Sunday, February 29, 2004

Top 10 Odd Passion of Christ Related Ephemera

  1. Passion of Christ: Movie tickets bearing the Mark of the Beast. Some patrons at a Georgia (stop giggling) theater complained that their tickets bore the number 666. Apparently, the machine that prints the tickets randomly assigned the number as a prefix on all the tickets for the movie.
  2. Passion of Christ: Producer Credit for the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit was working through me” – Mel Gibson on the making of his movie, The Passion of the Christ.
  3. Passion of Christ: Reviewed by God? Actor Jim Caviezel was struck by lightning while portraying Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
  4. Passion of Christ: Critics of the Passion aid/are Satan. Gibson refers to critics of The Passion as “the force of Satan” or “dupes of Satan.”
  5. Passion of Christ: BAD because Jesus’ hair is too long. Amongst other wackier and often more frightening criticisms of the flick.
  6. Passion of Christ: Nail pendant. “Take a reminder of His sacrifice with you everywhere you go.”
  7. Passion of Christ: T-shirt. But of course.
  8. Passion of Christ: NASCAR hood advert. Seriously. Guess, like Bush, Mel wants to nab the NASCAR dads.
  9. Passion of Christ: Coffee Mugs. Share a last cuppa java with the Savior.
  10. Passion of Christ: Inspiring Tattoos? Denis Haack of Ransom Fellowship offers some talking points for the movie, including this one:
    Consider a cross as a piece of jewelry and as a tattoo. Could the argument be made that if a Christian is going to wear a cross, it should be a tattoo (instead of jewelry) because the tattoo involved pain, is far more permanent, and serves less to “prettify” than to identify? Why or why not?
I reserve the right to edit this litany as even wackier stuff surfaces.[Update: Just knew I'd have more to add to this one: as they roll out of the top 10, I'll post the ones that drop off below.]

Former contenders:

Mel's Gal in Hell

Mel Gibson believes his wife may be on her way to hell:
"Gibson, interviewed by the Herald Sun in Australia, was asked if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. 'There is no salvation for those outside the (Catholic) church,' Gibson replied. 'I believe it.'

He elaborated: 'Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it; she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.' "
Just when you think this guy couldn't get any more extreme. Suddenly, Scientologist wackos like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are looking postively attractive.

What Would Gibson Do?

Describing his feelings about one critic who linked anti-Semitic remarks Gibson's father made to his movie, The Passion, Mel Gibson said: "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick... I want to kill his dog."

Glad to see that making a movie about Jesus Christ has had such a settling influence upon Gibson's temperament. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Hitchens Vs. Gibson

Christopher Hitchens doesn't exactly have a history of amity where Catholics are concerned. Consider his ruminations on Mother Theresa, for example. So we shouldn't be surprised at his thoughts on Mel Gibson and his new movie:
A coward, a bully, a bigmouth, and a queer-basher. Yes, we have been here before. The word is fascism, in case you are wondering, and we don't have to sit through that movie again.
Hitchens actually makes some convincing headway with his argument that Gibson's fascination with Christ's suffering borders on the fascistic. Outright fascism isn't going to be tolerated in the United States these days, but we do see its slightly more sophisticated 21st century cousin here all the time.

Other opinions:
Quentin Tarantino, if given the same subject, almost certainly would have made a meeker film. - Stephen Prothero
The underlying conception seems to be to take a particularly gory painterly representation of Jesus on the cross—the German Lucas Cranach (1472-1553) particularly comes to mind—and to do a very long sequence of overlapping takes, each meant to evoke a painting of the agonizing Jesus done in somber oil colors. Imagine a slide show of nearly identical Cranachs going on for two hours and you have something of the effect of Gibson's cinema of cruelty. - Robert Alter
What does this protracted exercise in sadomasochism have to do with Christian faith? I'm asking; I don't know. - David Edelstein

SSA Won't Recognize Married Gays

All those marriages in San Francisco are beginning to have an effect. Wonder who had to make this call:
The Social Security Administration has told its offices nationwide not to accept marriage certificates from San Francisco as proof of identification for newlyweds looking to make name changes on Social Security cards.
Makes you wonder: who will start recognizing them. This has to be the beginning of a tidal wave.

As New Paltz, NY Green Party mayor, Jason West said, "What we're witnessing in America today is the flowering of the largest civil rights movement the country's had in a generation."

Twenty-five gay couples exchanged vows in that New York village yesterday.

John Howard: Blogger

Bizarre. John Howard has a blog. John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, that is.

A typical entry:
it was great that the Australian media weren't allowed to speak to George. I mean, there are some cool and smart journos like Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackerman who are totally even-handed and fair, but then there are stupid loser journos like Phillip Adams and Kerry O'Brien who are just totally biased and lame. I reckon that it was better that we let un-biased and neutral journalists like CNN cover the event. Because everyone knows that it's un-Australian if you're not egalitarian (which Janette says means "non-discriminatory", which she says means "equal"). CNN are very egalitarian, so they're very Australian. But Phillip Adams and Kerry O'Brien aren't very Australian at all. We should send them to Guantanamo Bay.
OK, so it's a satire. A somewhat successful one.

Orson Scott Card

Shouldn't a sci-fi writer like Orson Scott Card be expected to think, you, know, scientifically? Guess not when you allow Mormon doctrine to replace empiricism with muddled thinking:
No law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.

Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.

So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage. . . .

However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were.
Not exactly visionary thinking for a science fiction writer.

Jefferson on Altering the Constitution

Sir Ian McKellan quoted Jefferson on Bill Maher's show tonight to great effect:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Sage advice. Sad it is then, that the far right now wants to ignore new truths, to deny elightenment, to make a change to our Constitution that reinforces ages-old barbarism.

Friday, February 27, 2004

I Agree With Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell just told Alan Colmes on FOX News' Hannity & Colmes that Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" isn't anti-semitic, it's anti-human. I don't know about the anti-Semitic part, but, from everything I hear about the flick, I agree that it's anti-human. Only, Falwell didn't mean that as a criticism. I do. One only need visit conservative sites like National Review's The Corner to see conservatives flagellating themselves and the rest of us, implicating us all in Christ's death:

Rannesh Ponnuru:
I not only wanted to crucify Him; I did. But I think I did so because I'm a sinner, not because I'm a conservative (except in the sense that all conservatives are necessarily sinners).
Rod Dreher:
Which is all to say that this film made me understand in my bones that if I had been there, I probably would have wanted to crucify him too. And, as the Church teaches, in some mystical way, I did.
Clearly, these statements allude to Catholic/Christian beliefs outlining mankind's culpability in the death of Christ. I find such beliefs offensive and anti-human. Not to mention, reeking with self-hatred. Perhaps, such beliefs partly explain Gibson's desire to revel in splattered blood and viscera.

