Saturday, September 30, 2006


Sick In Bed, 20/20 Hindsight Blogging

What did those Dems. who voted for the McCain Torture Bill think they were doing? If they thought they were scoring political points, they were wrong. Hastert, Frist, et al., are still going to use the general Dem. opposition to this bill against even those Dems. who supported it: "sure Sen. X and Rep. Y voted to keep us safe, but if the Dems. are in the majority they'll also vote for unhinged moonbats like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who'll undermine our dear leader's quest to keep us safe". Meanwhile, Sen. X and Rep. Y, having voted for the bill, cannot actually respond to this charge by explaining how people who voted against the bill also can and will keep us safe.

How much better would it have been if the Dems. could have unified against the bill. Sure, it would have still passed, and a filibuster may have been politically destructive (even if Dems. could get some good speeches in, all they'd be is speeches, not action -- and most people are clueless enough about the mechanisms of legislatures, which is part of how we're in this mess in the first place, btw, that they will hold it against the Dems. that they didn't do the impossible and do more than just speak about it), but if the Dems. could at least have unified against this bill, and had a piece of paper with some words printed on it pretending to be an alternate bill (these words should have been mere platitudes -- you don't wanna give the GOP specific proposals to either oppose or steal, but platitudes pass for bills in most people's minds: when concern trolls say Dems. need to come up with specific "policies", to the extent that they are really more concerned than trolling, such platitudes, rather than the concrete policies of which Dems from centrist wonks to lefty moonbats are used to thinking, is what they mean; in general, Dems. need to learn something I learned in the aftermath of my oral qualifying exam -- when concern trolls give you advice you know to be bad, it behooves you to still figure out what piece of good advice would be similar and to follow that advice the concern troll ought to have given you rather than just completely ignoring the advice of the concern troll and floundering with something entirely different), then come the election season, when Hastert and Frist made the inevitable allegations against Sen. X and Rep. Y, they would not have been in the awkward position of having to defend votes they did not make but rather could respond: "we had an alternative that really could have kept us safe, but you guys refused to give it fair hearing: instead you railroaded through a bill that will allow the President to name any individual as an enemy combatant if he so chooses, all the while the real enemies would slip away".

I know this is too little too late, but if I can think of this lying in bed sick with the worst cold ever, why can't people who are paid to be leaders think of this in foresight? A large part of being a leader is having the foresight to see what everyone sees in hindsight. If the Dem. leadership cannot do this, well, then, no wonder people don't trust them to have the foresight to anticipate and keep us safe from terrorist attacks.


Meanwhile, people hate the GOP Congress in 2006 as much as they hated the Dem. Congress in 1994. Except in 1994, the GOP gave voters a fancy "Contract with America" and hence a reason to vote for them. Why should Joe and Jane Sixpack vote Dem. in 2006 rather than just staying home? Dems. need to come up with a reason fast. And, don't ask me to do so -- nobody's payin' me to think up reasons while I'm sick in bed.


Also -- am I the only one who's worried that page-gate and Macaca-gate will eventually, in spite of how well the individual Dem challengers are rising above the fray, sour people on "Democratic negative campaigning" (with appropriate spin from the media, at key points?) Already NPR is focusing more on page-gate (and mentioning the relatively innocuous e-mails in detail while throwing in the fact that there are more explicit IMs as an after-thought: they make it sound like the Congressman is being targeted for being just mighty-right-friendly to a young-'un) at the expense of covering real debate about what really is a "do nothing Congress", etc.

Alas -- we get the government the media deserves.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Second Day Rosh Hashana Sermon

Let's see if I can recollect what I said:

Hume (?) notes that just because the sun has risen everyday doesn't mean it will rise tomorrow.
Such skepticism, rather than being the enemy of religiosity, is necessary for it -- after all, if you are confident the sun will rise tomorrow, you will not be appropriately thankful for its rising when it does, but if you are skeptical, then its rising will seem as a miracle and you will thank God accordingly.

Children listen to stories in the same way: they perhaps purposefully forget what happened and allow themselves to be excited when the story "surprises" them with an ending they've heard before, because they have allowed themselves to be skeptical that the story will end the same way in the current reading.
It is this mindset that characterizes a reverent reading of Torah.

