Friday, September 26, 2008

Yet another reason to vote for Obama

Shhh!  John's taking a nap!
With John McCain growing more infantile by the minute, there is no shortage of reasons to vote against him. This makes us forget that there are just as many reasons to vote for Obama. Here's another one; 61 Nobel science laureates endorse him because he understands the importance of research.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

As if we didn't have enough to worry about

We're being tugged at by forces from outside the known universe. If the universe isn't big enough for you, cosmologists are talking about multiverses now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Birthday blogging

Today is my birthday so I took the day off from work, which made a nice 3-day weekend, except for the fact that all of the mammals that legally live here are under the weather. Lee J and I have colds, Chubba Bubba has a sinus infection and is sneezing on everything, and Doris has a swollen chin that she probably got fighting.

Other than that, it was a nice weekend. The weather was good, there was plenty of sports on the TV and the extra day let me relax before getting back to the phone bank and voter registration. Lee J had a cake made for me in the shape of my car (shown here) by Patty's Pastry Creations. She also got me a cell phone, so I'm part of the Borg, now. She also took me out to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, Jhanthong Banbua.

I got a gift card from my mom, money from my in-laws and the present I got for myself showed up on time. I spent the day like I've usually done in recent years by puttering about the house, surfing the net and napping, with a loud soundtrack of guitar rock, with Tool, Tantric, T Rex and Stereolab all conveniently located near each other on the CD shelf.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

California's propositions for 2008

Here's my two cents over the propositions on November's ballot.

Prop. 1A Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act. I've been on the bullet train from Paris to Lyon and it's amazing. Whisper-quiet at 250 mph. This would get people of the overstrained highways and airports. Good for the environment, too. Yes.

Prop. 2 Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute. I like meat, but there's no reason for my meat to live in misery. Yes.

Prop. 3 Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute. Single-payer health care is what we need, but this is a step. Yes.

Prop. 4 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Another cut at Roe v. Wade. No.

Prop. 5 Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute. People shouldn't be in jail at all for these offenses. Until people get common sense over drugs and legalize them, we can limit the effects of this witch-hunt mentality. Yes.

Prop. 6 Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute. More lock-ups for kids? No.

Prop. 7 Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute. Badly written and counterproductive. No.

Prop. 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Deny gays the right to marry? Hell, no.

Prop. 9 Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. More punishment and prison overcrowding. No.

Prop. 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute. Swift Boat funder and oilman T. Boone Pickens is behind this. That's snake oil you smell. No.

Prop. 11 Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. More election game-rigging by the Republicans. No.

Prop. 12 Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008. Extends benefits for veterans. Yes.

Take it for what you will. See you at the polls, bitches.

They're doing it again

Disaster is imminent.
As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”
Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”
When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

We're in trouble. But something about that meeting seems familiar... why do the words weapons of mass destruction and civil liberties keep popping into my head? As usual, Glenn Greenwald explains why:
What's most vital to underscore is that the beneficiaries of this week's extraordinary Government schemes aren't just the coincidental recipients of largesse due to some random stroke of good luck. The people on whose behalf these schemes are being implemented -- the true beneficiaries -- are the very same people who have been running and owning our Government -- both parties -- for decades, which is why they have been able to do what they've been doing without interference. They were able to gamble without limit because they control the Government, and now they're having others bear the brunt of their collapse for the same reason -- because the Government is largely run for their benefit.
We're being played again. Yes, this is a serious problem, but anything these people say is probably a lie. So how we deal with it is something we should be careful with. One way of being careful is making the choice between John McCain, who said this;

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
and Barack Obama, who said this:

First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.
Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.
Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.
Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.
Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.
And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.
Time for new management.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008


I had added air to my tires at work and was making good time when an insect of some sort flew under my helmet and got stuck. I had to tear my helmet off, which sent my glasses flying into the street. Fortunately, nobody drove over them but the sunglasses part is scratched and I have a throbbing bump on my forehead. Some guy pulled over and asked if I was ok and when I told him what happened, he laughed and drove off.

Today sucked.

The Great Gig In The Sky

Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright died today. This is from Wright and David Gilmour doing Arnold Layne from last year. Shine on.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Watcher of the skies

One thing that's great about YouTube is I can see videos of tours I never got to see live. This is Peter Gabriel-era Genesis from 1974. There are several versions of this tune from different tours and venues of varying quality.

Cool palaeo stuff

Laelaps has an article on an early whale discovered in Georgia. Georgia Southern University has a cool interactive view of the skeleton.

New research shows that dinosaurs were the underdogs of the Triassic, being somewhat outclassed by crurotarsans (crocodiles are surviving crurotarsans). Something happened and dinosaurs took over. Similarities to this election?

