Monday, December 31, 2007

How to ignore the nose on your face ...

Arizona has a health insurance program where under certain conditions small business could get health insurance at 'reasonable' prices.

Well, surprise! People with health problems actually migrated to the program as the 'private' insurance companies cherry picked the healthy to insure (cutting them off if the insured got sick, of course).

The state program is in debt while the 'private' insurance scammers are poster boys for how greed works in this country.

Now Republican legislators are arguing for the abandonment of the program and, of course, for turning over more business to 'private' insurance.

At one time insurance was about getting as large a group as possible to contribute to a fund that would cover everyone with the understanding that not everyone would need to draw from the fund. That's called benefiting society, which many people understand (not including a surprising number of Republicans) to be of ultimate benefit to us all whether we ever need the help or not.

Now insurance is about pretending to insure people only to cut them off when they actually need help. That's called a scam.

The only way to solve this problem is to insure everyone and we actually have a system that the Bush Administration has not managed to destroy so far and it's called Medicare.

There is absolutely not reason for the continued transfer of our money to satisfy the greed of insurance companies. No reason other than the complicity, cowardice and greed of politicians.

Source: Arizona health program in peril by Amanda J. Crawford

Friday, December 28, 2007

The 10 Commandments and the Constitution ...

Where has reason gone? Long time passing ...
More Huckabee Absurdity (via The Left Coaster)

My apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Xmas and all that ...

In spite of all the attempts to ruin Xmas through commercial hype and religious pettiness, if you were raised as a child believing that Xmas was a special time of year (and possibly even if you weren't) there is still wonder and memories that come to the surface when viewing beautiful Christmas Lights.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best no matter what seasons, beliefs, thoughts, philosophy, science or just plain style you prefer to follow.

Notice this? ...

In Reuters little blurb about the FBI collecting a ton on biometric data on Americans (and others) is this paragraph:
At an employer's request, the FBI will also retain the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks, the paper said.
Your employer, or potential employer can tell the FBI to retain YOUR fingerprints just because they did a background check?

If the people don't fight this, between an increasingly authoritarian government (including Democrats) and the corporate lust for absolute power over employees, individual citizens of this country will have no rights at all.

An unusual choice of words ...

Congress cut funds to the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program and the Tucson Citizen comes up with this title:
Area's anti-drug funds hacked

Of course, it's too much to expect that this is the first step in changing the WAR approach to our self made national drug problem and substituting a sane approach instead? Yep, too much to expect.

Friday, December 21, 2007

If only the earth could produce an enzyme that would defuse the Neo-Cons ...

... then again, maybe that's called Natural Selection and the Neo-Cons, along with fundamentalists of all religious stripes, will select the human race right out of existence. But not to worry, the cockroaches will probably survive.

The above thoughts were triggered by Science Magazine (AAAS, subscription required) reporting that "[w]hen bacteria colonize vertebrate intestines, the tissue produces an enzyme that appears to defuse a dangerous toxin the microbes wield."

Success ...

The responsible people with jobs and kids who pay taxes and pay their bills are leaving. Just like the Arizona Legislature and, evidently, Governor Napolitano wanted. I feel so secure now ...
Crackdown has illegal immigrants leaving Arizona

When Arizona does something that makes sense ...

I wasn't aware that Arizona had an 'I'm sorry law' for doctors who make mistakes. It makes sense. I think we all understand that physicians can make 'honest' mistakes. We certainly hope they don't make them on us and certainly do not want them making them through lack of diligence but we cannot expect them to never make a mistake.

Having laws that increase the risk in court for honest attempts at showing regret for mistakes is bad for everyone. I wonder how this law is working out?

Source: Tucson hardly 'judicial hellhole' for suits vs. docs by Anne T. Denogean

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

But there’s got to be a better way to keep the country on its toes than scaring the tar out of us. It’s a high the American psyche can’t and won’t maintain and I wish the Feds would grasp a better understanding of this.

For about three years following the Sept. 11 attacks, the watchword was Mexico. For a little while, 2003 to 2005, it became Canada but that proved to be boring.

Then things picked up again in 2004 when a South African woman, Farida Ahmed, with pages missing from her passport, was popped crossing the Rio Grande.

That story was reluctantly let go by most congressmen and newspapers after she was held on immigration violations and deported home. Now the word coming down from Washington is that the terrorists walk among us.

Frankly, Secretary Chertoff, I wish you and the terrorists would make up your damned minds.

... Harry Reid ... took our money and support last year to become majority leader apparently so he could advance the Bush agenda as well or better than Mitch McConnell could. Harry Reid --not a poor puppy but-- a wolf in Democratic clothing?

... an international research team has discovered that during the warm period following the next-to-last ice age, when global temperatures reached at least 2°C above the current average, the seas rose by as much as 6 meters over just a few hundred years.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So cute ...

Scientific American, which was a real scientific periodical (decades ago), brings humor to the Taser torture arena:
TASER Seeks to Zap Safety Concerns --TASER International develops new technology, touts safety in wake of Canadian deaths possibly linked to police use by Larry Greenemeier
The article gives considerable space to the 'medical' opinion of a Taser trainer who, in addition to assuring us that the Taser's effects are temporary and mostly any damage will depend on where and how hard the victim falls, has apparently not followed the news concerning repeated Tasering of victims who are already on the ground writhing in pain.

As far as I know no one claims being Tasered isn't painful, yet the article reports:
"The TASER is the only weapon the police have that doesn't rely on pain compliance," Ashley says.
Evidently, 'pain compliance' and torturing with a Taser to inflict pain are two different things?

Does this mean what I think it means?
Another new weapon under development is the Shockwave, which Tuttle refers to as "an area-denial system" that simultaneously fires six TASER cartridges up to 25 feet. Scheduled for availability late next year, the Shockwave is designed to be used by military and Homeland Security personnel at airports, checkpoints and other open spaces.
Sounds like if someone runs away at an airport they will just Taser everyone. Hope I'm reading this wrong.

They think they found where whales came from ...

Long-Lost Relative of Whales Found? by Erik Stokstad
ScienceNOW Daily News
19 December 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maybe Sheriff Dupnik wants to be Bush's successor ...

... now that Guiliani appears to be out of the running.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik is advising us to watch our neighbors in case they may be terrorists. Those who require special watching are eco-friendly, abortion-rights and animal-rights activists.

Notice its abortion-rights advocates and not their keep em barefoot n pregnant counterparts who shoot doctors in the name of life who bear watching.

Source: Sheriff says terrorists abound in our midst by Ernesto Portillo Jr.

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

People like Al Gore and Chris Dodd and Martin Luther King are out of fashion these days. People laugh at passionate men of principle in this time when principles are considered something for chumps and fools. There's no angle on principle, no immediate political upside in saving the constitution when the Republicans are spending every minute of the day preaching fear and bloodlust and superficial political gossip rules our discourse. But they stand up anyway and suffer the taunts and jeers of people who think they are naive or narcissistic or crazy, because they believe in something. And I am exceedingly grateful for it.
Honestly, I wasn't looking for quotes about Bank of America ...
I just cancelled my BOA card and we are refinancing through a local loan shark. His rates are MUCH BETTER THAN BOA. ... Check out B of A's special 1 hour offer to increase their debt and interest rate while pretending to help them! If B of A performed as stated in this complaint then they can no longer be considered a 'bank' but must be considered another scam artist, albeit one with considerable power and political connections.

