Friday, March 30, 2012

Just too cool a headline to ignore...

Man Attacked by Mountain Lion, Saved by Bear
(Nope - didn't read the story.)

Buffoon off-line for a few days

Sorry folks - I'm off to Boston for a few days... if we end up in a war I'll do what I can to comment, but otherwise I'll be silent till Sunday, late.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


A Perfect Number is a positive integer that is equal to the sum of its proper positive divisors.
For example: 6 = 1 + 2 + 3.

Euclid proved that [2^(p−1)]*(2^p−1) is an even perfect number whenever 2^p−1 is prime.
('^' here represents exponentiation: 2^2 = 2*2 = 4; 2^3 = 2*2*2 = 8; 3^2 = 3*3 = 9.)

Euler proved that every even perfect number has the form given above.

Does an odd perfect number exist?
No one knows.

On the bright side...

... okay, I give up.
Someone - give me a clue!

Sounds like New Zealand is the place to be!

Elephants Down Under
Published: March 27, 2012
... Indeed, to go from America — amid the G.O.P. primaries — to Down Under is to experience both jet lag and a political shock. In New Zealand and Australia, you could almost fit their entire political spectrum — from conservatives to liberals — inside the U.S. Democratic Party.
For instance, there is much debate here over climate policy — Australia has a carbon tax, New Zealand has cap and trade — but there is no serious debate about climate science. Whereas in today’s G.O.P. it is political suicide to take climate change seriously, in Australia and New Zealand it is political suicide for conservatives not to.
Conservatives in Australia and New Zealand have also long accepted single-payer national health care systems. The Labor Party ruled New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, when it was replaced by the conservative National Party. During Labor’s tenure, it passed legislation legalizing civil unions, giving prostitutes the same health and safety protections as other workers, and extending income subsidies for families with children, noted Jon Johansson, a political scientist at Victoria University of Wellington. While these moves were resisted by conservatives when in opposition, he said, they have “not tried to repeal any of them” now that they are in power.
Ah, yes: sane politics.
... and I understand that Wellington has a nice climate!

Just for grins

It's not quite April.
The big election is in November.
Today's polls mean NOTHING!

A very good question!

"What does a pope do?" Fidel Castro asks Benedict

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Earl Eugene Scruggs: January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012

Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs dies at age 88

Linguistics humor

Limbs in the news

note: these fall under rubric, "Stories I didn't read".
Man saws off own foot to continue receiving unemployment benefits

Severed Leg Belonged to Missing Florida Woman

Financial advice

MegaMillions jackpot is currently $500Mn (annuity), $379Mn (cash now).
I'm figuring state & federal taxes at 40%, leaving just over $215Mn, after-tax current dollars.
Odds of winning are just a wee bit better than 1 in 176,000,000... which means the current after-tax value of a ticket is about $1.23.
It only costs a dollar.
Buy one.

(Above analysis does not take into account likelihood you'll have to share the jackpot...)

GOP's plan for us all

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kickin' back...

... and thinking, "Preserve sanity - ignore news".

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Dollars


Let's be honest: "justice" for Trayvon Martin will not be forthcoming.
He's dead. His killer will never face a jury.

The Florida "stand your ground" law will not be repealed.
The NRA has a LOT more $$$ than the rest of us.

BUT: there is SOME - remote - chance that the Florida legislature could rein in so-called "Neighborhood Watch" organizations.
Let's focus on the verb: "watch".
Your job is to WATCH! - call in suspicious activity to the professionals - the POLICE. (Okay, - the police aren't angels either, but at least they ARE subject to formal review.)

I'd suggest including PROHIBITING "Neighborhood Watch" members from carrying firearms while on patrol. They are NOT deputized. They are NOT agents of the state. They are NEIGHBORHOOD folks - just our NEIGHBORS.
Yeah - call the police if you notice suspicious activity, but do NOT confront anyone. That's not your job.
Your job is to WATCH.

Just a thought.

On the bright side...

1. We're not in another war today.
2. We haven't been attacked by terrorists today.

You can thank Obama for both.

At last: honesty in politics!

Mitt: I Won’t Detail Plans, Because Then I’d Lose
Mitt'll say what it takes NOW to get GOP nomination... but who knows what he'd actually propose as President?

His rivals have been trying very hard to make this case against him... so far, without much success.

Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

THESE are the folks lecturing on morality!

In Pa. abuse trial, a window into church practices

MARYCLAIRE DALE | Associated Press
25 March 2012
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A landmark priest-abuse trial opening Monday in Philadelphia may unveil the cryptic operations of a Roman Catholic archdiocese and detail how child sex-abuse complaints were buried for decades in secret archives adjacent to a soaring cathedral as the priests they named went unpunished.

Monsignor William Lynn is the first U.S. church official ever charged with endangering children for allegedly failing to oust accused predators from ministry. But he may not be the last.

