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Word of God Copyrighted?

Original Posted Date: January 24, 2006 – Tuesday – 5:24 AM

Recently the Catholic Church has decided to impose copyright on all papal pronouncements.

Scary, huh?  Especially when you consider the dogma of Infallible Magisterium,which essentially says that the pope can speak for God..  Think about this for a moment; in a sense the Catholic Church has copyrighted the word of God.  Now try to tell me religion isn’t all about money and control.

Copyright is an extremely important issue right now, threatening many of our freedoms, free speech being the most important.  Here are some links that  provide more information:
EFF
Boing Boing
Corante

Update: Two years later and I’m reposting this on WordPress due to moving my blog.  These days copyrighting religion is a much more popular topic due to Scientology DMCA abuse.

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Old Blog Posts September 2, 2007

Subject The word of the day is Mytheme
Posted Date: September 2, 2007 – Sunday – 12:45 PM
“The uploads replicate and develop relationships. Most of them go very bad. You sometimes get an entire virtual planet of four billion people devoted to building prayer wheels in an attempt at a denial of service attack on God.”
Newton’s Wake, by Ken MacLeod
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Subject Where’s My Money?
Posted Date: September 1, 2007 – Saturday – 5:17 PM
One of my favorite Family Guy moments:

There’s this great Sopranos episode that could have inspired this, where Chris beats up his AA advisor over a gambling debt.

Or maybe the paperboy in Better Off Dead, “I want my two dollars!”
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Subject Landover Baptist Bible Punishment Quiz
Posted Date: August 28, 2007 – Tuesday – 7:21 AM
Be the first to take this awesome quiz. The correct answers are here, supported by scriptural references.

<REDACTED>

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Subject Happy Happy Fun Fun Day! See ya, Alberto!
Posted Date: August 27, 2007 – Monday – 3:16 PM
Hurrah! Alberto Gonzalez announced his resignation today, effective Sept. 17th. Anybody who has read my blog has seen his name on here a number of times, never in a good light. See the controversies section on Wikipedia for a good summary.

This is a good day for America. And in that spirit, I’ll offer up some happy happy fun fun links.

Calvin on war. I love Calvin and Hobbes.

Weird Archie Comic. Did you know that Betty was a young earth creationist?

I HAET U SO HARD. LOLcats are still hot, check out this great flowchart.

Geeks love flowcharts. Here’s another.

The Mandelbrot Set on acid. Really cool fractal art. And here’s a great video intro to this sort of stuff.

Mac, the Satanic OS. In some ways, this page captures the essence of comment boards. You’ve got some guy’s crazy rant, a couple of half-connected comments, and then a poster at the bottom with a smart assed comment. I always imagine a pause before the laughter; like the beat Trey and Matt perfected in South Park. Good stuff.
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Subject UFO Haiti
Posted Date: August 23, 2007 – Thursday – 3:52 PM
This is so awesome! I love this stuff. The video got posted on youtube, and was picked up by digg and other blogging and social networking sites. Lots of viral excitement and plenty of overexcited people.

Never mind little green men, but it’s quite possible our government has floating planes like this. But, turns out that it’s a hoax.

I love the way the bloggosphere went through a memetic spasm. Blogs and comments: Is it real, or is it not? Nope, it’s probably CG. Where are the eyewitnesses? evidence, theory, research, heuristics, observation, refinement, etc. etc.

I see these same sort of memetic wars on Wikipedia. Not just hoaxes or mystical philosophies like these, but memes of various sorts vying for replication. In a world of vastly expanding networks, judging the value and accuracy of disparate, biased and contradictory information is going to become more and more important.

The sort of analytical methods now necessary to do scientific work will soon be necessary for even basic employment. 10 years ago you didn’t need to know much about computers to get a desk job, now it’s an absolute requirement. What skills will we need 10 years from now?

We will certainly need the ability to judge and filter information based on advanced heuristic scoring. I’m sure some of it can be automated; in fact, we might soon be “teaching” software instead of “building” software. But still, PLBKAC; we’re going to have to learn.

As part of this, somehow we’re going to have to deal with and utilize emergent phenomenon.

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Subject Happy Belated Birthday, Habeas Corpus! Or, How I Learned to Start Worrying and Love the ACLU
Posted Date: June 19, 2007 – Tuesday – 6:06 AM
June 15th marks the 792nd anniversary of the birth of Habeaus Corpus in one of the civil rights first triumphs, the Magna Carte. In a fit of reverence for the ideas of a bunch of dead white guys who were in charge, and a deep sense of disgust about the ideas of certain living white guys now in charge, I’ve gone and done it. Signed up, I’m now a official card-carrying member of the ACLU. Conservative friends, take your pound of flesh. Not literally, please. I swear to become a member of the NRA to make up for this.

I must admit, I’m uncomfortable with many of the ACLU’s positions, especially those that support civil rights on a secondary basis at best. But they are, so sadly, one of the last institutions that strongly recognizes the incredible importance of habeaus corpus and due process of law.

Some platform stances seem to go against the basic concept of equal rights for everyone, like the stance for Affirmative Action. This is really is a movement to give special rights to people to adjust for crimes committed against them and/or their ancestors. While I fully aknowledge racial crimes and the injustice that arises from them, I reject the very concept of “special rights” as anthema to “civil rights”, which requires the equality of all people under the law. Not that I have all the answers here; but there should at least be some debate and dialogue on this issue. Can we find more creative solution than “reverse racism”?

I agree with their stance on reproductive rights, but I believe we need to take a second look at abortion, and the various concepts of family that are separate from biological reproduction. Both of these issues are hot button topics that are probably not nearly as important as those involved in the Culture War seem to to think. On either side. Emphasizing basic human rights for everyone will do more good for the LGBT coalition AND for those that take a literal approach to scripture.

I would like to see more protection for all children as well, as birth control should become more PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE. Let’s face it, abortion is a piss poor and brutal form of birth control. Pill, anyone? But also, what happens to a BORN child should be even more important than that what happens to a cell that has only divided 100 times. Granted, this is a slippery slope, but denying any difference between life and the “potential for” life is wrong. There is a biological and moral compromise here, whether we can see it or not.

The importance of protecting children and mothers from abusive culture and families should be a higher priority for the ACLU, and those who prey on them should be judged to fullest extent of the law. Religion or political affiliation can be no excuse for sexism and abuse…men and women should have the same rights.

Their basic stance on privacy is laudable, especially from a Constitutional point of view. However, I do see a need for further dialogue due to technology driven problems and opportunities. Nevertheless, we need organizations like the ACLU to at least stem the tide of “one-way glass” and the nanny state, so I fully support them here.

All this to say, the reason I join the ACLU is simple. Most of their cases related directly to privacy, the First Amendment, equal protection under the law, and due process, including habeaus corpus. The Patriot Act, the Military Commision Act of 2006, warrantless searches and wiretapping, and various other incredibly chilling acts have lead me to this basic belief; we need organizations like the ACLU, and more of them!

Consider this a small start to the neocon-theocracy backlash, ladies and gentlemen. Or maybe not; perhaps moral people on both sides of the line can find common goals and acceptable compromises; but I have my doubts.
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Subject Sir, spare some change for a database dude?
Posted Date: June 1, 2007 – Friday – 11:57 AM
Great. My company just went belly up. As of today I don’t have a job. Feels like 2000 all over again. What a hassle!

I loved the company, I loved the people I was working with, and I loved my job there. I am totally bummed.

Now I have to find another job. And go on unemployment. And figure out if I can still do this Vegas vacation. And if I don’t find a job, I have to find medical insurance.

Drat and bother.

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Subject Fascist Fries and Last Episodes
Posted Date: May 25, 2007 – Friday – 1:46 AM
Interesting story. It’s official, we’ve scared ourselves silly! Now every petty rent-a-cop thinks they are top dog, and that they have the right to harass you for no good reason.

In other news, the Season 3 finale of Lost was AWESOME! I almost gave up on this show, but they changed writers just in time. I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who didn’t get a chance to see it. Can’t wait for next season.

The season finale of Heroes…not so hot. Not bad, just rather anti-climactic and kinda questionable. Here’s hoping Season 2 doesn’t suck!

I have to wait until next week for the last House M.D. this season. Oh well….

The Third (and final?) installment of Pirates of the Caribean is out; I’ll be seeing it this Sunday with my cousin Brian. I enjoyed the last one, which means I’ll probably like this one (they were created together instead of separately).
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Subject The Little Lad Dance
Posted Date: May 24, 2007 – Thursday – 12:19 PM
HAHAHAHAHA…thanks, Gail, I needed that.

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Subject Monica Goodling: “I crossed the line”
Posted Date: May 24, 2007 – Thursday – 10:50 AM
Interesting, very interesting. Gonzales sacrificial lamb has stepped up to the plate and admitted here wrongdoing in the dismissal of the U.S. Attorney’s due to partisan disagreements.

Gonzales, previously best known for being Mexican and for crapping all over the Constitution, has been on the hot seat over this latest scandal. Nice of Monica to step up and take one for the team.

Monica is one of the 150 people in the Bush Administration who graduated from Regent University, a bottom tier college in Virginia. Many people have been disturbed by how many people the Bush Administration has hired who are not highly qualified for their job. Especially all theose people from Regents and other schools like it.

Regent University, originally named “CBN University”, was founded by the same man who started the Christian Broadcasting Network and The 700 Club, Pat Robertson. Now that Falwell’s kicked the bucket, Robertson is America’s number one religious hatemonger. Don’t believe me? This guy is deeply insane.

Most of my religious friends can’t stand CBN, TBN, or the various other networks that fleece people in Jesus’ name. Robinson is and was the epitome of the televangelist. Some of my non-religious friends like to watch it for laughs, but for me it is no laughing matter. These people are sick and wrong, and they take advantage of elderly people. My grandmother included, TBN is her drug of choice.

So how is it that 150 people from this small (4,000 students last year) Christian college were hired by the White House? Kay Coles James doesn’t explain it all, were these guys somehow more qualified? Certainly only certain type of people would go to a college founded by a TV Evangelist; are these the sort of people we want running our country?

Monica is guilty, no doubt about it. She is guilty of having a “faith based” approach to politics, and of trusting those in authority to uphold the law.

But she is no more guilty that Gonzales, or even Bush; this “scandal” here goes much deeper than the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys. From top to botton, people have been hired because of their religious beliefs. People have been hired because of their loyalty to the Republican party, and to the neo-cons in the White House. And not just to partisan positions, but to supposedly unpartisan positions in the Judicial Branch and elsewhere.

More to come, I’m sure. For now I’ll leave you with some quotes:

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Pat Robertson, fundraising letter, 1992

“I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”– George Bush

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”–Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 8-16-93

“Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It’s no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.“–Pat Robertson, 1993 interview with Molly Ivins

“It is interesting, that termites don’t build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have…. The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.”–Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, August 18, 1986

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Old Blog Posts May 24, 2007

Subject The Visible Man
Posted Date: May 24, 2007 – Thursday – 5:23 AM
Here’s an interesting story about a man who made his life an open book after mistakenly being put on a terrorist watch list. In order to protect himself from incorrect accusations, he’s began tracking his entire life on a website.

Now that’s what I call thinking outside the box.

In a related story, traffic wardens in the UK are going to start carrying around minature cameras, to record instances of “anti-social” behavior, or to record abusive behavior directed at them.

So not only are people becoming more accountable, but so is authority. To paraphrase David Brin in his remarkably prescient book, “The Transparent Society“, if we must live in glass houses (and every indication is that we must), then we also must make sure the glass is two way, not one.
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Subject Westboro to protest at Falwell’s funeral.
Posted Date: May 17, 2007 – Thursday – 5:50 AM
In a turn of events that can only be described as ironic, the “God hates fags” crew at Westboro is planning on protesting at Falwell’s funeral. According the their press release, they say Jerry:

1) was a Calvinist
2) spoke against Westboro
3) spoke warmly of Jews and Christians that don’t support Westboro

Apparently anyone who speaks against Westboro is guilty of sinning against the Holy Spirit. For those who don’t know, sinning against the spirit is the one sin that Jesus will not save you from; if you do it you’re going to hell, even if you repent. murder, rape, theft; those can be forgiven, but not this. Very convenient of Westboro, to twist these words so that they can never receive correction from their followers or others.

Falwell was most recently in the news when he had this to say about 911 attacks:

“And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.””
Jerry Falwell.

Jerry eventually apologized, saying that of course it was the terrorists fault, at least primarily. But he then explained that his view was justified due to specific scriptures and that his quote had been taken out of context.

But Falwell really did believe that America was doomed because we had fallen away from God, and knew from scripture that this would result in attacks, famines, storms, etc (basically the parts of the Bible where God explains what will happen to the Jews if they don’t follow their covenant).

Apparently Jerry was not aware of the actual reasons why we were attacked on 911:

1) Because we supported Israel.
2) Because we had bases in Saudi Arabia
3) Because our nation had fallen away from God.

Check this out: here is a good summary of Jerry’s beliefs, taken from the Moral Majority website: “God burdened my heart to mobilize religious conservatives around a pro-life, pro-family, strong national defense and pro-Israel platform, designed to return America to her Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Sooooo….

