Saturday, December 31, 2005


I can't honestly say I'm one of those whoop & holler types when it comes to New Year's. I loathe champagne, find noise-makers highly unpleasant, and generally don't give a damn about a dropping ball or Dick Clark (no offense, Dick).

Still, in an effort to be magnanimous, I'm trying to stir up a degree of enthusiasm for the annual calendar-morph this year. Why? Well, beyond "why the hell not?", it's beyond obvious that if we all need a change, it's now.

Had I any photoshop skills at all, Baby New Year would have had Fitzgerald's face pasted in, so you'll just have to imagine that for yourselves. And, I must confess that the rumors of Abramoff's plea deal being announced "as early as Tuesday" fill me with an anticipation akin to that normally felt by kids on Christmas Eve. And it's not pure schadenfreude, incidentally (though that is part of it, I can't deny). I'm simply in the mood for a reckoning, plain and simple. I want the karmic wheel to spin around and serve us up a hot, steaming pile of justice. A naive desire? Perhaps, but mine nonetheless.

Eons ago, I studied the fluffier things in the world like astrology, tarot cards & numerology (it's ok, you can snicker, I won't hold it against you). It was fun, it was intriguing, and like anyone else searching for the Big Why, it provided equal parts relief and bewilderment. I took all of it with a grain of salt, much like I do all things "metaphysical" or "religious", and from time to time, I let my imagination wander back that way, if only in search of a diversion from the sea of Legos, Sesame Street, utility bills and dirty laundry that I'm surrounded with each day.

So, putting on my cob-web covered numerologist hat (and my apologies in advance to those more "serious students" that object to my half-assed, and arguably incorrect, methodology), I contemplate the coming year.

The basic rules are this: To find the "vibration" for a thing/person/event, you add the individual digits together until you reduce to a single number. If we were going to use my birth year for example, we'd add 1 + 9 + 6 + 8. That yields 24. Then we add 2 + 4 to yield 6. If we wanted to explore the numerological significance of the year I was born, then, we'd look up 6.

So, let's do the same for 2006. Easy peasy. 2 + 6 (obviously the zeros don't count) yields 8. My rusty memory chirps up to tell me that 8 is a number of transformation, and given the impending elections, this strikes me as rife with potential. Some say it's also a number of justice, of authority and strength. It's also alleged to represent intensity, so if any of this means a hill of beans at all, it sounds to me like the coming year may be quite a roller coaster ride, indeed. Following along, 2007 will be a "9" year (last in a 9-year cycle) and 2008, just in time for the presidential election, will put us in the lap of a fresh "1" year, that of new beginnings.

Naturally, it's as likely as not that all of this is pure poppycock, but for the moment, it's a thought I like to entertain. Some people pick up their Bibles, some people read their horoscopes. Institution and tradition aside, we all search for the same thing: A reason larger than ourselves, a cause larger than our own tempestuous wills, a purpose larger than the screaming of the id.

I'd like to believe that this year will herald the change we, and this country, so desperately need, since the alternatives, to me, seem dire and bleak. Focusing on the latter is apt to do little more than lead us all to drink heavily and carry weapons in our cars, so even if our inspiration comes from something as questionable as back-of-the-napkin numerology, that's alright by me.

So, raise a glass to a better world, no matter how likely you are to find it. Barring insanity, optimism is really our only option.

Blessings to you and yours, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tough Read

but worth it. "Meet Specialist McCoy"

I Wonder How the Easter Bunny Rates

From a recent Harris poll:

About 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi...

So much for an informed electorate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Working My Way Back

So, I've been in this bloggy fog lately.

(as if it's not been totally obvious, right?)

Not that the news inspires any less rage than it ordinarily does, of course, but as any other blogger will tell you, sometimes the urge to blather on about it wanes considerably. Now that the holiday craziness is starting to wind down, I'm trying to get my noodle in gear and get back to providing you dear readers (all 3 of you) with the snarky commentary you've grown to love.

Until the hamster in my head gets up to full speed, let me point you at some of the more interesting things lurking in my bookmarks:

James Wolcott provides one of the best descriptions of right-wing bloggers (and commenters) I've seen yet in "Headhunters". I love that man.

Some of you may have heard about a UCLA "study" that "proves" the MSM suffers from the ever-dreaded Liberal Bias. If you can stop laughing about that long enough to click the mouse, Media Matters decontructs this study beautifully.

