Burb Rocking
Monday, September 25, 2006
  Clinton Hot, Cheney Not?
Clinton versus Wallace with Bob Kerrey

Bill Clinton has a temper? Yep. So does Bush, of course. So does Cheney.

Remember Cheney? Always quick on the draw with a clever retort (like this one).

I suppose the difference is that when Clinton gets hot, it's when he's falsely accused of ignoring the threat posed by Osama bin Laden. When Cheney unloads, it's only after being confronted about throwing no-bid "War on Terror" government contract money at Halliburton. Clinton loses his cool over something minor like the smirking and misplaced insinuations that the September 11th attacks are his fault. Cheney at least blows his top over something we should all be able to understand. Hearing about how the billion-dollar spigot has been turned on for Halliburton even once is still one time too many.

Besides, it's safer to provoke Clinton. Rile him up, and the most you have to worry about is him pointing a finger at you, telling you - politely, but firmly - to knock it off.

With Cheney, of course, it's another story. Remember? Quick on the draw? Unloads? Hunting season?

Letterman: Cheney Shooting Press Conference

(There's even a jailhouse ballad to remind us that Cheney doesn't play by civilized rules - a sportsman, not a gentleman.)
Friday, September 22, 2006

Joeicide! And Hannity Sucks ASS

Sort of a follow-up to the earlier stuff about the result of Lieberman being outed as a neocon-in-Democrat's-clothing. (That would be the referendum known as the Democratic primary, which Lieberman lost.) Features Samantha Bee, and damned funny.

Sidebar: I couldn't help noting which camp Colmes was in (hint: not Lieberman's).

So, yes, I have discovered YouTube. Trying not to become addicted, but it's a losing battle, of course. One more for the road? Why not?

SNL - Lord of the Rings Parody
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
  Hurricane Season
Rushed post. Good thing, too - cuts down on the rambling.

First, a couple of links:

My 911 Experience (SHOCKING video at the end of this) by T2Darlantan. You may also want to try David Cross on flags and patriotism.

The FoxNews scales will fall from your eyes. But your brain will be run through the blender (additional ingredient - plenty of vodka - recommended).

(About the low-res image below - gotta open it in a new window for a better look.)

[Posted the following just now to the way back section of the blog:]

Guess what day it is as I write this? Lucky ole September 13th, just two days after that other notably lucky day, September 11th (at least it's not a Friday). Started digging through this blog to find out just when my posts on it started becoming political. (Answer: First post.) And felt a pang when I noticed the hurricane map was gone.

That's why I'm here: addressing the dead link. I recommend this for the new map link: Message from God. From J.D. Lasica's blog: New Media Musings: Amusing Archives. The gif actually appears several times on Google Images. I just like Lasica's site.

Snopes.com, by the way, has debunked the Wrath of God hurricane hypothesis. Why are they wasting time debunking something which they themselves recognize to be "a clever bit of political humor"? Which therefore began its existence as already debunked? Must have been a slow day at the office back on September 27, 2004.

To quote one of the great minds of our time (Stephen Colbert, of course): Moving on...
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
  New York after the rain II (September 12)
Europe: After the rain...

A less virtual version (the original: "Europe after the rain II") hangs in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Completed by Max Ernst in 1942.

A much more realistic version can be found in New York, a 120-mile drive away:

Sixty years ago, these infamous words were uttered in Nuremberg:

"Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
—Reichmarshall Hermann Goering, April 1946

Only six years ago, these infamous words were uttered in New York:

"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base."
Bush And Gore Do New York (CBS), Oct. 20, 2000

And not even two years ago, these words were uttered on behalf of the Bush-Cheney election campaign:

"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called
[the timely release of the new bin Laden tape just before the election] "a little gift," saying it helps the President...
See tape as boost for Prez (New York Daily News), October 30, 2004

And then - surprise, surprise - just last month this story broke:

Plot or Ploy? by Dylan Matthews (Slate Magazine), Aug. 17, 2006

Yeah. I feel an election coming on...
Monday, September 04, 2006
  Mercury is Next! Save Pluto!

(inset-pluto by luisfernandoaranguren)

Playing politics with planets? The planetary geologists were blindsided by the dynamicists.


Less talk, more blog.

The planetary name game Opinion (Daily Herald)

Astronomers plot to overturn planet definition by David Shiga (New Scientist)

Pluto is a Planet!

Pluto demotion draws protest (AP)


Pluto vote 'hijacked' in revolt by Paul Rincon (BBC)

25 August 2006

A fierce backlash has begun against the decision by astronomers to strip Pluto of its status as a planet.

And the chair of the committee set up to oversee agreement on a definition implied that the vote had effectively been "hijacked"....

Stern said like-minded astronomers had begun a petition to get Pluto reinstated. Car bumper stickers compelling motorists to "Honk if Pluto is still a planet" have gone on sale over the internet and e-mails circulating about the decision have been describing the IAU as the "Irrelevant Astronomical Union".

'Inconvenient arrangements'

Owen Gingerich chaired the IAU's planet definition committee and helped draft an initial proposal raising the number of planets from nine to 12.

The Harvard professor emeritus blamed the outcome in large part on a "revolt" by dynamicists - astronomers who study the motion and gravitational effects of celestial objects.

"In our initial proposal we took the definition of a planet that the planetary geologists would like. The dynamicists felt terribly insulted that we had not consulted with them to get their views. Somehow, there were enough of them to raise a big hue and cry..."

(in remembrance of pluto by sobriquet . piquet —>)

Being a long-time space freak, you're hoping I can boil this down a bit more? Then how about this? Pluto is sometimes scorned as an oversized comet (or, more recently, as a monster KBO (Kuiper Belt Object)). And what is Mercury but the largest of the nickel-iron asteroids? That's the spectrum bodies in our solar system follow, with quasi-planets at either end.

