Monday, December 31
It's so fun to be old and cynical. You wait a lifetime for it. Sure, it was fun to be young, firm and ditzy, but older age is waaaay cooler. The years come and go and meld together. You really can't pin point a date anymore as the past 10 or 20 years seem like yesterday. How awesome is that? Waddaya mean it's been 3 years since I went to Arizona. It was just last year. No?
And now a musical interlude by the Asylum Street Spankers who will be in NY in January. The Spankers say on their website that they are veterans and do indeed support the troops.
hat tip to dear tali for the linky poo.
Happy birthday Billydoom and Peter of Lone Tree (who are much older than I am and yet still alive.)
Sunday, December 30
I would like to challenge those who use their First Amendment Rights to threaten others with damnation (in the literary concept of hell) on behalf of (the literary vengeful, Old Testament,) God Almighty. I liken this to calling out "fire!" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. With freedom of speech, there comes responsibility. One's freedom of speech should never interfere with another's right to the pursuit of happiness and vice versa. Perhaps the concept of freedom of speech ought to include what responsibility is expected of those who use it. I hate to get all nit picky, but the time has come to get this all out in the open.
I modestly propose that the concept of a "Christian" ought to be officially and legally defined in the US Constitution once and for all before anymore proseltysing is acceptable under the First Amendment cloak. I suggest that because there are too many people preaching in the name of christian gods who contradict each other and it leads to confusion and mayhem. I also understand that my proposal would lead to mayhem as well. Fine with me. Let the games begin.
How can anyone really be sure if they are going to hell or not? Since no one has actually been to the literary hell and back again, how do we truly know that hell won't be "heaven" to some people? Never in a million years did I ever think that in light of what US Presidential candidates declare is godly or heavenly, that I would prefer not to go there. I am not interested in a god who wants to scare me into loving or respecting him. I reserve the right to wave my fist in the face of anyone who waves their vengeful god in my face.
I suggest that the Bible be officially interpreted and that no more loose translations or unofficial interpretations be allowed in the public sphere.
Perhaps each "christian" sect ought to be required to name itself and use their sect's name when preaching and bullying outside of the church house under their First Amendment Rights. I laugh to myself because I know that there will be no less than a million sects.
Why propose such a silly thing? Because this will, once and for all, blow the lid off the steaming, stewing, fermenting load of shit being passed off as "christianity" named for the peace loving, people hugging, tax paying, hippy known as Jesus Christ. Once and for all, those who preach hell fire, intolerance and hate will not be legally allowed to refer to themselves as "christians" Or on the other hand, those who do believe in a loving, merciful god, will go by a different classification if the intolerant version of "christianity" should win. Actually, it appears that those who once thought themselves as mainstream "Christian" are already being classified as "secularists."
A national debate on what constitutes a "christian" ought to start the second civil war in the US that makes the first one look like a day in Disney World. People may be forced to use their long subdued powers of reason! After much bloodshed, plundering, rape and pillaging, no side will win and those who survive will keep their mouths shut, never daring to suggest in public what "god" thinks. It will be a long time before any more wars are fought here or abroad.
(this post is subject to future editing as I am tired and spent the morning reading one too many stories of religious interference in our government.)
Saturday, December 29
Gov. Huckabee: "In light of what happened in Pakistan yesterday, it's interesting that there are more Pakistanis who have illegally crossed the border than of any other nationality except for those immediately south of our border,"
Reporter: Gov. Huckabee, how so masterfully you tied the assassination of opposition leader in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto to the hot immigration issue?
Gov. Huckabee: Well,... there is an elaborate thought process that goes into our policy making... First, I would contact Jesus for advice; second,... I would enunciate it to my parishioners on sunday mass. Hey this is a much complicated process; it is very hard to express it in words; I would rather sketch it down for you...
Here is the sketch:
Gov. Huckabee: Here is the result:
This is the most precious Gem of 2007...As for Miss South Carolina, I nominate her as Blondsense's Blond of the Year Award 2007
Also. tell your mother how wrong she was when she told you, that education is the only way to succeed in life!
See also the 1960's remake titled, "Good Will To Men" by Hanna and Barbera here.
Friday, December 28
Before I take your advice and get that rest, I thought you might appreciate this. I had sent it to a few people a while ago but never had the chance to share it this way. It's from Jimmy Stewart on the Tonight Show way back in 1981. I feel your pain.
Dedicated to Farmer Bob's Simon:
He never came to me when I would call, unless I had a tennis ball, or he felt like it; But mostly he didn’t come at all.
When he was young he never learned to heel, or sit, or stay… he did things his way.
Discipline, was not his bag…but, when you were with him, things sure didn’t drag.
He’d dig up a rose bush just to spite me, and when I’d grab him, he’d turn ‘n bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day; the delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn’t read our meter; he said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire, but the story’s long to tell; suffice to say that he survived and the house survived as well.
And on evening walks, and Gloria took him, he was always first out the door; the old one and I brought up the rear because our bones were sore.
And he’d charge up the street with mom hangin’ on; what a beautiful pair they were, and if it was still light and the tourists were out, they created a bit of a stir.
But every once in a while he’d stop in his tracks and with a frown on his face look around; it was just to make sure that the old one was there, to follow him where he was bound.
We’re early to bedders in our house, I guess I’m the first to retire, and as I’d leave the room, he’d look at me and get up from his place by the fire.
He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs I’d give him one for a while, and he’d push it under the bed with his nose and I’d dig it out with a smile.
But before very long, he’d tire of the ball and he’d be asleep in his corner in no time at all.
And there were nights, when, I’d feel him climb upon our bed, and lie between us, and I’d pat his head.
And then there were nights when I’d feel his stare and I’d wake up and he’d be sitting there and I’d reach out to stroke his hair and sometimes I’d feel him sigh, and, I think I know the reason why.
He’d wake up at night and would have this fear, of the dark, of life, of lots of things, and he’d be glad to have me near.
And now he’s dead, and, there are nights, when I think, I feel him climbing up on our bed, and lie between us, and I, pat his head.
And there are nights, when I think I feel that stare, and I reach out my hand to stroke his hair, and he’s not there.
Oh, how I wish that wasn’t so;
I’ll always love a dog named Bo.
Jimmy Stewart – July 28, 1981
The Tonight Show
For some more entertainment:
The 50 Most Loathsome People in America
Special Attention paid to number 14 for those who feel CNN is leftist.
