Random Links - 15

on July 31, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Another cartoons hooplah in Europe.. thankfully with less world-wide repercussions than last time!

Spain's High Court has ordered the seizure of all copies of a magazine that carried a cartoon of Crown Prince Felipe and his wife having sex.
Gotta love those punning headlines (or not..done too common, it sounds trite and boring!)
Kenyan producer flush with praise & awards for his film set in a toilet!
Sucks to be Google: 58% growth and yet Wall Street frowns and media analysts start talking about a Google backlash!
Google missed earnings estimates by a hair's-breadth after the market close. Its 2007 second-quarter revenue rose an astonishing 58 percent -- yet analysts had set the bar even higher, at 60 percent. Google CEO Schmidt admitted Thursday that the company's hiring binge hurt second-quarter profits.
Potato-Shatatoe: Amflora potatoes have become the unlikely poster child in the angry debate over genetically modified products in Europe.

Of “pervert methods” and the “sporting life”: Karen Abbott’s Sin in the Second City offers an in-depth look at the prostitution trade in Chicago in the early 1900s. (Found via an interview with Abbott at the Freakonomics blog.)


A revolution in America: Scott Adams of Dilbert fame speculates on what could lead to one

The Power of Branding: An analysis of almost 250 Indian brands. Check out the “Categories” in his sidebar. (-via.)


The father of spam: A marketeer from DEC, who sent a message to over 600 people via the Arpanet network in 1978, is believed to be the first-ever spammer. Woe!



The Joy of Sex: Amit Varma links a study on why we have sex

Quick way to a full hard-drive: 30+ Firefox Add-ons for downloading images, videos, & files.

“It is our illusions that create the world”(ref): At the “most fundamental level of physical reality”....it seems, time may not exist! The rishis were right - sab maaya hai (it’s all an illusion.)

RIP, Albert Ellis

on July 24, 2007 with 0 comments » |

The greatest psychologist I never heard of...

Albert Ellis, developer of rational emotive behavior therapy or R.E.B.T, which is categorized under the broad umbrella of cognitive behaviorial therapy, died today at the age of 93.

Apparently, a 1982 survey of US and Canadian psychologists found him to be one of the most influential psychotherapists in history, 2nd only to Carl Rogers, who
popularized the idea of the self-concept and was among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology.The more famous Sigmund Freud placed third.

For further details, you can read Ellis's
published works or peruse through the REBT Network Library. His final work is a textbook on Personality Theory that will be posthumously published by Sage Press in early 2008.

That's my psychology lesson for the day... not that I understand any of these theories.

Update - 7/26/07: Good collection of quotes from Ellis.

Update - 7/28/07: a great Freudian joke that I found at the comments of a Dilbert Blog post.

Q: How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two; one hold the bulb and one to hold your peni- your mother- the ladder!

Chelsea's Momma

on July 22, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Obama-Osama-and-Chelsea's Momma.... Mitt Romney and his supporters try to act cute and IMO, end up looking like fools by putting Osama and Obama & Hillary on the same placard.

Also this weekend, an IU post by Amit Varma enlightens us about a wWaPo article on Hillary Clinton’s cleavage! Here is an excerpt:

Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease. It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed.
Frivolousness aside, here are some great links via Dailykos diaries from last Friday:

Bush taken to task for making fun of the disabled in Bush to Iraq Amputee: "We're Gonna Get Him Some New Legs"

A powerful video and personal stories of soldiers in the Iraq War that we don’t hear in the American MSM: U.S. Soldiers Tell it to Congress!

The US case against Jose Padilla - No plot - Still on Trial.

Ex-Justice Department lawyer Jesselyn Radack, herself a target of Bush administration harassment, unspins the MSM's version of things in "Enemy Combatant" al-Marri: Trial by Washington Post.

More insight into the Wilson v. Libby Dismissal

The missing speech - imagining the speech that wasn't given on September 12,2001, that might have made all the difference.
and last but not least some comic relief
Daily Kos Invades Poland.
And many more great diaries on Saturday & Sunday.

SusanG at DailyKos has these diaries up for rescue almost daily. Amazing how much effort and enterprise some people put into writing these diaries. If only there was a percolation of this kind of energy down into the masses to get enthused about taking charge of their countries policies and politics and not letting the politicians get away with murder - literally sometimes!


Cars that pay

on July 20, 2007 with 1 comments » |

84 sq ft...thats all that 1 person probably needs! Not the 2000-3000 sq ft houses many of us live in.

