Friday, April 20, 2007


This just looks cool

Yes, I am sleepy now.

It's called the transport and it may be the ultimate place for a nap... or other activity.


Well Played Activism


How Divorce Improves Marriage

This is a neat article about the effect of divorce on marrige. The key paragraph explaining the mechanics of the process is below.

[The] availability of divorce has increased with unilateral divorce, which allows either member of the couple to dissolve the union. The change has been associated with lower rates of female suicide and domestic violence, and fewer wives murdered by their husbands. Unilateral divorce shifts the bargaining power to the person who is getting less out of the marriage and thus is most likely to leave. The partner getting more from the marriage has to work harder to keep the other person around, which can be good for the marriage and good for the couple. In other words, unilateral divorce benefits victims and potential victims.


Dinesh D'Souza: VT Ghoul

Dinesh D'Souza is hardcore social conservative that has, in the recent past said a few things that were particularly hateful towards the socially more liberal. A recent example is his attempt to link atheisism to the Virginia Tech massacre. One of Andrew Sullivan's guest bloggers takes him down beautifully here.

Where did Dinesh D'Souza acquire this remarkable talent for opening his mouth wide enough to fit his entire foot in clear down to the small intestine? I'm appalled enough to see the gun controllers, immigration nuts, and so forth crawling out of the woodwork to hawk their pet causes atop the still-warm corpses of the Virginia Tech victims. But at least there was some vaguely arguable relevance. Using it as an excuse to bash atheists . . . well cut off my legs and call me shorty, the discourse just hit a previously unsuspected new low.


I Hereby Predict: Presidential Election 2008

I have decided it is time for me to write down my prediction for the 2008 presidential election in the US. I believe that America will have its first female president. Not Hilary Clinton, but rather Nancy Pelosi. At which point I should hear you crying, "But she is not even running for president." No, by tht time she will already be president. George Bush is going to get impeached. The Democrats will be forced to impeach him because of the results of their investigations. The challenge will be getting enough republicans in the senate to support the impeachment. This will not be as difficult as it sounds since there are 21 republican senates up for re-election in 2008. They will be forced to impeach if they wish to keep their seats. Ergo, Bush and Cheney will be gone and Nancy Pelosi will be president.


Thursday, April 19, 2007


Lives Lost at Virginia Tech

I have stumbled across a online memorial to those whose lives were taken from them by sick twisted deranged man. Honestly, seeing the faces, the smiles, the life, it changes how you see the events. 33 stops being a number and becomes lives.

I wish we could do the same for the war in Iraq. Show the faces, tell of the lives, and understand the loss. Make the horror not about numbers because then we can forget, then we can step away. We should not, must not, forget that these are people's lives, hopes and dreams shattered in a cold staccato of violence.

We, humans, are better than this. We can be better. We must be better.



Americans Are Not Gun Crazy

Contrary to popular believe here in Canada, Americans are not gun crazy. America's crazy gun laws are a product of the strength of the gun lobby because if the average American had their say... well, adios firearms would be the result:

Americans feel less safe rather than more safe as more people in their community begin to carry guns. By margins of at least nine to one, Americans do not believe that 'regular' citizens should be allowed to bring their guns into restaurants, college campuses, sports stadiums, bars, hospitals, or government buildings.


Be Polite, It Scares the Bank Robbers

At some point I should make a list of the little rules I have come up with. One of which says the world is two thirds common sense and one third counter intuitive. This story fits the counterintuitive. Well, at least until you think about it. Honestly, who hasn't been put off by an overly friendly salesperson.

Excessive friendliness is the key to the "Safecatch" system created by FBI Special Agent Larry Carr. The premise is that an overdose of courtesy will unnerve would-be robbers and get them to rethink the crime.

"If you're a legitimate customer, you think, ‘This is the friendliest person I've met in my life.' If you're a bad guy, it scares the lights out of you," said Drew Ness, a vice president of Bellevue-based First Mutual Bank, who advocates the approach.

Carr, who has taught the method to employees at 16 Washington banks over the past few years, credits the system in part for the drop in Seattle bank robberies from 80 in the first three months of 2006 to 44 during the same period this year. On Tuesday, he ran a training session for employees at a First Mutual branch in Seattle.


A Polite Letter From the Smithsonian

Trying not to laugh... might wake neighbors.

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie".

It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:

1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.

2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.

3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.

B. Clams don't have teeth.



If You Thought Gibraltar Was Big...

How about a tunnel under the Bering Strait?

Russia plans to build the world's longest tunnel, a transport and pipeline link under the Bering Strait to Alaska, as part of a $65 billion project to supply the U.S. with oil, natural gas and electricity from Siberia.

The project, which Russia is coordinating with the U.S. and Canada, would take 10 to 15 years to complete, Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at the Russian Economy Ministry, told reporters in Moscow today. State organizations and private companies in partnership would build and control the route, known as TKM-World Link, he said.

