Monthly Archives: November 2006

Jokes Made By Robots, For Robots

McSweeney’s Lists:

A rabbi, an Arab, a robot, and a Catholic priest walk into a bar. Only the robot exits.

A robot walks into a pharmacy. The pharmacist asks him if he’d like anything. The robot replies, "A soul."

How do you stop a robot from destroying you and the rest of civilization?
You don’t.

"Waiter! Waiter! What’s this robot doing in my soup?"
"It looks like he’s performing human tasks twice as well, because he knows no fear or pain."

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
A robot.
Oh, shit.

What’s the difference between a regular robot and a killer robot?
The gnawing jeers of men.

What’s a robot’s favorite cereal?
Rob-os.
(Note: Rob-os are made of the tears of human children.)

Little Susie tosses a clock out the window. A robot inquires, "Why did you do that?" She replies, "I wanted to see time fly!" The robot says, "Ah … A perfect subject for elimination," and shoots her with a laser beam through the face.

Why did the robot order a milkshake?
To blend in with the general human population, making it easier to infiltrate society and—in time—conquer it.

Why was six afraid of seven?
Because seven was a robot.

Dennis Prager: Clueless About America

A view days ago, I linked to a debate between an noted agnostic and evangelical columnist Dennis Prager on the subject of the existence of God.  The debate was civilized and I bent over backwards to give Prager as much credit as I could possibly muster (even though his best argument for the existence of God boiled down to "It’s nice to believe in God, therefore God must exist").

Well, Prager put his foot in his mouth today, and the reason it went in so deeply is because his brain is the size of a pea.

It’s the most mind-numbingly America-ignorant colimn I have read in a long time, so bad that the most aporpos reaction is the one offered by The Seventh Sense reader Brett Borowski (who brought this to my attention)/  To quote Mr. Borowski:

Aaaaaaggggggghhhhh!

Indeed.

So what did Prager write about which is causing Americans’ brains to melt?  You can read the full Townhall column here, but the gist is in the title and the first few paragraphs:

America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on

by Dennis Prager

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

It’s seems that Prager knows almost nothing about America’s culture.  One of the founding principles, if not THE founding principle, is religious freedom.  It’s the freakin’ FIrst Amendment.

When Prager writes, "If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book [the Bible], don’t serve in Congress."

Does Prager know that the Constitution says this:

“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

That’s the American culture, baby.  But what Prager proposes — and he apparently is serious — is an outright and literal violation of the Constitution (a document which Prager ought to read before he opines on what is "American" and what is not).

Prager completely ignores what an oath actually is — its purpose is to bind the oathtaker to his duty.  To make that oath more palpable and meaningful to the oathtaker, it IS important that he take the oath on something sacred to him.  Otherwise, the oath would be (in his eyes) meaningless.

Americans have recognized this since the inception of America.  Here in North Carolina, for example, they had a debate whether to ratify the new Constitution back in 1788.  On the subject of requiring religious oaths to a particular religion (which Prager is advocating), this was said:

A very remarkable instance also happened in England, about forty years ago, of a person who was admitted to take an oath according to the rites of his own country, though he was a heathen. He was an East Indian, who had a great suit in chancery, and his answer upon oath to a bill filed against him was absolutely necessary. Not believing either in the Old or New Testament, he could not be sworn in the accustomed manner, but was sworn according to the form of the Gentoo religion, which he professed, by touching the foot of a priest. It appeared that, according to the tenets of this religion, its members believed in a Supreme Being, and in a future state of rewards and punishments. It was accordingly held by the judges, upon great consideration, that the oath ought to be received; they considering that it was probable those of that religion were equally bound in conscience by an oath according to their form of swearing, as they themselves were by one of theirs; and that it would be a reproach to the justice of the country, if a man, merely because he was of a different religion from their own, should be denied redress of an injury he had sustained. Ever since this great case, it has been universally considered that, in administering an oath, it is only necessary to inquire if the person who is to take it, believes in a Supreme Being, and in a future state of rewards and punishments. If he does, the oath is to be administered according to that form which it is supposed will bind his conscience most.

Heck, even the Bible commands that "Ye shall not swear falsely", but this is exactly what Prager believes Ellison should do.

Prager is un-American not because he is mean-spirited, but because he is ignorant about the country he lives in.  And it’s a shame that he has such a large public forum and following.  (Fortunately, his remarks are being condemned as ignorant and misguided by the right and the left).

By the way, Franklin Pierce chose to take an affirmation rather than an oath with his hand on the Bible.  Teddy Roosevelt also didn’t use a Bible for his first inauguration.  (More Presidential inauguration Bible trivia here).

Oh, and by the way?  NOBODY who gets elected to the House of Representatives gets sworn in on a Bible.  The swearing-in ceremony consists only of the Members raising their right hands and swearing to uphold the Constitution.

RELATED:  Rep. Ellison has seen this fearmongering before.  Conservative CNN host Glenn Beck had a go at him, too.  Jon Stewart’s takedown is a classic:

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds weighs in.  And here’s Prager defending his views with Eugene Volokh, and losing.  In fact, he makes little sense (what is "The American Bible"?)

Godfather Sold Separately

Hfr76471Love this warning which appears at this website, which is selling a FurReal Friends Butterscotch Pony (pictured right).  The product carries the following warning:

Adults take note: Pony comes unassembled in box with head detatched. You may wish to not open the box around your children if they may be frightened by a box with a decapitated horse inside.

Noted.

The Top 100 TV Catch Phrases Of All Time

As compiled by TV Land, in alphabeticial order:

  • "Aaay" (Fonzie, "Happy Days")

  • "And that’s the way it is" (Walter Cronkite, "CBS Evening News")

  • "Ask not what your country can do for you …" (John F. Kennedy)

  • "Baby, you’re the greatest" (Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, "The Honeymooners")

  • "Bam!" (Emeril Lagasse, "Emeril Live")

  • "Book ’em, Danno" (Steve McGarrett, "Hawaii Five-O")

  • "Come on down!" (Johnny Olson, "The Price is Right")

  • "Danger, Will Robinson" (Robot, "Lost in Space")

  • "De plane! De plane!" (Tattoo, "Fantasy Island")

  • "Denny Crane" (Denny Crane, "Boston Legal")

  • "Do you believe in miracles?" (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)

  • "D’oh!" (Homer Simpson, "The Simpsons")

  • "Don’t make me angry …" (David Banner, "The Incredible Hulk")

  • "Dyn-o-mite" (J.J., "Good Times")

  • "Elizabeth, I’m coming!" (Fred Sanford, "Sanford and Son")

  • "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver …" (Eddie Haskell, "Leave it to Beaver")

  • "God’ll get you for that" (Maude, "Maude")

  • "Good grief" (Charlie Brown, "Peanuts" specials)

  • "Good night, and good luck" (Edward R. Murrow, "See It Now")

  • "Good night, John Boy" ("The Waltons")

  • "Have you no sense of decency?" (Joseph Welch to Sen. McCarthy)

  • "Heh heh" (Beavis and Butt-head, "Beavis and Butthead")

  • "Here it is, your moment of Zen" (Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show")

  • "Here’s Johnny!" (Ed McMahon, "The Tonight Show")

  • "Hey now!" (Hank Kingsley, "The Larry Sanders Show")

  • "Hey hey hey!" (Dwayne Nelson, "What’s Happening!!")

  • "Hey hey hey!" (Fat Albert, "Fat Albert")

  • "Holy (whatever), Batman!" (Robin, "Batman")

  • "Holy crap!" (Frank Barone, "Everybody Loves Raymond")

  • "Homey don’t play that!" (Homey the Clown, "In Living Color")

  • "How sweet it is!" (Jackie Gleason, "The Jackie Gleason Show")

  • "How you doin’?" (Joey Tribbiani, "Friends")

  • "I can’t believe I ate the whole thing" (Alka Seltzer ad)

  • "I know nothing!" (Sgt. Schultz, "Hogan’s Heroes")

  • "I love it when a plan comes together" (Hannibal, "The A-Team")

  • "I want my MTV!" (MTV ad)

  • "I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl …" (Larry, "Newhart")

  • "I’m not a crook …" (Richard Nixon)

  • "I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV" (Vicks Formula 44 ad)

  • "I’m Rick James, bitch!" (Dave Chappelle as Rick James, "Chappelle’s Show")

  • "If it weren’t for you meddling kids!" (Various villains, "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?")

