Friday, December 31

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

--From Bill Moyers' acceptance speech for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award. (PDF version here. Thanks Maria for pointing this one out...)
For the first time, a scientific study has statistically shown that eating fast-food predisposes you to Type 2 diabetes and heart troubles.

Thursday, December 30

I don't think there's much to talk about in the world right now except this.

Saturday, December 25

Tuesday, December 7

With all the shit that goes down in this world, it's important to remember that there are many wonderful people working on many amazing things.

Sunday, November 21

For the religious right, Bush was like any other stealth candidate. No matter his unqualifications, he delivered for them in his first term, and so they rewarded him with their votes in record numbers.

Tuesday, November 16

"In a critical commentary, the Australian medical research scientist Raymond Johnstone noted that the annual death rate from lung cancer among the non-smoking wives of non-smoking men is around six per 100,000, whereas among the non-smoking wives of smoking men the corresponding figure is eight per 100,000. Now this may be reported as an increased (relative) risk of 33 per cent. Yet in absolute terms it amounts to an absolute (or exposure) risk of one in 50,000, which is, for practical purposes, negligible."
Because the war on smoking anywhere at all is all about science, right?
Is this really necesary?

Monday, November 15

I know this site has probably been around for a while but for those of you who haven't seen it: I'm not sorry that I keep bitching about the election. I am still disgusted that Bush is in for four more years.

Thursday, November 11

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important. --Eugene McCarthy

Tuesday, November 9

The other day my friend Lei Li responded to my email forwarding the fake Time Magazine cover of Bush that's been floating around the internet. (In case you haven't seen it, it's the one with a big close-up of Bush on the cover and the words "We Are Fucked" on its blank canvas.) Her response to me was so on-the-money about America right now that I asked permission to publish it. She consented, so here it is:

I've been rather deeply disdraught over Bush's re-election. Least of concern is where we are going, more of my concern is what Americans are made of--how could 51% of Americans have voted for Bush despite the present administration's domestic policies and patronizations (e.g., The Patriot's Act; the abusive use of State Secrecy from case law); and despite the danger that our government's horrifying foreign policy has put this entire country in. The world is a much more dangerous place today after Afghanistan and Iraq, after the Iraq prison mess, after the nonstop kidnappings and killings of Americans and foreigners in Iraq. Bush stuck our hands in a snake hole and yet he's being voted for his willingness to fight terrorism...

Americans are by and large lowly educated, who in an age of unrest and chaos, more or less naturally reached for what is easier to reach for--blind "faith" and phobia-filled "values" over educated and informed decisions.

It's utterly depressing. I feel such disdain over speech of how now we got to stand behind our president, because after all, we have only one at a time. I DO NOT stand behind ANYBODY if that person represents bigotry, intolerance, ignorance, incuriosity, jocky/imbecile zeal, pigheadedness, and dangerously unyielding arrogance.

Yet 51% of us believed that he stood for "values" that we cannot live without. I think 51% of us have become the reactionary majority that is deathly fearful of the multi-faceted, gray (v. black/white), and ever nebulous and complex entity called "truth." We can't handle the truth, b/c learning the truth requires patience, effort (lots of it), open-minded intelligence, tolerance, and willingness to self-critqiue.

So while this majority said that it stood for "moral values," it has failed its moral duty. It elected a president who's by far the most politically irresponsible in recent history. It gets more and more depressing as the days go on... it's going to be a long four years, very long indeed.

Thursday, November 4

Ignore the internal politics and scroll down to Radley Balko's excellent point by point dissection of David Frum's suggestion of a fat tax on soda. Also, what the hell are conservatives doing planning for more taxes? I though the one thing that you could count on them for was opposing taxes?!
Crazy ramble here. Watching Bush give his acceptance speech yesterday I was looking at the First Family. First there was Laura Bush in her pink ala-Jackie-Kennedy suit. Give it up Laura. Then, there were The Twins: Jenna in her major clevage-revealing black shirt, looking like she just got back from a drunken romp with a fraternity boy - or sailor - the evening before. Then the most shocking thing was seeing the other twin, Barbara, in a black dress with her nipples poking through. Yep, you read that right. Shocking not because the nipples were showing but because I expected more from/had hope for Barbara. Who's dressing these girls? But I guess my biggest question is this: With such a conservative family, and with what Bush based a large portion of his election on - moral issues, family values - is this really the image they want to give America? Oh wait, I forgot: Bush says one thing and does another. Pardon me.

Tuesday, November 2

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.

Tuesday, October 26

Monday, October 18

Greens for Impact is a group of Green officials trying to convince Greens and independents in swing states who might vote for Nader or Cobb to support Kerry instead. Take a look.

Monday, October 11

About those political ads that the Feds have made illegal to broadcast...

Thursday, October 7

The RAND Corporation has completed one of the first studies to analyze the relationship between suburban sprawl and health: Researchers found that people who live in areas with a high degree of suburban sprawl are more likely to report chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties than people who live in less sprawling areas.

Thursday, September 30

She's too modest to post it herself, so I will: Opensewer's own part-time blogger Jana Prikryl has a wicked good piece over at The about gays and the Christian church. Check it out!

Friday, September 24

So today on the NPR-beginning-of-the-hour news update I hear Donald Rumsfield or John Ashcroft (aren't they one in the same?) stating that the violence and killing and danger in Iraq is "no worse than any American city..." and further stating that we "just don't hear about all the killings" over here in our fair cities on a daily basis. I pulled over and puked my guts out. If I can find a link to the story, I'll post it.

Thursday, September 23

The only man who might have saved Roger Ebert from spending eternity in cinema hell is dead. RIP Russ Meyer.

Monday, September 20

Scholarly books often resemble the pyramids erected for minor officials in ancient Egypt. Impressive in their way -- and built to last -- they are, nonetheless, difficult to tell apart. By contrast, The Sources of Social Power, by Michael Mann, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles and a visiting research professor at Queens University Belfast, is "audacious in scope, ambitious in objective, and provocative in challenge," as the American Sociological Association put it in presenting Mr. Mann its 1988 award for distinguished scholarly publication.

Wednesday, September 8

Gary Taxali: There are some things better left unsaid, not because I have nothing to say because that would be contrary to my character. Rather, the pictures I make are themselves narratives that provide the viewer with many statements, many of which I myself am not aware. And if I were acutely tuned into this I'd have created a picture that shouldn't have been made in the first place.

Gary's gallery has been updated with all new work.

Monday, August 30

Bush sees war against terror that never ends.

From Orwell, 1984, Chapter 1: The Ministry of Truth ... was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:




Wednesday, August 25

The same workers in poorer countries that knit sweaters, make athletic shoes and fabricate bargain-priced granite countertops for the Western World are now playing MMOGs around the clock to produce virtual goods that relatively wealthy American and European gamers can purchase.

Tuesday, August 24

DO NOT WALK TO SCHOOL! You must drive!

In reality, this situation is of course a product of circumstance...but on a symbolic level it certainly is representative of the machine that traps us in a nonrenewable resource dependant lifestyle.

Thursday, August 19

So today is John Alston's birthday (he's our most active blogger these days). John, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank you for being so active on Opensewer during all your moving about (from Ithaca, to NYC, to San Francisco). You really kept the website going while Rose and I became increasingly occupied with certain other "life responsibilities" (i.e., baby Maximilian, who is now 1 year old). Thanks so much, John, happy birthday, and don't blog over this! --Jason

Monday, August 16

President Bush and the Republicans in the Senate have failed — for the moment — to bring the Constitution into conformity with Judeo-Christian teachings. But even if they had passed a bill calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, that would have been only a beginning. Leviticus 20:13 and the New Testament book of Romans reveal that the God of the Bible doesn't merely disapprove of homosexuality; he specifically says homosexuals should be killed: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death." (login:opensewer, password:ispuking)

Monday, August 9

For all modern society's promises of leisure, liberty and doing what you want, most of us are still slaves to a schedule we did not choose. Why have things come to such a pass? Well, the forces of the anti-idle have been at work since the fall of man. The propaganda against oversleeping goes back a very long way, more than 2,000 years, to the Bible. Here is Proverbs, chapter 6, on the subject:
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
(I would question the sanity of a religion that holds up the ant as an example of how to live. The ant system is an exploitative aristocracy based on the unthinking toil of millions of workers and the complete inactivity of a single queen and a handful of drones.)
Did you know that every year numerous "dead zones"--areas of water so devoid of oxygen that they cannot support acquatic life--form around the world?
Confused or just annoyed beyond reason by Democratic and Republican ads claiming the other guy is the anti-Christ, a communist, a fascist, a liar, a phony? This non-profit website has a long history of non-partisan investigation of political ads, political statements and the usual garbage spewed by our wonderful elected officials and their supporters.

Is John Kerry right when he blames the corporate tax code for job outsourcing?

Are "good paying" jobs growing faster than "poor paying" jobs?

Why did John Kerry vote against providing our soldiers with improved body armor?

Does John McCain support George Bush because he agrees with his policies and beliefs or does he support him primarily because he's a fellow Republican?

Find these answers and more at

Monday, August 2

Oh, this is the kind of news I like to hear!

Saturday, July 31

"Sanitation workers always say you can go your whole life without ever needing a firefighter," Ms. Nagle, the anthropology professor, said. "If you're lucky, the same goes for calling the cops. But you need sanitation workers every single day." This and other trash-talk in the NYT today.

Thursday, July 29


Children may be “vaccinated” against the effects of cocaine and other drugs in a plan recently revealed by the UK government, reports the well-regarded British newspaper, The Independent. The article explains that "Doctors would immunize children at risk of becoming smokers or drug users with an injection" and that the program would operate in a way similar to the "current nationwide measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme." Further the authors reveal that "such vaccinations are being developed by pharmaceutical companies and are due to hit the market within two years."

OK folks, this is just the worst thing I have ever heard done "in the name of the children."

Guerrilla Drive-ins. Yes.