Bank of America in this state said the only way they could help us was if we opened new accounts.

So we did.

At another bank.

Conservatism, like liberalism, is not a dogmatic philosophy, but rather a style of thought, an approach to politics or life in general. It stresses the status quo and traditional values, and is typified by a resistance to change. ...

The "conservative movement," however, is a decidedly dogmatic political movement that demands obeisance to its main tenets (and exiles those who dissent) and a distinctly defined agenda. Movement followers proudly announce their membership. ... their raison d'etre has transformed from the extenuation of their "conservative" impulses into the Machiavellian acquisition of power, usually through any means necessary.

At Guantanamo Bay there is no law. ... COMING SOON to all 50 states.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Really? ...

The Tucson Citizen copies a USA Today article: Police brutality cases rising --Officials worry relaxed hiring, promotion policies are to blame

They report that federal prosecutors "are targeting a rising number of law enforcement officers for alleged brutality, Justice Department statistics show."

So do Justice Dept stats show that law enforcement officers are being targeted or that the brutality of law enforcement is rising? And who would trust the Bush US Justice Dept to care or any stats coming out of this administration?

After the Bush Federal Government led the way in demonstrating how brutality is really done they now 'are worried' about an increase in police brutality? Don't think so.
Federal records showed the vast majority of police brutality cases referred by investigators are not prosecuted.

[...] The increasing Justice numbers generally correspond to a USA TODAY analysis of federal law enforcement prosecutions using data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Those data show 42 law enforcement prosecutions during the first 10 months of fiscal 2007, up 66 percent from all of fiscal 2002 and a 61 percent increase from a decade ago.
I'm sure it's a mistake that some areas of the government continue to operate for a while. After all Bush couldn't destroy everything at once. And while these few prosecution continue and are recorded it's best to blame "reduced standards, training and promotion of less-experienced officers."

Phoenix has a Police Chief with a brain ...

Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris doesn't think the job of the city's police should be hunting down people who have entered this country illegally.

Thank you Senator Dodd ...

From this point out I will support your nomination to run for president as a Democrat.

'Til now I've only been looking at who I didn't want running for President (Senator Obama).

I quite like John Edwards but he doesn't seem to quite take hold or he backed off 'taking hold' or I don't know quite what.

I think Hilary Clinton is qualified and will vote for her if she is nominated.

BUT, you Senator Dodd are the ONLY one who has acted on principle.

The other presidental hopefuls are not much removed from Senator Reid. They support the Constitution and the law and do nothing to stop legislation that subverts the Constitution and invalidates the law for specific people and organizations (namely the Bush mafia and the corporate mafia). After all Senator Reid 'agreed' with you, Senator Dodd, that passing a law granting the communications companies immunity was a bad idea. Senator Reid 'agreed' with you as he insisted that that very version of the bill MUST be the version to be voted on. Senator Reid 'agreed' with you as he ignored your hold on the bill while honoring the holds of Republicans. Senator Reid 'agreed' with you but somehow cannot help himself? After all he's just the elected leader of the Senate, that's all! Poor little puppy, Senator Reid.

For months now we've had Democrats, who are in the majority, by the way, tell us how much they don't like the bills that are being passed, the approval of the war they keep giving to Bush, the lack of accountability, the state of the administration and its disregard for all law ... and yet, they continue to pass those bills, they never filibuster, they continue to approve Bush's nominees when anyone who pays attention knows that Bush will NOT nominate anyone who will not agree to his bidding in advance. What is the Senate smoking?

You, Senator Dodd, are the only one who has done anything. And the other presidential hopefuls did nothing, nada, zilch.

UPDATE: Thanks also to
  • Barbara Boxer
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Russ Feingold
  • Ted Kennedy
  • Bill Nelson
  • Ron Wyden

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

Once a society unleashes this beast everyone in it is changed and twisted by it --- victim, perpetrator, cheerleader, dissenter and bystander alike.
Bush and 189 House Republicans apparently think our nation’s previous abhorrence of torture is quaint. They appear to yearn for the good old days...of the Spanish Inquisition.
Reading Darwin's notes I see it again plainly: An understanding that twines comprehension of an individuals "forgettableness" with its unique worth is the source of a naturalist's paradoxical reverence. --Quote from The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks
This title says it all ... Democrats Call For Investigation of Torture Tapes: I Attempt to Care by Hunter --Like bad TV, the same story over and over again week after week after week. Which are better? Democrats who stamp their feet and do nothing or Republicans who do nothing (other than steal from the public coffers)? Democrats have made a step in the right direction. As soon as they actually do something beyond stamping their feet we will be able to give them some credit ...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Think a 'better human' is coming? ...

Evolution has accelerated in 1800 human genes, which encompass about 7% of the human genome, Harpending's team reports online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Most of the mutations resulted from dramatic population booms, suggests lead author John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. As populations expand, the number of mutations increases, boosting the chances for a beneficial genetic variant that can improve survival and sweep through a population (in the same way that a large population of insects develops a gene for resistance to a pesticide faster than a small population).
Interesting. What kind of qualities will these be? Intelligence? Or more fundamentalism set to finalize the end of the US experiment in democracy much like fundamentalist Islam destroyed the budding eastern civilizations.

The article identifies changes in resistance to disease and adjustment to the changes in food stuff.

Also read: John Hawks Weblog

A very, very good post ...

Beyond Crashing The Gates by Turkana
I'm not a patient person, so don't expect me to stop criticising Democrats for what they lack. At least the whole crowd of elected Democrats are not moron-lead and corporate-controlled thieves and lackeys like the elected (and their non-elected hanger-on) Republicans.

Why ...

... must we continually beg (lobby?) Reid to do the right thing? The right thing which he often does not do preferring to fall in line with a crooked, deceptive and lying administration.

The decision is Reid's--go with his Democratic caucus, or go with the administration.

Update II: I've heard a rumor that there will be an all Senate briefing with Director of National Intelligence Admiral McConnell, and Attorney General Mukasey tomorrow afternoon on FISA. This sounds like an all out offensive by the administration on protecting the telecoms.

Call your Senators and urge them to 1) lobby Reid to bring the Judiciary Committee's bill to the floor, and 2) tell them to oppose any bill that includes telecom anmnesty.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Scarpinato, Swarminato ... they're trying to rehabilitate McCain.

Political Notebook by Daniel Scarpinato : McCain looks good heading to campaign's first voting
Since, apparently, no one can interact with George Bush on an adult level, all those around Bush end up behaving like pandering adolescents. John McCain included. McCain wanted to be president more than he wanted to keep his dignity by refusing to become one of Bush's sycophants.

