Sunday, March 25, 2007

Quote of the month

...or maybe of the year:
Now, when I heard George Bush was reading my emails, I probably had the same reaction you did: George Bush can read?! Yes, he can. And this administration has read your phone records, credit card statements, mail, Internet logs. I can't tell if they're fighting a war on terror or producing the next season of "Cheaters." I mail myself a copy of the Constitution every morning just on the hope they'll open it and see what it says.
- Bill Maher, "New Rules" (Real Time, 3/16/2007)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Damn Right We're Angry

This sums it up rather nicely.
Yes, we’re angry at George W. Bush. We’re not angry at him because of who he sleeps with, and we’re not angry at him because we think he represents some socio-cultural movement we didn’t like 40 years ago, or because he hung out with a different crowd than we did in high school. We’re angry at him because of what he’s done.

It’s true, we don’t like the fact that the most powerful human being on the planet is such a ridiculous buffoon that he can’t put two coherent sentences together without beginning to giggle and shimmy his shoulders. But we’re not angry because we think he’s stupid, we’re angry because he treats us as though we’re stupid. We’re angry that he lied to us, and lied to us and lied to us again. We’re angry that when he lies to us it isn’t because he’s caught up in scandal or got caught doing something he shouldn’t have, it’s part of a carefully constructed plan to fool the public.

Yes, we’re angry about Iraq, and we may be for the rest of our lives. We get angry every day when we open our newspapers and see the photo of another young soldier who died for this, another one maimed for life, another one with a tormented and broken soul. We’re angry about the couple of trillion dollars this war will cost. We’re angry about the thousands of young men around the world have been driven into the arms of al Qaeda, who have decided to devote their lives to killing Americans because of this war. We’re angry about the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who have died in the orgy of bloodshed we unleashed, and the living too, those whom we said we were coming to “liberate,” but who now find themselves in a suffocating, endless miasma of fear and misery and death.

We’re angry that when we talk about ending this monstrous war, the soulless hypocrites who are glad to send more and more men and women to be scarred and maimed and killed in Iraq have the gall to accuse us of not “supporting the troops.” We’re angry that people whose actions exhibit nothing but contempt for freedom and liberty and justice, who wouldn’t know real patriotism if it came up and smacked them across the face, pin a little flag on their lapel and say that we’re the ones who hate America.

- Paul Waldman,
You tell 'em, Paul. A little righteous indignation now and again is nothing to be ashamed of. It's time more of us stood up and said "We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Military Medicine's New Spokesbandage

Meet Ouchie, the Walter Reed Band-Aid!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hagel puts impeachment on the table

You know you're in trouble as president when a prominent member of your own party starts talking up the possibility of impeachment.
In an interview appearing in April editions of Esquire magazine -- set to hit stands next week -- Hagel suggests that President Bush could be subject to calls for impeachment as the Iraq war drags on.

"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel said in the article. "Before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends on how this goes."
If only the Democrats would listen to the mandate they got last November from the majority of Americans who favor impeachment, Hagel could be right.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Listmania: Genre Benders

I've created a "Listmania" list at Amazon of music from my favorite genre - I guess I should say meta-genre. I call my list Genre Benders. It's composed of CDs that are covers of music from one genre (most of them classic rock) done in a different genre than the original (often reggae or bluegrass). I own or have listened to most of these CDs. There are two exceptions, the CDs from the "Pickin' On..." series; I've heard only the samples of those available on Amazon. I have ordered the CDs, so within a few days I'll have heard them in their entirety.

Of course, as an afterthought I checked the iTunes Music Store and found that I could have purchased the "Pickin' On" CDs (at least one of them) there, in which case I'd have the music on my iPod already. Still, this way I'll have the CDs to pass along to friends.

"Pickin' On Zeppelin" (a. k. a. volume I of Pickin' On Led Zeppelin) gets awful reviews at iTMS, but most of the low ratings are from people who went there looking for Led Zeppelin (whose recordings are not available via iTunes). The listener reviews on Amazon are much better (typically 4 or 5 stars). It's all a matter of expectations. I am a huge Zeppelin fan, and have little patience for bluegrass; yet I love what I've heard of this CD. Fortunately the recordings are instrumental (if they were full of twangy bluegrass vocals I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole) and I find that the Zeppelin tunes seem to translate very well to bluegrass instrumentation.

