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Exit ArchiveArchive for March, 2006

Just now, while eating my soup, the supposedly perfect remedy for being sick, I made the mistake of reading the newspaper. There was an article on students questioning their teachers when they teach evolution.

Is it any wonder I don’t want to hear the news any more?

While I’m not really laughing today, it really is kinda funny how these kids—and plenty of adults, of course—harangue their teachers on evolution, asking for proof yet doubting the proof that’s there in front of them. It’s funny because they are attacking what we know so far about biology using concepts and teachings that have no proof whatsoever. Faith is not proof.

People prefer the simple. Religion, to me, is what human beings have concocted to make the universe more simple to understand. This is an old argument I’ve used before, but there was something else about it that hit me today, reading that article.

See, I pictured my friends who are religious pointing out to me that religion is, in fact, incredibly complex. My God, Van studied it in college, even. You can go to school all your life and not finish learning the intricacies and complexities of religion. So religion, created by humans to explain and simplify the universe, has become complicated by the humans themselves.

Religions typically have a document of some kind that is the Guide to All Things. The most popular of these in our country is the Bible. The Bible was not written by God, of course, but by people. People supposedly writing for God or some such thing. But the Bible has changed as it’s been translated and revised through the years. That’s why there are versions, like the King James “version.”

Religion is simple, but the document full of rules and explanations that people need to interface with the religion is not. It also happens that the documents are based solely on hearsay, rumor, storytelling, invention, metaphor, and any number of other factors except one: fact.

Okay, so science has been caught embracing facts that end up to be wrong, false, erroneous. But science then discards such errors and moves on. Perhaps the Bible is filled with tales that came from factual events, once upon a time. But it discards nothing as it ages. As a document of faith, it’s not allowed to unless you’re King James. When you take something unchangeable, such as the Bible, and compare it to the canon of science, which is an ever-changing “document” of facts and truth, you compare the staid with the liquid. Scientific knowledge gets more complex every day because we discover so much. The Bible gets more complex because people keep looking into its inscrutable innards and “discover” new meanings. The Bible hasn’t changed. People add meaning on their very own.

Evolution happens in front of our faces every single day. The AIDS virus mutates with frightening voraciousness. A certain kind of elephant species in India has begun producing more males without tusks, since tusked males have been slaughtered for ivory. [UPDATE: The elephants in question live in China, not India. Read all about it here.] Antibiotics, like the one I’m taking now, the third kind in two weeks, have to be strengthened and improved every year as older antibiotics become ineffective against the resistant strains they leave behind. All over the place, we can see the adaptability and change of the world, and yet, because some old words placed in a book before much was known about biology say the world was created 6,000 years ago, people believe that. The desire for something to be true wins out over the real truth.

I need to stop reading the paper.

I find this hard to believe myself, to be honest.

Inspired by the interesting blog called Re-imagineering, I have started my own blog.

I’ve no idea whether I will keep it up, but it has been interesting, especially since I created it about such a specific topic.  But it’s one about which I’ve been passionate since I was a kid, one that inspired me to seek a career at Disney in the first place (and we all know where that got me!), and maybe one you’ll find interesting.  If not, keep your comments to yourself.  I already know I’m a dork.

I do NOT have time to be writing this. I have to be at work at 6:00am tomorrow, I still have a sinus infection I caught over a week ago, and I am dead tired. But this simply has got me riled up. Not in a fuming way, but in a resigned way, as much of the political news these days has dulled the rage.

Mallard Fillmore is an unfunny comic added to the sadly anemic and unfunny pages of the Los Angeles Times a few years back during some strange effort to balance the left-leaning stance of the funny pages with a conservative voice. There’s a good reason there were no conservative comics in the Times a decade ago (unless you count the barely disguised rantings of The Wizard of Id): conservatives tend to not be very funny. Granted, the liberal La Cucaracha is sadly, painfully unfunny as well, but on the whole, the more liberal comics have a better track record of being funny where the conservative comics just aren’t. I think liberals are more funny because they can laugh at themselves and others. Conservatives can not laugh at themselves, only at others.

But that’s another subject I’ve been meaning to write about for eons now.

No, today I’m disgusted by this. Here are the last three days of Mallard, reprinted here without permission:

Mallard Fillmore Loves Assholes

See? Not funny. Not even a smidgen. But again, that’s not why I’m writing this.

When I saw the first one on Monday, I had a feeling this Tom Coburn guy, though taking what sounded through Mallard author Bruce Tinsley’s eyes like an admirable stance on less government spending, was going to be a meany in other matters, just like everyone else Bruce and his staunch lot love.