Wednesday, July 28

The City, but "cleaner": ...the developers of I'On have attempted to extract the architectural essence of nineteenth-century Charleston and plop it down in a greenfield suburb. ... I can't help wondering if I'On appeals to homebuyers who love historic architecture but can't deal with the diversity of the old city. If they wanted a place that mimics Charleston except in that all residents would be affluent and most if not all would be white, those buyers may well have found it...

Friday, July 23

On the great divide between the US and Europe - Hating America - a very good and long article from the Hudson Review by Bruce Bawer.

Thursday, July 22

"In his trenchant short study, Che Guevara, the British historian Andrew Sinclair concludes that, during the guerrilla war, Che 'discovered a cold ruthlessness in his nature. Spilling blood was necessary for the cause. Within two years, he would order the death of several hundred Batista partisans at La Cabana, one of the mass killings of the Cuban Revolution.'"
The Observer on Che and the upcoming film The Motorcycle Diaries.

Wednesday, July 21

Scientists are still working on a cure for the obesity epidemic - but you can help, too. Just check out this concerned American's example: "Marge Hampton is an obese American who has responded to the epidemic by trying to raise awareness and money for obesity research. In May, Hampton coordinated the Obesity Awareness Five-Mile Fun Ride, which led participants on a motor tour of Chicago's waterfront parks, and she orchestrated an obesity-awareness bake sale last month."
Some of those crazy Brits want to ban Happiness! Well, not exaclty, but they want to ban happy-hour.  It's "part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce alcohol-related disorder." Ahh, the war against disorder! Can we group that war with the war against drugs, since it, too, will never end (and besides, they are both much too politically useful to have active)?
Really, shouldn't all such attempts to control people's behavior that isn't harming anyone else be seen as what they are - authoritarianism, even if in the guise "doing what's good for us?"
And don't leave the US out of the loop - we can ban (non-government approved and possibly harmful) happiness here, too! (1 example)
The medical marijuana movement has gained significant ground in recent years, and look for more state ballot actions this fall (a report can be found through this page).
Meanwhile,  the Feds are keeping their heads in the sand (or elsewhere), and obstructing efforts at legitimate scientific research into the medical uses of herb.   Fear, prejudice and politics apparently play bigger roles than science does in federal health policies.

Thursday, July 15

If Kerry does win the whitehouse this fall, we can expect him to continue at least one of the current unjust wars being waged by the Bush administration (though, it should be noted, Bush didn't start this one).

Tuesday, July 13

Ten Reasons to Fire George W. Bush and nine reasons why Kerry won't be much better by Jesse Walker. Good reasons to fire Dubyah, most of which probably won't be a surprise to you. But let's remember, being the better of 2 choices doesn't necessarily make Kerry a good choice.
Experts Set a Lower Low for Cholesterol Levels: New recommendations call for drug treatment for millions of Americans who had thought their cholesterol levels were fine.

Now, I'm going to take the glass-half-full approach and ASSUME that the new recommendations calling for MORE DRUG INTAKE come from pure, unbiased research and have NOTHING TO DO with any sort of DRUG INDUSTRY influence.

I just LOVE when the medical community makes recommendations that call for more pills, rather than a healthier, more disciplined lifestyle. Oh, and I couldn't help but notice the ad for Crestor embedded within this NYT article. How convenient...just in case I need to up my prescription.

Monday, July 12

...the United States, for the first time, challenged how a foreign industrialized country operates its national health program to provide inexpensive drugs to its own citizens. Americans without insurance pay some of the world's highest prices for brand-name prescription drugs, in part because the United States does not have such a plan.

The Bush administration wants to increase the price of drugs overseas because, their argument goes, the burden of research and development is currently borne disproportionately by the United States.

So, let me understand this: Instead of finding a way to make prescription drugs less expensive here, we want to make them more expensive for the rest of the world? Now THAT is some dandy logic...

Friday, July 9

The standard bleat about television news is that it has become entertainment, and that the audience is too inured by exposure to the media to know the difference between entertainment and reality anyway (a snob's argument that depends on viewing most people as morons). It seems much more insidious than that. Anchors and reporters seem like the ones with no sense of the reality of the events they talk about. Salon's Charles Taylor on why most tv anchors are self-parodying. ( click and watch ad first for non-subscribers)
...the U.S. Justice Department itself projects that 32% of African-American men born in 2001 will spend time in prison. That's one in three black men, folks. One in three.

Wednesday, June 30

"With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party." Yep.
Now imagine a 10-year prison sentence for a 22-year-old who buys a six-pack for a 17-year-old, or a maybe a life sentence if he does it again. Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has already imagined such things, and he wants to make these sentences the law of the land.
"For years, newspaper editorial boards and other avowed friends of the First Amendment have scoffed at the argument that restricting political spending would restrict speech. In 2004 McCain-Feingold enthusiasts are discovering that the logic of prohibition can come around and bite them right in the bank account."

Monday, June 28

If you're bad in make-believe, does that make you more likely to be bad in real life?

Thursday, June 24

Follow up from Wednesday's "We have ways of making you talk" post - Brian Doherty discusses the case of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, and what it means for free folks in the US of A.

