Morford strikes true

Mark Morford, always quite good, is purely awesome today:

reposted from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/11/28/notes112807.DTL&nl=fix

Black Friday Die Die Die
America's most obscene shopping day meets its doom in an oily nightmare hell. All true!

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is this why they hate us? Why we hate ourselves? Is this why we seem to have no real idea who the hell we are anymore, or what it means to have a humane and thoughtful national identity, and therefore we happily scratch and claw and fight our way into giant fluorescent-lit hellpits for a chance at a $29 DVD player and some crappy plasma TVs and a pallet of heavily discounted spatulas?

More broadly: Is this why we're suffering such a general feeling of ennui and disgust and apathy in the culture right now, the nagging feeling that we have no center and God has abandoned us and we therefore simply cannot consume enough goods and technology to try and fill the void? The answer seems rather obvious.

I don't even know what Kohl's is. I'm guessing some sort of mass-crap superstore, like Best Buy or Target or T.J. Maxx or a weird amalgam of all of those and it doesn't really matter because last Friday they opened at 4 a.m. for the mad rush of Black Friday shoppers, because if there's one thing you want to do when your body is groggy and sleep tugs at your heart and your dreams have turned vacant and sad, it's grope cheap waffle makers before sunrise.

Wal-Mart opened at 5. Target opened at 6. Across America, gluttony ruled. There were stores that had nothing whatsoever to do with gifting or holiday largess, stores with names like Cabinetry and More or Rug Depot that nevertheless opened at 6 or 7 a.m. on that now-ominous, insane, fateful day, if for no other reason than to capitalize on the fact that there were so many franctic zombified credit-carded bodies swarming about and it would be foolish not to take advantage.


P.S. I did not buy anything on Friday, except for a bus fare to work. For that matter, I didn't buy anything on Saturday either. And yes, I do feel smug about it, but my shopping footprint is rather minuscule at the best of times, and I am proud of that, too...


Everything is getting faster and smarter

Just over the last few weeks it seems that captchas have grown in length enormously: they used to be about 4-5 characters long; now, on my Myspace account, I usually have to fill out 8-9 characters. Hah! Nobody can escape the righteous wrath of spam. That's why we need true artificial intelligence to deal with it. (I won't make any bad jokes about the relative lack of natural intelligence on this planet, of course, nor about my addiction to self-referential statements. Consider yourself warned).

Golden Compass

...had its world premiere (a press showing) last night in the UK (I wish I were in London right now; I'd have finagled my way in somehow). The reviews are good, and I am going to watch it tonight, and tomorrow. will report when I am done.

Naturally, it's all done with torrents; I will still go to the theater on the 5th when it opens here and, of course, am likely to get the DVD when it comes out. But I cannot fucking wait!!! Since Pullman's trilogy is one of my favourite all-tome fantasies and certainly the best one in the recent years I must see it NOW...;)

Of course, the Catholic Defense League and other comparable wankers are pissing in the wind with their complaints (oh my golly! these scary free-thinkers are again going to oppress 85% of god-fearing Americans! Oh woe!). Fuck them. The message of the book has already been slightly diluted by the script, and it shouldn't really offend anyone but a few rabid morons. Also, what this world needs right now (as always, but now more than at some other points in history) is a good dose of public atheism and provocative free-thought. We have been taking things like freedom a bit too much for granted, especially here in these United States.

Go Golden Compass!!!

Bender's big score

...and the Universe is destroyed. Just lovely.

The last gasps of social conservatism...

...we hope. In any case, being a friend of President Bush nowadays is not such a great idea if one wants to have any kind of a political future. In Australia, John Howard was "comprehensively defeated" on Saturday, with his defeat owing a lot to his stance on Kyoto treaty (no), on the war on terrorism (he is a close Bush ally and a personal friend) and on public health and education. In a somewhat snide (but welcome) remark, the winning Labor party stated that "Australia will remain a close ally of the United States, and Rudd [the new Prime Minister-elect] remains committed to the alliance..." but "...if there is a Democratic administration elected next year, to some extent they would become closer.”