After today’s comic, I had to check. So I did a little reading.

This is from Tom’s official Senate webpage: “Dr. Coburn’s priorities in the Senate include reducing wasteful spending, balancing the budget, improving health care access and affordability, protecting the sanctity of all human life including the unborn and representing Oklahoma values.”

So okay, not a surprise that Tom is a pro-lifer. But then I came upon a Salon article from before Tom was elected, back in September of 2004. Here’s an early snippet from the article:

For Coburn, the imminent danger facing America is apparently not terrorism but the “gay agenda.” His thumping about this menace within contributed to the pressure that led to Bush’s endorsement of a constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage. At a Republican meeting this spring, Coburn warned: “The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power … That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That’s a gay agenda.”

Oh, my, but it gets better.

In 1997, Coburn proposed a bill that would have ended anonymous testing for HIV/AIDS and required reporting the names of those who tested positive to public health authorities, among other draconian measures—including withholding Medicaid funding from states that failed to comply.

This from the guy President El Busho appointed as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.

But there’s more. Remember, Bruce thinks Tom is for less governmental spending:

In 1996, after voting for provisions of an agriculture bill that aided Oklahoma farmers, Coburn told the Wall Street Journal that it made him sick for days afterward and that Washington was “a dirty place.” In 1997, he boasted, “I don’t ask for anything from Appropriations.” The year after that, he complained to USA Today that he was underpaid as a congressman: “You have to be able to earn more money to attract good people.”

Uh huh. How about this?

As far right as Coburn is on fiscal issues, he is even farther right on social issues. “I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life,” he told the Associated Press in July.

What a sweet fellow. Here are more juicy bites:

A year later, Coburn gained a moment of national attention when he condemned NBC for televising the Academy Award-winning movie on the Holocaust “Schindler’s List.” According to Coburn, the film encouraged “irresponsible sexual behavior,” and he called for outrage against the network from “parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere.” He added, “I cringe when I realize that there were children all across this nation watching this program.”

In 1999, after the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, Coburn opposed President Clinton’s proposal for making adults liable if they allow their children to buy guns and harm others. “If I wanted to buy a bazooka to use in a very restricted way, to do something, I ought to be able to do that,” said Coburn.

I have to wonder if someone like Bruce is so very, very concerned with smaller taxes and government that he ignores Tom’s more hateful posturing. I mean, really, is it more desirable for our government to spend less than it is for it to treat all those in our country fairly and equally? Just looking at Tom alone, you have to wonder how someone like this can espouse the concept of as little government interference as possible in one area—bazooka Tom—but increased government interference in several others—gays, mothers who desire abortion, or even gay mothers who desire abortion.

It’s the same argument we’ve all made a thousand times in the last five years, but it can not be repeated enough.

What I forgot to mention about the Salon article is that Tom himself was once charged with an illegal Medicaid claim. Read the story to find out more, because to me, it’s the least interesting part of the article.

So I’m a ranting liberal faggot, huh? Of course I would not see eye-to-eye with Tom. Of course I would only site one source and milk it for all its worth. Well, an article on Fox 23’s site (an Oklahoma station, as far as I can tell) points out some of the good ideas Tom has, such as emphasizing prevention to help tackle medical costs and importing drugs from Canada. These are typically not conservative concepts. But the story shows more of Tom’s crackpot side than his good side. Regarding abortion, he says, “Under the mores we live under today, my lineage wouldn’t exist.” You see, it appears that his great-grandmother was raped by a territorial sheriff. Had she been allowed to get an abortion—and it seems Tom’s assuming she would have made that CHOICE—Tom would not exist today. Shucks.

Yeah, better she should have suffered against her will so we could have this kind and thoughtful leader in office.

How about this quote from the same article? “The oath that people in Congress take isn’t to bring back pork to their state. The oath they take is to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.” Unless, of course, you’re gay or a woman. “I’m going to check with what I know is right and what I think the Constitution says and does it fit with the moral code that I follow.” Well, I guess the Constitution loses out to Tom’s moral code. Thank the Lord!

But what about this nice gesture? On Tom’s own site, it says he introduced legislation updating the Ryan White CAR Act, which funds care for those with HIV and AIDS. Nancy Pelosi liked it. That’s good.

Also from Tom’s site, an interesting speech relating wise government spending to Katrina relief. Some smart comments, though he does over-use the conservative watch words “children and grandchildren.” There go my heart strings. He also said, “We have an oath to uphold the Constitution, but we have a higher oath, and that higher oath is to keep the obligations that our forefathers put forward to create the best, brightest, the country providing the most opportunity of any in the world.” Unless you’re gay or a woman wanting an abortion.

