Friday, December 30, 2005

pynchonoid: God calling, timed-release, pay no attention to that man behind the curtains, via Godlorica:
Physics, abstract

From: Stephen D. H. Hsu [view email]
Date (v1): Tue, 11 Oct 2005 20:15:52 GMT (5kb)
Date (revised v2): Tue, 6 Dec 2005 06:20:04 GMT (7kb)

Message in the Sky

Authors: S. Hsu, A. Zee
Comments: 3 pages, revtex
Subj-class: Popular Physics

We argue that the cosmic microwave background (CMB) provides a stupendous opportunity for the Creator of universe our (assuming one exists) to have sent a message to its occupants, using known physics. Our work does not support the Intelligent Design movement in any way whatsoever, but asks, and attempts to answer, the entirely scientific question of what the medium and message might be IF there was actually a message. The medium for the message is unique. We elaborate on this obervation, noting that it requires only careful adjustment of the fundamental Lagrangian, but no direct intervention in the subsequent evolution of the universe.

Full-text: PostScript, PDF, or Other formats

Gravity's Rainbow 4:
"You didn't really believe you'd be saved. Come, we all know who we are by now. No one was ever going to take the trouble to save you, old fellow.... "

[cross-posted from pynchonoid: "everything connects"]

Thursday, December 29, 2005

DougDay: payola-popping pundit good for contrast, perhaps

Caught pearl-diving in the Bush Administration cesspool, payola-popping pundit Doug makes the rest of us Doug's look good, thanks!

[cross-posted from DougDay, "where every Doug has his day"]

ROK: azalea for the beloved; "saucepan" temperament

In the Republic of Korea, "the azalea is the flower traditionally reserved for the beloved," reports Suki Kim in "Hwang, Drawn and Quartered," Wall Street Journal, 29 December 2005.

Another nugget from this article: "South Koreans often describe their national spirit as 'saucepan,' suggesting a temperament that boils fast and cools even faster."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

TO THE EDITOR: cali Grapes beat Bears, badly

Bears as 'wine country casualties'


I was appalled after reading Peter Fimrite's article, "Wine country casualties" (Dec. 26). It describes the slaughter of bears and deer because they damage wine grapes in Napa County.

There are thousands of acres of open, forested land in California's northern counties that would make a suitable habitat for these animals. Wouldn't relocating them to these areas be a more humane solution to the problem?

If there is a reasonable argument against relocation that I haven't thought of, I'd really like to hear it.



I was saddened but not surprised by the article about the plight of our native bears and even cougars being targeted for death by vintners.

As humans further encroach on these majestic animals, of course sightings and "incidents" increase. We have driven many animals to extinction, and most others have been exterminated from their normal ranges by human "development."

It is sad that human greed and shortsightedness keep pushing these original inhabitants of "our" lands ever further into retreat and decline. Ideally, we could set up a grassroots-driven "Wildlife Conservation Act" akin to the original Coastal Conservation Act. But the state proposition process has been so co-opted by powerful industry lobbyists that it is likely impossible to achieve anything meaningful by that route. Still, it is worth a try.

In the meantime vintners and ranchers should be required to set up stronger, and electrified, fences before any "depredation" (execution) permits are approved. Vintners and others wishing to destroy our wildlife should be required to try to trap and relocate animals several times first.

We California citizens also need to wrest the "depredation" permitting process away from the feds. If Californians aren't willing to curtail further intrusive "development" into wildlife's last safe places, we must take steps to ensure our native fauna's dignity, safety and right to survive and even thrive.



Seems to me that we've got a lot more vineyards in the coastal mountains than we have bears. I'd rather see the bears.

Los Gatos

[cross-posted from To the Editor, must-read letters to the editor]

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

impeach W

Finally, the drum begins to beat:
Published on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 by The Nation

The I-Word is Gaining Ground
by Katrina vanden Heuvel

In 1998, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, currently under indictment on corruption charges, proclaimed: "This nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law...The other road is the path of least resistance" in which "we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us...[and] close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking...and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system." That arbiter of moral politics was incensed about the possibility of Bill Clinton escaping unpunished for his "crimes."

Fast forward to December 2005. Not one official in the entire Bush Administration has been fired or indicted, not to mention impeached, for the shedding of American blood in Iraq or for the shredding of our Constitution at home. As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter put it--hours after the New York Times reported that Bush had authorized NSA wiretapping of US citizens without judicial warrants--this President has committed a real transgression that "goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power."

