October 31, 2011

Many New Yorkers still without power

Although we got our power back on Sunday after a 30-hour blackout, much of the surrounding area remains unplugged. Local schools cancelled classes and most nearby businesses remain closed at this hour. We (the folks at my house) are apparently living within a small pocket of power that is surrounded by a continuing blackout.

Unaware of the problems we would face, my sister and I went food shopping today -- and found ourselves in a huge, dark grocery store. There were emergency lights around the perimeter that produced occasional pockets of weak light, and that was it. Luckily they had enough power to run two credit machines, so shopping was possible. But the aisles were totally dark. And no, we didn't have a flashlight.

This is the good stuff

I've always believed the only way to get the government's attention is for everyone to stay home from their jobs. The U.S. would come to a standstill and the greedy folks who run this industry we laughingly call "our country" would freak.

It seems the Occupy Oakland General Assembly (I love the terminology) is thinking along these lines. There's a story at AmericaBlog today about this. Here's the statement of the General Assembly:
We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.
And it's not just the dirty hippies:
The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union has announced that they will stand in solidarity with this general strike.
The people are rising up and it's about time. Serious People said this wouldn't happen but here we are. Go, Oakland!

October 30, 2011

Setting your priorities

The goddess Pandora.
AP tonight:
Police in Oregon say a man broke into a home in Portland to watch television.
Now, see, I can totally understand that. The poor guy just really needed to see some TV. Privation can make you crazy. If he lost his home and didn't have a job, he might very well need an emergency intravenous dose of TV. I get it. Give the guy 12 or 24 hours in front of a set, and send him on his way with a pat on the butt and a TV Guide. Case closed.

Weird October

Note: We lost power yesterday just as I was about to post this:

Since Autumn in New York seems to include a snowstorm this year, I thought it was time to post this ambivalent song about October. There's no video to speak of, but I've always liked this Pet Shop Boys tune. There's something comforting about the mood it creates.

Meanwhile, the poor geese are swimming in the pond while trying to ignore the snowstorm. I hope they don't get confused and migrate too early in the season. If they do, they won't find what they expect on the other end of the journey. There is an exquisite timing to these migrations, and climate change is going to screw all that up.

Here's the song. PS: If I disappear, we've lost electricity. A wet, heavy snow is coming down in heaps right now. The fact that there are still leaves on the trees makes this more alarming. The weight of the snow will surely bring a few trees down--and they will take power lines down with them. Hope to see you soon!

October 29, 2011

A modern good deed

A friend of mine hooks up with one of these extreme-couponing types once a week. She does whatever the woman says, taking this coupon and buying that with it -- the woman brings a sheaf of coupons with her -- and somehow they end up paying absolutely nothing for several bags of groceries.

Then my friend gives her bags to old, poor people that she knows. A bag here, a bag there -- it helps. (I think she actually pays some money but neglects to tell me this.) I think of this as a modern good deed. Perhaps armies of similarly philanthropic shoppers could assemble at supermarkets across America -- and end hunger in their local communities.

Some word talk after the jump.

October 28, 2011

So let's see . . .

No one ever died from smoking marijuana -- and people get killed and kill every day because of alcohol. That's the background for this post: the insane attitude our government has about this virtually harmless plant, and the blind eye with which it views alcohol's evils.

And now some poor kid got killed because of the government's prohibition policies against a very helpful weed. If this kid had access to normal, healthy pot he would be fine today.

Don't get me wrong. Kids should not smoke dope, even the authentic kind, until their brains mature. And by then they won't be kids -- because our brains don't mature until we're about 25 years old. Until then, they need to grow undisturbed, i.e., free from drugs and alcohol.

But in this instance, the boy discussed in the article would be alive if he had smoked real marijuana instead of the fake stuff that was all he could lay his hands on because it was legal. What's wrong with this picture? Outlaw harmful stuff, not kind, gentle, helpful stuff.

