Flimsy Sanity: December 2005

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Macabre Theater of Greed

Wired News: A Macabre Theater of Greed
The probe — first reported by the New York Daily News in October — has generated other gruesome stories. In one instance, the corpse of a Queens grandmother that investigators exhumed last month had nearly all the bones removed below the waist and replaced with PCV pipes.

A grand jury in Brooklyn has been hearing evidence against at least a half dozen funeral homes in the borough and against Biomedical Tissue Services that they illegally profited by conspiring to sell stolen body parts. Authorities say indictments could be handed up early next year.

The brewing scandal's reach extends far beyond the New York City area.

In the fall, the FDA ordered a recall of products produced by tissue processors in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and Texas, all customers of Biomedical Tissue Services. Since the announcement, authorities in Canada have determined that about 300 potentially tainted products were imported there, and used for dental surgery on at least two patients.

Health officials advised physicians that patients who were implanted with the tissue should be tested for HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. The officials said they believed the health hazards were minimal, and no infections have been reported since the FDA warning.

And this from Salon discussion on the high price of human eggs:
The 1994 National Organ Transplant Act explicitly prohibits the sale of human organs. The logic goes something like this: If we let people sell their kidneys on eBay, we turn the human body into a commodity and create a market for body parts. Selling organs would make transplants too expensive for most people, and organs would end up going to the highest bidders, rather than to the most needy. Also, the poor might try to sell their organs to make ends meet -- like the woman who recently tried to sell a kidney to pay the bill for her gall bladder surgery. To put it bluntly, we'd literally be slicing up poor people to get spare parts for the rich. Not to mention the black market that would result

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Beating Big Brother

Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie has a great song called The Privacy Song, a free mp3 or just listen on Ampcast. (About 3/4 of the way down). I laughed.
"beat them back with bullshit... and lie, lie, lie... if we all lie together, the computer might explode..."

Another song to get you chortling is "Mom's Coming To My House".
Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie is a comedy group from Edmonton (I think) Canada. Some stuff is sophomoric, but some is damn clever.

Seasons Greetings

(cartoon by Andy Singer)
I don't think many things are worth a fight, and I usually give in to keep peace. This business about Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas seems minor and really silly on the surface - just something for the talk hosts to keep their minions blood pressure spiked but it is really about much more. What the fight is about is tolerance....the principle the Religious Right hates most. They are not a tolerant people
*not of realistic sex education for folks at the most intense hormonal stage of their life
* not of geology, taxonomy or biology in schools
*not of compassion for dying people who want relief
*not of ideas of agnostics, atheists, secular humanists or any other faith other than Christianity
*not of women other than as chattel
*not of people who want to love unconventionally
*not of disadvantaged people who accept government aid
*not of environmentalists (this is strange but true).

Let us just suppose we gave in to their every wish and the RR got their way on every issue. What then? I predict that if they ruled things, they would fight amongst themselves. If I used my town as a little microcosm of this perfect world (since it is far right in philosophy, legislative members, population in general) I would note that each Christian sect dislikes and is intolerant of the others. My town of 5,000 has 18 churches, and this slays me, four of them Lutheran as they cannot agree even within a sect. The Assembly of God church is the fastest growing because it puts on the most intense show and has even added on a gymnasium to attract children. Each and every church gives a portion of their income to missionary work because infecting others is a primary focus. If they were allowed vouchers to set up their own schools and given a chance at the charity money, this fighting would intensify even more.

Anyway, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday (not a Merry Christmas) from an Apathetic Agnostic, secular humanist here in lonely Christianized Montana.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Germ Boys and Yes Men

Germ Boys and Yes Men by
Jeremy Scahill, Nation Nov. 28, 2005. Part of the article reads:

But if Bush hoped to wipe away the stain of Katrina--and the memory of a hapless Michael Brown steering FEMA in circles while New Orleans drowned--he should have thought twice about bringing up the specter of a public health emergency, because the man responsible for coordinating the federal response to a flu pandemic or bioterror attack could well be the next Michael Brown.

