Saturday, June 30, 2007

Isaiah Washington, dick-face. Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington said racism was a factor in his firing from the hit ABC series after he twice used an anti-gay slur.

Washington said he lost his "Grey's Anatomy" job partly because he was an assertive black man.

Washington, who initially used the epithet during an onset clash with a co-star, told Newsweek magazine that "someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me."

He tried to make amends by expressing remorse and volunteering to enter a counseling program to understand how the confrontation got out of hand, he told Newsweek.

"My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network and all of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity," he said in the interview posted online Thursday.

"My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong on all fronts," he said.

His unwillingness to act like a submissive black at work was part of the problem, Washington said.

"Well, it didn't help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn't a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn't speak like I'd just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime," he said.
[emphasis mine]

Really? This is your message?
As a completist, I should note that iTunes 7.3 also includes a new warning notification when it is unable to find album artwork. There.

Friday, June 29, 2007

That, of course, is the defining mentality of the Authoritarian Mind, captured in its purest essence by Jonah. Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept -- and even be grateful -- when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Greg Packer, iphone-line-frontman, is a professional Man on the Street (2004 article) - he gets comments from himself into the media.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Roger Ailes: "A Field Guide to Several Men Named Beck"

I need more of these.

In Agreement

David Kuo has had enough.
I am waiting for conservative Christian activists to denounce Ann Coulter. I'm waiting and waiting and waiting and I'm waiting. This does not seem like a tough one, after all, Coulter has now publicly said of presidential candidation John Edwards she wished, "he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

Christians involved in politics must do the hardest thing of all - they must push for their positions in such a way as to bring glory to God. If they don't do that, if they don't sublimate their politics to God something horrible happens - politics becomes their God.

History is replete with examples of how this works well - the Underground Railroad, abolition, the civil rights movement, women's suffrage - this is not one of those times. Too many conservative Christian activists are behaving as if God is subordinate to their political desires...or worse that he is simply a pawn to be used in their desires.

Ann Coulter is a perfect little example of this problem. Countless conservative Christians embrace her and groups like the so-called Family Research Council feature her at banquets. And when she says things like wishing death upon a presidential candidate the Christians say nothing at all.

Who will step forward first? A lot of people are waiting...
With all my pro-atheist talk here, I love championing the words of an evangelical christian.

Understanding the United States Now

The greatest political writer I know, Glenn Greenwald, had his new book released yesterday. I'm about 100 pages in, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pogue finally posts his iphone review, and I can't help giggling at pogue-style jokes:
I’ve walked around with an iPhone in my pocket for two weeks, naked and unprotected (the iPhone, that is, not me), and there’s not a mark on it.
Josh Marshall
There's a certain danger in parsing the recent legal arguments coming out of the administration, and that's crediting ridiculousness by engaging it. But anyway, follow us down the rabbit hole.
The NY Times posted an extremely irritating op-ed a few weeks back called Death By Veganism, where a "nutritionist" pointed at the child that was starved to death by his parents, and used it as a platform to blame veganism.

On Sunday, the Public Editor Clark Hoyt of the Times criticized the some aspects of publishing the piece - not for presenting an opinion, but for presenting a one-sided opinion in a topic where the other side ("vegan children can be raised in a healthy, nutritionally-conscious way") is so rarely presented.
Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.


This wasn’t the case, however, with a May 21 op-ed by Nina Planck, an author who writes about food and nutrition. Sensationally headlined “Death by Veganism,” Planck’s piece hit much closer to home than Yousef’s. It said in no uncertain terms that vegans — vegetarians who shun even eggs and dairy products — were endangering the health and even the lives of their children. A former vegan herself, Planck said she had concluded “a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.”

Her Exhibit A was a trial in Atlanta in which a vegan couple were convicted of murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty in the death of their 6-week-old son, who was fed mainly soy milk and apple juice and weighed only 3.5 pounds. The column set off a torrent of reader e-mail that is still coming in — much of it from vegans who send photos of their healthy children or complain bitterly of being harassed by friends and relatives using Planck’s column as proof that their diet is dangerous.

If there was another side, a legitimate argument that veganism isn’t harmful, Planck didn’t tell you — not her obligation, Rosenthal and Shipley say. But unlike the Middle East, The Times has not presented another view, or anything, on veganism on its op-ed pages for 16 years. There has been scant news coverage in the past five years.