October 27, 2011

No shame

From the AP this evening:
Tea party activists on Thursday accused officials in at least four cities of giving preferential treatment to anti-Wall Street protesters, and one group in Richmond is asking the city to repay $8,000 spent for permits and other needs.
Yes, that's exactly right. The OWS protesters who are being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed and carried off to jail in throngs after demonstrating peacefully are being treated preferentially compared to the Tea Party activists who paraded around like idiots in red, white and blue outfits with tea bags on their heads while disrupting town halls all across America and being protected by the police.

These people have no shame. It's all about them and their pinched view of reality wherein they always get to play the victim. Yes, Tea Party idiots, we hear you loud and clear: it's all about you. That's your one and only message, isn't it? You're just so special!

Ed Brayton today

Jackboots in action at OWS demonstration.
In an article on police violence, Ed Brayton says:
We are forever being told by the law-and-order types that punishment is the key to deterrence; that should apply to police officers as well. It should apply double to them because they are the ones to whom we give the exclusive authority to commit violence and to enforce the laws. When they violate those laws, they should be the first ones to test their theories about deterrence.
And I'd like to add: How come OWS people face violence from the police while the Tea Party, often armed with guns and bragging about it, were considered peaceful demonstrators? No SWAT teams attacked them. Why the difference in treatment? I know the answer: because the police in America today are jackbooted monsters who see "the people" as dirty hippies intent on destroying the country. That's why.

October 26, 2011

Airhead religious wingnuts

No more church/state separation?
There's an AP story tonight on public schools that offer bible classes (!!!) to students. Remember that tired old nonsense about separation of church and state? Apparently it's not too important any more.

The great thing is that the brain-dead schools that offered these classes are canceling them because of the economy. Hooray! Anyway, the reason I'm writing about it is to share two funny excerpts:
"Some parents say they wish their districts had the Bible classes because children need to know how influential the text has been on literature and pop culture."
Huge effects on pop culture. It's odd how I can't even think of one. This was followed by a quote from a Christian wingnut parent:
"Whether you believe in God or not, it's still the word of God and kids need to have that experience."
Like I said the other day, these people haven't taken their brains out for a test drive, never mind used them on a regular basis. It's like they have cotton-candy inside their skulls. Phew.

Something's happening here

Methinks it's time for that old Buffalo Springfield tune.

October 25, 2011

Dying alone vs. having a party

Gawkers at a death scene. Ugh.
Each day I see obituaries that contain variations of these words: "Surrounded by her loving family, Emily Sippolina traipsed off to see Jesus." This gives me chills.

No, not the jeebus nonsense, the "surrounded by family" bit. Surrounded indeed. It sounds positively suffocating. The very last thing I want when I die, is to be "surrounded" by even one person. Get away from me!

I want to die alone. If anyone is "at my side" it will mean that I don't have the energy to scream "Go away, you asshole!" Dying is personal and private. My death involves me and no one else. I want to be alone, unseen and unheard when I die. Get the hell away from me!

Just saying. Your thoughts?

October 24, 2011

Write one book twenty times

The game of telephone.
In a previous post, I suggested the idea of a writer who edited his novel forever, always posting each new version to Amazon and overwriting the previous edition. A really compulsive writer could have fun with this. As a result of this habit on the author's part, people would buy distinctly different versions of the novel. Okay, that's the background for this post. Here's a new variation.

What brought this to mind is that I visited a site for writers the other day. One of the posters there said he lost his entire novel in a computer crash (!) and it wasn't backed up (!!!). This is the ultimate writer's nightmare. I ran from the page screaming.

The Waterfall Nebula

Pretty, isn't it? Click for larger version. I found it on the Astronomy Pic of the Day site, which is run by NASA. Alas, it's not big enough to use as a desktop photo.

No one knows why the nebula assumed this shape. No known theory explains it. But that just makes it more beautiful, no?

