Friday, December 21, 2007

Subterranean wonder of Italy

Here is interesting art news. As far as I can tell it is a true story.

World's Eighth wonder?

Every once in a while you see crazy benefit humanity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pat Condell to "Islamofascists"

I'm not sure who Pat Condell is or what triggered this speech, but there is something about this which seems new. YouTube is a global soap-box, but unlike those found in public places, it is a soapbox you intentionally encounter.

Here is Pat with a message to "Islamofascists". You will likely learn a few British put-downs:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace prize, here is what he said:

Al's Speech

Imagine how different the world would be if Al Gore was president.

It's easy if you try.

The Supreme Court of 2000 has a lot to answer for.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Prison Nation

The opening paragraph to this New York Times article dropped my jaw:

"About one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year, the Department of Justice reported yesterday."

More here

4.7% of American adults were in prison, jail, or supervised release at the end of last year.


The U.S. now leads the world in incarcerations per capita.


Here are some explorations to help realize the enormity of these numbers:

Fenway Park holds 38,805 people when sold out. 4.7% of 38,805 people is 1,823 people.

If one in 31 adults was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year and you were at a party with 8 people in it the odds are 77% percent that one person does not belong to that group (assuming the party-goers represent a random cross-section of the population)

(30 / 31) ^ 8 = 77%

If the party has 16 people in it (about the size of a hockey team) the odds become 59%, and at two dozen people the odds are 45%.

A football team has 53 players (with 11 on the field). That's a 17.6% group.

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will now seat 467 people. That's a 0.00002% group.

Effusive thanks are extended to Roger, who was persuaded to de-dumb my probability efforts. You can read interesting analysis by Roger on the 2004 election:

Here and here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On wet wood

Is waterboarding torture?

Of course it is.

Anybody that uses this practice in America's name brings dishonor to himself and his nation. To fail to "keep the honor clean of the U.S. Marine" is a dereliction of leadership which leads to a crisis of morale.

Low morale often leads to stories like these.

Waterboarding is torture and the legal justification for that assertion is straightforward. The U.S. government is a signatory to the "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment". We signed it and are therefore obligated by law to uphold it.

We are not, and the president Bush has no Constitutional authority to break treaties. He may escape his due Justice due to Nancy Pelosi's exasperating sense of duty, but engaging in waterboarding (aka Chinese water torture) makes the United States of America a liar and a criminal.

Why pretend otherwise?

When you share the moral stage with Communist agents, Nazi war criminals, and witch hunters it is base to expect applause.

So why give it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

All the same to you?

Question 1

A father does not like the way his daughter dresses so he strangles her to death. When the police arrive the girl's brother fights with them trying to prevent their entry.

Is this family:

A) Amish
B) Christian
C) Muslim

Answer here

Question 2

A woman is raped and this rape transfers shame unto her family due to societal customs. Therefore the father and/or brother of this rape victim murders her and it is considered honorable.

This family lives in:

A) Canada
B) Spain
C) Pakistan

Answer here

Question 3

Which "Holy Book" advises, "Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not"

A) The Christian Bible
B) The Buddhist Tripitaka
C) The Koran

Answer here

Question 4

"On January 23 , 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan. He was scheduled to meet with a source, but it turned out to be a trap. For the next month, his colleagues, friends, and family searched for him frantically, and then a video arrived. It depicted Pearl admitting that he was Jewish and culminated in his on-screen decapitation by..."

A) Franciscan monks
B) Islamic militants
C) Christian anti-abortion militants

Answer here (PDF)

What is the lesson to be drawn from a sober reflection of these answers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

San Francisco Treat

Here is some guitar playing by a friend of mine that often plays in the San Francisco area. If you like ragtime music and prefer it played with gusto, then you'll enjoy the music of Craig Ventresco

If, perhaps you prefer Spanish-flavored guitar, then voila, here you go:

And here is a sentimental favorite:

And finally, a fine duet and novelty song:

Thanks YouTube. It's been a while since I've seen my ol' friend strummin' around.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Corpocracy is here

Serious people that don't like what they see when they look at Wall Street and tell their fellow Americans about it have a way of becoming "Ross Perot'd", that is, they fall from the good graces of the plutocrats.

