May 31, 2006

What would you do with $400M?

ExxonMobil's Chief Executive Lee Raymond is getting a sweet retirement package.

$400 million dollars.
Since becoming chief executive in 1993, Mr Raymond had become infamous for his dismissive response to environmental lobbyists at previous annual meetings. He has funnelled $19m of Exxon's money to groups that question the science of global warming. His package of pension and perks includes a bodyguard, a car and driver, and use of a company jet, plus a $1m-a-year deal to stay on as a consultant.
How obscene. Aside from the fact that this overbloated retirement package is indicative of the windfall profits the oil industry enjoys while the rest of us have to take our bikes to work or ride the bus in order to save some money on gas, who the hell needs $400 million dollars? I mean, give me just 10% of that, and I'd be set for life.

Oh, and let's not forget that Raymond has been dubbed the "Darth Vader of Global Warming" because of Exxon's vehement opposition to the Kyoto treaty as well as reluctance to look into alternative energy sources [emphasis mine]:
Exxpose Exxon is encouraging consumers to boycott Exxon Mobil's service stations, which include the Esso brand. The coalition includes Friends of the Earth, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace, which has disrupted Exxon board meetings and speeches by Mr Raymond over several years.

Ben Stewart, of Greenpeace UK, said: "Exxon bosses are the Darth Vaders of global warming. They have run a 50-year-long campaign of dirty tricks designed to block action on the greatest threat to humanity. In years to come, the campaign by this company will be regarded as nothing less than a crime. There are striking parallels with the propaganda campaigns run by tobacco companies in the Sixties, but the damage done by this company could be much greater." Richard Heede, of Climate Mitigation Services - whose Friends of the Earth-commissioned report attempted to calculate Exxon's total carbon dioxide and methane emissions, plus those of end customers burning its oil and gas - said Exxon was still responsible for at least 500 million tons of carbon a year.
The timing of this stupid-ass compensation package couldn't be better, seeing as how Gore's An Inconvenient Truth has just come out and is just starting to open up in more theatres nationwide. I'm hoping that the war on global warming picks up momentum.

May 30, 2006

Pat Robertson's War on Academia

That crazy old bat, Pat "Crazy Legs" Robertson, has identified a new enemy: College Professors. Via Crooks and Liars:
ROBERTSON: Ladies and gentleman this is a fascinating book. If you want to, you'd better take your blood pressure medicine before you read it, but it's "The Professors: The 101 most dangerous academics in America" and that's just a short list of the 30-40,000 of them, they're like termites that have worked into the woodwork of our academic society and it's appalling. This is available at and book stores everywhere, and you really ought to read it and be informed.

TERRI: It's interesting that so many conservatives haven't seen this because decades ago we were told that infiltrating education was the way to take over the country, we should have been on alert.

ROBERTSON: They gamed it, these guys are out and out communists, they are radicals, you know some of them killers, and they are propagandists of the first order and they don't want anybody else except them. That's why Regent University for example is so terrifically important and why we're setting up an undergraduate program that hopefully will see shortly 10,000 students, and then from there 250,000 because you don't want your child to be brainwashed by these radicals, you just don't want it to happen. Not only brainwashed but beat up, they beat these people up, cower them into submission. Ahhh! "The Professors", read it.
My friend Ann, who's getting her Ph.D. so she --- according to Robertson --- can become one of those killer professors who'll no doubt "brainwash and beat up" her students into submission, is totally pissed. And rightfully so. Actually, what's "infiltrating education" (except at Robertson's Regent University, of course), is free thinking and intellectualism.

Or at least we hope it continues that way.

And who the FUCK wants to go to Regent University anyway? They're not even top tier. Pfft.

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

I thought it'd be a good idea to celebrate Memorial Day by watching Fahrenheit 9/11, but all it did was succeed in pissing me off.

And that was just the part before the opening credits.

May 27, 2006

My Genetic Journey

So a few months ago, I sent away for my DNA sampling kit that would allow me to participate in The Genographic Project, sponsored by National Geographic.

Because I'm a woman, they can only study my mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on from woman to (female) child, and so on. By studying mutations in your DNA (for men) and mitochondrial DNA (in women), and the mutations that become evident in your DNA sequence, geneticists can trace the path your ancestors took when they left East Africa some 170,000 years ago.

My results are back, and while I'm only getting one side of the story, it's still pretty interesting. I expected a lot more mutations in my mitochondrial DNA, but only have two. (Or is it one?) In any case, it's pretty cool.

Fighting the war on war .. one yuppie at a time.

Mags' Marines stormed through E-ville and Piedmont this weekend, fighting the good fight and supporting the cause. Here's a few snapshots from their tour of duty:

Activism begins at home.

Fortified with a cup o' joe and a sesame seed bagel, and emboldened by the news that bloggers share the same sheild laws traditional journalists enjoy, Mags' Marines were ready for battle.

