Wednesday, October 29, 2008

O’Neill et al. Article

An article just out (Journal of Applied Ecology 2008) that interviews experts from around the world says that polar bear populations will decline by at least 30% by the year 2050. It isn't a good time for large mammals.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Palin Wardrobe

I wonder how some poor working-class Republican feels about donating $20 to the McCain campaign only to find out that it went to buying designer clothes and make-up for Palin's husband and infant son. This all doesn't quite fit the image of hockey-mom.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

William Timmons

And this guy's followers are worried about "palling around" with terrorists?

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime. The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein's government.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where your tax dollars are being spent...

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday. Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.


I watched Religulous down in Bethesda this last weekend. Bill Maher questions religious belief in an open and refreshing way in a film that may be, in some way, a bellwether, as atheists and agnostics grow more comfortable coming out of their closets to declare their lack of faith.

The film is most brilliant when Maher is in monologue mode, sharing humorous and insightful reflections while driving around between interviews. After hearing so many talk about religious belief fraught with cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy during our election cycle, it's a breath of fresh air to hear someone be perfectly honest and say what many of us are thinking.

Unfortunately, when it comes to interviews, Maher is no Michael Moore. He's so heavy-handed that the viewer ends up feeling sorry for the person being interviewed. The interview with the anti-Zionist Jew and various Muslims are especially caustic, probably a sign of his own personal identification with his (non-practicing) Jewish background via his mother.

All told, the interviewees are, for the most part, a sympathetic lot. I can't believe that these were the most hot-headed religious fanatics that could be rounded up. In my life, I've come across a lot of pushy weirdos without even trying. I think Maher needed to try the next southern trailer park over.

But don't get me wrong: there are a few precious moments, such as the interview with a very liberally-minded priest in front of the Vatican. And Maher's aggressiveness is often justified as when he interviews the Hispanic Jesus or the black preacher with the thousand-dollar suit and gold jewelry. (Somehow he's managed to dodge all the hitmen.)

In his final monologue, he makes an excellent point about our need for leadership that isn't based on millennia-old superstition. I'd go even farther than Maher--I'm pretty sure that 99% of leaders couldn't give a damn about it, but are quite willing to use it to manipulate people. Even so, Maher's right in saying that religion is causing a lot of damage, dividing people at a time when unified action is needed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The M.I.C. Monster

For those who wonder where all the U.S. productivity went (besides to CEOs), the military budget has jumped up over 50% in constant dollars since 2000 (in a country that outspends the rest of the world combined.)

2 new arms

Some exciting breakthroughs are happening in medicine. A German man recently received what appears to be a successful double-arm transplant.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Fact of the Matter

We're told that the Republican Party is the party of small government. History tells a different story: