Friday, October 29, 2010

NYPD - New York's Finest, But Maybe Not Brightest

From the gothamist:
Sometimes the NYPD's inanity is so perfect, so immaculately risible, that you just want to burst into applause and toss a bouquet of roses onto the hood of a squad car. Today is one of those days. According to a tipster, a cop parked in the bike lane on First Avenue near 23rd Street proceeded to write tickets for cyclists who weren't using the bike lane, because they had to ride around him to get by.

Monday, October 25, 2010

View of Herald Square

Herald Square, 34th and Broadway, Manhattan. (July 16, 1936)
From the New York Public Library.  The large awning at the top center is the entrance to Macy's.

Sharon Angle is Playing the Race Card



I've lived in NYC on and off for fifteen years now, and I've met quite a few illegal immigrants. But, I've never met any that look as scary as the guys in this video.

[via ThinkProgress]

Bundle of Joy

My new niece was born today, and, by happenstance, Bill at atheistcartoons.com posted this:



Now, my sister is not one to saddle her daughter with such baggage, but I liked the timing.

To Hell with Medical Science, Let's Go with Religious Superstition

People often ask why I am so against religion.  They are fine with my being an atheist, but they wonder why I actively dislike the faiths that so many have.  I have a few reasons.  I think that people should be able to think for themselves, and not follow the arbritary rules that religion hands down.  I don't like that many religious folk are intent on pushing their religion and morals onto the rest of us.  I am angry that religious leaders often get away with raping children.

Religion is also responsible for the retarding of scientific progress. For close to a thousand years the Catholic church halted the advance of scientific knowledge. Today, we are still witnessing battles in our schools over the teaching of evolution, a theory that is as true as the theory of gravity. Stem cell research, which holds incredible promise, has been slowed. Many evangelicals still believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Science is a major cause of humanity's advancement over the last 300 years, and religion is still getting in the way.

Religious superstition runs rampant in some societies, with often tragic results.  When people turn to a god, or any other superstition to heal those who need doctors, people suffer.  And often needlessly.  Take this story reported in ArabNews.com.
A 29-year-old Saudi in Makkah has been living in chains for over six years because he is, according to his father, possessed by a female jinn who refuses to leave him.

“Medical doctors and religious sheikhs have failed to diagnose my son. When he has fits, he has convulsions and his entire body twists and his eyes become completely white. Then the voice of a woman can be heard coming from him,” said the father of the young man identified only as Turki.

“When my son first began suffering from this problem I took him to sheikhs to recite Qur’an on him but most of them became scared when they heard the female voice telling them that she was a royal jinn and that no one can exorcise her unless Turki dies,” he said.

The father said a sheikh advised him to tie his son’s arms and legs with iron chains and to read Qur’an on him. “We did this. My son became quiet but is totally unaware of what is happening around him. He does not talk and is now unable to harm anyone,” he added.
This poor man needs hospitalization, not religious fakery.  But, the sheiks gave their treatment plan, and now this poor man has been chained for six years.  Some of the comments are astounding in their faith in woo and allah.
It is very unbeliveable something like this can happen to Turki. As they live in makkah, my advice is to take him to the Kaaba and make him drink zamzam water. There is no better place to cure yourself in front of the Kaaba. At least you are lucky you live next to the Kaaba. I hope you follow my advice and then you can see that how Allah helps him. Just trust in Allah.
My advice to the family of this man to bring some sheikh from India or Pakistan, who are mastered in removing of theses kind of jinns. the family should contact local Darul Ulum of these countries. They will advice the family and will surely assist you in this matter.
It may be real jinn or shaitan inside him or a metal disorder.Brain functions all parts i have seen people with slight metal disorder and there mouth is turned due to that or some other changes.If it is jinn or rooh than definetly there is any story behind that.may be someones body is dumped inside the house or turkis ancestors have done some thing very bad to any girl and dumped her brutally.without any information to her relatives... ALLAH KNOWS WE DON'T KNOW...

