Monday, May 08, 2006
Replacement blogging software candidates include bBlog, WordPress, and Blogsome (which, incidentally, is at least partially based on WordPress). Further suggestions/comments are appreciated, but I expect to make the decision sometime within the next week.
Once the decision is made, I will begin porting all my posts here to the new blog location and placing a forwarding URL in my blog here.
In the long term, I intend to use my m4d web development skillz to build my own blog from scratch, but that is going to wait until I can find someone with better graphic design skills than me to help me out. This move will have to do until then.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
In response to the first few paragraphs, Brad R. asks:
Since prophecies inevitably come true no matter what, is there really any point to opposing the National ID Act? I mean, aren't you just pissing God off by interfering with His Divine Plan?
As I noted in the comments, Mira Furlan's character in Babylon 5 provided the best assessment of prophcy that I can think of in the third-season episode "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" when she said:
Prophecy is a poor guide to the future. You only understand it when the events are already upon you.
But then another thought occurred to me as I read the other comments, particularly this one regarding the Christo-Fascist Zombie Brigade's twisted "interpretation" of the Book of Revelation:
In any case, this whole Mark of the Beast comes way, WAY after many other prophecies occur that most certainly haven't occurred. FIRST comes the Rapture, where all kids and Good Christians (not all Christians, even, are good enough for this Rapture, by the way) are zapped into Heaven. SECOND comes the rise of a demagogue, who charms the world and causes a one-world faith, a one-world currency, a one-world government, etc. THIRD comes a whole slew of judgements, which are things like plagues, famines, wars, etc. FOURTH comes the Anti-Christ, who rises from the death of the demagogue. It is the Anti-Christ who puts the Mark of the Beast on his followers. Therefore, there's no way that the Real ID act is suggestive of a Mark of the Beast.
The thought that comes to mind is this: if the RealID Act is indeed the Mark of the Beast(©1978 Tim LaHaye Industries) as the Fundies claim, then they missed the Banana- Rapture-Boat that they insinuated was reserved for them and them alone (because only they are "Good Christians").
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
For instance, the fine folks at Sadly, No! reposted an excellent assessment of the situation entitled Is your entire country on crack?.
Crooks and Liars posted a video of former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter soundly debunking the rationale for nuking Iran.
But Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon had the best post title on the subject: Someone tell the Bircher President that Iran's not flouridating their water.
The whole furor, of course, started with AMERICAblog's John Aravosis highlighting a Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker stating that Bush was determined to go to war with Iran and that he was going to use nuclear (as opposed to nukyular) weapons.
But perhaps most telling of all is a briefing paper by the Oxford Research Group entitled Iran: Consequences of a War. Especially chilling is the conclusion, which states:
A US military attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure would be the start of a protracted military confrontation that would probably involve Iraq, Israel and Lebanon as well as the United States and Iran, with the possibility of west Gulf states being involved as well. An attack by Israel, although initially on a smaller scale, would almost certainly escalate to involve the United States, and would also mark the start of a protracted conflict.
Although an attack by either state could seriously damage Iran’s nuclear development potential, numerous responses would be possible making a protracted and highly unstable conflict virtually certain. Moreover, Iran would be expected to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and engage in a nuclear weapons programme as rapidly as possible. This would lead to further military action against Iran, establishing a highly dangerous cycle of violence.
The termination of the Saddam Hussein regime was expected to bring about a free-market client state in Iraq. Instead it has produced a deeply unstable and costly conflict with no end in sight. That may not prevent a US or an Israeli attack on Iran even though it should be expected that the consequences would be substantially greater. What this analysis does conclude is that a military response to the current crisis in relations with Iran is a particularly dangerous option and should not be considered further – alternative approaches must be sought, however difficult these may be.
But be sure to read the whole thing: it is worth a read, and the contents are chilling. Especially in light of the knowledge that Bush certainly won't read it and is determined to start a war, come hell or high water.
All of this is eerily similar to the runup to Operation Iraqi Liberation (and yes, the use of "liberation" instead of "freedom" is intentional). In both cases, The Most Holy George W. Christ has demonstrated an obsessive desire - one that brooks no dissent - to attack a Middle Eastern country that had nothing to do with 9/11. In both cases, he has already determined - without even bothering to try - that diplomacy simply will not work and action needs to be taken 45 days ago, even as he protests that military action is an absolute last resort. In both cases, he is cherry-picking intelligence to justify military action.
