Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Obscenity, who really cares?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's not just the big things

Let's say you don't care about the war, or torture, or spying on Americans, or shoveling billions of dollars into the pockets of billionaires.

Let's say you started out as a consumer activist, before there were consumer activists, and you became famous by fighting the big car companies and other corporate malefactors. And you not only became famous, you actually were successful, and cars and other consumer products are now much safer than they were before you arrived on the scene.

How do you think you'd feel to learn that the Consumer Products Safety Commission, headed by a former high--powered lawyer for Eastman Kodak and an official of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is sternly opposing legislation that would double its budget, expand its enforcement capabilities, and increase its staff?

Thanks, Ralph.

More about Turkey

We've been discussing whether it's a good idea for Congress to pursue the resolution declaring the Turkish genocide of Armenians to be what it was: genocide. Is it meaningful at this late date, is it the right time to be doing it, does it hurt our foreign policy to do it?

Chris Hitchens is interested in the same questions, only he's approaching it from a slightly different perspective. He's got a piece in Slate arguing, as the title puts it, that the United States should be squeezing Turkey, not the other way around.

On this occasion I think Hitch is right. On the other hand, the reasons he's right illustrate once again what a mess Bush has made of American foreign policy. We wouldn't be nearly so concerned about pissing off Turkey if we didn't need them so badly in our war on Iraq. Because we need their help, we're dependent on them, so we can't afford to tell the truth about the Armenian genocide.

So why are we talking about this as though it's Nancy Pelosi's fault, and not Bush's?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"The future will not belong to those who stand on the sidelines."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The big Fan in the sky

Update--10/29/07--I guess God just didn't want the Rockies to win.

I like my baseball as much as the next guy, so I might as well do some blogging during a long inning, with my Red Sox up 10-1 in Game One--strike that--11-1. Oops--I mean 13-1.

Anyway, you may have noticed that every time you turn on the game, especially football, you see some player with underdeveloped powers of critical thinking thanking God for his help in today's game. Maybe it's help hitting a home run, or catching an important pass. You pretty much never hear a guy pointing up to the heavens right after striking out, although it might seem logical that he'd rather blame divine interference when he can't catch up with a fast ball, especially if the pitcher is more devout than he is.

It may not be a big surprise to you, but this isn't all spontaneous. There are all these organizations of Christians going out and recruiting athletes, so that whenever there are sports on there is someone giving you the message that god has a plan for you, so you'd better line up with the guy who covers the most yards from scrimmage.

There's a good story about this phenomenon in Slate today, and it gives you some insight into how these guys think. You'd never believe it if you hadn't read it: Other evangelicals, including the FCA and AIA, hold that God may care who wins the game and may even intervene, but that it's foolish of players to presume to read His mind. "Does God care? I would say yes, but we don't know who He wants to win. God has plans for you however the game comes out."

So this explains a lot, doesn't it? For instance, why is Southern California burning uncontrollably? Hey, the World Series is on. God's watching the game.

The deciding factor in 2008

Check here to find out:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mike Huckabee lies about the Founding Fathers

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Orson Scott Card and intolerance

I'm not much of a science fiction reader, but I have gotten into some of it through cyberpunk, and one of my favorite sci-fi novels is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Unfortunately, the sensitive and humane values Card exhibits in the Ender books has a dark side. Or, to put it another way, the other fictional pursuit Card is engaged in is Mormonism, and he seems to be a particularly distasteful adherent of its tenets.

P.Z. Myers has a great post exposing some of what Card had to say recently, and if you haven't been to Pharyngula already it's a good introduction to his site.

The argument by the hypocrites of homosexuality that homosexual tendencies are genetically ingrained in some individuals is almost laughably irrelevant. We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another; we are all expected to control those genetic predispositions when it is possible. It is for God to judge which individuals are tempted beyond their ability to bear or beyond their ability to resist. But it is the responsibility of the Church and the Saints never to lose sight of the goal of perfect obedience to laws designed for our happiness.

Yeah, he goes on from there:

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

Mitt Romney for President, anybody?

Due process???

