Saturday, March 31, 2007

John Mayer -- "Waiting on the World to Change"

Here's proof that not all pop music is mindless. It reminds me in tone, beat and subject matter of the early 70's political/activist pop music of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye (especially What's Going On).

John Mayer's obviously extremely talented and is much more than the pop albums that he has released. He's a great guitarist and songwriter and has released blues albums. Here's my political song of the day:

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there's no way we ever could
now we see everything that's going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's hard to beat the system
when we're standing at a distance
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
now if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door
and when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want

that's why we're waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's not that we don't care,
we just know that the fight ain't fair
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

and we're still waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
one day our generation
is gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

Friday, March 30, 2007

Global Warming - Alternate View

In the interest of full disclosure and because I am not afraid of an open forum of ideas, please check out The Great Global Warming Swindle at my buddy Scott's blog. Scott's a nutty pro-business anarchist (lol), but I like him anyway because he's at least honest and consistent in his skewed worldview. And, painfully, we occasssionally agree on something ... just not in this case.

Check out his post before continuing because I don't want to taint you with my take on the video ....


Alright, all done? 75 minutes later, or maybe you skipped through it. My complaints:

- like other anti-global warming adherants, Patrick Moore, to a large part, lets commerce dictate his science -- He's a paid mouthpiece for the timber and plastics industries.

- Several of the scientists that actually appeared in the video have questioned the manner in which their interviews were used and taken out of context, most notably that of Carl Wunsch: - Climate change: An inconvenient truth... for C4
Professor Wunsch said: "I am angry because they completely misrepresented me. My views were distorted by the context in which they placed them. I was misled as to what it was going to be about. I was told about six months ago that this was to be a programme about how complicated it is to understand what is going on. If they had told me even the title of the programme, I would have absolutely refused to be on it. I am the one who has been swindled."

When told what the commission had found, he said: "That is what happened to me." He said he believes it is "an almost inescapable conclusion" that "if man adds excess CO2 to the atmosphere, the climate will warm".

He went on: "The movie was terrible propaganda. It is characteristic of propaganda that you take an area where there is legitimate dispute and you claim straight out that people who disagree with you are swindlers. That is what the film does in any area where some things are subject to argument."

- "Eight of the scientists in the film - John Christy, Paul Reiter, Richard Lindzen, Paul Driessen, Roy Spencer, Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer and Tim Ball - are linked to American neo-conservative and right-wing think-tanks, many of which have received tens of millions of dollars from Exxon." - from PURE PROPAGANDA - THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE

- Scientists appearing in the video have received funding from and have been expert witnesses in court cases for: Exxon, Shell, Arco, Unocal, Sun, Edison Electric Institute, the largest utility trade association in America, Western Fuel Association, coal companies, fuel lobby’s Global Climate Coalition

- There are many distortions and misrepresentations in the film that have caused even the original channel that aired it to distance itself - Channel 4 Distances Itself From Documentary

For more problems with the program, check out Deconstructing Channel 4's Great Global Warming Swindle

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This is Your Life

- You went to law school

- You served in the military

- You obtained your appointment as attorney general because of friendship and longtime loyalty to the president prior to his being elected. You served him in other capacities prior to your appointment.

- "As attorney general, you believed that the government's need for "law and order" justified restrictions on civil liberties. (You) advocated the use of wiretaps in national security cases without obtaining a court order and the right of police to employ the preventive detention of criminal suspects."

- You repeatedly perjured yourself

This is your life ...

... John N. Mitchell.

Bet you thought I was going to say Alberto Gonzales.