John McCain is still not as crazy as the rest of the Republican line up, but he has shown his willingness to prostitute himself before the Bush mafia. He celebrated with Bush as New Orleans drowned. And that photo of his submissive hug of Bush is really really creepy.

Why would anyone trust McCain after his submissive, pandering performance over the last few years?

The more I see of Obama ...

... the more he reminds me of Joe Lieberman.

He (Obama) does not support unions.
Now lest anyone think this back-handed anti-union behavior is confined to Clinton associates like Lehane and Mark Penn, Obama and Oprah are appearing at a non-union venue (apparently blessed by the locals) and Oprah herself runs a non-union shop:
He (Obama) attacked Social Security with Republican lies.

He (Obama) lies about his position on a universal health plan:
Now for the bad news. Although Mr. Obama says he has a plan for universal health care, he actually doesn’t — a point Mr. Edwards made in last night’s debate. The Obama plan doesn’t mandate insurance for adults. So some people would take their chances — and then end up receiving treatment at other people’s expense when they ended up in emergency rooms. In that regard it’s actually weaker than the Schwarzenegger plan.
And lies:
And now, having been caught out on the facts, the Obama people respond with a personal attack, lifting quotes out of context to pretend that I never had problems with the plan. Something is very wrong here.
What Krugman says. There's something wrong here. Obama started out sounding fresh and honest. THEN he saw that he might even have a chance to run for President. He's no longer fresh (just a vicious DC insider after all) and he's certainly NOT honest. He lies like a Republican.

Obama talks about working with Republicans as one without any apparent understanding that, in today's environment, the only way the Republicans work with Democrats is when
1. A Democrat behaves and votes like a Republican (Lieberman)
2. When a Democrat gives into the Republican position completely (Reid, Pelosi) thus betraying the people they claim to represent.

There is no other way of working with the current Republican Party. Obama becomes more Liebermanesque ever day.

We need Democrats who stand for something. Obama does not appears to be one of them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I have no sympathy ...

Worried retailers put faith in price cuts, promotions
These 'worried' retailers probably helped and continue to help keep the Bush mafia in power. It's the Bush mafia approach to enriching their friends at the expense of the rest of us that has ruined the US economy.

Don't blame the Arizona Daily Star ...

... for the abysmal writing in this article:
Senate votes to block tax increase for millions by Jim Abrams, The Associated Press.
The Star just copied it from the AP. Perhaps the writer grew up writing about ping-pong tournaments.
House Democratic leaders throughout the day Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to PayGo.
Oh, gee, a play by play. So interesting. Who cares about issues. Just tell me the Democrats (and then quote one or two) said this and the Republicans said that and then repeat, repeat.

Jim Abrams, listed as the writer of this piece, is another one who doesn't understand the difference between a majority vote and the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster.
Earlier Thursday, Senate Republicans united in stopping the Senate from moving to the House-passed bill. The vote was 48-46 against beginning debate on the House bill, 14 short of the 60 needed.

Arizona Governor Napolitano caved on internal US travel control called Real ID ...

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who signed an agreement with Napolitano on Thursday, said the effort to stiffen identification standards is essential to making the country safer in the wake of the 2001 attacks.

"In the hands of terrorists and criminals, fraudulent documentation, phony identification are really weapons that enable people to carry out acts of violence and destruction," Chertoff said.
If the old passports and driver's licences were really weapons when used by the wrong people, then the new super Real ID documents will be super weapons when used by the wrong people? And don't tell me they can't be faked or subverted in some way. The real purpose of Real ID is to control US Citizens, not secure the country. This is obvious from the fact that real security issues, like port security, is ignored by this administration while they pursue such things as wiretapping the nation and consolidating personal information on all Americans.

And the Democrats go along quite willingly most of the time ...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What constitutes bribery? ...

Consumer Reports reports something fishy going on:
According to the HMHB Web site, the National Fisheries Institute, an industry trade association, provided honoraria of $1,000 each to the 14 members of the panel who came up with this new advice, and also covered travel, hotel bills and food for a meeting attended by the panelists. In addition, the four-person Executive Committee received an additional $500 each for the time spent in planning the meeting. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the NFI also gave the Coalition $60,000 for its education campaign on seafood consumption.
The board of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition decided pregnant women can, and apparently should “eat a minimum of 12 ounces per week of fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, and can do so safely,” lead be damned.

Is this just another group organized for the purpose of pushing the corporate mafia's message? They pick a socially responsible message: healthy mothers, healthy babies. The next step is the betrayal of that message? And they get paid to do this? Republican and corporations repeat this scenario over and over:
Disclaimer Related to Partner Organizations

Recommendations and position statements issued by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) are voted on by its Board of Directors. Any statement that is supported by the HMHB Board in no way implies that it has been endorsed by our member organizations. Questions regarding any member organizations' position on such matters should be directed to the leadership of those member organizations.
But individuals and groups keep going along ... a disclaimer isn't enough!

Immigration, migration and mankind's borders ...

Couple comments to Michael Tomasky's post in the Guardian:
Scare tactics on the border --Most Americans back citizenship for illegal migrants, but are eclipsed by a fevered minority
Only a few of the 'fevered' sorts have found the site yet but give them time. For now there's a reasonably polite and rational debated going on.

December 3, 2007 12:08 PM
My parents emigrated illegally to the United States back in the '80s and took up some of those jobs that WASP America seems not very keen on. I understand the argument that if they are legalized, it's saying it's OK to break the law (I don't hear opponents of the move to legalize illegals moaning and groaning about all the numerous times the current administration has violated our sacrosanct Constitution). However, I suspect that this is a superficial and vacuous rationalization; the true reason is xenophobia, pure and unadulterated racism.

I currently live in the UK (legally :P) and find myself constantly reading and hearing about the Polish blitzkrieg. They are flooding the country, driving wages down, sending their Polish-speaking children to already overcrowded schools, causing house prices to go up (how someone who is working for peanuts can afford the ludicrously expensive homes is beyond my comprehension!) and living off the dole, etc. Of course they are here legally yet these are the same things that are said about the illegals, i.e., Hispanics, in the United States.

Human beings are historically a species on the move. People have always emigrated in order to improve their lot. The Europeans that went to the Americas were doing just this. Can you imagine what America would be like had the Natives had stringent border control! ;)
COMMENT POSTED BY Ishouldapologise
December 3, 2007 11:34 AM
Isn't it strange that in an epoch where international corporations stroll around the world seting up branches of their companies at will. In an age where money flows electronically in waves from country to country unimpeded. In a time when for every gap year student the world is their oyster. In a time when Americans retire to Baja and British to Spain and France and Italy. In a time when everything is opening up.

Some people are blocked from bravely crossing one single frontier to fill an empty job vacancy, to find badly paid work and to geerously send money home to their needy family.

Talk about double standards.
"Talk about double standards." I think more manipulation than standards are involved. All 'standards' tend to dissolved in front of the neo-con (at one time called by the now almost outlawed word neo-fascist) wave that is transforming our country.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

The researchers found one theme universal to gene expression and aging: the slowing of a cell's energy factory.