In light of all this, I find I need to consult with a certain Vorlon Ambassador:
The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
Let's take a look at the massive, steaming pile of dung that passes for analysis at NBC.
Asked a year ago what they might have envisioned after a year of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger’s papacy, many liberal Roman Catholics might have imagined a bleak picture of a repressive church, and conservative Catholics might have described a church re-invigorated by a thorough house-cleaning of wayward thought and behavior.
Let's check the tale of the tape, shall we? Repressive church? Check. Purge of "wayward" (read: "librul") thought and behavior? Check.
This, of course is immediately followd by:
Neither of these scenarios has come to pass, as Pope Benedict XVI proves to be a much different person as the pope than he was as a cardinal.
Say wha? Run that by me again?
Neither of these scenarios has come to pass
This is a Pope who has interfered in American politics, blamed the media for the Catholic Church's Pedophile Priest Shell Game™ (and is currently hiding behind diplomatic immunity in said shell game), was personally responsible for the ouster of liberal theologian Hans Kueng (Kueng was subjected to the Vatican's equivalent of disbarrment in 1979), is considering canonizing Pope Pius XII - author of the Reichskonkordat that legitimized Hitler's murderous regime, promoted Archbishop William Levada, who has his own sordid history of covering up sex scandals in the Catholic Church, to succeed him at the Inquisition CDF and of course, is currently purging the Church of any liberal and homosexual seminarians.
And yet you, Mr. Weeke, are suggesting that this is somehow not indicative of a repressive church that is intolerant of dissent? Are you being utterly mendacious, believing that your readers are stupid schmucks who'll believe any tripe you type? Or are you simply a lazy, self-absorbed ignoramous who can't be bothered with little things like actual research?
And speaking of lack of research, Weeke soon followed with another whopper - this time blindly parroting former The Tablet editor John Wilkins' overly-generous assessment of Ratzinger's first papal encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love, or more literally, God is Charity).
His first encyclical about love doesn’t point the finger at anybody.
The soft tone of the document — a meditation on love and the greater need for charity in an unjust world — surprised many who were ready to buttonhole Benedict as a doctrinal hardliner.
Yeah, right. The lie is that just because Papa Ratzi put in some nice thoughts ("In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both timely and significant.") or made some pretty turns of phrase, that's how he's going to reign as Pope. At the time of the encyclical's release, the media was all atwitter with the usual "conventional wisdom" about how any new Pope's first encyclical somehow magically "sets the tone" for his pontificate. The problem with believing that is the same as blindly believing a poltician's campaign promises - if it's politically expedient, they'll drop those promises like a bad habit. I believe that actions speak louder than words, and looking at the history of this Pope, his actions have done everything possible to encourage the notion that "the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence" and absolutely nothing to discourage it.
Frankly, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Benedict Arnold I to live up to the grossly deferential expectations that Weeke and Wilkins seem to have for him. This is, after all, the Pope who said that "Religion constructed on a 'do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us" and also said that "These people (meaning scientists who actually try to find out the why and the how of it rather than curling up into fetal position and constantly mumbling "goddidit" every time they come accross some novel aspect of the universe), ‘fooled by atheism,’ believe and try to demonstrate that it’s scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order."
But that's not all! We then get this not-so-subtle dig at Algore T3h Evil Librul Robot of D00|\/|!!!1! (+1 Damage to polluting businesses)
Benedict’s tightly controlled physical poise, which often presents as timidity, seems to be have developed into an appealing stage-presence of its own, akin to how Al Gore’s robotic lack of movement became funny in itself.
I bet Coca-Cola is wishing that it had Stephen Weeke as it's PR director when New Coke™ came out. Maybe then they wouldn't have needed to bring back the original formula.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Yesterday, we had rolling blackouts here in central Texas as record-high triple-digit temperatures beat down on the city. The official recorded temperature was 100 degrees, and in some parts of the Austin TV stations' viewing areas, got as high as 106 - in April, no less (and they say that global warming is a myth!).
As a result, pressure on the energy grid (of which 15% was already down for seasonal maintenance) forced the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to institute rolling blackouts yesterday and consumers are being asked to reduce their energy use between 3 and 7 PM today. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the outages were felt across much of Texas, including Houston and Dallas. And yet, ERCOT spokesman Paul Wattles claimed that doing the rolling blackouts helped prevent "region-wide outages." Earth to Paul Wattles: when an energy crunch affects something like 60% of your coverage area, that IS a region-wide outage! (ERCOT's grid covers 80% of Texas, and is essentially separate from the national grid - connected in only three places.)