My solution?

If the concern was that too many newcomers would be allowed into the planet club, the way out was easy enough: a new definition with a grandfather clause. Pluto would therefore be "grandfathered in" by virtue of having been awarded planet status before the new definition took effect. All subsequent planet discoveries would take the new planet test on a pass/fail basis.

This would basically acknowledge the force of history, as well as the cultural signifigance of the appearance of the 9th planet three-quarters of a century ago. As well, neither Neptune nor Mercury would be threatened by any revised definitions, now or in the future. The current heirarchy of the solar system would be locked in place, with small chance of anyone new showing up to crash the party.

(Yes, Neptune's in trouble, too. According to the new definition, a planet is only a planet if it has swept all rivals out of its orbit. But Neptune shares its orbit with Pluto. What's bad for Pluto is bad for Neptune? Maybe.)

My poem?

Wait, you want a poem? Oh, all right:

Underworld underdog

Dark god reining in the three-headed dog,
some bad news: dynamicists don't like you.
No one was looking: ambush sprung in Prague.
Beware the ides of this year's IAU!
Just to say this, Disney's dwarfs learned Czech:
'Meet Pluto's man, grave-spinner Clyde Tombaugh.
Your loud-mouthed minority's vote is dreck!'
Stickers say, 'Pluto's a planet - honk now!'
And planetologists are biding their time
Till Rio's party in 2009...

(nuevo configuracion sistema solar by luisfernandoaranguren)

And, just in case you're wondering if I'm just making any of this stuff up, there's already a major movement afoot by astronomers to reinstate Pluto: Petition Protesting the IAU Planet Definition. Sponsored by the Planetary Science Institute, no less. So grab yourself some popcorn and peanuts. This is going to be a real dogfight!

(Sorry, just can't stop with the puns...)
Saturday, September 02, 2006
  War at World

(So much owed by so many, to so many by GMS (Verdun))

Nope, not a typo. "World at War" sounds catchy, but the reality is actually the opposite. America is at war with the world.

Today I'm thinking about war. Actually, I think about it frequently, but don't often feel like writing about it.

Aggression drives technological advance. Our Cro-Magnon ancestors aggressively moved into Europe to compete directly with the Neanderthals already living there. The Neanderthals were not very aggressive, had reached a state of equilibrium with respect to their environment, and were no longer progressing technologically. They had found a recipe for living which suited them and saw no reason to change it.

Neanderthals are no longer around. (At least, not as a distinct species.)

So too little aggression can be a bad thing. Is there such a thing as too much?

The former Soviet Union got suckered into a ridiculous peace-time arms race with the United States. Reagan's "Star Wars" defense program - the Strategic Defense Initiative, a pet project of the current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld - has been given credit for bringing down the USSR. What's ironic here is that the US had actually been propping up the USSR for some time through mechanisms such as Nixon's wheat deal. (See also Will CCC Be Allowed to Waste More Taxpayer Dollars Propping Up Tyranny? (The Center for Security Policy).) Even more ironic: Carter terminated the subsidized wheat deal for the USSR.

(050224-N-0000X-001 by chrismn2006)

Why keep the USSR up and running? Answer: We weren't propping up the USSR, we were propping up the Cold War. That is, we were feeding the monster which Eisenhower warned would threaten our freedoms and democratic institutions: the military-industrial complex. Détente and the thawing of US-Soviet tensions threatened the military-industrial monkey on our backs. The unworkable "Star Wars" scam shored it up again. (And it's back, by the way: U.S. Test Missile Hits Mock Warhead by Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times.) The Soviet Union was already very much on the ropes, socially and economically. By the USSR allowing itself to be drawn by the US into a spending contest, check-mate was given and accepted. The Cold War game was over.

Too much aggression was a disaster for the Soviet Union.

Empires exist to exact tribute from other sovereign states. Which is to say, they are rackets set up to forcibly extract resources which belong to others. They are often economically unsustainable, since over time they invest a lopsided portion of their resources in their militaries, resources which would otherwise be dedicated to productive sectors of a healthy economy. A principal reason for the fall of Rome is simply that Rome extracted - which is to say, "took" - raw materials from her conquered provinces, shipped them East, then reimported those same materials as finished products from the East. Any raw material (copper, say) is worth more after work has been performed on it (e.g., a copper pot) than it is in its original raw state. How long could Rome sustain this trade deficit? Rome lasted centuries, even as she rotted from within. Not all empires are so lucky, however. Ask Alexander and Attila. (Don't ask Napoleon and Hitler; history's verdict on their efforts is a foregone conclusion.) The British Empire succeeded where others failed by embracing the Industrial Revolution. Britain continued to produce goods and generally kept the health of the economy as a top concern.

(No. by Cecelia... —>)

The British Empire in turn gave birth to its American successor. How long will the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) maintain American dominance? Even with the help of a new Pearl Harbor or two?

(<— The Price of Oil 8 by My Life as a Haint)

Thanks to globalization, America's manufacturing base is withering away faster than you can say World Trade Organization. We'll be joining Rome soon enough.

Meanwhile, maybe some of us are catching on?

Polls show opposition to Iraq war at all-time high by Tom Regan (Christian Science Monitor)

September 1, 2006

A series of polls taken over the last few weeks of August show that support for the war in Iraq among Americans is at an all-time low. Almost two-thirds of Americans in each of three major polls say that they oppose the war, the highest totals since pollsters starting asking Americans the question three years ago. Many of the polls were conducted in advance of the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York...

(Hope for peace (South of Lebanon) by cocolinda)

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