A 6,000-kilometer (3,700-mile) transport corridor from Siberia into the U.S. will feed into the tunnel, which at 64 miles will be more than twice as long as the underwater section of the Channel Tunnel between the U.K. and France, according to the plan. The tunnel would run in three sections to link the two islands in the Bering Strait between Russia and the U.S.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


A Harrowing Story

Dave over at the Galloping Beaver has written an essay about his family's experiences as soldiers. It is fairly long and deserves to read in it entirety.
We have sent yet another generation of young men and women off to become permanently scarred with first-hand knowledge of war. In time they will return and those who have had to experience the worst war has to offer will pay heavily. They will experience the dismissal of their difficulty to deal with the turmoil in their minds and the humiliation of having to try to beat back depression, anxiety and a simmering anger.

They will look into the abyss and, as a so-called enlightened society looks on knowing nothing of what agony exists in their minds, wonder what lies at the bottom.



I stumbled on this description of terror in the face of guns.

Once, whilst travelling in Asia I managed to end up on the wrong end of half a dozen AK-47s held by soldiers whom I had every reason to believe had authority to shoot me dead. The only thing that stopped my adrenalinised sprint to safety was a carelessly placed barbed wire fence that leaped up and hugged me (it was dark enough not to see it until I was literally wrapped in it). There were no heroic thoughts, just a sudden blanching flash of deep dread that I was about to die, immediately followed by a limbic desire to get far away from the men with rifles as fast as humanly possible.


Is George Bush a Traitor?

Is George Bush a traitor? To answer that you have to know what treason is. In America, finding the answer is easy. You simply look it up in the constitution where the Founding Fathers wrote up the definition for all to see:

SECTION 3. Clause 1. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open court.


From this we can see there are two ways to commit treason: By levying war or by adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. The question is has George Bush done either? The answer is possibly both. Aid and comfort has seen more precedent than levying war. In fact there is a test for whether or not it can be proven that a person has committed treason. This test date back to World War two and the cases: Cramer v. United States, Haupt v. United States and Kawakita v. United States . It lists:

  1. Intention to betray the United States,
  2. An overt act,
  3. Testified to by two witnesses,
  4. Which gave aid and comfort to the enemy.


The right-wing pundits have suggested that any number of people have committed treason in the last few years. Though truthfully their arguments would not pass the above test. In particular, the first component of the test protects legitimate dissent. Specifically acts “which do aid and comfort the enemy . . . but if there is no adherence to the enemy in this, if there is no intent to betray, there is no treason .“ This means that it is necessary to prove an actual intent to betray America and that betrayal by accident or incompetence does not meet the test. Jane Fonda's visit to North Vietnam is an example of an incident that meets three of the tests (overt act, witness, and aid) but not the fourth since her intent was display opposition to the war and not to betray America.

This means that despite the fact the Bush's leadership has greatly aided Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. That he has not committed treason unless he has deliberately decided to assist Al Qaeda. I do not believe that George Bush is secretly an Al Qaeda member. Frankly I consider the thought to be ridiculous. If there is no adherence, there is no treason. End of story.

Or not.

Al Qaeda is not America's only enemy. Enemies need not be shadowy foreign terrorists. Enemies can also be domestic. Timothy McVeigh, the Weathermen and the Confederate states all were domestic enemies. May it is possible for a president to be an enemy of America?

The president is the head of state in America. Some people would argue that the head of state is the embodiment of the state and therefore cannot be an enemy of the state for they are the state. In America, this is not true since the head of state is not vested with ultimate authority. The fact that the congress can impeach a president demonstrates that a president is not the final and highest authority in the country. If there is a higher authority then it is possible to be an enemy of it. Therefore a president can be an enemy of America.

If a president is an enemy of America? How does that happen? Who or what is the authority that is that is attacked? The highest authority in America is the Constitution. It is to uphold the Constitution that the president swears during their inauguration, and it is the Constitution that they can betray.

Has George Bush intended to betray the constitution of the United States? Can we prove it? The Supreme Court has commented on the issue of intent. It has stated:

Intent need not be proved by two witnesses but may be inferred from all the circumstances surrounding the overt act.


We have on record a number of comments that show Bush and his administration's contempt for the constitution.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"


Not proof, but it is circumstance.

He wages war without required Congressional declarations. He orders spying that is in direct conflict with the 4th Amendment. He permits tortures and extraordinary renditions that violate the 8th Amendment


Not proof, but it is circumstance and maybe a pattern

Bush's anti-Constitutionalism was on full display today, as he echoed claims by his aides that it is somehow inappropriate for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to travel to Syria...

...The Constitution makes clear that the Congress has broad authority to actively participate in foreign and military affairs. After all, the founders created the legislative branch as the first defined branch of government and afforded to it the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations," "to define and punish... offenses against the law of nations," "to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water," and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."


Wow, this is getting to be quite a list, isn't it.