  • "Is that your final answer?" (Regis Philbin, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire")

  • "It keeps going and going and going …" (Energizer Batteries ad)

  • "It takes a licking …" (Timex ad)

  • "Jane, you ignorant slut" (Dan Akyroyd to Jane Curtain, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "Just one more thing …" (Columbo, "Columbo")

  • "Let’s be careful out there" (Sgt. Esterhaus, "Hill Street Blues")

  • "Let’s get ready to rumble!" (Michael Buffer, various sports events)

  • "Live long and prosper" (Spock, "Star Trek")

  • "Makin’ whoopie" (Bob Eubanks, "The Newlywed Game")

  • "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (Jan Brady, "The Brady Bunch")

  • "Mom always liked you best" (Tommy Smothers, "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour")

  • "Never assume …" (Felix Unger, "The Odd Couple")

  • "Nip it!" (Barney Fife, "The Andy Griffith Show")

  • "No soup for you!" (The Soup Nazi, "Seinfeld")

  • "Norm!" ("Cheers")

  • "Now cut that out!" (Jack Benny, "The Jack Benny Program")

  • "Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!" (Stan and Kyle, "South Park")

  • "Oh, my nose!" (Marcia Brady, "The Brady Bunch")

  • "One small step for man …" (Neil Armstrong)

  • "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" (Grey Poupon ad)

  • "Read my lips: No new taxes!" (George H.W. Bush)

  • "Resistance is futile" (Picard as Borg, "Star Trek: The Next Generation")

  • "Say good night, Gracie" (George Burns, "The Burns & Allen Show")

  • "Schwing!" (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy" (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle)

  • "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids" (Trix cereal ad)

  • "Smile, you’re on `Candid Camera’" ("Candid Camera")

  • "Sock it to me" ("Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In")

  • "Space, the final frontier …" (Capt. Kirk, "Star Trek")

  • "Stifle!" (Archie Bunker, "All in the Family")

  • "Suit up!" (Barney Stinson, "How I Met Your Mother")

  • "Tastes great! Less filling!" (Miller Lite beer ad)

  • "Tell me what you don’t like about yourself" (Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy, "Nip/Tuck")

  • "That’s hot" (Paris Hilton, "The Simple Life")

  • "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" (Jim McKay, "ABC’s Wide World of Sports")

  • "The tribe has spoken" (Jeff Probst, "Survivor")

  • "The truth is out there" (Fox Mulder, "The X-Files")

  • "This is the city …" (Sgt. Joe Friday, "Dragnet")

  • "Time to make the donuts" ("Dunkin’ Donuts" ad)

  • "Two thumbs up" (Siskel & Ebert, "Siskel & Ebert")

  • "Up your nose with a rubber hose" (Vinnie Barbarino, "Welcome Back, Kotter")

  • "We are two wild and crazy guys!" (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as Czech playboys, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "Welcome to the O.C., bitch" (Luke, "The O.C.")

  • "Well, isn’t that special?" (Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "We’ve got a really big show!" (Ed Sullivan, "The Ed Sullivan Show")

  • "Whassup?" (Budweiser ad)

  • "What you see is what you get!" (Geraldine, "The Flip Wilson Show")

  • "Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?" (Arnold Drummond, "Diff’rent Strokes")

  • "Where’s the beef?" (Wendy’s ad)

  • "Who loves you, baby?" (Kojak, "Kojak")

  • "Would you believe?" (Maxwell Smart, "Get Smart")

  • "Yabba dabba do!" (Fred Flintstone, "The Flintstones")

  • "Yada, yada, yada" ("Seinfeld")

  • "Yeah, that’s the ticket" (Jon Lovitz as the pathological liar, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "You eeeediot!" (Ren, "Ren & Stimpy")

  • "You look mahvelous!" (Billy Crystal as Fernando, "Saturday Night Live")

  • "You rang?" (Lurch, "The Addams Family")

  • "You’re fired!" (Donald Trump, "The Apprentice")

  • "You’ve got spunk …" (Lou Grant, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show")

I’m not sure you can "count" political/news phrases like "I am not a crook" or "That’s one small step for man…" or "Read my lips, no new taxes" as catchphrases.

And they forgot "You bet your sweet bippy" from "Laugh-In", and "Will the real [whoever], please stand up" from "To Tell The Truth", "One of these days, Alice, Bang, Zoom, right to the moon" from "The Honeymooners", and the more recent "Deal or no deal" from the show of the same name.

Yes, it’s rather sad that I know these.

The Bush Presidential Library

The Bush Presidential Library?  The jokes write themselves.  But Arianna Huffington does a good job writing them too:

Comedy writers and lovers of the absurd all across America have a bounce in their step today, buoyed by news that President Bush is looking to raise half-a-billion dollars to build his legacy-burnishing presidential library.

The idea of Uncurious George building a $500 million shrine to his disastrous presidency is the political equivalent of a whoopee cushion; a veritable laff riot. The punchlines write themselves:

A George W. Bush Library? What’s it going to house, 100,000 copies of The Pet Goat — with some Shakespeares and a Camus thrown in for good measure?

Will there be a Heckuva Job Memorial Wing saluting W’s sterling political appointments? A Hurricane Katrina Photo Gallery, with each image housed in its own airplane window frame? An exact recreation of Dick Cheney’s secure undisclosed location (try to step inside and a recording of the Veep tells you to "Go fuck yourself!")?

Will visitors to the Iraq War Wing be handed rose-colored glasses before entering and having flowers thrown at their feet? Or will they don blinders as they stagger forward, sinking deeper into a man-made quagmire?

Will there be exhibits on waterboarding, illegal wiretapping, and the quaintness of the Geneva Conventions? A room devoted to the nobility and greatness of the Hanging Chad? A holographic image of Osama bin Laden (try and grab him and he slips right through your hands)? The Abu Gharib Game Room (must be over 18 to enter)?

At Bush 41’s Presidential Library, there is a twelve-foot piece of the Berlin Wall, which came down during his presidency. Will 43 try to recreate the finest moment of his presidency by bringing in a pile of Ground Zero rubble? This would be an interactive feature, allowing visitors to climb atop the pile, grab a megaphone, and take a crack at uttering the best unscripted line of his time in office: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!"

Confirmed, Part II

No duh:

It is something one half of the population has long suspected – and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men.

In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day – 13,000 more than the average man.

Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat – and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.

The book – written by a female psychiatrist – says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.

In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.

Dr Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain.

The areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory are all pared back the unborn baby boy.

The result is that boys – and men – chat less than their female counterparts and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent.

"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," said Dr Brizendine, who runs a female "mood and hormone" clinic in San Francisco.

Confirmed

I present without comment:

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on.

The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election.

Rakfeldt says the study was legitimate, though not intended to show what it did.

From The Mind Of Barbara Stock

BstockWe haven’t checked in with conservative columnnist Barbara Stock in a while, so we decided to.  It’s nice to know that she’s still wetting her bloomers over olive-skinned people:

On their way back from a three-day meeting in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, six Islamic imams were stunned to find out that suspicious behavior by Muslims on large jet planes makes non-Muslims nervous. Why they would be shocked is perhaps the mystery of the decade.

Before we continue, let’s get one thing clear.  These six imams were Americans.  Five were from Phoenix; one was from California.  And one of them was blind.

One imam asked for an extension for his seat-belt even though the seat belt he had fit without difficulty. Did he want it to use it to put around someone’s neck?

Another imam took a copy of the in-flight magazine from the seat pouch in front of him.  Did he want to give the other passengers paper cuts?

They asked to change seats once aboard.

Yeah, that is suspicious.  White people and Christians never ask to have their seats reassigned.

The imams were seen praying just prior to boarding. Anyone else seen praying would be met with a smile and the thought that the pray-ee must really be afraid of flying. But when a Muslim is seen praying prior to boarding a plane, the fear is that he may be getting ready to become a martyr.

Shorter Barbara Stock: "Because I am afraid of them, they must be up to no good."

Witnesses overheard the imams making anti-American remarks at the boarding gate and yet, these Muslim men were shocked when they were asked to leave the plane.

"Because in this country, if you don’t love America, you can’t fly"

They claimed that they were "humiliated" and their ejection only shows how "Islamaphobic" Americans are.

And Barbara is proving how right they were.

But perhaps it just showed that these six Muslim imams showed very poor judgment and were totally insensitive to the feelings of their fellow passengers.

"After all, Muslim Americans must always show respect for everyone else; never the reverse."

Always the victims, these six Muslim imams seemed to forget that it was Muslims who flew planes into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, and were attempting to crash into the Capital. Did it slip their minds that 3000 citizens died on 9/11 at the hands of Muslims?

Good point.  Since Timothy McVeigh (a white Southerner) blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma, I think we should take away the civil rights of all white Southerners.  What say you, Barbara?

Have they forgotten that Islamic leaders have declared war on the United States and vowed to make our "blood run in the streets?" Did these Muslims miss the announcement from the highest Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia giving bin Laden permission to use nuclear weapons on our cities? Or that Islamics have told us there are "no innocent civilians in America, not even babies?"

And therefore that’s what these religious leaders want?

It is no secret that Islamics will hijack more planes given the opportunity.

It’s no secret that Christians will do that, too.  Just not all — or even most — of them.

If they can’t steal them to use as missiles, they will blow them up over a city for maximum killing and destruction. What is outrageous is that Muslims who seem to delight in partaking in activities they know will make the other passengers nervous are outraged when they are removed from a flight.

However, there is another possibility to this story. There have been many such incidents where Muslims have acted suspiciously and have been removed from flights. And on each occasion the Council for American-Islamic Relations has been Johnny-on-the-spot to howl accusations of discrimination and racial profiling.

And?  Isn’t it discrimination brought about by racial profiling?

Some Muslims have considered it a joke to talk about "bombs" on the plane or to split up once on the plane and signal to each other and make several trips to the bathroom. They have openly admitted that they find it amusing to see some passengers start to cry, thinking the plane is about to be hijacked.

Cite please.  What?  You have none?

No matter how intimidating the actions of Muslims —

By, you know, existing and stuff —

it is implied that non-Muslims are to just accept it or be called "Muslim haters." CAIR’s goal seems to be to force Americans to accept without question any behavior from Muslims, no matter how outlandish.

Outlandish behavior like, oh, being Muslims.  Why can’t Muslims be normal white Christians like everybody else?  If they can’t, they only bring their woes upon themselves.  Is that it, Barbara?

Could it be that some of these spontaneous "incidents" have been carefully planned as part of the "desensitization of America" to Muslim behavior?

Barbara’s right.  We must be vigilent in our paranoid fears of customs which differ from ours.  Never give in to rationalization — let rampant paranoia guide you!

Toss a suspicious Muslim off a plane and the airline is threatened with a lawsuit from CAIR. The complaining passengers are belittled and berated for being nervous over "nothing."

