Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If you don't stop doing that, you'll grow three heads!

Gone herping lately? If so, maybe you've noticed that frog deformities seem to be on the rise, or at least in the news. Our amphibious friends are apparently the canaries in the environmental morass that we're all living in, and if extra legs can happen to them, how much longer till it happens to us?

So when some kids found a three-headed frog, the BBC sounded the warning and called on its resident wildlife expert, who was stunned by the ramifications. Now one would think that a naturalist with a masters in ecology would have recognized amplexus [that's amphibian for kinky sex] without having to consult color-coded pictures. Sheesh.

PS. Don't be too impressed by that PADI open water diver bit in his CV. It's their most basic certification. Heck, even I've got that one.

Paul Krugman and Mario Cuomo

solve all the world's problems.

I've been looking for an excuse to post this one

for whig

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


that the big guys listen to me.


I've got a crayon and nothing to scribble on!


You should read the entire post, but here's an excerpt:
2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

Also, don't click on the video if there are kids in the room.

Tom DeLay was never this good

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dodd vs Everybody Else

DemocraticLuntz has compiled a handy little [!] table comparing Dodd's voting record with those of Clinton, Edwards, and Biden [and promises to bring us more of the same].

Who needs blankets when you've got cats?

The weather has turned a mite coolish here of late. I was lying on the sofa reading a library book earlier today, the sliding glass door was open, a chill breeze was moving around the room, but I was toasty warm --- covered in 5 kittens and a cat.

And just in case you were worried about the 6th kitten...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

30 days to save the mountains

and tons of other good eco-links for your consumption.

Long live Albiwon!

[I stole that one from a commenter at YouTube]

Have I posted this one yet? If so, too bad, here it is again.

Also, Al Gore at Current TV.

You tell em, Mike!

I don't like Mike Gravel's tax plan or his health care plan [although possibly this is because I'm still fuzzy on how health care vouchers would work], but damn, I Like Mike. I'd love to have a beer with him, and I think he should be allowed into any debates that the rest of the Democratic Presidential wannabes get invited to.

From my e-mail inbox:

A Letter from Mike Gravel also posted on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the past year, I have attended 11 national Democratic debates of
which two were sponsored by corporate media giant NBC. However,
last week, NBC suddenly conjured up arbitrary polling and
fundraising requirements specifically designed to exclude me. None
of the previous debates I attended held such requirements.

When my staff called NBC directly to find out why I was now barred
from attending, Chuck Todd, NBC news' political director, told us
that there were three criteria we did not meet, namely that I had
not campaigned in New Hampshire and/or Iowa at least 14 times in
the past year, that I was not polling at 5% and that I hadn't
raised $1 million.

It is clear that NBC just wants me out of the race. This was made
evident by the fact that NBC did not even inform me of its
arbitrary criteria before making the decision to stifle my
campaign. NBC's Todd waited until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to
inform my staff that I was not invited to the Oct. 30 debate at
Drexel University in Philadelphia. That's a fact!

Since I announced my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for
President of the United States on April 17, 2006, I have certainly
traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa at least 14 times. And,
according to a recent CNN poll, I am tied with Joe Biden, Dennis
Kucinich and Chris Dodd.

NBC claims I haven't raised enough money to qualify. I'm proud of
the fact that I don't collect millions from special interests (or
fugitives like Norman Hsu). The reason why Senator Hillary Clinton
seems to have a fundraising scandal every month is because money
has corrupted our democracy. By stifling my voice on the basis of
fundraising dollars, NBC is reinforcing the power of money over our
national political discussion and our freedom.

But why has NBC suddenly come up with "requirements" designed to
exclude me from the debate?

NBC's decision is proof that our corporate media do not want a
genuine debate over our impending war with Iran. During the last
debate I was the only one to aggressively confront Senator Clinton
over her vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist
organization. Had I not brought up the subject, seasoned NBC
commentator Tim Russert, the moderator of the Sept. 26 debate,
would not have even asked about it.

Most Americans still don't appreciate the gravity of that vote and
they don't understand that our government is intentionally raising
roadblocks to diplomacy. Corporate media have once again failed to
investigate how Bush and a compliant congress have set us on the
warpath. Instead the media simply parrots the demonization of
Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the administration's unproven
accusations against Iran. NBC and the other corporate media have
jumped on the war bandwagon and they are determined to shut up
anyone who tries to stop it.

The fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world's
leading military contractors, is frightening and certainly smacks
of censorship directed at the most outspoken critic of the
influence that the military-industrial complex holds over this
great nation. In the past decade, GE has benefited financially from
the global war on terrorism and currently holds almost $2 billion
in military contracts .

So I ask that anyone, who is as concerned as I am about the power
of the mainstream media and the military-industrial complex, speak
out in support of my campaign today.

A here are 3 powerful things you can do:

1. Sign the online petition to have me included in the debate!

2. Contact NBC and GE and tell them they are wrong for trying to
stifle my campaign! Here are there emails you can copy/paste into
your "TO:" field of your email.,,,,,,

3. Email the DNC at

Finally, since the powers that be now require that I raise $1
million in order to participate in the debates, please make a
donation to my campaign.

I will not stop. In fact, this fuels my fire even more.

Unlike my fellow candidates, I am not focused on raising millions of
dollars; I am focused on fixing representative government. Help us
reach that arbitrary threshold for financing and I will continue
to fight for democracy and peace for all of us, not just the

My web site:

On a personal note, I want to thank the many volunteers who made my
recent swing through Florida such a huge success. I will be
attending the Florida Democratic Party Convention and the United
For Peace And Justice (UFPJ) Southeast Regional Rally & March in
Orlando on Oct. 27. For more information on these events, email
David Nelson-VanDette , Florida State Director.

If you live anywhere near Philly, we are planning an event at
University of Pennsylvania on Oct. 30, the night of the debate. If
you live in the area and would like to attend, please contact my
office via email at

Official Mike Gravel 2008 Campaign | P.O. Box 948 | Arlington, VA 22216-0948

Define "improve"

Not finished reading yet, but "improving the food stamp program" seems to include:

more fresh fruit and veggies [good]
expand access for some folks [good]
take away access for some others [sigh... ]

Compassionate conservatism = gotta conserve that compassion because it's one of those finite commodities that we don't have very much of. These people should maybe go meditate on a mountaintop with some Buddhist monks somewhere. For, like, years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

God Bless Michelle Malkin

It looks like a bit of work went into drafting this act, so probably this paragraph predates the Graeme Frost bashfest. Still, without Malkin's incessant blathering, fewer people would have been aware of the difference between [or even the existence of] means testing and asset testing when it comes to applying for public assistance.

In our incresingly predatory social and financial climate, we've made it as humilitaing and dehumanizing to ask for help, and to force someone to become completely destitute before throwing them a few crumbs is not only cruel, it is stupid.

Both the social and economic costs are so much higher if you stand idly by and watch people tumble into tiger traps when you could have prevented their falling onto the sharpened and hardened stakes just by sticking your hand out a few moments earlier, snatching them back, in that Wile E Coyote moment, onto solid ground.


Senator Lugar R-IN is a man after my own heart [how in the hell did he end up a Republican?]. From his statement introducing the FRESH Act, his proposed amendment to the farm bill:
I’ve managed my family’s 604-acre corn, soybean and tree farm in Indiana for the last half century, and I’ve served on the Ag Committee for three decades.
Crop insurance, not subsidies. Money for biofuels. Money for specialty crops. Money for environmental and conservation programs. Improve the food stamp program [define improve]. Food for poor kids in the summer [because there aren't free school lunches if you're out of school]. Saves $3 billion over the next five years.

What's not to like?