Falwell capped his interview by saying this has been a great week because of two things that happened. One being the release of The Passion, the other being "our couragous president " recommending an amendment to the consititution to uphold marriage as it should be, between a man and woman.

Department of Homeland Security: the Series

The real Department of Homeland Security

Sounds like a bad joke, right? But D.H.S: the Series is for real. And it's been endorsed by President Bush. Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge even recorded sound bites for the series' opening credits. Is it OK if I go ahead and call it propaganda now?

"How do we know that we are truly safe?" the cheesy/foreboding trailer asks.

As it happens, I'm getting sworn in as a U.S. citizen at the Office of Homeland Security next Wednesday. Seems their duties are usually a little more pedestrian than this show would have you believe.

Frum Versus Sullivan

The National Review's David Frum poses eight questions for Andrew Sullivan, attempting to undermine Sullivan's proposed compromise: "a federal constitutional amendment that would solely say that no state is required to recognize a civil marriage from another state."

Sample question from Frum:
A Massachusetts man buys a condo in Miami. He marries another Massachusetts man. The condo purchaser dies before he can write a new will. Who inherits the condo?
Frum's oddly effective here in making a great case for skipping any compromise and simply granting the same rights to gay couples that heterosexual couples enjoy. Of course, I don't think that's what he intended.

What he really suspects is "that 'letting the states decide' will over time gradually evolve into a demand to allow the most liberal states to impose their social values on the others through the mechanism of a million petty lawsuits on a thousand different issues." Right, Mr. Frum, in the same way that African-Americans imposed their social values on the rest of us.

Mel's Sell

It's becoming clearer and clearer that, despite Mel Gibson's stated claim that he wished to create the most accurate movie about the Passion he could, his movie actually strays often from anything we read in the Bible.

Many have detailed these contrivances already, but here Catholic blogger William J. Cork provides his own litany of "snippets" which show "both the exaggeration of the role of the Jews, and other points beyond the Biblical account."

In another essay he wrote about Gibson's movie, Cork concludes that it's clearly anti-Semitic.
The cumulative effect of the depiction of the Jews is troubling. It is by far the worst I've ever seen in a Christian movie, recalling the excesses of medieval passion plays and Oberammergau--minus only a horned headdress for the high priest.

A Little History Repeating

Writing to the Washington Post Edward Stein reminds us that amendments to the Constitution around marriage have been proposed before:
On Dec. 12, 1912, Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry (R-Ga.) proposed this amendment to the Constitution:

"Intermarriage between negros or persons of color and Caucasians . . . within the United States . . . is forever prohibited."

The amendment did not pass, even though the majority of Americans opposed interracial marriage and advocates argued this amendment was necessary to save the sacred institution of marriage.

Let us hope that the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage meets the same fate.
Let's hope that the attention drawn to the subject of gay marriage right now will only enable a swifter assignation of rights for gays. And let's hope that many on the right are repulsed enough by the hate emanating from the far right that they change their opinions on the issue more quickly than they might have, too. (Via Andrew Sullivan)

How Violent is Gibson's Passion Of The Christ?

Violent enough that a Missouri woman died of a heart attack during the crucifixion scene.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

John Derbyshire's Response

John Derbyshire responded to my email with a single question: "But I don't have any of those rights either, in respect of my male friends. So what are youy [sic] lacking, that everyone else is not lacking?"

Kind of a disingenuous question, of course, since tacit in that response is a refusal to consider a gay couple as any different from two random male friends. I took his question seriously anyway:
Hi John,

Gotta point out a problem here to begin with: I'm not gay and it's funny how people who are so dead-set against gays rights so often assume that if someone's defending gay rights, then they must be gay. I don't mind being mistaken for gay - that's not the issue. It just demonstrates what an unusual point of bias you're coming from.

But to answer your question: we’re not talking about *friends*; we’re talking about committed couples. Do you have a male partner you've been living with have a committed relationship with, perhaps for decades? No, I don't think so. You're comparing apples and oranges. Your or my friendship with other men doesn't bear any resemblance to the very real and loving relationships many gay couples have. I know gay couples who are in loving long-term relationships. It's unfair to stereotype gays as individuals who engage in serial short-term relationships. But even if it *were* true, denying gays the right to marry wouldn't help such a problem. Giving them the right to marry and live openly as a loving couple in society, on the other hand *might* encourage more long-term relationships.

Obviously, the breakdown really occurs here because you’re not willing to define a couple as homosexual. (Two male friends does not equal one gay couple.) You have to examine you’re reasoning for that. If you’re basing your definition on tradition or religion, then that’s a completely different issue. And I don’t believe people’s religious beliefs should be governing decisions we make about altering the Constitution.

Ten years ago, I would've been on the complete other side of the issue on this one (I went to Bob Jones University), but I've met many gay people, questioned the beliefs I was handed growing up, and I just find those beliefs completely untenable now. I'm really convinced that we'll look back on the way we treat gays now in the same way we look back on the way we used to treat other African Americans: with shame.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

ATTN: John Derbyshire

Today on the National Review Online, conservative columnist John Derbyshire wrote:
I am totally at a loss with this "gay marriage" business.

Can someone please tell me

(A) Which civil right homosexuals citizens currently do not have,


(B) Which civil right they currently have, that they will no longer have if the President's FMA proposal is enacted?

Thank you. Brief answers only, please.
I assume Derbyshire's truly concerned and not just being a condescending, heartless bastard, so I wrote him to alert him to the following facts.

A brief visit to GLAD reveals that a gay couple, regardless of how long they've been together does not have the following rights and/or benefits:

  • Lesbian and gay couples are not automatically entitled to medical decision-making powers and hospital visitation rights when his/her partner falls ill.
  • A same-sex partner of a worker injured or killed is not entitled to dependency benefits from the worker's compensation system.
  • Protections for families of crime victims, including confidentiality of address, the right to information, and the right to make a victim impact statement are not available to a same-sex partner.
  • Same-sex partners are not entitled to family medical and bereavement leaves from employers.
  • Lesbian and gay couples lack access to family health and auto insurance policies.
  • The surviving same-sex partner is not entitled to protections such as taking a forced share of the estate, and transition protections related to staying in the family home, receiving allowances from the estate to meet current expenses, and being allowed to drive the family car.
  • Surviving lesbian and gay partners are denied automatic inheritance rights, along with spousal preference for administering the estate and taking care of a loved one's remains.
  • A same-sex partner of a public employee is not entitled to pension survivor rights and accidental death benefits.
  • In addition, partners of police officers, firefighters and prosecutors who are killed on the job do not have access to line of duty benefits
  • Gay men and lesbians do not have standing to bring claims of wrongful death or loss of consortium when a loved one's death results from wrongdoing.
  • Lesbian and gay couples are not entitled to legal protections upon the dissolution of their relationship, such as equitable division of property based on both parties' contributions to the relationship and the possibility of partner support.
  • If the couple has children, there is no automatic system for deciding on adequate child support as well as custody and visitation based on their best interest.
That's a good start, isn't it?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Limericks for Conservatives With Designs on Evil

On Sean Hannity's Deliver Us From Evil

It’s clear that Sean Hannity
Has no grip on his sanity
But if his prayer were heard
And evil were purged
Oh what it would do for his vanity!