In the last months, several organizations, including AfterDowningStreet, Impeach Central and, have formed to urge Bush's impeachment. But until very recently, their views were virtually absent in the so-called "liberal" MSM, and could only be found on the Internet and in street protests.

But the times they are a' changin'. The I-word has moved from the marginal to the mainstream--although columnists like Charles "torture-is-fine-by-me" Krauthammer would like us to believe that "only the most brazen and reckless and partisan" could support the idea. In fact, as Michelle Goldberg reports in Salon, "in the past few days, impeachment "has become a topic of considered discussion among constitutional scholars and experts (including a few Republicans), former intelligence officers, and even a few politicians." Even a moderately liberal columnist like Newsweek's Alter sounds like The Nation, observing: "We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator."

As Editor & Publisher recently reported, the idea of impeaching Bush has entered the mainstream media's circulatory system--with each day producing more op-eds and articles on the subject. Joining the chorus on Christmas Eve, conservative business magazine Barron's published a lengthy editorial excoriating the president for committing a potentially impeachable offense. "If we don't discuss the program and lack of authority of it," wrote Barron's editorial page editor Thomas Donlan, "we are meeting the enemy--in the mirror."

Public opinion is also growing more comfortable with the idea of impeaching this president. A Zogby International poll conducted this summer found that 42 percent of Americans felt that impeaching Bush would be justified if it was shown that he had manipulated intelligence in going to war in Iraq. (John Zogby admitted that "it was much higher than I expected.") By November, the number of those who favored impeaching Bush stood at 53 percent--if it was in fact proven that Bush had lied about the basis for invading Iraq. (And these polls were taken before the revelations of Bush's domestic spying.)

For those interested in some of the most compelling charges against the president, I offer a brief summary:

* Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean argued in his aptly-named book Worse than Watergate that Bush's false statements about WMDs in Iraq--used to drum up support for an invasion--deceived the American people and Congress. This constituted "an impeachable offense," Dean told PBS' Bill Moyers in 2004. "I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people." Bush's actions were actually far worse than Watergate, Dean contends, because "no one died for Nixon's so-called Watergate abuses."

Lending credence to Dean's arguments, the Downing Street Memo revealed that Britain's MI-6 Director Richard Dearlove had told Tony Blair that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush Administration. John Bonifaz, a Boston-based attorney and constitutional law expert, said that Bush seemingly "concealed important intelligence which he ought to have communicated," and "must certainly be punished for giving false information to the Senate." Bush deceived "the American people as to the basis for taking the nation into war against Iraq," Bonifaz argued--an impeachable offense.

* Rep. John Conyers argued as well that the president committed impeachable offenses" because he and senior administration officials "countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq" at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, including Guantanamo Bay and the now-notorious "black sites" around the world.

* The most compelling evidence of Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors is the revelation that he repeatedly authorized NSA spying on US citizens without obtaining the required warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Constitutional experts, politicians and ex-intelligence experts agree that Bush "committed a federal crime by wiretapping Americans." Rep. John Lewis--"the first major House figure to suggest impeaching Bush," said the AP--argued that the president "deliberately, systematically violated the law" in authorizing the wiretapping. Lewis added: "He is not King, he is president."

Meanwhile, Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law--a specialist in surveillance law--told Knight Ridder that Bush's actions "violated federal law" and raised "serious constitutional questions of high crimes and misdemeanors." It is worth remembering that an abuse of power similar to Bush's NSA wiretapping decision was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974. [This comparison was brought home in the ACLU's powerful full page ad in the NYT of December 22nd.]

There are many reasons why it is crucial that the Democrats regain control of Congress in '06, but consider this one: If they do, there may be articles of impeachment introduced and the estimable John Conyers, who has led the fight to defend our constitution, would become Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Wouldn't that be a truly just response to the real high crimes and misdemeanors that this lawbreaking president has so clearly committed?

Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor of The Nation.