Scary what superstition can do to one's reason.

CSPAN's BookTV Can Get Interesting Sometimes

Some guy, obviously not over the breakup, humiliates his ex-girlfriend on live TV. Who said CSPAN was boring?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In Defense of Juan Williams

I presume you have heard of the firing of Juan Williams by NPR over comments he made on the Bill O'Reilly Show. ThinkProgress, a liberal news blog, was the first to post this video clip with an article. The clip then spread throughout the blogosphere before being picked up by the mainstream news. Note that the clip is 46 seconds long.



But, here are his full remarks.



So, he goes on to make an analogy by saying that blaming the Oklahoma city bombing on Christians would be wrong and that George Bush said that we were not at war with Islam. This selective editing that ThinkProgress did reminds me of the Shirley Sherrod incident. If a news site, liberal or conservative, is going to show video harmful to one's reputation, they ought to provide the whole damn tape. Failure to do so is dishonest.

Brooke Gladstone of WNYC's On the Media did a report on this incident with Slate's William Saletan. It's worth a listen. WNYC is a NPR affiliate.

Jack Conway Makes Cheap Emotional Appeal

A campaign commercial from Jack Conway, the guy running against Rand Paul.



OK, issues are boring. Let's win anyway possible.

Really, this might help move Conway up in the polls, but this is pretty low. If using emotional appeals is what it takes to win, fine, go for it. But, there ought to be some honor. Dems should at least attempt to be fair and somewhat honorable. Rand Paul's religion, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with the campaign. And, the tied up woman herself said that it was basically a hazing stunt. I'm not defending hazing, but don't make it look like some kind of Satanic cult thing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reason Versus Emotion

Micheal Gerson wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post recently.
"Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now," [Obama] recently told a group of Democratic donors in Massachusetts, "and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared."

Let's unpack these remarks.

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents "facts and science and argument." His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader -- the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains -- the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

The neocortical presidency destroys the possibility of political dialogue. What could Obama possibly learn from voters who are embittered, confused and dominated by subconscious evolutionary fears? They have nothing to teach, nothing to offer to the superior mind. Instead of engaging in debate, Obama resorts to reductionism, explaining his opponents away.
He goes on to call Obama a snob.

But, Obama has a point. The Republicans and the teabaggers are using fear and emotion to scare the American people to vote Republican. The level of hatred on the right has reached truly frightening proportions. For instance,



This video is nothing but emotional appeal, with no logic or reason involved. The right must resort to such tactics because if they tried logic or reason, they would lose. And, unfortunately, emotion works in this country. Most people make their decisions in life emotionally, and Republicans know it. Perhaps the Dems, should try it. After all, reason isn't working.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interesting Graphic

From the New Civil Rights Movement:

President Obama: It Gets Better



I think Joe.My.God. says it best,
It's a heartfelt, well-written, and sincerely delivered message. Let's try to divorce this effort from "the other issue" and talk about what a message like this from the president of the United States might mean to a young queer kid. And once again, let's thank Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller for what is easily the most successful and widely-heard pro-gay campaign in the history of our movement.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Teabaggers Are Mad For The Wrong Reasons

The teabaggers are angry, and they want changes. But, because of their ignorance, they do not know why they are angry. They watch the demagogues on Faux News and like sheep, they prattle on about the deficit, health care, immigrants and Muslims.

Well, a news flash for all of you teabaggers:

The economy doesn't currently suck because of deficit spending or ObamaCare or the Mexicans coming in and stealing our jobs.  The economy sucks because the rich are taking too big of a piece of the pie.  The richest 1% currently earns about 24% of the national income.  The last time the richest of the rich took so much was 1928.  The Great Depression started the following year.  Sort of the situation we are in now.

