Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Arlen Specter, Republican from Pennsylvania, is now Democrat from Pennsylvania. Another vote in the Senate, depending on the issue. He seems to want to show that he is going to be a thorn at times.
TPM - Why Specter Did It
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Here are the posts they have made so far as the story has broken and authorities begin acting. Earliest to latest.
- The California swine flu cases
- The evolving Swine Flu story
- Is Mexico a part of the swine flu story?
- Swine flu update
- Latest on swine flu from CDC
- Swine flu: bits and pieces at the end of the day
- Swine flu: while we wait . . .
- Swine flu: CDC's Saturday press briefing
CDC has just concluded a press briefing and the big news is there is no big news. In fact there was hardly any small news. The major questions have been identified -- how transmissible, what is the epidemic curve, are there more cases in the US, are there subtle genetic differences in the US and Mexican versions to account for the apparent difference in clinical and epidemiological features, etc. -- but answering them will take longer.
Meanwhile, no new cases have been identified in the US, but CDC in collaboration with state and local health departments and the academic and medical sectors are working doing aggressive case finding.
There was no new information about the situation in Mexico, except to say that "the situation is serious. We in CDEC are worried." Some, but not all, of the specimens from severely ill or deceased cases sent from Mexico is the new swine flu virus (7 of 14 specimens). While there is still no explanation for why the disease appears more severe, this is one of the top questions to be answered. ...
It is very clear that CDC has given this the highest priority and it sounds to these ears that they have very competent and dedicated personnel devoted to it. But reliable science takes time, care and some patience, even in circumstances where urgency is high and patience in short supply. That's just the way it is.
CDC has constructed a new and easier to navigate website for this: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu
Perhaps the most important message is that this is a good time to move forward on strengthening the public health infrastructure and to get ready for the one thing we can be certain of in the days ahead: there will be more uncertainty.
...That explains all the more why they wanted to be sure Obama got checked out as this issue has worsened.
Bloomberg is reporting that the Health Minister, Jose Cordova, is putting at 81 the number of deaths linked to the virus, up from 68, although the number of laboratory confirmed cases still stands at 20.
Then there's this mind boggling factoid:The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not. (Thomas Black, Bloomberg)
I'm going to bed. Maybe when I wake up I'll find this has all been a (bad) dream
Some more sites covering the issue:
- Aetiology - Swine flu: a quick overview--and new New York and Kansas cases
- Avian Flu Diary
- Flu Wiki
Right-wing battle cry: Bring me the head of Janet Napolitano!
Anyone notice how right-wing behavior toward President Obama so far is mimicking, structurally speaking, their behavior toward President Clinton in the 1990s: encourage anti-government hysteria, freak out about incipient totalitarianism, accuse him of destroying the country and making it weaker, and then constantly attack his appointees and demand their firing? What's next, an investigation of his investments?They are outraged at the notion anyone that might agree with them could be dangerous...
Does it surprise anyone, then, that the first object of Republicans' ire -- the first Cabinet appointment whose resignation they're demanding -- would be a woman named Janet?
Greta Van Susteren and Byron York last night on Fox were fairly representative (check out the Limbaugh rant at the beginning), though the fire-Napolitano talk has been bubbling up everywhere. As Amanda Terkel notes this morning, John McCain even went so far as to falsely claim that the person responsible for the report had been fired.
Teabagger arrested for threatening to turn the Oklahoma City capitol steps into a bloodbath
A number of us have been saying for a while now that the Republicans' extremist, anti-American rhetoric was going to push someone to violence. And it almost just did. From WIRED ...
Wow, you mean a potential domestic terrorist was associated with gun issues. Funny, but that's exactly what the Homeland Security report said - the one the Republicans and the religious right wanted us to ignore.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I recently got an update to my iTunes subscriptions for Mr. Deity. Here it is on their YouTube channel.
Yeah! Season 3 of Mr. Deity, a web series taking witty shots at a supreme being and religion. I can't wait. They are promoting items they have for sale, which is fine if it helps keep the show going. But I wince every time I see fun apps for iPhone and iTouch...as I, like most the world don't have either. Some of us just have a classic or Zum (or however that is spelled). And most of us can't afford to jump to a new phone service or really expensive phone...But it i nice for some people. I might get the CD, being a slavish fan.