1) Jerry is one of the founders of the pro-Israel movement called Christian Zionism. The reasons for this are related to Christian eschatology, and are demeaning to Jews, Christians, AND Moslems.

2) Jerry supported a strong national “defense”, and approved of virtually every act of US aggression that occured during his life, including the ones that ended up putting “temporary” bases on Saudi soil.

3) Jerry fervently believed that our nation did not follow God. He blaimed succularism and paganism for this, and wanted out nation to become a Christian theocracy based on biblical values. In contrast, Osama bin Laden believes our nation is not following God. Osama blaims succularism and paganism for this, and wants out nation to become a Moslem theocracy based on the values of the Koran. Sound familiar?

The fact is, Jerry had a part in 911, much more so than any homosexual ever did. Most obviously, His pro-Israel and strong national defense views were directly related to the specific reasons for the attack. This should have been clear to even him.

But in a much more subtle way, it’s MEN LIKE JERRY who are directly responsible for 911. Men like those in Westboro Church. Men like those in Islamic terror cells. They are fanatical believers, and they have no problem forcing their their religion and its values on others. They believe that bad things happen because of their people’s sin, and do not hesitate to condemn anyone who disagrees with them on anything. They fervently believe that they are completely right, and that God will reward them for it in heaven. They believe that anyone who disagrees with them is going to hell, including those who disagree over what seems like minor doctrinal differences. They do not allow contradiction or argument; the law is innerant and infallible, and they and only they have interpreted it correctly.

The ironly here is that they condemn each other to their respective hells. Jerry things Westboro and Moslems are going to hell, Westboro thinks Jerry and Moslems and going to hell, Moslems think Jerry and Westboro are going to hell. Does this strike anybody else as being the ultimate irony here?

Religious fundamentalism had a lot more to do with 911 than the ACLU, and Jerry was a big advocate of fundamentalism. The damage that he has done has ramifications even now that he is dead, but at least he can’t do any more.

R.I.P, Jerry Falwell, and may God have mercy on your poor misguided soul.

cl
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Subject Happy Belated Mother’s Day
Posted Date: May 15, 2007 – Tuesday – 3:34 AM
Thanks for the link, Sam!

.

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Subject Must See Summer Movies
Posted Date: May 10, 2007 – Thursday – 9:54 AM

Spiderman 3:

OK, I already saw this one. I am a big fan of the first two Spiderman movies, and I’m also a big fan of the old Sam Raimi films as well, The Evil Dead Trilogy in particular. There is a great Bruce Campbell cameo in Spiderman that is freakin’ hilarious. This movie wasn’t as good as the first two, had plenty of huge plot holes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pirates of the Caribbean:

Who isn’t waiting to see the new Pirate movie? The last one leaves us with a cliffhanger, forcing us to wait an entire year for the resolution. It’d better be good! The high point of this trilogy is most certainly Johnny Depp, an absolutely amazing actor who is at the top of his game.

28 Weeks Later:

Yet another sequel, this one to the awesome movie 28 Days Later. I’m a big fan of zombie movies and literature, and I loved the direction Danny Boyle takes the genre. Fast zombies are certainly more exciting then the slow creeping zombies of Romero’s films (not to diss Romero, Land of The Dead proved he’s still got it in him). And I love Boyle’s mix of MTV and cinema-verite styles; dropping you into the middle of the action. I expect great things from 28 Weeks Later.

Lucky You:

Hollywood has jumped onto the poker bandwagon with a vengeance, and we’re going to see a ton of moves involving cards and gambling. This one features poker AND Drew Barrymore, two things I have a weakness for. Sure, it might stink, but I’m still going to see it.

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

OK, the first Fantastic Four sucked. I really wanted to like it, I truly did. But there was no story, the CG was mediocre at best, and the characters were paper thin. But the sequel has the Silver Surfer, and that totally rocks. The previews for this movie look awesome, so my hopes are up.

Paprika:

A new anime from Satoshi Kon; this looks to be THE trip film of the summer. This movie looks to be georgeous and extremely psychedelic, transhuman dream therapy run amok. It should be very popular with the art house, anime, and drug culture crowds.

Live Free or Die Hard

I will be watching this movie on the chance that BRUCE WILLIS WILL FREAKIN’ DIE. Die Hard was awesome, and then there were all those other movies. Here’s hoping this film will finally put the series to rest.

Hostel Part II:

Oh. Boy. The first Hostel was one of the scariest movies I’ve seen…well, ever. Any movie that causes me to close my eyes has to be horrid. Hostel was an amazing movie, though, Eli Roth at the top of his game. The movie mixed a buddy road trip film with a truly horrifying abduction and murder story. Roth’s first big movie was Tromeo and Juliet, and he’s brought the campy/horror style of Troma films (Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die) to the mainstream.

Momma’s Boy:

One word…Jon Header. He blew us all away in Napoleon Dynamite, one of the most original movies to come out in 2004. And he’s done OK since then. This movie looks hilarious.

Transformers:

Pretty much THE sci-fi movie to watch this summer. We all grew up with Transformers, and now they’ve got their own live action movie. Could be great, could totally suck. Either way I’m seeing it!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

I admit it, I’m a Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all the books, and have the last book on pre-order with Amazon. These have all been very successfully translated to the big screen, every Harry Potter movie is better than the last. The Order of the Phoenix is the darkest book to date, and it appears that the movie will be as well. It’s been a pleasure seeing Harry and his friends grow up in the stories and on the big screen. And who would have figured Emma Watson would become such a cutey?

The Simpsons Movie:

Mhhhh…Donut.

Son of Rambow: A Home Movie:

I saw the preview for this movie the other day, and almost fell out of my chair laughing. I am totally seeing this based on that alone.

Halloween :

A John Carpenter movie re-made by Rob Zombie? Might be awesome, might totally suck. We shall see…

Stardust:

Is there a art form that Neil Gaiman does’t dabble in? I love Gaiman’s books; he’s pretty much invented the modern form of magical realism. His comics are amazing; Sandman is considered once of the best series ever. MirrorMask was turned into a movie a couple of years ago, and did quite well. And now a less known comic of his, Stardust, is being turned into a movie as well. I’m very much looking forward to this film. And speaking of awesome comic series, when are they going to turn Preacher into a movie?

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Subject Intelligent Falling and Other Odd Stories
Posted Date: April 24, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:33 AM
It’s been a good couple of days for news, albeit a little weirder than usual.

Check out this short video. These guys are first dressing as an American, next as an Arab, and then filming at various quasi-restricted areas. Suffice to say they are treating different in both cases! This reminds me of a scene in the movie Borat, where an old redneck cowboy tells Borat that he should shave his moustache because only terrorists wear moustaches. Expect to hear more idiocy like this…

Ever wonder why highly processed foods are cheaper than foods that are less processed? The NYT has a fascinating article on how the various farm subsidy programs have affected American waistlines. Especially poor peoples.

Here’s a angry note on craigslist from a soldier who lost her husband in Iraq. Tragic.

Trail by jury was meant to be a last defense against tyranny. Judges are aware that juries have the right to judge the law directly, as well as the guilt or innocence of the defendant. But due to an unfortunate precedence set by the Supreme Court, they do not have to tell this to jury members. It’s interesting to see this article in The Conservative Voice. It’s poorly written, but makes a very important point.

A Christian Flash Mob? This rather bad comedian was ganged up on by a group of religious people, who poured water on his outline and walked out. Apparently they found his language offensive (never mind that the bible says nothing about using Anglo-Saxon vs. the proper Queen’s English).

Quote:
” I doubt I will ever forget the look in his face as he defaced the only original of the handwritten show outline–it was a look of hatred, and disgust, and utter and consuming pride.

That face is not Christian, by any definition Christ would be proud to call his own–its naked righteousness and contempt have nothing to do with the godhead, and everything to do with pathetic human pride at its very worst.”

Pathetic human pride…word. I have to remember that this pride exists in everyone, including me and you. Of course, thinking only you and those who think like you get to go to heaven probably doesn’t help much. The “cure” for pride is not “religious humility”, it’s probably self-awareness and a willingness to be corrected when wrong.

Here’s an oldy but a goody from the Onion: Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory.
“”Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.”

This story is tragicomic on so many levels. The objections made here to the Theory of Gravity are all correct, and could (are) equally applied to the theory of Evolution. This is farce, but it is WAY to close to reality for any sane person’s comfort.

And speaking of ORU, they’ve been in the news recently. Did you know that there are over 150 graduates from ORU work directly for the Bush Administration? Does this scare anybody?

As usual, I’m WAY behind the music scene. I recently downloaded the last Blink 182 album (self-titled). I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the album is AWESOME (don’t shoot!). Every song is solid yet experimental, and they have never sounded this good. I don’t even like this band, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that almost every band has at least one great song, and many bands are capable on producing at least one great record.

Here are examples of some “one amazing albums”:
Massive Attack: Mezzanine
Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
James: Laid
The Beta Band: The Three EPs
Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
Moby: Everything is Wrong
Counting Crows: August and Everything After
Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West (OK, these guys may still produce another awesome album)
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Subject Got Hates Bundles of Sticks
Posted Date: April 19, 2007 – Thursday – 6:03 AM
Interesting youtube clip on The Westboro Cult. This is part of a Louis Theroux documetary on the Phelps family. I’d love to see the full documentary, but it’s not available on the BBC website yet.

The mother and her girls conviction and confidence is amazing to see. In the clip, they are accused of being a cult. They deny, saying:

“We are the ones who are strictly adhering to the doctrines of faith of all the mainline religions.”

Indeed, they have a very valid point. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testament, and execution was the original punishment for it. If you take this as the infallible word of the Creator and take a simplistic, fundamentalist view of scripture; it is very clear that many of the writers of the Bible considered homosexuality a serious crime, worthy of eternal damnation and death.
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Subject Why It Sucks To Be A Major Label
Posted Date: April 9, 2007 – Monday – 11:08 AM
Not to say, “I told you so“, RIAA, but…well, I and thousands of other people told you so. And told you so, and told you so. You didn’t listen, and now it’s probably to late.

You see, overpriced CDs, DRM, suing music fans, robbing musicians, and putting out crappy music only works when you have a functional monopoly.

That monopoly is effectively gone. For good, I hope.

Don’t worry, the death of the major labels will NOT hurt music, fans, or musicians, it will help them. Music existed before it was turned into a business, and it will exist afterwards, too.

cl
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Subject “Have you been in any peace marches?”
Posted Date: April 9, 2007 – Monday – 5:58 AM
Here is an account of Walter F. Murphy, a distinguished scholar of public law and a decorated Marine who served in Korea.

See how this man is being treated by our government. This is not only unethical, but it is anti-American. I hope enough stories like this will convince the people that many of our enemies are also our leaders. No American is above the Constitution, including our president.

“On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving.”

“When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.”

“I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said. ”
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Subject our REDACTED war on terror
Posted Date: April 3, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:29 AM
Excellent article in the opinion section of the Seattle Time’s website.

Quote:
“Only George Orwell could have written what comes next in the transcript. The following is what we are allowed to know of Nashiri’s response when asked how he was tortured:

“What else do I want to say? (REDACTED). Many things happened. They were doing so many things. What else did they did? (REDACTED). They do so many things. So many things. What else did they did? (REDACTED). After that another method of torture began. (REDACTED). They used to ask me questions and the investigator after that used to laugh. And, I used to answer the answer that I knew. And, if I didn’t reply what I heard, he used to (REDACTED). So many things happened. I don’t in summary, that’s basically what happened.”

I guess that’s how the U.S. government extracts information from detainees: (REDACTED).”

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Subject Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
Posted Date: April 3, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:54 AM
I don’t know what log I’ve been living under for the past year, but I’m listening to Bloc Party’s album “Silent Alarm”, and it’s awesome! The song “Banquet” was a big radio hit, and I liked it, but I never listened to the whole album and it’s ALL good.

I also purchased “A Weekend In the City”; their latest album, although I have not had a chance to listen to it.

List of albums purchased online today*:
Are We Not Horses, by Rock Plaza Central
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, by Yo La Tengo
Neon Bible, by Arcade Fire
Bloc Party, by Bloc Party
Silent Alarm, by Bloc Party
Weekend in the City, by Bloc Party.

*Why the sudden spending spree? On eMusic I pay $9.99 for 40 songs per month in the mp3 format, which is a steal at 25 cents a track. But if you don’t download before the next billing cycle you lose them. And then, once I’d listened to Bloc Party’s self titled album I had to get their latest stuff, of course. :)
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Subject OMG PONIES!!!!
Posted Date: April 2, 2007 – Monday – 2:02 PM
Ferrofluid sculptures, and they’re awesome.

Wikipedia has a good technical description.
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Subject EMI to allow non-DRMed music to be sold. w00t!
Posted Date: April 2, 2007 – Monday – 6:00 AM
This is big news, EMI, one of the “big four” labels, is going to offer their catalog free of Digital Rights Management on iTunes and other online music distributors!

What does this mean? Well, this means you can download music from iTunes and use it on your Zune or any other mp3 player. Or, if you’re an iPod fan (and who isn’t?); you eventually should be able to download music from, say, Rhapsody or Microsoft and play it on your iPod.

IE: you get to decide how and where to play your music, not Apple, Real, Microsoft, or the RIAA.

