Saturday, January 28, 2006


Al Gore: commitment to service

George Bush: commitment to power

'Nuff said.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Like I said...flu shots for the elderly don't work

A study shows that flu shots given to the elderly do little to stop the spread of flu or to prevent deaths among the elderly from the flu. This was already proven in a Japanese study. Flu shots should be given to children -- the major spreaders of this kind of disease.

Happy Birthday

To Mozart -- 250th. Take the quiz.

Challenger 20 Years On

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. I remember it well, because I was home with a 16-day old baby (now a 20 year old, of course) and watched it live on TV. Fortunately, my godmother was with me that morning because I started freaking out and she took over dealing with the baby. A horrible and completely preventable tragedy.

The Challenger investigation also involved one of my heroes, the physicist Richard Feynman. He was on the investigation commission and may have solved the mystery behind the explosion. He dramatically demonstrated how the O-rings had become fragile that very cold morning in 1986 by dropping O-rings into a glass of ice water at a commission hearing, taking them out and showing how they had become brittle.

Space exploration is a risky business, but we must not stop or slow down -- its our destiny as a species to move out into the universe.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Marching Morons

I read an article about a professor starting a blog to rate students in response to one students started to rate professors. While I sympathize with the professors, since I see these moronic students all the time in the bookstore where I work, my take on this is that this is yet another symptom of American society's shift toward classism and away from equality. Basically, the way I see it is because of the tremendous costs involved, college is becoming available only to the wealthy. So you have a bunch of students attending school because they can afford to, not because they're qualified or interested. As for qualifications, these wealthy students can also afford intensive SAT tutoring and other experiences that help them qualify to get in -- but they aren't really capable of doing the work, nor do they care. Meanwhile, qualified and interested students can't go to college, at least not to major universities, because they can't afford it. It would be interesting if someone did a study on this -- I think this trend is in its infancy but will prove out over the next decade.

The Minds of Boys

Saw part of this report on CBS on the book "The Minds of Boys" and it backs up one of my personal theories: that the way school is conducted these days is detrimental to boys' ability to succeed.

Key points:
  1. boys are biologically, developmentally and psychologically different from girls
  2. boys do not have as many active verbal centers as girls, meaning reading, writing and speaking centers
  3. since our classrooms are so verbal, we are seeing boys fall behind girls
  4. boys also need to touch and move things around and they need to move their bodies around; when they do, they learn better

I've always maintained that to expect most boys to sit still for hours doing things like listening and reading and taking tests is absurd. Most girls can do it, but most boys cannot.

Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint: boys' brains probably developed to hunt, which means lots of physical activity, punctuated by periods of intense action. Girls were gatherers, a much more focused and less physical activity.

Hopefully, educators will start to realize this and take it seriously. But education is so hamstrung these days by politicans -- and don't even get me started on standardized testing which is political not educational -- that I don't know how much can be done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

When Will It Be Over?

Digby sums up how I feel.

Five years of hearing the same thing over and over again and watching American sheeple fall for it over and over again is just too depressing. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to January 20, 2009 (and I'm of an age where rushing the future is no longer wise.) The day I no longer have to listen to one more word from this immoral, dishonest, incompetent, delusional prick will be the best day of my life.

Black Is Black

Of course, I was offended by Tim "Doughboy" Russert's questioning of Senator Obama about Harry Belafonte's recent comments, but I thought Wolcott did the best job of mocking the whole fiasco.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Keep Your Faith to Yourself

As I've mentioned before, I am jobless. The last company I worked for offered career consultants, so I went to the orientation on Monday. All was fine, except that the leader twice in the first 20 minutes related how he had prayed for a certain outcome. He did this one other time in the session.

My question is, when did it become OK to testify about your faith in a secular setting? It certainly wasn't OK in the America I grew up in in the '60s.

More than 20 years ago, I went to a management training session -- you know, one of those deals where you're in a hotel ballroom with a couple of hundred middle managers and a motivational speaker tells you how to be a better manager. At one point, the leader asked for stories from the audience of how they had overcome a problem at work and a few brave souls ventured up to the mike with the usual stories of clever management tricks. Then, a woman said that she had a co-worker who took the lord's name in vain and she prayed and prayed about it and finally he stopped. The entire ballroom went dead silent. Everyone was clearly uncomfortable. I whispered to someone at my table "I guess she thinks she's in church and is testifying." I don't remember how the instructor handled the situation, but this woman's public pronouncement of her faith was clearly an embarrassment to everyone but her.