But the liberals are rightly aflame
Since his doctrine is clearly insane
Terror equals liberal?
How mighty uncivil!
Hannity’s gone bonkers again!

On Perle & Frum's An End to Evil

Oh joy, oh great delight!
The end of all evil’s in sight!
Thanks to the gents Perle and Frum,
The war against terror is won
And we can all sleep soundly tonight!

Break Out!

Just heard Tavis Smiley interviewing commentator Connie Rice (not to be confused with "Condi") of Advancement Project about Tom Delay's redistricting antics, and she let loose with this great quote:
If you're reduced to window dressing, break the window.
Good advice from her to the Democrats who are watching the Republicans hijack America again. Good advice to all qualified voters this November. (And I'll be among them, having successfully sat for my citizenship interview today.)

The Top 10 Signs Race No Longer Matters

Also came across these great Top Ten lists by Rice on NPR's site. A sampling:
  • When real estate agents no longer ask me to leave and remove family pictures before showing my house.
  • When magazine covers featuring dark-skinned people no longer depress sales.
  • When black women stop using weapons of mass destruction to straighten their hair.
  • When Shoshanna Johnson gets the same book and movie deal enjoyed by Jessica Lynch.
  • When white people stop exclaiming how articulate I am.
  • When white ex-cons no longer get more job call-backs than crime-free blacks with the same resumes.
  • When black sports ignoramuses get fired for saying the same stupid stuff that white sports ignoramuses get fired for.

cc: Mary Cheney

A little too guerilla perhaps, but encourages visitors to email Mary Cheney, the VP's daughter and encourage her to take a visible stand against the anti-gay marriage amendment.

The site explains:
The public has the right to ask this very public person why she is running the re-election campaign of a man who would make her and millions of other Americans second-class citizens, especially in view of an Oct. 13, 2000 Washington Post report that Mary "has lived for years with a female partner, and wears a gold band on the ring finger of her left hand." The public also has the right to ask Vice President Cheney why he believes gay relationships are a threat to society, but then hires a person in a committed gay relationship to run his re-election effort.
Most of the emails (which are posted on the site) are even tempered. A typical message:
Dear Mary,

Please help us. We are all fighting here but we could really use your help. I want to be able to get married. I don't want to be a second class citizen. You can really make a difference.

Jason in Williamsport, PA

Zell Miller (R - Georgia)

This post on the American Street reminds me: Attention, Senate Democrat Zell Miller, it's time to change your party affiliation. Really. It's been time.

More Republican Juvenilia*

If you ever thought that the Democrat's concerns about redistricting in states like Texas were overblown, consider this Republican staffer’s leaked email. In an email with the subject header "R's will pick up 6-7 seats now in Texas," Job Fortson writes
"The maps are now official. I have studied them and this is the most agressive [sic] map I have ever seen. This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood."
"No matter the national mood"? That phrase ought to frighten and revolt every voter in the state of Texas. In 32 subsequent paragraphs (riddled with spelling errors), Fortson explains the status of each congressional district and how they're largely being taken care of.

As points out,
The email is notable for the blunt way in which it address the way in which minorities were shunted from district to district, squeezing them out of districts to favor republicans where the vote was close, or else putting them into overwhelmingly republican districts where their voting power would be diluted.
*with sincere apologies to juvenile writers everywhere

Hannity Is a Thug

I agree with Andrew Sullivan, Sean Hannity is a thug.

We've had a long line of right-wingers blithely peddling this fallacy of limited options: if you're not on board with the war in Iraq, then you're on the side of terror. Now, Hannity sums up this mendacious sentiment with a supremely arrogant book title that manages mainly to be an insult to liberals everywhere: Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism.

Sullivan goes on to describe the title as "obscene":
Why obscene? It is obscene for Hannity to purloin a sentence from the Lord's Prayer in order to advance his partisan political views. And yes, it is also obscene to equate terrorism and despotism with liberalism. Hannity isn't worthy to speak the word "liberalism," a long and complicated and deeply Western political tradition that is the only reason he can actually publish a book like this and face only criticism. To place it in the same context as "terrorism" reveals that this man has no understanding of what this war is about. It's a war in defense of liberalism, in defense of pluralism, in defense of the various peaceful Western political traditions that Islamo-fascism would snuff out in an instant. Even if he wants the word "liberalism" to describe merely a kind of decadent left-liberalism, it's still unconscionable. Peaceful Democratic leftists, however misguided, are not terrorists. . . . This moral equivalence is as disgusting when it appears on the right as it is when it appears on the left. So why is the right so quiet when it is displayed by one of their own?
Put Hannity's book in the same absurd fantasy category besides David Frum and Richard Perle's exercise in wishful thinking, An End to Evil.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

WP: Edwards & Foreign Policy

The Washington Post is hightlighting what it considers an Edwards weakness: his inexperience with foreign policy. Are you people sleeping out there?! Bush? Foreign policy? The man had no experience whatsoever and practically ran as a protectionist.

To their credit they include this quote from Democratic consultant John Weaver:
"In the 2000 campaign, we did not have a debate about foreign policy, partly because [Al] Gore didn't push it and Bush didn't have the depth of experience to press it, either," said John Weaver, a Democratic consultant who was a top strategist to Arizona Sen. John McCain's GOP presidential campaign against Bush four years ago.

"I don't think the voters will allow that to happen again," he added. "Even if they rate the economy as top issue, they want to know in the back of their minds: Can this man lead us in a time of war, in time of choppy waters in foreign policy? You ignore that at your own peril."
Right, but maybe the voters will recognize that Bush still isn't qualified as a foreign policy president and that the foreign policy "experts" in his administration have latched onto outrageous, extremist views. Just maybe.

So, is Kerry more qualified in this area? Probably. But is either man a better fit for the White House? No doubt.

The Republicans have been electing actors and baseball team owners to public office. Here's a really novel idea: let's elect a politician.