Photo credit: Z. Levay (STScI/AURA/NASA), T.A. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage) & H. Schweiker (NOAO/AURA/NSF), KPNO, NOAO

October 23, 2011

Siri and I

I spoke to Siri, Apple's digital assistant, yesterday on my nephew's new iPhone 4S. She worked like magic.

In my gruff voice that many people find hard to hear, I asked Siri how far it was from the Earth to the moon. She printed back my question, to be sure it was correct. It was. Then she answered it precisely.

Amazing toy. We all need this.

(Click the photo for a larger version.)

Popey guy sees miracles

Guess who?
The popey guy had nothing to do today so he "canonized" three people, including good old Luigi Guanella. What did Guanella do to merit being called a saint? Why, he performed a miracle -- and did so after his death. Eerie, huh? Here's the story behind the "miracle":
Glisson, then 21, had gone into a coma after falling while in-line skating without a helmet; he had two brain surgeries but his doctors didn't give him much hope, according to Guanella's biography. A friend of the family who worked at a Guanella center for the handicapped gave Glisson and his mother two of Guanella's relics, and the family prayed fervently to the Italian priest.
After nine days, Glisson came out of the coma and today works in the family construction supply business. 
Wow, huh? Sounds like stuff that happens every day in hospitals all over the country -- but this time it's a miracle! Why? Because some guy gave the family dead bits of Luigi and they prayed to it. Nice. These people are savages, and stupid ones, at that.

There ain't no miracles, folks. Not one miracle has ever occurred. Wake up!

At least some guy livened up the festivities at the church as the popey guy was giving out the sainthoods. He climbed up high and burned a bible, screaming, "Where is Christ?" and then threw the burning volume of nonsense down on the idiots below. So at least there was a floor show. Otherwise, I hear these things can be really boring.

And now something from Pandora

I like this. Scrabbel: 1909. See what you think.

October 22, 2011

Little Guy

LG with his doomed sibling.
Last spring I wrote about drama in the flock of geese that lives in my backyard. One of the baby geese was killed. At the time I thought Milo, the flock's leader, killed the baby; now I think it was a group of crows. Milo just wouldn't do that. Crows, on the other hand, would.

The dead baby had only one sibling, who was alone after the murder. Over the months that followed I made sure to give that baby extra food because I felt sorry for him. All the other babies had siblings to play with. Not Little Guy. He was all alone, poor thing.

October 21, 2011

A piece of the puzzle has been found

On physorg today, there's news about an amazing discovery. It confirms what scientists have been saying for some time: that Earth obtained its water through comet collisions. I confess I always doubted this idea. It just seemed impossible that the vast amount of water we see in our oceans could have been produced in this manner. But it seems more than possible now, given the new data.

The god nonsense

The other day I visited Blue Collar Atheist, one of the blogs at the new Freethought Blogs site. Hank, the really nice guy who runs Blue Collar Atheist, wrote about the way christians think atheists must believe in god, way down deep inside. Made me chuckle. No way, hon. There ain't no god.

I commented on the post to say that I'm the reverse of this christian notion: I don't believe anyone truly believes in god. I'm sure lots of people think they believe in god but that just means they haven't taken their brains out for a test drive. They've never actually thought about anything. Their "belief" is merely a way of life -- it's posturing as a lifestyle. They live as if they believe in these gods. Sorry, but I don't buy it.

October 20, 2011

Great post on the lineage of humans

Have you ever wondered where we came from? This post may answer the question for you. In all, it echoes what I've said here before: life is an inherent property of matter. (I don't know who said this first; I think it was Sean Carroll.) We are the universe, baby.

The creature whose photo you see here is one of our possible forebears (if it wasn't this one, it was a similar creature). His name is Purgatorious. Curious name, eh? The photo is from Wikipedia and you can learn more about Purgatorious here. But do check the post linked to above. It follows life all the way back.

And hey, I'm loving Freethought Blogs, which is where I found the post. Thanks guys. You're doing great.

