October 29, 2007
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says marijuana is not a drug, a British magazine reported Monday. But his spokesman said the governor was joking.When they pointed this out on CNN HNN this morning, they made it sound like he was serious when he said that.
"That is not a drug. It's a leaf," Schwarzenegger told GQ. "My drug was pumping iron, trust me."
Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said the governor made the comments in a lighthearted context, noting his interviewer was Piers Morgan, one of the judges on "America's Got Talent." Morgan is a former British newspaper editor.
This reminds me of how I tell people Mello-Yello counts as a serving of fruit because it contains something that has the word "pineapple" in the name.
October 27, 2007
NYT: Marine’s Father Sues Church for Cheering Son’s Death
BALTIMORE, Oct. 25 — Before the March 2006 funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a marine who was killed in Iraq, protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, a tiny fundamentalist splinter group, picketed the service with signs that read “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”I hate this, but I am not surprised. With legislation out there against "hate speech" and a massive federal organization regulating broadcast speech, no one should be surprised at all.
Albert Snyder, Corporal Snyder’s father, sued the church in United States District Court here, claiming invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Judge Richard D. Bennett, who is hearing the case, told the nine jurors that there are limits on free speech protection, listing categories that include vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and instructed jurors to decide “whether the defendant’s actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous, and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection,” according to The A.P.
But I find myself compelled to shout that the First Amendment makes no such limitations as described by the honorable Judge Bennett.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.I hate to be such a literalist about things, but "no law... abridging the freedom of speech" is really quite clear.
Is Fred Phelps' campaign against the US vulgar? Yes. The man runs several websites including GodHatesFags.com, PriestsRapeBoys.com, and various websites documenting God's hatred of America, Sweden, Mexico, and Canada. Oh, and coming soon, they will explain how your pastor is a whore on a website at yourpastorisawhore.com.
Are they offensive to a reasonable person? Absolutely. They walk on the American Flag. Their favicon on those websites involve an upside-down American Flag. They claim that every bad thing from terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina to the fires in California are all manifestations of God's wrath.
Are these things shocking? Oh yes. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church carry signs saying things like "Fag Sin = 9/11" and "Thank God for IEDs" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." And they smile while doing it.
I don't like those people. They are irrational. They are flat wrong about pretty much everything. I find them utterly offensive.
But they have a right to say what they want. Unfortunately, we don't protect property rights as we should in this country any more than we do freedom of speech. If the places where these protests happen were private property, the owners could bring charges of trespass against the Westboro Baptist Church and those protesters could be arrested and fined. If they persist, they could be thrown into jail.
But instead jurors are asked to determine whether or not a "reasonable" person would find what some other person is saying offensive.
Fred Phelps' people aren't crazy. They haven't taken leave of their senses. They are just wrong. They have idiotic ideas. There is absolutely no reason anyone should agree with them.
The whole point of the First Amendment is so that every single individual is free to think or say what he pleases without being subject to the approval of others.
And you might think that there's no law against being stupid, but this judge asserts that there is.
I hope these jurors make the right decision, but I am honestly worried that they won't.
October 21, 2007
It was kind of hilarious, but I wish I could have understood what they were saying. (They were some of those people who believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy.)
October 19, 2007
Britney, you don't need to do anything else to convince me. You can stop being stupid. I will not judge you if you just give them up for adoption. Just, please, stop the madness.
Detroit Free Press: Spears loses even visitation rights
And so it goes. Troubled popster Britney Spears can't even visit her children now.*SIGH*
Yes, 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James will remain in the custody of Spears' ex-husband, Kevin Federline, and cannot see her until she fully complies with a court order, Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled Thursday in Los Angeles.
The order, dated Wednesday, does not spell out what directives Spears defied. (Gordon has ordered her to undergo random weekly drug testing, citing evidence that Spears engaged in "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol.") A hearing in the matter is scheduled for Oct. 26.
It's not the first time the court has verbally scourged Spears. Gordon reprimanded Spears before, saying that she lost primary custody to Federline because of her own choices.
That woman. She is making me crazy. She has two tasks set before her -- sing and dance -- and she can't do that properly. Instead, she marries a scrub, gets knocked up TWICE and now can't follow very simple directions from the court.
October 16, 2007
Today, gay people are still not allowed to be married in most countries and most states of America. In fact, there are a significant number of states that actually forbid same-sex marriage in their constitutions.
There are people in the mainstream of politics who actually make remarks about how gay marriage will herald the end of civilization and it marks a point on the slippery slope to people marrying ducks.
