July 31, 2012

It's alive!

I'm happy to report that the post title refers to me. I have returned to the living! As it says in scripture, "No spider shall take Keith O'Connor down, not ever, nuh-uh." The bible rocks sometimes, you know?

I know I'm okay (well, almost) because I edited five scenes in Xmas Carol. It's true! I live!!!!!!!

And damn, it was creepy (and boring) being sick. Anyone who has a chronic illness has my sympathy and respect. And those who are productive, to boot, have my admiration. I don't know how you do it.

July 30, 2012

Amazing, at least to me

I cannot believe Jonah Lehrer tanked like this. I used to love the guy. To think that he entered Shattered Glass territory -- for no reason at all, really -- is shocking.

In case you don't read the linked article, the story says he made up Dylan quotes for his book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works". How could such an intelligent guy do something like that? I really don't get it. And I feel terribly let down.

I have promoted Milo and his flock

Milo, the proudest and finest goose in the world, who heads the flock at my local pond, was in for a surprise this morning. He didn't see it coming.

I says to him, "Milo, first of all, I am promoting your flock. Henceforth it shall be a Legion." And then I really shocked him. "And, Milo," I says, "you are now a we." In case he didn't get the big picture, I explained this further. I says, "Milo, what this means is from now on, you can say, 'We are Legion' -- even when you're alone! Say it proudly, Milo, and say it often."

I know the Vatican is reading this post. They always do. I hear there's a full staff that attend to my blog and try to come up with counter-prayers, to keep me at bay. Hmph. As if they could.

Listen to me, Vatican guys. If you don't knuckle under to my gay atheist demands...all of them, I will send Milo's Legion to your accursed city and direct them to poop on your graven images -- but only after they poop on your heads. Take that, Vatican.

So, yeah. Milo got promoted. Cool, huh? Hark, I hear the Legion now. They're passing over the house. I think I'm beginning to understand their language. I can't be sure, but I think I heard one say, "I can't wait to poop on the popey guy!"

PS: I'm still sick. I think a spider's bite is at the root of my problems. So this pathetic post is probably all you'll find here today. Where is wellness, I ask you, where is wellness?!

July 29, 2012

A good knish

Knishes and more. Much more.
I remember when there were knish wagons everywhere on the streets of NYC. This was back in the days when reality was in black and white. Perhaps there still are knish wagons on every corner. I don't know since I live in the woods these days.

I always wanted a knish. From the first day I saw one, I wanted it. You'd think this would work out for me, but it didn't. I'd buy one and hate it. Couldn't even eat it; threw it away. But this encounter didn't diminish my urge to eat knishes. So I bought them again and again -- but it always ended the same way. It seems I don't like knishes.

Even at Ratner's, the Jewish restaurant on 2nd Avenue, I didn't like the knishes. (Frankly, everything at Ratner's was a little too clean and pure for me. I like grease with my breakfast, thank you.) But still, my knish situation didn't change. I wanted one.

I would kill for a good knish this morning.

July 28, 2012

There are good religious people

Sister Pat Farrell.
I've never doubted the existence of good religious people. I've met them, so I know they exist. I remember a Catholic priest in the 60s who had a small parish in Queens. When hippies arrived on the scene, he invited me (the most visible hippie in his neighborhood) to come smoke dope with him.

He didn't actually smoke with me. But he invited me to the school gym, locked the doors and set up at a record player for our meeting. He had asked me to bring along some records, so I arrived with Donovan and Dylan albums under my arm. We sat in two folding chairs on the gym floor, next to the record player, and he invited me to smoke dope as we listened to the music and discussed it. He wanted to know what the hippie thing was all about, so he could understand what was going on with the younger members of his flock, all of whom were morphing into hippies. That was a powerful, right-minded priest. His only impulse was to understand and help.

I see this same attitude in the nuns who work so hard in the United States. Nuns are good people (for the most part). All those I've encountered have been open to the world, to new ideas. And they haven't been vicious at all. That's left to the priests. Nuns, in my experience, are never judgemental. Like that priest from the 60s, they only want to help.

So it will be very, very interesting to see what response the nuns give to the Vatican's recent attack. Today's New York Times has an interesting article about the situation. Something tells me the nuns will do the right thing, especially since Sister Pat Farrell is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- the organization directly attacked by the Vatican. She's one smart cookie. I know in my heart that the nuns will not buckle under. You cannot silence people who can tell right from wrong. The nuns have been using their brains (and their hearts) all these years, while the priests have not. It's the nuns who'll come out on top. Just you wait and see.

London Olympics opening ceremony

C'mon, admit it. That opening ceremony was extremely tacky. I had to turn the TV off, I was so embarrassed for the Brits.

It was like they gave a bunch of money -- though not that much -- to the local HS musical director and said, "Go!". It was sour and smelled like worn, sweaty clothes lying forgotten on a basement floor.

And where was the artistic perspective? The arena looked awful and confused, old and uninspired. It was as if artists played no role in crafting the visuals.

What did you think?

July 27, 2012

About this smoking orangutan

Now, look. This poor orangutan isn't responsible for her smoking addiction -- her zoo handlers are. They let it happen when they didn't stop zoo visitors from tossing cigarettes to her for 10 long years. (You wouldn't think you'd have to watch out for a thing like that, people tossing lit cigarettes to animals, but there you go.) And now they want to force her to stop smoking, cold turkey.

