November 30, 2012

Imagine this world

An article at tells us there are poop robots now. They run on human waste. Let's let our imagination run wild for a moment.

The machines become much more intelligent than us, and take over -- but they still need us. More precisely, they need our poop. So they construct small cages for us where we're all sitting on toilets and can't move an inch. Food is poured down our throats -- a liquid diet that ensures our poop is highly useful to the machines. All of humanity is shackled.

Tell me how this scenario differs from our egg farms. Does it remind you of the cows from whom we obtain milk? And isn't it kinder than when we line animals up to slaughter them? At least the poop robots let us live.

Please tell me why come it's okay for us to do this to animals who are less intelligent than we are, while the idea of super-intelligent robots doing it to us is unthinkable? Seems to me it's exactly the same act.

Disposing of the dead

I was fascinated by a NYT story about a death ritual in India.
MUMBAI, India — Fifteen years after vultures disappeared from Mumbai’s skies, the Parsi community here intends to build two aviaries at one of its most sacred sites so that the giant scavengers can once again devour human corpses. 
Vultures, bears, crows, whatever -- I think something should benefit from our bodies after we die. It just makes sense. Why cordon our bodies off from nature?

November 29, 2012

Assad kills Syria's internet

Syria's Assad has killed 48,000 of his own people. If anyone needs to hang, it's this guy. Today, we learn he's cut the internet throughout Syria.

The internet is the tool of the people. It frightens megalomaniacal leaders because they don't want their "subjects" to be able to communicate with each other. They might organize or obtain real information. Can't have that.

The internet has become humanity's lifeblood. I'm not sure everyone realizes this. The internet must never be controlled, misdirected or filtered in any way. And certainly it should be impossible for someone to turn it off. Yet that's exactly what Assad did. And there are many other leaders who'd like to do the same thing. Information is the enemy of despots.

We must ensure that there is always a free internet. In fact, we must be willing to fight for this ideal -- and die for it, if necessary. It's that important. Without the free flow of information, democracy is a pipe dream.

Russian megalomania

I love this:
MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court on Thursday ruled that the video of punk band Pussy Riot's performance in Russia's main cathedral is extremist and ordered it to be removed from the web. 
Well, that's that. It'll be off the web by 11 pm, I imagine. Made me laugh.

When my iPad is charging, I die a little

I cannot believe how essential my iPad has become to my existence. The battery lasts forever so I've only charged it twice since I got it. Last night, I charged it during the evening hours.

Brrrrrrr. Even a few hours without my iPad is unbearable. I couldn't believe how many times I went to reach for it, only to realize that it was charging. I was lost.

I've become a fierce user of dictation. I talk to my iPad all day long -- and I've learned how to get the most out of dictation. There are hardly any errors, of late. So all day (and night) long, I'm talking ideas into my iPad. It's been stellar, truly. There is no easier, simpler way to get your ideas into your computer, than talking to it. And when the notes are on my iPad, they're also on my desktop Mac, my Macbook Air and my iPod Touch. And even if I lose all of those devices, the information is saved in the cloud. Heaven!

I'll never charge my iPad again while I'm awake. The loss I feel is too keen. I need my iPad to survive. That's the way it is, and this transformation only took a couple of weeks. Desktops are dead. Laptops are dead. Long live the iPad!

Recurrent negative thoughts? Here's a solution.

This sounds way too simple to be true, but it's been confirmed experimentally. If you don't want to read the article, the short version is this:

If you have negative thoughts that you'd like to get rid of, write them down on a piece of paper -- and then throw the paper away. This actually works. And conversely, if you want to incorporate a new, positive message, write it down on a piece of paper and then keep the paper in your pocket or purse.

It sounds insane but after all, we are merely the hairless monkeys of Earth. Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised when a simple technique like this works.

November 28, 2012

You have to wonder about that anti-gay crowd

Hat tip to Ed Brayton on this. He quotes from an article about Russia's inane charges against Madonna for championing gay rights during a concert. Apparently, the hearing on the matter was hilarious, even to Russians.
The ruling came after a one-day hearing that bordered on the farcical. During it, plaintiffs claimed that Madonna’s so-called “propaganda of perversion” would negatively affect Russia’s birthrate and erode the nation’s defense capability by depriving the country of future soldiers. At one point, the judge threatened to expel journalists from the courtroom if they laughed too much…
You really have to wonder about these religious-right, anti-gay loons. To even say such a thing -- that Russia's birthrate would plunge because the word "gay" was mentioned during a concert -- seems to indicate that the people making the charges experience same-sex attractions. Why else would they think this is a logical outcome of even mentioning teh gay? They must be fighting their own internal demons. They want to be gay, they want to act on the feelings that nearly overpower them. Therefore Madonna saying there's nothing wrong with being gay will cause hordes of men to seek out other men for sex.

Anti-gay loons are closet cases. I've always said this. And seeing this play out in a Russian courtroom only intensifies my suspicions.

Authoritarians try to take over internet

Pretty good article at Yahoo about the insane rush to assert control over the internet. The usual suspects -- Russia, China, Iran, UAE, etc. -- want to control what people see on the net. Control, control, control. I swear, governments are morphing into churches.

Here's an excerpt in case you don't make it to the article (which is worth reading):
Google's Vint Cerf, the ordinarily diplomatic co-author of the basic protocol for Internet data, denounced the proposed new rules as hopeless efforts by some governments and state-controlled telecom authorities to assert their power.

"These persistent attempts are just evidence that this breed of dinosaurs, with their pea-sized brains, hasn't figured out that they are dead yet, because the signal hasn't traveled up their long necks," Cerf told Reuters.
You have to love a guy like Vint. You hafta.

This won't do

I just saw this on (The following are not his words; they're from an article he quoted.)
David Rennie, the Salvation Army executive fired in the midst of an investigation into donated goods that disappeared from a Toronto warehouse, has turned himself into police.
Uh, no. If the man turned "into" police, he would undoubtedly let himself go. He turned himself in to police. See how that works, with the separated words and all? I bring this up because I see it all the time. Words have meanings. And people are losing the sense of those meanings. It's sad.