Meet Stewart Simonson. He's the official charged by Bush with "the protection of the civilian population from acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies"--a well-connected, ideological, ambitious Republican with zero public health management or medical expertise, whose previous job was as a corporate lawyer for Amtrak. When Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently speculated, "If something comes along that is truly serious...like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence," many of those professionally concerned with such scenarios couldn't help thinking of Simonson. They recalled his own unsettling words at a recent Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on government response to a chemical or biological attack: "We're learning as we go."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Multiple Choice Quiz

Known for his extreme extravagance, eccentricity, depravity and cruelty, he is remembered as a despot.....a crazed megalomaniac given to capricious cruelty and harebrained schemes.
The above passage from Wikipedia is written about: (a) George Bush (b) Caligula (c) Both of the above.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Police Dog Sued Over Drug Search

Police Dog Sued Over Drug Search . Drug dealer is representing himself in the suit.

Cop Said to Taser Partner After Soda Fight

Democracy in 60 seconds or less DNext

dnext videos poking fun at Bush and his buddies.

Afghan killed for teaching girls

Friday, December 16, 2005

Daniel Ellsberg On Iraq War

Essay on Daniel Ellsberg who is speaking out about exiting Iraq.
Since World War II only one outside power, the British in Malaysia, has fought a successful counter-insurgency war.Ellsberg explains that an occupier is seen as a foreigner, an invader, an outsider. Nobody likes an outsider telling them what to do. Nobody trusts an outsider to keep inside interests ahead of outside interests. When forced to choose between a fellow native or an outsider, most natives will choose another native. This closing of local ranks makes it near impossible to get advance intelligence of an ambush or Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.) attack.
Where Ellsberg stands apart is by asserting that President Bush and his advisors are the obstacle to a timely, safe return of U.S. troops. “The problem is that the President wants to stay. You have to want to get out, and he’s not remotely interested in hearing about it.”

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Blogs and Copyright

post by Daniel Solove, a professor at George Washington University Law School via Boing Boing. What if lawsuits hit the blogs like they have the music business?
Suppose the mainstream media, fed up with the buzz bloggers keep getting and with bloggers criticizing their stories, decided to exact revenge. They initiate a vigorous copyright enforcement strategy, launching a barrage of lawsuits against bloggers as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has done to music file sharers. What would happen?
The blogosphere would be in for some tough times I bet. Bloggers frequently copy large chunks of mainstream media articles and some of us copy pictures we find on the Web. Bloggers don't have a team of photographers and artists, so they snag images from the Internet. As for mainstream media articles, bloggers often quote very liberally because the mainstream media is notorious for creating dead URLs -- articles often just disappear after a week or two. In other instances, articles get archived and can only be retrieved for a fee. The result is that a post discussing a mainstream media article with just a link or a small quote can become hard to understand when the article being referred to becomes unavailable. That's why bloggers often copy significant portions of articles -- so their posts can still be understood when the URLs to the articles go dead

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

While I was looking for the name of my picture.

I put boy and beach in the search engine and came up with this one. Pretty darn cute. Later found this nearly appropriate quote: To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~Milan Kundera

Can anyone help me?

A lady asked me to put this old print on eBay for her. Since there are over 3,000 vintage prints up for sale, it is almost imperative that I have an artist or a name for the picture. Anyone have any clues? The lady said it was a famous painting but I looked through All Posters and some of the art sites that list the more well known and I cannot find it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Drugs and Cops

From Drug War Rant:
A man with no prior record, at home with his daughter in the middle of the night. -
Police serve a warrant to the other resident of the duplex, and an officer mistakes Cory's door as part of the other resident and busts in unannounced. -
Cory hears someone enter the house and gets his gun to protect himself and his daughter. In the darkness, shoots at the intruder and kills a cop. -
Cory is on death row in Mississippi.

And this entry:
Officers set up a sting with the help of an informant to buy a pound of marijuana for $3,200. Informant meets with dealer and gives him the money. Dealer leaves the car to go get the pot and... doesn't return. No pot. No money. The cops finally tracked him down and recovered the money and charged him with "theft by unlawful taking."

Bumper Sticker

Is Bush guilty of plagiarism?

You can fool half of the people all of the time and that's enough to make a good living.” ~W. C. Fields

"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." ~ George Bush

Is it possible that Smirky screwed up the quote like he did with "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool my twice, shame on me".

Swiped from Dependable Renegade

who swiped it from someone else. Spelling questionable but I would change the wording to read ALL MISSIONARIES

Sunday, December 11, 2005

An answer to the critics of blogging

The New Yorker:Everybody's an Expert is an interesting survey of predictions, particularly political.
It is the somewhat gratifying lesson of Philip Tetlock’s new book, “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (Princeton; $35), that people who make prediction their business—people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables—are no better than the rest of us.... The accuracy of an expert’s predictions actually has an inverse relationship to his or her self-confidence, renown, and, beyond a certain point, depth of knowledge.

The author talks about how people can be hedgehogs who concentrate on one idea or foxes who look for varied explanations. Most right-wing and left-wing politicians(and scientists) are hedgehogs. Interesting reading if you have the time and good defense when someone bitches about bloggers and our opinions.

Freud and his frau

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Lament for the Republican party

"Something has gone wrong with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities, and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. Now, it's the No. 1 reason why the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb, and dangerous." ~Garrison Keillor

Snowman last rites

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wikipedia Bad Jokes and Deleted Nonsense Department

This is almost too evil to be believed

Static Brain has an entry on the use of orphans and retarded children as guinea pigs. When I first read this awhile back, I discounted it, but then you start seeing it over and over. My brother, a chemical engineer who had done contract work for several big drug companies, casually told me that they regularly give new drugs to street people to see what effects they have. I questioned him about it and then he wouldn't say anything more. Maybe we are not that far from the Tuskegee syphilis experiments or all the experiments done to prisoners that was described in the book Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison : A True Story of Abuse and Exploitation in the Name of Medical Science . Many years ago, I was reading Adelle Davis's book Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit and she talked about how they studied the effects of starvation by starving conscientious objectors. The later editions of this book removed the passage.

The Pentagon's Buy-Line

Cartoonist John Sherffius

Dick Cheney decorates the lawn

Tab (Thomas Boldt), The Calgary Sun

Found this great site for political cartoons.

Speaking of decorating the lawn a nativity scene has been set up across from the Supreme Court, but no one seems to care, though the group was perhaps hoping for a little persecution.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Truth vs Scripture

"The Lion may lay down with the Lamb, but the Lamb ain't gonna get much sleep." -Jackie "Moms" Mabley

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Madness and reality

"Ironically enough, it is religious illusion that causes madness, not prevents it. Madness is separation from reality. Reality isn't exciting enough or meaningful enough or fair enough for most people, so they buy some illusions. But the more illusions they buy, the farther they get from an accurate perception of reality, and the more insane they become.

It is no coincidence that education and religious fundamentalism are inversely related. Critical thinking is a reality based tool."ewkpates, a poster on metafilter

Doctor says bird flu drug is "useless"

Doctor says bird flu drug is "useless" - Sunday Times - Times Online says Tamiflu is not as effective as the hype and
Another Stupid Science Blog contrasts the speculative nature of Bird Flu and its expense versus the known killer malaria. By the way, I was reading the book Seeds of change: Five plants that transformed mankind (until it sold in my Amazon bookstore and I had to ship it) and malaria used to be a huge worldwide epidemic. For some reason, I thought it was just a problem in tropical climates but before quinine was discovered, it killed millions.

