Ah, yes. Fucking doomed, we are.

Senate panel votes to expand PATRIOT Act; if it passes as written, the Feds will have the power to get at things like medical and financial records without a fucking warrant. Judicial oversight keeps cops honest. Without it, they can and do abuse their powers, and that is dangerous to our republic. Call your congresspeople and tell them what you think of this blatent fearmongering powergrab.

What they teach in Ohio

Ohio’s $455,000 abstinence-only sex ed curriculum has been found to be astoundingly flawed by a Case Western public health researcher, including (among other howlers) the following:

  • HIV can be transmitted through tears and open-mouthed kissing;
  • Contraceptives are to blame for mental health problems in teens;
  • Taking the pill will reduce a girl’s future fertility; and
  • Students should just “follow God’s plan for purity.”

This in a public school, and funded with public money. ThinkProgress sums it up:

Keeping kids in the dark or filling their heads with misinformation about contraception doesnÕt keep hormonally charged teens from having sex. It just makes it less likely theyÕll have safe sex.

In which Fred quotes both Buffy AND Jimmy Carter, to great effect

Fred Clark — a/k/a Slacktivist — opens his most recent post with this:

It was an experiment. The Initiative represented the government’s interest in not only controlling the otherworldly menace, but in harnessing its power for our own military purposes. The considered opinion of this council is that the experiment has failed. … The demons cannot be harnessed, cannot be controlled. It is therefore our recommendation that the project be terminated. … The Initiative itself will be filled in with concrete. Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down and salt the earth.

The context is a late 4th season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the speaker is a high-level Pentagon type after the project went wildly wrong (big surprise). Fred’s using it to talk about Gitmo and our national experiments with what may charitably be called our less supernatural darker impulses in the wake of 9/11.

We’re supposed to be the good guys. Detention without charge, torture, abuse, extraordinary rendition, disregard for the Geneva Conventions and the unadorned murder of prisoners are not things that the good guys should tolerate, let alone actively embrace.

In fact, it’s at least part of the laundry list of post-WMD reasons Bush gave for invading Iraq. It isn’t enough to say we stand for freedom and justice. We have to actually act like it, too.

Heathen Write Letters

Gov. Goodhair’s comments have really pissed us off, so much so we actually wrote a physical letter. Text follows:

Gov. Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, TX
Dear Gov. Perry, As an independent Texan, I believe that that which governs least governs best, but within certain parameters; one activity that only the government can do is protect minority rights from majority tyranny. This principle is one of those that form the basis for our society; pure democracy, it has been said, exists when two wolves and one rabbit vote on what’s for dinner. Homosexuals are discriminated against in our country and in our state. Of this there can be no doubt. People of high ideals may disagree on why that is, or even that it’s justified according to the view of one faith or another — but the government must stand for all its citizens, and cannot let the dictates of the Southern Baptist Convention (e.g.) replace its occasionally unpopular yet profoundly necessary role in checking the power of the majority. I am ashamed that our state has joined others in the pointless exercise of marginalizing a portion of our citizens simply because their orientation is unpopular. Texans are an independant breed, set apart, and as such we should lead the way towards the right answer on this and other issues. Here we have failed, and thrown our lot in with those unaccountably threatened by the notion of homosexuality. I do not now, nor have I ever understood this response; even my Baptist mother is confused by this bizarre pursuit of additional marginalization for a group that wants only the protections afforded the rest of us. What I do understand, though, is that a truely conservative leader would not cotton to such distracting antics when far more pressing issues face Texas, our nation, and the world. Governor Perry, please stop kow-towing to the right wing of your party. Many Texans may live in that wing, but many more are offended by the blatently political machinations surrounding this crusade against our gay and lesbian neighbors. Stand up and be true to our state’s independent roots; stand up and fulfill the government’s duty to protect its minorities from the unjust tyranny of the majority. Stand for rights, not the abrogation thereof. Stand for protection, not governmental discrimination. Thank you for your time.

More “disassembling” from Bush, et. al.

