Monthly Archives: February 2007

Harry Potter – Nude!

Nice to see actors buck the sterotypes that made them famous:

On stage in London’s West End and stripped of his cinematic magic (and for a while his clothes), Daniel Radcliffe of “Harry Potter” fame proves he’s no-one trick pony. Last night’s much-anticipated revival of Peter Shaffer’s “Equus” showed off a darker, more mature Radcliffe. Gone was the bespectacled schoolboy wizard, replaced by Radcliffe’s portrayal of a disturbed 17-year-old, Alan Strang, who’s committed to a psychiatric hospital for unexplainably blinding six horses with a metal pick. As an estranged and volatile loner, Radcliffe, 17 in real life, deftly reflects the raw passion and erotic energy of Shaffer’s script.

The critics were impressed.

Right-Wing Noise Machine Still Attacking Gore

Anonymous Liberal:

The right-wing noise machine really is a remarkable thing to behold. Al Gore wins an Oscar, gets some well-deserved recognition for his efforts, and within hours the Republican noise machine is already in full smear mode, trying to undercut Gore’s message by attacking him personally.

It began this morning when a group that no one has ever heard of–the Tennessee Center for Policy Research–issued a press release claiming that Al Gore’s utility bills reveal that his house in Nashville uses 20 times more energy than the average American household. This, according to the group, makes Al Gore an enormous hypocrite.

***

At the heart of all this nonsense is the bizarre notion that somehow the wisdom and importance of Gore’s message about global climate change would be called into question if it could be shown that Gore doesn’t always practice what he preaches. Putting aside the fact that the case against Gore is incredibly weak, why does any of this matter? If Gore were to leave his backdoor open all winter, thereby wasting thousands of kilowatts of energy, would that somehow make his slide show less convincing? If it were demonstrated that Gore’s house is not as energy efficient as it could be, would that somehow render his tireless efforts to bring attention to this important issue less meaningful? Of course not. This entire line of attack is just a meaningless sideshow, an effort to distract the American people from the substance of the issue itself.

This Shouldn’t Happen In The Most Advanced Country On Earth

We really need to overhaul health care big time:

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren’t so hard to find.

If his mother hadn’t been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte’s own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George’s County boy died.

Deamonte’s death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all….

Read the whole thing.

Troops Unprepared

How can people who "support the troops" allow this to happen?

Rushed by President Bush’s decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army’s premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.

Light Blogging/Pillow Fight NYC 2007

There will be light blogging for the next several days due to the following:

(1) I may have jury duty tomorrow.  (I’ll find out when I call the special number after 5:00 p.m. today) [POST 5 P.M. UPDATE:  Yay!!  No jury duty!!!]

(2) I’ll be in NYC for a long weekend.  Gonna see some shows ["Wicked", "Spring Awakening", Jack Goes Boating" (with Phillip Seymour Hoffman), and "Curtains" (a new musical with David Hyde Pierce)]

I won’t be participating in any pillow fights, like the one they had in Union Square this past weekend.

Supreme Court Gives Gore’s Oscar To Bush

Heh:

In a stunning reversal for the former vice president, the Supreme Court ordered that Al Gore’s Academy Award be given to President Bush.

Just days after former Vice President Al Gore received an Academy Award for his global- warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Supreme Court handed Gore a stunning reversal, stripping him of his Oscar and awarding it to President George W. Bush instead.

For Gore, who basked in the adulation of his Hollywood audience Sunday night, the high court’s decision to give his Oscar to President Bush was a cruel twist of fate, to say the least. But in a 5-4 decision handed down Tuesday morning, the justices made it clear that they had taken the unprecedented step of stripping Gore of his Oscar because President Bush deserved it more.

“It is true that Al Gore has done a lot of talking about global warming,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority. “But President Bush has actually helped create global warming.”

The Gore Smear

The rightwing noise machine has set its sites on Al Gore.

A group as sprung up overnight, calling itself the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (it is, despite its official sounding name, a rightwing organization founded by a member of the conservative thinktank, American Enterprise Institute).  It issued a press release, picked up by Drudge Report, rightwing blogs, and Fox News, claiming that Al Gore’s utility bills for his house in Nashville show that he uses 20 times more energy than the average American household. This, according to the group, makes Al Gore an enormous hypocrite.

I’ll let Anonymous Liberal do the debunking:

This is a textbook example of the mindless swarming behavior that is so typical among right-wing partisan flacks. First, everyone on the right–from top to bottom–simply assumed that the content of this press release, which was put out by an organization none of them had ever heard of before, was factually accurate. Actually, that probably gives them too much credit. It’s not that they assumed it was accurate, it’s that they didn’t care. The press release was chalked full of truthiness, and that was good enough.

The press release claimed that Al Gore’s home in Nashville consumed 221,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity last year compared to a national average of 10,656 kWh per household. I have no idea whether the number cited for Gore’s house is correct, but let’s assume it is. The 10,656 number comes from data published by the Department of Energy. But it’s an average of all households nationwide (including apartment units and mobile homes) and across all climate regions. As it turns out, the region in which Gore lives–the East South Central–has the highest per household energy usage of any climate region in the country, a good 50% higher than the national average quoted in the press release (I assume this is due to the combination of cold winters and hot, muggy summers). So that’s misleading in and of itself.

Moreover, Gore lives in a large home (10,000 sq. ft.). If you look at the data, it’s clear that Gore’s energy usage per square foot (even assuming the 221,000 kWh number is accurate) is well within the average range for his climate region. So all this accusation boils down to is a claim that it is somehow "hypocritical" for Al Gore to live in a large house.

That’s awfully weak. Gore’s a former Senator and Vice President of the United States. Does he have to move into a studio apartment before he has the right to talk about climate change?

And more importantly, as Think Progress reports, even this watered-down hypocrisy charge entirely misses the point. What Al Gore wants people to do is reduce the carbon footprint of their residence as much as possible and then purchase carbon offsets to reduce the remaining footprint to zero. Gore has installed solar panels in his home, he uses fluorescent light bulbs and other energy saving technology, and he purchases his energy from Green Power Switch, a provider which utilizes solar and wind power. He then purchases carbon offsets to reduce his remaining carbon footprint to zero.

Could Gore use less overall energy if he and Tipper moved into a one-bedroom apartment? Of course. But he’s not asking people to move into smaller homes. He’s asking them to reduce their carbon footprints, which is exactly what he has done. He practices what he preaches.

Still, these sort of facts about Al Gore aren’t likely to deter the self-congratulatory right, now convinced they have "caught" Gore in an act of hypocrisy.  This is how they operate.

’08 Matchups

Presidential race match-ups mean little at this early stage, but they do mean something.  Zogby’s latest match-up poll of the top three GOP contenders (Guiliani, McCain, and Romney — in that order)vs. the top 3 Democratic contenders (Clinton, Obama, and Edwards — in that order) is interesting:

Giuliani 47%, Clinton 40%

Giuliani 40%, Obama 46%

Giuliani 46%, Edwards 40%

McCain 47%, Clinton 39%

McCain 40%, Obama 44%

McCain 47%, Edwards 38%

Romney 35%, Clinton 45%

Romney 29%, Obama 51%

Romney 32%, Edwards 47%

Things to note, assuming the election were held today:

(1)  Romney would lose to any Democratic candidate.

(2)  No GOP candidate can beat Obama.

Barack’s gotta be loving this poll.

Gibson: People Who Think There’s Too Much Anna Nicole News Are “Iraq Snobs”

Wonkette:

Fox News tool John Gibson is disgusted by Anderson Cooper’s “news-guy snobbery,” because the handsome CNN anchor keeps reporting on stupid Iraq!Bravely defending the constant cable-news coverage of a fat drug-addict porno gal’s death, Gibson told his radio audience that Cooper is just trying to be a fancy snob with all this “U.S. troops killed every day” stuff, which is totally boring compared to a brain-damaged 800-pound heroin addict in awful clown make-up:

“Oh, there’s a war on, there’s a war on. Maybe, just maybe, people are a little weary, Mr. Cooper, of your war coverage, and they’d like a little something else. Maybe that’s why they all thundered to this story.”