Special Attention paid to number 14 for those who feel CNN is leftist.
You may experience delays because their server is quite full. But it's worth it.
You may experience delays because their server is quite full. But it's worth it.
Here are 2 of the 50 examples:Loved #9!
Here are 2 of the 50 examples:Loved #9!
Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism -- it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you're going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques." You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well. You're an idiot.
Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.
Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.
14. Glenn Beck
Crimes: If Fox News isn't quite asinine enough for you, just click on over to Headline News, where the CNN brand is eagerly defiling its vestigial credibility by giving an hour a day to the dumbest dumbfuck in dumbfuckistan, Glenn Beck. A white-knuckle, dry drunk, closet case man-child with apparent xenophobia issues and a penchant for end-times theology, Mormon convert Beck is palpably horny for the apocalypse, passive-aggressively accusing even the world's most benign Muslims of plotting America's destruction and likening withdrawal from Iraq to slavery. Beck's combination of faux everyman persona and deliberate misinformation -- The hottest year on record was 1934 (actually 2005), tax cuts increase revenue (patently false Reaganomic mysticism), Antarctica is cooling, Scooter Libby went to jail -- seems increasingly insane, as his whole persona seems to be a frantic pantomime of how he thinks an even-keeled, "smart" bigot would act. Thinks Al gore is "like Hitler." May actually be in love with the president of
Exhibit A: "I don't know if the Muslim community will ever step to the plate like the Japanese-American community did during World War II. You know, it was absolutely disgraceful how we rounded innocent people up then and, sadly, history has a way of repeating itself no matter how grotesque that history might be. The Muslim community can prevent this if they act now."
Sentence: Anchored to the
Priests brawl at Jesus' birthplace
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday.
The clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section.
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities.
Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can touch off vicious feuds.
On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners were scrubbing the church ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in early January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.
Four people, some with blood running from their faces, were slightly wounded.
Thursday, December 27
Glad I'm Not A Kennedy
Living on through politics
Body-guarded, heart in bits
A blue-eyed honesty
The family tree is felled
Bereavement worn so well
Giving up on certainty
Wearing the fame like a loaded gun
Tied up with a rosary
I’m glad I’m not a Kennedy
Imagine being a Kennedy
Rule without remedy
To watch your family die
The world loves a sacrifice
Prophets longing for the three
Honouring the tragedy
They hunger for the crime
The privilege to take a life
Wearing the fame like a loaded gun
Tied up with a rosary
Ooh, I’m glad I’m not a Kennedy
I love the look in your eyes
I can see your soul sometimes and we laugh
When we try too hard we stop and start
Oh imagine being a Kennedy
I’m glad I’m not a Kennedy
Wearing the fame like a loaded gun
Tied up with a rosary
I’m glad I’m not a Kennedy
Imagine being a Kennedy
Ooh I’m glad I’m not a Kennedy
"...the cost of freedom is always high,
Yet one path we shall never choose
- that is the path of surrender or submission.
When a man's way please the lord,
The scriptures tell us,
‘He maketh even his enemies
To be at peace with him'.
We will not prematurely or unnecessarily
Risk the course of worldwide nuclear war
In which even the fruits of victory
Would be ashes in our mouths
Ashes in our mouths...
Ashes in our mouths...
Ashes in our mouths... "
Isn’t our projected six week involvement in Iraq over?
If hunters eat what they shoot, did Cheney eat his lawyer friend?
Republicans don’t like to waste money…on the poor, the sick, the homeless, on education.
Religious Leaders have created this current mess to foist their money loving views on this country. They have no sincerity about gawd, just about power and money.
Right Wing Political Zealots have taken the Radical Evangelical’s bullshit and run with it for their own purpose.
The current Pope was a member of the Hitler Youth and this was an education how?
The press has been taken over by Extremists from the Right who only want power and money just like the Religious Leaders. Once the people have been enslaved, the Religious leaders will be eliminated. Of course, they can’t see that.
If anybody thinks that we will get through the next year without a major catastrophe, they are living in another dimension.
Can Martial Law be far behind?
Local law enforcement is being promised greatly increased power without recrimination to exercise over the general population.
When the general population becomes upset about anything the government does, a distraction is created by the government.
It would seem that this administration is bent on the actual deaths of as many poor and minorities as possible. Their actions or lack of actions over the last 7 years should be ample proof. Add to that their unconcern over dangerous food products, imports from China, continued destruction of the environment, etc.
Fred Thompson is the ugliest misogynist candidate of either party.
Rudy Giuliani is the most psychotic.
Willard Romney is certifiable.
Huckabee suffers from delusions of Godhood.
Remember when we though that we couldn’t do worse than Gingrich, Frist, Hastert, Robertson and about a dozen other Republican Nuts?
Remember when we laughed that Gawd talked to Bush…and 51% of the crazies believed him? Now he’s a regular contributor to the Republican Candidates.
Are members of the press really brainless morons or do they just play them on TV or in the papers?
Who is more ball-less, the press or the Democrats?
…To be continued.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally, aides said.
The death of the 54-year-old charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation.
Well someone actually read him passages from the book in order to help him for his own opinion. Bushie ought to actually read some dystopian novels and do some hard thinking.
Getting back to the TSA watching your expression-- It appears that while they claim that they are experts in detecting "microfacial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt" and will then refer you to secondary interrogation at the airport gate, they truly suck at it or in fact tens of thousands of travelers want to kill others. Well perhaps both are true. I would recommend a good shot of Botox before you fly.
Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrantsSeventy thousand microfacial expressions were referred for secondary screening? I think they need to send the swift TSA officers back to the drawing board in order to teach them how to detect which passengers merely want to see the TSA go straight to hell vs those who want to blow up the airplane. Heaven forbid, we don't want to be seen as racial profilers in America. Sure, rush the old white lady with blue eyes to secondary screening because she looks perturbed and might have a bomb strapped on her. (Well maybe not this time...)
I can't imagine anyone going through airport security in NY's JFK or LGA without expressing sincere disdain and contempt in their microfacial expressions (or their macrofacial expressions.) Just dropping off someone or picking them up at the airport makes my macrofacial expressions twitch. Thinking about it makes me twitch uncontrollably.