"We went into mountains beyond the curvature of earth, into land where nobody else had been"

Ignorant re the contemporary scene of extreme macho (gender aisde) adventuring and exploration, "because it's there" go-for-it-ness, except for the occasional corporate-branded CEO-led reality-Tube exploit (ballooning, mostly, exotic powered aircraft, and other high-tech ventures)) I wonder who today could be compared, from the New York Times:

Norman Dane Vaughan, Dies at 100; Went to Antarctica With Byrd

Norman Vaughan, a legendary Alaskan explorer and dog sled racer, and the last surviving member of Adm. Richard E. Byrd's expedition to Antarctica in 1928-30, died Friday at a hospital in Anchorage. He was 100....To mark his 89th birthday, in 1994, Mr. Vaughan climbed an icy 10,302-feet peak about 250 miles short of the South Pole that Byrd had named Mount Vaughan in his honor. His wife, Carolyn Muegge-Vaughan, who was 52 at the time, accompanied him on the eight-day climb....In 1997, at age 92, he founded what became the 800-mile Norman Vaughan Serum Run 25, a memorial to the winter of 1925, when diphtheria struck the town of Nome. Relay teams of mushers raced nonstop from Nenana in central Alaska to Nome on the Seward Peninsula with the serum that fought the deadly outbreak...."I put foot on rock that had never been seen or touched before by humans," he told The New York Times Magazine in 1999. "We went into mountains beyond the curvature of earth, into land where nobody else had been. When we got home, Admiral Byrd named a mountain in the Antarctic after me. I told him that one day I would go back to climb it, and he said, 'Norman, I think you will.' "

Monday, December 26, 2005

more miracles! the stars never lie....

Monday, 26th December 2005

(Mar 21 - Apr 20)

'Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.' I have picked this quote from Confucius because Saturn is currently making you feel tense and uncomfortable. It may be the festive season but you are not entirely inclined to celebrate. There is something you wish you could change. You keep wondering whether you could have played things differently. Be easier on yourself and everyone else around you. No matter what has happened, what is about to happen next will make sense of it all. Miracles can happen between now and New Year.

....predicts Jonathan Cainer.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

the miracle, again this year:

Geography overcome (physcially, virtually, & otherwise), we gather in love, gratitude, reconciliation, reflecting each other and the Light. This past year especially, I couldn't have made it through without support from family and friends, all I can do is try to return the love, strength, and kindness you shared. Thank you all for all your gifts, especially when I didn't recognize them, because those gifts remain waiting for me to unwrap.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

ho! ho! ho! ho!

Today's Joseph and Mary would face 15 checkpoints, reports Times Online.

[photo: NEWSgrist]

Thursday, December 22, 2005

headline of the day:

2 more rings spotted around Uranus

....Well! Ex-cu-u-u-se me.

Another publication almost but not quite said:

Mooning reveals the chaotic world of Uranus

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

bad santa still has a few days to sleep it off

in London, by Arofish

Monday, December 19, 2005

impeach President Bush now!

Doug Ireland:
....A Zogby poll released November 4 showed that, when asked if they agreed that, "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment," Americans answered Yes by 53% to 42%. It is therefore not simply an extremist raving to suggest that impeachment of George Bush should be put on the table.

Remember that, in the impeachment of Richard Nixon, Article 2 of the three Articles of Impeachment dealt with illegal wiretapping of Americans. It said that Nixon committed a crime “by directing or authorizing [intelligence] agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office.”

There was no national security justification for Bush’s illegal NSA wiretaps -- which could easily have been instituted by following the FISA law’s provisions -- and, instead of being related to “enforcement of laws,” Bush’s eavesdropping was indisputably in contravention of the law of the land.

And when a president commits a crime in violation of his oath of office swearing to uphold the law, it is the time to impeach.

why is Barbie so popular?

In part, perhaps, because kids love to torture the ubiquitous totem of phony, unattainable female beauty. The Times of London reports:
....The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving, according to academics from the University of Bath.

The findings were revealed as part of an in-depth look by psychologists and management academics into the role of brands among 7 to 11-year-old schoolchildren.

The researchers had not intended to focus on Barbie, but they were taken aback by the rejection, hatred and violence she provoked when they asked the children about their feelings for the doll.

Violence and torture against Barbie were repeatedly reported across age, school and gender. No other toy or brand name provoked such a negative response....

Chew on that while shopping for the girls on your list this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

welcome, lord of darkness, to your realm of chaos, destruction, suffering & death

The vice-president flew around the Baghdad area in a pack of heavily armed Blackhawk helicopters.

Friday, December 16, 2005

beating the odds: geneticists find a 1 in 3 billion chance for the genetic defect that causes "white" skin

....must have been strange to grow up as the first and only "white" kid in the wide world. What a story: emergence of "race" and racism, and initial incorporation of the Alien Other nightmare:
Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; A01

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.

"It's a major finding in a very sensitive area," said Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in anthropological genetics at Oxford University, who was not involved in the work. "Almost all the differences used to differentiate populations from around the world really are skin deep."

