explicit sexual themes'... In August 1985, under pressure from PMRC and other parents' groups, record companies agreed to place the warning 'Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics' on albums and cassettes containing explicit lyrics. However, for Tipper and PMRC, that language was not enough and the group continued its war on controversial music lyrics," eventually bringing the mess before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Artists like Jello Biafra, Ice-T and Frank Zappa showed how dangerous the PMRC's plans were for freedom of speech and expression, with Zappa explaining to the senators that "the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of toilet training program to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few," adding, dramatically "Ladies, how dare you?... Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality. Freedom of speech, freedom of religious thought, and the right to due process for composers, performers and retailers are imperiled if the PMRC and the major labels consummate this nasty bargain." (Among the artists specifically attacked by the PMRC were Madonna, Prince, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Cyndi Lauper and Sheena Easton.)

People often ask me what happened and what was the big deal. Lieberman knew exactly what he was doing-- far better than the batty wives' group that preceded him-- when he insisted on ratings on CDs and it had nothing to do with helping parents supervise their children. Few people understand-- the way Lieberman did-- that in the late 80s something like 70% of all recorded music was sold in stores in malls and that malls have very stringent lease arrangements about their tenants not selling "pornography." Over the course of this controversy two of the Senate's most uptight and close-minded prigs, Sam Brownback and Lieberman, pushed for the kinds of stickers that would make it impossible for the kind of music they objected to-- like anything talking about masturbation or homosexuality, for example-- to be stocked by 70% of American retailers. The effect inside the music business was chilling-- and instantaneous. Suddenly a whole new internal bureaucracy had to be created to police every record and suddenly artists were being pressured-- sometimes overtly and sometimes less overtly-- to cave in to demands by two really reactionary fundamentalists whose values are far from mainstream. In one fell swoop Lieberman destroyed an alliance between young voters and the Democratic Party that had started with John Kennedy's election as he ham-fistedly savaged their culture for his own political ambitions. (emphasis mine)

*Sidenote: Actually, this one is a little tricky. When Bush was first elected, I said to min that because of the Nader challenge, Democrats will be sure to highlight every 'bad thing' that Bush did as an example of why the Greens ruined everything. Early on in the Bush administration, when the Democrats were howling about an executive order about acceptable levels of mercury in water that Clinton signed at the very last minute before leaving office, after having been in office for 8 years, that Bush immediately reversed, i saw it as evidence that i was right. Then al-Qaeda attacked, bestowing Republicans with the political capital to act without restraint. And act they did, enacting policies more awful than i could have imagined when i was agreeing with Nader that there aren't any real differences between Republicans and Democrats. Although it's important to notice that for the most part, Democrats have supported most of Bush's agenda. So Nader was wrong. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats won't come up with the really bad ideas on their own, but they will still go along with them if someone else suggests them.


By fnord12 | March 1, 2006, 4:07 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (0) | Link



Chinese Beavers!

Heh. That'll get some traffic.

The remarkable fossil bones of a fur-covered, swimming mammal that lived in the age of the dinosaurs 164 million years ago have been discovered in China, raising a wave of excitement among scientists whose timetable for mammalian evolution has just been pushed back by 100 million years.

The animal appears to have been more than a foot long and weighed nearly 2 pounds, with a tail remarkably like a beaver and seal-like teeth clearly adapted for catching and eating fish, its discoverers say.

But what's most intriguing is that, until now, most scientists have thought that when dinosaurs ruled the Earth the only mammals around were primitive little creatures no bigger than rats or shrews. They were thought to subsist mostly on insects and plants, and larger, more diversified mammals evolved only later after the dinosaurs became extinct some 65 million years ago.

The new discovery puts that idea to rest.

One of my anthropology professors in college said that the offical line of the Chinese government was that humans in China evolved independently of humans elsewhere. Maybe the discrepancy between this mammal fossil found in China and the fossils of less evolved mammals found elsewhere supports them.


By fnord12 | March 1, 2006, 3:23 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Falling Behind

If this turns out to be truly applicable in the real world, it's very good news:

In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology that will enable homes to obtain all their electricity from the sun.

This means high electricity bills and frequent power failures could soon be a thing of the past.

The unique South African-developed solar panels will make it possible for houses to become completely self-sufficient for energy supplies.

The panels are able to generate enough energy to run stoves, geysers, lights, TVs, fridges, computers - in short all the mod-cons of the modern house.

Here in the United States, we're barely bothering with solar power. Our idea of reducing reliance on oil is building nuclear power plants. Why? Because the Oil and Nuclear industries give big campaign contributions. No one is going to make money in the long run with solar power.

This is a major failure of capitalism. Why devote time and money researching technologies that would be beneficial to society but won't result in any revenue? (Same philosophy in medical research, for example: we can make more money developing the next Viagra or preventing male pattern baldness than we can curing cancer. Drugs to extend the life of cancer patients? Sure, anything to keep them coming back and buying more drugs. But cure it and you lose your revenue stream.)

The result is that countries that rely on private corporations to develop new technologies are going to fall behind countries that better fund scientists working at public universities, etc. We in the US generally think of ourselves as being "the best", and there's a reason why. At one point, especially under FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower, we directed much more funding to developing infrastructure. But in the 70s the wealthy in this country began devoting their resources to fighting the perception that the wealthy and corporations should be taxed (via groups like the Heritage Foundation and CATO), and they've been very successful. Since then, we've been falling behind.


By fnord12 | March 1, 2006, 3:09 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link



What's Your Footprint?

Mine's 13. We would need 2.8 planets to sustain us if everyone was like me.

Take the quiz.


By min | March 1, 2006, 12:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



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