Who are the people we are dealing with? In Iraq, followers of this "religion of peace" set off suicide bombs that killed about 200 of their fellow Muslims. In retaliation, six Muslims were dragged into the street and doused with kerosene and set on fire and mosques were blown up.

In Russia, a school was invaded by Muslims and over three hundred innocent people including 186 children were murdered.

Because white Christians never support bloodshed and murder.

In the Palestinian territory, a 57-year-old grandmother decided to become a suicide bomber and leave her nine children and 30 grandchildren behind. Her family is probably bursting at the seams with pride over the matriarchs "martyrdom" even though she didn’t succeed in killing anyone but herself.

Probably.  We don’t know for sure what her family is thinking, but we’ll just assume we know, because it supports our position.

It is apparent when dealing with many Islamics, that logic and rational thought is not at the top of their thought processes.

In Barbara Stock world, paranoia, fear, and stereotyping individuals based on their religion is both "logical" and "rational".

While there are many quite normal Muslims in this world, how does one know which ones are normal and which dream nightly of being martyrs for Allah?

"I say we shoot them all and ask questions later."

The ones standing in line with the dream of entering paradise by killing large numbers of infidels do not wear a sign around their necks.

So we just have to assume that they all are dangerous.

As we and the British have learned, all the hopeful Islamic bombers are not in Iraq or the Middle East. The good people of Madrid and Bali have also learned that not all Muslims are peaceful.

Islamic suicide bombers have even been school teachers and grandmothers. They have been young and old. Muslim cartoons show children the glory of dying, and teach that killing non-Muslims pleases Allah.

Here in America, the Islamic Free Thinkers have declared that Islam will not rest until America is ruled by Sharia law under the domain of Islam.

With all of this known, Muslims are still shocked and "humiliated" when their bizarre behavior gets them singled out?

When six imams who claim to have just left a three-day meeting trying to find a way to "build a bridge between Islam and Americans," badmouth America just prior to boarding a plane, they should not be stunned when that bridge burns down in front of them. Neither the passengers nor the airline is at fault. The fault lies with Muslims who want their aggression to be accepted as a normal part of life.

By praying, they were aggressive.  By asking for seatbelt extensions, they were agressive.  By sitting apart on the plane, they were aggressive.  By using the rest rooms on the plane, they are aggressive.  By criticizing the very country that discriminates against them because of their religion, they are aggrressive.  You see how terrible they are?

Suing those that refuse to accept this behavior will not build any "bridges," it will only blow them up. But then explosions are commonplace these days wherever there are large groups of Muslims.

Or even six of them.

Light Blogging?

Well, I’ve exceeded my bandwidth for the month. 

Or, more accurately, you’ve exceeded my bandwidth.

Not quite sure why, but I’m inching up to 50,000 "hits" to my main page, and I’m averaging over 150 per day — so I’m pretty sure it’s not just me.  Anyway, I’m only alotted a certain amount of transfer bandwidth per month here at Typepad, and I have exceeded that for November.  First time that’s happened.  Maybe I should start thinking about ad revenue (ummmm….. nah!).

Anyway, this means a couple of things:

(1)  I’m not sure how much posting I will be able to do (this is, in fact, a test post).  If I can continue to post for the next few days, I will, but I’ll keep this post "promoted" to the top.

(2)  I’ll be migrating off of Typepad soon and acting as my own host, which means that you will find me only at www.kenashford.com, and not at / (right now, they are one and the same).  When this will take place, I can only guess.

A God Debate

It’s too long to republish here, but this email debate between atheist Sam Harris and evangelical Dennis Prager is an interesting (if not demanding) read.  The topic is the Existence of A Judeo-Christian God (or lack thereof).

It’s hard to be objective, but the flaws in Prager’s arguments stand out. 

Prager first does the strawman bit, telling Harris what atheists think and believe.  Harris smacks that down rather quickly.  The easiest mistake in debating any subject is trying to speak about your opponent’s position (rather than your own), because you never can, and you’re almost always wrong.  (Harris, I think, does this a little bit too, although it is not as glaring as when Prager does it).

Prager also commits the appeal to authority fallacy, pointing to an eminent genome scientist who became a born again Christian.  Harris dismisses this as he should: this scientist did not come to believe in God through science, but through an epiphany while watching a waterfall.  There is, in Harris’ view, no inconsistency between being a scientist and being a believer, but the fact that some people are both does not mean that God exists.

Prager also makes an argument about the usefulness of believing in God — for society.  Harris sidesteps that issue (saying it would be an interesting debate in a different context), but points out that while society might benefit from believing in God, that does not mean that God exists.  Harris writes:

The fact that certain religious beliefs might be useful in no way suggests their legitimacy. I can guarantee, for instance, that the following religion, invented by me in the last ten seconds, would be extraordinarily useful. It is called "Scientismo." Here is its creed: Be kind to others; do not lie, steal, or murder; and oblige your children to master mathematics and science to the best of their abilities or 17 demons will torture you with hot tongs for eternity after death. If I could spread this faith to billions, I have little doubt that we would live in a better world than we do at present. Would this suggest that the 17 demons of Scientismo exist? Useful delusions are not the same thing as true beliefs.

In a brief discussion about burden-shifting, Harris brings in Bertrand Russell’s teapot example, which I had never heard:

This defense of religion is one that Bertrand Russell demolished a century ago with his famous "teapot argument." As I can’t improve on it, and you clearly have forgotten it amid the many challenges to piety you successfully parried "in high school," here it is again:

"Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense."

If a valid retort to Russell has ever seen the light of day, I’m not aware of it.

The faithful do resist the bogus certainties of religion—when they come from any religion but their own. Every Christian knows what it is like to find the claims of Muslims to be deeply suspect. Everyone who is not a Mormon knows at a glance that Mormonism is an obscenely stupid system of beliefs. Everyone has rejected an infinite number of spurious claims about God. The atheist simply rejects one more.

I thought that was interesting.

Prager ultimately admits that nothing can prove God’s existence (which I should think, is glaringly obvious to believers and non-believers alike), but fails to respond to the implicit follow-up question: then why does he believe in his God rather than the deities worshipped by other cultures, past and present? 

Anyway, both participants clearly went into the civil debate knowing full well that they wouldn’t change anyone’s mind.  But it made for interesting reading.

Oy

From Denver:

DENVER — A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.

I’m going to post a picture of the offending wreath below the fold.  CAUTION: Not safe for work.  Not safe for children.  Not safe for anyone susceptible to the influence of the Dark One.

Responding To Dobson

Via Daily Kos, we get some Dobson quotes from his interview with Larry King:

DOBSON: Those again on the liberal end of the spectrum are those who have no value system, or at least they say there is no moral and immoral. There’s no right or wrong. . . . But when a religious leader, or especially an evangelical, falls, guess who is the most judgmental of him and calling him a hypocrite? . . . Those that said there is no right and wrong in the first place. The truth of the matter is there is right and wrong. And we all within our midst have failures, and they do occur.

As for religious leaders like Haggard — you don’t need to have a foot in any political camp in order to recognize hypocrisy.  If a religious leader preaches against something in one setting, and practices that very thing in another setting, he is a the dictionary-definition (not to mention the biblical-definition) of a "hypocrite", and the fact that other people are liberal/conservative/moderate doesn’t enter into the equation.

M19immoralSecondly, what is the basis for Dobson’s assertion that liberals "say there is no moral and immoral"?  Liberals have a strong sense of morality — it is just at odds (sometimes) with what Dobson thinks is moral and immoral.  Just take a look at the picture on the right.  I’m guessing she’s a liberal, and it’s pretty clear what her moral views are.  There isn’t a dirth of moral viewpoints among liberals, and Dobson knows that.  This is a perfect example of building a straw man, and then tearing it down.

What evangelicals of Dobson’s stripe don’t "get" is that liberalism and Christianity are actually better bedpartners than conservatism and Christianity.  Jesus was, after all, a liberal.  And more and more Christians are embracing those moral liberal values esposed by Christ, or at least warming up to those who speak those values.  Witness, for example, the meeting of the minds between Rev. Rick Warren ("The Purpose Driven Life") and Barack Obama.

But Dobson of the Dark Ages doesn’t get it, since his theology is rooted in ignorance of truth.  Take his views on homosexuality:

KING: We discussed this before in the past, but not recently: Do you still believe that being gay is a choice rather than a given?

DOBSON: I never did believe that.

KING: Oh, you don’t believe it.

DOBSON: I don’t believe that. Neither do I believe it’s genetic. I said that…

KING: Then what is it?

DOBSON: I said that on your program one time and both of us got a lot of mail for it. I don’t blame homosexuals for being angry when people say they’ve made a choice to be gay because they don’t.

It usually comes out of very, very early childhood, and this is very controversial, but this is what I believe and many other people believe, that is has to do with an identity crisis that occurs to early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.

It’s a very important developmental task and if his dad is gone or abusive or disinterested or maybe there’s just not a good fit there. What’s he going to do? He remains bonded to his mother and…

KING: Is that clinically true or is that theory?

DOBSON: No, it’s clinically true, but it’s controversial. What homosexual activists, especially, would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic, that they don’t have any choice. If it were genetic, Larry — and before we went on this show, you and I were talking about twin studies — if it were genetic, identical twins would all have it. Identical twins, if you have a homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other.

Dobson’s logic is this: if homosexuality was caused by genetics, then in every case where you have one homosexual identical twin, then the other identical twin would be homosexual, too. 