Is it just me or is there a tremendous sense of deja vu here? Every day brings a new scandal and a new cover-up. From assistants not wanting to go the Libby route and take a bullet for those above them:

Gonzales aide to invoke Fifth Amendment, refuse to answer Senate questions

to a disastrous parsing of language in a TV interview:

Gonzales like a '7-year-old' who broke cookie jar

to outright petulance and hostility:

Gonzales Runs Out Of Conference To Avoid Scandal Questions

This is how this government works --
(1) Make politically motivated decisions
(2) Act surprised when you get caught
(3) Lie about what you did -- creating an even worse offense with the cover-up
(4) Nail yourself up on the cross and play the martyr -- it's all the media's and vast left-wing-conspiracy's fault

Well, even as apathetic and uninformed as a large part of the country has been for far too long, it will eventually come to a head:
"On February 21, 1975, Mitchell was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison for his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up ..."

So, those of you who don't think that there is anything fishy going on in Washington (and has been going on for 6 years), keep walking around in your haze. Most of our blogs have been harping about the disregard for the democratic process by this government for years. History will mark this group of crooks as having done a much greater disservice to our country than Nixon's crew.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Borat / Premonition / 300 Reviews

Borat - I wanted to like this movie. I get what he was trying to do. Maybe it's because I never watched his show. Maybe it was because it was pumped up too much as being the "funniest movie ever" and I was the victim of unrealistic expectations. Maybe it was the audience I was watching it with (my wife). I laughed sometimes. Just not enough. More than anything, it made me feel uncomfortable because of how embarrassing some of my countrymen are on issues of race, misogyny, religion, etc. That's the point, I know.

I have to give credit to Sacha Baron Cohen for having the guts to take a joke all the way. After all, not many people are willing to take in a mouthful of a large sweaty man's ass for a laugh. Perhaps that is a good thing.

Laura likes this movie. For those of you who read both of our blogs, you probably already know her judgement trumps mine, so read her good review here.

Grade: C


Premonition - From IMDb, "Depressed housewife learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a world in which he is still dead."

I wish I had a premonition before going to see this movie. Then I would have been able to save the time and money that I wasted. It's like the screenwriter, director and all the actors seemed disinterested about the whole thing. No cogent message. No discernible structure that makes sense. And actors with no real chemistry or effective characterization. Utterly frickin' disposable. Grade: D


300 - Also from IMDb, 300 "... concerns the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his army against the advancing Persians; the battle is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and helped usher in the world's first democracy." An obviously important event (CK hits on it and other "accidents of history" in his latest post). It's stunning visually. Based on a Frank Miller graphic novel (like Sin City), it shares the living comic book quality of that movie (both due to Frank Miller being actively involved). The fight scenes are spectacular.

I understand the criticism that it seems to advocate a pro war message (like Black Hawk Down). But I liked that movie too. You can take movies on their visceral elements without having to attribute a deeper meaning to them. I think you can have movies about war that are not pro war, yet, conversely, are not revisionist and trying to send a negative message of war.

Gerard Butler, with his thick Scottish accent, seems well-suited to this role -- alternately yelling and delivering corny, manly lines ... sometimes both at the same time. But it's all part of the experience. He's primarily been in manly movies and served them well (Timeline, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Reign of Fire) mostly because of a natural charisma.

Through all the dismemberment and ogres, it still struck me as darkly funny and campy, intentionally, I hope. This movie is proof that you can have something that is both homophobic and homoerotic. 300 Greeks with sweaty hairless chests? Come on [grin]. I highly recommend this movie. Grade: A-

Check out Reel Fanatic's quality review of 300, here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Who Killed the Electric Car? / Global Warming

We watched a great documentary today, Who Killed the Electric Car?. It goes into to the various agencies and conditions that contributed to the demise of the popular GM electric car, the EV1. A girl that I used to work with leased an EV1 and loved it but were forced to give up their car at the end of the lease and had no option of buying it. Despite how much my friends and others loved their cars, GM took all of them back and destroyed them.

Many things contributed to the EV1 and other electric cars being phased out, including energy companies, the auto industry and a government in bed with both of them. But also consumers with a myopic view of the future and a desire to have the biggest, least efficient vehicles possible.