Is it really as good as it sounds? Dunno. Where I'll be hanging out this evening:

Monday, October 22, 2007

This one's for me

but you can read along if you like, Farm Bill 2007, it's in the Senate now.

text of the bill


That doesn't work. To look up a bill [using the farm bill as a specific example] start here.
  1. Type the bill number [hr 2419] into the Search Bill Text box, choose the Bill Number button, and click on Search.
  2. As of this posting, there are 4 versions of the bill. Click on the link to the version you want. I used the one labelled (Placed on Calendar in Senate) H.R.2419.PCS.
  3. That brings up the table of contents for the bill [all nicely hyperlinked].
  4. If you want to see the amendments, click on Link to the Bill Summary & Status file at the top of the page.


other information

CBO cost estimate

Senator Lugar to introduce FRESH Act [amendment] Tues Oct 23

I can't tell for sure, but it looks like you can call and say something about it [FRESH Act]

When: Tuesday, October 23, 3:15pm

How: Call: 866-740-1260; passcode: 572331

Why: The FRESH Act would provide an innovative, cost-saving farm safety net while overhauling crop subsidy programs, which currently help only one-third of American farmers. It would provide $6 billion more than the current farm bill in funding for farm conservation programs that help farmers improve water quality, air quality, and wildlife habitat and protect working farm and ranchland from sprawl. These reforms also would align our agricultural programs with our international obligations at the World Trade Organization. The FRESH Act would encourage a healthy food supply and would provide greater funding for nutrition programs.

CONTACT: Sean Crowley of Environmental Defense, +1-202-572-3331 or

Why it's so hard to cut out the subsidies for Big Agriculture: food stamps and some other programs that help low income people eat are also part of the farm bill. No fat for rich corps = no food for poor folks.

Not that that's the only problem.

Some blogs and such, on farm policy:
Mulch blog

FDL book salon: Paul Krugman

I haven't been keeping up --- it already happened --- but you can read about it here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some of the things that newspapers are supposed to do

Investigative reporting. Intelligent analysis. Fact-checking.

I don't agree with some of their calls -- for instance, I don't think Gravel deserves Pants on Fire for this one -- but the idea of real true fact-checking, complete with links to sources, has been missing from MSM outlets for too long. It's a start.

Kudos to the St Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly for taking a stab at it.

update 10-22-07: just a couple of small edits...

Draft Katherine Harris

The Republicans are selling themselves down the river and the party is imploding [finally!] but this doesn't let the Democrats off the hook. They've still got work to do. So what are they doing here in Florida?


found it here

Friday, October 19, 2007

I want to be a Hemingway cat

but only after we get the FDA's claws out of their furry little lives.

Oh, and there's no leash law in Key West. The minute I set eyes on that island I knew it was an idyllic place to live.


The Peace Alliance

Campaign to establish a US Department of Peace.

The care and feeding of your Florida lottery tickets

#1 -- Don't run them through the washer and dryer.

Okay, so that's not exactly what it says, but the first item under How To Care For Your Ticket is Keep your Florida Lottery tickets cool and dry.

Chris Dodd might be worth a closer look.

Update 1: from comments, Steve points to this from David Sirota [I haven't read it yet].
Sirota's three examples of Dodd's bourgeois attitude seem to boil down to:
  1. Dodd used a legal but possibly ethically-challenged campaign fund-raising move
  2. Dodd got legislation passed that would limit fraud suits brought in the name of stockholders
  3. Congress is even now working on expanding NAFTA [Sirota doesn't mention Dodd in particular on this issue]
Rebuttals [of a sort]:
  1. Obama and Clinton are using "bundlers" too, but I admit I haven't specifically looked into whether any of their bundlers stand to gain or lose from legislation they might or might not support
  2. The legislation essentially favors corporations over individuals, but that was 12 years ago; it's possible that Dodd's outlook on squashing the little guys has softened somewhat
  3. Dodd is definitely pro-FTAs [free trade agreements] and makes no bones about it, but he did vote against the latest CAFTA because he felt it didn't have strong enough workers' rights protection [workers in the other countries, I'll point out]. Dodd on trade issues.
On balance, Dodd is for the elite and wealthy first, and the average American second, but that's not an unexpected position for someone who was born into an elite class. The more important question is just how big a gap between his class and the rest of us he is working to mainatain. I don't have a good answer on that one, but if he only wants a moderate gap and is willing to share a fair and reasonable amount of the wealth with the rest of us, I could live with it.

