Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jolly Good Shew, Metal Masters!

The program at Crickett was Testament, Motorhead, Heaven and Hell, and finally, Judas Priest. We arrived too late for Testament, but the end of their set sounded OK from outside.

Here's the New Times' review of the event. I agree with the review, except that I was able to make out the words in Lemmy Kilmister's singing, and I didn't notice any mullets. The storm was cool, even if it did put 80 or so distribution circuits in the dark, making the drive home a bit interesting (what with pieces of trees blown up on the overpasses and into the tunnel, and what with my cable drop support having been ripped out of the side of my house, along with a bit of siding). Thanks for driving Chris!

Judas Priest's latest album, Nostradamus, is a big disappointment to me. My review is that Nostradamus is uninspired, overwrought and a purely commercial endeavor with way too much long, boring filler (sorry Priest, but come on). It's a good thing I didn't hear Nostradamus until after the tickets were on order, or I might have skipped the show. It would have been a real shame to miss this one. I think Halford is relying on electronics a bit, but what the hell, he sounded great. I can't quarrel with the New Times' reviewer's characterization of Halford's voice as "impeccable", matching the rest of the band.

The event hardly sucked at all! Motorhead was a fine surprise, what with my only recently having bought their two most recent albums (Kiss of Death and Motorizer) in order to familiarize myself with them. They clearly met the standards of Heaven and Hell and Priest, and I regret not having paid attention to them a long time ago. Motorhead is a welcome addition to my headphones.

Heaven and Hell were also well up to speed, as was to be expected. What else can I say?

We sat right behind the sound board, where it was entertaining to watch the guys playing the lights (until they had to cover up with plastic sheeting against rain from the storm whipping through the covered arena, that is). I think playing the lights would be a lot of fun.

I think the reason the New Times' reviewer couldn't make out Lemmy Kilmister's words, while I could, might have been because I'm trying to take care of what remains of my hearing. I experimented with a couple of different types of ear plugs, both alone and in conjunction with my hearing aids. Volume was deafening while I changed configurations, but aside from physical discomfort from the damned things, one of the types of ear plugs did a nice job for me.

I guess I'll just have to do this again some day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

mccain palin - Google Search

mccain palin - Google Search

I don't quite know what to make of McCain's choice for VP. Does it mean that:
  • McCain wants to lose the election? Dark Wraith would have McCain win for the same reason McCain might want to loose.
  • Rove has no influence with McCain? That would be a small plus.
  • McCain knows he's going to lose, and simply wants to score points with religious authoritarians?
  • McCain feels immortal?
  • McCain thinks he can win with the votes of religious authoritarians with some disaffected Hillary supporters?
This makes no sense to me, and further reduces the odds that I'd vote for a Republican ticket (which is not saying much).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bill Moyers' Bacevich Interview

This was an intensely interesting interview: Part 1, Part 2. That's a one-hour interview broken into two segments online. The transcript is here.

The book that forms the basis of the interview is The Limits of Power, by Andrew Bacevich, which has not yet arrived from Amazon.

Obama Biden

- Google News

Obama - Biden.

Who am I to pick Senator Obama's running mate, but I don't see Joe Biden as much of an agent of change.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Stayin' Alive: Why can't we talk about this?

Stayin' Alive: Why can't we talk about this?

What he said.

In the first place, why do you think that it's somehow a Christian belief that "human life begins at the moment of conception?" You certainly don't get that from Christ -- there is not one word about abortion anywhere in the Bible, New Testament or Old, no definition of human life, and no reference to the sanctity of fetuses or even, for that matter, the sanctity of human life in any form.
And it's not because they didn't know about abortion and contraception in those days.

Christians didn't start to argue that abortion was even sinful, let alone tantamount to murder, until the late 19th Century. So how did they make this discovery? Do you believe that it suddenly occurred to God that he'd forgotten to mention it while he happened to be incarnated almost two millennia earlier, so he quickly provided the Pope and some Evangelical preachers with a new revelation? Or, if it's merely a conclusion you come to based on your overall understanding of ethics, then why aren't other people free to come to different conclusions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kerry Candaele: Rick Warren Interviews Thomas Jefferson

Kerry Candaele: Rick Warren Interviews Thomas Jefferson

I never had gotten around to checking out the Huffington Post (aside from seeing the occasional piece here and there), so when the full feed was suggested by the Google Reader, I signed up. My first impressions were not all that good, what with an astrologer's column coming into view early on, along with some other junk I didn't care about. I hit the "mark all as read" button and moved on.

