happy new year

and, on a totally unrelated note,


Golden Compass again

Since the subject seems to attract a lot of visitors, let me put it to rest: yes, I saw Golden Compass, three times so far. Was it that good? Well, no. I felt obligated to support the movie, and to drag my friends, roommates and lovers to see it.

But was it good? Well, yes, but it wasn't great. Every detail of it was quite awesome: beautiful plot, great acting, awe-inspiring CGI and miscellaneous scenery, kick-ass action scenes, but the whole was less than a sum of its parts. Why? Was it director's fault? I don't know: the whole thing just didn't seem to gel. Perhaps it is only logical: transferring a novel of such complexity and detail to screen is doomed to some failure, and that part was obvious: the movie jumped from scene to scene without any seeming connection, especially to those that haven't read the books. The overall effect was reminiscent of Lynch's Dune; if you were familiar with the books, you couldn't help but notice a mass of detail left out, apparently haphazardly cut to bring the whole thing down to a manageable size; if you haven't, the thing looked disjointed, episodic (not necessarily in a good sense), illogical. Characters appeared and were gone without explanation. Massively important details were left dangling. Subplots flared up and fizzled out, unresolved. And violence was toned down to an "acceptable" Hollywood PG13 level.

Still, I recommend seeing it, if only for the visual pleasure and a chance to stick it to fundies.

A new low?

article reposted from http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/71319/

This is exactly how we can expect to increase our tourism dollars. Come to America, Experience the Terror!

That can be our new tourism tag line...

"During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned."

This woman foolishly thought she could come and spend some Euro in New York. A little shopping trip. Unfortunately she hadn't realized that a computer somewhere said she overstayed a visa years ago. She's a dirty foreigner so... hilarity ensued...

"I was photographed and fingerprinted. I was asked questions which I felt had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I was forbidden to contact anyone to advise of my predicament and although I was invited at the outset to contact the Icelandic consul or embassy, that invitation was later withdrawn. I don't know why.

I was then made to wait while they sought further information, and sat on a chair before the authority for 5 hours. I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative, for I did not yet believe that they planned to deport me because of my "crime".

When 5 hours had passed and I had been awake for 24 hours, I was told that they were waiting for officials who would take me to a kind of waiting room. There I would be given a bed to rest in, some food and I would be searched. What they thought they might find I cannot possibly imagine. Finally guards appeared who transported me to the new place. I saw the bed as if in a mirage, for I was absolutely exhausted.

What turned out was something else. I was taken to another office exactly like the one where I had been before and once again along wait ensued. In all, it turned out to be 5 hours. At this office all my things were taken from me. I succeeded in sending a single sms to worried relatives and friends when I was granted a bathroom break. After that the cell phone was taken from me. After I had been sitting for 5 hours I was told that they were now waiting for guards who would take me to a place where I could rest and eat. Then I was placed in a cubicle which looked like an operating room. Attached to the walls were 4 steel plates, probably intended to serve as bed and a toilet.

I was exhausted, tired and hungry. I didn't understand the officials' conduct, for they were treating me like a very dangerous criminal. Soon thereafter I was removed from the cubicle and two armed guards placed me up against a wall. A chain was fastened around my waist and I was handcuffed to the chain. Then my legs were placed in chains. I asked for permission to make a telephone call but they refused. So secured, I was taken from the airport terminal in full sight of everybody. I have seldom felt so bad, so humiliated and all because I had taken a longer vacation than allowed under the law."

She didn't know it but they were trying to 'break' her. It wasn't by accident that she was not allowed to rest, and that they kept telling her she would be able to eat and sleep any time now. Instead her physical situation got worse. This is all technique. Its part of the process that every Gitmo detainee would recognize right away. Isolate, Shock, and Break. Luckily Icelanders are made of stern stuff. Although If they had more time, she would have broken. Everyone does. Someone should send her one of those Limbaugh T-Shirts, "Experience Club Gitmo". She did.

This is the kind of treatment that any visitor to the U.S. can now expect. Imagine your skin is brown and you are traveling with your children.