The work raises a raft of new questions -- not least of which is why white skin caught on so thoroughly in northern climes once it arose. Some scientists suggest that lighter skin offered a strong survival advantage for people who migrated out of Africa by boosting their levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D; others have posited that its novelty and showiness simply made it more attractive to those seeking mates.

The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.

Several sociologists and others said they feared that such revelations might wrongly overshadow the prevailing finding of genetics over the past 10 years: that the number of DNA differences between races is tiny compared with the range of genetic diversity found within any single racial group.

Even study leader Keith Cheng said he was at first uncomfortable talking about the new work, fearing that the finding of such a clear genetic difference between people of African and European ancestries might reawaken discredited assertions of other purported inborn differences between races -- the most long-standing and inflammatory of those being intelligence.

"I think human beings are extremely insecure and look to visual cues of sameness to feel better, and people will do bad things to people who look different," Cheng said.

The discovery, described in today's issue of the journal Science, was an unexpected outgrowth of studies Cheng and his colleagues were conducting on inch-long zebra fish, which are popular research tools for geneticists and developmental biologists. Having identified a gene that, when mutated, interferes with its ability to make its characteristic black stripes, the team scanned human DNA databases to see if a similar gene resides in people.

To their surprise, they found virtually identical pigment-building genes in humans, chickens, dogs, cows and many others species, an indication of its biological value.

They got a bigger surprise when they looked in a new database comparing the genomes of four of the world's major racial groups. That showed that whites with northern and western European ancestry have a mutated version of the gene.

Skin color is a reflection of the amount and distribution of the pigment melanin, which in humans protects against damaging ultraviolet rays but in other species is also used for camouflage or other purposes. The mutation that deprives zebra fish of their stripes blocks the creation of a protein whose job is to move charged atoms across cell membranes, an obscure process that is crucial to the accumulation of melanin inside cells.

Humans of European descent, Cheng's team found, bear a slightly different mutation that hobbles the same protein with similar effect. The defect does not affect melanin deposition in other parts of the body, including the hair and eyes, whose tints are under the control of other genes.

A few genes have previously been associated with human pigment disorders -- most notably those that, when mutated, lead to albinism, an extreme form of pigment loss. But the newly found glitch is the first found to play a role in the formation of "normal" white skin. The Penn State team calculates that the gene, known as slc24a5, is responsible for about one-third of the pigment loss that made black skin white. A few other as-yet-unidentified mutated genes apparently account for the rest.

Although precise dating is impossible, several scientists speculated on the basis of its spread and variation that the mutation arose between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. That would be consistent with research showing that a wave of ancestral humans migrated northward and eastward out of Africa about 50,000 years ago.

Unlike most mutations, this one quickly overwhelmed its ancestral version, at least in Europe, suggesting it had a real benefit. Many scientists suspect that benefit has to do with vitamin D, made in the body with the help of sunlight and critical to proper bone development.

Sun intensity is great enough in equatorial regions that the vitamin can still be made in dark-skinned people despite the ultraviolet shielding effects of melanin. In the north, where sunlight is less intense and cold weather demands that more clothing be worn, melanin's ultraviolet shielding became a liability, the thinking goes.

Today that solar requirement is largely irrelevant because many foods are supplemented with vitamin D.

Some scientists said they suspect that white skin's rapid rise to genetic dominance may also be the product of "sexual selection," a phenomenon of evolutionary biology in which almost any new and showy trait in a healthy individual can become highly prized by those seeking mates, perhaps because it provides evidence of genetic innovativeness.

Cheng and co-worker Victor A. Canfield said their discovery could have practical spinoffs. A gene so crucial to the buildup of melanin in the skin might be a good target for new drugs against melanoma, for example, a cancer of melanin cells in which slc24a5 works overtime.

But they and others agreed that, for better or worse, the finding's most immediate impact may be an escalating debate about the meaning of race.

Recent revelations that all people are more than 99.9 percent genetically identical has proved that race has almost no biological validity. Yet geneticists' claims that race is a phony construct have not rung true to many nonscientists -- and understandably so, said Vivian Ota Wang of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda.

"You may tell people that race isn't real and doesn't matter, but they can't catch a cab," Ota Wang said. "So unless we take that into account it makes us sound crazy."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

NYT lets Bush Administration censor news

From Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts:

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

....and I thought I couldn't lose any more confidence in the newspapers. You never know, it seems, what they may be holding back or otherwise disguising.

mercy wants empathy

"When you divide people into the good and the evil, mercy, which requires empathy of tremendous force, becomes virtually impossible. Good, as any English teacher will tell you, cannot empathize with Evil. Only people can empathize with other people."