Update 2: If you live on a coast, Dodd does not feel your pain. The Senate Banking committee [Dodd is chairman] has been working on reforming the flood insurance program, but they decided not to expand it to cover wind. Dodd: "We couldn't answer the implications of cost."

If you live in hurricane alley, you understand the implications of this, and if you don't I'm not going to explain it to you. The committee did decide to refer the issue a study commission at least, but I'm less than thrilled with their idea of an appropriate mix of job titles for commision members. One scientist? Scientist in what field? And if they're worried about cost implications, nowhere on that list do I see an expert in the "costs" of displacing huge numbers of people who move en masse to other cities and states because [1] they cannot afford [or even get at any price] homeowners insurance or [2] they cannot afford to fix up their homes on their own if the insurance companies weasel out of paying.

Update 3: Kenneth points out in the comments that the DNC has no actual power to refuse delegates at the convention, that power rests with the nominee. Your vote will count, no matter who you choose to vote for. True, Madam Speaker herself assures us on that first point, and I've never completely believed that they'd refuse anybody's delegates at the convention anyway.

As for my vote not counting, I admit to indulging in a small bit of hyperbole on that one. Florida is a populous state, and everybody and their cousin is going to be watching to see who we vote for, whether or not the Democratic party decides to officially count our votes. There's no way we cannot have some effect. Unfortunately, Florida has become the poster child for dysfunctional elections, leading me worry that while my vote will get noticed, it still might not count.

Original post:

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd [apologies for the white hare video] habla espanol. Fluently, from his days in the Peace Corps. Unlike both Dubya and Al Gore.

Chris Dodd on the Issues
I'll just briefly run down the list and make some random remarks as they occur to me.

Iraq: complete redeployment by April 30, 2008. Good date, not sure I like the word redeployment, since it implies leaving troops in the region, rather than bringing them home.

Foreign Affairs Policy: A Lifetime of Bold Engagement in the World. Does sound a bit like Imperialism Lite, but I haven't read any of it yet, so don't listen to me [too much] on this one.

Restoring the Constitution. He's been putting his ideas into action on this one alreaady. I like them so far, the ideas and the actions.

A Secure Dignified Retirement for Every Senior. Lots of good ideas here. I read most of this section, but I like to have time to mull over new ideas. I'm not sure any of the other candidates have put this much thought into this segment of the population and I like Dodd for doing so.

Energy and the Environment.
One of his more deatiled sections. I like that. I also like a lot of what I see, just in skimming it, though I always reserve the right to change my mind later after digging into it.

National Service.
Looks like he'd encourage everyone to do something akin to the Peace Corps, either here or abroad. The Peace Corps has certainly been criticized, often rightly so, for interfering in and foisting unworkable "solutions" onto other cultures' "problems." Still, I like the idea, especially if it results in noticeable increases in teachers, doctors, other needed services in rural and inner city areas of the United States that are grossly underserved right now.

Education. A long one, and I haven't looked at it, but includes K-12 and higher education.

Affordable Health Care for All Americans. Meh. It's the generic Demoplan [as Paul Krugman calls it]. You could just as Easily call it Corporate Welfare for Big Insurance. One thing I do like, he's got a nice table comparing his plan to everybody else's.

Labor and Economic Opportunity.
It starts of with Strengthening Our Middle Class, so his heart's in the right place. Another one I haven't read yet.

Supporting First Responders. I've been one myself [sorta] so I like his emphasizing this. We'll need this if the "security" of our "homeland" ever does come under fire [or microbes, or nukes, or... ]

He's got some other links in the sidebar on LGBT, Family and Medical Leave, Home Ownership and Prosperity, to name a few that I haven't already linked to above.

Here's more on Chris Dodd, including some criticisms. I see he's for free trade and tort reform. Gak.

And finally, some YouTube for ya. The sound quality is awful, but they're in a metal barn in the pouring down rain [I can identify]. I leave it to you to decide of some white-hared dude from the Northeast can connect with the farmers of flyover country.

Spicy Spam Kabobs

I kid you not. I was checking on the contents of the spam folder in my gmail account just now, and this recipe was the featured link.

When voting is outlawed, only outlaws will vote!

