December 2009 Archives
Speaking in rough terms, if you assume the earth is 24,500 miles in diameter then anyone approximate to the equator will travel that far through space each day. So just by rotating with the planet a person travels approximately 24,000 miles per day or about 8,942,500 miles per year. multiply that time your age and you get rotational distance you've traveled.
Example: By age 60 a person will have rotationally traveled 536,550,000 miles.
Also, since the earth travels an average of 584,000,000 miles in orbit around the sun each year you can multiply that orbital figure by your age, add the result to your rotational distance figure and get the total distance you've traveled even if you sat in one spot on the earth all these years.
Example: 60 years = 35,040,000,000 + 536,550,000 = 35,576,550,000 or about 35.5 billion miles.
Then of course we could add the sun's orbital distance around its neighbors and the galactic motion and its orbital distances around other galaxies and so-on and end up with some really ridiculous amount of distance traveled.
Here's a weird thought...if the combined motion of earth's orbit and rotational motion means we travel around our sun in a kind looping spiral, what sort of shape do all those other motions added together have us moving in? And just how many levels of motion are there anyway?
...making up humorous new words and new meanings for old ones
hat tip to F Baker for these gems
Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its
yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative
meanings for common words.
The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
Here are this year's winners:
1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole
My personal favorite is Dopeler Effect.
Of course nothing has been found of any untoward activities by ACORN, it was all political hype from the right in the first place.
Report Uncovers No Voting Fraud by Acorn
By John Schwartz
A new report on the community group Acorn by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has found no evidence of fraudulent voting or of violations of federal financing rules by the group in the past five years.
Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, requested the report along with Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Conyers released the report on Tuesday.
Acorn, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has drawn fire from conservative activists who have accused it of conducting fraudulent voter registration drives in poor neighborhoods, adding imaginary voters like Mickey Mouse to the rolls. The report by the research service, an arm of the Library of Congress, said, however, that a search using the Nexis news database "did not identify any reported instances of such individuals attempting to vote at the polls."
Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member under President George W. Bush, said the new report could not resolve the voting fraud issue, since "no one is ever going to know it unless somebody takes the voter registration list and checks each person who is registered to make sure they are a real person."
The report also stated that two conservative activists might have broken privacy laws in California and Maryland by posing as a prostitute and pimp while secretly videotaping Acorn staff members who gave them advice on evading taxes and hiding their activities. The two states "appear to ban" the recording of face-to-face conversations without the consent of all participants, the report said.
Another part of the new report suggested that efforts by Congress to cut Acorn's financing could be unconstitutional bills of attainder, a term referring to punishments ordered by Congress against specific individuals or entities.
On Tuesday, Judge Nina Gershon of Federal District Court in Brooklyn issued a one-page order supporting Acorn's challenge to the legislation on bill-of-attainder grounds. This month, Judge Gershon ruled that cutting the group's financing was an illegal bill of attainder. In Tuesday's order, she denied a motion by the Justice Department to reconsider her previous ruling.
Acorn hailed the report in a statement, but Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa and one of the most vocal critics of Acorn in the House, said he found the report unconvincing.
"This report doesn't begin to cover the transgressions of Acorn," Mr. King said. "I think Acorn is bigger than Watergate."
There's no need to give industry a year to find the technological means to accomplish the goal of bringing the annoying and excessive loudness of commercials into line with the volume level of the programming because they already own the equipment that will accomplish the task; Its called an audio compressor and has been around for decades.
It's after dinner. You're tired. You ease yourself into a comfortable place to watch your favorite TV show. Suddenly you're jolted from your couch potato demeanor by a commercial break.
It's an ad for insurance or rum or a credit card -- and it's blaring, invading your calm and boosting your blood pressure.
Marketers want the loud commercials to grab viewers' attention.
A Democratic representative from California, however -- and her fellow politicians in the House -- find them more annoying than effective.
In her crusade to eliminate the nuisance, Rep. Anna Eshoo wrote the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, which mandates that TV commercials be no louder than the programs in which they appear.
Representatives unanimously passed the bill last month and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
The brief measure directs the Federal Communications Commission to develop regulations preventing ads from being "excessively noisy or strident" or "having modulation levels substantially higher than the accompanying program." The bill also addresses "average maximum loudness."