However, I must confess (and 'tis the season for confession), I have no such sense of suspense during the 2nd day Rosh Hashana reading of that most suspenseful of Torah stories, the Akedah. Why? Because on 1st day Rosh Hashana, we've just read that Abraham's seed will be continued through Isaac, so you know that Isaac will not be killed.

What does puzzle me is the maftir reading: what the $^*@ is the deal with celebrating a new year on the first day of the seventh month? Why not the first day of the first month?

Actually, Judaism has many "new year's" days: including that first day of the first month (interestingly, both Purim, celebrated shortly before this "New Year" and Passover, celebrated shortly after, borrow in their rituals and observances, elements of the Persian New Year's festival of Norouz), Rosh Hashana and Tu B'Shevat. And Judaism is typical of many traditions in moving the New Year away from an original New Year's celebration in early Spring. But Judaism differs in moving the New Year to the Fall.

In general, Judaism has two holiday seasons: a series of Spring holidays starting in mid-winter with Tu B'Shevat, continuing through Purim, Passover, the Omer and Pentacost, and a series of Fall holidays starting with the period of mourning leading up to Tisha B'Av, through the High Holidays and Sukkoth (three holidays in one, including Val Kilmer's favorite holiday: Simchas Torah! < / Top Secret >) and finally, after a break, ending with Hannukah, which is, in a way, a substitute for Sukkoth, which at some points could not be observed.

The first holiday season celebrates the planting and the first fruits. The second season observes the period of worrying that one's crops might fail and the celebrates the harvest when they don't.

Judaism also has two key captivity/freedom narratives each of which marks a beginning of the Jewish faith. In the first narrative, after the Hebrew people are founded by Abraham, they end up in captivity in Egypt, then, following the Exodus, we receive the Torah at Sinai, which dictates Jewish law. In the second narrative, we are expelled from the Holy Land and made captive in Babylon wherein the Jewish faith as we know it today begins to develop. The Spring Holiday season, with it's un-celebrated New Year, largely commerates the first beginning of the Jewish faith and the Fall Holiday season, although Sukkoth does partially commemorate the Exodus, celebrates the second beginning of the Jewish faith.

Indeed, on Rosh Hashana, we read from Jeremiah, who is linked with the Deuteronomic school which has given us so much of Jewish practice as we know it today. What is the message of Jeremiah and Deuteronomy, etc? That Judaism can survive, and even grow without the Temple sacrifices. Instead of sacrifice, we justify, to borrow a term from Christian soterology, ourselves by "Torah [study], [prayer] service [which double meaning is present in Hebrew as well as English -- does the double meaning originate in the Hebrew?], and deeds of loving concern". As for sacrifice: what does Abraham say to Isaac before the Akedah? "God will see to his own sacrifice".


This is kinda a summary -- I guess I went a little long with the sermon, but people complimented me nonetheless: I think they may even have been sincere! :)

Monday, September 25, 2006


Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

I know some people who are very paranoid about anti-Semitism. It's funny: somehow they actually manage to have more anti-Semitic remarks directed at them or near them than some of us who are less paranoid. And it doesn't seem to be a matter of the remarks causing the paranoia (although they may re-enforce the paranoia) nor does it seem to be a matter of "d'you eat" type mis-understandings ... somehow being worried a bit too much about anti-Semitism makes you more likely to hear anti-Semitic remarks or something?

I notice a similar phenomenon with homophobes. I'll flirt with any human between the ages of old enough that it's not sick and old enough to be ... er, my older sibling. Yet I cannot recall ever actually really being hit on by a gay man. OTOH, I know some people who are, ostensibly for religious reasons, uncomfortable with homosexuality, and they get hit on (in ways that even a dense person like me would realize were signs of interest) fairly often. They are, e.g., in a new city looking for friends, but somehow they end up getting hit on, maybe because they are looking too hard for friendship it gets interpreted wrong? Of course, it only feeds their paranoia: "why can't I try to make friends without it getting mis-interpreted?" Maybe 'cause you're trying too hard so it's only natural for that mis-interpretation to happen? Or maybe it's not even a mis-interpretation? Maybe these people really are just so deep in the closet they don't realize it themselves? Maybe similarly those paranoid about non-existant slights have a sub-conscious self-hating streak?

