A Hero Revealed

Woodward has confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat". The world is a much better place because of him. I only hope that the tradition of looking suspiciously at authority is still alive.


Governor digs fixing potholes / San Jose crews destroy part of road for staged event
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to a quiet San Jose neighborhood Thursday, and -- dogged by protesters -- filled a pothole dug by city crews just a few hours before, as part of an attempt to dramatize his efforts to increase money for transportation projects.


"For paving the streets, it's a lot of lighting,'' said resident Nick Porrovecchio, 48, motioning to a team of workmen setting up Hollywood-style floodlights on the street to bathe the gubernatorial podium in a soft glow.

Porrovecchio and his business partner, Joe Greco, said that at about 7 a.m. they became fascinated watching "10 city workers standing around for a few hours putting on new vests,'' all in preparation for the big moment with Schwarzenegger.

But their street, he noted, didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

"They just dug it out,'' Porrovecchio said, shrugging. "There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.''


In this case, Vossbrink said, the governor's event involved "not exactly filling a pothole, but it represented the pothole aspect'' of the transportation funding measure.

Bolivia has a navy

It's surprising that Bolivia has a navy because Bolivia has no coastline.

Legal Fiction

A great joke from Legal Fiction
"One day, the townspeople heard over the radio that a great flood was coming. The police warned everyone to evacuate. As they did, one man refused to do so. His neighbor asked, “What’s wrong with you, don’t you know the flood is coming?”

“Don’t worry,” the man replied, “the Lord’s gonna take care of me.”

As time went on, the waters started to rise and the man had to go upstairs in his house. A police boat came by and urged the man to get in.

“Don’t worry,” the man replied, “the Lord’s gonna take care of me.”

The waters continued to rise, and the man scurried upstairs to the attic. Again, a police boat came by and offered another chance to escape.

“Don’t worry,” the man replied, “the Lord’s gonna take care of me.”

Finally, the waters rose so high that the man had to climb out on the roof. A helicopter came by and pleaded with the man to get in.

“Don’t worry,” the man replied, “the Lord’s gonna take care of me.”

As it turned out, the man drowned and went to heaven. When he got there, he turned to God and said, “God, what happened? I thought you were going to take care of me.”

God replied, “You dummy, I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”


Pharyngula::Obligatory Sithiness
The only thing goofier than taking lessons on politics from George Lucas is extracting religious ideas from it. Mannion links to an article by Orson Scott Card that does just that, though. I've liked a few of Card's books, but his commentaries convince me that I would not want to be in the same room with the guy, not without an emergency chemical shower and the possibility of a rapid, rocket assisted exit. This time, he is irate that people would actually like the Jedi religion.

It's one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it's something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being.

Wha...? Your irony meters may have been spared if you didn't already know that Card is devoutly religious. Your meters are glowing heaps of radioactive slag right now if you knew that Card is a devout Mormon.


slacktivist: "Allow me to explain for those unfamiliar with the American evangelical subculture. Evangelicals read the Bible literally. Thus whenever the Bible says 'wine' they read this as 'nonalcoholic grape juice' -- unless the passage seems to say something negative about wine, in which case they read it to mean 'wine.'

Some examples: Ephesians 5:18 says 'Do not get drunk on wine [Greek: oinos], which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.' For evangelicals, the word 'wine' here refers to wine, which is evil. But in the second chapter of John's Gospel, when Jesus changes some 30 gallons of water into 'wine' [oinos] that's really just nonalcoholic grape juice -- because what's a wedding feast without at least 30 gallons of nonalcoholic grape juice?"


I haven't posted much lately because I'm sick. :P I'll probably get some posts up tonight or tomorrow morning, if anyone's watching. Wish me luck and bounteous vitamin C.

Stupid Storkists

Store Wars

This is cute.


A law professor talks about grading exams, and some of the tricks he uses to ensure he's fair.

First they came for PBS II

The Democrats have finally found something that they'll stand up for. PBS! The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has launched an investigation into the right-wing chairman of the CPB.

(See my previous post here.)


One good thing about conservatives having all the power is that they're no longer afraid to say what they really think. Instead of talking about "reforming" social security, now some actually come out and talk about getting rid of it. The same thing is now happening with public schools. Vouchers are revealed as nothing more than a stepping stone on the road to eliminating public schools, something conservatives have vehemently denied in the past.

The Fish Symbol

It turns out that the fish symbol ("ichthus"; most commonly seen on the back of cars) was originally a pagan symbol for the womb. Someone has decided that Bush is the new savior, and has designed a version combining the fish symbol with our great leader. Slacktivist points out that this is blasphemous. Also, note the humor of placing bush with the obviously-shaped fertility symbol. Ahem.


I just rented a double feature of Thumbtanic and Thumb Wars, both from the creator and star of Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Both were hilarious (as was Kung Pow), and kind of cute.

Police Shootings

This article is about a police shooting where 10 cops opened fire at one suspect. I don't understand why people always think this sort of thing is excessive. Each cop has their own threshold, and when they think that threshold has been crossed they'll start shooting. That often means that many or all of them will begin shooting at once. I agree that it's wasteful and often way overkill, but that doesn't provide an alternative. Should they have a conference to see who gets to shoot?

Furthermore, once one policeman (or policewoman) starts shooting, the others will automatically think that the suspect has done something dangerous and will also start shooting. That's their job.

Finally, once they start shooting, I don't think it's that much of a stretch for them to keep shooting. If they think that a suspect is so dangerous that killing him is the best option, why would them not keep shooting?

So when I read a story about 10 policemen firing 160 rounds at this suspect, I can agree that it was overkill, but once there were 10 officers at the scene I don't think there's much that could have been done to stop that sort of thing. I'd be interested to know what the policeman's stance on this, maybe I'm going too easy on them. :)


A working Lego harpsichord. Awesome!

Everything you wanted to know about Baptists but were afraid to ask

Slacktivist explains it all:
Q: You keep talking about this "soul liberty" as the essence of what it means to be a Baptist. But isn't the essence of the Baptist tradition, you know, baptism?

A: What sets Baptists apart is not that they are baptized -- all Christians practice baptism in one form or another. Nor is it the form of baptism (we prefer old-school, take-me-to-the-river-style immersion, but it's not an article of faith). The distinct thing is that Baptists choose baptism, and thus are only baptized when they're old enough to make that choice on their own. The significance of this is that it means that membership in the church is a matter of individual choice -- soul liberty again. This also has political significance as an expression of individual freedom and the separation of church and state. This political aspect was a rather big deal a few centuries back. The separation of church and state is the one and only contribution Baptists have made to Christian political thought -- but it's a pretty good contribution."


Angry Bear talks about imports. I didn't realize that we import much more from the E.U. and Canada than we do from China. We also import a lot from Japan, other East Asian countries, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. OPEC also gets a spot on the list, and for only a single product.

The Pope's Sins of Omission

A really interesting article about the new Pope.

False Alarm, Nothing To See Here, Move Along

USATODAY.com - Ridge reveals clashes on alerts: "The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says."

Out Weird Leader

Bush is upset with the treaty at the end of World War II that gave Eastern Europe to the U.S.S.R. I have no idea why he's talking about it, but I assume it's some sort of extremist codeword like his mention of Dred Scott in the debates. Joshua Micah Marshall explains that el presidente is wrong, too.


Finally, someone speaks up when a Republican operative lies. It's about time.

Extra! Extra! New York Times Hires Moron!

The NY Times has a new columnist, who happens to be a moron. He thinks that the media should stop reporting on suicide bombers, and complains that the bombings are not newsworthy: "There was no larger lesson except that some insurgents were willing and able to kill civilians, which was not news." Gee, I thought it was news that suicide bombers killed innocent people.

According to this moron, then, the 9/11 bombings should have gotten a single news story on the day they happened and nothing else, because everything after that was no longer news. Of course, the moron would never agree with that. You see, there's a difference between Americans and the swarthy people getting killed in suicide bombings way over there.

I have to stop. I could say much more, but thinking about this moron (did I mention that he's a moron?) is raising my blood pressure too much.

Silly Republicans

This article focuses on stem cells, but this is what caught my attention: "The survey, taken among 800 Republican voters nationwide, showed 90 percent job approval for President Bush and 88 percent favorable support for Republicans in the House." Of course, the country is doing much better now than under the previous president, so it's obvious why they feel that way.

Ho Activities with Ho Tendencies

I first heard about this from Mrs. JDog, and now I found a link to the actual appeals court decision.
The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch “hoe.” A “hoe,” of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden’s response. We have taken the liberty of changing “hoe” to “ho,” a staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps “You doin’ ho activities with ho tendencies.”

Update:The link seems to be down now.

Chicken Power!

"One proposal put forward consisted of filling the casing of the nuke with live chickens..." Just try not to follow that link!

Reckless Air Crashes

A bunch of military air crashes are the result of the pilots playing or showing off. This might be a necessary side-effect of training programs that produce competent pilots, but it seems wasteful, both of aircraft and human life.

The Economy

It turns out that Democrats are much better for the economy than Republicans, unless you're in the top 5%, in which case they're even. Strangely, this effect is much more pronounced in non-election years, and in election years the results are actually reversed.

The Official God FAQ

The Official God FAQ will answer all questions you may have about God. It's short, but funny.

Marginal tax rates

(From Marginal Revolution) The graph below plots the marginal tax rate versus income. It's much less smooth than I would have expected, and seems in general to be pretty messed up.

Talking Heads

James Wolcott talks about the end of a pundit show. I couldn't care one less about the specific show he discusses (I saw it, it was horrible), but his description of the inner workings of these shows is fascinating.
If you're lucky, the show tapes in NY, and you're escorted to the set.

If you're not, and the show is based in DC, you're escorted to a small room where you're directed to an uncomfortable chair and fitted with an earpiece. Often there's no monitor, so that you won't get distracted and watch yourself during the interview, and no one else in the room, only a camera that you're supposed to address as if it were a person.

You sit and wait and try not to fidget, as producers enter your earpiece to say hello, only to depart in a burp of static. Often you can hear what's being said in DC, some of it so flattering. Such as (actual instance), another guest on the segment complaining from the DC studio to the host, "Why am I always on with this guy?" Or you might be privy to the future lunch plans of the host and a political consultant as they try to coordinate their busy schedules.

Then the segment begins. You do the best you can, given that you can't see anybody and can't rely on visual cues as to when to jump in, then, since TV time goes twice as fast as real time, whoosh, it's over.

Afterwards a voice in your earpiece thanks you for appearing and you sit there waiting for a producer or techie to come in and unhook you.


An interesting recent history of the filibuster.

An interesting discussion of filibusters, specifically whether it's a good idea to even have them.

Learnin' makes you a Democrat

Wow, it looks like going to college drastically increases your chance of being a Democrat. DonkeyRising:
For example, among non-college-educated whites with $30,000-$50,000 in household income, Bush beat Kerry by 24 points (62-38); among college-educated whites at the same income level, Kerry actually managed at 49-49 tie. And among non-college-educated whites with $50,000-$75,000 in household income, Bush beat Kerry by a shocking 41 points (70-29), while leading by only 5 points (52-47) among college-educated whites at the same income level.

Tony Blair

I just love this picture of Tony Blair. He looks so happy, and it must be contagious.

Take that!

The house just passed a bill that would make it illegal to help a minor evade parental notification laws by crossing state lines. Democrats attempted to add excemptions to the bill, all of which were voted down. In the published summaries of the ammendments, the republicans in charge added their own take ont he excemptions. For example, one ammendment would have excempted taxi drivers, bus drivers, etc., because they would not even know they were transporting anyone to get an abortion. This ammendment was sumarized as follows:

Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution if they are taxicab drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport.

This page has more. I first thought that this whole episode was a joke, as I only saw reference to it on liberal weblogs. Eventually, though, it appeared on the ABC News website, but only after the republican in charge backed down. That darn liberal media!

Science on Trial!

Another great post from Fafblog.

Phobile mobile phone handset review

Love the small size of your cell phone but hate talking into such a small device? This is the device for you.

You go, girl!

The Bush administration had a deal for Brazil. Brazil would get 40 million dollars to fight AIDS if they promoted abstinence over condoms and issue a condemnation of prostitution.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Brazil spurns US terms for Aids help
Yesterday Pedro Chequer, the director of Brazil's HIV/Aids programme, said the government had managed to resist US pressure during negotiations on the Aids funding to focus on promoting abstinence and fidelity rather than condoms - another ideological battle being waged by the religious right. But the US negotiators insisted that the clause on prostitution had to stay.

So, the Brazilian government walked away, giving up $40,000,000. Why would they do such a thing?

'I would like to confirm that Brazil has taken this decision in order to preserve its autonomy on issues related to national policies on HIV/Aids as well as ethical and human rights principles,' he told the Guardian.

Campaigners congratulated the Brazilian government for its stance, and voiced concerns that the declaration on prostitution could damage efforts to tackle Aids among sex workers in many countries.


'It is a hugely problematic policy from the standpoint of public health alone. It goes against the entire grain of public health principles in not judging the people you are trying to reach.'

'This would be entirely in contradiction with Brazilian guidelines for a programme that has been working very well for years. We are providing condoms, and doing a lot of prevention work with sex workers, and the rate of infection has stabilised and dropped since the 1980s,' said Sonia Correa, an Aids activist in Brazil and co-chair of the International Working Group on Sexuality and Social Policy.

Oh, that's why.

Foiling the Creationists

Creationists have been getting pretty agressive lately, mostly under the guise of "Intelligent Design", which they pretend is a scientific theory that says that life on Earth is so complicated that someone must have designed it. They also have lots of conspiracy theories about why this stuff isn't studied or taught (because it's laughable?). Anyway, in their efforts to obfuscate and deceive, they try to disguise their hokum with scientific terminology. They're actually pretty good at it if the intended audience doesn't know biology. Here's an example, complete with explainations by a biologist.

What makes humanity special

They compared the genome of humans with the genome of humanities closest existing relative, chimpanzees, and found the genes that have diverged most over time from those of our common ancestor. Suprisingly, it's not genes that control our brain formation, it's genes that affect testes and response to disease. Here's a good summary.


Luckily for me, there was no writing section when I took the SAT. I remember reading about the new section they were adding and thinking that it was a step backwards. One of the only redeeming features of the SAT was that it was almost completely objective; there was one right answer, and no human judgement was necessary to grade it. I assumed that this would change with the written section, but I was wrong.
He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. 'I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one,' he said. The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.


Perelman contacted the College Board and was surprised to learn that on the new SAT essay, students are not penalized for incorrect facts. The official guide for scorers explains: 'Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or ' 'Anna Karenina,' a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' (Actually, that's 1775; a novel by the Russian Leo Tolstoy, and poor Anna hurls herself under a train.) No matter. 'You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts.'"


I haven't had much time to post the last few days. I've got 10 or 15 ready for tomorrow, when I hope to get off my lazy butt and write about them.

First they came for PBS

Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases:
WASHINGTON, May 1 - The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.


Mr. Tomlinson told them they should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate.

I really don't know what I can add. It's not enough to control the government and private news outlets, now they want to control ALL the news outlets. I keep thinking they can't go any further, that decency and common sense will stop them, and I'm always wrong.

(Thanks to the E-Man for the link)

Dog Judo

Dog Judo. There's not much more I can add. Number 3 is my favorite.

Farmer's daughter

A mathematician and an engineer get lost in the wilderness and stumble upon a farm. The farmer tells them that they can eat with him and sleep in the barn, but they have to stay away from his daughter. However, if they're patient, every minute they're allowed to go half of the remaining distance to his daughter.

The mathematician throws up his hands: "She's beautiful, but I'll never get to her! Why even bother?"

The engineer grins: "If I'm patient, I'll get close enough!"

(Thanks for CK for this one.)

That's how he did it!

Great Moments in History, 4000 B.C.: God Hides the Dinosaur Bones:
'Man, this is gonna be fuckin' hilarious!' says God.
'I dunno God,' says me. 'I'm not sure I get it.'
'No, no, it's gonna be fuckin' fantastic,' says God. ''Cause y'see, everybody's gonna think there's dinosaurs, and there's not! That's gold - solid gold!'
'I guess that's funny,' says me. 'Not really ha ha funny, more like Andy Kaufmann funny.'
'Dude, you just don't get it,' says God. 'Now c'mon, you gotta check out these, these trilobites! Ohmigod! Ohmigod, these're fuckin' classic!'
'I think this is like that time we were out drivin an you got all excited about stealin that 'SALAD BAR' sign over that restaurant,' says me.
'Know what, man, I am fuckin' starvin',' says God. 'After this we're totally gettin' some tacos.'"


(Yet Another Torture Post): Michael Froomkin is on it.