Being greeted at the airport terminal in your home city by youngsters in full riot gear wielding automatic weapons, after being barked at by renta-cops at the drop off point, then being shuffled around by those fine government employees in tight fitting uniforms who haven't passed their first semester of "English as a second language" and who can only bark unintelligible orders at weary travelers and cannot answer any questions because they haven't learned enough words in English yet, and then wondering if your bags are going to be violated by goons in the back room and then having to stand on too long lines to get screened and questioned while there is no line at all at the elite check in for first class passengers, knowing full well that even if the plane leaves the terminal on time, that doesn't mean it will take off any time soon... well it all seems kind of pointless to try to train anyone to detect outstanding fear and contempt in a particular traveler. Oh and I forgot to mention that if you try to ask an actual airline employee a question in the terminal, the required response is "write to head office."
Well thank goodness, Big Brother is watching and keeping us safe. Who the hell needs another terrorist attack? They've won.
Wednesday, December 26
Saw your light on and thought I'd leave a note. Thanks for the gift certificates.
We were thankful the McDonald’s hamburger wasn’t over done by the kids that complained they had to work on Christmess so they couldn’t get to their friend’s places to celebrate till later; the fries were however; and the drink was mostly soda water.
Good thing they had a dollar menu or we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate this year.
It was nice though, being able to spend an hour or so in a heated place. Since they shut my gas off in November, it’s been pretty rough but I’m sure once the Democrats are in next year, things will be a lot better.
Sometime next month my ’82 Corolla will be ready or at least that’s what the man at the garage says. Something about a valve thing or something like that he had to replace, I guess. Says once I make the last payment to him, I can have the car back. Maybe by January 15th. Hope I have enough for some gas.
The youngest one got a used coat from the local bundle-up place but they didn’t have any more so I just put some of those handy napkins in the holes. Seems to work ok.
Today, the day after Christmess I got my tax bill in the mail for the last year. They never have any trouble finding us for what we owe them. They won’t extend the time on me paying them because I owe taxes for a couple of years now. Been kind of tough coming up with money for that government stuff and now they want to go to a magistrate and make me pay costs and other stuff. How much is a stamp nowadays?
It’s so nice my taxes are helping take care of all the things I really use; like roads and buses (they cut the service in my area and I have to walk 10 extra blocks to get one), oh and that war on terror thing is really working well. I ca’t tell you how much it means to me that all that money is so well spent over there where it’s needed. Thanks President Bush, for protecting me, my kids and my lifestyle.
At least the water is running again. The temperature is above freezing so we’re filling as many plastic jugs as we could find. It helps to put some water in smaller bottles and keep them next to your skin to warm them up so you can wash up better.
Being cold, the socks don’t dry as quickly in the winter as the summer so they don’t get washed as often. And we only have a couple of candles left. We need them because the electricity was shut off, too. I promised the little one that I’d read her a story tonight before she goes to sleep. The radio needs batteries to work. Maybe next week I’ll find some.
We’re going down to the employment office today. I have to take the kids since I can’t afford day care. I heard there’s some temp work on the other side of town. Not sure how I’ll get there but at least it’s work…for a couple of weeks.
My youngest has a bad cold. Thank God for them and CHiP since I don’t qualify for medicare and the welfare and food stamps were cut. Too many people were probably taking advantage of them and the government had to teach them a lesson so they didn’t waste any more tax money on fakers.
Well, I got to go now. The plastic on the front window blew off again and if I don’t get something on the opening, it’s going to be a colder night.
Hope you guys got all you wanted for Christmess.
Laura, Jimmy and Karen
2. Homemade candy.
3. The new translation of Beowulf.
4. The restored version of Battleship Potemkin, on DVD.
5. New bed sheets.
6. A piece of stained glass art to fit the lunar window over my front door.
7. Some peace and quiet.
8. The internet posting of Chapter 125 of my serial Luck of the Dragon, and the sorta-kinda Christmas story The Pickering Papers: A Clean Start, both on the Spontoon Island website.
9. A t-shirt with the following line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "I fart in your general direction."
What was under YOUR tree?
"That's not something we encourage or condone," said Jeff Black, executive director of the POST Academy. "It shouldn't have been in there – it was inappropriate."
"Our class president was ex-military," Black said. "It slipped in."
It slipped in????
Monday, December 24
A Wife's Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the kitchen;
I was cooking and baking and moanin and bitchin.
I've been here for hours, I can't stop to rest.
This room's a disaster, just look at this mess!
Tomorrow I've got thirty people to feed.
They expect all the trimmings. Who cares what I need!
My feet are both blistered, and cramps in my legs.
The cat just knocked over a bowl full of eggs.
There's a knock at the door and the telephone's ringing;
Frosting drips on the counter as the microwave's dinging.
Two pies in the oven, desserts almost done,
My cookbook is soiled with butter and crumbs.
I've had all I can stand, I can't take anymore;
Then in walks my husband, spilling rum on the floor.
He weaves and he wobbles, his balance unsteady;
Then grins as he chuckles "The eggnog is ready!"
He looks all around and with total regret,
Says, "What's taking so long.... Aren't you through in here yet??"
As quick as a flash I reach for a knife;
He loses an earlobe; I wanted his life!
He flees from the room in terror and pain,
And screams "MY GOD WOMAN, YOU'RE GOING INSANE!!"
Now what was I doing, and what is that smell?
Oh damn it's the pies!! They're burned all to hell!!
I hate to admit when I make a mistake,
But I put them on BROIL instead of on BAKE.
What else can go wrong?? Is there still more ahead?
If this is good living, I'd rather be dead.
Lord, don't get me wrong, I love holidays;
It just leaves me exhausted, all shaky and dazed.
But I promise you one thing, If I live till next year,
You won't find me pulling my hair out in here.
I'll hire a maid, a cook, and a waiter!
And if that doesn't work, I'LL HAVE IT ALL CATERED!!!
Sunday, December 23
Tyrrhenian Sea and Solstice Sky
(exposures from sunrise to sunset - December Solstice day of 2005)
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day - yesterday.
"A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.
"Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons."
Rest at the NY Times.
One, Blair ISN'T the godsdamned PM any longer - so what the hell are the media doing talking about it?
Two, back in the day (say about 1830 or so) if a major figure in Britain converted from the C of E to Papism, he would have never gotten far in political office or even allowed in Parliament. Britain took such things seriously - just look at Guy Fawkes' Day.
Our country was founded on an idea of tolerance buttressed by the Mexican standoff between the major sects in Christianity so that no single one can get the upper hand. Since there is NO religious test for public office, announcing that someone's converted from Protestantism to Catholicism (or even from Episcopalianism to Baptist) is a non-starter.
