Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Moving to Sunny California

Why? Well... I drive a convertible, love playing golf, and my petname's "Sunny" -- where do you think I should be?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Was Darwin wrong?

National Geographic weighs in with a emphatic "NO".

Is evolution "just a theory?"
    If you are skeptical by nature, unfamiliar with the terminology of science, and unaware of the overwhelming evidence, you might even be tempted to say that it's "just" a theory. In the same sense, relativity as described by Albert Einstein is "just" a theory. The notion that Earth orbits around the sun rather than vice versa, offered by Copernicus in 1543, is a theory. Continental drift is a theory. The existence, structure, and dynamics of atoms? Atomic theory. Even electricity is a theoretical construct, involving electrons, which are tiny units of charged mass that no one has ever seen.

    Each of these theories is an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. That's what scientists mean when they talk about a theory: not a dreamy and unreliable speculation, but an explanatory statement that fits the evidence. They embrace such an explanation confidently but provisionally—taking it as their best available view of reality, at least until some severely conflicting data or some better explanation might come along.

    The rest of us generally agree. We plug our televisions into little wall sockets, measure a year by the length of Earth's orbit, and in many other ways live our lives based on the trusted reality of those theories.
Then why all this brouhaha about evolutionary theory only?
    Evolutionary theory, though, is a bit different. It's such a dangerously wonderful and far-reaching view of life that some people find it unacceptable, despite the vast body of supporting evidence. As applied to our own species, Homo sapiens, it can seem more threatening still. Many fundamentalist Christians and ultra-orthodox Jews take alarm at the thought that human descent from earlier primates contradicts a strict reading of the Book of Genesis. Their discomfort is paralleled by Islamic creationists such as Harun Yahya, author of a recent volume titled The Evolution Deceit, who points to the six-day creation story in the Koran as literal truth and calls the theory of evolution "nothing but a deception imposed on us by the dominators of the world system." The late Srila Prabhupada, of the Hare Krishna movement, explained that God created "the 8,400,000 species of life from the very beginning," in order to establish multiple tiers of reincarnation for rising souls. Although souls ascend, the species themselves don't change, he insisted, dismissing "Darwin's nonsensical theory."
But here's the scary part:
    Other people too, not just scriptural literalists, remain unpersuaded about evolution. According to a Gallup poll drawn from more than a thousand telephone interviews conducted in February 2001, no less than 45 percent of responding U.S. adults agreed that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Evolution, by their lights, played no role in shaping us.

    Only 37 percent of the polled Americans were satisfied with allowing room for both God and Darwin—that is, divine initiative to get things started, evolution as the creative means. (This view, according to more than one papal pronouncement, is compatible with Roman Catholic dogma.) Still fewer Americans, only 12 percent, believed that humans evolved from other life-forms without any involvement of a god.

    The most startling thing about these poll numbers is not that so many Americans reject evolution, but that the statistical breakdown hasn't changed much in two decades. Gallup interviewers posed exactly the same choices in 1982, 1993, 1997, and 1999. The creationist conviction—that God alone, and not evolution, produced humans—has never drawn less than 44 percent. In other words, nearly half the American populace prefers to believe that Charles Darwin was wrong where it mattered most.
Also, don't miss the excellent links at the bottom of the page -- which includes links to the clowns who are trying to push their religious agenda disguised as scientific debate.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ummm... can't complain

This date in 1998, exactly six years ago, I landed in this country with no life and no money. Today I'm going back from work to my beautiful wife who's waiting for me to come home and my little daughter who's ready to run into my lap as soon as I walk in through the door, and we have six figures of financial ground to stand upon.

Unbiased opinion?

"Where there is no exaggeration there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding. It is only about things that do not interest one, that one can give a really unbiased opinion; and this is no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is always valueless." - Oscar Wilde.

The root of terrorism

Margaret Hassan has been executed by her terrorist abductors. If there is anything evil in this world, these people are it. There is absolutely no justification, none, nada, zilch, that can be offered for the barbaric act of killing innocent civilians -- and to think of a lifelong aid worker, a splendid woman who dedicated her life in helping the have nots, being executed for the cause of a twisted ideology is absolutely horrific.

