Thursday, December 29, 2005

That Darned Democracy

Arnaud de Borchgrave whines about how evil a society we've become lately.
The Ten Commandments are now multiple choice.
If only we could enact religious law as our civil law, and have special religious police to enforce it...he's really got a point here, if American democracy is to work, we have to emulate people who enforce strict religious laws and enjoy democracy like say, Saudi Arabia.
And late night comedians have suggested that if Moses were to come down from Mount Sinai today, he would probably have a hard time finding a publisher.
Let's just completely ignore, for one example, that the Christian rapture series Left Behind has been unbelievably successful, and just pretend that no publisher is interested in religious work. I guess at this point we're trapped in an imaginary universe in de Borchgrave's head, though.

He then goes after "the media" for covering Howard Stern too much...
[Stern] has been competing for media attention with the Iraqi insurgency.
In one recent week, Mr. Stern made it on to NBC's "Today" show; Larry King's global interview program on CNN; David Letterman's comedy hour; Fox's O'Reilly hour; and on the cover of New York magazine, along with a flattering, seven-page story.
I don't know about you, but I get most of my Iraq news from Letterman. I tend to rely on Conan O'Brien for coverage of Southeast Asia, though.

de Borchgrave then goes on to explain how adult pornography on the internet and child pornography are basically all the same thing. How does he tie them together? By sticking them in consecutive paragraphs. That's proof enough for me. One we get everyone stopping watching adult porn on the internet, they could gather in front of the big publishing houses to demand more Christian books.

To summarize his argument, we'll have trouble convincing the dictatorships in the Middle East to convert to democracy because they see we have too much freedom. Only by curbing said freedom could we convince them it's unfree enough for them to consider.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Quotations from a "real" journalist

Shorter John Gibson: Bloggers are mean and misquote me...but rather than cite examples, would you care to buy my new book?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

PriceRitePhoto and the Internet

Hey PriceRitePhoto - when you screw with a blogger, there's an excellent chance your misdeeds will end up on the Internet forever. I don't know what to call this kind of threat, other than the worst kind of anti-marketing. Thanks to Thomas Hawk for posting about it...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Poetic licensing bureau

Back in my old stomping grounds of Nova Scotia, officials are cracking down on a key source of violence - that's right, poetry.
In a funny, irreverent way a child ponders getting rid of his bratty brother by having him eaten by sharks or pushing him off the CN Tower.

Officials from the department asked principals to discuss the poem with teachers before the book is handed out to students.

'The poem, Bratty Brother, is a violent poem and the humour of it escapes our reviewers. Some parents may also respond negatively to the poem,' the letter states.

Education spokesperson Peter McLaughlin said the department staff who reviewed the book were concerned that some people might take the poem literally.
Although you might think it idiotic to have school board reviewers judge humour in literature, you might not have the sad experience I had in school. After reading Lord of the Rings, my friend Donald was nearly lost in the wilds of Mordor, and his mother unhappy he had decided her wedding band might need tossing in a volcano there. I need not remind any residents of Nova Scotia of the endless series of murders of anyone who was found wearing glasses after the unfortunate reading of Lord of the Flies. Some books certainly had a positive influence, as many of H.G. Well's works had elementary school students building working time machines and traveling to the moon. I'm sure many folks reading this blog had childhoods marred by tragedy or perhaps touched by greatness by kids acting out literally what they experienced in literature. Bravo to the educators who know that the words of the printed page are sometimes printed in the blood of the innocents.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Media Sharkwatch

The media tends to get excited about incredibly rare, statistically meaningless events out of scope with their importance, such as the hype a few years ago about shark attacks in Florida. The new trend seems to be infantile defenestration and recovery by sportsmen, such as occurred in New York and the UK recently. If you are good at catching things and looking for a way onto the front pages, you might consider hanging around any burning buildings and watching for flying toddlers, bearing in mind if you can do it with a lacrosse stick you'll likely to keep this media trend alive.