The world just took a small step towards sanity; not all news are bad, apparently.


and justice for all

From MyConfinedSpace:


with special thanks to lucretius

from The Stubborn Curmudgeon's blog.



Today, as a mental exercise, i am trying to imagine what Thanksgiving would be like had the Axis Powers won the Second World War.

I shall have sushi and sake for lunch, and dine in a German restaurant, on sausages and sauerkraut, with some doppelbok and a shot or two of good schnapps.

Drunken quotes from the throat of midnight

Bugs Bunny: "... batten down the hatches!"

supporting character: "But, Captain, we've already battened down the hatches."

Bugs Bunny: "Well, batten them down again. We'll teach those hatches!"


Morning Malaise

1.I certainly do not want to go to work today. however, Momokawa Pearl sake is a wonderful beverage.

2.The degradation of civil society continues apace. How could we have ever thought that something like this would be funny? But it is. Laughter in the dark, laughter through tears, indeed. Tom Tomorrow rules.


A periodic reminder of why religion is evil

Today, reposted from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/world/africa/15witches.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out
by Sharon LaFraniere

UIGE, Angola — Domingos Pedro was only 12 years old when his father died. The passing was sudden; the cause was a mystery to doctors. But not to Domingos's relatives.

They gathered that afternoon in Domingos's mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house's rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father.

"They were yelling, 'Witch! Witch!'" Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. "There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time."

Terrified, Domingos told them what they wanted to hear, but his relatives were not appeased. Ferraz Bulio, the neighborhood's traditional leader, said seven or eight captors were dragging Domingos down a dirt path to the river, apparently to drown him, when he intervened.

"They were slapping him and punching him," he said. "This is the way people react toward someone accused of witchcraft. There are lots of such cases."

Mr. Bulio is right. In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned. Child advocates estimate that thousands of children living in the streets of Kinshasa, Congo's capital, have been accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often as a rationale for not having to feed or care for them.

The officials in one northern Angolan town identified 432 street children who had been abandoned or abused after being called witches. A report last year by the government's National Institute for the Child and the United Nations Children's Fund described the number of children said to be witches as "massive."

The notion of child witches is not new here. It is a common belief in Angola's dominant Bantu culture that witches can communicate with the world of the dead and usurp or "eat" the life force of others, bringing their victims misfortune, illness and death. Adult witches are said to bewitch children by giving them food, then forcing them to reciprocate by sacrificing a family member.

But officials attribute the surge in persecutions of children to war — 27 years in Angola, ending in 2002, and near constant strife in Congo. The conflicts orphaned many children, while leaving other families intact but too destitute to feed themselves.

"The witches situation started when fathers became unable to care for the children," said Ana Silva, who is in charge of child protection for the children's institute. "So they started seeking any justification to expel them from the family."

Since then, she said, the phenomenon has followed poor migrants from the northern Angolan provinces of Uige and Zaire to the slums of the capital, Luanda.

Two recent cases horrified officials there. In June, Ms. Silva said, a Luanda mother blinded her 14-year-old daughter with bleach to try to rid her of evil visions. In August, a father injected battery acid into his 12-year-old son's stomach because he feared the boy was a witch, she said.

Angola's government has campaigned since 2000 to dispel notions about child witches, Ms. Silva said, but progress comes slowly. "We cannot change the belief that witches exist," she said. "Even the professional workers believe that witches exist."

Instead, her institute is trying to teach authority figures — police officers, teachers, religious leaders — that violence against children is never justified.

The Angolan city of Mbanza Congo, just 50 miles from the border with Congo, has blazed a trail. After a child accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children, the global charitable organization, rounded up 432 street children and reunited 380 of them with relatives, the witchcraft report stated.

Eleven fundamentalist churches were shut down because of reports of child exploitation and abuse. Eight Congolese pastors were deported. Villages formed committees to monitor children's rights. The authorities say the number of children who are abused or living on the streets dropped drastically.

Uige, about 100 miles to the south of Mbanza Congo, is another story. Surrounded by lush green hills, it is a cluster of mud-clay settlements around crumbling shops pockmarked by bullet holes. In this region, said Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, persecution of children is rising.