They [right wing PR strategists] look down on the press with contempt as people who can be manipulated with ease. And they are right. The beltway journalists in their arrogance don't see themselves as being manipulated. And if they do see it they actually have a sick admiration for it (see Rove, Karl).

So these people, like most working Americans, are genuinely threatened, over a long period of time, by economic forces that are making a lot of people rich — but not them. They are, however, inexplicably quite content with that state of affairs, but are upset by an extremely small population of foreigners who are doing dirty work for low wages.
Aristocracy is, by definition, un-American. The question is how many Americans will be "messaged" into believing they are doing the patriotic thing by behaving like subjects and hunting down the foreign invader on behalf of their betters.

So [Mark] Steyn is mostly wrong. And to the extent that he is right, he is right by accident; liberalizing forces offend fundamentalists simply because fundamentalists have so much of their selves invested in their closed-minded views of the world. The differences between the fundamentalists of the west and those of Khartoum is a matter of degree, not of kind.

No, it is simply wrong to expect a typical panel of Republican Presidential Candidates to answer hard questions. They are practicing for the august position of President.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's catching up with us ...

Tropics on the Move by Phil Berardelli

Scientists have detected signs that the planet's tropics may have expanded much farther north in the past 3 decades than climate models had predicted for the next century. If the findings are confirmed and the trend continues, it could place major strains on subtropical ecosystems, hasten the spread of tropical diseases, and generally make life less pleasant for populations living with the zones of change.

Ah, someone else thinks the Arizona Daily Star was a real newspaper once upon a time long long ago ...

1. Comment by Sam S. (1424) — December 4,2007 @ 4:36AM

I sure miss the old Star, the one that did investigative reporting, the ones that balanced the power structure, by keeping citizens informed on ALL the necessary information we need to know to make good voting decision and informed opinions. Now 'investigate' isn't used when reporting community issues.......just phone calls to get local governments and big businesses say on the issue, and I should add school districts......since districts like TUSD only get Pheuffer's or Ireland's 'take' on the issues.

Sorry Star, but you did a horrible job covering the RTA suspected flipped vote scandal........intentionally. as well as other important issues, like Prop. 200. Pima County's Diebold counter and voting machines need to go, hard copy paper ballots are the only way to save the integrity of our votes and voting system, and yet you enable to very people trying to take our votes away from us.........Pima County administrator, Elections Department, and the Supervisors that refuse to give up the PUBLIC information they are required by law to divulge.......instead they allow evidence to be destroyed, and use bogus excuses to not deliver.

Article which generated the above comment was Explorer sold to Colo. publisher

David Gregory says the blogs did it ...

What a supercilious donkey's behind: David Gregory Plays “Blame the Blogs”

Monday, December 3, 2007

Democrats takes Pima County to court about vote oversight ...

Trial starts tomorrow, December 4. Democrats want all parties to have access to election data base ...
Voting Counts --Democrats' accusations of security breaches by the Pima County Elections Division go to trial next week by Dave Devine

At a trial beginning Tuesday, Dec. 4, attorney Bill Risner is expected to paint an extremely unflattering portrait of internal security within Pima County's Elections Division.

Risner--representing the local Democratic Party--hopes to secure outside oversight of vote-counting procedures, and is asking Judge Michael Miller to order the county to provide copies of its election databases to all major political parties.

Citing a prohibition on pretrial publicity, Pima County attorneys declined to discuss the case in detail. But Chris Straub, of the County Attorney's Office, did say: "We believe the (databases) are confidential."

Risner counters: "The election computer is fraught with security problems and can easily be rigged or manipulated by insiders."

. . .
Good interview with Bill Risner here.

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

Republican are scared to death that Democrats will do the right thing and Republicans will do everything they can, including cheating, lying and violence, to destroy the Democrats ability to do so!
... [The Republicans] greatest fear is that if the Democrats do win,
It would probably also mean a national health-insurance program that would irrevocably expand government involvement in the economy and American life, and itself make voters less likely to turn toward conservatism in the future.
I think that sentence contains a grim truth for progressives: the right will fight any health reform tooth and nail. They believe — and so do I — that the implications of universal coverage would extend far beyond health care, that it would revitalize the New Deal idea. And so they’ll do anything to stop it.
... will the Democrats and the people of the United States let the Republicans destroy the American peoples' future to further line the pockets of the greedy and the corrupt?

The Plot to Seize the White House" by Jules Archer It's an incredible 1974 book, re-released earlier this year (2007, about the conspiracy of US financial barons to stage a military coup to overthrow FDR in 1934. The connections to current corporate ambitions make it very pertinent to US politics today. And it's a very good read, very detailed and well researched by historian Archer.

... Under the Republican faux-libertarianism that finds its current crown princes in figures like Grover Norquist and Ron Paul, government can indeed be ably used as an enforcing tool of bigotry, but not of tolerance; government can indeed be used as a valid tool of industry against citizenry, but not the reverse; government, most of all, is a failure by its mere existence -- unless it serves their own thinly drawn purposes, of course. It is the shallowest and most crass interpretation possible of societal good and, indeed, of civilization, which goes to explain why it is so popular among certain groups.

Calling Bush stupid is certainly satisfying. It is, in a number of respects true; for Bush’s ideas are original in approximately the way tape recorders play back sounds never heard before. And originality is a sign of genius. Furthermore, it is a habit of the educated middle class meritocracy to equate stupidity with failure. So by calling Bush stupid we call him a failure. There certainly are ways in which the Bush administration failed. But we do ourselves a great disservice in dwelling on this idea; for it is not the ways in which Bush has failed but the ways he has succeeded that will define the most dangerous legacy of the administration. [...] I have long argued that the Iraq war is nothing but a distraction. It is what we talk about because we understand it. But the Iraq war is not the central thrust of the Dubya administration. It is the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the remarkably blatant attempts to undermine or subvert every part of the federal government that have been the main business of the administration. The remarkable level of success came, in part, because we have for the duration of his term seen Dubya as an idiot, an underachiever, a spoilt golden-boy.

It’s time we behave more intelligently.

... being less crazy than the Republicans is not a policy. ... nor a recommendation. If only Democratic politicians would allow this concept through their skulls.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Prejudice from male scientists ...

Female Fickleness May Split a Species by Matt Kaplan
Selection or choice or decision are not usually considered derogatory terms, but fickleness is definitely derogatory. Fickle comes from ficol (Old English) which means deceitful.

So why choose a derogatory term for a decision or choice being made by a female bird when so many other non-derogatory, and more scientific, terms are available?

Corporate control of government ...

Corporations didn't like the suggestion that a homeowner could use a weak solution of vinegar and water to clean linoleum (and tile, by the way) floors instead of all those products that line the grocery store shelves.

What corporations don't like, the Arizona legislature outlaws.

