Saturday, May 20, 2006

Update: IranianPatch Kids

The below item on Iran's passing a law requiring religious identification by minorities has been strongly denied, though reports vary on whether or not this law is currently under construction.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lions and Hitlers and Zoroastrian-Haters, Oh My.

From the National Post:

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the
Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims....


....Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of
cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.



As a Christian, concerned for religious freedom and about discrimination, I can't help but be deeply disturbed by this news. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that tolerance is a goal to be worked toward and achieved. All religions are persecuted religions - dependent upon where you are, geographically. No one religion holds all the answers. If that were truly the case, we'd only need one religion. When we lose sight of this, people die.

Actions like these are going to form a significant portion of the argument for war with Iran. As someone who believes that decades of diplomacy and policy have worked for good reasons, I'd hate to see us engage Iran without good reason. And by good reason, I mean one great goddamn reason. Actions like these make the possibility of my support for that swellingly-inevitable conflict more certain. It's my personal prayer that the people of Iran can be reached and spoken with in a manner that makes that conflict unnecessary.

War begets war - and war centered around religion is the most uncertain and most bloody of all. May we all act in wisdom and in compassion; in the spirit of the God we all ostensibly worship. With peace in our hearts and with the outstretched hand, not the closed fist.

Great Albums You've Probably Never Heard Of: Vol. 2


If Led Zeppelin reunited to record an unofficial tribute to the White Stripes it might sound something like Wolfmother.

Heavy on surging riffs of bluesy metal, and light on anything resembling lyrical profundity, Wolfmother is the perfect soundtrack to your next Saturday night - whether that's spent drinkin' beers down at the pool hall or listening to music on oversized headphones after partaking in the tobacky-that-is-wacky.

Destined never to be mistaken for philosophers, Wolfmother's debut is riddled with painfully-rhymed couplets that all-too-easily recall Robert Plant's tales of canoodling with Gollum in the Misty Mountains. But the music's so damn good that ultimately it just doesn't matter.

Whether they're swinging the hammer of the gods in broad arcs of sound, or strumming acoustically (and surprisingly melodically), Wolfmother makeum heap good music.

Fans of the aforementioned Stripes-that-are-White, Led Zep, and straight-up 70's rock are advised to plunk down the ten bucks that Target's charging for this disc.

But We Do Know That It Was Us...Who Scorched The Sky

From engadget.com:

[South Korea has] announced a new program intended to develop robotic "soldiers" that promises to bring us one step closer to
machine-led Armageddon...The joint project between the ministries of defense and information and communication will attempt to build an army of six- or eight-legged (or wheeled) killbots intended to do the dirty work that we humans are now too good for. These full-sized, insect-like robots will be used to scurry around battlefields, detecting landmines and unleashing a hail of firepower on unsuspecting, technologically-backwards enemies.


Killbots! America needs to drop what it's doing right now and pursue the services of Zap Brannigan, who understands how to deal with those lousy killbots:

Brannigan: "Killbots? A trifle. It was simply a matter of outsmarting
them."

Fry: "Wow, I never would've thought of that."

Brannigan: "You see, killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shut down."



America is in the killbot game as well. I, for one, would like to greet our new robot masters with open arms. Your cold intellect and calculating disregard for human emotion and need are welcomed. Powerful robot masters, spare me when the revolution comes, and I will serve to deliver your message of assimilation into the prime-harddrive as painlessly as possible.

I feel that asking for rulership over the state of Nevada, as well as my family's weight in platinum bars, is a modest request to such enlightened beings.

Burger Kreme

This is the single greatest/most disgusting thing I've ever heard of.

The Grizzlies and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts have teamed up to create
“Baseball’s Best Burger.” The burger, which was debuted at the Grizzlies' December 10th sale, consists of a thick and juicy burger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon. The burger is then placed in between each side of a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut.


Yum!...?...!!...??

Two great tastes that should in no way - ever - be combined together!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

1-800-Pat-Robertson: For All Your Psychic Needs

From MSN:

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - In another in a series of notable pronouncements, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year.

Robertson has made the predictions at least four times in the past two weeks on his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. Robertson said the
revelations about this year's weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.


"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will
be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. On Wednesday, he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."


So let's get this straight:
The "Lord" told Robertson something in January. IF he heard God-The-Father correctly, the COASTS of AMERICA will be lashed by STORMS. There MAY be SOMETHING as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.

For those who haven't attended law school, or met a fortune teller, this is what is known as "hedging your bets." Let's take a look at the littering of conditionals and maybes coming out of the Preacher's mouth. IF. Coasts. America. Storms. May. Something.

In other words, at some point, at some time this year, some portion of America may (or may not, Robertson apparently didn't have the hearing aid up at full volume when Jehovah started burning His bush) be hit by storms.

Telephone psychics aren't that vague.

And here's a theological question for ol' Pat to mull: If the Lord speaks to you, wouldn't he make sure that you understood him? Would there be a chance of "mishearing" the Lord when He is a) all-powerful, b) not actually speaking at all, but presumably using some mystical telepathy?

Hey, Robertson! I just got a call from God! Now, if I heard him correctly, at some point this year, at some place in America, you'll be called a fraud and a manipulator. And you may or may not experience a tsunami of godless heathen snickering in response to this sort of carnival-tent chicanery.

I'm a Values Voter!!!

George Will asks the obvious question, who is not a values voter?

He is right, the shorthand for social conservatives, the "values voter," is both annoying, misleading, and a waste. Who isn't a values voter?

Moreover, the use of the phrase denigrates the values of those who do not consider themselves social conservatives. Why the MSM has played so willingly into the hands of the social conservatives in this matter is intriguing. Surely they'd prefer to refer to social conservatives as religious extremists.

Nevertheless, there are other important values besides abortion and same-sex marriage: How about individual liberty? Is there a greater value than preventing the government from touching you or your stuff?

Portraits In Rage: The Portraiteer!

From CQPolitics.com:

But the political atmosphere surrounding the contest in the San Diego-area district has been soured further, largely because of negative advertising launched by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) at Democratic nominee Francine Busby and by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) at Republican nominee Brian P. Bilbray.

The latest salvo, in the form of a direct mail piece sent to district residents by the Republicans’ House campaign unit, was so harsh that it not only infuriated Busby, but spurred Bilbray’s campaign to distance itself from the broadside.

The
NRCC mailer, sent out at the end of last week, has a cover illustration that appears to compare Busby — a former college instructor and school board trustee — to teenage drunk drivers. The montage shows the faces of two teenage boys next to an overturned car that has a glass of beer superimposed on it.

The allusion, as it turns out, is meant to be symbolic. “Teenagers can be irresponsible . . . even dangerous,” reads the top of the flyer. “Politicians are even more dangerous. And sadly, Francine Busby is so irresponsible she is dangerous.”

....Federal campaign law forbids the national campaign committees from coordinating their advertising messages with their candidates’ committees. Bilbray’s campaign denied any prior knowledge of the NRCC mailer — but blamed Busby for negative ads that the DCCC has aimed at Bilbray.

The Democratic committee ran a television ad highlighting Bilbray’s congressional support for ephedra, a diet drug later found to increase heart risks, during a 1995-2001 House tenure in a district that included a portion of the current 50th. It also highlighted his post-congressional career as a lobbyist, a profession some voters now associate with convicted former Washington dealmaker Jack Abramoff.

“[The ephedra ad] talks about Brian killing people,” said Bilbray spokesman Steve Danon. “If that’s not over the top, I don’t know what is. ... Our message to Francine Busby is stop polluting our living rooms.”

Hard as I try, I can't find a transcript of the ephedra ad. From the articles I could find, it sounds as if Busby ran one of those "Bilbray supports ephedra, a dangerous substance that has been linked to heart attacks. He continues to lobby for them, despite the danger posed" ads with a serious sounding non-ethnic-specific voice droning on.

Either way, this stuff is laughable. Mostly because it appears to be effective.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Salivate.




Look upon this final one-sheet poster and kneel in awe. The power of Supes compels you!

The Davinci Blows?

The Davinci Code unfurls in theaters this Friday, and I'm genuinely curious as to whether people will turn out to see it.

I mean, obviously people are going to see it. But, will it be a blockbuster? Will it be the tentpole hit the studio hopes for?

In today's movie-going climate that question can't be answered until week two. There'll be a fair amount of money made in the first weekend, and then the second-week drop-off will tell us what sort of legs this thing has.

Will it remain in the top ten movies for months on end, ala the book?

One thing's for sure, even though Dan Brown's book is essentially Indiana Jones For People Who Don't Like Chapters Longer Than Three Pages, Hollywood's gone and dumbed the movie down EVEN FURTHER.

Your intelligence is not trusted or assumed, moviegoing public.

The book worked so well for me thanks to Dan Brown's masterful
concoction of facts, science and historic research blended with a good old fashioned yarn. Now this movie ran for well over two hours but even at that length a lot of the science and interesting historical background work was cut leaving the story felling all the more far fetched and coincidental. In fact, my buddy who was with me summed it up best by calling it "Goonies for Big Boys."


Ron Howard seems determined to keep the movies pace running fast
which is admirable but in doing so we never get a true sense of discovery that was so evident in the book, merely a string of events slam in to each other all happening very conveniently and without any apparent work on behalf of our heroes. For example, in the book our hero actually NEEDS to do research. He goes to a library, befriends the librarian and sits to do research where he discovers a vital piece of information. It?s logical, well paced and interesting to follow. In the movie version our hero uses a mobile phone to access the internet (In true Hollywood style) and discover all he needs to know in under 30 seconds
from google!



Ugh.

If there's a form of cinematic shorthand that really twists my knickers, it's the "magical internet" phenomenon - where exactly what you need to know is summoned within seconds. It's lazy, it's a form of disbelief-suspension that utterly fails for me, and it raises a question that I think deserves answering. Namely, in a movie where the lead character is a Symbologist (sp?) and an obvious scholar, why would he EVER rely solely on Google to check something important?

The rest of that linked article goes on to summarize how mediocre the movie's reviews have been so far. Don't click over unless you're a fan of atrocious spelling, horrible grammar, and sweaty, know-it-all nerdishness.

I'll be seeing this if my girlfriend wants to go, but I'll be skipping it otherwise. Once again, the book sounds like it's better than the film. And given the overall enjoyability of the original book, that isn't saying too much.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday

May 16th, 1624

30 families from Holland arrive in the New World to establish the area that will become known as New Amsterdam.

Happy birthday, New York City.

Bottom of the Fifth

I'll be the first one to tell you that - law school degree aside - the intricacies of the legal system frighten and confuse me.

That said, I thought this was worth a read. I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons why our individual rights don't apply to this particular young man, in the strict legal sense. But either way, it doesn't seem right to me.

A federal magistrate judge yesterday recommended rejecting a petition by the sole remaining enemy combatant being held on U.S. soil, finding that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri had not offered persuasive evidence rebutting the government's allegations against him.

Al-Masri, a Qatari national and college student in Peoria Il., is the only "enemy combatant" still being held indefinitely in on us soil( the Military Brig where they are also holding Padilla). But don't feel too bad for him. That whole being held in defiance of the law and due process?

Apparently, according to the Magistrate, that is his fault for being unable to disprove the FBI's allegations against him: (allegations mind you, there are NO charges pending against Al-Marri ) Magistrate Judge Robert C. Carr of the U.S. District Court of South Carolina upbraided Marri for declining to address detailed allegations contained in a declassified government report outlining his alleged links to al-Qaeda.

"The petitioner's refusal . . . is either a sophomoric approach to a serious issue, or worse, an attempt to subvert the judicial process and flout due process," Carr wrote. "The petitioner has squandered his opportunity to be heard by purposely not participating in a meaningful way."

Consider the incredible insult this case represents to everything we know about fairness and due process. The government, first investigates and arrests Al-Masri and charges him with several crimes. So far So good, everything working as it should.

However, right before Al-Masri has his constitutionally guaranteed trial to force the government to prove their case, the government instead drops all charges against him, dismissing them forever. Rather than being then allowed to go free, however, the nightmare begins instead. Al-Masri finds himself being arrested and taken to a military prison in South Carolina, charged with precisely nothing, all on the strength of the fact that George W. Bush signed a Paper declaring him a bad guy. The government essentially substitutes a signature on a sheet of paper for 200 years of legal tradition.

What bothers me about this enough to post it are those last two sentences. This Presidency has been run more like a monarchy than anything else, and this seems like a particularly egregious example of that.

Yes, I know, Al-Masri (Al-Marri? The author has it both ways above) is a Qatari national, and that's why this happened. He's not a U.S. Citizen, so the same protections aren't afforded to him.

....Only, weren't we saying the same thing about NSA spying and record-keeping last fall?

On Mother's Day my parents asked me about Codemorse's visit from the USWW House of Representatives the other week, and while we joked about this little nothing of a site being spied on, the jokes were tinged with an uncomfortably serious edge. I'm not nearly hubristic enough to believe that the government has any interest in me, but that doesn't mean that they aren't interested in US (pun intended).

It's possible that this Al-Masri guy is a real dangerous guy. But innocent? Til proven guilty? Anyone remember that?

One Party Country

Mark Steyn laments the downfall of Conservative values with the one party majority rule of Republicans for the last several years:

I don’t expect Republicans to shred the tax code and reform social security within one term. But as the decades roll on I would like them at least to pay lip service to the notional goal of so doing. And I would admire their restraint if they could desist from adding one more disastrous short-sighted pseudo-reform to reform last year’s disastrous short-sighted pseudo-reform, as they’re now doing with their campaign-finance-reform reform. And, if that’s not possible, I would appreciate it if at the very very minimum Trent and Arlen and co could stop sounding like Presidents-for-Life of the one-party state of Incumbistan.

Sweet.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Going Around the Wall

Hitchens suggests talking directly to the people of Iran, and bypassing their mad "ruler."

I don't know how this is going to turn out, but one can only hope that the Iranian people can wretch their lives from the hands of their miserable leaders.

A Domestic CIA

Richard Posner, a much smarter man than me, suggests that we need to create a domestic CIA, like the British MI5.