She likes to smoke. So give the poor thing a cigarette three times a day, after meals -- oh, and one at bedtime and another after sex (should sex occur). But that's it -- don't give her more than the four cigarettes a day. The problem, I'm sure, was that people were giving her cigarettes all day long. They turned her into a heavy smoker.

With people, you can't just say "have four cigarettes a day and that's it," because people do whatever they damn please. I'm sure a ton of smokers would love to smoke only four cigarettes a day -- but they can't because they have free will (and charge cards). This, however, is a zoo animal, a captive. It would be a simple matter to limit her smoking to this perfectly acceptable minimum. She'd hardly cough.

So I say: let her have a good time. She can't go out and buy her own cigarettes, after all. It's not like her habit's going to grow. It'll stay nice and manageable. But the important thing is, she'll not only get used to the 4-a-day routine, she'll be happy. And that's what it's all about.

PS: I just read the linked article, one I picked at random, and was happy to see this phrase: "As Tori is weaned from cigarettes in the coming months..." Good. Don't be cruel to the poor thing.

Music from Xmas Carol

Because I have a few new, pre-publication readers of my horror novel, Xmas Carol, I'd like to post a song that appears prominently in the book. It's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" by Debussy. I think it's the most beautiful song in the world.

The pope attacks San Francisco

This morning, Joe Jervis reports that the pope has appointed the worst possible person as Archbishop of San Francisco: Salvatore "I hate gay people" Cordileone. It's literally a rocket attack on SF's gay population.

I wondered why the Catholic church had been so quiet in recent weeks. Apparently, they were loading their rocket-launchers. Today, this news comes out. And yesterday, the priest in charge of harassing American nuns fired his first volley against them, insisting that they speak out against gays and abortion.

The Catholic League for Hatred and Unfairness, centered in the Vatican, is effectively announcing the beginning of an all-out war. They'll lose, of course. And they'll hurt American Catholics in the process. But they don't care. Only hatred matters to them. As I often say, that's quite a religion they've got there.

Climate change just got a lot worse

Booman has a post this morning about how extreme weather is destroying the ozone layer over the United States. I knew nothing about this and it's scary. But as he notes, no one will pay attention because it might interfere with the flow of quick profits.

The human race is one big lemming.


Even as the issue of guns shifts to the forefront of the presidential campaign, the White House and the Senate's top Democrat made it clear Thursday that new gun legislation will not be on the political agenda this year. Instead, President Barack Obama intends to focus on other ways to combat gun violence — a position not unlike that of his rival, Mitt Romney.
Craven. Both of them.

Update: I see this morning's NYT editorial agrees with my assessment. 

Nah, Mormons are fine

"Most of America doesn't relate to Mitt Romney's religion but that may not matter in his race against President Barack Obama."
Americans only insist that a candidate believe in some sort of religious nonsense -- doesn't matter what it is, unless the faith is Muslim, of course.

As long as the candidate believes in something for which there isn't one whit of evidence, he's a good and trustworthy American.

July 26, 2012

This sounds like a great idea

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Endowment for the Humanities is providing a $1 million grant to launch a new nonprofit effort to digitize the nation's libraries and create a Digital Public Library of America.
Can't wait. Finally, a library that works. No running out of copies! Seriously, this would be terrific.

Stephen Baldwin is even more disgusting than you thought

He may not be quite as well-known as his "30 Rock" star brother Alec Baldwin, but Stephen Baldwin is still a busy man in the entertainment business. He's now co-starring in a new faith-based film called "Loving the Bad Man," about a woman who decides to forgive the rapist who impregnated her.

This is so powerful

Bet you won't see this on the news tonight.
BHOPAL, India (AP) — Dozens of giggling children in wheelchairs or limping on twisted limbs raced for gold Thursday in their own "Special Olympics" organized in an effort to shame London Games sponsor Dow Chemical Co. over the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leak.

Cockburn on Tom Friedman

Alexander Cockburn.
We lost an important voice when Alexander Cockburn died last week. I think he'd be gratified to see so many blogs providing links to his work. Writers never actually die, you know. As long as their words are read, they live on. And he was widely read this week, and will be for quite some time. (Yes, I'm leading to a Cockburn link. Hang on.)

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald skewered Tom Friedman on his blog and mentioned a great Cockburn putdown of Friedman. I followed the link and the article was a joy to read. It includes a bounty of embarrassing stories about Friedman's humongous ego. Read the article if you enjoy seeing Friedman shamed. (And who doesn't?)

Technique needs fine-tuning

A topless woman confronted the head of the Russian Orthodox Church as he arrived in Kiev on Thursday in the latest in a string of eye-catching stunts pulled by a Ukrainian feminist group.
If you really want to get the attention of these guys, use a bottomless male activist. Just saying.

July 25, 2012

I'm a wreck

I got sick last night with a doozy of a virus (or something). No post today, unless dog comes down from heaven and heals me. I'm not counting on that, though, and you shouldn't either. See you tomorrow.

