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By: sp34n119w , 5:14 AM GMT en Febrero 03, 2012

I think I've written about February before. That's okay – it's a good month!

There are sweet oranges on my tree, the tangerines are almost ready, and a friend gave me a bag of guavas from the first harvest of his backyard tree. Awesome.

Usually, February is a green month. By now we should have had enough rain interspersed with enough sun to waken the natives. There is some green on the hills this year.
Of course, it's also a great month for overnight freezes and floods but, hey, gotta take the bad with the good, right?
This is a fantastic time of year to go to Disneyland or the museums or any of the other Southern California lowland attractions. There are very few tourists and the locals are saving money and energy for Spring and Summer activities.

It isn't Spring. The deserts are still dormant (or had better be) and the mountains are cold (good if you ski, obviously, though not so much this year). Another couple months and there will be a lot more flowers, for sure. In the meantime, enjoy fresh-picked oranges and other transplanted fruits, soak up whatever green there is (it won't last long), and dream of fields of bright orange poppies.


I looked on wikipedia for the etymology of “February” and there are no gods, this time. Not in the beginning. Seems that the winter months didn't really have names to differentiate one from the other until about 713 BC – it was just “winter”. I'm with that.

Still, it was the Romans who gave us February. Februarius comes from the Latin Februum, meaning purification, and was used because there was a purification festival in the middle of the old lunar month, at the full moon. Something like “Spring cleaning”, sounds like.
Later, the Romans thought up a god of purification to go along with the ritual and the month name.


I have done some Spring cleaning this week without even knowing that! Perhaps I have some Roman blood in me … or the god put it into my heart to do so, as Homer would say.
I haven't finished listening to the Iliad* but I'm getting there. Book 15 and those crazy Trojans are in retreat again. Hera is going to be in BIG trouble when Zeus wakes up!

* I want to note that I made a mistake in the last blog about where I found the audio recordings of the two Homerian epics. I did find Odyssey at gutenberg.org but they got it from LibriVox, which is where I found the Iliad. Amazing and wonderful what people will do.


Same old graphics …

Sweeping Swirls:

For the bigger picture, have a look at the NE Pac WVloop.

Clearing Clouds :

Passing Precip:

I expect I'll get all random and stuff so don't feel that you must only comment on purification ... though, if you have purification rituals you're willing to share, that could get interesting ... or really gross ...

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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76. sp34n119w
7:56 PM GMT en Febrero 29, 2012
ohdearohdearohdear. I have to watch the weather! My mom is in Ohio and under a tornado watch which means that, even though I know they have little chance of being hit by a tornado, I'll be worrying all day. Also, intensely jealous! She was laughing at me - "haha I got thunderstorms!" My mom is mean, LOL

I have just been informed that they have TWC on so they'll get warning, at least.

I put the farm's address into wundermap and will be watching obsessively all day. Heck of a line heading towards them, atm.

Weather here is fine - but actually cooler than where mom is! She thought that was funny, too.


calpoppy - the Mt Wilson cam shows snow still on the ground but gone from the trees. Glad you got some! Bet it was pretty :) And, yeah, nice that it melted so you don't have to drive on it.
I am envious of your Joshua Trees :)
Between bragging on the weather, my mom said that the crocus are coming up in SE Ohio - too early, like everywhere else.

Being part of a pack, whatever the size, is a joy, for sure.
Traveling guilt-free won't make up for the losses (obviously) but it is good to be able to do that. If this dang stray cat hadn't decided to become our garage cat ...

Karen - our Blockbuster closed down recently so the kiosk thingy at the grocery store is the only rental option in town, I think. I've never used one and may have to try it.
Let us know what you think of Hugo.

They've taken rain out of our forecast and replaced it with "partly cloudy". Oh, well. Looks like you still have a chance!


Oh, hey! Happy Leap Day! :)

That means I'll need a March blog, I guess.

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
75. SBKaren
12:57 AM GMT en Febrero 29, 2012
sp - my mom tried to see most of the Oscar movies, so I got reviews from her. She did not care for The Descendents at all, but I think we'll rent it anyway. We just have antenna - so we rent from Redbox or Blockbuster Express - so I'm willing to spend $1 on a movie, and if I don't like it, at least I don't feel like I was taken.

My mom enjoyed The Artist but her favorite was Hugo. She really liked that movie a lot - everything about it. I think she had a harder time with the Artist because it's a silent film, yet it had parts with text on the screen, but because of her poor eyesight, she couldn't read it.

I just got an email from Redbox that Hugo is now available. Maybe Thursday night - before the weekend crowd tries to rent it!

Clear and cold today, but I hear we might get more rain tomorrow. We didn't have much rain after I posted here, but last night, as we were watching a movie, we heard a pretty good (short) downpour. I should check our measure. Yep - went up to .12"!!!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
74. calpoppy
12:22 AM GMT en Febrero 29, 2012
It snowed, it didn't stick, it was nice! The mountains behind us look like they got a couple of inches and it is still there. More Joshua trees blooming and getting ready to bloom.

Thanks for your comments on my pup. It is always hard no matter how many times we have been through it. They have really been good friends to us. We have promised ourselves that we are going to wait before we get new pups. We would like to travel guilt free for once. Now waiting is going to be REALLY HARD!!

Oh, the rain gauge showed 0, so we are still at 3 inches and something since July 1st 2011.

I hate sudden downpours on the freeway, yikes!!!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
73. sp34n119w
9:53 PM GMT en Febrero 28, 2012
Karen - once again, SP received less than a tenth of an inch! Oh, well. I'm glad you got some and that other points south did, too.

I heard enough about Tree of Life that I think I'll skip it. I do want to see The Artist. Looks like fun and they are both so cute, lol
Hugo seems like something I'd like. I might read the book first.
I watch so few movies, these days. Mostly on HBO (to justify paying for it!) but I ought to check out the library's collection. That would be easy.

BC - oh, yeah. Sudden downpours, dense fog around the corner, dust storms ... I've run into that quandary several times!
Yesterday I was on the 210 freeway, going 70 mph, with a whole lot of other people, so all I could do was keep going and fumble for the wipers. On a happy note: my fellow SoCalians did unusually well by not slamming on brakes and by sticking to their lanes, making it much safer than some situations I've seen.
Once, I pulled way over (I hoped - couldn't really see and went by 'feel') in a blinding sand storm on I-15 and put my arms up to guard my head and face in case of impact. There were many close calls by the sounds of it and I ended up with one truck half an inch from my rear bumper and a car spun out sideways blocking me in front. I never saw either of them (and the guy behind me said he didn't even know my car was there!) until the storm had passed. Ah, good times, LOL

Hey, I'm in the process of finding stuff from my favorites to add to your tea blog - and have gotten sidetracked! Will post that before posting this.
Thanks for writing that, btw - interesting history and it's been great reading what the tea-drinkers have to say :)


Weather is back to normal, as expected. In fact, it's downright seasonable, for a change! Chance of rain in the forecast tomorrow.
Really cold last night and this morning but they haven't put up another advisory for tonight (yet).

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
72. BriarCraft
8:31 PM GMT en Febrero 28, 2012
On the way back I had the joy of going from completely dry road to "OMG I CAN'T SEEEEEEEE!!!" in an instant and that'll wake a body up.

I've never found the words to describe such an occurrence to someone who hasn't experienced it. Until now. You have succeeded in painting a picture anyone can "see".

And when that has happened to me, there's always the momentary quandry: Do I pull over and stop and hope nobody crashes into me? Or do I slow down and keep going, hoping I don't crash into someone else? Obviously, neither of those upsetting events happened to you. Good thing.
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
71. SBKaren
10:34 PM GMT en Febrero 27, 2012
Hey sp - we got rain and lots of it! Sprinkled this morning, and then while out running a few errands, we got RAIN! (rain gauge says .11")

It seems to have stopped for the moment, but it's been on again, off again all morning long! I made taco soup, it's in the crock pot, we did all our errands, I checked my work email and took care of those issues (oh no -wait, I have to do something to the website - a little thingie), then I'm heading to the couch to reach.

