Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday fun break

zany neonI feel I'm overdue to drop a load of crazy fun here, so fortwith I present myriad delights collected over the last few months:

In case you missed it

The guy who's going to replace Scotty McClellan in front of the White House press corps firing squad is Tony Snow of Fox News. Where to begin with the mocking? The fair and balanced folks at Fox admit they've always been shills for the Administration? White House plans to continue snowing voters? On and on.

Anyway, Josh Marshall put it best: "Isn't that more like an interdepartmental transfer than a job change?"

(via NowThis)

It makes Hoover's follies look trivial

Just when you thought that Washington couldn't get more absurd, it appears that we are right on the cusp of a huge breaking scandal involving a lobbiest-funded prostitution ring that served Republican lawmakers for as much as 15 years.

No, really. And it may even have been run out of the Watergate Hotel. We really do live in an era of the death of satire . . .

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday kittens: water rambling

Bengals as a breed are often said to have a fascination with water. Ours certainly drink fresh water like they're dying for it, are fascinated with sinks and tubs, and frequently drop toys into their water dish and/or splash a paw just for fun. They also have a fascination with the shower, both while we're in it and after we get out.

shower visit

Here they're making a little visit, complete with typical fascinations: drain-staring and paw-licking. Amazingly, Pasha, at least, will head right in even when the shower is draining slowly and she has to walk around in a half-inch or more of water. Both of them will also sit down on the wet surface like it's no big deal, although they do spend a lot of extra time grooming their feet and legs after such expeditions. cats!!

Past kitteny goodness (reverse order):
50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oh my

Paula is a bit wordless recently, but sharing a wealth of tiny photographic observations in the natural world, of the dying away of winter and the insistant promise of spring. Try these tastes!

Fall & Rise
Wood & Air


Quote of the day

The Road to Wisdom

grass bladesThe road to wisdom?-
Well, it’s plain and simple to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.
- Piet Hein
(via whiskey river)

Not sure why I'm so quiet

I'm reading plenty of blogs. I guess I'm a bit exhausted by the everyday record-breaking depravity of our current federal government, such that I can barely record much outrage, and there's a lot of bleak news (with more angst and hair-pulling) in the feminist world over recent rape cases and attendant brouh-hah-hah that are also a bit draining. But in fact I have a stock-piled heap of "chewy links" and "silly bits" that I should be sharing with my lovely readers, and I promise to trickle some of them forth soon.

smartypants penguinMeantime, how about some good writing, wacky personas, and shaking of fists in the wind? Let me recommend Twisty, especially in such posts as this and this, and/or Mimi Smartypants, say this, and let's not forget about that ultra-raver Dooce, e.g., this. Don't say I never showed you a good time!

Shit inching toward fan?

I sure missed this: Fitzgerald is on the verge of presenting evidence against Karl Rove to the grand jury. Libby might not get the option of being the fall guy for the entire corrupt administration! Whoot!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A little help for my friends

Bush suspends environmental laws to make it easier for oil companies to meet demand (because, lord knows, their profits aren't going up fast enough). SusanG notes a pattern in which the Bushies use disasters and national emergencies as ways to get around national laws to create benefits for their buddies . . . sigh.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Strange days indeed

Public health has definitely fallen on hard times when doctors can no longer trust FDA materials and other government sources to provide accurate information to their patients. The list of programs, brochures, research findings, and product labels that have been distorted by right-wing propaganda campaigns is really astounding, and it's a tough day when we need Glamour to report it.

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Crazier than they are

Apparently booga booga! zeoow!there are lots of people at the center of the advice/decision leadership circle who continue to think that aggressive posturing, even to the level of threatened nuclear strikes, works for us internationally. "If they're going to be crazy, they should worry that we're going to act crazy too." Seriously, this is what is driving current planning with regard to, e.g., Iran. Because, you know, Shock and Awe had the natives so scared that they just threw down their spears and ran back to their lagoon. Sigh. Digby captures my sentiment precisely:
This is such a deeply immature view that I honestly don't know these influential middle aged men are even allowed to drive much less be taken seriously on foreign policy. The United States is a superpower. We do not need to "act crazy." Indeed, acting crazy is the last thing a superpower should ever do. It makes others miscalculate because they think we are unpredictable and dumb.
Aren't there professionals somewhere who know better? Couldn't we try listening to them, for a change, rather than sticking with our lowest schoolyard instincts?

