random quotes ... to amuse, inspire, enrage:
  No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.

tagged: religion, atheism
  —Joseph Conrad, Author's note to The Shadow-Line.

Speechless

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Just like Maddow after Jindal, I am rendered speechless by the DOJ memos released on Monday. Most were by my former Con Law professor; among the notable exceptions was the repudiation of these policies last October. Holy Constitutional Law, Batman. * DOJ – Office of Legal Counsel memos * NYT (3/3) * LAT (3/3) * […]

bad ideas like bad pennies keep turning up

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

A Louisiana state Representative is considering a plan to pay poor women to have their tubes tied, to stave off additional reproduction by undesirables. One wonders just how bad history classes have to be in Louisiana for John LaBruzzo to have actually failed to learn about the many, many times governments have tried programs like […]

energy “expert” à la William Carlos Williams

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Sarah Palin recently made a strange and nearly incoherent comment about US energy policy when asked about keeping domestic oil production in the US (WarRoom 9/19): Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, […]

escapist reading about our “leaders”

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

an upsetting day. so, reading the news. Farewell to the crown, farewell, the velvet gown, won’t you all come tumbling down? Goodbye to the crown! (Chumbawamba, “Farewell to the Crown”) Nepal votes out their monarchy and institutes a republic. Gyanendra has to vacate the palace within two weeks or face eviction. Also, he had to […]

alabama – imprisoning pregnant women like it’s 2020 in Gilead

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

How did I miss this Alabama story? Greg L. Gambril, a DA in south Alabama (Covington County), is prosecuting women for endangering their fetuses under a chemical endangerment law intended to protect children from meth labs — “chemical endangerment of child”. “When drugs are introduced in the womb, the child-to-be is endangered. It is what […]

Scientific American fisks Expelled

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Scientific American‘s reviews of “Expelled”, the creationist movie with Ben Stein, are the best yet: the one by John Rennie is particularly helpful. It dissects the rhetorical tricks, and fills in the facts that were left out of the film’s assertions about punitive action taken towards experts. Expelled Exposed, from the NCSE, is developing point-by-point […]

“dangerous even for children to know of atheism”

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

That’s a paraphrase of what an Illinois state Rep. Monique Davis told a man who was protesting the state of Illinois’ $1M grant to a church. Read more at Eric Zorn’s Chicago Tribune blog. link from an David S-J on an atheist mailing list 4/11 update: Rep. Davis apologized, sort of, after being excoriated in […]

professorial copyright wackiness

Friday, April 4th, 2008

This professor is claiming that a student note service violates his copyright on his lectures. (wired 4/4, link from Fred @ EFF on a mailing list) Student note services gather actual student notes of lectures, and sell them to students — who presumably missed a lecture, took bad notes themselves, or want to see another […]

federally funded censorship about abortion

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Jenna Freedman posted an outrageous story about a medical database: Popline has made the word “abortion” a stopword, meaning you can’t search on the term; the database ignores the word as it ignores words like “the”. Why? Popline responded that “We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided […]

parents pray; kid dies

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

These Wisconsin parents prayed while their kid lapsed into a diabetic coma and died. So, Madeline Neumann was born to parents who let her die only eleven years later. Her parents think she may be resurrected yet. I usually think of religion as inherently funny, but it’s also stupidity, and stupidity is dangerous and not […]

the missing “than”

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

The NYT had the germ of an interesting idea today: What I’d Be Talking About if I Were Still Running, op-eds from presidential candidates who have dropped out. It was only a germ because it turned out that the op-eds were only very short, virtually substance-less talking point-level comments. Now if the NYT followed this […]

Elsevier’s environmentally-unfriendly licenses

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Why does Elsevier hate the environment and all the trees and all the little children who will be living in a world 50 years from now harmed by Elsevier’s really stupid insistence that its electronic documents be PRINTED and then SCANNED IN before being sent out for ILL ???? Seriously, faculty should really reconsider submitting […]

The Republican Shuffle

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Following hot on the heels (ahem) of Larry Craig, another Republican politician got caught seeking a little bathroom action, leading to more denials and resignations etc. My partner Michele has dubbed this “the Republican shuffle”. (She’s good with naming things. You should see some of her reagent names. <g>) For the past few weeks I’ve […]

newborn citizens denied healthcare

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

In a time of many horrors, my eye was caught by this outrage [NYT 11/3]: Under a new federal policy, children born in the United States to illegal immigrants with low incomes will no longer be automatically entitled to health insurance through Medicaid, Bush administration officials said Thursday. “Children born in the United States” — […]

portfolio diversification in your income

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.” [NYT 7/23] Words fail me. Actually, polite words fail me.

judy miller, unreliable narrator

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

What the New York Times has not figured out yet is that Judith Miller is an extreme example of the unreliable narrator. She increases our doubt in the story as she tells it. Priceless. [PressThink 10/21, link from sivacracy]

Wherein I Defend Ann Coulter from Charges of Plagiarism (Pro Bono)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Ann Coulter recently took some heat in the blogosphere for allegedly ‘plagiarizing’ from conservative magazines in her 6/29 article, “Thou Shalt Not Commit Religion”. [why are we back 7/20; the rude pundit 7/1; Raw Story 7/20] Raw Story “found Coulter’s work to be at worst plagiarism and at best a cut-and-paste repetition of points authored […]

judith miller, the NYT, and journalism

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

from slate: Programming the Slammer Film Festival – Readers choose the most enlightening fare for Judith Miller. By David Edelstein 7/8 update: here’s a couple more good commentaries: avedon carol [sideshow] and Rosa Brooks in the LAT. Money line from Rosa Brooks: If a source with a clear political motivation passes along classified information that […]

Et tu, Louisiana?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Not content with their shared top-ten ranking in teen births, Louisiana State Rep. A. G. Crowe (R-Slidell) wants Louisiana to join with Oklahoma and Alabama in segregating (or banning) gay books. Good for you, Rep. Crowe. You tackle those problems that Louisiana is facing (high cancer mortality rates, high teen pregnancy rate, low education rates, […]

ding-dong

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

John Ashcroft is retiring. Yes, I’m sure that Bush will show us how it could be worse, but for right now, I’m taking my pleasures where I can. [nyt 11/9] The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved. Not yet, John, but your resignation is a good first […]


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