Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Graph of solar radiation in the US (Southwest is best)

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Latte froth printer


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No on 98, Yes on 99

No on 98, Yes on 99 Campaign Update
May 6, 2008

Absentee Ballots Hit Mailboxes This Week – Send An E-mail Urging Voters to Vote No on 98/Yes on 99 Today!

While election day is June 3, voters will begin receiving their absentee ballots and will begin voting on Proposition 98 - the Landlords’ Scheme – and Prop. 99 – the Homeowners Protection Act this week. Because of the deceptive nature of Prop. 98, it is unlikely your friends and family will understand Prop. 98’s devastating impacts to seniors, renters, the environment and our communities unless you tell them early and often through June 3rd. Start today by sending an e-mail to everyone you know!

Click here to send a sample directly from our web site.

New No on 98 Radio Ads


The No on 98/Yes on 99 Campaign began airing a new radio ad today called “Answers.” The ad addresses the deceptive ads the landlords have been running and sets the record straight regarding why the landlords are funding the 98 campaign – namely to eliminate renter protections and rent control. You can listen to the ad here.


Donna Mathews – Real Person Impacted by Prop. 98


Donna Matthews, 83, lives in Plantation on the Lake mobile home park in Calimesa, Riverside County and is facing an eviction threat over a disputed trash bill. Under protest Donna paid the fee, but her landlord is still trying to evict her through the court process. Right now, Donna is protected by strong mobile home tenant protection laws which protect against unfair evictions. But if Prop. 98 passes, those protections are threatened, and the landlord will likely try to evict Donna again so he can raise the rent. Donna refuses to be intimidated by her landlord. She is working to inform the mobile home park residents of Calimesa to vote No on Prop. 98 in June. Read her story here.

Thanks,

No on 98 / Yes on 99 Team

If you are having problems viewing this email, click here to view it on the web.

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43,000 deployed (to Iraq) unfit for combat

By Bob Kendall

That was the shocking headline in USA Today on May 8.

Gregg Zaroya wrote the story from Washington, D.C. It read:

"More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the week before their scheduled deployment to Iraq as Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show."

Zaroya continued, "The reliance of troops found medically non-deployable is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million servicemen to the war zones."

Bobby Muller, Veterans for America President, has declared, "They are repeatedly exposed to high intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before redeploying."

From start to finish, thus far the Iraq War was based on a series of lies.

To plunge U.S. service personnel into the thousands of years old Middle East religious conflict is unforgivable. The difference in the Middle East cause for fighting with such tremendously intensity, must be stated simply and bluntly. The Middle East religions are fighting to maintain their thousands of year's old, historical religious convictions.

These fighters are fighting for their belief in their view of God and their desire to maintain this historic life style. Not even the great Roman Empire, which lasted 600 years, could conquer Baghdad. The Romans tried, but failed and raced back to Rome, defeated in their grand designs.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread! The U.S. has a vice president who had suffered multiple heart attacks. Dick Cheney had worked for oil companies. Cheney still is receiving payments on his long term deals made before becoming vice president. Is this a conflict of interest?

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best buddy film ever

In 2004, in a marketing/advertising campaign made exclusive for the web, American Express orchestrated the best buddy film ever. Directed by Barry Levinson, Jerry Seinfeld and Superman teamed up to discuss costumes and hindsight, talk about nothing, and show off the benefits of Amex’s theft and damage, 90-day warranty and roadside assistance.

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Stop the Towers Hootenanny

SAVE THE DATE

FOR THE CALIFORNIA DESERT COALITION'S BENEFIT EVENT

 Stop the Towers Hootenanny

 

The California Desert Coalition (CDC) will be holding a benefit dinner and silent auction at historic

 

Pappy & Harriets Palace in Pioneertown on

June 14, 2008, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

 

Stop the Towers Hootenanny will feature a buffet dinner, great music, no host bar and the opportunity to bid on silent auction items.  This festive evening of fun and camaraderie promises to be a real "hoot" and will offer us all the opportunity to hear about the latest progress being made to stop the proposed 500kV power corridor through the Morongo Basin and surrounding communities, including Pioneertown within sight of Pappy & Harriets Palace . 