Consequently since 1997 the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is prohibited by law from suggesting anything at all unless
the information is "competent and reliable and based on a test, analysis, research, study or other evidence that yields accurate and reliable results"
Arizonans are strong and resouceful and independent and don't need no stinking environment anyway. Arizonans just love using the more expensive and caustic heavily marketed products instead of cheaper and less caustic products.
"Because there is no industry to test whether a little soapy water helps with aphids or whether boric acid will help with cockroaches … and because these products are not 'registered' as pesticides, they cannot recommend most of this in lieu of some nasty chemical that we know kills stuff, but is bad for people or the environment," said Sandy Bahr, a Sierra Club lobbyist in Phoenix.
Anything the corporate mafia desires ... just let our legislatures know your latest wish.

I went to the Trader Joe's today ...

... and found an unsweetened soy milk with additives. The additive that caught my attention was inulin. Never heard of it. So I asked at the checkout. After mentioning pre- and pro-biotics (she said its one and not the other, but I can't remember which is which) she decided on the analogy of 'fertilizer for the stomach.' Who could resist such a concept? I decided to buy it and look up 'inulin' on the web. [Update 12/3/2007 As this post is getting more than the usual readership I'll just add here that Trader Joe's is my favorite store and that we all would get better food if some of the insufferably large grocery store corporations converted their stores from pushing chemically saturated pseudo food concoctions to real food.]

From Wikipedia: Inulin

for foods

Inulin is used increasingly in foods because it has unusual nutritional characteristics. It ranges from completely bland to subtly sweet and can be used to replace sugar, fat, and flour. This is particularly advantageous because inulin contains a third to a quarter of the food energy of sugar or other carbohydrates and a sixth to a ninth of the food energy of fat. It also increases calcium absorption[2] and possibly magnesium absorption[3], while promoting intestinal bacteria. Nutritionally, it is considered a form of soluble fiber, and it is important to note that consuming large quantities (particularly for sensitive and/or unaccustomed individuals) can lead to gas and bloating. Inulin has a minimal impact on blood sugar, making it generally considered suitable for diabetics and potentially helpful in managing blood sugar-related illnesses.

The entire list of ingredient of this additive enhanced soy milk is as follows: Trader Joe's SOY Essential Soy Beverage

  • Organic Soymilk (filtered water, whole organic soybeans)
  • Filtered Water
  • Inulin
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Organic Flaxseed Oil
  • Natural Flavors (ed. we get to guess what this might be)
  • Sea Salt
  • Carrageenan
  • Vitamin A Palmitate
  • Vitamin D2
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12

That's all well and good. I will try this product since I keep looking for a usable unsweetened soy drink [added 12/3/07: ... that is one that doesn't need refrigeration until opened. Trader Joe's has a perfectly good unsweetened Organic soy milk in the refrigeration section].

In google-ing 'inulin' I encountered the following article which I think should raise concerns about the mind set of those who see themselves in the business of 'designing' our food.

Thoroughly Modern Milk by Cindy Hazen
And more about inulin:
Studies boost the Inulin market after the discovery of its health benefits
Seems one of the main beneficiaries of all this 'good news' about inulin will be the people who make the product who just happen to also be the people spreading all the good news and doing the studies.
One of the leading inulin makers, Orafti has been influential in building the science behind this ingredient, backing the research on inulin's interaction with calcium.
Last December the Guardian Unlimited produced a Special Report called What's Wrong with our food: Just add milk ... among other things
Vitamins were first added to breakfast cereals in the early 1930s, first the "sunshine vitamin" D, and later fragile, heat-sensitive B vitamins, and vitamin C and iron. A new wave of fortification is coming. Inulin, known to the food industry until recently as a bulking agent, is now added as a "prebiotic", and companies are looking at adding omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA. There are technical difficulties - the long chain molecules in DHA can be damaged by high temperatures and pressure processes. Firms have worked out how to take a dairy protein and carbohydrate to form a slurry with tuna oil, which is spray dried to encapsulate DHA.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Tucson Citizen cogitates about how the Internet intersects with the 'news' ...

Cogitations interesting, title poor: Why a Free Press?: Should journalists heed the cyber-mob? by Mark Evans

Prohibition: lesson not learned ...

The U.S. failed to learn anything from prohibition and proceeded to declare a WAR ON DRUGS. Also, there appear to be many in the US who seem to like a continual state of war, any war, anywhere, of any kind.
'the stash house next door'
... as Ms. Gargulinski pointed out, with Tucson becoming a major drop-off point for Mexican drug cartels, many of which are now allied with Colombian drug runners, law-abiding citizens who have lived in the same neighborhood for decades may face a danger they aren't ready to handle.

You can study for your concealed-carry permit and train to use your .45 automatic Colt pistol, but if the drug dealers wrongly hit your front door instead of the correct one - out of the 85 identical floor plans in your subdivision - they may be armed with the same guns and grenades as the Israeli army. What is worse, they are prepared to pull the trigger.

You aren't. Neither am I. I have guns enough to withstand a rampaging herd of buffalo, maybe even fight off a gang of cattle rustlers, but if a carload of Colombians - their heads full of meth and their AR-15s full of armor-piercing ammo - kicks in my front door because their computer software got my address mixed up with the house next door, which is six miles away, I'm toast.
How many in the U.S. understand that we created this mess our very selves? AND we keep it going. For this war, we sacrifice lives and expend countless dollars and destroy futures and destabilize countries.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Giuliani and Tasers ...

The Giuliani Connection to the TASER Abuse Explosion
There's so much to thank Rudy Giuliani for. Dead firemen and Tasers may just top the list.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More destruction of the ideals that made this country strong ...

Public Libraries For Profit by Akito Yoshikane
At some future time, as access to the Internet grows, and assuming that the Internet does not end up in the absolute control of the corporate mafia, perhaps, turning libraries into profit centers for the greedy will not matter.

Physical activity greater influence on mobility in old age than weight ...

'Use it or lose it' --Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, have concluded a study that proves a direct link between levels of physical activity in middle age and physical ability later in life – regardless of body weight.
[...] Physical activity of about 30 minutes three or more times a week resulted in fewer than 13 per cent of people developing some sort of physical disability, while this rate increased to 24 per cent where subjects were less active.

Dr. Lang commented: “There are three truly interesting results from this research. The first is that our findings were similar from the US and the UK, which suggests that they are universal. The second is that exercise in middle age does not just benefit people in terms of weight loss – it also helps them to remain physically healthy and active later in life. The third is that, in terms of results from activity, weight does not seem to be an issue.” ...

Bob Feinman, an American with a conscience ...

Tucsonan wants to help migrant who saved boy
by Sheryl Kornman and The Associated Press
Tucson businessman Bob Feinman says he doesn't want to look like "some ugly foreigner trying to make a headline," but he does want to offer a hand to Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes.

The Magdalena de Kino, Son., man quit his two-day walk from his hometown across the Arizona-Mexico border to help a 9-year-old Arizona boy orphaned by his mother's death in a van accident.