I want to borrow a few words from Richard Dawkins, because I'm incapeble of articuating my feelings like he can:
    Those of us who have renounced one or other of the three ‘great’ monotheistic religions have, until now, moderated our language for reasons of politeness. Christians, Jews and Muslims are sincere in their beliefs and in what they find holy. We have respected that, even as we have disagreed with it.

    It is time to stop pussyfooting around. Time to get angry. And not only with Islam.

    Our leaders have described the recent atrocity with the customary cliche: mindless cowardice. "Mindless" may be a suitable word for the vandalising of a telephone box. Those people were not mindless and they were certainly not cowards. On the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from.

    It came from religion. Religion is also, of course, the underlying source of the divisiveness in the Middle East which motivated the use of this deadly weapon in the first place. But that is another story and not my concern here. My concern here is with the weapon itself. To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.

    I am trying to call attention to the elephant in the room that everybody is too polite - or too devout - to notice: religion, and specifically the devaluing effect that religion has on human life. I don't mean devaluing the life of others (though it can do that too), but devaluing one's own life. Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.
Prof. Dawkins was of course talking about the 9/11 terrorists, and suicide bombers in general, but it's equally applicable to the whole idea of religious fundamentalism based terrorism. Defenders of religion, which includes both the devout and the elitist skeptic who thinks religion is a beneficial lie, often point out that if people think that death is the end, then it can lead to nihilism. No, it ain't so. Here's what Ann Druyan said about Carl Sagan:
    Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it's much more meaningful.
Here's the list of innocent civilians killed in Iraq. And here's the body count of innocent civilians being written off as "colateral damage" of the Iraq war by the US administration.

I'll end with a quote from the famous Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda:
    If you want to be religious, enter not the gate of any organised religion. They do a hundred times more evil than good, because they stop the growth of each one's individual development.... Religion is only between you and your God, and no third person must come between you. Think what these organised religions have done! What Nepoleon was more terrible than those religious persecutions? If you and I organise, we begin to hate every person . It is better not to love, if loving only means hating others. That is no love. That is hell! If loving your own people means hating everybody else, it is the quintessence of selfishness and brutality, and the effect is that it will make you brutes.
    [from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume I]

Monday, November 15, 2004

Newton's law

My version of Newton's first law of motion:

    Butts don't move unless kicked.

I swear that like all my other "philosophical" views/opinions, this one is also based on rational thought process applied on my life experiences.

There's nothing wrong with Connecticut either

Based on the observation that Kerry won all the cities and most of rural America is colored red, another popular assertion that might also be a myth is that the poor voted for Bush despite his pro-rich policies, and vice versa. Based on the VOTE BY INCOME breakdown here on CNN, Bush's support grew steadily with income, and just the opposite for Kerry -- as expected. It's just that the numbers broke ever so slightly towards Bush when weighted by the percentage of the population in each income bucket. In fact, looking at the following breakdown, it seems clear that it's the high income people who tilted the election towards Bush.
    Less Than $100,000 (82%): 49% Bush, 50% Kerry
    $100,000 or More (18%): 58% Bush, 41% Kerry
So, there's nothing wrong with Kansas, and there's nothing wrong with Connecticut either. [Hat tip: Shea]

Just like the statistical margin of error in pre-election polls, I hope Bush remembers that he is still well within the margin of judgemental error of the electorate -- the irrational "mandate" bullshit that his team is spinning since the election may be getting into the head like the idea he's god's supposed appointee for the presidency.

It's not "moral values" after all

Thank God! :-)

A lot of people have started questioning the media assertion based on exit polls that moral values is what led Geogre W Bush to election victory. The evidence seems to be mounting.

Washington Post: 'Moral Values' Myth

New York Times: On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

CSICOP: Did Communication Efforts Trump Moral Values in 2004?

Thanks, but no thanks. Thou can keep thy heartland.

It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America. We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion--New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on. And we live on islands in red states, too--a fact obscured by that state-by-state map. Denver and Boulder are our islands in Colorado; Las Vegas is our island in Nevada; Miami and Fort Lauderdale are our islands in Florida. Citizens of the Urban Archipelago reject heartland "values" like xenophobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia, as well as the more intolerant strains of Christianity that have taken root in this country. And we are the real Americans.