Valuable items from local businesses, artists and individuals have been pledged, and more are needed for the auction.  Any items big or small are very welcome and all tax-deductible donations will be acknowledged at the party.  Please call Fundraising Committee member Pam Anderson (760-228-9676) if you have a service, object or artwork to contribute to the event and this important cause or if you would like more information about the event. 

Bev Doolittle, famous native Californian artist and local resident, has pledged an original piece to help raise monies to increase the education and legal fund, so you can expect to see almost anything up for auction at the Stop the Towers Hootenanny.

 
Volunteers Needed to Help With This Fundraiser
 

See the below positions, and please call Judy Ruggles at 760-364-4839 or 714-797-4807 to volunteer your help.

Greeters/Check-In Table

Duties :  Greeting arriving guests; checking names on reservation sheets; directing guests to party area.

Skills:  Happy personalities; ability to maintain poise under pressure; ability to find names on sheets quickly and check in.  5 volunteers needed

 

Silent Auction Hosts

Duties:  Maintain presence near silent auction tables; help generate excitement as bidding processes get underway; ensure auction items are picked up by winning bidders at close of auction.

Skills:  Ability to stand for extended periods of time; ability to socialize; assertive enough to request that guests not handle items, if need be.  6-8 volunteers needed

 

Cashiers

Duties:  Process monies paid by winning bidders.  

Skills:  Ability to process checks, cash and credit cards quickly & accurately; ability to total out banks and report totals to Cash Manager.  5 volunteers needed

 

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How to Get Universal Health Care

By statusquobuster


Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they believe in giving Americans universal health care.  I don't believe them.  Anyone who takes the time to understand universal health care should conclude that only a simple single payer system will reform the current outrageous system that benefits the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The contorted plans from Clinton and Obama are not sufficient reforms.  And what John McCain has proposed is sheer nonsense and by itself should cause any conscious American to avoid voting for him.

Fights for health care system reform are centered in Congress, as if legislators will do what they have never done before: achieve true, major and systemic reforms that only serve the public interest, not lobbyists and campaign contributors from business sectors.

Both Clinton and Obama believe that Americans have a moral right to universal health care.  If this is correct and if this is what you believe, then achieving universal health care that covers absolutely everyone by making health care affordable to absolutely everyone, as it is in many other nations, requires a different kind of government action.  What exactly?

We must expand the Bill of Rights as embodied in the US Constitution to include the right to affordable universal health care.  The time has come for the public to conclude that the right to universal health care is as important and necessary as the right to free speech and all the other beloved constitutional rights.  Common sense says that health care is a right, not a privilege.

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Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship

By IAN URBINA

Lillie Lewis, 78, with a letter from Mississippi saying it had no record of her birth. "That's downright wrong," she said.

The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

Sponsors of the amendment — which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum — say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

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Flame Warriors

Xenophobe is usually a long-term discussion forum participant and he thinks of the forum as his private compound. Xenophobe regards new forum arrivals as mentally deficient and perhaps even having criminal tendencies, and they are invariably approached with suspicion and condescension. Xenophobe will mount a furious attack if a Newbie has the temerity to make critical observations about the forum's social dynamics, or questions its prevailing opinions.
 
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These Are the Good Old Days

by Molly Magid Hoagland

It's Mother's Day; I'm always good for brunch and a little reflection. My mother died when I was a young woman, still with my adulthood undefined and my children unimagined. Now fifteen years and a couple lifetimes later, I have a family of my own. My mother left me with a sense that the obligations--really the instincts--of motherhood are true sympathy and elemental love. But of course motherhood has its dark moments. After her death I read some decades-old journal entries; in one she berates herself for yelling so loud at five-year-old me that I was terrified, hands clapped over my ears--"I will never do that again" she vows guiltily. I don't remember that incident at all, nor any other episodes of scary yelling, and the fact that I don't is a great comfort to me in my worst moments as a mother.

