Monthly Archives: November 2008

Google Knows When You’re Sick

Google has discovered that they can accurately predict the incidences of flu throughout the United States, simply by tracking flu-related Google searches.  It is just as accurate as the method used by the Center for Disease Control, as this graph illustrates:

Annual_cdc_comparison

Writes Google:

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States. Our results have been published in Nature.

Because of this, you can actually track where the flu is spreading, by going to Google Flu Trends.

Having Sex For God

The New York Times is writing about this, so it's — you know — serious.

The story is about the Rev. Ed Young – author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church.

On the November 16 service, he urged the married couples in his congregation to have sex once a day.  As Young sees it, "congregational copulation" brings people closer to God, closer to their spouse, reduces the likelihood of adultery, and sets a loving example for children.

Now, right away, this would ruin sex for me.  But I'm not in that demographic, I guess.

He also preached this sermon in front of a bed.

Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.

Definitely ookey.

Well, more than a week later, it appears that the congregation — including the pastor himself — is struggling.

It is not always easy to devote time for your spouse, Pastor Young admitted. Just three days into the sex challenge he said he was so tired after getting up before dawn to talk about the importance of having more sex in marriage that he crashed on the bed around 8 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Mrs. Young tried to shake him awake, telling her husband, "Come on, it's the sex challenge." But Mr. Young murmured, "Let's just double up tomorrow," and went back to sleep.

Me, personally — I think the pastor has a screw loose:

This is not a gimmick or a publicity stunt, Mr. Young says. Just look at the sensuousness of the Song of Solomon, or Genesis: “two shall become one flesh,” or Corinthians: “do not deprive each other of sexual relations.” 

“For some reason the church has not talked about it, but we need to,” he said, speaking by telephone Friday night on his way to South Africa for a mission trip. There is no shame in marital sex, he added, “God thought it up, it was his idea.”

God thought up water, too.  But you don't see me drinking it to the point of drowning.

Look, I'm not a prude.  I'm not saying sex should be dirty.

I'm just saying it's better if it is.

Say What?

Sentence contained within the Chicago Tribune's article on the increases in hate incidents since Obama's election:

Even some white supremacist leaders who describe themselves as moderates say they are alarmed.

Yes, the moderate supremacist leaders.  Not to be confused with the conservative or liberal white supremacist leaders.

Macy’s Float Gets Rickrolled

I think it was pre-planned though….

By the way, enjoy vintage photos of the Macy's Parade from days gone by here.

338--98323232-fp45=ot-232-=6;-=878=XROQDF-23234754758-8ot1lsi

And, apropos of nothing (except Thanksgiving), one of my favorite scenes from The West Wing:

and this is good, too….

Black Friday: Hazardous To Your Health

No kidding:

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," saidJimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back."

Lost Space Shuttle Bag Is Visible From Earth

Did you read a couple of days ago how that space shuttle astronaut was working outside the space station, and she lost a bag of tools?

Supposedly, if you know where to look, you can see the bag of tools orbiting the earth.  (I'm a little skeptical of this, but I read it in the newspaper, so it must be true.)  Not only that, some Canadian dude reportedly caught footage of it streaking across the night sky.

Turkey Lurkey Time

The original, from the 1968 Tony Award Show (with Donna McKechnie):

The same, as dissected by Seth Rudetsky:

Same song, but with different choreography, except for the wicked neck shit at the end, as performed by the University of Michigan musical theater majors:

The same, with the original choreography again, as done by the cast of "Camp":

This is also from "Camp", but it has nothing to do with turkeys:

BlahBlahfish

Blahblahfish takes some English, translates it to another language, and then back to English, so you can see what gets lost in translation.

Earlier today, I wrote a post entitled "Vatican Forgives Lennon".

Here's the same post, after a Blahblahfish translation from English to French to English:

The Vatican forgives Lennon

Nice, if not little one late. 

But in a paramount manner, I don't think what he said in import what which requires to forgive. 

When Lennon indicated that Beatles were larger than Jesus, Lennon wasn't, as the Vatican claimed this weekend, "boasting". It stated just a "fact" — perhaps justifiable then — but certainly a justifiable fact, with spirit, Beatles were more popular and "more" meant with the teenagers in American than Jesus. 

In my opinion, Lennon's assertion of it was true then. Why forgive someone which spoke a truth? 

P.S. Le white album is 40 years. "Revolution 9" hasn't developed on me, but the rest is always solid.

And English to Dutch to English:

Vatikaan forgive Len nun

Nice, if does not leave little. 

But what is still more important, I don't thinks he no matter what said that requires forgiving. 

Then Len nun said that Beatles were larger than Jesus, Len nun wasn't, as Vatikaan this weekend, "boasting". He explained only "fact" — perhaps questionable at the same time — but certain a portable fact was, to intelligence, Beatles populairder and "meant more" to teenagers in American then Jesus. 