The volume of television commercials is a common complaint among viewers. One man told CNN, "Every time you put on the TV and try and watch a show, the next thing you get are these really loud commercials."
A woman added, "I usually mute the television."
"This is a dumb bill but I love it. I really do," said media analyst Mark Hughes. He said that for irritated Americans it strikes a nerve, even though it's not a huge political issue.
"It's important to people. And it's important in my household that I don't wake up the kids when they're sleeping, and I don't tick off my wife when she tells me to turn it down" because of a commercial's high volume.
Eshoo said she's been swamped with mail, e-mail and phone calls from people who have thanked her for the bill.
Political strategist John Ashford said there is some attraction to an issue that is manageable, as opposed to the complex issues Congress often struggles with.
"Having worked on Capitol Hill and now working in public relations, I know that when Congress can't solve big problems like Iraq and Afghanistan and 10 percent unemployment and how to implement this health care bill they are trying to pass, they turn to small problems like blasting television commercials."
Under the measure, advertisers and production houses would have one year to adopt technology that modulates and sets sound levels -- and apply it to TV commercials.
The FCC will do its part, a source there said.
One of the things that makes me consider the unlikelihood of a Conscious Creator or God, if you will, is the ruthless nature of life growth and how it propagates. All higher (more complex) organisms are uncaring thieves willing to kill and steal the accumulated energy of their neighbors to maintain their own bodily requirements. There's something weirdly anti-entropic and even immoral about the fact that life succeeds by murdering and eating itself. What sort of God would create such a universe? Probably an efficient one that sees the plight of the terrorized individual being killed and consumed as irrelevant to the big picture. Its hard to imagine a loving being that would create a universe filled with McDonald's outlets or tiny vial machines that "attack bacteria and other microbes, which they kill on a colossal scale. In the oceans alone, viruses are reckoned to kill about 100 million metric-tons'-worth of microbes every minute."
Even plants are in on the thieving slaughter and part of the immoral design and far more devious than we would normally assume. And, Mr and Mrs Vegan, you are no more saintly in your pursuit of stolen energy by crunching down on the carrot or apple than the greasy-chinned fat cat chewing chopped cooked cow at Burger King; you're both existential brats. Probably the only amelioration of this nearly universal criminality are the symbionts, but I'm sure a close inspection would reveal essential life juices on their tendrils as well. Yet all in all, what's a hungry boy to do but follow the original dictates of his loving God to Eat up! and Chow down!? Farm out!
Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too
by Natalie Angier
I stopped eating pork about eight years ago, after a scientist happened to mention that the animal whose teeth most closely resemble our own is the pig. Unable to shake the image of a perky little pig flashing me a brilliant George Clooney smile, I decided it was easier to forgo the Christmas ham. A couple of years later, I gave up on all mammalian meat, period. I still eat fish and poultry, however and pour eggnog in my coffee. My dietary decisions are arbitrary and inconsistent, and when friends ask why I'm willing to try the duck but not the lamb, I don't have a good answer. Food choices are often like that: difficult to articulate yet strongly held. And lately, debates over food choices have flared with particular vehemence.
In his new book, "Eating Animals," the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer describes his gradual transformation from omnivorous, oblivious slacker who "waffled among any number of diets" to "committed vegetarian." Last month, Gary Steiner, a philosopher at Bucknell University, argued on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times that people should strive to be "strict ethical vegans" like himself, avoiding all products derived from animals, including wool and silk. Killing animals for human food and finery is nothing less than "outright murder," he said, Isaac Bashevis Singer's "eternal Treblinka."
But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to "committed vegetarians" and "strong ethical vegans," we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants -- their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar -- the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It's time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.
There's better things that could be cut off.
Pakistan court orders men's ears, noses hacked off
From Nasir Habib
Islamabad (CNN) -- A court in Lahore, Pakistan, has ordered that two men have their noses and ears chopped off, after the two were convicted of doing the same to a young woman.
The anti-terrorism court also ordered that brothers Ammanat Ali, 29, and Sher Mohammed, 27, spend life in prison and pay 700,000 rupees ($8,300) in compensation to the victim, Punjab province chief prosecutor Chaudary Mohammed Jahangir said Tuesday. The sentence was handed down Monday in accordance with Islamic law and the country's anti-terror laws, the prosecutor said.