When I came home today there were some 160 new posts. I started to unsubscribe but thought I'd give it another shot. Scanning the post titles, I finally landed on this one: Rick Warren Interviews Thomas Jefferson.

Turns out I liked it a lot.

I don't know if Huffington Post links are permanent or not, so I'll cache the piece in comments.

Monday, August 18, 2008

RIP ONDCP September 30, 2010

One of the things that has bothered me the most about our War on Some Drugs has been the way the law requires the Office of National Drug Control Policy's Director (the Drug Czar) to take an active role in the prevention of certain changes to the law.

U.S. Code
Title 21 - Food and Drugs,
Chapter 22 - National Drug Control Policy,
Section 1703 - Appointment and duties of Director and Deputy Directors
(b) Responsibilities
The Director—
(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 812 of this title and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that—
(A) is listed in schedule I of section 812 of this title; and
(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;
Once again, in plain English:

The Drug Czar will take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form).

This is just plain wrong. It's anti-democratic, oppressive and evil. It's an affront to liberty. It serves only to further buttress preservation of special interests, and is contrary to the common good.

Good thing there is also:

Section 1712 - Termination of Office of National Drug Control Policy
(a) In general
Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, effective on September 30, 2010, this chapter and the amendments made to this chapter are repealed.
(b) Exception
Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to section 713 or the amendments made by that section.

But wait, what's that exception in pararaph (b)? There is no section 713 in Title 21, Chapter 22 of the U. S. Code. Is this a typo? There's section 1713, which says it's OK to develop and spray herbicides, but that doesn't make much sense here. What's going on?

Google eventually pointed me to the Wyoming State Law Library, which says that
Section 713, referred to in subsec. (b), is section 713 of Pub. L. 105-277, div. C, title VII, Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681-693, which amended sections 5312 to 5314 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees, section 1105 of Title 31, Money and Finance, and section 402 of Title 50, War and National Defense.
The whole of section 713 seems to be

(a) Title 5, United States Code.--Chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, is amended--
(1) in section 5312, by adding at the end the following: ``Director of National Drug Control Policy.'';
(2) in section 5313, by adding at the end the following: ``Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy.''; and
(3) in section 5314, by adding at the end the following: ``Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy.
``Deputy Director for Supply Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy.
``Deputy Director for State and Local Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy.''.
(b) National Security Act of 1947.--Section 101 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 402) is amended by redesignating subsection (f) as subsection (g) and inserting after subsection (e) the following:
``(f) The Director of National Drug Control Policy may, in the role of the Director as principal adviser to the National Security Council on national drug control policy, and subject to the direction of the President, attend and participate in meetings of the National Security Council.''.
(c) Submission of National Drug Control Program Budget With Annual Budget Request of President.--Section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (25) the following:
``(26) a separate statement of the amount of appropriations requested for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and each program of the National Drug Control Program.''.

No wonder people hate lawyers and scoff at the law.

So, unless there's some provision hidden is (b) that makes (a) an empty nothing, it looks like there's a sunset clause on the Drug Czar's office.

Could it be that... Nah... Probably too much to hope for.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

BBC NEWS | Europe | Citroen 2CV: France's iconic car

BBC NEWS | Europe | Citroen 2CV: France's iconic car:
comically soft suspension that made it springy enough to bump along off road
No no no no no... Comical? Bump? I don't think the writer ever rode in a 2CV. As I recall, the suspension was wonderful, the same as in the DS. In the 2CV's I drove or rode in, the ride was amazingly smooth, and extremely well damped - not springy at all.

This was a great little car. I'd love to have one today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ex-drugs policy director calls for legalisation | Politics | The Guardian

Ex-drugs policy director calls for legalisation | Politics | The Guardian:
He said that his views were widely held in the government but rarely expressed in public. 'I think what was truly depressing about my time in UKADCU was that the overwhelming majority of professionals I met, including those from the police, the health service, the government and voluntary sectors held the same view: the illegality of drugs causes far more problems for society and the individual than it solves. Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew the government's policy was actually causing harm.'
So, why is it, how is it, that all these people remain silent if they know better? Job security?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

BBC NEWS | Europe | Fear, anger, confusion in Tbilisi

BBC NEWS | Europe | Fear, anger, confusion in Tbilisi:
'People like his [Asshole In Charge Saakashvili's] strong statements and most are on his side now, even opposition supporters,' said Ana, a child psychologist.