In my opinion, Lennon's statement was true at the same time. Why does someone forgive who spoke a truth? 

P.S. The white album is 40 years old. "Revolution 9" hasn't which is grown on me, but the rest is still firm.

But the most f'ed up?  English to Icelandic to English:

Vatican Remit Lennon

Fine, maybe not a small late.

While further important, I don't think he some who need placable. 

When Lennon the Slá werewolf sizable while Man of Galilee Lennon alluvial with was avail, as though the Vatican demand this weekend, "conceit". He var righteous disturbance a "matter of fact" perhaps indefinite article into English tenable single river the while while certes a supportable matter of fact, to wit the Slá werewolf further popular and "meantime further" to teenager into American while Man of Galilee. 

INTO my view Lennon's thesis var true river the while. Why remit who var talk a truth?

P.S. White Album is 40 year warmed-over. "Revolution" hasn't river myself, while the rest hvíla á is yet sturdy.

Interesting how "The Beatles" somehow transforms into a slavic werewolf.

Amuse yourselves.

Where The Jobs Be At?

D15011 It's quite simple. 

All you have to do is think of every place in America where vaudevillians were born, and chances are it has made the CNN list for the 25 best cities to find a job.

Sioux Falls, Bismarck, Lincoln (Nebraska), Des Moines, Sioux City — they're all on the list.

Pocatello, Idaho, where Judy Garland was "born in a trunk"?  Yup, on the list.

It also helps if the city has an Indian name and some reference to water (waterfalls, rapids, etc.).

Depressing Economy Fact Of The Day

Almost half of the homes sold in the United States last month were foreclosure sales.

UPDATE:  Speaking of the economy, figures like 700 billion (which is the number given to the Bush bailout, as well as the additional bailout under Obama) cause one to turn white.

But, believe it or not, that was apparently just peanuts:

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

7.76 trillion?

I really don't know much about economics.

All I know is that a lot of money is being given out — bailed out, as they say — and I'm told it is necessary.

All I know is that $7.76 trillion is the equivalent of about $25,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

All I know is that none of it is coming to me.

Rent: The Stage Musical

A DVD of the final live Broadway performance will be out February 9, 2009.

And there's yet another Rent tour.  But this one might be worth attending, even if you're getting a little sick of Rent: it stars original cast members Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal.  With heavy make-up and canes.  That starts in January 2009.  (Coming to Charlotte, January 27- February 1).

X-treme Sports

I've always wondered what makes a sport "extreme".

Here's a guy doing "Extreme Kite Snowboarding"

As far as I can tell, this "extreme sport" involves having a kite lift you up into the air, and then slamming you into the side of the mountain.  The snowboard attached to your feet, apparently, is what makes it "snowboarding", although as far as I can see, there really isn't much of that.

Vatican Forgives John Lennon

Beatles_white_album Nice, if not a little late.

But more importantly, I don't think he said anything which requires forgiving.  When Lennon said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, Lennon wasn't, as the Vatican claimed this weekend, "boasting".  He was just stating a "fact" — perhaps an arguable one at the time — but certainly a supportable fact, to wit, the Beatles were more popular and "meant more" to teenagers in American than Jesus.

In my opinion, Lennon's assertion was true at the time.  Why forgive someone who was speaking a truth?

P.S.  White Album is 40 years old.  "Revolution 9" hasn't grown on me, but the rest is still solid.

Princeton Prop 8

Sometimes satire does a better job than anything else.

There is a growing movement at Princeton University by a number of students who wish to preserve the traditional definition of "sidewalk".

The Princeton Proposition 8 campaign aims to secure the definition of Princeton University sidewalks as a means of pedestrian transit for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community, but supports the elimination of the right of freshmen to walk on sidewalks.

Only walking on sidewalks by sophomores, juniors, and senior students is valid or recognized at Princeton.

Why no freshman?

The students emphasize that they are not "froshophobic" and that some of their best friends are freshmen, but they maintain that freshmen on the sidewalk degrade the sacred institution of sidewalks, and jeopardize the validity of upperclassmen's own perambulation. It also makes some of them uncomfortable.

The students are forming a demonstration, which has featured signs, chants, and original music, has collected almost 500 signatures for a petition in support of Princeton Proposition 8, including those of many professors and even University President Shirley M. Tilghman. A video report of the protest produced by the University's 'Daily Princetonian' has received 21,000 views on YouTube in just two days.

Well played, Princetonians.

You Remember How They Used To Say That Things Would Go On Your “Permanent Record”?

In one case, it's frighteningly true.

Georgia law tries to keep sexual offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility.

Noble idea.

The problem is what Georgia deems a "sex offender".

Wendy Whitaker was 17, a sophomore in high school.  And one day, she performed consensual oral sex on another sophomore.  The other student was 16, five months shy of turning 17.  They were caught.  Wendy was charged with the crime of sodomy under Georgia law.  She pled guilty and had five years probation.