They thundered to this story?  I love this: Gibson does Anna Nicole all-the-time coverage, and then insists that the people thundered to this story?

It’s kind of like going into a pizza joint and seeing that they only serve plain cheese pizza.  "They love it", says Luigi, the pizza shop owner.  "In fact, look around.  That’s all people are eating here!"

Finding Jesus

People talk about "finding Jesus", but this time, he may have really been found.  I mean, really:

New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world’s foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.

According to writings found in the tomb, the tomb contained (at one time) the remains of Jesus, Mary, Matthew, Joseph and Mary Magdalene.

And a new character, too.  No, no.  Not Scrappy-doo.  It’s Judah, the son of Jesus.  Apparently, something in the tomb makes reference to this guy:

In addition to the "Judah son of Jesus" inscription, which is written in Aramaic on one of the ossuaries, another limestone burial box is labeled in Aramaic with "Jesus Son of Joseph." Another bears the Hebrew inscription "Maria," a Latin version of "Miriam," or, in English, "Mary." Yet another ossuary inscription, written in Hebrew, reads "Matia," the original Hebrew word for "Matthew." Only one of the inscriptions is written in Greek. It reads, "Mariamene e Mara," which can be translated as, "Mary known as the master."

Francois Bovon, professor of the history of religion at Harvard University, told Discovery News, "Mariamene, or Mariamne, probably was the actual name given to Mary Magdalene."

Now, there are certain obvious implications to the discovery of Jesus’ tomb, not the least of which is that, according to the Bible, Jesus was resurrected three days after his crucifixion.  So a number of Christians are up in arms about this discovery.

However, the Discovery channel (which is broadcasting a special on this discovery) says "Not necessarily so":

It is a matter of Christian faith that Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion circa 30 C.E. This is a central tenet of Christian theology, repeated in all four Gospels. The Lost Tomb of Jesus does not challenge this belief. In the Gospel of Matthew (28:12) it states that a rumor was circulating in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. This story holds that Jesus’ body was moved by his disciples from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where he was temporarily buried. Ostensibly, his remains were taken to a permanent family tomb. Though Matthew calls this rumor a lie circulated by the high priests, it appears in his Gospel as one of the stories surrounding Jesus’ disappearance from the initial tomb where he was buried. Even if Jesus’ body was moved from one tomb to another, however, that does not mean that he could not have been resurrected from the second tomb. Belief in the resurrection is based not on which tomb he was buried in, but on alleged sightings of Jesus that occurred after his burial and documented in the Gospels.

Ascension: It is also a matter of Christian faith that after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. Some Christians believe that this was a spiritual ascension, i.e., his mortal remains were left behind. Other Christians believe that he ascended with his body to heaven. If Jesus’ mortal remains have been found, this would contradict the idea of a physical ascension but not the idea of a spiritual ascension. The latter is consistent with Christian theology.

Still, I have a funny feeling that Christians aren’t going to be pleased with this discovery, or the documentary.

UPDATE:  CNN has more:

Archaeologists and clergymen in the Holy Land derided claims in a new documentary produced by the Oscar-winning director James Cameron that contradict major Christian tenets.

"The Lost Tomb of Christ," which the Discovery Channel will run on March 4, argues that 10 ancient ossuaries — small caskets used to store bones — discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family, according to a press release issued by the Discovery Channel.

One of the caskets even bears the title, "Judah, son of Jesus," hinting that Jesus may have had a son. And the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.

Most Christians believe Jesus’ body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron’s documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church.

In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

The claims have raised the ire of Christian leaders in the Holy Land.

I Rule The Oscar Pool!

I usually do well in these things, but this year I did exceedingly well.

I got all the "major categories" right: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director.

I also got right: Best Cinematography, Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, Best Live Action Short Film, Best Sound Mixing

But I got wrong:  Best Song, Best Score, Best Foreign Film (not "Pan’s Labyrinth"?  What gives?), Best Costumes, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary Short

That’s 14 out of 24 (more if you weight the bigger categories).  I usually get 10-11.

Sadly, I didn’t participate in any pools or sweepstakes.

In retrospect, I really should have pegged "The Departed" for Best Film Editing, and gone with popular sentiment by picking "The Departed" for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Other than that, I don’t have any second thoughts about my picks.

Best Oscar telecast moment:  You know, there really weren’t any.  I like Forest Whitaker’s speech.  The orchestra cutting off Gore’s "important announcement" was kind of funny, although Al Gore really can’t do comedy.  Could have done with out the weird shadow dancers and gospel choirs.  And waaaaay too long.

Why Jennifer Hudson Shouldn’t Win

Academyawardstatute

[UPDATE NOTE: I may or may not be liveblogging the Oscars this Sunday, as I may or may not be attending an Oscar party.  Depends on my mood.  I’m fickle that way.  In any event, to all my readers (both of you) have a good weekend.  Don’t shoot anybody in the face.]

Below is a repost of my Oscar predictions (posted here earlier on January 23).

One month later, I stand by all of them, except maybe "Children of Men" for Best Adapted Screenplay (it’ll probably be "The Departed").  I still realize that Eddie Murphy is the odds-on favorite for Best Supporting, but I’m still liking Arkin.

But even though I predicted an Oscar nod for Ms. Hudson, let me explain why she shouldn’t win.  It’s quite simple — she wasn’t that good.

I know this amounts to heresy to some, but I said the same thing about Crash, the movie people loooooved because it used the awesomely innovative! fiendishly clever! never-before-done! story-telling technique of having several intertwining vignettes, and its compelling! earth-shattering! message that, yes, some people are racist. 

Well, it’s a year later, and can you even remember most of the movie, save perhaps a scene where Matt Dillon gropes/saves Thandie Newton?  I suspect not.

Don’t get me wrong — I liked Crash.  I just didn’t think it deserved Best Picture.  Same with Ms. Hudson’s performance in Dreamgirls.  Yes, she sang "that song" well, and she showed adequate emotion when she sang it.  Emphasize "adequate".  The original, Jennifer Holiday, did it much better — both from a singing and emotional standpoint — and without heavy editing.  [SIDENOTE: Ms. Holiday, who has to be, like 60 now, is reprising her Dreamgirls role as Effie next month in Georgia for the National Black Theater Festival.  Ten bucks says she can still out-perform Hudson in that role].

By contrast, Ms. Hudson’s three-minute American-Idol-like performance is not the stuff for which Oscars are given.  And she was barely there throughout the rest of the movie.  Yes, she furrowed her brown brow and pigeon-strutted her neck when she was required to be angry, but I didn’t believer believe her.  And she moped good, too.  But there wasn’t much depth to what she did, ever.  And frankly, I think Best Supporting Actress nominee Abigail Benson (the little girl in Little Miss Sunshine) showed more emotional range and believability.

So yes.  I admit there is a certain pleasure in giving an Oscar to a virtual unknown — an American Idol finalist making her big screen debut.  It’s a Cinderella story, and that makes it a crowdpleaser.  But Cinderella at least earned her spot at the prince’s side.  Hudson’s performance, while good, simply wasn’t enough to merit the statuette.  And in time, you’ll agree with me.

Okay.  Sorry to pee in the Oscar pool, but it just had to be said.

And now my Oscar predictions……(again)

My predicted winners are in red:

1. Best Picture: "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen."

Comments:  The surprise here is, of course, the failure of "Dreamgirls" to be nominated.  It was a movie that many expected to not only be nominated, but to win.  With "Dreamgirls" out of the mix, it is an open question.  LMS is too light and fluffy for an Oscar, and Queen is too, well, British.  "Letters From Iwo Jima" has an outstanding chance, not only because it is a well-done film, but it stands beside Eastwood’s other Iwo Jima epic of this year "Flags Of Our Fathers".  Still, I think it’s going to Scorsese. (P.S. Kudos for not nominating "Borat")

2. Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"; Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"; Peter O’Toole, "Venus"; Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"; Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

Comments: Whitaker won the Golden Globe and the Academy likes him.  DiCaprio has a good chance (especially since he wasn’t nominated for best supporting for his role in "The Departed"), and Peter O’Toole is a sentimental favorite, since it looks like he might not be with us much longer.  Still, I give Whitaker the slight edge.

3. Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"; Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"; Helen Mirren, "The Queen" ; Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Kate Winslet, "Little Children."

Comments:  Personally, I would love to see Meryl win another Oscar, and she did take the Golden Globe.  But Mirren’s performance was, according to the buzz, outstanding.  Meryl will be nipping at her heels, and don’t be surprised by an "upset" from Penelope Cruz.

4. Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine" ; Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"; Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"; Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed."

Comments:  A lot of people are saying it’s Eddie Murphy, and I certainly was pleasantly surprised by his performance in "Dreamgirls", and pleased with his Golden Globe win.  Still, I have this feeling about Arkin — a consistently good actor who has yet to be recognized.

5. Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza, "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"; Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel."

Comments:  The only sure thing in the top categories — Jennifer Hudson.

6. Directing: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"; Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"; Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Stephen Frears, "The Queen"; Paul Greengrass, "United 93."

Comments:  Again, a bit of a surprise that Bill Condon wasn’t nominated for "Dreamgirls", but even if he had, I think this is the year when Scorsese finally wins his first Oscar for Best Directing.

7. Foreign Language Film: "After the Wedding," Denmark; "Days of Glory (Indigenes)," Algeria; "The Lives of Others," Germany; "Pan’s Labyrinth," Mexico; "Water," Canada.

Comments:  Not even close.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines and Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, "Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"; Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, "Children of Men"; William Monahan, "The Departed"; Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"; Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal."

Comments:  A bit of a surprise that "Thank You For Not Smoking" wasn’t nominated.  I’m leaning toward "Children of Men" but it could be "The Departed"

9. Original Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"; Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine" ; Guillermo del Toro, "Pan’s Labyrinth"; Peter Morgan, "The Queen."

Comments:  It’s either "Little Mary Sunshine" or "Babel".  I’m guessing the former.

10. Animated Feature Film: "Cars," "Happy Feet", Monster House."

Comments:  Its environmental message and good music will give "Happy Feet" the edge over "Cars"

11. Art Direction: "Dreamgirls," "The Good Shepherd," "Pan’s Labyrinth", "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," "The Prestige."

Comments:  I’m picking "Pan’s Labyrinth" simply because it’s otherworldly, and (apparently) done very well.

12. Cinematography: "The Black Dahlia," "Children of Men," "The Illusionist," "Pan’s Labyrinth", "The Prestige."

Comments:  Futuristic ("Children of Men") and historical ("The Black Dahlia", "The Illusionist") often do well, but so do the otherworldly.  I’m leaning toward Pan again.

13. Sound Mixing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Dreamgirls", "Flags of Our Fathers," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest."

14. Sound Editing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Flags of Our Fathers", "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest."

15. Original Score: "Babel," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Good German," Thomas Newman; "Notes on a Scandal," Philip Glass; "Pan’s Labyrinth", Javier Navarrete; "The Queen," Alexandre Desplat.

Comments:  Never go against Philip Glass.

16. Original Song: "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth," Melissa Etheridge; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven; "Love You I Do" from "Dreamgirls", Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett; "Our Town" from "Cars," Randy Newman; "Patience" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.

Comments:  Very odd.  "Love You I Do" was from the original Broadway score, so one wonders why "I’m Not Going" wasn’t nominated.  In truth, the winner will probably be something from "Dreamgirls".  I just don’t like "Listen" or "Patience" very much.  [UPDATE:  Heather says I am wrong about "Love You I Do" being from the original Broadway score, and I probably am.]

17. Costume: "Curse of the Golden Flower," "The Devil Wears Prada", "Dreamgirls," "Marie Antoinette," "The Queen."

Comments:  The costume award just has to go to a movie about fashion.

18. Documentary Feature: "Deliver Us From Evil," "An Inconvenient Truth", "Iraq in Fragments," "Jesus Camp," "My Country, My Country."

Comments:  Usually, popular documentaries don’t win, but this year will be different.

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Blood of Yingzhou District," "Recycled Life," "Rehearsing a Dream," "Two Hands."

20. Film Editing: "Babel", "Blood Diamond," "Children of Men," "The Departed," "United 93."

21. Makeup: "Apocalypto," "Click," "Pan’s Labyrinth"

22. Animated Short Film: "The Danish Poet," "Lifted," "The Little Matchgirl," "Maestro," "No Time for Nuts."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)," "Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)," "Helmer & Son," "The Saviour," "West Bank Story."

24. Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," "Poseidon," "Superman Returns"

Universal Symbol For Radiation Gets A Makeover

This is the warning label for radiation that we’re all used to:

Trefoil

Apparently, people didn’t "get" what this meant, so the International Atomic Energy Agency has just announced and released a new universal symbol:

Newradiationsymbol_300x200

For those of you didn’t understand the old universal symbol, let me translate the new one, just so we’re all the same page:

WARNING!  A SHIP’S PROPELLER IS SHOOTING DEATH RAYS AT PIRATES AND MARATHON RUNNERS!  MOVE TO YOUR RIGHT!

This has been a public service announcement from The Seventh Sense.  You may now return to your relatively radiation-free lives.

How To Deal With A Psychotic Astronaut

Believe it or not, NASA had already figured out this contingency — long before the Lisa Nowak incident:

It turns out NASA has detailed, written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut’s crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary.

"Talk with the patient while you are restraining him," the instructions say. "Explain what you are doing, and that you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe."

The instructions do not spell out what happens after that. But NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said the space agency, a flight surgeon on the ground and the commander in space would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to abort the flight, in the case of the shuttle, or send the astronaut home, if the episode took place on the international space station.

Good to know they’ve thought this one through.  Of course, they probably still don’t know how to handle a psychotic computer.

Hal9000

Friday iPod Random Ten

  1. Your Feet’s Too Big – Ain’t Misbehavin’ [Original Broadway Cast]
  2. Skating – Vince Guaraldi (from "A Charlie Brown Christmas")
  3. I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
  4. Love Shack – B-52’s
  5. Bamboleo – Gipsy Kings
  6. Elecrtic Blues/Old Fashioned Melody – Hair (Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  7. Sheba – Mike Oldfield
  8. Underture – The Who
  9. A Miracle Would Happen – The Last Five Years [Original Broadway Cast]
  10. Getting Better – Paul McCartney (Live!)

Thinking About Autism

Another viral video from YouTube.  This one however, is actually educational and even inspiring.

The short homemade film is entitled "In My Language" and it shows the Amanda Baggs in her typical routine.

Amanda Baggs has severe autism. She didn’t cry when she was born. She had to be taught how to nurse. As a little girl, she rocked her head back and forth but could speak. As she grew, she would go longer and longer without speaking, until her spoken language disappeared altogether.  She slowly learned how to type. Now, she relies on her computer or a voice synthesizer linked to a keyboard to interact with people. 

For Amanda, it takes a great deal of energy to think in words. It is not her natural state of mind. "It’s like being bilingual," she types. "A lot of the way I naturally communicate is just through direct response to what is around me in a very physical sort of way. It’s dealing with patterns and colors rather than with symbolic words."

The first part of the film is simply her being, well, autistic.  The second part of the film is Amanda’s translation, in her own language, of what she is doing and thinking.  As the description reads:

This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.

In the film, Amanda poignantly asks why her inability to learn our language is considered a deficiency, yet nobody bothers to understand the nature of her language.

A really good YouTube video, so popular that even CNN picked up on it.  Enjoy:

Guy Who Never Had A Chance In Hell Drops Out

Vilsack ends his 2008 presidential bid.

For those of you who don’t know him (98% of us), he is the ex-governor of Iowa.  Here’s a photo:

3853dcad8167d7543dce3c960f34eec7

UPDATE: CNN gives us Vilsack-in-a-nutshell:

Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa)

  • Filed candidacy papers with the FEC on 11/9/2006 (two days after midterm)
  • Dropping out 2/23/2007
  • Length of campaign: 15 weeks, 1 day (106 days)
  • Not the first 2008 presidential hopeful to drop out: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) dropped out 12/15/2006
  • Also not the shortest presidential campaign of 2008: Sen. Evan Bayh dropped out after 10 days
  • Elected Iowa governor in 1998; served two terms

    Presidential Fundraising from 11/9/2006 thru 12/31/2006:

    Total Raised:                 $1,165,075.99
    Total Contributions:          $1,133,827.51
    Contribs. from candidate:     $2,100.00
    Loans from candidate:         $31,148.48
    Total Spent:                  $769,113.13
    Cash on hand (as of 12/31/06):$395,962.86

    Personal Finances:
    Personal assets between $761,000 and $2,315,000
    Liabilities between $115,000 and $300,000

    On the issues

    Abortion: Supports abortion rights.