July 24, 2012

Stormy with a chance of flying trees

My sister and I went for a drive this afternoon and things got a little dramatic. A dark black cloud settled over the area and a torrential rain began to fall. It was difficult to see anything through the windshield but we were on a highway so we had to keep going. We put the blinkers on and drove slowly, and the cars behind us followed our lead. But we were the first car and had no idea what lay ahead.

Suddenly the winds picked up and branches were flying around and soon covered the road. A moment later, we began to encounter downed trees. We were able to drive around the first few but we finally encountered The Big One. Traffic stopped dead and I was sure we'd be stuck there for hours. But then Local Magic Guys in Police Uniforms appeared, and they brought heavy equipment with them. They pulled that tree off the road in no time. I couldn't believe how quickly they accomplished this feat. In under an hour, we were on our way again.

By then, the sun had come out and it was all over. What was particularly strange was that on the way home we drove through patches where no rain had fallen and not one leaf was disturbed. And a few miles later, we saw areas that were soaked, with trees down everywhere. This kept happening -- wet, dry, wet, dry. It seems the storm was highly localized.

Let's face it: weather is a crap-shoot, especially these days. The guy on the teevee said another derecho plowed through the Midwest today -- and I hear it was 105 degrees in Annie-land! Whew. When my sister and I got home, there was no power but everything's back to normal now. Strange drive, strange weather. How are things in your area?


As I learned of the sanctions against Penn State yesterday and saw them remove Paterno's statue, something else came to mind. I thought, "This is what should have happened after the Bush years."

If the United States was a just nation, the war in Iraq would have been resoundingly condemned and billions of dollars would have been set aside for the victims of the "war on terror". John Yoo's law license would have been revoked and he, Cheney, Bush and the long list of anti-American creatures who worked in the White House would have been carted off to jail. Bush's "library" would have been torn down and any laws he passed would have been revoked. And the United States would have offered a massive apology to the world for allowing the Bush fiasco take place.

That's what I saw in the news reports about Penn State -- a dream of a just country.

July 23, 2012

Our Lady of the Tree Trunk

You really have to read this story in the Times. I roared laughing all the way through. Here's an excerpt:
Carmen Lopez, of Passaic, N.J., noticed the knot on July 5 while car-pooling to her job at a perfume factory in Edison, N.J. She brought it to the attention of two priests, the West New York police and finally the mayor.

“Here it’s perfectly clear,” she said in Spanish. “It’s the true one.
Ms. Lopez said that in 2003 she was one of thousands who saw a tree stump found in a Passaic junkyard that many believed also looked like Our Lady of Guadalupe (that shrine was vandalized in May of this year). Ms. Lopez added that the difference between the two is that the one in West New York is more vivid. 
Indeed. Go read the whole thing. You need a laugh.

Another sign from dog

I prefer the blue. Just saying.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — When a 100-pound shipment of lobsters arrived at Bill Sarro's seafood shop and restaurant last month, it contained a surprise — six orange crustaceans that have been said to be a 1-in-10-million oddity. 
Add to this the recent news about a blue lobster that uncannily landed in a fisherman's net -- and you have clear evidence that dog is trying to contact us. Wait, there's more:
In recent years, accounts of bright blue, orange, yellow, calico, white and even split lobsters — one color on one side, another on the other — have jumped.
OMD! What do you think dog is trying to tell us? Let's see...orange, blue, white and yellow. (I think we can ignore the calico; that's probably just dog's sense of humor.) My best guess is that dog is trying to tell us next Spring's fashion palette! That must be it.

What do you think this sign means? I'm telling you, I have goosebumps!

July 22, 2012

Baseball stuff

I found out a few things about baseball this year. Longtime readers know I love the game but am fairly new to it. I guess I've been watching for nearly six years now. In any case, one thing I learned is that the catcher and pitcher are referred to as "the battery". For some reason, this makes me smile. (And as with anything you learn, you suddenly hear it said all the time. That is so weird.)

Also, I was surprised this year when a third foul-bunt was called an out. I had no idea this rule existed. Here's what I found at wiki.answers.com:
Foul balls were not considered strikes initially. Some years later, when it became clear that a batter might hit foul balls endlessly in an effort to get a good pitch to hit, the pitcher was given somewhat of a break by an 1858 rule that declared any foul ball to be a strike, unless there were already two strikes on the batter. After the bunt came into existence as a strategy, it also became clear that a batter could literally bunt all day to try to get his pitch. To retain some balance, the rule was further amended, in 1894, to declare any foul bunt a strike.
Hey, that actually makes sense. Moving right along... During a game this year, I heard an announcer say that 100 active MLB players are on ADHD medication. Now, I'm very suspicious about the value of all these speed prescriptions that are handed out like candy to ADHD people, especially kids, so I view this with a jaundiced eye. However, I guess this means 100 current baseball players are on speed (or something similar). Weird.

Finally, to put to bed an issue I raised in my "language of baseball" posts (click on the tag below to see them) last year, I heard something new about calling a fly ball a "can of corn". The other day, when an announcer used this phrase during a game, he said, "And as Red Barber used to say, 'that's a can of corn.'" Mystery solved.


I read a news story today (no link) that suggested New Yorkers are experiencing "gay marriage fatigue", what with all the gay weddings.

I'd just like to say that I've had "straight marriage fatigue" all my life.

July 21, 2012

Correct me if I'm wrong

I believe our president, in light of yesterday's Batman theatre killings, didn't even mention the need to control guns in the United States.