Because Wendy, at age 17, had engaged in a sexual offense with a minor (the 16 year old), she has to register with Georgia's "sex offender" database.

Wendy is 29 now.  She's never has engaged in any sexual crimes since then.  In fact, Georgia modified its "sex offender" laws in 2006, adding a "Romeo and Juliet" clause.  The "Romeo and Juliet" clause basically states that teenagers of like age who commit sodomy are not required to register as sex offenders. 

But that clause was made retrooactive only to 2001.  Wendy's "act" took place twelve years ago, in 1996, so she must register as a sex offender for life.  That means her face will be on the internet for life as a "sex offender", she is required by law to notify all her employers, etc.

And, as stated, she can't live within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility, pools, gyms, or other places where minors congregate.

Wendy is married now.  She and her husband have a house within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility.  She believed it was okay, because there is an exception for homeowners (basically, it is unconstitutional for the government to take your property, even if you are a registered "sex offender", and Wendy's name is on the deed).

Long story short, there is a 29 year old woman in Georgia who is facing eviction – on Thanksgiving no less — because twelve years ago she gave a blowjob to a fellow high school student.

Something went wrong with the system, I would say.  The Southern Center for Human Rights is on the case.

The Georgia sex offender law is extreme in other ways, too.  It prohibits church volunteering in any form.  It prohibits registrants from giving full voice to their faith by singing in the church choir, playing the piano, or reading scripture before a church congregation.  Stupid.  Even for a real sex offender (which Wendy Whitaker is not), I'm not so sure it is a good idea to isolate them from the rehabilitative influence of faith-based organizations.

Georgia needs to look at this.

Oxford Word Of The Year: “Hypermiling”

Annoucement here, from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

I actually know this word, because I actually do this.

"Hypermiling" is defined as "an attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques."

I do this all the time, and I expect most hybrid drivers do.  When you get below a certain mph, the gas engine cuts off and the battery takes over.  (Technically, the battery assists the engine at higher speeds, but you can't tell).  So when I drive into my neighborhood, with smaller streets and children playing, I like to lift my foot off the pedal just enough to turn off the engine.  And I silently glide through the streets and down my driveway.

More for Oxford:

Rather than aiming for good mileage or even great mileage, hypermilers seek to push their gas tanks to the limit and achieve hypermileage, exceeding EPA ratings for miles per gallon.

Many of the methods followed by hypermilers are basic common sense—drive the speed limit, avoid hills and stop-and-go traffic, maintain proper tire pressure, don’t let your car idle, get rid of excess cargo—but others practiced by some devotees may seem slightly eccentric:
• driving without shoes (to increase the foot’s sensitivity on the pedals)
• parking so that you don’t have to back up to exit the space
• “ridge-riding” or driving with your tires lined up with the white line at the edge of the road to avoid driving through water-filled ruts in the road when it’s raining

The American Automobile Assocation has issued press releases saying that certain hypermiling techniques are dangerous.  Like over-inflating your tires.  Yeah, ok.  That seems like a no-brainer to me.  Still, there is some blowback from the AAA criticisms.

Anyway, it may be less of an issue now, with gas prices under $2.00.  But I expect hypermiling to make a comeback.

Four other finalists for word of the year:

  • frugalista – person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc.
  • moofer – a mobile out of office worker – ie. someone who works away from a fixed workplace, via Blackberry/laptop/wi-fi etc. (also verbal noun, moofing)
  • topless meeting – a meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, etc.
  • toxic debt – mainly sub-prime debts that are now proving so disastrous to banks. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion

Time For A Civics Test

You can take it here.  33 questions.

The average American scored 49%.

My score was 87.88%, but I'm kind of a civics geek.

According to this article, U.S. elected officials scored lower than the average American; they scored 44%.  We'll call that "the Palin effect".  Don't read the article if you're going to take the test — it gives away some of the answers.

Some further findings (SPOILER ALERT if you haven't taken the test):

Seventy-one percent of Americans fail the test, with an overall average score of 49%.

  • Liberals score 49%; conservatives score 48%. Republicans score 52%; Democrats score 45%.
  • Fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government, a minimal requirement for understanding America’s constitutional system.

Earning a college degree does little to increase knowledge of America’s history, key texts, and institutions. The average score among those who ended their formal education with a bachelor’s degree is 57%, or an “F.” That is only 13 percentage points higher than the average score among those who ended their formal education with a high school diploma.

  • Only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.

Officeholders typically have less civic knowledge than the general public. On average, they score 44%, five percentage points lower than non-officeholders.

  • Thirty percent of elected officials do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.

Project Palentir

The video below is a demonstration of a geographical representation program, showing Facebook activities worldwide in real-time.

Yeah, that last sentence was geeky.  So is the video.  But it is pretty awesome, too.

Obama Skips Church

That's the headline at Politco.

Look, can you blame him?  The president-elect had to leave his former church because some people didn't like that his pastor was an angry black man.  I'm sure it was in the news.

Besides, I'm sure he's busy with his Muslim socialist cabal.

It’s Gonna Be A Barnburner At The Ginginch Home This Thanksgiving

Not really.  They probably don't have Thanksgiving together.

But Candice Gingrich (Newt Gingrich's sister), an openly gay woman, has sent an open letter to her brother:

Dear Newt, 

I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, "There you go, again." 

However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked. 

The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as — and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past. Welcome to the 21st century, big bro. 

I can understand why you're so afraid of the energy that has been unleashed after gay and lesbian couples had their rights stripped away from them by a hateful campaign.

Read the whole thing.

It’s A Control Thing

Orin Kerr asks "Why Do Conservatives Care So Much About The Courts?".  He notes that a public survey shows that:

When it comes to how they will vote in November, Republican voters say that the type of Supreme Court Justices a candidate would appoint is more important than the War in Iraq. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% of Republicans pick the economy as the top voting issue, 30% name judicial appointments, and just 19% pick the War in Iraq. . . . Just 7% of Democrats name judicial appointments as the most important of those issues.

We'll assume the premise that this means that conservatives care more about the courts than liberals.

But why is this so?

It is because, Kerr opines, social conservatives see the Supreme Court as a barrier to the political process.  If you look at the hot-button issues of the past several decades — civil rights, abortion, flag-burning, etc., a court victory for the liberal side essentially takes the controversy out of the political realm — whereas a court victory for the conservative side leaves it in the political realm, where social conservatives believe they have a fighting chance.  And court victories for the conservative side don't seem to happen much:

It's partly loss aversion, I suspect, and partly the fact that constitutional decisions are much harder to reverse than legislative ones. Whatever the precise reasons, the cumulative experience of this happening year after year, Term after Term, starts to really hurt. It becomes a sore point, a raw wound. I think that goes a long way towards explaining why conservatives care significantly more about the courts.

I think that's a reasonable thesis, and one to which many people could probably subscribe.

However, Kerr is lending credence to the fallacious notion that when courts decide a matter on a constitutional basis, they remove the controversy from the political realm.  Or, as the typical layman say whenever a court strikes down a law as violating, say, the First Amendment, "Tsk!  The court is legislating from the bench".

This always infuriates me, for this reason:  the people, through their representative legislatures, created the constitution through the political process (including, in my example, the First Amendment) and gave the court the power to strike down unconstitutional laws.

So while it is true that school prayer or segregation, say, weren't put to the ballot box, the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment were (i.e., they were ratified by the peoples' representatives).  And the Articles of the Constitution (also ratified by political process) give the courts the power to strike down laws which are unconstitutional.

I think the better explanation of why conservatives are interested in the courts is because, at least where social conservative lies, courts are better suited to compel the behavior of others, and "get at" the individual rights and behavior of others.

The decision to have an abortion, gay marry, use contraception, or pray in school — these are all things which individuals can do or not do, as they see fit; in other words, nothing inherently compels an individual to do those activities, or refrain from doing those activities.  But a favorable court decision can, for example, prohibit an abortion, nullify a gay marriage, ban contraception use, or compel prayer in school.  It ends the public debate about the issue.

In short, I think conservatives, at least social/religious conservatives, care more about the courts, because the courts, following the Constitution, tend to preserve and promote individual liberties which don't prescribe to some of the homogenous viewpoints of social/religious conservatives.  It's a control thing, basically.

Copernucus Found

This is a story that appeals to me and maybe three other people:

Researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books. The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.

I mean, they've figured it out because some of his hair fell out into a book!

Palin Blabs On As Turkey Gets Murdered

She went there to pardon a turkey, and we can assume that one getting slaughtered behind wasn't supposed to be the one intended to be pardoned.

Nevertheless, it's pretty grizzly (and consider that a warning)

I don't think there's any thing meta-analysis-wise to be said, save for the fact that she does seem to "invite criticism" everytime she steps in front of the microphone…

“The Most Horrible Day Of My Life”

It was a pajama party for the girls, and they were going to watch the finals of American Idol. The two singers in the final were David Cooker and David Archuleta. The girls were all fans of David Archuleta.

David A. didn’t win.

 

To whoever dubbed this “the most horrible day of my life”, I have to tell you:

If that’s the case, consider yourself blessed.  I mean, really really blessed.

I mean, really really blessed.  Because, honey…..

You Are What You Blog

Typealyzer ingests the contents of your blog, and based on that, does Myers-Briggs psychology test on the blogs author.

So this is me:

ISTP – The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Not bad.  I'm actually an INTP.  And the S-N is borderline.

Oh, and then there's this…

Brainblog

Good to know.

But like others, I wonder:

Methinks the web is getting too smart for its own good. Granted, my personality type probably isn't too hard to figure out even from a 30-second conversation, but it's a little unnerving that some heap of silicon can do it. If they can already do this, how long will it be before our robot overlords take over completely?