The woman and her family had rejected an offer of marriage from Sher Mohammed, the officer who investigated the case said.
The two men attacked the woman, Fazeelat Bibi, 22, on September 28, in the village of Zafarkey, southwest of Lahore, Inspector Hakim Ali said. Along with their cousin Mohammed Ali and two other men, they hid, stopped Bibi on her way home from work, and strangled her with a wire, the officer said. When they thought she was dead, they cut off her nose and ears, Ali said.
They mutilated her "to set an example," prosecutor Jahangir said.
Mohammed Ali, the cousin, was also arrested, while the two other men allegedly involved in the attack have not been. The brothers were tried under anti-terror laws because the incident "created tyranny" in the district, Inspector Ali said. The high court must confirm the sentence before it is carried out, and a doctor must determine that they can survive the punishment.
The high court has suspended similar sentences in the past.
The Senate's 60 vote super-majority vote requirement is not in the constitution, it is a self-imposed policy made up by the senate itself. It can and should be changed considering how abusive its use has been of late. Krugman explains.
A Dangerous Dysfunction
By Paul Krugman
Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It's a seriously flawed bill, we'll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it's nonetheless a huge step forward.
It was, however, a close-run thing. And the fact that it was such a close thing shows that the Senate -- and, therefore, the U.S. government as a whole -- has become ominously dysfunctional.
The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, "extended-debate-related problems" -- threatened or actual filibusters -- affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.
Some conservatives argue that the Senate's rules didn't stop former President George W. Bush from getting things done. But this is misleading, on two levels.
After all, Democrats won big last year, running on a platform that put health reform front and center. In any other advanced democracy this would have given them the mandate and the ability to make major changes. But the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster -- a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule -- turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill.
Now consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that -- or, I'm tempted to say, any of it -- if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?
Some people will say that it has always been this way, and that we've managed so far. But it wasn't always like this. Yes, there were filibusters in the past -- most notably by segregationists trying to block civil rights legislation. But the modern system, in which the minority party uses the threat of a filibuster to block every bill it doesn't like, is a recent creation.
Its unbelievable that it took this long.
DOT imposes 3-hour limit on strandings
Airlines must supply food, water after 2 hours, maintain operable lavatories
AP - The Obama administration took aim Monday at tarmac horror stories, ordering airlines to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to disembark after three hours.
With its new regulations, the Transportation Department sent an unequivocal message on the eve of the busy holiday travel season: Don't hold travelers hostage to delayed flights.
Under the new regulations, airlines operating domestic flights will be able only to keep passengers on board for three hours before they must be allowed to disembark a delayed flight. The regulation provides exceptions only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.
U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers. Foreign carriers are not covered by the rules.
Airlines will be required to provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac, and to maintain operable lavatories. They must also provide passengers with medical attention when necessary.
From January to June this year, 613 planes were delayed on tarmacs for more than three hours, their passengers kept on board.
Airlines will also be prohibited from scheduling chronically delayed flights. Carriers who fail to comply could face government enforcement action for using unfair or deceptive trade practices.
The new regulations, which were published Monday in the Federal Register, go into effect in 120 days.
"Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
Under the new regulations, airlines would be fined $27,500 per passenger for each violation of the three-hour limit, LaHood said.
LaHood called the new regulations the Obama administration's "passenger bill of rights."
Legislation pending in the Senate would also have imposed a three-hour limit, but the new regulations go even farther, giving passenger rights advocates nearly everything they've been asking for.
hat tip Somerville
Went to Orlando last night to visit pal Adrian and his best bud to fulfill Adrian's invite to see the midnight 3D IMAX premiere release of Avatar.
My review: O MY GOD!!!
Lots of people are going to gush over this visual masterpiece and they will not be able to express in their most purple phrases 10% of the sheer depth of archetypal beauty through which this film invades the human consciousness. This is not a must see film, this is a you WILL see. This isn't just a movie, it's a genuine life experience.