Of course, as with the California blackouts, conservatives will jump on this to lay every last micron of blame at the feet of environmenalists and people who want the energy industry to be regulated. They'll break out the usual strawman arguments. Envirionmentalists don't want ANY increase in production capacity (because they're evil, terrorists who hate capitalism and want us to return to nature, conservatives will say with a Cheney-esque sneer). The regulation proponents want to drive energy companies out of the state (the same argument they made to make malpractice lawsuits illegal in 2003) - because reglation propoents are evil communists who hate competition and want big government to control EVERYTHING conservatives will say sneeringly (and these are the same people who want big government in a woman's uterus, your web browser, your telephone, your e-mail, your medical records, your political history, etc. etc. etc.).
The answer to both these charges is simple. The problem with the power grid in this country is NOT lack of power generation. The problem is that we've got First-World generating capacity but Third-World transmission infrastructure - the transmission lines can't handle the amount of energy that's being sent over them, especially at peak usage hours - that much was made clear in the 2003 Northeastern Blackout. And besides, even if power generation were an issue, the environmentalists argue that there are more eco-friendly ways of getting that generating capacity - wind and solar power and bio-diesel/ethanol for now (which have gotten a lot more efficient in recent years, but are just not getting the focus they need, especially under this administration which is heavily beholden to the oil/nuclear fission lobby) and nuclear fusion power and fuel cells later on down the road.
As for energy regulation, it is necessary, as in all market activity to prevent corrupt CEOs and accountants from gaming the system for their own personal gain at the expense of their employees and the American public in general. I would think that the Enron/WorldCom/Tyco debacle in 2002/2003 would've clearly illustrated this necessity, but clearly, some people are resistant to education that contradicts their ideological beliefs.
Oh, and speaking of energy prices, oil is now $71/barrel. Here in Austin, average gasoline prices have always lagged behind the national average...until now. One year ago, the average price of unleaded gas in Austin was $2.095/gallon, while the national average was $2.216/gallon. Today, Austin's average price per gallon is only four cents lower than the national average - $2.733/gallon in Austin vs. $2.773/gallon nationwide.
So the question, then, is this: are we getting Enroned in Central Texas? You decide.
Monday, April 10, 2006
In case you're wondering here are the lyrics:
Listen children to a story that was written long ago
'bout a kingdom on a mountain and the valley folk below.
On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath a stone,
and the valley people swore they'd have it for their very own.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of heaven, (you can) justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the judgment day
on the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away.
So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom: "With our brothers we will share
all the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there."
Now the valley cried with anger; mount your horses, draw your sword,
and they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward.
Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red,
turned the stone and looked beneath it. "Peace on earth" was all it said.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Sure, Tom DeLay is a human piñata these days. But he's been whackin' his opponents with a stick for candy for quite some time. So now it's his turn.But DeLay is apparently not done whacking his opponents for candy. Not by a long shot, as evidenced by the despicable behavior exhibited by his minions on Thursday at a press conference where Lampson was to call on Governor Goodhair to announce a special election for May 13th to fill DeLay's seat until November. Not simply content to heckle Lampson or stage a peaceful counter-protest, these thugs descended en masse on the press conference, verbally and physically harrassed Lampson supporters, and assaulted a 69-year-old retired CPS worker. The media even caught footage of the assault - click here and scroll down to the very bottom for one such video. It's very revealing. One DeLay supporter in the video even denies the blatant thuggery being orchestrated by anyone. Oh Really?
----- Original Message -----
From: Cress Ann Posten
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 7:26 PM
Subject: Attention All Who Support Tom DeLay....
Attention all who support Tom DeLay...
Tomorrow morning (Thursday, April 6), Nick Lampson is holding a press conference to demand that Governor Perry immediately schedule a special election to replace Tom DeLay.
Hmmm. Exactly who is Nick Lampson to demand that Governor Perry circumvent the law?
Chris Homan is organizing a rally to show support for Tom tomorrow morning, (Thursday, April 6).
Meet tomorrow morning (Thursday, April 6) at 9:45am on the first floor of the parking garage attached to the Marriott Town Center, in Sugar Land.
***IMPORTANT NOTE***--Please call the campaign office at (REDACTED) and let them know if you can attend, or email Leonard Cash (click on link to his name below) so that they can get a head count.