I've commented on duck marriage before: here, here, here, and here.
Basically, my stance is that ducks cannot enter into contracts, so ducks cannot get married to anyone or anything, least of all a human, but this concept seems a distant echo of common sense in today's world and at the risk of adding to that silly Bill O'Reilly's point, I'm going to comment a news item that I saw the other day but turned up again on CNN this morning.
ZDNet: Will you one day marry a robot?
David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher and international chess master, defended yesterday his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. The name of his thesis is “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners” and the University announced it under the name “Love and Sex with Robots.” Levy says that trends in robotics and artificial intelligence will, ‘within a few decades, result in robots that are so humanlike in their appearance and functionality, in their personality, and in their expression of emotions, that many people will be falling in love with them, having sex with them, and even marrying them.’ Will it really happen? Are you ready for this?He actually predicts that by 2050, robots will be so advanced that people will develop feelings for robots and then we're going to marry them.
Now, if the marriage of two men is an unholy union that will call forth the various horsemen of the apocalypse, I don't dare try to visualize what will happen when people start trying to marry their vibrators.
Frankly, and I don't know what tribulations will rain down on man as a result of this, I would rather see people marrying ducks.
Chimpanzees. It'd probably rain chimpanzees.
Ok, but I return to my original point: robots don't have rights and therefore cannot marry anyone, least of all people.
I realize that this researcher was likely just trying to present a compelling vision of the future 50 years ahead and he didn't actually mean that there will be legal provisions for marrying machines. There are all kinds of people out there; I'm sure someone is already in love with their vibrator and would LIKE to marry it, but thankfully their lobby in Washington is not influential enough to introduce any legislation worthy of comment.
We're venturing now into the realm of science fiction, so I should predicate my comments by saying that I'm talking about purely mechanical beings and not biomechanical or cybernetic beings.
The concept of rights applies to rational animals only. Human beings are the only creatures we know of that possess the sort of consciousness that requires the protection of the conditions we call rights, which exist as conditions between rational animals only.
These conditions are particular to human beings because we are animals, meaning we have biological needs and a unique, finite existence and our survival as human beings requires the exercise of our faculty of reason.
Other animals, like dogs, ducks, and chimps, do not have rights because although they share with us biological needs and the fact that they die, they do not share a rational faculty.
Robots are the opposite -- pending the advent of sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence. They may share a rational faculty, but they do not have biological needs, specifically, they cannot die.
You can turn a robot off and turn it back on at any time. Even if it somehow could not be turned off and back on, it would be possible to recreate a robot's "consciousness" if it were damaged. In effect, robots cannot die and as a result, it has no need for a right to life, liberty, or property.
(I suppose you could project a robot in this future scenario which cannot be turned off, recreated, or have its consciousness transferred to another mechanical shell and in those cases, I might be willing to amend these statements.)
I will also admit that the realm of philosophy dealing with the ethical considerations of robots is probably not well explored and I'm not prepared to present a thesis on the matter.
And regardless of the advance of technology in the next 50 years, homosexuals have been around almost since the origin of the X and Y chromosomes. It took us a long time to pitch a fit about being oppressed and it's been nearly 40 years and we're still along way from having our relationships legally recognized as an extension of our property rights.
I have my doubts that people are going to rush to pass laws allowing people to marry robots the next 50 years.
October 15, 2007
WOODLAND, Calif. — A dentist accused of fondling the breasts of 27 female patients is trying to keep his dental license by arguing that chest massages are an appropriate procedure in certain cases. Mark Anderson's lawyer says dental journals discuss the need to massage the pectoral muscles to treat a common jaw problem.Lest you think ill of that last lady, I am going to go ahead and assert that her reasoning for wearing tight tops was to stop him from being able to easily get his hands in her clothes and not because she wanted to tempt him further.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Phillips gave Lew three new complaints, including one from a 31-year-old woman who said Anderson fondled her at least six times over two years.
She took to wearing tight shirts with high necklines, "and Anderson would still get in under her shirt and bra," according to a police report.
I looked for a picture of Dr. Anderson, but I couldn't find one. I bet he's ugly. Sexual batterers are never has hot as you'd prefer them to be.
October 12, 2007
Reuters: Family beaten as YouTube party descends into chaos
LONDON (Reuters) - A teen-ager was airlifted to hospital and his father had his nose broken when gatecrashers went on the rampage at a 16th birthday party after details were posted on YouTube, police and media reports said Friday.The story goes on to describe injuries and reactions. There is this paragraph.
