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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Torture, It's Not So Bad

"It took less than twenty minutes to break me and five minutes later I was on my feet and I was fine."

Uh huh. I guess that depends on your definition of "fine."

Reminds me of this story I read in the Washington Post.
Asked by one interviewer whether the United States is winning the war in Iraq, Pace replied: "You have to define 'winning.'"
Um, good point, dude. At least General Pace provides a rudimentary, if not quite eloquent, definition.
"Winning, to me, is simply having each of the nations that we're trying to help have a secure environment inside of which their government and people can function."
So now that we have that out of the way, I guess we should get back to answering the original question...

Anyways, I'm sure I've said it before, but Joe Scarborough is fucking awesome.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm No Jimmy Page, but...

You might remember why I don't sing karaoke. (And if you don't, this is why.)

This is why I'm not in a band. (Big file...but it's worth it.)

The Collection Grows

My belt buckle collection has had some recent additions as of late. The most recent being the nifty scorpion buckle in the picture below. (Scorpios rule, bitches!)
The US buckle I got in Texas, and I had my choice between US and CSA. Guess where my sympathies lie.

The Colorado buckle is actually quite lame, and a little rusted I think, but it was only a couple bucks, so what the hell?

World War II was so long ago even I don't remember it, so it's a little funny that I have a WWII Remembered buckle...but I still get chills when I see that famous shot of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. Now I can wear it on a belt...and get chills any time I want.

Here's another buckle that I bought, but haven't received. The irony is that I don't have a Fender guitar. (Blue is an Ibanez and Tiffany, which I've officially given to my nephew, is a Washburn.) But I've always had a soft spot for pin-up girls, especially ones riding guitars.
Next on my list...this one, which I've been holding off buying because it'll cost me over $25. It'll probably be the last one I buy for a while because, well, my belt buckle budget only goes so far.
But it is awesome, don't you think?

AFC West

Bill Williamson makes the case that the AFC West (the Broncos' division) is the "best" division this year, with three out of four teams having winning records. Williamson may be biased, since he also covers the Broncos beat for the Denver Post, but he also has a front row seat. I myself am biased because I support the Broncos, no matter who they're playing.

But I think the facts stand for themselves. With the San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders, and my beloved Broncos, the AFC West might not be the "best" division, but it's perennially one of the most competitive.

Consider this: In my 30 years on this planet, and the last 30 years period, the AFC West has been represented in the Super Bowl 10 times. They've even won a couple.

The best? Yeah, I'd say so.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dobson is a Big Fat Liar

When it comes to Dr. James Dobson, a thinking man isn't sure what to believe. After quitting Ted Haggard's "restoration" team, he said this:
Emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help - but the reality is I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility.
You can take Dobson at his word, believing he genuinely wanted to help his friend, but because of scheduling issues, he just can't.

Or you can look through the words and see what I see: blatant dishonesty.

If Haggard's "restoration" really was a "critical responsibility," wouldn't Dobson make time for him? If Dobson really was "emotionally and spiritually" committed to helping Haggard give up his gayness, wouldn't that also give him cause to rearrange his schedule so he can "help" the man?

Of course, I can't really blame Dobson for being a stone-faced liar. It's not like he could come right out and say, "Haggard is a gay man and God made him that way, so there's nothing really left to restore, except his post in the church," or "Being too closely associated with Haggard could damage my credibility in the religious right-wing movement, so I'm trying to put some distance between us."

Oh no! Expecting honesty from religious leaders is expecting too much.

Dobson's Bible must say something like this: "Thou shall not lie...unless it serves your purpose."

What's Wrong With Connecticut?

I know Lieberman supported the war, but he's still a liberal. His Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont, is also a liberal.

Between the two of them, they got 90% of the vote. Their Republican challenger got the other 10%.

What's that say for modern GOP conservatism in the Constitution State?

Rumsfeld Must...Rumsfeld IS Gone!

Less than 24 hours after Republicans lost five seats in the Senate and twenty-seven seats in the House, Rumsfeld resigns. This a week after Bush said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay until the end of his presidency. This about six months after Bush said he was the decider on Rumsfeld and that Rummy was doing a fine job.

What a difference an election makes.

The "official" reason?
Bush says he and Rumsfeld agreed that "the timing is right for new leadership" at the Pentagon.
And yet a week ago, the timing was wrong.

Perhaps it was the Military Times saying Rumsfeld Must Go.