For the current President, "enforcement of the laws to restore public order" means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the objections of local governmental, military and local police entities; ship them off to another state; conscript them in a law enforcement mode; and set them loose against "disorderly" citizenry - protesters, possibly, or those who object to forced vaccinations and quarantines in the event of a bio-terror event.

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and other "undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton. That's right. Under the cover of a trumped-up "immigration emergency" and the frenzied militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.


What we have here is a clear pattern of contempt for the constitution. All of these acts are attempts to increase the power of the office of president without going through the steps needed to change the constitution.

There have been previous attempts by presidents to extend the power of the executive. Examples include:

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of free speech during and after World War I, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the wiretapping of Vietnam-era dissenters


A number of these have been brought to court and in a number of cases they have been upheld. None of these have been considered treasonous. Therefore overreaching the constitutional powers of the executive alone is not an act of treason. The key word here is act. None of the above constitutional abuses meet the test for overt act mentioned above. They can provide circumstance to prove intent but they are not the act needed to trigger treason.

Enter the prosecutor scandal.

In this scandal, it appears that a number of US prosecutors have been fired because they were now willing to selectively target democrats and ignore republican maleficence. The purpose of these firings was to win elections and create permanent republican control of government.

If it is proven true then Bush and his cronies will have deliberately attempted to subvert democracy and will have possibly committed election fraud. As well, if proven, it may meet the test for treason.

We have evidence that Bush and his conspirators wish to subvert the American Constitution (intent, check!). We have an overt act, subversion of the US prosecutors (overt act, possibly check!) to aid a conspiracy (enemy, check!) to control the American government (aid and comfort, check!).

And with two witnesses... we may have treason.

Update: I am not the only person with this idea. An American general is saying the same thing here.


Is this what I think I see

This is scary. This guy is calling for the millitary to seize power in the US. He is calling for a coup.

It is now time for the U.S. military to act against a dangerous regime that is in material breach of one of the most important legal instruments in the world--the U.S. Constitution. And it is not Sadaam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, or Fidel Castro who threaten the Constitution.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, and every Cabinet member swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But what happens when the domestic threat is from the very people who swore to defend the Constitution?...

...Hollywood has long pondered, through movies like Seven Days in May, what might happen to America if an extra-constitutional situation were to arise. While most of these cinematic presentations focused on power-hungry generals seizing control from democratically-elected presidents, no one in Hollywood ever really considered the possibility of generals imbued with democratic values ousting a President who was bent on seizing unconstitutional powers. However, this is exactly the nightmarish scenario that is beginning to arise in Washington.

Okay, it was written before the last election when the Democrats won control of congress. It is still a scary document.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I Just Have to Read This Book

I saw a review for a book called Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America. It seems that this book might not be the best work in history. From the review:
I use the word "book" with some hesitation: Certainly it possesses chapters and words and other book-like accoutrements. But Men in Black is 208 large-print pages of mostly block quotes (from court decisions or other legal thinkers) padded with a foreword by the eminent legal scholar Rush Limbaugh, and a blurry 10-page "Appendix" of internal memos to and from congressional Democrats—stolen during Memogate. The reason it may take you only slightly longer to read Men in Black than it took Levin to write it is that you'll experience an overwhelming urge to shower between chapters.


Why You Should Wear Seatbelts

This is an excellently written piece on why you should wear a seatbelt by a eloquent paramedic. The full piece is worth your time.
In a collision, you have three or four sub-collisions all taking place in sequence. First, the vehicle hits some object. The vehicle abruptly slows, but unrestrained objects inside it continue at the same speed, in the same direction. Then the unrestrained body hits the interior of the vehicle, and starts to slow. That’s the second collision. That body’s internal organs are still moving at speed until they hit the inside of the chest (or get cheese-sliced by their supporting ligaments—and that’s where you get things like bisected livers or aortas). The fourth collision is when the bowling ball you left on the rear deck hits you in the back of the head, because that continued at the same speed in the same direction. Newtonian physics: Learn it, live it, love it.


Red Square Nebula

No, its not communist.

It is detailed in the latest issue of Science. Money quote:

“If you fold things across the principle diagonal axis, you get an almost perfect reflection symmetry,” said study leader Peter Tuthill from the University of Sydney in Australia. “This makes the Red Square nebula the most symmetrical object of comparable complexity ever imaged.” The Red Square’s extreme symmetry suggests the star’s surroundings are extremely still and not buffeted by external stellar winds or other turbulence...

The new findings suggest the system’s perfect form results from an even outflow of gas. “The reason the Red Square remains so symmetrical is that there is no material that has interfered with the outflow, so it has preserved the symmetry it was born with,” (said researcher James Lloyd of Cornell University).


A Family Business Dies, After 14 Centuries

The business Kongo Gumi ended last year. It has had an impressive run: 14 Centuries.
The world's oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.
Read more.


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