Wednesday, June 23

"Though she has persuaded herself otherwise, Truss doesn’t want people to care about correctness. She wants them to care about writing and about using the full resources of the language. “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” is really a “decline of print culture” book disguised as a style manual (poorly disguised). Truss has got things mixed up because she has confused two aspects of writing: the technological and the aesthetic."
We have ways of making you talk. "The Supreme Court today issued its long-awaited decision in the matter of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District. Larry "Dudley" Hiibel broke a Nevada law when he refused to give his name to a policeman." Apparently, you have no right to remain silent unless given that right by a cop - doesn't that make the "right" it merely a privilege?

Tuesday, June 22

The Gipper and OJ, together again, for the very first time. (New York Times login: Opensewer, password: iswatching)

Friday, June 18

I've sat here numb all day to the news of yet another beheading, this time of Paul Johnson, Jr. What a horrible way to go. The numerous links to the videos showing the act make me wonder about human nature: Admittedly I'm curious about what it'd be like to see something like that, but out of respect for a man I never knew, a man at the wrong place at the wrong time, I will never ever ever click that link. What is it about human nature that makes us want to look at tragic things, like this video, or car wrecks, or other gruesome things? No link to this rant, just a lot of sadness for the condition of the world today. Can you imagine going out of this world in such a way? Sad. My heartfelt sympathies to Mr. Johnson's family.

Wednesday, June 16

NRANews- "In a direct challenge to federal limits on political advocacy, the National Rifle Association plans to begin broadcasting a daily radio program on Thursday to provide news and pro-gun commentary to 400,000 listeners."
Like them or hate them, this strategy seems like a smart way to get around the idiotic and opressive laws designed to limit the inlfuence of money in elections but do so by restricting the political speech of Americans and their organizations.
Fuel Cell improvements: ...scientists say they have developed a catalyst that converts gasoline into hydrogen in a series of emissions-free reactions that can power a fuel-cell car for up to 500 kilometers.

Friday, June 11

"So let's set aside for a moment the question of whether parents have a right not to be nagged. Let's ask instead whether there's good reason to believe advertising plays an important role in obesity among children, who are more than twice as likely to be overweight as they were two decades ago.
Todd Zywicki, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Policy Planning, noted a problem with drawing a link between fat kids and fat ad budgets: If anything, children are less exposed to food commercials than they were when they were thinner. The frequency of food ads has not increased, while kids are spending less time watching broadcast television and more time playing video games, using computers, or watching cable TV, DVDs, or videotapes—media with fewer or no food ads."

Thursday, June 10

" amount of caveating can save the latest Defense Department memorandum on the legality of torture (first reported by the Wall Street Journal) from being construed as what it is: a cookbook on how to conduct illegal torture and get away with it."
Gotta love the French. Leave it to them to propose banning SUVs from city streets because,

"...They're polluters, they're space-occupiers, they're dangerous for pedestrians and other road users. They're a caricature of a car..."

Read all about it here.

Tuesday, June 8

Regan vs Bush II.
When Chad Taylor noticed his son was apparently experiencing serious side effects from Ritalin prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he decided to take the boy off the medication. Now, he says he may be accused of child abuse.
Parking garages perform a function, but truffles delight the palate, a much higher calling. Unfortunately, in the United States, where even serial killers are considered innocent until proved otherwise, all sorts of harmless pleasures are routinely described as guilty. (ny times login: opensewer; password: iswatching)

Friday, June 4

Via Greenclips: NEW EPA RULE FAVORS PLYWOOD MAKERS, IGNORES LEUKEMIA LINK. Pushing aside new scientific studies of possible health risks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved an air pollution regulation this year that could save the wood products industry hundreds of millions of dollars. Critics say the new rule may violate the Clean Air Act.
Life was turning out differently than expected for Ashley White, one of the stars of the 2002 film "Spellbound":

"I was always someone who wanted to be different -- who wanted to work harder, who wanted to achieve more, who wanted to succeed," she said. Instead, "I was basically repeating my family history of teenaged pregnancy. I felt like a failure because everyone had such high expectations for me and thought that I would be the one who would break the cycle."

She gave up on her college plans. She had moved out of her mother's apartment and was ricocheting among temporary homes with the baby when the movie was released.

But then, a kind soul got involved and changed things for the better...

Friday, May 28

Bob Herbert in the New York Times: In a widely covered speech ... [former Vice-President] Gore said that Iraq had not become, as President Bush has asserted, "'the central front in the war on terror.'" But he said it has become, unfortunately, "the central recruiting office for terrorists." ...

The war in Iraq, said Mr. Gore, in an interview on Wednesday, "is the worst strategic fiasco in the history of the United States. It is an unfolding catastrophe without any comparison."

... the former vice president said: "What makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations, more than the people of any other nation."