Linking The War On Christmas To The Economic Crisis

I would call this "overreaching".  From the Wall Street Journal, columnist Daniel Henninger writes:

This year we celebrate the desacralized "holidays" amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin — fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.

Uh… come again?

One had better explain that.

Yes, one better had, sir.

Now, I will spare you the forest into which that Mr. Henninger drags his readers.  Basically, he talks about the economic crisis and its roots, which he lays at the feet of borrowers, lenders and "secularized shamans" operating in a moral-free, greed-above-all-else environment.

Except for the "secularized shamen" (on which I'll plead ignorance), I'll grant Mr. Henninger's premise with regard to the moral-free world of high finance.

Finally, he brings it home:

What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.

Yes, I'm with you….

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down.

Okay, still with you….

And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."

Bam!  You lost me.  Come at me again.

It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

Wow.  So borrowers and bankers are Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals?  Any data on that?  (And isn't that kind of an "obnoxious political opinion"?)

And assuming that's true… that relates to saying/not saying "Merry Christmas" how?

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

Look, pal.  Religion isn't the ONLY thing that keeps players "inside the chalk lines".  Believe it or not, one CAN be an atheist AND a moral person.  By the same token, one can be religious AND corrupt as hell.

But even granting that premise, is failure to say "Merry Christmas" really "erasing the chalk lines"?   Is this man suggesting that had the checkout girl at K-Mart been allowed to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays", greedy Wall Street bastards would have shown responsiblity and remorse and not been so get-rich-quick?  Seriously?

I wondered if Mr. Henniniger had gone off the deep end, and then the final sentence of his editorial came along:

Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.

Yes, he means that Mad Max.  In his view, that's what will happen to the world if we stop saying "Merry Christmas" (which, by the way, isn't remotely likely to happen).

Oogedy-boogedy.

On Recounts

Minnesota Public Radio has a great photoessay/poll giving particular actual examples of the kind of issues faced by election judges when it comes to determining ballot results on hand recount.

Here's an example, called "The Arrow":

Arrow 

Who gets the vote?  Franken, Coleman, or nobody/indeterminable?

Of course, in the real world, one's decision would be governed by this Minnesota state statute as a guide to determine voter intent.  While it is helpful, it is, in many ways, not helpful enough.

Here's another, called "The Confusion":

Confusion 

MPR informs us:

The Coleman campaign kept this ballot from going into the 'Other' pile. They argued that while the voter filled in the bubble next to Dean Barkley, the voter had intended to vote for Coleman because of the small dot inside Coleman's bubble.

Hmmm.  I don't know about that.

Anyway, I don't envy these election judges.

Waxman In

Dingell is out and Waxman is in as Energy And Commerce Chair.  That may seem like inside-politics baseball, but it is kind of a big deal. This is a huge victory for environmentalists. TPM has the details:

Dingell, who first entered the House way back when Eisenhower was president, had been the head Democrat on this committee ever since 1981.

But many of the more liberal members over the years came to view him as too friendly to Michigan's auto industry and hostile to environmentalists — especially on issues like climate change and carbon limits.

It also shakes up Congress' seniority system and is yet another sign that the political momentum is squarely in the camp of aggressive Dems. Waxman played a lead role in staking out a far more aggressive stance towards the Bush administration than many other more cautious Dems would take.

The willingness to address the global warming crisis could be the single most important change ushered in by the Obama administration – and now with Waxman taking over from Dingell, the prospects for real action just got that much closer to realization. 

Prop 8 To Be Reviewed By CA Supreme Court… And The Lord Weighs In

No, really.  He did.  The Lord submitted a 40 page amicus brief (PDF) speaking through one of his servents, I guess.

My favorite section:

After a night full of dreams, before dawn on November 11, 2008, before I woke up in the morning, the Almighty Eternal Creator ordered me, saying "You explain to them the consequences that follow each and all of their actions. Once they understand, they will listen!"

These two matters (gay-lesbian and abortion) are just a couple of many major cases where people are exercising their free-will rights for wrong purposes. This has gone on for a hundred-thousand years and has contributed heavily to extreme weather, global warming, financial crisis, recession, global hatred, lying, violence, war and murder, serious sickness and diseases – often for the purpose of gaining rights for wrong purposes, power and money.

As the court might say, duly noted.

[NOTE:  The California Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of Prop 8 for what are essentially procedural defects, or so is the claim.  Basically, amendments to the California Constitution can be put on the ballot if petitioners obtain the required number of signatures (this is how Prop 8 got on the ballot).  Revisions to articles and amendments already in the California Constitution can be put on the ballot only if two-thirds of the legislature approve.  The issue is whether or not Prop 8 constitutes an amendment or a revision.

Also, the California Supreme Court seemed to indicate that it would address the thorny issue about what to do with same-sex couple who already have been legally married under California law]

The Password For Today Is “Oogedy-boogedy”

Lot of fallout from the Kathleen Parker article yesterday, which I wrote about here.