Woman lives in house smaller than parking space
I tag this post under Environment due to the amount of resources utilized in keeping a large house heated/cooled, not to mention the resources spent in trying to fill up the house with things that we would otherwise not even need....

Ok...I am not suggesting we all move into small crawl spaces somewhere... just making a point. Like the lady in the 84 sq ft house is making - with her 300 things limit etc. (though some would argue that the lack of space forces her to this limit.)

Note: In the video, she says her house has a sink and a toilet but not a shower... I don't think I could live without a shower! But $6 for utility bills sounds good :)

Actually, I heard just last week of a guy in San Fransisco (don't want to name him here) who has a regular house but had utility bills last year of $45 only. And that covers all the utility required for his house AND...get this... includes what he would have spent on gas for his car to get around town. Ask how...? He drives an electric vehicle with solar panels and by doing this...not only does the sun get him around town but the excess stored electricity then feeds into his house to run his toaster etc at night! Of course, given the nature of his temperament, I would presume he has energy efficient appliances, does not waste electricity at home by leaving lights on, doesn't leave the TV on for hours in the evening and such... but still...it can be done!

Absolutely cool that one could turn what to many is a gas and resource guzzling vehicle into a source of electricity and actually pay the drivers back! There is a whole movement ...V2G...vehicle-to-grid ...(albeit a fringe and currently futuristic) to make this a more widespread norm.

More power (no pun intended) to the people who think of resourceful and visionary new ways to keep our world going with minimum impact. And woe to those that would rather see us keep our fossil fuel dependency because it means millions and billions of $s for their business interests.

--
P.S. Coming soon to a dealership near you (maybe not very near you!).... the very cool looking
Tesla Roadster Electric, which can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds. Looks like a car for the rich though with a $100K price tag!

P.S.S. After killing the electric vehicle (EV) (see the documentary, Who killed the Electric Car, for details!), GM and others have reinvested in EV technologies and soon there will be options for everyone to buy EVs and even plug-in hybrids. (Read Sherry Boschert's book -
Plug-in Hybrids - The Cars that Will Recharge America - for more details about PHEVs...plug-in electric vehicles, which will drive the V2G revolution.)

Until then, there are already hybrids like the Prius that have changed the dynamics of the car market in the last few years. That said...having a hybrid SUV makes as much sense to me as having a 7500 sq ft Energy Star home does!

Buildering

on July 19, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Saw a pod on Current TV about Michael Reardon buildering in LA. Could not find the pod on the current.tv website but found a video of him buildering in Ireland and another of him buildering around the world.

Sadly, at the end of the pod, I learned that Michael is presumed dead after being swept out to sea by a freak wave in Ireland over the weekend!

These guys surely take a lot of risks in what they do...but no one can deny that they live life to the fullest...and for that, more power to them!

Related:
Buildering.net
Alain Robert: Extreme climber of bulidings, known as the 'French Spiderman'.
Some videos of buildering in Rotterdam.
Article about buildering in Sonoma County.

Ryan Crocker, the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, says Word in Iraq is 'fear'.

Here too... my friend...here too! I just read this very encouraging (NOT!) article... expected perhaps but still very scary to hear confirmation of the same! How the actions of a few men have made the world unsafe for a long long time!

Iraq hasn't even begun - Consequences from the disaster we could have avoided will plague the world long into the future.

Meanwhile, news from Iraq is that the force of the terrorist leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi - provacateur and head of the Islamic State in Iraq - has been successfully curbed by the US. How? Well.. first they said he was captured in Baghdad on March 9, 2007 but it was later said that the person in question was not Al-Baghdadi. Then, on May 3, 2007, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said that al-Baghdadi was killed by American and Iraqi forces north of Baghdad. And today comes news that ....the reason they never could catch or kill him is........drumroll please...... he never existed!

But worry not....all of the bad news from Iraq is just a figment of your imagination ... just go take this neocon cruise and you'll come back in an alternative world where all is fine and dandy!

The Iraq war has been an amazing success, global warming is just a myth – and as for Guantanamo Bay, it's practically a holiday camp... The annual cruise organised by the 'National Review', mouthpiece of right-wing America, is a parallel universe populated by straight-talking, gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans.

And just in case you are still afraid…there always is the Threat Alert Jesus...

What a world we live in!

