Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Guest Blogging

I am guest blogging at Reverent and Free while Craig is out of town. I'm sending you to my post over there today, because I am too lazy to post twice.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Gas Sales Tax - What You Would Save

Without asserting any opinion about whether or not sales tax should be suspended for gasoline, I thought it might be helpful to let everyone know how much they would save if it were.

The following are my calculations of the savings PER MONTH given the type of car you drive, the price of gas, and your average commute. (In the examples, "downtown" refers to downtown Indy). Gas prices are currently about $3/gallon in Indianapolis, so that row is highlighted in yellow.

You will have to click on the picture to read it. Unless you are Superman or have a powerful magnifying glass handy.

A person with a mid-size car that drives 15 miles per day will save $3.86 per month. Don't spend it all in one place!

Women's Equality: How Far We Have Come since 1955

I received the article below (taken from Housekeeping Monthly, 1955) as facetious "recommendation" yesterday. That joke aside, it is a stunning look at the status of women only a half-century ago, when our mothers/grandmothers were raising us/our parents.

The picture is probably too small for most to read. So here is the transcription:

The Good Wife's Guide (1955)

-Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of Letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

-Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

-Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

-Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

-Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables.

-Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

-Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

-Be happy to see him.

-Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

-Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

-Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

-Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

-Don’t greet him with complaints or problems.

-Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

-Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

-Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

-Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

-A good wife always knows her place.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Good News for Women

The FDA announced that it will reconsider approving Plan B (the morning-after pill) for over-the-counter consumption by women ages 18 and older.

Finally, a moderate decision by someone in the Bush administration. I am pleasantly surprised.

I give it about 39 hours before Dobson, et al, start ranting about the murders of 16-hour-old zygotes.

Why Famous Bigots Should Lay Off the Booze

For any of you who believed the drivel about Mel Gibson *not* infiltrating the story of "The Passion" with his own anti-Semitic biases...

Gibson was arrested early Friday morning driving nearly double the speed limit with a blood-alcohol content of .12%. Thanks to the power of the internet, you can see the hand-written police report here.

According to the report, Gibson “blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks about ‘f**king Jews.’ Gibson yelled out, ‘the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.’ Gibson then asked ‘Are you a Jew.’”

Gibson also addressed a female officer as "sweet t*ts".


After the story came out (and the cover-up failed), Gibson made the following public statement / apology:
After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the L.A. County sheriff's. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person.

I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said and I apologize to anyone who I have offended.

Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.

I have battled the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.
The Anti-Defamation League appropriately noted that the statement contained no specific apology or explanation for the anti-Semitic comments. They offered the following public statement / admonishment:
Mel Gibson's apology is unremorseful and insufficient. It's not a proper apology because it does not go to the essence of his bigotry and his anti-Semitism. His tirade finally reveals his true self and shows that his protestations during the debate over his film "The Passion of the Christ," that he is such a tolerant, loving person, were a sham. It may well be that the bigotry has been passed from the father to the son. It is unfortunate that it took an excess of booze and an encounter with a traffic cop to reveal what was really in his heart and mind. We would hope that Hollywood now would realize the bigot in their midst and that they will distance themselves from this anti-Semite.
[Note: the comment about father-son passing of bigotry refers to Gibson’s father’s statement that the Holocaust was not real, from which Gibson refused to distance himself.]

So it turns out that the anti-Semitic undertones from Passion of the Christ actually did come from Gibson’s own prejudices. Shocking.

Gibson sounds like the perfect person to produce a movie set against the Holocaust. I’m sure that the portrayal of a Jewish family being sheltered by Christians during WWII would be completely accurate with no undertones whatsoever.

Just like The Passion showed both sides of the story and What Women Want was not a sexist piece of crap that portrayed women as shallow, over-critical, self-centered nymphos.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Varvel's View of the Future Canal District

I just noticed this today. It is Varvel's illustrated summary of reader suggestions for improving the canal district. Check it out here.

While some of the suggestions are clearly ridiculous (re-routing the canal to Monument Circle), the majority are pretty good ideas.

I always enjoy it when Varvel strays from his ultra-Christian irrational-conservative topics. Now if only he would blog about something other than banning abortion...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spector, et al v. Bush, et al.

Sen. Arlan Spector (R-Pennsylvania)wants to sue the President and is preparing a bill that would bring suit against him in federal court. Here are the basics. (Imagine the opening music to the Judge Judy show)...

The Complaint: That the President attached at least 750 signing statements to legislation passed by Congress; these signing statements are unconstitutional.

The Evidence: The signing statements are public record.

