Friday, February 24, 2006

Judge with 3 wives kicked off bench

I don't get this. I understand that in many cases, the way polygamy is practiced by these fundamentalist Mormons is misogynistic, and the ones you hear about always seem to be nutjobs. But I don't understand how the state gets away with criminalizing polygamy when only one of the marriages was done legally. Whose business is it what non-legal living arrangements people have? If a man and three women (or three men and a woman, for that matter) want to form a relationship, the state should stay out of it. I fully support the rights of people to form polyamorous relationships. The state has no business meddling in people's relationships, especially those people who haven't asked the state for anything.

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Caple: Silver lining

I hate the Olympics. If people like these sports so much, why don't they watch them the rest of the time? If you can go four years in between watching a curling match(?), then you're not a curling fan. And if you're not a curling fan, then why do you want to watch it during the Olympics? Anyway, one of the things that is increasingly irritating me this year, is how people almost seem to expect these athletes to apologize if they don't win a gold medal. I'm all for having high expectations, and striving to be the best, but people need to realize that winning any medal is an accomplishment, especially in some of these individual sports where the difference is a 10th of a second, or someone's judgment or a barely perceptible slip somewhere. I haven't watched a second of the Olympics this year, but somehow I still can't seem to get away from them, and most of what I hear is about some athlete who should have done better. Give these guys a break.*

Now, I just wish these things would end so I can watch My Name is Earl, and The Office again. Oh, and The West Wing.

* Not the 2004 Men's Basketball team, they deserve every bit of criticism they get. That was a miserale performance, and every member of that team should be ashamed of themselves. I wonder how long they had to roll around in their piles of money before the shame wore off from that.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Drives to ban gay adoption heat up in 16 states

As a strong proponent of gay rights, you would think I would be bothered by this article. But I actually think it's good news. It is really great to see that 16 states have solved all their problems when it comes to children and families to such an extent that they can move on from them to this issue. Sure, I don't agree with any bans on gay adoption, but it's good to know that they have time to worry about it, because that means that obviously there are no children in those states who need homes, or who are in abusive or otherwise unhealthy homes. You would think that 16 states having elimintated all these common problems would have made the news, or would have at least been mentioned in this article, but somehow I missed it. Anyway, good for these states for fixing all those problems, even if I don't agree with where they have decided to focus all the resources that used to go to those needy children.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe

Why would the White House want to avoid an investigation? I mean, if they haven't done anything wrong, they shouldn't have anything to hide, right?

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Austria sentences Irving to 3 years

This is an incredibly stupid story all the way around. First of all, I've never understood these holocaust denial people. What kind of evidence do they need, exactly? When there are still people around that remember what happened, it shouldn't be much of a debate. In a hundred years or so, I could understand how people might be more skeptical of any given historical subject. But now? I don't get it. Also, though, I don't get the people who get all upset about people who deny the holocaust. While I recognize that if everyone shared their views, they would effectively be changing history for future generations, I don't see any evidence to suggest that there is much chance of that happening. Anytime I see anything about one of these people, it's mostly just to dismiss them as crackpots. So, I'm not sure why any one person's opinion of anything would be something to get so worked up over, especially to the point of passing laws against it, even if it is something of such importance. It also seems a bit odd to me that anyone so profoundly affected by a facist dictatorship that they would even want to make this law, wouldn't be able to see the irony before they actually passed the law. You can't force people to think a certain way, nor should you. silencing them just makes it look like there's something to what they're saying that you don't want people to hear. the best way to make sure people come to the proper conclusions is to let them hear all the evidence, even if it doesn't support the right conclusion.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

What Is the Value of Algebra?

This column may be the stupidest thing I've ever read. I'm not saying math, or algebra is for everyone, but to suggest that it's not important simply because it doesn't apply to this guy's particular line of work is ridiculous. Let's look at some of this:

The L.A. school district now requires all students to pass a year of algebra and a year of geometry in order to graduate. This is something new for Los Angeles (although 17 states require it) and it is the sort of vaunted education reform that is supposed to close the science and math gap and make the U.S. more competitive. All it seems to do, though, is ruin the lives of countless kids. In L.A., more kids drop out of school on account of algebra than any other subject. I can hardly blame them.

Well, I don't blame them either. Obviously, if something is hard, the best solution is just to give up. that's an important lesson for kids to learn. If you can't do it, don't try. Hey, I have an idea, let's just not teach them anything at all, then there will be nothing to challenge them, and if they're not challenged, they won't fail, and if they don't fail, they will all be happy (if stupid).