Perhaps it was voters kicking Santorum, Talent, and DeWine out of the Senate. (Even moderate Chafee was kicked to the curb.) Perhaps it was Hayworth, Pombo, Johnson, Shaw, Chocola, Hostettler, Sodrel, Ryun, Northrup, Gutknecht, Bass, Sweeney, Taylor, Hart, the hated Weldon, and the adulterous Sherwood losing their Republican incumbencies.

Because we certainly know it wasn't because of Rumsfeld's performance, which up until, oh, last night the President was quite happy with.

Updated:

I spent this morning watching Beowulf and Grendel, not scrolling through the political blogs, so I just came across this post on Crooks and Liars, eerily reminiscent of my own.

Either I'm a shameless cribber or the irony of this sudden change is so self-evident that I'm not the only one who senses it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Are You a Man or a Chipmunk?

If this chipmunk can handle it, what's wrong with these dumb cops? They got some burgers at a drive-thru and found they were spiked with marijuana. Then they proceeded to go to a hospital for an evaluation, where presumably the doctor said, "Um, sorry to tell you this, Mr. Landavazo and Mr. Gabaldon...but you are high."

And what idiot gives free pot to cops? Make em pay for that shit just like everyone else.

Random Thoughts

Since it's Tuesday and there's no football on, we're watching the election results on CNN on the video wall tonight. It hasn't exactly been riveting television, but CNN threw a blog party (and I'm quite annoyed I wasn't invited), covered by beauties Abbi Tatton and Jackie Schechner.

Bob Cesca is live blogging from there, so I asked him to get me Jackie's number. She's looking particularly yummy tonight in her tight jeans and leather jacket. Jackie, you free this weekend?

Speaking of yummy, Alexandra Steele from the weather channel is wearing this belt that looks like it has a handle on it. Is that for me? I'm all for easy access, baby, but a handle??

In other important election news today, Kevin Federline loses his seat as the weight around Britney's neck. I didn't see that coming. Maybe she was worried about his music career overshadowing her own.

In an unusual occurrence, a friend of mine had something nice to say about me earlier today. She got caught up on my Poets Row novel-in-progress and fell in love with this passage:
As the purple sky shifted to a dark blue that faded into orange way off in the horizon, I smoked cigarette after cigarette. I drained my coffee, but didn’t go in for more. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to sit there and heal and watch morning after morning stream across my yard.
She even proposed. I would have said yes, but she insisted I'd have to lose my king-size waterbed.

DAMN. So I just saw a report that shows the marijuana amendement is failing...big time! What the fuck is wrong with these people? They vote no for marijuana, but redundant laws like "defining marriage as between one man and one woman" get passed. I think this whole state needs to smoke more dope and skip more church.
In other news, Bill Ritter (a Democrat) is going to be the next Colorado governor. I shook Bill Ritter's hand (although he was too busy ogling the crowd to make eye contact with me) at the gay pride parade. I didn't vote for him because of that hand shake. But I did vote for him because he came out (no pun intended) to the gay pride parade. Bob Beauprez wouldn't be caught dead at a gay event.

Stem Cells

When you're losing the battle, change the subject. This is what passes for wisdom in our current national debate. Or so it seems...

A recent post about religion somehow turned into a referendum on stem cell research, and an otherwise intelligent commenter had this to say:
(A)gain, you don't appear to understand the issue. 1)Yes it does, the gov't does fund research on embryonic stem cells. and 2)Those are not the only kind of stem cells upon which research can be performed.
Neglecting the accusations (insults?) of ignorance for a moment, let me just point out that these two statements are true.

But like the seemingly dead Wesley in A Princess Bride, they are just mostly true. In other words, they are merely truthy.

The first part is true, because the government does fund embryonic stem cell research. With restrictions. First of all, the embryo must have been created prior to August of 2001, secondly, it must be a left over from an attempt to have a child, and finally, the embryo must have all the neccesary paperwork in line that shows informed consent had been given.

At first glance, you might say, well, hell, man, that's not so bad. Only three criteria, and you get all the funding you want. The only problem with that is that there are about 22 embryonic stem cell lines in existence that meet that criteria, and since we can't travel back in time to, say, July of 2001, we're not getting any more. And the funding is far from unlimited. There's $90 million dollars out there to use on these federally funded lines, and though that sounds like a lot, it's a drop in the federal budget bucket.

Contrast that with the $3 billion California is willing to spend.

That's why when you read about this issue in the papers, you hear the phrase "effectively" banned. President Bush didn't forbid embryonic stem cell research outright; he just handcuffed it and now feeds it scraps. And while this allows one to say "the government funds research on embryonic stem cells," it omits the whole story.