It may be that the president never understood what made the U.S. great. In that case, he'd be among those who could benefit most from a reading of Mr. Gore's speech. If he followed that up with a look at the Bill of Rights (it would only take a few minutes), he'd have a better understanding of what this country, at its best, is about.
(NYT login: opensewer; password: iswatching)
The Federal Reserve said yesterday that it had ordered a unit of Citigroup to pay $70 million for abuses in personal and mortgage loans to low-income and high-risk borrowers nationwide. (NYT; login: opensewer; password: iswatching)
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one out of every 75 American men now resides in prison. (Here are some more stats.)

Monday, May 24

'Fahrenheit 9/11' is not the movie Moore watchers, fans or foes, were expecting. ... [Michael Moore] exercised self-control, getting out of the way of a story that is bigger than he is. 'It doesn't need me running around with my exclamation points,' he said. ...

Speaking of America's volunteer army ... 'They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?'

Friday, May 21

In NYC - "Subway Officials Seek Ban on Picture-Taking" - I mean, this is just stupid. (nytimes login:opensewer; password:iswatching)
Standardization and teaching leave no room for imagination in the classroom. Look here:
"The teaching of writing as a machine procedure gains momentum by the day. In Indiana this year, the junior-year English essay will be graded by computer, and similar experiments have been tried in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Oregon."
Essays graded by computer if you didn't catch that.
Sign seen recently on a front lawn here in Ohio:

"Re-Defeat Bush"


Tuesday, May 18

Friday, May 14

High school art student is questioned by police and secret service for drawing Bush, dressed as a devil, launching a missile even though the art teacher assigned students to keep a notebook depicting pictures of the war in Iraq. Of course, he wasn't charged with anything, but the school punished him anyway. What a way to encourage artistic freedom, teach'.

Thursday, May 13

Reading this article today made me think:

I live in a city with no population growth, no job growth; a city attempting to find its future. "Turning the economy around" in a city like this is a monumental effort. The last thing people here want to think about is all-encompassing social and economic change. They just want to know their job will be around next year.

With the income gap in this county widening, and many Americans going deeper into debt, one must ask the question: Is there a way to operate an economy that does not require growth? ...that does not require constant increases in consumer spending? ...that does not require those of lower income levels to go into debt so they may exist at the same standard of living as their neighbors?

Wednesday, May 12

A good article on the confusing, arbitrary and sometimes terrifying rules of immigration to the US. Makes me glad my citizenship came the easy way (born here).
Joan Gallagher is suing her former employer, InterMune, claiming that she was fired for refusing to join an illegal effort to sell the company's main drug for an unapproved use.

Tuesday, May 11

New Opensewer featured artist Johanna Goodman is fascinated by the woman with the poufy hair and buck teeth walking down Third Avenue and the trainer at the gym who plucks out his eyebrows... Celebrities, smiling-sexy-pouty faces: she paints them.
A quick follow-up to my recent post on the who-cares Friends finale...Rob and Laura show how it's done.

Friday, May 7

"Hitler's executioners got their day in court--and their much-deserved death certificates. But the monsters who engineered the Soviet killing machines never got theirs. Why? Is it, in part, because the Left in the West, which controls the cultures of its societies, was able to block the delegitimization of its ideas?

What a shame, because wouldn't Nuremberg-style trials in post-Soviet Russia have powerfully discredited the socialist fairy tale that continues to have such a powerful hold on so much of the world's imagination--despite the horrifying historical record? Wouldn't it have done much damage to the efforts of the gulag deniers that you describe in your book? What do you make of all of this?"

Following up on my post from Wednesday, an interview with the authors.
Two new articles on the bloodlust of prosecutors over at Slate:

1) "The message from the government is clearer than ever: Submit or we'll nail you, innocent or otherwise, for even the most picayune dodging and weaving... when the government falls in love with a crime for which it can pretty much arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate anyone at any time, we are none of us safer for it," writes David Feige, explaining how anyone, anywhere, suspected of any crime, is liable to be nailed and jailed for obstruction.

2) Henry Blodget explains how accountants get more years in jail than murderers.
As a first time mother with Mother's Day coming up on Sunday I felt like this should be posted.

Wednesday, May 5

Fools for Communism--Still Apologists After All These Years... a book review over at Two thoughts on this topic: One is that young Americans with liberal and left leanings still fail to grasp the inherent wrongness of the communist dream, and sometimes ally themselves, with or apologize for, the murderers of millions. Another is that socialism and communism are still seen as the opposite of capitalism (which might not be an unfair notion), but this idea unfortunately seems to limit critiques on capitalism to having a socialist nature.

Related anecdote: Saw an ad for a talk about, and rally against, Ashcroft and the growing police state. The talk was at a gathering of socialist intellectuals. Life imitates parody sometimes, too.

Tuesday, May 4

Congress and Surgeon General declare “War on Fat.” Look out for the new law!

Monday, May 3

Editors Beware... management speak in the industry supposedly dedicated to honesty.

Thursday, April 29

Warning: Boring personal sidebar ahead.