"It is very, very, very common in the villages," he said. "We know that some children have been killed."

His church runs the town's only sanctuary for children victimized as witches, a shelter barely bigger than a three-car garage. Thirty-two boys, including Domingos, occupy bunk beds stacked a foot apart, their few clothes stashed in boxes underneath. No shelter exists for girls.

Since July, all newcomers have been turned away. "Children come here to ask for protection, but we have no space," the bishop said. "To date, we have not found any special way to fight against this phenomenon."

Many boys describe pasts of abuse, rejection and fear. Saldanha David Gomes, 18, who lived with his aunt until he was 12, said she turned on him after her 3-year-old daughter fell ill and died.

After, he said, his aunt refused to feed him and bound his hands and feet each night, fearing that he would take another victim.

A neighbor finally warned him to flee. "I am not a witch, and I was not a witch," Saldanha said. "But I had to run away because they were threatening to kill me."

Afonso García, 6, took the shelter's last empty cot in July. "I came here on my own because my father doesn't like me and I was not eating every day," he said matter-of-factly.

After Afonso's mother died three years ago, he moved in with his father. His stepmother, Antoinette Eduardo, said she began to suspect that he was a witch after neighborhood children reported that he had eaten a razor. Besides that, she said, "he was getting thinner and thinner, even though he was eating well."

Under questioning, she said, Afonso admitted that a male relative had visited him in his dreams, demanding that he kill a family member. Afonso denies ever confessing to witchcraft.

What unfolded next is typical of many cases here. Afonso's relatives turned to a traditional healer for a cure.

The healer, João Ginga, 30, wears a fur-collared leather jacket and works out of what he calls a hospital — a cramped mud-walled room. "If someone has a bad spirit, I can tell," he said one recent morning as clients waited on a bench. "We treat more than a thousand cases a year."

With such a busy trade, Mr. Ginga said, he could not remember Afonso's case. Afonso's aunt, Isabella Armando, said her family gave Mr. Ginga $270 in cash, candles, perfume and baby powder to treat Alfonso.

Mr. Ginga performed some rituals, put a substance in Afonso's eyes that made him sob in pain and pronounced him cured, she said. But Afonso's father and stepmother, the only relatives who could afford to care for him, did not agree, and expelled him from their household.

"I pitied him, and I still pity him because he was living in the streets," the stepmother explained. "But we were afraid."

Mr. Ginga is hardly the only healer here who claims to cure child witches. Sivi Munzemba said she exorcised possessed children by inserting a poultice of plants into their anuses, shaving their heads and sequestering them for two weeks in her house.

Moises Samuel, director of the provincial office of the children's institute, said he was concerned not only about traditional healers but also about a bevy of churches with soothsayers who claimed to exorcise evil spirits and drew crowds even on weekdays.

Once a soothsayer or healer brands a child a witch, child welfare specialists say, even the police often back away.

Officers kept Domingos, the boy who was suspended from a rafter, for one night at the station house, then sent him home, said Mr. Bulio, the settlement's traditional leader. They never investigated Domingos's uncle, who Mr. Bulio said led the attack.

"Of course it was a crime," Mr. Bulio said. "But because it is witchcraft, the police do not take any responsibility."

Domingos, now 15, insisted that he said he was a witch only to save his life. But even his 32-year-old mother, Maria Pedro, disbelieves him.

Ms. Pedro is obviously fond of Domingos, her oldest child. She beams over his academic progress and worries about further attacks by his relatives, should he leave the shelter.

Still, she said, she suspects that he was bewitched into murder. "It must be true because he himself confessed," she said, eyeing Domingos carefully across a table in her two-bedroom house.

At that, Domingos stood up and walked swiftly from the house. Ten minutes later, he reappeared in the doorway, his face red and splotchy. "Mother, from this day on, I am no longer your son," he declared fiercely.

Ms. Pedro wordlessly watched him go. "I just don't know why Domingos got so angry," she said later.

For more information on this story, see


Never seen you look that good

From Kaguya, a Japanese probe in lunar orbit now, the first HD image of Earth-rise from the Moon:

Neocons untie!