----- Original Message -----
From: chris homan
To: ‘Cress Ann Posten’
Cc: ‘Leonard Cash’
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 6:10 PM
Subject: FW: LAMPSON CALLS FOR MAY 13 SPECIAL ELECTION
We would meet tomorrow morning at 9:45 am on the first floor of the parking garage attached to the Marriott. Please get folks to call our campaign office (REDACTED) and let us know they can do it - or e-mail Leonard Cash (in the cc field above) so that we can get some head count. Let’s give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference.
Tell me, is this how conervative Republicans "show support" for hardened criminal Tom DeLay?
(Source: KPRC Channel 2 in Houston, TX)
Oh, and just for your edification, here's the woman who denied that this was a planned assault on democracy by DeLay's campaign manager:
(Source: KPRC Channel 2 in Houston, TX)
Oh, nobody organized this. We're just a bunch of poor, persecuted conservative Christians who just spontaenously decided to do our part to kill all the evil, Satanic "libruls."
Even worse, DeLay's campaign manager, Chris Homan said that there's more where this came from. A promise of future thuggery by a prominent member of a prominent Republican's campaign staff...why does this sound like domestic terrorism?
If this is the America you want, by all means, do continue to vote for the party of corruption, xenophobic theocracy and homophobia.
On the other hand, if you're sick and tired of reactionary thugs driving our country over a cliff, be sure to check out Nick Lampson's site and send a few bucks his way. If you live in TX-22, consider volunteering and voting for him.
Technorati Tags: Tom DeLay, Nick Lampson
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Responding to a reporter's question about McKinney at a press conference, DeLay said, "If nobody in this House files an ethics charge, I am...Her behavior is outrageous. And it’s not the only time."
And Jesus, weeping profusely, said, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
Seriously, Tom. Who are you trying to kid?! Do you honestly expect us to believe that McKinney's actions are more outrageous than wasting the FAA's time on a personal vendetta? More outrageous than money laundering? More outrageous than defending as "represent[ing] everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America" sweatshops in Saipan using wage-slave labor that has to go into prostitution on the side and are forced to have abortions if they become pregnant - one of many Abramoff-funded junkets? More outrageous than strong-arming K-Street into raising money for and contributing only to Republicans? More outrageous than blackmailing Rep. Nick Smith into voting for the expensive, Big Pharma-kickback-laden Medicare prescription drug plan? More outrageous than ordering the government to meddle in the private dispute between the family and husband of a blind, brain-dead woman, and then subsequently inciting violence against the judges who decided to follow the law for once rather than the personal agenda of a theocrat from Texas?! And that's just for starters. I could write a book just on the scandals, outrages, borderline and outright criminal behavior that DeLay has engaged in, and I probably still wouldn't scratch the surface!
But wait, the hypocrisy and double standards don't end there! DeLay also claimed that "Had it been Tom DeLay, the Ethics Committee would have met the next day."
Excuse me?! Somebody call out the WHAAAAmbulence for Mr. DeLay! Mr. Law-and-Order-Holier-Than-Thou-Ethics-Guru tried to have the House ethics rules changed to allow his pompous white ass to stay majority leader in the event that he should ever be indicted for ANYTHING WHATSOEVER! Fortunately for the survival of American democracy, the maneuver failed thanks to a rare show of Democratic backbone. But that didn't stop DeLay from trying to evade the long arm of the law. He then stacked the ethics committee with Congresscritters who had donated to his legal defense fund. To date, the ethics committee has not met even once since then.
It gets even more nauseating from there. The ever-unhinged Michelle Malkin provides us with this gem of a DeLay quote about the DeLay-McKinney flap:
Everything is racism to her.
To turn the tables a bit, "Everything is Christophobia to Tom DeLay." Thoughout all of his legal and ethical troubles, DeLay has constantly insisted that he is a political martyr second only to Jesus Christ Himself. DeLay was a headline speaker at all three of the "look at us poor persecuted Christians" Just Us Sunday masturbatory orgies, and was the keynote speaker at the recent "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006" wankfest where religious conservatives compared themselves to Jews in the Nazi death camps.
News flash to DeLay and his fellow travelers: 85% of Americans self-identify as Christians! The fact that you are not allowed to send gays, Muslims and liberals to the Zyklon-B showers does not mean that you are being fed to the lions! I really don't know why this is so hard to understand, but there it is.
These modern-day Pharisees may be surprised when they get to heaven and find their names absent from "The Book of Life." Fine. I'll engage in much schadenfreude when the time comes. But these people need to be voted out post haste. They are too dangerous to leave in power any longer.