There is another side.
When the original op-ed was published, I was so angry I could hardly write, and ended up not mentioning the piece here.

It was wonderful to see Mr Hoyt question the validity of Planck's nutritional claims.
Rachelle Leesen, a clinical nutritionist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told me that Planck’s article “was extremely inflammatory and full of misinformation.” She and her colleague Brenda Waber pointed me to a 2003 paper by the American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization for food and nutrition professionals. After reviewing the current science, the A.D.A., together with the Dietitians of Canada, declared, “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”

Planck said she was aware of the A.D.A.’s position but regarded it as “pandering” to a politically active vegan community.

I won’t rehash the scientific dispute in a case in which Planck has her experts and the A.D.A. paper cited more than 250 studies, but I think The Times owes its readers the other side, published on the op-ed page, not just in five letters to the editor that briefly took issue with her.

I even question Planck’s Exhibit A, poor little Crown Shakur, who was so shriveled at his death that doctors could see the bones in his body. His death, she wrote, “may be largely due to ignorance. But it should prompt frank discussion about nutrition.”

Maybe, if by nutrition you mean a discussion about whether you feed a baby anything at all.

The prosecutor argued — and the jury believed — that Crown’s parents intentionally starved him to death. News coverage at the time said that the medical examiner, doctors at the hospital to which Crown’s body was taken and an expert nutritionist testified that the baby was not given enough food to survive, regardless of what the food was.

Charles Boring, the Fulton County prosecutor who handled the case, told me it was “absolutely not” about veganism. Planck and Shipley said they were aware of the prosecutor’s contention. Shipley said, “We were also aware, though, that the convicted couple continues to insist that they were trying to raise their infant on a vegan diet.”

But the jury didn’t believe them, and leaving that out put Planck’s whole column on a shaky foundation.
Glad to see this clear-headed coverage.

Monday, June 25, 2007

horseshoe crab

horseshoe crab, originally uploaded by avaDarlene.

Been a while, but I finally got another image in my flickr "horseshoe crab" feed - so here I post it, to celebrate. Thanks, aveDarlene!

Michael Stickings:
I know I shouldn't even bother asking this question, but:

What the hell's wrong with Chris Matthews?

As if his man-crush on Fred Thompson. weren't enough, his sexualization of politics came through once more, and as blatantly as ever, on his eponymous show yesterday.

"Okay, let's put the gender thing in here," he said. "I love gender politics, guys. We have two women here all the time to make sure we're balanced on this show." Fantastic. He must feel so good about himself. Some of his best friends are women, surely.

And then it got bizarre. He brought up "last supper scenes," pointing out (as if it needed pointing out) that the Last Supper -- you know, Jesus's -- was "all men". (Seriously, I'm not making this up. Check out Media Matters.) But just when you think Dan Brown was about to show up with a counter-theory, he leapt from Jesus's Last Supper to Hillary's lunches. Yes, that's right. (I'm not making this up!) Hillary Clinton's lunches, which are "all women". (Does this make Hillary the anti-Christ? Chris, you must explain. Otherwise, we'll have no choice but to call you a fool.) At these lunches, he claimed, Hillary is -- and here one imagines how threatened Chris must feel -- "advertising her sisterhood". (Say what? Yes: "advertising her sisterhood," like her campaign is one big episode of The View. Have I mentioned that I'm not making this up?)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Today's Dinosaur Comics wisdom:
Honestly, why give James Bond a gun that shoots piranhas if he's never going to fire it?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Does Tom DeLay actually believe, in his heart of hearts, that Michael Moore is afraid of him?

I would pay $50 to watch that debate on PayPerView.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This is not the NASA that brings inspiration to my heart. NASA Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin:
I see a day in the not very distant future, where instead of NASA buying a vehicle, we buy a ticket for our astronauts to ride to low-Earth orbit, or a bill of lading for a cargo delivery to space station by a private operator. I want us to get to that point.
Privatizing social security, who needs public schools, private "contractor" armies in Iraq...the dismantling continues.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sadly, No!:
No, chillens, you simply cannot make this shit up. The big brains at AEI are actually debating whether the linchpin of modern biology is compatible with their bizarro political views. Coming next week: “Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation: Does it Lend Credence to the Flat Tax?”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm totally fucking paranoid these days.