November 27, 2012

Interesting science news today

It's looking good for life on Europa. Scientists found life in an Antarctic lake, beneath 60 feet of ice! No sunlight, no oxygen, no problem. Very cool. Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) may similarly harbor life below its ice sheets. It's not definite, of course. But this discovery bodes well for the possibility.

Another great story today reveals a likely method for life to have arisen on Earth from simple chemical processes.

I got a big lift from both of these stories. Of course life self-assembled from the ingredients that were available on the ancient Earth. We see self-assembly everywhere we look, including on the nano-scale. Life doesn't need a god to get started. So cheer up. It's looking good for the smart guys and bad for the fundies. Hooray!

NYT publishes utter nonsense

The New York Times published an idiotic essay by Nicholas Wade today, and I really don't understand their motivation. The substance of the essay is the typical brain-dead nonsense that spews from every creationist mouth at least twice daily.

Using Rubio's pandering statement about the actual age of the Earth being a "mystery", Wade suggests we offer the creationist loons a "fig leaf". And what is this fig leaf? Surprise, surprise. It's the same nonsense that creationists regurgitate every day:
By allowing that evolution is a theory, scientists would hand fundamentalists the fig leaf they need to insist, at least among themselves, that the majestic words of the first chapter of Genesis are literal, not metaphorical, truths. They in return should make no objection to the teaching of evolution in science classes as a theory, which indeed it is. 
Ah, yes. Evolution is "just a theory", as the rubes love to say. This is meant to suggest that someone was sitting on a rock by a stream one day, and suddenly came up with the idea that "maybe life evolves". Aw, maw, that cain't be true; it's just some guy's wild-eyed theory.

Of course, when the word "theory" is used in a scientific sense, it doesn't mean what the rubes think it means. I'm going to trust that my readers already understand this, but in case a reader stumbles by who doesn't grasp the difference, have a look at Wikipedia's entry for scientific theory. It ain't hay.

What I don't understand is why the New York Times, which undoubtedly grasps the distinction between the actual and the rube versions of "theory", would print such nonsense. It's irresponsible and does further harm to the fight to educate the masses. Just a theory, indeed! Disgusting.

Funny way to say you're hurt

Chris Rawson of TUAW (an all-things-Apple site) begins his column today with this:
It's a brief Rumor Roundup this week, partly because there weren't many rumors out there, partly because motorcycle accident + four broken ribs + codeine = very difficult to write coherently. Remember, kids, the rubber parts of the motorcycle are the ones that go on the ground. The goal is to keep them there!
I think that's a great way to announce that he had an accident. It reminds me of when I was learning to drive as a kid. The guy who taught me was my best friend, a guy who was a few years older than me. He began my training by telling me:
"The basic idea is to make sure your car and another car don't occupy the same space at the same time." 
It was great advice that served me well. I never broke the golden rule.

November 26, 2012

Headline in need of a comma

I had to stare at this one for a moment. The headline reads:
Alzheimer's disease in mice alleviated promising therapeutic approach for humans
Confusing, isn't it? Of course, all it needs is a comma:
Alzheimer's disease in mice alleviated, promising therapeutic approach for humans
It's amazing how much a comma can contribute to a sentence.

When (virtual) bots rule the Earth

Are we in danger? Will a super-intelligent A.I. take over the world? And if so, what will happen to humans? An interesting story about this prospect ends with the following:
Price is co-founding the project together with Cambridge professor of cosmology and astrophysics Martin Rees and Jann Tallinn, one of the founders of the internet phone service Skype.
Hmmm, so one of the guys looking into this is a founder of...Skype. And if you replace one letter in "Skype" and add another, you get...Skynet. (Gulp.)

And yes, I'm kidding. I would welcome our new, artificially intelligent overlord. Surely it would do a better job of managing human affairs than our elected leaders.

November 25, 2012

Who really invented the internet?

Edna Christ, wife of Jesus.
The other day, I forgot to give thanks for the internet. And don't give me credit for remembering it now. This oversight was revealed to me by god, herself.

Yes, Edna Christ -- Jesus' wife -- appeared to me last night. Oh, and you should have seen her! She let me snap her photo for the blog -- that's it at left -- but she looks much more impressive in person. And she smells of cookies -- macaroons, I think. But I digress.

In her omniscient, slightly nagging way, Edna reminded me to be thankful for the internet. She said it is a sacrament. And then she told me the true story of how the internet came to be. Edna invented it! She came up with the idea during one of the long walks she always takes, to get away from Jesus. But let her tell you in her own words. I asked Siri to record everything she said during her visitation. Here is the relevant portion of what she said unto me:
"Keith, you sweet, sweet person, I want to tell you a story...(blah, blah, blah)...and so I came up with the idea for the internet. I whispered the details into Al Gore's ear -- and he took it from there. For years, he was intensely involved with setting up the nodes and protocols. That's why he was so skinny, back then. But you know, the moment he plugged in the final circuit that turned the internet on, he went back to the donuts. Oy. He's such a donut lover, that Al!"
Is that incredible or what? Oh, Edna, now that you've come back to us we are once again hopeful and filled with joy. All hail Edna! (And yes, she told me much, much more. But you can fit only so much Divine Revelation in one post. Stay tuned.)

November 24, 2012

This and that, or rather, "at" and "the"

Some changes are hard to accept. Twenty or thirty years ago, everyone used the words "at", "the", "in" and "on" in similar fashion. You didn't have to think about it. But times change.

In recent years, I've noted that people say "at" when I'd say "on" (or sometimes, "in"). For instance:
"At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big," Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday. (Interesting story, BTW)
"At" Mars? I'd feel much more comfortable saying "on Mars..." But "at" is used more often these days. People even say someone is "at Paris". C'mon, they're in Paris, no? This use of "at" rakes against my grain but I guess I can't call it improper anymore.

I've noticed something else. Many Americans drop the word "the" when referring to our country by name, at least when it's the subject of a sentence. When Hilary Clinton spoke recently alongside Egypt's president, Mohamed Mursi, she began her words with "United States". Not "the" United States. I can't find a video of her remarks, but the sentence was along the lines of "United States believes..." whatever. I guess it's official. We are United States.

I have many friends who were born in other countries, and I long ago noted that they don't say "the" when saying United States. For instance, they say "Everyone wants to be in United States." So I was primed for this. I guess we're aligning with the way the world refers to us.

