Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh, internet...

I love you so.

Where did we find the comedy before you existed?

Spousal questions.

The crisis of sexual addiction amongst Christian women.

This is about the funniest thing I've read all week. Yes, Virginia, the denial of basic human nature will bite you in the ass, you living-in-denial-people you.

Pam's House Blend:: The 'growing crisis of sexual addiction' among Christian women:
"Sexual addiction is a serious matter; up to 16 million Americans are affected by this disorder.

In the bible-beating world, prayer and going to church don't seem to be providing quite enough strength to avoid temptation, as Christian women are getting hooked on porn. The fundies, however, are still proponents of the pray-away method of treatment. One couple is stepping forward with their solution -- for $11.19 on Amazon.

...if Ted Haggard can pray away the gay in three weeks, then certainly sex/porn addiction can be conquered (for a time) at Pure Life's camp out in the middle of nowhere without access to porn. It will set you back $150 per week after a $1500 Induction Fee, with the first four weeks' rent ($600) due when you check in."

“If you’re gonna walk on ice, you might as well dance.”

Joe Rogan's adventures at the High Times awards. Funny stuff. Much more at the link.

The Joe Rogan Blog » Conduit to the Gaian Mind » The High Times Stony Awards, and reefer madness!:
"“High Times would like you to present the award for Stoner of the Year. Do you want to do it?”

I laughed out loud, and told my manager, “Hellllllllllll Yeah.”

There ain’t no fucking way I’m passing this up. You can take your Oscars and your Emmys and stuff them deep up your ass as far as I’m concerned, but I’m not missing the “Stonys.”

I hosted the event about 4 years ago in NYC and spent the last 3 hours of the night laying in bed with my eyes closed watching magical elves performing a cosmic sitcom.

...Like my friend Joey Diaz often says, “If you’re gonna walk on ice, you might as well dance.”

...even in it’s most potent form cannabis is still basically harmless.
It can freak you out, but it can’t kill you, and as soon as it wears off you’re good as new.

If that’s the case, then why is it illegal?

That’s a really fucking good question that’s got a whole lot of good answers, mostly dealing in economics, the business of busting and imprisoning people, and the reluctance of the government to ever change their stance on something that they once vehemently opposed.

It’s really the only way to control people; you have to REALLY control them.

The government is ALWAYS right, even when it’s wrong, because if they admit that they’re wrong about cannabis, one of the first things that’s going to happen is that a FUCK LOAD of people are going to go out and start smoking it.

The next thing that’s going to happen is that there’s going to be a massive chain reaction from what would essentially be an almost instantaneous shift in national consciousness.

Once people realize it’s safe, it will very quickly become the preferred drug of choice.

It’ll kill the liquor business, because you can grow it yourself.

Then of course there’s the problem of, “If they were wrong about this, what else are they lying to us about?” That could start a big, fat, chain reaction shit storm that no one in government wants to deal with.

...Back in 1970 Carl Sagan was asked when he thought marijuana would be legalized, and he thought that it would be within the decade. The guy interviewing him called him a pessimist. I wonder what we’ll be thinking about it 30 years from now.

I have a feeling the same retarded arguments against it will still be around.

I mean, if they’re around now, with all of the access to information and all the results of the numerous medical studies on the innocuous health effects of smoking it, what’s there to make me think it’s going to change 30 years from now? Are the tests going to be any clearer? They ALL say it’s safe. What more do we need?"

"What group lives in the greatest defiance of American law? - ...otherwise peaceful religious groups like the Amish or Mormon fundamentalists."

Another very cool article about evolving and capricious laws in America.

What Is a Criminal?:
"...Since migrating to America, the history of the Amish has been peaceful. But not law-abiding. While they will "give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's," when push comes to shove the Amish put the laws of heaven before those of man. While never violent, they have historically refused to obey many American laws, including education, zoning, child labor, Social Security, and conscription laws, among others.

...The Mormon fundamentalists splintered from the main Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1920s, after the main church renounced "plural marriage" or polygamy....

The capitulation of the main Mormon church led to the founding of fundamentalist groups that, like the Amish, disagreed with what they saw as deviations from original doctrine. Most notably, that means some fundamentalist Mormon groups continue to believe in plural marriage as holy. It also can mean adherence to other doctrines abandoned by the main church, including the law of consecration, which demands dedication of property to the church. Living by the original rules, the fundamentalists moved to remote areas of Utah and Arizona, where they remain today, practicing plural marriage and, often, communal property systems."

"'The greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate'"

10 Most Bizarre Scientific Papers

Seems obvious, actually.

Everything you know about sushi is wrong...

Or at least counterintuitive.