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My Mother

by Brad Taylor Negron

My mom and dad are New Yorkers who left the tenement streets of the Bronx and came to Los Angeles when West Side Story was real. They have the scars to prove it.

"They used to break bottles on a fence and follow me home. Look where they got me." Mom's story of her scars terrified me.

"They?" Who were "they"--and could they find us here at my grandmother's bungalow in Echo Park? (Which was often filled with people who had been exiled from many places--Socialists and Communists, violin soloists, and lesbians who had fled Castro's Cuba.)

I tell people that my family absorbed lesbians during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Those lesbians were a big part of my childhood, arriving midday wearing military gear and sporting masculine pompadour haircuts. They'd show up with hot bread in thin bags and produce sticks of sweet guava paste while my grandmother poured strong coffee.

Then, the merengue music would begin, and the lesbians would start to dance like Desi Arnaz, taking turns whirling mom around. She would giggle, the flan would jiggle, and for a Proustian moment all was right in the world.

When I remind my mother about this, she laments, "Why don't you remember the skiing and the leather jacket we got you? It's always the lesbians with you!"

Mom was not a butchie; she was boy crazy. During World War II, she worked in a factory that manufactured medals of honor for soldiers. She sat for twelve hours a day attaching the medals to gold braids and ribbons. Then she would place them in blue velvet boxes to be sent overseas. What no one in the factory or the federal government knew was that my mother was writing her name and address on pieces of paper and sticking them into every box. I asked her if she ever met anyone that way, to which she sheepishly replied, "Yes." The topic was dropped.

Our family business was operating batting cages. The pitching machine spit out the balls at lightning speed. Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax. Whitey Ford. 50 cents for 12 pitches. Of course my mother ran the place, and I was her slave: selling candy, hosing down the street, and the most dreaded of all jobs, feeding the pitching machine with balls. I call it my black and blue period.

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The Oil Nonbubble

"The Oil Bubble: Set to Burst?" That was the headline of an October 2004 article in National Review, which argued that oil prices, then $50 a barrel, would soon collapse.

Ten months later, oil was selling for $70 a barrel. "It's a huge bubble," declared Steve Forbes, the publisher, who warned that the coming crash in oil prices would make the popping of the technology bubble "look like a picnic."

All through oil's five-year price surge, which has taken it from $25 a barrel to last week's close above $125, there have been many voices declaring that it's all a bubble, unsupported by the fundamentals of supply and demand.

So here are two questions: Are speculators mainly, or even largely, responsible for high oil prices? And if they aren't, why have so many commentators insisted, year after year, that there's an oil bubble?

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Things younger than Republican Presidential candidate (oh, and did I forget to mention “war hero”?) John McCain

Oil.

Oil is younger than John McCain.
Call it what you will - Texas tea, the stuff that George Bush couldn't find in Texas, whatever - but the Saudis first discovered oil underground in 1938… when John McCain was a baby.


(Thanks to Michelle, Hana, Kenneth, Colleen, Eliot, and others for the tip!)

 

 

 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie is younger than John McCain.

OK, this is an odd one. Apparently, the chocolate chip cookie has not been around since the dawn of time. It did not evolve from anything, nor was it hanging down from the forbidden tree (or whatever it's called) in the Garden of Eden. It was, in fact, invented in 1937 by Ruth Graves Wakefield of Whitman, Massachusetts, who ran the Toll House Restaurant.


So this classic staple and friend of milk lovers everywhere is actually younger than John McCain.


(Thanks to Sean J. for the tip!)

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US Terrorism Report: Selective Data, Wrong Lessons

By Ramzy Baroud

The data provided in the US State Department's annual terrorism report for 2007 points to some interesting if puzzling conclusions. The much publicised document, made available 30 April via the State Department's website, makes no secret of the fact that Al-Qaeda is back, strong as ever. It also suggests that violence worldwide is nowhere near subsiding, despite President Bush's repeated assurances regarding the success of his "war on terror".

Will the report inspire serious reflection on the US's detrimental foreign policy and its role in the current situation?

Let's look at some of the data. To start with, take Pakistan. Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda-inspired attacks in the country more than doubled (from 375 to 877) between 2006 and 2007. These attacks have claimed the lives of 1,335 people, compared to 335 in a previous report. That is a jump of almost 300 per cent.

Then there's Afghanistan, which was supposedly "liberated" shortly after 11 September 2001. The number of attacks reported there increased a sharp 16 per cent in 2007. Some 1,127 violent incidents killing 1,966 people represent a significant surge in violence compared to 2006's 1,257 deaths.

There have also been many other violent incidents around the world, including but not limited to North Africa, the terrorist bombings in Algeria in particular.

But this is barely half the story -- or 40 per cent of it, if we want to be as specific as the terrorism report. Iraq accounted for 60 per cent of worldwide terrorism fatalities.

Considering the fact that the horrifying violence currently witnessed in Iraq was unheard of prior to the US invasion of 2003, will the Bush administration take a moment to connect the dots? Even a third grader could figure this one out: the US occupation was a major, if not sole factor, in Iraq's relentless bloodbath. In order to right the wrong in Iraq, the US military should clearly just withdraw, and Bush -- or whoever next claims the White House -- should stop fabricating pretexts to justify a prolonged mission.

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Oh my

by Brad

Jonah, are you sure you want to ask this?

The Bush Legacy [Jonah Goldberg]

About a month ago, I called Ramesh in a panic because I'd forgotten that I was slated to do a Close-Up Foundation interview on the Bush legacy and I hadn't thought too much about it. Fortunately, not only did Ramesh have some great thoughts, but I was wrong about the date — by a month (I'd entered it into my PDA wrong). Anyway, I'm doing the interview this Thursday and while I have my thoughts far better organized, I thought it'd be interesting to know what NRO readers think Bush's legacy will be. Please send thoughts — hopefully constructive — to JonahResearch@AOL.com.

(Via.)

I highly encourage you all to send Jonah your thoughts on this matter, be they constructive or otherwise.

For my part, I think pictures speak more than a trillion-kabillion words, so I'll let them speak for me. Ladies and gentlemen, the Bush Legacy:

twin-towers-9112001.jpg

memories1.jpg

memories10.jpg

deficit.gif

foreclosure-home-sale.jpg

gasprices.jpg

To sum up: Bush has been a smarmy, destructive asshole for the past eight years and he has left the next president with an extremely large pile of shit to deal with. And you, Jonah, dutifully enabled the stupid SOB for years until you realized that he was starting to cost the GOP votes. Lest we forget:

From tax cuts (and deficits, alas), to his personal conviction on abortion, to aligning America with the historical tide of liberty in the world, George W. Bush has proved that he's a Reaganite, not a "Bushie." He may not be a natural heir to Reagan, but that's the point. The party is all Reaganite now. What better sign that this is now truly and totally the Gipper's Party than the obvious conversion of George Bush's own son?

Why should anybody ask for your opinion on anything, dude? You have less credibility than a 9/11 Truther. Because say what you will about the Truthers, but at least they don't abandon their crazy and insane delusions just because they suddenly become politically inconvenient.

What a pathetic fraud.

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Oil company execs

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Domestic spying far outpaces terrorism prosecutions

As more Americans are watched, fewer cases are made. The trend concerns civil liberties groups as well as some lawmakers and legal experts.

By Richard B. Schmitt

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court -- one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing -- has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

The trends, visible in new government data and a private analysis of Justice Department records, are worrisome to civil liberties groups and some legal scholars. They say it is further evidence that the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it.

Chart: Warrants up, prosecutions down

The emphasis on spy programs also is starting to give pause to some members of Congress who fear the government is investing too much in anti-terrorism programs at the expense of traditional crime-fighting. Other lawmakers are raising questions about how well the FBI is performing its counter-terrorism mission.

The Senate Intelligence Committee last week concluded that the bureau was far behind in making internal changes to keep the nation safe from terrorist threats. Lawmakers urged that the FBI set specific benchmarks to measure its progress and make more regular reports to Congress.