Of course, is Dobson willing to apply that logic to his own theory?  Dobson argues that homosexuality is caused when kids have daddy issues at a certain stage in development.  But we have literally hundreds of thousands of children growing up without fathers or father figures, and certainly not all of those children become gay (in fact, I would venture to say that the majority of them don’t).  So since it doesn’t happen in every case, shouldn’t we discount Dobson’s theory as well?  Or does he set the bar lower for himself?

The facts are these: Studies show that this occurs 52% of the time with identical twins (i.e., if one identical twin was gay, the chances are 52% that the other one is gay.  In fraternal twins, this happens 22% of the time.  To an objective person, this suggests that genetics clearly play a role in homosexuality, although there are clearly other factors as well.

Dobson’s decision to reduce the causes of homosexuality to a "it’s-this-and-only-this" mentality is what makes him the most ignorant man on the planet.  Like so much in life, nothing — and I mean nothing — is black and white, even science.

Finally, Dobson esposes his views on church and state:

KING: But we have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Beg your pardon?

KING: We have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Who says?

KING: You don’t believe in separation of church and state?

DOBSON: Not the way you mean it. The separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. No, it’s not. That is not in the Constitution. That was…

KING: It’s in the Bill of Rights.

DOBSON: It’s not in the Bill of Rights. It’s not anywhere in a foundational document. The only place where the so-called "wall of separation" was mentioned was in a letter written by Jefferson to a friend. That’s the only place. It has been picked up and made to be something it was never intended to be.

What it has become is that the government is protected from the church, instead of the other way around, which is that church was designed to be protected from the government.

KING: I’m going to check my history.

Clash of the intellectual titans.  No Larry, "wall of separation between church and state" — those exact words — are not in the Constitution.  In fact, there are a lot of words that are NOT in the Constitution: "marriage", "privacy", "innocent until proven guilty", "democracy", "It’s a free country", and so on.  But that does not mean that the Constitution has nothing to say on those issues.

The Constitution says that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".  One of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, tells us what that means.  In his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, then-President Jefferson said:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, [the people, in the 1st Amendment,] declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

And there you have it.  The operative word there is "thus".  The purpose of the First Amendment — and the reason it was written the way it was  — was to create the "wall of separation between church and state".  People like Dobson choose to overlook the intent of the Founders, because the Founder’s original intent makes it harder for people like Dobson to twist the words into an entirely different meaning and outcome.

Dobson believes that the First Amendment protects the church from government, but not the other way around.  But he doesn’t follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion.  If, for example, his church was allowed to wield power through government, then doesn’t government diminish my church, or yours?  In Dobson’s make-believe world, walls are one way.  But take a look at the walls in your house — they’re two-way.

Thus endeth the lessons about Dobson.

Gays Are Everywhere

Pam Spaulding points to this report (PDF format).  Not surprisingly, San Francisco has the largest gay population in the country (8.2% in the metro area).

But what she (and I) found startling was the increase in same-sex couples from 2000 to 2005:

Top10increas_1

Seems gays are coming out all over, and not just in New York and California.  North Carolina, for example, showed a 21% increase in out gay couples.

How Stupid Is John Hinderaker?

Unbelievably stupid.  Listen as he (once again) tries to claim that the violence in Iraq is not that bad.

Let’s start with his conclusion — the last two paragraphs of his post:

I wrote in June that based on the data at that time, the murder rate in Iraq outside of Baghdad is about the same as American cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. With the current numbers, it looks like that would still be true.

A consensus seems to have developed that Iraq is a disaster because of out-of-control sectarian violence. That consensus is driving proposals to change our policy in Iraq, perhaps in the direction of a pull-out that could lead to truly cataclysmic violence. So I think it makes sense to step back and get a more realistic picture of the level of what is happening in Iraq: violent? Yes. A disaster comparable to a civil war? No.

Now let’s see how he comes to that conclusion, jumping to the start of his post:

My impression has been that violence in Iraq has skyrocketed since July, when I found that the murder rate in Iraq was 140 per 100,000 (the usual way in which murder rates are expressed). I was surprised, therefore, to learn this morning that rate of violence has increased only slightly:

The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq’s sectarian bloodbath.

That compares to an estimated 3,500 killed in July. If 3,709 people were murdered in October, that translates to a rate of 171 per 100,000. That is a high rate of violent death. But, for purposes of comparison, the murder rate in Washington, D.C. in 1991 was 80 per 100,000. So the rate of violence in Iraq today is just over double the rate in the District during the first Bush administration. I don’t recall anyone describing conditions in Washington in the early 90s as a "bloodbath."

How to dissect this dishonest and stupid number-crunching?

(1)  First, let’s take John’s math at face value.  According to him, the October death rate for Iraq was 171 per 100,000 which is "just over double" the murder rate in Washington, D.C. of 80 per 100,000.

Apparently, DOUBLE to John means "comparable" or (quoting from his conclulsory paragraphs) "about the same".  Yup, in John’s world 2X roughly equals X.

(2)  Now let’s get behind John’s math.  You may wonder why he used "for purposes of comparison" the figures from Washington D.C. for 1991 as being illustrative of an American city.  Could it be because the homicide level in Washington D.C. for that year was DOUBLE what it is now?  Yes.  1991 was by far the most violent in all of D.C’s history when it came to homicides.

Here’s the chart — D.C. homicides were twice what they are now.

225pxdchomicidechartsvg

So he’s trying to compare the death rate in Iraq with the death rate of the WORST year for Washington, D.C. in recent history.  And even though the Iraq death rate is DOUBLE the WORST in D.C.’s history, he’s still trying to claim that the carnage there is comparable to that of the typical American city.

(3)  Now the coup de grace.  Hindrocket is comparing the number of deaths per month per 100,000 citizens (Iraq for October) with the number of deaths per year per 100,000 citizens (in D.C. in 1991).

So let’s make this simple and honest.  We’ll compare apples to apples. 

In 1991, D.C. had 600,000 citizens and 482 homicides that year.  That amounts to roughly 80 homicides per 100,000 citizens for the entire year.

Iraq has roughly 6,000,000 citizens, and 3,700 were killed last month.  Annualizing the 3,700 figure (which John doesn’t do), we get 44,400 Iraq deaths per year out of 6,000,000.  That translates to 740 deaths per 100,000 citizens per year — or nine times greater than Washington D.C. during its most violent year (1991) — and eighteen times greater than it is now.

Not "just double" the rate.  EIGHTEEN times.

John Hindrocket is truly stupid and/or intellectually dishonest.  It’s hard to believe he is an editor at a nationally-syndicated political magazine.

UPDATE:  Sadly, No does this better.

Pray For Who?

This story, being somewhat local, has been getting a little press:

The Dyersburg Youth Minister accused of raping a 14 year old girl has resigned from his position as Youth Minister of Music at Springhill Baptist Church.

44 year old Timothy Byars submitted his resignation to the church’s pastor over the phone. Byars was released from jail in Knoxville Sunday November 19, 2006 on a $50,000 bond.

The teenage girl claims Byars raped her while she, Byars and three other young girls were attending a track meet in East Tennessee.

While the investigation continues in the case, Springhill Baptist Church Pastor, James Branscum says he and the church members will pray for Byars.

Police say Byars may have also raped another young girl in Nashville.

Did you notice something a little, well, unsettling about that story (other than the one, and possibly two, rapes)?  Let me draw your attention to it:

While the investigation continues in the case, Springhill Baptist Church Pastor, James Branscum says he and the church members will pray for Byars.

Somewhere in this world there is one — possibly two — underage girls who were a member of this congregation, and who were raped by their youth minister.  Why exactly is the congregation praying for him?

Those Bastards!

This is the kind of news story that drives the conservative right crazy:

37 percent of U.S. births out of wedlock

Unwedbabies_1 Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.

While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.

Experts said the overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married. They said it also reflects the fact that having a child out of wedlock is more acceptable nowadays and not necessarily the source of shame it once was.

"A lot of people think of teenagers and unmarried mothers synonymously, but they are not driving this," said Stephanie Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, a co-author of the report.

It’s simply a sign of the times.  The days of Ozzie & Harriet are long over.  Of course, how long will it be before someone blames this on gay marriage?

Brave New World – Part II

Okay.  You’ve got a cell phone, a laptop, and all the various things plugged in to your wall in your house.  What do they have in common?

Well, not to be obvious, but they all require a power source — i.e., electricity.  Electricity comes from a power source, like the electricity connected to your home courtesy of Duke Power or Con Ed, or electricity which comes from a battery (which needs recharging via the electricity connected to your home courtesy of Duke Power or Con Ed).

Now bear with me on this, because this is cool —

Back in the dawning age of electricity, many scientists — most notably Nikoli Tesla (played by David Bowie in a recent film) — believed that electricity could be transmitted.  That idea never came to be, sadly.

But not too long ago, we always had wired communication.  Our telephones, for example, had a receiver which was connected to a base unit, which was connected to our wall, which was connected to the pole outside our house, which had wires going everywhere in the world.

Now, of course, there are wireless communications (cell phones, cordless phones, etc.) and we think nothing of it.

Is it possible to do the same thing with electricity?  Tesla thought it was possible.

A group of physicists from MIT thinks it is possible too. They’re proposing a design for a wireless power transmission system that could make power cables and battery chargers things of the past. What’s more, the researchers believe the power source could run buses or possibly even nano-robots tooling around inside your body.

Transmitting_power416The system they are proposing doesn’t broadcast power the way an antenna does. Radiating energy out to space would be wasteful. Instead, a power source (1) creates a short range oscillating electric field (2) — what they’re calling "resonance"(3).  Properly tuned circuits that are within range of the source (4) suck up some of the energy. If there are no electronics to charge or power nearby, then most of the unused energy returns to the source (5).