My SIL burned us a fireplace DVD, with crackling sounds and everything - that's next!

The only movies we saw from the Oscars are The Help and The Tree of Life (I just didn't get that movie). I really want to see Hugo and The Artist, and while my mom didn't care for The Descendants, I'm curious about it now. Oh - we saw Money Ball too. That was a good one. Of course we rented all ours :)
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70. sp34n119w
10:21 PM GMT en Febrero 27, 2012
Karen - even you need a lazy day, now and then ;) Sounds nice! I missed most of the Oscars but that's okay - I missed all of the movies, LOL
I have a friend who worked some parties this weekend and am looking forward to good stories, though!


Well, my day's gone wonky. I had to get up early to get my mom to Ontario airport this morning on kind of a last minute decision. I'm sleepy again.

On the upside of that, I got to drive through the squally weather. I must have been minutes behind a couple showers on the way out there, as the roads were wet in places, and the clouds were very beautiful, especially up against the San Gabriels. The Mt. Wilson cam observer comment says "snow showers" so it might be pretty tomorrow (just gray, now, of course!).
On the way back I had the joy of going from completely dry road to "OMG I CAN'T SEEEEEEEE!!!" in an instant and that'll wake a body up.
I just love it when you can see sunlit rain pouring from a cloud over yonder.
The temperature changed rather a lot. It hovered around 55 the whole way there but was down to 46 in the SGV, which is also where I saw the most rain, on the way back around 11 or 11:30.
Here in SP it looks like it rained a bit. Perhaps there will be more. Looks nifty on the RGB again, and the swirly looks big and ominous.

So, it would be nice to use what has become a day off to visit blogs ... but, that may not be a great idea. I didn't get that nap yesterday and won't nap, now, if I can stay awake ... video games and mindless tv sound good :)
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69. SBKaren
7:55 PM GMT en Febrero 26, 2012
Mr. Ed found his way here and he's struggling to high tail it out now. I see patches of sun and they are getting stronger all the time. When Mr. Ed is in the air, no matter what the thermometer says, there is a definite chill in the air. We should get some of the wet stuff tomorrow too, although I watched the 'future cast', and if we get anything, it looks to be by late afternoon. We'll see :)

I taking a lazy Sunday. Going to do laundry, been playing on the computer, reading, and later we'll watch the Oscars. Normally I'm not a big awards show fan, but we watched the Grammy's a few weeks ago and were delightfully entertained. So, thought we'd give these a try!
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68. sp34n119w
7:45 PM GMT en Febrero 26, 2012
LC - not just crazy-adorable pups but a nice photo, to boot! Now I want to go play chase at the beach - they look soooo happy :)

Knitting back on track!

The marine layer was gone by 9 here yesterday, also. Today ... I dunno. By the time I got up around 10 it was hazy-sunny. Chilly. Looking at the rgb it looks like Mr. Ed gave us a break and hung out further down the coast.

One day we will all grow up. In the meantime, ideologues will ideologize*, and make the world a stupider place.
I read somewhere recently that Portugal decriminalized all drugs. This move, of course, allows folk to seek help for addiction and saves taxpayers a ton of money.

* this is not a word ;)


Rain coming! Maybe. A little. More importantly, COLD coming :( It may be freezing tonight and calpoppy may get snow! But, not much, since there is so little moisture involved.
Winter warmth is gone for the week, anyway.


Did I hear Newt say he'd get gas prices to $2.50/gallon if he were King? How does that work in that utopian free-market, capitalist, economy that Republicans are supposed to love so much?
Does this message even work any more? I saw some poll results that suggest that Americans have wised up and realize that the prez does not actually dictate prices on anything. Newt, I guess, thinks he can. Maybe some still believe that.