It's almost like saying that if the Feds give the Smith family of Pocatello, Idaho some government cheese, then they "feed the poor."

The second part of my commenters point, that embryonic stem cells aren't the only stem cells that can be studied is also truthy in the sense that there are several types of stem cells, one of them being the adult stem cell.

It just so happens that the embryonic stem cell is better.

Let's consult the NIH for more:
There are currently several limitations to using adult stem cells. Although many different kinds of multipotent stem cells have been identified, adult stem cells that could give rise to all cell and tissue types have not yet been found. Adult stem cells are often present in only minute quantities and can therefore be difficult to isolate and purify. There is also evidence that they may not have the same capacity to multiply as embryonic stem cells do. Finally, adult stem cells may contain more DNA abnormalities—caused by sunlight, toxins, and errors in making more DNA copies during the course of a lifetime. These potential weaknesses might limit the usefulness of adult stem cells.
In other words, adult stem cells are less ethically challenged, but they've got other problems: such as, embryonic stem cells have more potential.

And really, that's what stem cell research, embryonic or otherwise, is all about: potential. Stem cells have the potential to turn into other cells. Stem cell research has the potential to change modern medicine. It seems the obvious choice would be the path with the most potential.

Feeble technicalities like those from my commenter may work in the pages of Reason magazine, but they inhibit that potential and serve only to further confuse the issue.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Freedom

Ah, election day. Remember, don't vote for Republicans. Vote for America.

And watch this video:
Like it or not, these are the images that will define the Bush era.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam A Go Go

While I'm not surprised Saddam was sentenced to death, I am surprised that they are going to hang him. When I think of hangings, I think of Western ghost towns and posses, or worse, bonfires, white sheets, and a good ole down home country lynching.

I suppose you could think of the Nazi war criminals that were hanged, or even some infamous murderers. The Clutter killers come to mind, but perhaps that's only because their lives became so entwined with Capote's.

Think about this. The last hanging in Russia, formerly the Evil Empire (home of the gulag and mankiller Stalin), was in 1946. The UK got on board in 1955. In the US, the last hanging was in 1996.

Nowadays, where a lethal injection can make you go to sleep and never wake up, hanging seems too barbaric and unneccesary. They should just "destroy" him like a sick old dog. The doctor comes out to tell you its done, and you never see Snoopy again. You cry a little bit, then you get a new dog.

But if they hang him, and we see pictures of Saddam on the hangman's roost with a black bag over his head, or of his lifeless body dangling from the end of a rope, or his corpse laid out all gray on an autopsy table, what good will that do? It's not like he'll be less dead if they inject him.

If anything it shows they are humane killers, like us Americans.

As it stands, a hanging just seems to reinforce the view that evil has been unleashed in the sands of old Babylon and it will infect us all!

Sam Harris on Religion

To prolong the debate from a few posts ago, Sam Harris has more on religion. The part I found relevant to the discussion is this:
Religion is the one area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give good evidence and valid arguments in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet these beliefs regularly determine what they live for, what they will die for and—all too often—what they will kill for. Consequently, we are living in a world in which millions of grown men and women can rationalize the violent sacrifice of their own children by recourse to fairy tales. We are living in a world in which millions of Muslims believe that there is nothing better than to be killed in defense of Islam. We are living in a world in which millions of Christians hope to soon be raptured into the stratosphere by Jesus so that they can safely enjoy a sacred genocide that will inaugurate the end of human history. In a world brimming with increasingly destructive technology, our infatuation with religious myths now poses a tremendous danger. And it is not a danger for which more religious faith is a remedy.
I'm not so rabidly atheistic as Harris is, but I agree with him on this count.

I think the key point, specifically, is this:
Religion is the one area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give good evidence and valid arguments in defense of their strongly held beliefs.
Why is that, I wonder?

Click-Click Boom

If there is one man who deserves have his hunting license revoked, it is Dick Cheney, who will be celebrating election day at a private hunting lodge in South Dakota. New rule: If you're a wreckless asshole, you should not be allowed to handle loaded weapons. Here's hoping he doesn't hurt anyone, or himself.

Burned

While surfing the internet this morning, I came across a live performance from the reconstituted Rollins Band. It made me think, wow, at 45 years of age, Rollins still has it.

The song also made me think of a friend of mine whose memory of being dumped is a lot more recent than mine. (See the complaints below about Halloween.) This song, bootlegged though it may be, speaks to some of the feelings you get when you're dumped. Take it away, Henry.