Science Made Stupid

Science Made Stupid The cornerstone of modern science is the scientific method. Scientists first formulate hypotheses, or predictions, about nature. Then they perform experiments to test their hypotheses.
There are two forms of scientific method, the inductive and the deductive.

A Little Decorum

Protestors at military funerals - you won't believe what they are protesting.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The dangers of patriotic extremism

"George Orwell wrote in 'Notes on Nationalism' :
"By 'nationalism' I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled 'good' or 'bad.' But secondly -- and this is much more important -- I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By 'patriotism' I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseperable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

Ecologist Essay Competition

Proposed Montana Quarter - We Respect Your Privacy

Ecologist Annual Essay Competition offers a hefty prize for an essay on What is Humanity’s worst Invention? Ted Kaczynski thought industrialization.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Truckstop Chorus Line

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Wasps Could Replace Bomb Drug Dogs

Yahoo News article on using wasps - (not the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant variety who couldn't smell a U-Haul Truck of fertilizer) for detection. Would scare the shit out of me if they were roaming the airport.
The "Wasp Hound" research by Lewis and University of Georgia agricultural engineer Glen Rains is part of a larger government project to determine if insects and even reptiles or crustaceans could be recruited for defense work. That project has already resulted in scientists refining the use of bees as land-mine detectors.
What I want to know is who in the hell comes up with the idea first?

Saturday Morning on NPR

This morning David Sedaris was on (I'm not sure of the show) and he was talking about the problem chain stores have with people defecating in change rooms, in the middle of the round clothing racks and even in a homemade castle display at the library. I wonder if some of it isn't related to the anarchist thinking similar to CrimethInc who are waging war on corporatization (if there is such a word) by doing things like shoplifting. The problem is that some poorly paid janitor will have to clean it up, not the CEO. Either it is a political statement or people are more disgusting than I thought.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Via Boing Boing

Atheist Agenda, an atheist group at U Texas San Antonio, staged a "Porno for Bibles" event, where they gave free pornography to people who traded in religious scripture. Sign said "Smut for Smut". My opinion: Good way to stir up lots of anger and for what?

For Old Farts

* "All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian"
*"I've upped my standards. Now, up yours."
*"Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles."
Pat Paulsen quotes (American Comedian, Songwriter and Perenniel Politician, 1927-1997)

Just not that many Pat Paulsen quotes on the net. He was so very funny poking fun at politicians - he would keep his deadpan expression while using "outright lies, double talk and unfounded attacks on my challengers". So my young, little chickens - you may have Jon Stewart and Homer ("If you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half assed. That's the American way") Simpson, but Pat Paulsen's humor was unique and wonderful because it was timely, absurd, and pricked the inflated ego balloons of the pompous.

Book TV

I sometimes listen to CNN's Book TV on the weekends because I am a big fan of non-fiction books. Anyone who can write a whole book on a small topic has my admiration. Book TV has got to be the cheapest show to produce - all it is is a stationary camera pointed at a speaker at a podium talking about his or her book. You would think that since the production costs are low, new writers would be featured all the time - heaven knows thousands of books are written every year on hundreds of different topics by authors who want to sell their books. Instead, they have had David Brooks reruns on at least three times, Peter Schweizer on Do As I Say (Not As I Do), a liberal bashing book at least four times, etc. I'll listen to them once.

Now we know CNN is a conservative mouthpiece and we know Reagan got rid of the fairness doctrine so the other side does not get equal time, but would it be too much trouble to just forget about politics on this one cheap show and let people promote books on some other subjects? If not that, please stop the reruns so more writers could get a chance. I've already heard Schweizer complain about how Barbra Steisand has an air-conditioned barn and Michael Moore has a portfolio of stock including some in Halliburton (money not taken from the public trust). Or David Brooks claiming that people who deal with numbers become Republicans and people who deal in paragraphs become Democrats, as though bankers are superior to writers. How about some new blood?