The movie is pretty even-handed and gives both sides opportunities to state their case. But ultimately, even the words of the auto companies themselves expose the real agenda. Grade: B+


from: Global Warming Cartoons

In a related vein, I caught a bit of the congressional hearings on global warming. My observations:

If you have the preponderence of scientific evidence and the overwhelming majority of scientific minds firmly in your camp, who do you march out in front of Congress to speak on the dangers of global warming ... Al Gore, of course. A person accustomed to speaking before Congress and a man with more than 30 years of interest and involvement in the environment.

What do you do if you are on the other side, with the flat-earthers, with one of your biggest advocates being the man who wrote Jurassic Park? You march out a parade of clowns who couldn't find their asses with two hands and a flashlight:

Texas Republican congressman Joe Barton, who has in the past regaled us with such gems as:

"I cannot imagine any objective finding that CO2 is a pollutant," he said. "If that's true, God is a polluter."

"As long as I am chairman, [regulating global warming pollution] is off the table indefinitely. I don't want there to be any uncertainty about that." — Congressional hearing entitled, "National Energy Policy: Coal" Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality (March 14, 2001)

and this week,
"You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong," - to Mr. Gore.

I try not to sink to ad hominem attacks, but the lack of quality and credibility of these critics directly comes to bear on the issue:

'Mr. Barton, a member of the Republican Study Committee, which promotes "the preservation of traditional family values", Barton divorced his first wife, the former Janet Sue Winslow, with whom he has three children, in 2003.'

This group pushes conservative themes and is promoting the Marriage Protection Amendment. I find it sickening how many people that push this amendment on religious grounds have no problem divorcing, an issue that was talked about a whole lot more in the Bible than homosexuality.

Opposed the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 2006.

People like Barton and his ilk disgust me. Their angle on global warming is so predictable, it's painful. Guess where the most campaign contributions for Barton have came from ($2 million and counting) ... energy companies and their PAC's.

Oklahoma senator James Inhofe:
famous for being outraged at people that were outraged about Abu Graib

In 2006, Inhofe was one of only nine senators to vote against the McCain Detainee Amendment banning torture on individuals in U.S. Government custody

Only Texas senator John Cornyn received more campaign donations from the oil and gas industry in the 2004 election cycle. The contributions Inhofe has received from the energy and natural resource sector since taking office have exceeded one million dollars.

He believes in god dictating policy: "I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel; that it has a right to the land. This is the most important reason: Because God said so. As I said a minute ago, look it up in the book of Genesis. It is right up there on the desk."

Inhofe had previously claimed that Global Warming is "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state."

No, actually, the first and second largest hoaxes in history would be yours and Joe Barton's tenures in Washington. So, to you two, I say, "You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Movie Review - The Proposition

I bought the movie, The Proposition, a few months ago after hearing several glowing reviews from Ebert and Roeper and others. I hadn't taken the time to watch it until tonight. Now, I wished I had watched it sooner.

It's a western but what makes the movie different is that it is not set in the classic American West. It is set in the outback of Australia, a land that many say was much wilder than it's American counterpart. From IMDb,
Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Capt. Stanley and his men capture two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns, the eldest brother and the gang's mastermind, remains at large has and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Capt. Stanley's proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and - more importantly - save his beloved younger brother Mike from the gallows by finding and killing Arthur within nine days.

In at least two regards, it reminded me a lot of Clint Eastwood movies. First of all, in the look of Guy Pearce's character, Charlie Burns, it was very evocative of Clint in Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns.

Secondly, the ambiguity of good and evil reminded me of those very same westerns but also of The Unforgiven. The people that are supposed to be good have bad in them and the people that are supposedly bad have a morality about them that makes it hard to completely hate them.

It is very much of the genre of modern revisionist westerns. Real life is not like the good guy/bad guy simplification of 50's westerns (or some would say, our current government). A scene from The Unforgiven just about sums it up:
... Later, the cocksure Kid breaks down as he fully grasps the enormity of cold-blooded murder. "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man," Munny agrees. "You take away all he's got, and all he's ever going to have." The Kid suggests that the victim had it coming. Munny replies, "We all have it coming, Kid."