Still, it does sometimes seem as if Alanis Morrisette was onto something, even if she used the wrong word to describe it: oftentimes you do get challanged with your fears and perhaps even your hidden desires. Is it all a test?


Why We Americans Just Don't Get It

Perhaps because the media is keeping us in the dark?

This (from Attaturk via a fellow David, but one in Austin) is just too bizarre actually: I wonder who made the decision for the separate cover stories and why?


I Heard this on NPR Last Night -- On a Program Focusing on the Akedah

This sort of thing drives some non-"Judeo-Christians" nuts ... that they have this sort of program on ostensibly secular stations and then the fundies have the nerve to complain our society is not sufficiently deferential to religion?

Anyway, though, I liked the program (maybe I'm biased) and they did have some interesting ideas about the Akedah ... e.g., it was necessary not to so much to test Abraham as to ensure that the possibly spoiled child of Abraham and Sarah's old age, Isaac, would be driven from the nest, so to speak. Also, they quoted this poem: Jews who get so enraptured that fundies supposedly speaking for the Christian majority are so happy to place even a fractional "Judeo" in front of Christian in the morality they propose to legislate ought to remember that, as far as established religiosity is concerned, e.g., the state religions of the classical age, we Jews are atheists ... indeed, that's one of the points of Judaism.

At some point hopefully I'll have the time to remember what it was I ended up saying for my Rosh Hashanah sermon yesterday and give y'all the key points.

Friday, September 22, 2006


L'Shana Tovah!

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Meanwhile, a commentwhore, regarding this post from Rev. RMJ.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Of Pots and Kettles, or "It Takes on to Know One"

We're not going to address that kind of comic strip approach to international affairs

or so sayeth, John Ipswich*, er, Bolton. And he, and the administration he represents, are in, well, a very good position to know about cartoon foreign policies, dontcha think? Talk about ... well, the title of this post ...

* Sorry couldn't help the Monty Python reference when parrots and such come up ...


Voter ID Debate on NPR Last Night

They managed to get the stupidest people from both sides:

The "we gotta card all the voters person" at no time managed to even fully attempt to make the case (nor did the moderator press him to) that voter fraud is a problem -- it was more or less "we gotta stop those illegals from voting" with no real evidence (other than a few funny names on voter rolls) that any false ballots had actually been cast ... nor did he explain how "illegals voting disenfranchises people": I understand the diluting of the votes argument, but it works the other way -- if more people would vote and be informed about it, a few illegal votes would matter less ... anyway, the argument could be made any way as to how illegals might affect elections -- they could (be forced to) vote for their bosses interests as Northern Italians feared about extending the vote to Sicilian peasants, or they could use the vote to exact revenge on their bosses as our overclass seems to fear ... and as to old fashioned, Dem. political machine voter fraud: a few dead people voting Dem. (balanced out by cows up/down-state voting Republican) who would have voted Dem. anyway if they were still alive is not as much of a problem as voter disenfranchisement: why? Because adding fake votes results in an arms race in which either side can always respond in kind, but, no matter how many dead people and farm animals vote in a state, the state still gets the same number of electoral votes. OTOH, when you disenfranchise folks, you give the minority allowed to vote the power of the majority, which can, e.g. as occurred in the South post-reconstruction, be very dangerous both to specific groups of people and to the economic development of the region as a whole.

Even worse than the pro-ID person was the anti-ID person. He just went on and on about how rather large number of people don't have the appropriate ID and would be disenfranchised if these sorts of laws would pass. Yet the law in question provides people 2 years to get free IDs, etc. The anti-ID person not once addressed the issue of why the people in question may not be able to get the ID they'd need even if the ID were free (e.g. a lack of a birth certificate or means to physically get the ID), nor did he address the question of "who's gonna pay for those free IDs and could that money better be spent elsewhere?" ... I do have to give him credit for his "baby with the bathwater analogy", though

Actually -- that's what bugs me the most about the state of our political discourse these days -- it seems that someone (typically a GOP partisan) identifies some "problem" which ought to be "fixed" ... few even raise the conservative question: "what will fixing the problem cost?"; and those that do are labeled as un-serious about the problem, which never was fully defined in the first place. Save us from serious people, then (cf. P.J. O'Rourke): if people would have listened to those questioning costs rather than marginalizing them, we'd not have 'Nam, we'd not have the mess we're in w.r.t. Iraq, etc. And yet the media happily labels as partisan those opposing the 'fix' "for political advantage" (as if that's a bad thing? don't people read the Federalist Papers anymore?) and it's considered impolitic to point out that the very identification of the "problem" was just a partisan ploy to begin with? Oy Gevalt!

