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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

octopus kills shark

Now this is a cool video (although the narrator is pretty corny, and he incorrectly says "octopi" to mean the plural of octopus - "octopuses" is correct).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

my respect for milwaukee has greatly increased

Here's why.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

the heroic weird al yankovic strikes again...

...this time taking on the monstrous RIAA! His new single, from his forthcoming album "Straight Outta Lynwood", is called "Don't Download this Song". Naturally, it's available for free download, at his myspace site as well as at

Sample lyric:
Oh, you don't wanna mess with the RIAA
They'll sue you if you burn that CD-R
It doesn't matter if you're a grandma or a 7-year-old girl
They'll treat you like the evil, hard-bitten criminal scum you are

the "freedom agenda" has this article, which quotes Bush responding to questions by reporter Ken Herman:
BUSH: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it?

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing. Except it’s part of — and nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September 11th is take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody’s ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.
The site contains a video clip of this exchange.

William Norman Grigg has more to add, commenting on the piece over at
The president's comments came just after he reiterated a talking point he has worn down to a blunt stub: "The terrorists attacked us and killed three thousand of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East." In other words: Iraq and 9-11 are intimately connected. Immediately queried by a journalist as to what Iraq had to do with 9-11, Mr. Bush promptly, and with some asperity, said, "Nothing."

This is a museum-quality specimen of that type of politically inspired dishonesty Orwell called "double-think." The president's use of the tin-eared expression "freedom agenda" to describe the metastasizing violence and sectarian fanaticism in Iraq also provides a useful example of the product of a mind thoroughly clotted with ideological cant. Presumably by baptizing this catastrophe with a name involving the word "freedom," it is somehow transformed from a debacle into an unfolding triumph.

Monday, August 21, 2006

well red: organic, sulfite free, and damn tasty

I've seen organic wines in the stores for years, but I never ventured to try one. I figure it's hard enough to get all the variables right to make a good wine, that if you restrict yourself to organically-grown grapes, you're certain to handicap the quality of the results. However, while cruising through the wine aisles at Trader Joe's yesterday, I happened upon a $5.99 bottle of "Well Red" from HeartsWork Winery, which claimed to be organic and sulfite free, so I took a chance.

Oh man, this is tasty and flavorfull stuff! It reminds me of the Cabernet wines I would make with my father in the basement, which were definitely sulfite-free, though those California grapes we used were not organically grown as far as I know. We'd begin to enjoy those wines at less than one year of age, and this Well Red stuff reminds me a lot of those delicious young wines.

Well Red is a light-to-medium colored and somewhat cloudy red. The label doesn't list the grape varieties used, but the web site has this to say:
A blend of Grenache, Sangiovese and a kiss of Syrah, this wine was left on oak a little longer to strengthen its overall structure. You'll find a dark rich blend with full mouth feel, subtle earth notes, traditional Sangiovese tannins and a soft oak and vanilla finish.
On my next visit to TJ's, I'm stocking up on this unassuming little red beauty.

screw the shampoo: conclusion

Well, I planned to go 6 weeks without washing the hair - in fact, I only went 5.5 weeks. That is because I let it grow longer than I normally do, and all of the sudden I really needed to get it cut. It seemed kind of limp the morning of my haircut, so I shampooed it (with Pantene) to make sure I got a good cut, and the day after as well (always irrationally worried it's not "clean" after being clipped by the same shears 1,000 other heads are being clipped by). That was about a week and a half ago. Since then, no shampoo.

I think for the indefinite future, I'll shampoo at each haircut time, once before and once after. I do believe that overall my hair is in much better condition than when I was shampooing/conditioning three times per week, and I'm saving a lot of time in the shower. Plus, it looks consistently good - no more of that puffy, less puffy, flat cycle that I had before. I do have a bit of flaking, but it's very minor. Barring any drastic changes, that's all I'll be posting about this topic. If you have any doubts about the necessity of regular shampooing, I encourage you to give shampoo abstinence a try. I'm glad I did.

