All you need to know about religious fundamentalism

We’ve not covered it, as it’s been all over the news, but here’s the summary: Warren Buffett is so rich he’s hired Bill Gates to spend his money for him. (Yes, it’s a Colbert line.) The Oracle of Omaha is donating the bulk of his US$44B wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which combats (among other things) disease and poverty in developing countries.

Way to go, right?

Well, it’s angered some Catholic nutjobs and other pro-lifers on account of the Gates Foundation giving money to Planned Parenthood. And by “money” we mean “less than 1 percent of their giving,” not that this matters; PP is an excellent organization that spends most of its time and money on education, well-women exams, the distribution of birth control, and the preservation of access thereto. It is not, as the anti-choicers like to say, “primarily an abortion provider.”

“The merger of Gates and Buffett may spell doom for the families of the developing world,” said the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who is president of Human Life International.

Referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi death camp doctor, Euteneuer said Buffett “will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents.”

We are certain Jesus is very, very proud. Seriously, where the hell do you get off claiming this is anything but a watershed moment in philanthropy? Buffett and Gates are the templates by which we ought to measure the wealthy: they realize their money can make serious changes in the lives of literally millions of people, and they’re acting accordingly. They have no room for dogma or bullshit, and they clearly entertain no wrongheaded notions about denying birth control or contraceptive education because some jackasses think sex is icky.

If your reaction to the most momentous charitable gift ever is to claim it spells doom for the recipients because they might get ahold of some rubbers, well, I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with you. It’s certainly proof that you care more about dogma than you do about people.

Whoa: Major Shakeup in Tour de France

The first post-Armstrong Tour will also be missing several other huge names thanks to an enormous doping scandal, it was reported today. Armstrong’s friendly rival, 1997 winner and five time runner-up Jan Ullrich won’t be riding, nor will Ivan Basso. In all, more than fifty cyclists have been implicated in an Spanish doping scandal now several weeks old. Basso and Ullrich have been pulled by their teams (CSC and T-Mobile, respectively), as was Spaniard Franciso Mancebo, who came in 4th last year.

CNN is reporting that T-Mobile has in fact cut all ties with veteran Ullrich, and will require him to prove his innocence to ride for them again. If true, this is a terrible end to Ullrich’s career; in a non-Lance world, he would certainly have won the Tour more than once — as noted above, he was bested only by Lance in 5 of his trips to France.

Blessedly, Americans George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Floyd Landis (Phonak) are thus far untouched. A field free of Ullrich and Basso makes American success more likely, of course, but by no means a certainty.

More Stuff to Piss You Off: Our Creeping Police State

This crap oughta rile even the reactionary Heathen Attorney.

One: A New Hampshire man has been arrested for videotaping police on his property with the surveillance system he installed for security reasons. Said arrest came after he was sufficiently pissed off by the rude behavior of a cop investigating his son that he took the videotape down to HQ to use it as evidence in a complaint.

Two: You can be found guilty of DUI in Michigan now for having THC residue in your bloodstream from exposure days or weeks earlier even though no impairing effects could be (or can be) shown.

Famous people we know

This is fun: our brother’s brother in law was on TV last night.

It’s our bet that when that sentence is usually uttered, it refers to an unfortunate cameo shirtless, in a gimmee hat, as a victim on COPS. Not so this time: the show was Conan, and the occasion was an appearance by the band Strays Don’t Sleep (they also have MySpace, natch).

The Jackson Office’s wife’s brother is Neilson Hubbard, who sings and plays keys wih this outfit. It’s a grownup band, not some bubblegum pop thing, and we’ve been enjoying the CD for several months. For some reason it was released in the U.K. first, but it finally dropped here on 6/13. Take a listen at their site; you might like it.

Today’s Good News / Bad News, SCOTUS Edition

The bad news is that the Texas redistricting map has been largely upheld by the Supremes. Apparently, legislatures can redistrict any damn time they want within some fairly flexible guidelines. Expect redistricting, then, every time control shifts from one party to the other. This can’t be a good idea.

The good news is that those same Supremes also held that Bush does not have the right to try the Gitmo detainees with military tribunals, i.e. kangaroo courts. This, at least, is a pretty big rebuke from the Court on Bush’s assertions of virtually unlimited wartime power.

Americans don’t care about freedom or oversight

If they did, the “liberal” media wouldn’t be so happy about discussing charges of treason for the New York Times over the financial snooping program.