Anyway, speaking of voting: I personally think they should allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. Of course, you should be a citizen of the US to vote in a Federal election, but aren't Green Card holders who live and work in a state as much residents of a state as, e.g., I am who's just moved to the state I'm currently living in? I say these things should be done on a graduated basis: visa holders with sufficient interests in their community (e.g. student visa holders) should be allowed to vote in municipal elections in their community of current residence in lieu of voting in their home communities abroad. Green card holders on the path to citizenship should be allowed to vote in state elections. And once you become a citizen (only then) you can vote in federal elections. Sounds good to me, but in today's political climate it would never pass.


What is this Bipartisanship of which the MSM (only) Sometimes Speaks?

How come when a few Democrats side with Republicans on what would otherwise be, given the parties' platforms, etc., a party line vote, your supposedly "liberal" media labels the Republican side as "bipartisan" for managing to attract a few Democrats while they tar the Democratic opposition as "partisan"? And even people who should know better come away thinking "if even the liberal media thinks the Dems. are partisan, they must be rabidly so"?

Yet, when both Republicans and Democrats challenge the Republican President, somehow the Dems., when they are acknowledged at all, are deemed to be offering partisan opposition while the Republicans are criticizing the President "from within his own party" and the word bipartisan is hardly mentioned? And yet those very same people, some of whom should know better, go and say "that liberal media again, portraying the Republicans as a bunch of turn-coats and disunifiers"?

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I'm Not a Nerd: I'm Just Ahead of the Curve

Recently, I saw some obviously cool college kids playing Magic: you know that card game which we nerds, geeks and other assorted overly-intellectual and or overly-technically capable social loosers played back when I was in college? I think Magic may be "in" now.

Which made me think: are we nerds not really trendsetters? Are we not really habitually ahead of the curve in certain matters of fashion (well, except I don't think tight-fighting clam-diggers will ever be in style for men: although they were one of those things parents -- because with such pants you don't need to worry about replacing them when they got too tight or too short ... they would then just be stylish -- tried to convince us was hip: also, patches in pants. I suspect the stone-washed jeans and baggy pants crazes began the same way, but this time the parents were successful and regretted it -- and why am I using such a "my generation" against "my parents generation" tone? In another year I'll be over 30 and hence won't be able to trust myself, and many of my cohorts have reproduced ...)?

Personally, I was drinking bottled water before it became cool (I dehydrate easily -- although truth be told, the majority of time, the bottles were washed and refilled with Sparklett's or filtered tap water; I also often stuck my bottle in my lunch bag when the bag was emptied and walked around the middle school campus pretending to be drunk -- the teachers thought it was a hoot, but the kids didn't get it) and I also wore wool caps backward (as an ironic pomo statement back when Alannis Morrisette was still singing bubble gum pop -- heck I knew who Alannis Morrisette was before the cool kids did) before everyone else started wearing wool caps backward or even started wearing wool caps. I also was watching the Simpsons way back when they were shorts on the Tracy Ullman show.

Many nerds I think have this experience of being able to say "I was doing X long before everyone else was doing it" (and people made fun of us for doing what they later discovered to be cool -- this is a political allegory regarding liberalism, cf. Michael Moore's day spent with militia members ... discuss). We could probably make a list: from swing music to the 'nets, we nerds do tend to be on the vanguard, nu?

So why do "they" consider us to be un-cool when we nerds are the vanguard of cool?


While I'm Taking Occasional Pot Shots Against My Own Side ...