This is a big win for music fans and anti-DRM activists. Link to the full story, and a link to Cory Doctorow’s coverage of the news.

List of some great EMI artists:
Radiohead
Massive Attack
Beastie Boys
Gorillaz
Moby
Supergrass
Coldplay
Daft Punk
Dandy Warhols
Ben Harper
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Subject the Onion has a News Network
Posted Date: March 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 6:20 AM
Just got this off digg: The satirical news site, “The Onion” has formed the Onion News Network; featuring video clips lampooning television news. I read The Onion when it was a regular old periodical, and LOVED it. There was no John Stewart or Colbert back then; satirizing the news was a pretty fresh idea.

They made a very successful leap to the Internet, with the onion web site. And now they’re adding video; rock on, guys!

Interesting trivia; one of the founders of The Onion, Tim Keck, went on to found The Stranger; an irreverent and influential Seattle weekly.

Favorite Onion Article: Clinton Deploys Very “Special” Forces To Iraq
The Stranger has been a key player in deciding how to replace the viaduct.
Savage Love is like a car-wreck, you can’t help but rubberneck.

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Subject A Win for Open Government – The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
Posted Date: March 16, 2007 – Friday – 9:41 AM
In a potentially big win for proponents of open government, the House of Representative’s has just passed a bill to give added protection to federal employees who publically denounce political motivated abuse and coercion.

In a rather predictable turn of events, the White House has spoken out against this bill, arguing it would be a threat to national security. In other words, if the president and cabinet are not able to bully whistleblowers into keeping their mouth shut, Al Quada could win. WTF?

So let me get this straigh, the well documented abusive tactics the White House has used to keep climate change science under wrap should be allowed to continue? For reasons of national security? I’d say we’re talking about POLITICAL security, not national security. Unfortunately, Pres. Bush, these are not equivalent, no matter what you might think.

Opponents of open government beware; there is a new House in town that apparently isn’t putting up with your bullshit FUD.
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Subject Haliburton moves to Dubai
Posted Date: March 13, 2007 – Tuesday – 2:22 AM
Good riddance! Maybe now we’ll stop granting them no-bid freakin’ contracts.
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Old Blog Posts March 6, 2007

Subject Why I am Not a Democrat
Posted Date: March 6, 2007 – Tuesday – 1:04 PM

I’ve been complaining about the Bush Administration and the 109th Congress since the beginning, and that has lead many people to believe that I’m a died in the wool Democrat. Nothing could be farther from the truth; I’ve complained about Bush and his cronies, not because of their party affiliation, but because they REALLY SCREWED THE POOCH. And they’re weird.

I think history will reflect my point of view.

Anyway, here’s why I’m not a Democrat:

Power Centralization:

The Democratic Party advocates a strong federal government that protects citizens from many harms. This centralization of power has a naturally limiting effect on state and local power level. Needs are viewed from the top down instead of the bottom up. This centralization is used to more tightly control the states and the cities, and to keep them in line.

Centralized power systems are inherently unstable and prone to error. Power should be as distributed as possible, with the citizen being the most powerful, then local and state, and finally federal at a distant last. The farther the power is away from us the less it is touch with what we want done.

Welfare State:

The biggest reason for requiring power centralization is to manage the welfare state. Wealth needs to be redistributed based on the many needs of society. This at least implies a central source of funds; where money is gathered in and then doled back out. The more of this that occurs (both taxes and doles), the stronger central management becomes. Democrats want a large amount of money to flow through federal hands to maintain a strong welfare state.

Of course the Federal Government should be involved in redistributing and regulating wealth, but not to the detriment of the state and local groups and citzens. To much power goes with the dole, and to much room for abuse.

High Deficits:

Democrats have traditionally supported high levels of government spending to maintain the workforce at as high a rate as possible. But this laudable goal has been achieved with little regard to long term viability. Short term effect on the economy has become the most important aspect, and long term consequences of debt are ignored.

When the comforts of the American people are more important than the long term fate of their country and children, then something is extremely wrong. Living in a debt economy is no good; the rake is going to get you.

 

Political Correctness:

Democrats work to make PC the law. Trying to speak without offending anybody has stifled free speech in ways easily comparable to Puritanism. You see careers destroyed because of a comment made in a fit of rage. You see people avoid using the word “black” to describe an “African American”. Saying “That’s gay.” can get you fired. Calling a presidential hopeful a “fag” can get you in big trouble (Sorry, but I saw the video and he was acting kind of gay).

On the Internet we’ve got plenty of trolls and flame-baiters; and they suck. But making people feel perverted because of their rather tame biases can have a very negative effect, if only because it removes any hope for dialog, understanding, and education. Best to encourage free speech of all sorts, but try to encourage kind and well-mannered speech more. The gag-ball that is PC has got to go.

Liberal Judges:

This country is founded on the Constitution; it’s the highest law of the land. All other law is subservient to constitutional law. Conservative judges take a very literal, minimalistic view of this document; tending to interpret it in the sense it was written. Anything not addressed in the Constitution was left for the people to decide. The people, not judges.

Liberal judges tend to interpret the constitution in a revisionist way. Roe vs. Wade is a perfect example of this. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to abortion was constitutional, completely ignoring the fact that 1) abortions existed in 1787, and 2) The Constitution doesn’t say shit about them.

Not that I’m saying Roe vs. Wade wasn’t a landmark decision for the equality for women. But it was questionably handled, and can easily be overturned for that very reason. If we want to make sure abortion remain legal then it would require a Congressional Bill if not a Constitutional Amendment.

Democratic Party:

I’ll leave it at that. The Democratic Party is a joke in its existing form. I would never want to align myself with the incompetence and untrustworthiness that they display on a daily basis.

In the case of fairness I was thinking of doing “Why I am not a Republican”, but I think that should be rather clear from previous posts. Religious Right, Neo-Conservatives, and that wire-tapping, fear mongering, fascist freak in the White House.

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Subject What’s the last thing through a fly’s head when it hits the windshield?
Posted Date: March 1, 2007 – Thursday – 12:42 PM
His ass. Check these out; they’re beautiful, in a sad sort of way.

And speaking of ass…here’s another not so beautiful, but very sad link, to Conservapedia; for when reality is just to left-wing. From the site, “Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. ”

Um…yeah. If Wikipedia is biased, it is due to a natural cumulative bias of it’s writers. Similar to how we’re all biased by the culture we were raised in. Some revel in this, others try to become aware of it.

Conservapedia revels; it has a centrally controlled bias. There is no interest in NPOV, while is the official policy at Wikipedia.

Also, if you find a biased article on Wikipedia, EDIT IT and put your reasons on the talk page! Don’t go play in your own sandbox like some three year old who got your feelings hurt.

Obviously many American Protestant Conservatives will find this site ludicrous; you have my simpathy.
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Subject Neo-Mickey!
Posted Date: February 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 7:54 AM
Here’s a beautiful example of remix culture at its best.
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Subject Sun Joins the Free Software Foundation
Posted Date: February 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 5:46 AM
W00t! This is great news for the open source world. Time to brush up on my Java skillz.

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Subject Sexual Purity Laws of the Old Testament
Posted Date: February 27, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:26 AM
I got a few emails regarding a verse I posted in a bulletin. The scripture appears to say that if a man rapes a virgin, then he should be pay the father a “bride price” and be forced to marry the girl.

The consensus seems to be that I am taking this verse out of context, and misunderstood it. OK, fair enough; I’m not a theologian, even though I find myself writing about religious fundamentalism and extremism. I did read up on the scripture before posting about it, but that didn’t come through in my bulletin.

A friend made a very valid point, that the NIV translation is problematic, and that there are more scriptures right before the one I quoted that are important for understanding what is going on here. That’s an excellent point, so I’ll use the New King James Version instead:

25 “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. 27 For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.

28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

In the first set of verses, the word “force” is used, and the women is betrothed (practically married). In this instance, the rapist is put to death and the women is held blameless. In the second set of verses, the English word “seize” is used, and the women is NOT betrothed. In this instance, he pays the father a hefty dowry, and marries the girl for life. So the general argument is that the first set of verses refers to rape, and the second set of verses refer to consensual sex. This is pretty much the orthodox position to take.

Seize seems to be a very accurate translation of the Hebrew word used here (“tapas”) . For example, in those bad novels with Fabio and big busted women on the front, Fabio will sometimes “seize” the women and “ravish” here. This implies passionate sex; maybe a little rough, but consensual. This translation would support the orthodox view.

However, seize can also capture someone, to arrest them. Or to take something away; like when the cops “seize” you for mooning the president, or your mom “seized” your porn collection. Using seize in this context certainly isn’t a consensual act. This interpretation holds for the Hebrew word as well.

But my point stands, THERE”S WIGGLE ROOM, even in the original translation! This does not clearly define the situation as consensual, and it does not clearly define the situation as forced sex. In fact, many possible scenarios are not dealt with well.

1. What is the law if someone rapes a women who is NOT a virgin? What if the man is married?
2. What happens if you rape a women who is NOT betrothed?
3. What happens if you have consensual sex with a betrothed women?
4. What happens if a man is raped?

Of course, there are other scriptures, and not taking them into account is a mistake. For example, question 3) above is answered in verse 22

22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. ”

Consensual sex is clearly being described. Very explicit answer, although extremely harsh by today’s western standards. But there are still big gaping holes, if this is supposed to be laws covering rape. In fact, the commandments in these verses are not geared towards protecting women; rape is only covered here as it relates to WOMEN’S SEXUAL PURITY. The other related scriptures in this chapter make this abundantly clear:

13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ 15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; 19 and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.
20 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

So when taken in context, the “rape clause” makes much more sense. If a women was found to not be a virgin on her wedding night, she could be killed. Women being virgins was a BIG DEAL. In the case of a betrothed women being raped, the women should be accepted by her husband as blameless. If the women was single she must marry the person who “deflowered” her. After all, she wasn’t good enough for anybody else at that point, right? These are almost merciful verse; as at least this women had a husband and could raise a family with her illicit lover.

Indeed, the entire scripture can be taken as completely fair and actually quite merciful, in that it attempted to protect women. I mean, if a husband is “displeased” with his wife, and wants a new one, he must prove that his wife was a slut. If he can’t prove it then he’s in big trouble. I shudder to think of the situations that this law was addressing, and the horrible injustices that would have happened before it. Of course, I shudder to think of the injustices after, as well.

I can wear the fundamentalist hat, but it hurts. He believes that scriptures like this come directly from God, and to one degree or another women should be subservient to men. He believes this dogmatically, and his belief does not change.

In ancient times a women could be killed for not being a virgin, and the issue of a man’s virginity would not be addressed directly. This was normal, at the time. But times do change, and scriptures attempted to repair the damage done by pre-existing laws on sex, but did nothing to address fundamental equality. This basic principle of sexual equality is one that is still struggling in many areas of the world, much of the time due to verses like these ones.

The very fact that we’re discussing ancient Hebrew scripture should strike you as bizarre, but it’s central to what is happening today! We have a fundamentalist Christian in the White House, we’re killing Fundamentalist Muslim’s in Iraq, and soon to be killing “moderate” Muslim’s in Iran (we are REALLY trying to pick a fight!). All actors in this poopy party (muslims included) believe in verses that support “Complementarianism” of various levels of inequality. The “New Covenant” may be kinder than the old for both the Christians and the Muslims, but they still have a lot of baggage.
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Subject Han Shot First
Posted Date: February 23, 2007 – Friday – 11:01 AM
This is pretty cool. It uses “rotoscoping”; the same effect Linklatter used for “A Scanner Darkly” and “Waking Life”.

Kinda reminds me of “Troops”:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5351101160052590481

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Subject Now that’s a big bridge!
Posted Date: February 22, 2007 – Thursday – 6:06 AM
Beautiful….
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Subject Free Tyrone Brown!
Posted Date: February 19, 2007 – Monday – 8:34 AM
It’s stuff like this that makes it clear our justice system is quite screwed up.

“Brown, an African American, is serving life in prison, while John Wood, a White male is free, on yearly report, although he committed a more serious crime. The grave disparity was reported in an April 2006 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Brown was involved in a $2 robbery when he was 17, and was given a 10-year probationary sentence. However, Brown violated probation by testing positive for marijuana and received life in prison. He has served over 16 years of his life sentence and remains in the Allred Unit, four miles west of Wichita Falls.

Wood murdered an unarmed male prostitute and received 10 years probation. He violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for cocaine, but his term probation was not revoked. Additionally he repeatedly violated other terms of his probation, yet an early release was sought and he is now on yearly report by mail.

“This man killed someone but my son is down there because he was smoking a joint?” Ms. Brown said in amazement.

Both men appeared before Dallas County District Judge Keith Dean, who was recently defeated in the Nov. 7 elections.

“I don’t hate Judge Dean, but it’s not up to me to judge. He’s going to have to answer to God,” Ms. Brown said.”

Only the ignorant can claim that our justice system is not inherently race and class conscious. Here’s an excellent article on the different sentencing guidelines for crack and powdered coke, even though they are different forms of the same drug, cocaine. (“From Chocolate to Morphine” is an excellent scholarly guide to drugs, both legal and illegal). 100 grams of coke gets you the same sentences as 1 gram of crack. This seems nuts, until you realize cocaine is the drug of choice for well off white people, while crack is most popular with poor inner city minorities.

“From 1995 to 2003, inmates incarcerated in federal prisons for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.

The statistics are from the annual report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report breaks down inmate populations for state and federal prisons and for local jails.

The study found that racial disparities among prisoners persist. In the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent of black men — about one in 13 — are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. The figures are not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and more than three times as likely as white women to be in prison.” link.”

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Subject All I Want for Christmas is a Jet Pack
Posted Date: February 15, 2007 – Thursday – 3:27 AM
That looks like a helluva good time
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Subject Michael Crichton on Genetic Patents
Posted Date: February 13, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:17 AM
Here is an excellent article by Michael Crichton on the dangers of patenting genes. Crichton is known for being very prescient when it comes to technology and science, so he is certainly someone to pay attention to.

He most recently hit the news due to his controversial book “State of Fear”, where he claims that environmental groups have highjacked Global Warming Science for their own agenda. As much as I agree with those self-same environmentalists and their goals, I have to admit he is probably right here. Media and politics have never cared about scientific accuracy, and I doubt that has suddenly changed. I mean, most media and politicians denied that global warming was even occurring DECADES after scientists had reached a consensus on the matter. And now they’re over-reacting…brite-lite style.

So I have a question regarding patenting genes related to diseases. If you patent a invention, and that invention then causes people to die or be maimed, couldn’t you be held liable (think “The Jerk”)? In the same vein, if the patent holders genes caused me to catch a disease, couldn’t they be held liable for that as well? Just a thought.

Crichton is certainly right…naturallly occuring genes should NEVER be patented. Shame on the USPO…this is ludicrous. I could see a day when someone would have their genes re-possesed, because they couldn’t afford to make their “gene payments”. This is a nightmare scenario when considering artificial genes only, but even more so for naturally occuring ones (“We’re sorry sir, you have a rare set of genes to fight cancer, but due to patent restrictions we’re going to have to remove them”).

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Subject Prison Love in America
Posted Date: February 12, 2007 – Monday – 12:43 PM
My God, this is some horrid, horrid stuff.

If stories like this were the exception, it would be terrible, but understandable. But from what this report has to say, prison rapes occur extremely frequently, especially to those who fit the victim demographics…namely shy, pretty, non-violent (re: drug) offenders, and white.

Prison authorities know this occurs, and yet they do little to stop it. That is barbaric. If people are running around raping other people in prison, they should be charged, found guilty, and sentenced in a way that takes them out of the regular prison population.

From the website:

I’ve been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one. When I first came to prison, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly none of this. I’m a tall white male, who unfortunately has a small amount of feminine characteristics. And very shy. These characteristics have got me raped so many times I have no more feelings physically. I have been raped by up to 5 black men and two white men at a time. I’ve had knifes at my head and throat. I had fought and been beat so hard that I didn’t ever think I’d see straight again. One time when I refused to enter a cell, I was brutally attacked by staff and taken to segragation though I had only wanted to prevent the same and worse by not locking up with my cell mate. There is no supervision after lockdown. I was given a conduct report. I explained to the hearing officer what the issue was. He told me that off the record, He suggests I find a man I would/could willingly have sex with to prevent these things from happening. I’ve requested protective custody only to be denied. It is not available here. He also said there was no where to run to, and it would be best for me to accept things . . . . I probably have AIDS now. I have great difficulty raising food to my mouth from shaking after nightmares or thinking to hard on all this . . . . I’ve laid down without physical fight to be sodomized. To prevent so much damage in struggles, ripping and tearing. Though in not fighting, it caused my heart and spirit to be raped as well. Something I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for.
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Subject I Want My Two Dollars!
Posted Date: February 9, 2007 – Friday – 5:41 AM
This guy brought debt collectors to a bank and started seizing their assets. All perfectly legal, and court ordered.

This guy got a ruling against Verizon in small claims court, and Verizon had a bench warrant put out on it for failure to appear in court.

Good stuff; it’s nice when you see common people able to use the law for their benefit. A corporation is a person (albeit “fictional”), and the law applys to them as well as to us.

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Subject I’m a Mac. I’m a PC. I’m Linux
Posted Date: February 8, 2007 – Thursday – 12:46 PM
Hilarious, and too true. I love the old Tron suit. This is a digg at those dreadful Apple adds that have been getting play recently.
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Subject Overblown: Loosing The War On Terror
Posted Date: February 8, 2007 – Thursday – 8:00 AM
There’s a great book review over at the American Spectator for a new book called “Overblown”. It looks very interesting, I’ll have to check it out.

Quote:
To put things in perspective then, Mueller says the scope of the threat has been substantially exaggerated, that terrorism is not an existential threat to the U.S., and America’s survival is not at stake.

FEAR AND INTIMIDATION, of course, is what terrorists are all about. They cannot hope to defeat their opponent militarily, so they hope to bankrupt him, to scare him into policy revision, or to turn a population against its government.

According to Mueller, the U.S. has played right into Osama bin Laden’s hands. He quotes bin Laden saying, “What we’re trying to do is spend the U.S. into bankruptcy.” And “America is full of fear…thank God for that.””

I’ve been wanting to blog on this for a while, but can’t quite find the words.

If we really are in a “War on Terror”, then why are people more terrified? Seems like we’re loosing this particular war. The terrorists are manipulating us, and we’re falling for it! Why can’t people see this? Specifically, why can’t people in power see this? I think they can, but instead they manipulate us as well, for their own agendas.

Of course, declaring war on an emotion makes no sense, anyway. It would be much better to be open about what this war is about. Let’s call it a “War on Violent Religious Extremism” instead. Or maybe shorten it to “War on Islam”. Not that I agree with this war, but we might as well call it what it is.


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Subject Deep Fried Grossness
Posted Date: February 7, 2007 – Wednesday – 7:05 AM
So I was eating some Pork Rinds last night, and I came across something that looked suspiciously like a deep fried HAIR. Ewww…Gag!

I’ve had this weird taste in my mouth every since…a piggy sort of taste. I know it’s psychosomatic, but it’s still disgusting.

Per Wikipedia:
“When used as a snack food chunks or pellets of the cured pork skin (sometimes including portions of meat and/or hair as well) are deep-fried and puffed into light, irregular curls, and often seasoned with chili pepper or barbecue flavoring.

Wish I had known that earlier…

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Old Blog Posts February 6, 2007

Subject Web 2.0 Explained In Video Form
Posted Date: February 6, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:54 AM
Great video…very touching.
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Subject It’s the Question that’s Stupid
Posted Date: February 6, 2007 – Tuesday – 5:44 AM
Q: “Do you know what red smells like?”
A: “Huh? No…that doesn’t make any sense.”
Q: “It smells like elderberries.”
A: “No it doesn’t, red is a color, and colors don’t have a smell.”
Q: “But you admitted you DON’T KNOW what red smells like, so how can you say I’m wrong?”
A: “Wait, that’s not right. That’s not even wrong!”

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Subject $1Trillion and Counting
Posted Date: February 4, 2007 – Sunday – 5:13 PM
Great article on ABC by a math professor, comparing the cost of the Iraq War to other government spending.

The cost of the Iraq War is thus more than a century’s worth of Environmental Protection Agency spending (in today’s dollars),”

Or note that the annual budget for the Department of Education is about $55 billion, which puts the price tag for Iraq at about 18 EDs. Just a few of these EDs would certainly have put muscle into the slogan “No child left behind.”

Another time analogy is illuminating. A million seconds takes approximately 11.5 days to tick by, whereas a billion seconds requires about 32 years. Fully 32,000 years need to pass before a trillion seconds elapse.”

I
blogged about this a few months ago, when the price tag was only $400 Billion. Only…sheesh.
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Subject Aqua Teen Hunger Force Is the Bomb
Posted Date: February 2, 2007 – Friday – 8:52 AM
“MY NAME IS….
Shake-zula, the mic rulah, the old schoolah.
You wanna trip, I’ll bring it to ya!
Frylock and I’m on top, rock you like a cop.
Meatwad you’re up next, with your knock-knock.
Meatwad make the money see. Meatwad get the honeys G.
Drivin in my car, livin’ like a star. Ice on my fingers and my toes and I’m a Taurus
Ha, check-check it, yeah
‘Cuz we are tha Aqua Teenz, make the homeys say ho ‘n the girlies wanna scream!
‘Cuz we are tha Aqua Teenz, make the homeys say ho ‘n the girlies wanna scream!
Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Numba one in tha hood, G”

I just bought this t-shirt. I’ve been a fan of this cartoon for ages. Boston needs to dry their panties and figure out how to fix their crappy security. Nite-Brites are not bombs and are not “hoax” devices. The worse these marketers should be charged with is having bad hair.

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Subject EPA: “Lead Air Pollution Not Our Problem”
Posted Date: January 30, 2007 – Tuesday – 8:52 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency is set to abandon their monitoring of lead air pollution. Lead pollution was the original toxin that the Clear Air Act was set up to combat, even trace amounts of it are dangerous At the time, lead was being put into gasoline, to reduce engine “knocking”. Eventually, scientists figured out that this was a terrible idea, and lead was no longer added.

So why is this no longer being monitored? Per the EPA’s own website, lead is the “number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States.” the same site also states, “Lead affects practically all systems within the body. Lead at high levels (lead levels at or above 80 micrograms per deciliter of blood) can cause convulsions, coma, and even death. Lower levels of lead can cause adverse health effects on the central nervous system, kidney, and blood cells. Blood lead levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter can impair mental and physical development.”

So why would the EPA suddenly change its tune? I’ll give you a hint…Money. This administration doesn’t give a crap about our “safety”, regardless of the “war on terror”. The “Union of Concerned Scientists” gives us a hint as to where these bad ideas are coming from:

“A decision to completely remove lead regulation would set lead air quality control back 30 years. Science does not support the revocation of the lead NAAQS; industry does. Lobbying groups representing battery makers, smelters, and refiners have all pressured the administration to remove lead regulation from the Clean Air Act.

In 2005, EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock announced a new streamlined policy for setting the NAAQS which removes the independent assessment by scientific experts and injects political determinations much earlier in the decision-making process. This policy is being applied for the first time in the lead NAAQS review.

Under the new rules, high-level political appointees are involved right from the start, working with staff scientists to create a document containing “policy-relevant science” that “reflects the agency’s views” instead of the independent scientific paper that staff scientists have put together in the past. Under previous rules, staff scientists worked with the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee to create a scientific assessment of risks and recommend appropriate standards. Only after the scientific review was complete would the administrator create the final policy.”

OMFG…”Policy-relevant science”. IE: If the science supports policy, we keep it, otherwise we throw it away. Of course, this is to be expected, when our government is full of people who are quite good at ignoring science when it’s inconvenient to policy.

link to take action.
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Subject It Bothers Me That I Have To Go
Posted Date: January 25, 2007 – Thursday – 10:19 AM
Here’s a touching article by a 93 year old blogger., ruminating about death. His words are refreshing and real, it’s awesome to see older people jumping into the blogosphere.

So even when you’re 93, looking your own death in the face can be painful. The “might have beens” add up, and old regrets come to the surface. Shoot, I’m only 30 and I’ve experienced that!

Since I don’t believe in heaven and hell, it’s harder to offer comforting words when faced with mortality. There is something inherent to self-awareness that makes it difficult to think of our own non-existence. The best we can come up with is the idea of a long sleep, or we just avoid it completely and take comfort in promises.

Sure, death is ugly, but it is also beautiful and necessary. I’ve thought about this, and come up with some things I tell myself and others.

“Death is not a punishment; it is a necessary and natural thing”
The “Death Penalty”. The wages of sin is death. This is a very common belief, that death is a punishment. But it’s simply not true, it doesn’t fit the facts. Death leads to Life, and Life leads to Death. One cannot exist without the other. We accept this for plants and animals, but we consider ourselves to be above them, and not subject to the same law. But we are.

“You only exist because of countless lives and deaths. Your life has meaning to those who come after you.”
Some people think that if they are good, they will benefit from it in the afterlife. Others think that if they are good, everyone will benefit from it after their life. I am one of the later, and find that a very powerful reason for living a good life. If you are looking for a reason to live, this should be enough for you.

“Be thankful for what you have been given instead of desiring what is not yours.”
This is a hard one. We are the wealthiest people on earth, and yet we still lust for more. It seems that desire is something that can never be satiated, and will eventually burn you up if not controlled. Acceptance is much better than desire, or so the Buddhist monks tell me.

“You’re not alone. Every living thing will eventually die”
Live together, die alone. But not really, you are preceded by those who already died, and will be followed by those you leave behind. Birth and death are two things everyone experiences (and oddly enough, we remember neither).

“Your birth and death are mere instances, and your life is everything in between”
If you let these instances overshadow your whole life, then you will be poorer for it. Don’t waste what you have fretting over what you won’t have. Recognize the amount of living that you have done/will do, and how much longer it is than either your birth or death.

We stand on the top of the shit-pile of life…literally. Eventually we are no longer on top, we are gone and our bodies are added to the pile for others to stand on. You die now so that others will live in the future. Others have died so that you live now. They will feed off your rotting body, and will breathe the air and drink the water that you breathed and drank while you were here. This is simply the way things work.