Friday, February 20, 2004

The Tragical Story of One Colin Powell

Some of us have wondered over the past couple of years, what happened to the Colin Powell we all respected? Fred Kaplan takes a stab at figuring that out. (Slate)

One particularly telling tale:
At times, Powell has taken his fate with resigned humor. Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in The New Yorker last year of a diplomatic soiree that Powell attended on the eve of war, at which a foreign diplomat recited a news account that Bush was sleeping like a baby. Powell reportedly replied, "I'm sleeping like a baby, too. Every two hours, I wake up, screaming."
One can only hope he'll soon snap out his nightmare and back to reality.

Marke Fiore exposes the gay agenda.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Ann Coulter: Round Two

To her credit, in her new column Anne Coulter tries to set us and herself straight. She's only somewhat successful.

Essentially, Coulter takes the opportunity to pretend that people were angered with her column because they choose to believe Cleland lost his limbs on the battlefield. Wrong. They're angry because of the callous, flippant manner in which she described both his horrific accident and his subsequent service for his country.

First, Coulter ignores the fact that her original article omits any mention of Max Cleland's actual bravery on the battlefield, days before his accident--the bravery for which he was awarded a Silver Star.

Furthermore, her tone is markedly different now when she discusses Cleland's horrific accident:
The poignant truth of Cleland's own accident demonstrates the commitment and bravery of all members of the military who come into contact with ordnance. Cleland's injury was of the routine variety that occurs whenever young men and weapons are put in close proximity -- including in the National Guard.
"Poignant truth." That's a whole lot different than this flip remark: "Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it [blow his limbs off] while in Vietnam."

And then there was this: "Indeed, if Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. senator in the first place. Maybe he'd be the best pharmacist in Atlanta, but not a U.S. senator." In this newest column, Coulter points out that Cleland once said something similar himself, saying "probably been some frustrated history teacher, teaching American government at some junior college."

Clearly the context is different. Cleland's tone was self-deprecating. Coulter's was malicious.

Coulter finishes her piece cogently enough:
Cleland's true heroism came after the war, when he went on to build a productive life for himself. That is a story of inspiration and courage. He shouldn't let the Democrats tarnish an admirable life by "sexing up" his record in order to better attack George Bush.
Agreed. Let's all call a spade a spade. But don't belittle a man's condition simply because he disagrees with your perspective.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Did Drudge Defame?

So is Matt Drudge responsible for tarnishing a journalist's once-respectable byline? Arguably.

Consider this: Drudge directs his audience's interest towards a young female journalist, inferring she's involved with presidential candidate John Kerry. An online sharkfest ensues and now the Web is redolent with blogs and trashy news sites which mention her name only in this tawdry context.

Now, as the Columbia Spectator points out, a few weeks ago, if you googled her name you'd likely have received results which primarily included articles she'd written as a journalist with the Associated Press. Google her now and you're likely to receive a slew of results linking to bloggers and punditry describing her in less than savory terms.

Call it the Monicization of an innocent bystander.

It's not likely Matt Drudge will go to much trouble to clear her name. You'll notice he usually just links to the stuff he wants to sensationalize and writes an inflammatory paragraph or two if he absolutely has to.

As one Columbia journalism student, Saheli Datta, put it, "Okay, so I officially feel bad about my little contribution to the Google deranking of an admirable and once strong byline."

If only Matt Drudge felt the same way.

Headline: Bush Bonks Stripper!!!

As Atrios points out, if Bush acolytes want to direct folks to the National Enquirer in order to slime John Kerry, they might want to check this old Enquirer story out, too.

I think the conservatives who salivated over the charges the National Enquirer and Matt Drudge dredged up should keep the following simple equation in mind:
The National Enquirer OR Matt Drudge DOES NOT EQUAL Journalism

Cheney Dead at 62

VP, Dick Cheney apparently died a few weeks ago and no one seemed to notice.

Not really: apparently, however, Cheney's obit was published pre-emptively on

ATTN: Matt Drudge

Let's consider the chain of events: Clark mentions to reporters that Kerry will fall due to an "intern" scandal; Clark drops out of the race; Clark immediately endorses Kerry; Pundits exchange quizzical glances.

Gee whiz, why would Clark endorse Kerry immediately after outing him?

Maybe, just maybe, the reason Clark endorsed Kerry so quickly was as an act of contrition. Maybe he realized he hadn't quite gotten his facts straight when he made the accusation.

If only Drudge would do the same.

O'Reilly on Gay Marriage

Predictably, he doesn't approve. Bill O'Reilly and his guest, conservative gay radio show host Al Rantel spent several minutes lambasting San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to allow gay marriages in the city, describing his action purely in terms of criminal activity and at no point even considering arguments for it as an act of civil disobedience. Rantel ended his appearance by saying that gay marriage has ruined Denmark. Oh, really? Would you like to describe how, Mr. Rantel? A few statistics maybe on how gay marriage has ruined? O'Reilly, of course, didn't challenge Rantel's remark, but only nodded along with him.

Both O'Reilly and Rantel registered the usual fear: redefining marriage as between any two people, straight or gay, could only lead to a slippery slope. Then O'Reilly pointed out that couldn't we define marriage as between any "two people"? Rantel then reminded him that, no, if we did that then all the bigamists would clamor for us to redefine marriage according to their desires and we'd have five women wanting to marry, etcetera.

This frightens Bill O'Reilly. Rubbish, if we as a society decide bigamy is wrong, we just won't allow bigamists to marry. We've proven that we're quite capable of keeping people from marrying for hundreds of years. We're finally getting around to maybe letting gays marry. It's highly unlikely we'd allow bigamists to marry unless we as a society decided, that, hey, perhaps there's no real harm going on in some of these multiple marriage partners.

And you know what? So what if we did? Whose business is it if three people want to marry? If two couples want to marry? As long as no one's taking advantage of one another. Of course, there are some nasty things going on with some multiple-partner marriages. These scenarios usually involve older men with multiple female partners, some of whom are still children, and, certainly, these men are guilty of emotional and even sexual abuse. But who's to say that multiple partner relations have to be limited to obviously unhealthy relationships like that? What if two 35 year-old men want to marry one 45-year old woman?

Maybe we don't need to go there, but let's decide that as a society and let's not pretend that giving gays the right to marry would be any more of a catalyst to allowing bigamists to marry than allowing interracial couples to marry was. People like O'Reilly and Rantel use this argument to mask the real reason for their transparent disdain for gay marriage: their bigotry. (Particularly sad in Rantel's case.)

Al Rantel also assured O'Reilly that most gays don't want marriage anyway. I'm sure the gay community appreciates his speaking on their behalf. Trust Bill O'Reilly to dig up the one conservative gay talk show host in America.

Meanwhile, in the greatest demonstration of civil disobedience of the 21st century so far, 1700 plus gay couples have been married in San Francisco over the past few days.

That's 1700 so far, Mr. Rantel. That's 3400 San Franciscans so far proving that gays do indeed wish to marry.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Ann Coulter: How Low Can You Go?