My primary vote isn't going to count for anything, so I was planning to spend it on Kucinich, because he's the only candidate who is truly proposing single-payer not-for-profit health insurance for everyone, but instead, I may have to cast it for Senator Dodd, one of the few Democrats who appears to have a spine at the moment.

New favorite blog

Secrecy News

found it following one of the links in dan's post on the perfidy of at&t [and cronies]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

If you're small and on a search

I've got a video for you to watch.

found it at Bird Anonymous, thanks to catnapping

I've been following my offspring around the intertubez. They're an eclectic and engaging bunch, and kids, don't try this at home, but the fairly high coefficient of inbreeding has produced some notable results. I'm especially indebted to Claude for re-posting that Dolly Lyons link, but Keifus has my favorite transformation so far, changing the best sexy song to the best drinking song.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

Bryan has tagged me for The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

  • You can leave them exactly as is.
  • You can delete any one question.
  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.
  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.
  • You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My grandparent is archy.
My parent is Why Now?

The best comic fantasy *novel in SF/Fantasy is: The Complete Compleat Enchanter by L Sprague deCamp and Fletcher Pratt.

The best “bad” movie in scientific dystopias is: **A Clockwork Orange.

The best sexy song in pop is: “I'm No Angel” as performed by Greg Allman.

The best Gulf and western album in country music is: A1A by Jimmy Buffett

In order to keep mutation alive, I’m passing the meme on to:

Keifus, because Keifus Writes
Dogscratcher, of Tainted Ideals
Claude, the Self-Absorbed Boomer
Achaeopteryx, because Notes from a Transitional Fossil must absolutely be included in anything that mutates

* yeahyeahiknow, it's really a collection of shorter works
** loosely interpreting both bad and scientific

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Qwestion authority

Some time back, I looked at switching my long-distance phone service to Qwest, and stuck with AT&T instead. Silly me. Qwest had a somewhat unsavory reputation at the time, but unlike AT&T, they appear to have been the lone holdout in the NSA spying jubilee.

Even more interesting:
Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Waging Preemptive Peace

Al Gore and the IPCC share the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. WTF? A lot of folks are going to be scratching their heads, wondering how on Earth the melting of a couple of giant ice cubes at the top and bottom of the planet has got anything to do with Peace, so here ya go: a couple of doom and gloom reports, along with a bit of possibly inappropriate background music.

A tiny and mindless act of subversion

In an attack of pure cussedness, I decided to vote in the Republican Internet Primary Poll brought to you by the good folks of NewsMax. Goodness only knows what barking moonbatness will now fill my e-mail inbox, but it seems a small price to pay in exchange for casting one vote each for Ron Paul, Alan Keyes, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain [not necessarily in that order].

The link to the poll, if you participate, will then take you to a page where you can get a FREE Kaito Emergency World Band Radio Worth $35! but only if you subscribe to NewsMax magazine. I'd like to have the radio, but not at that price. I did, however, find some entertaining articles at the front page.

Texas mayors: Mr Bush, tear down this wall! They're against fencing out the Mexicans, which is cool, but they want to widen and deepen the Rio Grande instead of building a wall. Oh, and cut down all the vegetation on the banks of the river so the aliens won't have any place to hide if they do make it across the moat.

I wonder if they'd be in the market for some Florida alligators? That could solve our latest tax squabbles, if the Sunshine State started farming and selling baby alligators. Lottery tickets with a bite, how cool is that?

In the Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship category: A state representative abruptly left the Republican Party and became a Democrat, the first time in 20 years that a Colorado lawmaker has switched parties. Rep. Debbie Stafford, 55, who also is a minister, said the Republican Party no longer represents her values. Party Reaction: State Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams said Stafford was on the way out the door and that the change would not have a major effect. "This is not exactly a profile in courage, since she is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in that House district," Wadhams said.

The Democratic Party is already overrun with moderates, centrists, conservatives, and other triangulating mythical creatures, but a decimation of the modern day Republican Party isn't all bad, whatever the means.