October 19, 2011

The Touch sent me to heaven!

No, not the touch of sky gods -- I mean my iPod Touch. It's the best thing ever. I know I'm probably the last person in America to get on board with mobile apps, but now that I've been playing with them for a few days I'm a wild-eyed convert. Who knew life could be this simple? (That's it at left in the exceptionally cute green case I got for it. Don't you want to hug it? Back away! Don't you dare touch my Touch!)

Pandora is indeed god. It's just as they said. It came unto me and all was well. In case you're out of the loop, like I was a mere three days ago, Pandora lets you listen to "radio" based on songs and artists you like. It's wonderful. I can't believe all the new music I've heard -- and it's stuff I like! It won't be a chore to find a Sunday music video anymore.

Best of all, I know how I'll get through the baseball off-season now. I'll just listen to Pandora until Spring arrives. That and the Tommy John surgery (and the visit from Jason Varitek) will see me through. Woot! I'm saved!

Set your stopwatch right now

Here comes jeebus! (Photo: Time)
Did you forget? Silly goose. This Friday is the Apocalypse. We know this because Robert Fitzpatrick says so. And he's always right, well, except for the last Apocalypse he predicted.

One delicious thing I did not know until reading the linked article is that he's from Staten Island. That is so perfect.

Don't forget to give all your possessions away to ensure that you're among the saved. You'll surely be Raptured if you do this. Saved! Woot!

And don't worry if you're not saved. Mr. Always Right says: "There should be no suffering whatsoever for the unsaved. They will simply vanish into nothingness." Well, hooray for that too!

October 18, 2011

Good article on the multiverse

Orion Nebula/pomona.edu
I love the multiverse. Actually, that's putting it mildly: I drool over the concept. An infinite number of universes! How can you not like something like that? And it's probably true -- that's the zinger.

Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance is a celebrated scientist and blogger who has a short, sweet article over at Discovery about one concept of the multiverse. He's a real-life scientist and not a lightweight. The guy works at the Large Hadron Collider. Need I say more?

The latest from the popey guy

Shazam! Peace among all religions.
The popey guy is so twisted, it's amazing. Check out this paragraph from an AP story today:
Pope Benedict XVI has invited Hindus, Jews, Taoists and Muslims to join him next week for a peace pilgrimage to the hilltop town of Assisi — but they won't pray together because Benedict doesn't want to show different beliefs and rituals mixing.
The man is amazingly cross-purposed. He can't do anything right. What an empty gesture. It's stunning.

October 17, 2011

The popey platform

The popey guy platform. Wow!
Well, it seems the popey guy can finally rest those red platform heels. He's got himself an official popey-guy platform! And it's mobile!

Now the popey guy can save all his energy for diatribes against gay, bisexual and transgender people. What a boon this will be for the church and the world at large!

Spew that venom, popey guy. With all the personal popey-guy energy that you're saving, you'll be able to spew a lot louder now. Hooray! And I bet they'll come out with a new action figure showing the popey guy on his popey platform. It'll be a major hit with today's kids.

Gnu atheist symbol

That's it on the left. I'm not much into group names or symbols. I'm just a plain old atheist. But if called gnu, I would understand why someone said it. Fine with me. I'm just not monicker-happy. If I must have a label, atheism works fine for me.

The image is quite gnu-ish, eh? It was made by a blogger as a lark, and ended up being the image chosen as the official gnu atheism symbol. It's looks a bit Xmassy to me but then everything looks a bit Xmassy to me at the moment. I can't imagine why.

October 16, 2011

Funny post about Apple's Siri

You've all heard about Siri by now, I assume. In case you haven't, it's the digital assistant included with the iPhone 4S. It seems almost magical. Just ask it a question and it comes up with a likely answer.

And you can have fun with it. Check out this article at The Blaze. If nothing else, scroll down and read the screens where a text question was posed to Siri, and look at Siri's answers.

