Friday, January 30, 2004"People dressed as mourners grieve while holding a dead sardine in a small coffin during "The burial of the sardine" ceremony in Madrid, March 5. The tradition comes from the royal court of Carlos III, when having taken some sardines with them for a picnic, the court found them to be spoiled and buried them in the Casa de Campo in Madrid. The tradition also marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent. (Photo: AP)"
Fortunately, at least one of Georgia's favorite sons - former President Jimmy Carter, whom (I think) history is showing to be *one of our finest latter-day chief executives - has come out as a voice of reason:
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Former President Jimmy Carter on Friday called a push to remove the word "evolution" from Georgia's school curriculum an embarrassment, saying it exposes the state to nationwide ridicule. 'As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by [Georgia State schools] Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students,' Carter, a native of Plains, said in a statement. Carter went on to say the debate will hurt the reputation of Georgia's educational system.The California paper Contra Costa Times this morning detailed some of the other proposed changes in Georgia's official curriculum:
'Nationwide ridicule of Georgia's public school system will be inevitable if this proposal is adopted,' he said. Carter, a Baptist, said that existing references to evolution in Georgia's curriculum have done nothing to damage religious faith in the state."
"The plan also omitted topics such as Charles Darwin's life, fossil evidence and the emergence of single-celled microorganisms, which means Georgia teachers would no longer be required to devote much time and effort to teaching evolution. If the curriculum is adopted, most teachers will skim over the subject, which remains unwelcome in many parts of the state, educators warned Thursday.Superintendent Cox defended the proposal Thursday, saying the term "evolution" is "a buzzword that causes a lot negative reactions."
'This is a real infringement on the freedom of teaching, and it has serious implications,' said David Bechler, who is head of the biology department of Valdosta University."
Sad, truly sad. Well, I can think of a buzzword that causes negative reactions, too: it's a common word meaning "small, thin, crisp biscuit".
* More later, folks...he was about a lot more than just peanuts.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
"[a] word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used." -- Justice Oliver Wendell HolmesThe FCC is planning to hike fines levied against radio and television programs who break the regulatory agency's code of indecency...from CNN/FindLaw:
"a new bill introduced in Congress lists eight words and phrases that, if ever spoken on television -- whether during live events or already-recorded shows -- would always be punished. Context and meaning would be no defense: The words would be sanctioned in every grammatical form including -- the bill stipulates -- "hyphenated compounds," as well as "verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms."That's funny...I thought the political climate was feeling a little juvenile lately. Is there any good reason why history repeats itself so amnesically, and we have to re-visit 'morality' issues we dealt with as a nation back when I was 11?
All of these events will inspire deja vu in those who follow the indecency/obscenity law -- for both the facts, and the backlash, are eerily similar to those in FCC v. Pacifica, a landmark Supreme Court case decided twenty-five years ago.
That case, in combination with the more recent controversy, shows why it's time to get rid of broadcast indecency law forever. This area of law has always been a standing First Amendment violation, and its absurdity has only become more and more clear."
By the way, what is this eighth word - didn't George Carlin only serve up seven? Do we have a new unacceptable expletive that was acceptable 25 years ago? Actually, it's not an extra word. In the text of the amended FCC regulation,
"To amend section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--Stupid question, but why are 'asshole' and 'ass hole' considered different terms under this law? Does this mean we can now blithely begin to use the term asshat in the broadcast media because the FCC has neglected to codify it as an indecency? Can we say shite, instead of sh*t? For a certain term referring to a part of the female anatomy, can we substitute- with a slight change in intellectual nuance, suggesting obtuseness over malice - twat?
(1) by inserting '(a)' before 'Whoever'; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
(b) As used in this section, the term 'profane', used with respect to language, includes the words 'sh*t', 'p*ss', 'f*ck', 'c*nt', 'asshole', and the phrases 'c*ck sucker', 'mother f*cker', and 'ass hole', compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms)."
Gerund this, FCC.
Monday, January 26, 2004Hello everybody...just checking in to let you know we're still around, just returned from a big trip. Pics coming soon, I promise.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Music: Robert Hesselor, in Babelfish™-translated mode:
Text: Stefan light
Wer wohnt im Schloss am Meeresgrund?
wen macht der Doktorfisch gesund?
Was kommt bei Olmen auf den Tisch?
Wen liebt der dicke Kugelfisch?
Von welchem traurigen Ungeheuer
erzählt das Meeresabenteuer?
Das alles und wie's weitergeht
in meinem Kinderbuche steht!
Das alles und wie's weitergeht
in meinem Kinderbuche steht!
Whom does the thick ball fish love?Either they've been smoking rope, or the Babelfish™ just ain't perfect...
Who lives in the lock at the sea-bottom?
whom healthy does the doctor fish make?
What comes with Olmen on the table?
Whom does the thick ball fish love?
Of which sad monster
does the sea adventure tell?
All this and wie's continues
in my child beech is located!
All this and wie's continues
in my child beech is located!
Tuesday, January 13, 2004Introducing the coffee flavored steak!
It's fresh from Washington, the state that introduced America to both gourmet java and mad cow disease. The Seattle Signature Steak™ is gently rubbed with finely ground Starbucks™ coffee before being grilled - c'mon, why worry about bovine spongiform encephalopathy when you have the brain-boosting power of caffeine?
After you've savored its subtly stimulating smokiness, come home to your new Archie McPhee Meat Shower Curtain and wash away that nagging prion-induced fuzz. Then, inhale the fleshy perfume of the unique Meat Air Freshener!
But whatever you do, don't try this creative stunt: a scam artist in Germany unsuccessfully tried to return (for the second time in a row, at the same retailer) an empty computer tower filled with potatoes for a refund, claiming he was sold defective product.
Monday, January 12, 2004Frivolous lawsuits gone amok? This one takes the cake...and the chips, and the dip.
From the West Bend Reporter:Ah yes, Timothy. Three computers and a lifetime of free Internet service will certainly go a long way toward easing the pain of an overweight wife and lazy channel-surfing kids: is Internet the methadone to television's crack pipe boob tube?
Timothy Dumouchel of West Bend [WI] wants $5,000 or three computers, and a lifetime supply of free Internet service from Charter Communications to settle what he says will be a small claims suit. Dumouchel blames Charter for his TV addiction, his wife’s 50-pound weight gain and his children’s being “lazy channel surfers,” according to a Fond du Lac police report.
“I believe that the reason I smoke and drink every day and my wife is overweight is because we watched TV every day for the last four years,” Dumouchel stated in a written complaint against the company, included in a Fond du Lac police report.
Thanks, Crescat Sententia for the tip.
Friday, January 09, 2004
Thursday, January 08, 2004These odd articles in New Scientist intrigued me, not only for their hearkening back to the old days of prognostication by physignomy: "Asymmetrical People Make Jealous Lovers," and "Handsome Men Have The Best Sperm."
From "Asymmetrical...": Just about everyone is lopsided to some extent. Hormone imbalances in the womb, for instance, can lead to one foot being bigger than the other. But in recent years, a series of animal and human studies have suggested that the implications of asymmetry go far beyond struggling to find shoes that fit both feet.and "Handsome...":
It seems that people who are more symmetrical are not only healthier, more fertile and perhaps even smarter - they are also more attractive.
This led William Brown at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to wonder about jealousy. "If jealousy is a strategy to retain your mate, then the individual more likely to be philandered on is more likely to be jealous," he speculated. And if people who are less symmetrical are less desirable, they are more likely to be cheated on."
"Handsome men have the best sperm, a new study reveals. The researchers showed that men with the healthiest, fastest sperm were rated as the most facially attractive by women. The characteristics of a person's face have long been regarded as an indicator of health. But this is the first direct evidence to suggest a man's reproductive quality correlates with his facial characteristics, say the authors.Very bizarre indeed, but the logic strikes me as a tad suspicious. For instance, wouldn't it be possible that the men were impacted by their initial judgement of the women's voices - and later more inclined to judge their faces as attractive? Wouldn't the study be more somewhat more valid if it were single-blinded, i.e., the male participants were not given the opportunity to match the voice to the face, and were given two (separate) tasks - judging attractiveness of anonymous voices and anonymous faces?
Maria Sancho-Navarro, a team member at the University of Valencia, Spain, said that symmetrical faces were rated as more attractive by the women. And other studies have shown that people with more symmetrical features are less likely to suffer ill health. The researcher team examined 66 male students from Valencia. They showed frontal and side photos of the men's faces to 66 women, who rated their attractiveness. The men's semen quality was measured according to World Health Organization guidelines.
A separate study by UK researchers has revealed that women with the most alluring voices have the most attractive faces. Sarah Collins and Caroline Missing, at the University of Nottingham, played recordings of 30 young women to men who later saw their photos. The men judged women with attractive voices as the best looking, reveals the study published in the latest Animal Behaviour."
Not to mention the fact that virtually everyone is a bit asymmetrical; try this little experiment sometime: stand in front of a mirror and hold a second, smaller mirror with a straight edge lengthwise to the center of your face, so you can see one half reflected. It won't really look like your usual face. To prove it, reverse the mirror so that the opposite side of your face is reflected; it will probably look quite different that the the first.
If you have access to an image-editing program that allows you to flip a section of an image, like Adobe PhotoShop™, just make a rectangular selection of an image containing a straight-on face in even lighting that divides the face vertically; then copy the selection and perform a "horizontal flip" and position it neatly next to the initial selection.
"When Bush went to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, 'The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.' The local police, at the Secret Service's behest, set up a "designated free-speech zone" on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush's speech.More gag tactics? Even the conservative Washington Post released the development of this sneakily totalitarian administration move: the Bush administration has banned media coverage of dead soldiers' caskets returning from Iraq. (Thanks to Friday FishWrap)
The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, but folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president's path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign.
The Secret Service is duty-bound to protect the president. But it is ludicrous to presume that would-be terrorists are lunkheaded enough to carry anti-Bush signs when carrying pro-Bush signs would give them much closer access. And even a policy of removing all people carrying signs -- as has happened in some demonstrations -- is pointless because potential attackers would simply avoid carrying signs. Assuming that terrorists are as unimaginative and predictable as the average federal bureaucrat is not a recipe for presidential longevity. "
Random Surrealism of the Day: "Is it an arrow? Is it a terrapin? No, it's poet-Man! More north-facing than an orange-flavoured Guinness truck, able to explain quantum mechanics to lethal mandrills in a single chequebook!"
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
E-pi'-pha-ny:Do you think I could adopt that word? 'Whatness'? This, of course, suggests that it would be acceptable to use the terms "whoness (identity)," "whyness (reason)," "whereness (locus)" and "whenness (temporality)" in similar contexts - itself an epiphany, as per definition (3).
(1) A sudden, intuitive realization through and ordinary circumstance. Examples: Araby, James Joyce (pg. 231) - "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger."
(2) January 6th, the day on which the 3 Wise Men brought gifts of myrrh, gold, and frankincense to Christ at His birth. This is the day after "Twelfth Night". (BCP pp. 162 – 165, 214 – 217)
(3) Secularly, a revelation in the everyday world, where the whatness of a common thing or gesture becomes radiant and deeply comprehended to the observer, either the observer in the text or to the audience.
Sunday, January 04, 2004Ah, yes.
After slogging through a moist and mild Yuletide, Chicago is finally under a "heavy snow warning" today and early tonight. We're off for a quick walk in the briskly falling, large-flaked snow to enjoy a brighter side of the neighborhood.
Shovels up, anyone? If we get about 6 inches, the parking "Dibs" system will go into effect...thank goodness we have a dedicated parking lot space, because we'd have no lawn furniture to stick in front of our place on the street.
Thursday, January 01, 2004Find an online paper: Newslink.org
BBC World Service
Chicago Tribune [registration required]
Japan Times Online
The New York Times [registration required]
The Prague Post
The Prague Tribune
The Smoking Gun
Sydney Morning Herald
University of Chicago Maroon
Science Meets Alice In Wonderland (Symmetrical People Make Better Lovers
Same-Sex Marriage Revisited
Houston, We Have a Wardroble Malfunction (Janet Jackson Super Bowl Boob)
I Dream of Bugwiches
Disgusted With Television, Part 1
Housewives! You Do Not Need A Ballot To Clean Out Your Sink!
Is Ralph Nader the 'Goat' of 2004?
Spring Has Sprung and the Music is Playin'
Religion and Politics! Aristide, Jesus and the Dead Sea Film Cans
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