Philadelphia prosecutors say he helped carry out "an archdiocesan-wide policy ... (that) was criminal in nature." And they've hinted they could charge others when the trial ends.
Yeah - I have deep faith in the Catholic Church when it comes to matters of morality! - Birth Control is a SIN!

Full disclosure: The Catholic Church counts me as one of Her own - I was baptized!

Well, yeah: I'd feel "threatened" in his presence!

Friends fear for safety of man who shot Florida teen
Well... yeah! - if all it takes to kill someone in Florida is to feel "threatened", then yes - George Zimmerman has reason to fear for his life. At this point, I'd guess just about anyone finding himself "confronted" by Mr. Zimmerman would legitimately feel "threatened"!

101 years ago today

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also the second deadliest disaster in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three; the oldest victim was 48, the youngest were two fourteen-year-old girls.

Because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.
This is what pure, unbridled, unregulated, predatory Capitalism looks like!

... and, oh yeah: that bit about "The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards"? - THAT'S what the GOP calls "Socialism"! - restrictive legislation, REQUIRING pure, unbridled, predatory CAPITALISTS to adhere to standards that protect their workers!... clearly inhibiting profit and "innovation".
Me? If "Socialism" means the gov't protecting me from pure, unbridled, predatory Captialists, I'm all for it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

That was FAST!

Rick Santorum Wins: Louisiana Primary Results 2012
Rick Santorum was projected the winner of the Louisiana primary on Saturday night by CNN.
I'll miss you, Newt.

[... of course, this assumes Newt will have the grace to bow out... somewhat doubtful.]

Cpt Fogg says it well

If I had a son
Cpt. Fogg
24 March 2012
"You know, if I had a son he would look like Treyvon,"
said the president and I guess that's true to some extent. He'd have dark skin, of course, but I took it to mean that his son would be an ordinary looking, ordinary acting 17 year old and not a shooting gallery target.

Newt Gingrich took it differently because he saw the comment, which was clearly an attempt to show compassion and to suggest that he couldn't avoid putting himself in the place of the grieving father of Treyvon Martin, as an opportunity to launch another Fox-faux outrage. Hasn't the entire Republican reaction to the election of Barack Obama been a collection of phony, trumped up, fabricated and exasperatingly stupid outrages?
"Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn't look like him?"
said Newt to Sean Hannity on Fox News. Certainly Fox is the Cape Canaveral; the launch pad of most such desperate grasping at rhetorical straws -- the place where the unscrupulously ambitious launch calumny after slander after blatant lie, not because this president is beyond criticism, but because they, the Republican insiders, are themselves accessories before, during and after the fact of the collapse of our economy, the corruption and outrageous economic policies and the unjustified war that precipitated it and only wild claims can distract the public from remembering. Only wild, unsubstantiated and preferably ridiculous statements can rally the bigotry against honesty and decency.
One of the things that makes it easier for The Buffoon to keep going is that I don't have to be all that brilliant: I just have to shamelessly steal what other much-more-brilliant folks have said.

Just in case...

... you've $$$ burning a hole in your pocket:
You could do worse than to send a few $$$ in the direction of Expressions of Joy, a non-profit providing "the opportunity for adults, ages 17 & up,
with developmental disabilities and/or other special needs
to participate in choral music."
I attended one of their concerts this afternoon.
'Twas a delight!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I thought we all knew this...

"Walking-While-Black" is a crime!

I'm happy not to do this for a living!

Every day, more shit.
"News" shit.
"Political" shit.
"War" shit.

Fortunately, I have the option of ignoring all the shit - an option which I choose to exercise today.

Till tomorrow!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Even the Loyal Opposition is on my side!

Santorum suggests that re-electing Obama would be better than a Romney presidency
Thank you, Rick. You're right!

How Congress ought NOT be spending its time!

Saints Bounty Scandal: Senator Dick Durbin Calls Hearing To Examine Bounties In NFL
Maybe it's just me, but for Congress to devote time to "Bounty-gate"... or "Steroids-gate"... or any other pro sports scandal seems a complete waste of time and tax-payer $$$.

Don't you all have better things to worry about?... like, e.g., the economy, foreign policy... or just GOVERNANCE!!!

Oh good: I'm not alone

Breaking: Whitney Houston is still dead!

Whitney Houston Cause Of Death: Accidental Drowning Reported

Happy Birthday, Chico Marx

Leonard "Chico" Marx: 22 March 1887 - 11 October 1961.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Anyone but Romney" wins Illinois!

With 96% of precincts reporting:
"Anyone but Romney" 53%!

Lewis Carroll in the news

Santorum to GOP: Don’t nominate ‘Tweedledum’ like Romney
David Edwards
Monday, March 19, 2012
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that Republicans can’t win if they nominate a “Tweedledum” like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

[Through the Looking-Glass]


Things I don't understand

Some things I understand; most things I don't. Sometimes I worry that the ratio, (understand/don't), is approaching zero. Most of the time I don't. This nonchalance is one of the things I don't understand.

