29 January 2010

I love this article.

Alligator found in Kansas - again
Fishermen in Kansas caught a big one yesterday - a 5 foot 3 inch dead alligator. The gator was snagged in Coffey County Lake, north of Burlington, and was found floating near the warm water discharge of the Wolf Creek Nuclear plant. State wildlife officials are reportedly "clueless" as to the origins of the reptile but speculated that it had been a pet that was released into the wild when it became too large to take care of properly and the cold weather of a Kansas winter killed it.
But was it really a pet? And can alligators survive much colder climes than we think?
What follows is a really fascinating argument. And I like the way this Cunnyngham guy writes.

Brilliant.

Bunch Of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger
CORNISH, NH—In this big dramatic production that didn't do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger...
Of course it's The Onion.

23 January 2010

God can speak to you through this.

There are few things quite so impressive as observing a master craftsman at work.
Please to enjoy:

21 January 2010

How else could I read this?

Amusing intersection of news today.
CNN reports:
It seems even the White House isn't immune to the nationwide housing slump. In the past year, the estimated value of the 132-room mansion on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue dropped 5.1 percent — from $308 million to $292.5 million...
In other news, SCOTUSblog reports:
...the Supreme Court on Thursday produced a ruling that may make the hundreds of millions spent in past presidential and congressional elections look like a pittance. By removing existing restraints on what and when profit-making and non-profit corporations may say during federal election campaigns, the Court has significantly raised the financial stakes for all such elections...
So, here's what the White House costs, and here's how to buy it?
Awesome.

16 January 2010

Um, this isn't my bill.

Like every other subsidized development in Kansas City, the Power & Light entertainment district is waaaaaay underperforming financially. Even though the White Power District is comprised almost entirely of national franchises who already are exempted from paying their fair share of taxes, if you live in the big shitty, your so-called "representatives" have determined that the appropriate entity to make up for these corporate shortfalls is...you.
There are 475,830 of us. The White Power District requires another $12,000,000 this year (meaning it loses almost $33,000 every day).
The $12 million is the equivalent of extracting a mandatory payment of $25.22 from every man, woman and child in the city. For that, we'll receive nothing beyond the satisfaction of knowing that, once again, we've prevented corporate America from being responsible for its decisions.
If you live outside the city, spending $25 on the White Power District is entirely voluntary, and it'll come with 3 or 4 drinks.

14 January 2010

RIP Teddy Pendergrass

Philly soul is my favorite genre, and damn — Teddy could tear that shit up.

Pop quiz!

What is this?
A) a scanning electron microscopic photograph of a man's unshaven cheek
B) a Martian landscape.
C) a magnified and color-enhanced view of the cilia inside of a healthy animal lung.
(Answer can be found by highlighting the following text: photo credit NASA/JPL/University of Arizona. )

13 January 2010

Gay bastards.

If you haven't already seen it, Ted Olson —former Solicitor General and current plaintiff's co-lead attorney in Perry v Schwarzenegger — wrote Newsweek's cover article called The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.
My involvement in this case has generated a certain degree of consternation among conservatives. How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the "traditional" definition of marriage and press for an "activist" interpretation of the Constitution to create another "new" constitutional right?
...Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance.
...The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we have as Americans under our Constitution. It is an expression of our desire to create a social partnership, to live and share life's joys and burdens with the person we love, and to form a lasting bond and a social identity. The Supreme Court has said that marriage is a part of the Constitution's protections of liberty, privacy, freedom of association, and spiritual identification. In short, the right to marry helps us to define ourselves and our place in a community.
...No matter what you think of homosexuality, it is a fact that gays and lesbians are members of our families, clubs, and workplaces. They are our doctors, our teachers, our soldiers (whether we admit it or not), and our friends. They yearn for acceptance, stable relationships, and success in their lives, just like the rest of us.
Look, I don't particularly mind his rehashing of all the usual "sweet mystery of life" arguments, but unfortunately, he omitted the fact that for the purposes of this constitutional case, marriage is fundamentally a beneficial legal status.
To understand why this point is fundamentally important, consider how various other legal statuses — as a citizen, a felon, a minor, or an enemy combatant — affects your fundamental legal rights. Not just your fundamental right to marry, but your fundament rights to vote, to have a trial, to work, to enter into contracts, to travel, to own a firearm, etc.
Legal status is purely binary; which is to say that you either are, or you are not. You either are, or you are not, legally a minor. There is no middle ground — you cannot be sorta a citizen or somewhat of a felon.
That is why all the half-measures like civil unions and the so-called "everything but marriage" laws are cynical bullshit. If your legal status is unmarried, the law will treat you like you're not married, because the intent of the state and federal law is to treat married people differently, and so they do.
So anyway, the central legal issue in Perry is whether laws that categorically deny a certain class of people a beneficial legal status are constitutional. To that end, I would actually de-emphasize the comparison of today's gay marriage bans to the historical interracial marriage bans, and make what I think is the better comparison to the old bastardy laws.
Bastardy laws divided children into two legal statuses; legitimate offspring (the beneficial legal status that inured all manner of benefits, particularly to males) and bastards (a legal status that encumbered the child with a multitude of legal disabilities, such as the denial of paternal financial support or inheritance, plus added social stigma that affected such things as employment prospects).
During the 1970s (yep, it really was that late*), SCOTUS finally reconsidered bastardy laws. It was argued that granting illegitimate children the identical beneficial legal status as legitimates would necessarily increase the number of illegitimate births. Perhaps they were correct, given that today 40% of all US-born children are born extramaritally.
But even if that correlation is direct, the question then becomes: does the Constitution allow for a segment of society's moral disapproval of some adult romantic decisions to be enshrined as laws that punish their children? SCOTUS thought not, and struck the laws as violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
I think this argument throws the "marriage defenders" arguments right back in their face. If marriage is about what is good for children, and if it's society's obligation to protect children, why defend marriage bans that punish certain families and children by denying them the beneficial legal status of marriage?
Frankly, I think it's a more difficult argument to dismiss than the narrow reading that Loving v Virginia really was just about race.
(* But not as late as some. Until 1983, Roman Catholic canon law referred to illegitimacy as a "defect of birth" that disqualified a person from being ordained unless special dispensation was granted.)