Here's a couple of interviews from some of my personal heroes, Phil Donahue and Bill Moyers. Don't miss either.

Here's a good Rolling Stone article on Bush's Propaganda Boy, John Rendon. A must read for those of you interested in the myriad of Whys behind the Iraq clusterfuck.

And, just to round out such heady subjects with some Point 'n' Laugh levity, be sure to pay a visit to Fundies Say the Darndest Things. It will amuse, disturb, perplex and tickle you. (you might want to drink heavily while reading, incidentally)

More later. Hope everyone had a good holiday. I now have more little multi-colored plastic things in my house than should be allowed by law. And wouldn't you know it? My son is far less interested in the Legos than he is in wearing the clear plastic container over his head like some kind of Space Helmet by Hasbro. Go figure.

Any exciting New Year's plans? I hope for inebriation, but that's about it for the time being.

What a thrilling life I lead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dover, PA: ID Trial Ruling

December 20, 2005

Judge rules for the Plaintiffs! Hallefuckinglujah! Personally, I didn't expect anything else, but good news is good news, no matter how well anticipated.

Screw you, Discovery Institute. Go peddle your pseudo-scientific nonsense somewhere else.

And if you do, we'll look forward to seeing you in court.

Lily's BitchPOD Challenge

The holidays are in full swing here at Hydrogen and Stupidity!
Ok gadget sluts: listen up. I think I have the perfect Holineutral gift idea. My new bitchPOD. Does it shuffle your favorite Dusty Springfield or secret stash of the Clash? No. Does it shuffle nerdy podcasts of "All Things Considered"? No.
What it would shuffle are a playlist of responses to Fundie freaks, thumpers, misogynist slobs,consumptive bastards, crazed rednecks, and stupid people on line behind us at the store that complain about the speed of the cashier.
And I propose a site to download quips, snark, and general bitchery for .99 a download. When the offender opens their stupid mouths, hit a button and spare yourself the aggravation. A little speaker will proclaim anything from your position on reproductive liberty to your angst about the holidays. And the beauty of it is this: you don;t even have to formulate your own view if you don't feel like it! Just download an opinion!
If you had this imaginary device, what would your shuffle include?????
Happy Holineutraldays! -Lily

Monday, December 19, 2005

Colored Bubbles Are Coming

People tell me that I'm overly tangential, that its tough to see where I am going with things. That its a leap of faith, an investment on spec. Sometimes its worth the wait to know, but other times it amounts to a psychotic dead end. I'm not sure how my credit stands with you.
The point though is not to express my glee about colored bubbles, but rather to broach the subject of patents- because of course patents make profits possible. And profits get us talking about markets and policy matters, and so it goes.. back on the blognarrow track. Right?
Now in my post about automobile tracking devices, the subject invariably simmered down to what many of my rants simmer down to: the love/hate relationship with the long arms of legislation.
(My issues come from having a communist mom and a libertarian father, neither could cope with the fucking government)
At what point does the law play a role in personal responsibility, manipulating behaviors for some desireable, collectively good result? Like the seatbelt law? See, the subjects we talk about here: reproductive liberty, parental/spousal consent for abortion, obscenity laws, censorship, seat belts, patents, surveillance... have as a binding agent the question of this role of law and weighing its intrusiveness with its potential to protect. Even the hurricanes prompted discussion about the role of individuals,bureaucracy, and the roles of society in its organized multiplicities..
Much can be learned about our own views in reflecting on current events.
Take the bird flu and the push by politicians like Kucinich to ease patent restrictions. One side: public good, excessive profits disproportionate to investment, implications/costs of pandemic, role of government to interfere in markets for noble cause, precedent for interference in capitalism set by such noted commies as Reagan... (yeah, I said Reagan-recall the Air Traffic Controllers?)
Other side: Fucking around with patents can be equated to intellectual genocide. Nobody will work on innovative pharmaceuticals if they are robbed of the future rewards of cashing in and those implications extend to other technological advances. While the short term goal of serving the public interest might sound compelling, how many future lives will be taken because potential treatments were not wholeheartedly explored? Patent protection should be upheld for the public interest, or weakened?
Next: Blackberry and the patent lawsuit from hell. This begs a different question: if you have a patent, should you be compelled to use it? Is it fair to simply own the rights to an idea and forbid anyone from bringing it to fruition? One side: thats the beauty of the patent, the right to determine its use or lack of. Other side: what about the customers who will be essentially victimized by the demise of Blackberry? How much is a market worth? How can we extract the value of technology from the subsequent post-theft marketing?
Katrina: Can a citizen sue the government because they were negligent or ill equipped to handle a natural disaster? One side: Its bullshit, people primarily have an obigation to solve their own problems and natural disasters are faultless acts. People should stop looking to government to do for them. Get your own water!
The other: The purpose of government, at its core, is to 'provide for the general welfare' of its citizens, especially in cases of large scale interstate manuevers like disaster response, or less acute examples like trade and currency. To be that bureaucratically incompetent is like having an emergency room without a doctor. There is a reasonable 'presumption of care', a contractual covenant wherein taxes are paid and public officials are paid for stated purposes and that egregious failure to assist is negligence.
Certainly there are other recent cases: Smokers or big tobacco, who's at fault? Spying on citizens- necessary for security or sodomy by Big Brother? Google- autonomous company permitted to archive your search behaviors (and if you don't like it don't use google) or an example of information abuse?
Colored bubbles are coming, but why? That brings me to the last question: do we patent and create what the market asks for and demands, a responsive market...or do we create needs and wants and set about convincing the public via marketing? And how much of our wasteful economy can be traced to the answer? -Lily