Monday, August 14, 2006

how to order wine

This article entitled Smooth moves for a vintage first date is written as a lesson for you single folks out there, but it contains a lot of good info for anybody who finds himself or herself ordering wine in a restaurant, regardless of marital status. I especially like the advice on "pairing":
Pairing rules are for fools. OK, you probably should opt for a "big" red wine (cabernet, syrah/shiraz, zinfandel) if you're having slabs of red meat. Otherwise, go with something you know, or your best instinct. If the two of you select markedly different dishes, lean toward something that seems like a match for your date's order. Blessedly, there are several wines that have an affinity for virtually everything on any menu: dry riesling, pinot noir, Champagne and other sparkling wines and rose (but not Boone's Farm).
Well said; ordering a decent wine that you enjoy is the important thing, so don't sweat the pairing.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

how they hate martha

The Associated Press is running this story today. They're apparently tickled to death that Martha Stewart's home in Westport has been up for sale for TWO WHOLE MONTHS and it hasn't sold yet:
WESTPORT, Conn. - Six years after Martha Stewart said she was leaving Westport, the domestic diva really is bidding farewell to this wealthy seaside town — if only someone will buy her house.

Stewart has been trying for more than two months to sell her early 19th century federal-style farmhouse for $9 million. Real estate experts say it's not unusual for luxury homes to take at least a few months to sell — even those with Martha's famous touch.

"It's the most beautiful property I've ever seen," said Eileen Hill, president of the Mid Fairfield County Association of Realtors. "Every blade of grass stands at attention."

The town, which is also home to actor Paul Newman and singer Michael Bolton, is taking Stewart's departure with a stiff upper lip.

"There was certainly no real sense of loss," said Cristin Marandino, editor of Westport Magazine. "I think 70 percent of the people who live in Westport have a Martha story. She just wasn't very easy to live with."
The hateful and envious press, who can't stand the fact that somebody with talent and a true media entrepreneur who has made thousands of times more than they ever will, will take any potential jab at Martha no matter how trivial the subject matter. They even admit in the first few sentences that it is not at all unusual for a luxury home to take several months to sell, but nonetheless, it's BIG NEWS. (Think about it - how many people do you know who've recently sold their homes in less than two months?)

Then, these talentless drivel-spewers can't help but quote one person in the neighborhood who doesn't like Martha as if that establishes a pattern of resentment towards her. Screw you, AP.

Friday, August 11, 2006

sore loserman and the state of conservatism, 2006

Pat Buchanan discusses the meaning of Joe Lieberman's defeat and the strange "conservatism" of The Weekly Standard in this article on today's LRC.
...But this week has also provided a glimpse into the character and convictions of our neo-conservatives, who claim direct descent from Ronald Reagan. In a lead editorial, The Weekly Standard called on Bush to fire Rumsfeld and make Joe Lieberman secretary of defense. And the Pentagon is only to be a stepping-stone...

...Last year, Joe's rating by Americans for Democratic Action was 80. The ACLU gave him an 83, the NAACP an 85, the AFL-CIO a 92, LULAC a perfect 100. In 2004, Joe got a 100 rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League and a zero from National Right to Life. His American Conservative Union rating was zero. His Christian Coalition rating was zero. The National Rifle Association, which grades by letters, gave Joe a big, fat "F."

But as long as you support war in Lebanon, war in Iraq and a "war-fighting Republican Party," in The Weekly Standard's phrase, you get a pass on everything else. Beat the drum for permanent war for global democracy and against Islamo-fascism, and all other sins are forgiven you.

Such is the state of conservatism, 2006.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I don't know who Earnest Benn is, but this quote by him on today's Quotes of the Day from The Quotations Page applies perfectly to our busy-body congresscritters:
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Well, it looks like the Iraq War albatross hanging around old Joe's neck was too much for him to bear. The New York Times is now reporting that Ned Lamont has narrowly defeated Lieberman in the senatorial race in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

As I said earlier, I'm not yet convinced that Lamont will really take a principled and committed stand against the Bush administration's wars, should he manage to go on to win the general election...but, nonetheless...a definitely pro-war freedom-hater went down in flames because of his pro-war stance, and dammit, that feels good! Thanks, Connecticut voters!

