Tuesday, January 31, 2006

caption contest

Okay, Atriots. Since watertiger has gone to sunnier climes for a bit, I'll jump into the breach with this:

Mine is: "Yes, there is a reason why my eyes are this close together."

she will be missed

ReddHedd says it better than I could:

Mrs. King had a grace and an outward serenity that masked a steel core and a deep faith in justice and individual liberties.

Also check out the link from John Avarosis. (Take that, Tim Eyman, you petty little shit!)

Monday, January 30, 2006


One more thing, before I turn in so the birdies can go to sleep.

I figure he must be in Davos, working on wonky economic things (and maybe catching glimpses of Brangelina)....but I miss Billmon. Hurry back, guy.

sorry, but I have to ask....

Is the Obey Butterstick thing a meme like the Old School Obey Giant? The graphics certainly seem similar enough - and I'm still trying to figure out if the site does anything - I can't find any links or mouseover applets or anything, so it seems to be the web equivalent of a stencil. But somebody is spending money on web ads for the site - something I find deliciously mysterious.

Anyone have any idea what this is about?

Whoo Hoo!

Well, in spite of the crappy news today, I have some reason to be hopeful.

First, Digby sums up today's proceedings and reminds us why we shouldn't give up.

Also, I went to check my blog today, and found that I've acheived some additional linking. (Thanks, Moonbootica! Anyone that quotes Camus in their blog is OK by me - and an Atriot too!) That means a few are at least stopping by. Since there are a few more visitors, I'll have to try to make it more interesting by writing more often, and trying to find some interesting topics.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I wasn't going to pile on....

...but this is worth thinking about.

I was peeved at Oprah for coming to Frey's defense initially, but didn't post about it since I'm not a fan of hers anyway. But I never considered the real impact of his lies that this post brings home - that there are people out there struggling with addiction and looking to books like Frey's for help - but the book is a pack of lies, and that doesn't help anyone. That's a pretty sucky thing to do to other people just to get your 15 minutes, when you think about it.

needs to be said

Why the Rude Pundit has been near the top of my favorite blog reads lately:

See, the thing about a filibuster is it says to the White House, the Republicans, the nation, that Democrats have some say left in the processes of government. The nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and the abandonment of Harriet Miers, were pure manna to the right wing base. At some point, Democrats have to give something to their base, something to keep the faithful from throwing up their hands in disgust, from shaking their heads and mumbling, "What pussies, what godforsaken pussies." And if not this, then what?

Damn straight. I've contacted my Senators, basically expressing this point. And I'm telling ya, Dems - if you don't stand up, you are not getting any scratch from me. Not one candidate, nor the DNC. All of it is going to go to bloggers, and to organizations that are standing up. Because we're getting tired of being stood up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

more mistakes

The White House got detailed warnings about the likely impacts of Hurricane Katrina:

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain shoreline.

The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected.

Perhaps somebody could tell me when all of these mistakes cross the line between simple incompetence and blatant criminal disregard?


Juan Cole nails what I've been thinking, and makes several other good points as well:

In fact, the United States invaded a major Muslim country, occupied it militarily, tortured its citizens, killed tens of thousands, tinkered with the economy-- did all those things that Muslim nationalists had feared and warned against, and there hasn't even been much of a reaction from the Muslim world...

Because they exaggerate the scale of the conflict, and because they use it cynically, Bush and Cheney have grossly mismanaged the struggle against al-Qaeda and Muslim radicalism after September 11...

Read, and get mad.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bad researcher! Bad!

Another fraudulent paper makes the news:

A large study concluding that anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the risk of oral cancer was based on fabricated data, according to The Lancet, the prominent British medical journal that published the report last year.....

"We are still reeling from the shock," said Dr. Leonard Zwelling, vice president for research at M. D. Anderson. "There is no worse feeling in the world" than for a researcher to learn that he has put his name to a paper with fabricated data, Dr. Zwelling said.

Maybe some of the recent instances will put some limits on the practice of everyone, but everyone, putting their names on papers that they really had little to do with, and where they have no way of assuring the accuracy of the data themselves. This happened in the recent cloning paper in Science as well. International, multi-specialty collaborations are great, and all, but authors really need to stop putting their names on papers where they are only tangentially involved. That's what the acknowledgment section is for!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Fatal auto defect

When are car manufacturers going to fix this? Another toddler is asphyxiated by an automatic car window:

Thomaris leaned his head out a window and hit the switch that raised the glass, pinning his neck between it and the frame, police Capt. Tony Rode said.

Certainly, none of the controls for these windows should be located on the passenger door of any vehicle, as a first step to putting a stop to this (which has killed dogs riding in the passenger seat as well). In my new car, these controls are on the center console. Even that might no be enough - I can envision a kid's foot possibly engaging the control as they lean out of the window, though pressing it should make the window open rather than close - but in any case, putting these controls in a spot where they can be engaged unintentionally is just very bad design, and this is at least the third fatality I've read about.

Interesting article about the Constitution

An interesting article regarding the early history of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in the context of Conservative "strict constructionists" who say the Constitution somehow has to be interpreted as the Framers intended. The article makes clear that the Framers disagreed about much of it even after ratification, and engaged in political dirty tricksing over the Bill of Rights' interpretation that look familiar even today.

For a particularly enlightening and relevant discussion, scroll down to the section on the Sedition Act:

The bill was debated during heightened tensions with the French over a diplomatic dispute, and there was some concern that it might lead to war, and the Federalists used the crisis for maximum political advantage. Unfortunately, while some Federalists were arguing about the dangers of foreign agents, others were citing political statements by Republicans as the types of statements that should be punished under the Sedition Act.

The Republican’s worst fears were realized soon after the act was passed. The Federalist government of John Adams began to prosecute political opponents under the Sedition Act. A number of prominent administration critics were successfully prosecuted, among them was Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon whose crime was ridiculing President John Adams for engaging in needless pomp and ceremony. Another was Thomas Cooper who was prosecuted for writing articles stating that Adams had violated the Constitution by maintaining an army and a navy during peace time, and had interfered with the judiciary in an extradition case.

As you can see, history is now repeating itself with the Patriot Act and the NSA spying scandal.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The family tree of cats

Scientists at NCI have delineated the family tree of cats using mitochondrial DNA:

This new history of the family, known as Felidae, is based on DNA analyses of the 37 living species performed by Warren E. Johnson and Stephen J. O'Brien of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues elsewhere.

Now, how about you guys tackle the Psittacidae (parrots)? Of course, there are just over 300 species of parrots, but it would be really interesting to know how they are interrelated. Some work on this has already been done on South American parrots (at least, for macaws, Amazons, Aratingas, caiques, and Pionus), and I think some may have been done on cockatoos as well. It would be really cool to see how other genii fit in. How closely are Pionus and Pionopsitta parrots related? Where do Quaker parrots fit in (are they closer to Aratinga or Pyrruha parakeets)? Are African greys and Eclectus parrots at all related? How about the Tanygnathus parrots? So many questions!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Do you believe in magic?

Does Pat Robertson think he's going to live forever?

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

I've noticed that Robertson is pretty selective about who he thinks has incurred the wrath of God when something bad happens. I haven't heard a peep about all those nasty fires in God-fearing Oklahoma and Texas that have killed some people, and for many others, destroyed everything they had in the world. In making this particular remark, I guess Robertson thinks he somehow isn't a stroke candidate himself. Now, I don't believe in sympathetic magic, so I wouldn't blame God's wrath for anyone's stroke, even Robertson's. But neither will his followers, and they do believe in sympathetic magic.