Monday, June 29, 2009


Because you can't have too much mindless violence, sometimes.

RIP list for the past week or so:

Ed McMahon
Farrah Fawcett
Michael Jackson
Billy Mays
Fred Travalena

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, RIP

Personally, I thought he'd died years ago after yet another quack rejuvenation treatment, but I learned today that he died of a heart attack.

Probably after finding crow's feet wrinkles on his face.

I recall him first with the Jackson Five, not fondly. The music grated on my ears and the cartoon show they had was worse than pathetic.

But his foibles and shenanigans were the stuff of public scrutiny and tabloid fodder for years. Bloom County and South Park had a lot of fun with him.

Bye-bye, Michael.

Farrah Fawcett, RIP

I read on Huffington Post that Farrah Fawcett, a/k/a Farrah Fawcett-Majors, has died at age 62 after a battle with cancer.

I first encountered her via the television medium wayyyy back in the 1970s, when she was on the show Charlie's Angels. Although she was on the show only briefly her smile and hair became iconic for that part of the decade. Some of the girls I went to high school with tried to get their hair done like hers, get their teeth straightened and whitened like hers, and starved themselves to the point of anorexia to Look. Just. Like. Her.

My first encounter with unbridled narcissism. How lovely.

My most enduring memory of her is part TV nostalgia (similar to the agita induced by too much spicy food) and this poem, written in her honor and published in Hustler magazine over 20 years ago. I only recall two complete stanzas (which shows how far back my memory goes):

When Farrah takes a healthy shit
Do odors foul the air?
The ones that you and I expel,
That rot our underwear?
Or does it hint of frankincense
And other fragrance rare?
I wonder.

When Farrah takes a healthy shit
Do angels on high praise
Their frosty, feathered protege
For adopting human ways?
Or do they gag and flap their wings
To clear away the haze?
I wonder.

Well, I am wondering no more.

Rest in Peace, Farrah, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Monday, June 22, 2009

As If ...

We need this worthless asshole weighing in on anything, let alone a nominee for Supreme Court of the United States.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taking It Easy

There is now blood in Iranian streets as the police, Revolutionary Guards and basiji militia attack people who are protesting against the election results of last week. With most normal news and information links into the Islamic Republic shut down or severely constrained, the protesters (who still march, despite tear gas, water cannons, mass arrests and batons) coordinate their marches via Twitter.

Which shows that it's good for something besides distracting people with 140-character verbiage.

There are some - oh, sorry, the Republicans - who are screeching that Obama needs to come out four-square in support of the protesters and not be backward about trying to bully Iran into become a democracy.

Well, hate to disappoint you, folks, but we tried that schtick five years ago.

Remember George W Bush? Remember how he lectured the Iranian people when they had their Presidential election, openly advocating for the reformist candidate over the hard-line Mayor of Teheran? Remember how the voters there told Bush to shove it so far up his ass he could taste it, and elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Don't recall that?

I'm not surprised, really. Conservatives have a remarkably wonderful tendency to blank out the past two terms from their collective memory.

In trying to marginalize Mir-Hossein Mousavi and declaring that all protests must cease, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has chosen sides. For a supposedly impartial and neutral arbiter, he's made a poor show of things, and there may be indications arising that the people are letting them know his displeasure.

Obama's recent statement, the strongest he's made so far, is exactly the measured response that's required. Anything else - particularly the screeching of John Bolton and John "Bomb Iran" McCain - would sound a sour note among the Iranian people, and could go so far as to consolidate support behind Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

And we definitely don't want that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Obligatory Friday Sex Post


Yes, Sir, I'm talking to YOU!

If you, or anyone else, should have inadequacy issues, you may want to shy away from reading this:

Evidence of giant crustacean sperm found
3-D images show ancient creature was filled with seed as long as her body
By Jeanna Bryner
Senior writer
updated 3:01 p.m. ET, Thurs., June 18, 2009

The fossilized remains of a tiny 100 million-year-old crustacean reveal evidence of what to her at least would have been giant sperm, measuring perhaps as long as her body.