First stop: Piedmont Grocery

Tiny tanks need parking spaces too:

"Hello? Bush lied."

Keeping watch at the Amtrak station in E-ville:

What's really in that tank?

Mags' Marines also stopped to pay homage to another fallen soldier, and to honor those fighting a different kind of war ...

(Cross-posted at the Kommandos Project.)

They had me at AOL

This article lists the 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

AOL was listed first, and for that, can I get an 'amen'?

(Inspiration from, and title shamelessly lifted from Jet's post at Bring It On!)

May 26, 2006

Modern-day slavery

Ugh. And these people were Filipinos too.

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) -- A federal jury found a wealthy suburban couple guilty Friday of harboring an illegal immigrant and forcing her to work as their maid for 19 years.

The Filipino national testified during the eight-day trial that she felt like a prisoner in Jefferson and Elnora Calimlim's home.


Jefferson N. Calimlim's attorney, Tom Brown, told jurors the couple had plenty of money to hire an American worker. He said Elnora Calimlim wanted a Filipino maid because she had one while growing up in the Philippines, and she wanted only to help a fellow Filipino.

Elnora Calimlim testified Martinez earned $150 a month for the first 10 years and $400 a month thereafter. Most of the money went to Martinez's parents, who French said received about $18,000 over the 19 years.

Martinez would have earned about $480,000 over that period had the Calimlims paid her a U.S. minimum wage for her 16-hour days, a U.S. Department of Labor witness testified.
Some "help" you gave her, there. Embarassing.

Like a teepee ... but different.

I'd never heard of a "Yert" until last night, but now, thanks to the Internets, I know what one looks like, and I gotta say. Not too shabby.

I could definitely get down in one of these:

Not that I'd live in one full time, but well, you know.

Searching the House

Dennis "Butterface" Hastert

Go ahead. Search the offices of members of Congress, provided that you have a proper warrant before doing so.

And we all know the Bush administration is great at following the rule of law. Hey guys, while you're at it, why don't you go rummaging through the Oval Office? Oh, and don't forget Cheney's desk too. I'm sure you'll find lots of goodies there.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Mags' Marines at the Ready!

The first brigade of Mag's Marines are ready to make their presence known in the east bay, bearing banners that read, "Rumsfailed" (thanks, Kvatch), "Mission Accomplished?", "Bring Us Home!", "No More Lies", and "They Lied ... We Died".

Today we'll focus on E-ville (which in some ways really is evil, but most people know it as Emeryville), with a multiphasic deployment around the Oakland/Piedmont areas.

We'll give those yuppies something to think about this weekend, by God!

(Cross-posted at the Kommandos Project)

May 24, 2006

A bit of good news for a change

Not that I'm going to go buck wild or anything, but:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Marijuana smoking does not increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer, according to the findings of a new study at the University of California Los Angeles that surprised even the researchers.

They had expected to find that a history of heavy marijuana use, like cigarette smoking, would increase the risk of cancer.

Instead, the study, which compared the lifestyles of 611 Los Angeles County lung cancer patients and 601 patients with head and neck cancers with those of 1,040 people without cancer, found no elevated cancer risk for even the heaviest pot smokers. It did find a 20-fold increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

May 23, 2006

2006 SF AIDS Walk: Doing my part to stop the course of the epidemic

I try to do the SF AIDS Walk every year because it's the best way I know how to do my part to generate AIDS awareness and to help stop the spread of this terrible epidemic. I want to do as much as I can to make a difference in the lives of men, women, and children affected by HIV and AIDS. Even though there has been a lot of publicity about drug treatments which are prolonging some people's lives, they don't work for everyone. There is still no cure in sight. Moreover, young people are still getting infected at alarmingly high rates.

My interest in AIDS activism (if you can call it that) began when I learned of the premature death of a favorite high school teacher of mine, Richard Colon, who passed away due to complications from AIDS. I held this man in the highest esteem and respected him so much. From that moment on, I resolved to do what I could to ensure I never lost anybody to this disease again.

So here I am again, asking you to sponsor me this year. I want your help. Will you please sponsor me for the AIDS Walk? Just click here to enter my personalized web page and charge your donation.

Thank you, in advance, for supporting this important cause and for showing that you join me in wanting to end this epidemic. Any amount you can spare helps, and please know that I appreciate your support. Together we can make a difference.

If you'd like to join me in the walk, click here to register and start raising funds!

May 22, 2006

Voter Guide for 2006 Primary

The Speak Out California! blog just posted a voter's guide for the upcoming June 6 primary election that you might find helpful. I know I will.

Como se dice ...

... I need a cheap(er) ticket to Madrid?

I swear to Jah, I can't find what I need for less than $2000.

I've only been checking your typical Orbitzes, Travelocities, and Expedias out there, but I'm wondering of there's anything I'm missing. A secret URL which provides me with the exact itinerary I'm looking for, at the price I like. For example.