I gotta have this. I gotta!

Hmmm, now let's see . . .

War. (Image: Gonzo Times)
The New York Times has an interesting article today. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON — President Obama is pressing United Nations nuclear inspectors to release classified intelligence information showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology. The president’s push is part of a larger American effort to further isolate and increase pressure on Iran after accusing it of a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States.
So let's tote this up. Obama cited a ridiculous story about Iran attempting to assassinate a Saudi official on US soil, in order to drum up hostility against that country and much more importantly, to make Obama look manly in the eyes of the rightwing lunatic fringe.  Let me repeat the key phrase I just used: a ridiculous story. And now they're pressuring nuclear inspectors to say that Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons technology. Let's think about this for a moment.

October 15, 2011

Prettiest tune ever?

Okay, okay. I know this song has been used in a zillion commercials -- as well as the Deneuve/Sarandon love scene in "The Hunger". So perhaps we're a tad sick of it. But c'mon, admit it. This is one of the most gorgeous melodies in music. (As for the video, dog knows what that's about.)

I miss the free-for-all

Writing novels is the most enjoyable, exciting thing I've ever done. But I miss the freedom I experienced when I first began to write.

There was a period of intense creativity when I was coming up with ideas and filing them away, sorting through the universe of possible stories I could write. Dog, how I loved that! It was the biggest free-for-all imaginable. I could write about anything. I get "chill bumps" (as I heard a feller say the other day) just thinking about it.

It was the grandest time I ever had -- except for the actual writing of the books. But these two activities aren't in the same ballpark. Writing a book is constrained, in that you know the story and your job is to follow (or change) your plan. As an activity, it has borders all around it.

But the idea stage, when I lived in that breathtakingly huge arena of possible topics, was wild. How I miss it. The air was fresher there. It really was.

October 14, 2011

Religion misses the beauty

Actual photo of god.
One of the oddest things about religion is that it insists its adherents not notice the beauty all around them. To block their flock's view of reality, religion pushes people's heads into a deep, empty chasm of meaningless rhetoric -- and forbids them to ever look outside this dusty hole again.

Which brings me to today's point. We often hear about religious people in this country who resist the idea of evolution. "Not us," they say. "We didn't come from monkeys! We're too special." Indeed you are but not in the way you think.

October 13, 2011

Stealth Christian novels

Stealth comes in many flavors.
The other day I read an article where people were complaining about "stealth Christian novels". Apparently many self-published novels go Christian on you halfway through the book. Here you thought you were reading a normal book, but no, it's a bit of Christian fluff. I gather that in these books, when things go bad for the main character he turns to jeebus. And good ol' jeebus fixes everything. The End. Thus the term stealth Christian novel.

Little people planted everywhere

There's an article in the NY Daily News today about an artist named Slinkachu who leaves tiny people and itty-bitty tableaus here and there. The link leads to more of his work. I like this one a lot.

Click the photo to see a larger version.

October 12, 2011

Smart rats

I read a Stephen King short story years ago that I thought was great fun. I can't remember its title or the name of the collection, so there you go. (I tried googling it but my inadequate skills got me nowhere.)

It's about a man living in a house located near a secret government research facility. Unknown to our main character, scientists at this facility are trying to increase the intelligence of animals -- and of course they work with rats.

As per the rigid traditions of sci-fi stories, some of the smart rats escape and end up in this guy's kitchen cabinets. Smart rats. They can read.

I think he left the story in the air at the end, since I can't remember the ending. I foggily recall that the guy tried to poison the rats and they understood exactly what he was doing and were about to retaliate. And there the story ended. I liked it and wanted more.

Anyone out there read it? I'd like to know the story's title.

Andy and Candy

I love the vague answers Warhol always gave during interviews. This short clip was recorded on what must have been "Defer to Candy" day. (I imagine there was an operative phrase for each day and Andy merely enacted it.) I miss Andy.