Why this matters is simple.  If the poor and working class do not earn a fairer share of the pie, they cannot afford to buy many goods and services.  The purchasing of these goods and services is what grows our economy.  If people have more money to spend, companies will have to hire more people to make and sell stuff.  Those newly hired folks will also start spending more money on stuff, so companies will have to hire even more workers.  See how it works?  The economy grows.

So, the solution?  Tax the rich more, and the poor less.  That, my teabagging friends is what you should be screaming for.

Face It, Teabaggers Are Just Plain Ignorant

A snippet of the debate between Chris Coons ans Christine O'Donnell.  He schools her on the meaning of the First Amendment.  Watch her embarrassment at the end.



The sheer ignorance of these teabagging types is mind-numbing. The First Amendment is basic stuff that we all learned (or should have) in grade school.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And this O'Donnell woman is running for the Senate.  She, like so many evangelicals, wrongly believes that we are a Christian nation, and that Christianity should be taught in schools.  She is a fool, and a lot of people believe as she does.  Sad.

Fortunately, she hasn't a snowball's chance of winning.

[via Pharyngula]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Serious Accident Narrowly Avoided

Before the story, a definition.  The lights are timed on most avenues, so we can travel at thirty MPH and hit each intersection as the light turns green.  Traffic tends to get in the way, for the cars that are stopped at the light take awhile to get up to speed.  So, aggressive drivers look for empty lanes, so they can hit each light at thirty MPH, and shave a few minutes off their travel time.  We call this trick "riding the lights."  It is dangerous.

I was stopped at the light at 43rd and 3rd, about three cars back and in the center lane.  Just before the light changed, a group of women started running across the intersection, hoping to beat the light.  They didn't make it.

As the light changed, a cab was racing up 3rd in the far left lane, riding the lights.  I couldn't see the crosswalk in the left lane, for my view was blocked by a minivan, but it looked as if the cab and the women were about to have an unfortunate meeting.

I was horrified realizing that these young ladies were just split second away from their possible deaths.  And, painfully violent deaths.  I heard the screech of the cab's tires, and winced, waiting for the thud of steel against flesh.  But, no thud.  Traffic started moving forward, and I looked over and saw the women, all having the look of frightened relief one has at a horror narrowly escaped, but still standing.  With no one hurt, I kept heading uptown, relieved I didn't see a body lying in the street.

And, today's lesson:

First, for the pedestrians.  The walk/don't walk signs are pretty clear.  The white figure walking means "walk."  The orange hand means "don't walk."  And, contrary to popular belief, the flashing orange hand does not mean "run like hell and hope you can make it."  It means "traffic is going to start racing up the avenue any second now, so stay the fuck out of the street."*  Pedestrians die all the time in New York, often through their own damn fault.  Jaywalking is considered a sacred right here, and people can become quite arrogant about claiming that "right."  But a jaywalker versus a 3,000 pound hunk of steel moving at 30 MPH is no contest.  In the worst case scenario, the jaywalkers' "rights" die with them.  Traffic is dangerous, people.  Treat it with the respect that your life deserves.

And, for the cabbies and other motorists.  Riding the light may save you a few extra minutes, but it is dangerous.  Even if you have a green light, and the right of way, it is your responsibility to make sure an intersection is clear before proceeding.  Even if the pedestrian is jaywalking, your diligence can prevent a tragedy.  And, sometimes, the pedestrians aren't even jaywalking.  There are plenty of elderly and disabled who cannot move fast enough to cross a five lane avenue in the time a light gives them.  Show them the respect they deserve.  Slow the fuck down.

*Official definition.  You can tell because you just read it on the internet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glenn Beck Worried that Cartoon Making Fun of Him Might be Government Propaganda



This awesome cartoon remix was crafted by Jonathan McIntosh at Rebellious Pixel, using clips from fifty classic Disney cartoons and audio of Glenn Beck.  Check out his site for the complete details on this video.  Also, they have a clip of Glenn Beck's response where he worries "If I'm not mistaken, some of these remix videos, it's very interesting, I believe, get federal funding."