The plot is familiar: Outsider joins tribe and helps them fight against the outsiders invasive people. But its done well and given a few new new twists. For every moment of what could be considered trite or cliche, another moment of unparalleled and unique beauty washes over the viewer. In terms of actions and drive this film is relentless but somehow not exhausting. The viewer never feels anything but a desire to see and experience more of the exquisite dreamscape. Its a quite lengthy movie but that is never noticed at all. Not many movies get audience applause at the end. This one did and it deserved it in spades.
This is the first time that the invention and use of 3D has found its real purpose; immersion, never being used during the course of the film merely as a gimmick. New film making ground has been broken here and technological awards are certain to follow.
One complaint: almost 3 hrs of IMAX 3D left my eyes raw and blurry (like that you get from staring at a computer screen for 12 hrs straight) for about 30 minutes afterwords...it was still more than worth it.
Thank you, Adrian!
Few films return us to the lost world of our first cinematic experiences, to that magical moment when movies really were bigger than life (instead of iPhone size), if only because we were children. Movies rarely carry us away, few even try. They entertain and instruct and sometimes enlighten. Some attempt to overwhelm us, but their efforts are usually a matter of volume. What's often missing is awe, something Mr. Cameron has, after an absence from Hollywood, returned to the screen with a vengeance. He hasn't changed cinema, but with blue people and pink blooms he has confirmed its wonder.
In my estimation the people who should be given psyche evaluation are those who found something wrong with this kids drawing. Honestly, what is wrong with some people?
This drawing, released by Chester Johnson, of Taunton, shows a sketch of Jesus on the cross created by his son as part of school work, in Taunton, Mass. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. The 8-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after he was asked to make a Christmas drawing and came up with what appeared to be a stick figure of Jesus on a cross, the child's father said Tuesday.
hat tip sis mo
The future of humanity begins with a choice. The new Syfy Original Series Caprica premieres January 22 at 9/8C.
With shades of being a prequel to the latter version of BattleStar Galactica, this could be a good show if it finds its philosophical and political legs. Right now its a bit oversimplified, but the allegorical references to a possible not too distant future for our culture are interesting - Cylon-esque cybernetics notwithstanding.
Where will virtuality and artificial intelligence take us? What might be the range of new choices we have to make? How will we react when we are our own avatars? Imagine perfect copies of the physical and mental processes, even the emotional...what about the soul? If there was no discernible difference, would there be a difference? What really will be the nature of "replicants' both in terms of their own assessments and that of cultures that may or may not accept them as equally alive?
hat tip to piggy poo
Try Robert Stirling's Engine. It has twice the efficiency of a steam engine and can be powered by any source of heat including plain solar heat. No noise or vibrations, no emissions at all when the energy supply is sunlight. It also lasts mechanically far longer than other engines because it has very few moving parts. A Heroic and Stirling idea (pun pun) really deserving a comeback. Video 15min.
Another step forward for the LGBT community. But one question is whether this victory comes at the racial expense of a Black man.
Annise Parker: Openly Gay Mayor Elected In Houston, Texas
Annise Parker has an unbeatable lead over Gene Locke in Houston's hotly contested mayoral election, meaning she will become the city's first openly gay mayor.
The Harris County elections Web site says 53.62 percent of voters who turned out Saturday chose Parker.
Her rival, former city attorney Gene Locke, was pitching to become the city's second black mayor.
The election battle leading up to Saturday's balloting was marked by fierce campaigning and anti-gay rhetoric. Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or issue of her sexual orientation. If she wins, Houston will become the largest U.S. city to ever have an openly gay mayor.
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund put out a press release calling this "a watershed moment in American politics." Full press release below:
Lesbian elected mayor of Houston, Texas
Washington, D.C.--Houston, Texas has become the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor after City Controller Annise Parker was declared the winner of a runoff election tonight. Social conservatives fought her election, funding a campaign aimed at turning out likeminded voters to support her opponent, former city attorney Gene Locke. But Parker's endorsements from labor, police, women's, gay rights and other groups were echoed by the Houston Chronicle, the area's major daily newspaper, and her campaign ran a superior get-out-the-vote effort.
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Parker, said her victory holds tremendous significance for the gay community. "This is a watershed moment in American politics. Annise was elected by fair-minded people from across the city because of her experience and competence, and we're glad Houston soundly rejected the politics of division. This victory sends a clear signal that gays and lesbians are an integral part of American civic life, that we're willing to lead, and that voters will respond to candidates who are open and honest about their lives," Wolfe said.
Parker praised the support of the Victory Fund and its donors, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund her campaign. "I am so grateful to the Victory Fund and its supporters for believing in this campaign from the beginning. This race was about the future of Houston, and whether we will face that future proud to be an open, welcoming, and fair-minded city. Tonight Houstonians said yes to a future like that, and I am glad the Victory Fund helped make that happen," Parker said.
Parker's election was the Victory Fund's top political priority in 2009, a year that saw 54 of its 79 endorsed openly gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidates elected to public office.
To keep them from being completely evil.
from a letter to local paper:
a poster: To be good consistently has always seemed virtually impossible without the empowerment of God's grace. That is why most people know they need God. That is why most people are not atheists.
moi: If most people feel they need an outside agent like a God to keep them ethical, then those people have not learned to be ethical on their own. Doing right does not require religiosity. It requires empathy and compassion and a sense of personal responsibility for one's actions that comes from a consciously practiced recognition of one's interdependent position in this ongoing creation.
Rachel Maddow deserves major credit for her dogged pursuit of the facts and identification of the players surrounding the sordid story on the proposed Ugandan legislation that would make homosexuality a capital crime.
also hat tip to commenter BH for this related NPR linkage:
The Secret Political Reach Of 'The Family'
Unexplained White and Blue Light Spirals in Norwegian Sky
"The light stopped mid-air, then began to circulate (rotate around and around).
Within seconds, a giant spiral had covered a large portion of sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre." - U. K.'s Daily MailOnline
December 9, 2009, early morning close-up of the white spiral fter a mysterious light rotated in the sky and from the center of the white spiral came a blue-green spiral. According to some eyewitnesses, the white and blue spirals remained in the sky for ten to twelve minutes before fading out completely. Image © 2009 by Svein-Egil Haugen.
Now this is hot!!!
Fela!, the new musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer, performer and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, performed on Broadway.
The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. As Iwedi Ojinmah points out in his Article "Baba is Dead - Long Live Baba," Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native "tinker pan" African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masakela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz. Afrobeat is also characterized by having vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The endless groove is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song. His band was notable for featuring two baritone saxophones, whereas most groups using this instrument only use one. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles, and can be seen in funk and hip-hop. Some elements often present in Fela's music are the call-and-response within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela's songs were almost always over 10 minutes in length, some reaching the 20- or even 30-minute marks, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside Africa. His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela's main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboards, but he also played the trumpet, guitar, and took the occasional drum solo. Fela refused to perform songs again after he had already recorded them, which also hindered his popularity outside Africa. Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the Underground Spiritual Game. Fela attempted making a movie but lost all the materials to the fire that was set to his house by the military government in power.
Good. I hope she receives a big bundle of cash. At least McDonalds had the sense to fire the bastard that insulted and refused to hire her.
Manager Fired After Transgender Discrimination Claim
An Orlando McDonald's has fired a manager after he was accused of refusing to hire a teen because she was transgendered.
Not only did McDonald's refuse to hire her, but a manager left her a scathing voice mail about the company's reasons for denying her application -- an unfortunate move for McDonald's, since administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that trans people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act, according to TLDEF.
Not only was the voice mail message inappropriate, but the manager used a derogatory, anti-gay term in his message to Bellamy. Trans people are frequently confused with gay and lesbian people, although trans people can be any sexual orientation. But the use of anti-gay language is one of the hallmarks of anti-trans bias.
Listen to this voice mail from **youtube ** and think about whether or not it is one that you would want to receive as a job applicant.
By John Rennie Scientific American
On November 18, with the United Nations Global Warming Conference in Copenhagen fast approaching, U.S. Sen. James R. Inhofe (R-Okla.) took the floor of the Senate and proclaimed 2009 to be "The Year of the Skeptic." Had the senator's speech marked a new commitment to dispassionate, rational inquiry, a respect for scientific thought and a well-grounded doubt in ghosts, astrology, creationism and homeopathy, it might have been cause for cheer. But Inhofe had a more narrow definition of skeptic in mind: he meant "standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism."
Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists. Not everyone who questions climate change science fits that description, of course--some people are genuinely unaware of the facts or honestly disagree about their interpretation. What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem, often with weak and long-disproved arguments about supposed weaknesses in the science behind global warming.