That hasn't happened in Mr. Monks case, perhaps because his illuminations reliably precede catastrophes (like Tyco's rocky fall from the good graces of investors). Now, this former appointee of Ronald Reagan is warning that democracy is taking a back seat to what is supposed to be a means and not an end (i.e. a corporation).

Here is a link to an article which discusses some of Mr. Monks views at Corporate Crime Reporter: Monk on a Mission

I haven't read my copy yet, but I look forward to doing so soon. If I have pricked your interest click the above picture to be taken to the Amazon page where you can purchase a copy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Solidifying democracy's defeat

Have you heard of Senate Bill 1959, known also as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007?

Here are the full details

Think un-American activities commission and you begin to get the gist of what it is, except this bill goes much further and has the scope to criminalize thoughts.

I expect this bill wishes to criminalize political Islam within the United States, but the trouble is the bill is so broadly worded as to criminalize whatever whim strikes those with the power to enforce it.

Perhaps some examples...

If Mitt Romney becomes president and decides non-Mormon Christians are radical then they would be arrested.

If Hillary Clinton becomes president and decides Norman Podhertz has a "radical agenda" then he would be arrested.

If Rudolph the red-nosed Giuliani becomes president and decides that gun owners are "adopting an extremist belief system" then they would be arrested.

If Ron Paul becomes president and decides that democrats are "trying to coerce the civilian population of the United States in furtherance of political objectives" then they would be arrested.

Is it wise to give that much power to people that crave it as cravenly as politicians?

Friday, December 07, 2007

What a believing Mormon believes...

Mitt Romney is a Mormon and a believing Mormon believes this about black people...

That black skin is a curse from God for being descended from an evil race of people.

It is said that, "As a man believes so will he act."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

N.I.E. on Iran

N.I.E. stands for National Intelligence Estimate. It is the term paper, if you will, of our N.I.C., which stands for National Intelligence Council, on some subject.

In this case, the subject is Iran's nuclear intentions (PDF)

The N.I.E. contradicts the president Bush and his bluster regarding Iran so the republican response is twofold Blame the messenger and Keep up the pressure

Do these misguided liars aspire to make of our world a throne of ashes?

When does Ms. Pelosi expect to take up the responsibility associated with her office?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The core of hell

I think that Dante was wrong about hell, but that it wasn't his fault. They didn't have electronic gadgets back in his day. How could he have known that deep down in the bowels of hell there would be a core used to cruelly torture scientists that brought blinking and beeping things into this world?

I cite two recent examples and leave you to consider them:

1. I have on my new car a safety feature called Dynamic Stability Control. It is a whiz-bang feature that improves handling in slippery conditions. However, when it engages an icon flashes three times in yellow. Blink. Blink. Blink.


At a moment that I am slipping and sliding my dashboard wants to distract my attention from my driving to tell me that I am slipping.

This engineer, I sez, will be subjected to the special torments of the core of hell. As his feet, say, are placed in the brimstone an icon on the wall will flash warning him about the temperature. An insistent beep will beep beep beep along with the blink blink blink. The devil jailor will grin.

2. While shopping for band-aids recently a motion-activated advertising gizmo blurted out a verbal assault upon my person in a child's voice. It wanted me to take interest in a purple-whatzit to cover my "ouchie". It took the trouble to repeat this helpful advice every thirty seconds. If I had a hammer that thing would have been a pile of plastic fragments wrapped in purple whatzit. Needless to say I moved on without making a purchase of band-aids.

The marketer, and the engineer, which inflicted this scourge upon the rest of us will be subjected to the special torments of the core of hell. As their sides are pierced with hot pokers they will hear helpful advice every thirty seconds offering them purple whatzits.

Again, I don't blame Dante, since how could he have forseen such monstrous behavior?

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin