Monthly Archives: April 2009

VP and POTUS holding hands

Always fun: The White House Flickr stream. Here’s a picture of the President and Vice President holding hands.  VP and POTUS holding hands

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Fox & MSNBC on Specter

An event like Arlen Specter’s party switch really brings out the differences between Fox & MSNBC.

Here’s MSNBC:

Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter abruptly switched parties Tuesday, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year but also pushed Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote supermajority they need to push President Barack Obama’s agenda through the Senate.

“This is a painful decision,” said Specter at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “I know that I’m disappointing a lot of my friends and colleagues…the disappointment runs in both directions.”

And Fox:

Veteran GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday he will switch political parties and run in the Democratic primary in 2010.

Republican voters had sent him to the Senate five times. But faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and the state trending Democratic, Specter issued a statement that he was going to jump ship.

“I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters,” Specter said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“I can understand their disappointment,” he continued. “I am also disappointed that so many in the party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides.”

Love Fox’s emphasis on how sad Specter is that Republicans hate him for being a total loser. Of course MSNBC pushes the notion that Republicans are jerks and they push nice guys around, but as a partisan, I’m ok with that.

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Obama learns from a Bush success

An interesting observation in David Broder’s column about Obama’s first 100 days. Whatever else you may say about Bush, he knew how to manage his schedule, and that’s one of the fundamental challenges of the Presidency.

Obama inherited a much-improved scheduling system from the first MBA president, George W. Bush, with an electronic calendar, stretching from the next day to the next month to the next year, available to senior staffers. Obama has continued Bush's pattern of weekly Saturday scheduling sessions, run by Emanuel; Alyssa Mastromonaco, the director of scheduling and advance; and Danielle Crutchfield, the president's own scheduler, and attended by other senior staffers. A daily early-morning scheduling huddle allows for fine-tuning.

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In defense of Twitter

Jason Kottke has a beautiful post defending Twitter from those who thinks it’s boring and narcissistic. Kottke perfectly confronts the attitude that those who Twitter about boring things mistakenly think the whole world is interested in what they had for breakfast.

People with that attitude completely miss the point of Twitter. They don’t get that there is a type of communication partway between private conversations and public announcements. Sometimes you say something about your dull life to your friends (who care a little bit about your dull life), and it’s something that you don’t mind if a non-friend listens in. In fact, it’s a great way for someone who only half-knows you to get to know you better. That’s what Twitter does. To put it another way: If you don’t want to hear about what I had for breakfast, why are you following my Twitter feed?

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Frog Eats Light

 Frog Eats Light
via Boing Boing

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Jury Uses Bible to Decide Whether to Execute

The Supreme Court upheld a decision from a jury that consulted the Bible.

Jurors reviewed a biblical passage relating that a murderer who used an iron object to kill “shall surely be put to death.” They were deciding whether to impose a death sentence on Khristian Oliver for fatally shooting and bludgeoning his victim with the barrel of a gun.

I’m fine with the Supreme Court’s decision. The jurors made their choice, and it has to be somewhat up to their own sense of morality, I guess. Still, I find it irritating that at least some of the jurors lacked the courage to make a moral choice on their own, rather than appealing to an ancient authority that also thinks working on a Sunday is punishable by death (per Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing:

Exodus 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

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Jackie Chan Isn’t Sure China Should Be Free

Yikes. Jackie Chan — heretofore, undeniably awesome — thinks perhaps China is better off without freedom:

“I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not,” Chan said. “I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”

Chan added: “I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want.”

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Dolphins Save Chinese Ship from Pirates… Says China

Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.

The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness before the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.

Hmmm… This is the official Chinese Government’s report, so one should be skeptical. Oh but they have a photo:
 Dolphins Save Chinese Ship from Pirates... Says China

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Hitchens Attack!

The other night I went on a Christopher Hitchens YouTube bender, watching video after video of Hitchens deftly arguing with righteous Christians. Perhaps the quintessential moment is in this Sean Hannity segment wherein Hannity patronizingly tells Hitchens that he agrees with his point that some crazy people pervert religion. This is, of course, exactly counter to the main thrust of Hitchens’ book. (Religion doesn’t need perverting to be harmful.) Earlier in the segment, Hitchens sizes Hannity up as someone who has not come into contact with the counter-arguments to his own position.

My bender was kicked off by this fabulous radio interview linked to by PZ Myers. It’s some pathetic, arrogant Christian radio host playing a game of “What if?” with Mr. Hitchens. As in, “What if God exists and created you and made everything in your life possible. Wouldn’t you say he had treated you well?” Hitchens has none of it, remarking that he’d rather not be under 24/7 surveillance by such an entity. I would have added that if God were truly responsible for everything in my life and the lives of others, then he had disturbingly often treated us very poorly.

The rest of the questions were similarly stupid. He cycles through the Ten Commandments, judging each by such an absurd standard that no one could ever hope to obey them. Then he asks that if God truly existed and the Ten Commandments truly were God’s law, then wouldn’t a just God be right to send Hitchens to hell? Which is a false premise to begin with: no just God would behave like that.

Then the guy moves on to Jesus, daring Hitchens to say that dying on a cross for mankind’s sins isn’t the most wonderful thing ever. Hitchens response baffles his interrogator again. We could not possibly be bound to an arrangement made long before our births, and we certainly can’t be moved by such a barbaric ritual that he didn’t and wouldn’t ask for. I mean, really. All to satisfy the whims of some jealous desert God?

Thankfully, we no longer even have to use our imaginations to know how repulsive the Christian myth is. Yeah, I watched Mel Gibson’s Passion movie. It’s tedious, pointless, and the opposite of uplifting. And I’m done pretending any of it makes any sense.

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Happy Easter! Dobson Admits Defeat

Happy Easter, everybody. James Dobson gave his farewell address as he leaves his post leading Focus on the Family:

The battles that we fought in the Eighties now, we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family and the definition of marriage. We fought all those battles and really it was a holding action. […]

[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?

My heart is warmed.
via Pharyngula

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