30 May 2006

At last, a cordless jump-rope

At last someone is thinking of coordination-challenged people like myself. The cordless jump-rope (you heard that right, a jump-rope without the rope) has now been patented (patent#: US 7037243). The handles are designed to give you the feel of a rope swinging around yet the person in the middle can now jump up and down without dreading the sudden loss of rhythm and the inevitable whack on the back of the neck. I think they should require all schools to use these to prevent prejudice on the playground against coordination-challenge students. Clumsy kids have a right to play too!

26 May 2006

Haditha, another Mai Lai?

There's now an investigation into the killing of 24 Iraqis on November 19, 2005 who appear to have been killed in retribution for a nearby bomb explosion. The incident is sounds familiar to all who remember Vietnam--the hostility of the populace, the suspicion and anger of the occupying Americans, the frequently random targetting of civilians. According to a story at Mercury News:

Investigators believe that their criminal investigation into the deaths of about two dozen Iraqi civilians points toward a conclusion that Marines committed unprovoked murders, a senior defense official said Friday.

According to ABC News, the following facts have been established thus far:

— Early in the morning of November 19, a roadside bomb hit a small convoy of 12 Marines killing Marine Lance Corporal Lance Terrazas. All of the marines belonged to Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment.

— Shortly after the bomb went off, the Marines saw a car approaching and fired, killing five Iraqi men. Military officials say all of them turned out to be unarmed.

— Some of the Marines, including a sergeant, entered a cluster of nearby homes from where, they later claimed, they had taken enemy fire.

— In the first house, however, they allegedly found only unarmed civilians. Exactly what happened inside is unclear, but by the time they left, six of the civilians were killed, including a three year old boy.

— In a second house, the Marines allegedly found and killed 8 more unarmed civilians.

— A man was allegedly shot by a Marine as he fled one of the houses.

— In still another house, the Marines said they encountered four Iraqi men , including one armed with an AK-47, and another reaching for a weapon in a closet. The Marines allegedly shot and killed all four men. It's unclear to investigators if the AK-47's were found before or after the shooting. (As in the U.S., many Iraqis legally own guns.)

Other blogments:

The FP Blog , Confederate Yankee, and Bits Blog have somewhat sympathetic analyses of the story. Also check out Waldenswimmer.

Iron Hymen

The White House is at last putting forth "concrete" measures in its advocacy of absistence before marriage.

25 May 2006

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lately, I've been listening to the book "Lies My Teacher Told Me". In this excellent book, James Loewen surveys twelve leading high school textbooks of American history only to find a blend bland of optimism, blind nationalism, and outright propaganda. After listening to over half the book, I'd have to conclude that students are probably better off not learning history in school if these textbooks are the only option. While the book expresses the point in different terms, the one element that is missing from all the books is the idea of oppression, the fact that throughout history, man has exploited his fellow man--not because of the way she/he looked--but for material gain and comfort. A systematic treatment of exploitation is avoided at all cost because . . . it's relevant. It's occurring now. In short, history isn't being presented accurately because it would create a citizenry that could think about and question the status quo. Anyway, I suggest the book to everyone as a good read. It should also be on the required reading list at every high school, along with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

18 May 2006

How low can it go?

Trust in the GOP is hitting abysmal levels. The GOP will be lucky to keep even the support of their own party members (currently 68%).

12 May 2006

Fighting for what we've already won

Atrios has a list of goals that progressive bloggers should work for. In addition to a long list of specific goals, he has the following general proposals:

Torture is bad
Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad


It's a sad day in America when progressives need to struggle for rights and ideals that we supposedly achieve centuries ago. (Kudos to Pharyngula for the link.)

3 May 2006

Colbert routine

If you haven't seen it yet, you need to watch Stephen Colbert's hilarious routine at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Political humor is always best when virtually nobody present laughs. We need to fund a new government position of Court Jester.

2 May 2006

Net-neutrality

Firedoglake has an interesting post on net-neutrality: an attempt to prevent cable and telephone companies that provide Internet services from creating a two-tiered internet, in which website creators that pay them large fees get priority over everyone else. I certainly sympathize with Firedoglake's motivation. The entire charm of the internet is that it represents our one fresh breath of anarchic freedom in a world controlled by Mammon. I agree that we should resist the corrupting influence of corporate propaganda and greed with every byte of energy at our disposal. I am, however, somewhat skeptical of the possibility of passing a law with teeth enough to prevent this. Don't Google and Yahoo already rank pages based on money paid? Barring an overthrow of the entire capitalist system, is there anyway to stop this? It seems to me that the best antidote is to create grassroot networks that aren't based on the corporate profit-motive. Blog alliances are a good example of this. For this reason, I'd discourage my fellow bloggers from putting ads up on their sites. At some point, we have to be motivated by something other than profit and greed. There's more to blogging (and more to life) than making an extra buck.

Neil Young's Let's Impeach the President

This isn't the catchiest tune--but I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed.

Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
Thank God

1 May 2006

Some religions more equal than others?

Wang, a Falun Gong follower, was recently arrested for shouting at the president of China. Wang shouted at Hu to stop oppressing the outlawed Chinese Falun Gong movement. Wang, charged by the U.S. attorney's office with harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official, now faces a possible sentence of 6 months in prison. I can't help wondering what would have happened if the protester had been a protestant Christian. My own feeling is that if the Chinese president wants to avoid getting his feelings hurt by learning about how Americans feel about government oppression, he should hide with Bush inside the White House.

More detailed blogments can be found at the Patriot Daily.

Anti-Bush MP3s

Topple Bush has a good list of downloadable anti-Bush protest music.