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Ron Paul's forces quietly plot GOP convention revolt against McCain

by Andrew Malcolm

Virtually all the nation's political attention in recent weeks has focused on the compelling state-by-state presidential nomination struggle between two Democrats and the potential for party-splitting strife over there.

But in the mTexas Rep. Ron Paul and his libertarian-minded GOP backers are collecting delegates at the local level and planning a revolt against Sen. John McCain at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in Septembereantime, quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September.

Paul's presidential candidacy has been correctly dismissed all along in terms of winning the nomination. He was even excluded as irrelevant by Fox News from a nationally-televised GOP debate in New Hampshire.

But what's been largely overlooked is Paul's candidacy as a reflection of a powerful lingering dissatisfaction with the Arizona senator among the party's most conservative conservatives. As anticipated in late March in The Ticket, that situation could be exacerbated by today's expected announcement from former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia for the Libertarian Party's presidential nod, a slot held by Paul in 1988.

Never mind Ralph Nader, Republican and Democratic parties both face potentially damaging internal splits that could cripple their chances for victory in a narrow vote on Nov. 4.

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War dead cremated at facility for pets

By Ann Scott Tyson

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has, since 2001, cremated some of the remains of U.S. service members killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in a Delaware facility that also cremates pets, a practice that ended Friday when the Pentagon banned the arrangement.

The facility, in an industrial park near Dover Air Force Base, has cremated about 200 service members, manager David Bose said Friday night. It uses separate crematories a few feet apart to cremate humans and animals, he added.

Pentagon officials said they do not think any humans were cremated in the pet crematory. "We have absolutely no evidence whatsoever at this point that any human remains were at all ever mistreated," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said late Friday.

Despite Bose's estimate, officials said they do not know the number of service members cremated at the Kent County facility, identified on a billboard as Friends Forever Pet Cremation Service.

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a heckuva job

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Inspection- On Lying and Big/Tiny Wins

by Ken Carman

This edition of Inspection has been updated since the first draft to include my observations regarding North Carolina and Indiana.

I've been pondering a region; a gulf; a canyon so deep; so wide, that the Grand Canyon would be a skunk's footprint in comparison. How fitting to use a skunk: because this same divide is far more odiferous and seems set on permanent spray mode. I, of course, am referring to the Obama/Clinton divide that still lingers despite cries of, "It's over..." which have been spouted practically since the first caucus.

At least they're a little more reality-based right now. Well, a lot more.

I know, its all BillHillaryGeraldinesWrightsBaracksupportersBlacksWhites fault. If you wish, take whatever simplistic slice you want out of that non-word and go ahead... cast your slimier than fish bait blame. Then leave me alone, because I find simple answers only satisfy simpletons with big egos and empty peanut shell minds. Truth is usually far more complex than this "evil vs. good" meme' which seems to thrive inside the human cortex.

Do I really mean, "Go away?" No, not really. Some wonder why I go on debate sites and engage those I deeply disagree with; or even defend those who I am not that fond of. Why? Because I believe it's the right thing to do. I enjoy it, I really do. Kind of like being on the receiving end of an old fashioned bully beating... only to be able to spin around and slam my toes into some far less than "intellectual" ranter's exposed crotch.

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David Byrne to make music with NYC building

NEW YORK - Ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne plans to turn a landmark building in Manhattan into a giant musical instrument.

State officials say Byrne will create a temporary installation in the Great Hall of the Battery Maritime Building, which is next to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal.

The "Playing the Building" installation will include devices attached to ceiling beams, plumbing, electrical conduits and other parts of the structure. Sound will be produced through vibration, making the building function as an instrument.

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Bill O'Reilly Is A Nutcase


Here is angry, crazy Bill O'Reilly, back when he had hair. OMFG he is so mad about the teleprompter. Those of you who are still upset about the existence of Bill O'Reilly will surely enjoy this video clip, which has already been removed by YouTube but which has been rescued by our friends at Gawker.
 
