June 18th was EOIAS's birthday. Soon we'll have to start weaning EOIAS off of breast milk and start it on solid food. I don't foresee that transition going too well.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Unlike Smith’s cocky, smiling heroes of the past, Hancock is just offensive and stupid. His favorite warning to those he’s about to pulverize is an admonition that at least one of his villains will wind up with their head relocated in Hancock’s derriere. True enough, one time we get to see this and it’s not pretty. It’s not funny, either.Read the whole thing. It is amazing.
The screenplay, which is underdeveloped to the point of amazement for a Hollywood summer blockbuster, is credited to Vince Gilligan and Vincent Ngo. That they’ve done Smith a disservice is an understatement, but their other victims are Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman and a little boy named Jae Head. Their characters literally are abandoned to incoherence.
SEC. 803. REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION.The House of Representatives just directed NASA to plan for a mission to go assess and, dare we hope, blows up an Asteroid so that it does not hit Earth in 2029.
The Administrator shall issue requests for information on--
(1) a low-cost space mission with the purpose of rendezvousing with and characterizing the Apophis asteroid, which scientists estimate will in 2029 pass at a distance from Earth that is closer than geostationary satellites; and
(2) a medium-sized space mission with the purpose of detecting near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter.
Today is Bill Gates' last day at Microsoft before he begins his full-time focus on Philanthropy through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So today I get to bitch about philanthropy and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The problem I have with philanthropy, charitable organizations, is that their goals are short-sighted, their focus is narrow. In order to create the feeling of accomplishment they limit the scope of their pursuit and fail to acknowledge the full repercussions of their actions. For example, the Global Health Program overview for the BMG Foundation. The page notes that "millions of people" die each year in developing countries from diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. So, obviously, the thing to do is provide treatment for malaria and tuberculosis. Right? Well, let's perform a thought experiment.
Let's say that without treatment 500,000 children age eight and younger would die each year in developing countries. So we provide treatment and save their lives. Terrific, except now there are 500,000 more children to feed in developing countries. So, we donate money to farming organizations or food production. Fine, except now we have placed a greater strain on the world's food supplies. So we develop more land for agriculture, which deforests more land so impacting the world's atmosphere. And that's just food. What of the other resources those 500,000 beings require? Given that Earth's Resources are Finite was it truly beneficial to create a situation in which more people put a larger strain on developing countries?
That's just one of the many problems the BMG Foundation, and any life-saving charity creates. Sure, one could focus on the hypocrisy involved in the BMG Foundation investing its funds in companies who utilize slave labor or destroy the land and atmosphere in these developing countries. But what of simply the short-sighted solutions offered for incredibly complex problems?
HIV is another great example. The treatment is far too expensive for most individuals in third world countries to afford. So an organization donates medicine. Fine, but as the previously linked article notes, "when the free drugs are gone, patients die". Congratulations, you've created a welfare society which is not only completely not self-sufficient, but who will die off once you stop giving money. Also, the story in the article notes another aspect of HIV medication. With no means of refrigeration individuals have to maintain a daily supply of ice for their medication lest it melt. Couple that with the strict time requirements of HIV medication and an individual’s life becomes primarily a routine to combat the disease. Wake up, travel to a location for ice, bring ice home, take medicine at 10 a.m., take medicine at 10 p.m. When people are living in poverty to begin with in what way are they behooved by their enslavement to fighting the disease?
Saving lives sounds good; it is rhetorically compelling. But when one abandons rhetoric and feel-gooderies and rather objectively observes the world in which they live? This sort of charity not only ceases to make sense, as if it ever did, but also becomes more of a form of slow torture, dependence, and rampant idiocy. People need to die; this is reality. The full transformation of all locations from arid wastelands of poverty and filth to industrialized societies with Wal-Marts and Strip Clubs is fundamentally a fool's errand and impossible goal to obtain. Earth simply does not have enough shit for everyone born to live, for everyone to have what they need, or for life everywhere to be tolerable. Fuck the ideal, let's simply focus on the fact that if you cure a third world child's TB you've basically only afforded it the opportunity to enjoy a life of squalor. Oh boy!
Is that to say that one oughtn't try? Not necessarily. But one does need to have a realistic approach and abandon the platitude of "all lives, no matter where they are lived, have equal value" and rather assess the overall survival of the species. Maybe instead of curing tuberculosis we ought to focus on, say, discovering a non-polluting, cost effective fuel source which could be used the world over to provide cheap energy? Maybe instead of focusing on individual, easy to solve problems and ignore the larger picture we need to focus on the larger picture and ignore individuals.
Or maybe I've missed the point and Bill Gates can do whatever the fuck he wants since he has 58 billion dollars. I mean, currency is meaningful, right?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
We've dealt with the ambiguity of the Second Ammendment before. But today's Supreme Court ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller settles the matter, at least for now.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.Pp. 22–28.
(c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.
(d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.
(e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Today the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against a Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be utilized in child rape cases, the majority saying that invoking the death penalty violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Simply stated:
"The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child."
- Justice Anthony Kennedy
Think about that.
You don't have to be dragged into a discussion of the legalese; you don't have to explore constitutional history or judicial precedents. You don't even have to get into a discussion on the justification for the death penalty. The conversation begins and ends with "proportional punishment for the rape of a child".
I fucking dare you to fathom that.