    Immigration: Expressed concern over Bush immigration proposals, but eventually deployed Iowa National Guard troops to assist at the California-Mexico border. Signed law establishing English as Iowa’s official language, but now says he regrets that decision.

    Iraq: Opposes Bush plan to send more American troops to Iraq. Opposes setting a specific time-table for troop withdrawal. Would consult with military advisers on removing troops from Baghdad and central and southern Iraq, while keeping them in northern Iraq.

    Same-Sex Marriage: Supports Iowa’s law banning on same-sex marriage, but says a federal or state constitutional ban is unnecessary. Supports civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Social Security: Opposes Bush plan allowing workers to divert some Social Security payroll taxes into private retirement accounts. Signed state law phasing out income taxes on Social Security benefits.

    Taxes: Signed law cutting or eliminating certain taxes for Iowa seniors and reducing tax rate on pensions. Vetoed income tax cuts in a 2004 state economic bill, but was later overturned by the courts.

  • At Last — Something Non Non-Binding

    AP:

    Determined to challenge President Bush, Senate Democrats are drafting legislation to limit the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq, effectively revoking the broad authority Congress granted in 2002, officials said Thursday.

    While these officials said the precise wording of the measure remains unsettled, one draft would restrict American troops in Iraq to combating al-Qaida, training Iraqi army and police forces, maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity, and otherwise proceeding with the withdrawal of combat forces.

    Realistically, this doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing, seeing as how the Senate cannot pass a non-binding resolution.  And certainly, it will cause a lot of wingnuts to claim how Democrats are all terrorist sympahtizers blah blah blah.

    But it’s still the right thing to do.  Iraq is a cesspool, and our continued involvement there only makes the threat of terrorism worse.  Throwing good bodies after bad is not good policy.  Time to redeploy the troops to places where real threats to America actually exist.

    More details on the bill here.

    The Nietzche Family Circus

    I like this site: it pairs random Family Circle drawings with random Nietzche quotes.

    Example:

    166famcir

    "To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence."

    Another one:

    52famcir

    "There are no facts, only interpretations."

    Okay, one more:

    84famcir

    Has a woman who knew herself to be well dressed ever caught a cold?

    Uh, whatevs.

    My Apologies To Michael Medved…

    for implying in a recent post that he is gay.

    Jesus General set me, uh, straight:

    MedvedI’ve learned a couple of things about Mr. Medved since yesterday when I asked you to remind yourselves that he’s as heterosexual as Lindsey Graham. I think it’s important that I address them quickly before people get the wrong idea.

    First, Seattle Dan tells us he saw Mr. Medved on a mandate with former WA gubernatorial candidate John Carlson at a Seattle movie theater. According to Dan, the manly couple seemed to enjoy the film, Shrek, very much. He also reports that he did not see them holding hands, but he can’t rule it out either.

    I don’t see anything wrong with a man bonding with another man by attending a children’s movie about a love affair between an ogre and a princess. It sounds like good, clean, manly, heterosexual fun to me, like watching NASCAR or punching each other in the shoulder. And inasmuch as Dan doesn’t mention any tongue action, I think we have to conclude, notwithstanding any popcorn tricks, that it wasn’t anything more than a harmless little mandate between two very special friends.

    Second, on his Thursday show, Sam Seder told a story about an interview he had with Medved when Sam was promoting his book, F.U.B.A.R.. During a break, Medved asked him if his coauthor, Stephen Sherrill, was his "partner." Seder replied that while he and Sherrill sometimes collaborated, "partner" might not be the right term. Medved responded that he meant "partner" in the sense of being lovers. Seder said, "No, I’m married," and Medved replied with something like "but, so am I."

    Hmmmm…

    Please notice that at no time did Mr. Medved invite Seder’s little soldier to go spelunking in his cave of ecstasy. I think that’s all the evidence we need. Obviously, Mr. Medved is 110% heterosexual.

    Noted.

    I, For One, Welcome Our New Ape Overlords

    They’ve figured out they have opposible thumbs or something:

    Chimpanzees have been seen using spears to hunt bush babies, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that demonstrates a whole new level of tool use and planning by our closest living relatives.

    You know what this means, right?

    Actaully, if you read the article, you’ll learn that the innovative chimps were the females.  Way to go, gals!

    Thursday Night Spam Poetry

    The following was composed solely from the subject lines of spam emails I have received.  All I’ve added is punctuation:

    Keep A Chance

    If George Washington had an iPod,
    You can make history.
    This one is hardly promoted —
    Invisible text …it’s fixed.
    It is you who choose to go against the world.
    Two questions I have tho:
    "Hey, where’ve you been?"
    "Miss me yet?"
    Forgot, Sorry.
    Normalized.

    A Nice Tribute To Actors You Know But Don’t Know

    Daniel Carlson sings the praises of consistently good, hard-working, character actors who never receive due praise or nominations.  He notes that some of these actors — people like Paul Giamatti or William H. Macy — break the ceiling, but many of them don’t.

    Here are a few of the un-nominated, but praise-worthy charactor actors cited by Carlson:

    James Rebhorn:

    Rebhorn_mugthumb

    (The late) James T. Walsh:

    Walsh_mugthumb

    David Morse:

    Morse_mugthumb

    William Sadler:

    Sadler_mugthumb

    Stephen Toblowsky:

    Tobolowsky_mugthumb

    Peter Stromare:

    Stormare_mugthumb

    Michael Rooker:

    Rooker_mugthumb

    What about for women?  Any thoughts?

    I’ve always admired Lili Taylor:

    Blili1149197_150x200

    and Ileana Douglas

    Illeanasm

    and Anna Deavere Smith:

    Annadeaveresmith2sized

    Those are just off the top of my head.  Any others?

    Guess What? The News Is Overplaying The Anna Nicole Smith Thing

    This is a little bit "dog bites man", but still….

    From Pew Research:

    3052

    I find this encouraging.  It shows that the American people are more interested in important topics (like Iraq) than they are the fluff, like dead models and batshit insane astronauts.  It’s just that the news organization are feeding us mindless "infotainment" instead of news.

    But here’s what I found interesting.  Who exactly is driving the obsessive interest in Anna Nicole?  I would have thought it would be younger males, seeing as how Anna Nicole was a buxom woman and all that.  Not so.  It’s the women who can’t get enough of the dead-and-now-decomposing bimbo:

    3056

    He’s Just Not Into You [UPDATE: Is It Real?]

    There’s something about this I find particularly cruel.

    Of course, there are times when you just have to end a relationship.  But it just shouldn’t be done this way.

    Ryan Burke is a UNC senior.  His girlfriend, Mindy Moorman, was a NC State sophomore.  He wanted to break up with her because she cheated on him (although, as it turns out, he cheated on her, too).

    So how did he do it?  He promoted the event on Facebook, inviting people to watch "a bad public breakup").  And, on Valentine’s Day, he invited Moorman to meet him at popular gathering spot on the UNC Chapel Hill campus for a "surprise".  She arrived …and there, in front of a crowd of about 1,000 — and a singing a cappella group — he dumped her.

    Cameras were rolling, and the videos have gone viral at YouTube.  Here’s how it went down:

    Here’s a post breakup interview with Ryan:

    Look, I realize that we’re ALL "Time’s Person Of The Year" in that it is now technically possible to air our dirty laundry in front of the whole world.  But just because we can does that mean we should?  This whole spectacle reflects badly on everyone involved (including, I might add, the schools).   Seriously, dudes and dudettes — take this shit to Jerry Springer.  Don’t be so arrogant as to think that the world cares about your train wreck.

    UPDATE:  ABC News in Raleigh covers the story — is it a hoax?