Beck's full response:


So, some dude named ikat381 made another remix with Beck's response.



I would not be the least bit surprised if Beck waves a piece of paper on the air claiming it is proof that this remix was funded out of stimulus dollars.

The guy is that nuts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fascinating Map from 1710


John J. McKay posted this map with an incredibly detailed analysis on his blog, archy.  If you are a map geek, like myself, you will definitely want to check out his post.  I'll just quickly mention that the island on the left is California, and the one on the right is Japan.

Can Wright Be Any More Wrong?

I am often confused by the screeching of so many Christians complaining about the concept of universal health care.  I would think that followers of some guy who earned his fame by supposedly healing the sick would be into the idea of health care for all.  But, quite a few fundamentalists and other wingnuts are dead set against it.  And some of them go to absurd extremes to argue against health care.  One wingnut, Wendy Wright, wrote a piece recently for American Thinker, a site for teabaggers and wingnuts.  In it, she attempts to show how ObamaCare violates all ten of the Commandments.  And she's not kidding.
#10. You shall not covet.

As with many bills, politicians sold ObamaCare by stoking envy. It goes like this: "What other people own -- what they earned -- you are entitled to." Covetousness, wanting what others have, is cloaked as a "right." But a "right" to a product (like insurance) or service (like health care) means others are forced to pay for or provide it, with no concurrent "right" to be justly compensated.
I am disturbed, but not exactly shocked that Ms Wrong Wright would call one's desire for affordable health care a sin.  And, one of the ten biggies at that.  Her argument is an old one trotted out by the conservatives.  If one is poor, it is their own damn fault, and they do not deserve any government handouts to ease the burden of poverty.  What would the teabaggers and neocons do with the poor?  Allow them to suffer?  Apparently so, and that does not seem particularly Christian to me.
#9. You shall not bear false witness.

Remember when President Obama made the wild accusation that doctors were removing children's tonsils and amputating diabetic patients' feet to make money? Virtually no mainstream media found it worth reporting that Obama's malicious false witness was debunked.
Her link leads to a NewsBusters report that quotes Obama directly.  He said:
[L]et's take the example of something like diabetes, one of --- a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they're taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 -- immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. 
It is obvious that Obama is saying that investing in preventive care will save money in the long run.  And, it's also better for the patient's health.  But, Ms Wrong Wright is trying to claim that Obama was accusing doctors of performing unnecessary operations in order to make extra money.  So, in accusing Obama of bearing false witness, she, um, lies.  A bit of advice, lady.  If you are going to lie, don't provide a link leading to an article that proves you to be a liar in the same sentence.
#8. You shall not steal.

Stealing is not only pointing a gun and demanding, "Give me your money." It's also taking money under false pretenses -- frauds and scams like Bernie Madoff's, where money willingly handed over is used for something other than what was promised.

You know where the bulk of the money taken for ObamaCare through taxes, fines, and raiding other accounts will go -- not to actual health care or insurance, but to 159 new bureaucracies, and tens of thousands of new government employees. 
Um, yeah, her link goes to a press release from a Republican Congressman.  Real authoritative source there, Wendy.  Government is big, bloated and inefficient.  I'll grant Wendy that, but the solution isn't to get rid of the government.  Governments are necessary.  They provide roads, police protection, education, and other essential services.  Raising revenue to pay for these services is not stealing.  If Ms Wright Wrong doesn't want to be robbed taxed by any governments, perhaps she would be happier in Somalia, where they don't have a functioning government.
#7. You shall not commit adultery. 
ObamaCare channels millions of dollars to graphic sex education programs which instruct kids as young as kindergartners to be sexually active. Read what some of the comprehensive sex education programs teach. This sets children up to take marriage vows lightly since "it's just sex."
OK, at this point, I'm thinking Poe's Law.  I mean, she's gotta be kidding, right?  Abstinence only education does not lead to abstinence.  It leads to teen girls letting their boyfriends ass fuck them so they can remain "virgins."  I'm not kidding, check the link.  Comprehensive sex education does not lead to adultery.  It leads to teen girls insisting that their boyfriends put a condom on first.
#6. You shall not murder.