Yeah, it sounds complicated.  And here’s more about it.  But the bottom line is this: in our lifetime, we could live in a world where the need for wall sockets, batteries, power adaptors, etc. are a thing of the past.

The Conservative War Against Cartoons

Let’s see.

Back in 1999, Jerry Falwell wanted us to know that Tinky Winky the Teletubby was part of the “homosexual agenda.”

In 2004, The Traditional Values Coalition, published a “parents beware” warning about Shrek 2, which the TVC believed was part of a DreamWorks effort to help the “transgender agenda…by promoting cross dressing and transgenderism.”

Also in 2004, the American Family Association took strong umbrage at the movie Shark Tales, insisting that animated carton was designed to brainwash children into accepting gay rights. (Why?  Because Shark Tales was about a shark who just doesn’t fit in because he doesn’t like to eat meat, like the other sharks do.  Therefore, he’s gay.  Or something like that.)

Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund seriously suggested in a book that SpongeBob SquarePants was gay, and James Dobson attacked the loveable Spongebob in 2005 for the same reason.

Now, what is the loony right upset about?  Happy Feet, a movie about a penguin trying to find himself.  Apparently, it contains an environmental message …and we can’t have our children learning about that now, can we!!!!

Seriously, folks.  Politics aside, these are cartoons.  Get over it.

But taking a glance around the Internet (by the way, it’s big — did you know that?), we tried to find some Christian cartoons, which presumably are unoffensive and funny.  Here’s a side-splitter (Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – www.reverendfun.com):

Usherswedding

Now let me explain why this is funny.  You see, a church is dressing in drag so it can marry Abraham Lincoln (playing the role of Jesus).  The church’s dress is lavendar (no white for this unchaste bride) and she’s holding her purse, suggesting that this was a rather hasty marriage, perhaps in Las Vegas.  President Lincoln is holding a note containing his vows.  Or perhaps the Gettysburg Address.  We’re not sure, but we know funny, and that is funny.

The caption tells us that the ushers never had to ask the guests if they were with the bride or the groom.  Why not?  Ah, well . . . that’s because . . . well, just because.  And therein lies the humor.

Get it?

Now why can’t those Hollywood elites make cartoons like that?

Thanksgiving In A Bottle

Holidaypack2006Jones Soda has an interesting product out:  A Holiday Pack of Thanksgiving Soda.

Yup.  Five bottles, five flavors. 

You get Turkey and Gravy soda, Sweet Potato Soda, Dinner Roll Soda, Pea Soda, and to top it off, Antacid Flavored Soda.

They want you to know that "all sodas are completely vegetarian, certified kosher, and contain zero caffeine, calories, and carbs. "

As if that’s going to make you buy them…..

The Turkey and Gravy Soda has been around for a few years.  The other flavors in the pack are new.  For what it’s worth, the CEO of Jones Soda is on record as saying that he hasn’t been able to stomach an entire bottle of the stuff.

Iraqis Want America Out

PIPA has released a new poll of Iraqi attitudes toward the U.S. occupation.

There’s no doubt about what they want: they want us to leave.

  • 74% of Shiites want us to leave within a year or less
  • 91% of Sunnis want us to leave within a year or less.
  • 78% of all Iraqis believe U.S. forces are provoking more violence than we’re preventing, and 53% believe that day-to-day security would improve if we left.
  • 61% actually support attacks on U.S. forces
  • And none of this is because of successful al-Qaeda propaganda: 94% of Iraqis continue to disapprove of al-Qaeda.

Summary report here.

So why are we in Iraq?

A Protest You Might Enjoy

Mlnw_buttonUm, okay:

Two peace activists have planned a massive anti-war demonstration for the first day of winter.

But they don’t want marching in the streets. They’d much rather protesters just stay home.

The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

By promoting what they hope to be a synchronized global orgasm, they hope to have people channel their sexual energy into something more positive.

The couple said interest appears strong, with 26,000 hits a day to their website, www.globalorgasm.org.

"The dream is to have everyone in the world (take part)," Reffell said.

"And if that means laying down your gun for a few minutes, then hey, all the better."

A Good Barack Obama Story

A small time writer for the Henry (Ga.) Daily Harold wrote this the other day:

Obama owes me an apology

I don’t care, I’m not changing my mind on this one.

Nope.

I don’t like Sen. Barack Obama.

He might make a good president some day, but he won’t get my vote. At least not until he apologizes.

Some might say I’m holding a petty grudge but let’s see you become the butt of joke in front of 1,000 people.

Two years ago I was a full-time newspaper reporter in Illinois covering Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

I had the looks, I had the charm and I had my eye on this pretty young thing who was doing an internship for a competing paper.

It took me nearly two months of running into each other at various news events before I worked up the nerve to begin talking to her.

And then Obama shows up.

The senator made his way to SIUE one day to introduce some legislation that would increase grants for students. Prior to that, me and the girl became really cool as I let her in on a few tricks of the trade.

The day Obama came, there was a huge press conference at the university’s student center with about 100 people inside the conference room and hundreds more viewing the conference on a big screen in the lobby.

Obama did his thing, and at the end there was segment for questions by the media.

After about five questions from different television and newspaper reporters, I stood up to ask mine.

“Wait a minute son, this is for professional media only,” Obama said to me.

“What do you mean? I work for the local paper,” I said with a crackling nervous voice.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a college student. You have such a baby face,” he said with an unremorseful grin.

At that point everyone in the room turned to look at me and laugh. The 800 people in the lobby laughed as my face was projected on the big screen.

Remembered that girl who I was trying to get with, well she was sitting next to me and guess what she was doing?

Everyone was laughing except me.

The next time I saw that young lady was at another press conference, but this time she was acting as if she never knew me. I think I saw her maybe two more times and each time, it was the cold shoulder.

Thanks to everyone’s favorite new senator, I lost big time.

Obama owes me a public apology for making me look like a court jester and for blocking my shot.

Until that time, Hillary or Giuliani will get my vote.

Cute story.  But the punchline is this.  Obama called him and apologized (mp3 format).

Regifting

BoxgiftWow.  There’s an entire website devoted to the subject of regifting.  According to the site, half of the adults surveyed approve of it.

Is it proper etiquette?  I’ve never done it, and — as far as I know — never received a "regifted" gift.  I generally don’t like the practice.  I’ve always believed that gift-giving is not so much in the gift itself, but the process.  Or, as the common saying goes, "it’s the thought that counts".

So what kind of "thought" is expressed by re-gifting?  Apparently, it’s "This gift I’m giving you is somewhat perfunctory, and going out and actually getting something specifically for you really isn’t worth my time."

But let’s see what Emily Post says on the subject:

Is it okay for me to regift? Is it ethical? Am I breaking any serious taboo? Can I give the set of four wine glasses I received last year from my sister-in-law to a friend who just bought a house?

The answer is this: regifting should be done only rarely, and under specific criteria:

  • You are certain the gift is something the recipient would enjoy.
  • The gift is brand new (no cast-offs allowed) and comes with its original box and instructions.
  • The gift isn’t handmade, or one that the original giver took great care to select.

Simply put, you have to make sure you don’t hurt feelings—neither those of the original giver nor the recipient.

Sounds like they’re saying that it’s okay if you can get away with it.  That doesn’t seem very nice.

Personally, I think that if you must regift, you should be upfront about it (Peggy Post, Emily’s grandaughter agrees with me on that one — see below).  And I would give that gift in addition to a gift that you actually bought.

Anyway, here’s someone else’s dozen rules for regifters:

  • Don’t mention it, please. While Post believes that "the best approach is to be upfront" when regifting, I have to ask: Why spoil the moment? If you tell your sister-in-law, in so many words, "I have no use for this nasty vase, so I’m giving it to you," even a person in need of a vase will hate you. I say, keep your yap shut unless there’s a good reason not to.
  • Do update the wrapping. The next most common regifting faux pas, after leaving the previous gift card attached, is to regift in the original, now crinkled and possibly torn (hello!?) wrapping paper or box. If the phrase "Hey, it looks almost new" crosses your desperate holiday brain, remember that it’s the "almost" that’s a dead giveaway to the new giftee.
  • Don’t give hand-me-downs as regifts. Novice regifters (and those who are terminally tacky) often get these two categories confused. Don’t. A hand-me-down is an item you’ve already used that you’d like to pass along to someone who will enjoy it and use it more than you will. For example, a sweater you’ve removed the tags from and worn twice. You could wrap it up and give it as a "gift" only as long as another real gift is provided. A regift should be just that: a gift you’ve never used that you’re giving away as though it were a . . . real gift!
  • Do keep track of who gave it to you first. In her useful article on this topic, Joyce Moseley Pierce recommends creating a stash of regifting items you can always use in a pinch. I say, OK, but keep a small notebook of who gave you what. I had a harrowing experience that involved regifting a pair of earrings to a cousin — who had given them to me two years before. I forgot. She remembered. And she let me know about it.
  • Don’t EVER regift these items. Certain items are a total, dead, instant giveaway that you are not only regifting, but you’re too lame to put any effort into it: candles, soap, random books, mysterious CDs (unless your brother wants the hip-hop version of "Man of La Mancha"), obscure software, cheesy jewelry, scarves (do we not all own a scarf?), fruitcake, pens, cologne, boxed sets of extinct bath products (Jean Nate? No, no, no), videos or DVDs obviously acquired on a street corner, socks and any appliances or electronic gear the giftee would be puzzled to receive because they probably just got rid of it (including hot-air popcorn poppers and anything with a cassette deck in it).
  • Do have the courtesy to clean your regifts. I once got a rice cooker . . . with a couple of kernels of rice still clinging to it. Some hand-me-downs can be passed off as regifts if the packaging is intact, like the wine glasses you’ve belatedly decided to share with a loved one. Just wash the lipstick off the rim, ‘kay?
  • Don’t give partially used gift cards. As technology pushes the envelope of regifting possibilities, the chance of looking like a ninny only grows. Don’t give a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble that only has $14.56 left on it. Would you give a pie with a slice taken out of it? We hope not.
  • Do remember that regifts can be funny. A friend of mine said that when he was younger, he and his sister would jokingly regift the same two board games back and forth to each other. If you think a friend would get a good laugh out of, say, a regifted self-help book, go for it — as long as you make the prank clear.
  • Don’t give something you’ve owned for a while. Not only is this in violation of the hand-me-down rule above, the giftee can and will recognize that picture frame from your living room shelf. (And while you’re at it, don’t regift picture frames, either.)
  • Do regift champagne. You know the joke about fruitcake: There are only two fruitcakes made each year, and we just keep foisting them off on each other. The same is true of the 11 bottles of champagne that circulate during the holidays. But there are never hard feelings from regifting a bottle of bubbly, unless it’s really cheap or given to a confirmed teetotaler. Eventually it will find a happy, champagne-guzzling home.
  • Don’t give products from defunct companies. Someone gave to my husband and me a lovely crystal decanter from a department store that no longer exists. The decanter is a classic. It was just a little depressing to think it had been in someone’s closet for that long.
  • Do sell your gifts on eBay. When someone first told me that rather than regift, they sell unwanted presents on eBay — and use the proceeds to buy real gifts, I was awed. Then I realized everyone is doing it. "My father gave my brother a boxed set of Kurosawa films, which my brother promptly sold for a pretty penny on eBay," one woman told me. So THAT’S where all that stuff comes from.

