April 29, 2005

Sex: Taking Proper Precautions

Now, we all know (I hope) how effective abstinence-only sex education is. It continues to be funded by the Republicans because that's what their religious arm wants, and that's who's in control of the party right now. (If you know a teen or pre-teen, here's some actual sex and sexuality information they won't mind reading.)

Education, precaution, and the confidence that comes from knowing what's going on with your body are simply safer and more effective methods of preventing any, ah, unpleasant surprises.

You would think that an orginization that calls itself "Abstinence Only" and is funded to the tune of $400 million would know better, but if you are unaware of the risks, how can you protect yourself from, ah, unpleasant surprises?

Like not registering the web domains: Abstinenceonly.com and Abtinenceonly.org. And now, since they didn't have a proper education, they are indeed well and truly fucked.

I'd like to thank the one and only Mistress Matisse for finding this little gem.

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posted by Thursday at 3:17 pm 2 comments

Other: I'm Number One!

On Turkeys version of Google, anyhow. Well, actually Number Two, but the only spot above me is all question marks - I guess I need to have "arabic" enabled on my browser to see it. No that it would do me any good, of course. According to a jewish friend of mine, Arabic is a fine, fine language to swear in, but I only like insulting people when I know they can understand me. I just don't know enough people internationally, I suppose.

*sigh*
Revision time: I'm actually number 22. I failed to notice it was the second page of the persons search. C'mon Turkey! Get me to page one! Woo!

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posted by Thursday at 11:41 am 0 comments

Other: Am I Really So Bad?

After finding out just where I'll be ending up after I kick off (HINT: Jesus probably won't be there), I decided I wanted confirmation from a second source...


http://homokaasu.org/gematriculator/rate.gas

Apparently, logically concluding God is a sadist is only 25% evil, and 75% good. Joking about Heisenberg, on the other hand, is 46% evil, and discussing the NHL strike is 84% good.

There's a message in there somewhere.

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posted by Thursday at 11:04 am 0 comments

April 28, 2005

Politics: The Mouse That Roared

Ah, the joys of a minority government.

Our '80s Porn Star, leader of Ye Olde House of Orange, has applied one hell of a lot of pressure on Mr. Dithers, leader of the Perpetual Party. During minority governments is traditionally when the NDP strike, sneaking in little things like medicare, social security, pension plans... that sort of stuff. And they're trying to do it again, only this time it's affordable housing and cheaper education.

Clearly, they are in line with Satan.

Layton has been playing the Heroic Freedom Fighter card already, declaring that "...not everybody's going to like what we're doing..." Um, Jack? It's called politics.

The reaction to this has been varied: Plastic Man, leader of Team Blue , has been the most reactionary. It may be a fit of pique at getting seriously outplayed during this latest session of parliment; the Conservatives (Alliance, Reform, etc.) have never been part of a minority government, so perhaps a few splinters are inevitable the first time onto the track but with the undecided waffling of the party, perhaps the wrong man got named Mr. Dithers. (I do hope they pull it together: no glory in beating an inept opponent, after all. Just ask BCs New Socred Party after the last elections crushing of the provincial NDP.)

Quotes from Harper denouncing: "...a secret deal worth almost $5 billion..." when the deal has been announced on television aren't helping. Any more public and Martin and Layton (isn't that a comedy team from the '50s?) would be charged with exhibitionism.

Some of the tax cuts that the Conservatives were unhappy with (still paying more than zero, Steve. Sorry.) are being removed, specifically to those of "big businesses", while the cuts to "small" and "medium" sized businesses were to stay in place. Those cuts were of fairly small amounts, but the companies affected were ecstatic, right up until they realised they were dealing with a minority government and may never see those cuts. Despite the cuts not happening yet, the removal of them is somehow an unmitigated disaster. I suppose those self-same companies were so close to failing that a reduction in the corporate tax rate by 2% over the next five years was the only thing keeping them afloat. Bummer. Perhaps we should increase our corporate tax rate to match the Americans'?

In exchange for that tax cut, the NDP is using its tactic of pushing for social improvements on the budget, which is what they were unhappy about in its first announcement. Which makes the reaaction of Spooky, leader of the No One Understands Us Party, particularly interesting. He's against the new budget, despite the leftward pull of the revisions, normally Quebecs preference (I did mention we have four leftist parties in Canada, right?). Duceppes biggest complaint is that it doesn't address the "fiscal imbalance" he feels Quebec is under. The Bloc voted against the budget originally, after tugging the Conservatives hair about how they might vote.

Like the Prime Minister doesn't hear that enough at the Premiers meetings, now he's got one sitting in Parliment.

The funny thing here is that La Belle Provence would use the additional money to finance... (drumroll please)... tuition cuts and affordable housing, along with pension protection, another addition that the NDP made. So why the opposition now?