I thought I would mention the following dynamic (which relates, I guess, to some of the previous dynamics I've mentioned as well as "Puritanism"), which makes people think of us lefties as know-nothing sour grape spitters:

(1) Advancement is clearly being pushed to help big-business (and hurt the little guy)
(2) Lefties in the know are against advancement for that reason
(3) Lefties in the know figure people are too dumb to accept that, so they make up some cock-and-bull story to get more people riled up
(4) Cock-and-bull story is called as such, discrediting lefty opposition

While I generally think we moonbats could stand to learn a lot from the GOoPers, step #3 in the above scheme is not a lesson we should learn, but it seems we have. Why can't we be honest?

The problem with GMOs is not evil genetic modification. If GMOs per se were a problem, how come our older and less precise forms of genetic modification (i.e. breeding) haven't caused problems? The problem is that GMO seeds interfere with both genetic diversity and with the ability of poor farmers to have free seeds (without having a company stake claim to -- your seeds have our genes, even if by pollination, so you have to pay us). But why do some moonbats decide to descend into anti-scientific mumbo jumbo to discuss something that really is not an issue of out of control scientists but one of justice for the poor? (I am getting discombobulated right now -- it's time for me to get some food, but I'm waiting for a calculation to finnish -- so I'm blogging, but not really coherently ... sorry for the lack of coherence, but you get the idea). It's even worse when it comes to the "sour grapes" attitude some have toward anti-AIDS drugs.

The truth supports our side well enough -- why make up lies and distortions and claims that grapes we cannot reach are sour, which will only hurt our side?


From this Week's Parsha

Is the phrase "choose life" which has been hijacked by the anti-abortion crew -- which is ironic considering that based, e.g., on this phrase, one can determine that a woman who's life is threatened by a pregnancy, must have an abortion ...

And ... let us not forget that, just as "social liberalism" "scares" some into the GOP (and what does that mean exactly, if you catch my drift?), some people are Dems because, e.g., they are pro-choice ...


Still Waiting ...

... for a calculation to finish. I really should clean my desk, but I'm too lazy.

So I'll leave you with a thought: does the continuing resort to ironic self-reference, certain tropes of phrase, form and technique, etc., indicate that we are in a long term neo-classical phase in (popular) culture?

Don't all respond at once ...


In Lieu of the Impossible Task of Making up for my Parsha Blogging Absenteeism

(by having a discussion question relating to the last few Haftaroth of Consolation -- from my favorite part of the Book of Isaiah ... btw, I've learned that my worst suspicions as an undergrad are sometimes true: sometimes "we'll have an in class discussion" means the professor didn't have time to adequately prepare the lesson ... not that any profs. I know ever do that ...).

The end of Deutero-Isaiah and the beginning parts of Tritero-Isaiah (shall I hypothesize there was a 2.5-ero Isaiah?) present the clearest statement that in ethics, the philosophical divide is not between the religious and the atheistic, but between a motley crew of a certain sort of Objective Idealist, certain kinds of fundamentalists, etc., and an equally motley crew of Kantians, religious liberals, humanistic materialists, etc.

And we know which side 2.5-ero Isaiah was on, eh?

So how do the fundies, et al, stand to read him? I guess they just try to take it out of context and read it as predicting the coming of Jebus (not to be confused with Jesus)?


A Principle of Justice

This is probably too little, too late for me to link to this petition (as if enough people read my blog that I could have made an impact linking to it earlier), but I am bringing it up now, because I finally figured out why I was so disturbed by the particular duplicity against which this petition rails: it violates a fundamental principle of justice too few of us lefties understand: "Neither shall you favor a poor man in his cause" (Exodus 23:3, and I believe restated in Deuteronomy).

On the face of it, it would seem that all liberals, and also the Prophetic and Deuteronomic traditions are keen on favoring the poor. But really what the liberal, Prophetic and Deuteronomic traditions are after is the leveling of the playing field. As we saw, e.g., in the aftermath of Katrina, poverty can be re-enforcing: lacking resources places you at a disadvantage in even obtaining further resources. So even by insisting on the sort of equality of the law, which Anatole France skewered in his famous quotation on the law in it's majesty, is not merely not favoring the poor but rather de facto disfavoring them and favoring the rich. Which is wrong.