So, on the same day that Congress defies Bush and approves an expansion of a federally-funded embryonic stem cell bill, setting up a veto that lawmakers will most likely not overturn, an article floats around net reporting on how scientists are makin' organs an' stuff from skin!

I'm just paranoid.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

From its lofty origins as a blog of chelicerata pics, ad watching, and fort greene stories, my blog devolves into PZ Meyers and Greenwald worship.

Here's Greenwald today:
It is vital to emphasize repeatedly that the havoc wreaked on this country by George W. Bush is, first and foremost, the work of America's so-called "conservative" movement, which venerated Bush to a degree unseen in the modern presidential era. Here was not a mere President, but "our" Commander-in-Chief during a Time of War, and to criticize him was to criticize America. There were multiple culprits-in-arms along the way -- principally the news media -- but the right-wing movement now seeking to re-invent itself as dissatisfied victims of the Bush presidency in search of a "Real Conservative" to lead it are the ones who bear full responsibility for the devastation this presidency has wreaked on the country.
Can I vote for him for something?
Hoffmania: "Do these jackholes really think we're not going to remember what they say from month to month?"
Vatican's going to install solar panels on the roofs of some buildings of the Holy See:
The roof of the Paul VI auditorium will be redone next year, with its cement panels replaced with photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity, engineer Pier Carlo Cuscianna said.


A feasibility study for the planned conversion, published recently in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, found it made economic sense. It quoted from Benedict's speeches defending the environment and noted that his predecessor, the late John Paul II, also championed the safeguarding of natural resources.

Cuscianna recalled a speech in which Benedict lamented "the unbalanced use of energy" in the world.

Last summer, Benedict called on Christians to unite to take "care of creation without squandering its resources and sharing them in a convivial manner." He said lifestyle choices were damaging the environment and making "the lives of poor people on Earth especially unbearable."
In other news, I love the fact that "popemobile" is an acceptable term to the AP.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Music Had Nothing to Do With the Values

More fun from Blogs4Brownback:
You’re all heard lots of great stuff about Mitt Romney, no doubt. He’s quickly become the darling of the East Coast elite media establishment. And why not? He’s rich, handsome, successful, more stable than Giuliani, and….not all that conservative. He makes himself out to be a family values kind of guy, but if you look at the name of his pet, you’ll see that 60s hippie values still have a strong hold on him: his dog, who recently passed away, was named Marley. As in Bob Marley. As in pot-smoking, America-hating, Jamaican radical.

No offense to anyone who likes Bob Marley’s music. I like the songs No Woman, No Cry and Jammin’. But it’s one thing to listen to a man’s songs on the radio and quite another to endorse his values by naming a pet after him.

This ought to be the final nail in the coffin of Romney’s supposed appeal to social conservatives. There’s not many of us who worship “Ja” or entertain crazed conspiracy theories about the CIA.
(My emphasis)
Greenwald on the deeply depressing central myth keeping Democrats from stopping Bush's war: that "defunding the war" will somehow lead to soldiers in the field suddenly running out of bullets. He cataloged the details of the myth before, but this time he examines how a myth came to define the debate about the war.
And yet exactly this nonsensical notion was permitted not only to take hold, but to become unchallengeable conventional wisdom in our public debate over the war. The whole debate we just had was centrally premised on an idea that is not merely unpersuasive, but factually false, just ridiculous on its face. That a blatant myth could be outcome-determinative in such an important debate is a depressingly commonplace indictment of our dysfunctional media and political institutions.

But the real reason this happened is because Democrats not only allowed it to occur, but eagerly helped it. As much as anyone else, even leading anti-war Democrats such as Carl Levin and Barack Obama continuously equated de-funding with a failure to "support the troops."

Time and again, even those Democrats who supported a mandatory troop withdrawal would talk about de-funding like it was some sort of grotesque act of betrayal ("oh, absolutely not, we will not de-fund the war. We will support our troops").

Monday, June 04, 2007

For HIm Before They Were Against Him

Glenn Greenwald:
The media's function is not merely to pass on self-serving conservative propaganda but to report actual historical fact, to point out when such propaganda deviates from objective truth. The 'conservative movement' now desperately trying to depict Bush as an anti-conservative vigorously argued the exact opposite for the last six years. No account of the conservative movement's chicanery can be remotely accurate without prominently highlighting that fact. George Bush is tied irrevocably around the neck of the right-wing movement because they tied themselves to him when they thought doing so would be politically beneficial.
Actor and Reagan-Hopeful Fred Thompson:
Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. … NASA says the Martian South Pole’s ‘ice cap’ has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter’s caught the same cold, because it’s warming up too, like Pluto. This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, nonsignatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their airconditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.
(via Treehugger)

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I've just realized a distinction that's been lurking in my mind recently and muddling my sorting ability. What I've been hesitant to give up in "faith" is actually humility.