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Big Google is Watching

I was trying to ignore the articles in my inbox from my well meaning friends about internet censorship because-truth be told- I really do not want to wrap my brain around the implications of that right now. But as an admitted insomniac I seem to have plenty of sleepless down time lately to infuse my wakeful hours with the remnants of my nocturnal paranoia fest. I used to think that if I purged my angry brain, elusive sleep would tap the peaceful void... but its like an exponential eradication...the more I vent, the more bubbles to the surface, and so it goes.
So my mind goes to the blogosphere, this quiet corner, the good folks that rant and read and share like little bics at an Elton John concert during "Candle In The Wind" before it became "English Rose". Contrived smart-ass flickers- at times. But they are little boxes of conversation. Good,bad, stupid,profound.
What does this freedom mean to us? Anything?
To me, they represent yet another form of dissent. One whose days could be numbered like so many other things. One cannot help but think about the recent news about internet censorship without getting the creeps. Its nothing new in other countries, and tech saavy folks know that search engines are manipulated all the time. Simultaneous searches in different countries, after all, yeild different results. How long before anti-war or anti-administration search terms get puched downward, before the internet goes the way of MSM?
I heard a story on public radio about google. Maybe some of you caught it. Now google has no difficulty in admitting that it keeps and archives ALL transactions. Your searches, your emails, your deleted messages, your porn, your personal chatter. Now consider how fast and efficient searches have become, and consider an internet with a matrix of behavioral formulae and couple that concept with a near limitless capacity for storage and VOILA- big brother is watching. And recording, and archiving, and profiling. With no limit in sight on its use. No discussion about ethical dilemmas. No outrage.
Now it used to be that collecting data on citizens was too long and impractical to merit use of the time required and the energy. Paranoid radicals that believed that they were being monitored were accused of grandiosity. Who would track harmless hippies? But now that the machinery is in place, such tracking is effortless. And it has seeped into our culture slowly, on cat feet. And there is no need to be discerning with its use or stingy with its scope.
We are all used to supermarket cards and EZ Pass to get through tolls quickly, all tools that can track ordinary citizens. We are used to the erosion of our civil liberties and the forfeit of our privacy in the name of security. And now we hardly blink when we consider the meaning of google's position. How long before the search records attributed to your traceable ISP are fodder for the courts? Subject to subpoena? Subject to spying? How hard would it be to do a search in this massive google archive on redhaired crazy women that hate Santorum and buy soy chai?
This is bad, folks. This needs our notice.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Click,Clack, and Tattling Cars