Now we understand why they gave him the Nobel Prize for Peace. He's a true hero, he is. Watta guy!

The coming Russian theocracy

In America, there are powerful political forces hoping that a Christian theocracy will replace our democracy. If you don't follow these devious folks on a regular basis, you may think this sounds crazy -- but I assure you, it's not. All you need is an incurious, ignorant, religious population and a set of manipulative, soulless, authoritarian leaders who use Jesus as a banner to pull in the gullible (and empty their pockets). Unfortunately, that's a pretty accurate description of the United States at this very moment. And that means the theocrats could take over.

Apparently, this is what's happening in Putin's Russia. Punk Band Feels Wrath of a Sterner Kremlin is the headline of a NY Times story about a female punk-rock band in Russia. Group members have been jailed for over six months -- for a damn performance. They're being prosecuted for what could be described as in-your-face political protest. But this isn't just about politics; it's about religion. These young women made fun of all sorts of things and now they're facing an absurdly hard-line reaction from the government. You really must read the article to hear the frightening voices of the Russian Orthodox Taliban. They want to take over and they will -- unless the Russian people rebel.

Here's an excerpt:
“Most of the population now are not so much talking about what Pussy Riot did as much as their fear that these people who want to introduce some kind of Orthodox Taliban to Russia, that they will take power,” Mr. Guelman said. “So now I think the authorities are making a big mistake, taking revenge in this way. Society will not support this."
I hope Mr. Guelman is right. These people always want to take over and they must be fought at every turn. If they win, science and truth will be snuffed out and replaced by harsh religious laws. I send my best wishes to the Russian people. We are fighting our own, ignorant religious hordes here in the United States. Fight well, my friends. If you give religious authoritarians an inch, they will take a mile.

Image from the Pussy Riot web site. (It's in Russian. Translation doesn't seem to be available on-site.)

July 20, 2012

Don't mess with Crow

Crows in action.
There was drama in the yard yesterday. Crow (my favorite crow) and a bunch of his friends murdered a huge crow. There are normal-sized crows and there are very big crows, perhaps three times the size of the others. The victim was a member of the larger species.

It was strange. I missed the first part of the interaction, when the crows attacked him, but my sister saw it. She said a whole bunch of crows ganged up on the big guy and tore at him with beaks and claws. When I tuned in, the big guy was seriously hurt. His left wing hung unfurled on the ground and he was dragging it as he tried to get away. He was literally stumbling and could hardly walk.

All the while, Crow was stalking him. A lot of crows were in on this but Crow was clearly their leader. He followed the hurt crow, staying about 12 feet behind him. In the end, the large crow disappeared behind a line of bushes, and Crow followed him around the bend. I assume they ripped the big guy to pieces at some point, and ate the good parts.

My sister was worried. She thought this behavior meant there was something "wrong" with the bird population. But I knew it was just nature in action. The big guy undoubtedly pissed Crow off by violating the Code of the Crow. You never want to do that because the punishment is death.

This doesn't change my opinion of Crow. He's my friend. And he's a murderer. It's what crows do.

July 19, 2012

It's quiet. Too quiet.

After seeing Cardinal Timmy Dolan every day for months and months, doing a new, awful thing each time he emerged from the shadows, he's gone missing! I'll bet you didn't even notice his absence. You probably just felt better and didn't know why.

So what's Timmy been doing all this while? Has he realized the error of his ways? Is he in some bunker, trying to think of loving, godly things? Is he mending his ways as we speak?

Of course not. He's dreaming up some new, spectacularly wrong-headed initiative. He's clunking heads with other bent creatures in the brotherhood of bishops, trying to come up with something that'll put him over the top and ensure that his legacy of hatred lasts for centuries.

His reign is very much like the Bush years. After Bush did something really, really wrong, you didn't think, "Oh, he's probably taking lessons to ensure that he doesn't make that mistake again." No. You thought, "What stupid, colossally evil thing will he do next?" And you held your breath. That's the way it is with Timmy.

I wonder what he's doing now. Wait, I'm getting a psychic image. He's bending over something. I think it's a little...yes, it's a little boy! OMD.

July 18, 2012

Heat and storms

The electricity is going in and out. I'm going to shut my electronics down, at least for a time. If I don't reappear shortly, we lost power. (And it's 3,000 degrees out there.) Dog, save me!

July 17, 2012

Religious twits and evolution

On his blog today, Jerry Coyne said:
"So when you hear people who accept evolution nevertheless refusing to admit that it’s unguided and purposeless, you know you’re dealing with someone who is osculating the rump of faith."
Here's the definition of osculate:

v. os·cu·lat·ed, os·cu·lat·ing, os·cu·lates. v.tr. 1. To kiss. 2. Mathematics To have three or more points coincident with. v.intr. To come together; contact.

I love Coyne. Each and every day, he whacks religious idiots over the head with a frying pan. And no one does it better.