Certain distressed liberals and progressives are talking about fleeing to Canada or, better yet, seceding from the Union. We can't literally secede and, let's admit it, we don't really want to live in Canada. It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts, we hate hockey. We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan.


Friday, November 12, 2004

How would you vent your anger?

    Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m

    Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
    Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004

    I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.

    it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

    Copyright © 2004 craigslist
I swear I'm not kidding. Check out the original listing for yourself.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just imagine how life would be without God.
    And so the world began to accept life without God. Christians who had been searching for an excuse to skip church now had a humdinger. Jews could finally eat pork without guilt, and found it didn't taste nearly as good that way. Contrarily, millions of starving Hindus were quite happy to eat the sacred cows which had sauntered through their streets for centuries. By year's end, India's leading killer had gone from hunger to hypertension, and the cliché of the portly, red-faced Hindu was born.

    One thing did not happen in the post-God world: there was not a total moral collapse. People who didn't have sex because they were too religious now didn't have sex because they were too ugly. A Dallas man who didn't kill his hated wife out of fear of God, now didn't kill her out of fear of the Texas Department of Corrections.
Dream on...

All you wanted to know about the U.S. Political System.

How to keep your computer safe from viruses, spyware, hackers, and other digi-scum? Two words: Ditch Microsoft.

I bet you'll be amazed to find out just how many political parties are there in, what we think is a, two-party America. Check out this list. Besides the usual Libertarian Party and the Green Party, you'll be surprised by just how many fundamentalist religious parties are out there including a reincarnation of the Klan. There are also the lunatics like the Pansexual Peace Party ("Sex is Good! Sex is Great! Yea, Sex!") and the Pot Party (yes, you got it!).

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Nostradamus award in Journalism goes to H. L. Mencken, who made the following prophecy on July 26, 1920, in the Baltimore Sun:

"[When] a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental--men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... [A]ll the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre--the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Jubilation! John Ashcroft, the evil incarnate to all those of us who value human rights and civil liberties, has been "asked to leave" (pronounced "resigned" in washington dialect). But wait, it's not time to party yet -- there's no guarantee than the election emboldened four-more-years-of-the-same-and-then-some-more Bush will not appoint somebody evil-er in his place. We all saw how Arlen Specter got his balls squeezed when he hinted that, as chairman of the senate judiciary committee, he might oppose some judicial nominees that Bush pushes forward, especially if they ideologically oppose Row-v-Wade. Speculations have been that Rudy Guiliani might fill up Ashcroft's seat, but I'm skeptical as "America's mayor" does not really belong to Bush's corer of the republican party. That said, Rudy has been doing a lot of sucking up to big brother W all over the media during the election campaign -- so who knows.

Creationism or Creation "Science"

Here's all you wanted to know about (the farce of) Creationism or the so-called Creation Science, with links to great articles on evolution at the bottom.
    Creation science is not science but pseudoscience. It is religious dogma masquerading as scientific theory. [The] approach is to attack at every opportunity what they take to be the theory of evolution. Rather than show the strengths of their own theory, they rely on trying to find and expose weaknesses in evolutionary theory. Creation scientists actually have no interest in scientific facts or theories. Their interest is in defending the faith against what they see as attacks on God’s Word.
Creationism has now been discredited and ridiculed to such extent that it has now become necessary for fundamntalist christians to repackage and resell it in order to prevent the house of cards that is the Genesis from crumbling down in the face of reason. The repackaged product is now called Intelligent Design, and here is a discussion about its "merits".

Scientific American chimes in and debunks creationism in "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense".

Fellow geeks, suck in your tummy and squeeze in your butt, but if that doesn't cut it, try this cubicle workout antidote to the mouse potato lifestyle and all the pizza that comes with our jobs. That's unless you're lucky enough to have genes like skinny-me, which allows me to remain (un)fit in the city.

A fabulous article on why prescription drug prices in America are spiralling upwards. The article starts with evidence of corruption & profiteering in the pharmaceutical companies, which is obviously there, but then masterfully guides us to show why concentrating on the drug manufactureres is precisely the wrong way to tackle the issue as the real problem lies elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Pravda on the Iraq war, Bush, and the religious right.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Take this "Thinker Tour", unless you took philosopy classes in college.

Friday, November 05, 2004

What's the matter with you guys?