Christmas trees, holiday trees, whatever

When we grew up, we had very little. To this day, I don't know if we were poor or if our parents just hoarded their money (they both feel the same). We never had a "boughten" Christmas tree. Dad would go down to the garden and thin a cedar out of the too-closely planted shelterbelt and bring the prickly, scraggly victim in. We are all familiar with putting the poorest side to the wall, but we had the dilemma of two bad grey sides opposite each other. Our decorations were pretty scanty too, so it probably worked out for the best. When I look at Shephard's opulent tree I am a little envious.

Now my house is so small that I usually just get a tumbleweed, lace white lights through it and decorate it with red balls and red ribbons. I hang it from the ceiling and plug the lights into the ceiling fixture. It actually looks stunning at night because the white lights make it look ethereal.

As for the Christmas tree/holiday tree debate, I think that is just another ploy by the Christian right to keep their members worked up. Who in the hell cares what you call it? O'Reilly and Rush just need topics to divert attention away from public opinion on the war and Bush and keep their listeners worked up to a frenzy. The only thing that would get dittoheads more enraged than destroying Christmas is not letting innocent school children pray to Baby Jesus.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

How Bush Sees Himself

So you want to write a book that will sell

I've mentioned PaperBackSwap.com before. Today it crossed my mind to do a little comparison of the used books that are for trade. Here are the figures: Romance, 20,000 - Mystery, 10,000 - Religion and Science Fiction both around 5,000 - Westerns and History and horror all around 1,000, and science at 600. Just thought it interesting. The most widely read genre is romance by far.

My mom and my aunt read these by the dozen. I think they are just soft porn (heh,heh). My aunt was telling me about this one writer who spoke 7 languages, grew up in Scotland, went to Swiss boarding school and now was a fashion designer in Brazil (in addition to turning out 4-5 books a year). I'll bet $5 that this writer is some old man in Cleveland with a fat bank account writing as fast as his fingers can fly.

I solve the Abortion Issue

I have a simple solution to the abortion question - make it illegal already and get on with it. This topic is partially responsible for the piss poor politicians and gestapo judges we have in power. Then, after it is illegal, screw following the law. Let the folks who supply the country with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack, etc. supply Plan B and RU486. We don't need coathangers anymore. Times have changed. Let every teen girl carry a pill and every teen boy a condom. The little dumb girl too scared to talk to someone about current birth controls who thinks she is in love with some dumb boy while both are at the peak of natural lust would get a second chance.
There is nowhere in North America where anyone who wants illegal drugs cannot get them, so the delivery system is already in place. A few pills would be easier to transport than bales of weed. The drug industry is huge but I'm sure they are insatiable money-grubbers or do you suppose they are too "moral" for my proposal? Here's a statistic:
"[T]he value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated at US$13 bn [billion] at the production level, at $94 bn at the wholesale level (taking seizures into account), and at US$322bn based on retail prices and taking seizures and other losses into account. This indicates that despite seizures and losses, the value of the drugs increase substantially as they move from producer to consumer."
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2005 (Vienna, Austria: UNODC, June 2005), p. 127.
Contrast that with this:
chart on generic drug markups, and we know name brands are even more.

Since Big PHRMA has a bigger markup than the illegal drug industry women will be better off if it is illegal. Worried about safety that comes from not consulting conventional medical entities?

Last spring, scientists at the University of Toronto announced the results of a new study: By their calculations, the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States is FDA-approved prescription drugs. They weren't talking about drug abuse or overdoses, but rather, appropriately administered drugs. Side effects, they determined, cause close to 106,000 deaths per year. That's more deaths than the annual totals for AIDS, suicide, and homicide combined, and equal to an astonishing 290 deaths per day.
Mother Jones, Nov. 1998, p. 39

Lightbulb joke

Q: How many stock brokers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to take out the bulb and drop it, and the other to try and sell it before
it crashes (knowing that it's already burned out).