Am I going to have to do this old school and go through a travel agent?

May 21, 2006

I'm baaaack!

Yosemite RAWKED, despite the havoc it played with my hay fever.

Let's just say that the trip would have kicked MORE ass had I not had the worst allergy attacks. Ever. Worse than that time in Missouri.

Oh, and I managed to get about 15 mosquito bites in the span of about 15 minutes. I'm efficient like that. Ugh.

All complaining aside, I still managed to have lots and lots of fun. When I go back, I'm definitely bringing my bike. I had major bikelust the entire time I was on the valley floor. Next time, it's SO on. Yosemite + me + bike. Holla!

Anyhoo, these are a few of the photos I took (I really need a bigger memory card for that camera). I'm waiting for the giant digital camera fileswap to take place with everyone else, so I'll share more if I find some good ones.

P.S. Managed to catch some of the Hayden confirmation hearings and caught a whiff of this bullshit --- sorry, symbolic bullshit --- about English becoming the official language. WTF?

May 18, 2006

In which I attempt to conquer Half Dome

Yeah right.

But I am off to Yosemite.

Have an awesome weekend. I'll share pictures when I get back.

(Photo credit: This place.)

George W. Bush, Mr. Band-Aid Solution Lover

So now Bush thinks putting a wall along the U.S./Mexico border isn't such a bad idea after all:
Eager to win over conservative opponents, the president has been talking increasingly tough. On Monday, he proposed deploying up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the international line to support Border Patrol agents until their ranks can be expanded.

On Thursday, he said it makes sense to put up fencing along some parts of the border.
Actually, he said it "makes sense" to put up the wall. Of course he does. A simplistic solution from the simplest of minds.

Meanwhile --- and to nobody's surprise (well, except, maybe, the xenophobic GOP) --- Mexicans are saying that the wall won't work.
"We'll go under it, we'll go over it, we'll go through the air, the sea or the earth, but they're never going to stop us from crossing," said Jesus Santana, a Tijuana truck driver who was caught trying to cross and deported.

Increased security will likely only serve to make smuggling fees more expensive and drive immigrants deeper into debt, making them even more desperate to make it north.
Basically, Bush's solution will create more problems than it's trying to solve. Sound familiar?

Mexico nails it (emphasis mine):
"Most countries want to bring their people together and tear down physical, commercial and cultural barriers," [Mexican] presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said Thursday. "Anyone who proposes separating them is out of line. Walls are a sign of distrust, and that will never be the basis of a good friendship between two countries."

May 15, 2006

I don't understand these people.

Glenn Greenwald discusses the fact that some right wingers are starting to favor the idea of impeaching Bush.

But before you get excited, realize that they want to impeach him, not for being lied to with regards to the war in Iraq, but because they don't think he's doing enough to solve the illegal immigration issue. Like, by building a wall along the border.

I guess hatred for brown people trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents is a way more hideous and egregious offense than, you know, invading a country, having your sons and daughters, mothers and fathers killed. Over a lie.

Makes perfect sense.

C'mon. There are better ways to address the illegal immigration problem.

May I just take this opportunity to remind everyone that Clinton got impeached for lying about a blow job? Thank you.

So ... journalists are the enemy now?

As you've all read by now, ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report that the NSA has also been tracking phone numbers journalists may call in order to track down confidential sources. Says their source:
"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.
I thought the whole impetus behind the supposedly legal phone data gathering was to catch any possible terrorist plots, not to make it easier for the Bush administration to find people leaking information to the press.

So much for the free marketplace of ideas. So much for the press acting as a check against the government. What motivation will those journalists have --- those that still hold themselves to this high standard, that is --- to bring government corruption and wrongdoing to light anymore, knowing that the government will be tracking every single phone call they make?

Enough of this "shooting the messenger" bullshit. I'm a little rusty on my First Amendment law, but I seem to remember that this is protected speech, except that the government has the right to prosecute if the leak compromises national security.

I'm making the assumption here that the Bush Administration is actively tracking journalist phone calls in the wake of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson/enriched uranium from Niger thing. In this case though, that leak was not an issue of national security. Rather, it was pretty strong evidence that shows how intelligence was manipulated in order to justify invading Iraq.

Back in 2003, John W. Dean wrote this 2003 article in which he says:
Despite the free speech costs, President George W. Bush has created the equivalent of an official secrets act for America - and it is only growing stronger. Indeed, by cobbling together provisions from existing laws, Bush's Justice Department has effectively created one of the world's most encompassing, if not draconian, official secrets acts.
And this was written three years ago. I wonder what Dean would say in light of today's revelation. I'm beginning to think the war in Iraq had been planned all along, created as a ruse to divert our attention from the sinister backstory bubbling underneath: That the Bush Administration's goal all along was to create this uber-secret executive branch, disregarding the equal power of Congress, and systematically undermining that which we have worked so hard to achieve: women's reproductive rights, economic stability, free speech, positive foreign relations, the list goes on and on. All in the name of ... what, exactly? Money? The Christian right? Sheer insanity?

