Monday, 29 December 2008

On belief and blatant untruths...

From the Daily Telegraph:

Vicar went to hospital with potato stuck in bottom

A vicar attended hospital with a potato stuck up his bottom - and claimed it got there after he fell on to the vegetable while naked.

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.

I believe him. Why, I remember this one time when I just happened to be playing a purely innocent game of naked leapfrog with a high school friend of mine back at her place. I happened to slip, and as we were trying to entangle ourselves, purely innocently. mind, her parents walked in. Oh, the unjustness of the accusations that flew...

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A thought to warm the cockles

...of this evil old heart of mine.

For the rest of his life, the entire rest of his life, lo, even when he is eighty or ninety and sitting in a wheelchair, George W Bush is going to have people throwing shoes at him. Not every day, but often enough that he's going to be worried about it every time he goes out in public. You can now threaten him just by slipping off your shoes.

Not nearly as good as the Hague, but still, better than nothing.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Three predictions on the Warren Affair

I'll make three predictions regarding Obama selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, assuming he doesn't bow to pressure and replace Warren. This will allow me a "told you so" should they later come true:

i, On Jan 21, nobody is going to care much, if any, about what Warren said. The only interesting thing from his speech will be in comparisons with Lowery, with the latter cleaning Warren's clock.

ii, At some stage within his first term, Obama is going to deliver at least one major step forward for gay rights - whether this be some recognition of civil unions at the federal level, protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, or the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Go read his stance on gay rights.

iii, The people currently screaming "betrayal" and having hissy fits at Obama having a wider perspective than their own interests, important though those interests are, are going to celebrate that achievement, but not reconsider or apologise for their hyperbole on this issue. They're going to keep real quiet about what they've said about Obama over this affair, and never ever admit they were wrong.

Obama has been elected a President of a country of nearly 300 million. He owes the gays, both practically and morally, but that doesn't mean he has an obligation to let them dictate every action. The assumption by any interest group that they can get everything their way is simply goddamned childish - this whole affair reminds me of nothing more than the sort of over the top rubbish you see the NRA pumping out. If a group's sense of self identity can't cope with the President trying to make an ally out of someone useful to him who is hostile to them, even repugnant, then they better turn off the radio and stop reading the newspapers for the next four years, because Obama is going to have to do worse if the US has any chance of pulling out of the crash the Republicans have left it in. Iran springs to mind.

The more I see elsewhere, the more I have to admire the NZ Green Party for their clear-headed approach towards their own interests and coalition politics. The Dirty Hippies have turned out to be role-models for combining idealism with practical, honourable politics, and as a result have had the most influence of any minor party on NZ policy.

Molly Ivins once commented that you have to dance with them that brung you. Obama has stated that the gays are on his dance card, and when the music starts playing on Jan 21st, we can judge whether he keeps up to his promises. He has to dance with his various prom partners; I don't believe he ever promised any of them oral sex in the parking lot before the prom started.

UPDATE: John Cole, as so often happens, says it succinctly.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Unifying Iraq

News story from Iraq regarding the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush:

In Iraq, the traditional community is deeply rooted in tribal relationships. Whether Sunni or Shi’i (and some tribes contain members of both sects), in Iraqi tradition if a member of a tribe takes an action or is in trouble, members of his tribe will represent him and will be responsible for supporting him. But in Muntather’s case, tribal leaders from throughout Iraq, from the North to South and from East to West, have claimed him as their son. They have said that they want him released safe and sound, offering to pay whatever fine the government will set for him.

Muntather’s actions have, for these days, united Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. It united Iraqis as Iraqis. And it only took a few seconds. Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders have publicly asked that Muntather not be referred to using his tribal affiliation (Muntather al-Zaidi), because they believe his tribal affiliation now encompasses all the tribes of Iraq: They’ve asked for him to be referred to as “Muntather Al-Iraqi” (Muntather the Iraqi). At the same time, the tribal leaders have said that they hope it is now clear that they have only one enemy — the occupation of Iraq.

On reading the US blogs, I don't know whether the right is deliberately ignoring or actually does not realise just how hated Bush (and by extension America) has become because of this war and occupation.

Good luck to Muntather Al-Iraqi. I hope he has the opportunity to use his fifteen minutes to help keep his country together and his countrymen and women thinking of themselves as a united group, even if just against an alien invader.