But, while even in criminal matters, there are certain benefits of the doubt which we must give to the poor (e.g. regarding motivations, etc), we cannot in general show a reflexive favor to the poor over the rich. And that is what asking for reparations for Lebanon and not for Israel does. Of course, Israel can afford better the damage to it than Lebanon can afford the more severe damage to Lebanon. But by not even requiring a token sum be paid to Israel, the UN demonstrates that it is profoundly injust and unfair. And they wonder why Israel tends to ignore even their just resolutions?

Indeed, an attitude of supposedly favoring the poor sometimes does the poor no good. If the poor cannot obtain proper legal defenses, is it sufficient or ok for a judge to just let any poor defendent go free? No, some of those defendents may actually be guilty moreover it causes people to think that the poor do not need adequate legal defense. And while sometimes patch-work solutions are necessary (and it is bad for the supposed advocates of the needy to undermine those solutions, cf. my earlier post on unions), it is often important to find more durable solutions than patches (although we should not be, again cf. my earlier post, reflexively anti-patch -- sometimes ad hoc solutions really are the best).

Also, even if a social construction like a "healthy weight, level of exercise and diet" is un-obtainable to the poor, it is wrong to "favor" the poor by saying that what indeed is a social construction is necessarily bad because it excludes the poor. Just because something is a social construction doesn't mean it's not desirable: many things are social constructions that primarily benefit the privaleged but even the most extreme of liberals would support those constructions, just that they be expanded to benefit all people. Healthy diet and exercise are, social construction of health or no, desirable -- and efforts should be made so that the poor can afford to eat healthy and exercise rather than to "favor" the poor by claiming this social construction is wrong.

Oddly, sometimes even the most out of touch lefties understand this principle of justice. Many lefties support expanding the institution of marriage, e.g., to include gays and the institution of the family to include what actually are traditional families. But sometimes many on the left have selective blind spots of "favoring the poor". And it is these selective blind spots that often get us lefties into trouble, especially with those who are struggling not to be poor and whom our policies will help, but they see us so much as favoring the rights of icky people to do icky things it sometimes seems we ignore the plight of Joe and Jane Sixpack.

So let us lefties consider the message of Exodus and ask "are we working to level the playing field and eliminate de facto favoring of the privaleged [which is part and parcel of economic justice and hence has far more to do with morality than, e.g., the awesome tempting powers of the Clenis] or are we favoring the poor?" (which perverts justice).

In the words of the last parsha on which I blogged (sorry for the lapse -- I guess I shoulda considered that one at Slichos last night): "justice, justice shall you pursue". This is what liberalism is about; and that is what, practically, is the strength that wins us elections. But have we liberals really pursued justice or have we lost our way?


Le No Show

I love Le Show. I love The No Show. Is it my imagination, though, or does Le Show seem to be a descendent of the work of Steve Post? Or is this one of those correlation does not imply causation things? For example, how some of my favorite essayists, e.g. Thurber, Perelman, Woody Allen, all have a similar style -- because they all are so influenced by Benchley?

And why can't I find enough Benchley to evaluate this claim I've now read?

Anyway, I've confirmed my suspicion about the Near Eastern and/or South Asian routes of Blues (which is supposed to have African origins but sounds very different than much Sub-Saharan African music to my inexpert ears) by reading some on Wikipedia: evidently a lot of the African-American musical tradition did arise from a Muslim (and hence presumably ME-influenced) African tradition.

Oh well, I'm just waiting for the checkout line in the library to thin out and hence ramblin'

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Winning Hearts and Minds

As many have pointed out, unions represented a key building block of the New Deal coalition that brought victory to the Democrats and strength to our nation. If we want to regain our past glories both as a nation and as a party, unions need to be stronger. But for unions to be stronger (and for liberalism to regain the support of the working classes), unions need to actually, um, help individual workers!

NPR last night reported on the issue of health tourism. It is a complicated issue related to many others (one big question: why does cost of living vary so much from place to place?). But what struck me was the story of one person, who was going to have a free operation, but his union blocked it. I understand the union's general opposition to outsourcing of health care, but why would a union act specifically to keep one of its own members from receiving health care for free and instead make it so he has to pay out of pocket for it?

If unions want to regain their previous strength, they need to be seen as helping workers, individual workers, not some abstract concept of workers.

