This one is just for comedic relief. One of the websites that I regularly read is the Korean Central News Agency, the "news" site of Communist North Korea. This site is hilarious. If you haven't seen it, check it out. You will get some terrific laughs from the utter nonsense spewed forth by the world's most isolated and bizarre Communist nation and it's crazy leader, Kim Jong-Il.
Anyway, as a life-long anti-Communist, I decided to have a little fun, and use their own rediculousness to ridicule them. So, I have set up the "official" blog of the (fictional) Peoples' Free Democratic Republic of Koskovia, the last Communist state left in Europe following the revolutions of 1989.
Koskovia is headed by President of the Republic and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Central Committee of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies, Mladik Vladik. [You may have noticed that Communist leaders past and present LOVE to give themselves as many titles as possible.] Vladik is, therefore, both the head of government (chairman) and head of state (president).
The confusing titles, language, and grammar on the site are intentional, in an effort to make all issues somewhat hard to follow, as is the aim of any Communist "news" agency. [Some grammatic errors are, however, unintentional, but I won't tell you which ones!]
Like some of you, I am a devotè (sp?) of British Comedy, so I have tried to funny in a subtle way. I do not claim to have done a great job at this, as comedy is fairly hard to write. But I will confess that I made myself laugh once or twice, and I hope to do the same for you if you happen to check it out.
I would suggest that, if you decide to check it, you read the "National Profile" section on the right side of the screen first, and then read the entries from the bottom (the earliest) to the top (latest) go get the proper flow.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, whatever, please do let me know. Because I have not attempted comedic writing before, I am learning as I go.
Anyway, enjoy! :)
[UPDATE: I have set up a separate blog: Save Radar!]
From The New York Post Online Edition:
December 16, 2005 -- DID Radar magazine's financial backers Mort Zuckerman and Jeffrey Epstein pull the plug on the scrappy mag because of pressure from their ultra-wealthy friends? Media insiders claim the glossy was canned after Radar ignored repeated warnings not to write about their patrons' powerful pals.
Over the last year, our sources claim, both Zuckerman and Epstein were besieged by calls from power players distressed over Radar's snarky coverage of them, including Hollywood's Mike Ovitz, American Media honcho David Pecker and secretive supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle. All three personally lobbied Zuckerman and Epstein to quash salacious stories, insiders claim.
One media source tells us: "Ron Burkle's lawyer, Marty Singer, threatened to sue them. And Burkle, who is a major investor in Barnes & Noble, had one of the biggest magazine distributors in the country call to tell them it wouldn't be in their best interest to write about Burkle after they reported a story about him hosting Michael Jackson at his house. Bill Clinton [a friend of Burkle and also Epstein] also called [Epstein] and demanded they not write about him and Jackson. They still did." Singer confirmed the legal threats against Radar to PAGE SIX and suggested there may be more litigation in the works.
One Radar staffer offered an outrageous conspiracy scenario: "The theory going around is that the Scientologists put the fear of Xenu [an evil space alien in the Scientology creed] into [Zuckerman and Epstein]. Scientologists have been digging into Epstein's and Zuckerman's private lives, and have thick files on both of them. Who knows what's in them?" Earlier this year, Radar published a scathing cover story about Tom Cruise and Scientology. A rep for the Church of Scientology dismissed the account as "a complete fabrication."
One power player who was left off the hook by Radar's shutdown was ICM boss Jeff Berg, who, insiders say, began calling [Zuckerman] after hearing he'd been pegged as the "most ineffective agent in Hollywood" in an upcoming cover story. The story was slated for the upcoming issue, which has been nixed.
A rep for Pecker tells us: "[Radar editor] Maer Roshan's a very talented guy and we wish him luck, but [Pecker] never made any calls about Radar." Ovitz's reps called the allegations "preposterous." Berg denies calling Zuckerman. Reps for Epstein, Zuckerman, Clinton and Burkle didn't return calls.
I am incredibly angry, especially as this comes on the heels of the almost-cancellation of Arrested Development. It seems that America has no use for original voices.
I honestly beleive that the CoS was behind this -- I believe the theory. Fuck you, "Church" of Scientology! You are a bunch of thieves and liars with some good lawyers. I can't wait for you to be publically exposed for hte bunch of fuckheads you are.
I will NEVER go to another Tom Cruise movie, ever.
[You can read about Cruise and Scientology here.]
And Bill Clinton is still a total asshole, but that should be news to no one.