The need for authority runs deep in the human psyche. Some need direction more than others but it lives in all of us. Republicans are really good at tapping into that. It is truly ironic - they insist that government should get out of everything while running for an office of government on a platform that includes promising government intervention and control. You gotta admit, that's quite a trick, and they pull it off beautifully.


Oh, I dunno. It's Sunday ... think I'll take a nap :)

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
67. LowerCal
7:05 AM GMT en Febrero 26, 2012
Federal warning ends county truce with pot-growers | 89.3 KPCC
Residents of Mendocino County, the redwood and marijuana-rich territory in California's fabled Emerald Triangle, thought they had reached détente in the decades-old clash between pot growers and local law enforcement two years ago when the sheriff agreed to stop raiding medical cannabis producers who paid to have their crops inspected.

For a $1,500 fee and adherence to rules over water usage, odor control and distance from neighbors, marijuana farmers working for groups of patients could grow up to 99 plants on five acres of land. Numbered red zip ties had be affixed to each plant, confirming the county's seal of approval and giving a visiting deputy proof the pot was legally grown.

The one-of-a-kind program generated $663,230 for the sheriff's department — and prompted inquiries from other jurisdictions interested in creating their own.

But this month, the permitting system became the most striking casualty of the crackdown on medical marijuana cultivation and distribution by California's federal prosecutors. The board of supervisors ended the experiment after the U.S. attorney for Northern California threatened take the county to court for helping produce an illegal drug.
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66. LowerCal
6:24 PM GMT en Febrero 25, 2012
Mr. Ed cleared out by 9AM.
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65. LowerCal
5:52 AM GMT en Febrero 25, 2012
Catalina Eddy wasn't strong enough to make it over the Santa Monica mountains this morning but we did see him at the beach.

Mr. Ed might make a brief visit to Woodland Hills tomorrow morning.

Good luck with the unknitting.
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
64. sp34n119w
9:35 PM GMT en Febrero 24, 2012
LC - I would hope that a judge's religion would not affect his rulings so wouldn't want him to have to recuse himself. I mean, "conflict of interest" usually is about either money or personal involvement with the parties in the case. If it becomes a matter of religious beliefs, we've got trouble, since there is no way to accurately check that.
And don't forget that the first judge to overturn Prop. 8 was/is gay and proponents said he should recuse himself. That's ridiculous, too.

Anyway, I don't know that the judge's religion drove his decision. I think a lot of people are willing to give special privilege to religion and religious sensibilities, over and above the law. It may be that Muslims are more prone to do that, but, I am not at all sure of that. Certainly not in our country.

The "fighting words" entry was very interesting! I did not know that.

Glad you liked the critters :)

Did you get fog this morning? They say Mr. Ed is back in town for a bit and some (relatively) cold air heading our way.


Speaking of religious sensibilities ... one place/time where they must be taken into consideration is Afghanistan/now. The kind of sloppiness that was shown by those responsible for burning Korans there just can not happen. Reality is what it is.
OTOH, I have two Korans in my house and, far as I can tell, they are nothing special, as books go. Both are ink on paper, like any other book. One is very pretty and well annotated. I got it free at the book festival and it was printed by The Institute of Islamic Knowledge in Houston, Texas. Is it worth anyone's life? I don't think so. They were handing them out like candy. Hundreds of them.
Still, when in Rome ...


I plugged Sgt. Griffith's upcoming event, Rock Beyond Belief, so I will plug this one, too - the Reason Rally is being held in D. C. on March 24 and I would go, if I could, just to see Tim Minchin and James Randi. And Adam Savage! Plus, I love D. C. and being there in early Spring would make me happy :) *sigh*
[Really, I would like to go just about anywhere, at the moment, LOL Despite the nice weather and plenty of daytrips, I need a major change of scenery, I think. I get like that.]