Update, 10/14: the spam filter has automatically directed e-mail from NewsMax to the spam box, without any help from me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stingray feeding time at the zoo

we like mellow mut because lord knows we need to maintain a peaceful lifestyle with this many of us in one small space

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dennis Kucinich will be appearing on Comedy Central's 'The Colbert Report'

Dear [hipparchia],

Dennis will be appearing on Comedy Central's 'The Colbert Report' this Tuesday, October 16th at 8:30pm ET. Throughout this presidential campaign, Dennis has talked about serious issues affecting this country, such as the war in Iraq, the eradication of our civil liberties, the healthcare crisis and other important problems. This Tuesday, we will have the opportunity to see the comical side of Dennis, as he accepts Stephen Colbert's challenge to Empty his Pockets!

Please join supporters nationwide in hosting a campaign house party this Tuesday during the Colbert Report's showing. Please invite 10 guests to your house party and ask them to donate $10, $15, $20, or $25 to the campaign. Together, we will enjoy a good laugh this Tuesday as Dennis empties his pockets!

Also feel free to visit and utilize our action center to locate guests who may like to attend your house party. If you would like to host a house party and need help using the Action Center, please e-mail me at

If you are able to host a house party during Dennis' appearance on The Colbert Report, please e-mail me at to let us know!

Strength through Peace,

Vin Gopal
National Field Director
Kucinich for President

Christopher Houdini

Not too long ago, the kittens that were born under the bed and have lived their entire cute little fuzzy lives indoors began to want very badly to go outside. Living with a large dog means that opportunities to slip out the front door abound, and I'm always very careful to count cute little fuzzy heads whenever I take the dog out for a walk.

One day last week the dog and I came in from a walk to find almost every single cat clustered around the front door. Not an unusual occurence, but they generally disperse once they figure the door isn't going to magically open up again anytime soon. This time, not only did they not disperse, but the dog joined them.

Uh oh. One of the tiny fluffy black cats must have snuck out, under cover of the large fluffy black dog. Sure enough, I tracked the faint plaintive mewing and found the once-adventurous weightless ball of fluff hiding in the groundcover.

This proved traumatic for nearly the entire household, and for now nobody hangs out by the front door, seeing as how it magically sucks helpless kitties into a black hole. But all are safe and sound and happy and Christopher Houdini kitten has taken to blogging as an alternate means of exploring other worlds.

I say nearly the entire houshold. Curmudgeon cat prays very hard, probably to some catly Cthulu, every time the front door opens, hoping that all the other cats will be sucked out into outer space and never return.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

door cat

subbing for ceiling cat

Number of times I've assaulted a police officer: 2

Number of times I've been tasered: 0

I am mostly a well-behaved and not-at-all-imposing person, and I think I only left one small bruise on that one dude that one time, but it's probably a really good thing that I got old and creaky and slightly mellower before tasers became popular, because apparently it doesn't take all that much these days.

Oh gee, what a surprise.

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Barack Obama on universal health care

Hillary Clinton on universal health care

Dennis Kucinich on universal health care

John Edwards on universal health care

On fighting the special interests [for-profit insurance companies, for example]: "You can never join them. You just have to beat them."

On setting a deadline for universal health care: "There is no excuse for the President, and for the Cabinet and for members of Congress to have health care when America doesn't have health care."

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Medicare Audits Show Problems in Private Plans

Just a sampling from the NYT article:
  • The same insurance companies that offer stand-alone drug plans also sell Medicare Advantage plans, which provide a full range of benefits including coverage of doctor’s visits and hospital care. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has grown rapidly, to more than 8 million, from 4.7 million in 2003. Federal auditors found the same types of violations in both parts of the program.
  • In March, Sierra Health Services ended drug coverage for more than 2,300 Medicare beneficiaries with H.I.V./AIDS, saying they had not paid their premiums. In many cases, the premiums had been paid, and beneficiaries had canceled checks to prove it. Sierra initially refused to reinstate them, but eventually agreed to do so after repeated requests from federal officials. Peter O’Neill, a vice president of Sierra, said this particular drug plan, which attracted people with very high drug costs, would not be offered in 2008.
  • Two sponsors of popular Medicare drug plans, MemberHealth and Bravo Health, did not act on requests for coverage of specific drugs within 72 hours, as required by the government. Bravo did not comply with federal rules requiring doctors to review all claims denied for a “lack of medical necessity.”
  • Kathleen Healey, a lawyer at the Alabama Department of Senior Services, said: “Despite the prohibition of door-to-door marketing, agents arrive on residents’ doorsteps stating that the president sent them, or that they represent Medicare. Some telemarketers insist they are calling from Medicare, and they tell beneficiaries that they will lose their Medicare if they do not sign up for the telemarketer’s plan.”