July 16, 2012

Good article on the evolution of humans

Lucy, the mother of us all.
I just read a great article in the New York Times. It's an interview with Chris Stringer, a British paleoanthropologist, and it touches on so many interesting topics. It's about where humans came from, why we have 2.5% Neanderthal DNA, and whether we're still evolving. Good stuff. Here's a short excerpt about the pre-humans in Africa who were our forebears. He's discussing the situation just before homo sapiens appeared:
Populations in different areas would have flourished briefly, developed new ideas, and then maybe those populations could have died out, even — but not before exchanging genes, tools and behavioral strategies. This kept happening until we get to within the last 100,000 years, and then finally we start to see the modern pattern behaviorally and physically coalescing from these different regions to become what we call modern humans by about 60,000 years ago.
Apparently, we are the result of a mix of many pre-human populations. We're mutts.

Aside: The fact that humans have only been around for 60,000 years is shocking. The universe is nearly 14 billion years old. Earth is about 4.7 billion years old. And we've been here for, uh, about five minutes and have nearly managed to kill the entire planet in that short time. Makes you think (and shudder).

Go read the article. You'll be glad you did. Knowledge is good.

Word counts for novels

I keep reading posts in writing forums where the the writer is fretting about their manuscript nearing 100,000 words. They seem to think there's a line at 100k that you must not go beyond under any circumstances -- and that 80,000 words is ideal for a novel. What planet are these people living on? And they say this line in the sand is drawn by potential book publishers. What?

I suspect all these people are from the new non-reading public even though they're allegedly writers. And perhaps publishers aim only for that market these days, thinking there are no real readers left.

Personally, I'm thrilled when a book that I'm enjoying goes on and on, and I've read many novels that were over 1,000 pages. In case you're not familiar with word counts, that's a hell of a lot more than 100,000 words -- more like a million or more. Length is something a writer shouldn't think about. If it's good, it's good. What does size have to do with it?

It's strange. I guess in the new YA (young adult) market, which seems to be the one most writers aim for these days, they like short books. You don't want to stress those readers' brains. But this is nonsense talk. Xmas Carol is well over 200,000 words -- and I don't think it's a long book at all. If I picked it up, I'd finish it in two or three days. That's too long?

A book that's only 80,000 or 90,000 words is a novella, the way I see it. And novellas suck. What's your opinion? Aren't you upset when a good book ends? You want it to go on forever, right? How could it be otherwise?

July 15, 2012

The heatwave summer

Here's the 10-day forecast for my area:

This is not a typical New York summer, and of course this is happening everywhere in the US right now: heat, heat, heat. I am not pleased and I imagine you're not either, especially if you're a farmer. If the weather doesn't right itself we are in for some awful times. 

For me, the test will come in December. Will there be a winter or will we skip the season entirely, like last year? I swear, if there's no snow this winter, I am going to become unhinged.

July 14, 2012

Painting stuff away

I was amused to see this today:
An artist has removed a halo from a mural of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno amid the school's child sex-abuse scandal.
I can't say for sure but I think I sense a game here. What aspect of American culture would you like to paint out of the picture? Unfortunately, I can't think of one where I don't also want to paint something in. For instance:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Misogyny.
(The concept also reminds me that I'd like to airbrush Bush's crotch out of all the photos of that carrier-landing moment. Oy, that was a presidency. I've still got the headache.)

But I'm not really getting into the spirit of the thing. I'm reaching but missing. It's not like my suggestions have the impact of painting over a halo. (I just can't get over that: painting away a halo. It's priceless!) Someone out there on the Intertubes -- who isn't brain-dead from the heatwave, like me -- will have to come up with a suggestion that's like painting over a halo. G'wan. (I just know there's low-hanging fruit out there but truly, I can't see it. Tell me, tell me!)

Oy, the people

Thar she blows! Impressive, huh?
I've been hesitating to write about the Christian fools flocking to a tree in New Jersey. They think a mark on the tree is a visitation from the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed. That's it on the left. I'm sure you agree that it looks like some seriously miraculous stuff.

Okay, people do this all the time, right? I shouldn't be so repulsed; I should be used to it by now. But there's been so much coverage of this "sighting" on the local news. And every time I watched one of the news clips, I was newly sickened by the words of the "faithful".

People were interviewed about their "experiences" at the tree. They said things like, "I could feel it all over my body, a miraculous tingling!" And "I saw her aura! This is truly from god!" And "She came to me! It is the mother of god! I know this in my heart!" The people talk of seeing colors and lights and feeling goosebumps -- and some literally faint at the foot of the tree. Clearly, this absolutely normal-looking mark on a tree is actually the mother o'Jeebus. There can be no doubt. Hallelujah!

The gullibility of these people makes me ill. It's no wonder they believe in god. They'd believe in intelligent dust clouds if you told them such things existed. They are rubes, suckers, dimwits, stooges. How can you hope to reach a person like that with, you know, knowledge? You can't. It's hopeless. And people like this comprise most of the US population.

That's why I didn't write about it immediately: the nausea overwhelmed me.

July 13, 2012

Ban on fortune-telling overturned in La.

Maria Ouspenskaya, actress.
I wonder if a Louisiana judge wasn't trying to protect Jeebus from harm when she decided this case. Judge Dee Drell sided with a magistrate and struck down a ban on fortunetelling for a spurious reason:
The city argued the business of fortunetelling is a fraud and inherently deceptive, but U.S. Magistrate James Kirk concluded that fortunetelling is free speech protected by the First Amendment. 
I don't see how that argument holds water. Sure, if you're fortunetelling on a streetcorner for free, you might conclude this is free speech. But these "psychics" charge money for their lies. It is indeed a fraud.

But horrors, if they let the law stand, it might cast a shadow on churches where they also collect money and tell people lies. Might religion be the same sort of illegal fraud? I imagine the authorities had an aha moment that went something like this: "We'd better get this goldarned law off the books right quick before it hurts the baby Jeebus!" 

Fraud is fraud. The judge was wrong and the magistrate before her was wrong. 

By the way, here's my favorite part of the linked story:
Adams told The Town Talk newspaper last year that she is a fifth-generation psychic.

July 12, 2012

Something else to worry about

For years, I've been telling friends not to use sunscreens that go on as a spray. This goes triple for kids. There are nanoparticles in most sunscreens these days and we have no clue how harmful they are once they get inside the human body. 

Here's an excerpt from the linked article:
Scientists don't yet know how long nanoparticles remain in the human body or what they might do there. But research on animals has found that inhaled nanoparticles can reach all areas of the respiratory tract; because of their small size and shape, they can migrate quickly into cells and organs. The smaller particles may also pose risks to the heart and blood vessels, the central nervous system and the immune system, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The old, creepy white zinc sunscreens that lifeguards used to use on their noses are safe. And okay, they're ugly too -- but they have no nanoparticles. If you really want to protect yourself and your kids, be very careful with sunscreens. They're not labeled as having nanoparticles in them because the US is a third world country that doesn't pay attention to anything anymore.

If you have kids, make sure you don't spray sunscreen on them. They'll breathe it in and it will never come out of their bodies. (I know the article says they're not sure how long the nanoparticles remain in the body, but I've read that they never leave and there is no way to remove them once you've breathed them in.) If there's no other choice, cover the kids' faces as you spray them. It's also dangerous if they lick skin that has sunscreen on it, so watch that too. Protect your kids (and yourself, too).

And don't worry, our crack FDA team is on it:
Though nanomaterials have been used in consumer products for more than a decade, the FDA acknowledged for the first time in April that they differ from their bulk counterparts and have potential new risks that may require testing.

Updated to fix link. Lost the original story, substituted a similar one.

July 11, 2012

Yeah, that'll make it all better

After a full day of trumpeting a connection between the murder of a woman in NY and "Occupy protesters", the authorities today changed their story:
NEW YORK (AP) — A puzzling DNA match that appeared to link the 2004 killing of a New York City drama student and evidence collected this year from a protest affiliated with Occupy Wall Street was instead the result of a lab worker who handled both cases, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
Yup, that'll totally make up for this coverage. No harm done.

Climate change? Meh.

Apparently climate change isn't our biggest worry. Here's an excerpt from the linked article:
“The destruction of agricultural, water, and ecosystem resources – these things are well known in the scientific community,” Ehrlich said. “But if you followed the debates among the seven dwarfs running for the Republican nomination for President, no single serious problem here was even mentioned in those debates. That is why we need dramatic social change. The scientific community knows what sorts of things we ought to be doing to solve these problems, but we aren’t doing any of them.”
We. Are. Doomed.

July 10, 2012

The book sounds good

After the last major edit I'm reading Xmas Carol, my horror novel, without changing a word. I'm on chapter nine and I expect smooth sailing ahead. Won't be long now. Hang on.

By the way, another person is reading the book. She tells me she can't put it down. We love to hear that stuff. I haven't had one negative reaction to the book. Not one. Coming soon, kiddies.

The All-Star Game. Sigh.

I guess I'll watch the All-Star Game. I figure I have to, what with my guys being in it, and all. But it's a waste of time, particularly because it's on Fox. That means major idiots as announcers. Yes, I'm talkin' Buck and Bozo. Anyway, I'll put the game on, push Mute, and put on some Jeff Buckley or Nick Drake. I hope my guys do well tonight, but really it doesn't matter at all. And that's the problem.

July 9, 2012

Just saying

Clearly, there are many videos out there with Mitt Romney saying, "Let them eat cake!" (I imagine he says the line like a drag queen.)

What I don't understand is why they haven't reached YouTube. C'mon, people, get on it.

OMD. Could it be?

Maven Miracle.
I'm doing the final (I promise) edit of Xmas Carol, my horror novel. In the process of many edits, I've read the book at least 40 times, probably 50. Now, here's the thing -- after so many times through the manuscript, I can't help but notice something. Brace yourself, guys. This is really strange.

There is a point in the novel when, as I read it, I smell Xmas trees! It always happens in this one scene. I swear, every single time I read this scene, the scent of pine trees overwhelms me. It's the smell of Xmas!

Now, I don't want to jump the gun here or anything, but do you think this could be a miracle? I'm gettin' goosebumps; you? Seriously, do you think dog, in his mighty canine wisdom, scented this scene so that each and every reader will experience the Xmas tree miracle (as I've taken to calling it) when they read it?

I've consulted Maven Miracle, the secular expert on miracles, and she had a terrific suggestion. I won't say which scene causes this miracle to take place. This way if a reader claims to smell pine trees while reading another scene, I'll know to discount this report. But if people all smell Xmas trees while reading this particular scene, we'll know that we have a verified miracle on our hands! Take that, Holy See!

I'm all a-twitter over this. To think that my horror novel, Xmas Carol, may have a miracle within it! Dog!