October 11, 2011

Like meeting an old friend

I'm reading the final installment of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series. It's called "Mary Ann in Autumn". I started reading it today and it was like slipping into a comfortable old jacket.

Maupin's writing is instantly interesting. He doesn't beat around the bush. In fact, there are no bushes. It's non-stop fun. I confess that he influenced my writing -- greatly. I like the informality, the ease of story-telling and the injection of humor into just about everything. I hope people will describe my novels with similar phrases. Army, you helped a ton.

As for the read, it's so damn comforting to be back in the world of 28 Barbary Lane. I'm sure Maupin also felt this when he began writing the book. It's like meeting a group of old friends (the ones you'd like to see, not the other ones).

Anyone else beguiled by this series?

October 10, 2011

I'm almost there

I've edited 3/4 of Xmas Carol -- and this time it's for real. Within a few weeks I'll be able to say it's done. Phew. Only took forever.

I like the way it sounds. Soon I'll look into finding someone to do the cover. (Casey's not a definite at this time.) But somehow, some way, I'll get the cover done and publish the book. Xmas Carol needs to see the light of day -- or perhaps the dark. In any case, it needs to leave my house and venture out into the world. It's time.

October 9, 2011

Sucked into the paywall

I give up. For months I've been reading the NY Times by using a software workaround to navigate the paywall. Worked great, by the way.

But I'm spending my nights now with a sick friend. This, in its way, led to me to subscribe to the Times. I need something to do over there while my friend sleeps, and TV is not my cup of tea (unless there's a baseball game on). There's Wi-Fi over there and of course I could use my friend's computer -- but I always hate to do that. It's like trading underwear with someone: too intimate.

We worship the future?

Mark Vernon, at the philosophy and life blog, says something odd in his post about Steve Jobs' passing:
"I wonder whether the high adulation [of Jobs], even sanctification, is at least in part because we live in an age that worships the future". [Emphasis mine.]
Lordy. No one today "worships the future". No one even thinks about it. The future has been wiped from our memory coils because, as I've said here before, no one can even picture the human race going in a positive direction. We are heading directly toward doom.

I think we need to develop a reverence for the future, and my books are an attempt to get people to envision a positive road ahead. But we certainly don't live in an age that even respects the future. If we did, we'd be doing something about climate change, for one thing. But we don't care because there is no future. This is the new American Way.

October 8, 2011

Seahorses in the Thames River

I don't know about you but I've always found seahorses fascinating. They're pretty, they're unusual, they mate for life -- and let's face it, they look almost magical. Today at physorg.com, there's a story about finding them in the Thames:
Evidence of a colony of rare seahorses has been discovered in the Thames, during a routine fisheries survey at Greenwich, the Environment Agency said on Friday.
You always thing of these guys as living in tropical waters, no? The idea of them living near a city that gets very cold is striking. But they assure us the seahorses have been nearby for some time:
Seahorses have often been a visitor to around Britain but the agency said recent sightings suggest that there may be more permanent populations around the UK.
If you'd like to read the whole story, you'll find it here.

Just an aside

AP today:
Zsa Zsa Gabor has been hospitalized after slipping out of consciousness at her Los Angeles-area home.
I love the image of "slipping out" of consciousness, as if it's a small, ice-covered island on which we have to continually balance ourselves. Poor Zsa Zsa slipped off the island and fell into unconsciousness, which is the frightening black sea that surrounds this particular island.

Who knows? Maybe that's the way it is.

How can we hurt Alabama?

Have you seen the news? Alabama made it a felony for undocumented immigrants to get water at their homes. A felony! If you are an undocumented immigrant and you set up an account to receive water at your home this is a felony?! Good grief. These people understand nothing about decency and the law. You can't make something so natural into a felony. It's despicable.

What is wrong with the people of Alabama? I mean, how evil is it to deny water to people, never mind call it a felony when they try to get some? I would like to take the state of Alabama in my hands and strangle it.