The cast is is universally outstanding. It includes the previously mentioned Pearce (also of Memento), Ray Winstone (recently of The Departed), John Hurt (V for Vendetta), the always great Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves), and David Wenham (LOTR). The cinematography takes advantage of the vastness and barrenness of the outback. It has a sepia-toned hue to it to evoke the look of old-timed photographs. An interesting sidenote is that the script was written by singer Nick Cave.

If you are scared away by graphic violence, then you may want to rent City Slickers instead. But if you want a gritty, realistic, and dark western that is beautiful in its own way, check The Proposition out.

I liked this movie a lot and believe it is every bit as good as the other Westerns I mentioned. Grade: A

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gay Babies

A leading Southern Baptist and evangelical acknowledged this week that he believes there may be a biological basis for homosexuality. When I first saw this, I thought, "Great!" See, even religious leaders cannot deny science. Maybe this means that other contentious issues will be able to be reasoned logically by groups of differing religious beliefs. Then, I read on ...
"... However, Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was assailed even more harshly by gay-rights supporters. They were upset by his assertion that homosexuality would remain a sin even if it were biologically based, and by his support for possible medical treatment that could switch an unborn gay baby's sexual orientation to heterosexual.

"He's willing to play God," said Harry Knox, a spokesman on religious issues for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. "He's more than willing to let homophobia take over and be the determinant of how he responds to this issue, in spite of everything else he believes about not tinkering with the unborn ... ""

Oh, yeah. This guy's a real winner. He successfully managed to piss off both his own (Conservative Christians by suggesting that homosexuality may be biological) and everyone else (by suggesting that we can change orientation).

And the irony of advocating messing with unborns is apparently lost on him:
"... but he would endorse prenatal hormonal treatment — if such a technology were developed — to reverse homosexuality. He said this would no different, in moral terms, to using technology that would restore vision to a blind fetus. "I realize this sounds very offensive to homosexuals, but it's the only way a Christian can look at it," Mohler said. "We should have no more problem with that than treating any medical problem.""

The good doctor should know that you don't have to treat it medically. If you are really worried about having a gay baby, just check out this site:
Is My Little Baby Going to Go Gay?

My personal favorite:
9. A boy must not use brightly colored crayons or any crayons from any colors of a rainbow. Christian parents should remove and destroy any suspiciously colored crayons from their boy's box of Crayolas. This needs no explanation, as we here at Landover Baptist are all familiar with Mr. Crayola's so-called "alternate lifestyle," and his reason for putting "Pansy Pink" and "Engorged Penis Head Purple" into his boxes are quite obvious. A boy must also draw in straight lines. Some curves are fine, but if you suspect your child of "doodling," and see that he is using more curves than straight lines, please call your Pastor immediately.

Too funny.

"The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." -- Lynn Lavner

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Zell Miller

Ah, Zell, I'd almost forgotten about you. But here you are, reinforcing every negative view of you that I already have:
"How could this great land of plenty produce too few people in the last 30 years?" Miller asked. "Here is the brutal truth that no one dares to mention: We’re too few because too many of our babies have been killed."

Miller claimed that 45 million babies have been "killed" since the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973.

"If those 45 million children had lived, today they would be defending our country, they would be filling our jobs, they would be paying into Social Security," he asserted.

That's right. Apparently we can breed all of our problems away.

I can handle a difference of opinion on abortion. It's a personal and sometimes religious choice that I would not presume to force an opinion of on anybody. But to pine for the influx of poor that have resulted from those abortions coming to term is sick. You are trading one potential life for another that would be grist for the mill, a virtual abattoir, that we call Iraq. Zell Miller is one of those breed of individuals apparently not blessed with a sense of irony or the slightest bit of self-awareness.

By his logic, we don't need to implement the draft or raise the allowed age for soldiers. We just need to breed more.

If all that we are looking for is more soldiers and tax-payers, why don't we just legalize cloning. We need someone to clone who has a zombie-like allegiance to our President and a singular vision unsullied by practicality... maybe Zell himself.