Among the many things I don't understand: "Small Government" Republicans insisting that the Government ought regulate my sexual behavior.

Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up

Monday, March 19, 2012

Uh... okay...

Law firm fires 14 employees for wearing orange shirts
Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow
19 March 2012
They weren't wearing sagging pants or revealing clothing. But dressing in an orange shirt is apparently enough to get fired at one Florida law firm, where 14 workers were unceremoniously let go last Friday.

In an interview with the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, several of the fired workers say they wore the matching colors so they would be identified as a group when heading out for a happy hour event after work. They say the executive who fired them initially accused them of wearing the matching color as a form of protest against management.
Ironically, had the employees been wearing orange as a form of protest, it would have been illegal to fire them, ABC News reports.
And there's really nothing anyone can do about the terminations since Florida is an at-will state, meaning employers can fire an employee who doesn't have a contract "for a good reason, for a bad reason or even for the wrong reason, as long as it's not an unlawful reason," Eric K. Gabrielle, a labor and employment lawyer at Stearns Weaver, told the Sun-Sentinel. Gabrielle said there was no apparent violation of the law in this case.
I'm not quite sure what to say.
Wearing Orange is a fire-able offense???

There's a word for it (pointless)

I suspect this is an age thing, but more and more often I find myself walking into a room and then wondering why I'm there... "I know I came in here for a reason...!"

My sister-in-law provided a word for this phenomenon: "destinesia"
[it's in the Urban Dictionary!]

This doesn't sound good

Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria


A day late & a dollar short: Sigh...

Stevens: Lobos' Sweet 16 Dreams Crash in 59-56 Loss to Louisville

News with a personal touch

Dozens arrested at Occupy's 6-month anniversary rally
I was in LA on Saturday, walking up Main Street towards El Pueblo (LA's "Old Town") with some friends.

Suddenly police cars with sirens blaring passed us, headed for what appeared to be a small group about 1/2 block away. We all thought it was a mugging or some such.

Nope - 'twas an "Occupy" demonstration, with perhaps 60-80 folks in attendance, all of them demonstrating peacefully.
I counted 19 police cars.
Four people were arrested... for no reason that we could discern.
Seemed a bit of an over-reaction to a small, peaceful demonstration.

Here's a pic (police cars visible; "rioters" not):

Political discourse, 2012

I'm back!

... Posting will resume later today (Monday, 19 March).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Breaking news: No New War Today!

... You can thank Obama.

Light posting next several days...

... stop by every once in a while, but honestly - there's not gonna be much thru Sunday.

More Pi Day stuff

You can have your Pi and eat it too
... and let's not forget the geeky stuff:
Representations of Pi
Then there's this - entertaining, informative, and not TOO mathy:
The Joy of Pi

Happy Pi Day!

Chao Lu
Pi memorization world record holder
date : 20 November 2005
accuracy : 67,890 digits of Pi
time : 24 hours 4 minutes
Okay: 67,890 digits is just a wee bit longer than what I wanna post.
Here are the first 700 digits of Pi (... just over 1% of what Chao Lu memorized):


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Election night fun

What happened to Newt?

Newt had a bad night:
- AL: 30%, 2nd to Santorum's 35%
- MS: 31%, 2nd to Santorum's 33%

Wasn't Newt supposed to be a lock in the South?
- Nope: Dixie went for the OTHER crazy Catholic!

"Anyone but Romney" wins Mississippi!


... Santorum is nominal 'winner': 33%.

"Anyone but Romney" wins big in Alabama!


... Santorum is the nominal 'winner': 35%.

Santorum puts plants above people!

Rick Santorum: ‘The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant’
This anti-Biblical worldview oughta disqualify him for the presidency IMMEDIATELY!

More old music

Be Afraid! Be VERY Afraid!!!

Dihydrogen Monoxide FAQ
Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.
Alert your REPUBLICAN Senators & Representatives about this toxic substance TODAY!

Dihydrogen Monoxide is a by-product of ROCKET-FUEL combustion!
Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
Liquid DHMO is responsible for THOUSANDS of deaths in the U.S. each year!
Solid DHMO causes hypothermia, frostbite, road accidents, and death!

IT IS NOT REGULATED by ANY Government agency!!!

Write your Republican Senator & Congressman TODAY!!!!!

How long?

Just till we get that damn nigger outta the White House!

Just a reminder...

For every one woman having sex, there's also a MAN having sex!

... and I'm not sure the converse is true: that "man on dog" thing comes to mind!
An old joke:
Man 1: The first time I had sex, her mom was standing just three feet away.

Man 2: Three feet away? What did she say???

Man 1: "Baa"!

another "Just for fun"

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Game Change"

Okay: I watched the HBO movie, "Game Change".
Overall - entertaining... and it's no wonder nominal GOP strategist Steve Schmidt is now a regular on-air personality with MSNBC!
[He be the fellow ultimately responsible for foisting Sarah Palin on us!]