Still, as we wait for more Mr. Deity they are also doing a second series in parallel. It is called Words, and looks at the actors from Mr. Deity in a more real world setting. As some of noted, it is akin to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Here are the first 3 eps that are available.
Some are saying it is available on iTunes through the podcast's section, but I can't find it, and a name like Words isn't helping. If anyone knows how to find it on iTunes, please share.
The Official Mr. Deity Page
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
At least that is what I imagine is the attitude in most comic houses. "What there are people reading who don't just want anorexic teens in skimpy outfits bending over page after page?" You might think that is a silly thing to say , but go to various blogs discussing the depiction of women in comics and see how quick the guys pop up to tell you that girls in skimpy outfits is the point of comics, so shut up. It is almost enough to laugh.
So how does the industry try to reach out girls. (Not bothering to note that girls generally love the main books, which would only be more enjoyable with a bit more thought to their wider audience.) Why, by just putting out some grrl books. Oooooooooo.
We all see those coming out. But for every Birds of Prey, we get, what, 10 Divas.
Yes, for the females out there Marvel wants you to know they care and they want you to buy Divas. About 4 hard working girls, struggling with work an love. A Sex in the City for the female comic reader. Yeah 4 women, gossiping, griping about work, that's the same as that TV show. Joey Q over at Marvel really does have his finger on the pulse of womanhood. Geez, like so many times before this really does look more like poor writing where the writer struggles to imagine what a woman would talk about with other women, other then men they love, men keeping them down, women they don't like, and fooood. Can't wait.
Geek Girls Rule:
...Hot fun? Nice to know after talking about your book for the girls you make sure to assure the reading base that it will be hot still. Oh...goody.
He describes it as “Sex and the City in the Marvel Universe.”
Personally, I think Mr. Quesada never got past Samantha’s tits to understand exactly why women actually liked the show. I admit to an unhealthy fascination with the first two seasons on HBO, only partially because Chris (OMG, DREAMY) Noth played Carrie’s boyfriend, Mr. Big. These were four women who were strong, independent, had jobs I would KILL for, and owned their sexuality. They didn’t sleep with men to please men, they slept with men to please themselves. Even Charlotte, the most timid and puritanical of the four, realized that owning her own sexuality and pleasure was neccessary to her mental health and happiness.
So I look at that image above and compare it to this shot from the intro titles to “Sex and the City,” [PICTURE HERE] where the four women are engaged with each other, not posing pornaliciously, and I find Mr. Quesada’s vision sorely lacking, as well as his comprehension of what made women, even nerdy women like me, enjoy “Sex and the City.” These women have agency and friendship. They aren’t all posing sexily in their own little world, completely separate from one another. Even in the promo shots for the movie that were more posed, they still look more powerful than those superheroines above.
After the “Sex and the City” comment, he adds: “I also think the series is going to a deeper place, asking questions about what it means…truly means…to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.)” You’ll forgive me a sardonic laugh at this point, because he immediately follows it up with this gem: “But mostly it’s just a lot of hot fun.”
Seriously, Joe, hire some women and let them write. It’s the only way you can come out of this without looking like a complete sexist pig. Ok, it’s too late for that. But seriously, women like comics, women like superhero comics, women WANT to like superhero comics, and women want to not cringe every time they buy an X-title and think “Wow, I feel dirty that any of my money is going to support someone who doesn’t think I’m a real person.”
Sunday, April 19, 2009
And we land on...handshakes.
Yeah. Obama shook the hand of the president of Venezuela. Now there are some of his policies I don't like, as well as some of his stances and actions. But we have to look at our need to...grow up. We have to actually deal with the world. We have to coordinate at times and communicate.
And I think there are some people Republicans might want to listen to.
And AMERICAblog shows them. Previous Republican presidents.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Have you seen these Republ...Conserv...POPULIST...yeah, that's the ticket.
What aren't they doing these days...that's sane.
A major news organization is fomenting revolt.
Limbaugh started out the pirate/hostage situation declaring Obama a coward, then when it ended with the hostage free and the hostage takers dead or captured, he was pissed and belligerent to any conservative who gave the administration ANY credit. Then he came up with a new tact. How dare Obama murder black teenagers. Yeah, last train to Nutterville is pulling into the station. With another attack already, and more to come it is doubtless that Rush readies to weep for these poor folks. (Now I have sympathy for the plight in Somalia, but Rush is plainly just trying to find some way to bitch and moan.