...from: CNN's Goddess of Vengeance: What's Not to Love About Nancy Grace?, by Tom Kerr, Counterpunch, 16 December 2005

Happy Birthday, Beethoven!

Music is mediator between spiritual and sensual life.
–Ludwig Van Beethoven

[P.S. BBC Radio 3 today begins streaming all of J.S. Bach's works, though Christmas Day at:]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

it's torture to consider how low Bush can go

Is the McCain-Bush standoff/compromise on torture just PR and Constitutional lip service? Or, a case of a principled Congress forcing a degenerate President to back down...and can only accomplish that now after Bush has run his credibility completely into the ground with his never-ending lies. I tend to believe it's PR, and will until it's clear that Bush and his surrogates have discontinued torture and degrading treatment of prisoners in US prisons (in the US Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, anywhere) and by US proxies. Just stop those cold-hearted mo-fo's.

Happy Birthday, Dan!

philip roth re the paradoxes of writing & criticism

Philip Roth to a Danish interviewer in today's Guardian:

I tell him that interviewing him can be extremely difficult - like climbing an iceberg without clothes on.

"Well, I wasn't put on this earth to make your life easy. Ha!" His laughter is like a proclamation - no smile, just "Ha!"

"Maybe we shouldn't be talking about literature at all," I say.

"Ha, ha," he says. "Now you're talking! I would be wonderful with a 100-year moratorium on literature talk, if you shut down all literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics. The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot. Yes, shot. A 100-year moratorium on insufferable literary talk. You should let people fight with the books on their own and rediscover what they are and what they are not. Anything other than this talk. Fairytale talk. As soon as you generalise, you are in a completely different universe than that of literature, and there's no bridge between the two."

Roth understands well the paradox of the writer's life:
"It was the interests in life and the attempt to get life down on the pages which made me a writer - and then I discovered that, in many ways, I am standing on the outside of life".

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mae West's "Wild Christmas"

Her '66 album, downloadable:

Please listen and let me know I'm not hallucinating.

"Santa, come up and see me, bring your reindeer, too!"

Don't know how long I want to think about that scene.

"air, now free of poison"

...from: Unusual Technical Images of Equipment Used in World War II

headline of the day:

Autopsy reveals subject was
still alive when autopsy began the current Onion.

i'm no bubble boy, Bush insists

"I feel like I'm getting some really good advice from very capable people and that people from all walks of life inform me and inform those who advise me," he said. "I feel very comfortable that I'm very aware of what's going on." it all: Bush denies he lives in a 'bubble', Agence France Press

Monday, December 12, 2005

honeybees extract sweet, edible essence de Paris

Paris is buzzing: Honeybees are busy phantoms of the opera, balconies, rooftops, and even a bank headquarters
by Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor, 12 December 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

hello, nancy!

Greetings & welcome!

(If you're not Nancy, don't worry about it.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the chip off Osama's block

From a worth-reading profile in this week's New Yorker:

[....] Abdullah bin Laden, Osama’s son, today lives in Jedda and enjoys good health, according to several people who know him. (He did not respond to requests for an interview.) In a story published in a London-based Saudi-owned newspaper in 2001, Abdullah said that he left his father’s household in the mid-nineties, when Osama was preparing to leave Sudan, where he had been living in exile, for a new and uncertain exile in Afghanistan. Not wishing to endure such hardship any longer, Abdullah sought and received his father’s permission to return to Saudi Arabia, where he has since taken up a career in advertising and public relations.

Abdullah runs his own firm, called Fame Advertising, which has offices near a Starbucks in a two-story strip mall on Palestine Street, one of Jedda’s busiest commercial thoroughfares. “Fame . . . Is Your Fame” is the company’s slogan, according to its marketing brochures. Among the firm’s advertised specialties is “event management,” which refers to the staging of attention-grabbing corporate galas and launch parties for new products or stores. The firm makes this promise: “Fame Advertising events are novel, planned meticulously, and executed with efficiency.” On the back of this brochure is printed a single word: “Different.” [....]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

what's up with the Trashiyangtse chortens?