In 2002, I began working for a large, publicly-traded company. I did this because I believed (and still do) that it gives me the opportunity to do the right thing, and at a big scale. My situation has made me think about the following type of question quite a lot:

Does big always mean bad? The Starbucks Paradox.
Partisan gerrymandering, drawing district lines to favor one political party, has reached a crisis point. Because of increased partisanship and improvements in the technology used to determine district lines, legislators now regularly create districts that all but ensure victory for the party that controls the redistricting process.
During the 1990s, many communities in Colorado championed controls on growth. These communities were viewed by many, along with Portland, Oregon and a handful of other cities, as foreshadowing policy that could likely occur all around the county. However, a slow economy has made these cities re-think growth control, and now everyone is watching again.

Wednesday, April 28

William L. Anderson and Candice E. Jackson on "Washington’s Biggest Crime Problem."
Thirty spokes are made one by holes in a hub, by vacancies joining them for a wheel's use;

The use of clay in molding pitchers comes from the hollow of its absence;

Doors, windows in a house are used for their emptiness.

Thus, we are helped by what is not;

We use what is.

Monday, April 26

Ah, the time has come to say good-bye to our beloved sitcom Friends. I just have one thing to add: Don't let the door hit ya...

Thursday, April 22

The American Civil Liberties Union today released an item-by-item rebuttal to a slew of false claims that President Bush made in Buffalo this week about the controversial USA Patriot Act.
Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 21

More bad ideas from Texas... paying for education with "sin taxes." Why is this bad? Because these taxes are regressive (they hurt poorer people more in a proportional sense). Note the line in the article saying how this shift will allow lower property taxes on the most wealthy, too. Also, what the hell is the government doing taxing things on a "sin" basis? Heck, you can find plenty of studies showing that beer is good for you, so it should have reduced taxes, not subject to alcohol and sin tax.

Sunday, April 11

Greenland's massive ice sheet could begin to melt this century and may disappear completely within the next thousand years if global warming continues at its present rate.

...the global surface temperature increased 0.6° Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) in the last century. Oceans have become warmer, too, expanding while storing heat. This has caused sea levels to rise 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) in the last hundred years.

Friday, April 2

My favorite topic to beat-up on lately: In a time troubled by fanatic fundamentalists spanning all the world's religions, I regret that this simplistic film purports to present a religion supposedly based on love as a masochist sect in a fanatic world. Whether this was done on purpose or not is another question.
Congress is considering legislation that could hold DJs, bands, bartenders, promoters, venue owners and others liable if a patron uses drugs at a nightclub or concert.
Is this not insane? Holding band members or promoters responsible for the action of one of their 20,000 fans at a concert?
If you think it is as crazy I do, do something.

Friday, March 26

Slate has a nice article cutting through the OxyContin hysteria, a typical drug-war narrative based on hype, not facts.

Thursday, March 25

Following up on Jason's Tuesday post, which I read and liked. I just got the first issue in a gift subscription to Scientific American. And I have to say, it is a weird magazine. The fringes of current science are way out there! I, also, have some ideas on why smart people believe weird things.
1) The scientific explanations that "disprove" paranormal phenomena are based on the scientific method and its insistance on replicating events and isolating variables, while the nature of paranormal phenomena is grounded in circumstance, sycnchronicity, and the unique experiential moment. The "objective science" of debunking can't challenge the subjective and experiential nature of the phenomena; it lacks the emotional truth to shake someone's belief.
2) Science itself is, in fact, very weird. Very weird, very legitmate science includes:
nonlocality - things don't actually have to be near each other to interact (flash demo here);
string theory (a multi-demensional explanation for the nature matter);
and the whole commonly accepted idea that all the matter of the universe was compresses into once place billions of years ago and exploded from that one point and has been moving out from there ever since - you know, the big bang idea.
All of these ideas have logical and emperical facts backing them up and great scientific validity, but all are way out there from the ways we think about our world during everyday life.

Monday, March 22

Here's a funny site that reads a bit like a snapshot of what I am up to, these days, as I wait for one of those interviews to pay-off...
Wandering about sci.skeptic the other night, I came across what I thought was an interesting discussion about Occam's Razor. After digging down into the thread, things seemed to get a little ugly. Googling some of the more active participants revealed a nut-job Scientologist and her nemesis (my hero for the day). After that, stream-of-consciousness would allow my mind to go nowhere except the subject of Tom Cruise, who I believe is a happy card-carrying member of that cult. My mind continued to wander along the lines of "handsome actors, not too bright, religious freaks" and of course the path of least resistance led me to Mel Gibson, who I now personally believe is a pervert, or a sadist, but at the very least has some real problems. (And here's the smack-down.)

Friday, March 19

Funny Friday, but sadly, only funny beacuse it's true: "City council members in Port Orange passed a controversial law that bans outdoor smoking in front of children at public parks and recreation properties, according to Local 6 News."
Tip of the hat to Jacob Sullum who'd "like to direct Port Orange's leaders to (his) proposal for banning fat people from public parks--an idea that seems all the more appealing now that excess weight is expected to surpass smoking as a cause of death any day now."

And in other news, Mel "I am an idiot in the first degree" Gibson's new movie inspires love, er, fighting among lovers in Georgia.

Wednesday, March 17

Europeans are beginning to question America's motives more than ever. Or perhaps a more accurate way of putting it is they are seeing through to the truth.
David Blunkett, currently the Labour Home Secretary, "will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets."

Tuesday, March 16

Here is a recent article on Alternet reminding us of the value of the Genuine Progress Indicator.
Congressional investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, intended to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines.
State court to DEA agent - return that man's pot! A court stands up for states' and individuals' rights against the federal government.

Monday, March 15

Thursday, March 11

I've been off-line a lot lately.
I don't like being off-line that much, though I have been reading more books in this time.
I don't like the president's attitude on bio-ethics and politics.
I don't like Disney that much, and I don't like the fact that they get so much government welfare, neither.
I don't like the brewing culture war and the government getting all prissy and indignant.
I do like having HBO in my new apt., though (for this!)
I may have exceeded your daily allowed intake of crankiness. Sorry.

Sunday, March 7

Artist Marianna Fekete labors within the limits of her medium in an attempt to express three-dimensional form, constrained to a two-dimensional plane, inspired by the structure of music.

Saturday, March 6

... And welcome back, John!
I dunno. Seems to me that the Republican National Committee will use whatever it takes to keep their Prez in favorable light. First was declined Superbowl commercial time, and now this.
How's that old song go? I haven't got time for the pain...
Well, the Feds say you better make time, 'cause you won't get the help you need. Yup, this is compassionate conservatism.

Monday, March 1

Ecopaint soaks up noxious gases from vehicle exhaust--it will go on sale in Europe this month. Clever, useful and the effort should be applauded, but unfortunately it's another "band-aid" solution.

Thursday, February 26

I haven't even seen the movie, but I think I'm coming in right about where David Edelstein is on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

Tuesday, February 24

'As soon as you tell people to eat supplemental foods, people think there are free calories and there are not,' said Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health.

This is a particularly American way of thinking about food, said Greg Critser, author of 'Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World.'

'The Europeans don't have this mentality,' Mr. Critser said. 'There's more a culture of the enjoyment of food, not just the amount of food. The problem is that behind whatever diet is in ascent in this country, the background noise is one and the same: a license to gluttony.'

Hey, it's Grey Tuesday.

Monday, February 23

This is an old article, but it illustrates a very good point:

The ... Earth Simulator ... is five times as fast as the [next fastest supercomputer] and is being used by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Centre to make predictions about the future of the Earth's climate and its crust.

... The previous record holder, ASCI White at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in the US, was built by IBM and is used to simulate nuclear weapons explosions.

How appropriate that a computer simulating the earth trumps a computer built to simulate destruction. To continue the analogy, we can also say that this represents the shift from mechanistic, war-like, simplistic thinking to a complex, holistic, systems world-view.

Tuesday, February 17

Although in many peoples' minds gay marriage is a topic worthy of serious "moral" debate, I continue to ask myself, "What's the big deal?" Why is such a ruckus being made over an act that hurts no one, and in fact is underpinned by love?

Of course many parties will have many different answers to my simplistic question...but how screwed up are our moral priorities when there even exists a debate on this issue?

Saturday, February 7

"...while city dwellers make up nearly half the world's population, new research by the United Nations and other demographers has shown that for every two cities that are growing, three are shrinking. ... The shrinking city syndrome is leaving planners and city officials with, among other things, the challenge of preserving and reusing buildings with architectural and cultural interest. ... The problem is so acute that a group of researchers based in Berlin is holding an international competition to address it." (NYT; login: opensewer; pwd: iswatching)

Monday, February 2

"I just want to find out for myself what is going on in(side the bodies of people in) my establishment."
"Dominate. Intimidate. Control." - The sorry record of the Transportation Security Administration by James Bovard.
Salon has a nice article on the idiocy of zero-tolerance approaches to discipline in schools, and the terrible toll these policies take on the students and families who fall victim to them. (reg or commercial watching required)

Thursday, January 29

"If Shakespeare was correct in his belief that we are all players, then we are all outlaws, too," she said on "I refuse to be afraid. Let silliness prevail. Children are watching. We must set an example of ridiculousness and play."
So if I don't want more safety regulation and more taxes (on "bad" food, for example), will that get me labeled a conservative, like ABC's John Stossel, co-host of 20/20, gets labeled ?
Would we want a president Dean who would propose something like this? That's way crazier than any shouting he may have done in Iowa.
Seriously, if we have Ashcroft on the GOP side, and ideas like this coming from the Dem's side (not that Dean will win, but he's called the most radical of the Dem choices), we are all screwed. Because, you know, there are only 2 sides possible, and, um, the GOP and the Dems represent all possible political options in the USA....

Tuesday, January 27

New travel requirement - the 14 hour sized bladder. Maybe you need the Stadium Buddy on your flight...(act 3 for the Stadium Buddy story).

Sunday, January 25

I don't ever go to Starbucks and IKEA inevitably depresses me every time I'm there, but Adam Greenfield has quite a few thoughtful comments on the two chains.

Yes, I'm still in Grad School, but I'm going to try to post more whenever I have the time.