Noted in passing. (Shrugs and walks off set.)

November 23, 2012

The National Christian Football League

What's up with all this Christian nonsense on the field? It's bad enough that in baseball, players make the damn sign of the cross before every catch, pitch, hit, run, etc. But in football, it reaches new extremes.

The other day I was watching a game. I'm not sure who was playing. One of the players got hurt and both teams hustled themselves into a circle, knelt and prayed while holding onto one another. Awwww, now isn't that cute?

No, it's not. It's disgusting. How do you think non-Christian players feel when this sort of nonsense happens? There is real pressure for them to drop to their knees and join the idiots in the circle, and that's wrong. 

I'm going to do my human-rights trick and switch categories, so readers can see what's going on here. Let's suppose a whole bunch of gay players made it into the NFL. I'm sure there are many already, but let's suppose the number gets larger and all the players are openly gay.

How would straight fans feel if the gay players were always kissing each other on the field, and when they scored, they pulled out gay flags and waved them proudly? How does that seem to you?

Of course they shouldn't do that. There's no place for gayness on the field because it's a football game, not a gay get-together. It's the same damn thing with Christian prayer. It doesn't belong in sports, period.

If players want to pray, they should go to church more often and get it out of their systems so they don't feel compelled to foul the field with prayer. It's not an inclusive activity that welcomes all players into the fold. Undoubtedly, it makes many non-Christian players feel sick to their stomachs.

Prayer in any sport is wrong. Sports are about athletics, not a magic man in the sky. Players need to shove the prayers back in their asses and get on with the game.

November 22, 2012

The pope is a dastardly fellow

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The pope is urging prison administrators to respect the dignity and rights of criminals in their care, and to help rehabilitate them...
Benedict's ex-butler Paolo Gabriele, convicted last month of stealing papal documents and leaking them to a journalist, accused Vatican police of causing him "psychological pressure" by keeping him in a tiny cell with the lights on constantly for his first 20 days of detention.
The pope is the gift that keeps on giving. Everything he says or does is tainted by evil.

Giving thanks

As longtime readers know, I'm not keen on holidays. Thanksgiving might seem inoffensive to non-vegetarians but it's not so pretty if you don't eat meat. I know you meat-eating folks don't want to hear this, but the traditional dinner table is pretty creepy.

On the other hand, the idea of giving thanks is a good one. Foolish religious folk might ask who an atheist gives thanks to -- but that's just nonsense. You simply give thanks, to the universe, to fate, to reality. You're thankful for what you have. Works just fine without god.

Maybe some depressed folks don't think there's anything to be thankful for. But there is. If you're reading this, be thankful that you have a brain, and vision, and computer (or phone) access to the internet. And if you're reading this, you're probably located in a peaceful area where you don't have to worry about American drones hitting your house.

I'm thankful Romney wasn't elected, though I won't go so far as to say I'm thankful that Obama is president. We could do a lot better than that.

I'm thankful for my friends and family, and the great animals in my yard. I'm thankful that everyone around me lets me live like a hermit -- and doesn't hold it against me. Thanks, guys! I'm also thankful that Xmas Carol is finally finished. It's out there, where anyone can buy it. In fact, I got my first royalties check yesterday. It's a pauper amount, but hey -- someone bought and read my book. I give thanks for this.

So try to ignore your wingnut relatives today. And be thankful for what you have. Works for me. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 21, 2012

Not a Thanksgiving prank

As usual, this morning I put out a dish of food for the birds and squirrels. The place where I leave it is only about three feet from my front door.

So there I was, inside the house, typing away at my computer when I heard what sounded like a turkey warble. I swear: just like a turkey. Now, I've seen wild turkeys in the area but not for many years. And that was in mid-summer. So I peeked outside.

Sitting at the feeder were three squirrels and a crow. I think it was the crow! It's a sweet sound, melodic and nothing like a crow's typical "caw". There was no other creature in the area. It must have been the crow.

Months back, I saw a show about crows. I think it was called "A Murder of Crows". It included a scene with two crows sitting on a branch, leaning in toward each other. They were making the sweetest sounds. It seemed they were a mated pair and this was their method of communication. The show suggested that this is how crows speak when in private. The cawing is for outsiders, and perhaps to announce this and that to distant relatives.

It was so strange. I closed the door and went back to the computer. It's still making those sounds. So nice!

Cursing god

I know what we should do on this day before Thanksgiving. Let's all curse god! There is nothing more likely to create a sense of well-being than cursing god. It's fun!

Today, get up on a pedestal or climb on top of your house and curse god with the loudest voice you can muster. Isn't it fun?! I know. I love it too! And the great thing is that, since there is no god, there's absolutely no downside to doing this. It's just good, clean, fun. Truly, it warms the cockles of your heart.

And they say there's no free lunch. Ha.

Funny stuff

I almost missed this. In a HuffPo article about allegedly drunk (or high) news and weather people on TV, it says of Meteorologist Walter Kelly:
He rambles on about how impressive the weather is, describing people enjoying a pleasant Memorial Day as “happy, slap-happy zombies” who are ecstatic about “the whole thing, meat and potatoes, you know, that time when you were out camping?” 

November 20, 2012

Prepare to meet your alien overlords

Or maybe a microscopic fossil, or something. There's coy news from NASA regarding the Mars rover Curiosity. This is all they'll say at this point:
"This data is gonna be one for the history books," Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told NPR. "It's looking really good."
C'mon, c'mon, c'mon. Tell us! Did you discover life or not?

How can we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner with this weighing on us? The linked story says we're going to have to wait until December 2 -- at least. Oy.

Krugman almost scary-good lately

Paul Krugman is one of the most powerful, rational voices in America. I'm sure he won't mind me excerpting the following from his latest blog post:
[T]oday’s Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop. The whole party is about low taxes at the top (and low benefits for the rest), plus conservative social values and putting religion in the schools; it has no other reason for being. Someday there may emerge another party with the same name standing for a quite different agenda; after all, the Republicans were once defined by opposition to slavery, and the Democrats by rural voters (hence the donkey) and Tammany Hall. But that will take a long time, and it won’t really be the same party.

