Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michael Vicks pit bulls get a happy new year.


Since being rescued 20 months ago from the dogfighting ring financed by Michael Vick, all but a few of the abused pit bulls have been recovering in sanctuary, foster care and adoptive homes. Now even the most traumatized of them can have a happy new year.
Via ERV.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ratzinger: Save the trees! From the gays!

Or something...

Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. "(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration. "The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less." ... The pope said humanity needed to "listen to the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work".
Is there any further proof needed that Ratzinger is a closet case? Go right on preaching that irrational hatred, there, Rat-fink. It'll make your...I was going to say that it'll make your church even more irrelevant than it already is, but that's not possible. It'll make more people see how irrelevant your church is, and all of homophobic Christianity with it, and further the cause of gay rights in this country (and it's about damned time, too).

Via Sullivan.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow plow, meet reporter. Reporter, meet snow plow...

Mug Shots!!!

Smoking Gun's mugshots of 2008.

Via Dan Savage.

Dan Savage on "Gay Friends"


Is it really possible that these raving anti-gay bigots have more gay friends between them than I do? I somehow doubt it. So reporters should stop taking this "but I've got gay friends!" on faith. Anti-gay politicians, entertainers, and preachers shouldn't be allowed to take rhetorical cover behind gay friends if they're unable to produce any.

So you've got gay friends? Great. Bring 'em to a press conference—we've got some questions we'd like to ask them.

Via Sullivan.

NY Times calls for torture prosecutions

Three cheers:

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened — and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military’s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.

I nominate Patrick Fitzgerald. I wouldn't want to tangle with that guy in court, ever.

Via Sullivan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Catholic speaks out on torture:

"I have two brothers who served in the Air Force and a number of friends who are either in the military or vets. I honor their service and their sacrifice with all my heart. It is precisely because I do so that I am outraged and must speak when men like George Bush and Dick "Other Priorities" Cheney organize systematic war crimes, command men and women low in the chain of command to carry them out, and then betray them and call them criminals for doing what the Administration wanted.

"It is no small part of the bizarreness of the Rubber Hose Right that it is critics of this Machiavellian dealing and not the Administration who are told they "hate the troops." Of all the people involved in this sorry spectacle, the least culpable are probably people like Lynddie England. And of all the unsung heroes of this war, not the least are the guys in the Pentagon who resisted Bush/Cheney's attempt to rewrite the Army Field Manual so that they could make it easier to do what they ordered done at places like Abu Ghraib,"

-- Mark Shea, Catholic blogger.

Via Sullivan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cheney confesses to a war crime

I'm posting this verbatim from Andrew Sullivan because it bears repeating.

ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl gets the following out of Cheney:

KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.

KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?

CHENEY: I don't.

KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported was waterboarding. And that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that you think was appropriate?


Notice that the first statement is an absolute lie, proven by the Senate report.

The decision to torture individuals was made by Bush and Cheney before the CIA ever asked for legal cover for the torture they had been ordered to commit. The torture and abuse was planned before even the January 2002 presidential memo that authorized torture:

In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel’s Office had already solicited information on detainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

But Cheney's open, proud defense of a torture technique, waterboarding, that has always and everywhere been understood as torture means he stands vulnerable to war crime prosecutions. Until he is tried, convicted and jailed, the rule of law in this country stands fatally compromised.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable."

--Capt. Ian Fishback, US Army, 82nd Airborne, in a letter to Sen. John McCain, Sept. 16, 2005

Via Sullivan.

Celebrate Bill of Rights Day...

...by helping petition Congress to restore it. From the website for the "American Freedom Agenda Act" Website:

The full text of this bill can be found on the Background page. This legislation will . . .
  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2006” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the ”Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President's use of "signing statements" as a means to avoid executing the nation's laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

This one simple 3-page bill will . . .

  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to support human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from blowback by foreign powers in retaliation for our government's transgression of America's most hallowed principles
Three cheers. And yeah, it's Ron Paul's baby. This is one of those cases where he's dead-on accurate.

HT: Ed Brayton.

US Senate: Bush is the torture president

This report is bi-partisan, unequivocal, and damning. Bush knew about torture, and actively authorized it. John McCain's signature is on the report, as is every other Republican member of that committee. This is not a matter of a Democratic-controlled Senate taking potshots at an outgoing Republican president. This is a universal condemnation by leaders of BOTH parties. Andrew Sullivan's take is here. And I agree with every single word:

"Let's be absolutely clear what this means: When we saw an image of Lynndie England pulling a naked prisoner around on a leash, we assumed at the time that she improvised this, or was some kind of "bad apple." This is and was a conscious lie to the Congress, and to the American people, and to the world. The person who authorized the use of nudity and leashes on prisoners was not Lynndie England or any of the other grunts thrown to the wolves. The man who authorized the technique shown below is the president of the United States:"
Me again: I want to make a few things about this post abundantly clear. First, yes, I'm a passionate hater of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I hate them so much I cannot stand to look at them. They are disgusting plutocrats who care for nothing but absolute power (Cheney maintained his stock holdings in Haliburton while they were being awarded non-competitive bids to rebuild Iraq, which made him even more obscenely wealthy than he already was. Add "war profiteer" to his list of crimes). I detest them in the same way I detest all of their lot throughout history. But I have reasons to hate them. They have disgraced our country in a way we have seldom seen. They have authorized TORTURE, a clear violation of American law, the Geneva conventions, common decency, and CHRISTIAN VIRTUE. Not that such virtue matters to me, per se, but I'm throwing that out there for the sake of certain people in my life who have chided me (if not reamed me out) for my hatred of Bush/Cheney as being "unChristian."