While the sperm itself was not preserved, 3-D images of the female's specialized receptacles indicate she had just finished having sex and that they were filled with sperm that has since degraded. (The oldest direct evidence of sperm comes from a springtail living some 40 million years ago, according to the researchers.)

Called Harbinia micropapillosa, the tiny organism now found to bear evidence of degraded sperm was also an ostracod, crustaceans ranging in size from smaller than a poppy seed to as large as a meatball. The organisms are still around on Earth today and are equipped with up to eight pairs of appendages along their bivalve bodies.

They are known for their supersized sperm relative to their body size, reaching a record-breaking 10 body lengths, or 0.2 inches (6 millimeters), in Propontocypris monstrosa. The males are likewise well-endowed, having correspondingly large copulatory organs to cope with their sperm, said lead researcher Renate Matzke-Karasz of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. (When sperm length reaches that of the organism's body, it can arguably be called "giant," Matzke-Karasz said.)

Matzke-Karasz and her colleagues used holotomography, a type of 3-D scanning method, to look at the reproductive organs of specimens of H. micropapillosa (male and female remains), along with those of a living relative called Eucypris virens.

Living ostracods like E. virens have reproductive organs separated into two systems located on both sides of the body. The males have two sperm pumps and two copulatory organs (aka penises), while females have two vaginal openings connected to long ducts that end in semen receptacles.

The researchers found that three specimens of male H. micropapillosa contained hollow tubes at the back of the body, which were likely sperm pumps. The two female specimens showed paired cavities that corresponded with seminal receptacles, which are only known from ostracods reproducing with giant sperm.

"The receptacles must have been filled with sperm in order to be preserved as two cavities," the researchers write. Empty receptacles are folded up inside the body and only take on their distinctive shape and size after sperm gets transferred into them.

And if the ancient ostracods copulated like their modern counterparts, it would've been arduous.

"The copulation itself takes a long time. They have to find each other, and during the act the female has to actively 'agree,' because otherwise she simply closes her carapace," Matzke-Karasz told LiveScience. "The copulation when it starts seems to be energetically costly because it can last up to one hour."

The new research, detailed in the June 19 issue of the journal Science, shows ostracods were already reproducing with giant sperm well into the Mesozoic Era even though sperm and its associated organs can be energetically draining to organisms.

"Now we can show that in spite of the costs, it must be a successful way to reproduce, since it 'survived' for such a long time," Matzke-Karasz said.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taking It to the Streets

Imagine, if you will (and why not?) a Presidential election between a hard-line conservative and a reform-minded moderate.

Got it?

Okay. Now imagine that although the polling showed things were neck-and-neck between the two, the conservative won by a two to one margin, and was declared the winner only five hours after voting ended.

Sound a bit like the 2000 election here in the US?

Well, not quite. The elections mentioned were held in the Islamic Republic of Iran last Friday, between incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and his main opponent, Mir-Hossein Moussavi. While opinion polling's a bit iffy in Iran, all the portents pointed to it being a close race.

Voting was by paper ballots - that's paper ballots, people; not electronic devices. And the turnout was heavy, something on the order of 40 million voters (by one report) in Iran and in the global expatriate community.

Now is when the fun starts.

The Interior Ministry called the election for Ahmedinejad only 5 hours after the polls closed, which was instantly fishy. There's no way, no way in hell, you can count even a good representative sample by hand in 5 hours, let alone call the election. But they did.

Moussavi's supporters cried foul and are still crying foul, the fourth day after the election. Thousands of people have hit the bricks, fighting with riot police and setting fires as they protest the results. Although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei at first endorsed the election, he has since called upon the Guardian Council to investigate the allegations of massive fraud being made by Moussavi and his supporters. Meanwhile, the people are keeping up the pressure, with some daring to say that the Supreme Leader be replaced.

Iranian democracy's a bit odd, to most American eyes. People vote for representation in the Majlis, and vote for a President. But the President wields very little actual power; that is held by the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader. A cynical bastard (like myself) might see this as somewhat analogous to what we saw in the Bush Administration - we voted for the Congress and the President, while Cheney and a small cabal of neoconservatives actually pulled the strings in camera.