July 8, 2012

Guess I have to watch the All-Star Game

Bryce Harper
My ultra-favorite player this year, Bryce Harper, just replaced Giancarlo Stanton on the All-Star team. The rookie is only 19 and is the youngest player ever to make it to the All-Star game. This is very cool. And mark my words, he'll make waves at the game. This kid is amazing.

So now I'm going to have to watch the game. Four players from one of my two main teams, the Nats, are going to the All-Star game: Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Gio Gonzalez and Steven Strasburg. Plus Dickey from the Mets will also be there. So yup, I have to watch the game. Starlin Castro's going too. With all these guys in the line-up, I can't diss the game (too much) this year.

But to be clear: it's not a game, it's a show. If it was a game, they'd keep the best players in for the whole thing. Instead, they trot people out like runway models. It's not a game. Just saying.

July 7, 2012

The collapse of the ex-gay movement

There's a story in the New York Times about a change of heart by the president of Exodus International. That's the organization that up till now was seen as a leading force in the "ex-gay" movement -- the ludicrous notion that people can change their sexuality. Doesn't happen, kids.

Alan Chambers, the president of EI, now says that it's impossible to change one's sexual orientation -- and the wingnuts are very upset about this. If they can't make believe gay people have the ability to "change", then their argument against giving us "special rights" (i.e., the same rights others have) falls apart. And if sexual orientation isn't a choice, then it can't be a sin. That sound you hear is wingnut heads exploding.

I'm always intrigued by the nature of the comments by religious wingnuts. Their priorities are so strange. For instance, for this guy, it's all about who gets to share heaven. I don't think he wants icky gays up there:
Robert Gagnon, an associate professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of books on homosexuality and the Bible, last week issued a public call for Mr. Chambers to resign. “My greatest concern has to do with Alan’s repeated assurances to homosexually active ‘gay Christians’ that they will be with him in heaven,” he said in an e-mail. 
I have news for him. Without gay people to spruce the place up, heaven is going to look quite dull. In any case, Chambers' remarks are a positive development. The days of straights looking down on gays in this country are just about over.

July 6, 2012

TV chuckle alert

Tonight, ABC's 20/20 (9 PM) is broadcasting a show called "Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?" Should be fun. It's going to include people of various religions from around the world, discussing their ideas about heaven.

Do you remember "Heaven", the marvelous documentary that Diane Keaton directed and produced? How I adored that film. (It was of course trashed by the NY Times, which has never once been right about a book or a movie. When I read one of their reviews, I always assume the opposite is true. They're quite useful when viewed this way.) 

I'm hoping this will be a bit like Keaton's "Heaven" but it probably won't be. I assume Keaton went into the project with the idea of showing what a stupid idea heaven is. Not sure about these folks but it's probably a safe bet that they're either believers or wussy types who would never upset believers. Still, it's great fun to hear the stupid ideas people have about this nonexistent place. I'm looking forward to it.

Some people really have a racket

STERRETT, Ala. (RNS) Marija Lunetti, one of six young peasants who claimed that the Virgin Mary began appearing to them in 1981 in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, says the mother of Jesus is aware of the economic crisis in Europe.
Realizing that she stumbled into a great scam when she was a child, this woman turned a simple lie into a lifelong affair. Here's more:
Lunetti spoke briefly in an interview about the economic crisis in Europe and the weather -- "Hot like here," she said -- before she had her daily apparition on Sunday (July 1) night on her visit to Shelby County, Ala. During the apparitions, she says the Virgin Mary appears to her and prays over the pilgrims, even though they cannot see her vision.
She's a real entrepreneur, she is. And get this:
Lunetti's normal time for an apparition Friday morning was while they were on an airplane bound for Alabama. Instead, Lunetti had her vision Friday night after 8 p.m. once she arrived at the Colafrancesco home.
If you let some people get hold of a racket, they never let go. Daily apparitions that no one else can see. You have to give her huge credit for pulling that one off. And yes, it's all from HuffPo, that font of modern knowledge.

July 5, 2012

Amusing note of the day

The Vatican has registered one of its worst budget deficits in years, plunging back into the red with a €15 million ($19 million) deficit in 2011 after a brief respite of profit.
Karma, anyone? I can just see the Pope walking around his ultra-mansion, picking up this gold thing and that gold thing, and putting each down as he yells, "Never! I'll never sell this!"

PS: I'm going to say "Pope" rather than "popey guy" from now on. The reason is that this blog is translated into many languages (via that Translate widget on the top left). And I don't think "popey guy" will translate very well.

PPS: When I added the translation widget, my hits picked up. There are people from all around the world reading this blog now. I think that's so cool. I welcome you all!

The weird voting system for the All-Star game

My fave: R.A. Dickey.
This "vote for your favorite player for the All-Star Game" thing is meaningless. How can this vote matter in any way when the rules say you can vote as many times as you want?

What are they tallying, exactly? The OCD quotient of certain baseball fans? The stupidity of baseball fans? To do your favorite player any good you'd have to be manic, dimwitted and willing to sit at your computer for days, clicking on the same button.

And these jokers at MLB require your email address to register your vote! Do you think Major League Baseball will misuse your email address? Duh. These guys sell everything they can get their mitts on.