You're assuming they're true Christians in the first place. And you're assuming that hatred and Christianity are mutually incompatible.

But I digress...the facts are this: Bush and Cheney are criminals. They should be in prison. They have disgraced a country I love (however much I may bitch about it and however angry and disgusted it makes me at times). They deserve to be punished, shamed, and degraded for all time. They divided us for the sake of political divide-and-conquer tactics at a time when they could have made the most of the unity brought about by the 9/11 attacks. Bush said, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." To which I say, sir, that true patriotism is the ability to criticize your country when it is in the wrong. It's like a marriage: you tell your spouse they're embarrassing you because you love them, not despite that. And fuck you for calling us un-American, sir, when you crapped on the Bill of Rights and spied on Americans unlawfully.

And before you accuse me of shitting on "the troops," I say this: There have been plenty of honorable, brave people conducting themselves in this war in the finest tradition of the American military. But my admiration stops when certain people stoop to this kind of conduct. You are at that instant the perpetrator of atrocity, not a soldier doing your duty. And there are numerous accounts of people refusing, most notably JAG lawyers who resigned rather than prosecute Guantanamo inmates whose confessions had been tortured out of them.

I have other friends who say that we need time to let history judge Bush. To which I retort: William Shirer met the same resistance to his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. There are some instances in which the facts are so clear, so unequivocal, and so shameful that we need to confront them immediately (which is more than I can say for most of the mainstream media and the White House press corps collectively). This is a blight on our nation's history that needs to be dealt with right now, not after we know whether or not the intel for going into Iraq was valid at the time (that's another blog post). It's how we conducted ourselves afterward that showed that we were led by the same type of monsters that al-Qaeda recruits were taught to believe we were run by.

And you will never, ever, change my mind about any of this, so don't even try.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ISU football coach slinks off to Auburn.

Coaching. Fail.

ISU A.D. Jamie Pollard captured the zeitgeist quite effectively:

"I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."
Or, as Gregg Easterbrook is fond of saying, when you hire a coach who's in it for himself, you end up getting a coach who's in it for himself. Good riddance.

And how desperate is Auburn to go after a guy who won two games this season? Aren't big-time sports factories like that supposed to hire coaching talent? Who was in charge of their search committee, Nick Saban?

I think I'm going to a hockey game...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last-minute gift ideas...

How about an assault rifle?

Via Slog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surviving Tuskegee Airmen invited to Obama's inauguration

Robert D. Rose, vice president of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.:

“The Tuskegee Airmen preceded Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and if they hadn’t helped generate a climate of tolerance by integration of the military, we might not have progressed through the civil rights era,” he said. ”We would have seen a different civil rights movement, if we would have seen one at all.”
I beg to disagree that we would not have seen one at all. There is a cycle to such events, and once the momentum starts, it is difficult to staunch them over the long run. But it might well have been different had their example not been set.
The invitation to his swearing-in was extended Tuesday by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Just don't ask John Boehner to speak...

From the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Olbermann on Bush's historical legacy

Maybe the best one-stop shopping place for the dishonor that is our outgoing President:

Christopher Hitchens on his book

Interesting talk on Canadian Broadcasting Company...

Gratuitous Princess Leia fix

I'd like to thank my friend Mike for putting one of these on Facebook.

Her website is really mid-90s, but for some reason, I don't mind...

Oh, and Star Trek fanboys will find something here, too.

Bike Skillz: I haz dem

Sorry, Snob, I find this impressive.

Via BikeSnobNYC.

Mental Health Break: Ninja Kitty!

How does he do this without moving?

I haz kitteh!

Meet Boo:

My friend, Jen, cat-sitting for a few minutes:

(Jen was kind enough to stay with putty tat while I made a flying trip to the grocery store to get some kitty supplies.)

The story is this: Boo is the former resident of the Tim Lundgren household in Burlington. She was the bosom companion of the two older children, especially the daughter. Unfortunately, child #3 came along, and all of a sudden everyone's attention got divided further. Boo got bitchy, to the point of hissing at Mom and even biting the little boy (age 2). Either the little boy or the cat had to go, and we all know who wins that argument.

So Tim and family came up to Des Moines to see my mother Sunday, and brought a fur ball with them. Boo was most unhappy about being cooped up in a pet carrier for, oh, 6 hours (not that I blame her).

Fortunately, having a grown-up cat as opposed to a kitten means no breaking in the litter-box stage. She knows where that is, already. She's eating out of my Tupperware bowls until I can get to Pet Smart in Ankeny for some real supplies.

My friends have more or less said they think it's great that I have a companion to come home to now. They're right--I have to admit, I had a kinda rough day yesterday for a variety of reasons (none of which are truly serious, and I'll get through them) but having that little fuzz-face crawl up in my lap and soothe me did a world of good.

Now I just need to find a woman who's not allergic to cats.

PS: For those of you who don't understand the spelling of this blog post title, go here for a feel for how LOL cats work.