I could go on. Tom, as a “maverick” Republican, surely does have some good ideas. Many Republicans do. But how genuinely generous and caring is someone going to be if they can also suggest that abortion doctors be executed, that gays are the cause of society’s supposedly lax mores, and that gun rights are more important than reproductive ones? Not very.

I agree that individuals need to take more responsibility for their actions and lives. But gun-wielding pro-lifers who believe in killing others to protect people who aren’t even born yet do not fall into that category for me. Bruce Tinsley and all the rest are nauseating in their selective inclusion of those who deserve the freedoms they so highly covet. Freedom for all or freedom for none. There can not be an in-between. Sorry, fellas!

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More fun today, since I have no time for typing witty, pithy, or evocative diatribes.

Chris Bliss seems to be some guy who’s very good at juggling. Watch this. It’s fantastic. I’ve never seen anything like this. It helps that he uses a kick-ass song.

(Here’s a Google video link also.)

Thanks to Sven for this one.

Heh heh heh.

Thanks to Darren for this one:

W’s nephew, Pierce Bush, was on the Today show defending his uncle’s stand on the Dubai Ports deal. See the video here, or click on Darren’s link.

All I can say: “Guh-DUH guh-DUH guh-DUHHHHHH!”

My mom sent an e-mail yesterday to my sister and me. It was a collection of pictures of the World Trade Center, both on fire and not, surrounded with words saying Oliver North had warned us about Osama Bin Laden, and Clinton had freed Mohammad Atta. Here’s the text:

Thought you might be interested in this forgotten bit of information……….
It was 1987! At a lecture the other day they were playing an old news video of Lt.Col. Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings during the Reagan Administration.

There was Ollie in front of God and country getting the third degree, but what he said was stunning!

He was being drilled by a senator; “Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?”

Ollie replied, “Yes, I did, Sir.”

The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience, “Isn’t that just a little excessive?”

“No, sir,” continued Ollie.

“No? And why not?” the senator asked.

“Because the lives of my family and I were threatened, sir.”

“Threatened? By whom?” the senator questioned.

“By a terrorist, sir” Ollie answered.

“Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?”

“His name is Osama bin Laden, sir” Ollie replied.

At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn’t pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn’t. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued. Why are you so afraid of this man?” the senator asked.

“Because, sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of”, Ollie answered.

“And what do you recommend we do about him?” asked the senator.

“Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth.”

The senator disagreed with this approach, and that was all that was shown of the clip.

By the way, that senator was Al Gore!


Terrorist pilot Mohammad Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release so-called “political prisoners.”

However, the Israelis would not release any with blood on their hands, The American President at the time, Bill Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, “insisted” that all prisoners be released.

Thus Mohammad Atta was freed and eventually thanked the US by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade Center. This was reported by many of the American TV networks at the time that the terrorists were first identified.

It was censored in the US from all later reports.

If you agree that the American public should be made aware of this fact, pass this on.

Subj: 9/11

Do Not Break – it is 3 years strong

This is why I always say I love YOU….

This has not been broken since 9/11/01, please keep it going…
This has been kept alive and moving since 9/11. In memory of all those who perished this morning; the passengers and the pilots on the United Air and AA flights, the workers in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and all the innocent bystanders. Our prayers go out to the friends and families of the deceased.

Send this to at least 10 people to show your support.


Ah, yes. A chain e-mail!

I originally sent my mom this in reply: “Funny how they don’t mention any of the mistakes Bush and his folks made regarding terrorism.” But I was foolish for not picking up on the stink of this e-mail from the start. Hey, what can I say? I was very busy yesterday!

We all know that any information contained in chain letters is wrong. False. Lies. Unless it’s one of the ones with pictures of kittens and puppies in cute poses, cuddling and playing and hanging from trees, with a message about how important friends and loved ones are and this note is to share with everyone you love about how you are thinking about them today and don’t break it or you’ll die in the fires of regret!!!!! Okay, while you won’t die in any fires because you did not pass along a treacly dispatch, it is true that friends and loved ones are important and you should tell them that whenever you can.

I love you, mom!

But back to Ollie.

I woke up at 5:45 this morning because I’m getting old and can’t seem to get through the night without having to use the bathroom. When I’d finished that task and was back all snuggly in my warm, warm bed, I started thinking about the e-mail. And I thought, “Huh. So staunch conservatives, who of course see Oliver North as some kind of hero, decided to ignore that he was being questioned as part of the whole Iran-Contra scandal, wherein we sold weapons to Iran and used the money to supply terrorists in Nicaragua.” I say “terrorists,” but anyone who would write an e-mail like this would say “freedom fighter.” Just like we call Al Qaeda terrorists and they call themselves freedom fighters.

