Monday, July 31, 2006

a thought experiment

As a science professional, I am a strong advocate of the process of repeatable experimentation in the search for empirical proofs.

I have read several right-wing blog posts in the last few days, and have seen a couple of appearances by administration shills on television in that period of time that revolve around one basic point.

These people are speaking out in favor of the use of untrammeled military force to achieve the goals of the administration around the world, force in places like the Middle East and North Korea. Several of them have made the case that if we were sufficiently ruthless in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, North Korea and all of the other countries who clearly do not like the United States, that we would be able to coerce these anti-American lands and peoples into at least doing our bidding, even if it was against their own inclinations.

My experiment is simple.

Any time somebody hears one of these clowns pushing our nation to be the schoolyard bully of the countries of the world, they should walk up to them and knock them out, by hand or by weapon, whether they are old or young, male or female.

After they wake up, they should be asked this:

"Do you still agree with the use of violence to achieve political ends? That is what just happened to you. Are you persuaded to support my point of view without ever seeking retribution and without hating me knowing that if you don't I will hit you again even harder?"

See, science can be fun!

Resisting Arrest

Fairly typical morning conversation in our house:

The cats were let out in the back yard to play--one had come back in and stayed in, when called. The other two dashed right back out again.

The Mr. walked by and saw Mini laying on the rug just inside the back door. "Oh, are they back in?".

I replied, "Only Mini, the other two are still out."

He peered out the window and saw Buffy and Cleo sprawled on the patio, looking up at him "without a care in the world". "Ah. Resisting arrest, are they?"

"Yes, but at least they didn't spew any anti-Semitic slurs."

"Probably because we didn't give them copious amounts of alcohol"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Supertweety vs. Transcoulter

Did Chris Matthews get some sort of secret stem cell therapy on his brain recently? He even actually asked a flummoxed Elizabeth Dole real questions instead of letting her do a campaign promo spot like she evidently thought she was there for.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

tongue in, er, cheek

In an announcement that surprised few, former boy band star and would-be space traveler Lance Bass announced that he was gay and also in a longstanding relationship.

In an unrelated story, the singer also announced that he would be legally changing his last name to "Dass" in the near future...

Heckuva job, Condi

From an article this morning about the Mid East situation:

"A U.S. official described Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being 'under siege' but holding firm any cessation of hostilities must include a permanent disarming of Lebanonese Hezbollah militants.

There is agreement on humanitarian and reconstruction packages, but those can't be implemented with the fighting continuing, the source said.

Diplomats were said to be working on some form of statement because no agreement could be reached on a full communique due to the failure to reach a consensus.

In difficult discussions, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan led demands for an immediate cease-fire, with trickier political issues to be dealt with at a later date.

But Rice remained steadfast, insisting a halt to the violence without the permanent disarming of Hezbollah would be a mistake."

She's alone in this position. Practically the whole world wants some sort of cease fire, but we say "not yet". The house is burning, but we're at the front door saying "no fire hose until we install smoke detectors. Come back later". Unbelievably pathetic.

I think she's doing a heckuva job.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm no longer ambivalent

I first became aware of Joe Lieberman as Gore's VP choice for the 2000 elections. I had many concerns about his credentials at that time. In the intervening time, my opinion has crystallized to a distaste for the man's politics and his air of entitlement.

I used to think that Barbara Boxer was one of the honest ones, but in the last two years, she has proven herself to be just another opportunistic and duplicitous politician who will say anything to consolidate her position of power.

Put the two of them together, and it's a study in deceit and arrogance.

See for yourself:

It's time to dump these useless idiots. If you aren't part of the solution, you ARE the problem.

where are the balloons?

Also in today's headlines is the story that Condoliar Rice has made a "surprise visit" to Beirut.

Listen, media, it isn't a "surprise visit" when somebody comes to your house in the middle of the night, sneaks in the back door wearing a disguise, and wants you to leave the lights off while they beg favors of you, all the while casting nervous glances in every direction before they surreptitiously slink off hoping they have not been noticed.

Those are the actions of a fugitive.

is that all?

CNN headlines today trumpeted that "fighting in the Middle East is in its 13th day."

Apparently, somebody there doesn't understand the concept of the trip odometer.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

when it rains

My newest love arrived today. Hammond Novachord #132 is now ensconced in my work area right next to her slightly younger sister, Novachord #1431. Another one that is virtually complete, intact and restorable to better-than-new condition.

This could turn into a fixation...

