Monthly Archives: October 2011

The well-marbled will be eaten first…

So as I was running this morning, chilled and slightly damp from the drizzle, I thought to myself, do I really want to be healthy?  I mean, when the Great Old Ones return from the outer realms, wouldn’t being well-marbled increase my chances of being eaten first?







Granted, I will have gone completely mad, and likely won’t be worried about such things.



Science Fiction Double Feature

Went for a run this morning and this came up on shuffle.  Ladies and gentlemen, the best goddam cover band ever.

I grow old… I grow old…

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

So I went across the street to get a sandwich from Potbelly’s, and the overly friendly behind-the-counter guy is peppering me with questions about whether I have big plans for Halloween weekend.  No, no, I don’t, I say several times.  He keeps offering me alternatives, you’re not going to X?  Or Y?  Or Z?  Finally, I say “No I’m not, but I am going to see the Damned tonight.”

Sound of screeching brakes, or crickets, as you prefer.

“The Damned?”  he says…”The Damned…?”  Uh, yes, the Damned, I say.  British Goth-Punk band?  Nevermind.  I’ll be hauling out my walker and hearing aid for the show.

Here’s a picture of Pinch, taken at the 2007 Punk Rock Bowling tournament in Vegas:



Florida judge issues injunction against unconstitutional drug-test-for-benefits law

This is very good news.  A federal judge for Florida’s Middle District, Mary Scriven, issued a temporary injunction against Florida’s unconstitutional mandatory drug-testing-for-welfare-benefits law.

In the order, she noted that the law likely violates the Fourth Amendment ban against illegal search and seizure.  The ACLU brought suit on behalf of a 35 year old Navy veteran who refused to take the test, because the state had no reason to suspect that he was using drugs.

Lebron met all the criteria for receiving welfare, but refused to submit to a drug test on the grounds that requiring him to pay for and submit to one is unreasonable when there is no reason to believe he uses drugs.

Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the measure into law on May 31, touted it as a way to ensure taxpayer money isn’t “wasted” on those who use drugs. “Hopefully more people will focus on not using illegal drugs,” he said then.

But, in her order, Scriven issued a scathing assessment of the state’s argument in favor of the drug tests, saying the state failed to prove “special needs” as to why it should conduct such searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as the law requires.

“If invoking an interest in preventing public funds from potentially being used to fund drug use were the only requirement to establish a special need,” Scriven wrote, “the state could impose drug testing as an eligibility requirement for every beneficiary of every government program. Such blanket intrusions cannot be countenanced under the Fourth Amendment.”

Other information of interest in the article is that out of over 7000 applicants, only 32 have failed the test, although 1600 have refused to take it at all.   The amount of the benefit that taking this test qualifies you for is $180/month for one person, or $364/month for a family of four.   The tests cost $25-$45, and the cost is reimbursed by the state if you pass.

Obviously, this was never about saving money.  It’s all about criminalizing and scapegoating poverty.



Laughing at the misfortune of others.

Gawker is always good for a laugh in the morning.  Yes, yes, yes, I realize that laughing at the misfortune of others is decidedly NOT NICE.  However, something about this paragraph just set me off:

The man produced a container of liquid laundry detergent, obviously, and coated his legs in it, then gently lowered them into the swing’s holes. Two bulbous clots of flesh and fat and muscle collected around the rubber bottlenecks until shwoop — he was fully installed inside the molded harness. Sure, his genitals resembled a jar of vacuum-packed olives, but at least he had proven the swing, and his friends, wrong. Pay up, guys.

Plus, he’s not stuck in it anymore.

Man Cut Out of Toddler Swing After Nine-Hour Playground Nightmare.

Dear Chicago

I just got the new Ryan Adams LP in the mail the other day.  I like it, particularly the title track, Ashes & Fire, and the first single released, Lucky You.  It isn’t my favorite, though.  I feel like his voice sounds a little different, less pure maybe?  I wonder if it has something to do with his ear condition.

Anyway, this is the Ryan Adams song I can never get enough of.

“Alternative” medicine isn’t medicine, and sometimes it’s a death sentence

I’ve been following the story of Steve Jobs’ pursuit of “alternative” treatments to his pancreatic cancer with some interest, mostly because it is an exact replica of the period of time that lead up to the death of my uncle.  Well, an exact replica except for the gigantic personal wealth and fame part….