If Nellie Bly can go around the world in 72 days, can we get out out of Iraq in __?

100,000 U.S. troops could leave soon: Iraq president

By Susan Cornwell | October 7, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 100,000 U.S. troops could return home from Iraq by the end of 2008, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in an interview aired on Sunday, although he proposed that several American military bases stay in Iraq.

Speaking on CNN television, Talabani envisioned faster U.S. troop reductions than U.S. commanders have discussed in public. But he stressed that the pace of withdrawal was up to those commanders and did not explain w hy he foresaw a faster pullout.

Probably the Kurds just want us out of there [Talabani is Kurdish] because they are gearing up to start pumping and [more importantly] selling oil. They've already signed several prodution sharing agreements, and expect to sign more of them shortly. The rest of Iraq has been recalcitrant about signing onto the BushCheney Oil Law -- PSAs for All! -- but the Kurds, who are living on top of about 40% of Iraq's oil, are gung ho on them. Perhaps the Bush administration is counting on a Kurdish President, one whose province is [soon to be] making money hand over fist, to sucker the rest of the Iraqis into following suit.

It would certainly help the Republican Party in the 2008 elections if all that happened.

Of course, the part that I hate is that my little project of the past week has now been scooped [but you get to hear about it anyway].

Just how fast could we leave Iraq?

Not so long ago, the Democratic candidates were all tripping over each other to be the one who was least precipitous. Three months! No, six months! No, a year! No, two years! We can't possibly move 150,000 troops in anything less than a [pick one] time frame.

I call horsefeathers. Some nice round numbers for ya: we have 160,000 troops in Iraq, we can move 4000 troops/day [3000-3500 regularly, nearly 5000 if we try harder] = 40 days. And that's bringing a few hundred tons of cargo along for the ride each time too.

According to all those daily airpower summaries, Air Force C-17s [of which there are 150 total] and C-130s [314 total] have been doing all the heavy lifting [!], but the Air Force has also got 111 C-5s. That's 575 big fat aircraft, each of which can carry, give or take, 100 troops at a time. Plus, the Navy's got some C-130s, though they're not saying how many. That's 57,500+ people in one swell foop.

So, if we really got in a hurry, if we decided to cut and run and leave a lot of stuff behind, if we pressed each one of those aircraft into service, and if each one flew once every 24 hours, we could be out of there in 2-3 days.

I'm just sayin'.

And just in case you were wondering: the Multi-National Force - Iraq has an official website.

Where are they now?

Those six wandering nuclear warheads, did anybody say where they ended up once they were discovered in Louisiana?

The latest news I can find [I didn't try very hard] is that they're blaming it on nuclear and exactly identical non-nuclear warheads being stored together in the same place. I don't which scares me more, the fact that they might really be storing the two together, or the fact that this might be a lie that they're feeding us to direct our attention away from whatever it is they'd like to cover up.

Urban birds

They're both tough and sensitive; brand-sensitive, that is.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Overnight arrests of monks continue in Rangoon

By admin | October 5, 2007

Irrawaddy - Wai Moe : Five monasteries were raided in Rangoon and about 36 monks were arrested overnight on Wednesday, after receiving beatings from soldiers. Burmese soldiers patrol the streets in downtown Rangoon.
“They (soldiers) came and searched for monks on their lists,” a monk told The Irrawaddy. The soldiers had photographs of monks, and if they found a monk who was in a photograph, they arrested all the monks in the monastery, said the monk.