How can we hurt Alabama? We've got to. This cannot go unpunished.

October 7, 2011

Remember that time-traveler?

Time-traveling woman.
I'm usually bored by what catches the public's attention. You know the sort of thing: the little fly-by wonders that are covered on the news each day and they're the most important thing in the universe -- until the next day when a new, shiny object is brought forth.

But there was one story I liked. It was about the discovery of a time-traveler. Reports said a woman who appeared in a Charlie Chaplin film made in 1928 seemed to be speaking on a cell phone. Since this is clearly impossible, she must be a time traveler -- or so the theory went. That's her in the image above, and here's MSN's take on the story.

October 6, 2011

Why the feds raid legal marijuana dispensaries

It's simple, really: money. Let's start with a similar tale and then work our way around to marijuana. Remember when people used to be able to afford cigarettes?

Little by little, government put exorbitant taxes on cigarettes while outlawing smoking in more and more places. They said they did it for our health. Funny, that.

As the government worked to make it virtually impossible to continue smoking, the drug industry simultaneously set up companies to market nicotine in manners other than smoking. They produced nicotine patches and gums -- and then stumbled upon the holy grail: Commit Lozenges (now called Nicorette Lozenges). It's a pill you can suck on to get your nicotine. Isn't that convenient?

Nicorette Lozenges really work. I can confirm this. It's exactly like smoking a cigarette, but without the smoke. These lozenges are advertised as a means to get off cigarettes. But in the real world, people either go back to smoking cigarettes -- or they use the substitute product on a permanent basis. Yes, they get off smoking but they stay on nicotine. As a result, tobacco is out and the drug industry is in. How fortuitous for them! In case the message didn't get through, what I've just described is the wholesale transfer of an addiction from one legal party to another.

October 5, 2011

The legend of jeebus

Big-hat parade, Santa Fe, NM.
From an AP story:
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A crucifix that survived one of the most violent prison riots in U.S. history has been permanently relocated. 
Thirty-three people died in the 1980 riot at the prison south of Santa Fe, and most of the prison was scorched by fire. 

Archbishop Michael Sheehan says it's easy to believe God preserved that crucifix. He says inmates who were near the cross and prayed were spared.
Don't you love how these stories gush from their lips? If the Holy Guys can find any way to worm jeebus into the scenery, they do it. So now crucifixes are acting like supernatural force-fields, protecting all who are nearby. Praise jeebus!

This will reassure so many Christians. Now when a nuclear plant six miles away explodes and releases a tremendously lethal load of radiation, all they'll have to do is cozy up to a crucifix. And they'll be fine. Phew! Thanks, jeebus!

Being gay is a choice -- yada, yada, yada

Joy, as if you didn't know.
Joy Behar interviewed uber-idiot Herman Cain yesterday about his opinions regarding gay people. It's the usual nonsense: Cain thinks being gay is a choice rather than an orientation. You can read about it at ThinkProgress. He demands someone "show [him] the science" to prove this. Of course, this only means he hasn't looked into the issue at all. Science overwhelmingly backs up the fact that being gay is not a choice.

But what got me was Behar's response during the conversation (emphasis mine):
To think that gay is a choice, I don’t know how to respond to that. I mean, I don’t think anybody in this world wants to be gay considering all the vilification that is brought upon someone who is gay. Why would you choose that?

Don't forget to set your DVR

Tonight, part 1 of the George Harrison documentary will air on HBO at 9 pm. "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" concludes tomorrow night.

October 4, 2011

The post-season ain't much

Who designs these things?
Each year I worry about the coming end of the baseball season. How will I cope? What will I do? And then the post-season arrives and obliterates my interest in baseball.

It's not the same thing at all. The real season is about good play, enjoyment and room to grow. The players aren't stuck in a game or a day or a week. They have a whole season to succeed or fail, and a lot of interesting things come down the pike during a season. You watch the games but in a sense, you also watch the season. You see teams mature, check out new players and watch a ton of terrific baseball games. And then the regular season ends and is replaced by . . . the playoffs.