How will all this turn out? Difficult to say; there are reports of injuries and even deaths as a result of the post-election violence. The government has closed down a lot of the social-networking sites and blocked most communications out of the country, but enough word is filtering through to cause a certain amount of viewing with alarm in Iran's neighbors as well as the EU and the United States.

We have to stand back and let this run its course, people; we can't afford to piss the Iranians off like Bush did by loudly suggesting that the voters over there shouldn't pick Ahmedinejad. The upshot of that, of course, was that the people voted for the guy Bush didn't want.

I like to think that Obama's smarter than that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Propaganda of the Deed

In classic Anarchist theory, there is a concept known as Propaganda of the Deed. This is basically the use, by a terrorist (or Anarchist provocateur, or what have you), of physical violence in order to make a political statement or trigger change.

It doesn't usually work, and there are ample historical examples of governments putting the screws to extremist groups and the like after an incident.

Today, in Washington, DC, a man described by law enforcement sources as an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland walked into the National Holocaust Museum there (it's across the street from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, if I recall aright) and started shooting. A private security guard and the shooter were both injured, no one was killed.

No one can say we weren't warned about things like this, folks.

The Department of Homeland Security timidly released the results of a report commissioned by the Bush Administration in its waning months that pointed out that economic factors as well as the cold fact that white people will become a minority before 2050 will trigger a surge in the number and virulence of right-wing hate groups and concomitant domestic terrorist activities.

I say "timidly" with great conviction, as the right wing immediately howled and DHS flinched as if it were an abused puppy. Pundits such as Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of their oleaginous ilk couldn't conceive that anyone, let alone The Big Evil Nasty Gummint could ever dare to tar the innocent and childlike Right.

Yeah, innocent as a newborn baby.

"Baby rat, that is," Bugs Bunny famously remarked when confronted by similar shenanigans.

So, a quick synopsis, if you please:

1. Starting about mid-2008, we started hearing hate speech flung out by conservatives during the Presidential campaign, including at least one shouted "Nigger!" at a rally hosted by Sarah Palin.

2. The volume (both in quantity and decibel level) of screeching invective by the Fringe Right and the so-called "mainstream" Right has done nothing but increase, and all of their denials and mealymouthed "apologies" for their rhetoric are exactly that - mealymouthed. Attempts to explain away the hatred spewed out on the airwaves and cables by saying that "No one is swayed or affected by this" is full-bore, patent leather, 100% Bullshit. If that were the case, Paul Joseph Goebbels would never have been the success he was in Germany back in the 30s.

2a. The amount of eliminationist rhetoric has exploded. This kind of rhetoric compares a certain ideology/ethnic type/religious affiliation/etc. with a dangerous disease, like cancer, and calls upon all "properly-thinking people" to wipe it out.

3. The number of right-wing hate groups has exploded, with a run on the gun industry that has the NRA forced to wear rubber pants in order to contain the amount of semen exploding from their tiny penises. It's getting to the point that law enforcement agencies are finding it hard to obtain ammunition - it's all either being earmarked for military use or being bought up by idiots who honestly believe that Obama wants their guns (News Flash, boys - the Democrats lost that fight, and there's no legislative gun control push on the horizon).

4. Antiabortion-related acts of domestic terrorism have started back up.

5. And now we have the shootings at the Holocaust Museum. For those of you who follow the white supremacist trends in this country, the fact that the shooter is 88 years old would have significance to these idiots. "88" is neo-Nazi code for "HH," and guess which historical figure had an H in his name?

(Hint, just to eliminate a bad guess - it isn't Herbert Hoover.)

I hate to say this, because as an American citizen I have a vested interest in the free speech provisions of our Constitution, but maybe - just maybe - it's time to start cracking down on the terrorists in our own country.

Monday, June 08, 2009

fail owned pwned pictures
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Monday Morning Cuteness

I figured people needed a bit of Cuteness to start the week. Careful, though - view it sparingly:


Enough of politics over here; let's go across The Pond and see what's going on, shall we?

The United Kingdom has been in the viscid grip of the Labour Party for about twenty years now, but since the last few years of Tony Blair's tenure as Prime Minister the Conservative Party has been making gains. Now, with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, things have only gotten worse for Labour.