Burned Beyond Recognition


I like you, but I don't like you
I want you, but I don't want you
I need you, but I don't need you

I am one time, I am right now, I am what's left, I am right now
I touched you, but I don't touch you
I feel you, but I don't feel you
I know you, but I don't know you

I am one time, I am right here, I am what's keft, I am right here
I remain burned beyond recognition
I remain burned beyond recognition

I like you, but you don't like me
I want you, but you don't want me
I need you, but you don't need me

I am one time, I am right here, I am what's left, I am right now
You touch me, but you don't touch me
You feel me, but you don't feel me
You know me, but you don't know me
I am one time, I am right here, I am what's left, I am right now
I remain burned beyond recognition

Oh Hell No

I cribbed this from Kerpupples, and for the record, I disagree with every frigging word.
You Are Most Like George W. Bush

So what if you're not exactly popular? You still rule the free world.
And while you may be quite conservative now, you knew how to party back in the day!

Poets Row

Have you been to the Poets Row page lately? No? Me either, but I hear it's changed a little.

(Doesn't that thing have just the worst opening sentence ever? Good thing it's just a first draft.)

The Winter of My Discontent

Ah, the weekend. Two fleeting days to get everything you didn't do during the week done. This weekend I intended to clean my house...again...but never actually made it to the cleaning stage. I'm going to have to hire a maid, I swear. It's not that I'm a slob. It's just that there's a certain amount of mess that I'm willing to tolerate before I'm compelled to clean it up.

I did however put the finishing touches on the garden, hacking out all the withered growth, collecting wilted flowertops for next year's crop, getting all the good dirt from my small pots in one spot, heaping together all the compostables behind the shed. I even painted two of my tires. I've still got a lot of work before next year's growing season, not least is the construction of a fence and more garden beds.

I feel like Oskar Schindler with my garden beds. "More, more, more!"

Beyond that, my Mom came over with a year's supply of toilet paper (CostCo is good for such things) and my birthday present, which this year is an all expenses paid trip to a "spiritual intuitive." She's been a few times and has been surprised at how on the psychic...er, sorry, spiritual intuitive was. Last time she went, she asked about me and the psychic...er, spiritual intuitive, I mean, said that I was in line to meet a perky girl and that it might involve settling down, maybe, and some kids.

Of course, my response upon hearing this news was, "I need a name and a phone number." But apparently this information isn't available in the spiritual nether.

I'm skeptical, of course, regarding most psychics as a cross between the Amazing Kreskin and Carnac, but it should be interesting.

And yes, my birthday is this week. It's always a mere two weeks after Halloween, and nearly always depressing. Unlike most people, I find the last two months of the year to be a downer, not least because of its filled with holidays like Halloween, my birthday (a holiday for me), Thanksgiving, Christmas, yadda yadda yadda.

First of all, it's winter. Winter is depressing. The days are short, the air is cold, the colors are gray and dull. I don't like it. If I were independently wealthy, you wouldn't see me this time of year. I'd be in Brazil, soaking up the rays, or down in Australia putting another shrimp on the barbie. Somewhere in the southern hemisphere, somwhere warm, with plants growing and lots of unfiltered sunlight.

The other thing is all the holidays. Halloween lost its luster for me a couple years ago, when I was brutally dumped a few days afterwards. Ever since then, when the leaves start turning and the pumpkins come out, it takes me back to that time and let me just say its not a pleasant journey. This year my only form of celebration was going to a haunted house, and while that was fun, that was enough Halloween for me. I didn't dress up, didn't go to any parties, didn't even buy candy for the little ones.

I also had to work, which is also why Thanksgiving and Christmas are also on my shit list. It's been several since I've had either of those holidays off, and this year will be no different. You can't really enjoy Thanksgiving dinner knowing you have to eat up and then go to work. It's actually depressing. Same for Christmas.

As for my birthday. Blah. I'm turning 30 this year, which I hear can actually be done without a certain amount of self-examination, but me being me, I'm not letting this milestone pass without a good hard look at myself. I'm nowhere near where I thought I'd be when I turned 30.

My book, unfinished. All the stories I have swirling in my head, unwritten. My personal life, practically nonexistant since starting this bizzaro world schedule. I'm not saying I wish I was married with children, but I thought I'd at least have a girlfriend. I need to quit smoking and the sooner the better. I still haven't made it overseas. Still haven't gone to Macchu Picchu. So many dreams, yet unfulfilled.

And while turning 30 doesn't mean the end of these dreams, they do serve as a healthy reminder that hey, ten years is shorter than you think and you better get on it, buddy.