This is brilliant and essential.

A company called Sarcasm Inc. has invented a new form of punctuation — the sarcmark. For only $1.99, you can download it to your computer.
Never again be misunderstood! Never again waste a good sarcastic line on someone who doesn’t get it!
I'm not sure how I've managed all these years without it.

11 January 2010

Not a good sign.

The Supreme Court of the United States has weighed in on the delayed YouTube broadcasts of the testimony in Perry v Schwarzenegger, the California Prop H8 trial.
It's bad news, and it bodes very ill they've sided 8-1 with the H8ers this early.
SCOTUS says the testimony may not be broadcast pending their final decision. The emergency stay requested by the defendants on Saturday could only have been granted if they could demonstrate to the justices that "irreparable harm" would be caused by the delayed broadcasts.
Normally appellate cases are pretty sterile; filings, and lawyers discussing the filings with the judges.
This case is different — it has witness testimony. Not just the plaintiffs and defendants themselves, but also a constellation of expert witnesses who will say things that for whatever reason, SCOTUS and the H8ers don't want you to hear or see. Meanwhile, the Court apparently has no problem with permitting you to view the process by which laws are made by legislators, unfolding in real time on CSPAN.
This decision echos another horrible decision SCOTUS made last October when they decided to bar the release of names of anti-equality Washington petition-signers, despite the fact that information is supposed to be public under Washington state law.
The majority's decision was delivered without explanation. Evidently they agreed with the defense that the anti-gay witnesses would be subject to harassment and intimidation.
Irony is apparently not the majority's strong suit.

09 January 2010

Can't improve on this.

Saw this brilliant headline over at Fark:
TSA guard who was responsible for the Newark airport security snafu described as a "model employee." Which pretty succinctly defines the problem

08 January 2010

Things my brother notices.

Younger Bro calls me last night after Snowpocalypse v2 for a chat. He's got a passel of adorable and headstrong little ones, so whenever he's on the phone I can hear the usual swirl of chaos in the background. So we're chatting and he pauses, which is normal. Then he says the following:
"The Jewish Academy of Amish Technology is closed tomorrow."
It takes me a second before I realize that he's reading the scroll of closings from the bottom of his TV.
The Jewish Academy of Amish Technology.
My god. It's full of stars!
So of course we're laughing our fool asses off at this genius prank, and trying to figure out how to one-up it. We eventually come up with canceling services at the Harvest Bible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Immanuel's Holy Name or early closing the smoking lounge at the Brookside Rastafarian Institute. But seriously, we're not even close to being as good as the Jewish Academy of Amish Technology.
There's still a lot of snow left this season. Maybe we should close the Thomas Bowdler Young Lady's Shakespeare Workshop?
Your suggestions are encouraged.

He's officially lost his damn mind.

Regarding the pantybomber, Rudy "9/11" Giuliani actually said the following to George Stephanopoulos:
We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.
No domestic attacks under Bush?
Wow.

05 January 2010

The revolution should be televised.

From the Courage Campaign:
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker — who will be overseeing a federal court challenge to Prop 8 starting this Monday (January 11) — is considering whether or not to open the court room to TV cameras. The court just announced that it is seeking public comment on the proposal to televise the trial — and that all comments must be submitted to the court by a Friday deadline.
Somebody likes dashes. But seriously, it takes two seconds to add your voice. Go now, come back. http://www.couragecampaign.org/TeleviseTheTrial
The H8ers are circulating competing petitions to bar cameras (and elsewhere, antigay activists try to seal petitions, etc.) If they're proud of what they're doing, why so much insistence on secrecy? It's not like there are gay hit squads. Anyway, when antigay bigotry eventually becomes as unfashionable as racism, the bigots will just decide that God excuses all their prior horrible behavior and still thinks they're totally BFFs no matter how much misery they've caused on Its behalf. It's like Britt Hume recently suggested: Christianity is a moral mulligan.
But I digress.
I want this case televised mostly because I really want to watch superlawyers David Boies & Ted Olson put a red-ass beatdown on these hateful godbothering n├╝segregationists*. I expect they'll lean very hard on Romer v Evans (a referendum that amended the Colorado constitution to alienate LGBT people from certain legal rights and protections struck as unconstitutional for being irrational and solely intended to harm LGBT people.)
(* gratuitous umlaut for all my peeps in Baldwin City. Holla!)

Oh...aye ya!