Simple, and annoying, reason: the Conservatives being in office would encourage more opposition to Federalism than the Liberals do, even with the interminable scandal inquiry. Duceppe is never going to be the leader of a nation unless Quebec seperates, though the Parti Quebecois and their leader Bernard Landry may have something to say about that.

So, with the Liberals and NDP on one side, the Conservatives and Bloc on the other, that leaves the voting (assuming party lines) at 151 in favour, 153 opposed with 3 indepentents (Carolyn Parrish, David Kilgour and Chuck Cadman). Parrish is going to go Liberal, but I don't know about the other two: I know Cadman leans towards the Conservatives, but he says he can still be swayed by his constituents.

The opposition has to give 48 hours notice that they are giving a non-confidence vote with the purpose of bringing down a sitting government (to allow for 11th hour barter and some public saber rattling), and Harper has said that he's giving notice in the next session, so we'll see who tries to woo whom during the next few days. Paul Martin has already batted his eyelashes at the Conservatives, promising to have a vote to reinstate the original corporate tax cut shortly after the vote on the modified budget in toto, leaving Layton somewhat miffed.

In short: if the Conservatives agree to vote for the new budget, and not initiate an non-confidence vote, then the tax cuts can happen. Of course, that will mean that the budget will no longer be balanced, but gee, what could Poor Paul do? The Conservatives (with their malicious "damn-the-poor" attitude) and NDP (with their underhanded, prosperity-hating socialist wiles) forced him to stray from his tight fiscal plan!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention high overhead...

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posted by Thursday at 9:20 pm 0 comments

Sex: Projecting Your Voice

Sunday was a bit of a "high and low" day. With the highs was being woken up by my wife using fellatio. Great way to start the day, that. Also getting the bike we've been working on for the past few months ready to ride - and riding it.

On the down side was having the engine of said bike seize up on me while riding down the highway. That sucked, and in ALL the wrong ways.

Ah, but then I came home to a special news flash, and my day was suddenly better again. It seems that Rush Limbaugh, upon hearing that Al Gores new radio network / podcasting organization / cable station / whatever it is was intended to "reflect the point of view of young people". Now, I expect a rant about this; personally, I'm always a little leery whenever anyone over the age of 25 starts talking about the "youth of today" as if it were a homogenous mass. Plus, of course, Rusty a long time opponent of Democrats, so he's going to rave. All quite standard.

But I did not expect this:

"Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long..."

So Rusty is an opponent of Democrats and logic, too... Because not only was Gore creating "the BJ network", but also (you knew this was coming) it's all Bill Clintons fault! Let's see if we can follow the logic, here. Oh, c'mon. It'll be fun!

Blow jobs (nee Oral Sex, nee Fellatio) were apparently completely unheard of in schools right up until Clinton got himself a hummer while in office. After that single event (and the $80 million investigation it launched - don't try to tell me it was about some pissy little land deal - and the media circus to follow), oral sex then became the activity of choice among students. Which, for some reason, Limbaugh thinks is bad.

One is led to the conclusion that he feels, somehow, I don't know... frustrated about something, perhaps? I can't imagine what that might be, though.

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posted by Thursday at 8:50 pm 0 comments

Science: Math Jokes

Hokay: been having some issues with Blogger, so I'm going to go with a test post here.

Q: What do you get when you combine a mosquito and a mountain goat ?
A: Nothing - you can't combine a vector with a scalar.

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 0.999999999...

Sorry to have to expose innocent witnesses to those.

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posted by Thursday at 8:39 pm 0 comments

April 22, 2005

Other: Huzzah! A Credit Card!

Piss me off.

My local credit union has just been absorbed into a larger one. No skin off my nose, except that we left the bigger credit union once already, so we're going to have to leave it again. Here's why:

We have a debit credit card. What this is is a credit card (Master Card in this case) that takes money from your account. This is the perfect card for us, as we buy lots of stuff on-line, make reservations over the phone, and buy things in person. Perfect.

But now, the larger credit union does not "have a contract with Master Card" to carry debit cards any more, so they suggest I get a Platinum Plus Master Card credit card. Now, I've been sporadically employed over the past year and a half, and am currently working a grand total of two days a week. Can anyone tell me how the hell I'm qualified for a Platinum Plus Master Card?

The answer, apparently, is that the precious metal the card is named for has nothing to do with spending limits or rarity, unlike the metal itself. I can set my own limit to pretty much whatever I want to apply for.

The "best" part is that I am no longer restricted to the money I have in my account! I can spend everything they want to give me, and they'll be happy to fork it over. Until the end of the month, of course, but until then, don't worry about it. In fact, the bank - er, credit union I'm with no longer is involved with my debt at all. I'll get billed by Master Card, for Master Card.