My love for NPR's "Car Talk" remains one of my quirks, along with a fondness for Cuban conga cds and orange tic tacs. Just some of the things that I like without examination. Who knows why?
Now TMPO can relate to this: I also like to drive other people's nice cars. I know, I know. I'm not a materialist and car appreciation is a guy thing, right? (joke)It goes against who I am. Really. But even hippie chicks have some weaknesses.
Once I drove my mom's beamer with Maria Callas, along a fifteen mile stretch of double ocean views on a Long Island inlet, and had to admit: I had love for a damned machine. It was smooth, it was beautiful, the sound was amazing. It's a car that I would never buy,and quite frankly my desire for it was astonishing, but humans are full of contradictions. At least I am. Sadly.
What does this have to do with politics? Or NPR?
Well it is common knowledge that BMW and other cars have technology that communicate via satellite about the status of the car. This is a value added feature, like so many other devices on these vehicles.Some people are familiar with OnStar and other such features that enable cars to interact remotely. Anyway, a caller to "Car Talk" asked about a device installed on her car as part of an insurance company research program. The insurance company had asked her to participate, and she wanted to know what types of information could be recorded from the various components of the typical dash. Interesting.
The answer? Everything. Speed, seat belt use, nature of starts and stops, acceleration. At this time, the tattling car would reveal patterns for research purposes only. But how long before Auto Insurance companies get such tracking devices turned into standard equipment? To track your behavior and adjust the rates accordingly? To see how safely and responsibly YOU interact with the item they insure. Yes, your car would be able to potentially tell them how badly you treat it. And if you obey the law. It would be able to tell your insurance company what you do even when you are not caught doing it.
Now one brother at "Car Talk" said it might not be so bad. There are crazy people.
It forces me to ask: Would such a device function as a deterrent for the crazy driver? Again it comes down to the question of balancing rights with societal good. What if tracking driving habits led to a ten percent reduction of fatalities per year? If it forced parents to buckle up babies or risk a rate hike? Would it hurt some populations more than others, say, families that share cars? Would you feel violated, watched, spied on, tracked like a kid? Would you buy a car with this if your rate were to be cut by 50%?? Would you buy into this idea?
What happens between a car and a woman is nobody's business, I am inclined to say.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pic of the Day

Just for Bill O'Reilly.

Not Dead, Just.... Juiceless?

In case any of you have been wondering where the hell I've been....

Dealing with the mundane, mostly. Kid, family, house, work... you know, all that stuff that happens between blogging. To those of you still checking in regularly, thank you. I see Lily's been posting and for her continued contributions, I'm grateful.

As for me, I'll get back in the swing of things here, soon enough. I think my little brain has just needed a bit of a break. Enjoy the pre-holiday business and all that.

If I forget to post something in a more timely fashion, here's wishing all of you a warm and wonderful holiday season (yes, I said "holiday". Neener neener).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Day The Music Died

October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try.
No hell below us,
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too.
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Monday, December 05, 2005

News Junkie

At another blog, a blograde was lamenting the quiet news week. "There isn't much to write about these days."
Slap me senseless and call me Paris, but huh? Perhaps because I am a certifiable news junkie I hardly ever feel that way. I decided to dig deeper. One thing I love about CB here is her ability to wade through the swamplands of MSM and save me time because I simply cannot get to it all.
Nothing to write about? What did this chick mean? Why did I care? Why didn't I just go warm my feet at My Left Wing? Turns out that what she meant was that there was an absence of sensational stories, an absence of Schiavo-like sparring, an absence of scandal. There were no stories with which to catapult her pet topics, no venue for her commentary. No little Mclaughlin party, just for her. She did not want to reduce herself to Hollywood news. Did not feel like researching ConRice's remarks on torture. Did not feel compelled to follow the Global warming conference in Canada. Where is the news that everyone is talking about???
If everyone is talking about it, we don't need to. I think its a given that several billion people are more capable than I am. I ask about conformity and suggest that we can write about more of the under reported things, one of the compelling reasons to read a blog is to get a broader perspective. When I go to ten blogs and eight of them are saying the same thing, I feel kinship, which has its place, but I also find many have lifted their content from some of the others like a big bloggy bandwagon. Everyone wants to be the next Kos. Can't blame them.
"I'm not like you, I can't masturbate to NPR, with more boring opinions and criticisms than my little typing fingers can carry." she snorts. ouch
But the beauty of the blogosphere is that nobody has to agree with what I think is important. There are so many blogs- truly there is a niche for everyone, whatever your political persuasion or your recreational leanings. Some people feel strongly about an issue and see it as counterproductive to dilute their energies into dozens of topics when they can stay on top of some key developments on matters they feel able to speak to. Perhaps it is a matter of understanding product. And as neighbors, we need to see the value in millions of little soap boxes, good or bad, shitty or brilliant, critical or compliant, recipes or rebellion.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Oh, For the Seduction of Organic Hysteria

Ever hear of the Nuremberg code? Many have not. Some think its about Nazi behavior. It is. Sort of. Any parallels expressed or implied are completely coincidental. Check back here later to read it. Moving on...