Monday, August 07, 2006

ned lamont: principled antiwar candidate or opportunistic high-class phony?

I can't stand Senator Joe Lieberman. He's your typical liberal eastern establishment political elite, but worse. Worse because this gun-grabbing little weasel is a neocon hawk on foreign policy, endorsing every step toward global conquest made by the Bush administration. So at first I was heartened to see his opponent in the Connecticut primary, the super rich Ned Lamont, beating him in the polls. Lamont, you see, has made his opposition to the Iraq war a cornerstone of his platform. What could be better than to see Joe Loserman get booted out on his ass by an antiwar candidate? But then I began to look into this Lamont character, and I fear he may not be what he seems.

First of all, make no mistake - the Phillip Exeter/Harvard/Yale educated Lamont is another socialist eastern establishment elite, even more socialist than Lieberman in some ways. But even if we ignore all that, can he really be trusted to provide any real resistance to the neocon effort at global hegemony? As much as a single senator from Connecticut can do, anyway?

Lamont never held any office higher than city councilman in Greenich, CT. In general, I view that as a good thing, but how did he get the momentum to get where he is in the polls today? He failed his one bid to run for state senator in 1990. It seems odd that all of the sudden he's providing such a strong challenge to Lieberman. Are there forces behind the scenes with an agenda unknown to us? Talk of a three-way race, with Lieberman running as an independent should he lose the Democratic nomination make such speculation more confusing...and intriguing.

It's all seems eerily similar to the Howard Dean run for the presidential nomination. Dean was somebody the antiwar liberals latched onto as their great white hope. Alas, this Yalie was a nothing but a high-class phony. Dean certainly didn't have a great anti-war track record. In 1995, for example, he urged President Clinton to take take unilateral action in Bosnia against the Serbs. And we haven't heard him say anything against the Iraq war, or proposed attacks on Iran, since his failed presidential bid. It seems like he was raised up as a magnet to attract the liberal antiwar crowd, then he was quickly shot down, with his followers mostly switching to the status-quo Kerry, whom Dean endorsed.

And whether Lamont is sincere, I don't know. This whole post is mere speculation with no real evidence with which to draw any conclusions. It just seems like somebody cut from the same cloth as Bush, Kerry, and Dean isn't likely to change things for the better. That said, I hope he beats Lieberman and proves me wrong. As to whether or not he wins, we should know soon!

the new cannibalism

Thanks again to The Drudge Report for the links to this Daily Mail story entitled "A barbaric kind of beauty", although I kind of wish I never read it. Wealthy British and American women are spending thousands of dollars to allow themselves to be injected with fetal stem cells in the dubious hope that it will make their skin look younger. Where do those stem cells come from? The article tells us where one clinic in Moscow called The Cellulite Clinic gets them:
RUSSIA and the Ukraine currently top the world abortion league, with more of the operations carried out here than anywhere else on earth. Evidence gathered by the Moscow police department has shown a growing black market in aborted foetuses, which are smuggled into Russia from the Ukraine and Georgia.

Here, poverty-stricken young women are paid 200 U.S. dollars to carry babies up to the optimum eight to 12-week period - thought to be best for harvesting stem cells. They are then sold on to cosmetic clinics.
Here we have the truly hideous specter of widescale harvesting and slaughtering of the unborn so that some of their cells might be injected into other human beings...for vanity. This is truly a new cannibalism. Unlike the victims of the traditional variety of cannibalism, these victims don't scream, run or fight back.

Dr Stephen Minger, director of stem cell biology at King's College in London, doesn't like this development one bit:
"But what this clinic is doing raises serious issues. For a start, it is not regulated by any medical board and there is no documented evidence or controlled clinical trials to back up their claims. More worryingly, there is no proof that the tissue is obtained from truly elective abortions rather than financially induced ones.