Administration arguments against giving detainees the same rights that Americans have have had two main justifications: first, we can't afford to give them the right to be heard in federal court because of the risk that critical national security information would be released; and second, that we can provide a fair process without affording them access to federal court.

Yesterday's Post shows us why the second claim is a fraud, as if we didn't know already.

Politically motivated officials at the Pentagon have pushed for convictions of high-profile detainees ahead of the 2008 elections, the former lead prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay said last night, adding that the pressure played a part in his decision to resign earlier this month.

Senior defense officials discussed in a September 2006 meeting the "strategic political value" of putting some prominent detainees on trial, said Air Force Col. Morris Davis. He said that he felt pressure to pursue cases that were deemed "sexy" over those that prosecutors believed were the most solid or were ready to go.

This is all from Col. Morris Davis, who resigned his position as the lead Guantanamo prosecutor because of the political pressure he was receiving from the Pentagon's general counsel.

"There was a big concern that the election of 2008 is coming up," Davis said. "People wanted to get the cases going. There was a rush to get high-interest cases into court at the expense of openness."

Remember how we were taught about the show trials in the Soviet Union, and how they proved that the Communists were willing to do anything to suppress their opponents?
How is our justice system any better?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Burden of Proof

If someone announces to the world that we are all descended from giant purple space aliens without providing a lick of evidence to support this, we’d all think he’s crazy, right? It’s not up to the rest of us to go looking for these purple aliens. It’s up to the man who claimed it to show us the proof.

This is the introduction to a clear, concise argument about the existence of a god or gods. Does it prove there is no god? No. It does, however, demolish the most common arguments for the existence of god.

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New "Blog"

Here's something that I don't claim is anything but entertaining. It's the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks Definitely worth a look.

The reprehensible Ann Coulter

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Support the troops, one more time

Friday, October 05, 2007

New blog

Just a quick note to let people know about a new blog called Welcome Campground. It's about the environment, environmental politics, and the life of an unusually aware and thoughtful college student in Missoula, Montana.


Oh yeah, and if he looks familiar, that's my son Adam. Go over there and check it out.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”

This is truly disgusting. We send our forces over to Iraq to die for literally nothing. Some of them are horribly injured, and we give them terrible medical care and stick them in a squalid hole.

Some of them survive but have a hard time living with the horrors they've experienced. They're just as badly injured as those with physical injuries, so they've earned our gratitude and our support, haven't they?

What do they get instead? Slandered, labeled as constitutionally unfit to serve, and kicked out without the care and support they need.

Here's part of the story from The Nation. Go there and read the rest.

On April 9, Spc. Jon Town was featured on the cover of The Nation, in an article that told how he was wounded in Iraq, won a Purple Heart and was then denied all disability and medical benefits. Town's doctor had concluded that his headaches and hearing loss were not caused by the 107-millimeter rocket that knocked him unconscious but by a psychological condition, "personality disorder," a pre-existing illness for which one cannot collect disability pay or receive medical care.

Further investigation by The Nation has uncovered more than a dozen cases like Town's from bases across the country. All of the soldiers interviewed passed the rigorous health screening given recruits before being accepted into the Army. All were deemed physically and psychologically fit in a second screening as well, before being deployed to Iraq, and served honorably there in combat. None of the soldiers interviewed during this eleven-month investigation had a documented history of psychological problems.

Yet after they returned from Iraq wounded and sought treatment, each was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then denied benefits. As in Town's case, Army doctors determined that the soldiers' ailments were pre-existing without interviewing friends, family or fellow soldiers who knew them before they were wounded in combat.

Oh yes, and one more thing: Thanks, Ralph.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Remind me again--who's the bad guy?

To a certain extent I can understand people's feelings about Microsoft. They're big, they're powerful, they own just about everything, and just every so often they throw their weight around.

So they're the enemy, right? Evil?

Unlike those true innovators, Apple. They're really where it's at, all creative and cool and everything. And all those bright colors . . .

So who cares if they are trying to crush innovation themselves by vandalizing the iPhones people have bought and customized?