Especially this part:

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

While unsure about what it means, many on the right have taken offense with "oogedy-boogedy". 

Over at NRO's The Corner, Jonah Goldberg, having delivered what he believed to be a smack-down of Parker (you can determine for yourself), writes:

What aspects of the Christian Right amount to oogedy-boogedyism? I take oogedy-boogedy to be a perjorative reference to absurd superstition and irrational nonsense. So where has the GOP embraced to its detriment oogedy-boogedyism? With the possible exception of some variants of creationism (which is hardly a major issue at the national level in the GOP, as much as some on the left and a few on the right try to make it one), I'm at a loss as to what Kathleen is referring to. Opposition to abortion? Opposition to gay marriage? Euthanasia? Support for prayer in school?

Far be it for me to guess what Kathleen Parker meant by the "oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP", but my guess is as good as Jonah's.  And I don't think it was a reference to the religious aspect of their beliefs (since Parker already mentioned that), but the fear-mongering.

As in "Oogedy-boogedy! They're coming to get you!" — with "they" being the homosexual cabal, or the immigrant hordes, or whatever suits the particular purpose of the religious right on any particular day.  Kevin Drum neatly sums it up nicely:

There will always be plenty of votes for a culturally conservative party. That’s not the problem. The problem is the venomous, spittle-flecked, hardcore cultural conservatism that’s become the public face of the evangelical wing of the GOP. It’s the wing that doesn’t just support more stringent immigration laws, but that turns the issue into a hate fest against La Raza, losing 3 million Latino votes in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just a little skittish about gay marriage, but that turns homophobia into a virtual litmus test, losing 6 million young voters in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just religious, but that treats belief as a precondition to righteousness, losing 2 million secular voters in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just nostalgic for old traditions, but that fetishizes the heartland as the only real America, losing 7 million urban voters in the process. It’s the wing that goes into a legislative frenzy over Terry Schiavo but six months later can barely rouse itself into more than a yawn over the destruction of New Orleans.

Now, the GOP didn’t lose all those votes solely because of their embrace of cultural victimhood. It was a Democratic year, after all, and the economy worked against them too. Still, exit polls suggest they had already lost most of this ground by 2006, and the economy had nothing to do with it back then. Conservative gains after 9/11 may have masked the problem for a while, but fundamentally these are voters who saw the Republican Party turn into a party of rabid identity politics and turned away in disgust. It’s probably cost them (so far) about 10 million votes, and in an era where 53-47 is considered a big victory, that’s a helluva deficit to make up elsewhere.

A party that merely wants to move more slowly and more deliberately than liberals in the cultural sphere wouldn’t have lost all those votes. But the real-life GOP, a party whose primary association in much of the public mind is with revulsion toward gays, immigrants, urban elites, and the non-churchgoing, did. That’s oogedy-boogedy.

And, as if on cue, a case-in-point reveals itself, courtesy of the religious right organization, America Family Association and their DVD "They're Coming to Your Town":

10000122 Residents of the small Arkansas town of Eureka Springs noticed the homosexual community was growing. But they felt no threat. They went about their business as usual. Then, one day, they woke up to discover that their beloved Eureka Springs, a community which was known far and wide as a center for Christian entertainment–had changed. The City Council had been taken over by a small group of homosexual activists.

The Eureka Springs they knew is gone. It is now a national hub for homosexuals. Eureka Springs is becoming the San Francisco of Arkansas. The story of how this happened is told in the new AFA DVD “They’re Coming To Your Town.”

One of the first actions of the homosexual controlled City Council was to offer a “registry” where homosexuals could register their unofficial “marriage.” City Council member Joyce Zeller said the city will now be promoted, not as a Christian resort, but a city “selling peace, relaxation, history and sex.”

AFA’s “They’re Coming ToYour Town” documents the story of how and why this happened. And how homosexual activists plan to do the same in other towns.

That's oogedy-boogedy.

That said, you do kind of have to admire the graphic they use (see above) — a town going up in gay flames.

UPDATE:  Oh, lookie! I found a promotional video for the DVD.

Anyway, I took a gander at the Eureka Springs website, expecting to find it strewn with pictures of leather-clad men in tights and gay bars, and well, I don't know what exactly, but that kind of thing.  I mean, now that the gay cabal has taken over and all.

But no.  It actually looked kind of nice.  With all kinds of festivals.

Including this one.

Well, I guess the gay zombie hordes haven't spread their gay all over that little town yet.

But they WILL!

OOGEDY-BOOGEDY!

BELATED THOUGHT:  A cynic might say that AFA uses oogedy-boogedy to sell their DVD at $24.95.  But that doesn't have a ring of truth, does it?