"If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine." -- Michael J. Tucker

Friday, March 09, 2007

War on Easter

I'm not making this up:

John Gibson Hypes A ‘War on Easter’, Announces Easter Bunny Under Attack

So far, FOX News is the only place where I've heard of this nonexistent controversy, but knowing how many of my moron acquaintences like believing whatever they see there, I'm sure I'll be getting 'War on Easter' chain e-mails soon. I love how some members of such a pampered majority will look for every opportunity to hoist themselves up on to the cross and cry how they are being persecuted.

Stephen Colbert hilariously lampoons FOX and Hannity who choose to heap even more crap on this controversey:

Colbert: There is a War on Easter

In other news, godless liberals are declaring war on St. Patrick's Day, rebranding it Green Beer Day. -- OK, I made that last one up, but you know that it won't be long before FOX declares the 'War on St. Patrick's Day'.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Darwin’s God

I read an interesting article in the NY Times recently that takes a slightly different tact on the whole God/atheism issue. Instead of debating whether there is a God or not -- an issue that most of us have pretty strong views on already -- let's look at why some people believe in God:
"...Call it God; call it superstition; call it ... “belief in hope beyond reason” — whatever you call it, there seems an inherent human drive to believe in something transcendent, unfathomable and otherworldly, something beyond the reach or understanding of science. ..."

"... Atran is Darwinian in his approach, which means he tries to explain behavior by how it might once have solved problems of survival and reproduction for our early ancestors. But it was not clear to him what evolutionary problems might have been solved by religious belief. Religion seemed to use up physical and mental resources without an obvious benefit for survival. Why, he wondered, was religion so pervasive, when it was something that seemed so costly from an evolutionary point of view? ..."

Some say that it has to do with the earliest humans, " ... that religious belief is an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history ...". CK reviewed a book that says something to that effect.

The subject of the article makes the startling (to some) assertion that a belief in God may be the most natural state because the brain is hardwired for it:
"... Why, he wondered, did people work so hard against their preference for logical explanations to maintain two views of the world, the real and the unreal, the intuitive and the counterintuitive?

Maybe cognitive effort was precisely the point. Maybe it took less mental work than Atran realized to hold belief in God in one’s mind. Maybe, in fact, belief was the default position for the human mind, something that took no cognitive effort at all...."

Another interesting note, if we assume a Darwinian evolution of religion, is that religion may have once served a practical purpose for human survival or may have just been a side note to something else:
"... Darwinians who study physical evolution distinguish between traits that are themselves adaptive, like having blood cells that can transport oxygen, and traits that are byproducts of adaptations, like the redness of blood. There is no survival advantage to blood’s being red instead of turquoise; it is just a byproduct of the trait that is adaptive, having blood that contains hemoglobin.

Something similar explains aspects of brain evolution, too, say the byproduct theorists. Which brings us to the idea of the spandrel.

Stephen Jay Gould, the famed evolutionary biologist at Harvard who died in 2002, and his colleague Richard Lewontin proposed “spandrel” to describe a trait that has no adaptive value of its own. They borrowed the term from architecture, where it originally referred to the V-shaped structure formed between two rounded arches. The structure is not there for any purpose; it is there because that is what happens when arches align.

In architecture, a spandrel can be neutral or it can be made functional. Building a staircase, for instance, creates a space underneath that is innocuous, just a blank sort of triangle. But if you put a closet there, the under-stairs space takes on a function, unrelated to the staircase’s but useful nonetheless. Either way, functional or nonfunctional, the space under the stairs is a spandrel, an unintended byproduct.

“Natural selection made the human brain big,” Gould wrote, “but most of our mental properties and potentials may be spandrels — that is, nonadaptive side consequences of building a device with such structural complexity.”

The possibility that God could be a spandrel offered Atran a new way of understanding the evolution of religion. But a spandrel of what, exactly?..."