    Power To The People

    With environment-conciousness on the rise, and much talk about alternative energies, one wonders what technology is in the offing.  Sure, we all know about wind power and solar power, which are certainly better for the environment.  But these have significant drawbacks, not the least of which is expense.

    But are there economically feasible alternative energy sources on the horizon?

    Current sources of energy (like coal and oil) cost roughly $1 for every watt generated.  That’s the benchmark.  Futuristic fuel sources need to beat that.

    ThinfilmpanelsWell, here’s a good contender: solar film panels.  It is expected that this technology, once fully developed, will cost 50 cents for every watt generated, twice as economically (and hundreds of times cleaner) than current sources.  Moreover, they are thin and malleable, so designers can emply them easily into electronic devices, buildings, and even fabric.  If all goes well, we’ll start to see these babies in five to ten years.  Read more here.

    Looking even longer term, what energy alternatives are there?  Believe it or not, there is something out there which is 10,000 times more efficient than energy sources available now.  And it’s located …in your ear.  It’s called prestin, and it’s a natural chemical protein located on the outer hair cells within your inner ear.  Prestin has the ability to convert motion to energy — i.e, movement acts as an energy source.  Right now, the harnessing of prestin energy is still a long way away, although scientists are now looking at ways in which prestin can act as the fuel source for nano-robots (microscopic robots that can, for example, be injected into the blood and repair internal organs and vessels).

    In any event, it’s fairly sure that within our lifetime, we’ll begin to see the end of coal/oil dependency.  And not only will it be more enviro-friendly, it will be cheaper and smaller.

    To which I say …kewl.

    Pinball Wizard In A Miracle Cure

    That must be one gooooood rehab center.

    Less than 24 hours after checking herself into a rehab center (following her self-delilahing behavior), Britney checks out.

    Is it me, or does it seem like Britney is intentionally trying to steal focus from the REAL news story: the Anna Nicole Smith death aftermath?

    The Left And God

    Discussions generated from fall out surrounding Amanda Marcotte’s departure from the John Edwards campaign are still taking up pixels in lefty blogger circles. Atrios has led the league in thoughts on the subject, and the New Donkey summarizes his thoughts and responds:

    His basic argument, with which I basically agree, is that once "people of faith" inject their religious views into public discourse, the content of those views is fair game for commentary, dissent and even mockery, though mockery may be politically inadvisable if you are, say, involved in a presidential campaign.

    I would offer one important qualifier to his general take: mocking the religious underpinnings of some political position is one thing; denying their sincerity is another.

    Atrios responds: "I do agree that questioning the sincerity of peoples’ faith does anger them. … I’ve had this conversation with anti-choice progressives, who think it’s important for me to understand that their anti-choice views come from a sincere religious belief. The thing is, I just don’t care. The fact that your political beliefs are motivated by your religion doesn’t make them special to me."

    Also responding to Atrios thoughts on the subject Kos writes: "If a candidate sincerely gets his or her values from religion, then that’s fine. The Bible is a wonderfully liberal text. … But religious values are no more superior than the values I learned from my [grandma] … They are no more superior than the values Tester learned on the farm from his farmer father and grandfather. Or the values that Webb learned while proudly wearing his uniform."

    Kos’ post moved Rev. Jim Wallis to respond: "So Kos, let’s made a deal. How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith – and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do)." Kos thinks this is exactly what he already proposed. Talk Left‘s Big Tent Democrat comments: "With "friends" like Jim Wallis, Dems need no enemies."

    Back at Eschaton, Atrios had moved on to addressing concerns from Jesse Lava that Atrios rhetoric, including calling religous language gibberish, often sounds dismissive to "devout Christians’ ears." Atrios responds: "How is that a barb? I’m not religious, I have only a passing familiarity with Christian theology, its associated customs, and the language used by its adherents when discussing it. Finnish is also gibberish to me … I’m not obligated to understand your traditions, and don’t claim to. It’s that simple."

    Terrorist Supports GOP

    Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari pled not guilty in a Manhattan federal court last Friday, denying charges that he’s a terrorist financier. But that’s a matter in some dispute, and not just by the prosecutors. According to The Blotter at ABC News.com, the indictment charges that he arranged for $152,000 worth of bank transfers to fund a terror training camp.

    But if that doesn’t convince you he’s a funding terrorists, maybe this will: Alishtari also gave 10% of that total to the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC won’t say what it intends to do with those funds.

    Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari also claims in an online CV to be a member of the "White House Business Advisory Committee" and at having been a "National Republican Congressional Committee [New York State] Businessman of the Year" in 2002 and 2003.

    This has to be a little embarrassing to the right, who have (for years) been trying to make the case that "Democrats are in league with the terrorists" and "bin Laden wants Democrats to win" and other such fictionally-based arguments.

    Democratic Swords Are Out

    And now it begins.  Clinton vs. Obama.  The attacks have started:

    Further proving that the Democratic presidential candidates are already pulling out their swords — even over the most minor of matters — the Clinton campaign is up in arms over comments that Hollywood mogul and Obama supporter David Geffen made to the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. In a statement, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said, "While Sen. Obama was denouncing slash-and-burn politics yesterday, his campaign’s finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Sen. Clinton and her husband. If Sen. Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign, and return this money."

    So what exactly did Geffen — who holds no formal role in Obama’s campaign — say to get the Clinton camp so wound up? It was apparently this in Dowd’s column today: "’It’s not a very big thing to say "I made a mistake" on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,’ Mr. Geffen says. ‘She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.’" More from Dowd: "Did Mr. Spielberg get in trouble with the Clintons for helping Senator Obama? ‘Yes,’ Mr. Geffen replies, slyly. Can Obambi stand up to Clinton Inc.? ‘I hope so," he says, ‘because that machine is going to be very unpleasant and unattractive and effective."

    Obama has responded to Clinton’s "outrage":

    “We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he’s black.’"

    I agree with MyDD’s take:

    Look, it’s obvious that this is a fight between rich elites and pundits who think the public doesn’t matter and isn’t paying attention. That’s not where the country is anymore. Just stop it.

    Michael Medved On Homophobia

    This guy should just stick to reviewing Disney movies.

    Recent comments by retired basketball star Tim (“I hate gay people”) Hardaway did serious damage to his image and career but also unwittingly raised serious cultural issues about sexuality and gender.

    Homophobia and gay-bashing were cultural issues before Hardaway came along.  In truth, I think the controversy merely allows you to raise some of your anti-gay issues.

    Hardaway appropriately apologized for his harsh remarks, but many (if not most) Americans no doubt share his instinctive reluctance to share showers and locker rooms with open homosexuals. That reluctance also explains the controversial Defense Department policy that prevents out-of-the-closet gays from serving in the United States military.

    Regardless of what some Americans might think, the reluctance to share showers with homosexuals comes from the irrational fear — and prejudicial myth — that a gay man might rape them (because, in theory, gay men can’t control their urges and are just waiting for you to bend over to pick up the soap).  I suspect that many Americans do share this belief, but only because people like Medved are all to happy to perpetuate a false image of homosexuals.

    In the wake of the nearly-universal condemnation of Tim Hardaway’s statements to a radio interviewer, the substantive issue remains. Is it a reasonable for an NBA basketball player (or a soldier in basic training, for that matter) to feel uncomfortable sharing intimate quarters with a homosexual, or does this represent an outrageous, irrational fear?

    He didn’t say he was "uncomfortable" — the word he used was "hate".  And I don’t know what locker rooms Medved frequents, but I wouldn’t exactly call them "intimate quarters".

    In response to the Hardaway controversy, several sports columnists compared his resistance to the idea of playing alongside gay teammates to the racism of previous years when white players tried to avoid competing with (or against) blacks.

    And rightly so.

    The analogy is ridiculous, of course. There is no rational basis for discomfort at playing with athletes of another race since science and experience show that human racial differences remain insignificant.

    What the fuck does that mean?  Racial differences are insignificant how?  And assuming you identify that metric, why aren’t the sexual orientation differences "insignificant"?