Iranian scholar says the Quran was wasn't written by God...it was written by Muhammed.

Fascinating, and heartening:

In a country where intellectuals are often treated like rock stars, (Abdulkarim) Soroush has been venerated and reviled for his outspoken support of religious pluralism and democracy. Now he has taken one crucial step further. Shuttling from university to university in Europe and the U.S., Soroush is sending shock waves through Iran’s clerical establishment.The recent controversy began about eight months ago, after Soroush spoke with a Dutch reporter about one of Islam’s most sensitive issues: the divine origin of the Koran. Muslims have long believed that their holy book was transmitted word for word by God through the Prophet Muhammad.

In the interview, however, Soroush made explicit his alternative belief that the Koran was a “prophetic experience.” He told me that the prophet “was at the same time the receiver and the producer of the Koran or, if you will, the subject and the object of the revelation.” Soroush said that “when you read the Koran, you have to feel that a human being is speaking to you, i.e. the words, images, rules and regulations and the like all are coming from a human mind.” He added, “This mind, of course, is special in the sense that it is imbued with divinity and inspired by God.”
Naturally, he's been beaten and nearly killed over his beliefs, but this is the type of thinking that encourages me about Islam. And, furthermore, it provides supremely forceful ammunition to counter the anti-Islamic bigotry of all too many "Christians" in America. I love it.

And yes, I know, as an atheist I'm supposed to rant about the ultimate lack of proof about any god blah blah blah. The enemy isn't religion...it's intolerance.

Via Irshad Manji, via Daily Dish.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Olbermann on Cincinnati Zoo

My man-crush awarded his Worst Person Silver Medal to a radio windbag over the recent controversy at the Cincinnati Zoo, which Pharyngulites helped to kill. Enjoy, PZ:

Chainsaw bayonnette

Marcus Fenix should sue.

Via Sullivan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All the dignity it deserves


Roger Ebert reviews Expelled

And he hated every minute of it.

And there is worse, much worse. Toward the end of the film, we find that Stein actually did want to title it "From Darwin to Hitler." He finds a Creationist who informs him, "Darwinism inspired and advanced Nazism." He refers to advocates of eugenics as liberal. I would not call Hitler liberal. Arbitrary forced sterilization in our country has been promoted mostly by racists, who curiously found many times more blacks than whites suitable for such treatment.

Ben Stein is only getting warmed up. He takes a field trip to visit one "result" of Darwinism: Nazi concentration camps. "As a Jew," he says, "I wanted to see for myself." We see footage of gaunt, skeletal prisoners. Pathetic children. A mound of naked Jewish corpses. "It's difficult to describe how it felt to walk through such a haunting place," he says. Oh, go ahead, Ben Stein. Describe. It filled you with hatred for Charles Darwin and his followers, who represent the overwhelming majority of educated people in every nation on earth. It is not difficult for me to describe how you made me feel by exploiting the deaths of millions of Jews in support of your argument for a peripheral Christian belief. It fills me with contempt.

Ebert's blog states he'd been accused of not reviewing the movie because he had a bias against "Intelligent" Design. He actually has a bias against false Christians (or in Stein's case, Jews) and intellectual dishonesty.

Via Pharyngula.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just a quick thought...

Is there a more useless human being than Vanna White?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Carnival of Recipes

Yum. Pure taste bud lust to be found here.

Via Greg Laden.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quote of the day

Right now in Boston, the mercury is holding at 269 K with a wind-chill factor of "Oh my sweet Isis why is nitrogen dripping from my fingers?"
--Blake Stacey

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Atheists pwn an "opinion" columnist

The comments here are some of the best, most thoughtful you'll ever read. They're every bit as good as this preening mutton-head's are bad

Via Pharyngula.

Quote of the day

"If you don't read the Anarchist's Cookbook when you are 16 you have no soul. If you are still reading it when you are 36 you have no brain."
--Cory Doctorow

Via Slog.

Olbermann: Live commentary on Sarah "I'm preparing the turkey" Palin

John, I hope you can watch this...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Silly Kitty

Andrew Sullivan would call this a mental health break.

Via Slog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dan Savage: Canada is the land of the free.

Take a bow:

"Oh, Canada: While we scream and yell about being the land of the free, you quietly live it. I love how my boyfriend magically becomes my husband when we visit Canada, without anyone else's marriage being threatened. Here's hoping that one day soon the United States will recognize the legal marriages of all Canadian citizens, gay and straight."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Christian Stupidity

This is a classic:

"In 1999, I was hospitalized with a severe staph infection. I’d never known such horrible pain, and while I received excellent medical care, and the strongest antibiotics available, all of that would have been useless if God had not divinely intervened. God literally saved my life, and nothing and no one will make me believe otherwise."
You fucking ungrateful asshat. They should withhold the antibiotics next time. God doesn't have a great track record in the field where there is no modern medicine to back up his mistakes. [/sarcasm]

The title of the article is "Free Speech or Blasphemy?" I'm inclined to Poe's Law. But somehow, I doubt it.

Via Pharyngula.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A YouTube ode to college

I hope someone got an A on this film project.

Frank Rich on the GOP's woes

From the New York Times. Money quote:

Will the 2008 G.O.P. go the way of the 1936 G.O.P., which didn’t reclaim the White House until 1952? Even factoring in the Democrats’ time-honored propensity for self-immolation, it’s not beyond reason. The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.