A Pleiades update

Just after mentioning my desire to spend years exploring possible planets in the Pleiades cluster, here comes this bit of news: evidence has been found for *rocky* planets around HD 23514. While it is not one of the more famous stars in the cluster, the cool thing is that there seems to be an ongoing process of planetary formation in that system, at the stage that in our Solar System had led to the formation of the Moon. The planets themselves are too small to be directly observed, of course. They are probably quite inhospitable to life (HD 23514 is a G0 star, but it is likely a subgiant, several times brighter than our Sun, making its environment too warm for comfort, and it is too young for any life to have formed like the rest of the stars in the cluster), but I already took that into account: the planets to be explored are scorched, as I said...;). Indeed... More data on the host star at Vizier and SIMBAD, but nothing yet on the Extrasolar Planet Encyclopedia.


A secondary birthday, hurrah!

Tomorrow is my secondary birthday: 26 years in these here United States, with brief interruptions. I seriously think of this as a birthday, of sorts. When I first came here, my family strongly encouraged me to assimilate. So I did, the result being that my Russian-ness (whatever that is) froze at the level of a 16 year old, and my American-ness (whatever that is) began at that point. I can talk about girls and algebra in Russian (and broken English), but I can only discuss politics and calculus in English (and extremely rudimentary and broken Russian).

Yeah, verily, I was a babe in the woods in late 1981, but a beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, skirt-chasing babe. That ought to have caused some problems, you'd say, and you'd be right; all kinds of problems, from a textbook-perfect form of arrested development via ODS and Peter Pan syndrome to a possibly debilitating case of ADHD (whatever that is). In fact, it is only now, at a ripe (American) age of 26, that I am beginning to slowly realize the errors of my partying days and becoming more willing to make adult sacrifices to facilitate an interesting life and career, only to discover that I am indeed an overgrown adolescent. An adolescent with a college education, and—even if I say so—some claim to intellectual sophistication, but an adolescent anyway. Truly, this would be almost depressing if it wasn't so bloody hilarious. Oh well.

I'mo celebrate by drinking large quantities of fermented (and maybe distilled) beverages and enlisting the help of hopefully numerous members of the opposite sex to help me remember. What it is I am remembering, exactly, is nobody's business, perhaps not even mine, but remember it I shall, and enlightenment may be achieved. After all, everything will turn out allright, unless it doesn't.

Tomorrow never knows.

LolCat Bible!

Ladies and gentlemen...to our everlasting horror and amusement, the Lolcat Bible is here

Serious nostalgia

The wishing tree in Petrozavodsk:

Behind the vantage point of the following picture there is (was) a bar which was the first place I'd gotten (officially) drunk and laid in, at the age of 14...I wish I could find a photograph of the other side of the street...Fuck it, I'mo go there next year and get some photographs of my own!

Unholy Racket No 003: They have been judged

Lest this blog degenerate into seriousness, I feel like some comic relief is in order.

PBS ombudsman writes about Judgment Day, a Nova production on Kitzmiller v Dover School District trial. The article itself may be of interest to those unfamiliar with the case (huh? is that even possible?), but the true gems are the letters received by PBS regarding the show. Some of my favourites follow. Behold the flights of pure idiocy!

Towards the top of the page we have this—clearly, a product of a deep and penetrating mind:

"It doesn't take a "Rocket Scientist" to figure out that if we, as humans, evolved from monkeys . . . THEN WHY? . . . Are there STILL Monkeys??? We were "Created" by God!!! Pull up AOL now and you'll notice the Gov. of Georgia praying for rain, (No Doubt to GOD). When 9/11 happened what did every good neighbor do? PRAY. Not to monkeys . . . To our "Creator"!!! It shouldn't take tragic and desperate circumstances for people to realize this fact!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! In GOD We Trust!!!

Sonya L. Johnson, North Port, FL"

Once you've stopped chuckling, you'd do well to remember that the "monkey" argument is in fact rather pervasive; other letters refer to it, for example:

"If evolution were true and man "evolved" from apes, why do we have apes and monkeys co-existing with man? Why have the apes not all turned into humans?"