The democrats say they'll take from the rich and give to the poor, and get busted in poor rural America. The republicans say they'll give to the rich, and they get busted in rich urban America. Bush loses in states where the fear of getting struck by the terrorists is highest, and wins in places where it's the lowest. What's going on here?

    "There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / blue state split. The reasoning was this: We in blue states produce the vast majority of the wealth in this country and pay the most taxes, and you in the red states receive the majority of the money from those taxes while complaining about 'em. We in the blue states are the only ones who've been attacked by foreign terrorists, yet you in the red states are gung ho to fight a war in our name. We in the blue states produce the entertainment that you consume so greedily each day, while you in the red states show open disdain for us and our values. Blue state civilians are the actual victims and targets of the war on terror, while red state civilians are the ones standing behind us and yelling "Oh, yeah!? Bring it on!"

    More than 40% of you Bush voters still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. I'm impressed by that, truly I am. Your sons and daughters who might die in this war know it's not true, the people in the urban centers where al Qaeda wants to attack know it's not true, but those of you who are at practically no risk believe this easy lie because you can. As part of my concession speech, let me say that I really envy that luxury. I concede that.

    Healing? We, the people at risk from terrorists, the people who subsidize you, the people who speak in glowing and respectful terms about the heartland of America while that heartland insults and excoriates us... we wanted some healing. We spoke loud and clear. And you refused to give it to us, largely because of your high moral values. You knew better: America doesn't need its allies, doesn't need to share the burden, doesn't need to unite the world, doesn't need to provide for its future. Hell no. Not when it's got a human shield of pointy-headed, atheistic, unconfrontational breadwinners who are willing to pay the bills and play nice in the vain hope of winning a vote that we can never have. Because we're "morally inferior," I suppose, we are supposed to respect your values while you insult ours. And the big joke here is that for 20 years, we've done just that."
Damn straight, buddy. Enough of this shit. You know what... to hell with universal health care, the progessive tax system, social security, and the dream of a equitable society -- let the republicans instutite a flat national sales tax and abolish the IRS, screw government health coverage, screw social security, screw unemployment benefits -- and let the morally superior America pay through the unmentionable orifice and eat their morals. Let them get a taste of what they bargained for.

Author Thomas Frank attempts to take a jab at the issue in his new book "What's the matter with Kansas?", and he's coming with a follow-up named What's the matter with Connecticut?

Update: Let's go to Canada, the last refuge for the liberal minded where the people urge the government to "delegalize" discrimination instead.

Update(2): Ok, now I get it... this is probably the so called "extreme liberalism" that scared America to vote for Bush. But... wait a minute, how the hell did the democratic party come to be known as a representative of this stuff?

My new gold mine: Professor Edward Glaeser's Papers On The Web

Bubbas for Bobby

Bobby Jindal is the new Indian-American congressman from the state of Louisiana. I don't know how to react to this as I don't agree with his stands on key issues.
    Mr Jindal joined the race late and took to the airwaves of rightwing talk radio, breathing fire with a slight southern drawl against abortion, divorce, big government, taxes and Jacques Chirac, over the war.
I'm naturally delighted that he was able to overcome the ethnicity barrier,
    "He's too dark for the white folks and not dark enough for the blacks." Warren Triche, a white Democrat, predicted Mr Jindal "wouldn't get as many votes in Acadiana [south Louisiana] as a mamou hoot owl".
but I'm not elated by the fact that he hasn't been able to break the religion barrier.
    At the age of four he decided to swap his given name of Priyush for Bobby after a character in the Brady Bunch television show. At 18 he converted from Hinduism to Catholicism - unlike other heavily Protestant states this is a boon in Louisiana.
Clearly it still matters if your name sounds unfamiliar, if you practice some weird eastern religion, if you feel "different" -- I'm not sure he could have done this by being what he was born as, he clearly played his cards right in trying to become one of "them". America is not "there" yet, certainly not Louisiana -- the melting pot still has a lot of melting to do.

What can the democrats do?

As one democratic senator put it sadly on election night -- "in order to win every election if we have to say that we will ban all abortions and abolish all gay rights, I'm sorry we can't do that, because most of us don't feel that way".