Christopher Buztheitner was wandering in the desert in shorts the evening before Thanksgiving when Cordova, 26, a bricklayer, spotted him. . . .
Some of the comments to the above Tucson Citizen article demonstrate how too many of Arizona's 'red-minded' think about an individual who just demonstrated the kind of character we should consider inviting into this country instead of continuing the current catch-22 environment that entices them in on one hand and works to deport them in the most humiliating manner on the other.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Down, down, down ...

Cynical NCLB causes crisis in TUSD

In 2002, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, dubbed "No Child Left Behind" by President Bush.

Sold as public school reform, with phony standards, false accountability and an unfilled promise of millions more federal dollars, NCLB creates a moral dilemma for leaders of school districts across the nation.

Do they enforce this amoral law dutifully - even if it sets statistically unattainable benchmarks that ultimately will embarrass and perhaps destroy the public schools?

Or will they take a stand out of higher principles?

Unfortunately, leaders of Tucson Unified School District, like their counterparts across the country, have embraced the NCLB agenda.

Districts' compliance with NCLB diverts funds intended for teacher compensation, creates unnecessary budgetary pressures and promotes bureaucracy rather than educational excellence.

What gets lost in all the rhetoric is that all public schools will be deemed "failing" by 2014, no matter what they do to comply with NCLB.

As the list of "failing" schools grows, and as media attention legitimizes NCLB standards and student test scores in the eyes of the taxpayers, public opinion will more and more turn against the public schools.

Why do TUSD and other districts play a game they cannot possibly win? Because it is easier to conform to an amoral law than to challenge it.

Bush sold NCLB as a deterrent to "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Is opposition to NCLB also opposition to high standards and equality? Is NCLB protecting children from teachers with low expectations?

By intervening with uniform standards to protect students, NCLB proponents claim they will bring accountability to public schools.

This cynical policy has serious flaws. It assumes that all children learn at the same rate, and it sets standards that are naturally exclusive.

When "Adequate Yearly Progress" is among the 144 standards, some students will not pass.

If a 100 percent passing rate is the benchmark for a school to avoid "failing," one must conclude that the NCLB agenda is not to improve public schools but to embarrass them.

For years, professional educators have realized that standards do not ensure quality schools.

Good education is relative; it is based upon the child's individual needs.

Because local teachers and their professional organization, the Tucson Education Association (TEA), are resistant to NCLB, they become an easy target when students do not meet the standards.

In TUSD's case, over the past year, the diversion of dollars from Proposition 301, passed in 2000 primarily for teacher pay; the taking of the governor's money intended for teacher compensation; and the blaming of the budget crisis on a recent 3 percent raise for teachers all have roots in the hidden cost of NCLB compliance.

NCLB compliance also has led large districts such as TUSD to adopt one-size-fits-all remedial programs that actually push out high-performing students.

At many schools, remedial classes have replaced advanced courses, and bureaucrats enforce districtwide curriculum regimentation.
As a result, parents take their higher-performing students out of TUSD. They do not want their kids subjected to the remedial program.

And if TUSD achieves unitary status, the number of high-performing students leaving will likely increase as more options become available to parents.

The integrity of any individual or institution is the ability to do the right thing even when it is most difficult to do.

School district leadership consists of good people who, by dutifully enforcing an unjust law, are hurting the schools.

Public criticism of NCLB, especially at a time when it is up for reauthorization in Congress, is necessary to maintain professional and institutional integrity.

It is time for TUSD leadership to join with TEA in publicizing NCLB's damaging impact.

Paul Karlowicz is a history and political science teacher at University High School. He was president of the Tucson Education Association from 2003-2005.

Who writes these headings ...

Bilingual woman to become CEO of Hispanic Chamber
It's not just the heading. Sheryl Kornman, who I will assume is female, wrote the article which included this sentence:
She becomes a rare female commodity as a chamber president.
Commodity? Maricela Solis de Kester's name isn't mentioned until the second paragraph. After all she's just a woman and women are objects who have gender and language skills. It's not like she's the subject of the article or anything!

Bilingual? So original to have a bilingual person heading a 'Hispanic' Chamber in the US, isn't it? So it must be Kester's gender that zoomed into the writer's lizard brain. Yes, it's not just men who fail to use their higher reasoning capabilities at times. Can you imagine anyone writing the heading 'Bilingual man to become CEO of Hispanic Chamber?' Sounds idiotic, yes?

At the time of this post there was one comment to the article posted by someone who identifies himself as 'fernando s. (mando1).' Fernado's cryptic comment is 'who cares!!!'

And so goes the US and the world ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tucson Police flag cars for thieves ...

Can this possibly make sense?
... while you're in stores shopping, Tucson Police are patrolling parking lots, randomly checking cars for security.

Then they're leaving pass or fail report cards on vehicle windshields.

Patrolling sounds like police works. But the rest? Don't the police have real work to do? Something other than flagging potential vehicles for thieves? Could we possibly have too many police officers and they're looking for more things to do?

Ah, that makes sense ...

They're in trouble. They often don't do a very good job. The laws they follow are contradictory and perverse. They are overworked, under-trained, under-funded, under-supported, under or wrongly staffed.

What to do? Why cut their funding, of course.
Child Protective Services faces legislative changes, may see its funding cut by Josh Brodesky

"Some of the legislative changes under consideration would make CPS case records more open, allow CPS workers to file missing persons reports, give them greater access to criminal history records and open state employee records to the public in the same way as municipal and county employee records.

"But with the state roughly a billion dollars in the red, there is also the prospect that the beleaguered agency will take a funding hit, even as it tries to meet public expectations for improvement."
Cutting funding when the opposite may be needed is how the red-mind works. But then there are a lot of the red-minded in the Arizona legislature.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Bush/GOP mafia hits us again ...

The next credit scandal --The real outrage of the credit crunch has been in the way major banks disclosed potential losses. Now, there are billions more in undisclosed risk. byPeter Eavis
That the integrity, and respect around the world, of US finacial institutions was the result of government oversight, the same oversight the Republicans have gutted and eliminated (with the complicity of too many Democrats) is of no importance to those who have been able to get their money and get out. Will the rest, the victims realize who made them such suckers? Will the suckers go even further and consider their own part on putting and keeping the GOP mafia in power?

So where does enforcement end and extortion begin?

Software enforcer hits small business --Protecting license terms lucrative; critics say some slack is warranted by Brian Bergstein

A good idea ...

Making Tucson more habitable for birds ...

... would also make it more people friendly. My yard is 'packed' with birds in the summer. I have water for them and trees and shrubs, all in a small area using little water (much less anyway than some of my neighbors who have grass). Some of the birds, like my cardinal, stay all year, but many others just visit for a time, either to raise a family or on their way cross country. I occasionally spot a hawk and appear to have an owl in residence at night. I've also seen quail looking for a home though with dogs in this yard and cats all around the quail do not settle down here.

Then there's the lizards. Cute little geckos, little lizards and then bigger lizards whose cold, fixed stare makes one wonder what's going on in their mind and thankful they are no larger.