I just got a phone call from the Credit Union (yes, literally as I was writing this post) telling me that they are trying to create a system that works like a debit card on-line, so I can still make purchases without going into debt. It should be up and running in June, so I may give them until then, see if it works.

I fucking hate credit cards.

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posted by Thursday at 10:03 am 0 comments

April 20, 2005

Religion: Coming Soon! It's the End of the World (again)!

This is the second to last pope ever. According to long dead seer Saint Malachy, anyways. You see, he predicted that there would be 112 popes after his death, and we're on #111 right now. One more, then that's it; we're done. Or is that just the Catholics?

Anyhow, the beauty of being dead is never having your wrong predictions being pointed out to you. And the beauty of the internet is the existence of your track record. Of course, when you're connonized, and have only left behind tremendously vague one-line descriptions, then true beleivers can translate them to fit reality however they wish. So you're always right! Neat, huh?

All this brings to mind some of my book collection, Apocalypse Whenever. A few of my favorites:

The Late Great Planet Earth by the immortal psycho Hal Lindsey;
When Your Money Fails... by Marry Stewart Relfe, PhD;
Arming for Armageddon by John Wesley White;
The AIDS Plague by Dr. James McKeever, PhD.

Why these and not others?

One author (Lindsay) made his nut with this book back in 1970, and he actually had people reading it. A lot of people of the New Apocalypse style got their formative ideas from him. Lots of ideas that crop up regularly are there, collected from many different works, but the popularity of this book got those ideas into the public eye. For instance Gog and Magog being Russia and the Arab states (all of them; apparently the "Arab states" are one homogenous blob that acts with a single, Borg-like will), all set to wipe Israel of the face of the Earth; the unification of Europe (ten nations only, though!), then the East, then the West; the Anti Christ coming back from a supposedly fatal wound. Boy, did that last one have folks jumping when the Pope was shot! Oh, and there are wonderful bits of writing like this, regarding the Rapture:

"Just think how excited a woman can get about a new wardrobe. How much more excited she would be about acquiring a new body!" Ah, can't you just smell the impending enlightenment?

Some of my favorite predictions:

1) The middle east will be a constant source of tension;

2) The US military will be destroyed because no one has the will to use it;

3) The US economy wil collapse because of Communist subversion and student rebellion.

4) Durg addicts will run for "high office" (no pun intended, I think) and will win via support of young voters.

I love predictions.

Whites book is a 1983 Cold War bonanza of DOOM and paranoia, and even comes with a lovely forward by Billy Graham himself. Always a plus. He spends the first half (or so) of each chapter collecting quotes about how DOOMED the world is, then the second half saying "Ain't it great? Jesus is coming!" You get the sense of Major Kong screaming YAHOO! as he rides a nuclear bomb groundwards, only it's all happening in John Whites head! Even the final chapter title, "I Will Come Again" is remeniscent of Dr. Strangeloves closing song, Vera Lynns "We'll Meet Again".

The AIDS Plague (from 1986) is further proof that having a degree hardly makes you a genius. Now I don't like "Ivory Tower" arguements much, but it's a good example of reading only those facts that fit your world view, rather than what might actually be there. Apparently, about 58 million people were supposed to have died of AIDS in the United States by 1998.

That didn't seem to happen.

But then, there is a list of how to prevent such a catastrophie helpfully listed in the book, so let's see what they are. Before God could save us, four prerequisites had to be met, so perhaps these saved us:

1) We must humble ourselves (the only way to get exalted, you know. Luke 14:11);

2) We must really pray (One of my favorite proverbs, a Russian one: "Pray to God, fine, but keep rowing to shore.");

3) We must seek His face (tough to do when you're kissing His ass...);

and
4) We must turn from our wicked ways (which includes "filthy language" and overeating).

Like any of those happened. Yeah, the '80s: I think of them and the word "humble" springs unbidden to my mind. Likewise "real" prayer and clean language. There are also a few references to miracles of the "A farmer in Africa prayed to God, and it rained on his crops, but not on those of his apostate neighbours'" variety, and a story of cancer beaten by prayer, but he also pulls the CYA card and says sometimes God does good stuff for folks that don't pray, too; but usually not.

But my absolute favorite is "When Your Money Fails..." written in 1981. Brilliant stuff, here: the front cover art has "666" printed on it EIGHT times; there is the forhead of what looks like a pensive, aged George Washington with a bar code (with 666) tatooed on it; even the elipsies is replaced by three sixes instead of dots. The book goes to great lengths to explain just how evil the new UPC symbol is, and how everyone is going to have computer chips installed into their forheads and/or right hands.

But the, ah, then comes the crowning glory: the name of the AntiChrist. Yep, she's worked it out, and this person fits all possible criteria. Ready? The AntiChrist is...

Anwar El Sadat. (If your first response is "Who?", then you're too damn young. Click on the link already.)

Yes, he who was assassinated less than three years after "When Your Money Fails..." was published. And he didn't come back from that fatal wound, either. She makes a rather strained comparison between Sadat and Hitler, but it just doesn't fly. Sadat admired Hitler, but was a rather pale imitation if he was trying to be Hitler.

The worst part of all of these Armageddonists is that they believe the AntiChrist will make world hunger vanish by coordinating the worlds efforts to do so; likewise ending wars between nations and helping the poorest among us. So naturally, all attempts at international cooperation are to be bitterly opposed as the workings of Satan! Unless, of course, they are to be welcomed as the workings of Satan! After all, the more Satan does, the closer the Rapture, and that's a good thing, right?

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posted by Thursday at 10:35 am 0 comments

Other: The Newly Ignored Pope

So the new Pope, Benedict XVI, has been elected. I was actually hoping he'd go for one of the earlier, less used papal names. Wouldn't it have rocked to call him "Pope Telesphorus", or "Pope Anastasius Bibliothecarius the Third"? Now, THAT'S a name to get noticed!

I'd avoid "Hyginus II", though. Too easy to get bullied at school with that one.

Another thought: am I the only person who heard Joseph Ratzinger was elected and thought, "Wow, the first Jewish Pope!"?

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posted by Thursday at 10:07 am 5 comments

April 17, 2005

Motorcycles: Closer and Closer

One of the horde of RD350LCs that we're rebuilding is finally ready - almost. After much futzing with the carbs, new needles and seats, cutting open exhausts to get the baffles out, a massive amout of cleaning and a whole lot of cursing all previous owners of said machines, one (mine) is up and running.

Since Clover is still on the road (despite a drop this winter) I can wait a little while before Artie comes along. My brother happens to be a welder, so we got to talking; here's a partial list:

Cats Eye headlight;
Mini clocks (about 3 inches across);
Streamlined signals;
Bar-end mirrors;
Bronze chain mail over black tank w/silver gas cap;
Silver and bronze mesh side panels;
Bronze mail over black fenders;
Steel fright mask over the big-ass rear brake light.

I have no idea if any of this will work, but what the hell. I can always swap the old bits back in if things go horribly wrong.

This should be fun, in that do-it-yourself, bloody knuckles sort of way.

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posted by Thursday at 10:14 pm 0 comments

April 16, 2005

Politics: Storytime!

Once upon a time, there was a rich little boy who got everything he wanted. When he was very young, he found out that if something confused him or hurt him or annoyed him, he could just go to his room and when he came out, the problem would be gone. Just like magic!

When his body grew up, he found out that he could do whatever he wanted, because he was very rich and had other people clean up anything that went wrong. Sometimes it cost a lot of money; sometimes he could just threaten people; and sometimes he'd have to lie until people believed him; but everything would work out okay. So the little boy would have lots and lots of fun by pushing people around and taunting them whenever he could.

And what does the little boy do when he's president? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Political Appointment equivalent of "Neener neener neee-neeer!"

Dick Cheney: "Yank" was the Chief Executive of one of the most corrupt multinationals going from 1995 to 2000 (when he felt he could make more money elsewhere), and he's lived up to that promise as Vice President. Around $9 Billion is still unacounted for, and his former (?) company is getting rich, rich, rich! Not that they're the only ones, of course. Secretary of Defence when Bush Sr. decided not to go after Hussein, which must have been a little awkward. That he's the most famous chickenhawk, less so.

Condoleeza Rice: Now Secretary of State, was piss-poor National Security Advisor. Has an oil tanker named after her. That could well be the shining moment of her career. Had the audience rolling in the aisles when she said: "The time for diplomacy is now" at her confirmation hearing. As good a diplomat as she is historian.

John Negroponte: Proposed Director of National Intelligence. Ambassador to Honduras during a little thing called Iran-Contra. Most recently, the top civilian on the ground in Iraq, which seems to be going just as well. Got the hell out of Iraq as soon as he was allowed to, has a history of politicising intelligence reports.

Stephen Johnson: Acting Administrator for the EPA. Wanted to use the children of poor families (like anyone else would consider it) to test pesticides. A "scientist" who puts his employers first, he has told the enforcement arm of the EPA to "prioritize economic concerns" when trying to do their job. Bush wants him on full time.

Paul Wolfowitz: Confirmed for head of the World Bank. Actually denounced friendly relations with Hussein in the 80's (unlike, say, Rumsfeld); is one of the "Vulcans" pushing for the US to militarily dominate the world. No problem there: it's not like the World Bank has actually helped any of the countries they've been involved with for the past 25 years. Here he's explaining why the citizens of the US won't have to pay a penny for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

John Bolton: Already dubbed "Got Milk", he's nominated as US Ambassador to the UN. This despite the fact that he doesn't believe in the UN, or the validity of international law applying to the United States. He didn't do terribly well at his first confirmation hearing, and was described as a "classic 'kiss up, kick down' kind of guy" by one republican co-worker. He should certainly fit in with Bushs treatment of the world at large, and of the UN in particular.