UPDATE:  John Cole has a list of particulars

UPDATE:  Publius has a different take on "oogedy-boogedy", arguing that it represents liberals' fear of social conservatism, and not the reverse, as I argue.  Interesting reading and thoughtful discussion in the comments.

“The Plan” by Jack Handey

The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen:

—The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.

—The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.

—Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.

—There must be an empty parking space right out in front. If it has a meter, there must be time left on it, because our outfits don’t have pockets for change.

—The monkeys must grab the bags of money and not just shriek and go running all over the place, like they did in the practice run.

—The security cameras must be the early, old-timey kind that don’t actually take pictures.

—If somebody runs out of the bank and yells, “Help! The bank is being robbed!,” he must be a neighborhood crazy person who people just laugh at.

—If the police come, they don’t notice that the historical mural on the wall is actually us, holding still.

—Any fingerprints we leave must be erased by the monkeys.

Read the whole thing.

“Like Seeing A Guy Show Up At The Soup Kitchen In High-hat And Tuxedo”

More on the symbolic faux pax carried out by the CEOs of the Big Three automakers, who flew into D.C. on luxury corporate jets so that they could beg for a bailout at taxpayer expense:

"There's a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hands," Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) advised the pampered executives at a hearing yesterday. "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo. . . . I mean, couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here?"

The Big Three said nothing, which prompted Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) to rub it in. "I'm going to ask the three executives here to raise their hand if they flew here commercial," he said. All still at the witness table. "Second," he continued, "I'm going ask you to raise your hand if you're planning to sell your jet . . . and fly back commercial." More stillness. "Let the record show no hands went up," Sherman grandstanded.

Avast Ye, Mateys!

I don't care how many times I read about piracy in the news — and it apparently is becoming a serious problem — but I just can't make my head NOT think about, you know, real pirates.

Pirate 

Pirates003

“Secret” White Supremists Not So Secret Anymore

I don't know much about British politics, but apparently the British National Party is a whites-only supremist nationalist facist party there.  They spout Holocaust denial nonsense — you know the type (hopefully, not well).

Anyway, their rather expansive secret membership list is no longer "secret" having been made available for download here and here. The list includes BNP members who are also parliamentary candidates, and well, everyone apparently.

For amusement, go to this website and watch the membership freak out in the comments; things like: "I can't believe it. I own a PC retail outlet and this could ruin me, It makes me want to puke on my shoe."

Worlds-smallest-violin 

Pictured above:  World's Smallest Violin

Okay, NOW The Presidential Election Is Over

Although not "official" yet, Missouri has finally finished counting its ballots, all 2.9 million of them, and McCain has 3,632 more votes than Obama.

So make Missouri red.

Final EV count:  Obama 365, McCain 173.

Obama still "smucked" him, as we used to say on the playground.

Note:  Missouri has picked the victor 25 times out of the past 26 times, and every time since 1956.  But they picked the loser this time, so you can trash that canard "As Missouri goes, so goes the nation…"

Giving Up On God

There's been a few of these around, but conservative columnist Kathleen Parker's WaPo column on why the GOP should turn its back on the religious right is good reading:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we're setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it….

…[T]he GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs…

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

Ouch.  That's gonna leave a mark.

She has some choice words for Palin too, praying to God that Palin, for the sake of the GOP future, falls off the political map.

As a Democrat, I hope Parker's prayers go unanswered.  Nothing would please me more than the Republican Party, headed by Palin, continuing to embrace the far (religious) right for the next several election cycles.

Naturally, the so-called "base" isn't happy with Kathleen Parker's editorial.  Over at Townhall, they starkly state "she's wrong", adding that:

John McCain and the Republicans didn't lose because of the religiosity of some of the party's base.  They lost because Barack Obama managed to lure millions of religious voters away from the GOP — in no small part by emphasizing his personal faith in God.

Curiously, the link they provide tends to support Parker's thesis.

Over at NRO's The Corner, increasingly becoming irrelevant in political discourse because of its embrace of the religious right, editor Katherine Lopez offers her retort, amounting to nothing more than "I love Kathleen, but she's stupid and possibly influence by her new boyfriend".

I suspect Kathleen Parker's email box will be flooded with religious right wing attacks, ironically proving her point.

We’re All Sinners

A church marquee tells us why:

I like this:

CNN's Rick Sanchez reported on a church marquee that reads "America we have a Muslim president. This is a sin against the Lord." Mark Holick is pastor of The Spirit One Christian Center in Wichita, Kansas where the sign is being displayed.

Holick told KSNW, "The main point of the marquee is to cause the Christians to understand he is not a Christian, Again, they will call me and they will tell me that he's not a Muslim because he is a Christian. That's not the point. The point is he's not a Christian."

Uh, then it is the point, Pastor Holick.

Begich Beats Stevens

It's all but official now:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens lost his job to Mark Begich on Tuesday, putting an end to the era of "Uncle Ted" as the dominant force in Alaska politics.

Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage, widened his lead to 3,724 votes in Tuesday's count of absentee and questioned ballots. The lead is insurmountable, as the only votes left to count are approximately 2,500 ballots from overseas.

Begich claimed victory, saying, "I am humbled and honored to serve Alaska in the U.S. Senate."

The loss came on Stevens' 85th birthday. The 40-year incumbent is the longest serving Republican in the history of the U.S. Senate.

By by count, that gives Democrats control of 58 seats in the Senate (if you include the two independents who caucus with the Democrats).

Results of Minnesota and Georgia are still up in the air.

Bad Form

I know, in the scheme of things, when you look at it from a pure monetary standpoint, it isn't a big deal.

But as a matter of principle, it just isn't good:

The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

All three CEOs – Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler – exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

***

Wagoner's private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000 roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.

Note to CEOs who want government billion dollar bailouts at taxpayer expense:  Can you at least try to look like your company is having economic hardships?  Or at least share just one private jet?

Keep this in mind when someone tells you that the reason auto industries are going under is because the unionized employees have their pensions….

UPDATE:  Mitt Romney writes a somewhat convincing op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt":

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

His point is well-taken, and as the former president of American Motors, Romney should be listened to.

But I don't think the solution is to deny the bailout and let Detroit go backrupt.  Not in these tough economic times.  (By the way, Mitt, good luck with Michigan in your 2012 election bid.  You just lost Joe the Assembly Line Worker).  

Where would the Big Three get the capital to rebuild and restructure?  We're having a credit crunch, if you haven't noticed, Mitt.

The solution is to have the bailout, with strings attached to the bailout.  That's something we didn't do with the monstorous $750 billion bailout of the financial sector.  Or something like this.

UPDATE:  George Will says the same as Mitt.

For My Future Reference

For those who listen to their iPod in the car with one of those FM transmitter doo-dads, sometimes it is difficult to know what bandwidth to tune your setting such that you won't get interference from one of those stupid radio stations that tend to occupy the radio bandwidth.

But here is a website that will find the vacant FM bands for where you live, or where you are travelling to.

For my home, it's:

87.9 FM  
91.9 FM 
96.5 FM  
101.5 FM  
102.7 FM 
105.1 FM  
106.9 FM 

OR… You COULD Just Jog…

Why run on a regular treadmill indoors, when you can use a mobile treadmill outdoors?

This is not a gag.  It's for real.

The company that invented this cumbersome road hazard is seeking investors for its mobile outdoor treadmill.

Their next invention?  A mobile stationary exercise bike… with wheels that actually move.  

The Cotton Belt

Fun with maps.

The top map shows the 2008 Presidential results.  Blue counties voted for Obama, red ones for McCain (darker hues representing larger majorities).

The bottom map dates from 1860 (i.e. the eve of the Civil War), and indicates where cotton was produced at that time, each dot representing 2,000 bales of the stuff.

2008-11-11-southvoting21

Obviously, there's a strong relationship going on.  Clearly, not a mere coincidence.

Let's superimpose the two maps, and you'll see the effect is more startling…

Strangemapsoverlay1

So what's going on?

Well, obviously… this has little to do with cotton, and more to do with the African-American population.  While there has been much migration to the north of the African-American community, large segments of the community have located not far from their cotton-picking slave ancestors in these communities.

And these communities voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

One interesting outlier was in southern Tennessee in Lawrence County.  I'm sure there's an explanation.  Perhaps a significant proportion of the black community migrated to nearby Nashville.

Renew America Roundup

Michael Bresciani in "The True Christian Approach To The Obama Presidency":

What's the best way for a true Christian to respond to Obama's election?  Why, suing him as an illegal immigrant — that's how!

Selwyn Duke in "Obama: Fear And Security Force":

These people who say Obama is going to be a dictator just like Hitler are silly and paranoid, aren't they?  But seriously, Obama is going to be a dictator just like Hitler.

Mary Mostert in "Prop. 8, homosexuals, attacks on LDS churches, freedom, and Gadianton Robbers":

The Mormons using then pulpit trying to discriminate against gays and Martin Luther King using the pulpit to end discrimination: what's the difference? 

Sher Zieve in "Rep. Paul Broun apologizes for telling the truth":

If Obama doesn't want to be called Marxist and Hitlerian, then he shouldn't go around being Marxist and Hitlerian.

Chris Adamo in "The grim significance of the 2008 elections":

Pffft.  Alan Keyes broke the racial glass ceiling before Obama did!

Michael Bates in "A Nation of Peter Pans":

Health care and education is for pussies.

The Mormon Church Responds

A press release from the Mormon Church on Friday reads:

"People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights… These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America."

They're quite right that they, as people of faith, are free to exercise their democratic rights.  But the so called "hostile response" that they now face — the protests, boycotts, etc. — is equally apart of those democratic ideals as well.  People of faith don't get a free pass in the political arena merely because they are people of faith.

Welcome to the political fray.  We play hardball here.