Update: of course, even a "pretend to be crazy" scheme gets undermined if you let it be known that you may be sabre-rattling for the benefit of your polling numbers... Double-yeesh.

Technology, always offering more..

Apparently you can now plan your exercise outing to the very fraction of a mile (or calorie) using this Gmaps Pedometer. Map out a few block walk or a 200-mile bike trip in appropriate scale, and it will do the measuring for you . . . Wacky.

(via Atrios)


Greg Saunders at This Modern World has a suggestion for the Democrats' fall campaign slogan. Payback indeed....

(p.s.) Blogger refusing to cooperate today. It may be that nothing will get through...

Friday, April 21, 2006

What we tell one another

Bitch, Ph.D. was invited to give a talk. Not her author; the persona, the blogger. She posted the text of her talk on the web, and it's both a typically neat mix of academic and personal (thought-provoking and touching in turn) and also a different way of formulating what feminism means, what it offers to both men and women, how it can challenge our expectations and our sense of how we fit in to a societal "story." Worth reading the whole thing over lunch or coffee -- I couldn't find a single excerpt that would begin to do it justice.

Belated weekly kittens

A little off on my sense of what day it is (among other things). I do have a cute cat photo to post, but thought that the kitten snack from earlier in the week might hold you an extra day...

lazy snugglers
A lucky shot of Pasha and Pixel snuggling away a sunny afternoon...

Previous double features: sunbathing2, catnip!, twofers, sunbathers, posh lighting, treehouse, friends, snuggles2, more lounging, snuggles, Thanksgiving, cones, forms of love, lounging, more games, P&P wrestling, Pixel and Yogi, catspage

Thursday, April 20, 2006

How we spend our dollars

Mithras puts our expenditures in Iraq in perspective.
We could have sent teams into Iraq to kill Hussein and his family, installed a puppet government by bribing a few generals and officials with $200 million, given $10,000 to every man, woman and child in the country, and still have come out ahead. Per capita GDP is $3,400, so it would have been a sizable injection of capital into the country. How popular would the U.S. be in the region if we had done that?
I can barely conceive of $1.8 billion, let alone imagine hemorraging that much away every week. And for what again?

[Clearly, what we need is a second war.]

Oh jeez...

forehead smackThey're not even ashamed of their tyranical impulses any more: they're willing to argue that the framers actually liked kings! Ow, my head hurts...

Quote of the day

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
-- Robert Kennedy
(via Hullabaloo)

Say what?

How on earth can any organization endorse a candidate that scores just 20% on their own scorecard? We really are through the looking glass . . .

Update: apparently he's been doing better more recently. Forget I mentioned it.

Those who put their money where Bush's mouth is

Let the blow-hards do what they will to dismiss worries about global climate change; the insurance industry is the folks who really needs to know the score. And what do they expect?
Earlier this year, the insurers' catastrophe [CAT] modelers unveiled their first attempt to incorporate the implications of climate change [...] The net result was an approximately 45% increase in previously expected insured losses due to changes in the physical characteristics of the extreme weather events alone.
hurricane overheadAnd that's just hurricanes. But let's make sure that those guys over at the National Weather Bureau or wherever aren't leaking facts to the population at large...

(via DarkSyde at dailyKos)

oh, and yeah, I'm back to the land of the living. so far.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Worn down... the incessant drip of truth: Scott McClellan resigns as press secretary. I never envied him his job, trying to sell the smell of shit. Will be interesting to see who steps in!

Update: Josh points out that nobody wants in to this Administration! grim indeed...
(via Atrios)

Update 2: even worse, Medley catches an admission that they don't intend any policy changes from the personnel shifts, just window-dressing! I've got a few "public gestures" for ya'!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bleah (did I mention the blah?)

Home sick for two days now, after fleeing from work in late morning yesterday. Would be more fun if I could focus enough to read, think, or catch up on any of the 10,000 things that need doin'. Ah well. [blank look]

Have read some news, but found nothing prompting me to write today. Hopefully I'll feel more human tomorrow. Meantime, I invite you to drown your sorrows (or share in my drowning of mine) over at Cute Overload, which has a reliable dose of cuteness whenever you need a smile.

Pixel at 4 months
Oh, what the heck, here's some kitten candy too.
Pixel at 4 months, playing a little batty bat...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Post-Easter cuteness

A whole swath of baby panda playing with mom. It really is unbelievably fun -- I guess the contrast between the large lumbering bodies and the kittenish frolic. I recommend listening without sound, since the audio is from the dumb observers' point of view (oh look! she's running! eesh)...