Comments?
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Subject “There is no war on terror”
Posted Date: January 24, 2007 – Wednesday – 7:40 AM
The UK’s director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, has some very common sense things to say about the war on terror.

“London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, ‘soldiers’. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.

“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”

“We wouldn’t get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law – upon which everything else depends.”
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Subject Gonzales is a Big Fat Idiot, part II
Posted Date: January 23, 2007 – Tuesday – 12:02 PM
Slashdot has picked up the Gonzales story. Lot of interesting comments, as usual. Here are a few:

Amendment IX:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

So even if the constitution does not explicitely GRANT the right of habeas corpus (instead, it limits the governments ability to suspend it), then those rights would be reserved to the people, or the individual states. Someone else had this to say:

How can you suspend something that doesn’t exist, then?

This was more or less Hamilton’s argument against a Bill of Rights. He predicted arguments such as this, based on interpretation of the specific “grant” of right.

But as he pointed out, under the Constitution rights are not granted by the Constitution. Rights, in a government of, by and for the people are held by them in the first place, not doled out by a government that is merely their social tool.

The Constitution is not a grant of rights to the people, but The People imposing limits on the powers of government to infringe and usurp their innate rights. If the government is not allowed the power to infringe rights, no code is necessary to enforce them, and no code exists to be warped into its Newspeak antithesis.

The government only has the power attributed to it by The People. Power is to the people. The Constitution is a limit on the government’s power, not your rights. Have we got that?

But The People have come to think of government as the source of power and the doler of rights. Essentially Monarchial. That’s why even the term “Liberal” now means a grant from the government, rather than the freedom of the people, and why even “Liberal” in the modern socialist sense is a legitimately bad word in terms of American political philosophy. It implys you are a ward/serf of the state. Someone to importune for a handout, when in point of fact the power, money and services are yours, by ownership and by right.

That these people are being allowed to pervert the system in the name of “Conservatism” to install an Orwellian fascist state is a crime against The People. Literally. The People ought to send them to jail. They belong there.

I fear, however, that instead I, and those like me, shall be sent to exile at best; and the wall at worst.

Very well put.

“Nazi” is a particular group with particular views. Bush doesn’t hate Jews. He is not a Nazi.

Bush hates the rule of law. He hates having to share power with the other two branches of government.

Bush is a proto-Fascist. He does not care about the Rights of the People if they get in his way of performing his “job” the way he sees fit. To him, the Presidency is above the Law. Fascism is seductive. It promises “safety” and “order”. And all it asks is that some people you probably didn’t like anyway lose their Rights.

In a Democracy, the President is constrained by the Law. He must choose the courses which achieve the objects WITHOUT violating the Rights of the People. Any of the People. Any of their Rights.

Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government is more important than the Rights of the People.

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Subject Blakeslee Family Genealogy
Posted Date: January 23, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:52 AM
Attention Blakeslee family members! Here is the genealogy of the Blakeslee family, all the way back to Sidney S. Ford Sr., who was born May 10, 1801, over 200 years ago!

I’m a little confused as to why this geneology follows Annie Laura Ford (b. app 1880) instead of Nathan Blakeslee, as he was our earliest ancestor with the Blakeslee name. His son, Benjamin Blakeslee, married Annie Laura Ford on Jan 10, 1900, in Aberdeen WA!

Aberdeen, the same city I grew up in! The most amazing thing to me is how long our family has been in the Pacific Northwest. Sidney S. Ford Sr. settled in Centralia, WA in 1845, over 150 years ago. My ancestors were some of the first white people in the area. We also have indian ancestors, most notably Tuweequshun (mother of Annie Laura Ford), a member of the Chehalis tribe. So technically me ancestors go back to before the white man even showed up! I had no idea my roots ran so deep in the area…it’s truly amazing. They were indians, pioneers, soldiers, and trappers. Maybe they were “trash”, but I’m proud to come from such sturdy stock.

I’ll post more about this later, as I do more research. But to my family members, print this document out and give it to your parents/children; they will love you for it.

A very BIG thanks to my brother Corey for getting this from our aunt and uncle, scanning it in, and posting it on his website!

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Subject Attorney General: Constitution does not grant Habeas Corpus
Posted Date: January 19, 2007 – Friday – 8:06 AM
Here’s what our freakin’ attorney general has to say about Habeas Corpus.

GONZALES: The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

Source.

My God, does anybody think this makes any sense? If Gonzalez does not want to be subservient to the Constitution, than under what authority is he Attorney General?

Either 1) The constitution is valid, and the government does NOT have the right to suspend habeas corpus except during a rebellion or invasion, or 2) The constitution is not valid, and hence the authority derived from it is also invalidated.

If they can’t get us one way they’ll get us another way. In certain situations, civilians are to be tried under military law.
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Subject Colbert on O’Reilly, O’Reilly on Colbert
Posted Date: January 19, 2007 – Friday – 6:20 AM
Apparently Stephen Colbert and Bill O’Reilly agreed to appear on each others shows. Hilarious. O’Reilly is an embarrassment to this country, but he certainly has big steel balls.

Colbert on O’Reilly’s show

O’Reilly on Colbert’s show

Thanks, Alex!
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Subject Poker Abbreviations
Posted Date: January 18, 2007 – Thursday – 5:02 AM
This is more a post to myself than anything. My buddy Nick posts interesting poker blogs, but sometimes I don’t understand his abbreviations. So this one’s for you, Nick:

COMMONLY USED POKER ABBREVIATIONS

Game
HE – Texas Hold ‘Em
NL or NLHE – No Limit Hold ‘Em
LHE – Limit Hold ‘Em
OM or OH – Omaha
PLO – Pot Limit Omaha
OM8 or O8 – Omaha Hi-Lo, 8 or better
7S – Seven card Stud
7S8 – Seven card Stud Hi-Lo

SS or LL – Small Stakes or Low Limit
HU / HTH – Heads up / Head to Head
SNG or STT – Sit ‘n Go or Single Table Tournament
MTT – Multi-Table Tournament

Position
SB – Small Blind (also can mean Small Bet, i.e., preflop or flop bet)
BB – Big Blind (can mean number of Big Bets if preceded by a number, e.g., 4BB per hour)
UTG – UTG, first to act pre-flop
EP – Early Position
MP – Middle Position
LP – Late Position
CO – Cut off, person immediately to right of the button
OTB – On the Button

Bets
SB – small bet (Limit term for preflop or flop bet)
BB – big bet (Limit term for turn or river bet)
PF – Pre Flop
PFR – Pre flop raise®
CK – check
c/r – Check raise
c/c – Check call
c/f – Check fold
b/c – Bet and call a raise
b/f – bet and fold to a raise

T$ – Tournament chips, not real money ($ is the amount)

EV – Expected value
EV+ – Positive expected value
EV- – Negative expected value

Cards
Xs – Spade
Xc – Club
Xh – Heart
Xd – Diamond
AKs – Ace King suited (or AK spades) often just indicates suited
AKo – Ace King offsuit
AXs – Ace and unspecified suited kicker
Ax – Ace with unsuited random kicker
X – blank card, not remembered, or not important to hand

Hands
TP – Top Pair
MP – Middle Pair
BP – Bottom Pair
TPTK – Top pair, top kicker
TPGK – Top pair, good kicker
TPNK – Top pair, no kicker
TPWK – Top pair, weak kicker
OESD – Open-ended straight draw
OESFD – Open-ended straight flush draw
ISD – Inside straight draw
BDSD – Back door straight draw
BDFD – Back door flush draw
FH – Full house
ST or str8 – Straight

Players (There are lots of variations – These are some common ones)
LAG – Loose Aggressive
LAP – Loose Passive (alternately Loose Aggressive Pre Flop)
TAG – Tight Aggressive
TAP – Tight Passive

General/Misc.
BR – Bankroll
B&M – Brick and Mortar, a live game

PT – Poker Tracker
GT+ – GameTime+, Poker Tracker add-on for Heads-up display during games

ROI – Return on Investment
ITM – In the Money, paying place in a tournament
VP$IP – Voluntarily put money in the pot
W$SD – Won money at showdown

Online Poker Sites (commonly used ones)
FTP – Full Tilt Poker
PP – Party Poker
PS – Poker Stars
UB – Ulitmate Bet

Forums
BTP – Bet the Pot
UPF – United Poker Forum
RGP – Recreational Gamblers Poker

Source.
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Subject Crazy Asian TV Show
Posted Date: January 16, 2007 – Tuesday – 3:34 PM
To funny!
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Subject Two Good Movies in the New Release Section
Posted Date: January 16, 2007 – Tuesday – 8:26 AM
I always love the beginning of the year, as this is when many of the academy award hopefuls put their movies on DVD. Usually November and December are good times to see movies in the theater, and January and February are good times to watch movies at home.

I watch movies in almost every genre. Truly, EVERY genre. I’ve watched movies in genres you’ve never heard of. :) In general I’ve found that some genres produce a higher percentage of crappy movies than others.

The other day I rented “Mozart and the Whale” and “Crank”, a Romantic Comedy and an Action Movie, respectively. These are two genres I would put in the “high percentage of crap” category. Imagine my suprise to find that one was great and the other one was awesome.

Crank” is an in-your-face action film, with plenty of fights and blood and guts. The premise is that the hero of the story will die if he allows his adrenaline to drop. This is because he’s been poisoned, and the rest of the movie is him rampaging through town in search of his killers. This is a movie where a plot device does not allow the movie to slow down AT ALL, and it’s exploited to the max. Pure non-stop action done well.

It’s cool to see indie movies go for the gusto. It used to be that you had to be long, boring and self important to be an independent film. These days there are many exceptions to that rule, thank god.

Mozart And The Whale” is a Romantic Comedy/Drama, and was even better than Crank. The two main characters both have Asperger’s syndrome. Josh Harnett plays a rather hapless cab driver who heads up a autism support group. He meets the character played by Radha Mitchell when she comes to the meeting, and they hit it off splendidly.

Usually the good stuff in romantic comedies come from the tension between the lovers. There is usually some block between them, one isn’t interested in the other, class distinctions, betrayals, etc. In this, the block is the basic inability to empathize with another person. This is a symptom of autism, and one could argue that it’s a symptom of being human, and autism just highlights it.

I don’t want to spoil it, but you should see this movie. It is incredibly warm hearted, well acted, well written, and just plain fun.

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Subject 12% Raise, unasked for. W00t!
Posted Date: January 15, 2007 – Monday – 10:01 AM
I had some great news today. I’ve worked for my current company for a little over half a year, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. When I got hired, I was offered a lower than average salary, due to my relative newness to the SQL programming language, even though I’ve been in IT for over 7 years now. I took the job anyway, as the new salary was still $11K more per year than my old job, which paid me somewhere between jack and shit (not that I’m complaining…at the time I was very happy for the salary, as the dot com bust had reduced me to working as an administrator for a law firm in Seattle).

Anyway, they figured out that people who had been hired recently were making more money than people who had been hired years ago. In order to rectify the situation, they decided to review all salaries for people who have been here over a year (less than half the company, if you can believe it). Apparently I’ve been kicking so much ass that they decided to include me in the salary review, even though I haven’t been here a year.

So today I got a 12% raise, completely unasked for and completely unexpected! Great news…drinks on me! When I hired, I told my boss I’d want a review and a salary increase after a year, and we are only halfway there. Not only that, but I’m still going to get my yearly review in 6 more months, and I’ll (probably) get another adjustment at that time, as long as my performance stays as good as it has been and the company continues doing well.

Good stuff.

Other items of interest:

Robert Anton, co-author of “The Illuminatus! Trilogy”, died last week at the ripe old age of 74. I blogged about these books a few months back; although they were written in the mid seventies they are still fresh today.

Bush plans to screen all Americans for mental illness
. Does this creep anybody else out as much as it does me? Anybody seen Equilibrium? It should, and you should. Look out, the thought police are here! I would like to blame this on the mind control plans of the Illuminatti (see above), but unfortunately it appears to be much more banal than that. The new bad boys in town is the company Eli Lilly, who stand to make a very decent profit off this policy:

“”Eli Lilly, manufacturer of olanzapine, has multiple ties to the Bush administration. George Bush Sr was a member of Lilly’s board of directors and Bush Jr appointed Lilly’s chief executive officer, Sidney Taurel, to a seat on the Homeland Security Council. Lilly made $1.6m in political contributions in 2000—82% of which went to Bush and the Republican Party.””

This reminds me of something my old pastor warned my about as a boy. Evil is not fun and exciting, evil is banal and stupid. Bush and his cronies are destroying our civil rights and our environment, all to make a quick buck. Sickening.
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Old Blog Posts January 8, 2007

Subject Who’s Killing MP3 and ITunes?
Posted Date: January 8, 2007 – Monday – 10:09 AM
A great article on Wired regarding the future of the highly successful mp3 format, and why the labels may have to accept it.

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Subject UK: Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes
Posted Date: January 8, 2007 – Monday – 9:48 AM
Think this poster is from “The V for Vendetta” or “Children of Men”?. Think again, this is an actual British Government poster in a London Metro Station.