I am sorry to be so emotional. As you know, my Ph.D. dissertation is on Free Speech in Massachusetts, 1920-1960, so for years I have been reading and writing about the myriad violations of free speech during the Cold War. I had hoped that we had moved beyond such times, but I did not take into account the power and influence of the wealthy and the corporations that back them. They are so scared of losing profit, they back down at the slightest hint of trouble. Unique voices are being squashed left and right in this country, especially after 9/11, but not only because of it. Our nation has become an oligarchy of wealth, and — worst of all — most Americans have swallowed their propaganda that we, too, can be one of the rich and famous! We forget, of course, that for there to be a wealthy class, there MUST be a poor class (or a finacially squeezed middle-class).
The corporations, those who run them, and so-called "media moguls" have no interest in free speech, in quality publications, or in anything beyond a bland retelling of the propaganda they spoon-feed us every day -- the tyranny of the "sound bite" and meaningless celebrity gossip. There's nothing wrong with gossip, but publications like RADAR routinely gave the story-behind-the-story, the hidden connections and meanings that gave real depth to an otherwise fluffy story meant to keep us all distracted from the realities of life under an oligarchy that is now bordering on fascism.
I'm so sorry to see you go, RADAR. You WILL be missed, by me and many like me. All the best to your writers and editors – you truly made a difference, however brief.
I am going to continue to update this post, and perhaps make new ones, as I calm down and consider this entire issue. It is an important one to me.
What a dick! I actually liked him, and thought he should win, but for him to turn his back on Rebecca like he did was just awful. What an absolutely jack-ass. He ruined all the goodwill that people had for him. Every interview he gives from now on will ask him how he could be such a dick.
What an asshole. I hope Rebecca gets a better job than having to suck off Donald Trump for a year. I hope Randal is ready for his knee-pad fitting. Remember, Dick: Up, down, repeat, rinse!
No, not "Extra" ... The BBC's "Extras," starring Ricky Gervais of the BBC's "The Office." It was shown on HBO.
I watched all six episodes of "Extras" this weekend (I won't say how!) and it is hands down one of the two funniest shows I have ever watched, bar none. I laughed so hard at the episode in which Kate Winslet guest-starred that I almost passed out. I'm not joking. I literally got light-headed and blurry vision. Kate Winslet describing phone sex to Ricky's moron friend is just killer.
And, before I ever saw the show, I actually won a poster of "Extras" autographed by Ricky Gervais himself, from RaderOnline.com! Isn't that funny?
[The co-champion for comedy in my book is, of course ... yes, you guessed it! Arrested Development.]
I am also confused as to why websites that I visit post videos with the WMP. This is the worst peice of shit I have ever seen. It's slow, the quality is terrible, it freezes. Why bother with it, when anyone in the world can download Apple's QuickTime for a far superior video experience?
Try this: if you use OS X 10.4, or have access to it, run a QuickTime video, and then activate Exposé. The video continues to run flawlessly! I'm sure that WMP doesn't do that!!
And "Windows Media Player"? Can you think of a more bland and uninteresting name than that? Those guys at Micro$oft sure can think up innovative names, can't they! "It's called what it does! Good job!"
I'll be the first to admit that some of Apple's hardware has problems. I had a flawed iBook. But the OS is damn near perfect. Once they release it for use on PCs, Windows will be finished. Hallelujah!
Professor beaten; attackers cite KU creationism class
LAWRENCE - A professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he sent e-mails deriding Christian conservatives was hospitalized Monday after what appeared to be a roadside beating.
University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said that the two men who beat him made references to the class that was to be offered for the first time this spring.
Originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request.
The class was added after the Kansas State Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in science standards for elementary and secondary students.
"I didn't know them," Mirecki said of his assailants, "but I'm sure they knew me."
One recent e-mail from Mirecki to members of a student organization referred to religious conservatives as "fundies," and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face." Mirecki has apologized for those comments.
Lt. Kari Wempe, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, said a deputy was dispatched to Lawrence Memorial Hospital after receiving a call around 7 a.m. regarding a battery.
She said Mirecki reported he was attacked around 6:40 a.m. in rural Douglas County south of Lawrence. Mirecki told the Lawrence Journal-World that he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.
"I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind," he said. "They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."
He said the men beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object.
Wempe said Mirecki drove himself to the hospital after the attack.
Mirecki told the student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, that he spent between three and four hours at the hospital. He said his injuries included a broken tooth.
"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he told the Lawrence Journal-World.
Wempe said Mirecki described the suspects as two white men between 30 and 40 years of age. One of the men was described as wearing a red, visorlike ball cap and wool gloves. Mirecki said the men left in a large pickup.
Wempe said the department would investigate "every aspect," but couldn't discuss specifics.
Andrew Stangl, president of the Society for Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics at the university, described the attack as "bizarre and terrifying." He said Mirecki, who is the group's faculty adviser, was adamant that the beating was related to the recently canceled course.
"That absolutely shocked me," he said, "because people don't do that in a civilized society."
State Sen. Kay O'Connor, a Mirecki critic, said there is no excuse for someone physically assaulting the professor -- regardless of their politics.
"I have zero tolerance for thugs," she said. "There is never an excuse to behave in such a manner. This was just thugs. They used a flimsy excuse, if they had one, to behave as thugs. They can talk about the ID (intelligent design) course if they want to, but that's not an excuse."
1 English Muffin
Apple Cider Vinegar
Toast the muffin, and put both oil and vinegar on each slice. Add capers to both. Enjoy!
The first bite is a little odd, but you love it! I sure did!
Commentary > The Monitor's View
from the December 02, 2005 editionA culture of bribery in CongressThe Monitor's View
Almost every US lawmaker takes big money aimed at helping private interests win favorable government action. If they stash the cash for themselves, it's illegal. If they use it to get reelected, keep their job, and help the private interests, it's generally legal.
Either way, money still talks in Washington and the legal/illegal distinction gets easily blurred in all the backroom dealings with private interests until, that is, a brazen case of bribery pops up. Then Washington, if it had any sense, might ask if the laws and rules that regulate campaign donations and lobbyist gifts are tough enough or prosecutors are vigilant enough.
Obviously the laws and prosecutors weren't good enough in the case of Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The California Republican congressmen resigned on Monday after admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes - yes, $2.4 million - to help steer Pentagon business toward select defense contractors. (Newspapers, not prosecutors, first exposed Mr. Cunningham's unexplained wealth.)
Strangely, his official crimes were committed openly in Congress as he worked like many lawmakers in pushing through specific benefits for private interests or calling government departments to coerce a decision in favor of a well-funded, private interest. The plea agreement stated he steered spending "to the benefit" of defense contractors who bribed him, and those contracts were not "in the best interests of the country."
Cunningham, who wisely and contritely admitted the wrongdoing, will probably serve years in jail. But the question lingers: How many other members of Congress (or presidents) have collected big money from private interests - either as campaign-related donations or as bribes - and then conducted the people's business in shady ways that also weren't "in the best interests of the country"?
And let's not stop there with the obvious rhetorical questions: Why should large amounts of money, either as bribes or as big campaign funds from businesses and unions, be permitted at all, since in too many cases such hefty chunks of change can easily distort a lawmaker's ability to represent the highest interests of the most people?
The Washington Post reported that Rep. Virgil Goode (R) received more than $80,000 in campaign donations from the employees of MZM - a defense firm that's an alleged co-conspirator in Cunningham's case - and then was the principal sponsor of a measure helping MZM get a contract in his district. He's since offered to refund the money.
Other recent ethics scandals in Washington, almost all involving Republicans, point to weaknesses in current laws and a need for some sort of public campaign financing. They also highlight Congress's inaction toward further campaign-finance reform and ethics watchdogging - an inaction that seems purposeful: "Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have used ethics allegations as a political weapon for years," Common Cause stated after Cunningham's guilty plea.
No wonder dictators laugh at US demands for representative democracy. They can easily point to American democracy's big failing: allowing the well-monied to corrupt lawmakers by dictating government actions - either legally or illegally.•
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STARS' 'STIFF' STUFFBy TODD VENEZIA
November 26, 2005 -- Waiter-stiffing skinflints across New York are getting payback for all their measly 10 percent — or less — tips, thanks to a Web site that lets members of the restaurant industry name names and out bad tippers.
BitterWaitress.com has thousands of entries listing the identities of the gratuitous gratuity avoiders, including scores from New York City.
The so-called S- - - -y Tipper Database has famous names and regular Joes all outed side by side for turning cheap when the check came.
"What a bitch!" declared one entry that claimed Jennifer Lopez's tipping habits were less generous than her derriere, after she allegedly left only $1.27 as a tip on $350 bill at an unnamed Manhattan eatery.
The entry claimed that the measly tip came after J.Lo complained that her water was cold and asked the staff to warm it up.
Another entry claimed that fellow diva Barbra Streisand was equally parsimonious in her tipping habits — allegedly giving only $10, or roughly 2 percent, for a $457 bill.
"She demanded the best table, acting rude to everyone, and then barely tipped," the entry said.
The list of names included regular people — their full names presumably gleaned from their credit-card receipts — and well-known stars like Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Britney Spears and Barry Manilow, who allegedly tipped only $60 on a $564 bill complaining "his flan was too 'caramelly.' "
Among the unexpected names on the list was "Shaft" singer Issac Hayes, who supposedly gave no tip for no known reason at a Manhattan eatery.
Reps for the stars listed on the site could not be reached yesterday, and anyone can apparently post on the Web site — so there is no way to tell if the j'accuse allegations are true or not.