But if you were to ask me for my rules, I’d say don’t do it at all.

Whaddup With Kramer?

Was Michael Richards ("Kramer" from Seinfeld) really yelling racial slurs at the comedy club audience, or was it an Andy Kaufman-like gag?

For now, I’m going with the latter, but you can check out the grainy video from the weekend and decide for yourself.

If I Hadn’t Decided To Boycott O.J….

…I’d probably write something like this.

UPDATE (3:36 p.m.):  Fox is cancelling the O.J. interview.

UPDATE (a few minutes later):  Looks like the book deal is being axed as well.  (The publisher, News Corp., also owns Fox Network).

Unhinged perpetually-outraged Michelle Malkin writes:

Would have been better if they had listened to common sense in the first place before they launched this ill-considered project, but better late than never.

Michelle, that holds true for Iraq as well.

No Magic Bullet In Iraq

Of late, there seems to be more willingness on the part of, well, everybody, to admit that the Iraq War is unwinnable, and indeed, it may already be lost.  Even Kissinger put his toe in that pool.  It strikes me that there is, too, that there is no way to "win" in Iraq  (in part because nobody has bothered to explain what victory in Iraq looks like).  But I think we have to accept some truisms, which Suzanne Nossel puts together nicely:

After a few posts about how progressives can build on their recent successes at the polls, readers have had frustration with my inadequate prescriptions for Iraq policy. Well, I fess up. I can’t promise to solve this any more than the Administration, the Congress, the military or the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group can. But for those who demand more, here’s what I can say on how I see the situation and what we do next:

1. The scenarios where maintaining current troop levels and adopting various political strategies pay off by producing greater stability seem wildly far-fetched – In short, its tough to imagine a regional conference, a new political bargain among Sunni and Shiite, the involvement of Syria and Iran, an oil trust, the partitioning of Iraq or any of the other steps talked about producing a sustainable agreement that will quell the Iraqi factions and militias. Not least of the problems is that with our credibility crisis and the Iraqi military’s wholesale failings, there’s no one obvious to police a ceasefire assuming one could be reached. In short, it doesn’t look like anything that could be tried at this stage stands a reasonable shot of "working."

2. Talk of a US pullout to put pressure on the Iraqis to "get their act together" simply wont work – Its become very popular to pledge efforts to force Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and others to take control of their country and wean themselves from over-dependence on US troops. This is the equivalent of deciding to close down the homeless shelter so that residents will finally just go out and find themselves jobs and apartments. The reasons are rooted in a tangle of political hurdles, legitimate fears, and probably some personal limitations among the Iraqi leadership, but bottom line is: the Iraqis can’t and won’t manage to stem the fighting on their own in the short term.

3. At least in the near-term, if US troops pull out, conditions on the ground in Iraq will probably get worse in terms of lives lost – There are conflicting figures about how many people are dying daily in Iraq, but whether there are 100 or 300 violent deaths a day, the numbers could go up and with the absence of any force capable of maintaining order, its reasonable to expect that they will. There are plenty of other risks associated with a pull-out, including the spillover of violence into regions of Iraq that are currently quiet, the encouragement of al-Qaeda to turn the country into a new stomping ground, and the emboldening of a potentially incorrigible Iran.

4. Putting in more US troops seems untenable at this point, and there’s no evidence it would help – Not much more to say on this. It’s untenable both for political reasons and because we don’t have the troops available (which ties back to the political reasons, but is also an independent constraint). When we infused Baghdad with more troops, conditions worsened. When he testified on before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, General Abizaid offered no hope that more troops was the answer.

5. The US needs to be seen to try everything to end the crisis and exit responsibly – From a moral perspective and in terms of our international legitimacy, no matter what we do the fate of Iraq will be on our hands in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the world. While that doesn’t mandate an indefinite commitment to a strategy that’s manifestly failing, it does mean that reasonable suggestions – the regional conference, the involvement of Iran and Syria – must be pursued even if the chances of their working are remote. This does not mean that we need to sustain current troop levels until these avenues have been exhausted.

6. The US cannot confidently or credibly pick a winner among the Iraqi political factions – Some analysts suggest that in order to quell Iraq, the US should side with a faction – there are arguments favoring both Sadr, the Baathists, and other individual militant groups – and help them fight to the finish to defeat their opponents are assert stable rule. Unfortunately, our track record of picking foreign political horses in Vietnam, Latin America, Iraq (remember Chalabi?) and elsewhere is dismal. This strategy stands to potentially deepen Iraq’s crisis and – by attempting to impose a leader hand-picked in Washington – erode whatever remaining credibility we have built up as a result of Iraq’s lurch toward democracy.

7. Folding Iraq into a broader quest for Middle East peace won’t solve the crisis any quicker – There’s been talk that because the Iraqi insurgency may be fueled in part by frustrations over the plight of the Palestinians, resolution of the conflict ought to be enveloped in a broader strategy for peace in the region, including principally between Israel and the Palestinians. But wrapping Iraq’s fate around an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is hardly a sure path to swift resolution. On a political note, suggesting that Iraq’s fate is somehow inextricably linked to the broader Middle East peace process could become an excuse for the Administration to throw up their hands, averting blame for a regional standoff that no prior President has been able to resolve.

8. The effort to train Iraqi troops and police is failing – This is hard to face up to, but after years of effort and continued reports like this, its hard to deny. That’s not to say the training effort is a waste, or couldn’t be strengthened, but rather that the idea of withdrawing significant troop numbers and simultaneously beefing up the training effort will not significantly buttress Iraq’s ability to fend for itself.

9. If we don’t begin a planned exit, there’s a good chance we’ll find ourselves in an unplanned one – Its surprising that by now we haven’t experienced the Iraqi equivalent of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the dragging of a corps of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu a decade later. But it seems likely that that day will come.

With that in mind, Suzanne lays out the "exit strategy":

In short, develop a withdrawal scenario that includes whatever steps can reasonably be taken to minimize the chaos in our wake. A regional conference, talks with Syria and Iran, improved training and reconstruction efforts, political mediation and efforts to bolster the security of less violent regions should all be part of the package. To the extent we can engage Iraq’s neighbors as well as any other global powers who are willing to step up to the plate and help us and Iraq, we should. We should be honest with ourselves and with the Iraqis about what we are doing and why, acknowledging all of the above rather than pretending that we’re handing off a country that’s in better shape than it is. But we should commit to getting out of there regardless of how the diplomacy and mediation progress.

Our exit should be as responsible and forthright as our entrance was wanton and misleading. The best thing we can promise troops who are now being asked to put their lives at risk for an all-but-declared failure is that they are taking risks to enable the US to make the best out of a terrible situation, preserving what can be saved of both Iraqi stability (in geographic pockets) and of American credibility. Its by no means the mission they signed up for, but its an important one nonetheless.

Sounds right to me.

Today’s Groganisms

Our favorite Renew America columnist, Kaye Grogan, has another column out today, and it’s full of her non-sensical metaphors and well, non-sensical everything.  Here’s a smattering:

Since Nancy Pelosi has promised the American people to head the most ethical congress in America’s history can we expect an invitation to gather around the Jordan River for a good old congressional baptism?

I’m not sure what this means, but I’m going to guess that Pelosi probably isn’t going to send out invitations for baptisms at the Jordan River.

The lineup Ms. Pelosi proudly endorsed for House leadership committees when the so-called new congress convenes on January 3, 2007 — should register as a 10 on the Richter scale for a big shake-up.

And Kaye registers a Category 5 on the Saffer-Simpson scale for blowhards.

Then, speaking of progressives like Pelosi, our dear Kaye writes:

The only trouble with all of this progressing — the progressing has taken on a whole new meaning.