Um ... I would offer something more fun, but, I haven't found much today. Let's see ... more knitting woes? Why not?
Very late last night - like, well after midnight - I thought I'd do that one last purl row I need before splitting the front [Yes, I'm still working the front. Shut up.] of the sweater. I had been working on it the night before and did all this measuring and counting and figured I needed that row to get back to RS and be ready for the next step.
I was really tired. I mean, really tired! Which is why I didn't want to do any more than that one row. Counting and casting off and so forth would be too much in that state of mind. You understand.
So, I put on some music (couldn't even attend to the last book of the Iliad, much as I want to get that done), and purled the row ... wait. That doesn't look right. How did I get purl bumps on the right side? What did I ... grrr @#$%^&!!!!! I did that row last night after I figured out I needed it! Why didn't I see that?!?! Because I was mindless, too tired to be knitting, that's why :(
Back in the bag it went and, now that I've finished lunch, I'll be doing some tinking. I may stay in tonight and knit while I'm awake, for a change ;)
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63. LowerCal
10:23 PM GMT en Febrero 23, 2012
"The judge a self professed Muslim ...." (a quote from the video caption) should have recused himself. He also demonstrates poor understanding of or disregard for American civil liberties.

Nazis were allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, where one in six residents was a Holocaust survivor. (The Nazis eventually marched in Chicago instead.) Also I don't think the narrow U.S. interpretation of "fighting words" applies to the parader's actions. Regardless of legalities I am in complete agreement with your personal feeling and opinions.

Re. the $200K - that's a new (and maybe better) context for "sense of entitlement", LOL.

Nice Polychaete!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
62. sp34n119w
7:41 PM GMT en Febrero 23, 2012
Thursday! Already!

Warm and sunny and not too breezy, atm. Nice :)
Yesterday's weather was great, too.


LC - Public Citizen titles its action page, "Too Big to Fail = Too Big to Exist" and has a petition to sign. You probably knew that.
Their Action Center has lots of petitions and, more importantly, lots of information on what's going on, all in one place. You probably knew that, too :)

BC - very funny! That's what would happen today but if you look at what was said at the time you won't find much difference. Politics has always been horrid.


Got some stuff!

At HoPuff is an article about religious groups getting a clue and banding together to get religion out of politics. Good piece and good sentiment, imo.

On the other hand, a judge in central PA has ruled that personal offense is justification for assault (video). I mean, I find the victim's actions offensive enough to make me cringe, but, assault? Really? I don't think we have the right to not be offended, let alone the right to physically attack someone for causing offense. Guess the judge disagrees. Do you?

Let's return to money and politics - last week John Scalzi had a pretty good piece about how "Not Being Able to Scrape By With $200k Is Usually Your Own Fault" that seems worth posting. It's brief.

This is more fun, but, if you are going to click on the following link to WEIT, do it during daytime and many hours before you plan to sleep - it is the stuff of nightmares. In the comments there is a link to the story of a biggun. Eek. Next, check out this Wikipedia page to see other members of the family that are much easier on the eyes. Awwww. I want some!
If that got you curious, it's worth checking out WP on the whole class. There's a lot of them and they are all very very cool :)

On the knitting front, I watched the Yarn Harlot do lever knitting on youtube, along with some other vids on that technique. I don't know that I can do that but I need to find some alternative. I've become much more relaxed, overall, while knitting, but my hand cramps pretty badly, despite regular stretching, and that limits the amount of time I can spend on that activity. If only I could spend less time on the computer I might be okay, LOL

That's some of what I've been looking at. What about you?

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61. BriarCraft
11:42 PM GMT en Febrero 22, 2012
Having a little fun with political rhetoric today. The good folks at FactCheck.org have launched a new website called FlackCheck.org. Or at least I only recently learned about it. Among many interesting items, they've got a whole section titled, "Could Lincoln Be Elected Today?". Essentially, it's what ads today's super pacs would make to oppose Lincoln.
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60. LowerCal
10:27 PM GMT en Febrero 21, 2012
When "Too Big to Fail" becomes too big to save...
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59. sp34n119w
9:08 PM GMT en Febrero 21, 2012
Some random-ish stuff, some follow-up ...