More than 100 uninvited teenagers descended on the family house, stole whisky and champagne, smashed windows and started fighting, according to reports.
The party for their son Christopher was supposed to be a small event with about 30 invited guests. However, details were posted on the Internet, attracting dozens more teenagers.Ok. I think I get it.
The invitation was posted on YouTube and that made crazies show up at the house.
Now, the headline is misleading enough. It wasn't a YouTube Party at all. It was a regular party, where an invitation was posted on YouTube.
I have to stop and wonder what kind of idjit puts an open invitation to a party at his house out on the internets in the first place. Even a 15 year-old should know better than that.
But the lede in that story is boggling as well. "[G]atecrashers went on the rampage at a 16th birthday party after details were posted on YouTube." I was sitting here thinking, "What details could someone put on YouTube that would send dozens of teenagers on a violent rampage?" I mean, teenagers are crazy, we all know, but for them to be sitting at a party and suddenly realize that there are some details about something on YouTube and then fly into a frenzy is beyond the pale, really.
Who wrote this story? They need a do-over.
I used to live in Georgia and I got myself inoculated against all kinds of stuff. That has more to do with the fact that I'm fascinated by immunization than any NASCAR fanboys that might be around.
I couldn't find the CNN story very easily (Why is it so hard to find stories online that I hear about on television? CNN, you need to work on that.) but some searching revealed several sources reporting the story. Many link back to this article:
Charlotte.com: Congress considers Concord hazardous?
NASCAR fans might seem rabid, but are they actually contagious?It seems like people are making a lot of fuss over this, in particular Republican representative, Robin Hayes from North Carolina.
Getting a hepatitis shot is standard procedure for travelers to parts of Africa and Asia, but some congressional aides were instructed to get immunized before going to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord and the racetrack in Talladega, Ala.
The House Homeland Security Committee planned a fact-finding trip about public health preparedness at mass gatherings and decided to conduct the research at two of the nation's most heavily attended sporting events, NASCAR's Bank of America 500 event this weekend and the UAW-Ford 500 last weekend.
Staff who organized the trips advised the NASCAR-bound aides to get a range of vaccines before attending -- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza.
"I have never heard of immunizations for domestic travel, and as the representative for Concord, N.C., I feel compelled to ask why the heck the committee feels that immunizations are needed to travel to my hometown," Hayes said in an Oct. 5 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the Homeland Security panel.I am amazed at the energy people expend on making a fuss over things. Yahoo! Business is helping add fuel to the fire by comparing the recommended immunizations to the immunizations recommended for third-world countries.
"I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly do not pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else," Hayes added.
This is not an issue of any consequence. Homeland Security made clear the reasons they made their recommendations and they have nothing to do with the fact that their study involved NASCAR events. If they had been doing the study in baseball or football events, I doubt the same stink would be made over the recommendation.If you work in health care, then you know that above-the-norm immunizations are required. It stands to reason that if someone is going to be subjected to repeated exposure for a sustained, though short-term, duration the same immunizations would be recommended.
There's no reason to think it has anything to do with NASCAR, Alabama, or North Carolina.
It sounds to me like the representative of North Carolina is pandering for some headlines. Here's to calling attention to her foolishness as she so desires.
Congrats, Representative Hayes! You're a moron.
October 08, 2007
Danny Williams's taste in music is so wretched, his own iPod tried to kill him. Very recently, the Douglasville, Georgia native looked down to find his pants pocket engulfed in flames. The culprit: his year-old iPod Nano.The article goes on to discuss lithium-ion batteries as potentially dangerous bits of technology.
Williams walked away from the incident uninjured thanks to a piece of glossy paper in his pocket, which he believes spared him from being badly burned. But, as if having your iPod try to immolate you isn't frightening enough, consider where this episode took place: Williams works at a kiosk at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. As Williams said himself:
"If TSA had come by and seen me smoking, they could have honestly thought I was a terrorist."
My favorite part of the article, though, is where the writer implies that attempted murder may be a new marketing technique.
Hey Apple, we're all very aware that you came out with some shiny new iPods last month. But, resorting to these scare tactics to convince us to upgrade? That's a new low.If that's the case, I'd like to work for their marketing agency. I have some ideas about product launches targeted at people who stop at the top of the subway stairs.
Thanks to Orb McQuilkin for the link.
October 05, 2007
PRAGUE (Reuters) - A Czech couple who decided to take a DNA test to squash persistent pub gossip and prove that their 10-month-old baby was their own got a nasty surprise.