'This is hell, it's a disaster, but we have to fight to the end because Russia must be taught a lesson that it cannot act like this in the 21st Century - even if we all have to die.'
Remind me not to send my child to this child psychologist. She's INSANE!
"Many people can't understand why the West failed to protect us," said Sandro, a student in Tbilisi.
Protect you? They should shoot you for being stupid, as in expecting such an outcome.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Human Overpopulation Crisis

The Human Overpopulation Crisis

Here is the web site that Prof. Eric Pianka put together for his freshman seminar on the human overpopulation crisis. Lots of good stuff here.

The only thing I would have liked to see in addition to what he's got there is a section on mental health - avoiding or dealing with despair and so on. I would think some in his audience of young people might be susceptible to an emotional crash of some sort when encouraged to think about how fucked we are.

I think my own experience over the years has been a grief process. I'm long past denial, still get angry at times, never did much bargaining, substituted a sort of nihilism for depression, and I've been deep into acceptance for quite a while.

This has been going on for many years in my case. It was a relatively gentle process compared to what I imagine some young people would experience when taken from youthful bliss to full-blown "we're fucked" over the course of a semester. My experience has been quite gentle compared to some of the accounts at Peak Oil Blues, a resource for people who've been shocked by the realization that peak oil is for real. (Prof. Pianka stops short of "we're fucked", but he's encouraging his students to think and some of them may come to the same conclusion I have.)

How to ease the pain? Dunno. Some people will manage OK on their own, but some might suffer mental health episodes. I'm no shrink, and I would not presume to instruct Prof. Pianka on anything, but there must be some way to help susceptible members of his young audience to be aware, and to deal with mental health issues should they arise. Introspection doesn't necessarily come naturally or progress usefully.

My two cents anyway.

One other thing... Maybe it's there in one form or another and I have missed it so far, but every student (every person) should assimilate the content of Prof. Albert Bartlett's lecture, "Arithmetic, Population and Energy".
[Never mind, the Google Video link to Prof. Bartlett's lecture is there. Good on Prof. Pianka.]

AFP: Georgia declares 'state of war' as Russian bombs fall

AFP: Georgia declares 'state of war' as Russian bombs fall:

"Obviously, the resources are not equal."
You're kidding!

If this isn't the stupidest goddamn thing...

Friday, August 08, 2008

calvo tomsic - Google News

calvo tomsic - Google News

A drug dog in Arizona tagged a package addressed to someone on the on the other side of the country. Cops delivered the package to the address, leaving it on the porch on instruction of the addressee's mother. Later, the addressee's husband arrived home, picked up the package and took it inside. Cops headed for the door, broke it down, shot two dogs, recovered the unopened package, mistreated the residents and so on.

Turns out that the victims' address had been used in a scheme where the drug traffickers used innocent addresses where corrupt delivery people could intercept packages. This time, though, the package had been delivered by the cops instead of being intercepted by the traffickers.

Now the FBI is investigating, prompted by the residents, who turned out to be the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, and his wife, the addressee, a finance officer for the state. Also prompting the investigation is the NAACP, who pointed out that the victims had experienced police action familiar to many young black men in the county.

I imagine the cops had been salivating at the prospect of keeping money from the sale of the house they would confiscate under civil forfeiture. Civil forfeiture is one of the worst evils in this War on Some Drugs.

This case is made doubly infuriating when coupled with exposure to the viewpoint represented in this piece, in which an apparent right-wing authoritarian dismisses Barney Frank's proposed legislation to decriminalize marijuana use on the Federal level.

Oh, well...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Overpopulation: the real crisis - Opinion

Overpopulation: the real crisis - Opinion
Here's a guest column in the UT Austin Daily Texan by Eric Pianka, the biology prof who caught so much shit from religious conservatives a couple of years ago.

These same sorts rise up against him in the comments.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Obama urges opening oil reserves

BBC NEWS | Americas | Obama urges opening oil reserves

Obama deserves credit for his attitude regarding the so-called gas tax holiday, but opening the strategic reserve undoes that. I guess he's got to adopt this new stance, elections and all, but it is annoying.

This isn't enough to change my vote or anything. In fact, there is only one circumstance under which I could see myself voting for McCain over Obama. But it'll never happen.