Saturday, December 22
In good news, I am happy to read that late night comics will be back in January to skewer the politicians (with or without writers). As much as I support the writer's strike, I have been very concerned that politicians have been getting away with murder and that only those politicians who disagree with the president get bad press. Sometimes, the only reality in the media concerning the political antics in America come from late night commentary, snarky as it is. Well that ought to cheer up those of us who are quite SADD this time of year.
The chairman of Overstock.com (Patrick Byrne) tells it like it is on CNBC. Apparently Overstock does well during bad times. This is not what they want to hear.
Note first the global warming reference as to why Overstock benefited this season by having current merchandise, and then note how he speaks of our economy as a "House of Cards." Oh my! Not on CNBC. Stay cheery! Stay Cheery!
Notice how the hosts of the program do not like such a gloomy outlook on the economy and how they change the subject. It's almost as if it's their job to keep shoring up the cards: "but our life style is so improved....I mean, we've built BILLIONS of new buildings."
Now check out his interview with Fox earlier this month and how he stuns the host:
KEENAN: You know, your stock has held up pretty — you are smiling, because it has had a rough couple months, but compared to Wal-Mart, which has flatlined this year, your stock has done pretty well. How come?
BYRNE: Well, we're up about 50 percent for the year.
KEENAN: Yes, that's pretty well.
BYRNE: I never try to figure out too closely what is driving the stock. I think there's actually a lot of games and manipulations being played in the stock — and, actually, I never encourage people to buy it, because I think it's heavily manipulated.
KEENAN: Also want to ask you about what is going on in the mortgage market, and we have seen a lot of record, indeed, foreclosures, people cutting back.
And I know that you sell a lot of items for the home. Have they been weaker than your other products?
BYRNE: Actually, no. I do think that our furniture business is fantastic.
BYRNE: Great corner of our business.
I do think that we are in — I have been saying for about two years we're looking at a 1929 kind of event. I think that we are really in trouble in this country. And what you have seen in the last four months is just the beginning of it.
BYRNE: The government has been keeping the economy afloat with flooding us with cheap money. And those days are over. The dollar is cracking. Eventually, they are either going to they have to defend it by raising interest rates or something. But we're looking at a very bad economic situation.
KEENAN: But, so far, you are not seeing it. But, of course, you would probably be the last place to see it, since you are selling such discounted items.
BYRNE: If anything, we are counter-cyclical. In good times, it is — we have — it's toughest to get overstock. In bad times is when, suddenly, everybody is calling us to unload product.
The rich people, according to my sources, are preparing for a huge downturn in the economy and preparing to bail on their investments, which means that I too will be bailing, digging a hole and drawing a treasure map.
hat tip to farang for the video
Friday, December 21
Descriptions of the earth during plagues once written off as metaphor may actually be associated with high energy atmospheric interactions coming from space.
From the SOTT review.
Mike Baillie didn't start out to write a book about cometary impacts being implicated in the great Pandemics of the past; he had just noticed some strange tree ring patterns that happened to coincide with this historical catastrophe and thought that, perhaps, there was some sort of environmental downturn that weakened the human population, making humanity susceptible to bacterial or viral death on a large scale. But, what he found was a dangling thread that, once he began to pull on it, unraveled the "accepted wisdom" about the Black Death and sent him off on a search that led to completely astonishing conclusions.
As mentioned, the first clue was tree rings - that's natural since Baillie is a dendrochronologist. He compared these tree rings to dated ice-core samples that had been analyzed and discovered a very strange thing: ammonium. There are, as it happens, four occasions in the last 1500 years where scientists can confidently link dated layers of ammonium in Greenland ice to high-energy atmospheric interactions with objects coming from space: 539, 626, 1014, and 1908 - the Tunguska event. In short, there is a connection between ammonium in the ice cores and extra-terrestrial bombardment of the surface of the earth.
Now notice that the above statement is that there are four events that can be definitively linked with high-energy interactions; Baillie presents the research in this book showing that the exact same signature is present at the time of the Black Death in both the tree rings and in the ice cores, AND at other times of so-called "plague and pandemic".
As it happens, the ammonium signal in the ice-cores is directly connected to an earthquake that occurred on January 25th, 1348 - and Baillie discovers that there was a 14th century writer who wrote that the plague was a "corruption of the atmosphere" that came from this earthquake!
How could a plague come from an earthquake, you ask?
Oh my. It's all so interesting. So much to learn and so little time.
The US will have to do better next year in order to win the category.
Woman ticketed after goats caught mating
Carol Medenhall of Dibble, OK received two tickets: one for allowing her goats to be seen mating in her yard, and another for allowing her goats to be seen relieving themselves in her yard.
City law said it is illegal for any two animals to have sex in public within Dibble city limits.
It's also against law for them to relieve themselves in public even if the animal is fenced in on private land.
97% of Lakota Indians live below the poverty level, they have the shortest life expectancy, the Lakota teens suicide rate is 150 percent higher than the national average and unemployment is rife. The US, according to the the Lakota Indians, didn't live up to their end of the treaties who clumped all the native Americans into one group. This does not surprise me.
Story here and here.
Thursday, December 20
Looks like we're going to find out, though, re: accountability.
...Harrington Investments, Inc., (HII) a socially responsible investment advisory firm, has announced the introduction of a binding amendment to Monsanto Corporation's corporate bylaws that could bar corporate indemnification of directors who fail to adequately oversee corporate activities that cause "harm to the natural environment, public health, or human rights."You can read the whole thing here on cswire.
"The idea behind this resolution is that by increasing the personal accountability of corporate directors, our proposed bylaw amendment would encourage these fiduciaries to better represent the shareholders of the corporation - and to serve as better guardians of the public interest," said John Harrington, President and CEO of Harrington Investments.
The new vehicle for improving corporate governance will be on the proxy for the January 16, 2008 shareholder meeting at Monsanto (MON).
"We chose Monsanto as our target for this new approach, because we view this company as facing significant legal and reputational liabilities that might have been prevented with better board oversight. These include allegations of selling potentially dangerous products abroad, bribing foreign government officials, and releasing genetically engineered products that have not been proven safe for human consumption or the natural environment. Such activities are bad for our company's reputation, and could lead to substantial liabilities," said Harrington...
Is it going to work? Will the big evil steaming turd Monsanto kneel before Zod? Will they be run out of town? I have my doubts, but really appreciate the potential for a chain reaction here. Show that something can be done, and you've empowered people who would otherwise just grouse or give up due to outrage fatigue.