In the post-season it's do or die, now or never. The fun is sucked out of the game and the only thing left is raw competitiveness. Plus your favorite announcers go into hibernation and you have to listen to dog knows who. For these reasons, the post-season is a poor substitute for real baseball.

Sadly, I always forget that by the time the playoffs come around, I've already lost interest in baseball. I must write this down somewhere.

Do you care about the post-season?

October 3, 2011

Patterns of the hive mind

Patterns surround us.
There are patterns all around us but we don't realize they're there. With greater computing ability, these patterns are increasingly being found and they reveal simple, basic things that have eluded our notice entirely.

Technology Review has an article about patterns that were revealed by the simple act of tracking taxi cab routes in Beijing. In a sense, the study tapped into the collective knowledge of professional drivers who knew to take a circuitous route because a traffic problem would be encountered if they took a more direct route. The study mapped out the deviance between a straight line from pick-up to destination, and the circuitous route the driver actually used. This told them where the traffic problems were.

Then they removed the blockages indicated by the patterns and eased the flow of traffic. Simple and easy -- but only after you saw the patterns. It was so effective that this will probably be done in every major city. Patterns are just sitting there, waiting to be discovered. (And I particularly like that this was a pattern of the hive mind.)

As we tap into the knowledge underlying the patterns that surround us, we're going to win all sorts of battles. This is the beginning of the Knowledgeable Era. Wonders await us -- but only if we can keep from killing ourselves in the interim.

October 2, 2011

Off-key singing

Remember this guy?
I am one of the poor souls in this world who cannot sing. It's the great tragedy of my life. In my head, I hear the music perfectly but I can't reproduce it with my voice. I can't sing! Sob.

Adding insult to injury, I noticed just today that I can't even whistle on-key. How this fact escaped me up till now, I don't know. It's weird because I can find a tune pretty easily on the piano -- by ear, in other words. I don't play well or even capably, mind you, but I can locate the melody on the keys. This tells me I don't have a tin ear. It hears just fine, thank you. And yet I can't even whistle a tune! I find this bizarre.

And it makes me wonder. If the mind of an accomplished singer could somehow be transferred into my body, would my body suddenly be able to sing -- and even sing well? Is singing just a mental trick?

What's your opinion? Would the mind of an accomplished singer be able to make the body of an off-key singer sing? I think the answer is yes.

Polish Roman Catholics are nuts too

If you want to read a really funny story about religious nitwits, click on over to Polish Catholics see Miracle in Communion Wafer at the NY Times today.

It's very funny. There's a red spot on a wafer and you know it's definitely a miracle. In fact, it must be a piece of the actual heart of Jeebus, come down to Earth to haunt people.

Religious nitwits are everywhere, not just in the U.S.

Oops: Re-published to fix link.

October 1, 2011

Dylan, of all things

I didn't think there was any Dylan music on YouTube. But lo and behold, I found a great live performance of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". See what you think.

Irony abounds

So let's see. We're hysterical that some guy wanted to fly model airplanes filled with explosives into targets in the U.S. Hmmm, where have I heard this scenario before?

Today's NY Times:
Disillusioned by huge costs and uncertain outcomes in two wars, the Obama administration has embraced drones and precision raids in the fight against terrorism. 
How could anyone miss the similarity between these activities? Duh. Tiny, unmanned planes that bring death by remote control. We do this in other countries every day. That's why they hate us. And if you lived in these countries you'd hate us too. It's only because of the idiotic notion of American exceptionalism that we don't see ourselves as terrorists.

But we are, Blanche. We are.

Just hang up

I won't accept a phone call from someone who is driving. The instant I realize the caller is in a car, I say, "I don't talk to people who are driving," and hang up. I'm not going to help someone have an accident.

If we all did this, people wouldn't call from their cars anymore.