This poster could be straight out of a distopian sci-fi movie, or from a Communist Bloc country at the height of the Cold War. Even the style is reminiscent of Communist propoganda posters (oddly enough, a style that is becoming rather popular).

It seems to represent the State as the “all seeing eye”, like the one on the pyramid on the back of the dollar bill. Traditionally, this all seeing eye is supposed to refer to a higher power (or Masons, if you believe the conspiracy theorists).

Apparently, the pseudo-fascist government of the UK believes ITSELT to be the highest power of the land. Think again! In any democratic society the highest power is supposed to be the people. If anybody should be watching it should be the PEOPLE watching their government! Open government, Transparent Society, and all that.

It would awesome to see subversive posters in response to this. Or maybe this actually is a subversive poster. I’ll keep you posted.

PS: I saw “Children of Men” with Nick last night, and it was AWESOME. A must see for anyone who enjoys intelligent movies. The hand-held camera work and first person perspective were handled masterfully, dropping you into the middle of the action. Nick made the insightful comment that the camera felt like another character in the film. A very touching and provocative movie.

cl

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Subject On this Qur’an I Solemnly Swear
Posted Date: January 4, 2007 – Thursday – 3:25 PM
A Moslem Congressman? Surely you must be joking! I looked up some stats on the religion affiliation of the outgoing Congressman. According to Fox News, 405 of our 435 House Members of 2006 were Christians (of one sect or another), 26 are Jewish, and 4 were “unspecified”. For some reason it appears to be impossible to non-religious and get elected to Congress.

But we now have a representative of the other group of monotheists who worship Abraham’s God, Keith Ellison (D), from Minnesotta. Congratulations to Keith, and praise be to Allah.

All indications are that Keith is going to have a controversial term. He started it out with a bang by declaring that he would be taking his ceremonial oath of office on the Qur’an instead of the Bible. Being the masterful politician that he is (how else could a Moslem get elected?), he chose the Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson to use during the swearing in ceremony. I can see right wing pundits everywhere rolling over in their graves; “Who cares, Jefferson was a liberal commie freek anyway, heretic!”

Being from back when Presidents where highly educated and actually READ, Jefferson’s book actually has hand-written notes from the Pres. himself. I shudder to compare this great man to the current buffoon in office, but I’m betting Bush has not read any of the Qur’an. In fact, I’m betting Bush hasn’t read much of the Bible!

This controversy is relatively stupid, and I wonder how much of it has been made up. For one thing, Congressmen swear their official oath en-mass, with not a book in site. Only in the personal ceremonies afterward is scripture used at all. Ellison is simply exercising his right of religious freedom, choosing his holy scripture for this completely un-official ceremony.

And yet, some of us seem to think that freedom of religion only applies if you are a Christian, and that’s simply ignorant. I for one welcome Ellison and the fresh perspective he could bring.

I am also eagerly awaiting the day we have an openly agnostic Congressman. Of course, Satan will be coming to earth to rule soon after that, but it will be nice until then.
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Subject Richard Dawkins: BBC UK Person of the Year
Posted Date: January 2, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:10 AM
“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins, one of the leaders of the “New Atheist” movement, has been chosen as the BBC Person of the Year in the UK. Go, Dawkins!

He has certainly got a lot of press this year, both positive and negative. His new book, “The God Delusion”, is responsible for most of this. Before this year, Dawkin’s was mostly known for his his groundbreaking book on genetic evolution, called “The Selfish Gene”. This book became very popular among laypersons interested in science, mainly because of its simple style and provocative content.

Dawkin’s theory, revolutionary at the time, was that evolution occured on the genetic level, not on the level of species or individuals. He claimed that evolution could not operate at that level, but could only operate through specific genes being inherited by descendents. Thirty years later this is not a revolutionary theory, it is the mainstream theory and has been very successful, supported by an immense amount of evidence, particulary in genetics and evolutionary development (evo devo).

This man definitely knows his science, but one could question his knowledge of religion. Here is an excellent example of someone doing just that, in a book review on “The God Delusion”. I have not read this book, but I watched the documentaries (part 1, part 2)on google video, and found them compelling, albeit not that scientific.

I would recommend this documentary to anybody, regardless of religious affilation or lack thereof. Of particular interest is his interview of a Muslim fundamentalist, and how creepily similar this dialogue was to some of my own dialogue with Christian fundamentalists. Almost word for word in places, just replace “Allah” with “Jesus”. There is also a very interesting (in hindsight) interview with Ted Haggard, disgraced ex-leader of the National Association of Evangelicals. At the end of the interview (which seems very civil), Ted threatens to have Dawkins arrested if he does not leave church property, apparently under the impression that Dawkin’s called his children monkeys (a favorite straw-man quote from the RR).

Dawkins is on the offensive (speaking of tilting at straw-men), but he has his reasons. He has been attacked by fundamentalist religious organizations and individuals for the past 30 years, and he’s now fighting back. This is certainly understandable. He has been personally attacked as a tool of Satan, due to his SCIENTIFIC studies. Dawkin’s is most definitely anti-religion now, but he was not the first one to throw stones.

While I question his expertise in theological matters, I do welcome him into the fray as someone with a unique perspective. If I had any advice for him, and would suggest he take a much closer at fundamentalist religion, in an objective way. This is the same reason I am currently reading Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”, a popular Christian apologetics book. As a scientist Dawkins should want to gather as much information as possible before making a judgment call.

As I see it, there are two possibilities. One, science and religion make peace with each other. Science does not speak about things it cannot speak of, and neither does religion. The age of the earth, for example, should be a clearly scientific question, not one found in religious scripture. This is a fuzzy line, but one that most of us can agree on, at least in basic principles.

The second option is that science and religion do NOT make peace. Attacks will continue on both sides, and be detrimental to all. Currently there are many people who have left religious groups because those groups demanded faith in areas where evidence clearly contradicted that faith. And conversely, there are many people that ignore all science because it contradicts their faith. Both sides become more insular and weaker due to this battle.

I for one, am hoping for peace, but I have my doubts.

cl
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Subject Unsafe Sex Toys and Google Ranking
Posted Date: December 28, 2006 – Thursday – 2:38 PM
Interesting conversation going on over at boingboing. It seems google recently changed its page ranking algorithm, much to the detriment of certain bloggers and sex sites. I’m not sure how the ranking changes affected your average porn site (and I don’t really care), but it affected sex education, awareness, and advocacy web sites quite negatively. They complained about this, causing quite an outcry in the blogosphere.

Google quickly responded, and most of the old rankings are back, although some sites are still demoted. One wonders if this is a patch (rank tinynibbles.com higher, for example) or an algorithm change that affects the entire ranking process. The original change that brought this thing around was certainly algorithmic in nature; hence the unexpected side affects.

This brings up an intersting point. Really, how can you know if your google query on, say, “unsafe sex toys” is going to bring you the most helpful results? Are you going to get sites trying to sell you unsafe lubrication and vibrators, or are you going to get information on safe sex toys vs. unsafe sex toys, with links to respected vendors?

That’s the problem as described from the consumer’s end. On the information provider’s side it’s just as murky. Violet Blue has this to say about google:

“Practically speaking, there *is no other search engine*. and when someone (or something) has so much power over individuals and no transparency about their process… you live in constant fear that you’re going to do something (you have no idea what) or that something will change (you never know when, or what), to make you disappear.”

that’s a very good point. Nobody wants to live in a Kafka universe (although some of us suspect we do). For google and the other search providers, it’s a problem as well;.how to rank pages for the maximum customer satisfaction? I’m don’t doubt their desire to do this, although I’m certain they are not willing to go to certain lengths in order to get it done. For example, completely opening up their ranking algorithms is highly unlikely.

This might be the solution, though, plus web 2.0. Jimmy Wales, founder of the amazing wikipedia, believes we can set up a community for searching. He has this to say about the current search engiines:

“It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability (and) lack of transparency. Here, we will change all that,”

Wales envisions “a new kind of search engine, which relies on human intelligence to do what algorithms cannot.”

Now there’s a man who really gets it.

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Subject Secrets of the Bush Administration
Posted Date: December 21, 2006 – Thursday – 11:27 AM
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former employee of the State Department, leaked a top secret report to the New York Times. This report became infamously known as “The Pentagon Papers”. The papers revealed that a secret war in Vietnam had been going on well before the official war even started. This war was conducted by President Lyndon Johnson, who did not even bother to tell Congress about it, much less the American people.

An interesting aside…Ellsberg’s offices and home were broken into by “Nixon’s plumbers” in an attempt to intimidate and discredit him. These are the same “plumbers” that raided the offices of the Democratic National Convention, starting the scandal famously known as Watergate.

The main point here is that, if it weren’t for the leaked papers, we would have most likely never known the truth about Vietnam. The war might have continued, with even worse consequences than what actually occurred. Watergate and the Pentagon Papers brought on a newfound distrust of the American government and the military industrial complex it supports.

Today we find ourselves in a very similar situation. The war in Iraq is going badly, and the Administration is hiding this behind a veil of “state-secrets privilege”. The contents of the Pentagon Papers were kept secret because they were politically damaging to those involved in the war. Does anybody think that our current day politicians are any better?

From all available evidence, the answer seems to be “No”. Here is a short list of information that we used to have access to, but now do not:

* In March, the administration announced it would no longer produce the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, which identifies which programs best assist low-income families, while also tracking health insurance coverage and child support.

* In 2005, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism.

* After the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovered discouraging data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.

* When an annual report called “Budget Information for States” showed the federal government shortchanging states in the midst of fiscal crises, Bush’s Office of Management and Budget announced it was discontinuing the report, which some said was the only source for comprehensive data on state funding from the federal government.

* When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

* The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has to date failed to produce a congressionally-mandated report on climate change that was due in 2004. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has called the failure an “obfuscation.”

* The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to close several libraries which were used by researchers and scientists. The agency called its decision a cost-cutting measure, but a 2004 report showed that the facilities actually brought the EPA a $7.5 million surplus annually.

* On November 1st, 2001, President Bush issued an executive order limiting the public’s access to presidential records. The order undermined the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which required the release of those records after 12 years. Bush’s order prevented the release of “68,000 pages of confidential communications between President Ronald Reagan and his advisers,” some of whom had positions in the Bush Administration. More here. Bush did the same thing with his papers from the Texas governorship.

* A rule change at the U.S. Geological Survey restricts agency scientists from publishing or discussing research without that information first being screened by higher-ups at the agency. Special screening will be given to “findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed.” The scientists at the USGS cover such controversial topics as global warming. Before, studies were released after an anonymous peer review of the research. (Thanks to Alison below.)

* A new policy at the The U.S. Forest Service means the agency no longer will generate environmental impact statements for “its long-term plans for America’s national forests and grasslands.” It also “no longer will allow the public to appeal on long-term plans for those forests, but instead will invite participation in planning from the outset.” (Thanks to libra below.)

* In March 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services took down a six-year-old Web site devoted to substance abuse and treatment information for gays and lesbians, after members of the conservative Family Research Council complained.

* In 2002, HHS removed information from its Web site pertaining to risky sexual behavior among adolescents, condom use and HIV.

* Also in 2002, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission removed from its Web site a document showing that officials found large gaps in a portion of an aging Montana dam. A FERC official said the deletion was for “national security.”

* In 2004, the FBI attempted to retroactively classify public information regarding the case of bureau whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, including a series of letters between the Justice Department and several senators.

* In October 2003, the Bush administration banned photographs depicting servicemembers’ coffins returning from overseas.

* In December 2002, the administration curtailed funding to the Mass-Layoffs Statistics program, which released monthly data on the number and size of layoffs by U.S. companies. His father attempted to kill the same program in 1992, but Clinton revived it when he assumed the presidency.

* In 2004, the Internal Revenue Service stopped providing data demonstrating the level of its job performance. In 2006, a judge forced the IRS to provide the information.

* Also in 2004, the Federal Communications Commission blocked access to a once-public database of network outages affecting telecommunications service providers. The FCC removed public copies and exempted the information from Freedom of Information Act requests, saying it would “jeopardize national security efforts.” Experts ridiculed that notion.

* In 2002, Bush officials intervened to derail the publication of an EPA report on mercury and children’s health, which contradicted the administration’s position on lowering regulations on certain power plants. The report was eventually leaked by a “frustrated EPA official.”

* In 2003, the EPA bowed to White House pressure and deleted the global warming section in its annual “Report on the Environment.” The move drew condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

* Also in 2003, the EPA withheld for months key findings from an air pollution report that undercut the White House’s “Clear Skies” initiative. Leaked copies were reported in the Washington Post.

Source.

This information shouild be very disturbing to all readers, conservative and liberal alike. Despite their differences, both sides proport to speak for the people, and they do to a limited degree. But none can argue that any of the information listed above should be classified or withheld. It is obvious that this secrecy is occuring for personal political reasons, and NOT reasons of national security.

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Subject The Almighty Euro an other News
Posted Date: December 19, 2006 – Tuesday – 10:56 AM
Lots of stuff going on in the news today. The top story is definitely the fall of the dollar and the rise of the Euro This is very bad news for us, folks!

The skinny is, the Euro is doing spectacularly well, while the dollar is doing the opposite of well. When the Euro was first created, it was close to matching the dollar…you could exchange one euro for about a dollar. Today a dollar will get you 3/4 of a Euro. Not good.