Reason Magazine - The Day of the Flying Fish:
"For traditionalists in 19th-century Japan, a new sushi place was a sign the neighborhood was going to hell. In 1852 one writer grumped about the proliferation of sushi stalls in booming industrial Tokyo. The McDonald’s of their day, the stalls offered hungry factory workers a quick, cheap meal of fish and sweetened, vinegared rice. If the fish wasn’t top of the line, well, a splash of soy sauce and a dab of spicy wasabi perked up a serving of fish gizzards nicely, with some antimicrobial benefits to boot.

Today that writer’s spiritual descendants dwell on food chat boards like Chowhound, where calling a new Japanese place “inauthentic” or deriding it as “strip mall” or “food court” quality is the kiss of death. When we think of high-end, “authentic” sushi today, we envision rich, fatty slices of smooth tuna and creamy salmon arranged on a pristine plate—the height of elegant Japanese cuisine. But sushi wasn’t always elegant, and salmon and tuna are relatively recent additions to the menu. In that sense, sushi’s appearance in food courts worldwide is more a return to the dish’s common roots than a betrayal of authenticity. Sushi has always been in flux, with new ingredients and techniques added as convenience demanded.

...The taste for richer fish such as tuna arrived with American troops after World War II, who introduced enthusiastic red meat eating to a previously ascetic people. The most prized sushi today is fatty tuna from the belly of the fish, or toro. But before Americans started ordering nigiri—raw fish laid on balls of rice—most traditional sushi chefs looked down on tuna with the same disdain a French chef has for fat-free mayonnaise.

Likewise, the American concept of tuna—the white, flaky stuff in cans—had no place for the rich, red flesh of the 600-pound creatures being caught in the cold water of the Atlantic. The huge tuna that now spark intense bidding wars at Japan’s Tsukiji seafood market were used primarily to make cat food.

...Everything changed in the early 1970s. Akira Okazaki was trying to solve a classic business dilemma for his company, Japan Airlines. His planes were flying to America loaded down with electronics but coming home empty. What could he use to fill them? The tuna craze was already under way as postwar tastes evolved and bank accounts grew, and a few exploratory trips revealed an oversupply of tuna in America’s waters.

...Chowhounders who fret about lost authenticity or lament the commercialization of cuisine should think again. There is no such thing as authentic sushi, and there never has been. There was no moment when sushi was purely traditional. And tuna and avocado rolls taste a heck of lot better than a cask of semi-rotten whitefish packed with rice."

Information finds a way.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Don't Google the War:
"According to recently released data from Google, countries behind the sexual liberation curve, naturally, top the charts in sex-related searches: "Internet users in Egypt, India and Turkey are the world's most frequent searchers for websites using the keyword 'sex' on Google." Rather more disturbing is this tidbit from the Sydney Morning Herald's story on search trends, which notes that "Germany, Mexico (?) and Austria were the world's top three searchers of the word 'Hitler.'""

Of course they do.

Assault with a deadly camera. Wait.. what?

Tasered and shot with a beanbag gun for videotaping warrantless police search - Boing Boing:
"Frank Waterhouse of Oregon is suing Portland police after he was tasered and shot with a beanbag gun. His offense? Videotaping a warrantless police search on a friend's property. The police report helpfully explains that the force used on Waterhouse (who was standing far off on the edge of the property) was necessary because, "He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon."

Leprechauns for the win.

Leprechaun opens car door for pantless man - Boing Boing:
"Kim Leblanc, was arrested in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday morning sitting in someone else's car and not wearing any pants. According to an article on, Leblanc told police that 'he had done drugs and believed that a leprechaun had let him into the car.'"

The best possible debate questions ever.

I would pay good money to hear these.

Balloon Juice:
"From our thread yesterday, a couple more good questions the rabble-rousers here at Balloon Juice would like to see posed to the GOP candidates.:

1.) “Would you have sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack?”

2.) “If lowering taxes results in increased revenues then would lowering taxes to zero result in infinite revenues?”

3.) “If you had a time machine, would you travel back in time and abort Bin Laden?”

4.) “Would you torture and kill Jesus to ensure mankind’s salvation? And how does that work?”

5.) “If Russia entered Turkey from the rear would Greece help?”

6.) For Rudy specifically: “How many alimony checks does the sanctity of marriage cost?”"

Fuck yeah.

For the special bonus, nobody understands when I swear at work. Except the other English teachers. And then they curse too.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Norfolk | Swearing at work can 'cut stress':
"Swearing at work helps employees cope with stress, academics at a Norfolk university have said. A study by Norwich's University of East Anglia (UEA) into leadership styles found the use of 'taboo language' boosted team spirit. Professor Yehuda Baruch, professor of management, warned that attempts to prevent workers from swearing could have a negative impact."

Clearly, something's gone horribly wrong.

riotclitshave is the best "found photos" blog on the 'net.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

“I only pretended I was gay to study how priests are seduced.”

Of course you did, padre.

Ah, Catholicism... I don't miss you, not even a little bit.

You still crack me up though.