Organic police

Adam Harvey of Organic Mechanic ponders traffic cameras:
I wonder how a piece of electronic equipment can be vested with the authority of a full police officer.
Gone is the fig leaf that the tickets are being issued for safety. If they are worried someone will drive like a maniac, ignoring all speed limits and red lights, sending a ticket to their house days after they crashed into someone is rather pointless. The argument against human-only enforecement is that scofflaws might get away with speeding as long as patrol car is not nearby. If they wanted to have a "fair" system that tickets everyone who speeds, then the people tend to rebel against it to such a degree that elected officials back off.

Chester Avenue does not ha ve a gleaming record of the city government enforcing traffic laws for the right reasons. Since it's a state highway, they city cannot make a lower speed limit such as 25 without a study to back it up. They recently had to roll up the limit to 35 and pay back people charge with speeding above 25 but under 35. It leads one to think the reason for the low speed limit was not really safety but revenue, as I suspect the case is with the cameras.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reaching back for glory

There used to be a sentiment that you could tell just how pathetic someone's life had become by how far back they had to reach for an anecdote showing them in a good light. Lynne Cheney is
stretching it but good
'Two hundred and seventeen years ago, we held our first vote under our Constitution,' Vice President Dick Cheney's wife said. 'We started then on the path the Iraqis are walking now.'
I guess I should be glad she's not comparing it with WWII - I think that horse has raced it's last. It's mildly appalling they file this story under an "educational" section on CNN, but I guess the "propaganda" section generated too much animosity.

With the Pentagon buying favourable news coverage in Iraq, some here in the west have complained that the same might one day happen here. But perhaps such government sponsored opinions are a natural evolution - or should I say intelligent design - of the modern media. With hopes of an envelope stuffed with US dollars (backed by great democracies like China) coming my way from the White House, perhaps I should reconsider allowing them to tell me my opinion. Taking Mrs. Cheney's theme that Iraq is just like revolutionary America to heart, I think it's a plan we could all follow to victory. The government just needs to admit the need to use a combination of smallpox infected blankets and cavalry to wipe out the indigenous population of Iraq to be replaced by settlers from America looking for the wide open spaces of a new frontier. Let me roll around this analogy in my head like a pickle flavoured jawbreaker for a bit and see if the cognitive dissonance it entails doesn't make me much dumber than say, O'Reilly.

I hope this new analogy holds before the White House is forced to compare Iraq to the renaissance or - in what would surely be an electoral two-fer - the birth of Christ.

Great Headlines

Skydiver pregnant after accident

The story actually talks about how a skydiver found she was pregnant after the accident, not, alas, that the accident made her pregnant as the headline on the MSNBC front page right now would seem to be saying...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Overheard at a bookstore :

What should we get my brother, he doesn't really like books?

Ritz gingerbread house

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ironic lede of the week

Ok, it's from last week, but still...remember those people who had their kids in cages? Their lawyer is looking with a nervous eye to the prosecutor, per the linked AP article
The parents suspected of keeping some of their 11 special-needs adopted children in cages should be able to testify at a custody hearing without fearing they will be criminally charged, their attorney said Friday.
Their fear is, I presume, that they would be locked up in cages of their own.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kansas - pending thugocracy?

In the tradition of great lands like Iran where religious thugs roam with clubs, some white guys in Kansas (in a pickup truck) assaulted an anti-Intelligent Design professor. I'd be willing to condede these few idiots didn't evolve (but the rest of us did) if that would stop their attacks. I think my old philosophy prof called this argumentum ad big stikum. Kansas, no matter how many Bibles show up in Gubernatorial ads here in the Buckeye state, I can always count on you to be nutty enough to make me feel better about my state. Thanks to biology-whiz Michele for the link.

Problem - no problem

File this under self-righteous congressman tries to make hay out of legal lotteries...Some elementary school kids put cut-up lotto tickets on a tree: this is a problem for one lawmaker who thinks the lotto tickets take away from the spirit of the Christian holiday. No problem: the Christmas tree has very little to do with Christianity, but has origins in pagan rituals. Per Wikipedia:
Among early Germanic tribes the Yule tradition was celebrated by sacrificing male animals, and slaves, by suspending them on the branches of trees.
Now that would liven up the holidays in DC. I can think of a few congresspeople who've outlived their usefulness...Or they could admit the tree is a fairly recent invention, and doesn't symbolize their indignation at things they hate, but the giving of gifts to family and friends.