Lets see how low the tourism industry drops now. I wonder which airline is going to fail first?


Mars may be subject to some pounding

A 100-meter rock is headed for Mars. While the orbit is still highly uncertain, the latest estimate is 1 in 75 chance of it impacting on Jan 30th. I can't wait, and (being the mad scientist that I am) hope it happens! We have probes in orbit around Mars that would hopefully be in a position to observe the impact. There is much to learn from it; the global effects of that impact will help us refine our models and perhaps alert those yet unconvinced that Earth may be in line for a similar punishment.


Some not-so-random quotes for the candidates

"We have now, it seems, a national Bible Society, to propagate King James's Bible through all nations. Would it not be better to apply these pious subscriptions to purify Christendom from the corruptions of Christianity than to propagate those corruptions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America?"

--John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Nov 4th, 1816

"If by religion, we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, 'that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

--Jefferson to Adams, May 5th, 1817

Think about it, bozos. This does not only go to Republican candidates, by any means: Democrats have been spouting loads of god-talk themselves and need to pay attention too.

Sad and frightening

A bloody mess: Benazir Bhutto assassinated.

I've always had great respect for her, not least for the fact of her being the first woman to being in charge of an Islamic nation, as well as her liberalism and bravery. This is utterly fucked.


a night at the creation museum

Thanks to Mad magazine, but why only #14?


Demotivators.com has some of the best shirts evah here. There are more, but I am particularly fond of this line and will be getting some ASAP.

oldie but goodie

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura which was also posted on the Internet:-

Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I need some advice from you, however, regarding other specific laws and how to follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev.15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself ?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.
I admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there room for compromise?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread, like a cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) or couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging, from your devoted disciple and adoring fan.



Of course the weather of Portland conspired with someone to prevent me from looking at the beautiful conjunction of Moon and Mars last night. At least I had some whiskey...


Moon and Mars tonight

from spaceweather.com

MOON AND MARS: Please don't miss this: At sunset on Sunday, Dec. 23rd, the full Moon and Mars will rise in the east less than two degrees apart. So close together, the two brightest objects in the evening sky look absolutely dynamite. The display will be visible all night long, even from brightly lit cities, and requires no telescope to enjoy...

get thee away from me christ!

I'm an atheist and I'm OK!


I know who did it!

a fair warning

courtesy of Pharyngula. Thanks to PZ Myers!

I, too, like Dr Seuss...

...a lot. But my favourite author? I don't think so:

“Who is your favorite author?” Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.

Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr. Seuss.

In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.

“My favorite author is C. S. Lewis,” she said.


from the Onion: Bush acknowledges the existence of Carbon dioxide

on the other hand...

...this is simply awesome:

Whale 'missing link' discovered
by BBC News

The whale is descended from a deer-like animal that lived 48 million years ago, according to fossil evidence.

image description Remains found in the Kashmir region of India suggest the fox-sized mammal is the long-sought land-based ancestor of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Research in Nature suggests the animal lived mainly on land but dived into water to escape predators.

Whales are known to be descended from land-dwellers but the "missing link" has been a mystery until now.

Although Indonyus, as it is known, looks nothing like the whales of today, it shares certain anatomical features.

The structures of its skull and ear are similar to those of early whales, and like other animals that spend a lot of time in water, it had thickened bones that provided ballast to keep its feet anchored in shallow water.

"We've found the closest extinct relative to whales and it is closer than any living relative," said study leader Professor Hans Thewissen of the Department of Anatomy at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Ohio, US.

Hippo link image description

Indonyus belongs to an ancient order of mammals that had two or four toes on each foot. Modern day representatives of the group include camels, pigs, and hippopotamuses.

DNA studies show that hippos are in fact closely related to modern whales. They do not appear in the fossil record, however, until about 15 million years ago, some 35 million years after the cetaceans originated in south Asia.

This led Professor Thewissen and his team to search for an older land-based ancestor that would fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the whale's dramatic evolutionary journey from land to sea.