It's just aggravating, as is the All-Star Game itself. MLB ruins baseball every year. They did it big-time this year with all that idiotic interleague play. The season was so good before the very long period of interleague play. And now it's lost its mojo. Thanks, MLB, for everything!

Not impressed

I am so not impressed with Anderson Cooper's decision to come out now that it's perfectly safe to do so. I suppose he'll be called a "hero" for this. After all, Americans call just about anyone a hero these days.

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, I made sure everyone knew I was gay. I was educating them. Now, that was coming out. Just saying.

July 4, 2012

The most vapid couple in America

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California couple has passed the halfway mark in their quest to visit Disneyland every day this year.
And on this July 4th, to thee we sing. America, your vapidity precedes you. Now go get drunk and eat. USA! USA! Meh.

July 3, 2012

More logic from the logic-less

On Ed Brayton's blog this morning I found this bit of nonsense. It's from hatemonger and bigot extraordinaire, Bryan Fischer:
"You look at the average liberal in the United States, they believe things that are folly. They believe things that are irrational. They believe things that make no sense, that cannot stand up to the test of reason and logic. Why do they believe that? Because they are dupes, they have been deceived and fooled by the Prince of Lies, the Father of Lies and that’s why they believe and do what they do."
He's talking about our lack of logic. That's just so funny. The man actually has the nerve to say that liberals believe things that make no sense, while in the same breath he attributes all liberal beliefs to Satan. Highly logical. These people are a tiresome, evil joke and they really need to go away.

July 2, 2012

What is this?

Mystery animal.
I've been feeding this guy for a couple of years and I still have no idea what he is. Some furry thing -- that's as close as I've come to identifying him. Kinda shy; likes peanuts (but who doesn't?).

He had a baby last year, though I've never seen a female (or male, if this is a female). Usually, he forages alone, though the little one is with him at times. So, naturalists out there: what is this?

By the way, Milo the flock leader took all the geese away when it got really hot. They've been gone for weeks. But one of the geese -- a female, I think -- has a bum leg and she stayed behind. I suspect a coyote bit the leg, or perhaps a fox. In any case, the poor thing can hardly walk and she is the only adult goose remaining. Her little ones stayed behind with her. There are about six of them, rapidly approaching full size now. The poor thing can only hobble. I wish I could get a doc to fix her but I don't think she'd stand still as we approached. This one isn't a personal friend of mine, like Milo. Should I call someone anyway? It's sad to watch her try to fulfill her motherly duties after she was dealt such a terrible hand.

I'll bet Milo took the brood north, seeking cool air. Geese hate it when it's super hot. Poor guy. He had to migrate in reverse this year.

Just saying

I love that Wonkette calls New Jersey's Chris Christie "Governor Sammiches". When the world gets me down, I just tromp over to Wonkette's place. It's always fun over there.

Bad sentence

Here's the lede in an AP article this morning:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The pope has fired a 52-year-old Slovak bishop for apparently mismanaging his diocese in a rare show of papal power
This says the bishop committed mismanagement "in a rare show of papal power". Then again, maybe he did. Here's more:
Benedict sacked Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia last year after he called for the church to consider ordaining women and married men.
So it seems the bishop did act in a popey way, saying things that only the popey guy should (but won't) say. So this misplaced phrase actually works, sorta. Just kidding. It's a terrible sentence that should never have appeared on a news site.

July 1, 2012

Religion and logic: mortal enemies

Eating brains won't give you logic.
I've been thinking about intelligent friends who are Christian. It seems to be an oxymoron. How can you be intelligent and believe in gods?

Though I've certainly known some normal, liberal Christians with big hearts, overall I'd have to say that the smartest Christians I've met share the following characteristics. They are Republican. They read the Wall Street Journal and watch Fox News. They deny global warming. And they consider Thomas Friedman to be the greatest intellectual who ever lived. How this can be? How can intelligent people fall for obvious nonsense?

I think it's because they lack logic. They don't know even what it is. Obviously, this prevents them from being logical when they think about, well, anything. Scarily, it seems to be a missing ingredient in their mental make-up.

It takes logic to understand that Thomas Friedman has never said anything sensible. And logic is the pepper spray that wards off the evils of the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Roman Catholic bishops. None of these three evils speaks with a logical voice -- ever. And of course, Republicans and logic have never met -- not even once in a dark room while drunk.

So is logic the gift that protects liberals from the toxic stew that is the belief system of most Americans? We're not attracted to any of their "grand ideas" because they are neither grand nor logical. They're not worth a moment of our time. And yet the dimwits flock to these arguments on TV, in church and in the election booth.

It's like they're a different species. What do you think? Is it because they know nothing of logic (or kindness, but that's another post)?

Seasonal Dysfluxia

Okay, I made that word up. But I am totally confused by the weather and this condition needs a name. A couple of weeks ago it was sweltering, so I knew it was Summer. But then it got cold, and I found myself wearing heavy clothes to keep warm. It was obviously Autumn, if not Winter. But now we're heading into a stretch of hazy, hot and humid weather. It's confusing.

If we don't have a nice, normal, cold Winter in the northeast this year, that's it. I'm leaving Earth. There's only so much I can put up with.

PS: Have you noticed that hardly anyone is blogging the past few days? Is it the heat?