TPM points us to this NYT story echoed here:

“A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents. In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved.” NYT

It gets better:

Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the “climate team leader” and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

No shame. These people have. no. shame.

Gov. Perry is Useless Homophobic Jackass

Quoth Kos:

Local NBC Anchor: “Among the protesters were gay veterans and their partners. We asked the governor about his take on gay veterans, many of whom may one day have fewer rights than everyone else.” Rick Perry: “Texans made a decision about marriage and if there’s a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.”

Fuck him. Seriously. Fuck him.

40 Years Ago Today

From here:

WASHINGTON, DC — On June 7, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of constitutional protection for using birth control in the United States. In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law that made the use of birth control by married couples illegal with its ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut. However, 40 years later, women still face unnecessary and often politically-motivated barriers to contraception.

Eisenstadt v. Baird followed in 1972, which extended that protection to the unmarried. Frankly, it’s still pretty staggering to think that anyone thought they had a right to regulate birth control in our lifetimes, but we reckon that’s (still) the province of the Jackass Right. Piss ’em off good, and have some non-procreative sex today!

The Rude Pundit on why the Koran isn’t the issue

Brilliant and depressing; an excerpt:

The Rude Pundit doesn’t suffer fundamentalists gladly. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Bible-thumpin’ Christian, a Koran-riotin’ Muslim, or a ripped-to-shit flag waver, you can take your strict adherence to your religious and/or nationalistic code and, well, flush it down the toilet. Because, frankly, if you’re willing to go nutzoid over the desecration of a book, then you’re someone who’s willing to oppress real, living people – maybe that’s forcing women to always be accompanied by a man, maybe it’s not allowing gay people to marry each other or adopt kids, maybe it’s re-electin’ a lyin’ sack of shit to the presidency. However it forces you to behave, it’s gonna end up screwin’ someone else’s freedoms over. So fuck you. […] The issue is not the crazed religious beliefs of others. The issue is how a nation treats people. The issue is personal property. The issue is torture. The issue is the presumption of guilt. The issue is the inversion of everything most of us were taught about this great nation, whose fall from grace has been harrowing to watch. It’s not that a Koran or two or five were pissed on or stomped. Once we make it that, we buy into a religious doctrine that places faith over the physical. And we cannot make legal decisions in that way.

There is, of course, more.

Please Welcome Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette

From Newsday:

NEW YORK (AP) _ Comedian/magician Penn Jillette’s latest stunt didn’t involve his usual sidekick, Teller: He became the father of a baby girl. Jillette, 50, and his wife Emily, 39, welcomed 6-pound, 6-ounce Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette on Friday, according to publicist Glenn Schwartz. It was the first child for the couple, who married last year. “We chose her middle name because when she’s pulled over for speeding she can say, “But officer, we’re on the same side,”‘ Jillette explained. “My middle name is CrimeFighter.”‘ The typically mute Teller had no comment on the new arrival. Penn & Teller currently star in their own series on Showtime, and headline nightly in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Our houseguest, when asked for comment, opined that the tyke was sure to have an interesting life. Upon reflection, however, it seems clear that any child of Jillette’s would have that taken care of more or less by default.

Must. Have. Now.

The entire 80 year archive of the New Yorker will be available on DVD this fall, according to the New York Times today:

The New Yorker, the weekly magazine that started as “a hectic book of gossip, cartoons and facetiae,” as Louis Menand once wrote, and has evolved into a citadel of narrative nonfiction and investigative reporting, will publish its entire 80-year archives on searchable computer discs this fall. The collection, titled “The Complete New Yorker,” will consist of eight DVD’s containing high-resolution digital images of every page of the 4,109 issues of the magazine from February 1925 through the 80th anniversary issue, published last February. Included on the discs will be “every cover, every piece of writing, every drawing, listing, newsbreak, poem and advertisement,” David Remnick, editor of the magazine, has written in an introduction to the collection. […] The project is an amalgam of technology, stealth, insurance considerations and economics that was first discussed more than seven years ago. It was overseen, and long kept secret, by Edward Klaris, general counsel for the magazine, and Pamela Maffei McCarthy, its deputy editor. In early 2004, two staff members drove two copies of each issue of the magazine to Kansas City in a rented truck to have them digitally scanned. The magazine’s card catalog, which over time has come to include more than 1.5 million index cards containing citations and cross-references to articles and which forms the backbone of the search function on the discs, was scanned at the magazine’s office in Manhattan after discussions with the publication’s insurance company found the catalog to be “irreplaceable and beyond value,” Mr. Remnick said. The collection also has one other important feature, which allows a reader to page through each magazine by flipping directly to the cartoons. As Mr. Remnick admits, “Ninety percent of our subscribers say they read the cartoons first, and the rest would be lying.”

Now, if they’ll just commit to digital updates every year…


The media has been having a field day with the Felt Throat thing, even to the point of inviting Watergate conspirators to comment without disclosing their roles in the scandal. Of course, it would probably be less inflammatory to have convicted burglar G. Gordon Liddy denouncing Felt as dishonorable if they also pointed out that because of Felt’s actions Liddy went to prison for the crimes he committed. Ditto Colson, who, as may have had some kind of conversion experience in the clink — but apparently has left his douchebaggery intact.

By the way, in the event you’re harboring that wingnut notion that the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and Watergate are in any way morally equivalent: Bullshit.

The thing is, you probably ought to read them all on the grounds that these wingnuts think they’re dangerous

Some conservative wackos provide us with a list of the most dangerous books of the 19th and 20th centuries. The very idea of a list of “dangerous” books makes my skin crawl; sure, there are some disturbing titles here (Mein Kampf, for example), but labelling any work as “dangerous” is a step down a rather scary path.

Also, n.b. that they aren’t limited to the ravings of dictators: they include “The Kinsey Report,” “The Feminine Mystique,” and, in their honorable mention category (irony presumably theirs), “Silent Spring,” “Second Sex,” “Origin of the Species,” and “Unsafe at Any Speed.” One wonders what “dangerous” ideas are included therein?

Update: Joey Accordian Guy DeVilla noticed the list as well, and supplies this choice quote:

There’s a bonus list at the bottom of the page: it’s the 15 biggest douchebags of the 21st century.

Dept. of Revised Opinions

When Apple released the iPod Shuffle, we were, well, underwhelmed. We already have three conventional hard-drive based iPods at Heathen Central (an original 5 gigabyte model; a 2nd-generation 15 gig used by Mr Heathen; and a 20 gig U2 edition Mrs Heathen To Be got for Christmas), and frankly didn’t see the charm.

For long, complicated reasons, however, Apple recently offered to send us a 1 gig Shuffle for free. Not being fools, we said “Sure!” Said schwag/bribe arrived today, and we are compelled to admit our opinion has changed: Shuffle? Very cool.

As at least occasionally gym-going folk, the Heathens have noticed that full-size iPods are, well, at least occasionally unwieldy in workout situations. They’re big and heavy, and not unfragile, as they’re built on hard drives. The Shuffle, on the other hand, weighs almost nothing (0.78 oz, vs. 5.6 for the “conventional” models), but holds plenty (ours is the 1 gig, which will hold about 240 songs — or 20% of the capacity of our original 5 gig, which was even then an absurd amount of music to carry around, let along use in the gym).

The real coolness, though, happens in the one area I could see being a problem: what to put on it? We knew it would “fill itself” on plug-in with a random sampling of one’s music library, but with a wildly eclectic library, that’s sort of fraught with peril (we do not wish to transition from Van Halen to Miles Davis while on the elliptical). What we did NOT realize is that one may instruct the Shuffle to fill itself from any arbitrary subset of the music library, and that it can easily switch between subsets with every docking event.

Add to this the mundane but entirely useful ability to store and transport any type of file, and we think it’s a keeper. Especially at “free.” But probably even at a C-note.