The Maryland Journal


Last week you had two opinions for and two against stem cell research. The two Congressmen that oppose government funding used two arguments that I find curious and inconsistent. First, they noted that after years, the research hasn't yet produced concrete results. Interestingly, we have spent tens of billions of dollars on missile defense that also hasn't produced concrete results, yet I would imagine that the commentators support that strongly. The second argument is that they feel taxpayer dollars should not be spent on something that may find morally reprehensible. The same argument could be applied to the war in Iraq, which polls show is opposed by many more people than oppose stem cell research. In a country of 300 million people there will always be something our tax dollars fund that large groups find offensive. While I do not agree with those who oppose stem cell research I understand why their religious beliefs cause them to feel that way. On the other hand, your guest commentators tried to use "objective" arguments that were, at best, questionable.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

am I that old?

Thirty-seven years ago today, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first two human beings to step onto the surface of the Moon. In the following three years, ten more men, all Americans, landed on our nearest neighbor in space.

Today, loonies from all walks of life deny that the missions to the Moon occurred and that the landings were faked, part of a vast conspiracy to defraud the American public and the world as to the power and technological might of the United States. These people manage to persuade themselves of the most intricate and unlikely "explanations" as to how all of the literally other-worldly and unreproducible conditions on our sister world were laboriously faked at secret locations here on Earth.

It saddens me to see humanity's greatest achievement disrespected like this. I am not going to rebut the hoax theorists in this post, but if you would like to see these idiotic rants trashed, go to and educate yourself.

On a personal note, because of my own association with the world of astronomy and space exploration, I have had the honor to meet and talk at length with six of the twelve Moonwalkers over the years, and even if there were truly unexplained inconsistencies (which there indisputably aren't) if there is one thing I know, it is that these six men that I had the privilege of meeting and talking to are not liars, and they really did go to another world and return safely.

So, congratulations and health and long life to the remaining Moonwalkers. Thank you for your courage and thank you for your inspiration. May your names live long in history.

Oh, and for the simpleton who told me to "go play with your organ" I have a better idea. You can choke on my organ, you ignorant dropout.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Xmas in July

The new love of my life arrived today.


I am now the unbearably happy owner of Hammond Novachord serial number 1431, manufactured in late 1940.

If you are not familiar with the name, you have nevertheless heard the sound thousands of times.

The Novachord was the original synthesizer. Designed by Laurens Hammond, who also created the organs that bear his name, the Novachord was built from 1938 until 1941. There were 1069 of them built, and it is said that less than fifty are known to exist today. It uses 169 vacuum tubes and over a thousand capacitors to create incredible sounds. The Novachord was used for hundreds of science-fiction films and television shows, including "The Twilight Zone," "The Outer Limits," "This Island Earth," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "20,000,000 Miles to Earth," and even more mainstream films like "Gone With the Wind" and "The Ten Commandments." A lot of Italian films from the sixties also leaned heavily on Novachord for their soundtracks. In these kinds of pictures, it usually sounds like some kind of space-age organ, but the instrument is incredibly deep and powerful and capable of creating massive sounds that in some ways still surpass even the incredible synthesizers of today, as well as some astonishing simulations of string sections, horn sections, even choirs. The Novachord was also a huge hit at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. A four-Novachord "orchestra" performed daily at the Fair to packed crowds, and there were hundreds of recordings made by various Novachord artists in the forties and the fifties.

I am going to be restoring my Novachord over the next couple of years. It is unplayable at the moment, and the ancient capacitors and wiring in it all need to be replaced before it is even safe to plug in. I will be offering occasional updates on the progress of my restoration here on the blog, so you will see that name again in the future.

I am incredibly fortunate. For years I wondered what this mystery instrument was that made all of the sounds that I loved so dearly in my younger days when I was utterly captivated by science-fiction, and five or six years ago I finally learned and confirmed that my mystery soundmaker was the Hammond Novachord. I decided at that time that I wanted one, and it has taken me this long to find one, which I had to have transported 1600 miles to get to me. But, my search is over, and in a couple of years I will be able to create and play all of the wonderful, exotic sounds that I have had ringing in my ears for decades. It has been worth the wait.

The photograph is a picture of my actual instrument, but it was taken by the person from whom I purchased the instrument, not by me. I will also document the restoration with my new camera and will post a new picture of it at its new home as soon as I can.

With any luck, by the time I do get a picture of my new Novachord, you will wonder if you are seeing double.