ObamaCare allows government funding of abortion, the murder of the most innocent.
Does this lady remember the Stupak Amendment?
The stated purpose of the amendment was to prohibit the use of federal funds "to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion" except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
So, she lies again.  For the record, I think that abortion should be covered by health care.  A fetus is not a person.  Abortion is not murder.
#5. Honor your father and mother.

As parents age, it oftentimes falls on their children to make their health care decisions. It can be heart-wrenching. But it is our responsibility and duty as their children.

Under ObamaCare, that privilege will be stripped from us and given to unaccountable bureaucrats. They will ultimately decide what health care our parents can get. Medical advances will be stymied, and what is available will be rationed. The elderly will be denied hip replacements and heart surgeries, medical wonders that provide full and productive lives. This will lead to unnecessary disabilities and untimely deaths. Parents will be at the mercy of bureaucrats tasked with calculating costs, rather than a family motivated by love and honor.
More of the "death panel" crap.  There is nothing in the bill that calls for the rationing of health care.  This insidious lie was created to scare people into thinking that the feds will "pull the plug on Grandma."  The only thing even remotely close is that the bill provides compensation to doctors to discuss end of life care options with patients.  It does not call for bureaucrats, or anyone else, to make those decisions.  That is left up to the patient.

Oddly, we currently have rationing.  The rich get tremendous care, with the best doctors and the best hospitals.  Tests are done immediately, and procedures are scheduled at the earliest possible convenience.  Regular folk who have insurance need to wait.  A cab driver buddy of mine, in his sixties, once found a lump in his throat.  Having smoked most of his life, he was rather worried.  He went to his doctor, and was told that a biopsy was needed to check for cancer.  The earliest test that my friend could schedule was for three months later, and he had no choice but to wait.  And, for three months, he waited to check to see if this lump was cancerous, and perhaps growing over that time.  And, this man had insurance that he paid a good amount of money for every month.  Fortunately, it was only a cyst, and he was fine, but three months?  The rich get the care they need.  The rest wait.  And those of us without insurance, wait even longer.
#4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Why was Congress compelled to hold the final vote on ObamaCare on a Sunday? No looming deadline demanded immediate action by the House of Representatives. It's as if they went out of their way to thumb their noses at God and prove their disrespect. The Senate vote was held on Christmas Eve.
Now this comment is just whining.  Congress is a secular body, and has no responsibility to respect the sabbath of somebody's religion.  Besides, if the Republicans hadn't spent so much time playing delaying tactics, the vote could have been held during the regular work week.
#3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

Many people limit this to avoiding using God's name as a curse word. Jewish scholars, however, so solemnly followed this commandment that they wouldn't even write out the full name of God. They were cautious not to take His name lightly.

President Obama gave a pen with which he signed ObamaCare to Sister Carol Keehan, the nun who runs the Catholic Health Association. Why? Her seal of approval appeared to give a Catholic blessing to a bill that her superiors, the bishops, rejected. Among the "Religious Left" credited by Nancy Pelosi were United Methodists and the "Faithful Reform in Health Care," a coalition of liberal religious agencies.

Their titles as religious leaders, ambassadors of God, were shameless props used by politicians to give the thin veneer of God's approval. In effect, they used God's name, His reputation, to promote something that contradicts His commandments.
Oh, my fucking God, is this halfwit even half serious? Jesus, is she really saying that if another Christian doesn't agree with her, then that person is taking the lord's name in vain?  Christ, what an arrogant fool.
#2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image (false gods).

What do those who worship false gods do? They sacrifice to those gods, even despicable gods, in hopes that they will get something in return. Of course, these gods can't deliver.