Saturday, January 24

Choose your body; choose your partner; choose your friends; choose your mood; choose your offspring; choose your dreams.

Friday, January 23

Last February, Morgan Spurlock decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig. His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.

Wednesday, January 21

The whole argument that globalization and free trade are good for everyone - people, not just the big companies - falls apart when there are laws preventing the consumer from getting the benefit they should - namely, cheaper goods. In this case, it's cds in Europe, but in practice, it could be any other manufactured product.

I'd like to support the European Union more, but when the EU proposes idiotic and opressive laws like this, and stupid money wasting programs like this, it's a not so easy.

Friday, January 16

From the AP: Study: Network News Criticizes Dean Most. Like you needed a study to figure this one out.
Have you really read or learned about the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law? Weird law.
An example from Justice Kennedy, who dissented in finding it un-constitutional: "[The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act] makes it a felony for an environmental group to broadcast an ad, within sixty days of an election, exhorting the public to protest a Congressman's impending vote to permit logging in national forests."
Advocacy groups aren't going to be allowed to inform voters. Groups formed for purpose of getting people together and expressing their views are being shut-up. So this is supposed to be good for democracy how?
Also, it's worth noting, private individuals will still be allowed to buy all the ad time they want. So I guess if you are rich enough, the restrictions don't apply. Read more.

Monday, January 12

What does Representative Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) do when he sees an ad in a DC Metro expressing a point of view he doesn't agree with? He proposes a law to penalize the Metro company, that's what he does. Land of the free, home of the brave...

Sunday, January 11

So we all know the oil supply will run out someday, right? I mean, it's called a "non-renewable" resource for a reason. And it will probably be within the next 50 years. So is this take on peak oil just crazy alarmism or a rational attempt to predict the world after the peak has passed? I can't tell. Either way, the modern West can't do much of anything without oil right now - no SUVs, no plastics, no pesticides, no computers, no manufacturing...

Friday, January 9

If you didn't see this coming, you haven't been paying attention.
Looking for WMD? Nope. Inspectors looking for Iraqi arms sent home.
Top Ten Drug War Stories of 2003 from Alternet - the other never ending war in the US continued along its path, which includes: the CIA funneling drug profits to foreign powers, police raiding innocents' houses mistakenly, biological warfare in South America, and other nice tricks.

Thursday, January 8

Death row inmate Charles Singleton, 44, died by lethal injection at the Cummins Unit Prison near Varner, Arkansas on Tuesday, January 6, but not before prison medical staff injected him with a mind-altering drug intended to improve his understanding of the process.

Tuesday, January 6

It's another article deploring the Bush administration's repressive stance towards protest speech. But look again, anti-Bush peoples, it's in the "The American Conservative." Instances like this make me hope for a coalition of freedom lovers that one day transcends the outdated left-right spectrum and leads to a nation that takes liberty as seriously as it claims to.
New Year, old trend continues... "Laws that were supposed to put away the bad guys for long, hard prison time often are being used to keep low-level offenders behind bars for decades longer than drug kingpins."
Note: I don't want to imply that Rose, or anyone else here, or everyone sharing concern for our nation's expanding waistlines and our sidewalks' ability to hold them, is a scolding nannies. I, too, think removing soda from schools is a good idea, but I don't support taxing and regulating foods that can be and are used responsibly.
I am not sure which I fear more, a nation of obese people, or a nation of nannies determined to take away food that I enjoy because they think it makes me obese...
It's 2013, and under prohibition, the illegal trade in high quality chocolate has reached new heights... Border patrols have dogs to sniff for cacao and hydrogenated oils... turf wars break out in US cities over Twizzler dealing rights... Soldiers under the authority of the FDA patrol resturaunts, markets and backyard-gardens...

Monday, January 5

Ladies and Gents, the award for the Fattest Teans in The World proudly goes to The United States. And it probably starts with drinking all that damn Coke (see post below).
Finally, it's being acknowledged that something should be done about all those fat kids (or kids on their way to becoming fat) in our schools today. It's a healthy, needed suggestion and hopefully change will happen....
New Year, old trend - Schools into Prisons! It keeps on coming! The NY Times is getting in on it, too, in an article describing how offenses that once meant detention now mean arrest.
Here's a sample from the article:
Experts say the growing criminalization of student misbehavior can be traced to the broad zero-tolerance policies states and local districts began enacting in the mid-1990's in response to a sharp increase in the number of juveniles committing homicides with guns, and to a series of school shootings.
While the juvenile homicide rate has since fallen, and many studies have found that school violence is rare, the public perception of schools — and students — as dangerous remains. Experts say zero-tolerance policies have created an atmosphere in which relatively minor student misconduct often leads to suspensions, expulsions and arrests.
nytimes sneak-in code: login:opensewer; password:iswatching
In this New Year, with our resolutions and attempts to find new direction, it's nice to know what side the Lord is on in the race for the Prez of the USA... it's worth remembering that those who judge others are often judging something they see in themselves... it's good to see that squashing free speech with mass arrests sometimes has legal consequences for the powers that be... and heck, we sent another rover to Mars again. Neato.