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Drug war horror stories to boil your blood

The New Yorker's "Drug War Bulletins" are sure to boil your blood: a man who died for want of a liver transplant because the hospital insisted he needed "drug treatment" for his medical marijuana use; a suburban San Diego housewife who will spend the next 20 years in jail because she was peripherally involved in a heroin deal while she was in college in 1975; and a pulmonologist who'd been favored by the drug warriors until his giant, well-funded, unreproachable study concluded that pot didn't give you lung cancer, and who is now a pariah whose research conclusions have been boycotted by the press.

The War on Some Drugs is as unwinnable and destructive as all the other wars on abstract nouns. Who needs terrorists to rip America apart when you've got drug warriors killing off, imprisoning and shunning its innocents?

.In Seattle, a fifty-six-year old man died last Thursday after being refused a liver transplant because he had followed his doctor's recommendation to use marijuana to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C. From the Associated Press story:

His death came a week after a doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list. The team had previously told him it would not consider placing him on the list until he completed a 60-day drug-treatment class…

The Virginia-based United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation's transplant system, leaves it to individual hospitals to develop criteria for transplant candidates.

At some, people who use "illicit substances"—including medical marijuana, even in the dozen states that allow it—are automatically rejected. At others, patients are given a chance to reapply if they stay clean for six months.

The cruelty and stupidity of this beggars belief. This patient did not need "drug treatment." He was already undergoing drug treatment. Nor did he need to get "clean." He was already clean. It's the drug war that's dirty. (H/t: John Leone.)

Link (via Making Light)

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Why a Spiritual Advisor to President Bush Supports Obama

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell explains his bond with Bush, his donations to Obama, and his defense of Jeremiah Wright.

Interview by Dan Gilgoff

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell is pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, the largest United Methodist congregation in the nation. Often described as a 'spiritual advisor' to President George W. Bush, Caldwell introduced Bush at the 2000 Republican National Convention and delivered the benedictions at the 2001 and 2005 presidential inaugurations. He endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president in January.

When you called President Bush to say you were endorsing Senator Barack Obama, how did he respond?

He had shared his thoughts with me about Senator Obama months before I called and told him I was going to endorse. And he says he likes him as a person. He told me that early on, before the Senator even announced he was running for president. He has a tremendous amount of respect for him.

While the differences between President Bush and Senator Obama are very, very clear, allow me to share with you what their commonalities are. One, they have deep, resolute loyalty to their country, to their families, and to their God. They are both Christians. They both love their wives intensely. They're both very good dads.

They are also strong believers in rebuilding the family and rebuilding the infrastructure of our communities… Now, obviously, they have two entirely different approaches as to how to achieve that common good.

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Father of the bride

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Stuart Kauffman: Call the universe God

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Complexity theory pioneer Stuart Kauffman, author of the fantastic At Home In The Universe, has a new book out called Reinventing The Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion. According to Kauffman, who is also a theoretical biologist, the universe is so beautifully complex, incredible, and full of wonder, that we might consider thinking of it as "God." He summarizes his argument in the current New Scientist. From Kauffman's essay:

Kaufmannnnsacred...The unfolding of the universe - biotic, and perhaps abiotic too - appears to be partially beyond natural law. In its place is a ceaseless creativity, with no supernatural creator. If, as a result of this creativity, we cannot know what will happen, then reason, the Enlightenment's highest human virtue, is an insufficient guide to living our lives. We must use reason, emotion, intuition, all that our evolution has brought us. But that means understanding our full humanity: we need Einstein and Shakespeare in the same room.

Shall we use the "God" word? We do not have to, yet it is still our most powerful invented symbol. Our sense of God has evolved from Yahweh in the desert some 4500 years ago, a jealous, law-giving warrior God, to the God of love that Jesus taught. How many versions have people worshipped in the past 100,000 years?

Yet what is more awesome: to believe that God created everything in six days, or to believe that the biosphere came into being on its own, with no creator, and partially lawlessly? I find the latter proposition so stunning, so worthy of awe and respect, that I am happy to accept this natural creativity in the universe as a reinvention of "God".