I let others go on to intermediate algebra and trigonometry while I busied myself learning how to type. In due course, this came to be the way I made my living. Typing: Best class I ever took.

Well, good for you. Now, if I was bad at typing, and just couldn't do it, do you think I should drop out of school? Some of those others probably went on to careers where they do use math, but I bet not many of them waste their time writing forumulas that show that journalism is stupid.

Here's the thing, Gabriela: You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it.

So, since you've never used it, then no one needs to know it, right? Well, I've never written a column for The Washington Post, does that mean that I should discourage students from being able to do it? It may surprise you, but different people excel in different areas.

Most of math can now be done by a computer or a calculator. On the other hand, no computer can write a column or even a thank-you note -- or reason even a little bit. If, say, the school asked you for another year of English or, God forbid, history, so that you actually had to know something about your world, I would be on its side. But algebra? Please.

Up until here, I could dismiss this whole column as something written by someone who doesn't get math, and is trying to empathize with someone else who doesn't get it either. But this part just shows what a complete and utter moron this guy is. Math is done by computers and calculators. Computers and calculators (and the programming required to make them work) are apparently created by simply wishing them into existence, or maybe some kind of magic pixie dust, I'm not sure. Let's see would I rather have a world without thank you notes, or a world without computers? Hmmm, tough choice. Ok, that's harsh, I actually believe that English and History are very valuable, even if I'm better at math, it's a shame that this guy can apparently only appreciate things that he is good at uses to make his living.

Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers. Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not. The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a readable English sentence. I can cite Shelly, whose last name will not be mentioned, who aced algebra but when called to the board in geography class, located the Sahara Desert right where the Gobi usually is. She was off by a whole continent.

Wow, a whole lot wrong with this part. First, math does teach reasoning. If he had learned any math, he may have been able to reason his way to several conclusions that would be helpful to him. First, that just because he isn't good at something doesn't mean it isn't important to others, or that it isn't important in general. Also, he could have reasoned that some writing may be great, some math may be great, some math may suck, and certainly some writing sucks. One is not inherently better than the other, and they're apples and oranges anyway. There is no competition between the two. Finally, he may have reasoned that pointing out someone who sucks at geography but is good at math doesn't really illustrate anything. I could just as easily say math is better than writing because Richard Cohen who writes for the Washington Post, sucks at math. It doesn't make any sense. People are good at different things, that doesn't make one any better than the other. Also, I would rather be well rounded and know more about everything, than be some snob who picks one thing that he likes and decides everything else is beneath him. I can identify the sahara desert, write reasonably well, AND I'm good at math.

I am not anti-algebra. It has its uses, I suppose, and I think it should be available for people who want to take it. Maybe students should even be compelled to take it, but it should not be a requirement for graduation.

Ridiculous. If he's not good at it, it shouldn't be required. So, what if some mathematician says that english isn't important, do we scrap that too? Or make it available, but not required? Maybe we should just let kids pick what they would like to be able to do to graduate, that'll probably work well.

Almost 20 years ago, I wrote a similar column about algebra. Math teachers struck back with a vengeance. They made so many claims for algebra's intrinsic worth that I felt, as I once had in class, like a dummy.

Maybe you felt that way for good reason.

Still, in the two decades since, I have lived a pretty full life and never, ever used -- or wanted to use -- algebra.

I guarantee you that there are plenty of people on this planet who have lived a pretty full life without ever learning to read. Is that an excuse not to teach it, or require it in schools? Of course not. Maybe he would understand that if he'd ever learned anything that would teach him reasoning or logic.

Link via Shakespeare's Sister, who thinks he may have a learning disability, but I don't give him that much credit, I think he's just a moron.

Posted by 13 comments

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I hate stupid nicknames

It seems that everyone is always trying to come up with clever nicknames for everything all the time. This irritates me. I don't know why. I guess because I'd rather you just call the thing or person or whatever by its real name, then make whatever comment you think the clever nickname makes separately. Also, I don't think they would bother me as much if any of them were at all original, but they always seem to be overused, and then just make me think that someone is just trying to sound clever when they actually are just copying something they saw or heard somewhere else.