Can we impeach him now?

May 14, 2006

This "loyalty to your husband" thing is getting real tired

Okay, I was about to leave to see Mom when I came across this stupid ass mutha:
First lady Laura Bush said on Sunday she does not believe opinion polls showing her husband's approval ratings at record low levels.

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Laura Bush said she did not think people were losing confidence in President George W. Bush, despite a series of polls showing support for him at its lowest point in his five-year presidency and among the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.

"I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country. I see people, I see their responses to my husband. I see their response to me," she said.
Only because people who come within touching distance are heavily screened so that you only meet the dumbasses who still believe in you and your husband.

Bitch, don't even.

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, to all you moms out there.

I'm off to go visit mine. See ya tomorrow.

And you KNOW there's some interesting stuff brewin' ...

(Photo credit: This place)

May 12, 2006

I'm almost touching myself

Check this out:
Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

Details of Rove's discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources confirmed Rove's indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove's situation. A spokesman in the White House press office said they would not comment on "wildly speculative rumors."

Of course, nobody is sure whether or not this is true, but oh, sweet Jah, please, let it be so.

(Props to Kevin Drum for the heads up.)

A new angle on the NSA spying thing

I swear to Jah, this whole NSA thing is becoming quite the cliffhanger. From Think Progress:
CongressDaily reports that former NSA staffer Russell Tice will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week that not only do employees at the agency believe the activities they are being asked to perform are unlawful, but that what has been disclosed so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Tice will tell Congress that former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush’s nominee to be the next CIA director, oversaw more illegal activity that has yet to be disclosed.
Check it out. I can't freakin' wait to hear what he has to say.

Axis of Feeble

I've always felt a little intimidated by The Economist, thinking it was a bit esoteric. But I could totally get behind a cover like this one:

If Blair leaves his office next year or so, what will happen to Bush? Where will he be then without his homie?
What is required when Mr Bush's term ends is a president no less committed to the exercise of American power when it is necessary, and no less willing to rise to external threats. Perhaps that will be a John McCain or a Hillary Clinton. But in the meantime, the world won't wait. However weak he is at home, Mr Bush still has duties abroad. He must ensure that America is not bundled out of Iraq before its elected government has a chance to stand on its own feet. He must hold the line against a nuclear Iran. He needs to push harder for an independent Palestine, continue the fight against al-Qaeda, resist Russia's bullying of its neighbours and help America come to terms with a rising China. If he is wise, he will work harder than before to enlist allies for these aims, even if America must sometimes still act alone. But it will be harder and lonelier without a confident Tony Blair at his side.
Read more here.

May 11, 2006

The largest database ever assembled in the world

That's how an anonymous source characterized the fact that the NSA has been "secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth." Did I mention they were doing this without warrants?

The NSA wants to have a record of every call ever made in the U.S.

I was joking with a friend on the phone yesterday because she and I were making plans for Saturday, and she made mention of a particular word. I said,

"Careful, They may be wiretapping us, you know."
The government is collecting "external" data on domestic phone calls but is not intercepting "internals," a term for the actual content of the communication, according to a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program. This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for "social network analysis," the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.
Or so they say. I can't help but feel violated. Qwest Communications has so far been the only telecommunications company to not comply.

Bush gave a little speech today to defend the NSA's actions. Check out how the speech begins. No surprises here (emphasis mine, natch):
After September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack. As part of this effort, I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. In other words, if al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States or out of the United States, we want to know what they're saying.
But you're collecting data from everyone. Including me. You callin' me al Qaeda, dumbass?
We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates. So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.
Ugh. Here we go again. This man must be stopped.

(Props to AMERICAblog for the heads up.)

May 10, 2006

How to celebrate Memorial Day

Hey Patriots! Memorial Day is coming up, and what better way to show your support for the troops --- by eating them!

Some company called Progressive Gifts and Incentives is promoting chocolate bars covered in the Stars and Stripes. From their actual promo e-mail (read: spam):

Dear NAME,

It's unfortunate, but in recent years, Memorial Day has become little more than a watered-down platform for special "sales blowouts" by furniture stores and car dealerships. But it's really meant to be a day of reflection: a day for showing patriotism by remembering the sacrifices of America's veterans.

This year show your employees and new recruits that you are proud to be an American company and always stand behind our troops with:

American Flag Memorial Day Candy


"Support America" and "God Bless America" ribbon magnets

It's a simple and much-appreciated way to get everyone into the spirit of remembering what Memorial Day is all about.

Memorial Day is all about the food, yo.