Max ClelandJust when you thought Ann Coulter couldn't sink any lower, she plum bores a hole through the bottom of the barrel. Just two days ago she wrote that Max Cleland is lucky to have lost his limbs "while in Vietnam" instead of back home in the States. Lucky for his "political career and current pomposity about Bush," she says.

She continues:
"If Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. senator in the first place. Maybe he'd be the best pharmacist in Atlanta, but not a U.S. senator. He got into office on the basis of serving in Vietnam and was thrown out for his performance as a senator."
She also claims Cleland "lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up."

Wrong, Anne. According to The Center for American Progress's "Progress Report," the August 1999 issue of "Esquire Magazine notes, Cleland lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam when a grenade accidentally detonated after he and another soldier jumped off a helicopter in a combat zone."

Furthermore, Max Cleland was no beer-swilling roughneck. A few days before he lost his limbs, Cleland performed actions on the battle field which earned him a Silver Star. The Congressional citation accompanying that medal read:
"When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Captain Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions." The citation concluded, "Cleland's gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army."
GA Senator Zell Miller (you know, the so-called Democrat who most often votes Republican on the issues) read that citation as recently as December 9th, 2003, when he recommended Max Cleland to the Board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Miller also said:
In all of my years in politics, I know of no other person who has embodied leadership, service and sacrifice more than Max Cleland.

On and off the battlefield Max’s story should serve as a continual inspiration to us all.
In what must be a first for the "fair and balanced" news channel, Fox News disowned her, complaining to The Center for American Progress (who publicized Coulter's remarks) that Coulter "is not a contributor to this network" and "has not been a contributor the last couple of years." Nonetheless, "The Progress Report" also points out that "Fox News’ Sean Hannity described Ms. Coulter in December of 2002 as 'a Fox News contributor'" and that Coulter has appeared 50 times on Fox News since 2002.

Why not take this opportunity to complain to Fox News about their using her on the air? And while you're at it, here's the email address for the Heritage Foundation on whose site her column first appeared.

Cartoon by Darrin Bell.


People aren't gonna be happy with Amazon, since a glitch revealed the names of thousands of anonymous reviewers on their Canadian site.

Coincidentally, I just logged into to send an e-card and kept getting other people's information and e-cards when I tried to use my address book there! I got a message a couple of times apologizing for malfunctions due to heavy Valentine's traffic, but I also got served up someone's personal e-card, including email addresses, as well as a form being completed by a mother sending a card to her son - with both email addresses included. Hallmark may have hell to pay for this one!

An Historic Valentine's Day

What a way to celebrate the Valentine's weekend: as of yesterday, 489 gay couples married in San Francisco.

Who'd have imagined this could all happen so quickly? What an inspiring act of civil disobedience. It can only be compared to the lunch counter sit-ins here in the South. Go, San Fran, go!

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, is a national hero:
"We are reading the direct language within the state constitution, and we directed our county clerk to do the right thing and extend the privilege that's extended to my wife and myself and millions of us across the country to same-sex couples," the mayor told CNN on Friday.

Newsom said he did not accept that gay marriages were against state law, again citing the California Constitution.

"Where is the fundamental decency to extend the same privileges and rights the rest of us are afforded?" the mayor asked. "What is the fundamental right to perpetuate a policy of separate but unequal that people seem to suggest is a compromise?"
Newsom also wrote this letter to the County Clerk, asking that changes be made "forms and documents used to apply for and issue marriage licenses in order to provide marriage licenses on a non-discriminatory basis, without regard to gender or sexual orientation."

Let's hope for a chain reaction, and just maybe it'll be too late soon for the Bush administration to pass the first amendment to the Constitution, which would actually restrict human rights.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Latitude Zero: Photojournalism by Monique Stauder

Street scene in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by Monique Stauder
Time magazine presents Latitude Zero, a "Living Map of the Equator."

More specifically, this collection showcases the often stunning, sometimes exquisite work of photojournalist Monique Stauder. She spent the past three years shooting in equatorial countries including Brazil, Colombia, the Pacific Islands, Somalia and the Congo.

See many more photos of her photos on her web site.

Invention Schmention

Next time someone offers up that ol' "Al Gore said he invented the Internet" chestnut, send them here to read Richard Wiggins on "Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet."

Dick'll straighten 'em out.


Andrew Sullivan just made a compelling case for gay marriage on CNN's NewsNight show with Aaron Brown. That is he made the case for marriage, since gays are only asking for the same rights as heterosexual couples. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sullivan also has an moving piece, "Why the M Word Matters to Me," in this week's issue of Time. He concludes,
I want above everything else to remember a young kid out there who may even be reading this now. I want to let him know that he doesn't have to choose between himself and his family anymore. I want him to know that his love has dignity, that he does indeed have a future as a full and equal part of the human race. Only marriage will do that. Only marriage can bring him home.
Earlier this evening, the Massachussets Legislature voted down two different versions of a constitutional amendment that would prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. The second attempt at an amendment sought to provide a compromise, allowing gays to engage in civil unions, while preventing them from marrying. The legislature resumes their discussion tomorrow.


Like me, you may have been wondering of late: Where the HELL is Saddam Hussein?

Not that I thought we'd lost him exactly - it just seems we seen nothing of him in the news since the handful of days after his catpure.

Well, according to he alive and well.
A spokesman for the American forces said that "Saddam Hussein was recently subjected to comprehensive medical tests that proved that he is in a good health condition and does not suffer diseases." He added "investigations with the former President still continuous. Saddam is still not collaborating with the American investigators and he obstructs the process of investigation with them.
So there you are.

Wait a minute. I still don't know where the hell he is.

Pilot Gets Crazier With the Jeez Biz

Turns out there was an editor from the on that plane, and he questioned the pilot after the flight.
"If you have five minutes, I'll tell you why I did it," American Airlines captain Roger Findiesen told as Flight 34 had all but emptied out after its arrival at New York's JFK Airport, on Friday, February 6. "I felt that God was telling me to say something [to the passengers]." . . .

"I just got back from a mission in Costa Rica," said Findiesen, a tall white man with neatly trimmed thick white hair and a mustache, both lightly peppered with black. "I felt that God was telling me to say something." He went on to explain that he felt God wanted him to witness to the passengers on his first flight upon returning to work for American Airlines after his mission. Despite this feeling, he said, he had decided not to say anything--but then he got another sign from God.

A minor problem with the plane's braking system had developed during final checks before takeoff, he said, a problem that might have grounded the aircraft, on which every seat was taken, in part because another American flight from Los Angeles to New York had been canceled that morning. But after a simple maneuver involving a power source, the braking problem inexplicably "disappeared," Findiesen said, and the plane was cleared for departure, and that's when he knew he had to use the P.A. system to talk about his Christian faith.
Well, now, I guess he couldn't have asked for a clearer sign, could he?