The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.

Parting shot:

The worse news for the country is that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead.

Obama to give up the Blackberry? Oh noes...

Welcome to the 21st 20th century, Mr. President...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bad Astronomy: Actual pictures of planets outside our solar system

Holy. Cow.

Go here. I'm giddy, but nothing like he is.

Oh, and remember all those jokes about the Hubble Telescope? Who's laughing now?

A compelling commentary on the auto industry's situation

For certain commentators who want to see the big three US auto makers go under, here's perspective:

GM's heavy-duty hybrid technology would be far more revolutionary than Toyota's.

The Toyota technology can only be applied to smaller, lighter vehicles topping out at perhaps the Highlander SUV. Such vehicles are only suited to commuting. In contrast, GM's technology (developed with BMW and Chrysler) can be applied to huge vehicles pickups, commercial trucks, and buses.

In other words, the vehicles that consume vastly more amounts of fuel per vehicle, if not in total, than passenger vehicles. And GM leads the pack.

The post also makes a good point: There is a vast support system based on the auto industry, and this will lead to trickle-down effects of the worst order. We need them for now, and the people doing the design and manufacture need help. The suits, not so much.

I think we could be approaching a certain tipping point in automobile manufacturing. As I see it, the big three became the big three because at the turn of the 20th century, the process was so capital-intensive, it could only be accomplished by capital barons with deep pockets. It took massive amounts of money to put forth the type of plant that could produce a car, an order of magnitude worth of money, and once you got a good chunk of the market, it was tough for others to capture enough of the market for themselves for it to be worth the trouble to go through the loans process.

It's still not cheap: my nephew, Tim, is a finance director for a dealership. He said if I was to take my 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix and make it myself, it would cost me roughly $300,000-$400,000 in custom-made parts, compared to the $26,000 I actually paid for it. Youch.

But, guess what? Things are changing (it's deep insight like this that are the reasons I'm a highly-unpaid amateur blogger). Manufacturing processes are becoming more automated all the time. Custom motorcycle manufacturers are almost commonplace. Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines are available by lease to an increasing degree. The abundance of expertise in the manufacture of carbon-fiber means not only new types of cars, but new processes that are available for making a car, and which do not require massive machinery, thus lowering the bar even further. The brothers Magliozzi from Car Talk on NPR did a fun program for public television earlier this year: Car of the Future. Tom Magliozzi visited with a gentleman who had such a prototype SUV built with a carbon-fiber body. It was nothing for Tom to lift an entire body section with two hands, a feat impossible had it been made of steel.

What we are seeing, in my opinion, is the auto industry gradually heading the same direction that we've seen the telecommunications business go: more players becoming increasingly balkanized because the opportunity to get in on the ground floor gets more cost-effective all the time.

HT: Slog.

Tangled Bank #118: Open letter to Barack Obama

Money quote from here:

"Put an end to manufactured controversies like creationism, and intelligent design, and educate the public about the facts behind evolutionary biology: evolution is the foundational concept upon which all of modern biology - including next-generation genetic research - is based."

Dan Savage on Anderson Cooper's show

A shout out to my friends Mickey, Jenn, and JP.

Via Sullivan:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yglesias: Rachel Maddow is a national treasure.

Watch this, Sarah Palin, this is your opponent:

And a damn fine point: She's hoovering up every media appearance she can find to complain about the media. Can we just not use the term "the media" ever again, please? They aren't all united in their purpose, they're not receiving their marching orders from one source from which they fear retribution if they step off the path.

Well, OK; Fox...

I wonder if Keith Olbermann still wears blue jeans under the anchor desk? Me, I blog naked.

HT: Matt Yglesias.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dave Galloway: A tough cyclist

The image on the header of his blog will make you smile. The picture of his bike a ways down the page should make you cringe.

Via Joe Lindsey.


Holy guacamole, this game is addictive...

Ben Smith: Jews voted against Prop 8

Wonder if anyone's going to be picketing Jewish temples over this?

Have I mentioned how religion leads to bigotry? I wonder how many atheists voted in favor of Prop 8? Maybe nobody bothered to tally those figures. We don't count in this country, after all [/sarcasm].

You ever have one of those days when you get up and down mixed up? That's this post in a nutshell: I had originally intepreted it to mean that Jewish voters had supported Prop 8, but they hadn't; they were opposed to the measure and defending gay rights to marry. I screwed up royally, and I'm sorry. I'll do better.


"I would have preferred more opportunity to speak to the media more often"
-- Sarah Palin.

Is she fucking kidding me? She would have preferred to speak to the trained seals in the right-wing media like Sean Hannity more often.

Via Sullivan.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quote of the day

"My reputation as a ladies man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone."
--Leonard Cohen.

Olbermann: Worst Person(s)

On a lighter Countdown note, Billy scores a hat trick:

Olbermann on Prop 8

Overwrought, yes. But so what?

Darwin/Lincoln bicentennial

With all the talk among academia of how Charles Darwin's 200th birthday celebration is next year, what is kinda-sorta overlooked is that Darwin was born the same date as Abraham Lincoln. Follow the links to find bicentennial celebrations for each man.