Of course, all those nonstarters show is the letter-writer's complete ignorance of evolutionary theory and possible lack of functioning grey matter. Onwards!

Another popular argument is the appeal to fairness; this comes from a viewer concerned that ID did not get a fair hearing:

"What are you people afraid of? I am concerned for the viewer who is not familiar with the major tenants of both sides of the argument. I am only a lay person, but I know enough about the issue to see that a fair hearing in your format is not tolerated."

Naturally, "both sides of the argument" exist only in the fevered imagination of IDiots and creationists and their ilk (fevered? this may be a misuse of the word; "pedestrian" and "dull" and "non-imaginative" may be better descriptors). There is no intellectually serious opposition to the modern synthesis. This does not mean that some theory may not arise in the future, overturning all that we believe now (although it is unlikely, to put it mildly, but possible). It means, however, that Intelligent Design isn't that theory. This alleged controversy only exists in the minds of—dare I say it—those without any idea of what they are talking about. Clueless idiots often are the loudest kids on the playground; so here.

The "immoral implications" of evolution follow, mixed in with a dubious claim grounding human morality in religion:

""Survival of the fittest" follows from evolutionary theory. Evolutionists, to be logical and true to their faith (it takes faith to believe in it since there is no clear, unimpeachable physical evidence for macro-evolution) should see nothing wrong with what Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., did in the genocides of millions of people. Since the exterminated ones were "weak," in terms of evolutionary faith, evolution proponents should all just shrug off these murders as being inconsequential (which is how the ones responsible for the murders saw them). But most don't, and the reason is we know those were atrocities. We know to murder another human being is wrong. And we know this because we have consciences given to us by our Creator."

Where do I start? "no clear unimpeachable physical evidence": there is no such beast anywhere in the history and practice of science. There are degrees of certainty; evolution is highly certain, more so than, say, M-theory, or, closer to earth, our description of the many bonding agents (glues, y'know) that we use on an everyday basis. And, of course, the appeal to God as the basis of our morality is pure bullshit, undiluted, ignoring many ethical theories constructed specifically on a non-theist basis, while substituting fear-based subservient (anti-)ethics for reality.

Finally, there is a slew of letter-writers who complain about the short shrift religion in general received in that program. They should keep in mind that this particualr episode was about history: any accusations of bias may just as well be directed against court transcripts. Any accusation of a bias towards a given ideology fails. An attempt to inject some religious ideology—even moderate Godtalk—into the program would have been precisely unprofessional, sunce the subject had nothing to do with the existence of gods or the validity of any religious belief. It was all about teaching religion in a science class. That's all, and those unhappy with the direction of this episode should consider that it is not the job of PBS to present every argument in every show. There is plenty religious claptrap on the idiot-box already. Claims of "evolutionist" bias are ridiculous. Fuck off already and go sit in your Dark Age corner.

Another favourite, and one that almost needs no rebuttal is "I have a degree in journalism and could easily point out every instance of yellow journalism in this show.". Yeah, you may have a degree in journalism but you are obviously quite ignorant of either biology or the actual court case in question!

Enough! What had started as a light humorous attempt to look at the silliness of some people is turning out to be a depressing peek into the idiocy of humanity in general: the majority of letters on that page follow the same format, and it all becomes rather sad, eventually. One can only ingest so much pure ignorance, nonsequiturs, ALL CAP screaming and so many logical fallacies in one sitting. Fuck 'em.


a contender for the coolest design evah

impressions 54211

I am quite impressed with the fact that over 60% a significant plurality of the visitors to this page use Firefox (it keeps changing; apparently I had a rash of IE users recently!):

Of course, the majority are still running Windoze, but one has to derive some satisfaction from the low share of the IE use even among them.


Minor rumblings

I want this poster for my second birthday, Nov 19:

Since I'm going to be exploring the scorched planets of Alcyone, Pleione, Taygeta, Merope and Maia someday, I should have them on my wall now! Waah!

In other news, I am utterly addicted to Blonde Redhead now, and cannot go a day without listening to at least a couple hours of them...