Yes, to finish my little introduction to the Hammond Novachord, I am thrilled to say that after many years of wondering, after several years of searching, and about two weeks after I bought mine, I found another one - and bought it, too. It will be arriving at my home in another week or so after traveling from the opposite side of the continental United States.

Two Novachords in less than thirty days. Both in exceptional condition. When it rains it pours...

If you are interested in how the Novachord works, what one sounds like, and what kind of job I have ahead of me, visit the wonderful Novachord Restoration Project site at: and if you are a Novachord owner, user, or fan, please feel free to contact me.

Oh, and a teaser:

My Novachord may have an unbelievably illustrious provenance. A lot of circumstantial evidence seems to indicate this, and I will be carefully researching to find out if it is just circumstantial evidence or corroborating evidence. If I can confirm it, expect a surprising post!

Friday text-only cat-blogging

Actually, the title is a bit of a ruse. I won't be spreading feline trivia today. I'm making an announcement.

I finally joined the 21st century. Yes, I went out and bought a nice digital camera yesterday.

I will soon be cat-blogging photos of my own extended family.

As soon as I finish climbing the four-year learning curve of figuring out how to USE THE DAMNED THING.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

help John Murtha help us

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the suspense is over

Well, folks, it's a done deal. Just stay home for the presidential elections in 2008. The results are already in. There's no need to worry about it this time around, we know who our next president is going to be. I got it from one of the most unimpeachable sources of information in the mass media.

Chris Matthews just said Rudy Giuliani is going to be the next president.

I'm sure you all feel much safer now and are greatly comforted by this announcement.

call it like it is

This morning's headlines are all about Donald Rumsfeld making an appearance in Baghdad. The adjectives describing his visit include "surprise," "unannounced," and "unscheduled," mirroring the language used for Bush's recent trip to the Green Zone.

Is it really so hard for our "free press" to see that the proper adjectives are "sneaky" or "surreptitious?"

Let's face it, if these clowns thought they could do it, they would ride into town in a chariot on a path strewn with rose petals. The only reason they don't is that they are too cowardly to come by light of day despite their insistence to the rest of us that things are going swimmingly in the land between the rivers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Today, Feckless George got a lot of ink for bragging about his three hundred billion dollar deficit. I can only imagine what our boastful idiot of a president was like when he was dating. I can hear it now:

"Two and a half throbbing inches, and it's all for you, baby!"

shine on

"And, by the way, which one's Pink?"

Syd Barrett was.

Thank you, Syd, for bringing us one of the greatest bands of all time. Perhaps now the guys will stop feuding for a while and create some new albums together.

Rest in peace, you crazy diamond.

As a matter of fact, there is no dark side of the Moon. They're all daft...

Monday, July 10, 2006

aah, the false dichotomy

An interesting moment just transpired on "The Daily Show."

Author Ilario Pantano was being interviewed by Jon Stewart about his book, "Warlord."

At one point, Pantano was justifying certain US military activities, saying something to the effect that Saddam would have killed an Iraqi sniper that Pantano was searching for if Hussein were still in power, but that all Pantano was going to do was send him to Abu Ghraib.

The audience tittered uncomfortably at that statement, and Pantano went on to explain (and I paraphrase here) that "Iraq has a per capita incaceration rate of one in five hundred, and the United States has an incarceration rate of one in seventy-five, which means that either the Iraqis are a lot more law-abiding than Americans or else there's a lot of bad guys walking around free in Iraq."


That's all you can think of?

Because I can think of a third possibility real fast.

Perhaps there are a lot too many people locked up in the United States. You know, those "victimless crime" types and such. Or people who have been taken by the Bush administration in defiance of their Constitutional rights as part of the great world war on terror that we are in.

False Dichotomy.

It's one of the favorite weapons in the arsenal of the intellectually dishonest.

And now for something completely....

A little text only cat humor...last night we filled the tub, planning to soak and watch a movie (Chicken Little) after a hard day doing my mum’s yard work. We set up the "home theatre" (laptop, speakers, flat panel) in the bathroom and filled the tub. While I was off getting the camera to take a photograph our eldest cat Mini on tip toes, looking over the edge at the little red foam rubber lobster floating in the tub, I heard a commotion and met the kitten running hell-bent for leather through the master and the front entryway, drenched to the bone and searching for cover.

Curiosity had overcome her and, not realizing that the tub was not ALWAYS empty, she had leapt up and over the edge of the tub to see what Mini was interested in. I caught Cleo on the front hall rug, my husband brought a towel, and I reassured her and dried her (and the bamboo floors) before settling in for the movie. Late this afternoon she ventured inside the master bathroom for the first time.