BUT! - in fairness to Ms. Palin, I find it very hard to believe that she was as deliberately obstructionist & as deliberately ignorant as she is portrayed in the film.

[pointless aside: strength is presumed to be the longest word in English with only one vowel. Schmidt has gotta be up there on list of longest proper names with only one vowel!]

In related news:
'Game Change': Sarah Palin Presidency 'Frightens' Former McCain Strategist Steve Schmidt

A Carol Burnett show skit with pedagogical value

A riddle from old 'Carol Burnett show' skit... with
pedagogical value:
A hunter walks due south from his camp for one mile. He then walks due east for one mile, where he shoots a bear.
He then returns to camp by walking due north a mile.

What color was the bear?
In the 'Carol Burnett Show' skit, Carol launched into tirade centered on, 'What color was the bear?'!!!...
... BUT: there is a mathematical point to this riddle.
The key is that 3rd bit of info: 'He then returns to camp by walking due north one mile'.

Hint: Pythagorean Theorem is true only in Euclidean plane geometry... not on the surface of the earth (spherical geometry).

Forget finding your kids summer jobs!

14-Year-Old Buys Distressed Home
By Susanna Kim | ABC News
12 March 2012
After Willow Tufano earned $6,000 from antiquing and selling items on Craigslist, the 14-year-old asked her mom if she could invest in half of a short sale in her home state of Florida.

Tufano earned the money from finding free items or deals online or at antique auctions and leftover furniture from foreclosed homes. She re-sells the items or gives them away on the "free" list on Craigslist. She says she could not have thrived in that business without the support of her parents and grandparents, who drive her around to pick up items.

With her saved money, she didn't want to buy or barter for another longboard skate board or Xbox. Instead she set her sights on a three-bedroom short sale of $12,000 that was worth about $100,000 at the peak of the housing market, as reported by NPR's Planet Money.

"If there's one thing I want people to know, it's that your age does not matter," Tufalo told ABC News. " If I can inspire another person my age, younger, that would mean the world. Whether it's buying a house, buying a car, or whatever. If you really work for it and put your mind to it you can do what you want to do."
Step 1: Help sell household goods from 'distressed' properties.
Step 2: use earnings to BUY a distressed property!

Winning hearts & minds

US soldier kills 16 Afghans, deepening crisis
By HEIDI VOGT and MIRWAIS KHAN | Associated Press
11 March 2012
BALANDI, Afghanistan (AP) — An American soldier opened fire on villagers near his base in southern Afghanistan Sunday and killed 16 civilians, according to President Hamid Karzai, who called it an "assassination" and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington. Nine children and three women were among the dead.
I can do nothing but agree with my friend OneFly:
Declare Victory And Get The Hell Outta There

English Composition 101 & cable news

English Composition 101:
1. Tell 'em what you're gonna say.

2. Say it.

3. Tell 'em what you said.
Cable News coverage of GOP primaries:
1. Tell 'em what's gonna happen.

2. Report what happens.

3. Spend the rest of the week discussing what DID happen.
... and they can fill up an entire week of broadcasts with this!

Mark your calendar: March 14!

Celebrate Pi (π) Day!
Other resources:
Pi Day 2012

Celebrating Pi Day 3.14

March 14th is a fantastically mathematical day.

Pi Day
Just for fun: Pi (π), mathematical constant - ratio of circle's circumference to its diameter. It's a constant only in Euclidean geometry - depends, ultimately, on Euclid's "parallel postulate". In spherical geometry - the GEOmetry in which we all live ("earth measure") - this ratio is NOT a constant!

... more "just for fun": the Pythagorean Theorem (that bit about 'square of the hypotenuse') is also true only in Euclidean geometry... if you try to use it in surveys of earth's surface, you'll get really lost!
Both Pi & Pythagorean Theorem depend on 'parallel postulate'.

[... oh, yeah: 14 March = 3-14... as in 3.14159... ]

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Two emails

Background: NM's long-serving Dem Senator, Jeff Bingaman, announced his retirement a few months ago, creating a nice little Senatorial power vacuum.

Second-term NM1 Congressman Martin Heinrich and New Mexico native Hector Balderas both jumped into the ring as Dems seeking to replace Senator Bingaman.

I don't pretend to understand NM Dem politics, or the rather arcane and confusing hurdles confronting the candidates... BUT - today there was a "Democratic pre-Primary Convention."

I've received emails from both Heinrich and Balderas:
[Heinrich] We won!
I wanted you to be the first to know that it was just announced that we won the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention thanks to our strong grassroots support!

I wanted you to hear it from me first-- we had a phenomenal showing tonight at the New Mexico State Democratic convention.

We defied everyone’s expectations-- winning 45% of the delegate totals, despite being significantly outraised and outspent, providing a huge “boost to [our] underdog campaign,” as NM Telegraph put it. We far surpassed the twenty percent threshold needed to secure a spot on the June primary ballot—and we did it with a mostly volunteer, grassroots organization.
Full disclosure: I support Heinrich.