Iraq in Photos

Photo by Stephanie Sinclair

Stunning photos of Iraq by Chicago Tribune photographer Stephanie Sinclair.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Headscarf Ban

France seems hellbent on interfering with personal freedom in the name of advancing secularism. If someone wants to wear a headscarf, yarmulke, or cross, that seems like a personal and private choice; it's arguably a symbol of their dedication, yes, and a sign for others to recognize them as a believer. However, it doesn't actively engage me; neither does it challenge nor denigrate my own beliefs.

On the other hand, placing the 10 Commandments at a court house (Montgomery, AL, Winston-Salem, NC Nash County, NC) does.

In a way then, by banning head scarfs and other religious apparel in public schools, France is guilty of the same thing our right-wing wackos are when they insist on plastering the 10 Commandements everywhere: trying to force a particular moral code on people with variant beliefs.

10 Commandments Deja Vu

Again with the 10 Commandments in North Carolina. This time, a controversy in Nash County, NC, where defense attorneys Sam Dixon and Tommy Moore asked that panels depicting the 10 Commandments be covered during the trial of Andre Edwards, who has been accused of rape and murder.

The prosecutor, Keith Werber expressed outrage, saying,
The state vigorously opposes covering of the Ten Commandments. We understand the constitutional separation of church and state, but the next thing they'll be asking for is that the Bible be removed from the courtroom when witnesses come up to testify.
Well, now that you bring it up, Mr. Werber, why not? What significance does it hold if a muslim or an atheist swears on the Bible anyway?

The Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner responded that the "trial is the state vs. Andre Edwards, not the state vs. the Ten Commandments or the country vs. the Ten Commandments."

True, but the panels, which was painted some 90 years ago, should be taken down for good anyway. Put them in a museum or a church, sure. But don't put it in the courtroom, where their presence implies that the 10 Commandments are somehow relevant to the laws of the United States of America.

Edwards' crime is a serious one. A revolting one, to be sure, if he's guilty of it. And he should receive an appropriate penalty. But the laws which should decide his fate are United States laws, applying to everyone in the United States, which apply only to some members of a particular religious faith. (I say "some" understanding that many Christians take issue with certain commandments themselves.) After all, are we going to enforce "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy"?

Outing the Ads

The Commercial Closet rates ad according to how they portray gays: (+)Positive, (-)Negative, (=)Neutral or (?)Gay Vague. The site also describes common themes which appear regularly and highlights stereotypes and subtexts in many ads you may have seen, but hadn't examined.

NYC Rejects Patriot Act

By all rights, this should be huge news: The New York City Council has signed a resolution denouncing the Patriot Act. This from the city most greatly affected by 9/11. The resolution warns of specific liberties already infringed on by the Patriot Act and "calls upon our United States Representatives and Senators to take a lead in Congressional action to prohibit passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, known as 'Patriot II.'"

The resolution concludes as follows:
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon Governor George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the members of the State Legislature to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies are implemented in a manner that does not infringe upon fundamental rights and liberties as recognized in the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments and in the New York State Constitution.
(Via John Battelle.)

Could any group of American citizens be better qualified to criticize the Patriot Act?

Bill O'Reilly "Apologizes"

Kevin Drum has been monitoring Bill O'Reilly on the issue of an apology O'Reilly had promised should we fail to find WMD in Iraq. Well, arguably, he finally did it. From Reuters:
Conservative television news anchor Bill O'Reilly said on Tuesday he was now skeptical about the Bush administration and apologized to viewers for supporting prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The anchor of his own show on Fox News said he was sorry he gave the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons program poised an imminent threat, the main reason cited for going to war.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this," O'Reilly said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

"What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?" asked O'Reilly, who had promised rival ABC last year he would publicly apologize if weapons were not found.

O'Reilly said he was "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now" since former weapons inspector David Kay said he did not think Saddam had any weapons of mass destruction.
O'Reilly then proceeds to place most of the blame on George Tenet.

Oh well, nonetheless, you can add O'Reilly to the growing list of conservatives who are beginning to speak out against Bush. Still, I can't help but think they'll quiet down once November rolls around.

Heritage Foundation Highlights Bush Overspending

"Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush than under President Clinton."

That stat comes from The Heritage Foundation. What?! Yes, the Heritage Foundation.

  • Federal spending reached $2.157 trillion in 2003, with a budget deficit of $374 billion.
  • In 2003, inflation-adjusted federal spending topped $20,000 per household for the first time since World War II.
  • Overall for 2003, the federal government spent $20,300 per household, taxed $16,780 per household, and ran a budget deficit of $3,520 per household.
And there are plenty more stats where those came from. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

American Airlines Pilot Gets Crazy with the Jesus Biz

You heard about the American Airlines pilot who asked for a show of hands, who's a Christian? He then said "everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy," according to a passenger. (Apparently, no one raised a hand.)

He apologized later, but only to the crew explicitly, since they were beseiged with complaints after his little sermon. Apparently, he'd just gotten back from a mission trip, so I guess he felt the spirit moving in unusual ways. Thought he'd share the joy.

Imagine if this guy had said, "Raise of hands, who's a muslim? The rest of ya'll are crazy."

He would've been yanked from the cockpit. And hauled off to Gitmo.

As it was, he did scare the hell out of some passengers.