Link to New Scientist, Link to buy Reinventing The Sacred, Link to Kauffman's 2006 Edge essay "Beyond Reductionism"

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Space scientist says texting is four times more expensive than receiving scientific data from space

SMS

A University of Leicester space scientist has worked out that sending texts via mobile phones works out to be far more expensive than downloading data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr Nigel Bannister's calculations were used for the Channel 4 Dispatches programme "The Mobile Phone Rip-Off". 

He worked out the cost of obtaining a megabyte of data from Hubble – and compared that with the 5p cost of sending a text.

He said: "The bottom line is texting is at least 4 times more expensive than transmitting data from Hubble, and is likely to be substantially more than that.

"The maximum size for a text message is 160 characters, which takes 140 bytes because there are only 7 bits per character in the text messaging system, and we assume the average price for a text message is 5p. There are 1,048,576 bytes in a megabyte, so that's 1 million/140 = 7490 text messages to transmit one megabyte. At 5p each, that's £374.49 per MB - or about 4.4 times more expensive than the 'most pessimistic' estimate for Hubble Space Telescope transmission costs."

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Manbabies

Man Babies is a bizarre blog that has nothing but photos of dads whose heads have been swapped with their kids' .

ManBabies.com - Dad?
GET MORE AT ManBabies.com!

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A 'restaurant' for the destitute on Kolkata's rail tracks

By Sreya Basu

Kolkata, May 11 : One chapatti for 50 paisa, a plate of rice for Re.1, a bowlful of curry for Re.1...So reads the menu card of a "restaurant" on railway tracks that has been running here for the last 51 years. In times of high inflation, it is a godsend for the poor.

Popularly known as "Gariber Hotel" or food joint for the destitute, it is run today by 40-year-old Fatima Bibi at the southern division of Sealdah Station in north Kolkata. She sits with her bags full of leftover food, using up the space around a couple of unused tracks, even as trains whiz past on other platforms nearby.

She took over the business from her mother Nur Banu at the age of 11.

Fatima told IANS: "I work as a part-time maid at various households and a few hotels. I collect the extra food, the leftovers or even slightly stale food at the end of the day from these places. The next morning I sell it to my customers."

Her hotel on the tracks opens at 8 a.m. and shuts down at noon. And it has a faithful clientele of beggars, pickpockets, platform dwellers, porters and drug addicts, who troop in for an inexpensive bite.

"I have over 200 regular customers apart from the flying ones. The number of customers is increasing with such rapidity that I have employed my two daughters and two sons as household helps and hotel bearers. They too bring excess food from their workplace to meet the demand," Fatima said.

Fatima and her clients sit under an open sky, sometimes putting up plastic sheets on bamboo poles as makeshift shelter from the hot sun or rain.

It goes without saying that the reason behind the humongous success of this "hotel" is the compromise between hunger and poverty.

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The Symbols on My Flag (And What They Mean)

by Jack Handey

The bra and panties stand for women's rights.

Davy Crockett shaking hands with Daniel Boone symbolizes how we need to put aside our differences.

The skull and crossbones, in the lower right corner, stands for pirates, and all that they have given us.

The angel holding the sword represents how guns are nice but swords are more of a "heavenly" thing.

The plow with the four-leaf clover symbolizes the luck of the farmer.

The quicksand represents the travails of life. The hand sticking out of it is so you know it's quicksand and not just a dirty spot on the flag.

The bat stands for eternal life, through our lord Dracula.

The sheaf of wheat symbolizes the bounty of the land, and the hope that soon more things will come in sheaves.

The parrot represents the need to communicate, even if it's only squawks.

The tin of paprika stands for paprika, a spice I hope to learn more about.

The triskelion indicates that I know what a triskelion is.

The sun on the horizon makes you wonder, Is it rising or setting? And is it our sun or a weird invader sun? The five rays coming out of the sun symbolize the five times that I have had sex.

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I am not that other Michael Dare.

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