ObamaCare became a holy grail that surpassed a desire for health care reform, morphing into an obsession to pass a bill. Congressmen sacrificed their reputations and careers to pass a bill -- a despised bill. It became a false god. And it isn't delivering.
Umm, what?  I'm not insane enough to understand what she is saying.
#1. There is only one God.

ObamaCare sets up government as the one who will supply our needs and provide for our health. It places us on the path of socialist countries, where people expect the government to provide for them and then riot when governments cut bloated spending.

In contrast, Americans throw Tea Parties to stop government expansion and spending. Most Americans know that their faith is better-placed in the true God who loves them more than any government official can.
And, here we get to the crux of the matter.  The biggest reason why so many fundamentalist Christians fear universal health care.  Competition.  They can't handle it. If government provided a decent safety net, people might not need religion or the charity it provides quite so much.  And the religious establishment fears not being needed.  If people don't need them, their enrollment numbers might drop.  Fighting to deny universal health care to those who need it, in order to keep organized religion popular, is just plain evil.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tim Gunn Says that It Gets Better

I moved the other day, and with all the packing, unpacking, and moving, I've been busier than usual.  Hence, I haven't posted in a while.  Please forgive me, and I'll attempt to post a bit more frequently.  In the meantime, a quick post of something that I think is worth seeing.

Remember the "It Gets Better" Project that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago?  Well, Tim Gunn has posted his video, where he mentions his own suicide attempt.  It does get better, kids.  Remenber that when life seems hopeless.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sometimes You See Some Strange Shit in New York

Driving up Elizabeth Street yesterday, I saw something rather strange.  A car, a very colorful car.


The entire vehicle was covered with a crochet car cover.  Even the wheels and bumpers were covered.  Everything except the antenna.  The yarn used was very bright and colorful, though you can't really tell from my poor photos.  It was night, and my cheap-ass camera phone does not have a flash.  I have no idea what kind of car it is, though I am curious.

I think it is art.

Friday, October 1, 2010

No God We Trust

Construction fencing is constantly found all over New York.  With this being built, and that being torn down, the blue plywood fencing is always there.  Construction workers are often God-fearing patriotic types, and usually hang flags on building going up, and paint slogans on the fencing.  Some joker decided to edit this particular slogan.

I heartily approve.

Teabag Candidates Gone Wild

Within days of each other, Teabag Gubernatorial Candidates from Maine and New York both threatened reporters.  Paul LePage of Maine, at least, does appear to be joking.


Watch the full episode. See more MPBN News.

New York's Carl Paladino, on the other hand, appears to have lost it completely.



These are the candidates that the teabaggers have chosen in their attempt to "take back America."  Take us back from what, civility?  The teabaggers are increasingly angry, and are demanding change.  But, is this the change they want?  Will candidate like Paladino and LePage actually help their states at all?  I don't think so.  Electing them will not bring about the kind of change that will help the pissed-off teabagging masses.  After four years of these outburst prone fools, all the teabaggers will have are more reasons to be angry.

Stick with the Dems, people.  LePage and Paladino won't help anyone.

Old Fashioned Soda Shop in Brooklyn


Farmacy, an old style soda fountain, like the ones you remember from your childhood, has opened in Brooklyn at the corner of Henry and Sackett.   K and I checked the place out recently, and we were impressed.  They serve egg creams, a Brooklyn specialty, as well as sodas, shakes, and ice cream.  I especially recommend the Rocket, a coffee shake made with ice coffee instead of milk.  Highly caffeinated, so beware.

The place is a 100 year old pharmacy that had been closed for about ten years.  The proprietor, Peter Freeman, started restoring the place, and was given some invaluable help from the Discovery Channel's "Construction Intervention."  The crew did a wonderful job, preserving the antique feel.  Original wood floors and shelving are intact, and the whole place has a relaxed, charming atmosphere.

Check the place out if you get a chance.