But perhaps I'm being too hard on president George. He must have a sense of humour, or he wouldn't have had the agressively relaxed Xanax Queen herself heading up the Anti-Gang Initiative, providing me with fine excuse to link to Arriana Huffington.

It's like he knows that if any of these folks actually gets examined, there's going to be an uproar over their appointments, so he keeps throwing them up until the sheer stupidity and/or utter inappropriateness of the nominees exhausts all opposition. I think he's trying to prove the maxim: when you're skating on thin ice, safety somes with speed.

Seriously, the only reason Bush hasn't descended into the freakishly paranoid rantings of Nixon is because Nixon was smart enough to know what was coming, and the smell of Impending Doom drove him mad. As for Bush? He could lose his mind if it fell on a carpet, and that seems to be his saving grace.

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posted by Thursday at 12:07 am 5 comments

April 15, 2005

Other: Introduction to a Book I Want to Write.

It’s time to come clean about something. It’s a little embarrassing, what with us being neighbours for so long and all, but sooner or later, you were going to find out anyways, and at least this way, you find out from us.

So here goes.

You know how Canada is supposed to be this great big place with a small population (about 10% of the United States)? Well, that’s true. Canada’s big: really, really big. And the population is low. But that’s not the whole story. If Canada had 10% of the population of the U.S., that would mean we had 30 million people or so, and that’s just crazy! The actual population of Canada obviously isn’t thirty million. It’s actually three hundred and twenty-four.[1] We just inflated the numbers because we thought no one would bother looking.

Sorry about that.

You may be looking at an atlas if you have one[2] and saying things like, “But Canada has lots and lots of towns! And a city!” Well, sure, but we’re the ones who call them that. Toronto has an actual population of twelve. Regina? That’s Judy. Shoko and her family (Barry, Tran and their Dalmatian Speckles) are the “city” of Vancouver. And the list goes on.[3]

One of the first steps to healing the damage you’ve caused in a relationship is admitting when you’ve lied, confronting that lie, and apologising to those you’ve lied to. So here goes:

America, and (to a lesser degree) the rest of the world, we’re sorry. We’ve been living a lie, and glorifying ourselves by letting you believe it, and for that we are deeply, deeply ashamed. Now, as our relationship has gotten more and more strained and misunderstandings between our nations is perhaps at the highest in modern times, is the time for truth to wipe the slate clean. Let us try anew to reopen the lines of communication in a more honest and mutually satisfying way. Perhaps with the Great Lie gone, we can really understand each others cultures, and the people who make each of our societies work.

We understand: why should you trust us now, now that you know we’ve lied to you in such a heinous fashion? We know that trust must be earned, not demanded. And so I, as a representative[4] of this beautiful, empty land, offer this revelation and testament of what life is really like north of the 49th parallel.

Let the healing begin.



[1] Maybe 325 by the time this is published. Hi, Shoko! Hope to see your baby soon!

[2] Not that I’m saying if you don’t have one you’re stupid! It’s okay if you don’t; lots of people don’t, and I’m sure some of them are smart.

[3] Appendix A

[4] See the section on our government for how I was given this noble duty.

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posted by Thursday at 4:10 pm 0 comments

April 12, 2005

Politics: Finally, Something Important

So now that the proposal to for an amendment to ensure marriage is strictly defined as between a man and woman "to the exclusion of all others" has been shot down, what can the Conservatives possibly attack the ruling Liberal Party on? Is there anything? Anything at all?

Apparently not.

Nothing, it seems, is as important in Canadian politics right now as stopping homosexuals from getting married. The Conservatives have promised a filibuster to delay a second reading on the so-called "Civil Marriage Act", C-38. What this will accomplish is frankly beyond me. Despite fierce campaigning by social conservatives and a flood of money from various groups based in the United States over the past two years, there wasn't enough support in parliment to stop gays from getting equal marriage rights. The numbers simply aren't going to get better for the opponents of this bill.

Two years ago, the big complaint was ... can you guess? Those liberal judges taking these matters "out of the hands of the people" by ruling on points of law in their courtrooms. Yes, they were forcing homosexuality on the poor, defenceless citizens by not allowing elected representatives decide whether gays and lesbians could marry.

Well, guess what, kids? It's 164 to 132, and that's with 34 Liberals voting against gay marriage. The funniest arguement those voting against used was that they voted that way on "religious and moral grounds." Does anyone here think they voted against on "irreligious and moral grounds", or "religious and immoral grounds", or even "irreligious and immoral grounds"? Think anyone voted against for non-religious reasons? The only other reason someone could possibly make is that thinking of sodomy makes them feel icky.