Then there's Pat Robertson. He wants to cripple the DHS. That's right those folks who are in charge of watching the border and preventing terrorist events in the US, he wants to disrupt there work. God bless him, by which I mean he should take Pat and do to him what many priests have done to kids. In the wake of the Right Wing threat file being leaked he is pushing people to jam there phone lines, the lines that people use to get through with warnings of suspicious activities and items they have spotted. Sharp thinking Pat, you'll show them, you'll show us all...Nut job.
Oh, yeah AND TEXAS wants to secede!
Isn't that right Rick Perry?
He has tried to back away since. But he also seems to be hemming an hawing. Way to be the governor of a state. Between the attacks on atheists, this, and well so much of your work you really are trying to outshine Palin as a first class twit. Good job.
But not to worry Tom Delay stuck his head in to. He gave Texas a great scenario to get Congress to secede from them. I just can't wait for the death watch between Perry, Delay, and Chuck Norris for rulership of the nation of Texas. Norris is getting older and no one fights dirtier than a politician.
But there is still more. Guess who else decided he needed to be heard on this? Rush! Ah-ah!
... And now they have a clip for Rush getting on the bandwagon too. From it seems like the Republicans, now centered heavily in the South, have found their issue to come back into power in the US -- building up a head of steam to leave the country altogether.
Nutters, nut jobs, and wackos all around. The Republican leadership and voices. Now, how are going to screw this up?
Here's a map of the corridors that are in the running for the new federal funds the Obama administration announced today it is making available for high-speed rail ...
AMERICAblog adds in about the political realities.
... He explains why we should proceed with prosecution, rather than how this president CAN proceed safely. Democrats are notoriously ham-handed. A Democratic president is going to prosecute Republicans for going too far in trying to protect our country? Fat chance. While owning the moral high ground, that kind of charge takes a political dexterity that Democrats simply don't have.
I don't criticize Olbermann for his argument. He's right. I criticize everyone responsible for making the Democratic party so poor at messaging, and thus so necessarily spineless, that politics would trump morality when talking about war crimes.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
So now that we had a bit of military efficiency and victory, it seems we want more. Bomb them. Shell them. Show them what for.
This piracy is and has been for a while now a problem, and it needs to be dealt with. But it seems important to know the history and why we are here. If not to aid it expediting and end, to not let this fucking happen again.
Crooks and Liars:
Johann Hari from The Independent:In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. ...
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Matt Taibbi noted the concern over the poll results the story looked at.
... Said piece reported the “troubling” news that the number of people identifying themselves as religiously unaffiliated doubled in recent years, with a big spike observed in the Northeast in particular. Among the report’s more alarming (to them) conclusions: unaffiliateds as a voting bloc are now roughly as influential as black people, and for the first time there is a sizable number of people growing up without religious background, atheists in the pasts mostly being fallen liberals with traditionally religious backgrounds a la Chris Hitchens or Woody Allen.
And it should be noted that this growing group is made up of a group ranging atheist to the wooiest of woo types. So we are clearly no clear bloc.
I think to an extent we have all seen this. The middle of road hazy argument.
Anyway, the reaction to this Newsweek piece was predictable and hilarious. One of the most revolting conceits of a certain class of American liberals is their terror of copping to their lack of spiritual connectedness. You know the type: doesn’t want to have to deal with all the ugly questions open agnosticism or atheism poses, and certainly doesn’t want to admit it to conservatives, so he cobbles together, usually late in life, some absurd hodge-podge of religious ritual, something that defines his “spirituality.” Maybe he starts going to church late in life, or goes back to a Kosher diet, or talks gloomily about “believing in something,” or maybe he becomes a Dan Brown-inspired Biblical sleuth. The world has invented all sorts of ways lately to give non-believers access to a sort of religious sensibility: you get the totemistic bullshit through New Age crystals, the soothing platitudes and rituals through cleverly-marketed self help books crammed with not-quite open ripoffs of Christian/Eastern principles (”Learning to Love Yourself: 10 Steps to a Happier You!”), and the relentlessly self-directed, egomaniacal soul-searching through psychotherapy, which incidentally often ends up leading to a kind of half-assed reunion with one’s childhood religion, ie church at Easter, wearing Grandma’s cross necklace, putting a dove on top of the Christmas tree, etc.