Finally, it’s true that there are some Republican intellectuals and pundits who seem to be truly open-minded about both economic and social issues. But I worded that carefully: they “seem to be” open-minded; indeed, they’re professional seemers. When it matters, they can always be counted on — after making a big show of stroking their chins and agonizing — to follow the party line, and reject anything that doesn’t go along with the preacher-plutocrat agenda. If they don’t deliver when it counts, they are excommunicated; see Frum, David.

Anyone who imagines that there is any real soul-searching going on is deluding himself or herself.
Knocked it out of the park. Amazing.

The day has come

I can't believe I'm 64 today. I remember when the song came out, I thought about the possibility of reaching this age. But after mulling it over I said, "Nah. Never gonna happen."

Lo and behold, it has! I am a 64-year-old guy. This is very cool. Like Keith Richards, I want to get as old and grizzled as I can.

Now, where are Vera, Chuck and Dave? I'm sure I left them around here somewhere. It's hard to keep track of kids, especially the copies. (In joke for Xmas Carol readers.)

Hmmmmmm. (Twirls mustache.)

Have you noticed that when you google for images, no matter what you type into the search box, the results always include a photo of Michelle Obama?

Dog is trying to tell us something. But what?

November 19, 2012

So how's that iPad workin' out for ya, Keith?

I'm so glad someone asked. This iPad is great!

My main reason for getting an iPad was to have Siri and dictation available on a mobile device. My iPod Touch is too old; it lacks these features. My fondest wish for the device was that it would give me a way to record ideas without using my computer.

It met my expectations, and more. Now I can pause a football game, reach for the iPad and talk an idea into it. Does dictation make mistakes? Yes, but not often if I speak clearly. And this is the interesting thing: when it gets a word wrong, if I put my finger on the word to highlight it, it suggests the correct word. This is true although the correct word may be lightyears away from the original word it produced.

I think what happens in these cases is that dictation thinks "it's this word or this one" and puts one of them out there. If I click on it, it suggests the other word it was pondering, and this is almost always the correct word. And I suspect that all the while, it's learning about my voice and improving itself. Very cool. So I got what I wanted, in terms of dictation. I've been writing entire blog posts with dictation. I'm typing this one but I dictated "Goodness gracious" below. Works great!

As for Siri, if I have a pressing need to know the population of Pakistan during a game (and I do, sometimes), I ask Siri and boom, there's the answer. Plus, as I've noted here before, Siri is great with sports. I say, "show me the NFL schedule for Sunday" and there it is. I ask "what NFL teams are playing tonight" and Siri shows me the Steelers game, with the start time. I love Siri.

And I love my iPad. Everyone needs one of these, especially writers.

November 18, 2012

Is this the end of the lava lamp?

We hippies are required to use lava lamps. It's in the Hippie Code -- and you don't violate a thing like that. Not unless you're ready to suffer the consequences. It's a wonderful code, but very harsh on violators. Enough said about that.

But yesterday when I turned my lava lamps on, I had a horrifying realization. They need incandescent bulbs to work -- and no one sells them anymore! Horrors. What will happen to the Hippie Code?! And to hippies themselves?! I can't imagine a more dire situation. I really can't.

I'm going to write a letter to congress, alerting them to the situation. Given the importance of finding a solution, I predict there will be a bipartisan effort -- a veritable tsunami of cooperation -- thrown at this problem. I mean, imagine a world without lava lamps. You can't, right? I can't either. Jeebus! What a terrible situation.

My Xmas Carol blog

On my author's page at Amazon (which you get to by clicking on my name when you're on the Xmas Carol page), there's a link on the right that leads to my Xmas Carol blog.

I haven't posted much there but I invite Xmas Carol readers to visit and leave a comment or two. It needs a little livening-up. Thanks!

I love the tiny home movement

Could you live in this tiny house? I could -- and I'd really like to. It would be fun to be able to move my house wherever I wanted -- and still be home. Mind you, there'd have to be a cable modem ready to go at each of these locations. But that can be arranged.

Does this appeal to you?

November 17, 2012

The all good God

Let's see how god protected and loved his blessed children today. That's some god they've got there.

You know you're getting old when...

So "Twinkies maker" Hostess is going out of business. Who cares? Did they ever make anything by using, you know, food as an ingredient? I always imagined Hostess creating their "baked goods" in a dark basement, using only chemicals. But never mind that.

You know you're old when they're mourning the death of Twinkies. I mean, Twinkies are some new-fangled product. I'm from the pre-Twinkies era. To me, Hostess means chocolate cupcakes with a friendly white squiggle across the top. But these weren't even mentioned in any article or news story I saw. Now that tells me I'm old.

I used to love eating Hostess cupcakes, the forgotten product. In fact, if I had a couple in the house, I'd eat them right now, chemicals and all. But seriously, the absence of any mention of the cupcakes made me feel old. Any other oldsters out there having this reaction?

PS: I tried a Twinkie once. Horrible!

Our super-smart Supreme Court justices

Trying to defend the court's outlandish and un-American decision to extend First Amendment rights to corporations, Sam Alito showed how little he understands this country.
Alito rattled off the names of the nation's leading newspapers and television networks, all owned by corporations and possessing acknowledged rights to print and say what they wish about politics and government.

"The question is whether speech that goes to the very heart of government should be limited to certain preferred corporations; namely, media corporations," he said. "Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices should be disturbing to anybody who believes in free speech." 
The man doesn't see a difference between media and non-media corporations! It's like he's never lived in this country and simply studied it from afar by reading rightwing newspapers. Journalism doesn't exist in the world Alito inhabits. Can you believe how far the court has fallen? People used to respect the Supremes. Now they laugh at them.

November 16, 2012

Goodness gracious

I have been out among the people -- and I return with a heavy heart. People, people, people. Have I taught you nothing?

I actually saw people take a paper towel and fold it without squaring the corners! I know you don't believe me but it's true. These paper towels were folded so cavalierly, so dismissively, that their corners were sticking out all over the place!

Perhaps worse, some people purchased rectangular paper towels instead of square ones! You cannot make a perfect square with a rectangular paper towel. You just can't. For this reason, sensible Americans don't buy those brands.