What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians' bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.
Claim 1: Anthropogenic CO2 can't be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources. Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, so changes in CO2 are irrelevant.
Although CO2 makes up only 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, that small number says nothing about its significance in climate dynamics. Even at that low concentration, CO2 absorbs infrared radiation and acts as a greenhouse gas, as physicist John Tyndall demonstrated in 1859. The chemist Svante Arrhenius went further in 1896 by estimating the impact of CO2 on the climate; after painstaking hand calculations he concluded that doubling its concentration might cause almost 6 degrees Celsius of warming--an answer not much out of line with recent, far more rigorous computations.
Contrary to the contrarians, human activity is by far the largest contributor to the observed increase in atmospheric CO2. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, anthropogenic CO2 amounts to about 30 billion tons annually--more than 130 times as much as volcanoes produce. True, 95 percent of the releases of CO2 to the atmosphere are natural, but natural processes such as plant growth and absorption into the oceans pull the gas back out of the atmosphere and almost precisely offset them, leaving the human additions as a net surplus. Moreover, several sets of experimental measurements, including analyses of the shifting ratio of carbon isotopes in the air, further confirm that fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are the primary reasons that CO2 levels have risen 35 percent since 1832, from 284 parts per million (ppm) to 388 ppm--a remarkable jump to the highest levels seen in millions of years.
Contrarians frequently object that water vapor, not CO2, is the most abundant and powerful greenhouse gas; they insist that climate scientists routinely leave it out of their models. The latter is simply untrue: from Arrhenius on, climatologists have incorporated water vapor into their models. In fact, water vapor is why rising CO2 has such a big effect on climate. CO2 absorbs some wavelengths of infrared that water does not so it independently adds heat to the atmosphere. As the temperature rises, more water vapor enters the atmosphere and multiplies CO2's greenhouse effect; the IPCC notes that water vapor (pdf) may "approximately double the increase in the greenhouse effect due to the added CO2 alone."
Folding Paper Seven plus times
by Donna Smith
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.
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The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.
More than half of foreign companies and about 42 percent of U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years in that period, the report said.
During that time corporate sales in the United States totaled $2.5 trillion, according to Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who requested the GAO study.
The report did not name any companies. The GAO said corporations escaped paying federal income taxes for a variety of reasons including operating losses, tax credits and an ability to use transactions within the company to shift income to low tax countries.
With the U.S. budget deficit this year running close to the record $413 billion that was set in 2004 and projected to hit a record $486 billion next year, lawmakers are looking to plug holes in the U.S. tax code and generate more revenues.
Dorgan in a statement called the report "a shocking indictment of the current tax system." Levin said it made clear that "too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States."
The study showed about 28 percent of large foreign corporations, those with more than $250 million in assets, doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $372 billion in gross receipts, the senators said. About 25 percent of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $1.1 trillion in gross sales that year, they said.
Good for her.
"Family Ties" actress Meredith Baxter made the media rounds Wednesday confirming the rumors that she is a lesbian. "It was a later in life recognition," the actress explained to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show Wednesday.
The National Enquirer recently ran a story about Baxter being spotted on a lesbian cruise through the Caribbean with a "female friend," which was then picked up by celebrity blogs. As a result, the 62-year-old decided to tell her fans herself.
"I didn't want some tabloid to take the story and make it up," Baxter said in the interview. "I wanted it to be in my own words."
Baxter was also interviewed on Sirius XM Radio's "The Frank DeCaro Show."
Coming out was a difficult thing for the quiet actress to do. She told Lauer on "Today" that she's always "lived a very private life. To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical" to who she is.
Baxter told DeCaro that she knew she could be outed when she went on the cruise with her partner, Nancy Locke, but she went anyway.
"We live a very open life at home," she said. "Anyone who's a friend of mine, anyone who knows and cares about me knows. It's no secret that I'm gay, but it has been to the greater world.
"The reason I'm here [on the show] is because I'm saying, yes, I'm a lesbian."
Baxter also told People magazine that she has been in a four-year relationship with Locke, who works as a building contractor. Baxter has been dating women for the past seven years, and "the thought of being gay never crossed my mind," she said.