Such gastronomic gossip about tipping habits has long been part of the cost of being a celebrity. But the site kicks it up a notch with accusations against everyday people, identified by name.
One post identifies a woman named Jill T. Conner as having stiffed the wait staff one night at tony Da Silvano restaurant in Greenwich Village, giving only $4 for a bill of $241.
A Manhattan woman with the same name couldn't be reached for comment.
Not all people named on the list were given a smackdown. A few got lauded for their tipping.
Howard Stern was hailed as a modern-day Frank Sinatra, who was legendary for handing out $100 bills like they were business cards.
Natalie Portman also got a positive review, after allegedly giving a $45 tip for a $150 bill. She signed autographs, too.
Published: November 23, 2005, 3:15 PM PST
Microsoft on Wednesday said some Xbox 360 owners are reporting problems with the new video game console that debuted in North America earlier this week.
"We have received a few isolated reports of consoles not working as expected," Microsoft spokeswoman Molly O'Donnell told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Enthusiast Web sites such as Engadget.com and Xbox-scene.com, as well as Microsoft's own Xbox Web forum, carried postings on Wednesday from Xbox 360 owners reporting that some systems had crashed during regular play as well as during online game play using the Xbox Live service.
Xbox 360 grab-a-thon
Devotees line up as the console launches in the rain and in the desert.
Problems included screens going black and the appearance of a variety of error messages.
"So, the Xbox 360's been available for, what, 15 minutes, and already the crash reports are streaming in," a poster on Engadget said. The sites did not say how widespread the problem was.
The machine is the first of a new generation of consoles offering high-definition graphics and has been snatched up by game enthusiasts since its launch on Tuesday.
O'Donnell, who declined to say how many reports the company had received, said calls represent a "very, very small fraction" of units sold. The number of calls was not unexpected, she said.
"With any launch of this magnitude, you're bound to see something happening," she said.
O'Donnell said the best way to resolve the issues is to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX for trouble shooting. If that does not solve the problem, she said, Microsoft will repair or replace the unit.
Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Jacko's sicko Jewish rant
By MICHELLE CARUSO
in Los Angeles
and CORKY SIEMASZKO in New York
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Michael Jackson picked a familiar target to blame for his mounting money problems - the Jews.
In phone messages obtained by ABC News, the apparently prejudiced pop star likens them to "leeches" and claims they conspired to leave him "penniless."
"They suck...they're like leeches...I'm so tired of it," Jackson tells former adviser Dieter Wiesner in one of them. "The Jews do it on purpose."
The ugly message, which was made two years ago and aired yesterday on "Good Morning America," was one of several provided by Wiesner's lawyer, Howard King.
Wiesner and another former Jacko adviser, Marc Schaffel, were fired by the singer and are suing him to recoup the millions they say he owes them.
Jackson had to apologize to Jewish groups a decade ago after he included lyrics like "Jew me/Sue me/Everybody do me/Kick me/Kike me" on the song "They Don't Care About Us."
Jackson, who relocated to Bahrain after he was acquitted of child molesting charges, did not respond to the revelations.
Brian Oxman, a Jackson family attorney, insisted in a statement that the messages were actually "telephone conversations recorded without permission."
Jackson used Schaffel and Wiesner to get around the restrictions his bankers imposed to keep the free-spending freak from going broke, according to King.
"Hello Marc, it's Michael," Jackson tells Schaffel in one message. "Please, please never let me down. I really like you. I love you...Mark, I really need you to get...seven million for me as soon as possible . . . Seven, seven and a half, umm, as an advance."
Originally published on November 22, 2005
From the British Guardian Online:
Thatcher 'threatened to nuke Argentina'
Jon Henley in Paris
Tuesday November 22, 2005
Margaret Thatcher forced François Mitterrand to give her the codes to disable Argentina's deadly French-made missiles during the Falklands war by threatening to launch a nuclear warhead against Buenos Aires, according to a book.
Rendez-vous - the psychoanalysis of François Mitterrand, by Ali Magoudi, who met the late French president up to twice a week in secrecy at his Paris practice from 1982 to 1984, also reveals that Mr Mitterrand believed he would get his "revenge" by building a tunnel under the Channel which would forever destroy Britain's island status.
The book, to be published on Friday, is one of several on France's first Socialist president to mark the 10th anniversary of his death on January 8 1996. Despite a now tarnished reputation, he remains a source of fascination for the French in general and the left in particular. Rendez-vous provides revealing insights into the man's mysterious character, complicated past, paranoia and power complex, but nothing as titillating as his remarks on the former British prime minister.
"Excuse me. I had a difference to settle with the Iron Lady. That Thatcher, what an impossible woman!" the president said as he arrived, more than 45 minutes late, on May 7 1982. "With her four nuclear submarines in the south Atlantic, she's threatening to unleash an atomic weapon against Argentina if I don't provide her with the secret codes that will make the missiles we sold the Argentinians deaf and blind." He reminded Mr Magoudi that on May 4 an Exocet missile had struck HMS Sheffield. "To make matters worse, it was fired from a Super-Etendard jet," he said. "All the matériel was French!"
In words that the psychoanalyst has sworn to the publisher, Meren Sell, are genuine, the president continued: "She's livid. She blames me personally for this new Trafalgar ... I was obliged to give in. She's got them now, the codes."
Mr Mitterrand - who once described Mrs Thatcher as "the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe" - went on: "One cannot win against the insular syndrome of an unbridled Englishwoman. Provoke a nuclear war for a few islands inhabited by three sheep as hairy as they are freezing! But it's a good job I gave way. Otherwise, I assure you, the Lady's metallic finger would have hit the button."
France, he insisted, would have the last word. "I'll build a tunnel under the Channel. I'll succeed where Napoleon III failed. And do you know why she'll accept my tunnel? I'll flatter her shopkeeper's spirit. I'll tell her it won't cost the Crown a penny."
• About 60% of U.S. Companies do not plan to give out holiday bonuses this year, according to a survey by consulting firm Hewitt Associates.
• Managing Directors on Wall Street will pocket average bonuses of $1.2 million this year, up from $1.05 million in 2004.
About ten days ago, after returning home, I woke it up, and it froze. Apparently the hard drive had died ... couldn't be repaired. So I had it replaced with a Centron 60 gig HD at CompUSA.
Today, when I woke it up, it froze again. When I restarted, I got the dreaded flashing questionmark. I loaded the Tiger DVD, launched Disk Utility, and it didn't even see my internal HD!
After two restarts, I ejected the DVD, and everything loaded up just fine.
1. I do not know if there is a God.
2. I hope that there is.
3. I believe that "intelligent design" is a back-door way to introduce "creationism" into the classroom, where it DOES NOT belong.
6. This country is being hijacked by the Religious Right.
7. The only difference between Richard Nixon and Saint John F. Kennedy of Brookline is that Nixon got caught. Kennedy was a liar, a crook, a drug-addict, and a womanizer. He stole the 1960 election from Nixon with help from the Mafia. But -- he saved us all from nuclear war during the Cuban Missle Crisis, so you can't help but love the guy for that.
Phony Theory, False ConflictBy Charles Krauthammer
'Intelligent Design' Foolishly Pits Evolution Against Faith
Friday, November 18, 2005; Page A23
Because every few years this country, in its infinite tolerance, insists on hearing yet another appeal of the Scopes monkey trial, I feel obliged to point out what would otherwise be superfluous: that the two greatest scientists in the history of our species were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and they were both religious.
...Not a crude and willful God who pushes and pulls and does things according to whim. Newton was trying to supplant the view that first believed the sun's motion around the earth was the work of Apollo and his chariot, and later believed it was a complicated system of cycles and epicycles, one tacked upon the other every time some wobble in the orbit of a planet was found. Newton's God was not at all so crude. The laws of his universe were so simple, so elegant, so economical and therefore so beautiful that they could only be divine.
Which brings us to Dover, Pa., Pat Robertson, the Kansas State Board of Education, and a fight over evolution that is so anachronistic and retrograde as to be a national embarrassment.
Dover distinguished itself this Election Day by throwing out all eight members of its school board who tried to impose "intelligent design" -- today's tarted-up version of creationism -- on the biology curriculum. Pat Robertson then called the wrath of God down upon the good people of Dover for voting "God out of your city." Meanwhile, in Kansas, the school board did a reverse Dover, mandating the teaching of skepticism about evolution and forcing intelligent design into the statewide biology curriculum.
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?
In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase " natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science.
The school board thinks it is indicting evolution by branding it an "unguided process" with no "discernible direction or goal." This is as ridiculous as indicting Newtonian mechanics for positing an "unguided process" by which Earth is pulled around the sun every year without discernible purpose. What is chemistry if not an "unguided process" of molecular interactions without "purpose"? Or are we to teach children that God is behind every hydrogen atom in electrolysis?
He may be, of course. But that discussion is the province of religion, not science. The relentless attempt to confuse the two by teaching warmed-over creationism as science can only bring ridicule to religion, gratuitously discrediting a great human endeavor and our deepest source of wisdom precisely about those questions -- arguably, the most important questions in life -- that lie beyond the material.
How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.
Vatican Official Refutes Intelligent Design
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.
The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.
"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."
His comments were in line with his previous statements on "intelligent design" — whose supporters hold that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
Proponents of intelligent design are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism — a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation — camouflaged in scientific language, and they say it does not belong in science curriculum.