And like realizing that morality isn't something that you can only get as a "special gift" with your purchase of religion, humility does not have to come through trusting that something is true without having an evidence that it is.

If I want humility - and value it in others - I can go to it and look for it directly. Humility is, in my book, one of the highest virtues of humankind.

Humility often seems attached to faith because when you have faith, you admit to your limited knowledge. Admitting to not having the whole picture is an excellent example of humility - I just don't think I need to go through religion to get it.

There's more to say on this topic. But I'm glad to have recognized that humility and faith are distinct concepts for me.
PZ wins the best headline of the week:

They were only athier, we're the athiest!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

FAQ with Dawkins

Here are just a couple of questions from an interview with Richard Dawkins on desicritics:
Religious people claim they derive their morality from religion. Where from an atheist derive his morality?

Religious people do not derive their morality from religion. I disagree (with the interviewer) on this point. Almost all of us do agree on moral grounds where religion had no effect. For example we all hate slavery, we want emancipation of women - they are all our moral grounds. These moral grounds started building only a few centuries ago and long after all major religions were established. We derive our morality from the environment we live in, Talk shows, Novels, Newspaper editorials and of course by the guidance of parents. Religion might only have a minor role to play in it. An atheist derives his morality from the same source as a religious people do.

But all the religious books have given moral guidance to the people, like not killing the neighbors. Why do you think they are still bad?

The religious books do talk about not killing your neighbors, at the same time they talk about not showing skin of women or killing the infidels. The God of the Old Testament, as I described, is not at all a good 'person'. The God is certainly a lot better in New Testament. However, when you pick and choose the good verses out of a religious book, the parameters, those you use, does not certainly come from the religion itself. For example, when you say New Testament is better, you are certainly not using Christianity as a judge. The parameters you use, are the effect of the morality that is already with you, assimilated from different sources in your life time.

Reason #4421

The internet exists for showing the Flinstones hawking Winston cigarettes.

Doo d'doo...Saturday afternoon, toasty hot, and I'm all "Wha?"
At least one U.S. warship bombarded a remote, mountainous village in Somalia where Islamic militants had set up a base, officials in the northern region of Puntland said Saturday.

The attack from a U.S. destroyer took place late Friday, said Muse Gelle, the regional governor. The extremists had arrived Wednesday by speedboat at the port town of Bargal.
What's with that? Perhaps the US Secretary of Defense can shed some light.
At an international conference in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters who asked about the Somalia reports on Saturday, "Frankly, I don't know exactly what was going on. I've been on the road. And I wouldn't be commenting on operational activities anyway."
Aww, no worries. I'm sure it was a good idea.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Tailless Whip Scorpion

Tailless Whip Scorpion, originally uploaded by Destinys Agent.

So beautiful. Destinys Agent has a few more pictures of his new pets on his flickr page.

Brownback, Theocrat

I'm so in awe of PZ Meyers' marvelous post yesterday in response to the Brownback "Evolution" op-ed that I am posting some of my favorite moments from it here:
I know the scientific method. Faith isn't in it, or anywhere near it, although you could make a good case that doubt and suspicion are everywhere in it. The scientific method is a tool to counter faith and intuition and other such misleading biases that investigators bring to their research.

There is also some confusion about what faith can accomplish. I reject faith, yet somehow I have value and meaning in my life, I feel empathy for those who suffer, and I love. I do not need your dogma to understand those matters. I do so by observing my own life, the lives of others, the consequences of actions on people—by considering just the material world, not assuming an irrelevant supernatural one.
And in response to Brownback's "Biologists will have their debates about man's origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table," he says:
Name one thing of value that "people of faith" bring to the table. One thing. Make sure it's something that people of reason do not bring.
This is the heart of it. Not that "people of faith" are somehow lesser, per se, than people "without" faith, but that both are equally able to make ethical choices and believe in compassion for their fellow human beings.