Digital Cuttlefish is brilliant

Best. Poem. Ever.

God save us from the Atheists--
They're even worse than Gays;
God save us from depravity and wicked, wicked ways.

They reek of impropriety
And decadence and sin
Their morals do not come from God, but rather from within!

Their Bedrock Moral Values
Are discarded in the dust;
No fear of Hell prevents them from succumbing to their lust!

Why, only our profound belief
In God's Most Holy Joys
Prevents us from--well, most of us--molesting altar boys!

As Jesus said, "forgive them"
In His final mortal breath--
We'd never bother cracker-thieves, nor threaten them with death.

Our Faith provides humility--
We know that we are flawed.
And sometimes our appeals for tithes are bordering on fraud

And looking through our history
Of meeting other cultures
It seems sometimes we're not quite doves so much as we are vultures

But through it all, we're moral
Cos we're acting in God's Name;
And when our culture goes to Hell... there's Atheists to blame.

Intelligent design smackdown!

Money quote:

The strongest voices of the evening were an atheist and a Christian who agreed that intelligent design is neither science nor worthy of scientific consideration.
Yup, that about covers it.

HT: Pharyngula

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bill Maher New Rules 10/31/2008

I'm a little late for this one, but the song at the end, I think, applies regardless of political seasons.

Bill Maher: Post-election New Rules

"If (Obama) puts a moon roof in the Presidential limo, he's not making himself fuhrer; he's just trying to get the smell of stupid out of the seats."

Loneliness sucks.

And now we have the evidence to prove it.

People do like to be alone sometimes. But no one likes to feel lonely – to feel that they are alone against their will, or that the social contacts they do have are without deeper meaning. According to Cacioppo and Patrick the feeling of loneliness is the least of it. They present scientific evidence suggesting that loneliness seriously burdens human health. By middle age, the lonely are less likely to exercise and more likely to eat a high-fat diet, and they report experiencing a greater number of stressful events. Loneliness correlates with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. During a four-year study, lonely senior citizens were more likely to end up in nursing homes; during a nine-year study, people with fewer social ties were two to three times more likely to die.
Via Sullivan.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jeff Buckley: Last Goodbye

Damn, I love this song.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stability ball exercises

It's cold, wet, and nasty here in Iowa today, and I'm staring at my stability ball, which serves as part of my living room decor. I'm posting this as a public service for cyclists for winter, and personal motivation.

Quote of the day.

"I know, putting this in God's hands, the right thing for America will be done on November 4."

--Sarah Palin

Via Ed Brayton.



"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

--Susan B. Anthony

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE) folds its cards

Via Joe Lindsey:

The Agency for Cycling Ethics, which conducted independently monitored anti-doping testing for three U.S.-based cycling teams, is going out of business immediately, according to its CEO and the owner of one of those teams.

"I can confirm that the Agency for Cycling Ethics is closing operations," co-founder and CEO Paul Strauss, a Los Angeles anesthesiologist, wrote in an e-mail to ESPN.com. "We have no other comments regarding this."

ACE's dissolution after two years leaves Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia and BMC Racing scrambling for other options. All three teams felt the program was necessary despite more frequent and intensive testing by traditional anti-doping and sporting organizations and were willing to pay six-figure amounts for it in order to underscore their commitment to riding clean.

Brilliant short piece on the Cassini mission to Saturn

Wonderful narration by Carolyn Porco, the mission director. If you have science admirers, or--even better--know kids who can be awed by the wonders of science, steer the toward this.

Quote of the day

"How on Earth did John McCain let this dim bulb get that close to the White House?"
--Keith Olbermann. And no, your second guess doesn't count (down).

Brooklyn cops accused of radio antenna sodomy

This reminds me of a George Carlin line: "If you need sensitivity training to know not to shove a large, cumbersome object up someone's asshole, maybe you're too fucked up to be on the police force in the first place."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Andrew Sullivan rips Palin for all he's worth

She apparently didn't know or care that Africa wasn't one country. And that's according to Fox News.

People in my own family can't stand the thought of an Obama presidency. My two-word counter is always, "President Palin."
Update: Well, that was a lot of hot air over nothing.

Olbermann: Election Night reax

I get chills seeing the crowd in Grant Park following the big announcement. Wow. Just wow.


Ed Brayton:

In California, exit polls showed that those who attended church regularly voted against marriage equality 83-17%. Those who attended church only occasionally voted for marriage equality 60-40%. Those who do not attend church at all voted for marriage equality 86-14%. There is still much work to be done.
And yes, again, I'm being wildly generalizing. Sue me. Or better yet, try to prove me wrong. I'll wait.

You can have Sarah Palin; we've got Obama Girl!

Total cheesecake, I admit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Leonard Cohen "Democracy"

Edited 11/5/2008: The original.

Leonard Cohen - Democracy Lyrics

It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Obama's speech

My first effort at live-blogging. Let's see how well the typing skills hold up.

Probably half a million people in Grant Park. The guys selling loose joints are making a fortune.

Opening remarks about removing doubts about our founding principles--any doubters still out there?

Nod to the people standing in line all these hours/days.

"We are and always will be the United States of America."

Calls to an end to cynicism. However justified in the past, he's right...change has come to America.

McCain's name met with no boos. See how it's done, McCain supporters? This is how you're supposed to do it.