This is pretty typical stuff — the inability to even say the word “faith” without immediately apologizing and offering a “whatever you want to call it” buffet of hopefully less-offensive semantic alternatives is classic Northeastern liberal behavior — and normally you’d have to say it was harmless, a goofy cultural affectation that doesn’t bother anyone. The problem is that this frantic hedging in search of a safe middle ground between the dumbly certain religion of those reviled conservatives and the Nietszchean atheism liberals are always being accused of (and don’t want to admit to) carries some implications that always come out explicitly sooner or later. In this case they came out in Ledewitz’s piece. Sooner or later someone starts arguing that atheists and agnostics don’t really have values and can’t really be “moral” people. It’s the same problem all religions have: none of them can be right unless whoever doesn’t believe it is wrong. So even this hyper-apologetic, desperate-to-avoid-offense, hilariously nonspecific “abstract sense” religion of vacillating modern liberals ends up having to take shots at agnostics and atheists. It’s just the nature of the beast.
One clear example I heard was on The Thom Hartmann Show this last week. I don't often try or have a chance to listen to it, but I often hear the show on before and end up listen to a bit. Last week he had a show with Christopher Hitchens and Christopher Hedges. I thought that sounded like it might be interesting a listened on. Now I have listened before when he takes on a guest, and does seem to like a good argument, or to give comeuppance to certain sorts. It always seems fair enough, for what I have heard. He may come at a different angle then what is expected but he seems open on his point.
With Hitchens he seemed different though. On most things I think I disagree with Hitchens so to see Hartmann go after him might be fun. But this just seemed off.
He came off at the start like he wanted to discuss the issues with religion. Hartmann talked up how much they agreed. But it suddenly became a demand that Hitchens admit to a religious fervor for atheism and to admit he was an evangelical just like a Christian. As well that he could not support or back up his resolute lack of belief...in the transcendental. It really became about wanting concessions and proof for not believing. It was kind of ridiculous. Worse, I think, Hartmann was playing with words just like an apologist. He was using the term evangelize. He equated it to religion, computer sales, etc. But the point was to tie Christians and "New Atheist" together. If you want to use the term as a sales concept, PR, or marketing, like with Windows versus Mac, fine. But, I think, that is a far cry from what Christians sell and do. And it is definitely not synonymous with atheism, how ever you view it. Let's face it, it makes you sound like a Christian. But we learn more with the interview later in the show. As it was it all ended with Hitchens' unchanged. No surprise there.
Then when he got to Hedges, he claimed to be about to debate him, heck if you look at online video of the show the description calls it just that. But all it was was 2 guys agreeing away with each other on how greatly they agreed on spirituality. How weird. As they went on Hartmann brought up his Christian heritage, as well his pantheist beliefs. Which is fine, but he shied away from any such claims earlier. He and Hedges talked of their love for various religious writers, about throwing out the magic (BUT NOT ALL OF IT...transcendental, man.) from the bible to get to the core truth (Which is really just philosophy at that point, right?). He could now go from vague talk of transcendental and the unknown that was beyond up into all the standard crap. Shaman with their hallucinogenic brews, people with seizures, and Deepak Chopra. So we have people under the influence of a drug that alters perception, people with neurological problems that alter perception, and the king of wooey crap. That is something to base something on. Oh wait, he did sit at the feet of the Dalai Lama, and he proclaimed the wonder of alternative meds. So this is way better than a trifecta.
But like Taibbi noted above, cobbled together beliefs are just all too common. The crimes for so many people like this is that you have to "believe." You just got to, otherwise you have big problems in your life, and are closed minded. But don't believe too much, cause that is just crazy.
And this is a problem liberals have to deal with. We have the Huffington Post giving space to Chopra, alt med types, and antivaac evangelizers. Too many times these sorts of things are left to be in our midst. We have to talk about it, talk against this tripe, and show the lies up. We can't become the Religious Left, we cannot become the Woo Woo West Coast, and we can't let this...I'll just say it (and hate saying it)...hippie mentality stand unchallenged. The Right is slowly being killed by the stranglehold that the Religious Right has on its party. They can't maneuver where they need to gain the footholds they desperately want. So where does this leave us lot?
There is too much at stake in society to make a stand for science, sense, and sobriety (Not that you can't be drunk or silly on occasion.).