Now, specifically, I'm talking about nicknames for political figures. Like Chimperor, Shrub, and Darth Cheney or mAnn Coulter, the Governator, Slick Willie, things like that. But that's just because I read a lot of blogs. It also bothers me when people do this for tv shows, like Press the Meat (although, I did find it funny when I read a Rude Pundit post, which referred to Hardball as My Balls are Hard) or stations, like FAUX News, or stores like Tar-jay and Wally World, or restaurants like Pizza Slut or Taco Hell, or companies like MicroShaft, or AOHell.

Another reason that this bothers me is that while people seem to come up with a never ending supply of stupid nicknames that annoy me, but the one place where I think nicknames are great seems to be all out of good ones. In sports these days, you won't find a decent nickname like, The Bambino, The Iron Horse, The Admiral, The Say Hey Kid, The Round Mound of Rebound, Crazy Legs, or even a Prime Time. Now, all the nicknames are directly realted to the person's name, King James, KG, AI, TO, A-Rod, crap like that. Even when you find a half decent one here or there, Big Diesel or The Answer, it's one the person gave themself. I should also note that as much as I like a few of Chris Berman's nicknames (Like Eric Slepping with Bienemy), most of them suck, and again, they're all related to the person's name, even if more creatively. And his all time worst, that I couldn't stand everytime I heard it: Thermal Thomas. I don't even know what it's supposed to mean, and it sounds stupid anyway.

So what are some nicknames that you guys like or hate? Anyone think of any good current sports ones that are eluding me? I know there must be a few, but they're never commonly used anymore. Anyone care to defend the use of nicknames for political figures? I know a lot of the people I read use them, so I'm probably alone in my hatred. But please, no one try to defend using Tar-jay or Taco Hell, or my opinion of you will immeadiately plummet.

Posted by 14 comments

Johari Window

Toast linked to this and it's not the kind of thing I'd usually do, but since my wife is always telling me I'm completely different online than I am in real life, I think it might be interesting to see the differences between people who know me in real life and people who just know me online. So, go on over and pick what you think are the six most salient aspects of my personality.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Takes Full Responsibility for Shooting Hunter

Well, break out the Medals of Freedom. Cheney is taking full responsibility for something that he clearly did, and was clearly his fault. Wow! What a guy. I guess in this era of taking responsibility for absolutely nothing, where Cheney and his boss are leading the charge for the government's Department of No Accountability, this is somewhat noteable. But that it is is kind of sad.

I really don't care what Cheney says about this incident. Especially publicly. I've heard people demanding that he explain himself, or apologize, or whatever, but I just don't care. I think it would be nice if he apologized to the guy directly, and paid his medical bills. That's just the kind of thing you should do for a friend, but then that's if you're a nice guy, and I've never thought that Cheney might be one of those. Anyway, as far as what he says publicly about the incident, the reporting of it, the timeline, or whatever, I don't really care. There are so many more fucked up things that he has had a hand in, and I'd really rather he find some time to make some of those right rather than waste time apologizing for something that didn't have anything to do with anyone who is demanding he apologize. Of course, it's not like he's going to do anything worthwhile either way. I just wish people cared half as much about the loss of their civil liberties or torture, or war, or corruption as they did about making fun of the Vice President for shooting a the face.*

* Not to say that it isn't funny.**
** As long as the guy is ok.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Man Wounded by Cheney Has Minor Heart Attack

Upon learning ths news, Cheney was heard to remark, "Heart attack Schmeart attack, I have those for breakfast." Cheney then explained that the man better live because he owes him for the ammunition Cheney wasted in his face.

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Popular Ohio Democrat Drops Out of Race, and Perhaps Politics

That sucks. The democrats finally find a guy who is able to clearly articulate what he believes, and stand behind it. And they manage to fuck it up. Way to go!

Posted by 8 comments

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hunter Shot by Cheney Is 'Very Stable'

Am I the only one who thinks that Harry Whittington took one for the team? I've long been convinced that the Bush administration's political strategy is to have so many scandals that the media and the public can't stay focused on any one long enough to do any damage (there's a post here somewhere about it, but I'm too lazy to look it up). So, maybe with the eavesdropping story lasting longer than they had anticipated, Cheney saw an oppurtunity while hunting to shift the focus a little bit, and took it. Any coverage devoted to his hunting prowess is coverage that takes away from people unhappy with the administration.

Ok, so I don't really believe that he shot the guy on purpose (as noted in my last post, I just think he's an idiot), but it is awfully convenient how these idiots always seem to fuck up something new right around the time the last thing they fucked up is really getting noticed.