Sorry, the only photos I was able to get were of the kitten carefully tidying herself up afterward with her tongue. If I’d only been a moment quicker...we might have had video!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Adam Carolla - my new hero

Thursday, July 06, 2006

...Oh, Please...!

Scroll down to July 4, the post beginning:

"Even Bush's crap is classified..."

I wonder how much that cost! And what they did with it once they got it home!

fuck yeah!

There's been a lot of bloviating the last couple of days to the effect that Kim Jong Il was trying to "make a point" by launching his test missiles on the Fourth of July, and was essentially telling George Bush to shove it.

I think everyone is overlooking a much simpler explanation.

On Tuesday night, the Showtime cable channel screened "Team America: World Police," starring Kim Jong Il as the lead bad guy. I think he was pissed about the "I'm So Ronery" song and was actually sending a message to Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Now it's time to valmorphanize and head back to my secret lair in Mount Rushmore.

true to form

On July 5th, 1946, the wonderful article of feminine beach apparel known as the bikini made its debut.

On July 6th, 1946, George W. Bush was born.

Misdirection seems to have been his modus operandi from the start.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

the flim-flam man

In one last big con job, white-collar grifter Ken Lay scored another forty-three and a half million dollars.

Because he died before the appeals process was completed and sentencing finalized, Kenny-boy's conviction will be abated and the Justice Department will not seek to recover the $43,500,000 in fines and penalties which the court assessed against the thieving Enron CEO.

We need to invent a new class of irony for moments like this. I propose that we call it "enrony."

They've killed Kenny Boy!

It appears as though sentence has been handed down. I know, I know...It's risky speaking ill of the dead, let alone savoring it in some way, but for the thousands and thousands of people who's lives were RUINED....


I suppose his estate gets to keep what's you think they get the $5M in bail back?

I may feel guilty later and try to redeem my karma by deleting this....

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

he hit me back first

George Bush labels Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as his tripartite "Axis of Evil" countries, the kind of appellation that should only be found in James Bond movies.

George Bush invades Iraq, one of the countries in his "Axis of Evil," jails the elected leader of the nation, kills his closest relatives, and puts wanted posters out for the rest of his family.

Thousands of civilian Iraqis die in the process, and the country is thrown back to pre-industrial age living conditions with steadily-increasing internecine fighting that threatens the stability of the entire Middle East.

George Bush starts talking tough about Iran, the second of the three "Axis of Evil" countries, following the same "imminent threat" rhetoric that he used to coerce the United States into attacking Iraq.

North Korea, the third and final "Axis of Evil" member, tests six missiles, including one that might be able to reach parts of Alaska and possibly be used to launch a small nuclear weapon.

The United States calls this "a provocative action."

Yeah, it just came out of the blue, right?


Congratulations to NASA and the crew of Discovery for getting the job done and accomplishing the beginning of the 115th shuttle flight since the first launch of the program on April 12, 1981.

Get home safely.

read it, even if you have before

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. -- The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
Geo. Walton
Wm. Hooper

Joseph Hewes
John Penn
Edward Rutledge
Thos. Heyward, Junr.
Thomas Lynch, Junr.
Arthur Middleton
Samuel Chase

Wm. Paca
Thos. Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Th. Jefferson
Benja. Harrison
Thos. Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Robt. Morris

Benjamin Rush
Benja. Franklin
John Morton
Geo. Clymer
Jas. Smith
Geo. Taylor
James Wilson
Geo. Ross
Caesar Rodney
Geo. Read
Tho. Mckean
Wm. Floyd

Phil. Livingston
Frans. Lewis
Lewis Morris
Richd. Stockton
Jno. Witherspoon
Fras. Hopkinson
John Hart
Abra. Clark
Josiah Bartlett

Wm. Whipple
Saml. Adams
John Adams
Robt. Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Step. Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
Wm. Williams
Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton


How is it possible to have two such wonderful friends and yet to have never met?

Thank you, Mary and Ronni.

Monday, July 03, 2006

circle of life

I've had a run of good luck. It's over now.

Goodbye Snickers. My big gray daddy kitty is no more. I'll love your babies for you.

forget my vote

"Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God.'" - Barack Obama

I did.

I grew up an only child and an Air Force brat. My father joined the Navy in 1944, switched over to the Army Air Corps in 1946 and became part of the new U.S. Air Force in 1950. He served continuously until 1972.

My parents were of different religions when they met. My mother was a French-Canadian Catholic and my father was a Minnesotan Protestant. He adopted my mother's faith when they married.