What if, in your zeal to consume the chocolaty goodness, you rip the wrapper. Have you desecrated the flag? I don't think flag burning is protected speech under the First Amendment (I'd have to check) ... so is flag ripping protected?

What if the chocolate within is crap? Wouldn't be the first time an inferior product was produced in the name of the troops.

If only Kvatch’s Kommandos, Hilton’s Heroes, and Generik’s Guerrillas came in chocolate. I’d be all over that.

May 9, 2006

It's a Communist World, After All

If you're looking for a place to take the kids this summer, check this out:
Grutas Park, a quirky theme park dotted with relics of Lithuania's communist past, has become a major tourist attraction in this former Soviet republic.

Now celebrating its fifth anniversary, the park popularly known as "Stalin's World," every year welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors who wander along three kilometers (two miles) of wooden walkways resembling those in Siberian prison camps to get from one exhibition to the next.

Statues of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and other Soviet leaders glower at visitors, and the barbed wire fences and guard towers surrounding the park help give it the feel of a Soviet gulag.
I wonder if there's a parade and a fireworks show at night?

(Props to Cecilia for the link.)

May 8, 2006

Bubble Boy

No, the other one:
Stuntman David Blaine failed to break the world record for holding his breath underwater on Monday, falling nearly two minutes short of the record.

After Blaine spent seven minutes and 8 seconds underwater without any breathing apparatus, he blacked out and trainer Kirk Krack sent two divers into the tank to free him from shackles attached to his ankles.

David, seriously. Stop torturing yourself. Your "street magic" specials were so much more entertaining.

UPDATE 5/8, 11:43 P.M. (or, alternatively, "because my neighbor and her boyfriend woke me up"): I just noticed that Blaine's trainer's name is "Kirk Krack." There's a joke in there somewhere.

UPDATE 5/9: I don't know why I feel the need to update, but whatever. Now doctors are saying that Blaine sustained some liver damage because of his stunt. Nice. Telling you, man. Bring back the magic tricks. Sehs.

(Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

I'm waiting for the mug shot

Oh Jah please, let it be so.

Downward spiral, or comeback kid?

You all know that Dubya's approval rating hit a new low today. The Carpetbagger agrees with the notion that this presidency is over - at least historically speaking.

Now, The Carpetbagger Report is one of my Top Five favorite blogs, but I have to say, I'm skeptical, and I am just waiting for something to happen that's going to send his approval rating back up to at least the high 40's.

With all of the blatant corruption and secrecy and sheer incomptency lurking behind every corner of this administration, and these people, these remaining 31% who STILL can't see --- or simply refuse to see --- that this man and his people cannot govern? The Bush Administration is a failure, in every sense. Even I --- as someone relatively new to politics --- can see that.

And don't even get me started on Congress, and why they haven't impeached --- I'll even accept censure, jeez --- this man yet. I mean seriously. How low does the approval rating have to go?

Girl-on-Girl Action in The Jerz

Attention all you readers in The Jerz (that is, if I have any):

My homegirl Erica over at Soft Pretzel Love has joined a roller derby team in Philly, and her team is heading over to The Jerz to battle the Fallen Angels on May 21. So, to show my love for Hell O'Kittie, I offer you, Dear Reader, their press release:


Girl-On-Girl Roller Derby Action Hits the Garden State
on Sunday, May 21!

There will be blood, bruises and Sweet Revenge at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, when the Penn Jersey She-Devils’ Sadistic Sweethearts take on fellow PJSD team the Fallen Angels in a knock down, drag out—and guaranteed to be sold out—grudge match at Holiday Skating Center in Delanco, N.J.

The two teams went head-to-head in the league’s premiere bout on Sunday, March 26, at Holiday Skating Center, where they wowed a sold-out audience and raised money for the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Three hundred more tickets have been added for this bout, and are also guaranteed to sell out. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door and $20 VIP.

To help the She-Devils become the most badass athletes Penn-Jersey has seen in over 30 years, 2004 Roller Derby Hall of Fame inductee Judy “the Polish Ace” Sowinski, and Arnold "Skip" Schoen signed on as coaches last year, setting PJSD apart as the only league coached by bona fide banked track roller derby stars. In addition to whipping the She-Devils into shape on wheels, both Judy and Skip skated for the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1970s, where they kicked quad-skate ass for a living.

Roller derby is a real, unscripted sport, and the She-Devils hone their skills twice a week at Cornwell’s Skating Center in Bensalem, Pa. A third team will be formed this spring; unlike roller derby leagues of the past, modern roller derby leagues are comprised of at least two teams that skate against each other in addition to other area leagues. Skaters also take unique names, which are registered in a national database.

Additional bouts for the 2006 season are currently in the planning stages for rinks throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including a bout in Hershey, Pa., in June. In the meantime, each She-Devil is busy perfecting her game, with rookies joining on a regular basis as the sport becomes increasingly popular. There are nearly 80 flat track roller derby teams across the U.S., and counting!