In a June article in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, Coyne reaffirmed God's role in creation, but said science explains the history of the universe.
"If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly."
Rather, he argued, God should be seen more as an encouraging parent.
"God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity," he wrote. "He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves."
The Vatican Observatory, which Coyne heads, is one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. It is based in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI waded indirectly into the evolution debate by saying the universe was made by an "intelligent project" and criticizing those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order.
Questions about the Vatican's position on evolution were raised in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.
In a New York Times column, Schoenborn seemed to back intelligent design and dismissed a 1996 statement by Pope John Paul II that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis." Schoenborn said the late pope's statement was "rather vague and unimportant."
Congress Helps Self to $3,100 Pay RaiseBy DAVID ESPO
The Associated Press
Friday, November 18, 2005; 11:44 PM
WASHINGTON -- The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday, then postponed work on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation. ...
Both the House and Senate were in session after midnight Thursday, working on the tax and deficit-cutting bills at the heart of the GOP agenda, before returning to work a few hours later.
"What it does is start to turn down the escalating costs ... for our children and our grandchildren. One of the things that we cannot leave to that next generation is a huge deficit that they can't afford," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said after enactment of a $50 billion deficit-reduction bill.
Democrats dissented, with one eye on the 2006 elections.
"The Republicans are taking food out of the mouths of children to give tax cuts to America's wealthiest. This is not a statement of America's values," said the Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. "Democrats believe that together, America can do better," she said, invoking the party's new campaign slogan.
The cost-of-living increase for members of Congress _ which will put pay for the rank and file at an estimated $165,200 a year _ marked a brief truce in the pitched political battles that have flared in recent weeks on the war and domestic issues.
So much so that the issue was not mentioned on the floor of either the House or Senate as lawmakers worked on legislation whose passage will assure bigger paychecks.House votes to cut $700 mln in food stamps
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to cut $700 million from the food stamp program, despite objections from antihunger groups complaining that estimates show some 235,000 people would lose benefits.
The House bill, which also trimmed other social programs for the poor in an effort to reduce federal spending by $50 billion, was narrowly approved 217-215.
House and Senate negotiators now must write a final, compromise version of legislation to pare federal spending over five years. The Senate did not touch food stamps in its version of a $35 billion budget-cutting bill.
Food stamps, the major U.S. antihunger program, help poor people buy food. Some 25.8 million Americans received food stamps in a program run by the U.S. Agriculture Department.
• Jason Mattera (#7) — spokesman for Young America’s Foundation. This buzz-cutted reactionary has no patience for war protesters. But when he was urged to enlist in a war he so heartily supports, the 22-year-old replied that he had more important things to do, like winning “the war of ideas” at home. Obviously, he’s bucking for a job as Vice President. Bonus: Mattera also put together a whites-only scholarship.
• Brad Shipp (#4) — the 33-year-old national field director for Students for Academic Freedom. (Aren’t you a little old to be calling yourself a student, Brad?) The SAF is run by conservative…wait for it…intellectual David Horowitz, a former Berkeley radical who must have dropped some really bad acid in 1985. That’s when he began ranting that the Left wanted nothing more than to wage an “unholy war to tear down democracy and replace it with their version — an Americanized version — of communism.” Oh David. You had us at “unholy.” We’ll love your Shipphead protégé if it means getting closer to you.
• Eric Hoplin (#1) and Paul Gourley (#3) — the deputy chairman of the Minnesota GOP and the chairman of the College Republican National Committee respectively. Let’s just put it this way: these two blossoming fascists run such dirty campaigns of personal advancement that even fellow Republicans think the only races they’re fit for are the “Minnesota used car dealers association presidency” and the race for “chairman of Cell Block D in federal prison.”
With the GOP starring cast disintegrating beneath the weight of epic corruption it’s good to know such a fine group of debate-club presidents is waiting in the right-wings like practiced stand-ins. Because the show must go on. (AM)
I have actually found a good use for mine. A couple of times in the last few years I've lost all of my previous emails due to computer problem. So I'm automatically forwarding all of my email to my GMail account, so I will have a backup. Pretty clever, huh? Well, that's me all over I guess.
So if you'd like an invite, let me know!
You can buy Season One and Two on DVD, so please do to show your support for the most intelligent sitcom on televsion in years and years!
In any event, here's one of the funniest characters, Dr. Tobias Fünke (David Cross), the world's first analrapist (analyist/therapist) who wants so desperately to be an actor!
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.
All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce "intelligent design" - the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power - as an alternative to the theory of evolution.
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."
Eight families had sued the district, claiming the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The federal trial concluded days before Tuesday's election, but no ruling has been issued.
Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that "our spiritual actions have consequences."
"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."