(via XOverboard)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fun with peeps

No Easter weekend would be complete without the inexplicable marshmallow confection known as Peeps. In honor of same, a trio of peep-related silliness:
  1. peep bunniesWhich is better, chicks or bunnies?
    (my local media plumbing the depths!)

  2. An updated version of the turducken, involving Cadbury eggs and Peeps...
    (via boing boing)

  3. Classic arcade games, reimagined: Peeps in Space!
    (via coworker B)

Quote for the weekend (high holidays edition)

It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance -- for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light. ...But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than it seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?
--Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
(via A Mindful Life)

Another current meme debunked

Heard the recent news stories about how boys are getting the shaft in today's educational system? Much like the "educated women will never find a husband" myth (see, e.g., here or here) this alarmist story falls apart when the actual facts are examined a bit more closely:
Recently Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Chait Barnett examined the data in the Washington Post and discovered that boys are doing just fine in school unless -- wait for it -- they're black and poor. But that little caveat doesn't make it into the media: who wants to write about race and class, when we can instead run a nice distracting culture war against those nasty straw feminists?
Indeed. Solving society inequalities is hard, but accruing more reasons for bashing uppity girls is easy (and gratifying!). . .

(via Medley)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday kittens -- more laziness

I'm not sure that the kittens are changing anymore at a rate that justifies weekly updates. sigh. Pixel is now a couple of weeks away from a year old, although I suspect she'll grow a bit more over the coming year, and Pasha has also begun to plateau at around 10 months. Here are a couple of shots sneaked by my spouse a couple of weeks ago.

Pixel with backlighting
Great back-lighting of Pixel by the morning sun (fun with shadows!)

Pasha flops out
Pasha continues to prove photogenic from all angles...

Previous appearances of both kittens together (reverse order):
catnip!, twofers, sunbathers, posh lighting, treehouse, friends, snuggles2, more lounging, snuggles, Thanksgiving, cones, forms of love, lounging, more games, P&P wrestling, catspage

If you needed your vote to pay the bill...

...maybe the security would be tighter. I know about the concerns about Diebold and the other (biased and sneaky) manufacturers of voting machines, but this side-by-side comparison with the measures used to keep slot machines safe is really stark. I hope it embarrasses somebody into taking the issue more seriously!

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

As though to ping our sluggish consciences...

cropped photoWilliam Sloane Coffin, Jr. died yesterday. He was the Yale University chaplain during a tumultuous period including the Vietnam war, and was widely credited both for mediating between students and the administration there and for national activity in anti-war and civil rights efforts over many decades. (He was immortalized by Gary Trudeau as a Doonesbury character along the way, and I hope Trudeau will offer some sort of tribute in the coming days.)

"The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love."

A few links:(news via dailyKos)

Backlash from the "scare the white people" strategy?

The concocted immigrant crisis is making Americans misplace the blame for our economic woes. But it is having a backlash too, as it turns the ray of ignorance and frustration on a wide swath of brown (or not) people who have been here for a long time.
The mistake the U.S. spin-meisters are making now is that they are clumsily and racistly trying to equate "Latino," "Mexican," and "illegal," (terms that are NOT interchangeable) in hopes of scaring the bejesus out of non-Hispanic white Americans and directing American anger over disappearing jobs, failing schools and lack of health care on what they wrongly perceive to be a foreign menace.

Why this fearmongering against Latinos a mistake? Simple. Most Latinos in the U.S. are citizens who are extremely offended by this false labeling and ignorant discourse. The only exception, I think, is Alberto Gonzalez.
Heh. Now let's just hope that all of those annoyed Latinos remember to turn out in November (and/or that the attempt to change the debate fails)...

(via dailyKos)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's not bad enough that our leaders lie to us

But when even actual events are misrepresented in the press, you can see why so many people are starting to tune out. It would be laughable, except that burying our heads in our books may lead to our finding ourselves in more war and another X years of this crazy government.

Quote of the day

dry weedsCHOICE. That's the difference between emptiness and substance, between a life actually lived and a wimpy shadow cast on an office wall.
- Tom Robbins
(via Jick at KoL)

I don't have much to add

...but I have to agree with this. Is our entry into the looking glass not worth reporting?
I mean, what exactly does it take to get a rise out of the media industrial complex these days? A nuclear first strike against a major Middle Eastern oil producer doesn't ring the bell? Must every story have a missing white woman in it before the cable news guys will start taking it seriously?
As Billmon points out, we were "just sabre rattling" about four years ago, and now we're three years into a war. Could we get upset in advance this time, and maybe prevent another disaster? Please??