Then I remembered that this was an e-mail chain. Who do you turn to to prove or debunk such chains?!

That was it. My mind was at work, and I could not, despite my own protestations, get back to sleep for those precious extra 45 minutes I wanted, darn it all. But I did, as a result, get up early and get to work by 7:45 so I’d have time to post this post I’m posting.

So what does Snopes say? Why, that both the Ollie warning and the Atta freeing are false.

In the first link, you’ll even see a letter from Ollie himself denying everything in the e-mail. Read it and weep. There’s also some more info here. After some poking around myself, I couldn’t find any info confirming that Al Gore was even part of the hearings.

The second Snopes link above shows that the Atta thing is all mistaken identity, as if, say, George H. W. Bush had been accused of the crimes of George W. Bush. Perhaps you can’t blame the e-mail writer for including this info because, as the Snopes article shows, the major news media made the huge mistake of not confirming that that Atta was not the other Atta.

I can see a blind conservative thinking that perhaps Snopes is politically motivated toward the left. However, just for fun, I looked up the issue of Osama Bin Laden’s family being flown out of the U.S. immediately following the 9/11 attacks, when most air traffic had been grounded. Snopes says this, too, was false. Here, it quotes heavily from the 9/11 commission. Members of the Bin Laden family, the commission concludes, were not flown out before air space were re-opened.

But Snopes, via the 9/11 commission citations, does show that the Bin Ladens were flown out September 20th. The FBI questioned them, but then let them fly out. The commission also says one of the FBI agents who questioned the family was a pilot for the flight, though the vagueness of the report could lead one to conclude that the FBI agent was a pilot in general and not the pilot of the flight. Which begs the question, why mention it at all unless they meant that an FBI agent was the pilot flying the Bin Laden escape plane in question…

Anyway, the point of the whole Bin Ladens leaving the States is that they were allowed to leave so effortlessly and with our government’s help. It sounds great to say the government flew them out when all air traffic was grounded, but that’s just icing. That Snopes claims the rumor is false while the underlying point that the U.S. flew the Bin Ladens out of the States is true shows that Snopes is no more left-leaning than right-leaning. It’s admirable. They seem to take the tack that “if part of statement is false, the whole statement is false.” Very mathematical.

Snopes is not biased, and so I will continue to rely on it for these kinds of matters. In fact, everyone else should rely on them too. I mean, can you believe someone actually sent me an e-mail not too long ago telling me about that ludicrous Microsoft paying for sending e-mails thing? Puh-LEEEZ!

The world is so full of disinformation and non-truths that it’s hard to take any of it seriously. Certainly, none of us should ever trust anything sent via e-mail or posted on a blog. Unless it’s my blog, because, you see, I do such a good job of citing sources.

I love you, mom!

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There is a very good read over at Ars Technica. Take a peek. The author goes by the nickname “Hannibal,” and though I imagine this is more a reference to a certain general from Carthage, I can not help but think of fava beans and a nice Chianti FFFT FFFFT FFFFT FFFFFT! Regardless, Hannibal’s article is excellent, and I advise that you read it.

The article is partly a summary of a panel discussion at the University of Chicago called “Defending Democracy: Balancing the Fight for Civil Liberties with the Fight Against Terrorism” and partly a reaction to the panel. While I am still loath to support the adoption of harsher means of hunting and destroying terrorists, I know this is only because I fear the permanent consequences for the rest of us non-terrorists. But Hannibal has a more level-headed view, and is able to admit the need for change in how America finds and eliminates threats of terrorism. Take this great observation of his:

The sense that our polity, at whatever level we experience it—the “United States,” “Louisiana,” “Lake Charles”—is our responsibility, that it doesn’t go if we don’t make it go, is the signal quality that separates us as a free, self-governing society from anarchy at one extreme and authoritarianism at the other. The moment that we lose that sense of ownership by abdicating our responsibility for making the whole thing work to some group of specialists who offer to take care of it for us is the moment that we lose our ability to put the pieces back together again in the event that those specialist caretakers go away. And they always do go away eventually, for one reason or another.

Really, we need to change, but we have to be careful about what changes we allow. What think you? Do read it and comment back, if you have any time left.

So it seems Pope Benedict XVI was given a 2GB iPod Nano a few days ago as a gift from Vatican Radio in honor of his visiting the station. It was a white one, of course.