Anyway, if you have an adventurous nature and an open mind, give some of these CDs a try. You don't have to buy them from Amazon; you can probably get them cheaper on eBay from someone more (a) narrow-minded, (b) discriminating, (c) sane, or (d) all of the above.

Of Lice and Men

I've recently added the RSS feed from to my Google Reader subscriptions, so you'll probably see more stuff from there in Random News, but I had to blog this one because it offered such great headline potential.

It seems analysis of louse DNA offers clues about when we lost our body hair and when we invented clothes.

One of the more embarrassing mysteries of human evolution is that people are host to no fewer than three kinds of louse while most species have just one.

Even bleaker for the human reputation, the pubic louse, which gets its dates and residence-swapping opportunities when its hosts are locked in intimate embrace, does not seem to be a true native of the human body. Its closest relative is the gorilla louse. (Don't even think about it.)

Louse specialists now seem at last to have solved the question of how people came by their superabundance of fellow travelers. And in doing so they have shed light on the two major turning points in the history of fashion: when people lost their body hair, and when they first made clothing.
I should point out, as the Dawkins site does, that this story was first published in the Paper of Record.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Self-Censorship at Sports Illustrated

And now for something completely different... Sports Illustrated bans itself!

So, does this mean SI considers its swimsuit issue indecent? Does it also mean SI considers public and school librarians incompetent to judge what is appropriate material for their shelves?

Or does it merely mean that SI kowtows to the religious right and other prudes?

Come on, Time Warner. They're going to see more skin in your movies, and on your cable channels.

RIAA poised to kill Internet radio

Do you listen to internet radio? I listen regularly to Aural Moon, "the net's progressive rock garden."

But I fear the time to listen to Internet radio may be short if the money-grubbing vermin at the RIAA get their way. They've successfully lobbied the Copyright Office to let them charge Internet radio stations exorbitant rates - much higher than those paid by broadcast and satellite radio stations, which have far larger audiences. In other words, you can play a song for millions of listeners for one price, or for hundreds or thousands of listeners for a higher price - and in many cases the more than ten-fold increase makes the royalties more than the stations' total revenues.

There's still time (only just) to change this and save Internet radio. The move has gotten some attention in Congress. It deserves more. Call or write your representative.

Dubya sings U2!

Georgie Porgie shows us how hip he is. Go on with your bad self, Dub.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cardinals come back, reach Big East semis

The "instant rivalry" between Louisville and West Virginia, born less than two years ago, got a new chapter tonight.

The rivalry was born in the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA tournament, when Louisville - champions in their last season with Conference USA, and about to join West Virginia in the Big East - made an unlikely comeback from 21 points down in the first half and ten points behind with six minutes to play, to win it in overtime and deprive WVU of their first Final Four berth since 1959.

In the fall of the same year, the Mountaineers pulled off an equally unlikely comeback on the gridiron, overcoming a 24-7 third-quarter deficit to defeat the Cardinals 46-44 in triple overtime.

Last fall the Cards returned the favor, upsetting then #3 West Virginia en route to U of L's first Big East football championship and BCS bowl appearance.

Tonight it looked like it would be West Virginia's turn. Behind by 17 points in the second half, the 'Neers scored 18 straight points to take their first lead of the game, and it was nip and tuck from there through the end of the second half. West Virginia scored what appeared to be the winning basket with 4.3 seconds left, but Louisville freshman Edgar Sosa had other plans. He took the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the court, split three defenders at the foul line, and hit a layup to send the game to overtime.

Five minutes later it was tied again, but the Cards took over in the second extra frame to win going away, 82-71.

This is a very special Louisville team. Picked 6th in the Big East before the start of the season, they appeared at one point to be in jeopardy of being quite a bit worse. Their injury-plagued 7-4 start included losses to Dayton and Massachusetts. They lost at home to a sub-par Kentucky team by as many points (12) as they beat tiny Bellarmine.