Many countries are realizing that they are better off using the Euro for their reserves, instead of the dollar. Iran is doing it, Russia is doing it, and more to follow soon, I’m sure.

And how can you blame them? The US deficit is mounting, government spending is only increasing, the housing bubble is about to burst, baby boomers are retiring, and inflation continues onward and upward with no end in sight.

The US Treasury just put out their annual report, (thanks, Tucker!) with little to no media fanfair. Nevertheless, it was big news in the financial sector, of course. Here are some choice comments from the Secretary of the Treasury:

“Without fundamental reform to ensure the sustainability of these programs, by the year 2080 the cost to the federal government of Social Security and Medicair together will nearly triple as a percentage of the US economy, growing to 17 percent.

“Treasury is commited to resolving the financial management challenges that have led to the Comptroller General of the United States being unable to express an opinion on the financial statements.”

How money works is becoming a new fascination with me. Did you know that your money is NOT issued by the US Government? OK, you probably knew that, but do you know how the Federal Reserve actually works? Neither do I, but I plan to find out.

“Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money .”
– Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England (in the 1920s); reputed to be the 2nd wealthiest man in England at that time

WikiLink:

How to create money.

Other News:

Top 10 Stories you missed in 2006.
If you don’t think mainstream media is lying to you, then I’ve got some property in Florida to sell you.

Teens don’t think the 1st Amendment is that important..

This one got to me:

• 30% (down from 32%) say the press has too much freedom.

America is Insolvent.
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Subject Amazon might sell mp3s without DRM
Posted Date: December 19, 2006 – Tuesday – 10:37 AM
This is great news to music fans and hardware manufacturers everywhere…Amazon is interested in getting into online music sales, but only if the music can be sold in the unprotected mp3 format. This is an important decision to make, selling music with protection locks you into a relationship with the manufacturer of that DRM…you are at their mercy. IE: if you buy iTunes music you must use it on an iPod. If you buy Microsoft music you must play it on the Zune.

With Microsofts decision to not even support it’s own “PlaysForSure”* DRM with the new Zune player, it’s making it more clear to people that using DRM locks you into a specific vendor, and then allows that vendor to do whatever it wishes. If you bought digital music that is encoded in Microsoft’s “PlaysForSure” format, you cannot play this legally purchased music on the Microsoft’s Zune.

Think about this for a moment…Microsoft created a DRM format, music was sold in that format, and then Microsoft doesn’t support that music in their newest player! Does this make any sort of sense? Anyone gullible and honest enough to have bought “PlaysForSure” music is up poop-creek without a paddle!

Say No to DRM and Yes to mp3s! DRM does not decrease piracy; if anything it increases it, as people turn to illegal sources to get the functionality they are used to.

cl

* The choice of the name “PlaysForSure” for a DRM format is the ultimate irony. The very name implies that music bought in this format will “certainly play” in the device of your choice. Nothing can be farther from the truth….currently the only format that plays on all music players is the mp3.

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Subject Time’s Person of Year: Congratulations, it’s you!
Posted Date: December 18, 2006 – Monday – 6:31 AM
You, fellow bloggers and Web 2.0 afficionados, have been elected “Time’s Person of the Year” for 2006. Congratulations, you must be proud! I know I am.

The corresponding Times article if very inspiring:

“…It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”

This is so true…a paradigm shift, like the printing press. Everything is affected. I remember, in the mid-nineties, trying to explain to people what the Internet was all about, and what it was going to do. I would say, “It’s goign to change EVERYTHING!”. I’d get blank or bemused looks. I sounded silly even to my own ears, like some Socialistic idealist or something.

But these days, I feel vindicated. It really is changing everything. And we’re all part of it.

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Subject Democrats: Expect data privacy and patent law rewrite
Posted Date: December 14, 2006 – Thursday – 5:46 AM
Patrick Leahy, as the new head of the Senate Judicial Commitee, has promised changes to both privacy and patent laws. Laws in these areas are currently quite out of date, and need to be revised for the internet and software.

This is certainly promising. Leahy does have a decent track record, although he was a supporter of the INDUCE Act, which was very unpopular with Internet companies everywhere. We’ll see what happens, but nice to see that we’re not “staying the course” in the face of obvious problems.
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Subject Henry Rollins: “America is under attack”
Posted Date: December 12, 2006 – Tuesday – 11:16 AM
Henry Rollins is awesome. He rips on those who would like to take our freedom away in the name of safety, and he even explains the dangers of “net neutrality”. It’s great to see this in a mainstream media show.

“To question authority is somehow unpatriotic, unamerican, and in league with terrorists worldwide…&^(% you!”

“…they want to Internet regulated, contained, and thrown into a cell at Guatanamo Bay.”

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Subject Water on Mars
Posted Date: December 12, 2006 – Tuesday – 10:22 AM
There might be water on Mars! I’ve been hearing about this all week, but this is the first time I’ve seen these pictures, and they are compelling. Here’s an article on the phenomenon. Still to early to tell for sure, but results look promising!
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Subject Home Grown Christmas Video
Posted Date: December 11, 2006 – Monday – 5:03 AM
Hilarious…Feliz Navidad, everyone. I really want a pair of those christmas shorts. These guys must have had a blast making this…

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Subject Gnostics in the News
Posted Date: December 10, 2006 – Sunday – 1:06 PM
Wow, an article in US News and World Report about Gnosticism. I never thought I’d see the day when a mainstream article mentioned Athanasius!

This all must have something to do with Ron Howard’s latest opus, “The Davinci Code”. A second rate movie based on a third rate book, somehow both versions have managed to find large audiences. But hey, if it’s got people talking about alternative Christian history, I’m all for it. The more you dig the wierder the story becomes.

“And the companion of [the savior was] Mary Magdalene. [Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples, [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth? face? cheek?]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.””

Gospel of Philip
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Subject The Athiest Delusion
Posted Date: December 6, 2006 – Wednesday – 6:48 AM
Hilarious. Checkmate!
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Old Blog Posts November 27, 2006

Subject “Atheism, not religion is the real force behind the mass murders of history”
Posted Date: November 27, 2006 – Monday – 10:35 AM
Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor regarding claims made in Sam Harris’ “End Of Faith” and Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”:

“It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness.

These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.”

I would argue that hard-line communism and Nazi Arianism had all the markings of a fundamentalist religion, but that’s another blog.

I recently read Sam Harris’ book, and I’m still looking for the right angle to do a book review. I agree with his basic premise, that religion should not be exempt from criticism based on secular/humanistic ethics. All organizations and individuals, both secular and sacred, should be held accountable for their actions by society, regardless of their personal beliefs. Being religious or fundamentalist does not mean you are beyond reproach or ridicule. But neither should Atheists.

In fact, if you look at the worse mass murders in religious history, you will find that it is usually one religious group killing another religious group, or killing their own members. “Freedom of Religion” was implemented in America for a specific purpose, to make sure this behavior was not allowed in our society.

An interesting point, and one I might explore more later, is that in order for there to be religious freedom, there must be secular limitations put on religion! IE: you are not free to practice your “religious right” to burn non-believers at the stake. To put it more generically, you are not free to use your religious freedom in ways that truncate other people’s religious freedom, or in various ways that society has deemed harmful.

Most reasonable people would agree with me on this, at least in practice if not in principle. And this specific limitation on religion is enough to keep the worse excesses at bay. Islamic fundamentalists practice a religion that does not allow other people religious freedom, and this can be deemed wrong and harmful to society. We also have a fundamentalist movement in our own culture that would like to do the same with Christianity, and this should be considered unhealthy for religious freedom, and unhealthy for society as a whole.

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Subject Federal Spending per Taxpayer
Posted Date: November 27, 2006 – Monday – 8:58 AM
Quote from an article on LewRockwell’s site::

Directly and indirectly, $17,430 is what the Federal government takes each year, on average, from each American who works, not to mention the big chunk out of their lives taken through regulation. Who gets this $17,430 after it is extracted from working men and women?

  • $3,690 goes to people on Social Security and Disability.
  • $3,492 goes to people in war industries.
  • $2,166 goes to people on Medicare.
  • $1,767 goes to people on Medicaid.
  • $1,505 goes to people on food stamps, welfare (assistance), housing, and income payments.
  • $1,297 goes to lenders for interest.
  • $1,028 goes to people in transportation, environmental, space, science, and regional building industries.
  • $ 708 goes to Federal employees for their retirement.
  • $ 688 goes to people in educational industries.
  • $ 495 goes to veterans.
  • $ 402 goes to people in the Federal government for their services.
  • $ 244 goes to people overseas.
  • $ 187 goes to people in agricultural industries.

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Subject The Dalai Lama on Science
Posted Date: November 27, 2006 – Monday – 8:21 AM
Interesting article on Salon about Buddhism and Science.

“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” Dalai Lama

“Do not take my statements to be true simply out of reverence for me. But rather, put them to the test.” Buddha

It’s nice to see a religion that takes science seriously. Science needs the sort of moral guidance we traditionally find in religious experiences, so it’s a shame they are constantly at each other’s throats. If monotheistic religions cannot provide valid guidance to science than it will fall to Eastern religions like Buddhism to do so.

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Subject Thankful dot com
Posted Date: November 23, 2006 – Thursday – 5:15 PM

“Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts”
…..
“Thanks, for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business. Thanks, for a nation of finks.”

“Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.”
— William S. Burroughs, “A Thanksgiving Prayer

Health, family, friends, job, blah blah blah. Of course I’m thankful for all this crap, without it my life would royally suck. So why do I feel so unorginal saying it? Well, maybe because everyone elses lives would suck (does suck) without these things either. So yeah, I’m thankful for these things.

But I’m also very thankful for the internet.

I’m thankful for Amazon.com, for fueling my continued education. I think I read twice as much now as I did before amazon. The analog way of getting books makes it harder to find new books and authors that would interest you. Amazon makes it impossible NOT to find these things. Thank you, Amazon.

I’m thankful for Wikipedia.org, for giving us an open and successful model of how to validate and consolidate information. Most people thought, and some still do think, that something as important as a encyclopedia could never be formed without strong centralized control and editorial processes. These people underestimate the human ability to compromise, cooperate, and strive for excellence without enforced hierarchies. We will see this model become more and more powerful and popular as it solves current problems in government, entertainment, ethics, and other aspects of shared consensual reality.

I’m thankful for youtube.com, for validating my decision to go into computers instead of filmmaking. I remember telling my film buddies that computers, the internet and cheap hardware were going to radically change the face of filmmaking and film distribution. Let’s mark 2006 as the year when average people stop looking at my strangely when I say this. Thank you, youtube.

I’m thankful for digg.com, for wasting hours of my life in vastly intertaining ways. I’m thankful for the new celebrity system based on click counts instead of marketing dollars. I thankful for the real instead of the processed, for the spontaneous instead of the program, and I’m thankful that millions of other people share my values here.

I’m thankful for MySpace.com, for providing us a taste of the future. In all its good and bad, social networking is here to stay, in one form or another. Lessons learned on MySpace will be important in the years ahead. I hope we tackle these new challenges as opportunities instead of liabilities. Many times a problem has its own key, if you look hard enough.

I’m thankful for google.com, for their motto to not be evil. I’m thanful for google’s amazing list of (web) applications: search, gmail, maps, calendar, desktop search, docs and spreadsheets, books, earth, talk, base, analytics, mobile, etc etc etc. Seriously, these guys are making some pretty incredible moves. Thank you, google.

I’m thankful for flickr.com, slashdot.org, boingboing.net, fsf.org, mozilla.org, sourceforge.net, fark.com, rottentomatoes.com, sorryeverybody.com, cuteoverload.com, and all the other web sites that brighten my life, but that I can’t think of right now.

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Subject The Creation Museum – Motto: “Prepare to Believe!”
Posted Date: November 22, 2006 – Wednesday – 9:34 AM
Wow, the Creation Museum is going to be a reality!

Let’s start with Proposition X. We know this proposition to be true, undoubtable, for one reason or another. We then look for evidence to support X, using whatever tools necessary. We assume that any evidence against X is invalid due to Proposition X being infallible, so we throw it out. Pretty soon, we have fairly good support for X, and we can be confident that it is true, and show that to others.

Grant you, called “Creation” scientists are not the only ones to do this. A lot of bad science has occurred in exactly this way. But this sort of science rarely holds up, because declaring yourself infallible does not make it so. Sooner or later all the “invalid” evidence you threw out will come to light, and your proposition will be discredited. This is exactly what has happened to Young Earth Creationism, numerous times, and yet it still proports to be “science”! With it’s own Museum!

These guys make the Intelligent Design crown seem like pinnacles of reason and knowledge. Here are some great quotes I gleaned off the Museum’s website:

“the fact is, every single dating method (outside of Scripture) is based on fallible assumptions..Why would any Christian want to take man’s fallible dating methods and use them to impose an idea on the infallible Word of God? ”

Let’s look at the Biblical dating method for setting the creation of the earth, animals, and mankind. Actually, never mind, it’s kind of boring, but suffice to say it’s set to 4,000 B.C.E, give or take a couple of hundred years. This certainly is precise! And if you believe in biblical infallibility and historical records, you can’t come up with an age much different than this.