The girls are getting a new puppy. Cute.

Michelle Obama: First black first lady. Wonder how she feels about that.

Acknowledges David Plouff and David Axelrod. THEY DESERVE IT. He called it right: they put together the best campaign team in the history of politics.

He knows how far he's come in how short of a time. And he knows how many people ponied up their greenbacks to make it happen. "This is your victory."

Damn, this guy can talk.

Shades of MLK: "I know that we as a people will get there."

Good, he calls the partisan bickering "immaturity." And then invokes Lincoln as a contrast in the very next breath. Appealing to unity. Well done.

Gracious to his opponents. Speaks to the world. "A new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

"To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you."

Story of a woman casting her ballot in Atlanta. Ann Nixon Cooper, age 106. A woman who's lived in three centuries, who once would have been denied the vote because of color and gender. Shows how far we've come as a country, and goes into his "Yes we can" theme marvelously.

I'm just enjoying the performance right now.

Thank providence...no gunshot. I was more than a little afraid of that.

Rest well, sir; you've earned it.

Quote of the day

"The international reaction is going to be huge."
--Gov. Bill Richardson, (D) New Mexico.

McCain concedes

"Despite our differences, we are fellow Americans."

Well said, sir.

The crowd's reaction was interesting. They booed Obama at first, until he gestured to knock it off. They got it. They showed respect from this point forward.

I think this is the difference between Obama and Bush: a restoration of dignity and respect to the White House. It's about time.

Oh, crap, Palin got the biggest applause yet. Ladies and gentlemen, behold your future Republican party. I think she and Elizabeth Hasselbeck should have their own Fox show. It'd be a drool-fest for neocons.

Wow, is that Jim Brady in the crowd of McCain's speech? I haven't seen him in forever.

McCain conducted himself with class in his concession speech, anyway. One wonders if this is his swan song. He'll be 74 around the time of re-election, and he might not win even if he chooses to run. All I know is this, he can take a break and grab some sleep.

President Obama

NBC News calls it. I'm stunned. I'm as white of a white man as it gets, and I'm getting choked up. I can't quite fathom it. It's incredible.

I think of all the times I've wondered in my life why I choose to continue my life, when the struggles have been so personally difficult for me. Other than the obvious reasons of friends and family, I'm now grateful I've held on. The Bush/Cheney/Rove cancer has been expunged. A black man is president. And it's happened in my lifetime. I think of all the people who have striven for this, bled for it, been jailed for it. And a schlub like me gets a front-row seat.

Funny world.

Andrew Sullivan is right. Know hope.
Note to Democrats: Don't. Get. Cocky.

Election 2008.

How fitting. NBC has been making use of Luke Russert, son of the late Tim Russert, to report on the "youth vote" from Indiana University. Sure, it's a token gesture, but how classy is that?

Interesting how NBC News is teasing us. Brian Williams is exhorting people to stay tuned for breaking news at the top of the hour. Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan has spilled the beans by saying Fox News calls Virginia for Obama. Looks like a lot of people in the traditional media (tradmed, if you will) still have something to learn from neo-media. Instant gratification hath no greater friend than the Internet.

If Obama wins this thing, I can't help but wonder how much of a trickle-down effect this is going to have. How many organizations are all of a sudden going to pay more attention to promoting minority figures and marketing their products to them as a result of reading the ethnic tea leaves? Katie Couric broke ground as the first female anchor for one of the big three tradmed news organizations. When will we have a black person heading the news division of such a place? All I know is this: racism looks more and more stupid by the day. GOOD.

Now for the next step: an end to the nasty demonization of people of the opposite party. Well, OK, that ain't never going to happen. But the practice will become harder and harder. Matt Yglesias had a smart take on how the right-wing liars have their work increasingly cut out for them to spread their damagogic feces because of an increasingly "progressive" (read: liberal) infrastructure in the media, traditional and otherwise. Fascinating stuff.

Matt Yglesias: Good Riddance

I agree with every word:

(W)e got what we got. Not because the political coalition of which Bush was a part was so rotten that nothing else could happen, but in large part because he was so rotten that he drove or suppressed the best elements of his coalition and spread the rot around.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ben Affleck does a PERFECT spoof of Keith Olbermann

FINALLY, someone does a spoof on KO's Special Comments that is even more over the top than the real thing. And remember, he did this WITHOUT CUE CARDS. You have no idea how hard that is.

Republicans are heartless goons.

Yes, John, I know I'm guilty of wild, blatant generalization. So what?

(T)he California Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, in part because of a visit Sen. Barack Obama made to his dying grandmother.

"Obama for America violated federal law by converting its campaign funds to Senator Obama's personal use," the release stated. "Senator Obama recently traveled to Hawaii to visit his sick grandmother. This was the right thing for any grandson to do -- at his own expense -- but it was not travel that his campaign may fund."

The Obama campaign said it was cleared by lawyers beforehand, but I'm not going to pick legal nits...this is exactly why I hate these goons. They had the INFERNAL FUCKING GALL TO DO THIS THE SAME DAY HIS GRANDMOTHER FUCKING DIED!!!!!