“Computer technology is the future,” he said upon receiving the gift. Good to see the papacy is in the hands of the brightest and best.

The iPod came pre-loaded with files, of course, including audio of some of the station’s shows. It also had music by Beethoven, Mozart, and other hacks.

I hope the RIAA sues the pope. I could see the courtroom now:

“Mr. XVI, did you buy this iPod new?”

“Nein. It was given to me as a gift.”

“So it was used?

“Nein. It was new.”

“It had never been touched by another’s hands, mortal or divine?”

“Well, ja, it had.”

“So it was not new?”

“It was new, but it had been opened by someone to put some music on it.”

“Oh. I see. So there was already music on your ‘brand new’ iPod when you opened the box?”


“Please help me, your pontifficleness… are you saying you had already used your iPod before receiving it as a gift?”

“Nein. Only God can perform such mira—”

“Yes yes. I know, I know. So if you did not put that music on there, who did?”

“Perhaps it was Father Lombardi.”


“Ja. Or one of his staff.”

“I see. Very interesting, Mr. XVI. So Federico or someone under his command filled your ‘new’ iPod with music. Did they borrow some of your CDs?”

“I do not own any CDs. Only 8-tracks.”

“So where do you suppose, your holiness, Federico or his stooges got the music to put on your iPod?”

“It is a radio station. I am sure they have access to the music there.”

“Yes, I imagine they do, your blessedness. I imagine they do. Say, I wonder—and I’m just thinking out loud here—do you think maybe Vatican Radio owns the rights to the music they broadcast?”

“Only God knows such—”

“Yes yes. As I said, I’m just thinking out loud. So I wonder, as I continue to think out loud, whether Vatican Radio owns the music they play.”


“I WONDER if the music is theirs to give out at random. To whomever they choose. To any Tom, Dick, and Pius.”


“I WONDER, Mr. XVI, if Vatican Radio feels that a small token of THEFT is nothing to worry about. That perhaps the mighty RIAA is not so mighty as the Holy Church. I WONDER, MISTER right-hand-of-God, if you think you are above the laws of man!”

“The laws of God are above the laws of man.”

“I see, I see. Very, VERY interesting. So you are implying that GOD HIMSELF put Beethoven on your iPod? Specifically, that God himself directed Father Lombardi (a Mafia name if ever I heard one) to put Herbert von Karajan’s 1993 version of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, Deutsche Grammophon CD catalog number 439 004-2, on your iPod for your own personal use?”

“That was Karajan? A good Arian friend…”

“Be here now, popey boy! You’re an accused accomplice to music piracy! I wouldn’t be so glib if I were you!”

“God shall protect me.”

“I wouldn’t go—”

“God shall protect me, for I am his vessel. God is above piracy, a pitiful man-law that is nothing but laughable to Him. If God wants me to get the latest song from that Stravinsky fellow, or that spicy RuPaul, or Madonna herself, I will get it, Mr. Frackman, and so help you Him if you get in His way.”

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The gents over at Penny Arcade have had one of the most entertaining strips on the Web for years. At least of the strips I’ve read. (Robb’s is one of my absolute faves, too.) What makes this a special feat for them is that they do a gaming comic, and I’m not a gamer. I do the Halo 2 thing maybe twice a year and suck at it like Bush sucks at Cheney’s toes. So even when I have no idea what these two are talking about, I laugh. Or maybe not always laugh, but I smile. They make me smile or laugh.

I had to especially laugh-smile at their latest, in which their worlds are finally infiltrated by Macs. While the Intel chip was a good excuse for these two to Mac, it seems Tycho, at least, is impressed by other factors.

When the Intel Macs were announced, Tycho said something that suggests supporting a concept I (and others) have been pointing out for years: No one loves using Windows. They just use it because that’s what they have to use. But people love using Macs. Windows machines are just tools, like, as Tycho said, a Phillips head. They do what they can do and that’s about it. But Macs are more. They truly are a different “experience” and many, many people who use Macs look forward to using them every day.

If my new quad G5 could also produce hot, chocolatey cake with smooth and creamy frosting stippled with tiny chocolate chips, I would love using it even more.

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I have to apologize for not writing much lately. After the Hawaii trip, I’ve been both busy and distracted. I promise The Wren Forum isn’t dying!

To make it up to y’all, here’s a fun juxtaposition of signage I saw while eating at the new Porto’s in Burbank:

Kung Pao Castrol

Blurry at the edges, I know, but I think the message is clear. And when, oh, when does one not eat Chinese and feel freshly lubed inside?