Comparing inaugurations, and the cultural benefits of cycling

Via Balloon Juice, I came across this article:

[Poet Elizabeth Alexander], who has published four collections of poetry, including 2005’s Pulitzer-nominated “American Sublime,” will take the stage along with a host of other celebs, including Aretha Franklin, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma. She says she’s thrilled at being picked for the inaugural gig.

To clarify, we're talking about these people - Elizabeth Alexander, Arenta Franklin, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Compare and contrast to 2001:

The eclectic list of artists already announced for the show include country stalwarts Brooks & Dunn and Clint Black, Andrew Lloyd Webber (Margaret Thatcher's favorite contemporary composer) and "two fifths of the 5th Dimension" (no word on the other three fifths) — all topped off with a performance by Latin hunk Ricky Martin.
High on Dubya's list of favorites is Vegas fixture Wayne Newton, who will serenade the President with his rendition of "Danke Schoen."

Incidentally, in all the history of the last eight years, it is worth remembering public reaction right at the start of the Bush Presidency:

According to organizers and police alike, this year's counter-inaugural protests will be the largest since Richard Nixon took the oath of office in 1973, during the heyday of anti-Vietman war outrage.

This was, of course, before the lazy AWOL bastard got officially turned into "the bestest bravest Presidenting EVAH" for starting a war of aggression over a lie.

The Hague, bitches!.

Personally, I've been on holiday for a week, and hitting the cycling a lot. It's interesting; I've lost enough weight to mitigate the "fat guy on a bike" humiliation factor, and I've been able to notice the various changes even a week of pretty substantial exercise has bought on. My aerobic fitness has been pretty high due to a large amount of walking; the limiting problem was fatigue and pain in the different muscles used in biking as opposed to general exhaustion due to unfitness.

So after only a week with about 5 substantial expeditions (from town to J'ville, Days Bay to Petone, around the Mirimar peninsula, out to Owhira Bay and walking to the seal colony and back, and circling Mt Vic around Oriental Bay), I've actually been able to pay attention to a steady increase in muscle capability which I didn't notice with getting into the walking, where the limiting factor was my crappy aerobic fitness. And I lost one and a half kilos last week.

This bodes well for the suggestion of getting into gym work next year with the help of a co-worker. And, God help me, they're right about having to change exercise patterns to deal with plateaus in weight loss. I hate hurting and sweating, but I do feel better as I continue to look more like a human being again.

But the interesting thing about hitting the road more often was rediscovering the Aro St Video store, hands down the best and most eclectic store in Wellington. There are series and seasons I have yet to see in any of the other stores here - Eureka! House! Battlestar Galactica! I can see what I'm going to be up to in the evenings over Xmas.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Things 90% of the world probably knew, but I did not, and which I did not need to find out due to disillusionment and heartbreak...

...Anne Rice has become a born-again Catholic.

I fully expect that Marilyn Manson's next album will have a fluffy pink unicorn on the cover.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Unexpected consequences of the housing collapse - West Nile disease

From the Chartered Accountants Journal, Nov 2008:

"The home repossessions occurring in Southern California due to the sub-prime mortgage debacle have given rise to a health hazard. Many of these homes have swimming pools still filled with water, now stagnant, and in the summer months they provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes. As a result the incidence of West Nile disease has jumped 50%.

The problem is that the vector control districts responsible for spraying are short of funds for this responsibility as property values have fallen and the resultant aggregate $ value of assessed taxes has also fallen. Taxes assessed on the repossessed homes are often not paid and this has also negatively impacted vector district budgets.

As winter approaches this year's problem will abate but the challenge will be the long hot days of 2009."

I suspect we're going to see more problems like this during this recession, including some in NZ. There are two basic indicators of civilization - the delivery of clean drinking water to the citizens, and the removal of sewage. If you want to know just how stressed a particular city or society is, start keeping an eye out for stories about those problems showing up locally or nationally.

Oh-ho - so it's going to be one of THOSE days

I walk into work. In the space of about three minutes:

i, I get swatted by some young lady in lieu of saying hello,
ii, A silver-haired librarian is dreadfully sarcastic to me before I even open my mouth AND
iii, A woman who has become a grandmother this year greets me by firing rubber bands at me. And then runs.

I am on holiday from next week. I could do with some time away from this place before I crack.

There will be a retaliation for all these crimes...