Robertson made headlines this summer when he called on his daily show for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
You are all-around smart. Essentially, that means that you are a good combination of your own knowledge and experience, along with having learned through instruction - and you are equally as good with theoretical things as you are with real-world, applied things. You have a well-rounded brain.
0% applied intelligence
20% learned intelligence
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com
Special to World Tribune.com
Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Chinese government last week issued new guidelines that seek to limit the use of cell phones for text messaging.
Mass communication via cell phone played a role in recent anti-Japan rallies such as this, involving some 40,000 demonstrators in Guangzhou, south China. China Photos / Getty Images
A circular issued by the Ministry of Public Security, the communist internal political police, stated that it is illegal to send short text messages that can have “massive influence.”
Chinese leaders fear text messaging could be used for pro-democracy and anti-communist political activities.
The effort appears aimed at curbing mass communication through cell phones, such as occurred in recent months when large-scale anti-Japanese demonstrations were triggered by widespread text messages.
The statement said that some text messages were sent posing as banks to defraud or blackmail people. There also have been obscene and pornographic messages, gambling and violent content.
Other illegal text messages have been related to such criminal activity as the sale of firearms, ammunition, explosives, smuggled cars, narcotics, knockout drops, obscene articles and counterfeit money.
The circular said action would be taking against anyone using text messages that violate the constitution, laws or decrees.
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Time to restart those vigils for "Arrested Development." And while you're at it, light a candle for "Kitchen Confidential" too.
The two FOX comedies have been shelved for the remainder of sweeps -- "Kitchen Confidential," in fact, hasn't aired since the first week of October -- in favor of repeats of "Prison Break," which have performed better in the 8 p.m. Monday hour than either "Arrested" or "Kitchen" this season. The network says the comedies will return Dec. 5, following the close of sweeps.
Starting Monday (Nov. 14), the previous week's "Prison Break" will air at 8 p.m. ET, followed by a new episode at 9. That pattern will continue through Nov. 28, when the show has what FOX is calling its "fall finale." The remainder of the season will air sometime next year, although it hasn't been scheduled yet.
The scheduling change comes a few days after "Arrested Development" returned to meager ratings from an October hiatus driven by the baseball playoffs. Back-to-back episodes of the show drew a little more than 4 million viewers, a little below its season average. In the previous two weeks, repeats of "Prison Break" had averaged 5.9 million viewers in the 8 p.m. hour.
The underwhelming lead-in also hurt Monday's "Prison Break," which had its weakest showing since late September.
Five episodes of "Arrested Development" have aired thus far this season, while "Kitchen Confidential" has run just three times. Neither show was part of the midseason lineup FOX presented to advertisers last spring.
New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for Classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: he's mowing my lawn!
New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout? Luckily, it was only a finger! If it was a whole hand, Congress would have voted to keep it alive.
New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: "lucky bastards".
New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're gay. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.
New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your
New Rule: Stop f***ing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.
New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.
New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my
Almond Joy. Paper, plastic? I don't have time for that. I've just been called to do a cleanup on Aisle Nine!
New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.
New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."
New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.
New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking up the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people's version of looting.
New Rule: And this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web
cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.
New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months. "27 Months." "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't care in the first place.
If you missed it, this was one of the moms on "Trading Spouses" over the last two weeks. She is totally insane, and manages to give Evangelicals a bad name! And that isn't easy, is it? You can find clips of her losing it on the net. I taped it, of course!
Thanks, Margaret Perrin!
'Intelligent design' school board booted
Eight of nine members lose reelection bid
DOVER, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Voters came down hard Tuesday on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum.
The election unfolded amid a landmark federal trial involving the Dover public schools and the question of whether intelligent design promotes the Bible's view of creation. Eight Dover families sued, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Dover's school board adopted a policy in October 2004 that requires ninth-graders to hear a prepared statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution in biology class.
Eight of the nine school board members were up for election Tuesday. They were challenged by a slate of Democrats who argued that science class was not the appropriate forum for teaching intelligent design.
"My kids believe in God. I believe in God. But I don't think it belongs in the science curriculum the way the school district is presenting it," said Jill Reiter, 41, a bank teller who joined a group of high school students waving signs supporting the challengers Tuesday.
A spokesman for the winning slate of candidates has said they wouldn't act hastily and would consider the outcome of the court case. The judge expects to rule by January; the new school board members will be sworn in December 5.
School board member David Napierskie, who lost Tuesday, said the vote wasn't just about ideology.
"Some people felt intelligent design shouldn't be taught and others were concerned about having tax money spent on the lawsuit," he said.
Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by some kind of higher force. The statement read to students says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps."