    The much better analogy for discomfort at gay teammates involves the widespread (and generally accepted) idea that women and men shouldn’t share locker rooms. Making gay males unwelcome in the intimate circumstances of an NBA team makes just as much sense as making straight males unwelcome in the showers for a women’s team at the WNBA. Most female athletes would prefer not to shower together with men not because they hate males (though some of them no doubt do), but because they hope to avoid the tension, distraction and complication that prove inevitable when issues of sexual attraction (and even arousal) intrude into the arena of competitive sports.

    And there we have it.  Straight men don’t want to shower with gay men for the same reason that straight women don’t want to shower with straight men.  Because gay men pray on straight men in much the same way that straight men are the natural sexual predators of straight women.  Apparently.

    But wait, it gets worse.

    Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn’t welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they’d welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright “hot”) most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers.  The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she’s grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her.

    What a misogynist.  No fat chicks allowed, so no gays either.  We are, after all, only concerned about the heterosexual males’ world.

    Hey, here’s an idea.  Why not think of the locker room shower as a place to, you know, wash yourself after a sweaty basketball game, just prior to getting dressed?

    I’m simply suggesting that people — and for present purporse, I include NBA players in that group — don’t necessarily have to see every situation as a potential for a "hook up".  In fact, if a person can’t take an after-game shower without making it into a sexual thing, then that person has a problem.

    Many gay activists suggest that this near-universal straight male repulsion at the idea of sex with another man is merely the product of cultural conditioning: a learned prejudice that ought to be unlearned.

    I don’t know who these gay activists are.  Apparently, Michael doesn’t either.

    But shower-obsessed Michael seems to confuse two concepts: one’s personal preference for engaging/not engaging in gay sex versus one’s acceptance (or lack thereof) of homosexuality.  As a straight male, I am repulsed at the idea of me having sex with another man, but that’s far different from having visceral negative reaction to the idea that there are some men out there who have sex with other men.  On that latter subject, I simply do not care. 

    Nor frankly, would I particularly care if a gay man happened to find me attractive and checked out my hoo-hah in the shower room.  Really, I don’t.  Being the object of a gay man’s albeit brief attention (assuming, as I do not, that it is likely to happen) does not make me gay, nor does it ruffle me in the least.  In any event, it’s probably a good thing for people like Hardaway to understand what it’s like to be ogled, since he (no doubt) ogles women with the same frequency and glee as this fictional gay man he loathes.

    To be honest, I think most men who have a problem with the concept of gay sex — to the point of hatred — are merely fighting some inner demons and tendencies.  Witness Ted Haggard.

    This represents the core message of gay pride parades and even the drive for same-sex marriage: an effort to persuade all of society that gay sex is as beautiful as straight sex, and to “cure” men of their visceral disgust at the very thought of what two (or more) male homosexuals do with one another.

    Right.  Kind of the black pride parades of the 1960’s.

    According to the “enlightened” advocates of gay liberation, this disgust gets to the very essence of “homophobia” – an altogether unjustified fear and distaste for male-on-male physical intimacy. When Hardaway says “I hate gay people” what he suggests at the deepest level is that he feels revolted by the very notion of same-sex eroticism and that he’d prefer not to face the distraction of such thoughts in the locker room or on the court.

    Dude, they’re his thoughts and "distractions".  Why should other people be discriminated against, vilified, and (in extreme cases) killed because people like Hardaway’s tiny brain can’t deal with the fact that some men like to have sex with other men?

    Do we do this with, say, religion?  Just because devout Christians don’t "get" — or are even repulsed by — the tenets of other religions, do we have separate showers for Jews?  What gives?

    In this sense, the reluctance to team (in athletics or the military) with announced homosexuals isn’t bigotry, it’s common sense. The recent “Astronaut Love Triangle” provides a pointed reminder of the way that even disciplined military careerists can be diverted, even ruined, by attraction, eroticism and romance.

    And this goes to my earlier point.  If Hardaway’s career is "diverted" because he has to share a locker room with a gay man — if he gets so distracted by this — then I suggest that Hardaway may have some gay issues of his own.

    Those who insist that basketball teams or submarine crews must welcome gay recruits must, for the sake of consistency, argue for the same welcome to teammates of the opposite gender.

    Fine by me.

    That notion – that a male player could, for instance, join a WNBA team without serious problems – shows the way that political correctness now seems to deny the obvious, often overwhelming potency of human sexuality.

    In other words, men are misogynist pigs who can’t help the overwhelming potency of their sexuality.  Therefore, we all should just accept it.  Got that, women?  Now get on yer knees and blow us.  And stop this "date rape" shit — you should know that we can’t help ourselves.

    Seriously though, it seems that both Hardaway and Medved are longing for the locker room of ye olde days, where manly men could pat each on the butt and snap towels and each other’s private parts.  Yeah, no awkward sexual overtones there, boys.

    Those who suggest that a guy could shower with young female athletes without risk of arousal, or that a gay guy could shower with young male athletes with problems or discomfort, don’t merely defy common sense. They ignore human nature.

    News flash, Michael.  Everyday in locker rooms all around the country, gay men ARE sharing showers with straight men.  It’s already happening.  And there doesn’t seem to be a huge rash of rapes.

    Homophobia and gay hatred may represent the ugly side of human nature, but so does racism.  We certainly don’t stand for racism, so why are you attempting to give a pass to people like Hardaway?

    And by the way, whatever happened to "love the sinner, hate the sin"?

    On an upbeat related note, Star Trek’s George Takei has a message for Hardaway:

    UPDATE:  The Rude Pundit picks up on Medved’s column, too:

    To parse the layers of sexual repression and self-loathing in Michael Medved’s latest "column" is to confront the horrible rage of the unfulfilled libido, the unmitigated hatred of hidden desire. See, Medved, who has long been the standard bearer for the "Stop the Fucking" brand of moral conservatism, writes that "Tim Hardaway was right" for when the ex-basketball player spoke of his sad longing to get fucked in the showers by his teammates by talking about how much he hated gay people, calling himself "homophobic." Which means that Hardaway’s a man who’s spent a lot of time naked in showers wondering if other men were looking at his johnson.

    It gets ruder from there.

    Shakespeare’s Sister adds:

    I love the presupposition that fat chicks and gay dudes automatically want to fuck NBA players, and that NBA players are so insecure that even if someone to whom they weren’t attracted was in their vicinity, they couldn’t begin to function. In fact, I just love the entire idea of straight men who are made uncomfortable by the mere presence of someone wanting to fuck them whom they don’t want to fuck. All I can say is that these assholes would crumple if they had to spend a week as a woman, getting chatted up, having their space invaded, being subjected to unwanted touching, and all other manner of unsubtle displays of attraction by, well, them. It’s precisely the kind of drooling, moronic Neanderthals who proffer asinine arguments like this one that have the least compunction about aggressive horniness—which is, I suppose, why they can’t imagine that there exist people who, even if they are attracted to someone, don’t feel compelled to practically hump his or her leg to show it.

    LATE UPDATE:  More thoughts from TRex at FDL:

    A gay man loose in a locker room could look right at them and it would, what?  Hurt?  Cause them deep, permanent psychological damage?  Decrease their earning potential?  Give them cooties?

    Well, welcome to the world of every single stripper you ever tipped a lousy buck, Tim Hardaway.  For women, the entire world is this deadly, dangerous locker room you’re referring to where people look at you and objectify you and don’t give two shits how you feel about it.  But I’m so glad that you understand this now and will never, ever again ogle a woman and make her feel like a piece of meat.

    Unless of course, you are gay yourself and this entire intemperate outburst of yours is just an elaborate smoke screen you are throwing up to shield yourself against speculation about your own orientation.  It’s like the classic "gay panic" defense, i.e., "Your honor, he made a pass at me and I was so turned on freaked out by it that, well, I just had to kill him."

    I wish I could harness these all-powerful Gay Black Magick super-powers that Right Wingers seem to think are my homosexual birth-right.  I mean, who knew that one closeted gay man in a locker room full of mighty, manly American athletes could pose such a threat to a team’s collective strength on the field?  Ditto the military.  You let one homo through and they’ll gay-ify the whole damn place in nothing flat!

    Iraq 101

    You don’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia, do you.  Admit it — you don’t.  That’s okay — you’re in good company (the head of the House Intelligence Committee didn’t know either).