As opposed to the old meaning of "progressing"?  Is that even a word?

If you see a lot of people walking around noseless don’t be too surprised as a lot of people bit their noses off to spite their faces, when they voted in the midterm elections.

Biting off your nose in spite of your face — Kaye’s favorite metaphor.  She’s used it two weeks in a row now.

While the Democrats (with the help of the liberal news media) bashed President Bush and the Iraqi conflict 24/7 — not one single Democrat has offered a viable solution for ending the conflict in Iraq beyond cut and run.

Lie.

Folks take a long look at the people you helped to secure either their incumbency or elected more of the same persuasion to lead you. Get used to holding on to them, as you stumble along to disaster. On second thought . . . chalk that up as a bad suggestion — you’re on your own.

Going somewhere, Kaye?

And now, our favorite Kaye Grogan strained metaphor ("Groganism") of the week:

If you thought the road was rocky with the Republicans — you’re going to feel like you’re riding down Mount Everest on an old junkyard bus without brakes — with the Democratic majority.

‘Nuff said.  She could have gone with an ice cream metaphor ("rocky road"), but we like the Mount Everest/junkyard bus imagery.

Then Kaye focuses on pork spending:

If you want to know why the Democrats are fudging the direct question — especially Rep. Charles Rangel when they are asked if the tax idolizing party is going to raise taxes — just go to http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/upload/pork_projects.html to see the biggest pork-barrel spending activity imaginable just waiting to be appropriated in 2007. We should all have a similar wish-list.

Of course, Kaye blatently ignores the fact that the items listed there are appropriations from the Republican-controlled Congress.  Oops.

It’s impossible to fund these on-going humongous projects without raising taxes.

Well, while these projects may or may not be worthwhile, the funding for all of them combined is still far less than the cost of one day of the Iraq War.

Did you know that one million is going toward Mormon Cricket & Grasshopper activity studies in Utah and $300,000 for the same project in Nevada? Good grief! …are they trying to figure out what makes these insects hop?

For goodness sakes! …they have bent flexible legs and it didn’t cost you one red cent to be told this little tidbit.

Wow, Kaye.  Rather than just assuming you know what the spending is for, why don’t you learn to Google?  Mormon crickets and grasshoppers are pests which eat and destroy crops, hurting farmers, and ultimately causing higher prices for certain agricultural goods that you buy in the store.  (The bill, by the way, was sponsored by a Republican).

I have determined that the abuse of the peoples’ money by everyone in Congress — is unethical and proves that they definitely need to all be gathering at the Jordan River for "ethical" cleansing.

Yes . . . they all need to gather at the river.

Because if you baptize our Congress, they’ll allow agricultural pests to ravish our crops and drive up the cost of produce.

Which is a good thing.

Or something.

Vietnam Redux

Vietnam then:

With these troops in place, U.S. officials instituted an “enclave” strategy under which U.S. forces would try to maintain only those areas of Vietnam already under Saigon’s control. General Westmoreland, opposing the enclave strategy, called for more and more U.S. forces and advocated “taking the battle to the enemy.” Indeed, in July 1965, Johnson sent 100,000 more troops and authorized another 100,000 to be dispatched in 1966.

Iraq now:

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.

Mr Bush’s refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.

IRONY WATCH:  Bush, after having avoided Vietnam as a young man, finally goes there.

Trying To Get Into The Mile High Club Is An Act Of Terrorism?

Heard about Carl Persing and Dawn Sewell yet?

They were the young couple aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles earlier this week.  According to news reports, they were engaging in a bit of a romantic encounter (more on that in a moment), much to the consternation of the flight attendants and fellow passengers.

"Persing was observed nuzzling or kissing Sewell on the neck, and … with his face pressed against Sewell’s vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling," reads the indictment filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On a second warning from the flight attendant, Persing snapped back threatening the flight attendant with "serious consequences" if he did not leave them alone.

They were subsequently arrested.  Fair enough.

But they were charged with violations of The Patriot Act.  Now what is that all about?

My thoughts are the same as these:

Let’s stipulate that the seats of a commercial airliner filled with other passengers is an inappropriate venue for sexual exploration. Can we nonetheless agree that this is not what the PATRIOT Act was aimed at?

Prof. Owen Kerr agrees:

This story doesn’t seem to add up. The relevant provision of the Patriot Act is 18 U.S.C. 1993(a)(5), which punishes whoever:

interferes with, disables, or incapacitates any dispatcher, driver, captain, or person while they are employed in dispatching, operating, or maintaining a mass transportation vehicle or ferry, with intent to endanger the safety of any passenger or employee of the mass transportation provider, or with a reckless disregard for the safety of human life.

In addition, 18 U.S.C. 1993(a)(8) prohibits "threaten[ing]" to do an act in (a)(5).

However, nothing in the story suggests that Persing actually threatened to interfere with, disable, or incapacitate the flight attendant while he was doing his job with intent to endanger his safety. It sounds like Persing was actually quite occupied with other things. And it’s unclear what role Sewell had here, at least in a criminal sense.

Sweeney Todd: The Movie Musical

Sweeney20toddJohnny Depp stars as Sweeney Todd.

Helena Bonham Carter stars as Mrs. Lovett.

Socha Cohen (now making a splash as "Borat") just signed on as (you could predict this) Signor Adolfo Pirelli.

Tim Burton ("Edward Scissorhands", "Ed Wood", "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory") directs.

Yes, this is the film version of the Sondheim classic.  Shooting to start sometime in 2007.

The Great Japanese Hope

I’m not one for off-season baseball news, but this caught my eye:

The market price for pitching talent is soaring so high that it’s come to this: The Boston Red Sox are ready to pay more than $50 million just for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who’s never thrown his "gyroball" – or any pitch, for that matter – in the major leagues.

The $51.1 million winning bid is only the start. Now the Red Sox have 30 days to finalize a contract with the Japanese ace.

Making a record-setting bid that easily blew away offers from the New York Yankees, Mets and others, the Red Sox won the auction Tuesday for the World Baseball Classic MVP.

UPDATE:  At Over the Monster, the Red Sox blog, they’re saying it’s all but a done deal.

“My Half Year Of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists”

A Polish exchange student is set up with a host family here in Winston-Salem — a family of Christian fundamentalists.  He writes about it in Der Spiegel:

"When I got out of the plane in Greensboro in the US state of North Carolina, I would never have expected my host family to welcome me at the airport, wielding a Bible, and saying, ‘Child, our Lord sent you half-way around the world to bring you to us.’ At that moment I just wanted to turn round and run back to the plane.

Things began to go wrong as soon as I arrived in my new home in Winston-Salem, where I was to spend my year abroad. For example, every Monday my host family would gather around the kitchen table to talk about sex. My host parents hadn’t had sex for the last 17 years because — so they told me — they were devoting their lives to God. They also wanted to know whether I drank alcohol. I admitted that I liked beer and wine. They told me I had the devil in my heart.

My host parents treated me like a five-year-old. They gave me lollipops. They woke me every Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m., saying ‘Michael, it’s time to go to church.’ I hated that sentence. When I didn’t want to go to church one morning, because I had hardly slept, they didn’t allow me to have any coffee.

One day I was talking to my host parents about my mother, who is separated from my father. They were appalled — my mother’s heart was just as possessed by the devil as mine, they exclaimed. God wanted her to stay with her husband, they said.

Turns out, the Winston-Salem fundies had an ulterior motive:

Then, seeing as we were already on the topic of God’s will, the religious zealots finally brought up a subject which had clearly been on their minds for a long time: They wanted me to help them set up a Fundamentalist Baptist church in my home country of Poland. It was God’s will, they said. They tried to slip the topic casually into conversation, but it really shocked me — I realized that was the only reason they had welcomed me into their family. They had already started construction work in Krakow — I was to help them with translations and with spreading their faith via the media.

Read the whole thing.

RELATED:  North Carolina and religious fundamentalism also merge in this news item:

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina voted Tuesday to cut ties with congregations that affirm or approve of homosexuality, formally adopting a rigid anti-gay policy that allows the group to investigate whether member churches are gay-friendly.

The policy adopted by the North Carolina convention, which includes more than 4,000 member churches and 1.2 million members, is even stricter than that of the national Southern Baptist Convention, according to a more liberal Baptist organization.

Bush Personally Approved Torture

this seems like a big story:

Document shows Bush guided CIA on detention

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged for the first time the existence of two classified documents, including one signed by President George W. Bush, that have guided the agency’s interrogation and detention of terror suspects.

The CIA disclosed the existence of the documents in a letter Friday sent from the agency’s associate general counsel, John McPherson, to lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The contents of the documents were not revealed, but one document, as described by the ACLU, is "a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees."

The second document, according to the group is a Justice Department legal analysis "specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top Al Qaeda members."

ACLU lawyers said they would now press for public disclosure of the contents of the documents.

"We intend to press for release of both of these documents," said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the group said in a statement.

"If President Bush and the Justice Department authorized the CIA to torture prisoners, the public has a right to know."

We surely do.

Dems In New England

(1)  The recounting is done in Connecticut’s 2nd District, and Democrat Joe Courtney won — by 97 votes.  97.  Wow.  This means that there is only one Republican Congressman from all of New England (Chris Shays of Connecticut)

(2)  Carol Shea-Porter is the new Democratic congressman from NH (who supposedly never stood a chance to win).  Her victory is explained on Daily Kos by one of her campaign coordinators.

An Opera About Bill O’Reilly?