The couple, from the southeastern town of Trebic, had some doubts about the child as her hair was blonde and they both had dark hair. Fellow drinkers' suspicions got on their nerves.
But the test showed neither of the parents had the same DNA as the baby, Czech news agency CTK reported Wednesday, suggesting a mix-up at the hospital.
Authorities were looking into the case.
Fun fact: I was nearly switched at birth. Or at least that's what my mother tells me.
My mother says that when it came time for us to go home and they handed her the infant, she immediately recognized that the infant in her arms was not the one she had given birth to. There was some conflict over this, but they did work it out and I was given to my mother to go home.
In the hospital's defense, many African-American babies don't get their pigmentation until some time after birth.
I'm not even joking.
October 04, 2007
At first, I thought he was being funny and the headline was about a Stevie Nicks concert, but no. They really meant a rock.
Times of India: Patna swarms to see floating 'Setu' rock
PATNA: A stream of devotees caused a stampede on the first floor of Mahavir Mandir near Patna Junction on Tuesday while making a bid to have a close look at a piece of rock brought specially from Rameshwaram.I do not understand this culture in which so many people are so gullible and inclined to believe in magic like this. It's crazy! remember that Buddha kid whom they claimed had not eaten anything or pooped or MOVED in months? Insane.
Weighing 15 kg, the rock does not sink in water. The devotees believe it is a fragment of the "rocks huge as autumn clouds", as described in Valmiki Ramayan, used to built the Ram Setu by Nala, the son of Vishwakarma.
Devotees elbowed each other and scrambled to get near the large vessel where the stone was kept afloat in water. While some tried to touch it, others splashed their fingers in the water, while still others bowed with folded hands in a show of obeisance.
It is a very sad state of affairs there in India.
Meanwhile, President Bush says God talks to him.
October 02, 2007
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The founder and chief executive of Blackwater USA defended his company against allegations that his contractors were trigger-happy mercenaries Tuesday, saying that his personnel have distinguished records and have never intentionally killed civilians.
I'm actually surprised that this story took so long to break. Mister Bookworm has a friend who works for some oddball organization that has been working on this story for a while now. She told me about it and I was actually surprised by the basic facts -- even without the allegations of war crimes.
Maybe I'm naive, but when the news says "defense contractors" or "military contractors" I've always thought they meant people involved with logistics like delivering food supplies, rebuilding infrastructure and such. I did not know that they are armed personnel conducting military/police efforts.
I did not realize that the US government was in the practice (at least in modern times) of hiring mercenaries. Forget the trigger-happy part. These are missionaries. Calling these people "contractors" leads a person to believe that they are engaged in legitimate business activities.
I am more than a little miffed that I have been led to believe that these people are anything other than hired guns.
First of all, policing another country and helping them rebuild after a war is not a legitimate function of our military or government.
Second of all, being a mercenary is not a legitimate business activity under the Constitution of the US. That our government is hiring them is simply outrageous.
It's late. I have to go to bed, so I will likely talk more about why mercenaries are not allowed in a free society tomorrow.
October 01, 2007
Apparently, if you're trying to retain custody of your children in a messy, public divorce suit, you should not do the following:
- Wave your vulva around in public
- Show up late to your job
- Show up apparently drunk with margarita in hand to your job
- Allow the help see you naked, drunk, and high around the kids
- Totally bomb your "come back" which was staged in front of the whole entire world
- Be photographed driving with your baby in your lap
- Run your car into someone else's car and then drive off
To do any of those things, let alone all of them, leaves one wondering: did she even WANT custody of those children? Seriously.
All my lurve to Buddhista for keeping me plugged in on this.
It's actually kind of smart in terms of revenue management. The current price is $2 per ride all day long. They're changing this to $2.25 for rides during peak hours and just $1.50 during off-peak hours.
This in itself doesn't affect me too much because I buy the 30 day metrocards. Unfortunately, the price of those is going up from $76 to something like $82. Anywhoodles, that's not what I want to tell you about.
I have just learned from Subway Blogger that the reason the hike is $2.25 instead of just $2.10 is actually because the Metrocard machines can't dispense dimes.
WCBSTV.com: Commuters: MTA Fare Hikes 'Turnstile Injustice'
As CBS 2 HD reported Tuesday night, one reason the MTA is seeking a 25-cent fare hike instead of just 10 cents is because the machines don’t deal in dimes, only quarters and nickels. Buying a $2.10 ticket with a $5 bill would give you 58 nickels or 11 quarters and 3 nickels in change, which is why they say they dealing with quarters is more convenient for everyone. Almost everyone.