    Seriously, Iraq is complicated.  Which is why I recommend this piece by Mother Jones, specifically written to get everybody (myself included) up to speed on Iraq.  It’s called Iraq 101, and explains what you need to know.

    Full of nice easy-to-read graphs.  Here’s an illuminating one.  You know the theory that if we fight terrorists in Iraq, we won’t have to fight them elsewhere?  Turns out, not so much.  Terrorism outside of Iraq and Afghanistan has gone up following our invasion of those countries.

    Terrorism_attacks_fatalitie

    Hiccup Girl Update

    I first blogged about her last Friday.

    Yes, she still has the hiccups.  But now she’s plagued with something else …instant celebrity:

    ST. PETERSBURG – The notes under the door. The incessant phone calls. The impassioned pleas, all begging for a piece of the story.

    It wasn’t reporters in search of secret intelligence involving the war in Iraq.

    The subject: St. Petersburg’s Jennifer Mee, a 15-year-old who started hiccuping four weeks ago today and has yet to stop.

    The competition for her story became so frenzied over the weekend that NBC’s Today show changed Jennifer and her mother’s New York hotel after another network’s exhaustive attempts to get an interview.

    "You really never know what is going to gain that sort of attention," said John Trevena, a Largo lawyer who has represented some high-profile clients. "It seems once it starts, it spreads like wildfire. It becomes very exhausting for all involved."

    Representatives from ABC’s Good Morning America called Jennifer’s home 57 times on Sunday and slipped notes under her hotel room door, her family said.

    ***

    The Northeast High School freshman, whose family does not own a computer, can now be seen hiccuping on YouTube. Bloggers refer to her as the "hiccup girl," and people worldwide have suggested cures. A Google search for "Jennifer Mee" and "hiccups" brought up 10 pages of Web sites.

    It’s all a bit overwhelming.

    Jennifer has school to think about. Her mom, the family’s chief wage earner, has to get back to work. She and her husband, their five daughters and his brother rent a two-bedroom home in north St. Petersburg.

    "We went to the media for one reason only, but now I just feel like she is being used," Jennifer’s stepfather, Chris Robidoux said about reaching out for help.

    "She’s not for sale. She’s a human being."

    While Jennifer has enjoyed being a celebrity, she’s tired. The hiccups hurt.

    The Cost Of Iraq To North Carolinians

    According to the National Priorities Project

    Taxpayers in North Carolina will pay $12.3 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

    2,549,652 People with Health Care or
    262,688 Elementary School Teachers or
    1,664,717 Head Start Places for Children or
    5,677,670 Children with Health Care or
    116,816 Affordable Housing Units or
    1,358 New Elementary Schools or
    2,675,711 Scholarships for University Students or
    238,456 Music and Arts Teachers or
    324,710 Public Safety Officers or
    9,792,193 Homes with Renewable Electricity or
    179,895 Port Container Inspectors

    The MySpace Election

    Which ’08 President candidate has the most friends on their MySpace page?

    According to this, it’s Obama:

    Democrats – # of friends
    Obama – 43003
    Clinton – 23428
    Edwards – 11593
    Vilsack – 1347
    Kucinich – 1078
    Richardson – 661
    Biden – 510
    Dodd – 172

    Republicans – # of friends
    Paul – 2501
    Romney – 1373
    McCain – 1356
    Tancredo – 1051
    Giuliani – 637
    Huckabee – 385
    Brownback – 166

    I don’t think this really means anything.  MySpace users and readers tend to skew younger, and younger people don’t (or can’t) vote.  Plus, we have a year and a half to the general election.  Still, it’s indicative of a new type of campaigning, and something at which the Democrats are clearly excelling.

    New Footage: JFK Assassination

    It’s a little hard to find on the Internet right now, but I have it here: the complete never-before-seen footage taken by a guy named George Jeffries on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.

    The silent footage of JFK and Jackie is brief, lasting only seconds.  Less than ninety seconds after this footage of the President and First Lady was filmed, Kennedy would receive a fatal shot to the head.

    As a bit of a JFK assassination buff, let me point out a few things:

    (1)  The logo is that of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, who made it public today.

    (2)  This is unquestionably the clearest footage of Jackie in any of the Dealey Plaza films taken that day.  She really does look radiant, albeit a little tired.

    Dealeymap_1(3)  I may be mistaken, but I believe this wasn’t actually shot on Dealey Plaza, but on Main Street — just prior to the right turn onto Houston Street at the east edge of the Plaza.  Houston Street goes north to the Texas School Book Depository (the red dot on the map at right).  The motorcade traveled a short jog on Houston, and then took a left onto Elm (the red rectangle).  That’s when the shots were fired.

    Still, the Jeffries footage was certainly within 90 seconds of the shooting.

    (4)  Assassination conspiracy theorists have always questioned the bullet hole in JFK’s outer jacket.  The bullet hole in the jacket was almost 6 inches below the base of the neck — and odd place for a bullet that supposedly came from above (the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository) and exited through the front of the neck at the Adam’s Apple.  However, this footage shows conclusively that JFK’s jacket was bunched up around the neck.  So this would explain the "low" entrance hole in the jacket.

    (5)  Jeffries apparently took a few seconds to film the front of the depository, obviously after the assassination.  There is a brief shot in which you can see the 6th floor window.  Note the tree in full bloom between that window and the Elm Street.  Conspiracy theorists claim that the full bloom of the tree made a clear shot from the 6th floor window to the motorcade impossible, especially the first shot (the non-fatal shot) which came before the motorcade came to a large sign.  The window, the tree, and the sign are all lined up in Jeffrie’s footage.

    Daddy’s Dyin’s Dead

    Well, the run is over, and the show was a surprising success.  Trailer trash comedies really pack ’em in down here.  Saturday night sold out (we turned people away), and even the Sunday matinee had a hefty 160-plus.

    The play itself is (IMHO) not as entertaining as Del Shores’ "Sordid Lives", and my contrubitions to this particular production were not as good as I hoped.  Flubbed lines, early entrances, and on-stage bleeding (from a glass cup that was supposed to break, and eventually did …into my finger) seemed to plague me, although it’s probably not as bad as I make it out to be.

    Not sure what, if anything, is next on the slate for me.  My "home" theatre company is doing "Hair" next — I’m probably not right for anything in that.  The Gallery Players in Burlington is doing "The Importance Of Being Earnest" soon — that’s a possibility.  But I may want to do something more local — maybe "Guys & Dolls" in K’ville.

    The CTG/LTWS production of "The Full Monty" is in the summer — I’m probably not right for that either (except possibly chorus) and the early buzz is there will be lots of competition for good roles.

    Hmmmm.  Maybe it’s time to do some backstage work for a while….

    Today In History

    On this day in 1942, Adolf Hitler signed an order requiring 120,000 Jews into to be forced from their homes and placed in remote, miltary-style camps throughout Germany.

    Except it wasn’t Hitler.  It was Franklin Roosevelt.

    Except it wasn’t Jews.  It was Japanese-Americans.

    Except it wasn’t Germany.  It was in America.  Right here.  No trial.  No hearings.  The Department of Justice was simply allowed to round up Japanese-American families and "relocate" them into camps behind barbed wire.

    P144n180_1

    While nothing like the concentration camps of the Holocaust, it is still disturbing that Americans, many of whom took and passed "loyalty tests" to America, were rounded up and shipped to remote deserted areas, simply by virtue of their race and heritage.  Learn more.

    Support The Troops

    Yuck:

    [P]art of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When [he] stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

    This is what outpatient care is like at Walter Reed Hospital for wounded soldiers.  Please find time today to read the whole article.

    So Long, Karibati

    Flag_kiribatiThe Republic of Karibati — an English-speaking country consisting of 33 low-level islands in the North Pacific — population 105,000 —  is considering the possibility of no longer being a country.

    International efforts to curb global warming have come too late and, according to the country’s president, they are now considering the possibility of evacuating and abandoning the country altogether.

    Most of Kiribati will be uninhabitable by the middle of this century because of weather damage and rising tides, all the by-products of global warming.