They hit bottom with back-to-back conference losses to Villanova and Georgetown in February. The latter, Louisvlle's 13th straight loss to a ranked opponent, dropped them to 16-8 overall and 6-4 in the Big East, casting considerable doubt on their post-season prospects and spoiling the night they christened the Freedom Hall floor "Denny Crum Court."

They haven't lost a game since.

They got back on the winning track with a blowout at home over South Florida, then won by 13 at #5 Pittsburgh. Next up was 12th-ranked Marquette, who had dispatched the Cards with relative ease at Freedom Hall in January. The Cardinals got up off the mat three times to take this one and break into the AP Top 25 for the first time this season, at #20. The Cards closed out the season with three more wins and entered the Big East tourney as the #2 seed, with their AP ranking improving to #12.

Tomorrow night, Pitt will be looking for revenge. If the Cardinals clear that hurdle, Georgetown or Notre Dame will be waiting in the finals. I don't like to jinx my team with brazen predictions, but there is something about this bunch I just can't resist. It says here Louisville will win the Big East tournament championship, and take a top-ten ranking to the big dance.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

This is just too funny

Jon Stewart and Al Franken between them couldn't have made this up...


Ever wonder why people who get their information about the world from Fox News are demonstrably more ignorant than people who get their news elsewhere?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Swiss invade Lichtenstein!

Mother Jones Blog called this "without question, the best story of the day." Abandoning years of neutrality, the Swiss accidentally invaded the tiny principality of Lichtenstein when a (badly needed, I guess) training operation went off course and the troops marched about a mile over the unmarked border.

Various punch lines are among the reader comments at Wonkette.

Now that's what I call fine print

I saw a banner ad on a college sports website today. It was animated, as far too many web ads are. It said:

Book the NCAA® Final Four® Package

And then it said:

Your Chance to Randomly Win VIP Seats to the 2008 NCAA® Men's Final Four®


The NCAA® Final Four® Package Starting From $89

Then came the fine print. There's a representative sample above; click on it for a look at the whole thing in actual size.

This is wrong on so many levels.

First, "final four" is a descriptive term for the semifinals of a single-elimination bracket tournament. How could the NCAA get away with registering it as a trademark? (They also claim trademarks on such phrases as "The Road to Atlanta" and "The Road to San Antonio.")

Second, why does an organization whose "purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount," need to register the abbreviation of its name as a commercial trademark?

And finally, how does anybody get away with the obfuscation of so much legally required information? It's bad enough when they put misleading commercials on TV that show paragraphs of fine-print disclosures for fractions of a second, so that you have to record and freeze them in order to read them. This stuff isn't legible at all, no matter how much time you have to look at it!

As near as I can make out, it says:
By entering this contest, you sign over to the sponsors the right to use your likeness and name for any purpose they choose, without compensation to you of any kind. No purchase is necessary to enter, because we're not allowed to require that, but we're figuring you won't bother reading this notice and will fork over $89 for about $50 worth of goods and services plus a minuscule chance of winning tickets to next year's national championship. Speaking of minuscule chances, the exact odds depend on the number of entries, but our reliable estimates say that you have about as much chance of winning the grand prize as you have of spitting off the top of the Empire State Building and hitting a Coke can on the sidewalk two blocks away; otherwise you won't get anything worth the annoying spam you'll receive for the next five years by virtue of having established a "relationship" with us by taking this bait, other than the dubious value of this overpriced "package."
Whatever it says, I'm sure they put that fine print there because they're legally required to, and not because they actually want you to read it. But if they're required to show it, shouldn't they be required to make it legible? There's no way this is in compliance with the spirit, if even the letter, of whatever laws or regulations require that they show it in the first place. But do you think the FTC, or whatever government agency supposedly enforces such regulations, will call them on it? Yeah. Me neither.

By the way, I tried clicking the "Package details" button in the ad. It led to a Radisson Hotels website that was "temporarily closed for maintenance." Go figure.