Yes indeed; nip and tuck, cheek by jowl, thigh and buttock, you couldn't get a melon between them:
1. Hillary Clinton.
If you listen to the polls, Mrs. Inevitable has slipped somewhat. She still has good ideas, but needs to develop them a bit more and be less reliant on opinion polls and focus groups. Details, lady, details! Oh, and as I pointed out in an earlier post ("Why Bill Clinton Should STFU"), if Hillary's managed to have the strength to put up with Bill's shenanigans, she certainly has the strength to stand on her own two feet and fight her own battles. I know that the idea of a strong, assertive woman sends sexually insecure men like Chris Matthews into fear-fueled rages, but screw him.
2. Barack Obama.
Again, if you listen to the polls, Obama has managed to whittle away support from Hillary and from John Edwards. Expect more attack ads from the others regarding his first and middle names, and where he went to grade school. I can almost hear the word "uppity" when his name is mentioned on Fox News, or among the tiny-brained and big-mouthed people in my community and workplace. Obama has some ideas, but since he's angling for much the same votes as Clinton, the two sets of ideas are rather similar.
3. John Edwards.
The resident Village Idiot on MSNBC, Tucker "Behold My Manly Bow Tie" Carlson, castigated Edwards' Christmas ad for talking about homeless veterans and the poor. Well, Tucker you fucker, I thought that was one of the things Jesus liked to talk about - how nice it would be if we cared for the poor and less fortunate. Scumbag. I hope MSNBC fires your sorry ass soon.
4. Bill Richardson.
Governor Richardson struggles along, still hoping people will take him seriously. Not a big name, but based on his resume he's the best qualified of all the candidates from both parties. A recent NPR story followed him as he courted the rural Iowa voters, talking up his NRA membership and the need to look after the nation's farmers.
5. Dennis Kucinich.
First, my condolences on the death of his brother; second, props go out to him for repeatedly making motions to impeach Richard Cheney.
However, his campaign is largely moribund from where I sit. I think he knows this, so like Ron Paul and Mike Gravel he is free to speak his mind. Go for it, Dennis.
Speaking of nice GOP values and parenting and all that stuff, I was reminded of Mike Huckabee's son David, mugshot pictured on the left, who got a slap on the wrist for bringing a handgun on an airplane (imagine in this day and age, how dense you have to be to bring a gun on a plane) when I read this story about how David in 1998 was a camp counselor and was dismissed for being involved with hanging a stray dog. Nothing became of that incident as Newsweek reports because Governor Daddy Huckabee fired the chief of the state police (he wanted to investigate the incident at the camp.) Gosh, golly, gee wiz. Mike Huckabee ought to write a book on Christian parenting.
"If you're blessed enough to be a theologian AND the governor, Gawd Almighty can help you move mountains when raising a family because your spawn will be let off the hook, again and again. Only by the grace of Gawd Almighty and the religious right voting block could I ever have been so blessed and my son doubly so."
But seriously, what is it with the GOP and animal abuse? Lambert investigates some other stories of interest.
Lynne Spears' book delayed indefinitely
Wed Dec 19, 8:02 PM ET
NEW YORK - Lynne Spears' book about parenting has been delayed indefinitely, her publisher said Wednesday. Lindsey Nobles, a spokeswoman for Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson Inc., said Wednesday that the memoir by the mother of Britney Spears was put on hold last week.
She declined to comment on whether the delay was connected to the revelation that Spears' 16-year-old daughter, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant.
Wednesday, December 19
1. Michael Huckabee.
Governor-Reverend Michael Huckabee (like the title? Sort of like "Prince-Archbishop" - it's got that lovely medieval ring to it) went on local television in several key primary states to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Beautiful sentiments, but he's made a couple minor faux pas:
One, he specified the holiday, which as a supposed candidate for the Presidency of the United States, he really shouldn't do, as it will piss off a lot of people who either don't believe in his characterization of Immanence or view religion as a crutch; and
Two, a contrived cross appeared over his shoulder. It was part of a book case, but people will read into images. Now, whether or not you buy the campaign line that it was completely fortuitous (cough cough bullshit cough cough) or not, that was one white book case, and the image was quite luminous.
One need only look to such wonderful countries as Iran in order to see what happens when you weld religion and politics together. Huckabee's rival, Ron Paul, cited Sinclair Lewis about American fascism coming wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, and it seems to be quite true. The aims of the GOP are matching more and more the 14 basic tenets of fascism. (And for those of you who accuse me of breaking Godwin's Law regarding the 'F' word - well, let's just say that I have a vocabulary and I intend to use every bit of it.)
2. Willard Romney.
Mittens countered by citing Huckster's 1033 pardons and commutations as Governor of Arkansas and his dearth of foreign policy experience. Well, Mittens, I'm not so sure that being Governor of Massachusetts gave you any more experience. Maybe it's because Huckleberry used words like negotiation and respect, which we know are anathema to the Hell-bent neocon foreign policy agenda.
3. Rudolph Giuliani.
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. Saw part of your internet Xmas spot, and you came across like Joe Pesci. Sad, boy, really sad. But then you're tanking in the standings, your corporate support is starting to look askance at you, and the scandals (9/11 radios, 9/11 aftermath, your shenanigans on the city dime, etc. etc. etc.) are starting to spread around.
Good-bye, Rudy. Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
4. Tom Tancredo.
The One-Note Wonder? Irrelevant. Doesn't stand a chance, not even in his home state, because he's turned into a geek. FYI, a geek was a circus side-show attraction who used to bite the heads off live chickens for the delectation of the crowds.
5. Ron Paul.
I might have liked Paul, but some of his views are getting rather odd (along with endorsements given to him by right wing hate groups). His tax ideas are probably complete codswallop, but I'll leave analysis of that to experts.
6. Alan Keyes.
I used to like Alan Keyes, but when a man spends half his alloted debate time arguing with the moderator it's time to wave bye-bye.
7. Fred Thompson.
The Dessicated Corpse touted his experience again. A lackluster Senator and a man Richard Nixon characterized as stupid - but he's an actor, which fills people with hope that Freddo's the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.Not gonna happen, my fellow Republicans. When Thompson bothers to stir himself to actually campaign, crowds have to whipped into the room where they are forced to stay awake through repeated use of cattle prods. To say Thompson's "boring" is to insult Ben Stein and William F Buckley.