And let's be clear...if the RNC has a legitimate beef with the Obama campaign over whether or not this trip was on the up-and-up, handle it behind the scenes, you craven slime. You're not just guilty of being tasteless, insensitive, and tone-deaf, you're also guilty of the worst timing in political history. And you deserve to have your asses handed to you on Election Day.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fixter trickster

I'm not sure if this is the coolest or gayest bike trick video I've ever seen...

Via BikeSnobNYC.

Olbermann: An appeal to McCain

It's been over a week, and it's still relevant.

And McCain is still silent.

The Republican mayor of San Diego supports gay marriage

Wow. Just wow...

That, folks, is what politics in this country should be about...the ability to man up and admit you were wrong.

Via Sullivan.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best. Blog. Ever.

Go here. NOW! RUN, DON'T WALK!!!

A smart ad on gay marriage

I've been in Louisiana all week, and I'm catching up on Andrew Sullivan's blog. This ad on Proposition 8 in California (which would overturn their Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage) is a smart piece of commentary:

Notice how they cut the rug out from under the argument by pretending that instead of gay marriage, they're talking about interracial marriage, instead? And the in-your-face ending, "Vote no on Proposition Hate" cuts right to the heart of the issue. This isn't about some abstraction like defending marriage, it's about giving the finger to people who hate gays. These people are pathetic and need a swift kick in the ideological teeth.

As a former broadcaster, this is an excellent piece. It's well-conceived, smartly written, and absolutely calls out the other side on the main issues: Bigotry and hatred.

Good work, kids.

Cycling PSA for Obama

I know some people who watch this ad don't agree with my politics, but it's still pretty funny, in that it's a cyclist's worst nightmare come to life.

HT: Sullivan

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Olbermann: On fruit flies and false allegations

One of the reasons I like Countdown is that Olbermann, while being a bit of a screech, has plenty of well-reasoned regular guests. Listen to Richard Wolfe's opening comment about Sarah Palin's fruit fly comment:

And Gene Robinson's final comment on the Ashley Todd crap--that if the McCain campaign jumped the gun alleging the "attacker" was an Obama supporter, someone should fall on their sword:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tim Minchin: Song of the day

HT: RichardDawkins.net

Obama: The Straight Talk Express shall be mine!

I love the Onion:
Via Sullivan.

Quote of the day.

"They don't think she's qualified to clean the White House, forget about occupying it. And they're right."
--Ed Brayton, on Sarah Palin and independent voters.

Richard Dawkins on terrorism

Written four days after the attacks on the trade centers, but still as pertinent.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Olbermann: O'Reilly's a hypocrite

Knock me over with a feather:

Now, Mr. Bill, if you're going to say that anything 1998 or older is off limits...Ayers who??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Olbermann: ISU Oops

Hey, we're famous!

Whaddya wanna bet they tone down the smoke so they don't have another similar Spinal Tap moment?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Obama: Transcript

From MSNBC.com:

(TOM) BROKAW: Well, let's move to the American presidential campaign now, if we can. We saw at the beginning of this broadcast a short tease of what you had to say just a month ago. Let's share with our viewers now a little more of Colin Powell on these two candidates and your position.

(Videotape, September 20, 2008)

GEN. POWELL: I'm an American, first and foremost, and I'm very proud--I said, I've said, I've said to my beloved friend and colleague John McCain, a friend of 25 years, "John, I love you, but I'm not just going to vote for you on the basis of our affection or friendship." And I've said to Barack Obama, "I admire you. I'll give you all the advice I can. But I'm not going to vote for you just because you're black." We, we have to move beyond this.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: General Powell, actually you gave a campaign contribution to Senator McCain. You have met twice at least with Barack Obama. Are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates that you're prepared to support?

GEN. POWELL: Yes, but let me lead into it this way. I know both of these individuals very well now. I've known John for 25 years as your setup said. And I've gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past two years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president. I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that's a choice the party makes. And I've said to Mr. Obama, "You have to pass a test of do you have enough experience, and do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president."

And I've watched him over the past two years, frankly, and I've had this conversation with him. I have especially watched over the last six of seven weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we are in and coming out of the conventions. And I must say that I've gotten a good measure of both. In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to deal with the economic problems that we were having and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me, sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired; but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one. And also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. I also believe that on the Republican side over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He's crossing lines--ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He's thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values.

And I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.

Now, I understand what politics is all about. I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me. And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration. I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we've got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

Colin Powell endorses Obama

Short version: He liked Obama's selection of Biden, didn't think Palin was a good choice, having watched her for the past seven weeks, and has a bad taste in his mouth over the usual Republican smear tactics. He called the relationship with Bill Ayers, "Very, very limited...this goes too far." And about the Muslim slurs:

"Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.

“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society."

A wiser person than me put it best: the whole Obama/Osama crap gives the racists an excuse not to vote for Obama without actually calling him the N-word.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stylish bike helmets?

Figures, they're from Denmark.

HT: Matt Yglesias.

Chicago Tribune endorses Obama

Not a slam-dunk, they're fairly conservative. Money quote:

"Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

"We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

"We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready."

Quote of the day II

"Walking into a room full of dead bodies is one thing; walking into a room full of dead bodies in clown suits is something else entirely."

Yglesias on Liddy

Bottom line: G. Gordon Liddy is to McCain what Bill Ayers is to Barack Obama. Get over yourself, Mac.

