Majikthise : The "war on terror" isn't even a war

Here, that's what I wanted to say.

Buying valentines day gifts for yourself

isn't a very good idea, especially if the gift is something idiotically difficult to deal with, like a maidenhair fern (I did that once on a Thursday in 2002. It died by Monday.)

On the other hand, this is tempting:

Boo the hamster
Detachable wings

Who the heck is Boo?


Also while not blogging

I have been solving my clothing woes, which have two causes. First, geography: cowtowns are not known for their clothing options. Second, macroeconomics: most clothes in the stores today aren't durable enough to make it to the thriftstore intact.

My new solution: clickity click


a sheepish "Hi there"


It's been a weird couple of weeks with a whole lot of genetics homework, a bit of working out of town, and a nasty weekend of the flu.

I really really like genetics so far and maybe I'll someday be qualified to study stuff like this for a living. I would like that.

I'm also working on the "nothing in life is free" principle with my doggy. Oh, you want to eat? Down! Goodboy! Oh, you want to go outside? Sit! Goodboy!

I hope you've had a good January.


Strange spaces retrofitted

Remember all the cots set up in a gymnasium in Revenge of the Nerds, after the dorm burned down?

I'm in a computer lab right now that takes up about one quarter of a basketball court that has been retrofitted as a "technology and resource room." The accoustics are a lot better than you would think - all I can really hear is CPU fans and the woman to my left who is discourteously talking into her mobile. But still, a basketball court?

Whatever. It works.


Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure

defective yeti has written the funniest Bush commentary ever. No, really.

Organized religion

PZ Myers posted a portion of King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" yesterday with commentary. This sparked a lively discussion of progressive Christians, which took a right turn into a discussion of how nontheists feel much more alienated in UU churches today than a decade ago.

The UU church I joined as a teenager had a staunchly humanist minister. If he was still there I might feel comfortable, but he retired and was replaced by someone more interested in spirituality (which was what the majority wanted).

Me? I'm less interested in spirituality every year. The world is full of wonder, it can be fascinating and horrifying and surprising and no supernatural explanations are needed. I haven't felt at home at a UU church for years.

I perked right up when I read the comments from a couple of people right at the intersection/dislocation point between UUs and nontheists. I followed the links and discovered the Unitarian Universalist Infidels website, the Infidelity blog, and discovered that there are other people who are (dare I say it?) culturally UU and actually not interested in the supernatural at all, and these people are working to make a place again for humanists in UU congregations. Hear hear!

In the funny pages

Are you reading Candorville yet? Here's Sunday's cartoon:

Candorville Sunday 1/15/06
copyright Darrin Bell


Martin Luther King, Jr.

King's observations about the war in Vietnam are sadly relevant today.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak not now of the soldiers of each side, not of military government in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know these people and hear their broken cries. Now let me tell you the truth about it. They must see Americans as strange liberators. Do you realize that the Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945, after a combined French and Japanese occupation. And incidently, this was before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. And this is a little known fact, these people declared themselves independent in 1945, they quoted our Declaration of Independence in their document of freedom. And yet our government refused to recognize, President Truman said they were not ready for independence. So we failed victim as a nation at that time of the same deadly arrogrance that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years. France then set out to reconquer its former colony. And they fought eight long, hard, brutal years, trying to reconquer Vietnam. You know who helped France? It was the United States of America, it came to the point that we were meeting more than 80% of the war cost. And even when France started despairing of its reckless action, we did not. And in 1954, a conference was called at Geneva, and an agreement was reached, because France had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu. But even after that and even after the Geneva Accord, we did not stop. We must face the sad fact that our government sought in a real sense to sabotage the Geneva Accord. Well, after the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come through the Geneva agreement. But instead the United States came and started supporting a man named Diem, who turned out to be one of the most ruthless dictators in the history of the world. He set out to silence all opposition, people were brutally murdered merely because they raised their voices against the brutal policies of Diem. And the peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States influence, and then by increasing numbers of United States troops, who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. And who are we supporting in Vietnam today? It's a man by the name of General Ky, who fought with the French against his own people, and who said on one occasion that the greatest hero of his life is Hitler. This is who we're supporting in Vietnam today. Oh, our government, and the press generally, won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

The thought police at UCLA

The Bruin Alumni Association (not to be confused with the UCLA Alumni Association) has a website which lists out professors it considers to be radical and offers students $50-$100 for class notes and recordings of professors on their watchlist. Imagine being one of these professors, learning you're being attacked in a public place, that a laundry list of misdeeds has been attached to your name and photograph, that there's no opportunity to refute the website's claims. It'd feel like being Winston Smith.

You've got to hand it to these cruel splinter Bruins, they've managed to created a terrible atmosphere for a lot of people with minimal effort.

Iraq War Coalition Fatalities

Iraq War Coalition Fatalities flash animation Wow. This visual peeled away my news-fatigue.

from Creek Running North.


Now, the only thing I want . . .

I'm a commuter student, I'm taking one class and it meets four mornings a week. Between my lecture and my parking spot is a building endowed by some half-forgotten Mr. Sellack. This morning as I walked back to the car, my head full of alleles and dihybrid crosses and chromosome kinetics, my subconscious chimed in:
Please Mister Sell-ack, can I have my job back?
I worked here last year, remember?
I came when Annie was going on vacation
and I stayed on almost til December.
And I sang the song all the way across town to work.

The Roches website.


Booming nations threaten Earth

Worldwatch Institute published a report yesterday pointing out that the planet's resources are limited. Yeah, I know you know that - but there are a lot of people, who should know better, who believe that if impoverished nations just tried hard enough, they could bootstrap themselves up to our quality of life. It can't happen - there aren't enough resources. About bloody time this was pointed out in the morning paper. Dumb headline, though - first world nations have threatened their own way of life for a long time.

(from BBC NEWS) "The world's ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way". . . .if China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as Japan in 2030 "together they would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs."

I read somewhere that an average American consumes as much energy as a sperm whale, when we've got these little bodies in comparison. That we may believe there's all this open land in the middle of the N American continent and so we're not maxing out our population, but really those lands are already fully utilized to supply the densely settled edges of the continent. That essay provided the best ever image of little humans with a huge footprint: people walking around trailing a Macy's parade balloon, shoving stuff into it all day, taking up space beyond their own size in production and farming and oil consumption.


Incipient OCD?

Today was the second lecture in my new class. I don't remember what it was about, I only remember the professor poking at his powerpoint slides with a grimy old stick from behind the podium. Bap. Bap. Scraaaape. Bapbap.

The sounds weren't really the problem, it was the 50-feet-wide high tech tensioned anti-glare remote-controlled projection screen being jabbed and scored and beaten like a rug that got under my skin. What a stupid waste, I thought, and then proceded to waste half an hour by being irritated. Bap. Bap. Scraaaape.

Maybe I have a teeny little touch of OCD (will you tell me if it's showing?). Or maybe the university is dumb to spend thousands of dollars per auditorium on multimedia presentation set-ups and then let people with PhDs use them without adult supervision. Or, probably, both.


No writing

Hi *waves*

I was on vacation the last week of December so Ticklish Ideas was too. It's now week two of moaning quietly to myself about resuming work and school and having urgent stupid stuff elbowing into my sleep time and my fun time. It's hard to write interesting writing when you're moaning quietly to yourself.

I'll get back to writing sooner or later. May I recommend, in the mean time, Schmutzie? She's pretty damn cool.

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