It is fashionable to look at the democrat wins in the cities and education centers and think that only the rural dumb vote republican in the name of God. Maybe there is some truth to that, but that can not the entire truth. Not everybody who voted republican is dumb, illeterate, uneducated. Not everybody is evangelical either. Even if you put dumb and evangelicals together, that wouln't win the election for Bush. What the democrats need to figure out is what is making the non-dumb non-evangelical Americans prefer the republican brand of religious pandering more than the democratic brand of economic pandering. Why is the former appearing as the lesser of two evils? Or, looking from the other more plausible angle, what in the democratic messege is repelling the the non-dumb non-evangelical Americans more than the republican message does. To mainstream America, why is "all-abortions-are-fine" more repelling than "no-abortions-allowed"? Partial brith abortion too brutal to think about? Is supporting partial birth abortion worse than disallowing all abortions? Why are people supporting a blatently discriminatory ban on gay marriage in their home state fearing a judicial decision in some another state? The point is: what is mainstream America looking for? Where is that illusive middle ground, the so called "center", that democrats can stand upon and stand a chance to win? Civil unions ok, but no gay "marriage"? Abortions ok, but only before late term?

While talking to a church going gun loving gay hating confirmed Bush voter before the election, I told him that I'd vote democrat because I am of the liberal mindset. He looked back at me with a mixture of curiosity, humor, and disgust, and asked me "why? what are you into?" It's easy to throw this guys opinion away as far right ideological lunacy, but the matter of fact is that majority of American families are in fact feeling scared of MTV culture and equating them with the democratic party, and voting against "immoral far left liberalism". Just like I'm fearful of the far right president injecting God into laws, these voters are fearful of having their kids grow up knowing that being gay is all right. They do not want their kids to grow up in a society where there is no stigma associated with being gay or teen pregnancy or abortion -- they are looking at this a moral degradation of the society overall, just like our parents back home in India would, and they want to stop the onslaught of this kind of "liberalism". If that's what they want, then that's what they want, and the democratic party can't help it. In order to win, the only thing that the democrats can now do is to become moderate left on the social issues. Democrats are now perceived by mainstream America as the "immoral extreme left". The tone of support towards pro-choice and gay rights must be tuned down a little, however unpalatable that sounds. It doesn't have to be "whatever the church says", definitely not, but Americans have clearly send the message that it can not be "everything goes" either.

I think what the socially liberal really want to say is, "I don't want to tell you what to do, and I don't appreciate you telling me either -- let's have a debate and decide what's right or wrong". Somehow that's gotten translated into "I can do anything I want, and I'll be right on your face, ha ha". And, as it turns out, this translated version of social liberalism is more repulsive to American people than "I know exactly what's right and wrong, and it's coming to me straight down from God, and you must act accordingly". People are prefering the extreme right over the extreme left. Maybe a moderate left will sell better.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"America has spoken"

..so said our president gloating in re-election glory, and in some ways, I feel vindicated. Early this year, while discussing politics with a friend who labelled me the "most interested non-voter" in this election, I told him that the conventional issues like economy and terrorism are less important to me in this election than social issues. That's because the president doesn't control the economy, and nobody has a clue whether the economy is going north or south at this point anyway. Also, residing in mainland America is safe as it gets on this planet, and neither candidate would hand over America to the wolves. Enter social issues, and the fact that the next president could define the direction of the country for the next 40 years by his supreme court judge appointments. That's how I saw it, and so did America. "Moral values" trumped economy, terrorism and war as the vote decider -- and pundits were left cleaning egg of their face all across America.

The problem is: Americans decided to turn the direction of their country in precisely the opposite direction from what I hoped.

As it turns out, Americans would rather have a president who has done almost everything wrong in areas of job creation, fiscal responsibility, and post-war handling -- but they just can't get over the fear that an activist judge could allow "sexual perverts" to taint the "sanctity" of marriage. In as many as eleven states where a state ban of gay marriage was on the ballot, voters told their children that discrimination is perfectly all right, and asked "those immoral faggots" to go perform a certain anatomically impossible act.

It is a decisive victory for the republican party at all levels - the presidency, the senate, the house of representatives - and their campaign tactics of institutionalizing homophobia has worked splendidly.