Public Service Announcement: Spring Forward!

UNM Lobo Men's B-Ballers win MWC tournament!

... defeating both UNLV and SDSU along the way!

Next up: NCAA tournament.
(Wouldn't it be fun to make it past first round?)

Romney wins WY!

... picking up 7 of 12 delegates!

Santorum wins KS!

... with 51%.

"Anyone but Romney" (EXCLUDING Santorum) also a winner:
- "Anone but Romney" (EXCLUDING Santorum): 27%
- Romney: 21%

"Anyone but Romney" (including Santorum): 79%

Mitt, Mitt, Mitt... !

Auggh! - fighting hardware/software!

... trying to install new printer.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

... just 'cuz the last one was so much fun!

Just 'cuz it's fun

The GOP's next target?

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Exit polls - don't trust 'em!

I am now putting on my statistician hat.

The networks make a big deal of 'exit polls' - querying voters as they emerge from polling place:
- "For whom did you vote?"
- "Do you describe yourself as Christian?"
- "What's your income bracket?"

... sadly - these barometers have very little reliability.
The folks conducting these 'polls' are more likely than not to approach only those with whom they feel comfortable. The 'sampling' provided is perhaps 'representative', but NOT random!

My bet would be that exit polls over-represent more-or-less affluent voters - folks who are well-dressed, well-groomed, sort of 'normal' looking when they emerge from polling place. This would go a long way towards explaining MSNBC's recent claim that wealthy voters were turning out in larger numbers than in previous elections.
[note: I've absolutely NO data to back up this suspicion... it's just a guess.]

The most famous 'poll' of this sort is reflected in pic below:
Yeah - they're a lot of fun to read, BUT - don't believe 'em!

... on the other hand: REPORTING on 'exit polls' just MAY influence future voters!

Assessing that elusive entity known as 'public opinion' is VERY difficult... and 'exit polls' are a particularly lousy way to go about it!
(... BUT: they are fun to read!... and they DO contribute to overall employment!!!)

a slow news day...

From The Reaction:
This day in music - March 8, 1930: "Happy Days Are Here Again" by Ben Selvin and His Orchestra is at No. 1 on the charts

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Self-referencing re-post (no, I have no pride...)

Words memorized in 8th grade civics

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The Declaration of Independence

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Preamble, United States Constitution

... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

The Declaration is a formal apologia: a defense especially of one's opinions, position, or actions.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
[emphasis added to stress the apologetic nature of the document]
The legal status of the Declaration is interesting. From the British Parliament's perspective it has no legal standing - the Colonists have not the legal competence to declare themselves independent of Great Britain. The Continental Congress itself asserted no legal authority over the several States. The Declaration, after the rousing and memorable introduction which we all presumably learned by heart at some point during our education, is phrased as a legal tort against King George III - it is extremely dry reading. No one is likely to quote from memory any of the specific charges brought against George III. It is, and is best understood as, a formal apologia.

The Preamble introduces the legal document which follows. Of the three quotations, only the Preamble is directly relevant to legal foundation of the United States. It is the Framers' "mission statement", explaining the origin, scope, and purpose of the Constitution.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a speech - one of the most quoted speeches in U.S. history. It has no legal standing. Strangely, however, the phrase, "government of the people, by the people, for the people" is frequently assumed to derive from the Constitution! (Recent NYT "Letters to the Editor" confirm this.) Perhaps owing to its brevity and conciseness, this phrase has assumed a popular quasi-legal status, as defining the nature of the United States government.

As noted above, the Declaration is the oddest of these three "founding" documents. The opening paragraph is a single 71-word sentence!

To emphasize the Declaration's oddness, I'd like to examine what is perhaps its most well-known clause:
We hold these truths to be self-evident
"We" - presumably the Continental Congress, and perhaps by extension the people of the [lowercase]united States whom they represent - "hold these truths to be self-evident." Note: simply by asserting that "We hold these truths to be self-evident" suggests that others may not! What kind of self-evident truths are these, that they are subject to debate, and that we must make known whether or not we accept them?

A quick look at the "self-evident" truths reveals that they are anything but!
that all men are created equal
Libraries have been written regarding the truth-value of this "self-evident" truth - what, exactly, is being asserted here? This was - and is - a revolutionary concept!
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
This is particularly tricky. The Congress wants to assert something like "the rights of man", but are shrewd enough to realize that, under common law, rights are things granted by lords to vassals - rights derive from relationships. How to overcome this logical difficulty? Ah! Our "rights" are endowed us by our Creator! The term "Creator" - instead of, say, "our G-d" - was probably sufficiently neutral to satisfy the Deists!
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
Locke's Second Treatise on Government cites "life, liberty, and property" as inalienable rights. The Founders shied away from "property" for a variety of contrasting and contradictory reasons - "the pursuit of happiness" was sufficiently wishy-washy to satisfy all!