Posted by 3 comments

How Did Dick Cheney Break the No.1 Rule of Hunting?

I'm not entirely sure, but my guess would be that it has something to do with him being a fucking idiot.

Oh, and not giving a shit about anyone except himself probably contributed as well.

Posted by 5 comments

Friday, February 10, 2006

Upon Further Review...: Survivor: Exile Island

Testing backlinks

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Survivor: Exile Island

New Rule (yes I stole that from Bill Maher): If you go on a reality show, you're not allowed to bitch about missing your family. Not that it's unusual to miss your family when away from them for an extended period of time. If I had to leave my family for over a month, I would miss them a lot. However, I have a simple solution to this problem; I don't go on reality TV shows. It works out pretty well, and it's not that hard to do.

Oh, and speaking of Survivor, if they're just going to show that one girl's boobs all the time, maybe they should call it: Survivor: Cleavage Island.

Posted by 3 comments

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Amidst flurry of Bush attacks, Feingold hits Congress wiretaps: 'Congress has lost its way'

Russ Feingold very clearly and eloquently disputes everything the administration has said about its bullshit wiretapping program. Sadly, no one will know about it since they just arrested some guy that killed his wife. Anyway, it's kind of long, so let me summarize it for you:

George Bush is full of shit.

That's about he jist of it. Not that that's really news to anyone, but it's nice to see someone in Congress who isn't afeaid to say it, and clearly tell us why. Feingold makes me ashamed of my Senators.

Posted by 2 comments

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Guantanamo's Grip

I came across this link over at Shakes' place. It's not that there's anything really new in this piece, it just a well-written article that nicely points out most of the problems with the Bush administration's treatment of so-called 'enemy combatants'. It's very interesting and horrifying to read the story of detainee 032, Farouq Ali Ahmed. Neatly illustrated are the pitfalls involved in the way these people were identified and detained in the first place, the dubious methods used to gather evidence against them, and the injustice of military tribunals which answer to no one but the president.

What sticks out to me in all this is the importance of due process. Everyone is entitled, by virtue of being a human being, to due process. It doesn't matter where you're born, what your religion is, who you hate, who you love, what you've done or what you're planning to do. Due process means being subjected to and protected by the rule of law - codified, recognized law. Due process is not one hearing in front of a panel of biased judges, where your accusers have legal representation and you don't, where you can't examine the evidence against you, and there is no appeal. In any other context or country, this would be described as a kangaroo court, and Bush and all his supporters would rail against it, and call for freedom and democracy.

Now I do understand that many, if not most of the prisoners in Guantanamo are terrorists or have provable, meaningful ties to terroists. But it doesn't matter if every last one of them is 9/11-conspiring, baby-killing, al qaeda-loving mass murderer, each one of them is still entitled to due process. In reality, you know that not every one there is guilty, but there's no way for an innocent man to prove it.

Many of you will cry "Wait, these scumbags aren't state-sponsored, they're not covered by the rule of law, they're just terrorist thugs!" Fuck that shit. Maybe you've never heard of the Declaration of Independence We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This statement is fundamental to American values. That says all men, not just Americans, not just state-sponsored warriors. No, it doesn't come right out and say all men are entitled to due process, and I'm not implying that the Declaration is part of the law of the land. I'm just using the Declaration as an example of bedrock American values, values where all men are equal before the law, regardless of where they were born.

The way Bush and his buddies treat these people cheapens all of us. And it doesn't stop with foreign combatants, they're not above using these same reprehensible tactics on US citizens either, just look up Jose Padilla. A bad guy? Most likely. A criminal? Probably. Entitled to due process? Absolutely!

The bottom line is that we, as Americans, as human beings, should be above this kind of shit. Down this road lies tyranny. We should have the determination to prosecute suspected terrorists to the full extent of the law, and the resolve to stand by the principle of innocent until proven guilty. If we can't do that, or won't do that, then we ought to stop all the bitching about human rights and democracy, because until we do, we're just fucking hypocrites.

Posted by 17 comments

Bush's Social Security Sleight of Hand

Well, I guess if the more you talk about something, the more people think it sucks, the right thing to do is definitely just to try to sneak it by. This must be part of that bipartisan cooperation and solutions he was talking about during his State of the Union speech.

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John Bolton Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

What the fuck? Yeah, because when I think of Peace, the first name that comes to mind is John Bolton.

If he's such a peaceful sort, he may want to go have a word with his idiot boss.