A similar controversy has erupted in Kansas, where the state Board of Education on Tuesday approved science standards for public schools that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. The 6-4 vote was a victory for intelligent design advocates who helped draft the standards.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The 6-4 vote was a victory for "intelligent design" advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
Critics of the language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools in violation of the separation of church and state.
All six of those who voted for the standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted against them.
"This is a sad day. We're becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that," said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat.
Supporters of the standards said they will promote academic freedom. "It gets rid of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today," said board member John Bacon, an Olathe Republican.
The standards state that high school students must understand major evolutionary concepts. But they also declare that some concepts have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.
The challenged concepts cited include the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and the theory that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life.
In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
The standards will be used to develop student tests measuring how well schools teach science. Decisions about what is taught in classrooms will remain with 300 local school boards, but some educators fear pressure will increase in some communities to teach less about evolution or more about intelligent design. (Read how Kansas came to this point)
The vote marked the third time in six years that the Kansas board has rewritten standards with evolution as the central issue.
In 1999, the board eliminated most references to evolution, a move Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said was akin to teaching "American history without Lincoln."
Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board's composition again, making it more conservative.
Many scientists and other critics contend creationists repackaged old ideas in scientific-sounding language to get around a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1987 that banned teaching the biblical story of creation in public schools.
The Kansas board's action is part of a national debate. In Pennsylvania, a judge is expected to rule soon in a lawsuit against the Dover school board's policy of requiring high school students to learn about intelligent design in biology class. (Read about the Dover debate)
In August, President Bush endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution.
PARIS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A barrage of critical world media reporting on the violence in its rundown suburbs is rubbing nerves raw in France, which is more used to hearing praise for its food, its countryside and its opposition to the Iraq war.
In tones ranging from outrage to rueful agreement, French media are now reporting daily on the harsh terms that foreign television stations and newspapers choose to describe the unrest among France's angry youths of Arab and African origin.
France laughed off "freedom fries" -- as French fries were renamed in Washington -- and other anti-French sentiment in the United States at the start of the Iraq war in 2003, but its reaction to the riot reporting carries a between-the-lines admission of hurt pride.
"From Italy to South Africa, Poland to China, from CNN to al-Jazeera, the newspaper headlines and television commentaries set against a background of blazing cars are really hyping it up," the popular daily Le Parisien complained.
The Foreign Ministry has criticised some foreign reports as excessive and at least one cabinet member, Labour Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, has hinted the critical reporting was meant to hit back at France for opposing the U.S.-led Iraq war.
French media have run hard-hitting reports on the riots, just as they have been very critical of social or racial problems abroad. But seeing equally tough reporting about their own country seems to have caught the French off guard.
Eric Raoult, mayor of the eastern Paris suburb of Raincy, did not like being at the receiving end of outside attention.
"Last night, Japanese television and Turkish television were in my city hall telling me what should be done. That hurts me," he said.
While reporting on the hard-hitting coverage in the United States media, one Paris radio station noted with relief a New York Times report saying the city centre was safe for tourists.
BAGHDAD ON THE SEINE
"Fire and blood in France -- at least that's what some foreign media claim is going on," Le Parisien wrote. "Paris is burning, civil war, war zone, race riots -- the headlines, especially on TV, often have no nuance."
The conservative Le Figaro was indignant about the way U.S. media reported from riot-hit areas such as Seine Saint Denis, the rundown area between the capital and its Charles de Gaulle airport to the north.
"American newspapers don't hesitate to compare Paris to Baghdad or Seine Saint Denis to the Gaza Strip and to call the crisis a 'Katrina of social disasters'," an editorial fumed in a reference to the recent hurricane.
Other commentators objected to the way foreign media stress the ethnic backgrounds of the rioters and the racial discrimination they complain about -- issues less prominent here because France officially does not recognise it has minority communities.
CNN, the U.S. satellite channel that Paris would like to launch a French-language channel to compete with, is watched especially carefully for anti-French nuances.
"CNN runs the headline 'French Violence' on its website like it had 'War in Iraq' during the American intervention," Le Monde noted disapprovingly.
The Nouvel Observateur weekly said CNN talked about possible civil war, curfews and deployment of troops -- without mentioning some French politicians were using the same terms.
Fox News, a leading outlet of anti-French sentiment after Paris opposed the Iraq war, was also held up for criticism for broadcasting headlines like "Paris Burning" over a picture of the Eiffel Tower before a wall of flames.
But the critics were not without self-criticism.
Le Figaro said the riots were "too good an opportunity to pass up, an opportunity to mock the country that claims to have invented human rights and that's always ready -- yes, it's true -- to lecture the rest of humanity."
If you think of it, please click on the "comment" button below the post and leave your name, or whatever you want, just so I know all of these 1s and 0s aren't just disappearing into the blogosphere!
Anyway, thanks for reading! Here's some more picture fun! :)