So when did this change? Why is this acceptable? Or is it not acceptable? Should I have said something to the guy to let him know how uncomfortable I was with his professions of faith?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Favorite TV

I don't watch much TV, other than Food Network (love Michael Chiarello, think Rachael Ray is lame and creepy) but lately I've gotten hooked on Law and Order CI. Not sure why I've never watched this -- I love Vincent D'Onofrio and I'm a big fan of the original Law and Order (especially the seasons with Chris Noth and Jill Hennessy). There was a marathon of this during the holidays and that's how I got hooked. Its really terrific, and D'Onofrio's twitchiness is a marvel to watch.

I'm also a big fan of Monk. I've been watching it almost since the beginning and I actually own the boxed sets of several seasons. I'm a big Tony Shaloub fan anyway -- great actor.

The only other TV that's must-watch for me is The Sopranos. Can't wait for March and the new episodes.

Frey Scandal

When A Million Little Pieces first came out; I picked it up and read the first two pages. These, if you haven't read it, recount a flight in which the author James Frey is covered in blood, urine and vomit from one of his drug/alcohol binges. I remember thinking at the time "this did not happen." It just seemed so over the top that I didn't believe it. Guess I was right.

The other thing that bothered me about the whole story was the issue of redemption. I'm sorry, but life is just not like that. You can turn yourself around but redemption is a false concept. Its very Oprah, though, which is why she loves the book (she even said so herself on Larry King).

Wolcott says it better (duh):

I'm just automatically suspicious of every tale of woe that's peddled as a tale of redemption. The whole concept of redemption seems fishy to me, another form of sentimentality. How many people do you know have found redemption? What does "redemption" really mean? It's got a lofty religious sound, but the vast majority of people improve or worsen in varying degrees over time, and even those who radically turn their lives around or pull themselves out of the abyss still have to go on doing the mundane things we all do, often suffering relapses or channeling their sobriety and sadder-but-wiser maturity into passive-aggressive preening of their own moral goodness. Most change for better or worse is undramatic, incremental, seldom revealed in a blinding flash or expressed in a climactic moment of heroic resolve. The whole cult of "redemption" has acquired a Hollywood-holy aura emanating from the therapist's couch. And when a tale of redemption becomes a success story, it's as if the monetary reward is the special prize bestowed on spiritual growth in this bountiful, forgiving land, where each closeup tear from Oprah and her readers is worth its price in gold (closing price today: $545.70 an ounce).

That's the other rub in all of this -- the money factor. Frey and his publisher are going to stick to this story because its worth a hell of a lot of money. Is it true? Who the fuck cares if it makes a lot of money for the publisher and a movie studio?

The Point

I've been screaming at the TV lately so I guess that means its time for a post on the Alito nomination. I scream when the newscasters say stuff like "It looks like Alito will be confirmed." That was never an issue, never in contention. Of course he will be confirmed with the Repugnicans not only in the majority in the Senate, but voting in lockstep. The issue -- the news, if you will -- was/is could the Democrats make a case that this guy is out of step with the values of most Americans and will vote to change things in ways most Americans will disagree with. This was all the Democrats could hope to do here -- make it clear which party is to blame when this court starts to change our way of life.

Alito is a scary angry white man. He, like so many of the conservatives including the usurper Bush, are angry white guys trying desperately to hold on to power as they watch the world changing in ways they don't like (lots of brown people and powerful women, mostly).

And fuck his wife crying on cue.

I did laugh out loud at the Daily Show's editing of the Alito hearings and the scenes from Godfather II where Senator Geary praises Italian-Americans. Hilarious!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


The year the president became king.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


I went to see Chronicles of Narnia yesterday. It was either that or The Ringer (the Johnny Knoxville movie which I may still go see). It is definitely a children's movie, unlike Lord of the Rings. It is simplistic and heavy handed in its Christian allegory. I have never read the books and I am not a fantasy fan, so I wasn't expecting much. Given all that, its not too bad.

Tilda Swinton is very good as is James McAvoy who plays Mr Tumnus. The special effects are OK -- a definite step down from LOTR or Kong. And there were moments when I almost laughed out loud at the heavy handedness of the Chrisitan allegory.

My daughter, who has read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (the book in the series on which this movie is based) was sorely disappointed. She did not like the movie much at all (but then I think she also would've preferred seeing The Ringer).

And speaking of Narnia, you really need to watch this.