"Research shows that they openly import foetuses from poverty-stricken provinces in Ukraine and Russia, preying on the financially desperate to treat vain Western women."
I'm glad Dr. Minger has a a problem with it, but isn't he being a bit hypocritical? He's allowed to destroy the unborn for research, because he's a member of the proper board and he fills out the proper forms. Well, these freelancers are just taking this whole business to its logical conclusion. And what's all this about "elective" abortions vs. "financially induced" ones? If a woman aborts a baby so that she and hubby can continue to make those payments on their two BMWs and their second home in Hawaii, doesn't that qualify as financial inducement? Are the stem cells from that fetus any more morally obtained that the stem cells from the Russian peasant girl who was paid $200? Sure, the BMW couple aren't being paid by the harvesters, but their abortion's payoff is much greater than that of the peasant girl.

There's a lot more in the article, so I recommend reading whole grisly thing.

this just in: raunchy song lyrics cause teens to have sex

A new study published today in the August issue of Pedicatrics,which might be filed under the "No shit, sherlock" file, shows that listening to songs with raunchy lyrics prompts teenages to have sex. (See this story, spotted via The Drudge Report)
...Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.

"We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful" about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said...
I'm sure all the modern liberals and left-libertarians will make the usual bullshit excuses and deny that popular culture could ever have any effect on behavior (or admit it but not care, as the case may be), but they look more and more pathetic thanks to studies such as this. One 17-year old is a lot smarter than these excuse-makers:
...Natasha Ramsey, a 17-year-old from New Brunswick, N.J., said she and other teens sometimes listen to sexually explicit songs because they like the beat.

"I won't really realize that the person is talking about having sex or raping a girl," she said. Even so, the message "is being beaten into the teens' heads," she said. "We don't even really realize how much."

"A lot of teens think that's the way they're supposed to be, they think that's the cool thing to do. Because it's so common, it's accepted," said Ramsey, a teen editor for, a teen sexual health Web site produced at Rutgers University...
I think that's the key thing - the repetition and prevalence of a message being pounded into the brain day after day, that it becomes the new norm, the new standard. This is similar to the way people have been told over and over about all the good things that government supposedly does, that their brains are now incapable of imagining a society working without one. It's hard to believe that anyone really thinks that all the hours spent in front of television and movie screens, playing video games and plugged into iPods is not going to have any influence. Not that any of these things are bad, of course - they can all be healthy and entertaining, providing the content is chosen wisely.

As the article goes on to state, the RIAA has nothing to say about all of this:
...The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the U.S. recording industry, declined to comment on the findings...
Of course not: they don't give two shits about what kids are listening to, as long as they obtain the music legally like good little citizens, insuring that the RIAA members get their cut. That's the only sin that matters in their minds: thou shalt not violate copyright law! Let the culture go to hell, but pay us our tribute!

Should the government ban sexually explicit and degrading music? Of course not! But parents would be foolish to not take an interest in what their kids are listening to. And we'd all be foolish to pretend that the morally repugnant product churned out by the entertainment industry has not been a factor in the decline of our culture.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

deception point

At the insistence of the girlfriend, I have just finished reading Dan Brown's Deception Point, written in 2001, a couple of years before he wrote The DaVinci Code. Verdict? If you can get past the wildly pro-government, anti-free market bias, it is a decent thriller/conspiracy/page turner of a book.

the monstrous truman

Sixty-one years ago today, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people. An additional 60,000 people would die within the next year from the effects of the fallout.

These days, Truman is hailed by both Democrats and Republicans as a great president, but why isn't he remembered as one of our greatest war criminals? It's hard to take most left-wing criticisms of Bush seriously when they give such a pass on a much greater villain.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

stopping even more violence

As I've said before, ending the war on drugs would be the best way to lower America's murder rate, but there's even more violence that can be ended by repealing the idiotic war on drugs. Ezra Klein has a harrowing post on prison rape and quotes from an article in The Nation:
It took about half an hour for the Thorazine they'd spiked his drink with to hit. Suddenly Parsell couldn't think straight. He couldn't understand what was being said to him, and he couldn't understand why he couldn't understand. It was, he says, like watching a film with pieces of blank tape spliced into it: "skips, like mini-blackouts," flashes followed by darkness.

Then he was back in one of the dormitories. Four inmates were waiting for him. It was only then that Parsell began to understand what was happening. But by the time the panic hit, it was too late. Ron shoved Parsell onto one of the bunks and another two inmates tore off his pants. Even if Parsell hadn't been half their size, with the Thorazine he didn't have a chance. Ron pushed himself on top of Parsell and raped him, forcing Parsell's head into the pillow to muffle his screams as his rectum was ripped open. His cries were so desperate that they almost suffocated him trying to keep him quiet. But Ron didn't stop. Parsell felt like he screamed for an eternity.
How can we end this horror? The rest of the article is behind a pay wall, so I don't know the author's recommendations, but how about ending the war on drugs? It wouldn't cost an extra dime of taxpayers' money and not only would it spare non-violent criminals from the horrors of prison rape with no escape, but it would undoubtedly reduce the number of violent criminals/potential rapists in prison as well, since the drop in black market violence would lead to less people entering the brutal and murderous trade of illegal drug markets.

Read the whole thing if you can, but Ezra Klein is dead wrong about one thing: "we" are not complicit in this at all. The guilt lies completely on the monsters who do the raping and the thugs and hooligans running the political machines that create and help populate these hellholes.

P.S., am I the only one who is baffled as to how the inmates could get ahold of thorazine? Was it smuggled in or did the steal it from the prison infirmary?

Friday, August 04, 2006

lobbying for armageddon

That's the title of this AlterNet piece by Sarah Posner. She describes the Christian Zionists' push for war with Iran in order to bring about the End Times, after which the righteous (i.e. themselves) will reign, and how this just happens to dovetail with the neocons' foreign policy agenda. At the heart of it all is one Pastor John Hagee. The article is long but worth reading. Here's an excerpt:
In a perfect world, a reporter at last week's press conference with George Bush and Tony Blair would have asked Bush, in the presence of his principal European ally, if he believes the European Union is the Antichrist.

Although it sounds like the kind of Pat Robertson lunacy that makes even the wingnuts run for the nearest exit, it's a question Bush should be forced to answer. Bush and other leading Republicans have lined up behind a growing movement of Christian Zionists for whom a European Antichrist figures prominently in an end-times scenario. So they should be forced to explain to the rest of us why they're courting the votes of people who believe our allies are evil incarnate. Could it be that the central requirement for their breathlessly anticipated Armageddon -- that the United States confront Iran -- happens to dovetail so nicely with the neoconservative war agenda?

At the center of it all is Pastor John Hagee, a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. While Hagee has long prophesized about the end times, he ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book's publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which, as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said would cause "a political earthquake."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

hilarious post by stephan kinsella

Here, on the LRC blog. I'm referring to the wording of the part in the parentheses, not the actual content of the post. It's clever and I wish I had said that.

screw the shampoo: week 4

(Note: if you've been following this intriguing thread, and I have no doubt that you have, you should note that there is no "week 3" post; this is the first one since week 2.)

Well, yesterday marked the end of my fourth week of sticking it to Big Shampoo! (Or Small Shampoo, for that matter.) Neither cleanser nor conditioner has made contact with my rebellious scalp for all this time, just a daily rinse with warm water during my morning shower.

I have to say, the results are even better than I expected. I no longer experience any itching. My hair feels extremely well conditioned, but not excessively oily. On the downside, there is still a bit of flaking when I scratch my head. At this point, though, I am highly motivated to go the full six weeks, and likely well beyond that point.

One other note: my hair is about two weeks past the point where I would normally have it cut. In the past, it would start to get a bit unruly at 5 or 6 weeks and that would be my cue to schedule an appointment. It hasn't reached the unruly point yet, another plus.

As an aside, I apologize for my lack of posts lately. I've been frantically busy at both work and home, and I've barely had time to read any blogs let alone post. Hopefully things will calm down soon.