First, there was the recession fueled by a collapse of the subprime mortgage market and the failure of a couple of major banks.

Then there came the Expense Scandal, which so far has claimed several members of the Labour Cabinet. Now, the scandal has so far hurt all of the four major parties, but the party in power always gets kicked hardest because they are in power. Several in the Labour Party, from the backbenchers in the House of Commons to the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, have called for Brown to resign as Prime Minister and call for a new general election.

So far Brown has resisted this.

He may not be able to resist it any longer, or ignore the growing calls for him to resign.

The reason?

Well, let's start with the local council elections in England. According to these figures, the Conservative Party gained seven councils and 244 councillors; Labour lost 4 councils and 291 councillors. This is not good.

What's even worse is the polling for seats in the European Parliament. There, the Conservatives gained a seat while Labour lost 5. In the unkindest cut of all, Labour came in second in the voting to the UK Independence Party, and the anti-immigration right-wing British National Party acquired two seats in Strasbourg.

Taken together, things don't look good at all for the Labour Party. I'm not inclined to handicapping non-US elections, but I personally give Brown another three months before he gives in and calls for new Parliamentary elections.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Thoughts on D-Day

(A day late, so sue me.)

I was watching the D-Day commemoration from the American cemetery overlooking Coleville-sur-Mer on Saturday, and a thought or two struck me.

First, contrary to one right-wing blowhard, President Obama did not "apologize to the Germans" for our invasion of Festung Europa and eventual victory over the Nazi regime.

Second ...

In the cold gray dawn that day, 160,000 men swarmed over the beaches and parachuted into enemy-held territory. The necessity for their going in was self-evident to them: Nazism was an ideology that was exactly at odds with everything espoused by the Powers arrayed against Hitler. It demanded submission to authority, a stifling of all dissent, a level of hatred directed against The Other.

Nazism was a hateful ideology wedded to the industrial and scientific might of a Great Power, with armies in the millions at its beck and call and a population working hard to keep those armies in the field.

Yet those troops went in, American and British and Canadian and Free French, because they knew that this ideology had to be stamped out.

Which makes me think about our current conflict with yet another ideology.

We faced off back in the 1940s against three Great Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan, in case those reading this may be illiterate), each wielding vast armies and industrial might, and beat each one of them. We then faced off against another ideology, Communism, for nearly a half century and held it off until the greatest state that espoused that ideology collapsed (for various reasons).

In the Second World War, we faced the problem without flinching. In the Cold War, we succumbed - briefly, and in some cases with justification - to paranoia at the possibility of fifth columnists in our midst that could sell us to the Communist powers. But we overcame those challenges without too much damage to our values and ideals.

So why - why, I implore you - are so many in this country so afraid of a few thousand unwashed troublemakers that they're about to soil their pants whenever someone says Boo to them?

I'll grant you, Black Tuesday was horrific, but was it a reason to treat it as the Reichstag Fire and put the screws to our civil liberties? Are we so afraid and weak that we allow ourselves to become the very monsters we seek to destroy?

The lesson I take from D-Day is this:

You can cling to your values, even when you're afraid. You can cling to your values because you're afraid.

But fear is no reason to abandon your values.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Running Away from Themselves

A few days ago, twittering from Auschwitz no less, former House Speaker and former human Newt Gingrich tossed his puppy biscuit to the lupine masses of the GOP Base by calling Judge Sonia Sotomayor a racist.

Now Gingrich is backpedaling on it.

Bill O'Reilly, darling of Fox News (a/k/a the GOP Propaganda Wing) has for many years been vilifying Dr. George Tiller for being a murderer and equating him to a Nazi (among other noisome things). All of this served to rile (or would that be "O'Reilly?") up those people who might contemplate violence, with the result that some twisted little God-botherer put a bullet into Dr. Tiller's head.

Now O'Reilly's starting to backpedal, saying he only "reported" what others were saying.

I would say that this marks a new low in conservative hypocrisy, but digging into that is like an archeological expedition - every time you think you've hit bottom, all-new depths are plumbed.