They raised me in Catholic traditions, and we went to church weekly for many years. I always had a fascination for the theatrical aspects of church, was always drawn to the usually-classical music that was used in services, and enjoyed the artistry of the surroundings and the exotic nature of Latin, incense, stained glass, and architecture.

However, I was a precocious child who started reading long before I started school, and was compelled by the study of science in all of its aspects. As we were Air Force, we were transferred regularly, and the year I was to enter school, we moved to France. My first school experience started in French school, but a year later were changed to a newly-constructed and Air Force-operated school on the base where we were stationed. Class size was very small, and school was very carefully designed to impart the traditional "three R's" of education.

In the summer of 1963, we returned to the United States. I started fourth grade that year. Those first couple of years, my schooling was on-base, and it was entirely secular, with no crossover of religion into the school environment of any sort.

At the start of sixth grade, I was sent to a local school in Florida. There, for the first time, the educational experience was less than satisfactory, and a sudden and overt turn of religiosity came into the picture. There were prayers in the morning announcements over the PA system, prayers at gym, and the phrase "under god" suddenly became part of the daily Pledge of Allegiance.

By this time, I had already started realizing that there was a tremendous disconnect between science, which had already established itself to me as a powerful and reliable tool for understanding the universe, and religion, which was less and less believable to me and seemed to fly in the face of common sense no matter how I looked at it

Also by this time, I had come to grips with the notion that I did not, could not, and would never actually believe in god and religion. It was impossible to reconcile faith with the scientific method, and to my parents chagrin, I made such a fuss about it that I was no longer required to attend church with them.

I was a nerd when I was young. I was overweight, unathletic, socially underdeveloped, and an easy target for the undisciplined bullies that I encountered when I started attending public schools.

The school day always started off with the Pledge of Allegiance. I was raised with a great respect for the United States of America, and I said the pledge because I felt the meaning of what it said. However, when I got to Florida's public schools for the first time, I noticed that my pledge didn't quite synch up with what the other students were saying. So did my teachers. My gym teacher singled me out in class one day to point out the difference.

I was told that the proper way of saying the pledge was "one nation, under god." I politely explained to my teacher that I had never heard it said that way before. The response was a command that I learn to say the pledge "the right way." I explained that I really didn't believe in god and said that I would just keep saying it the way I had been taught.

My gym teacher's response was to pull out the two-foot long wooden paddle that he carried with him, to order me to the front of the room where I was to bend over and hold my ankles, whereupon I received three licks, my first encounter with corporal punishment in school.

I have never felt so humiliated in my life. My lack of god-belief had suddenly made me a target for physical violence. I was slapped, punched, pushed, towel-snapped, and one time even hit so hard by a god-believer that I fell on my face in the dirt and had my lips torn up by my brand-new braces.

After nearly a full school year of hell, the following spring one of my tormenters followed me off the bus and forced me to either stand my ground and fight or to stand there and get beaten up.

I fought.

It turned out that I was not quite as easy a target as my classmates thought. I was much larger than the kid who started the fight, and although I didn't do it with any skill or style, I ended up beating the shit out of him, so badly that he was hospitalized for a couple of days with a broken jaw.

I was still a pariah at school, although now all that I had to deal with was taunts and spitballs instead of physical assaults. I never said "under god," and the pain lingers to this day from how unfairly I was treated and how my right to not believe was trampled upon by the school and my fellow students.

All of this happened because I wouldn't say two words that would have been a lie for me to have said, and that the laws of the United States say quite clearly that I am not required to believe.

And that is why Barack Obama can kiss my ass.

we know

"I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party." - Joe Lieberman

Sunday, July 02, 2006


On Satuday, Tony Blair was struggling a bit to defend himself against critics who think it's time for him to step down.

"This is the time, therefore, to hold firm, to make the right decisions for the country, no matter how difficult ... and to renew not by returning to the past but by showing we have the drive, determination and vision to make the future work," he said. "What sustains a government at this point is self-belief."

Yes, Tony, you and George...kings--just like Elvis...

Do you think we'll see Tony visiting Graceland wearing sunglasses living out more of his little fantasy sometime soon?

oh no she dit-unt!

"Some people would like to make... casino gambling a crime."

- Dana Priest on "Meet the Press," as she sat next to the hypocritical, steaming-pile-of-shit Bill Bennett and verbally sodomized him for saying that she should be imprisoned for disseminating the truth about the Bush administration.

You go, girl!