“if Christian leaders have told the next generation that one can accept the world’s teachings in geology, biology, astronomy, etc., and use these to (re)interpret God’s Word, then the door has been opened for this to happen in every area, including morality.”

He’s absolutely right. If clear evidence shows that the Bible is NOT an authority on geology, biology, astronomy, etc, then this certainly weakens the case of certain Christian fundamentalists.

Below is Proposition X,spelled out:

“Believing in a relatively ‘young Earth’ (i.e., only a few thousands of years old, which we accept) is a consequence of accepting the authority of the Word of God as an infallible revelation from our omniscient Creator.”

But you cannot have your cake and eat it to. If the “Creation” in “Creation Scientists” means that you must trust scripture over your experiments, then you cannot be a scientist. If you trust your experiments over scripture, then you cannot accept Proposition X. Each choice is exclusive.

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Subject Newsweek article on DRM
Posted Date: November 22, 2006 – Wednesday – 3:20 AM
Nice to see the mainstream press taking interest in DRM. I’m definitely in the thick of this debate, I’m into Creative Commons, a contributor to the EFF/FSF, a member of Defective by Design, and a subscriber to eMusic.

For anytbody who uses an MP3 player, you should check out eMusic. They’ve got a bunch of main stream bands, and a whole lot of good independent bands. The sight helps you find the music you are looking for, just like the Apple Music Store.

cl
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Subject “An Inconvenient Truth” available on DVD today
Posted Date: November 21, 2006 – Tuesday – 10:39 AM
Go to your friendly neighborhood DVD dealer and rent this movie today! Grant you, this is a politician talking about science, so it’s not fully accurate, of course. But who the heck wants to listen to boring scientists anyway. Like it or not, people are more easily convinced with simple facts and pictures instead of complex scientific facts and figures.

I thank you, Mr. President, and my children’s children thank you.

cl

“You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.” – Roger Ebert
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Subject Bill O’Reilly: Gamers don’t deal with “Reality”
Posted Date: November 21, 2006 – Tuesday – 9:50 AM

Bill O’Reilly is a Luddite. Here’s what he has to say about gamers:

“Basically what you have is a large portion of the population, mostly younger people under the age of 45, who don’t deal with reality – ever. So they don’t know what day it is; they don’t know temperature it is; they don’t know what their neighbor looks like. They don’t know anything… because they are constantly diverted by a machine.”

He then goes on to diss iPods and other technology:

“I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life – the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them?”

Think about this for a moment. Here is a guy who has completely missed the internet revolution. He’s never used an mp3 player, and he probably has problems with his VCR/DVD player. He’s probably never used “the Google”, Wikipedia, digg, MySpace, YouTube, or any of the other sites we frequent regularly. He knows what blogging is, and that he doesn’t like it, but he’s probably never actually read a blog that wasn’t printed out for him. This guy is a freakin’ dinosaur, what the heck does he have to say about technology?

His guest is from the “National Institute on Media and the Family”. You know…the guys who claimed to be supported by the national PTA organization, and weren’t? You know the organization that claimed a video game promoted cannibalism, when it didn’t even have cannibals in it? Yeah, those guys are definitely with it. Of course, if O’Reily actually USED the internet he’d know about these things, but that’s Fox “Reality” for you.

Come on…O’Reilly and Fox telling us who is and isn’t in touch with reality? I mean, these are the guys that created “reality television”, which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Supposedly O’Reilly’s show is a “spin free zone”; does anybody who watches this show actually believe that?

Now, there is a real danger in gaming addiction; we’ve all most likely seen it. But O’Reilly is certainly not someone who could have any answers to this problem. He apparently thinks this can be solved the same way drug abuse has been “solved”; make it illegal and throw people in jail for it. That takes care of that. Never mind that many “drugs” were used for religious purposes, and never mind that games have also been around for thousands of years. Asshat.

And then he lumps the internet, computers, and the iPod in with gamers, and disses on “computer geeks” in general. We speak just fine, O’Reilly…it’s you who needs to learn, not us. See, we’re ahead of you…not behind. Good God. I guess if you’re completely clueless it makes sense to lump all these people together. It’s like making two categories…”white” and “not-white”, and then assigning everyone you meet to one category or another. Sure, they’re valid categories, but what do they tell you? Not much.

Get a clue, dude. Or not…digg is having a lot of fun laughing at you.

I just finished the book “Vurt”, by Jeff Noon. Psychedelic science fiction for gamers…it was awesome! If modern computer games are addicting, imagine fully immersive Virtual Reality.

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Subject RIP, Robert Altman
Posted Date: November 21, 2006 – Tuesday – 6:04 AM
The legendary director Robert Altman died today, at the age of eighty-one. Altman started making movies in the ’50s, and didn’t ever stop. His latest movie, “A Prairie Home Companion” just came out this year, and has been quite popular.

I’ve always enjoyed Altman movies, although he was never my favorite director. I liked how he skewed standard or exploitative storylines, focusing on character development over everything else. Which is why he’s always been a favorite for actors. For anybody wanting to be introduced to Altman’s films, I would recommend the highly celebrated and often parroted movie “Short Cuts”.

That’s how I want to go out…still doing what I love.
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Subject Door to Door Atheists in SLC
Posted Date: November 20, 2006 – Monday – 11:52 AM
This has me cracking up…this Australian dude flies to Salt Lake City to go door to door with a copy of Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”, trying to convert Mormons to Athiesm. While I can’t approve of bothering anybody on a Saturday morning, even Mormons, this is tickling my irony bone.

I had a long conversation with some Mormons earlier this year. First they came by on a Saturday (early!), but I was hung over. Stupid me, I asked them to come back some other time. But we had a long and pleasant conversation regarding biblical infallibility, environmentalism, and the Religious Right.

I don’t know why, but I love trying to convert these guys away from “the faith”. Just one hint of doubt in their eyes, and I’m satisfied. And it’s funny, after they realize you’re a lost cause, they’ll never knock on your door again….Saturday morning peace restored. And if you ever REALLY want to piss them off, just keep calling them “Jehovah Witnesses” over and over again…they love that.

I don’t know why I even bother arguing with the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and other proselytizing folk. It’s like that cut on the roof of your mouth that would heal if you’d only stop poking at it with your tongue (I mean my reaction is similar, I’m not comparing religious people to open wounds).

I feel more sorry for them than anything; to waste a perfectly good life like that. Not to say that Mormons haven’t done any good in this world…they have! Their missionaries have done great things supporting people in developing nations, and they should be thanked for that. And I suppose them must be happy, to one degree or another. But still…it’s sad that we need to make up religious beliefs in order to do good things.

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Subject UMG sues MySpace: “one big poo-flinging goat rodeo”
Posted Date: November 20, 2006 – Monday – 11:21 AM
Universal Music Group has apparently taken a break from suing little old ladies, dead people, and children, and is now going after some bigger game.

According to UMG, the user-generated content on MySpace somehow belongs to them. But here’s what I think…the RIAA clan has been so busy trying to maintain their failing business model that they completely missed this new business model called “Web 2.0”. MySpace understands 2.0, at least partially, and now UMG and the like are getting scared. And they should be; you snooze you loose, suckers! While Fox News Corp. is far from my favorite organization, it’s nice to have them on our side.

As the rest of us walk into a future of blogging, podcasting, and net hyped indie-bands, the RIAA continues to over-promote crappy bands and charge $15-20 bucks for albums with one good song on them. The only reason this business model ever worked is that they’ve maintained a virtual monopoly on music distribution, to the detriment of both fans and musicians.

Not anymore…the new players are here. Sorry guys, your glory days are past if you don’t change your tune. In the future, bloggers like me are going to diss you every chance we get until nobody would think of purchasing your crappy product. Just wait and see, if you don’t believe me.

cl
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Subject Clear Evidence 2006 Congressional Elections Hacked
Posted Date: November 17, 2006 – Friday – 9:51 AM
This is what happens when you have electronic voting machines with no paper trail. I don’t mean election tampering, although that’s definitely a possibility. I mean even if there ISN’T election tampering, there will be claims that it is occuring.

Interesting to see how this story turns out.

cl
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Subject Inhofe: Don’t Worry About Global Warming Because ‘God’s Still Up There’
Posted Date: November 17, 2006 – Friday – 9:18 AM
This is the sort of destructive religious beliefs that really get to me. “Don’t worry about the earth, ’cause you are going to heaven soon anyway”. Or, “The earth will be destroyed anyway, so why save it?”

And remember, this isn’t a preacher, Inhofe is the freakin’ outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works! This guy is obviously either 1) being fed a crock of bull or is 2) deliberately lying. He is not telling you the truth; anyone who wants to check can verify that. Unfortunately, most people aren’t into verifying things…they’re fine with soundbites.

Wikipedia has a good overview of the difficulty of deducing cause and effect in weather systems. The short of it is that weather is modeled best with nonlinear equations, where cause and effect are muddled at best. In fact, Lorenz was a meteorologist, and his studies on weather were groundbreaking for Chaos Theory. Check out the Lorenz Attractor….an extremely elegant model of weather.

Due to this, any “proof” about the causes of global warming must be statistical. While scientists are fine with statistical proof, and have good reason to be; laymen aren’t so much…they want physical cause and effect proof…old fashioned and clear. Unfortunately this kind of proof is impossible by the very nature of the system.

But this does not change the overwhelming statistics that show what virtually all scientists are saying…the world is getting warmer, and we are a part of it. Fossil fuels, water in the atmosphere, deforestation, pollutions in the ocean…all have had their part in fueling the giant feedback system that is weather.

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Subject Democrats with a plan: First 100 Hours
Posted Date: November 16, 2006 – Thursday – 8:57 AM
Here is a link specifying what the Democrats plan to do in their first 100 hours. Nice to know that they actually have a plan! I’ve been comparing this to my Democrat wishlist.

“We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.”

This references number one and two on my wishlist, at least partially. While I applaud the Democrats for their emphasis on “fiscal responsibility” in the light of the recent Neo-Conservative spending spree, I question their ability to do this. And while “no new deficit spending” is going in the right direction, it will not DECREASE our national debt.

And while I applaud their desire to further limit lobbiest, I question whether it’s possible for real change to come from our House; I have a feeling it will come through the initiative process instead.

“We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.”

This is huge! For those not aware of the 9/11 Commission, I highly recommend the documetary “On Native Soil“. If you’ve ever thought that the Neo-Conservative agenda was to “keep America safe from terrorism”, think again. Bush tried to get the 9/11 Commission squashed before it started, and he was only overturned due to the persistence of the families of the victims of 9/11. When the Commisions findings were complete, the Administration and Congress proceeded to ignore these findings, with potentially disastrous results. It’s nice to see this Commission finally be taken seriously.

“We will make our economy fairer, and we will begin by raising the minimum wage. We will not pass a pay raise for Congress until there is an increase in the minimum wage.”

Awesome! This was issue number 5 on my wishlist. This is a moral issue that the Republicans should be ashamed of for ignoring so long, due to their pandering to big business. There is a very high cost to low wages.

“We will make health care more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. We will also promote stem cell research to offer real hope to the millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.”

For one thing, I’m heartened to not see the word “Universal” in the above sentence. It’s true that our current laws and contracts are biased in favour of biotech and drug companies. While we need to allow as much freedom as possible for these companies to make a profit, we also need to make sure that regulations are in place to allow the the resulting breakthroughs to be used for the good of all people, rich and poor.

This is not a simple, soundbite ready issue, but it’s clear that the health industry SHOULD be regulated in a way similar to how other critical industries are regulated, like the power industry, transportation, and waste disposal, etc. This is literally a matter of life and death, and should not be left completely vulnerable to free market fluctuations.

“We will broaden college opportunity, and we will begin by cutting interest rates for student loans in half.”

We are dumb. Smart is good. We want smart, not dumb.

“We will energize America by achieving energy independence, and we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.”

Thank the good Lord! This is number 4 on my wishlist. This, more than any other single issue, is going to make or break this nation. Our dependence on foreign oil is a bipartisan problem every American can get behind. Except for those in the oil industy’s pocket, of course…which was the majority of Congress until this last election. Suck it, Exxon…no more record breaking, subsidized profits for you!

“We will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting any attempt to privatize Social Security.”

This is a pretty typical, traditional Democrat principle, staid to the point of being boring. While the economics behind Social Security are questionable at best, it’s clear that privatization is not the full answer, and to one degree or another we’re stuck with it. This should be an interesting point of debate over the next few years. I still think it doubtful that there will be any SS money left over by the time my generation is going to retire

In in all I find this very comforting. I hope we’re seeing the “new” populist, yet fiscally conservative, Democrat; but I’m not holding my breath. I’m also happy that they’ve avoided hot button issues like gay marriage and abortion, choosing to focus on issues most average Americans can agree with, or at least not disagree with to strongly.

Here is a goal the Democrats must keep in mind…we can never let the Neo-Conservatives and the Christian Coalition run our country again.
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Subject Now THAT’S a scary tattoo
Posted Date: November 15, 2006 – Wednesday – 11:08 AM
Yipes!

On a completely unrelated note, I just saw “Shaolin Soccer” last night. Don’t know why I waiting so long, it’s awesome! Trust me…check this movie out.
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