Just attempt to enter the mindset in which "proportion" is the mechanism at which one grasps to assess child rape. Pretend your way through the thought process which begins with "What is the approximate quantification of harm which rape imposes on a child?" Locate the point of estrangement at which one must stand in order to apply "cruel and unusual" to the punishment before the act.
What is the "proportional punishment", Anthony Kennedy? What legal, judicial, bullshit fabrication can you shoddily concoct which would place upon a 43 year old man the same, proportional, harm he inflicted in an eight year old girl when he raped her. An eight year old girl sorting Girl Scout cookies in her garage, Anthony Kennedy. A child.
It is beyond unfathomable, beyond wretched, beyond deplorable. It is beyond death, beyond murder, Anthony Kennedy. To be an eight year old girl sorting cookies in your garage one moment and in the next moment to be a sexual object for your stepfather? QUANTIFY THAT, Anthony Kennedy! Articulate a proportional scenario to which we can subject that 43 year old man! Identify the particular legal qualities manifest in child rape and apply them to your delusional equation which provides a neat little package of punishment tied up with a fucking bow!!
You can't do it, Anthony Kennedy; no one can. You can't articulate rape, can't explain it, can't understand it. There is no proportion to be created or assessment to be made. You just kill him.
You kill him. You kill him and every person like him. You hunt them down, you gather them up, and you kill each and every one. You do not try to understand rape, to quantify rape, to concoct some proportional punishment to rape. He raped an eight year old girl. He dies.
It won't make the eight year old girl feel better. It won't even begin to heal or compensate for what he did to her; no one and no thing can heal or compensate for that. Rape is beyond healing or compensation. But attempts at healing, compensation are not the reasons why you kill him.
You kill him because when he saw an eight year old girl sorting Girl Scout cookies in a garage he raped her.
You kill him because rape is worse than death.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
If you read this survey of 35,000 Americans by The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life you'll probably come away from it with both an idea of what 35,000 Americans think about religion and a severe migraine. Why the migraine? Well, try this one:
There is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.
64% of Protestants agree.
77% of Catholics agree.
Ok, the foundation of Protestantism, the Protestant Reformation was the idea that Catholicism did not have a monopoly on religious truth. According to Protestantism: The Bible, Church teachings, Christianity are open to interpretation. So, really, to answer that question in a manner consistent with one's beliefs as stated by one's religious affiliation? The response ought to have been that 100% of Protestants agree while 0% of Catholics agree.
This one is even better:
Many Religions can lead to eternal life.
66% of Protestants agree.
79% of Catholics agree.
Fine, except 0% of John 14:6 agrees! "Jesus said to him, `I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"
You see my point: Religious laypeople (Or "pewfillers") do not know what the god-damned fucking hell they're talking about. They waft about on their ignorance mindlessly following and changing rules they do not understand. Which is just fucking terrific when you couple it with this shit James Dobson said yesterday about Obama:
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."
Are you fucking kidding me? Contemporary Religion is a deliberate distortion of the traditional understand of the Bible. Fuck attempting to assess what "traditional" means in a historical context. How about we just focus on reading comprehension and go from there? Regardless of your own personal feelings about Fred Phelps let's at least acknowledge that he read the fucking Bible. If that survey is any indication at least 35,000 people haven't even done that.
Obama's point, which James Dobson apparently missed, is that, well, I'll just quote him:
"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?"
Different factions of Christianity have different beliefs. So to apply one strict Christianity we would need one strict Christianity, which we obviously lack because apparently the only person capable of reading the fucking book and doing what it says is A.J. Jacobs, and he's a fucking tool.
Monday, June 23, 2008
“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”
- George Carlin
There is no blood, brains, or anima in any of the virtually identical George Carlin obituaries mindlessly replicated throughout the internet today more out of a sense of obligation than true sorrow or appreciation. Each in its own way minimalizes the life of George Carlin down to a sequence of events and a few passing references to his routines. George Carlin, when understood through these half-assed, trite, obligatory articles was merely a famous comic, a purveyor of counter-culture rhetoric and "That guy who did 'Seven Words You Can't Say on Television'."
But that is not George Carlin.
When Douglas Adams died, when Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. died, I knew that it was an end to a line of work, of writings. While I was saddened by their deaths I knew that their writings would linger on; I knew that I could continue to read Hitchhiker's, Slaughterhouse-Five. The men were dead, but it did not feel as if they were gone. When I learned that George Carlin had died...I felt alone.
George Carlin was more than just an author, an actor, an entertainer, a stand-up comic, a philosopher. George Carlin understood. And while I never met him, never saw him live, he was always a source of comfort for me. Because I knew that he was never only joking about religion, society, censorship, language, or stuff. Regardless of the particular subject George Carlin was always focused upon the fact that, in his own words:
"the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize...something is FUCKED-UP. Something is WRONG here."
That's who George Carlin was: George Carlin understood; George Carlin was right. And I took comfort in the fact that he was out there trying to get others to understand. Even if they dismissed him as an entertainer or merely humored him as he humored them...he was out there saying true things to people who needed to hear him. Yes, we still have his works. But we lost the man. And while we still have his message we lost the one most adept at communicating it.
In George Carlin we did not lose "the guy who said 'Seven Dirty Words'; we did not lose a comic. We lost a mentor, I lost a mentor, Sunday afternoon. We lost someone who was right.
And you can't replace that.