Raided monasteries included Shwetaungpaw, Dhammazaya and Sandilayama monasteries in South Okkalapa Township and Zayawaddy and Pannitayama in North Okkalapa Township. Two mobile telephones that belonged to monks were also seized by troops, said the source.
The raids in the North Okkalapa monasteries started around 10 p.m. and ended in early morning, said Nilar Thein, a leader of the 88 Generation Students group.

“Monks requested soldiers not to use violent acts on them. But soldiers neglected their requests.” she said.

The raids on monasteries in South Okkalapa Township began at midnight and ended at dawn. Everyone in the monasteries, including laymen, women and children, were taken away.

Security forces also entered a monastery at Chauk Htat Gyee Pagoda in Rangoon searching for specific monks.

At Maggin Monastery in Rangoon, authorities took photographs of HIV positive laypeople that are housed at the monastery and questioned them regarding interviews with a foreign radio station.

Sometimes arrests are like “kidnappings,” said one source, because soldiers might ask for up to 200,000 kyat (about US $130) for the release of unimportant detainees.

Overnight raids on monasteries began on September 26, the day the junta started its crackdown on peaceful protesters.

“I also heard some monks under detention at GTI (the Government Technology Institute) died,” said a Rangoon resident.

Soldiers are also looking for people who provided water or food to monks during the mass protests, said one source.

Also on Wednesday night, soldiers, searching for information, entered the home of a prominent former student leader, Min Ko Naing, who is under arrest.

In Taungdwingyi in central Burma, three men, Aung Ko, Kyaw Naing and Bo Ni, were arrested around midnight on Wednesday. All are members of the National League for Democracy.

According to Rangoon residents, security checkpoints are still scattered around the city. Soldiers stop and search civilians, particularly young people who carry bags.

Dissidents in Rangoon estimate there are 1,200 monks detained among an estimated 3,000 people arrested during the mass protests in Burma.

Monks are currently detained in Insein Prison, the Government Technology Institute and Kyaikkasan Stadium in Rangoon. Many monasteries in Rangoon remain locked up, and monks are unable to go out for alms, say Rangoon residents.

Topics: Daily News |

Blog mini-activism

And one that I can do from here, in the comfort and safety of my living room. Click on the image to read more.

Free Burma!


No kittens tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stuffing the ballot box. Again.

I don't remember now just exactly how I discovered it, but you can still vote in Jeff Miller's health care will raise your taxes poll if you want to. I haven't a clue whether or not it would influence anything, but I've been stuffing the ballot box again. That's me, votes number 517, 518, and 519.

[update 5-2008: poll no longer available, dangnabbit]

keeping tabs




Where have all the women gone?

Hi, readers.

I’m writing a small column item for Monday’s Caucus blog about why more men seemed to be involved in politics online than women. I wondered if you 1) agreed with that and 2) why or why not.

Short answers are best, by 6 p.m. today, if possible.

Just post your comments right here on the blog.

Many thanks,
Kit Seelye
Web Correspondent
The New York Times

She posts this at 10am and wants responses by 6pm. Well, the blogosphere is notable for immediacy, among other things, but honestly now, couldn't she have waited a few more hours? There really are people in this world who don't blog from work. Or am I the only dinosaur?

Several commenters posted late anyway [no, I'm not any of them] and more power to them I say.

In spite of my irritation with the short deadline and with the rampant sexism in the comments [even from some of the women!] I was looking forward to reading her article, expecting some insight or analysis, seeing as how she's a woman writing for the Politics section of the NYT.

Bah. Basically she just regurgitates the comments. If you've ever wondered if the MSM is stealing from you, fellow bloggers, the answer is Yes. At least Ms Seelye is openly letting the bloggers and commenters do the heavy lifting, and she provides some attribution.

Anyhoo, somewhere along the line, in the same vein, I ran across The Updated Pew News IQ Quiz in which I prove that I am smarter than both the men and the women. Or not. I thought the questions were ridiculously easy and the answers were ridiculously apparent. It could be that instead of being smarter than you, I just need to get a life.

Take the quiz yourself.

One thing I found interesting, the old folks got more right answers than the under-30 crowd [or even the under-50 crowd, for that matter] except for one question. You'll recognize it when you get there.

[blogging is hard work]