The side benefit of this bird friendly enclave is that its a few degrees cooler in summer than the surrounding area.
Group wants emphasis on better bird habitat by Tom Beal

Some people think Tucson is for the birds, or should be.
The Audubon Society wants Tucson to be dotted with multi-storied vegetation and striped with riparian ribbons of green so that its members can get their feather fix without venturing too far — and so that we all can experience a greater variety of early-morning chirps.
This whole xeriscape thing has gone too far, say the bird lovers. Birds can't nest or rest or hide from their predators in decomposed granite. The sameness of our vegetation is producing a boring bird mix.
Making our world greener and more comfortable costs no more than producing these sculptured heat sinks of cement and granite.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More sign of the times? ...

So much for tryptophanic turkey instilled sense of trust:
Black Friday indeed: Crowds of shoppers pour into Tucson stores --Scuffles result in police being called out four times

Overnight Thursday into Friday, police received three calls about separate fights at the Best Buy store at 575 E. Wetmore Road, which opened at 5 a.m. Friday with early-bird deals. In each case, the clamor had stopped by the time officers arrived, said Officer Dallas Wilson, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

But scuffles weren't limited to electronics stores. Police responded to another fight call at a Toys "R" Us store, 4525 N. Oracle Road, but again said the problem subsided before officers arrived.

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

The Pima County Supervisors expected 'the cashiers' to exercise their grey matter but the Pima County Dept of Evironmental Quality said no ... Bronson said she didn't believe those gray areas would be that hard to negotiate.

"It's not a one-size-fits-all world," Bronson said. "That's why we have gray matter. You can apply common sense."

So, while marriage and kids are still popular enough that the allegedly decadent gay community clamors for the right to have a normal bourgeois family (and ironically are being fought every step of the way by those who claim to be concerned about family's demise!), we hear nothing from the culture warriors about this particular kind of moral depravity:
One of the state's largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved.
To Republicans making money and acquiring power is the only morality. Nothing else matters. All else is hype.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tax and spend, a concept whose time has come ...

I concure, taxing wealth and spending on society is way past due:
Tax and Spend? Hell, Yeah! by Susan J. Douglas

Why turkey ...

What do you think of this?
While scientists say that the tryptophan in turkey is probably not the source of holiday fatigue, a possible new role for tryptophan has recently been uncovered. It appears to affect our sense of trust.
Here's bit of what Wikipedia has about tryptophan:
Tryptophan as a component of dietary protein is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas,mangoes, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts. It is also found in turkey at a level typical of poultry in general.
One widely-held urban myth is that heavy consumption of turkey meat (as for example in a Thanksgiving feast) results in drowsiness, which has been attributed to high levels of tryptophan contained in turkey.[42][43][44] While turkey does contain high levels of tryptophan, the amount is comparable to that contained in most other meats. Furthermore postprandial Thanksgiving sedation may have more to do with what is consumed along with the turkey, and in particular carbohydrates, rather than the turkey itself.
... in particular, the common American post-Thanksgiving dinner drowsiness, may be the result of a heavy meal rich in carbohydrates, which, via an indirect mechanism, increases the production of sleep-promoting serotonin and melatonin in the brain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just like our ever widening vehicle clotted freeways ...

Has anyone else started to think that we should be questioning the operation of the non-profit sector as well as the corporate sector of our society?
... Like transportation planners who add more lanes to already clogged highways, we add more space to our food banks in the futile hope of relieving the congestion.

We know hunger's cause -- poverty. We know its solution -- end poverty. Let this Thanksgiving remind us of that task.

[When Handouts Keep Coming, the Food Line Never Ends by Mark Winne via The Sideshow]

Oh, and don't forget the law enforcement sector and the judicial sector and the public sector and especially the media sector that pretends to be the news sector. Where to start ... the list never ends ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

No one's happy but the Department of Homeland (in)Security ... "The precedent is basically set that if there's a use that is incompatible with a refuge, then we'll just hand over our land to the Department of Homeland Security," Clark said. "I don't think that's any better precedent than waiving laws."
[Near-done border fence stirs critics, defenders --Land swap: best deal possible or bad precedent? by Brady McCombs, Arizona Daily Star] ... but then, nothing matters anymore than using threats and fear to scam the entire country.
The Beltway obsession with Social Security is a classic case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. People have picked up a few facts about demography, and think they understand the long run budget problem. They don’t. ... and neither does Obama, sorry to say.
The Bush/Cheney Legacy ... With the confirmation hearings for Michael Mukasey as Attorney General, one cannot but fear that we are descending into the hell that was the destination of those human societies that did not give sufficient weight to moral and ethical standards and the rule of law. Rather we have squandered morality and ethics in expedient actions that returned less than nothing: no security, no safety and no honor. That is the legacy of Bush and Cheney.

By the way: no one knows where al-Libi is today. He has been "disappeared" by Bush. Perhaps because his very testimony is such an indictment of Bush and his embrace of the Torture Regime.

I wonder if Chris Matthews realizes that every time he or one of his fellow gasbags blithely reveal their sexist lizard brains like this, another little feminist gets her (or his) wings.

When you're to old to sit on granny's knee ...

Dell enlists celebrities to help consumers ply money from relatives, friends for gifts

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Arizona, the best ...

... at detecting baby-killers (in our own back yard, not in Iraq).
Arizona ranks best in nation at detecting infant homicides by Thomas Hargrove and John Hall
What disturbs me about this article, besides the fact that some parents can and do kill their own child, is the self congratulatory nature of article about Arizona being just soooo gooood at identifying infant homicides but not one thought about what could be done to reduce the number of such homicides in the first place.

Society needs to provide training and help in raising the next generations. With the demise of the extended family (still around in some cultures) there is little for stressed and ignorant parents to fall back on. There's little or no relief at all for those without sufficient funds. The same steps that would reduce these homicides should be the same steps that would reduce child abuse in general.

Detection after the fact is not the only answer.

The really sad part of this is that we appear to be headed toward a society where more and more stress will be applied and fewer options made available.

Solving the puzzle is commendable but not if you helped set up the scenario in the first place.

Anyone really surprised? ...

And still our 'Democrats' in Congress do worse than nothing ...
... the Colombian families accuse Chiquita not just of paying "protection money" to terrorist organizations, but actually using the money, in essence, to have the terrorist organizations help Chiquita seize banana plantations from small growers.
Part of the Republican Bush/GOP mafia? Terrorize all you want. Otherwise beware as we are back to a world where the masses must keeps their eyes lowered and averted lest they be chosen to prove the mafia's power or just destroyed on a whim for fun and games.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We like him because he's Mormon ...

... but you should like him because he's qualified because he's Mormon (so say we Mormons).

That's the way I read this article: Arizona’s LDS population supports Romney campaign by Sonu Munshi, November 16th, 2007

More of the Red Mind ...

This red-minded guy is talking about Representative Raul Grijalva:
Now, this congress critter involves himself in every little Mexican cause that comes down the pike, whether it's a legitimate issue or not. Illegals are his favorite--as long as they play the downtrodden victim card. He's involved himself in the Catalina protests. When he campaigns, he forgets he has white constituents in his district and panders solely to the illegals. He is truly the Mexican version of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. If it involves illegals, you can rest assured he's there to fan the flames--whether it's a legitimate issue or not, whether he has all the facts or not. He's there, facts be damned.
Certainly a sizable portion of Grijalva's constituency are of Mexican descent (because Republicans engineered this district so it would be so). As of the 2000 census 50.6% of Grijalva's district (Arizona Congressional District 7) describe themselves as Hispanic.

However what the red-minded don't appear to understand, or deliberately ignore, is that
  1. only US citizens can vote for him, and
  2. US citizens of Mexican descent do not all agree on the solutions to US immigration problems (same as those of us who are not of Mexican descent).

Santa Claus came to town this week ...

It's not even Thanksgiving yet!
Santa Claus came to town this week, arriving at both Tucson Mall and Park Place with the hope of drawing kids, and presumably their shopping parents, to their stores.

Retailers nationwide have jump-started the season early this year out of fear that rising gas prices, depreciating home values and other economic woes will cut shoppers' spending later.
Why this should "cut shoppers' spending later" but not now escapes me?

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

Richard Leakey's response to Bishop 'i am not descended from an ape' Adoyo ... "Science is at the very foundation of our ability to deal with the new century, so if we bring it down to the idea that science may be un-Christian -- well, how stupid can you get?" he said of the bishop's comments.
... actually, ignorant humans can get pretty darn stupid.

Giggle ...

Women with small waists and big hips also have big IQs, a new U.S. study has found.

The conventions for locating the genes that encode proteins are pretty well established. The lingering problem for genomics biologists is locating genes whose parts are interrupted repeatedly, as well as locating genes that do not code for proteins.
Our nation is sick, and current "immigration crisis" is not the cause of this national illness, but just another symptom of it.
Oh, goodie ... "the results imply that current robot technology is surprisingly close to achieving [sustained] autonomous bonding and socialization with human toddlers."
Medicare "premiums have jumped 93 percent since 2001, when premiums were just $50 per month." ... Medicare is no longer the bargain public health program it is supposed to be, and most of the cost increases and new regulations that have weakened the program happened since the Bush administration took office in 2001.
To constantly deride her on the basis of gender is ridiculous. She's the front runner and there's plenty to criticize her for. (Her support for the Peru free trade agreement, for one.)That these guys are obsessing on the gender stuff is very, very revealing.
al-Libi is an important case to discuss, because as Stephen Grey reported in that Frontline piece, the "evidence" that was extracted from al-Libi under torture was not used to save the lives of thousands of people, but rather was responsible for causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

al-Libi is famous because his confessions were used by the Bush administration to make the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And the reason that the al-Libi story is so controversial is because it is so apparent that the only reason he came up with such bad information was because he was being tortured and was trying (desperately) to come up with things that his interrogators wanted to hear.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's wrong with science reporting ...

This article is, to me, an example of what's wrong with 'science reporting.'
Birds may not have clawed their way up the evolutionary tree

What a cute title. Birds 'clawing' up a tree. The rest of the article is mainly quotes interspersed with a few non-quoted sentences to show the science writer has a place in the process.

Deconstructing the brain ...

Research shows the brain's processing speed is significantly faster than real time --Scientists at The University of Arizona have added another piece of the puzzle of how the brain processes memory.
Thought speed?
“The more practical point, I think, is that this methodology, the ability to measure how fast the brain is processing at the level of changing the state of the brain from one 10- millisecond epoch to the next, how fast the internal state is sweeping through its memories or its allowable patterns is, I think, a model for thought speed,” McNaughton said.

Just the toss of a coin ...

Random silencing of genes may explain family differences: study --A process which leads to some human genes being randomly "silenced" is more common than thought and could explain why siblings react differently to illnesses ...
"It adds another layer of diversity beyond genetic diversity," explained Andrew Chess, an associate professor of medicine, and a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

He noted that with random inactivation, even identical twins are not identical.
I do not mean to sound sarcastic here, but who thought identical twins really were completely identical? Our unaided senses do provide much useful information, you know.

I luv science but I remember when scientists were telling us that dogs don't think and all canine actions were preprogramed. Well I had eyes and a brain and science has caught up with them. But I do wish that scientists would write their own 'copy.' Most journalists do not do science justice. Most journalists don't do journalism justice either, come to think of it.

Sign of the times ...

If I weren't so much a part of this world I would probably think 'human kind' was an outlandish, and possibly sick, joke!
Women get 'virginity fix' NHS operations in Muslim-driven trend by JAMES CHAPMAN
Fixing virginity has a past. Such thing as chicken blood have been used to prove virginity on, I assume, countless wedding nights. Physicians used to consider whether to even perform exams that might involve 'breaking' the hymen. I remember girlish gossip about hymen repair required for 'girl' athletes of the 50's. In fact I remember girls being advised not to run and jump too much as they might ... well you know.

But times have changed for most of us, thank whatever gods that be.

The devils, though, are still in evidence. Such as this woman, who thinks those 'others' should get just what they deserve ... like maybe death!
As a British Muslim I find 'virginity repairs' on the NHS dangerous, demeaning ... and utterly indefensible by SAIRA KHAN
I'm all for this operation if it is needed to save someone's life, either literally or figuratively. But the fact that we still live in a world where a woman's body is required to testify to her sexual acceptability is gross, obscene, abhorrent, loathsome.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For long term brain health ...

Pinning down the evidence:
Eating fish, omega-3 oils, fruits and veggies lowers risk of memory problems
A diet rich in fish, omega-3 oils, fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, whereas consuming omega-6 rich oils could increase chances of developing memory problems, according to a study published in the November 13, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Killing us softly ...

... for our own good of course

Stopping Cars with Radiation --A beam of microwave energy could stop vehicles in their tracks by Brittany Sauser

"I have no doubt that if you set up a microprocessor and get a high-powered, well-focused beam of energy on [a car], you can disrupt its operation," says Peter Fisher, a professor of physics and the division head in particle and nuclear experimental physics at MIT. But to be able to deploy such a system safely will take some work, he says.

Imagine if a police officer is in a high-speed chase near a shopping mall and turns on one of these systems to stop the perpetrator: a lot of elevators have microprocessor controls, so if the officer is pointing the device in the direction of the mall, he or she could end up trapping 12 people in an elevator, says Fisher. Many other electronic systems, such as an automated teller machine or a security system, could also be disrupted.

Furthermore, Fisher cautions that, while the system may seem like an easier and more efficient solution than spike strips, it could still cause a huge accident if a car is disabled and a driver loses steering control. The system could pose a safety concern as well: radiation can burn human skin, and microwaves have long been suspected of being a cancer-causing agent.

AARP of the split mind and forked tongue?

AARP of 2 minds on private plans

(Note: I have an AARP sponsored Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan because it was the best I could find which does not mean I like or approve of the way Part D is structured. But I have to hand it to AARP -- their plan is the most straight forward and complete.)