The earth is feeling moon-envy tonight... as a 60th moon of Saturn is discovered by Cassini

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Holy f----

The body of a hit-and-run victim was found under a parked car this morning on the Northwest Side, nearly eight hours after Chicago police began looking for a possible victim. A passerby saw one of the man's limbs protruding from under the car shortly after 6 a.m., almost four hours after his wife had reported him missing and eight hours after police received a call about an accident in which a pedestrian had been hit by a vehicle

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Don't u want to be her? Especially to download all those movies in 2 seconds. Will need a new hard-drive within a minute(s), won't we!:)

Swedish woman has fastest residential Internet connection


She is a latecomer to the information superhighway, but 75-year-old Sigbritt Lothberg is now cruising the Internet with a dizzying speed. Lothberg's 40 gigabits-per-second fiber-optic connection in Karlstad is believed to be the fastest residential uplink in the world.In less than 2 seconds, Lothberg can download a full-length movie on her home computer..

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Elsewhere in the world,

China hits 162 million Internet users
.. with an increase of 31.7 percent since June 2006! (For perspective..3 years ago - in mid-2004, the # had grown at 34.5 percent to reach 79.5 million ...which means 4 years ago it was half the current number.

And although 162MM sounds like more or less the same number of people on the internet as the US perhaps (300MM population.. I'd imagine 50-60% on the internet? Maybe 70%?)....consider this.. China's internet penetration rate is still at 12.3 percent, which is below the global penetration rate of 17.6 percent!

In any case, 162MM people is a lot of people. No wonder the Chinese Government wants to put all sorts of controls on the internet (#1 rule for dictators: control the flow of information) and even wants to attempt to "cleanse" it!


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Bon Jovi doesn't want to be a identified with a drink.. :)

What's with people taking other people's names to ply their trades... I already wrote earlier about this case... Shakespeare didn't think of these scenarios when he write: "Whats in a name?", did he? :))
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Naked volunteers wanted for glacier photo

Meanwhile in Brattleboro, Vermont a rucus over public nudity!
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Former spammer: 'I know I'm going to hell'

"Ed," a retired spammer, built a considerable fortune sending e-mails that promoted pills, porn and casinos. At the peak of his power, Ed says he pulled in US$10,000 to $15,000 a week, storing the money in $20 bills in stacks of boxes.
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One reason to blog

on July 18, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Bloggers bring in the big bucks - How a personal obsession can turn into a popular favorite and maybe even a full-time job!

That will never happen in my case but good to know some people are making hundreds and even thousands of $s blogging. Its like any other venture...those that are really good at what they do c an profit from their enterprise. Good content and good marketing will create a sustained following...something that is priceless in today's low-attention span world. Not surprising then that there are avenues to make money from blogging.


Bloggers - may their tribe increase!

The enemy within

on July 16, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Just started reading Dear Mr. Kawabata by Rashid Al-Daif, a Lebanese author. The very interesting premise of the book, per the book-flap, led me to get it from the library and the few pages so far have been very good. You can read more about the premise at the review of the book here, which says:

Dear Mr Kawabata is an exercise in memory, in preserving and relating and passing on specific experiences and realisations and ideas -- and, of course, about the impossibility of doing so.
And here are a couple of excerpts from the first two pages.. that I loved!

For a moment I thought that I was seeing myself walking along the opposite pavement just a few meters away. The moment, however, seemed to become longer, increasing not just my surprise but also my feeling of emptiness. ...
and later...

I say 'met him' and 'the above-mentioned person' , Mr. Kawabata, rather than naming him explicitly, because among us, people do not mention the names of their enemies when speaking about them. Instead, we allude to them with an adjective, pronoun, circumlocution, gesture, or silence.

What a beautiful exposition of an existential disconnect that many of us suffer but do not necessarily recognize in our lives. I am looking forward to getting an hour or two to read more of this book. Reading couple pages at a time does such a wonderful book no justice.


Dejavu

on July 15, 2007 with 0 comments » | ,

I thought I was reading some 3-4 year old article but no...this kind of lies is being still proliferated.

Bush links al Qaeda in Iraq to 9/11

If people were paying attention, they'd see through the lies and not let such wool be pulled over their eyes... but there are still millions who probably still believe this is true. Almost like it were writ in stone. Like the 10 commandments or something - (which btw, is NOT writ in stone! :).)

Little wonder that people get obfuscated even today with lies like this... Like I wrote elsewhere, in the context of the general sense of indifference about the mess that the country has been led into in Iraq:

We can hide or ignore these facts by tuning in to 'Harry Potter' midnight showings (that have raked in $12 million in sales!) but this is the reality we live in.

I didn't mean to pick on
Harry Potter movies -- I find nothing wrong with entertainment as such although I never got into the Potter-mania and have not seen any of the movies or read any of the books. However, I do find the obsession that drives people to go through much trouble to see movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter in the first day/weekend itself quite ridiculous. The media's obsession with Britney going bald or Paris going to jail (and out) for something she did wrong is certainly more ridiculous than a movie... but still.. the sacrifices people make in spending hours, sometimes overnight, in lines to be one of the first to see the movies or to get what I see as non-essential expensive gadgetry like iPhones is incredulous. But no such effort or sacrifices is made by the masses to fight for universal healthcare, good schooling for kids, fighting global warming, protesting the ridiculousness of the Iraq war and... I could go on and on!

Much cynicism comes with the human race... what a
farcical world we live in!

Never imagined such beautiful roads in India!

IHT has an article this weekend about dangerous road travel in Delhi. Traveling in Mumbai's trains etc. is equally crazy! (Not sure which city this video is from...but that is one lucky lady!)

That said, 62 people dead on the streets of Delhi due to Blueline buses this year is an unbelievable atrocious number. The fact that it has gone on for so long (no action even after the first 5..10...15..20...at what point does one react to it and stop the madness) proves that life has no value in India, where millions of people have no other option than to travel by these dangerous means to get to their places of livelihood and merely lead their lives.

--
Title translates in hindi to "Our roads, Our lives"

with 0 comments »

http://iht.com/articles/2007/07/13/opinion/edchina.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War
http://www.scallywag.org/diana/chapter-ix.html

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/13/opinion/edblum.php

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/13/news/qaeda.php?page=1

with 0 comments »

a new economic architecture
India and Brazil are refusing to open their markets further to goods from Western companies without a substantial reduction of subsidies provided to Western farmers.

New Delhi residents faced with hair-raising, and often deadly, daily commute

Today... Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended the application of a key Cold War arms control treaty.

There is no doubt a cold-war like chill in US-Russian relations recently... but now is the time to act and move in a positive direction instead of letting things escalate. I doubt our leaders are capable of avoiding rhetoric and nationalistic "chest-thumping" to achieve this.

Thanks, Bush & Putin for taking us back to a very harrowing past.Why, oh Why!

Also read:
Cool not cold - The West must learn to live with Moscow's tougher foreign policy.

Who rules Russia?

Putin's hold on Russia

Bush plays hot & cold


Russians Sense the Heat of Cold War
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Obligatory Bush joke: Looks like he finally bought into the global warming theories and to prevent the world from heating up decided to take us back to a cold place. He heard we had a cold war in the 60s and wants to take us back there.

Finally...some benefits to avoiding, procrastinating, and dithering. Reminds me of the procrastinator's creed.

Brought to you by yours truly - Mr. Procrastinator!

Everything has to be chic and cool these days.... even knitting circles.

--

The New Hippocratic Oath - Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday ... that he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches.


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How the mighty have fallen...
Churchill has been cut from a list of figures recommended for teaching in English schools. Others opine that under Bush & Cheney the US has also forgotten its roots but thats a whole different scenario!

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Life should be about having fun... not religious strife. I love this...

Hasidic dancing and singing, legacies of the 3.5 million Jews who lived in Poland before the Holocaust, are mainstays of the annual Jewish festival in Krakow. Last month, 20,000 people attended, though few of them were Jewish.
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Ready for a ginormous Bollywood smackdown?
Time for the wordsmiths at Merriam-Webster to add new words. ‘Misunderestimated and tacular’ next?

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Coming soon to a MBA class near you - Brand identity of terrorist group logos

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IMO, Diane Sawyer is a Barbara Walters wannabe... (and the latter gives me a heebie-jeebies... . I can almost imagine Walters voice asking Ahmadinejad... "Do you cry? How does it make you feel?"...*shudder*

How Often Do You Cry?
Ahmadinejad gives a perfect Ms_Universy answer :)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Yes, that's true. Not only for Iranians, of course, they are very close to me and I love all Iranians. And anywhere, when I see people suffering, I have the same reaction. And we feel sad for people of Iraq, for the people of Palestine. Anywhere we have war, we feel sad. Even when I see on TV that, for example, some Americans, because of tornadoes or a hurricane, they have lost their homes, I become sad. Because, for us, human beings are respectable, no matter where they are. Human beings are respectable and they have their own dignity. And all of us should help so that people can lead better lives, to live at peace. And to live-- peace and brotherhood. From our religion’s viewpoint of our religion, all people are respectable, and they must be loved, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or religion. This is part of our religious teaching, and we'll live with this religion. Thank you."
--
Also this was an interesting reflection on how we see media today...


Courtroom Explodes in Laughter After ABC’s Sawyer Touts Fairness of Journalists
Diane Sawyer: "You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, 'Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?' And I said, 'That's what journalists do.' And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I've ever had."

Mess-opotomia

on July 12, 2007 with 0 comments » |

I have tried to avoid writing about the mess in Afghanistan and Iraq (except for the above two linked compilation-threads of articles on the subject that I have more or less stopped adding to) but will make an exception today.

Bad news continues all around from both these countries. I won't even write about the innocent civilians that continue to be killed in both countries (whether by insurgents or the US army there, they are a direct consequence of the US army being in those areas) - except to provide these two pretty neat data-rich pages by BBC on the violence in and around Baghdad since 2003 and overall data for the violence in Iraq.

The first bad news is that Al Qaeda has been able to regroup along the Afghan-Pakistani border despite nearly six years of bombings, war and other tactics aimed at crippling it. Still, numerous government officials say they know of no specific, credible threat of a new attack on U.S. soil.

The second bad news is that opium is back with a vengeance in Afghanistan... with a UN report couple weeks back indicating this year's crops are at record-high levels - far greater than before the Taliban came to power. (
If there was one half-decent thing the Taliban did, it was to expunge all opium production, albeit through repressive means.) Also see this detailed 233 page Afghanistan Opium industry report from the World Bank.

And
"bad" news is an understatement for Iraq. News from Iraq, perhaps expectedly, keeps getting more dismal.... though with every passing day, one wonders how much worse it can get. And then we find out how ...

Like in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and its affiliates are as strong as ever in Iraq too, with June this year being the most violent month
since the US "occupation", averaging an unbelievable 178 attacks a day! And the bad (worse) news is that some military experts believe Al Qaeda will further "lash out" in Iraq! Bush, OTOH, has claimed even two weeks back that Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq.

Bush plans falling short again...

For the past six weeks, the National Security Network has been systematically evaluating the progress that is being made in Iraq on the 18 benchmarks outlined by the President and Congress.

According to his plan, the Iraqi government would assume greater responsibility for providing security and take complete control of security in November 2007. The improved security situation would allow for more political space where deals could be struck on key political benchmarks that would bring about national reconciliation

Since the President announced his "surge" policy, more than 25,000 troops have been sent to Iraq, approximately 600 have been killed and more than 3,000 have been wounded. Meanwhile, Americans are now spending $10 billion per month on the war.

Unfortunately, this investment has yielded no real progress. The President's policies have failed to bring security to Iraq.

The interim progress report on Iraq that was released this week concludes that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reform. (Monitor the effects of the Bush "surge" plan and its to date.)

Bush, in try Dubya fashion, has tried to move the goalposts .. perhaps hoping, what with short public memories, to rewrite history later and recast these failures as a success! Actually just found they are already broadcasting their version of reality even as they try to move the goalposts claiming they have met 8 of 18 benchmarks!

Also, this from a press-release yesterday...straight from the Whitehouse webpage!
Iraq Fact Check: Responding to Key Myths
1. MYTH: The war “is lost.”
2. MYTH: U.S. troops in Iraq are not fighting al Qaeda terrorists, just policing a Shiite vs. Sunni “civil war."
....and so on - 13 points of dispelling "myths" (and replacing them with their half-truths and lies!)

All this while keeping on regurgitating old lies - Bush continues to talk about the fight in Iraq as a battle against "the same people that attacked us on September the 11th."

Republican senators across the country are under pressure - besieged by Democrats and anti-war groups for not supporting a firm deadline to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Little wonder then that more and more Republicans are joining a growing revolt within the Republican party against Bush's war strategy, declaring it at odds with reality. (I think with Bush ending his 2nd term, many of them now suddenly want to distance themselves from Bush's policies and their disastrous denouements with the hope of saving their own political careers!)

Meanwhile, a NYT Oped (July 7, 2007) clamors: Leave Iraq Now and today a Washington Post Oped today (July 11, 2007) opines - Iraq: Go deep or get out.

Bush has, however,
promised to veto any legislation that sets a date for withdrawal...as he claims such a premature withdrawal will lead to civil war and chaos - even worse than it is today, if that can be imagined! (Here is an interesting "reality check" about the Iraqi withdrawal debate)

A look at all these massive problems that Bush will leave for whoever ends up taking his place has made Paul Light of New York University opine that "I can't think of a single modern president about to bequeath to his successor such a difficult agenda and such a damaged presidency."

Phew...enough now. If all this has not left you depressed... I am sorry. We can hide or ignore these facts by
tuning in to 'Harry Potter' midnight showings (that have raked in $12 million in sales!)but this is the reality we live in

with 0 comments »

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported the disappearance of $22 million worth of equipment, computers and other items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Hitchens

on July 11, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Hitchens does not mince any words voicing his opinion about Islamic fundamentalism:

The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim "community" alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name.

He has been quite vocal against Islamic fundamentalism recently - which is good as he takes on fundamentalists of other religions in similar vein (see below^). However, in my (and other people's opinion) 9-11 turned him from being a liberal leftist person into a psuedo-neocon, and so his boorish arrogance is quite off-putting.

Anyways, some other recent articles by Hitchens are archived here. Also this plastic.com thread:
Dear God: Did You Make Mankind After We Made You?, which is about Christopher Hitchens latest rant* and begins with a great quote from Aldous Huxey that I had not seen before today.
"You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough." -Aldous Huxley
Well said!
-----

^ Example of Hitchens taking on Christian fundamentalism:

See this video of Hitchens taking on Fox TV's Hannity after Jerry Falwell's death - discussing what the "legacy" of Falwell is.... no mincing words being polite to the dead (and rightly so, I say)

"it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to"

"if you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox."

...and there is more - see the video! :) His arguments may be a tad overstated and simplistic in some senses but the video is still very enjoyable and the message is still valid.

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* Hitchens has also gotten on the anti-God bandwagon lately, with his recent book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

I would much rather read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion first and probably won't get to Hitchens' book ever but here are some related op-eds:
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This USA Today editorial writes about..

... what-to-feed-your-pooch books, which seem to be coming out hourly these days.

Pet Food Nation: The Smart, Easy, and Healthy Way to Feed Your Pet Now is the latest. It advises us not to use commercial pet food at the moment. It also endorses feeding dogs some human foods but not from the table. Go figure.

And the wise folks at Simon & Schuster brought back the 4-year-old Throw Me a Bone in paperback this summer. The cookbook's subtitle: 50 Healthy, Canine Taste-Tested Recipes for Snacks, Meals and Treats.

Recipes for dogs that even humans could enjoy!

haha...who cares for Sex on the beach, when you can enjoy the Joy of Sex :)

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers
..as in..'Ssssh, its a library.'

Whoever said librarians can't have fun! ;)

--

Other popular articles at New York Times today:

The bridge across the Penobscot Bay

Bachelorette parties at vineyards!

Small but mighty - The molecule called water

The image of the US abroad continues to spiral downwards, even among publics in countries closely allied with the United States.

A report in the Financial Times today says that 32 per cent of respondents in five European countries regard the US as a bigger threat than any other state.

Thanks Dubya for so effectively losing the good will of various nations from the days after 9-11!

Speaking of Dubya and polls, his job-approval rating has slipped into the 20s -- his lowest mark ever in the survey and a great fall from 88% in October 2001.

In other news, last month, a
NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also found that America is grumpy! Wonder if there is a correlation with dissatisfaction with their leader :)

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I am not a big fan of opinion polls and surveys* but the following study seems to be pretty detailed.

Based on a survey conducted in 18 countries, WorldPublicOpinion.org and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs have released an in-depth 95-page report of world-wide opinion on key international issues, including climate change, globalization, the future of the United Nations, US leadership and the rise of China. The report seeks to understand how the perspectives of people around the globe differ or converge on issues of global importance. The publics polled represent about 56 percent of the world’s population.
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* Seems polls don't impress God either :). More seriously, to quote Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll, "To much of the media, a poll is a poll is a poll. "Newsworthiness," not quality or accuracy, determines which polls get reported."

Harris Polls have also found that "most Americans prefer their personal perceptions to facts. They are not necessarily convinced by news reports, if the perspective differs from their own." Lot of other such interesting results from a survey about surveys at this link.

Cartoon - Kudzu

on July 10, 2007 with 0 comments » |

Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette died today in a car accident.