Of the three documents cited, only one has legal standing: The Preamble of the United States Constitution. It is the Constitution which is the law of the land! It is the Constitution which all "Senators and Representatives... and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states" are bound by oath to support (Article VI).

Just for fun (from The Onion)

Poll: 63% Of Americans Say They Have A Problem With A Mormon President Who Is Also Mitt Romney

I'm still waiting...

... for even just ONE (1) GOP contender to cite the Preamble to the United States Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to
form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare, and
secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
They all TALK ABOUT the Constitution... all the time! BUT the only document they ever CITE is the Declaration of Independence, with that bit about, "... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.... The emphasis being on "... endowed by their Creator...".

Just once it'd be fun to hear a candidate for President cite the Preamble: "We, the people..."... and use the values therein enumerated as the basis for his candidacy!

Has any of 'em READ the Constitution?


What appears to be snow is actually spider webs blanketing an Australian farm. (Daniel Munoz/Reuters)
Thousands of spiders blanket Australian farm after escaping flood
By Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow
7 March 2012
Thousands of normally solitary wolf spiders have blanketed an Australian farm after fleeing a rising flood.

Reuters reports that the flooding has forced more than 8,000 Australian (human) residents from their homes in the city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. But for every temporarily displaced person, it appears several spiders have moved in to fill the void.

"What we've seen here is a type of wolf spider," Owen Seeman, an arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, told Reuters. "They are trying to hide away (from the waters)."

The Australian Museum's entomology collections manager Graham Milledge told Reuters that there's even a term for the phenomenon, "ballooning," and that it is typical behavior for spiders forced to escape rising waters.
I'm guessing that this, too, is Obama's fault, and that under a Rick/Mitt/Newt administration, it would never happen again!

Big Physics news!

With "big" having two connotations in this context:
1. It's Big News!
2. It's Big Physics - particle accelerators and all that other useless paraphernalia the U.S. has de-funded.

Anyway, here's the news:
Elusive Higgs Boson Particle Closer Than Ever, Scientists Say
By Clara Moskowitz |
7 March 2012
New evidence makes it more likely than ever that 2012 will be the year physicists finally find the long-sought Higgs boson particle.

The particle has been predicted as the explanation for why all other particles have mass. It has earned the nickname the "God Particle," largely from the popular media, though scientists haven't warmed to the name.

Yet despite years of searching, scientists have yet to detect the Higgs boson directly.

Now physicists at the Tevatron particle accelerator at Illinois' Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory report hints in their data that suggest the particle may exist with a mass between 115 to 135 giga-electron volts, or GeV (for comparison, a proton has a mass of about 0.938 GeV).

"We see a distinct Higgs-like signature that cannot be easily explained without the presence of something new," physicist Wade Fisher of Michigan State University said in a statement. "If what we're seeing really is the Higgs boson, it will be a major milestone for the world physics community and will place the keystone in the most successful particle physics theory in history."
Okay - I don't even pretend to understand any of this. I always figured stuff has mass because of Twinkies.

On the down side: I'm guessing the GOP presidential field will embrace this news immediately, framing it as:
Physicists Prove Existence of God

I'm pretty sure this is Obama's fault...

... and that if Mitt or Newt or Rick were elected, it would never happen again!
Earth braces for biggest space storm in five years
By Kerry Sheridan | AFP
7 March 2012
A pair of scorching explosions on the Sun's surface is sparking the biggest radiation and geomagnetic storm the Earth has experienced in five years, space weather experts said Wednesday.

The storm, expected to hit Earth early Thursday US time and last through Friday, may disrupt power grids, GPS systems and satellites, and has already forced some airlines to change their routes around the polar regions.
This image obtained from NASA shows one of the largest solar flares of this solar cycle on March 6, 2012 at 7PM ET. A pair of scorching explosions on the Sun's surface is sparking the biggest radiation and geomagnetic storm the Earth has experienced in five years, space weather experts said Wednesday. (AFP Photo/)

New Mexico in the news (sigh...)

New Mexico town elects mayor who called Obama evil
Axxociated Press
7 March 2012
CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — A former New Mexico mayor who called President Barack Obama "the carnal manifestation of evil" and said Obama's election was part of a CIA conspiracy has been elected to his former job, according to unofficial results.
How 'bout them UFOs in Roswell?

Good Question!

David Axelrod: If Romney Can't Condemn Limbaugh, 'How Can He Stand Up To Ahmadinejad?
Me? I'm hoping this makes it into a DNC-sponsored TV spot in the fall!

"Anyone but Romney" wins Alaska

... 67%


Liberal Congressman Kucinich defeated in Ohio
Full disclosure: during the 2008 Dem primaries, I took one of those on-line "Who's your candidate" quizzes - I lined up with Kucinich, pretty much on every issue.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Sarah, Sarah, Sarah...!!!"