Monday, February 09, 2004

If You Ain't Outraged

Sure everyone and their mother have blogged these pointed stats from the Independent's article "George W Bush and the Real State of the Union," but the paper's gone and archived 'em, so I thought I'd share a select few, too. For posterity's sake.
  • 501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war - so far [534 as of 02/09/04 - RS]
  • 0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945
  • 0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed
  • 0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq
  • 100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003
  • 13: Number of meetings between Bush and Tony Blair since he became President
  • 10 million: Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, setting an all-time record for simultaneous protest
  • 16,000: Approximate number of Iraqis killed since the start of war
  • 10,000: Approximate number of Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the conflict
  • $100 billion: Estimated cost of the war in Iraq to American citizens by the end of 2003
  • $13 billion: Amount other countries have committed towards rebuilding Iraq (much of it in loans) as of 24 October
  • 36%: Increase in the number of desertions from the US army since 1999
  • 92%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that had access to drinkable water a year ago
  • 60%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that have access to drinkable water today
  • 32%: Percentage of the bombs dropped on Iraq this year that were not precision-guided
  • 45%: Percentage of Americans who believed in early March 2003 that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September attacks on the US [By 09/04 that number had grown to almost 70% - RS]
  • $127 billion: Amount of US budget surplus in the year that Bush became President in 2001
  • $374 billion: Amount of US budget deficit in the fiscal year for 2003
  • $23,920: Amount of each US citizen's share of the national debt as of 19 January 2004
  • 10: Number of solo press conferences that Bush has held since beginning his term. His father had managed 61 at this point in his administration, and Bill Clinton 33
  • 28: Number of days holiday that Bush took last August, the second longest holiday of any president in US history (Record holder: Richard Nixon)
  • 13: Number of vacation days the average American worker receives each year
  • 3: Number of children convicted of capital offences executed in the US in 2002. America is only country openly to acknowledge executing children
  • 1st: As Governor of Texas, George Bush executed more prisoners (152) than any governor in modern US history
  • 80%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce now unemployed
  • 55%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce unemployed before the war
  • 130: Number of countries (out of total of 191 recognized by the United Nations) with an American military presence
  • 40%: Percentage of the world's military spending for which the US is responsible
  • $10.9 million: Average wealth of the members of Bush's original 16-person cabinet
  • 88%: Percentage of American citizens who will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of 2003 cut in capital gains and dividends taxes
  • $42,000: Average savings members of Bush's cabinet are expected to enjoy this year as a result in the cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes
  • $42,228: Median household income in the US in 2001
  • $116,000: Amount Vice-President Cheney is expected to save each year in taxes
  • 44%: Percentage of Americans who believe the President's economic growth plan will mostly benefit the wealthy
  • 700: Number of people from around the world the US has incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • 1st: George W Bush became the first American president to ignore the Geneva Conventions by refusing to allow inspectors access to US-held prisoners of war
  • 1st: First president to execute a federal prisoner in the past 40 years. Executions are typically ordered by separate states and not at federal level
  • 9: Number of members of Bush's defense policy board who also sit on the corporate board of, or advise, at least one defense contractor
  • 35: Number of countries to which US has suspended military assistance after they failed to sign agreements giving Americans immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court
  • $300 million: Amount cut from the federal program that provides subsidies to poor families so they can heat their homes
  • 29,000: Number of American troops - which is close to the total of a whole army division - to have either been killed, wounded, injured or become so ill as to require evacuation from Iraq, according to the Pentagon
  • 90%: Percentage of American citizens who said they approved of the way George Bush was handling his job as president when asked on 26 September, 2001
  • 53%: Percentage of American citizens who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president when asked on 16 January, 2004
Know that bumper sticker that says something like, "If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention"? Apply.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Bush & Gays

This morning on Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked President Bush some tough questions on Iraq and got a decent response from Bush on the AWOL issue, but he asked nothing about the Massachusetts ruling on gay marriage and whether Bush would support civil unions if not marriage for gays. Or if he'd really support an amendment to the Constitution.

The Iraq issues were clearly more important at this time, but I'm still disappointed that an issue which is going to be so front-and-center this year (especially if Kerry wins the nomination) wasn't raised at all.

What an opportunity. Missed.

Tangentially, over on Andrew Sullivan's site, some regulars are leaving because they're uncomfortable with Sullivan's position on gay marriage. In the words of one reader:
Good-bye, Andrew. I am going to leave you for now. I cannot take anymore articles about gays. This really grieves me because your site was a great read on all other subjects. So instructive. But gay issues have taken over and it's become unbearable.
Tough luck, buddy. Gay marriage is a 21st-century human rights issue and it shouldn't go away just because it makes some folks uncomfortable.

Other topics which have doubtless proved unbearable for bigots in the past:
  • Freeing the slaves
  • Giving women the right to vote
  • Giving blacks the right to vote
  • Giving blacks the right to attend the same schools as whites
  • Giving interracial couples the right to marry
  • Giving gays the right to serve in the military
Oh, we haven't exactly won that last won yet, either.

At Least He's Honest

In recent months Vice President Dick Cheney has revealed his weakness for truth-telling in a couple of instances.

"Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually."
So said Cheney in an interview with USA TODAY and the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps he's only joking, but Cheney's Christmas card also included this sly reference in the form of a Ben Franklin quotation:
"And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
Nice that he can be so jokey about presuming God's blessing on the administration's questionable policy of exporting democracy. As Nicholas Kristof points out, Cheney took the quotation out of context, though:
Mr. Cheney's card wrenches Ben Franklin's quotation from its context and upends the humility that Franklin stood for. If you read the full speeches Franklin gave to the Constitutional Convention, including the one with the sparrow line, you see that Franklin is not bragging that God is behind him but rather the opposite — warning that the framers face so many difficulties they need all the help they can get, including prayer. (Via Marvin Ammori)
As Tim Noah points out in Slate, this quotation is also favored by those "who believe that the separation of church and state has become overly fastidious."

Cheney later claimed his wife selected the quote. Sure, and he didn't know about it? He added that if the U.S. were an empire, "We would certainly preside over a much greater piece of the earth's surface than we currently do."

Right, Mr. Cheney, but at least you know the good Lord's there to help you make it happen.

Love Is Everywhere

The argument that something is right or wrong because it is "natural" or "unnatural" holds little to no currency. But to those who still hold onto the claim that homosexuality is "unnatural," Dinitia Smith provides ample evidence to the contrary in yesterday's NYT article"Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name." Here she describes homosexuality among chinstrap penguins, as well as bottlenose dolphins, bonobo apes and "some 450 species."

Marlene Zuk is a professor of biology at the University of California at Riverside. Smith quotes her:
What the animal studies do show, Ms. Zuk observed, is that "sexuality is a lot broader term than people want to think."

"You have this idea that the animal kingdom is strict, old-fashioned Roman Catholic," she said, "that they have sex just to procreate."

In bonobos, she noted, "you see expressions of sex outside the period when females are fertile. Suddenly you are beginning to see that sex is not necessarily about reproduction."

"Sexual expression means more than making babies," Ms. Zuk said. "Why are we surprised? People are animals."
As Paul L. Vasey, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, points out in the article, we can't determine something to be "good" simply because it occurs in nature either:
"For some people, what animals do is a yardstick of what is and isn't natural," Mr. Vasey said. "They make a leap from saying if it's natural, it's morally and ethically desirable."

But he added: "Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. To jump from that to say it is desirable makes no sense. We shouldn't be using animals to craft moral and social policies for the kinds of human societies we want to live in. Animals don't take care of the elderly. I don't particularly think that should be a platform for closing down nursing homes."
True. And you also have numerous creature's in God's lovely kingdom which eat both their spouses and their young. So let's not emulate their behavior either.

What we humans do have to do is decide for ourselves what's right and what's wrong--not by relying on questionable opinions of what's "natural" or "unnatural" nor by relying on out-moded traditions or religious beliefs. No, we have to thoughtfully consider what the impacts of our actions are, how they affect (help or harm) us as individuals and societies, agree as what seems morally acceptable, and, then, most importantly, be willing to change those beliefs if they're challenged by advancements in science and contemporary thinking.