God fearing candidates in Ohio

Jim Petro, the current Attorney General of Ohio (must be why we're so corruption-free, fear of him) had an interesting campaign ad. He's running for Governor, and apparently thinks he has to outdo Ken Blackwell, who's running a campaign dipped in religiosity like peeps dipped in food coloring. Petro's ad, not available online so far as I can tell, features a long, slow pan over a "Holy Bible", while Petro voices-over about how pro-life he is. Now you could take this to be an ultracynical ploy to get right-wing religious fundamentalists into his camp, assuming they have one and only one issue to vote on. Because everytihng else in Ohio is going so peach-keen. I for one do not assume that either candidate is likely to institute religious morality police to patrol the streets - despite how well that works in democracies like Saudi Arabia - but for me to think this way entails viewing what the politicians say cynically. II say this with an understanding that no atheist candidate would ever be elected Governor. But I wonder if those who are religious are charmed by these campaigns, or see them as a way by the candidates to box you into voting for them as the only Godly choice.

Sideshow disdains potential prez

Every day brings a new reason why I can't stand this woman. I don't like the fact that she's been running for president for years and has the RNC helping her do it.
- Avedon Carol, (link). Who is this lady? Hillary Clinton. She's sure making me pleased of my decision to never join a political party. Can't help but agree with Avedon that Clinton is wasting the time of congress with a bill to outlaw flag burning is just a sop to pull in some reactionaries to vote for her one day. Remember those old time laws where legislatures would ban things like spitting, and declare that 3 is the official value of pi? And how we'd chuckle at those 19th century dandies who had so little to contribute to society they whittled away at time by passing these laws? In a hundred years, people may wonder what we were doing. beside providing fodder for a wacky news item one day.

December 6th, 1917

That will be a date burned into the minds of anyone from Nova Scotia. Before splitting the atoms, then selling nuclear reactors to peacable democracies like Pakistan, the largest man-made explosion happened in Halifax Harbour when two ships collided. Truro, sixty miles away, had windows shatter1 The Halifax Chronicle Herald, in a Holly Fraughton penned story shows how it's remembered by a descendent of a survivor. If you visit Halifax today, you can still notice a stark differnce in the age of houses near the site.

1Despite this tidbit being from Wikipedia, I'm pretty sure the explosion had nothing to do with any assasination plots.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Honesty

This story cracked me up
With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, they're planning Christmas eve services on Saturday but are canceling their usual Sunday worship schedule.

Officials at those churches said the schedule change is meant to be family-friendly.
So they're not even pretending they're religious anymore?

Woke up this morning

I woke up this morning, thinking to myself "Self, wouldn't it be great if the government was investing in a venture that is going to lose money?" No sooner thought than done
No fewer than three cities hope to launch U.S.-to-Canada ferry operations within a year:

Cleveland is eyeing a route from North Coast Harbor to Port Stanley, Ontario.

Grand River, near Painesville, will be the southern terminus for a Canadian company that will shuttle back and forth to Port Burwell, Ontario.

Erie, Pa., is gunning for three ferry operations involving two Canadian ports.

Whether any of these operations can sustain themselves financially is a topic of debate, given the track record of Rochester, N.Y.

Same principle, different lake: Rochester has been ferrying people and vehicles back and forth over Lake Ontario -- and taking on red ink faster than the bilge pumps can handle it.

A private company launched a Rochester-to-Toronto run in June 2004 -- and shut it down three months later after running up $1.7 million in debt. The city took over the operation this year, vowing to make it self-sufficient. By September, with ridership far lower than anticipated, it had already lost $4.2 million.
If a ferry coming into Toronto wasn't incentive enough to get the law changed, why would ferries from Ohio be any different?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy present season