Vatican priest caught in TV sex sting - Times Online:
"A high-ranking Vatican priest has been suspended after a TV programme, using a hidden camera, recorded him making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful.

Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, 60, is the director of one of the three departments that make up the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican “ministry” for the clergy.

Yesterday he claimed that he was pretending to be gay in an attempt to unmask a Satanic plot to seduce Catholic priests to homosexuality and thus discredit the Church. “I only pretended I was gay to study how priests are seduced,” said Mgr Stenico, a frequent guest on television programmes discussing religious issues.

...Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel.

...The young man continues to raise moral and religious objections to actually having sex, until the priest becomes irritated, says that he has no time left and takes him back to the lift. On parting, the Monsignor tells him that he is “really tasty” and that he can telephone him or send him a message."

History of Religion

Oversimplified, but pretty damn awesome.

History of Religion:
"How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go!"

You know, it's almost like the administration didn't quite think this through.

Or more likely, as has been the case before, simply don't think laws should apply to them.

Crooks and Liars » Blackwater security,‘unlawful combatants’?:
"In light of the growing scandal surrounding Blackwater private security forces in Iraq, and efforts on the part of the Maliki government to expel the contractors from the country, Bush administration attorneys are apparently contemplating an awkward legal question: are Blackwater guards who’ve killed Iraqi civilians our own “unlawful combatants”?

As a rule, it’s a label given to terrorists caught in war zones without uniforms. It may be provocative, but there are U.S. officials who believe the name may apply to Blackwater."

Makes sense to me. I still don't get why we're not supposed to call them mercenaries.

Great series of articles about "how laws die."

Basically, they're ignored to death.

American lawbreaking: How laws die. - By Tim Wu - Slate Magazine:
"...It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict [celebrities.] The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you'd see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like "false statements" (a felony, up to five years), "obstructing the mails" (five years), or "false pretenses on the high seas" (also five years). The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."

As this story suggests, American law is underenforced—and we like it that way. Full enforcement of every last law on the books would put all of us in prison for crimes such as "injuring a mail bag." No enforcement of our laws, on the other hand, would mean anarchy. Somehow, officials must choose what laws really matter."

But, but... ALL the laws really matter, right? I mean, that's what they tell me! Parents and TV and all those fine politicians...

Or civilization turns to anarchy! Cats lying down with dogs! The rules is all that keeps us from turning into animals! [And opposable thumbs, of course.] And hey, all the cops in the news, from the DEA to the DOJ on down tell you that they "just enforce" the law. They have no discretion or judgment in prosecuting, say, cancer patients for using medical marijuana. THEY HAVE TO ENFORCE THE LAW!

Of course.

For example - How laws die - Obscenity:
"In the Unites States, using a computer to download obscenity is a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison. Federal law makes it a crime to use 'a computer service' to transport over state lines 'any obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, motion-picture film, paper, letter, writing, print, or other matter of indecent character.'

Under the plain reading of the statute, most men in the United States may be felons. Statistics on the downloading of "lewd pictures" are notoriously unreliable, but according to some surveys, 70 percent of men have admitted to visiting pornographic sites at some point. Many such sites are probably obscene under the Supreme Court's definition of obscenity—that is, they, according to community standards, "appeal to the prurient interest," depict "sexual conduct" in an patently offensive way, and lack "serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value."

Today, despite these laws, there are very few prosecutions centered on mainstream adult pornography. Over the last decade, and without the repeal of a single law, the United States has quietly and effectively put its adult obscenity laws into a deep coma, tolerating their widespread violation with little notice or fanfare... This enormous transformation has occurred without any formal political action. And it illuminates just how America changes law in sensitive areas like obscenity: not so much through action as through neglect."

So, all you fellas out there, and you know who you are... Make sure you go turn yourself in, kay?

This next bit I found particularly engaging, in that we now have a HUGE drug legalization movement, all accomplished simply by changing the words we use. A little BS semantic shift, and voila! - drugs for everybody!

How laws die. - That Other Drug Legalization Movement:
"...drug legalization is happening in a wholly different way. Over the last two decades, the FDA has become increasingly open to drugs designed for the treatment of depression, pain, and anxiety—drugs that are, by their nature, likely to mimic the banned Schedule I narcotics. Part of this is the product of a well-documented relaxation of FDA practice that began under Clinton and has increased under Bush. But another part is the widespread public acceptance of the idea that the effects drug users have always been seeking in their illicit drugs—calmness, lack of pain, and bliss—are now "treatments" as opposed to recreation. We have reached a point at which it's commonly understood that when people snort cocaine because they're depressed or want to function better at work, that's drug trafficking; but taking antidepressants for similar purposes is practicing medicine.