I like the subway a lot, but I also have a long list of complaints. To make matters worse, I don't believe that this fare hike is going to address any of those complaints. Most of it will likely go to placating those surly little autocrats employed at the MTA.
1. anything worthless, useless, or discarded; rubbish.
2. foolish or pointless ideas, talk, or writing; nonsense.
3. a worthless or disreputable person.
4. such persons collectively.
5. literary or artistic material of poor or inferior quality.
6. broken or torn bits, as twigs, splinters, rags, or the like.
7. something that is broken or lopped off from anything in preparing it for use.
8. the refuse of sugar cane after the juice has been expressed.
9. Computers. an icon of a trash can that is used to delete files dragged onto it.
–verb (used with object)
10. Slang. to destroy, damage, or vandalize, as in anger or protest: The slovenly renters had trashed the house.
11. to condemn, dismiss, or criticize as worthless: The article trashed several recent best-sellers.
12. to remove the outer leaves of (a growing sugar cane plant).
13. to free from superfluous twigs or branches.
By the very definition of the word, trash is worthless -- at least to those who discard it. It is assumed that when you put something out on the curb or put it into a garbage can or dumpster that you are relinquishing ownership of it to whomever either owns the garbage can/dumpster or whoever picks the trash up from the curb.
We can also safely say that whoever takes the trash away to the landfill or recycling center is getting something for their trouble. Maybe the city pays them some dollars to pick up trash (that's how NYC does it) or maybe you pay them directly (that's how it worked in Georgia where I lived) or maybe you do it yourself to keep the trash from burying your house.
I don't know that in any of those situations, it is actually more profitable for the trash taker-awayers to haul off MORE trash. I don't know about NYC, but in Georgia I paid the same amount no matter how much trash and recycling I put out there. And if I took it to the landfill myself, I would have to pay more based on the weight/amount.
So, I am perplexed by a new law in NYC that seeks to increase fines for people who steal recyclable trash.
New York Post: City Council Increases Fines for Theft of Recyclable Trash
The City Council unanimously passed a bill yesterday that would sharply increase fines for people who steal recyclable material from curbsides — to $2,000 from $100 for a first offense, and $5,000 for each subsequent offense within a year.
Officials say the bill is aimed at organized enterprises that use vehicles, which would be impounded under the new law, adding that the $100 fine had not been large enough to prevent these thefts. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill, according to an administration spokesman.
According to that same article, the city is actually making SOME money on the recyclable materials they cart off, but that's not to say it's a profit.
Sanitation officials estimated the city might be losing as much as 15,000 tons of paper a year from Manhattan alone. Based on the city’s current recycling contract, which pays $10 to $30 a ton, that means an annual loss of $150,000 to $300,000.
Nevertheless, the article also states that the city's recycling program has been historically woefully unprofitable. Apparently, "theft" of trash has caused an overall 2% drop in the amount of paper available for the city to haul off.
I object to this whole thing for a couple of reasons.
First of all, we can't call this "theft." The trash doesn't belong to anyone. The owners, by placing it on the curb, have clearly stated that they are relinquishing ownership of the articles in question. The things there do not yet belong to the city as the sidewalk is "public property" and the garbage trucks have not claimed it yet. (I also object to the notion of public property, but that's a whole different topic.)
Also, it seems capricious to extend this law to just recyclable materials.
What if some band of unmarked trucks came in and started picking up all the trash? I dare say the city would not complain. Instead, they see that they have a chance to make a little bit of money back on their misguided recycling program and they're using the law to bully private concerns from getting at it. Again we see that the state sees no need to compete for its dollars: it merely threatens.
If the city wants that money so badly, why don't they wake up earlier? Or clean up more frequently? Oh, that's right, it would cost them more.
Just a few weeks ago, Mister Bookworm and I were walking down the sidewalk and found that someone had tossed out lots of piles of books for the garbage man. We went through them and picked out several that we wanted. This is a common occurrence in NYC, actually. People put their "trash" on the curb and if you see something you like -- such as an old sofa, books, lamps, whatever -- you pick it up and take it. My roommates and I were unloading our car from Home Depot one afternoon and had to push away some vultures who thought we were throwing out perfectly good potted plants, pant, and our other purchases.
I doubt that this scavenging is considered illegal and according to Joe. My. God., the city swears that the law isn't intended to be used against homeless people either. I don't care about the homeless, but if they want to pick up trash, that's their business as much as it is mine to be rid of it.
This law also gives me very strong suspicions that it is illegal to run or hire your own trash collection service in the city.
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