I've always laughed off conspiracy theorists on the premise of (them) being uber-sensitive,bipolar, or just having a vivid imagination.
(Super imagination is a sign of intelligence, just as the paradox of it is bliss)
What makes me so skeptic, that I can't believe the most innocent looking news?
This morning all news cycle was interrupted by a lame fire in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next the the White House; the location of the Ceremonial Office of the Vice President.
My first thought went to the shredding machine. Did it overheat and sparked the fire, or it was deliberately set to destroy compromising documents about:<..................................................................................................>
The list is so long that the server of the blog probably would crash.
Am I turning into a conspiracy theorist?
TRex has a "glowing" review of Jonah "the Doughy Pantload" Goldberg's new uh "book" called "Liberal Fascism."
Yes, perhaps this is where Wingnut Welfare creates its own event horizon, where the Power of Suck begins to suck itself, creating a void so profound that not even light can escape, a metaphysical convergence that devours itself like a snake swallowing its own tail."Just the title alone gives me a slight jolt in the "that doesn't make any fucking sense, you moron" part of my brain. Ah, it's just another reason that I flat out refuse to entertain any conservative ideology for a millisecond- cause it hurts. So call me an intellectual elitist. I don't care. Sticks and stones, and all that...
TRex gives the book, the author and the "ideology" a good spanking.
A really really really HOT video from Izabella Scorupco (Bond fame)
and the original from Shirley and Company c.1975
gotta love those youtube comments:
"I was probably conceived to that song with its 70s ancestors to Oprah Winfrey and Grizzly Adams stunt double" LOL!!
FCC approves new media ownership rule
WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission, overturning a 32-year-old ban, voted Tuesday to allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission's two Democrats voted against it.
Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the vote. [ha!]
From "Fascism Anyone?"
#6. A controlled mass media.
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
Tuesday, December 18
For the third time in a month, an analysis of state finances is warning that budget deficits and spending cuts are on the way.
Thirteen states say they could face shortfalls for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states, including large states like California and New York.
"With the deficits this large already before there's actual evidence we're in a recession, that seems quite serious."
"We're at the early stages of some pretty serious problems and whether or not those get worse depends on what happens with the national economy," said Corina Eckl, NCSL's fiscal program director
The report also suggests states' rainy day funds are too small
"Our problem is we've just been spending too much," California Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman said in an interview. "Our income has gone up every year, but the rate of spending has gone up greater than the income."
Are there any States out there doing well?
It appears that the British forces handed over security to extremist groups who are loyal to their party and not the Iraqi government. As a result over 40 women have been brutally murdered in Basra, their bodies left in the streets, becaushttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife they were not Muslim enough. What was once a modern city where women were free to dress in western clothes and attend universities, is now a very unsafe place for Iraqi women. What pains Major General Jalil Khalaf, the new police commander in Basra, is that there has been no public outcry in this mayhem left by the British- that the female bodies remain unidentified. Either the citizens don't care, don't want to know or they are terrified of speaking out.
I urge you to read this story and watch the short video. And pray for these people.
Also see Al-Qaida deputy accuses UK of fleeing from Basra
Al-Qaida's second in command has welcomed yesterday's handover of Basra by UK forces, saying the British decision to "flee" Iraq shows the insurgency is growing in strength.See also Only One Thing Unites Iraqis: Hatred for the U.S. at alternet.org for some more insight. It also makes you wonder whose side we're on.
The dad said that he may still buy his son a game for Wii, but it will be more like "Barbie as the Island Princess or Dancing with the Stars ... I know he will just love them."
Monday, December 17
"To the Druids, a man was not separate from the universe or born into it from elsewhere. He was, like the trees, part of nature. He was an embodiment and outgrowth of nature. If a man felt divided from nature he was unwell mentally and could not operate sanely. This was the law of the Druids and of Shaman everywhere. Demented men could be sacrificed to save the rest of the tribe from calamity. All trees are capable of producing sour and rotten fruit and, likewise, civilizations are capable of producing sour and rotten men. Such beings are a hazard to themselves and to everyone around them. The rites of initiation were instigated to make sure that the impure had no chance of attaining positions of power. The removal of these strict telestic rites permitted the mentally and morally toxic to have access to the thrones of the world. Once in command, such types were wont to promote others of their kind and conspire against the pure and noble ones they despise." -- Michael Tsarion The Irish Origins of Civilization
"Uganda is gripped by fear of an epidemic 'explosion' as the killer virus develops a slower and potentially more lethal version.
"It is a country where the President has asked people to stop shaking hands, where MPs have called for an end to public gatherings, market vendors wear gloves and Roman Catholic priests no longer give the communion wafers and wine by hand. Uganda is gripped by terror over a new strain of one of the world's most deadly diseases. Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which is spread by touch, kills between 50 and 90 per cent of victims."
Complete article at Inside Ebola's zone of death.
DEAR AMY: As we enter another season of giving, I realize a familiar frustration in my heart.
My family is what I would consider the definition of American middle class: We own our own home, have two cars, two incomes and two children. We've never needed to ask for assistance of any kind. I realize we have a great deal to be thankful for, but we also work extremely hard.
My problem is this: In the past, I've always had a soft heart when it came to charitable giving. If I saw someone in need and had the ability to give time, energy or financial assistance, I would always do so without question. Over the years, however, I've grown to be a "hesitant giver" of anything.
The same individuals stand on street corners every day in our city panhandling with cardboard signs explaining their plight. I don't believe they are stranded and need money for gas, that they are disabled vets or have hungry children or a terminally ill wife at home.
I know individuals who have abused the efforts of charities, churches and the welfare system, taking food, aid, Christmas gifts and rent subsidies they don't need or deserve.
I see families having far more children than they can afford, and while I know it's a free country and people should be able to raise the family they want, it is not a free world when it comes to paying for these children.
My children will not receive any federal or state assistance to attend college, while our neighbors, pregnant with their 10th child, will have a plethora of grants and financial aid available to them. They are, in my view, being rewarded for not having any foresight.
How (and where?) do I give when too often I believe people simply live the consequences of their poor choices?
I want to have a kind heart toward people in need, but it's been hardened over the years. How might I soften up? -- Middle-class Maggie
DEAR MAGGIE: Speaking as someone who was the beneficiary of subsidized programs, heating assistance, educational grants and other "charity" as a young person, I take exception to your reasoning and conclusion, though I understand your frustration.
