Friday, March 31, 2006

Profits high, wages stagnant

What's wrong with this picture?
"It's a big puzzle," said Josh Bivens, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute. "If this is a knowledge economy, how come the brains aren't being compensated? Instead, the owners of physical capital are getting the rewards."


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Praying is for suckers

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A study of more than 1,800 patients who underwent heart bypass surgery has failed to show that prayers specially organized for their recovery had any impact, researchers said on Thursday.

In fact, the study found some of the patients who knew they were being prayed for did worse than others who were only told they might be prayed for -- though those who did the study said they could not explain why.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More atheist bashing

I'm sure glad I live in San Francisco. Sully quotes a law article by Eugene Volokh showing how over 70 child custody cases brought up a parent's lack of faith as grounds for denying custody. Disgusting.


The horrible dangers of TCE

Guess who tried to cover them up?
TCE is the most widespread water contaminant in the nation. Huge swaths of California, New York, Texas and Florida, among other states, lie over TCE plumes. The solvent has spread under much of the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, as well as the shuttered El Toro Marine Corps base in Orange County.

Developed by chemists in the late 19th century, TCE was widely used to degrease metal parts and then dumped into nearby disposal pits at industrial plants and military bases, where it seeped into aquifers.

The public is exposed to TCE in several ways, including drinking or showering in contaminated water and breathing air in homes where TCE vapors have intruded from the soil. Limiting such exposures, even at current federal regulatory levels, requires elaborate treatment facilities that cost billions of dollars annually. In addition, some cities, notably Los Angeles, have high ambient levels of TCE in the air.

What did our government do about this?
After the EPA issued the draft assessment, the Pentagon, Energy Department and NASA appealed their case directly to the White House. TCE has also contaminated 23 sites in the Energy Department's nuclear weapons complex — including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area, and NASA centers, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.

The agencies argued that the EPA had produced junk science, its assumptions were badly flawed and that evidence exonerating TCE was ignored. They argued that the EPA could not be trusted to move ahead on its own and that top leaders in the agency did not have control of their own bureaucracy.

Bush administration appointees in the EPA — notably research director Paul Gilman — sided with the Pentagon and agreed to pull back the risk assessment. The matter was referred for a lengthy study by the National Academy of Sciences, which is due to issue a new report this summer. Any resolution of the cancer risk TCE poses will take years and any new regulation could take even longer.

The delay tactics have angered Republicans and Democrats who represent contaminated communities, where residents in some cases have elevated rates of cancer and birth defects but no direct proof that their illness is tied to TCE.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cablevision to test `remote storage' PVRs - PVR Wire

PVR meets on-demand. I kind-of like it.
RS-DVR gives each subscriber 80 GB of programming space -- time enough for about 45 hours of recordings -- and lets them record two programs simultaneously. Cablevision expects to charge less for the new technology than it does for current PVRs, which cost $9.95 a month.

Subscribers can skip commercials with RS-DVR. Cablevision says the technology doesn't violate copyright laws. "Consumers have well-established rights to 'time-shift' television programming by making copies for personal, in-home viewing," the company said in a statement to USA Today. "This new technology merely enables consumers to exercise their time-shifting rights in the same manner as with traditional DVRs, but at less cost."


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Answer: 10 oz fresh baby meat

Question: What is the only item missing from this list?

I have a theory

Anyone else think that this entire re-shoot is going to be devoted to getting a shot of SLJ saying "we've got motherfucking SNAKES?" Why else would they need an R rating?


Pro-life congnitive dissonance

A compilation of anecdotes from clinics who performed abortions on supposedly "pro-life" patients. An example:
"We too have seen our share of anti-choice women, ones the counselors usually grit their teeth over. Just last week a woman announced loudly enough for all to hear in the recovery room, that she thought abortion should be illegal. Amazingly, this was her second abortion within the last few months, having gotten pregnant again within a month of the first abortion. The nurse handled it by talking about all the carnage that went on before abortion was legalized and how fortunate she was to be receiving safe, professional care. However, this young woman continued to insist it was wrong and should be made illegal. Finally the nurse said, 'Well, I guess we won't be seeing you here again, not that you're not welcome.' Later on, another patient who had overheard this exchange thanked the nurse for her remarks." (Clinic Administrator, Alberta)


Update: In response to South Dakota's abotion ban, the SD Sioux tribe has pledged that they will open a clinic on tribal lands, no matter what Bill Napoli says.