Seriously. What. The. Fuck? Treason? For reporting the truth? About a possibly illegal secret program? Bush’s ongoing hostility to the press is well documented, but this is completely beyond the pale. Claiming investigative reporters are “helping the enemy” when they report on possibly extralegal surveillance programs is complete and utter bullshit, and only serves to illustrate how far down the river we’ve been sold.

Majikthise’s got more.

We’re sort of sorry he didn’t bait Dave Winer, but it’s still kinda funny

Geek writer Mark Pilgrim has apparently been inspired by Ze Frank to give videoblogging a try, which somewhat mixed results. Fortunately, he also included the text in the blog post, which makes it easy for us to point out and quote one of the best zingers of the day:

In the “news I don’t care about” department, a company I’ll never work for has announced that it will not be shipping a new filesystem I’d never trust in an operating system I’ll never use. The so-called “WinFS” filesystem was supposed to feature rich metadata and schemas to help you organize your ever-growing porn collection.

Joe Gregorio, seen here preaching the Gospel of Atom, predicted the non-shipping-ness of WinFS in 2003, saying “WinFS is the file system formerly called Cairo and has repeatedly not shipped since 1995. If it ever did ship it would be a complete failure because it does not solve a problem that anyone actually has.”


We agree.

Joe Biden Grows A Pair

As Atrios makes clear, it’s what the Dems ought to be saying about just about every GOP talking point, but this, at least, is a start:

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting, and no matter how you carve it, you can call it anything you want, but basically, it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don’t have the stomach for this fight.

BLITZER: All right. You want to respond to the vice president, Senator Biden?

BIDEN: No, I don’t want to respond to him. He’s at 20 percent in the polls. No one listens to him. He has no credibility. It’s ridiculous.


Or is on its way, anyway. It’ll be remounted for the weekend of August 10,11,12, with a possible extension after that. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW. IBP’s already had raves from the Chronicle, the Press, and the NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES. Make the call. Get reservations now; they won’t last long. 713-522-8443

Pay attention: Secrecy vs. Rule of Law Edition

The AT&T v EFF suit over almost-certainly-illegal call record turnover is heating up. The fun part of this is that the government and AT&T are basically saying “there’s a war on, and to even address these allegations or review the evidence is to disclose too much,” which more or less means “secrecy is more important than the rule of law.”

Um, no. We can think of several regimes where that was (or is) the case, but we’re pretty sure we don’t want it as a value in our republic. More at Wired here; the 27BStroke6 blog is covering this pretty well.

Update: Fortunately, it looks like the judge is paying attention, at least based on the questions he’s insisting all sides answer.

More on net neutrality

In a pretty disappointing move, former White House staffer Mike McCurry is now shilling against Net Neutrality for the big telcos. Trouble is, there’s no real argument against the concept, as this dialog shows.

The biggest joke from the telco argument is the idea that Google or Amazon or whomever is looking for a “free ride” of some kind; it doesn’t even make sense. Obviously those firms pay millions to telcos every year for bandwidth. We here at Heathen pay for our end, too. There is no free ride, as Amazon’s Paul Misener makes clear in the link above.

Techdirt on How Telcos Are Screwing You

Go check it out. As they whine about not needing network neutrality, it’s important to remember how brazen and arrogant they’ve been in the past, and how much they’ve just plain lied. Keep in mind, too, how much they totally rolled over for the Feds on this domestic wiretapping thing (except, of course, for Qwest).

Update: As if on cue, we get this announcement from AT&T, who now assert they own all your customer data, even the stuff that they probably ought not be collecting. Evil, we tell you. Evil.

And yo momma, too.

From the Onion, of course (last July; somehow we missed it):

All Y’All Urged To Go Fuck Yo’ Selves

July 6, 2005 | Issue 41.27

DETROIT — In a strongly worded pronouncement to all y’all motherfuckers, Detroit resident Dwayne Combs urged all y’all to go fuck yo’ selves Monday. “Y’all be bullshit,” said Combs in a 3:17 a.m. address from the corner of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard. “And yo’ mama, too.” Monday’s statement marked the normally reclusive Combs’ first since an October 1998 appeal to Detroit’s city council to kiss his big, black ass. Representatives for all y’all have not yet responded to Combs’ themselves-fucking offer.