The actress was married three times before, during which she "was never comfortable with herself," she told People. Now, she feels like she's "being honest for the first time."
Baxter has also come clean to her five kids, according to People. Her 25-year-old son Peter was all smiles. He told the magazine that he "just couldn't stop smiling, because she finally figured it out."
And so should the whole wall street mind-set crew, including Geithner and Summers Nothing will change until they do. It's their Wall St paradigm that is killing us. I'm starting to like Bernie Sanders more and more.
Early fireworks in Bernanke confirmation drama
By Hibah Yousuf
On the eve of what's expected to be a tough confirmation hearing Thursday, one senator has thrown up a political roadblock intended to stymie Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second term.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said late Wednesday that he will put a hold on Bernanke's nomination. A hold is an informal practice in which a senator informs the majority leader that he does not want a measure or nomination to reach the floor for a vote.
"The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interest of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few," said Sanders, one of Bernanke's sharpest critics, in a statement. "What American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy."
Sanders said Bernanke, who took the helm of the Fed in 2006, could have averted the financial crisis in several ways, but failed at "core responsibility of the Federal Reserve" and thus "it's time for him to go."
Among the litany of reasons he cited for his move, the statement from Sanders' office noted that unemployment had more than doubled under Bernanke's watch and more than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.
Bernanke's first term expires next month.
Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not need to recognize Sanders' hold, but Sanders could filibuster the motion to nominate the Fed chairman for another 4-year term.
Aw...poor little Erik. Too bad its not literal. As far as I'm concerned this guy should be removed from the gene pool.
Blackwater chief: I was thrown 'under the bus'
The man who built Blackwater USA into one of the world's most respected and reviled defense contractors feels that he was thrown "under the bus" after serving America's security interests for years.
Erik Prince's company, which renamed itself Xe Services in February after an uproar over its Iraq operations, has worked closely for years with the CIA, the State Department and the U.S. military. But it became the target of a series of federal investigations and congressional probes, primarily for its Iraq work. Most recently, officials disclosed that the CIA tapped the company to work under a program to capture or kill terrorists.
The 40-year-old heir to a Michigan auto parts fortune told Vanity Fair in an interview released Wednesday that Xe now pays $2 million a month in legal bills. The company is headquartered in Moyock in northeastern North Carolina.
"I put myself and my company at the CIA's disposal for some very risky missions," Prince told Vanity Fair for its January issue. "But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus."
Its pretty obvious to even the casual onlooker that Tiger's wife's entreaty for him to come down from his sterling perch and join the club, as it were, was a result of a domestic dispute and as such is of course a really juicy and delicious gossip tidbit, but also absolutely none of our business. I give him a total pass.
On the other hand, I care much more about his refusal to use the capital from his athletic fame to speak up and stand against the human and labor rights abuses that have occurred around such projects as the Dubai based Woods country club - built as the centerpiece of an adult Disneyland.
There is a dark side to Woods' investments far more worthy of scrutiny than any sort of fall out with his wife.
The problem being that one of those driving purposes is to write legislation that would criminalize being gay to the point of making it an executable offense.
Rick Warren's Africa Problem
by Max Blumenthal
Team Obama likes to cite Warren's work on AIDS in Africa to combat criticism about the controversial pastor. But how does burning condoms in the name of Jesus save lives?
Once hailed by Time magazine as "America's Pastor," California mega-church leader and bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren now finds himself on the defensive. President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Warren to deliver the inaugural prayer has generated intense scrutiny of the pastor's beliefs on social issues, from his vocal support for Prop 8, a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in California, to his comparison of homosexuality to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. Many of Obama's supporters have demanded that he withdraw the invitation.
Warren's defense against charges of intolerance ultimately depends upon his ace card: his heavily publicized crusade against AIDS in Africa. Obama senior advisor David Axelrod cited Warren's work in Africa as one of "the things on which [Obama and Warren] agree" on the December 28 episode of Meet the Press. Warren may be opposed to gay rights and abortion, the thinking goes, but he tells evangelicals it is their God-given duty to battle one of the greatest pandemics in history. What could be wrong with that?
Ssempa's stunts have included publishing the names of homosexuals in local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His website contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations' special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred."
Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempe enjoys close ties to his country's First Lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.