Are we now allowed to tell these folks to suck it up and get on with the actual government part of being in government? You're there for the paperwork, boys and girls; you got voted in because you said you wanted to do it, and who am I to question masochists?

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posted by Thursday at 11:36 pm 2 comments

April 09, 2005

Other: Gays are Scary!

I know, another repost, but this is too funny to ignore:

Minnesota Senator Michelle Bachman tried to force a vote to eliminate any possibility for domestic partnerships (the rather feeble wording for gay marriage) for homosexuals in that state. On the same day, there was a rally in support of gay rights outside the legaslature. So how did Senator Bachman avoid the group?

Just like many of the Religous Right, she hid behind the Bushes.

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posted by Thursday at 9:21 am 2 comments

Politics: No Hate Like That Within the Family

This, if you can believe it, is a speech given by a Republican Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. Well worth the read, if you're amongst those who had given up any kind of rationality from that political sphere. It includes this gem:

"...We no longer trust in trade, friendship, peace, the Constitution, and the principle of neutrality while avoiding entangling alliances with the rest of the world. Spreading the message of hope and freedom by setting an example for the world has been replaced by a belief that use of armed might is the only practical tool to influence the world..."

Nice to see that someone has thought about the impact of the war in Iraq without the rose-white-and-blue tinted glasses.

I only hope there's someone down South listening.

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posted by Thursday at 9:13 am 0 comments

April 08, 2005

Politics: Risk/Reward

I'm reading my latest bit of motorcycle porn, in this case the Robb Report. The Robb Report is an unholy combination of Cribs and People Magazine for the stupidly wealthy: don't expect any actual reporting. If they were handed shit on a stick and told it cost $450,000 they would be delighted to describe its beautiful features. Just look at the pretty pictures and you'll be fine.

In any case, one of the featured bikes this issue is a custom made by a fellah from BC that's called the Goldammer. Brilliant piece of work that is street legal while hearkening (is that a word?) back to the days of the board trackers.

Board trackers were the utterly insane folks who raced motorcycles in the first couple of decades of last century. It was on a wooden track (duh) with no helmets, no banking, no brakes (you pulled the plugs from the engine and let the bike eventually roll to a stop) and few discernable rules. Once you decided to start the race, you were stuck with that decision until the end. These tracks were uncleanable, so the oil spilling out of the engines (they were a total-loss lubrication system at the time) stayed on the tracks; riders who fell off frequently ended up with massive splinters; spectators had the occasional bike slide into the stands.

May I present these riders' polar opposite: The Conservative Party of Canada.

Bit of a jump there, wouldn't you say?

Not as much as you might think. During and after their fete in Montreal, the Conservatives were constantly describing their boundless energy, youthful vigour, and their eagerness to hold the Liberals boots to the fire as far as ethical and financial issure are concerned. Then they sat on their hands when it came time to vote on the budget. And now, despite the damning testimony being revealed from the Gomery Inquiry (which Deputy Conservative Minister MacKay calls "...a criminal conspiracy of the like never seen in this country...") they still refuse to call an election. Actually, the information isn't much worse that the Auditor Generals report from 2004, which was (and is) plenty bad but that didn't really make much of a dent in public consiousness. Trials are just sexier, reeking as they do of Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson et al.

The Plastic Man himself must be gnashing his teeth over not causing an election by opposing the budget in February. Imagine being in the middle of an election fight right now, trying to reach undecided voters, and the Gomery Inquiry gives you a great big club. But the Conservatives got deked out of their shorts by the psyche-out the Bloc Quebecois pulled on them, and they ended up looking like frat pledges at a hazing ritual, not sure if they're being laughed at or with...

The NDP has too small a number of MPs to do much (a frequent complaint - in politics, size does mean something), so they can vote for or against the 80s Porn Star or Mr. Dithers or Spooky just as much as they want and it won't make a bit of difference. The Bloc are dancing with the Conservatives for the spotlight in the only area that matters to it, and the Cons still have no clue how to approach Quebec. The Western Protest Party that was the Alliance isn't going to convince anyone in La Belle Provence to vote for them until they have at least one leader from Quebec, and that's not going to be for a while yet...

In a minority government, it falls to the official Opposition to decide when the next election will be called, and the longer they delay doing so, the more they give tacit approval to the actions of the party in power. The Conservatives are waiting for the message from their convention that they are "newly moderate" to reach the public before forcing an election. News flash, kids: it's not going to happen.

The only chance for the Concervatives ratings to go up for the next election is for them to have less attention paid to themselves, and more attention to the Liberals (or rather, to the Liberals Past). One way to do that is to bring down the sitting government over an issue, any issue.

The track is waiting, ladies and gentlemen. Start your engines, or pull the plug.