McCain and Obama roast each other

Ed Brayton's already done the heavy lifting. This is really, seriously, non-politically funny. Go here.

Quote of the day.

"Ignorant Christian Fascism is not a recipe for success, it's Saudi Arabia under a different prophet. Count me out. Despite differing with the Democratic platform on a great number of policies, I will gladly vote for the Obama ticket because at a minimum it promises adults at the helm, a rational approach to policymaking, the return of science over theocracy, the restoration of the primacy of the rule of law, and the creative destruction of that assemblage once known as the GOP."
--A reader of Andrew Sullivan.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're Famous!

Andrew Sullivan showcases Ames, IA!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I thought Wasilla was a yeast infection I got at Ohio State."
--Richard Lewis.

Asteroid impact

No reason, it's just a cool video.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Bike City: I HAZ BYK!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Invincible...

Final tally: $3300 for the frame, $5900 for the complete bike. Parts list:
I got the frame Monday, October 6th, started building it that night, and promptly found that Moots had built the seat tube to a larger diameter than I had planned on. Therefore the only real snag (other than my own inexperience in building bikes) was in getting a front derailleur from Bike World with the proper clamp diameter. That took a couple days to sort out, but once I got everything together, the bike weighed 19.25 pounds without bottles, but with everything else listed above. In other words, real-world weight, not trumped up claims of the lightest frame around before it's useful (are you listening, bike manufacturers?)

Once everything worked its way out, I rode the bike home Wednesday night in street clothes, and took it out for its first ride in "real" clothes that Friday with my friend Kim. Simply, it lives up to expectations. It's a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship and it's worth every penny.

And like I've been saying, I defy anyone to take a look at any single piece of that bike and say it looks out of place. I'd wanted to go for a classic-looking bike made out of the best modern materials, and I scored a grand slam.

Thanks go out to the following:

Jon Cariveau from Moots, who did an excellent job putting together the proposed design and serving as my contact. Praise goes to all the employees there involved in the fabrication process...you are true artisans.

Kim Topp and Marc Seeman, for reminding me that above all, this is a fun sport.

Tom Healy, chief mechanic at Bike World Ames, for putting up with my snowstorm of questions and for doing a damned fine job of both building my wheels and not throwing me out of the shop when I became a pest.

Eric Grootveld of Bike World, for reminding me that this isn't supposed to be cheap or easy. Thanks, Grote; taking that advice to heart was well worth it. But I still dispute that perfection can't come in 700 x 23 :-)

And above all, Steve and Leann Lauber of BW. You guys have gone from being good business acquaintances to being better friends, and I thank you for everything.

Spin easy, friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coolest bike frame ever.

From the Interbike trade show, this little gem costs $12,000...for the frame.

And I thought my tastes were expensive...

Dan Savage: In Defense of Dignity

Anyone who reads this and remained unmoved is a cad.

Suddenly, the doctor was at the door to my mother's room again. He waved me out into the hall. He needed a medical directive. Immediately. Her vital signs were tanking. If we were going to put a tube in her, and put her on machines that could breathe for her, it had to be now. Right now. So it fell to me to walk back into my mother's room...(and) tell her she was going to die..."
The piece to which I've linked is Savage's exhortation to the voters of Washington State to vote in favor of a proposition to allow assisted suicide for the terminally ill, a so-called "death with dignity" initiative. He just watched his mother die of pulminary fibrosis a couple of months ago, so he's in a position to know what he's talking about.

And the Catholic Church and other life-at-all-costs organizations are fighting it. This line captures all my libertarian sensibilities perfectly:
"The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don't approve of abortion? Don't have one. Don't approve of gay marriage? Don't have one. Don't approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ's sake, don't have one. But don't tell me I can't have one—each one—because it offends your God.

"Fuck your God."
Or, if you like, fuck your idea of what you think God wants.

This is especially heart-wrenching to me because of my own mother's situation. She's in a nursing home, in stable health, but with a degenerative condition that will never allow for improvement. And I think about how she will die constantly. How will I react when/if I am someday put into this position? How long will I be able to "hold it together" to make the decisions that can only be made once and had best be made correctly?

I don't know.

All I know is, my heart goes out to Savage and his family.

HT: Pharyngula
Update: Savage has more here. Reader reactions and their own heart-rending stories here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rachael Ray strokes an ear of corn

Sometimes, this stuff writes itself:

HT: Ed Brayton.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Breakin'--for Jesus?

And you thought The Lawrence Welk Show was creepy:

http://view.break.com/575834 - Watch more free videos

Monday, October 6, 2008

PZ Myers pwns a homophobic preacher.

Hilarious. A snippet of a quote can't do it justice. Just go here.

Dear Sarah: Apologize, you loose-lipped nobody!

That from Margo Howard, Abigail Van Buren's daughter and heir to the "Dear Abby" advice column. Money quote from The New Republic:

"To live on the same street and to have served on a board with Billy Ayers, part of the Weather Underground when Obama was in grade school and now a professor, is not my idea of "palling around with." I think this hockey mom/moose skinner fits perfectly into the class war she is helping perpetuate, even though she has none.

"It would have far more factual validity for Obama, or a surrogate, to publicize the fact that Track, the kid who joined the Army, did so because a judge told him it was that or jail due to his dealing drugs. I have a strong hunch, however, the Obama people would never get into that."