After seeing loose teeth and fragments of jaw bones found by the late Indian geologist A Ranga Rao some 25 years ago, Professor Thewissen obtained rock samples from Rao's private collection. They harboured a treasure trove of complete Indohyus fossils, including skulls and leg bones.

Dietary clues

The stable-oxygen-isotope composition of its teeth suggest that the animal spent much of its time in water.

Some have assumed that the ancestor of whales first took to the water to feed on fish but the latest evidence suggests otherwise.

"The new model is that initially they were small deer-like animals that took to the water to avoid predators," Professor Thewissen told BBC News. "Then they started living in water, and then they switched their diet to become carnivores."

Although the behaviour and habits of Indohyus appear somewhat strange, there is a modern day parallel in the African mousedeer (chevrotain).

The mousedeer lives on land, but is known to leap into the water to avoid predators such as eagles.

are we really turning into a crusading army?


Religious Freedom in Military Questioned
by Huffington Post

TOPEKA, Kan. — A foundation that has sued the military alleging widespread violations of religious freedom said Tuesday that it has evidence showing that soldiers are pressured to adopt fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

The photos and videos of religious materials and activities are part of a lawsuit filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, an atheist, against Maj. Freddy J. Welborn and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The material was gathered from Fort Riley in Kansas, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Fort Jackson, S.C.

Examples at Fort Riley, where Hall is stationed, included a display outside his military police battalion's office with a quote from conservative writer Ann Coulter saying, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Another photo from Fort Riley shows the book "A Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" for sale at the post exchange.

"These astonishing and saddening evidence which our foundation is making public today only further buttress our lawsuit," said Mike Weinstein, an attorney in Albuquerque, N.M., and president of the foundation, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1977.

Fort Riley spokesman Maj. Nathan Bond said the matter was being referred to post commanders for investigation. He said it is the Army's policy to accommodate all religious beliefs to the extent that they don't conflict with military missions.

"We do take this seriously," he said. If they are true, he added, they "do not seem in line with the Army values of respect."

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., in September alleges that Welborn threatened to file military charges against Hall and to block his re-enlistment for trying to hold a meeting of atheists and non-Christians in Iraq.

Hall is with the 97th Military Police Battalion out of Fort Riley. He was serving his second tour in Iraq and has since returned to the U.S.

Weinstein said materials for a Bible studies course from Military Ministry, part of Campus Crusade for Christ International, teach soldiers that the U.S. military and government are instruments to spread the word of God. The material was found at Fort Jackson, S.C., he said.

A spokeswoman for Campus Crusade for Christ said ministry officials hadn't had a chance to review the evidence and declined to comment.

The lawsuit also alleges that Gates permits a military culture in which officers are encouraged to pressure soldiers to adopt and espouse fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and allows a culture that sanctions activities by Christian organizations.

It also says the military permits proselytizing by soldiers, tolerates anti-Semitism and the placing of religious symbols on military equipment, and allows the use of military e-mail accounts to send religious rhetoric.

The Pentagon has said that the military values and respects religious freedoms but that accommodating religious practices should not interfere with unit cohesion, readiness, standards or discipline.

Weinstein has previously sued the Air Force for acts he said illegally imposed Christianity on its students at the academy. A federal judge threw out that lawsuit in 2006.

On the Net:

Military Religious Freedom Foundation: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org

solstice and onwards 1


...of unknown provenance...

..but awesomely fitting. Should the author show up, I'd be glad to acknowledge.

I cut down facts. I Gish and gallop.
I like to press wild fallacies.
I put on scientist's clothing
And hang around in labs.

He cuts down facts. He Gish and gallop.
He likes to press wild fallacies.
He puts on scientist's clothing
And hangs around in labs?!

He's a creationist, and he's okay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.


The Hobbits are coming!

Yes, they are. Peter Jackson has just signed a deal to make The Hobbit and a sequel to it. What that second movie is going to be is rather unclear to me, but still, a cause for jubilation!


My beliefs, today

What was the last book you read?Old Man's War by John Scalzi
What is you favorite Genre (kind) or Book?Science Fiction (of science-y variety), fantasy (of epic-y variety), magical realism, fabulism, mythology, history, science, bloody technical manuals!
When a movie is made of a book you've read are you happy or dissapointed?I try not to prejudge, but disappointment seems to be more frequent than happiness
When you read a Book does it often create an emotional reationYES.
Do you read for pleasure?YES.
DO you read more than one book a year?Far and beyond
More than one a month?Far and beyond
What was the most influential book on your life?Too many to mention. But, for one, Carl Sagan's Demon-Haunted World
What was the most powerful book you ever read?again, a lot. Lots of SF, and, in non-fiction, Emma Goldman, Michael Walzer, Bertrand Russell, David Hume, et al
If you could, would you ban a book and if so, Why?never.
DO you dislike people that are a different color than you?no
DO you dislike people that come from another country?no
DO you dislike people that are a different sexual orientation that you are (Gay/ Lesbian /Transgender /Straight?no
DO you dislike people that follow a different faith than you do?no, it's their beliefs that are idiotic, not the people themselves
When someone speaks to you and says something that upsets you, does it make you angry?no
When someone speaks to you about different Ideas, Are you willing to listen?YES.
Outside the Box:Space
DO you think that there are intelegent life forms in other solar sysytems?I don't know, but I would suspect so.
If not, why not?Again, we do not have sufficient data.
If So, do you think they are friendly or hostile?see above
If so do you think they would ever come here?see above
If So, do you think they already have come here?no
If someone from another solar system asked you about the human race, What would you tell them?deeply confused but holding soome promise
Outside the Box:Time
DO you believe in the possiblity of Time Travel?It is a simple fact in some of theoretical models
DO you believe inAlternate Universes?see above
What is your favorite Time period?anytime. Present.
What time Period other than now would you live in, if you couldFuture? I don't know, I am going there already.


I know now

What it is that I miss about Karelia. It's the lichens.

Huckabee go away!

Recursivity has a list of 10 reasons why Mike Huckabee should NOT be our next president. They are pretty obvious, but go there anyway, and give him some support already!

Here's a copy:

Ten Reasons Not to Vote for Huckabee

The picture that has recently emerged of former governor Mike Huckabee is that of an intellectually incurious, greedy, and corrupt fundamentalist Christian.

So here are just some of the many reasons not to vote for him.

1. He thinks that scientists believe the earth is "six billion" years old. He also thinks we "just don't know" how old the earth is.

2. He covered up an incident where his son hanged a stray dog.

3. He lied about having a theology degree.

4. He claims ‘‘The Holy Bible . . . has truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.’’

5. In 1992, he wanted to quarantine people with AIDS, even though it was well-known then that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact.

6. He improperly claimed furniture given to the governor's office as a personal gift and then didn't list it on an inventory of office items.

7. He freed criminals who committed heinous offenses if they said they had become born-again.

8. He wants a regressive national sales tax in place of a progressive income tax.

9. In 1998, he signed a statement saying that "A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband".

10. He doesn't accept the theory of evolution.

full of pictures today

a picture worth 1000 words


Apparently I am a good person.

...and my karma rules. I wish I could remember it, though.

You see, here in Oregon, we occasionally get a kicker check from the government. If government revenues in a given fiscal year have exceeded a certain amount, a percentage of our state taxes is refunded to us automatically. This is kind of nice. This year we had one. I was expecting to get several hundred bucks, just enough to get a bass guitar and spend Xmas season surrounded by dancing girls, bottles of aquavit and other accoutrements of fine living. The mail came in today; I grasped the envelope in my trembling hands and, opening it, pulled out a puny piece of paper. "You have chosen to donate your kicker to State School Fund," it read. CHECK AMOUNT: $0.00.

And then it hit me! Last year, when filing my taxes, being in an indulgent and benevolent mood after seeing the amount of my return, I checked the little box on my tax form, doing exactly what this letter claimed I did. Yes, I was warm and fuzzy, and let's face it: I never expected to get any voluntary refund back from the government. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't giving anything away. Well, apparently I was, to the tune of $350 or so.

Oh well. That gives me enough good karma to scare many little children and push plenty old ladies out of the way before it is all balanced out...;)


so much for the separation of church and state

I almost missed this one, heh. Sponsored by a Republican from Iowa, naturally. Time to call your fucking Representative and tell them what you really think about such blatant unconstitutional garbage. This is truly and utterly fucked up:

H. Res. 847: Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith


Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world;

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population;

Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the religion of about one-third of the world population;

Whereas Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation, commit themselves to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible;

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its roots in Christianity;

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ;

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve others: Now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;

(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;

(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;

(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;

(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and

(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.


Go Connecticut!

agnes on faith

Stolen from RDN


idiocy all around

Mike Huckabee thinks that bumblebees can't fly, and believes he is not a primate. And this idiot--yes, idiocy is the only word appropriate in this context--is running for US presidency? WTF??? (Thanks to Recursivity).

I must then, together with many other bloggers and scientists, call for a presidential debate on science and technology. We cannot have a person ignorant of the basic facts of the universe we live in, the planet we are stuck on, and the way of thinking that is helping us uncover these facts (i.e., science) in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet. This job carries an awesome responsibility and an incredibly dangerous amount of power; village idiots need not apply.

coolness over there

Sunspot no 978: about the size of Jupiter as of this writing, getting ready to explode and utterly beautiful. I can stare at stuff like this for hours...

For more details, go to SpaceWeather

Unholy Racket No 004: A short update

1.Vancouver is full of weird-looking people, and, considering that my definition of weird is perforce different from that of mere humans, you can imagine what I mean.

2.Why is it that when I am waiting for a bus, reading a book on quantum field theory and desperately trying to wrap my brain around a particularly painful Lagrangian, some old codger or a born-again fool always attempts to engage me in some inane conversation? And they refuse to stop babbling and persist in ruining my concentration. Go play on the freeway, you goddamn freaks!

3.Conversation overheard on the bus:

SLOB, to DRIVER: "Are you going to Vancouver?"
(The front of the bus is lit up with a glowing sign saying, MAX via Jantzen Beach).

D.: "No, I am going to Delta Park."

S.: "Just to Delta Park?"

D.: "Yes."

SLOB (getting on the bus): "Let me know when we get to Mill Plain."


4. An old joke popped up in a new book on brain states:

--Knock knock.
--Who is there?
--O.J. who?
--You're on the jury.

5. Finally, to clarify my definition of weirdness, I prefer mango peach salsa to chocolate. So there!

tom tomorrow rules




The Golden Compass opens today. You may wonder why I am squawking about this movie so much. Well, for starters, it is one of my favourite fantasies (of the epic sort) ever. Much better than the thin, silly Christian propaganda of C.S. Lewis and, let's admit it, derivative and just-as-religious and authoritarian dream of J.R.R. Tolkien (although Tolkien holds a special dear place in my heart for his linguistic prowess and consequent palpably real sense of place and time). But Pullman is smarter, more interesting and certainly more original and iconoclastic than either of them. And I would rather have my child be exposed to fantasy fiction via Pullman than Lewis, or even "The Hobbit". There; I've said it. The above sentence is precisely the reason why all the totalitarian-in-disguise religionists are foaming at the mouth in their trembling lust to denounce this movie. Yeah, check out some of these (and that's just this morning's crop of articles; some more balanced than others, and some quotes more idiotic than others, but that's the way the world is, after all):

PREACHING ATHEISM. I love the quote from Father Michael Okere, whoever he is: ""The motive of this movie, it has been noted, is to sway innocent children to derail from their faith.". Probalby not quite true (the original message of the book has, reputedly, been diluted to the point of inoffensiveness), but of course even if it were so, I'd say more power to them! That kind of innocence needs to be derailed. Is it OK to brainwash children? It is, however, OK to teach them how to think for themselves, which is what Pullman's books, and, hopefully, the movie, are doing. And one of the final quotes in this article is telling: ""Christians need to be careful about what they let their families see." Isn't that lovely? I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

The Golden Compass raises Some Eyebrows.

Is 'Compass' fantasy adventure or atheism for kids? (I like that title; I hope it's both! ;))

Parents decry reading of controversial book to Shallowater third-graders. Some real side-splitting idiocy there; but this piece of news is from Texas, after all, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised...;)

Compass points: Catholic and atheist (That's BBC for you, huh!)

'Compass' author's atheism stirs debate on film's message Some interesting stuff here; apparently many people miss the point of the books, which is a bad thing, I suppose. Or is it? There are some great quotes from Pullman himself towards the end of the article.

Oh, fuck it: too much shite to wade through, and I must go to work now. Too bad. I think I'll go see it tonight, after work; i am also organizing a group outing Sunday or Monday for several shots of whiskey, a matinee and a chance to laugh at christian protesters, should there be any.

America, the beautiful

...or not? Tell me if it pisses you off as much as it does me; we seem to be stuck in some barbarous age, with no relief in sight:

US says it has right to kidnap British citizens.

We've never had much respect for international law, but this disdain for lawful ways of resolving problems has reached new heights under this administration. And they complain about other countries' disrespect for the international community, nevertheless! WTF?


Destroying the planet again? + juicy idiotic religious tidbits

Are you using electrical power bought from companies that engage in mountain-top removal? You can find out by going to My Connection and entering your zip code. If your power is purchased by a destruction of a mountain top, the site will link you to a photograph of said mountain top. For example, my zip produces this.

Get involved; they are killing OUR mountains!

In other news, the Pope is pissing blood about atheism again (the full text of the new encyclical, Spe Salvi). What else is new? The old authoritarian asshole would be kind of amusing if so many people didn't take him seriously. As it is, he is rather frightening, in a cheap B-movie horror kind of way. He may eat you whole but at least it'll be funny.

A frustrated penchant for drowning

I live in a great house. It is huge and reasonably well-heated. My roommates are great: they share alcoholic beverages and we rarely get in each other's way. The rent is reasonable. The hot-water heater is huge, allowing me to take long-ass showers. But...

The house is a typical American, utilitarian structure, and for some reason it doesn't have a bathtub anywhere on the premises. On days like today, though, a bath never leaves one's thoughts. It looks bloody cold outside, and the wind is still trying to push its way in. What better way to spend one's time than blogging from a bathtub filled with scalding hot water and maybe bubbles?

Also, on a brighter note, the absence of a bathtub denies me at least two ways of offing myself. How am I going to drown myself after swallowing a bunch of sleeping pills, Kosinski style? And I will not even mention the sheer impossibility of a quiet check-out after slicing my wrists open, peacefully staring at a not-too-clean ceiling from the womblike embrace of lukewarm water...Damn What is one to do in circumstances like these?

Rambling on #13*sqrt(2)

It snowed for about half an hour yesterday morning, and though most of it melted before hitting the ground and the rest, shortly afterwards, it still was a wondersome sight. And it made the busses run late. Also, last night, the winds were supposedly up to 74 mph (that's 30+ meters per second for you metroids). I didn't venture outside and cannot vouch for it, but I do know that every crack in every window in my house turned into a frost-breathing dragon for a while, and there was some howling going on outside. Not a hurricane, but lovely nevertheless. Maybe next year we'll get one: a hurricane and a snowstorm, ripping roofs off fundamentalist churches, tossing SUVs across streets into yuppie windows, throwing icicles at porches of rabidly Republican domiciles...nah, one can only dream...

Meanwhile, today I am listening to Gypsy Jazz while learning octave and contemplating some bourbon later tonight. Brain is dead: too much sobriety over the last several days.

a tidbit to tide you over...

...while I am feverishly trying not to write anything at all, and not drink or fuck either. It's been a hectic week.

Anyway: Chuck Norris Facts...bloody hilarious.

Got to go be bored. Chah!