I have not seen the cartoon,
Kudzu, much in the past but seeing today's cartoon, which turns out to be his last, I am reminded of the same type of humor as Garfield, which I enjoy a lot. I plan to spend the next hour going through the archive at the above link to t enjoy some of the others cartoons from the past few months.



From the link above that reports on his death.

In a 2003 issue of Columbia Journalism Review, Marlette wrote on the outrage that at times surrounded his work.

"We don't need the First Amendment to allow us to run boring, inoffensive cartoons. We need constitutional protection for our right to express unpopular views. If we can't discuss the great issues of the day on the pages of our newspapers fearlessly, where can we discuss them?"

Marlette lamented the shrinking number of political cartoonists at U.S. newspapers and worried that editors may fear controversy and offending readers more than they value cutting-edge cartooning.

"We are in deep trouble when victimhood becomes a sacrament, personal injury a point of pride, when irreverence is seen as a hate crime. In order to maintain our true, nationally defining diversity, it obligates... those blunt instruments of the free press, cartoonists like me, not to self-censor. We must use it or lose it."

RIP, Doug. I am sure there are millions of fans as well as family who will dearly miss you and your talents.

Just back from dinner at Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland..and enjoyed 40 minutes of great blues music from the Bryan Lee blues band. Heard a few good songs.... some from his latest album, Katrina was her name (review), which was released late last year and some (eg: The Things That I Used to Do by Guitar Slim) from an older album - Live, Saturday Night at the Old Absinthe House Bar, which is the name of the French quarters bar in New Orleans where Bryan Lee used to regularly play for many years. (Still does? Read somewhere it was closed down and made into a daiquiri bar?)

Wish I had stayed longer and heard them after the break too... but I had finished my meal and did not want to take another drink and sit through the 25 minute break and so decided to come back to the hotel room.

So...here now... wwoz.org or some blues station via shoutcast.com or last.fm or pandora.com or rhapsody.com beckons.

Proof that the world is going down the crapper?

Apart from worrying about a scarcity of last names (see a snippet in this post), the Chinese seem to be busy with other ways to keep their people happy...

They're flush with pride in Chongqing, where a recently opened porcelain palace features an Egyptian facade, soothing music and more than 1,000 toilets spread out over 30,000 square feet. "We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy." Some urinals are uniquely shaped, including ones inside open crocodile mouths and several topped by the bust of a woman resembling the Virgin Mary. (Video:: Watch the wonders of world's largest restroom)

Meanwhile what are people in the western world doing?

  • The Brits are flushing away mobiles cumulatively worth £342million down the crapper. :)
  • This woman in good old Iowa is stealing toilet paper from a courthouse and will likely have to make do with prison-quality toilet paper for some time now.
  • and this kid in Oregon is tasting toilet water...and finds its better than the school's drinking fountain-water (aren't they both city water? Don't ask me!)
Also: Forget that the new fashion craze in Tokyo this spring is women gluing their bras in place. Forget horse sushi. The most puzzling thing for many foreigners here is Japanese hi-tech toilets!

Above links were found by me via a India Uncut post, where Amit Varma, in celebration of Taj Mahal being chosen one of the 7 new wonders of the world, is having a competition for the Seven Public Toilet Wonders of the World. :)

Related: Some months ago, I had sent a mail to some friends in similar vein (though I didn't have the acumen to have a competition) :)

- Mick Jagger urinals
- How to use an Indian Toilet - an illustrative teaching guide ;)
- In 2001,
Singapore, while promoting its reputation for being squeaky-clean, hosted the World Toilet Summit!

Last time around they complained about cows farting... now they blame it on the cows burping!!

Disclaimer: I believe global warming could be happening because I believe human activity is having a deleterious effect on climate. I am also not debating studies that methane is 23 times more "warming" than carbon dioxide or that cows produce more "warming" than cars....but I find it amusing to believe people seriously discussing cow farts/burps instead of focusing on those CO2 belching cars, coal plants, cement & concrete manufacturing, and other sources of greenhouse gases (see US emissions data) - just leave them cows alone now, will you? ;)

Note: There is even a patent to "trap" cow farts and turn it into an advantage. This inventor, Marcus, patents a method to in effect fight global warming by using cow farts to create energy!! The plan is to use the collected methane "as a source of carbon and/or energy for the production of methane-utilizing microorganisms in a microorganism growth-and-harvest apparatus."

Even a guy with tree-hugger inclinations like me has to roll his eyes seeing such inanities!