Some people, understandably, aren't happy with the idea that concepts of what's moral and immoral can change over time. They want these issues to be clear, black and white. Well, here's an issue which has become increasingly clear: the argument that homosexuality is wrong because it doesn't appear in nature is patently wrong.

Mac User Zeal Lapses into Hysteria

What started as a hoax garnered a PC technician known only as "Andy" 1300 hate emails from Mac users in two days. What'd he do to welcome this much invective?

Last week Andy sent some brief text and photos into, depicting his transformation of a Mac G5 he supposedly got for Christmas into a common PC because "I loved the case, but I’m no Mac user." He replaced the powerful G5 processor with a cheapie Athlon motherboard. Well, quite a few Mac users didn't get the joke.

So how extreme were some of the responses? They don't get much scarier than this:
I hope your PC blows up and leaves your miserable face disfigured forever. You will surely burn in hell for an eternity for this one.
Or how about this:
Turning a perfectly good dual G5 into a crappy PC was the ticket that got you to hell. And if you were in front of me I'd pop a corn-born Teflon bullet from my Glock in your fucking face.
OK, you didn't get the joke. But why the hate, folks?

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood or PABAAH helpfully provides this boycott list of actors, musicians and other entertainers whom we should boycott because of their unpatriotic activites.

Presumably, they opposed the war in Iraq, criticized the Bush administration, called for the legalization of pot--I dunno, the site provides no information about why we're supposed to boycott each person. They list everyone from Al Pacino and Bono to Willie Nelson and Gore Vidal, by way of Natalie Merchant and Alyssa Milano(?!).

Chuck Norris, you'll be relieved to hear, didn't make the list. Him being a patriotic God-fearing American and all. So it's safe to watch those Missing in Action movies.

Oh, and don't miss their Patriotic Hollywood list which highlights "those entertainers that would not be considered a part of the 'Hate America' crowd and are proud of their country."

Gee whiz, thanks PABAAH.

E-Reporting Tools

Bill Adair, staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times, shares the tools he carries as an "e-reporter." Especially tantalizing, the Olympus Digital Voice Recorder.

Friday, February 06, 2004

TV Shocker (Or Not)

Americans were shocked when an appearance by Janet Jackson's breast terminated the Superbowl half-time show on network television this past Sunday. Meanwhile, the British populus practically yawned when former Sex Pistol John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) used the "C" word on commercial telly two days later.

The Guardian's Mark Lawson says less 100 people called ITV1 to complain, though 10 million watched. He concludes with the following story:
Last year, I took my 10-year-old son to see Leeds United play at Arsenal, among whose supporters we were sitting. Following a series of mistakes by the home team's defender, the red-and-white-scarved men around us began a furious chant of: "Luzhny, you useless Russian cunt!" They repeated this line for several minutes.

At half-time, my son said: "Daddy, you know what they were shouting about Luzhny?" I was about to deliver a tender liberal lecture on how this was a grossly offensive term which should not be used in front of women or about women's fronts, when he said: "He isn't Russian. He's Ukrainian."
Though Lawson doesn't mention the Jackson brouhaha in his article, I feel the same applies: Some American parents complained bitterly about an assault on their children's innocence this week, while their own kids likely shrugged them off. If the kids were truly disturbed, that may say more about how their parents raised them than anything else.

Which isn't to say the whole half-time show wasn't kinda crass.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

John Howard, Bush's Aussie Sheriff

BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis is so happy with Aussie prime minister John Howard's support of the war in Iraq that he'd like him to replace Colin Powell.

Well, it's a funny joke and George Bush might prefer having Howard as Secretary of State right now, too, but this Aussie thinks putting John Howard into any American office would be a terribly bad idea.

The Australian Senate censured Howard just last October for misleading the public in his justification of sending Aussie troops to the war in Iraq. (It was the second time he'd been censured. Only four times in the past three decades has an Aussie PM been censured. Nice record.)

Said Greens senator Bob Brown, ""It has become abundantly clear that the Prime Minister was not just a bit wrong. He was totally wrong."

Here are some stats on how Aussies felt about their country's participation in the war at the time it commenced:

48.5% of Aussies were against it in March 2003, 46.5% in favor. A month before those against had been as high as 70%. 51 percent were for America going it alone. Does that mean they were *for* the war in Iraq then? No, it means they were for the US going it *alone* - without Aussie troops.

As we all know, it's all in how you ask the question.

Other stats show "59 percent of Australians opposed a unilateral attack on Iraq" while "a U.N.-endorsed attack was supported by 64 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed."

You can even find stats from February which say that upwards of "76 percent of Australians [were] against military action without UN endorsement."

So the truth is, looks like Australian support for the war has been all over the map. Sure, Howard eventually won over some support. And once the war began, Aussie swung behind him. But as the records shows, a lot of them aren't too happy with him right now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Why would anyone want to address this creepy Florida judge as "Your Honor"?

After reviewing the case of a 57-year old rape victim, Circuit Judge Gene Stephenson, 70, consulted a photo of the woman and asked the courtroom "Why would he want to rape her? She doesn't look like a day at the beach.''

Today, Stephenson did apologize and removed himself from the woman's case.


According to Georgia's state superintendent of schools evolution is just a "buzzword." Darwin just flipped over in his grave. How did this woman get elected school superintendent of a whole state? Shouldn't you have to be, er, educated, to hold a position like that?

Kathy Cox wants to replace "evolution" with "biological changes over time." Someone ought to replace her.

Darwin first published The Origin of the Species in 1859. Lamarck wrote his preliminary thoughts on the subject as early as 1801.

So how exactly is evolution a "buzzword"?

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

No idea who to vote for? The AOL Presidential Match Guide may actually help. Take the quiz and see how your take on the issues matches up against the Democratic candidates and George Bush. (Third-party candidates to be added after the primaries have ended.)

Andrew Sullivan took it, and found out he might not be such a Bushie after all.

Admittedly, it doesn't take everything into account (in the case of Sharpton, for example, it entirely omits the obvious crazy factor), but if you consider yourself a Bush supporter and it comes up, say, Kucinich, you might really want to consider whether your choice in candidates really reflects your views.

MikeRoweSoft Update

Apparently, someone was scamming poor Mike Rowe. Bidding on his Microsoft papers is now restricted to "pre-approved bidders or buyers."

They're at a mere $560 now with 2 days and 3 hours left to go. Couple of days ago I thought he'd had his college tuition in the bag.

At this time, his auction has received 473,143 hits.

Too funny: California fifth graders interpret Radiohead songs in classroom art. (Via