(via Medley)

Update: Follow Me Here points to an article that looks at the possible games that might be being played here, from international posturing to using information leaks to strenghten the hand of competing factions within the administration. The tip of a big iceberg...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Too good not to share

This little cartoon both amuses me greatly and slightly makes my brain hurt. A perfect combination!

(via Twisty)

Double-standard of a different kind

An interesting take on rape trials, via Ampersand, who notes that plenty of legal cases pit one person's word against another, but that we only question that basis when the crime in question is sexual.
So why doesn't anyone say that drug possession is a unique crime because a person can go be sent to prison for drug possession, based solely on another person's word? Why does no one say "drug dealing is a serious charge; it is easy to make, difficult to defend"? Why does no one fret about the damage to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" when someone goes to prison for selling drugs based on someone else's word?

I don't think there's a principled reason that the process of a jury hearing testimony and weighing credibility - which is routinely accepted in thousands of non-rape cases - becomes so suspicious and deplorable when the crime is rape. Rather, I think the difference is just evidence that our culture trusts cops but doesn't trust women.
Hard to disagree. There is plenty of evidence of bad policing, but in general we trust that they are on the opposite side from the bad guy; apparently we don't think that women can be trusted to say for themselves which side of the line they were on. femsign(Yeah, there are such things as shame and regret, but there's also a quick tendency in our culture to blame women for not living lives of constant self-protection, and thus to discount their rights to control their own bodies in social situations. Thus, how can their accounts be given full weight? Feh.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Just shoot me now

This is how much attention our President is paying to Iraq.
Humiliating in the extreme.

In lighter news...

grinsHere's a list of the Top 10 April Fool's jokes of all time, as ranked by "notariety, absurdity, and number of people duped." Quite amusing. I'm reminded of an NPR broadcast about the little-known fondue springs in caves of Wisconsin...

(via Follow Me Here)

What a couple years won't do!

Looks like the press has discovered the Plame scandal, now that Bush appears to be directly implicated (skip down to the newspaper headline portion of the post). Bloggers have only been talking about this for some two and a half years, but I guess that just endangering national security isn't enough -- it has to be the latest in an avalanche of poor behavior by the inner sanctum of the Whitehouse. Sorry if I sound bitter, but it's sad if we can get appropriate coverage only once the subject's polling numbers are safely in the 30% range...

In related news, the BooMan looks at what it's like to live in crazy town. These are indeed strange and unsettling times!

(partly via Medley)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Quote of the day

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
- Dwight David Eisenhower,
U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Another gap filled in

In the evolutionary chain, that is: scientists working in the Canadian arctic just found the fossil of a new fish-like species whose fins show early adaptation to weight-bearing and limb development. In fact, the whole thing is starting to look a bit like a flippered alligator.
Embedded in the pectoral fins were bones that compare to the upper arm, forearm and primitive parts of the hand of land-living animals. The joints of the fins appeared to be capable of functioning for movement on land, a case of a fish improvising with its evolved anatomy. In all likelihood, the scientists said, Tiktaalik flexed its proto-limbs mainly on the floor of streams and might have pulled itself up on the shore for brief stretches.
Won't do anything to convince the creationists, of course, but pretty neat from a purely scientific viewpoint.

(via Follow Me Here)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cats and catnip (Thursday kittens goes multimedia!)

A couple of weeks ago I came upon some catnip in the bottom of a drawer and scattered a bit for the assembled cats. They found it one at a time, and each got wacky in her own unique way...

each in her own way...
Pasha, Pixel, and Yogi each stake out a Zone of Catnip Flakes

wacky duo
Pasha works up speed rolling in the cat bed while Pixel -- well, look at that face!

In fact, I've never seen writhing like this. Caught a little bit on the "movie" setting of our digital camera, and here it is for your giggling pleasure! (I hope!) A small interruption for frenzied leg-licking...

Need more kittens? Some previous appearances (in reverse order):
47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

A cluster of tidbits found via dailyKos

  • Tom DeLay intends to stay active in politics from behind the scenes, colleagues not entirely enthusiastic...

  • Jeb Bush takes first stand against national Republicans in claiming that current anti-immigrant fervor is personally hurtful.