You've been hard-working and fortunate, but even if you choose to think that poverty is a result of poor life choices, I venture that needy people shouldn't have to prove to you that they are deserving.
Giving to panhandlers or scam artists is probably a very poor investment. But giving to a food bank or to the Salvation Army is not. Families displaced by natural disasters, illness and plain bad luck can see their lives turned around by the right kind of support.
I agree with you that hard-working middle-class people seem penalized when it's time to hand out money for college educations, but for every needs-based grant dollar, there is another merit-based scholarship dollar available for a deserving student.
The idea behind charitable giving is to celebrate your own blessings by trying to lift up the life of someone else. I maintain that you can and should choose to believe in people's potential. When you do, you'll see your heart "soften."
One of my favorite Internet sites is www.charitynavigator.org. You can research areas of your own interest and find a charity or foundation that does work in that area.
Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the "interests of the people."
"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
Sunday, December 16
But in the meantime, some states are waking up. The Washington Post reports
Abstinence Programs Face Rejection
More States Opt to Turn Down the Federal Money Attached to That Kind of Sex Ed
At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said. Virginia was the most recent state to opt out.Stan Koutstaal ought to check his facts before attempting to hurt our young people with more false and misleading information about sex, diseases, dating and relationships. Abortion does not lead to sterility and suicide, you can't get pregnant from touching a boy's genitals, a fetus is not a thinking human being, HIV is not transmitted via sweat, condoms do not fail to stop the transmission of HIV 31% of the time, to name a few of the misconceptions. If he concentrated on reality rather than ideology, perhaps we'd have a much healthier, happier population.
Two other states -- Ohio and Washington -- have applied but stipulated they would use the money for comprehensive sex education, effectively making themselves ineligible, federal officials said. While Maryland and the District are planning to continue applying for the money, other states are considering withdrawing as well.
Until this year, only four states had passed up the funding.
"We're concerned about this," said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. "My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It's the youths in these states who are missing out."
This didn't really surprise me as he has made some ridiculous assertions concerning god and religion.
In NH recently he was questioned about his "degree"
"I have a bachelor of arts in religion and a minor in communications in my undergraduate work. And then I have 46 hours on a master's degree at Southwestern Theology Seminary. So, my degree as a theological degree is at the college level and then 46 hours toward a masters -- three years of study of New Testament Greek, and then the rest of it, all in Seminary was theological studies, but my degree was actually in religion."He lied when he told CBN (a Christian news service) the following last month:
"I'm as strong on terror as anybody. In fact I think I'm stronger than most people because I truly understand the nature of the war that we are in with Islamofascism. These are people that want to kill us. It's a theocratic war. And I don't know if anybody fully understands that. I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree. I think I understand it really well."Selling a war as 'theocratic' or 'religious' is historically one way to get the masses to go along with an immoral agenda by the powers that be. Lying about a theology degree (which is different from a degree in religion) in order to sell yourself as the future commander in chief is so intrinsically wrong, a disservice to the discipline and especially evil from a theological perspective. The study of theology does not concern itself with corporate war profiteering, voluntary feuding world governments and the pillaging of the world's resources for fun and earthly profit. Religion, yes. Theology, no. Religious studies concern the history of man's relationship with his "god." Theology is transcendent. I will not go into it here as it will take days to write about it.
Believe it or not, I actually do have a masters degree in theology and a masters degree in business so I know my fascists and my "theocrats." I am an expert in neither, but I can smell bullshit. I'm so happy being an artist at the moment, but I can't seem to escape the stench of Jeso-fascists attempting to corrupt the world.
I am struggling with how someone came up with the term "Islamo-fascists." It appears to be a case of "I know you are, but what am I?"
Saturday, December 15
Friday, December 14
And here's another: 102 Places to Have Sex. Can we think of any more? My personal favorite is similar to #52, but it was my wife's grandmother's dining room. And they don't list having sex on a church altar at three in the morning.
According to Think Progress:
In response to King's tirade against those 9 who voted against his ridiculous bill, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) ripped King’s religious zealotry as “another sad attempt by conservative Republicans to skew the line between church and state”:
And not only that, why don't we just piss on non-christians while we're at it and say, nyeh, this holiday season.
- “America is not a Christian nation,” Hastings said. “It is a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone in between. Our diversity is our strength and those who seek to use religion as a litmus test are doing a disservice to all of us.”
- As for the “assault on Christianity,” Hastings said, “all someone has to do is visit a shopping mall, turn on the radio or TV or look at the Christmas trees sitting on the front lawns of the White House and the United States Capitol to realize that no such assault is underway.”
Yesterday, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) explained his nay vote:
While the Republicans are passing a resolution celebrating Christmas, the president was vetoing health care for children. There’s a little bit of irony going on around here.Excellent comment by Rep McDermott. Rep King was one of the fine Christians who voted against SCHIP.
Yesterday, the House in a 222-199 vote passed a ban on waterboarding in the Intelligence Authorization Act. Who were the 199 who voted nay? See here. 10 Democrats and 189 Republicans (probably devout "Christians") voted nay.
Thursday, December 13
You might think that.
You'd be wrong.
It seems that back on Wednesday a group of Jewish students were riding a subway train in New York City when one of the other passengers said, "Merry Christmas." Now, being Jewish, one young man said "Happy Hanukah" in response.
Naturally, this aroused some comment; allegedly one of the 10 people who began to berate the Jewish students with anti-Semitic epithets said "Oh, Hanukah. That's the day the Jews killed Jesus." And the fight was on at that point.
The Jewish kids were aided by a bystander. A Christian thing to do, no?
Wrong again. This guy was a Muslim from Bangladesh. One of the students pulled the communications cord and the train stopped so that the police could board. All 10 of the "Christians" were arrested, and face charges in court in February. The NYPD is looking into whether it warrants a hate crime enhancement.
In this day and age, to have a Christian call a Jew "Christ-killer" is Just Plain Wrong (and in this case, off by several months on the calendar). But I consider it indicative of the militant, radical and completely wrong "Christianity" followed by a growing number of the ignorant in our once-great country.
Leave it to our friends across the sea to pick up where we left off before the military industrial complex dictated where the good grant money was for scientists.
Sexbots, not to be confused with sexpots, have been around for a long time, but they just didn't have enough feeling for women to become emotionally involved or all that interested. (If we wanted sex with a robot, we could just start having sex regularly with a human male.) Researchers today aren't too worried about men's enthusiasm for robotic sex since enough men are willing to do it with blow up dolls to make that an industry.