This article combines two of my favorite topics, evolution and beer! Though it's not palaeontology, research done on the evolution of yeast strains by breweries in Europe gets down to basics on the difference between ale and lager, and shows which breweries use which strain of yeast.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

McCain/Palin family values

Sarah Palin Pictures
John McCain covered up his wife's drug abuse to further his career. Palin charges rape victims for their own rape kits.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

The kind of guy McCain is

A bully, and an asshole. We can't afford another asshole President.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A neighborhood wedding

Two houses away from us live a pair of ladies, Kate and Anne. They're the kind of neighbors that everyone knows. They've been together for 27 years, and have lived in our neighborhood for most of that time. The kind of neighbors who take care of your pets when you're away, give great gardening tips, and will readily share their tools.

They got married on Saturday because they finally can. California has given gay people full marriage rights. Kate and Anne had the legal ceremony on Friday, at the courthouse. Their family, friends and many of us neighbors joined them in their back yard for the reception. It was a sweltering afternoon, but it was a joyous atmosphere with an undercurrent of pride; we were all proud to be a part of something good, to be on the right side of history.

It's hard for me to understand why conservatives want to stifle something positive like this. Where's the threat from two people love each other, who have already stood by each other for more than a quarter-century and want to commit forever after? I can now say from experience that gay marriage is not a threat to "traditional" marriage. Just the opposite. Lee J spent three nights assembling blow-bubble party favors for this wedding. On Saturday, I would look over at her proud to be married to a progressive, lucky to be with someone who loves love, and helps me do the same.

This is what happens when progressives drive policy. People in California are free to love, and are celebrated for loving rather than hated for it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A little Friday weirdness

An excerpt from Falling Rain Dance by Univers Zero. A Belgian avant-prog band with some heavy jazz influence.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Will there ever be coal forests again?

Probably not. That's the prediction over at The Dragon's Tales. It's a nice overview of the ecology of the Carboniferous Period. If you've ever wondered where our fossil fuels come from and whether any more is being made, check it out. In short, There just weren't enough creepy-crawlies to burrow through the coal forest detritus and eat it. Surprising, since the Carboniferous was the Golden Age of creepy-crawlies. Some of them were bigger than we are. The article is part of the Boneyard, the great monthly gathering of palaeontology posts. The latest one is at When Pigs Fly Returns.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can this get any sillier?

I'll be your VP  but no kissing!
If you were out doing fun things or yard work this holiday weekend you may have missed one of the most entertaining news cycles of this campaign- the emerging absurdity of Sarah Palin. McCain's camp insists that she was thoroughly vetted before the decision was made, but vetting must have been done over beer and mooseburgers. So far we have learned that:

She has lawyered up over the abuse-of-power charge that we already knew about.

She was once a member of a fringe right-wing Alaska secessionist party and still might be sympathetic to their cause.

Palin positions herself a reformer who is against pork, like the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, but has been caught lying. She also was for earmarks before she was against them.

A lobbyist she hired as mayor of Wasilla has Abramoff connections.

As mayor of Wasilla, she wanted to ban books from the library and fired anybody who disagreed with her.

Since McCain is vocally against "527" political organizations, how will he reconcile the fact that Palin ran one for indicted senator Ted Stevens?

Her husband has a DUI from 1986.

To debunk rumors that her new baby was really her 17-year-old daughter's, Palin had to reveal said daughter is 5 months pregnant now, and will marry the father in a shotgun wedding this spring. The father, a self-described "fuckin' redneck," doesn't want kids.

This list is by nowhere near complete. I haven't touched on Palin's propensity to say stupid things and new revelations are coming faster than I can type. Stay tuned. It's great comedy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Something is happening

I had planned to spend Labor Day weekend finishing off the summer with barbecues and yard work but with taking down my reef aquarium and some short-notice volunteering it became pretty busy. I received an email from MoveOn asking if I could join the Obama campaign at our local Safeway and register voters. Since it's just around the corner from me, I signed up for a couple of hours. In a short time, I was running out of forms, needed a couple more clipboards and had people signing up three abreast. Young people, people who'd moved and people switching to Democrat wanted to be a part of history. I even registered a few Safeway employees who wanted their chance to vote for Obama.

On Sunday we attended the opening of the local Democratic party headquarters in downtown Santa Rosa. They had optimistically expected 100-150 people on a holiday weekend that usually means few people would stop by. Not this year. Well over 300 people showed up, overwhelming the office space and spilling out over the sidewalk. Buttons, bumperstickers and signs vanished as people waited in line to volunteer. Our local representative, Lynn Woolsey spoke and even though I was only 20 feet from her, I could barely see the top of her head through the crowd.

We're in an indigo-blue district, so I'd expect Democrats to be popular. But people can be complacent out here, with progressives winning regularly and with comfortable margins. There's a buzz this year, however, even more so than '06. Obama is deadlocked in the polls with McCain so far, but when I look at the trees instead of the forest, I see energy like never before. Something is happening in America.