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posted by Thursday at 2:23 pm 0 comments

April 04, 2005

Other: 2+4=Banana

For the most part, I like to think of myself as a reasonably tolerant person. Everyone gets to share their unique vision of the world, even if their views are contrary to my own, because I know that perspectives are a personal thing. We can never actually feel what someone else is feeling, because we cannot be that person; all we have for mutual understanding is the limited, heavily filtered communication of language and vision (both, in the case of writing).

That's how I like to think of myself.

Alas, the truth of the matter is all too frequently different.

The odd belief of giving anyones opinion an equal weight was never more visible than in the Schiavo trial (this will be my LAST mention of it, promise). Somehow, everyone who had an opinion found someone to take them seriously: often it was several someones. When one media outlet found out that some asshat "expert" had been interviewed by CBS (or the NY Times or whomever), that expert attained a measure of gravitas that made them a favorite target for other outlets. And if these "experts" brought their own audience (hello, John Edward) then so much the better. There was a cry, a few decades back, for the necessity of neutrality in the media. This is bullshit. As long as there are humans directing, editing, writing, and presenting information, it cannot be neutral. As long as you're aware that there is a bias, you can consider it; if you are not aware of it, then you are at its mercy.

A short digression: the Germans have a term, schadenfreude, which means taking pleasure (Freude) from someone elses misfortune (schaden). Knowing this, allow me to link to the transcript of a somewhat surprising interview on the hackshow Scarborough Country. I say that like there's anything on MSNBC that isn't a hackshow... Notice how he ends the piece, after the agumentative doctor is no longer on the air:

"...I am not claiming that this doctor is a charlatan. I don't know his body of work. I am not claiming that he is a hired gun. But too many doctors out there can be bought off by attorneys on either side. And then they come out, instead of telling you the facts, you get into debate like you are talking to an attorney..."

Uh, Joe? He told you the facts. Over and over. If you don't listen, that's your problem, not his. And it's interesting how those folks hired by the husband (and appointed by the courts) are the ones who can be "bought off", without mentioning those hired by the family. Moron.

The fact that any old flake can rattle off whatever story they want and get an audience is nothing new, of course. The challenge is to know enough to use muliple sources for your information: anyone who relies on a single source is at the mercy of that source. The most valuble tool that we can use is communication, and it comes with the same caveat that remarks upon freedom: that there is a cost, and it is eternal vigilance.

The truth is a tricky thing to pin down, because it relies on perspective. Reality, on the other hand, is what exists whether we believe in it or not. But we can't be in every place at every time, so we rely on communication from others, which naturally carries their perspective.

So what does this have to do with bananas?

This is what it has to do with bananas.

This film is spirituality in a scientific pretext. Feel-good, squishy soft spirituality at that. "What the Fuck Do We Know?" was financed by a student from the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Washington State. Don't know who Ramtha is? Well, don't worry: he's been dead for 35,000 years, give or take. Oh, and he's also a god from Atlantis. Any questions? No? Well, there bloody well should be!

There is a consistent bleat from the True Believers of this: "Well, it COULD happen/have happened!" To quote a pathologist during the first episode of Law & Order: "Death rays from Mars COULD have killed him; but I don't think so."

There really are certain things that are just not going to happen. Animals won't be able to live without food of some kind; the Rapture isn't coming; and you can't build a dinosaur from DNA found in a mosquito.

The common rejoinder is: "Well, that's YOUR opinion, and that doesn't mean it's right!" As a sentence alone, disassociated from any context, that's true. But when I say "Two plus four cannot equal a banana", will the response be the same? Yes, but in a slightly more obfuscated manner. Here's what I'd hear next:

"Well, if there was this person who gave out bananas for saying the number six, then that would mean 2+4=Banana, right? So it could happen!"

This is where my patience slips a little.

Any nonsense can get spouted at any time, and a construct can be built around it to "prove" that it might, at some point, possibly be true in a Paralell Universe. If you should point out that this doesn't happen, they'll tell you about their uncle Bob, who had a teacher who would give out little prizes to children for getting math quizzes right, and the teacher gave uncle Bob a banana magnet one time that he has at home on his fridge right now so there. And no, you can't meet uncle Bob. So shut up.

Then you could ask them to state aloud the phrase "Two plus four = six", and see if a banana appears, they'll say it's not appropriate in public. If you offer to say the phrase, they'll say it doesn't work for you because you don't believe, or that you're doing it wrong, or there are too many negative vibrations. But if you'd like to come over to their place for a demonstration (after a quick trip to the market), and wait blindfolded in a darkened room until they're ready, then that should be proof enough that 2+4=banana, right? Or at the very least, you'll have to admit the sometimes 2+4=banana. So they're right at least some of the time. And sometimes is good enough for them to accept it as proof. Plus it means you're not always right, so there.

When you point out that all mathematics is a theoretical consturct with internally consistent laws that serve as the framework for its existence with only representatives in the real world, and that if a decision is reached to change the meaning of numbers, then that will destroy their functionality, they'll glaze over a bit before saying "That means I'm right, though, right?"