About the She-Devils: The Penn Jersey She-Devils is the original Philadelphia region all-girl roller derby league. Founded in 2005 by Ken Sikes and Greg Spencer, PJSD is a skater-owned and -operated league, with over 40 skaters from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, ranging in age from 20 to 45, who strap on quad roller skates and hit the rink every Monday and Thursday at Cornwell's Skating Center in Bensalem, Pa. She-Devils’ occupations vary widely—the league includes body piercers, chefs, chemists, clowns, massage therapists retail owners, tattoo artists and teachers—but all She Devils are in it for one thing: to skate like hell.

May 6, 2006

Bush's commencement address

During a commencement address at Oklahoma State University today, Bush told the kids:
"Science offers the prospect of eventual cures for terrible diseases -- and temptations to manipulate life and violate human dignity. … With the Internet, you can communicate instantly with someone halfway across the world -- and isolate yourself from your family and your neighbors."

The nation's young generation will wrestle to resolve these dilemmas, he said. "My advice: Harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. My advice is that science serves the cause of humanity and not the other way around," the president said.

The president spoke of the changes he has seen in technology and predicted dramatic changes in the future. "Some of the most exciting advances in technology you will see will be in the field of energy," he said. "When I graduated from school, cars drank gasoline.

"Last month in California, I saw cars powered by hydrogen that use no gasoline and emit no pollution. Within your lifetime, advances in technology will make our air cleaner and our cars more efficient. The gasoline engine will seem as antiquated as the rotary phone and the black-and-white TV."
How does one become "enslaved" by technology? And as far as the gas engine being as antiquated as the rotary phone, I'll believe it when I see it.

Secondly, why do I feel like the AP imbedded a random, second story into this one, regarding Bush's radio address and his promotion of the prescription drug benefit? Specifically the third and last three graphs. Gotta love cognitive dissonance.
During his Saturday morning radio address, the president urged elderly and disabled Americans to review their options and sign up for the government's new prescription drug benefit. "By enrolling before the deadline, you can ensure the lowest possible premiums and start saving on your prescription drug bills."
Bush Push for Drug-Benefit Enrollment

Under the drug-benefit program, 43 million Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a private plan that will subsidize the cost of their medicine. The savings vary depending upon one's prescription drug needs, income and the plan chosen. Medicare officials claim the average enrollee will save about $1,100 a year.

"Competition in the prescription drug market has been stronger than expected, and costs for seniors are lower than expected," Mr. Bush said during his radio address, noting that the average monthly premium is $25 a month instead of $37 a month, as previously projected.

Mr. Bush and other administration officials are urging an estimated six million to seven million beneficiaries still without prescription drug coverage to enroll by May 15. Many people who wait until after the deadline to enroll will face the prospect of higher monthly premiums.
Why do I feel like I'm watching an old "Subliminal Man" SNL skit?

May 5, 2006

Porter Goss resigns

Should I even be excited about this?

According to CNN:
Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner told CNN that Goss may have resigned because he was passed over for the new position of director of national intelligence, which went to John Negroponte.

Former Rep. Bob Barr agreed with Turner's speculation and added, "I think there's going to be more coming out, we don't know the whole story."

"This is a devastating blow, the importance of which really cannot be overestimated," Barr told CNN. "It indicates again a continuing downward slide in the intelligence capabilities of our government, it indicates again the disorganization on the part of our intellingence agencies at a time when we can ill afford to see that happen."

Eh. I still won't be happy until Bush and Cheney are out. Until then, whatevs.

(Photo credit: AP)

UPDATE, 12:06 p.m.: So I'm doing a bit more surfing and it looks like Goss may be all up in the hizzoes! Juicy!

May 4, 2006

Dick Cheney, skilled diplomat

Does Mr. Go-Fuck-Yourself think that his snarling and curled upper lip and tough talk is going to warm Russia to him and the Bush Administration's desire to nuke the shit out of Iran (you know, in the name of "democracy")? Russia already opposes the UN sanctions against Iran. Did he think that, after his speech, Russia was gonna be all, "Sure, U.S., whatever you want, I'm down for whatever!"
Cheney, in a speech mostly devoted to praising Eastern European countries for democratic reforms, also took aim at Moscow’s use of its vast energy supplies for what Washington says is sometimes the bullying of neighbors.

“No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation,” he said.

Russia, which is trying to harness its position as an energy giant, drew international criticism earlier this year when it briefly turned off its gas taps to Ukraine in a pricing dispute that disrupted supply to Europe.

Moscow, for its part, suspects the U.S. policy of promoting global democracy is really an instrument to establish itself as the dominant power in the post-Soviet states.
Oh, that Dick. Totally a man who deeply understands the subtleties of diplomacy. For example:
Cheney, in a speech mostly devoted to praising Eastern European countries for democratic reforms, also took aim at Moscow’s use of its vast energy supplies for what Washington says is sometimes the bullying of neighbors.