The fact that this "byproduct" has stuck around is common in evolution:
"... Atran ascribes the persistence to evolutionary misdirection, which, he says, happens all the time: “Evolution always produces something that works for what it works for, and then there’s no control for however else it’s used.” On a sunny weekday morning, over breakfast at a French cafe on upper Broadway, he tried to think of an analogy and grinned when he came up with an old standby: women’s breasts. Because they are associated with female hormones, he explained, full breasts indicate a woman is fertile, and the evolution of the male brain’s preference for them was a clever mating strategy. But breasts are now used for purposes unrelated to reproduction, to sell anything from deodorant to beer. “A Martian anthropologist might look at this and say, ‘Oh, yes, so these breasts must have somehow evolved to sell hygienic stuff or food to human beings,’ ” Atran said. But the Martian would, of course, be wrong. Equally wrong would be to make the same mistake about religion, thinking it must have evolved to make people behave a certain way or feel a certain allegiance. ..."

As I mentioned earlier, the belief in God may be a standard position for the brain at birth:
"...The bottom line, according to byproduct theorists, is that children are born with a tendency to believe in omniscience, invisible minds, immaterial souls — and then they grow up in cultures that fill their minds, hard-wired for belief, with specifics. It is a little like language acquisition, Paul Bloom says, with the essential difference that language is a biological adaptation and religion, in his view, is not. We are born with an innate facility for language but the specific language we learn depends on the environment in which we are raised. In much the same way, he says, we are born with an innate tendency for belief, but the specifics of what we grow up believing — whether there is one God or many, whether the soul goes to heaven or occupies another animal after death — are culturally shaped. ..."

The article goes in to many different things (it's 19 pages long). It touches on the possible benefits of religion in an evolutionary sense if you assume that it served a purpose instead of being a byproduct.

It talks of the conflicts between scientists who both believe in evolution (Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, for example).

One final thing that the author said that I found intriguing was how it was hard to be an atheist because it is not the default position of the brain. I don't agree with this view, but I found it interesting nonetheless:
"...What can be made of atheists, then? If the evolutionary view of religion is true, they have to work hard at being atheists, to resist slipping into intrinsic habits of mind that make it easier to believe than not to believe. Atran says he faces an emotional and intellectual struggle to live without God in a nonatheist world, and he suspects that is where his little superstitions come from, his passing thought about crossing his fingers during turbulence or knocking on wood just in case. It is like an atavistic theism erupting when his guard is down. The comforts and consolations of belief are alluring even to him, he says, and probably will become more so as he gets closer to the end of his life. He fights it because he is a scientist and holds the values of rationalism higher than the values of spiritualism. ..."

I find it easy to not believe in God, but I do find myself being superstitious at times for no apparent reason. Is it because the brain is set up to be that way, regardless of whether you believe in God or not?

I'm curious what all of you will take from the article (Christian and atheist).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Beer Chucking Fridge

Great White Bear, I think this invention is for us:
New York - An American inventor has come up with a fridge that throws cold cans of beer to lazy drinkers.

John Cornwell spent £1 500 creating the Beer Launching Fridge, reports the Mirror.

And his invention is attracting lots of interest since videos of it in action were posted on the Internet.

The fridge is activated by a remote control which sets off a lift mechanism in the fridge.

The lift delivers the can to an electronic catapult, which rotates until it is lined up with its thirsty target.

It then hurls the beer up to five metres to the drinker. It can hold a full 24-can crate - 10 beers in its magazine and 14 more in reserve.

John, 22, who has just graduated from university in North Carolina, said: "The idea was conceived when I was sitting on the sofa having a few beers.

"I thought, 'What if instead of me going to get the beer, the beer came to me?'"

"About three months later I have a fully automated, remote-controlled, catapulting, beer-launching mini-fridge.

"There is a slight danger of being hit in the head with a flying can but this danger decreases the more you use it." -

And they say American ingenuity is waning ... I think not. I love that last line - "There is a slight danger of being hit in the head with a flying can but this danger decreases the more you use it." -- I beg to differ. I think the danger would INCREASE as you drank more beers.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy 6th Birthday Alex!

