log (2004/05/21 to 2004/05/27)

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Songs of joy and protest:
Wednesday, May 26, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

This is one of those times when I'm using the log to stash a link to something that I really do want to read someday, but can't get myself to right now. Here can be found NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Which should be cool and exciting and all, but is probably annoying and political and hard to wring any good technical stuff out of.

Where's the Space Patrol we were promised, with its shiny spaceports and its Academy full of fresh-faced young pilots with bubble helmets?

From the brand-new Back To The Kitchen, The Real Story Behind Mother's Day - Ending War. As American as Motherhood, Apple Pie, and Peace Marches.

The very funny Busy busy busy offers capsule summaries of news and punditry. (I liked this summary of a Safire piece: "In the future, I will be right about all the things that I am wrong about now.")

Subject: HI Chess dilettante guardian angels behind 37

Oh, is that where they are. Thanks!

From Long Story to Atrios to an item in which we discover that the State of Texas has declared that Unitarianism isn't a relgion, because it's insufficiently dogmatic.

But according to the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Denison Unitarian church isn't really a religious organization -- at least for tax purposes. Its reasoning: the organization "does not have one system of belief."

A quick Google reveals that she's said "oops, never mind" since last week. Probably didn't want Texas to be made a laughingstock.

Too late! Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

(Not that the state should be involved in deciding which memes are "religions" in the first place, of course.)

And speaking of laughing stocks, Louisiana has voted down the proposed law banning low-slung pants. One legislator is quoted as saying that such a law would have made Louisiana "the laughing stock of the country".

Too late! Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Although we won't laugh as much as we would have if the bill had passed.

Nice to be reminded that overreachings of oppressive state power can be funny.

Let's get some politics out of the way. By now of course you know that Bush was tricked into invading Iraq by the Iranian intelligence service.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

Maybe we could buy some intelligence from the Iranians; we seem to be short of it in Certain Parts of the Country.

And from Medley,

Still, that's a pretty remarkable record, isn't it? Three of the past four CENTCOM commanders, the guys who probably understand the military requirements of a war in the Middle East better than any other humans on the planet, think the people who planned this war are completely incompetent. Quite an accomplishment.

I finally wrote up my (not especially positive) impressions of Auster's New York Trilogy. Readers who think it's a wonderful novel (or whatever it is) are invited to rebut.

Iain M. Banks, A Few Notes on the Culture (widely copied). Good stuff that I don't recall reading before (i.e. I probably cited it in the log four years ago or something).

And that's really about it for now. In my mind I'm already well into a four-day Memorial Day Weekend (but I'll try to remember it's Thursday tomorrow, and like go into work and get stuff done and all).

Saturday, May 22, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Be nice to people who
  are inferior to you.
It's only for a week,
  so have no fear.
Be grateful that it doesn't last
  all year!

That's from Tom Lehrer's "National Brotherhood Week", on the album "That Was The Week That Was". NPR played Lehrer's "The Elements" (see this very funny Flash animation of the song) on the car radio the other day, and that reminded me of Lehrer, and that reminded me of the "That Was The Week That Was" album that we had when I was a kid.

The iTunes music store doesn't have any Lehrer (boo!), but there was a nice cheap used CD on Amazon, and so now it's on my iPod and all. (I ought to buy "An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer", too, since that's the one "The Elements" is actually on. I don't think we had that one when I was little, though.)

All books can be indecent books,
  though recent books are bolder,
For filth, I'm glad to say,
  is in the mind of the beholder.

I was listening to a recent In Bed with Susie Bright on the iPod at the gym the other day, and she started reading a letter from a listener, and I thought to myself "hey, yeah, I was thinking just the same thing the other day", and as the letter went on I was thinking how thoughtful and correct it was, and (of course) eventually I realized that I had written it, and sent it to Ms. Bright back last October sometime. Hee hee.

And speaking of filth, a reader writes:

Knowing of your interest in the strange response of some humans to some words, I thought I'd draw your attention to this AskMe thread.

Interesting reading in fact; some guy's eight-year-old daughter says some naughty words getting off the school bus, and he writes in to MeFi to ask just how horribly he should punish her, and the community more or less convinces him that maybe he should worry more about why she was upset than about how she chose to express it.

From geegaw's sidebar, we read a rather chilling story about a school principal who shut down a poetry program and fired the teacher running it, because a student read a poem expressing what the principal considered unAmerican content (one scary part of the story is that it was the school's "military liaison officer" who apparently objected most strongly to the poem; I don't recall my high school having a military liaison officer).

Read much more about it here and here and on morons.org. See the school's homepage, and write to the Governor if you feel so moved.

Here's an excerpt from the poem itself:

from Revolution X
by Courtney Butler
I'm here to say that
Generation X
Is pissed and we are taking over,
Ripping down the American illusion of perfection
We are the future generation
I have my qualifications
I know it looks like Angel Soft paper,
But don't worry
It's a diploma
Do I look qualified?
You can take our toilet paper,
But you can't take our Revolution.

You can take our toilet paper, but you can't take our Revolution.

Or, as Lehrer put it in a bit of fond satire

We are the Folk Song Army,
Every one of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

I went to some Web page the other day, and this little black bug-shaped thing came up out of the bottom part of the screen and started crawling up the page, and I thought "cool, how did they do that?". And on closer inspection it turned out to be, not some clever JavaScript hack, but an actual bug crawling up my screen.

Maybe the laptop's infested with insects, and that's why it keeps crashing!

Do whatever steps you want if
You have cleared them with the pontiff

In an article about some Catholic congressman advising the Church to go easy on the whole political-pressure thing, we find noted in passing that:

On May 5, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs issued a letter saying that ordinary parishioners should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, or gay marriage.

This turns out to be entirely true, as one can verify (at the moment) on the Bishop's home page, where the letter in question occurs in both pdf and html.

As in the matter of abortion, any Catholic politician who would promote so-called "same-sex marriage" and any Catholic who would vote for that political candidate place themselves outside the full communion of the Church and may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled by the Sacrament of Penance.

In a way Bishop Sheridan is right: anyone who believes in the same narrow hate-filled version of Catholicism that he does, with its lunatic vengeful God and its fascist hierarchy of enforcer-priests with right-wing obsessions, will be more or less forced to this same conclusion. One hopes that this will result in people scorning and abandoning his version of Catholicism, rather than people voting the way he wants them to in order to avoid his wrath.

Subject: i shouldnt have, and im sorry bathtub

From the UCCU via somewhere else, we find that that cool story about the woman motorcycling alone around the Chernobyl Dead Zone that we linked awhile back is perhaps a hoax.

I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.

She did, however, bring a motorcycle helmet.

The ever-valuable Sam Sloan points out that John Forbes Kerry is the 11th Cousin of President George W. Bush. 11th cousin once removed, to be precise.

In science fiction news, Bookslut points us at this list of the 2004 Hugo Nominees. The page links to free online copies of many (most? all?) of the short works; very cool.

Oh, and speaking of science fiction I finished another book. It was fun, if silly.


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