“No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation,” he said.
Oh, snap! No he DIDN'T just call them "blackmailers." You gonna take that, Russia?

The punch line is Cheney is in the area on a six-day "pro-democracy" tour.

May 3, 2006

Moussaoui jurors decide on life in prison

No virgins for you!

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 3 — A federal court jury spared the life of Zacarias Moussaoui today, voting to send him to prison for the rest of his days rather than condemn him to death for the carnage of Sept. 11, 2001.


Although Mr. Moussaoui testified that he was proud to belong to Al Qaeda and took delight in the 9/11 attacks, his lawyers portrayed him as a bumbling terrorist hanger-on who slid in and out of mental illness. To execute him, the lawyers argued, would be to grant him a martyrdom he did not deserve.

UPDATE 5/4: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick nails it:
This case was about a conspiracy, about some factual connection, however attenuated, between Zacarias Moussaoui's jihadi heart and the events of 9/11. And although the government has steadfastly stood by its legal claim that it was enough for Moussaoui to have wanted to be on those planes on 9/11, enough for him to have delighted as those planes went down, the jurors recognized this afternoon that a conspiracy to aid in a terror plot requires more than just a bad heart, and more than mere willingness to participate in the next one.

This decision, which will doubtless bring with it some serious national fallout, is more subtle, and more courageous, than the prosecution itself. Acting as a check on a runaway state, these jurors refused to allow a government needing a scapegoat and a man wishing for martyrdom to stand in the way of the facts. These jurors understood that for this country to kill a terrorist for his ideas, hopes, and dreams is not much different than the terrorist's desire to come here and kill us for ours.
(Props to BARBARian colleague the Decider King of Zembla for the link.)

Who knew?

Read this, and then tell me you don't want to try it.

Leave it to gli italiani to make even LARD sound delicious.

(Props to Steve for the link.)

Blogger gets sued for defamation

Lance Dutson, a Maine-based blogger, is being sued by Warren Kramer Paino Advertising (WKPA) for “copyright infringement, defamation and trade libel and injurious falsehood” based on several statements he’s made about the agency.
Mr. Dutson, a freelance Web designer who also does Internet advertising, says he became critical of the Maine Office of Tourism in October 2005 when he learned the office had bid for broad search terms that bumped into the interests of his clients. He also argued the Internet-advertising strategy was misguided because he said the office bid on general geographic terms such as the names of cities in Maine. Therefore, potential tourists must already be interested in the state to be led to the state's tourism Web site, he said.
Tom McCartin, president of WKPA, is most concerned about Mr. Dutson's public posts because if potential clients search for the agency online, they will likely see Mr. Dutson's critique-filled blog before the agency's own Web site. As a result, Mr. McCartin says his business, which sees capitalized billings in the $40 million range, has been hurt. And he wants to protect his reputation.
I’ve often said that, to some degree, bloggers are journalists. Some would argue bloggers contribute more to punditry than anything else. And although many of us are not exactly free of our own biases when we post our commentary on current events, we need to keep in mind that we are making ourselves vulnerable to all kinds of libel/defamation risks.

As a fellow blogger (that sounds so weird), I can sympathize with Dutson. However, I think that if you’re going to be vocal about a specific entity, you need to watch your back. Not surprisingly, this AdAge article provides advertisers with advice on what to do if they’re attacked by a blogger. Like to hear it, here it go:

So what is the best way to handle a blogger that you think might be negatively affecting your brand image? Mr. Rubel [blogger and senior VP of Edelman's Me2Revolution group] laid out a game plan.

  • The first step is to contact the blogger and discuss the issue in a nonthreatening way. See if an agreement can be reached.
  • Second, you might have to accept what you cannot change. It's the bloggers' rights to communicate their opinions as long as the information was obtained through legal channels.
  • Try to find a third party to broker a discussion between you and the blogger.
  • Blog back, but only if you already have a blog.
I guess the moral of the story here is to make yourself familiar with the First Amendment and media law. AP stylebook, anyone?

May 2, 2006

Net Neutrality

Save the Internet: Click here

So by now you've all heard of Net Neutrality and how Congress is considering a major overhaul of the Telecommunications Act next week.
Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
In a nutshell, big media and telecom companies want to get a larger and larger share of the pie, controlling what web sites we view --- or not --- depending on who pays them more. Internet for the highest bidder, essentially. Spoon-feeding us their content, rather than us seeking it out for ourselves. Just think of the implications.

In a world in which big media and telecom already own large portions of network news, print journalism, etc., the Internet is the seemingly last bastion of free speech and a true "marketplace of ideas."

The gutting of Net Neutrality will do away with all of that.