The little guy turned 6 today. We're so proud of you sweetheart!

Click to see more pics

Plus more recent goings-on at my On The Road blog:

Spring Training

Fountain Hills Great Fair

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ann Coulter

Sane, intelligent people have Keith Olbermann.

Conservative mouth-breathers have Ann Coulter:
"I was going to comment on John Edwards,'' she told the crowd here at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, "but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you say the word faggot.''

Many speakers today told jokes about Al Gore's heated pool, and there was a whole panel discussion on the wa-hoo hilarity of the global warming "debate.'' But natch, Coulter took it up a notch: "Why don't they put solar panels on Al Gore?'' And, "Did Al Gore swallow Michael Moore?'' And, "You know what they say about guys with small carbon footprints.''

She also referred to Barack Obama as "B. Hussein Obama,'' and said Hillary was already at work on hiring her White House team, "a group of hard-working men and women, none of whom is named Monica.''

And as much as we'd like to think she's on the fringe, she's not. The Republican Great White Hope, Mitt Romney, complimented her for being a "moderate".

Republicans ... you should be proud.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Myth of Illegal Immigration Crime

If you asked most people, they would indicate to you that an increase of immigration (legal and illegal) would spell the doom of their community. "There goes the neighborhood." But a new study would find fault with this assumption. Study: Immigrant crime rate low:
The Orange County Register

IRVINE – Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to a study released Monday by a UC Irvine professor for the Immigration Policy Center, based in Washington D.C.

UCI sociology professor Ruben Rumbaut found that immigrants of all national backgrounds were incarcerated at much lower rates than their American-born counterparts, according to the 2000 Census. The numbers applied to both legal and illegal immigrants.

His study also described a precipitous drop in crime rates nationwide throughout recent years – a period during which immigration has been at all-time record high. "While immigration is going up, crime is going down," Rumbaut said. "I think it's important to get the facts out there."

"Even as the undocumented population has doubled to 12 million since 1994, the violent crime rate in the United States has declined 34.2 percent and the property crime rate has fallen 26.4 percent," according to the report.

That crime drop was true even in cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles or Miami, the report said. Orange County was not studied specifically.

According to the study, 3.5 percent of American-born men aged 18 to 39 were incarcerated in jails or prisons in 2000, compared to 0.7 percent of foreign-born men – five times higher.

The risk of incarceration went up significantly by the second or third generations of immigrants, according to the study.

John Keeley, spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on immigration reform, disputed the results of the study and said census data for incarcerated and other institutionalized people were flawed in 2000.

Keeley added that migrant communities tend to underreport crimes and that all immigrant criminals might not be in jail.

Keeley also said that the children of immigrants posed a crime problem not considered in the statistics.

"That is something we intend to monitor in terms of gang activity and truancy," Keeley said.

Rumbaut co-authored the study with Harvard University professor Walter A. Ewing.

They reported that "the impression that immigration and criminality are linked" is a myth fueled by political expediency and groups with outside agendas.

Rumbaut said politicians frequently exploit fears about immigrant crime for their own purposes – or pander to uninformed voters. While immigrants may underreport crimes, the data still holds true for homicides and other crimes that are fully reported, he said.

"There has been a Mount Everest of data going back 100 years that indicates immigrants have a low crime rate," Rumbaut said.

So why do we continue to associate immigration with violent crime and property crime? And please spare me the line about all illegal immigrants already having committed a crime by being here. It's not constructive and it's not relevant to this study.

A lot of it is human nature. Throughout history, we have tried to blame the outsiders for anything that goes wrong (Jews, Italians, Irish, etc.). A lot of it is xenophobia. "Those people don't look like us or sound like us. They don't worship the right God."

And a lot of it is that those people that we should be able to trust to be level-headed and truthful mislead us. President Bush's Immigration Reform Address
"Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, it strains state and local budgets, and brings crime to our communities."

If you have concerns about immigration ... fine. Many people have valid ones. But don't try to pretty up your racism by saying that you are only concerned about our safety.