My uncle was a chiropractor of the more traditional sort.  That is, he truly believed that he could treat and cure disease through chiropractic therapies.  This, of course, made him more likely to believe all sorts of crazy things.  He was a fan of homeopathy, and thought that herbal and vitamin therapy was also curative.  I remember when my grandmother, his mother, was moved to an assisted care facility, he showed up with a gigantic ziploc bag full of bottles of pills made from things like cow urine.  He gave the bag to the nurses and instructed them to dispense them to my grandmother with her meals.  While we were standing in the hallway outside my grandmother’s room, he held his hand out straight towards me in the air with his fingers extended, and explained that he could diagnose which parts of the body were causing problems by which fingers trembled.

My uncle was diagnosed with colon cancer.  They caught it early, and it very likely could have been “cured,” if that’s the appropriate word, by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.  Instead, he elected to treat himself through a combination of chiropractic, a juice diet, and the aforementioned herbal and vitamin supplements.  He died within a year of diagnosis.  I am still uncertain how I feel about the whole thing.  On the one hand, this was his choice.  Presented with the options of scientifically and medically sound treatments, or total bullshit, he went with the bullshit.  I get it with him.  He was in his sixties at the time, and his entire adult life and sense of himself was based on chiropractic treatment being legitimate and respectable.  On the other hand, he pushed this stuff on other people.  Other people who looked at him in his white doctor coat as a figure of authority, and who likely believed him when he said that he could cure what ailed them.

Apparently Jobs ended up regretting that he didn’t turn to traditional surgical and medical treatments earlier.  It’s a little mind-boggling to me when someone who is so clearly intelligent engages in such destructive magical thinking.  It makes me wonder how many people have died much earlier than they should have, because of irrational beliefs in quack treatments.

Grass is green, sky is blue, Republicans are racists

Bonus story on Talking Points Memo today on a couple of Alabama pols who were caught up in a bribery scandal, and were required to wear wires, which apparently they promptly forgot they were wearing.

So anyway, they are serving as federal witnesses, but the judge is questioning their credibility, noting on the record that they’re a couple of racist shitbags.  Ok, maybe he didn’t use those exact words.  He did say this:

“First, their motive for cooperating with F.B.I. investigators was not to clean up corruption but to increase Republican political fortunes by reducing African-American voter turnout. Second, they lack credibility because the record establishes their purposeful, racist intent,”

So, you know, close enough.

It’s hard for me to disconnect this story from the fact that in April, the Alabama state legislature passed the most racist anti-immigrant legislation in the country.  The bill is so problematic, in an area of the country with a long and entrenched history of being anti-civil rights, that the DOJ brought suit to block its enforcement.  The appeals court just ruled on blocking only portions of it.

Hell yeah, Naked Raygun

Just what I needed to get my morning started.

Or this one.

Physicist and climate skeptic looks at the math, realizes he’s been kind of a douche

Great story by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.  The really fun part is here:

So in 2010 he started up the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (BEST) to show the world how to do climate analysis right. Who better, after all? “Muller’s views on climate have made him a darling of skeptics,” said Scientific American, “and newly elected Republicans in the House of Representatives, who invited him to testify to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology about his preliminary results.” The Koch Foundation, founded by the billionaire oil brothers who have been major funders of the climate-denial machine, gave BEST a $150,000 grant.

But when he got in front of the committee…it all went sideways.

He told them a preliminary analysis suggested that the three main climate models in use today—each of which uses a different estimating technique, and each of which has potential flaws—are all pretty accurate: Global temperatures have gone up considerably over the past century, and the increase has accelerated over the past few decades. Yesterday, BEST confirmed these results and others in its first set of published papers about land temperatures.(Ocean studies will come later.) Using a novel statistical methodology that incorporates more data than other climate models and requires less human judgment about how to handle it (summarized by the Economisthere), the BEST team drew several conclusions:

  • The earth is indeed getting warmer. Global average land temperatures have risen 0.91 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years. This is “on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.”
  • The rate of increase on land is accelerating. Warming for the entire 20th century clocks in at 0.73 degrees C per century. But over the most recent 40 years, the globe has warmed at a rate of 2.76 degrees C per century.
  • Warming has not abated since 1998. The rise in average temperature over the period 1998-2010 is 2.84 degrees C per century.
  • The BEST data significantly reduces the uncertainty of the temperature reconstructions. Their estimate of the temperature increase over the past 50 years has an uncertainty of only 0.04 degrees C, compared to a reported uncertainty of 0.13 degrees C in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
  • Although many of the temperature measuring stations around the world have large individual uncertainties, taken as a whole the data is quite reliable. The difference in reported averages between stations ranked “okay” and stations ranked “poor” is very small.
  • The urban heat island effect—i.e., the theory that rising temperatures around cities might be corrupting the global data—is very small.

Ooops.  You know what they say about facts and their notorious liberal bias.


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