I wanted to get to it earlier, but I am now, and, hey, it is Easter Sunday. Meaning things are closed down and it is a pain to travel and know what shops and resources are available, here in the states. Heck, have you seen the online petitions around. Apparently those evil bastards at Dollar General are open on Sundays. Damn them! Don't they know they made baby Jesus cry? How dare we all not just shut down and fall to the ground a pray all day. Now, sure, it is an online petition, but I for one still live in a country that, depending on the county and city, I may not be able to buy hammers, shoes, etc. Should I even go into trying to buy liquor? Now I don't drink, but it has pissed me off for years just on principal.
Thankfully I can go to places like Sioux Falls now and actually buy a bottle of wine.
Obama has made his final appointments to his controversial council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Sarah Posner summarizes what that means for reproductive rights:With his council appointments now complete, Obama has given far more seats on his council to religious leaders who are anti-choice than to ones who are openly pro-choice, even though the majority of Americans favor legal abortion. There are only two pro-choicers, and they're both Jewish. Reproductive-health advocates suggested several pro-choice Christians to the White House as worthy additions to the council. By not giving them seats, though, the administration shows that it is too afraid to challenge anti-choice evangelicals by putting their pro-choice brothers and sisters at the same table.Frances Kissling also points out that the appointments aren't just predominantly anti-choice -- they're also mostly men. Five of the council members recently signed on to a letter asking Obama not to overturn the Bush administration's HHS policy allowing health care providers to deny services (such as contraception) based on their personal beliefs. (Planned Parenthood has a letter you can sign asking Obama to follow through and get rid of the policy!)
I agree with folks who argue that religious groups can be providers of essential services without proselytizing or stepping on the rights of others. But Bush's legacy is strong. He primarily used "Faith-Based Initiatives" as a way to pander to his base politically -- not to actually provide more services to more people in need. And he supported many of these faith-based groups' decisions to only hire people of their religion or to maintain discriminatory policies toward LGBTQ people. Obama's actions are looking all too familiar.
And still the Newt thinks Obama is "anti religious." Wrong again, Newt. Wrong again.
- Science fiction story - They take the biblical story of how we are indentured to God and must submit and change it over to an alien overlord making demands and promises to point how silly and fucked up religious subservience is and just how little we as a world, or country, would be willing to accept. As they note this story usually gets to the point where the world unites to fight back.
- Emotion is not a cognitive tool - Then they looked at an email with such poor, but also all so common arguments for why we all have to bow down to God. Why not if it could be true? If he died for you aren't obliged? Comedy gold.
As AMERICAblog pointed out, you can find an interesting video for the group who made this, auditioning the "real" concerned citizens needing to speak. Hilarious.
They're running ads telling the stories of "real" people who have been "hurt" by gay marriage. Too bad someone found the audition tapes for the ads - you'll get to see lots of real actors telling the same "personal" story over and over and over. These people are pathetic. If there are so many "real" people hurt by our civil rights, then why do they have to hire actors at all? Because it's all a big lie, brought to your during Holy Week, of all things. Amazing.
HRC got their hands on the audition tapes - you can see them via the link above - I also took the tapes and cut and pasted them with the actual commercial, so you can watch how duplicitous these people really are.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I have been in a quandary this hour. I turned on SciFi (soon to be SyFy...really.) and there was Ghost Hunters. It annoyed me so I went up one channel to History Channel, there I found UFO Hunters, that annoyed me more. I went back down and hit Ghost Hunters again, and there began a tedious game of ping pong between two annoying shows.
Ghost Hunters, yeah a barely audible sound on an EVP that when you max out the stereo and put your ear to the speaker...might...maybe, sound like "Juan." Sure.
Then over to UFO Hunters, where they chase a story of a UFO dumping some debris into some water. By the end they prove that a freak crash of a AF plane could have...maybe...possiblly been caused by slag, that the researchers found examples of, that maybe was taken onto the plane and ignited...in a freak event...and they are thrilled. Where is any indication that if this slag was on the plane that it came from aliens? Oh yeah, the eyewitness stories still shared to this day...YEESCH.
Back to Ghosties, look a camera on a stand moved...GHOSTS!!! ..I wonder if Discovery Channel has on A Haunting? Oh great, the Scariest Places on Earth is on next.
I think I have to put something sane on now. Mmmm...where's that QI at?