More Bush family shenanigans

The Houston Chronicle reports this morning that the donation Barbara Bush made to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund was 'earmarked' for the educational software company Ignite!

As some of you probably know that's the junk company owned by her ne'er-do-well son Neil Bush.

Well, at least when it comes to the Bushes, Katrina is "working very well for them."


Sad new for Atheists

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

This is sad, as atheists/agnostics are also the only group in the country to oppose the use of torture, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out a few days ago.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cato Institute comes out against DMCA

Even a broken clock...


Thursday, March 16, 2006

One more reason DRM is LAME!

It shortens your PMP battery life by up to 25%.


Molly Ivins rules

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Military government idea did not go down well"

This was one of the many items from the US State Department's 2033 "Future of Iraq Project" which was completely ignored by the morons running the show.

PDF Link

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Society of Rockets "the new Rolling Stones?"

Well, not really, but goddamn this is a super-nice review.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Pretty sweet dance music download service

Beatport is a DRM-free dance music download service with a pretty sweet interface. If you are mixing with Traktor or some other computer-based software, this is the site for you.


TNR lays out their argument for universal health care

It's more efficient, it results in higher-quality care, and it's the right goddamn thing to do. Yeah, it's gonna be a pain to dismantle our current system - that's why we need to get started NOW.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Don't crimes have punishments?

Digby finds a video of pro-life protestors being asked what punishment a woman should face for having an abortion. Responses range from "I haven't thought about it" to "punish the abortionist [doctor]." That last one is a dodge, IMHO, because in that case, the doctor is only, at most, an accessory to the "crime."


Can someone create an AJAX lighter to wave back-and-forth?

After the runaway success of the Arctic Monkeys, who built up their international following on the internet from their base in Sheffield, Sandi Thom, a 24-year-old Scot, is using the web to entertain nightly audiences put at more than 60,000.

Seating at the venue underneath her home in a Victorian terraced house in Tooting, south London, consists of six stools bought from Ikea for about £3 each.

Thom uses a webcam to record a nightly performance before broadcasting it on the net later in the evening. In the past eight days she has entertained more than 250,000 fans worldwide. By contrast, her live audiences usually total about 200 when she plays in clubs around Britain.


Bush in love with his rug

No joke here... That's the story.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Walter Cronkite calls for an end to the "War on Drugs"

When I wanted to understand the truth about the war on drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war in Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.

Allow me to introduce you to some of them.

Nicole Richardson was 18-years-old when her boyfriend, Jeff, sold nine grams of LSD to undercover federal agents. She had nothing to do with the sale. There was no reason to believe she was involved in drug dealing in any way.

But then an agent posing as another dealer called and asked to speak with Jeff. Nicole replied that he wasn't home, but gave the man a number where she thought Jeff could be reached.

An innocent gesture? It sounds that way to me. But to federal prosecutors, simply giving out a phone number made Nicole Richardson part of a drug dealing conspiracy. Under draconian mandatory minimum sentences, she was sent to federal prison for ten years without possibility of parole.

To pile irony on top of injustice, her boyfriend - who actually knew something about dealing drugs - was able to trade information for a reduced sentence of five years. Precisely because she knew nothing, Nicole had nothing with which to barter.

Then there was Jan Warren, a single mother who lived in New Jersey with her teenage daughter. Pregnant, poor and desperate, Jan agreed to transport eight ounces of cocaine to a cousin in upstate New York. Police officers were waiting at the drop-off point, and Jan - five months pregnant and feeling ill - was cuffed and taken in.

Did she commit a crime? Sure. But what awaited Jan Warren defies common sense and compassion alike. Under New York's infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, Jan - who miscarried soon after the arrest - was sentenced to 15 years to life. Her teenage daughter was sent away, and Jan was sent to an eight-by-eight cell.

In Tulia, Texas, an investigator fabricated evidence that sent more than one out of every ten of the town's African American residents to jail on trumped-up drug charges in one of the most despicable travesties of justice this reporter has ever seen.

The federal government has fought terminally ill patients whose doctors say medical marijuana could provide a modicum of relief from their suffering - as though a cancer patient who uses marijuana to relieve the wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy is somehow a criminal who threatens the public.

People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment.


Alito thanks Dobson (!!!)

Great. Guess now we know for sure that the douches who argued against a filibuster were... douches.


Bush knew the depth of Katrina threat

Surprise, surprise...


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An interesting theory on Lost

Entertainment Weekly tries to tie it all together...
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