And that will provide enough of an excuse to call the retroactive abortion clinic, making the world a slightly more intelligent place.

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posted by Thursday at 2:40 pm 0 comments

April 03, 2005

Politics: Our Wet Coast Leader

...Is such a pussy. But then, so's the new tabloid "The Kitsilano View", which apparently means a big, hairy, so-close-it's-kissable "view" of Gordon Campbells ass.

Thanks to Holycola for pointing this blurb out.

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posted by Thursday at 8:43 am 0 comments

April 01, 2005

Science: The Pigasus Awards

A yearly tradition, James Randi (of $1,000,000 Challenge fame) has declared the winners of the most ridiculous claims, statements, people, and/or events of 2004. As he describes them:

"...these are announced via ESP to the winners, who are of course allowed to predict their winning of this honor by precognition. The Flying Pig trophies are sent to the winners via psychokinesis..."

Enjoy!

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posted by Thursday at 10:09 pm 1 comments

Religion: God Exists, But You Won't Like Him

Discovering that I'm doomed to Hell has got me rattled, I'm telling you. So I'm trying really, really hard to believe in God (or Gods, for that matter) for the sake of my rather ambivalent soul(tm).

I reckon that any God worth their salt who created a bunch of bald apes with question marks in their eyes should have imbued them with the ability to reach the right conclusion when left to their own devices, so reference books written by said apes are out.

But how could I reach such a conclusion? Simple enough: we (the species) have had scads and scads of deities, but the ones that remain with us are the ones we've declared "perfect", what with the whole omnipitent/onmiscient thing the God Botherers are always on about. So the remaining Gods being actively worshipped today in any serious numbers are all perfect beings. And that means that anything they make, us included, is also perfect.

Unless they screwed up on purpose.

But that's just my heresy talking. Why would something all-powerful and all-knowing bother making something that is, most of us would agree, somewhat less than perfect? I mean, seriously now: God loves us, right? Everyone who has a God of their own says so. If we behave properly, we get a cookie; if we're bad, we get our noses rubbed in it and thrown outside.

Um, wait.

If God loves us so much, why didn't he create us already in Paradise? Some folks think we started there, and got booted. (Love: even amongst the immortal, it's a fickle thing, eh?) Others think we're already here, and this is our reward. I'm not exactly convinced. In any case, everyone diety-enabled seems to reach the opinion that, for some reason, we ended up with free will or a variant thereof. So we should spend it stroking Gods ego as much as possible by giving thanks for, well, everything. If God is that egotistical, well, we've seen what happens to Gods that show human frailties...

But if God created us to worship him, then all of us would worship Him, right? You build a toaster to toast things, not to wander the kitchen discussing metaphysics. (Actually, that sounds pretty cool - but I digress.) But the same job would be performed by all of us, what with us being created by a perfect entity and all.

Unless God was bored.

What would you do, if you were all-powerful AND all-knowing? The end of the imagination, I should think. So why not play a little? Create a cognisant species, then deny yourself the knowledge of its reactions to the world around it will be. You could do it, being omnipotent, and it would certainly be more fun that sitting around knowing everything. Unfortunately, this reduces God to a purchaser of Sea Monkeys. Hardly a flattering description, for God or for us; but it is better than the alternative:

God's a sadist.

Bit of an odd conclusion, sure, but hear me out:

1) The Gods that have survived this far with us are those that are "perfect", and are singular (accuracy hates company?);

2) God created us;

3) We're imperfect, and have been promised Paradise should we fight through those imperfections;

4) God delights in our attaining Paradise;

5) If God created both us and Paradise, then He could have created us there directly;

6) He didn't;

7) If we get to Paradise, the experiment is over for us and we're "taken out of circulation", so to speak, that is we go to Heaven and stop there;

8) Whether existence is linear or not, we live it in a linear fashion through time (yesterday led to today will lead to tomorrow);

9) There are more of us around now than ever before.

Conclusion: God not only doesn't want the experiment to end, he enjoys our struggles to reach Heaven. We call people who enjoy watching others struggle Sadists, for better of worse.

So why, if God is malicious, create a Heaven at all? Why not just put sentient beings on whatever the spiritual equivalent of a rack is for all eternity? A simple and slightly repulsive answer: have you ever heard some mediocre parent tell their child that because they misbehaved, they won't be allowed to go to the circus, which the child didn't even know was in town? Or that the family was going to have ice cream for dessert, if the kid had just behaved himself, but no more? It's a psychic stick to beat your child with that they can never tell is coming, making it all the more effective a threat: they have to keep it in their own minds to behave, or some nebulous prize might at some undetermined future time be taken away from them.

I think I'll stick with atheism, thanks.

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posted by Thursday at 11:57 am 14 comments