Organic Consumers Association is an organization that sends out periodic consumer alerts, worth a plug. Now before you groan and say "oh great, a granola head in our midst" I just want to let you know that despite my penchance for histrionic fact collection, this latest has me pacing around in spite of the whispers from the CB-like muse on my shoulder that says "beware hippie hysteria". I've been following this for a while, though. Its evil.

(Sigh) I know that I rant off the cuff and that I have more than one grassy knoll post under my belt. My suspicions are often fodder for mockery, I talk about 'feelings' and diversity... my angst has been the subject of attacks by even those in close blogmind proximity that do not know of my personal real-time work, that assume that I regularly whore and hack for Democrats, Chomsky, Guthrie, Phish, or the Bonotypes... whatever...reading "Mother Jones" all day lamenting my apathetic mind. Yeah, I suck at contriving posts that are snarkaliciously juicy. A pit bull, I'm not. I have a kid named after the weather, after all. I am an emotional train wreck and this impedes my clarity. I don't blog to win.

What can I say? BUT- being a stereotypical liberal does not mean I bleed marijuana or cannot speak to truth. I am about awareness, not making a sport of being a contrarian. Sometimes a clumsy heartfelt post is all I can manage, sans the linkopedia. But I offer my rant here regardless, because it involves testing on children. And ok, I'll throw in some links.

Per OCA: "Public comments are now being accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its newly proposed federal regulation regarding the testing of chemicals and pesticides on human subjects. On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the following: Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable. "

Yes, it does suggest the convenience of utilizing abused children, such expedient permission!!! And the spectre of institutional abuse, a staple of American progress!

Now in an earlier thread, we touched briefly on the theme of "The Constant Gardener" and pharmaceutical testing in Africa. While this is fiction (and I am digressing, see the problem?) there have been many documented cases involving pharmaceuticals, HIV, TB, and opportunistic infections on African populations. This is not a new topic in some circles. But it is arguably a new topic in mainstream America because until recently little attention has been paid to chemical testing in general- not among our military, our children, or the world's children.

Last year when the media began reporting proposals to test chemicals (pesticides, etc.) on American children for modest compensation, groups got on board to campaign for congressional intervention to reign in the EPA. Citing discrimination against the poor, and legal challenges- they forced the EPA to revise their standards. "Revise"=key word:

70 FR 53865 26.408(a) "The IRB (Independent Review Board) shall determine that adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children, when in the judgment of the IRB the children are capable of providing assent...If the IRB determines that the capability of some or all of the children is so limited that they cannot reasonably be consulted, the assent of the children is not a necessary condition for proceeding with the research. Even where the IRB determines that the subjects are capable of assenting, the IRB may still waive the assent requirement..."

Now according to the OCA:
"Under this clause, a mentally handicapped child or infant orphan could be tested on without assent. This violates the Nuremberg Code, an international treaty that mandates assent of test subjects as "absolutely essential," and that the test subject must have "legal capacity to give consent" and must be "so situated as to exercise free power of choice." This loophole in the rule must be completely removed. "

Read the EPA request for public comment, and learn more about the EPA's perspective here.

Read the National Academies Press Response "Intentional Human Dosing Studies for EPA Regulatory Purposes: Scientific and Ethical Issues" and the NRDC statements here.

For information about the Snopes entry, which was actually not directly related to this alert, read the response here.

Whether it's testing of pesticides, medicine, immunizations, MKULTRA, exposing innocent people to white phosphorous or depleted uranium, I believe that we need to take a stand against the exploitive use of 'disposable' or 'ass-owned' populations. While I can support PETA and groups defending humane treatment of animals, lets see Hollywood come out for children who cannot speak out against the use of their bodies, who must rely on the sanity of adults and the scant protections afforded by law. Lets see Americans valuing children, not reducing them to test subjects. Lets see parents get involved, not try to make a quick buck on exposing their kids to pesticides. Lets see Veterans and military families rage about the injections, exposures, 'lost records', babies born to Gulf war vets with chromosomal abnormalities... Lets see bloggers pause from sparring about the President, the neocons, and the war for five minutes to consider the prospects of these children. How 'bout it? Humor the hippie?