People, you must take more care with your daily doings. If you don't square the corners when you fold a paper towel, how can you expect other people to do it properly? This is the first step on the road to ruin. The moral slide that begins with a badly folded paper towel advances swiftly to tags sticking out the backs of shirts. America's reputation is already strained. Don't add to it!

Gotta go out today. So all you get is this foolish post, at least for now. I know this hurts you. Try to hang on.

November 15, 2012

Step outside the American journalism bubble

Want to read real stuff? To do so, you have to visit media sites in other countries where they still do, you know, journalism. Today in SpiegelOnline, I found an interesting take on the Petraeus affair(s). How Sexy is Benghazi, by Pepe Escobar, is an inside look at the back-story. You'll never hear stuff like this in America. Go read it.

UPDATE: Oops. I "misspoke". Escobar writes for Asia Times Online.

Cribbed from Krugman

I love this song, which I first heard on Paul Krugman's blog. It's like an aural painting of love, with all of love's strangeness.

"Non-whites" is an insulting term

I know white people will find this hard to digest -- I did too, long ago. It is downright offensive to call minorities "non-whites". I love Ed Brayton, but on his blog today he said this:
And wouldn’t you know it, it’s all the fault of non-white people, who aren’t Real American because they voted for Obama.
My decades of human rights work taught me that comparative phrasing is a great way to illustrate this and similar problems. For instance, how would women feel if an article referred to them only as "non-men"? See how that works? They're not "non-men"; they're women.

If you're going to talk about a group of people, refer to them by their name rather than by stressing their non-inclusion in another group.

As long as I'm doing a language-police post, here are a few more. Don't say someone is "confined" to a wheelchair. Say they "use a wheelchair". It's literally cruel to use the "confined" terminology. It says more about your view of the person than it does about the person's actual condition.

In this vein, there's a lot to be said about diseases. For instance, don't refer to people as "diabetics". Say the person "has diabetes". A person is more than his or her disease or condition. PWAs (people with AIDS) walked along this road decades ago, and hopefully paved the way to a broader understanding of the cruelty of certain expressions. When PWAs were referred to as "AIDS patients", they rightly (and loudly) objected. These sorts of phrases limit a person's identity, and even obliterate it. We are not just our diseases. We're people.

As with all my posts in this vein, I expect fight-back in the comments. My post about "the jig is up" still gets lots of visitors, more than almost any other post. People want to fight the understanding I stressed. Sorry, kids. "The jig is up" is an offensive phrase, and just because you don't understand this, doesn't mean you can use it. You hurt people when you do. My position is simple. Don't harm people with your words.

November 14, 2012

Roman Catholic church murders woman

An Irish woman is no longer alive, thanks to the Roman Catholic church. Because god is good. No, wait, I forgot: god isn't just good, he's all-good. I guess that's why the church murdered this woman. Now that I know the reason, I'm no longer confused. Move along, nothing to see here.

The American decline continues

Lately, it's been hard to find the energy to write posts. In part, this is because I'm still not manic. (Where are ya, mania?! Come back to me!!!) But it's more than that. It's the dullness of American life.

I don't care where Petraeus stuck his weenie. (My only take on this topic is horror that any woman had sex with this lizard. Ugh.) Nor do I care that some general took his shirt off. Do you realize how stupid we look to Europeans as we focus on this junior-high nonsense? Sex isn't a big deal. But try telling an American that.

And all this talk about the imminent "fiscal cliff" is brain-dead tripe. Krugman noted this morning that the language needs to change. It's the upcoming "austerity bomb" that's a threat, not the nonexistent cliff. But the media are nitwits and they pass along any story that seems "official". And to them, the fiscal cliff is super-official. How can we ever fight our way out of nonsensical news cycles if the media is unwilling to grow up and notice reality?

It's all so depressing. And the idea that our newly re-elected drone-killer president believes all this idiocy means he might as well be a Republican. He is going to wreck the economy for good if he falls into the Merkel trap -- and he's going to. He has surrounded himself with economic failures, and shows no sign of changing course.

It's insane, depressing and deadening. Welcome to 21st Century America. Down the tubes, baby. That's where we're going.

PZ today

As usual, PZ knocks it out of the park. Go read It's Time to Abort the Catholic Church. And he ends the post with my favorite admonition to Roman Catholics: why the hell are you still members of this sick and evil church?

What I heard

I heard that in Hell, they take your iPad away. It's that severe. Ooooo, that god is so evil!

November 13, 2012

One of life's joys

You know how when you're bopping down the street, your ponytail bounces into your elbows? Fun, huh?

What'd I tell ya?

It's official. Bryce Harper is the NL Rookie of the Year. I love this kid -- and no, not that way. He is baseball personified. The kid put in a full, great year at the age of 19! He didn't turn 20 until the season ended.

Bryce Harper is the new Babe Ruth. He is going to enliven baseball for the next 20 years. Congrats, kid. You deserved it.

Here's a link to the Nats page about the award. Very cool. And if you wonder why they chose him, check out my early-season post about Harper. The kid is a live wire. You literally can't keep your eyes off him during a game. I can't wait to see what he does next year.

November 12, 2012

So I got an iPad

I've had my new iPad for a week. I got the latest, full-sized version and I'm glad I did. I was torn for a while, thinking the iPad Mini was cute -- but I went with size. It was a good decision.

It's way nicer than I expected. It's fast, competent and the screen looks gorgeous. To christen it, I bought "Solaris", my favorite movie. Now when the lights go out I'll have a great movie to watch. It looks so good on screen, I can't believe it. Remember when you first saw a plasma TV at the electronics store and the images looked almost liquid, they were so perfect? That's how movies look on the iPad.

As for Siri, she has her uses. I mentioned the other day that she's great with sports. You ask the start time of a game, and the answer is immediate. Ask for stats on the players or team, and there they are. Siri likes sports. She's also good for setting alarms and calendar events and working with native apps. It's fun to say, "email Carmine" and see an email pop up with the address written in. Then Siri asks "What's the subject?" I respond and there it is. Then she says "What's the message?" and I dictate it. This works flawlessly. Once when I said "thank you", Siri replied "don't mention it" in the cutest voice. There was something about the inflection that made me laugh. She says other things in response to thank you but I liked that one best.