...Are the new pharmaceuticals really substitutes for narcotics? The question, of course, is what counts as a substitute, which can depend not just on chemistry but on how the drug in question is being used. But as a chemical matter the question seems simple: In general, pharmaceuticals do the same things to the brain that the illegal drugs do, though sometimes they do so more gently.

As many have pointed out, drugs like Ritalin and cocaine act in nearly the exact same manner: Both are dopamine enhancers that block the ability of neurons to reabsorb dopamine. As a 2001 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, Ritalin "acts much like cocaine." It may go further than that: Another drug with similar effects is nicotine, leading Malcolm Gladwell to speculate in The New Yorker that both Ritalin and cocaine use are our substitutes for smoking cigarettes. "Among adults," wrote Gladwell, "Ritalin is a drug that may fill the void left by nicotine." Anecdotally, when used recreationally, users report that Ritalin makes users alert, focused, and happy with themselves. Or as one satisfied user reports on Erowid, "this is the closest pharmaceutical *high* to street cocaine that I have experienced." In the words of another, "I felt very happy, and very energetic, and I had this feeling like everything was right with the world.""

Of course, it's all the same. People drink, smoke, take drugs, do extreme sports and even work out, for one reason. It makes them feel good. Exercise and sports dumps a massive amount of endorphins and adrenaline and pleasure drugs into your system. A hug or a kiss does the same thing. We all engage in all sorts of behaviors to engage these biochemical rushes, and then every society almost always arbitrarily, labels some good and some bad. Cocaine? Bad. Ritalin? Let's give it to the kids! Alcohol? Good! Marijuana? Bad. And on and on and on...

And I kinda really wanna try Ritalin now.

"Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone." - Chuang Tzu

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stupidity reigns.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Puppycide:
"...a Pittsburgh man was jailed last week and held on $100,000 bond. His crime? Threatening a police dog that startled him with a growl as he walked by." [his] arraignment, District Justice Gene Ricciardi put him in jail and set the bond.

"A police dog is a police officer. There is no difference under the law,” Ricciardi tells KDKA.

From the comments at the link is a sentiment I can get behind -
"A police dog is a police officer."

That concept has always bothered me. It's a felony if a person kills a police dog but it's "an isolated incident" if a cop accidentally murders a human. What is wrong with this picture?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Finding out your childhood heroes have feet of clay.

Not my childhood heroes, mind you - a fictional Dark Knight avenger can't disappoint - but author and BoingBoing uber-blogger Cory Doctorow apologizes to Ursula K Le Guin, one of his childhood faves, when it seems to me she's being kind of a petty jackass.

An apology to Ursula K Le Guin - Boing Boing:
"In a nutshell: I quoted, in its entirety, a one-paragraph story that Ms Le Guin sent to the fanzine Ansible, in which she made fun of a book review in Slate that said that Michael Chabon 'has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it.' Le Guin's paragraph was a long one, about 500 words, and I pasted the whole thing in, because I thought it was delightful.

I did this with the understanding that reproducing, for the purposes of commentary, a single paragraph originally published in a noncommercial venue, was fair use under 17USC, the American copyright statute.

Ms Le Guin disagrees, and though I haven't heard from her personally, my understanding is that she disagrees on the basis that taking the whole story can't be fair use. I have taken the piece down. The last thing I wanted to do was quote Ms Le Guin against her wishes, and had I known sooner that she objected to being quoted, I would have removed it sooner.

However, I still believe that my quotation was fair use. I have discussed it with copyright scholars, and my understanding is that the proportion of the work in quotation is one factor in determining fair use, but not the only one (imagine if "taking the whole thing isn't fair use" was a hard and fast rule -- how would one quote a double-dactyl or a haiku?). I also believe this to be consistent with jurisprudence on the subject. However, fair use is judge-made law, and this is an area where people of good will can have legitimate disagreements. I say this not because I wish to slough off responsibility for a mistake, but because I think fair use is an important concept in the free flow of information.

...Since then, I've worked through mutual friends to convey this to Ms Le Guin. My understanding is that she is unsatisfied and remains upset with me..."

More on copyright, fair use and Creative Commons at the link.

Hitting the comic book mother lode.

Every geek's dream.

"It’s the classic story that any comic book fan or shop owner wants to be a part of someday: A person, cleaning out some old stuff in a house finds a comic book. Well, not just any comic book, but a copy of one of the handful of the comic books.

In this case, it was 1939’s Detective Comics #27, featuring the first appearance of Batman. The copy is in good shape, with very minor edge wear, a light dust shadow, and a “Siamese centerfold” - meaning extra paper made it through the press during the printing process. The store/retailer whose hands it ended up in – Todd McDevitt of New Dimension Comics, a Western Pennsylvania chain with five locations around the Pittsburgh area.

...In appraising the book, McDevitt graded the issue at Fine to Very Fine. But even that slight distinction between grades has meaning – according to Overstreet Price Guide, there’s a $110,000 price difference between copies in those two conditions..."