Frightening and amusing

Check out this graph, comparing the expenditures on war with those on alternative energy research. Wow.


A load of horseshit.

John Scalzi goes to the Creation Museum and is not impressed with what he sees. Priceless.

Thou misbegotten crook-pated canker-blossom!

A wonderful Shakespearean insult generator.


An Unholy Racket No 002: Goodbye, Humanism

As of today, I am no longer a humanist.

Of course this does not mean that I abandon my beliefs in the desirability of human rights, civil liberties, liberty and justice for all and such. And naturally I am still the epitome of secular. It is just that I no longer feel like I can define myself in terms of species, for several reasons.

Firstly, of course, the entire concept of species is fraught with problems. Chronospecies or reproductively isolated populations? Species do not really exist; they are convenient fictions to help us in our taxonomical/classifying/descriptive behaviours, and have no use beyond that. Every individual is unique, and while I may be a member of H. sapiens sapiens, I am Jorg above and beyond that.

Of course the aforementioned Jorg may choose freely not to belong to humanity any more. At this point of time such a decision would be no more than a ridiculous stand in the face of adversity, but we are rapidly approaching the time when intelligent entities will be able to—and many will choose to—change their genetic makeup and phenotype, making themselves distinct from the "base" human beings. Are some of their "innate" human rights going to be lost because of such a change? I don't think so.

Also, we are on the verge of creating self-aware machine intelligences. What about them? They certainly will not be human, and—despite anthropomorphizing attempts of movies such as Matrix—will not have human emotions. Our emotions are the result of a long evolutionary history and are inseparable from our phenotype. AI's will not feel love or jealousy, but they will be self-aware. Does any self-aware entity possess the innate rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? I say, of course!

Lastly, and looking in the opposite direction, what about millions of species with which we share our planet? (And others, unknown, somewhere else in this huge Universe). Do they have any rights? It seems to me that while perhaps not quite having access to a full complement of rights available to a self-aware entity, they deserve some, at least. And claiming the uniqueness of humanity tends to obscure the uniqueness of every other species and every other individual within those species (well, with the possible exception of some clones....)

In any case, I am perfectly okay with the label of transhumanist nowadays...an extremely secular one.


How to be a crank

We can all recognize them when we see them; now the Denialist blog has a wonderful HOWTO on crankery. If you've ever thought that you just might be an underappreciated genius, on a par with Galileo, check it out: awesomely useful tips on developing and distributing your own brand of idiotic insanity!

Hoax of the week

A fake paper, purporting to show that carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with global warming is making the rounds. You can read it here. This is brilliant, full of gems such as: "The control run was defined as: Q³uct, jyΦ = ∑cy³11".

Anyone with rudimentary math skills can see that the equations are pure gibberish. However, Rush Limbaugh and the crowd were taken in, crowing about how this paper shows once again the idiocy of "global warming alarmists". Apparently, Rush even ignored the advice of his own "climatologist here on staff" in his eagerness to embrace the nonexistent conclusions. The egg is on their face: the paper in question conclusively demonstrates ignorance and idiocy of most right-wing pundits and nothing else, a point they all seem to be missing. Brilliant; reminds me of the great Sokal hoax, even though it isn't quite as funny and exposes the conservative right rather than the idiotic pomo leftists. Still, a treasure.

truly, the most horrifying entity in the known Universe.

For those unaware: Abbie at ERV has taken to equating Michael Behe with Lindsey Lohan (Lilo!!!) and here is a wonderful, but terrifying result:

a sop to the masses

All of you that actually read this blog should be quite happy, since (as is common for me...;)):

cash advance

And, predictably,

Your Inner European is Russian!

Mysterious and exotic.

You've got a great balance of danger and allure.


My vote for the atheist of the week

...goes to Kelly O'Connor (of RRS), of course.;)

for this piece thoroughly thrashing Dinesh D'Souza (the one of the brick-filled head, possible possessor of the shallowest mind on the planet).

Go, go, go, kick some theist shite, Kelly!


This could be serious, but probably isn't ;)

In a strange commentary on the current state of US politics, the following almost convinced me at first. Only when I got to the last paragraph did I become certain that this is, indeed, satire. But soon, my friends, soon, this is going to be reality. Bugfuckery is spreading!...