Spiegel Online has a fascinating story about The Future Of Coitus (hat tip to faithful reader in The Netherlands, Dirruk) Life-Long Loving with a Sexbot Here are some excerpts plus a sampling of my robot porn collection:
~snip~In 40 years, if I am still alive, a robot will be about all I could get. Guys my age will be deaf and drooling by then.
"Levy is an expert in artificial intelligence. He is fascinated with the idea of "love and sex with robots," and his visions of the future include "malebots" and "fembots" as lovers and life partners... Levy, 62, has just published a book, "Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships" -- that is provocative in the truest sense of the word. He is convinced that human beings will be having sex with robots one day. They will show us sexual practices that we hadn't even imagined existed. We will love them and respect them, and we will entrust them with our most intimate secrets. All of this, says Levy, will be a reality in hardly more than 40 years from now."
~snip~Yes, but will it paint my house?
""The mere concept of an artificial partner, husband, wife, friend or lover is one that, for most people at the start of the 21st century, challenges their notion of relationships," says Levy. "But my thesis is this: Robots will be hugely attractive to humans as companions because of their many talents, senses and capabilities." Given rapid developments in technology, Levy believes that it is only a matter of time before machines will be capable of offering human-like traits. According to Levy, "love and sex with robots on a grand scale are inevitable.""
Will it tell me that I look fabulous without my makeup?
"Your ass looks small and pert in those jeans. Bleep."
"I can't believe you are 90. You could pass for 38. Bleep."
~snip~True. True. There are some who love their computers more than people. I find Eduardo, my landscaper to be more useful than those I have relationships with. I haven't even had sex with him. But I digress.
""Nowadays, it is relatively commonplace for people to develop strong emotional attachments to their virtual pets, including robot pets," says Levy. "So why should anyone be surprised if and when people form similarly strong attachments to virtual people, to robot people?""
~snip~Get out of here! Why are we using devices that make our arms tired in this day and age?
"When it comes to sex, robots could soon supplant the original flesh-and-blood human experience, says Levy. The researcher has delved deep into the history of erotic machinery to document Homo sapiens' susceptibility to mechanical sex toys. He discovered documented evidence of early vibrators powered by clockwork mechanisms and steam machines. Levy describes a pedal-driven masturbation machine for women designed in 1926 by engineers in the German city of Leipzig."
"In a late 17th-century pornographic anthology from Japan, the author read about a "lascivious traveling pillow." The artificial vulva, known as "azumagata" (substitute woman) in Japanese, was made of tortoiseshell and had a hole lined with satin."But does she cook and watch football without talking?
"But will robotic women and men resemble humans so closely within a few decades that they will pass as an equivalent or even better alternative to a human lover?
"Mimicking human appearance seems to be the least of the challenges. Two years ago, Japanese robot expert Hiroshi Ishiguro unveiled his "Repliee Q1" robot... Thanks to 42 actuators driven by compressed air, the gynoid can "turn and react in a humanlike way," says Levy. "Repliee Q1 can flutter her eyelids, she appears to breathe, she can move her hands just like a human, (and) she is responsive to human touch...," he adds enthusiastically."
"Much more difficult than external traits, however, will be the challenging of breathing something approaching a soul into the robots. The biggest stumbling blocks are some of the most fundamental of human behaviors. Current robotic sensors, for example, are incapable of reliably distinguishing between individual people, says Levy. He concedes that if a robot fails to recognize its partner, or possibly even confuses him or her with someone else, the relationship is easily ruined."Oy vay. If your robot cheats on you... talk about low self esteem.
~snip~Get out of here! Really? We ought to try that technology with Republicans.
"Nevertheless, Levy predicts that advances will come rapidly. For Levy, imbuing robots with such human traits as empathy, humor, understanding and love is merely a question of technology."
"Empathy, for example, is "essentially a learning task," he says, and therefore "relatively easy to implement in robots." All the machine has to do is observe its partner, make intelligent assumptions about the partner's thoughts and react accordingly."I don't know about THAT.
~snip~"I love you. Bleep."
"Levy sees a future in which artificial intelligence will enable robots to behave as if they had gone through the entire spectrum of human experience, without this actually being the case. He cites emotions as an example. "If a robot behaves as though it has feelings, can we reasonably argue that it does not," he asks? "If a robot's artificial emotions prompt it to say things such as 'I love you,' surely we should be willing to accept these statements at face value, provided that the robots other behavior patterns back them up.""
"I love you too, but you aren't finished rubbing my back."
"I live to rub your back, Gorgeous. Bleep."
"Yes you do."
Maybe they are vacuums?
Normally it's too cloudy to even do any telescoping although last night the stars came out for a change. How big is Mars? Wow! And that comet Holmes. If it would at least be starry every night, I wouldn't mind this time of year so much. I could practice some astrophotography which I invested way too much money in considering I live where the skies aren't all that dark for the most part. Between the lights, the airplane contrails due to my proximity to 4 airports and the ocean moisture, it's pretty disappointing. I'm still planning to move somewhere that's dark at night.
Last night at 10PM, I found myself outside with the family hanging the solstice lights on the house (it was warmish) and reminiscing about solstice seasons past. I can picture my dad hanging those big colorful bulbs around the front door of our house. I remember as a kid that you could tell who was Jewish by their dark houses. Being the bleeding heart kid that I was, I felt that lit up houses shouldn't be a religious thing, but just something nice to do when the days were so short, so I told all the Jews on my block that it's okay if they put lights on their houses, but for some reason, they said that would put their menorahs in the window and that was all, if it was okay with me. Well it really wasn't. I thought that they could trick Santa if nothing else and that their kids would get presents on Christmas too. What did I know at the time? I was much blonder then.
I was also the same kid who was taught in school that only Catholics go to heaven, so I was driven to convert everyone because I wanted them to go to heaven. It really disturbed me. But my best friend whose dad was the pastor of the Lutheran Church on my block, told me not to worry about HER people. It was MY people who were screwed up. That was quite possible, I thought. We were taught these terrible things by angry, bitter, nasty women who wore black robes all the time and had no feet. Finally Pope John XXIII came out with Vatican II and I didn't feel so afraid that I'd be lonely in heaven. It also turned out that nuns had feet.
In these northern latitudes, we really need to decorate for the solstice for aesthetic reasons. I love how the greenery looks draped on the house and I'll leave it up until the sun sets at 5:15, which won't be until the end of January.