Yup.  Here’s the scoop from the author of the book and blog "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O’Reilly" (gotta love that name, by the way):

In the book "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O’Reilly", we discussed the possibility of a musical theater production. We even went so far as to throw together some lyrics. Well kids, in the race to the stage, we’ve been beaten to the punch… and by a guy named Igor, no less.

Mackris v. O’Reilly is the new work by Igor Keller. The oratorio (which is basically an opera without the scenery), is for a 31-piece chamber orchestra, 32-voice chorus and three soloists, directed by Kris Falk.

The libretto is comprised of the original court document and O’Reilly’s on-air settlement announcement. Imagine a two-hour neo-baroque extravaganza including seven chorales, two madrigals, three choruses, four recitatives, two instrumental entrances and numerous arias dedicated to the sexual exploits of the most popular man in cable news.

Crs_1_137x182

Charles Robert Stephens – Baritone
as Bill O’Reilly

Stephens’ performances show "a committed characterization and a
voice of considerable beauty." (Opera News) He has been hailed by
The New York Times as a "baritone of smooth distinction."

Signe_1_137x169

Signe Mortensen – Soprano
as Andrea Mackris

Mortensen’s roles include Musetta in La Boheme (Bellevue Opera),
Pamina in Magic Flute (Skagit Opera), Micaela in Carmen (Opera
Pacifica), Frasquita in Carmen (Tri-Cities Opera), Adele in Die
Fledermaus (TCO), Yum-Yum in Mikado (Skagit Opera), and
Josephine in HMS Pinafore (Northwest Savoyards

Andrea Makris is the woman who sued O’Reilly for sexual harassment.

Does This Sound “Fair And Balanced” To You?

HuffPo obtained an internal Fox memo written by the network’s Vice President of news. The memo details Fox’s game plan the day Democrats won control of both the Senate and the House.  Here’s an excerpt.  Pay special attention to the emphasizd statements and see if you can see a hint of bias — I’m betting you can:

The elections and Rumsfeld’s resignation were a major event, but not the end of the world. The war on terror goes on without interruption. Jennifer Griffin sent in info on Hamas’ call for attacks on American interests. And let’s on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.

The question of the day, and indeed for the rest of bush’s term, is: What’s the Dem plan for Iraq? THis could be a very short live shot for Jim Angle, but he’ll try.

In the House, the newly empowered Dems will shed some fraternal blood before settling in. Murtha will challenge HOyer for the leadership. A former hawk v. a political hack. Garrett will observe.

We’ll continue to work the Hamas threat to the US that came hours after the election results. Griffin and Tobin will include in their lives. Just because Dems won, the war on terror isn’t over.

This type of thing shouldn’t surprise anyone, but there are still those out there who insist that Fox News really is "fair and balanced".  Odd.

FLASHBACK TO JUNE 2006:  The Fox London bureau chief said this in the Wall Street Journal European edition:

Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly.

Yup, nothing to see here. No bias at all.

I Knew This Guy In Law School

Not well though.  He was in one of my study groups:

GardnerAndrew Gardner’s body was found under a stand of trees in a bird sanctuary in tony upstate Bedford – a mile from the sprawling gray cedar-shingled Colonial home he no longer shared with his college-sweetheart wife and their three children.

Gardner, a charming, socially connected lawyer with a prestigious New York firm, had moved out of his hillside house in Armonk and was bunking in a White Plains apartment with his recently widowed father – overwhelmed at how his storybook life was quickly unraveling.

He was living under a cloud – accused of a rape he swore he didn’t commit while attending a business conference in Atlanta in August.

A graduate of the elite Collegiate School in Manhattan, Harvard University and NYU Law School, Gardner, 39, spent a week in jail before he was released on $225,000 bail.

A month later, he attempted suicide – slashing his wrists in a failed bid to escape what an old Harvard friend described as an "unbearable humiliation."

Two weeks ago, when he didn’t return home as expected, his father, retired ad exec Allen Gardner, panicked and went to the police.

He told cops that Andrew had not returned to either the White Plains apartment or the Armonk home he had lived in until recently with his wife, Kimberley, their twin 13-year-old sons and 9-year-old daughter.

"He stated that his son is suicidal," the White Plains police noted in a missing-person’s report filed Oct. 30.

The alarmed dad said he had last spoken to his son the previous day "and he seemed to be fine at the time."

The officers contacted police in nearby Bedford and learned that an officer there had run the plates on Gardner’s 2004 metallic-gray BMW-325 shortly before midnight after a patrol cop spotted it parked in the Butler bird sanctuary.

When Bedford cops returned to the sanctuary, the BMW was still there, the key in the ignition.

Gardner’s body was found in the woods about 200 yards away.

It’s believed he took his own life.

This Could Be The Greatest Celebrity Divorce Proceeding Ever

CBS News is reporting:

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline made a four-hour sex tape early in their marriage that he is now threatening to sell unless she gives in to his demands in their divorce case, according to a British tabloid, The News of the World.

First impressions:

(1)  Four hours?  I tip my hat to the two of them.

(2)  Four hours?  I bet she chatters away incessantly for the first 3.5 hours.  You remember this?

(3)  From the article:

But on The Early Show Tuesday, Us Weekly magazine’s contributing editor Katrina Szish said Spears probably needn’t worry.

"If a tape does exist, I don’t think it will be damaging for Britney," Szish told co-anchor Rene Syler. "We’ve seen her at her lowest point. She’s on her way back up. This would be a tape she did with her husband when they were married. Whatever may be in that tape, it really doesn’t matter anymore. "

Well, yes.  I supposed when you get as skanky as Britney Spears, it really doesn’t matter.  But for whole blackmail thing is pretty interesting, even for people who abhor "celebrity" news, Britney Spears and K-Fed.

(4)  While K-Fed may be in the running for the worst "ex" of the year, he got beat out today by this guy:

A man pleaded guilty in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend’s four small kittens, which were tossed into a fire pit after the couple argued.

A War Casualty That Doesn’t Get Tallied

Editor & Publisher

Her name doesn’t show on any official list of American military deaths in the Iraq war, by hostile or non-hostile fire, who died in that country or in hospitals in Europe or back home in the USA. But Iraq killed her just as certainly.

She is Jeanne "Linda" Michel, a Navy medic. She came home last month to her husband and three kids (ages 11, 5, and 4), delighted to be back in her suburban home of Clifton Park in upstate New York. Michel, 33, would be discharged from the Navy in a few weeks, finishing her five years of duty.

Two weeks after she got home, she shot and killed herself.

Read the whole thing.

Arrest Googling

I love it when someone gets arrested.  You can google their name and learn all about them.

Today, for example, a guy named Chad Conrad Castagana was arrested for mailing white powder (fake anthrax) to Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Keith Olbermann, and prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Doing a little "arrest googling" on Chad (who also uses the name "Marc Costanzo") yields this blog comment regarding Katherine Harris:

Chad Castagana Said: 8:29 am [ Quote ]

Congresswoman Katherine Harris is a remarkable lady !

She has perservered a lot to advance the Conservative Cause .

We Red-Bloooded Americans are obligated to support her, siritualy, not just politically !

Then there’s his profile on the very rightwing Free Republic website:

I am a lifelong Conservative Republican.

I have an Associates Degree in the Science of Electronics .

Ann Coulter is a Goddess and I worship Laura Ingraham and Michele Malkin .

English is the langauge of the United States of America- – our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are written in the langauge that expresses our civilized freedoms .

Spanish is the language of Banana Republics, beyond that it belongs in a European country .

Ann Coulter a goddess??  Yikes.

Interestingly enough, he even commented on the fact that Olbermann was mailed anthrax.  Here:

Posted by marc costanzo to Politics4Fun
On News/Activism 10/30/2006 7:34:19 AM PST · 230 of 233

>>Not to make light of the situation, but drama queen Olbermann put on quite a production even after he’d been told the powder was harmless and checked out by doctors and told he was fine. He demanded that he be rushed to the hospital for more tests. I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised if he mailed it to himself. I’ve never seen someone more desperate for attention and approval.

I heard from a liberal blog that Olbermann was a prima donna at the hospital, giving the medical staff and the cops a hard time .

Keith is a whiny little b@tch !

Accepting that, I do not believe he sent it to himself .

But that is just guess work .

Yeah.  Sure it’s not "guesswork".  Loser.

UPDATE:  Others do some arrest googling, too.

What The Hell?

Shutter1113Looking at my "live webcams" on the right just now, I noticed this "live" picture from the webcam at the Nevada Seismological Lab.

I don’t know much about earthquakes or seismographs, but that looks like one biiiiig and preposterously looooooooog earthquake.

I think the machine is broken.  Can someone call them please?

NOVA Looks Good This Week

Handwalkers8tuI still say some of the best programming is on public educational TV.  This week, Nova looks at the so-called "family that walks on all fours".  If you haven’t heard about them, it’s an interesting story.

The Ulas family lives in a remote village in Turkey.  They are nineteen in all (it is a big family) which is unique in and of itself.  But what makes this family Nova-worthy is the fact that five of the siblings — four sisters and one brother — walk on all fours; that is, with their feet and the palms of their hands.  They are known as "handwalkers".

No, they’re not eccentric.  Like dogs or other mammals, they simply cannot maintain their balance on the legs.  In their cases, it is due to a rare genetic brain disorder — a form of retardation that effects their ability to stand.  So they became quadropeds instead of bipeds.

They are of special interest to evolutionary scientists.  After all, our ape ancestors made the transition from walking on all fours to walking on two legs.  It is thought that these five "handwalkers" may be a rare example of "reverse evolution" — i.e., the part of the brain that developed late in human evolution (the part which allows us to stand) simply went missing in these people.

Anyway, the Nova special airs this week.