Palin leaves door open to eventual White House bid

Split decision

MA: 72%
VA: 60%
ID: 69%

"Anyone but Romney":
GA: 74%
ND: 76%
OH: 62%
OK: 72%
TN: 62%
VT: 60%

Alaska is still outstanding.

Romney wins VA!!! [update]

With 9% of precincts reporting: Mitt's first REAL victory - 58%.

"Anyone but Romney" - in this case Ron Paul - a distant second!

Congratulations, Mitt!!!

[Update: with 76% of precincts reporting, Mitt now has 59%! Again: Congratulations, Mitt!!!]

Monday, March 5, 2012

This seems to say something about GOP contest

Limbaugh comments overshadow GOP contest
Yawn!... yeah, the GOP Presidential Primaries just aren't that exciting... it's a LOT easier to pay attention to radio blow-hard's intemperate ranting.

Putting things in perspective (literally)

The Scale of the Universe

Just out of curiosity...

Obama, appearing with Netanyahu, sees ‘difficult months’ ahead in Iran standoff
Just out of curiosity, what would happen if we - the U.S. - decided to simply IGNORE Iran? Let 'em go about their merry way.

... of course, we'd also have to convince Israel to pursue similar course.
Seems just a little weird that Israel - with fewer than 8Mn people - holds OUR foreign policy hostage!

Trust me: Iran is NOT an existential threat to the U.S.!... and anyone who believes it is (see, e.g., today's GOP) has a VERY LOW opinion of the U.S.!

"Bomb, bomb, bomb... "

McCain calls for U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria
Hmmm... to tell the truth, there's some part of me that agrees with Sen. McCain - at least, we ought to be doing SOMETHING...

On the other hand (... and there are a LOT of 'other hands'):
1. Does Sen. McCain have a PLAN in mind should we somehow succeed, by bombing, to oust Assad?... or is Syria's descent into chaos just okay?
(See, e.g., Libya.)

2. I'm just a bit skeptical of yet ANOTHER military intervention! - Seems to me this one could, without too much imagination, be construed as "waging a war of aggression", which is formally a War Crime.

3. Yes, I feel deeply for the Syrians opposing Assad's regime... but this IS an INTERNAL political & humanitarian mess... Syria is NOT threatening the U.S.

4. The GOP's "solution" to EVERY international crisis is ALWAYS, "Bomb, bomb, bomb... bomb, bomb Assad!" (You may freely, with perhaps some loss of lyrical integrity, substitute just about ANY country's/tyrant's name into this lyric.)

5. There will ALWAYS be tyrants who violently suppress their citizens. On this I agree with Ron Paul: since when did it become incumbent on the U.S. to police the world? (We've managed to disengage with sub-Saharan Africa for decades!)

On the flip side: IF Sen. McCain presented a coherent plan, I might be more attentive.
BUT - I suspect all he has is "Bomb, bomb, bomb... bomb, bomb Assad!"

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
(Wasn't all that much fun.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This is just fun... (from Michael Moore via Twitter)

Michael Moore to Rush Limbaugh via twitter:
"Rush - As soon as u started losing the big $$ from your hate speech, you caved & obeyed the men who pay u. Who's the prostitute now, bitch?"
... but didn't Michael Moore mean SLUT?

This is just so... REPUBLICAN

Headline #1:
Rick Santorum Pushes Social Agenda, Stokes GOP Fear Ahead Of Super Tuesday 2012
Headline #2:
Newt Warns Of 'Disaster' Scenario
Yep: that's what the GOP is all about - be AFRAID... be VERY AFRAID!

... oops! - what's that?
Whew - just my shadow.

Uh... tell me about 'welfare queens' again

AIG selling $6 billion of AIA shares, to repay bail-out

Denny Thomas and Clare Baldwin | Reuters
4 March 2012
HONG KONG (Reuters) - American International Group (AIG) is looking to raise about $6 billion by selling part of its stake in Asia subsidiary AIA Group <1299.HK> in a long-awaited move to help the U.S. insurer repay a federal government bail-out.
The U.S. Treasury owns 77 percent of AIG following a massive $182 billion bailout in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. AIG holds around a one-third stake in AIA which, at Friday's close, was worth a little over $15 billion.
Wow! AIG wants to raise $6Bn to start to repay ME... for my $182Bn investment. Great! I feel so lucky!!!

When should I expect to see the other $176Bn?????

At last: SOMEONE stands up to Mr. Limbaugh!

... No, not the GOP Presidential field, all of whom issued lukewarm, "Gee, I wouldn't have used those words" comments, but his ADVERTISERS!
Limbaugh Advertisers: We Still Won't Sponsor Rush Anymore
David Friend, who runs the online backup company Carbonite, issued a statement on his company's website saying that Carbonite would no longer advertise with Limbaugh despite the host's rare admission of regret. From the website:
“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
Ah, yes: "civilized public discourse" - a concept with which Mr. Limbaugh is unfamiliar.