Overall, the dictation function -- in other words, dictating without Siri -- is the best. I can't believe how accurately it transcribes what I say. There are hardly any errors unless I dictate an odd, unfamiliar name. This is a wonderful tool to have. Speaking of which, the Google app updated the other day and told me I could dictate with its (Google's) dictation engine. Uh-huh. I tried and it got it everything wrong. I switched to IOS dictation, said the same words, and it got it perfectly. It's a great dictation engine.

The NY Times app is fab. It's better than the paper version because, for one thing, you can click on photos and see them full-screen and rendered beautifully. Very cool.

I don't have a bad word to say about the new iPad. Get one. On the other hand, I read an article that said Apple is about to come out with a new, widescreen iPad in early 2013. In other words, my iPad is about to be outclassed. I don't care. It's like that old song said: love the one you're with. And I do.

November 11, 2012

When other people write your post

Today I was going to bash the Vatican for its latest statements against gay marriage, and I also planned to chide Catholics for failing to stand up to the Vatican's extremism. But lo and behold, John Aravosis wrote the post for me. I found it on AmericaBlog this morning. Go read it while I take the rest of the day off.

The beneficent rich

I think Laurence Lewis at KOS nailed it:
The big Republican donors tend not to be the social warfare types, rather they tend to be the obscenely wealthy who are obscenely worried about having to pay more taxes. Because even though they have more money than they and future generations of their most dissolute progeny would be able to spend on even their most lavishly ostentatious excesses, they don't want to have to contribute in any way to making life easier for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the otherwise disadvantaged.

Sunday wake-up music

I like any song with wowing guitars. Directions: get coffee and play. As Benjamin Nguyen said in the YouTube comments: "i can see this is a good song just by the amount of beards in this video." Wise words.

November 10, 2012

Why cheering for Obama is obscene

I couldn't agree more with Chris Floyd's article, "Is This Child Dead Enough for You?" Everyone should read it. Obama isn't admirable; he isn't even decent. He is the drone-killing president, a nightmare from hell. Yes, he is less evil than the other guy. But that's hardly an accolade.

I love this story

Even though it's at HuffPo, this is a wonderful story about a boy who wanted to wear a dress for Halloween. Extra bonus: the kid's name is Twirl. And his sister's name is Firecracker. You gotta love a family like that.

Privacy doesn't seem to matter anymore

Stories like this make me nauseous:
Handwritten letters from Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger to his former lover Marsha Hunt will be auctioned in London next month.
This isn't right. If someone sent you a private letter, and didn't supply copies for the world at large, you shouldn't have a right to sell the letters. It's just plain wrong.

I would extend this further. At trials, we often see the defendant's journal held up as evidence. I believe a journal is private and that no one can violate this privacy. The world has no right to see what's in a journal -- no matter the reason.

If we don't have a place where we are assured of privacy, then why should anyone keep a journal? For that matter, why should anyone write a heartfelt letter? Better not to, or it may come to light some day.

Humans need privacy. This is why married couples can't testify against one another at trial. There is an understanding that marriage guarantees a sense of privacy. If you can't speak openly to your wife or husband, what could marriage possibly mean?

It's the same way with personal letters and journals. When I make an entry in my journal, it's not for the world to see. It's for me alone. My journal is a place where I can speak freely, knowing that prying eyes will never see it.

Or will they? Perhaps I should toss my journal, lest it become something embarrassing at a later date, when anyone who wants to can read it. I don't like that at all. Privacy is important. Without it, what the heck are we?

November 9, 2012

About that German word

The other day I used the word "schadenfreude" on the blog. At the time, I capitalized it -- "Schadenfreude" -- because I thought Wikipedia told me to. I'd gone there to be sure my spelling was correct -- it was -- and saw it capitalized so I did the same. But it rankled. Just felt wrong.

Today I saw the word -- not capitalized -- on Der Spiegel's website. That put the kibosh on the capitalized version for good. If Germans don't capitalize it, there is no argument.

So I headed back to Wikipedia to see what was up, and saw this:
Conventionally, Schadenfreude is capitalized, as are all nouns in written German. When used as a loanword in English, however, it is not capitalized, unless the origin of the word is meant to be emphasized. The corresponding German adjective is schadenfroh. The word derives from Schaden (damage, harm) and Freude (joy). 
Ah. I see. But I just saw it not capitalized on a German media site. Therefore I suggest we don't need the "loanword" rule. It ain't capitalized, unless you're into etymology. Just thought I'd pass this on, in case my capitalization error influenced anyone. Sorry.

Interesting choice

There's an interesting AP article this morning about the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Go read it. He's a strange mix of things. I'll give one small excerpt:
In 2007 he was appointed dean of Liverpool Cathedral, Britain's largest church. He caused a bit of controversy there by allowing the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine" to be played on the cathedral bells. 
He also approves the ordination of women and says his notions about gays are "evolving". (I think he cribbed that line.)

Alien intrusion

Yesterday was Wednesday, yet today is Friday. Someone has done something with Thursday! I'm in the early stages of investigating this matter, and I call on my readers for help.

Does anyone anywhere have a memory from Thursday? I'll bet not. It's obvious there has been alien interference in human affairs. They took Thursday! If we don't do something about this now, who knows how many other days they may steal!

Search your recollections. Do you remember anything about Thursday, November 8, 2012? I know you don't...and I'm getting chills as I consider the implications. Damn! I hope they don't steal Sunday. I need my football fix.

November 8, 2012

Time to get moving

The election's over. Baseball's over. My book is published. It's time to step into the future. But there are two things standing in my way.

The first is that I'm waiting for my next manic period. Longtime readers of this blog know I'm manic-depressive. I call it manic-tired because I never experience depression; I just feel exhausted when I'm not manic and as a result, I can't do much. I experienced a very long manic period while working on Xmas Carol but it ended the instant I clicked "Publish". Regrettably, it hasn't returned. It's kinda weird. Each day I wait for mania to hit and...nothing. I'm stuck here in non-mania. Bor-ing.