The Legal Argument: The signing statements are unconstitutional because the President sidesteps his constitutional duty to respond to legislation by signing it, vetoing it, or doing nothing. Further, Congress cannot override a signing statement as it can a veto, so it damages the separation of powers that the framers intended. (An ABA task force released these conclusions yesterday).

The Defense (or the Spin, at least): “A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality. It never says, 'We’re not going to enact the law.'” --Tony Snow

(Note: No mention of the few that are not included in the "great many.")

Sen. Spector still has to get the bill passed in order for suit to be filed. In the meantime, expect the President to start recycling rhetoric on frivolous lawsuits.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Top Priority: Intact Hymens
Second Priority: Life

Torpor Indy has a great post arguing that the Bush administration is hazardous to your health. It is a great compilation of some of the “values-based” health decisions the administration has recently made to the dismay of nearly all medical professionals and regular people.

One of his exhibits is that Bush has advocated against vaccinating girls against HPV (which affects 75% of the population) because it might encourage young girls to have (gasp) premarital sex.

Okay. Where to begin?

If you are vaccinated against malaria as a child, does that make you more likely to visit a 3rd-world country? If you receive a tetanus shot, do you suddenly develop a liking for stepping on rusty nails? With all the pressures and confusion and misinformation about sex that teen girls face, I don’t think that receiving a shot when they are 12 years old will be a leading factor in their sexual decision-making.

But, you know, it’s important that we send the right message. That we don’t care about the 4,000 women who die from cervical cancer per year. The most important thing is virginity virginity virginity. So you may die of cancer, but at least your daughter will have a hymen at your funeral. Because she didn’t get an HPV vaccination. Right.

Bill Gates recently gave $15.3 million to help develop an AIDS vaccination. In the fortunate event that one is successfully developed, does this values war prevent it from reaching the market? Or place severe restrictions on it? Do we worry that taking the vaccine will make people more likely to have promiscuous sex? Or to become (gasp) homosexual? Do we write conditions into our international AIDS relief policies preventing use of the vaccine (as we have done for use of condoms in Africa)?

If “values” stops us from distributing the cure to a horrible epidemic disease that kills 3.1 million people per year, it will be the greatest tragedy of our time. What you are witnessing right now, with the HPV debate, is the prologue to that very story.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Difference Between Consensus and Reality

Politicians debate. And they decide things. And they enact change.

In the realm of policy and lawmaking, if politicians are able to come to a majority consensus, the law/policy is passed and becomes reality. Consensus = Reality. And that describes a functioning democracy.

However, it becomes problematic when politicians try to extend the concept of Consensus = Reality beyond the policy realm.

Particularly when they venture into the realm of science.

If a majority of politicians decide that their constituents are homeless and need more public housing, then the housing gets built. But if a majority of politicians decide that their constituents dislike rain and therefore it will not rain today, that does not prevent rain (particularly when meteorologists forecast rain). It only ensures that the politicians will be without an umbrella.

Which leads us to the climate change “debate”. Congress is taking the scientific reality of climate change and attempting to build a consensus that climate change is not real.

The "Wegman report" released this week (which was commissioned by chair of the Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce) criticized a 1999 paper by Michael Mann about climate change and the “hockey stick” theory of global warming. The House Committee held a hearing about the Wegman report yesterday.

Not surprisingly, the Committee found the report it commissioned to be “valid and compelling.” Even though the report was commissioned to “draw attention to the discrepancies in [the Mann research], and not to do paleoclimatic temperature reconstruction,” the Committee came to a consensus that “Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.”

Wow, what kind of criticism must have been presented to Congress for them to the consensus that global warming is hooey? The kind of criticism that makes any scientist or academic want to pull his or her liberal-elitist hair out:

“In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface…

In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent.”
This criticism is laughable. Yes, the same people write papers and do peer review within a given discipline. This stems from the fact that a person must be trained in a certain discipline in order to write papers and do peer review. In a budding science like climate change, there simply aren’t that many scientists who are adequately trained, so there is destined to be some overlap.

Further, peer review is a relatively excruciating process in which a person presents results to the most qualified experts they can find in order to have their results questioned and criticized, and then tries to defend the results. If they can be defended, the defense is written into the paper. If not, it's back to the drawing board. After repeating this process again and again, most of the errors, flaws and shortcomings are weeded out. To suggest that NOT doing peer review leads to a less biased, more reliable end result is absurd.

But, regardless, the Committee reached the consensus they reached, based on a report they themselves commissioned which was not subject to peer review or rebuttal by Mr. Mann. And they decided that climate change is a myth.

But that does not take away the reality of global warming and its effects. It only ensures that as the fallout from global warming rains down on us, Congress has decided to leave the umbrella at home.
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