People wonder why Joe and Jane Sixpack are leery of unions and liberals? Maybe it's because sometimes unions and liberals are so obsessed with issues we forget about people. If liberalism is to be relevant in this country, we need to remember our own rhetoric about "acting locally" and, well, act on it. "Think globally, act locally" is how the GOP has obtained power. Let's give our side a chance and do the same.

And absolutely we must stop fondling the duck by doing things like denying workers benefits, even if those benefits don't quite fit so well with the big picture.


Possible Disingenuity of the anti-Abortion Movement

Who'd have thunk it, eh?

Anyway, I hear this line (made with some derision and implying an "abortion industry" convincing troubled women to kill their fetuses for fun and profit) occassionally: "if abortions really were done for health reasons, how come people have abortions at specialized clinics rather than at hospitals?".

I don't know how many abortions are done for "health reasons". Indeed, a health reason is hard to define which is why abortion foes tend to oppose health-exceptions in anti-abortion legislation and why even people who oppose "abortion as a form of birth control" often are against any sort of regulation of abortion -- 'cause they would hate to see a medically indicated abortion fall through the cracks that would exist in even a relatively robust health exemption into illegality. But a rough statistic would be useful (in general, so-called pro-lifers do seem rather cavalier about the risks to the mother-to-be's health and even life involved in carrying pregnancies to term).

But why do we have separate abortion clinics? If the answer, as I suspect it does, relates to what would happen to a hospital that performed abortions even for health reasons because of the anti-abortion terrorists that our government refuses to treat as such (if the war on terror included a war in Iraq, how come it doesn't also include sending Terry to Gitmo?), then this "if abortions were really done for the health of the mother, they'd be done at hospitals" line really is disingenuous.

But I suspect it's effective -- even among people who should know better: because it srikes people used to sophistry as a "smart and to the point and damning question disguised as a flip one", even if it really is even flipper than it sounds.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


More from My Inner Essentialist

It seems every time I run this matlab script I'm working on (with different parameters), it gets slower and slower.

Anyway, that means some time to surf the web. And I think I may have found (with some sluething involved ... to figure out the store must have been a Nugget market and who supplies their coffees) which brand of coffee was used to make that oh-so-perfect espresso I had oh-so-many years ago in Woodland, CA (cf. previous posts in my long past archives): Equator Estate Coffees. Now I just need to figure out which blend it was I liked -- so when it's my turn to buy coffee for the lab I can buy the right blend (or maybe I should just foist Nordstroms' on everyone?).


This is Truly Frightening

Will any Democrat have the 'nads to ask whether we're giving up our freedoms in order to keep us safe or whether it's to keep big oil safe? Will the National Petroleum Radio? Certainly if they won't, the rest of the MSM won't.

And will Dems. now have the 'nads to respond to anyone who says "only terrorists and their allies have something to fear from Big Brother" by highlighting this?

Monday, September 11, 2006


In Lieu of a Post on the New Puritans

... (and also how Puritans, old and new, are not at all Puritanical, but more like hippies), since I forgot exactly what I was gonna say (it touched on previous issues I have with some quarters of the feminist portions of left blogistan), I'll engage in Robert Louis Stevenson feminist blogging instead (from "On Marriage" in Virginibus Peuresque as reprinted in The Art of the Personal Essay, which I highly recommend):

Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords; and the little rift between the sexes is astonishingly widened by teaching one set of catchwords to the girls and another to the boys.


Something to Consider on the 5th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

Sometimes the tree that doesn't bend snaps in the wind. Sometimes it's better to act with reserve and intelligence than to run around terrorized because terrorists have attacked you. Doing something about a problem is generally a good thing, but sometimes the cost of action is higher than even the high costs of inaction.

Sometimes it pays to be a willow or even a reed and not a cedar. "Serious" people may not realize this, but if that's the definition of serious, let us hope we start electing clowns. At least they'll make us happy, and not scared. And being scared is what the terrorists want us to be, nu?

Sunday, September 10, 2006


"What's the Matter with Kansas?": What's the Matter with Daniel Schorr?