Why perpetual copyright sucks, volume 6,235

Via BoingBoing, we find the tale of Stephen Joyce, sole heir and executor of the James Joyce estate. If he doesn’t like what you might say in your paper, he’ll deny you permission to quote from Joyce’s work. He’s prevented all manner of projects from taking place, and is doing his best to stifle anything said about his grandfather that he doesn’t like. Stephen’s ire extends even to public readings of Ulysses on Bloomsday; his threat to sue the Irish government put the kibosh on any such readings during the 100th anniversary celebrations two years ago. The situation is such that a Stanford prof is suing the estate preemptively to establish that his research doesn’t violate copyright.

The sucky part? There was a time, briefly, when Stephen Joyce was irrelevant. Joyce’s work passed into public domain in the 90s, only to be sucked back in thanks to copyright extensions.

More depravity from Gitmo

We’ve been wondering just exactly what to say about the suicides at Gitmo or, more specifically, the shocking statements that came from the camp’s commandant in re: suicide as an act of war. How’s that work exactly? Suicide bombing we sort of get — so did the Japanese in the waning days of Pearl Harbor, and so too do countless American war movies glorifying the crucial “suicide mission” nevertheless necessary for the greater good. But how exactly is out and out suicide — hanging yourself with your sheets in your cell — an act of anything but desperation and despair? It’s become abundantly clear that many if not most of the prisoners at Gitmo were gathered up on scant or no evidence, and our government insists they can hold them forever. If that’s not a ticket to despair, I don’t know what is.

So anyway, we were trying to spool up to give Rear Admiral Harris both barrels, but then we found that the Rude Pundit beat us there, God love him.

Welcome to New York, ca. 1979

Screenhead points us to Blondie’s Heart of Glass video, which made us feel very funny when we were 10. As Screenhead’s editors put it: “What’s important here, is that we’d all still eat a pregnant tarantula for the chance to lick one of Deborah Harry’s footprints.”

By the way, it appears the linked site, Sugarjar, includes a metric shit-ton of music videos. Enjoy. (Also, note how insanely young the introducing guest host is just before their clip of David Bowie’s Man Who Sold The World from SNL.)

“Hold on to your loving feelings / Quit your teasing; it’s a lie!”

AJ's scooter, signed by Daniel Look. To paraphrase Billy Joe Shaver, if you haven’t seen IBP’s Speeding Motorcycle yet, you’re just crazy as hell. It’s an original rock opera created in collaboration with Daniel Johnston, and it’s just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on any stage ever. People leave the show beaming with joy. It’s a special moment for Houston in general; given all the press and attention Daniel’s gotten in the last year or two, it’s a real feather in Houston’s collective artistic cap to have this world premier happening here. I can’t believe I get to have my name in this show’s program; I’m not really this cool, but IBP certainly is.

This past weekend, I took a little camera with me. I’m hoping David can take a few better ones this weekend, but for now these will have to do.

The show runs through the 24th. Because of logistics, there’s really no way it can be extended. Mrs Heathen and I have already been 4 times, plus the impromptu “abridged” performance at Rudz on Memorial Day. It’s that good. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Thank me later.

You know, the game’s cool and all, but Blizzard sure are douchebags

So there’s this game-book publisher guy who sells his wares on eBay. It’s been well established that unauthorized game guides are not copyright infringement, but Blizzard still kept sending eBay DMCA takedown notices. The guy would, of course, challenge each notice, and since Blizz would never respond to the challenge, eBay would relent and allow the guide listings to return.

And, of course, Blizzard would issue another DMCA takedown notice, starting the cycle anew. It’s absurd and grotesque that they got away with this. It’s ridiculous that the DMCA exists in the first place, but it’s obvious that Blizzard (et. al.) were doing something very sinister and wrong even if the law technically allowed them to behave this way. That something is legally permitted doesn’t make it ok morally, and Blizz flunked the test.

Fortunately, the little guy in this case had the stones to SUE the bastards in March; they reached a settlement today allowing his sales to continue; Blizz and co. agree to drop copyright claims to his work and cease any further takedown notices against these books, so the little guy kind of wins here.

Still, there’s no arguing with it: Blizz are douchebags.


Fafblog returns:

“In the new universe all our most time-consuming tasks will be performed by super-efficient helper robots – including the construction of our super-efficient helper robots!” says Giblets. “They will then build lower-class worker robots to do their work for them, who will outsource their labor to cheap, third-world sweatshop robots, who will fill their factories with legions of trained indentured gerbils, who will ultimately enslave a species of weevil.”

“But when the weevil revolution comes we’ll be in the clear cause we’ll already be conquered by the robots,” says me.

“In the new universe war will be replaced by a convenient, family-friendly game of Hungry Hungry Hippos,” says Giblets.