  • Democrats come up with a new strategy to go on offense on the abortion issue, using an emphasis on prevention to reveal the splits within the Republican base.
    An overwhelming majority of Americans support access to contraceptives and sex education. This bill will force Republicans to go on record: do they really want to prevent abortions, or is all their anti-abortion talk the empty rhetoric of pandering politicos?
    Now we're talking!

  • In breaking news today, the ongoing Fitzgerald investigation has for the first time uncovered direct evidence that President Bush was part of the decision to out undercover operative Valerie Plame. Yowza!

  • Also, via Medley (not Kos), a painful story about the aftermath of Katrina and the systematic ethnic cleansing being wrought by those in charge of New Orleans' fate.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spreading hybrids?

putt putt...Toyota is planning to make hybrid versions of its entire fleet in the next 6 years. This goal also motivates them to reduce the cost of making hybrid cars; they hope that the eventual price differential would be under $2500. Yay!

I never thought I'd see it

The day has arrived when Republicans are described as being in disarray and the Democrats as having a coherent agenda that they actually agree upon. A sign of troubled times, I suppose, but better late than never (both for the Democrats and for the media to notice and report it)...

He's not impressing *me* either

new elephantMore evidence that John McCain is a blindered idiot like the rightwingers whose support he's pandering to... Just because honest work is beneath you, pal, doesn't mean that there aren't plenty willing to do hard stuff for decent money.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Geek bit

I've never really thought about the limits to domain names -- which are available, which have been squatted but could be had for a price, when they might run out -- other than in the obvious commercial or humorous ways that they occasionally arise. But boing boing offers a glimpse of what's already taken, including all 1, 2, or 3-letter combinations, most if not all common (in the US) first and last names, etc. Pretty intriguing! There's a lot more at the full article, for those curious about more esoteric combinations or strategies...

Science wins one!

I knew that cell culturing and stem-cell stuff would head this way, but had no idea it had been applied --- doctors grow a new bladder from a patient's cells:
In the new procedure, doctors extract muscle and bladder cells from a small piece of the patient's own bladder. The cells are grown in a Petri dish, then layered onto a three-dimensional mold shaped like a bladder.

In a few weeks, the cells produce a new bladder, which is implanted into the patient. Within a few more weeks, the new bladder has grown to normal size and has started functioning.
No rejection, no need for immuno-suppression, just like the body had gotten it right the first time! Very spiff.

(via boing boing)

Quote of the day

My actions are my only true belongings.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
(via ginkgo)

Mmmmm, mavericky!

I can't wait for this McCain love-bubble to burst. He's a bought man.

Morning doozie!

Former House Speaker and increasingly dirty-looking Republican Tom DeLay announced this morning that he will resign from Congress in a few weeks. Some combination of the bad news that a key aide had plead guilty to corruption charges and the increasingly powerful Democratic challenger (polls put the race at about 50-50) changed his mind about his future prospects.
Senior House Republicans have been saying for several weeks that DeLay would make his decision based on what was best for the GOP. Indeed, Democratic House campaign officials have been hoping to face DeLay in November, considering him the weakest Republican candidate they could hope for.
He's already won the primary, so I guess that (he know or hopes that) the GOP can appoint a replacement candidate with less baggage (he's chainging residency to free up his slot), although I don't know how likely they are to find anybody as well known as Dem Nick Lampson, who's a former Congressman displaced by redistricting...Republican elephant

(via NPR)

Update: appears there's some political gaming behind this move -- if DeLay resigns early enough (rather than just not running for reelection), there could be a special election to fill his seat, which changes the rules and could make things harder for Lampson. Political manipulator to the end...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Not dead, just getting work done today (!)

Here's what I might have blogged about, had I been more slackerly today:
  • Most notably, the 2005 Koufax Awards for outstanding blogging (in the liberal realm) have been released -- lots of great stuff there in many categories, and I commend it all to you.
    (via BagNewsNotes, a deserving winner)

  • Russ Feingold shows that a Democrat can hold his own on Fox News. I'm getting weak in the knees...

  • The scientifically inclined among my readers may be intrigued by the news that questions have been raised about the prion theory of mad cow disease and its relatives. (Questions, that is, in addition to the incredulity that first greeted the whole idea, but gradually gave way to acceptance.) I'll still be leery about my beef consumption for some time to come...
    (via Follow Me Here)

  • Finally, I may be a bit of a sucker for bunnies, but this photo is more cuteness than should be allowed in one place! Snuggly and snoozy too! Yipe!