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BE FOREWARNED... do NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU ARE EATING FOOD or easily grossed out :)

Another bovine patent I just found that sent a shudder down my spine! Actually, someone's gotta research such things, I suppose. Just glad it isn't me :)

Intravaginal Retention Device for a Tailed Animal - Patented by Vikram Mehrotra and Chris Redford of Monsanto in St Louis.

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This post is dedicated to IU :)

WTF - 3

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Its a strange world!

Police who chased a car for miles along a highway at speeds up to 100 mph said the driver was drunk, hardly a rarity in this resort town. But there was more: When they looked inside the flipped vehicle with guns drawn, they found an 11-year-old girl at the wheel. The girl, who was slightly injured in the crash, is now charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident.
The girl was charged for being under the influence as her blood alcohol level was higher than .02, the legal limit for minors

WTF... why is there even a legal limit for minors.

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More proof that it is a f-ed up world!
Video Appears To Show 2-Year-Old Girl On Ecstasy


Freaky weather all year so far.... global warming or not, you be the judge!

Snow in Los Angeles,Malibu, other parts of Southern California earlier this year in January (snowed there last when Kennedy was President in 1962) even as New England had 70 degree F weather.

Now, its time for the Argentinians to cheer and enjoy snowballs in the streets of Buenos Aires as the capital's first major snowfall since 1918 spread a thin white mantle across the region.

elsewhere in the world:
Indian floods death toll up, million-plus stranded

China floods 75 villages to ease swollen river

Flood-hit Norway seen staying rainy till weekend

Wild fire in Utah becomes the largest in states history

last week Western US states sweltered under record heatwave

and this week, a Heat Wave Grips East Coast

What’s in a name?
Ask the lady whose classmate took her name to make porn. A Houston-area woman has filed a lawsuit against porn star, Lara Madden, who made X-rated movies under the stage name Syvette Wimberly, claiming she stole her name. The real Syvette Wimberly was Madden's classmate in the 9th grade!

Not cool, I agree...but at least she does not live in Iran, where they want to execute porn stars!
Question: So, is Wang a pornstar-y name? Don't tell that to the Chinese authorities who are worried about what to do with the 93 million Wangs in China! (Chinese authorities are considering moves to address the current situation of a billion-plus people sharing just 100 surnames! Serious - this news is not from the Onion!)

No Good job, Brownie?
China executed the former State Food and Drug Administration director Zheng Xiaoyu for approving untested medicine in exchange for cash, the strongest signal yet from Beijing that it is serious about tackling its product safety crisis. During Zheng's tenure from 1998 to 2005, his agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, and the drug-makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals.

No news is good news
Cut out the bad news and all you are left with is advertising.


Make love, not war

A US military proposal to create a ‘Gay bomb’ to turn enemy soldiers into homosexual heathens more interested in sex than fighting!


Dream yourself a dream come true
(thanks, Aerosmith)
Not via a Durex poll - A study suggests men and women dream about sex in equal measure.


Tall tales -
Not sure how this could be relevant in any sense to the world at large but thought I'll throw it in here...random news from here and there, after all :)


The world's current tallest man (as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records; various other unverified claims have been made by other tall men), who once saved dolphins by using his long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out dangerous plastic shards (reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza, showing off to a woman as marine biologist, saves a whale by taking a golf ball out of his blowhole; a golf ball that arguably got there because of Kramer hitting old golf balls into the ocean), is now married to a woman who is nearly half his age (he is 55) and more than 2 feet shorter than him. Bao Xishun, at 7' 9", is more than a foot shorter than the tallest ever recorded human - Robert Wadlow, who at 8 ft 11 inches, was literally a giant among men! He died, unfortunately, at age 22. At the opposite (shorter?) end of the stick, Gul Mohammed of India, is the shortest man ever verifiably recorded at 57 cm (1 foot 10.5 inches).
Update - Seems Bao met the world's shortest man, He Pingping, coincidentally also a Chinese, recently. Looks like China is setting all kinds of records recently - they engineer this one too?
Update to an update: Reading the source article at the above link, I learn that Pingping at 73cms tall is not the shortest. The current holder of the title is....yes...yet another Chinese (er...from Taiwan - don't want to raise a political rucus here!)- Lin Yih-Chih, who measures 67.5cm.
That said... sorry for giving more coverage to this kind of tabloidic fervor on the height of people - making it a PT Barnum freak show of sorts!
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Note: I have posted some of the above snippets of news at Linkastic earlier today.