And so then Robert Litan at the Brookings Instution writes an op-ed/"Think Tank Town" piece special to the WaPo that basically argues against Net Neutrality using the same modus operandi so fully reminiscent of the Bush administration: Fear.
Imagine a world in which millions of senior citizens and disabled Americans, among others, can have, if they want, their medical conditions monitored continuously by devices that communicate over high speed, broadband networks that can automatically alert them if they require immediate medical attention. Such "remote disease management" systems not only would be highly convenient for patients, but based on evidence from the Veterans Administration's use of systems that do not yet make extensive use of broadband, could lead to huge savings in health care costs.


But there is a hitch. Remote disease monitoring -- and telemedicine more broadly -- cannot use broadband networks unless they are reliable. Even more important than not having your streamed movie interrupted by heavy traffic from other Internet users is not having your vital signs transmitted without interruption to the individual or computer that is remotely monitoring your health.

Yet perhaps without realizing it, those who are now advocating "net neutrality"-- the notion that those who shell out the big bucks to build new much higher speed networks can't ask the websites that will use the networks intensively to help pay for them-- could keep this new world from becoming a reality. Further, they could deprive the websites themselves of the benefits of being able to use the networks to deliver their data-heavy content.
Stop. Seriously. Don't even.

Just as I want the government out of my uterus, so too with my Internet. Hands off.

(Thanks to Atrios for the WaPo link.)

May 1, 2006

Blame Canada

I don't remember how I got a link to this article, but it really ticked me off. A Filipino child in Roxboro, Canada (just outside of Montreal) was punished by a lunch program monitor after this person didn't like the way he ate:
Luc Cagadoc’s table behaviour is traditionally Filipino; he fills his spoon by pushing the food on his plate with a fork, his mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo, says.

But after being punished by his school’s lunch program monitor more than 10 times this year for his mealtime conduct — including his technique — the seven-year-old told Gallardo said last week that he was too embarrassed to eat his dinner.

“Mommy, I don’t want to eat anymore,” Gallardo says Luc told her at the kitchen table April 11. “My teacher is telling me that eating with a spoon and fork is yucky and disgusting.”

When he eats with both a spoon and fork, instead of only one utensil, the Grade 2 student said the lunch monitor moves him to a table to sit by himself.
And when the mother filed a formal complaint against the employee and talked to the school's principal, Normand Bergeron, he said this to her:
"Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat."
Quite frankly, I am surprised to learn that this happened in Canada. I mean, I thought we Americans had the monopoly on the "This is America, do as we do" argument. If they're going to ban spoon-and-fork eating in Canada, they may as well close every Thai restaurant in that country. Newsflash: They do it too, damn heathens, eating with a spoon and fork like that. How DARE they. While we're at it, let's chastise the Europeans, who eat with a knife and fork in each hand. Hell, let's banish those Asians that eat with those funky sticks, too. And while we're at it, someone tell those damn Messikins that tortillas are NOT eating utensils!

The principal tried to defend himself by saying Luc's eating habits were "turbulent," whatever that means. Obviously, we all know that every seven-year-old kid has impeccable manners.

Reading stuff like this really breaks my heart. Some fools in Canada, in their patriotic zeal (I got another word for it), ended up giving this poor kid a complex.

Way to go, Canada.

It's this blatant refusal to accept the subtleties of other cultures that makes me pessimistic about issues like racism and immigration reform. Yes, this story came out of Canada, but when was the last time you heard stuff like, "This is America, speak English," or "If you don't like it, go back to where you came from," or even "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"? Or when was the last time you laughed at a joke that perpetuated a stereotype about a specific culture?

There's always going to be some level of intolerance in our society; I've come to accept that. And maybe we are making baby steps toward inclusion and tolerance. But Jesus H --- the kid is seven years old. I hope my little homeboy in Canada stops feeling ashamed for who he is. And I hope eventually, or hopefully through that "everything is embarassing to me" phase of his life, that he learns to embrace his culture down the line rather than repudiate it.

I hope nobody ever again makes him ashamed to be Filipino.

Want fries with that?

Another year, another finger:
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (AP) -- A diner found a piece of human flesh on his hamburger shortly after a restaurant worker accidentally cut his finger, and a spokeswoman said the company was "very, very sorry."

A kitchen manager at the TGI Friday's at College Mall injured himself Tuesday and no one immediately realized he had lost part of his finger while others rushed to help him, said Amy Freshwater, a spokeswoman for the chain.
Nasty. An accident, yes. But still. Nasty.

And one more thing (9:58 p.m.): So the diner found the human flesh "on" his hamburger. Does this mean the human flesh was cooked WITH the burger? Or was it fresh human flesh (say that three times fast) sprinkled on top of the already cooked burger? And if it was cooked human flesh, how did he know it was human flesh without having previous knowledge of what cooked human flesh - albeit a piece - looks like? Was the burger served open face, or between two buns? I need details, people.