Posted by 5 comments

Minister arrested mid-sermon

So I ran across this article about a power struggle at a little church somewhere, and I didn't find it very interesting until I got to this part at the end:

...McCants, whose sermon was touching on the television series, "The Little House on the Prairie."

Little House on the Prairie? Ok, now I know the guy deserved to be fired. A 30 year old show about a family from over a hundred years ago. Maybe they fired him because they want to replace him with Reverend Alden, who I just saw the other day in The Green Mile. I guess he's still alive, and he'd probably have a better grasp of Little House on the Prairie related sermons than McCants does.

Posted by 4 comments

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bill Nelson Sucks

So, when it came out that Kerry may try to filibuster Alito's nomination, I emailed my Senator (Bill Nelson, I don't even waste time trying with Martinez) to urge him to support the filibuster and outlined my reasons why I thought it was odd to vote against him but not vote to support the filibuster. So today, I see this response in my email:

Please do not reply to this e-mail. If you need to send another message to Senator Nelson, please use the form on his Web site:

Dear Mr. Howard:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

After thoroughly reviewing his record and meeting him, I remained concerned that he would tilt the scales of justice in favor of big government over the average person. Justice Alito is also filling an important seat on the bench. For over 20 years, Sandra Day O’Connor was a voice of moderation for the Court. I believe that Justice Alito is not the centrist jurist for this critical seat. Therefore I voted against his nomination.

I appreciate hearing your concerns. Your communications helps me serve you better in the Senate.

P.S. From time to time, I compile electronic news briefs highlighting key issues and hot topics of particular importance to Floridians. If you'd like to receive these e-briefs, visit my Web site and sign up for them at

Fuck you, Bill Nelson. If you're going to send out automated responses, the least you could do is state that it is automated, and send it out immeadiately. this came over a week afte I sent in my email. And if it isn't automated, then it's even more disturbing, since it does not in any way address what I was talking about. I can't believe I voted for this guy (and also for Governor). I won't make that mistake again. Why would I email the guy to find out what his views are? I can read that in the paper or on the internet, or any number of places. I wanted to make sure he knew what my views on the subject were, since that's what he's supposed to be doing...representing me. Asshole.

Posted by 8 comments

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Firestorm Over Cartoon Gains Momentum - New York Times

A fucking cartoon. Are you kidding me? What the fuck is wrong with people? I'm really starting to think that most people are just fucking insane. If you don't like the cartoon, then don't read it. Is it really that fucking complicated?

And if you're upset over a cartoon depicting your prophet with a bomb, I'm not sure responding with violence makes the most sense. That might just perpetuate the sterotype you are offended by.

Posted by 14 comments

Microsoft releases revamped Internet Explorer

I don't understand the browser wars. Usually, I'm pretty good with this technical stuff, but this one doesn't make sense to me. So Internet Explorer beat Netscape in the original browser wars, and now wants to keep Firefox from challenging their dominance. But why? What does a company gain from having the most used browser? I guess I can see some benefit for Firefox, just to establish themselves or something. But what does Microsoft have to gain from their browser? They're all free, so they're not making any money from selling the actual product. There are plenty of ads on the internets, but none of them are related to my browser, so they're not making any ad revenue. So what exactly is there to gain from having the most used browser? Is it just some higher goal of "control of the internets" or something? I don't get it. If everyone started using Firefox, would that cause Microsoft to lose money somehow? I would think it would help, because they wouldn't have to keep pouring money into Internet Explorer. I'm sure there's a good reason for wanting to be the top browser, but somehow, it just escapes me.

Posted by 2 comments

AT&T Allegedly Provided Customer Data To Feds

EFF points to AT&T's databases, which it says handled more than 300 million voice calls and over 4,000 terabytes (million megabytes) of data, which is about 200 times the data contained in the entire Library of Congress. It cites media reports, including a Dec. 22 Los Angeles Times story indicating that the NSA has had and continues to have direct access to the database, a proprietary tool that AT&T researchers developed and named Daytona.
emphasis mine

I'm sure that entire 4,000 terabytes is all terrorist related data, so there's nothing to worry about. I wonder how it is that you discover in all that data who is talking to a terrorist without compromising the privacy of the rest of it. Oh well, I'm sure the government is smarter than I am, so I'll just happily go along with it. They'll need to watch out for those conservatives, though. I heard once (well, it was a long time ago) that those guys don't like the government butting into their private lives.

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