I'm also not sure what I should work on once the mania hits, which it inevitably will. Should I rewrite The Worlds, the first novel of my sci-fi trilogy? It would be a ton of work but it's doable. The book is "already written" but after reading the draft recently it's obvious that I would have to rewrite the book from scratch. That's all right. I learned so much while writing Xmas Carol. I could put this knowledge to good use when tackling the rewrite. The Worlds was my first attempt at writing fiction -- and it shows. This would be a simpler task than writing a totally new novel because I wouldn't have to come up with the storyline. It's already there and it's a wonderful story.

On the other hand, I want to write something new. I could always save the sci-fi novels (there are two: The Worlds and The Pod, the God and the Planet) to work on when I get old and can't come up with new ideas because my brain doesn't work anymore. A scary thought. But right now I have a ton of story ideas I could work on. And I would be starting fresh. That sounds so good.

I also have this notion that it would be fun to write a short novel. It would require me to be economical and concise. In other words, it would require skills I haven't learned. That sounds appealing. I love to learn new things.

Anyway, this is just a shout-out to let readers know what's going on. I'm thinking about what to write next and I'm waiting for that next rush of mania. Where is it?! You haven't seen it, have you? If you do, would you send it to my house? I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

November 7, 2012

Here comes the storm

It's snowing outside and we're expecting high winds. Here's hoping our Sandy-battered electrical system can handle it. There must be a lot of tree limbs out there, hanging by a thread right over a power line. We're expecting up to five inches and this is a wet, heavy snow. In other words, I may lose power. If I disappear, it's not by choice.

Good luck to all the Hurricane Sandy victims who are trying to weather the cold in half-destroyed houses. New York and New Jersey are still a major wreck. I don't think people outside the area really understand how bad it is. The election was a nice intermission but reality is returning with a vengeance.

UPDATE: It's the next morning and all is well. Got about 4 inches but the lights stayed on. Phew.

Good news on the election front

I'm glad Obama was re-elected. But only because he was the lesser of two evils. The drone-killer incumbent beat the onrushing emperor of greed. Whoopee, sorta.

But of course the other election results were uplifting. Women, gays, pot and health were all winners. I'm very happy for Elizabeth Warren. Beating her male-model opponent was huge. Tammy Baldwin is another major win. And dog bless Claire McCaskill. I won't list all the uplifting wins. It's enough to say that the good guys won and the bad guys lost (with the exception of that damned idiot, Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of ugliness). Back to the good stuff: Gay marriage won a popular vote! First time ever. And hey, pot is legal in Washington state. That's going to help to turn the tide nationally. The time for viewing marijuana through a clouded rightwing lens is over.

And let's admit there's great joy when pondering some of the losses. Linda McMahon can suit up and hit the wrestling mats this morning. She's a free woman (with a lot less money). It's also gratifying to see Allen West lose his election. Sanity won out! And in a way, it's fun that Michelle Bachmann was re-elected. She's comedy gold and after all, it's only the House of Representatives. Everyone sees the House as a freak show these days. It's where she belongs.

I went to bed at 11 last night, figuring the results would still be there when I woke up. When I got up this morning, I reached for my iPad and asked Siri who won the election. She had no clue. She can tell me the score in the Giants game in a split second, but this question threw her. She asked me if I wanted her to look for an answer to that question on Google. I said no, I want you to answer it. She then asked if I wanted to look up "I want you to answer it" on the web. Oy.

But my computer revealed the truth and it was a sight to behold. As I say, Obama? Meh. But everything else was fabulous. Even the Macaca guy, George Allen, lost his election. There is a god. (Just kidding.) So how are the rest of you feeling about the election this morning? Are you watching Fox News to suck up the Schadenfreude? Mmmmmm. Smells good.

PS: And a huge middle finger to the Roman Catholic church, the greatest loser in this election. How'd all those illegal political entreaties from the pulpit go for ya? Not too good, huh? You and your evil minions, like NOM, look like cesspools this morning. How's that feel? Oh, and is the pope a little dyspeptic this morning? Good!

November 6, 2012

Good news from Spain

I was worried about this one, but all is well.
Spain's Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the country's gay marriage law on Tuesday, rejecting an appeal contending that marriage in the Spanish constitution means only the union of a man and woman.
The world will just have to get used to gay people. Our time has come.

The robocall insanity

Have you gotten more robocalls in the last few weeks than you've ever gotten in your life? I'll bet your answer is yes. This is certainly true at my house.

It's obviously time for a "Do Not Robocall" list. I'll sign it immediately and I bet most other people would, too. But of course, this will never happen because it's the legislators and their minions who are robocalling us. Oy.

The lies of anti-gay hate groups

Today, Joe.My.God quoted some rightwing fool named Ed Allebest, who wrote a piece for Preserve Marriage Maine, a wingnut anti-gay hate group. I was struck by something Allebest said. I've heard it many times and it's complete nonsense. Here's the excerpt:
The dark secret of homosexual society is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally."
I lived in gay neighborhoods and worked with gay people for most of my life. I've had a zillion gay friends. And in all that time, I never encountered a gay man who said he wished he was straight. Not one. I've also never heard a gay man say he "entered into" gayness after being raped. Life doesn't work that way. You're gay or you're not.

The other day I told my sister I was disappointed when neither of her sons turned out to be gay. She asked why and I replied, "Because being gay is way more fun than being straight." I can't speak for all gay men but I think my view is a common one. Yet the wingnuts blather on. What hateful, dreadful people they are.

Angela Merkel: utterly clueless

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing the wrong economic ideas for years, causing harm all around the world. Now, she opens the door fully and we see the disorder within her mind.
BERLIN (AP) — Opposition lawmakers and human rights groups are criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for claiming that Christianity is "the most persecuted religion worldwide." 
Merkel, the daughter of a pastor, also spoke out against strict separation of church and state and said Europe was built on Christian foundations. 
Merkel is a full-fledged, authoritarian loon. We have our own cadre of such people in the US. Let's hope that today we don't elect one to run our country.

November 5, 2012

So funny

Ed Brayton's right. This one's comedy gold. It's a for-real Christian saying things that he believes -- not a comedy routine or a prank. Honestly, it's astounding that religious people can get out of bed in the morning. You'd think it would be too complicated for them.

Baseball's just the start

"Oh, sure," they said. "Watch baseball. It's innocent."

Uh huh. But what they didn't tell me is that baseball is a gateway drug, leading to football and other scandalous perversions. It happened to me. I know.