    Photo_sm_kiribati

    The Murtha Move

    Brilliant.  Just brilliant.

    Anytime a Democrat expresses opposition to the Iraq War (and, in current terms, the Bush plan to escalate the number of U.S. troops in Iraq), that Democrat is accused of not "supporting the troops".

    Senator John Murtha, a combat veteran, has long opposed the war in Iraq, and now he has a bill which puts Bush in a corner:

    By mid-March, Murtha will unveil legislation that he says would set such stringent rules on combat deployments that Bush would have no choice but to begin bringing troops home.

    His legislation would dictate how long troops can stay, the equipment they use and whether any money could be spent to expand military operations into Iran. Murtha says few units could meet the high standards he envisions, meaning Bush’s plan to keep some 160,000 troops in Iraq for months on end would be thwarted.

    Under his plan, he says, Democrats would be helping and not hurting troops by making sure they have what they need before being thrown into combat.

    “This vote will be the most important vote in changing the direction of the war,” Murtha, D-Pa., told an anti-war group in an interview broadcast on the Internet Thursday.

    “The president could veto it, but then he wouldn’t have any money,” he later said.

    Murtha’s bill will end the stopgap procedures, end the extensions of deployments, and end the deployment of troops without sufficient training, equipment or time between deployments.  The Murtha plan raises the ante, and puts the ball in Bush’s court.  "You want to send more troops to Iraq?" the bill asks.  "Well, HERE’S how to do it and ‘support the troops’ with more than just empty words."

    What’s Bush to do?  Refuse to sign the bill?

    Love.  It.

    Bush Words

    There’s a lot of things interesting about this poll question, but one of the first things I noticed is how "Christian" no longer comes up as a response.

    NOTE:  You make have to click on this graphic to see it in full.

    Bushwords

    The Alabama Sex Toy Case

    Well, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled (for the fourth and probably last time) and the statute has been upheld: it is now illegal to sell sex toys in Alabama.  (Guns, however?  No problem).

    All tittering aside, the legal issues in this case were complex.  In the end, however, I think the Eleventh Circuit got it wrong.

    Let me explain.

    In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas a few years ago, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute that criminalized private sexual conduct (specifically, homosexuality).  Simply put, a state must have a "legitimate state interest" before it can regulate how people conduct themselves in a private sexual context.  That’s the bar: a "legitimate state interest".  Thus, states cannot prohibit adults from engaging in homosexual behavior in the privacy of their own homes — because the government has no legitimate interest in consensual sexual practices.  Conversely, there IS a legitimate state interest in outlawing, say, child molestation, even if those acts are conducted in private.

    The Alabama legislature passed a law banning the sale of sexual toys.  The ACLU and other organizations challenged the law, citing Lawrence.  "Look", they said. "The Supreme Court in Lawrence said that a state must have a legitimate state interest before it can regulate or criminalize private sexual conduct.  Therefore, Alabama cannot ban sexual toys.

    That argument ultimately failed with the Eleventh Circuit.  And here’s their reasoning: the sale of sexual toys (according to the court) is not a private thing.  It is public commerce.  And although the state has no right or interest in regulating private morality (see Lawrence), the state has every right to regulate public commerce and public morality, just as they can regulate strip clubs, etc.

    So says the Eleventh Circuit anyway.  However, I disagree with their interpretation of Lawrence.  In my view, Lawrence stated that states cannot regulate public morality either, unless there is a compelling (as opposed to "rational") government interest, and the law in question is narrowly tailored to address that interest.  (This sets the bar much higher than the "rational basis" standard).

    But leaving the test aside, the court held that Alabama can prohibit the sale of sexual toys.  Under the holding, you can still USE them (or give them away for free), but the ban on sales is upheld.

    This strikes me as rather spurious reasoning, even under the "rational basis" test.  I, of course, have no inside knowledge, but it seems to me that the Alabama legislature’s ban on the sale of sex toys was merely an outgrowth of their moral opposition to the private use of sex toys.  Why would you ban the sale of something for which you, in theory anyway, have no moral objection to the use?  This is consistent with other laws: We ban the sales of certain guns as a way to curb the USE of certain guns; we ban the sale of certain drugs as a way to curb the USE of certain drugs. 

    Similarly, the Alabama legislature has attempted to curb the private use of sex toys, by doing an end run and prohibiting the public sale.  And they (for now anyway) have gotten away with it.  No matter how you slice it — and whatever your personal views on sex toys — we should be concerned about this trend to regulate private morality.  It’s not a good thing; it’s unconstitutional, and it’s dangerous.

    Because you know what’s next?  Birth control….

    RELATED:  The State of Tennessee is considering passing a law requiring the issuance of a death certificate for aborted fetuses, as a way of identifying (and by extension, intimidating) women who have had abortions.

    What Does The House Non-Binding Resolution In Opposition To The Escalation In Iraq Have In Common With “Wicked”?

    54 percent.

    That’s the number of Americans who would vote to cut off funding for President Bush’s escalation plan if they were in Congress, according to a Fox News poll.

    So while most Americans simply want to STOP the escalation, the Senate cannot even engage in a debate about whether or not to pass a non-binding resolution voicing opposition to the plan.

    The House, to its credit, is at least considering a resolution in opposition to the Iraq legislation.  However, the rhetoric there is not very high-minded. 

    For those of you who saw The Daily Show last night, I hope you enjoyed it as Representative Bishop of Utah tried to make the odd comparison between the House resolution on Iraq, and the Broadway musical "Wicked" (which he happened to have seen the night before):

    "There are some people who have opposed this war from the very beginning; they still oppose it now; and I give them credit to their commitment to consistency, although I don’t necessarily agree with their decision. Some of those have also criticized this resolution as also being too weak of a resolution, for indeed the resolution today is a nonbinding resolution. By definition, it means it does nothing. It changes nothing, but allows us all to make statements for media consumption and allows some of those who made the original vote to use force the ability to shirk the responsibility of that particular action.

    Yesterday, I had the opportunity of going back to Baltimore and watching a play, ‘Wicked’. And in the play, the main character, the male lead, Fiero, is in love with Elphaba. And she tries to distance herself from him by saying, ‘Yeah, but you’re thoughtless and shallow.’ And Fiero says, ‘I know, but I am a deep shallow.’

    This resolution is a deep shallow. It may have words aimed at the White House and the White House action, but regardless of those words, when history is written the finger of accusation will not point to the executive branch, who has been consistent, it is going to point back here to Congress, to our actions."

    From their seats, other representatives urged Representative Bishop to "sit down", while others urged "somebody to open up a window".  Then they all went to the Jellicle Ball.

    Harold And Maude

    Well, not quite.  At least Harold in the movie was of legal age:

    An 84-year-old woman who confessed to having sex with an 11-year-old boy in her foster care reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted sex abuse, officials said.

    Florida Girl Tries To End Hiccups By Contracting Salmonella

    She was on the Today show this morning, so maybe you already know this story:

    Hiccups450She has tried holding her breath. Drinking water from the far side of the glass. Putting sugar under her tongue. Sipping pickle juice. Breathing into a paper bag.

    But none of those home remedies has helped 15-year-old Jennifer Mee, who started hiccupping three weeks ago and hasn’t stopped.

    Something like 50 times a minute, she hiccups, a staccato sensation that resembles a smoke alarm with a dying battery. Her mother, Rachel Robidoux, thinks Jennifer sounds like a barking chihuahua.

    ***

    Jennifer, a ninth-grader at Northeast High School, was in first-period science class when the spasms began.
    After about 15 nonstop minutes, she went to the campus medical clinic. The staff there worked with her for five hours, and still she hiccuped.

    That was Jan. 23.

    In the weeks since, she has seen a pediatrician, a cardiologist and a neurologist. She has had blood tests, a CT scan and an MRI. She had an allergic reaction to one medication, which triggered hives.

    One doctor surmised that Jennifer has a tic disorder, perhaps even Tourette’s  syndrome, but Robidoux said her daughter does not twitch or have inappropriate outbursts, two common symptoms of the condition.

    The accompanying photograph shows Jennifer with a variety of hiccup cures.  I note that she also has a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter, which is being recalled for salmonella.  Oh, poor Jennifer.