News from Bhutan reads like a science-fiction/fantasy saga with made-up names and places for an invented world, so little do I know about that country and its culture:
Villagers in the eastern dzongkhag of Trashiyangtse are being encouraged to do night patrolling as in the past with more than eight chortens in the district robbed and vandalised in the past three months.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

...and, sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar

Reuters photo, 1 December 05, and caption:

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires is covered with a giant condom to commemorate World AIDS Day December 1, 2005. According to a report issued by ONUSIDA (UN AIDS), the number of people infected with the HIV virus in Latin America had risen over the last year from 1.6 to 1.8 million. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

passion of Christ

The Passion of Christ
Originally uploaded by Kirja-addikti.

...bringing Lent to Advent, correctio for commercial frenzy....

chemistry professor CEO honks like a goose to win a crumb from Gates' pie

"The only scientist to emit a goose honk during his presentation was Robert E. Sievers, who was illustrating inexpensive straws with useful vibrations." it all in today's New York Times: Better Bananas, Nicer Mosquitoes

Monday, December 05, 2005

new cat pops up

[BBC photo]

Strange new, red-haired, tree-climbing cat discovered in Borneo.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

wanted: good christian dino hunters

Hoax? It's worth reading nonetheless: Project Pterosaur
[....] I have also contacted "Johnny" Kimbuso, my African guide from my last expedition, to see if he would be willing to help. It was he who managed to take the picture of the apatosaur we uncovered. Hopefully, I can convince him to join me again on another Creation Science adventure, although he still suffers trauma from his close encounter with the charging dinosaur.

[....] Besides supplies that are common to all animal capture expeditions, we have determined that we need the following special equipment:

* Metallic pterosaur effigies based on Biblical designs (for herding into traps.)
* Frankincense smoker (to disorientate the animals for capture.)
* Nets, including large butterfly-style nets for use on smaller rhamphorhynchi.
* Calming hoods (designed based on Deluge-era pterosaur skull remains.)
* Reinforced bird cages.
* Climate controlled egg transport containers. [....]

What Are Pterosaurs?

Pterosaurs (ter’ə·sôrs) are flying reptiles with leathery or membranous wings attached to the sides of their bodies and supported by an elongated fourth digit on their forelimbs. They were created by the Lord on the fifth day of His Creation Week (Genesis 1:20-22) and were a constant presence in the skies over Eden, where they peacefully ate fruit and plants. After the Fall, many of their descendants degenerated to a carnivorous diet and became feared by man, although non-wicked specimens preserved on the Ark helped to temper this degenerative tendency after the Flood. Various Pterosaur kinds were common throughout Eurasia and Northern Africa up until the early Middle Ages and interacted extensively with Man. Today, although Evolutionists falsely insist that they are extinct, pterosaurs can still be found, hidden away in the unexplored wilds of our world.

There are two main baramins of pterosaurs: rhamphorhynchoid and pterodactyloid. Rhamphorhynchoid kinds are small to medium sized (usually no larger than a sea gull) with long tails, short heads and necks, and teeth. Pterodactyloid kinds are medium to very large (in fact, they include the largest flying animals that ever lived) with short tails, longer necks and limbs, often crested heads, and usually lack teeth. It's still debated whether these groups are monobaraminic or holobaraminic, and it is one of Project Pterosaur's science goals to answer this question (if we find specimens of both groups, we can determine baraminicity by using Intelligent Design Theory to measure their specified complexity and apply the Dembski-Shannon equation to extrapolate the amount of relative informational loss due to genetic degradation from their perfect Creation.) [....]

Pterosaurs, including the ancestors of pterodactyls (middle left) and rhamphorhynchi (middle right), lived peacefully with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Artistic reconstruction by Peggy Miller.)

china democracy struggle continues

BBC: Thousands march for HK democracy

Thursday, December 01, 2005

rainy days & Rachmaninoff

Rain, gusting winds, cranes like long-stemmed musical notes scribbled faintly against a stormy horizon at the Port of Oakland, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 on the (Internet) radio. A day, and music, that remind me of working at Northside Books in Berkeley a quarter of a century ago, store empty as the storm raged, in comes a beggar wet and stinking, filthy. Just as my moral fiber sagged (expecting my boss any time now) I began to wonder if I should kick him or her out into the rain, a lightbulb clicked on above the beggar's head. "Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony?" with an index finger twirling vaguely towards the ceiling. Yes, I nodded, impressed. "Ahh, don't you just love it, the train chugging across the steppes...." the beggar continued, raspy voice trailing off as the music swelled in a crescendo. Together, cozy, surrounded by books indoors, we listened to the rest of the symphony as the rain poured down outside.