Of course, Mr. Limbaugh will now declare that his right to free speech has been violated... without quite realizing that his right to free speech does NOT include his 'right' to have others PAY for his speech. You can say whatever you want, Mr. Limbaugh - but PLEASE, don't argue that anyone else is obligated to PAY you to say it!

... meanwhile, the mealy-mouthed GOP Presidential candidates simply deplore Mr. Limbaugh's choice of words - not the ill-informed, ill-tempered, ad hominem attack itself!... which is to say: they pretty much all AGREE with what he said, they just wish he hadn't used the word 'slut' in saying it!

The "Kiss of Death"!

Sarah Palin: Allen West Should Be Considered For Vice Presidency In 2012
Recall, Rep. Allen West is the fellow who suggested that those of us who think the U.S. still has room for improvement ought "get the hell out of the United States of America".

... and if I were Rep. Allen West, I'd be running as fast as possible AWAY from Sarah Palin's endorsement!

Mitt's big chance!

Super Tuesday ("faster than a speeding bullet", etc.) is fast approaching.
Mitt's big chance to win a simple majority - as in greater than 50% - comes in Virginia, where only he and Ron Paul are on the ballot.

This could be fun!

uh... I know MY answer!

Mayan Light Beam Photo: Message from Gods, or iPhone Glitch?

the Almighty Dollar - for good!

Following his ill-informed, ill-tempered, and libelous rant against a Georgetown University law student, six (6) advertisers have withdrawn their sponsorships of Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

This, apparently, is the reason for his 'apology' to the student, one Sandra Fluke:
Limbaugh apologizes to law student for insult
For me, 'twasn't his use of word 'slut' that provoked outrage, but his complete misrepresentation of her Congressional testimony!
[I DO wonder, however, why the hell I'm granting this scumbag any ink whatsoever... 'tis much like pretending that Iran is an existential threat to the U.S. - Rush doesn't deserve the ink!]

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Anyone but Romney" wins still another!

Washington State caucuses: "Anyone but Romney" - 63%!
(... with 60% of vote counted.)

Will this guy EVER "win" with a simple majority???

Blatant self-promotion!

William Russell Sype for President 2016
[note: the Captain's Log fellow is chair of my finance committee... and his link is on right-hand nav bar.]

Good economic news!

In Positive Economic Sign, Republicans Starting to Say Obama Wasn’t Born in US Again
S & P Birther Index Posts Big Gains
In related news:
Sheriff Arpaio: Obama birth certificate a ‘forgery’
When will it end?

... oh, yeah: when that damn nigger is outta the White House!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dover, PA and the wrath of G-d

Today there's been LOTS of tornado activity across mid-East - Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania...

From the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, the storms touched nearly all walks of life. A fire station was flattened. Roofs were ripped off schools. A prison fence was knocked down and scores of homes and businesses were destroyed. At least 20 people were killed, including 14 in Indiana, and dozens of others were hurt in the second deadly tornado outbreak this week.

[Storms wreck Ind. towns, kill 20 in 3 states]
Dover, Pennsylvania has remained untouched. I mention this only because, a few years ago, the right Reverend Pat Robertson opined:
"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. And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there."
Pat Robertson Tells Dover Residents They Rejected God
Well, okay - since the right Reverend Pat issued his jeremiad, Dover has yet to be hit with ANY natural disaster - no tornado, no flood, no fire... so I guess he's still in good standing with The Lord. His comments assumed a disaster - "IF there is a disaster..."

BUT: Reverend Robertson - how come LOTS of other cities and towns have experienced disasters, but NOT Dover, PA???

Once upon a time...

... I enjoyed Presidential election years.
'Twas fun following the campaigns.

Today - not so much.
Even the 'moderate' GOP candidates are running so far to the right that I no longer recognize 'em as 'my fellow Americans'.

How the hell did contraception end up an issue?
I was maybe 11 or 12 when "The Pill" was introduced. I asked a friend's mom what "The Pill" was, and she told me. (This was pretty much the only 'sex education' I ever got!)... this is 1963.

"Barefoot and pregnant" seems the GOP mantra.
... and women who use contraception are sluts.

"Once upon a time" - in my lifetime!... Sigh.

Well - they've got God on their side!

Wilmington City Council Passes Resolution Urging 'Personhood' Rights For Sperm
Here's G-d's opinion:
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”
9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.
10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

[Genesis 38:8-10]
I pity the man who masturbates!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You can't make up this stuff!

... Well, yes you can - if you're much cleverer than I.
From the mailbag - simply hysterical!
In Possible Gaffe, Romney Says Poor People ‘Taste Like Chicken’
Awkward Moment at Ohio Wrestling Event
TOLEDO (The Borowitz Report)) – In what some political observers are calling a possible gaffe on the part of the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney told a crowd gathered for a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Ohio today, “I love poor people. They taste like chicken.”