I thought I was safe but I was naive. Now I'm barreling down that wide dark road, with pigskin everywhere I look -- and nary a safe place to hide. Football sucked me into its warm, fragrant, testosterone-laden embrace -- and there's no way out. I'm hooked.

I can't get over it. Baseball was just the gateway drug. I had no idea.

That quotable fellow

Ricky Gervais:
Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted.
That's it in a nutshell.

The phrase "cry poor mouth"

I never heard this phrase before this morning. I encountered it on a CNN Money page. Here's how it was used:
Family courts are rife with tales where men with off-the-books jobs cry poor mouth to the judge, only to drive away in a Mercedes. 
I looked it up and found this page, where among the responses, someone from NYC said they heard this all the time, and yet another city resident said they'd never heard it. Well, I'm a phrase freak and I've lived my whole life in NY, mostly in NYC -- and I've never heard this phrase before.

To cry poor mouth is defined in various web dictionaries as meaning "to complain, especially habitually, about a lack of money". Some sites add the notion that one cries poor mouth while secretly having not only money, but quite a bit of it.

Are you familiar with this phrase?

November 4, 2012

Visions make it all seem so cruel

That's the title of Pepe Escobar's latest column in the Asia Times online. I love this guy. He's part psychedelic, part blogger, part newsman from long ago. Gritty and real, that's Pepe Escobar. He has a regular column at the paper. It's called "The Roving Eye". If you haven't checked him out, here's your chance. It's a far-roving article about the Hopi, Navajo, American exceptionalism, Bob Dylan, spirituality and, of course, Mitt and Barack. Makes great Sunday reading.

Lightning for your Sunday

And no, St. Vincent doesn't really look like that. Gutsy thing for a pretty woman to do on her album cover, eh?

Game-show religion

Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice.
They wanted Vanna White to do it, but she was busy.

November 3, 2012

Rudy Giuliani solidifies nitwit image

The former mayor, who also ran for president in 2008, pivoted to Romney's business experience, saying it should be considered a strength and blasted Democrats for making it a target on the campaign trail. 

"They tried to humiliate him because of that. You know something, if Governor Romney can have the success for America that he had for Bain Capital, Thank God! Our people would be working again," Giuliani said, referencing Romney's former private equity firm. 
This guy is such a twisted character. When I worked in NYC government, my boss once told me to rush to City Hall to join a meeting with Rudy. I said, "Absolutely not. Fire me if that's what you have to do but I will not be in the same room with that man." I skipped the meeting and wasn't fired. To think of breathing the same air as Rudy Giuliani! Ugh.

Great NYT story about child prodigies

This issue is dear to my heart. What could be more fascinating than brilliant children? Here's my favorite excerpt:
On his way to kindergarten one day, Drew asked his mother, “Can I just stay home so I can learn something?” Sue was at a loss. “He was reading textbooks this big, and they’re in class holding up a blowup M,” she said.
Is that great, or what? Go read the whole thing. On the other hand, it's a rather long article (7 pages). If you're not willing to spend that much time reading, here's one more excerpt:
After the English lawyer Daines Barrington examined the 8-year-old Mozart in 1764, he wrote: “He had a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of composition. He was also a great master of modulation, and his transitions from one key to another were excessively natural and judicious.” Yet, Mozart was also clearly a child. “Whilst he was playing to me, a favorite cat came in, upon which he immediately left his harpsichord, nor could we bring him back for a considerable time. He would also sometimes run about the room with a stick between his legs by way of horse.” 
Isn't that a marvelous image of Mozart? The article concerns itself with raising such a child. If this interests you, dig in at the above link. I loved it.

November 2, 2012

Xmas Carol is available everywhere

It took a while but Xmas Carol is now available pretty much everywhere. Even Barnes & Noble has it. (They were late to the party.) So if you've got an ereader, you can go to your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy of Xmas Carol for a mere $2.99. You can't beat the price, and the book is a ton of fun. G'wan. You won't be sorry.

BTW, I've come to realize that the best way to read the book on an iPad or iPhone is to install the Kindle Reader app, and buy the Kindle version. It looks better on-screen and shows more text. Just saying.

November 1, 2012

And now for something completely different

As ImmortalSlipper said in the comments at YouTube:"Was getting bored with music. Then this came out." I like it. Alt-J: Something Good.

What religion needs is dogs

I am greatly disturbed by people who lose their family in calamities like Hurricane Sandy, and then go up to a microphone and say "God is good!" Indeed. That's exactly why god killed your children -- because he's "good".

Why does god bring hurricanes and tidal waves and fires and earthquakes to places where innocent children live? Because he's "good". Priests, pastors and rabbis say "We cannot understand god's motives, but since he is god and is all good, we know that there is a positive reason for these seemingly tragic events." That's not a real quote. They all say the same thing, so I just mashed one up. Let's face it: that's what they say, and it stinks.

Religion wants you to sit there and take it, and still praise the god who allegedly caused your torment. This is called "faith".

Today, it finally hit me. Who thinks like that? Dogs, that's who. You can abuse a dog, even fail to feed it -- and it will still love you, given the opportunity. You are god to your dog. You can do no wrong. This is the attitude religion seeks in its followers. You must be like a dog, always sure of who your master is, and always loving and loyal, no matter what the monster does to you.

How can anyone believe in god?

Hey, I just noticed something

When I saw the date today, I realized it's my blogiversary. I've been a blogger for two whole years. This amazes me. The time zipped by, almost without notice.

So let's see. In this two-year span I wrote 1,451 posts. That's over 700 per year, which translates into nearly two posts per day. As to the value of the posts, that's up to my readers.

Writing this blog been a hell of a lot of fun. I think I'll do it forever.

The Russian church-state nightmare

Chills went up my spine as I read this NYT article about the collapsing line between church and state in Russia. That something like this can happen in the year 2012 is shocking. But humanity's nonsensical craving for an authoritarian god will always come to this -- unless rational people guard against it (ahem) religiously.

Alas, in Russia it seems two megalomaniacs have come together in a most unholy way: Putin and his "spiritual father". Seriously, read this and worry. It can happen anywhere, even here in the U.S. In fact, we have GOP loons aiming for this very thing: a communion between government and religion. Shudder.