Pat Robertson Says Giuliani Presidency Appears in Book of Revelation
by Andy Borowitz
Reposted from:

One day after endorsing former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for president, televangelist Pat Robertson explained his decision, saying that a Giuliani presidency features prominently in the Book of Revelation.

In his endorsement announcement the day before, Rev. Robertson had made reference to Mr. Giuliani's tenure as "America's Mayor," but did not indicate that the Republican frontrunner was a key player in the Bible's most apocalyptic book.

In his statement today, however, the televangelist made it clear that "in order for the Second Coming to occur, the world needs to end, and Rudy Giuliani is just the man for that job."

Rev. Robertson said that he was "confident" that within weeks of his inauguration, Mr. Giuliani would usher in the "end days" that are a staple of Bible prophecy.

In praising Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Robertson had critical words for the current resident of the White House, President George W. Bush: "President Bush got us on the road to Armageddon, but it's taking too darn long -- Rudy Giuliani will put us in the express lane."

While the Giuliani camp initially welcomed the endorsement of the influential evangelist, the former New York mayor seemed less enthusiastic today about being identified as one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

When asked by a reporter in Iowa about Mr. Robertson's comments today, Mr. Giuliani replied, "9/11."

Elsewhere, former Beatle Paul McCartney confirmed that he is dating a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member, explaining, "Since my divorce from Heather, I've had to start taking the subway.

Does Buddhism discriminate against women?

Yeah, Buddhism: that enlightened, pacific, loving and respectful non-religious religion. Does it? Apparently so. Perhaps not as virulently misogynystic as Judeo-Christian traditions, it still has its own snags. And why not? It was invented many years ago and is full of ridiculous statements only marginally more acceptable than the more authoritarian religions; epistemologically, it is the same crock of shit.


art worth some looking at....

A beautiful collection of images/posters/flyers for our times available here. Go check them out already.

An unholy Racket No 001: Epitaphs and Interferences

...And it's into the fucking fray:

1.Mollie Steimer, one of those incredible people who are hated by fascists and capitalists of all stripes and admired by those that care about liberty and justice for all, wrote once:

"We fought injustice in our humble way as best we could; and if the result was prison, hard labour, deportations and lots of suffering, well, this was something that every human being that fights for a better humanity has to expect."

A short biography at Wikipedia. She needs to be remembered, and one of the purposes of this blog will be to bring attention to mostly forgotten heroes like her.

2.The word sabotage comes from French "sabot", a kind of a wooden shoe—a clog—that French workers of the early Industrial revolution threw into the machine looms to disable them—to clog them. A wonderful word that has gathered more negative connotations over the years, sadly.

3.President Harding is generally considered to be the most inept of all that held the office occasionally associated with talent and intelligence. He had said, once: "I am not fit for this office and should never have been here", which statement elevates him far above the current resident. To the old Chinese curse of "may you live in interesting times", we can add "and may you live under exceptional rulers". Exceptionally awful, that is.

4.I am currently reading Peter Irons' A People's History of the Supreme Court and a wondeful book it is. Amongst big business stooges, racists and several brilliant people with whose political and judicial beliefs I disagree strongly (the racist Taney, rabid patriot Frankfurter, or the Four Horsemen of (laissez-faire) Apocalypse) there were quite a few justices of sheer genius and ethical fortitude. (Even now, there are at least two of those on the bench. No prizes for guessing who). In any case, here are some quotes that should be remembered:

"Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by the free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That in any rate is the theory of our Constitution."

–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, in his dissent in Abrams v. United States, 1919 (the case which resulted in the deportation of Mollie Steimer, among others, to the true bastion of liberty that was Bolshevik Russia at the time).


"The very purpose of the Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections...If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can presribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

—Robert Jackson, writing for majority in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943

There shall be more; the above words precisely capture the reasons I am so interested in Constitutional law lately. There were giants in the world in those days.

5.I must sleep now, over and out...


A Racket: #000

I am baack. That's all I shall say at the moment.