I fear "God", I really do. It's not that I fear I'll burn in hell after death while his worshippers drown themselves in the lavish offereings of earthly pleasures -- death can give nobody nothing and I've got but this one life to enjoy -- it's that "God" really screws up my life here on earth when his holy institution starts to poke its ugly nose into politics in order to dictate my life and serve their ideological beliefs. There is no end to the sufferings that the politically imposed absolute morality of this toxic mixture promises to unleash.

If you divide this world by religion, there are really two worlds -- the Christian world and the Muslim world (other religions are too isolated geographically to matter). Have you ever wondered what makes the Christian world better? Do you see any basic differences between the religions -- they even worship the same God! What separates these two worlds is that one of them got tired of the toxic mixture of religion and politics, and had the intellectual enlightenment to separate the two. The other is still suffering from it, unable to come anywhere close to the "civilized world" in terms of prosperity and persuit of happiness, and spiralling into deeper fundamentalist ideological depths every day. Life is hell there.

And yet, in their frenzy of homophobia, Americans now want to turn back and go precisely to the hell they escaped from. I'm sure our evangelical president will oblige happily. Go pray-sident!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

More red than you thought

Here is the county by county breakdown of the 2004 presidential election.

Question: And you thought California was a blue state?

Observation: If there's a university, its blue.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Vote update: I've already voted, but I'm still undecided ;^)

Service check

Boy is this election intense... I found this list on a investment forum:
    I'm not in the service but.... If I were, or was, I would have to wonder about the great Republican majority based on the following:

    * Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
    * David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
    * Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
    * Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army
    journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
    * Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
    * Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
    * John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
    * Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
    * Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
    * Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
    * Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
    * Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
    * Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
    * Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
    * Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
    * Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
    * Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine inVietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
    * Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
    * Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
    * Chuck Robb: Vietnam
    * Howell Heflin: Silver Star
    * George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
    * Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
    * Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
    * Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
    * John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
    * Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

    * Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
    * Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
    * Tom Delay: did not serve.
    * Roy Blunt: did not serve.
    * Bill Frist: did not serve.
    * Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
    * Rick Santorum: did not serve.
    * Trent Lott: did not serve.
    * John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
    * Jeb Bush: did not serve.
    * Karl Rove: did not serve.
    * Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked
    MaxCleland's patriotism.
    * Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
    * Vin Weber: did not serve.
    * Richard Perle: did not serve.
    * Douglas Feith: did not serve.
    * Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
    * Richard Shelby: did not serve.
    * Jon! Kyl: did not serve.
    * Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
    * Christopher Cox: did not serve.
    * Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
    * Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
    * George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
    * Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
    * B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
    * Phil Gramm: did not serve.
    * John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
    * Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
    * John M. McHugh: did not serve.
    * JC Watts: did not serve.
    * Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued in NFL for 8 years.
    * Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
    * Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
    * George Pataki: did not serve.
    * Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
    * John Engler: did not serve.
    * Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
    * Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.
Wow :-O

Scientists discover "Hobbits"

This is really exciting news:
    A new human-like species - a dwarfed relative who lived just 18,000 years ago in the company of pygmy elephants and giant lizards - has been discovered in Indonesia. Skeletal remains show that the hominins, nicknamed 'hobbits' by some of their discoverers, were only one metre tall, had a brain one-third the size of that of modern humans, and lived on an isolated island long after Homo sapiens had migrated through the South Pacific region.
Newslinks: Nature, Scientific American, National Geographic, BBC , More...

Monday, November 01, 2004

One more day

There's nothing left to say or hear about this election -- I guess just about everybody is tired from the information overload and rhetoric overdrive, and just want it to be over. The race is a perfect toss-up and anybody who is trying to predict anything or decipher any trend from the plethora of pools is a perfect lunatic, as is anybody who is still undecided after such an intense political season. The only thing that is certain is that half the country is heading towards a heartbreak. Deal with it.

The only thing I'm looking forward to today is the Saturday Night Live election special at 10pm and the Capital Steps special on NPR at 7pm tonight. Just satire. No more spin or news or punditry -- thanks, but no thanks.

Political quote of the day

"I can't tell you how to vote," said Lovett (Wayland Temple Baptist Church's pastor), referring to the tax law that requires non-profit organizations like churches to be non-partisan. "but I can tell you something my mama told me, and that was to stay out of the bushes."

Good one, preacher. Even this skeptic can't help but say "Amen!".