Being not the best Jew, I do not live within walking distance of a shul and hence drive to shul. NPR is usually on my car radio. Yesterday, I heard Daniel Schorr giving his "analysis" about certain things about which Linda Wertheimer was asking. Mr. Schorr managed to really not say much of anything when Bush was to be criticized, but managed to be very verbosely snippy towards Bill Clinton. He also referred to Bush's proposals as something Bush "needs" presumably for fighting terrorism. He also said the Clinton and friends disputed "the facts" of the 9/11 fiasco "docu-drama" (although he did admit that somethings were fictionalized) when what is disputed are really outright lies.

When did Schorr become such a de facto wingnut? And why does NPR bill him as an analyst when he doesn't analyze anything but rather grouches and slouches in a right wing direction with little rhyme or reason other than reactionary bias?

Friday, September 08, 2006


The 9/11 Movie Fiasco

I cannot bear to look, so how's the MSM responding to the calls by us left-wing moonbats protesting that 9/11 movie to be shown on Disney?

Are they genuflecting before us (and realizing the importance of the left wing demographic and market segment) like they responded to the right, e.g., when the right-wing blogosphere decided somehow that the documents, indicating GW Bush (gasp) may have been allowed to flake off on his national guard duties, were "forgeries"? Or are they spinning it as "those lefty moonbats are trying to silence the truth about how their hero, Bill Clinton, allowed OBL to attack us"? And anyway, why do they assume we lefties worship Bill Clinton like righty-tighties worship St. Ronnie of GE?

Anyway, on a different note -- science nerd humor: how can you tell someone is an NMR spectroscopist? She's lying down (and spinning about a vertical axis), so you tell her to relax, and she stands up!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


FL Gub. Primary

So it seems the more "moderate" (well, that's what NPR calls him -- I'd hardly call someone who, in the debates, seemed to be arguing "I'm just as looney as my opponant no matter how sane he accuses me of being" a "moderate" -- although, I reckon he was just politickin' ... in certain politically important corners of FL, it pays to be loonier than a 'toon) candidate won the FL gub. primary.

The media is already crowing about the victory of this "moderate" and ignoring how he had to play to the base to get elected (even as they constantly harp when Dem. candidates play to their base, even in primaries -- as if playing to the base is a bad strategy for a primary?). If this guy looses to the Dem (unlikely -- amazingly, both major Dem. candidates were complete tools whose rhetoric indicated they either know nothing about legislative processes, which would be odd considering both have much experience as legislatures, or they being deliberately misleading to the voters ... and we Dems. need to educate voters as to how legislatures work, not propagate misunderstandings of how legislatures work that ultimately help Republicans and DINOs undermine Democratic electoral hopes), would the media make this a story of how the Republican base driving candidates to the right drives voters away? Or would the media make this a story of how moderates loose elections? Hmmm ... yet how would it play if the parties involved were reversed?

Remember, as far as the MSM is concerned, IOKIYAR, eh?


Revisionist Katrina History

An interesting opinion piece of the "things are not so bad" variety. Wanna bet this person's politics are somewhere in the neighborhood of the DLC? The author manages (as many have) to ignore that the real racism of those overhyping what was happening in the Superdome, etc., as well as the reasons for the poverty in the first place. The author also misses what some are finally picking up on -- contrary to reports, the Lower 9th Ward is a place which it makes quite a bit of sense to rebuild as it is not the most flood prone part of the city, etc. ... the reasons for not rebuilding that area, which lack of effort has largely been due to issues at a federal level, if you know what I mean, indeed indicate some degree of racism: Nagin has a point.

But this is not why I am pointing this piece out to y'all: the interesting fact in this piece is that it points out that whatever flaws occurred in the evacuation procedure (whilst blaming the victims) were known to FEMA, et al., before hand (and I would add, this indicates not that everything was as good as could be expected as the author indicates, but rather than the feds needed to work out a better plan -- which was an interstate and hence federal concern -- so Bush & CO are culpable) and more importantly points out that Nagin and Blanco actually did execute their duties well: contrary to Republican blaming of them. While this piece seems to, DLC and MSM-style, say "the facts show both sides" did what they were supposed to, a little reading between the lines indicates, from the facts laid out in this piece, that Nagin and Blanco were quite competent (and have not received the credit they deserve) and the feds, under Bush & CO, have not been.

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