On the Army's spiritual fitness test and Sgt. Griffith's efforts, the Pasadena Sun has statements from various religious persons and a couple atheists. It is four pages but each is short.


Had been thinking about posting this since it came out - Public Citizen has a campaign going to break up BoA. This video is perhaps better seen without sound, lol, but has good information and a place to go to take action, if one is so inclined.


For the plant lovers - 30,000-year-old seeds planted, grown, and successfully pollenated! From a squirrel stash! They are very pretty :)


The weather is pretty nice - warm and partly sunny and, most importantly, not windy!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
58. sp34n119w
11:41 PM GMT en Febrero 20, 2012
BC! Good job on that rant :)

Re: Too many people - definitely true that the children in a family of 4 will do better than children in a family of 10, and this is most obvious in high-poverty, low-resource areas. It isn't just a matter of population, though.
The other thing that has been found through study, time and again, is that pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for infants reduces a woman's productivity to such a large extent that, without the means to control family size and spacing of children, societies that withhold access to family planning services lose essentially half their available workforce. That doesn't just mean nine-to-fivers, of course, but all the extra work that women do in the community. More succinctly, the entire community, however it is defined, benefits substantially from reduced family size. The stats on that are mind-blowing - wish I had some to hand, LOL

Thanks for the link to Taibbi's article. I don't always like or agree with him but he always makes me laugh!
"... like watching a cruel experiment involving baboons, laughing gas and a forklift."
I'm still grinning over that line :)


Here's some more lighter fare ... sort of. Why would this cat behave this way?


Still recovering from the weekend here - today was a day of extreme rest but still not enough! So, I'm going to rest some more, LOL

Happy Monday Evening :)
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57. BriarCraft
7:41 PM GMT en Febrero 20, 2012
Quoting #55: The contraceptive “debate” being had by a bunch of privileged white men is another case. It used to be that easy access to contraceptives was a Conservative position. Yes, really. Why? Because it saves an incredible amount of money! And suffering and social ills. The stats are there, easily found, constantly quoted - and suddenly ignored. It is so much easier to attack women than to attack our economic issues – some of which would be alleviated, have been alleviated, by cheap/free access to reproductive health care for women and men.
The only way this becomes an issue of individual rights is if an individual is required to use contraceptives, with penalties for pregnancy, and that is not what's happening here.
Another funny fact – Liberals once opposed easy access to family planning services because it was seen as a bigoted attack on minorities by government. ha. ha.
Moral of the story – if politicians need someone to kick around they pick women, children, the elderly, the poor, and any handy non-white group. Health care, education, immigration, minimum wage, social safety nets … the list of issues that affect less powerful groups is long and we never seem to get enough of these “debates”. The folks making the law have no other use for those issues beyond scoring political points – and distracting the electorate from the work they are not doing.

You nailed it, SP. Well said!
And yeah, here too, don't get me started.
Oops! But you did...

Scoring political points. Using smoke and mirrors to distract from what they're really up to. Instead of intelligent discourse, they resort to blatant lies and disrespect of the other side. I could get really fired up about how they quote out of context and then blow something up out of all proportion.

So the trumped up issue currently is contraception. Before that, it was the campaign to make voting more difficult. Before that, it was rob the unions of what little influence they still have. Before that, it was "birther" nonsense. Before that, it was (and still is) drill-baby-drill despite the fact that we are now exporting refined oil products. Meanwhile, the gulf between the 1% and the 99% widens. And Faux News has the most gullible group (radical religious right) doing much of the 1%'s dirty work for them.

And they're attacking women's rights again? In 2012? 40+ years after the rest of the developed world happily accepted it and we're still arguing about it? Really??? Even forgetting about women's rights (which I never will), what is the #1 cause of poverty and chronic unemployment and poor health and crime? Too high a birth rate! A population that doubles and doubles again. Too many people. All to fuel perpetual business growth which would be unsustainable with a zero-growth or shrinking population.

/end rant

time to wind down, lighten up, and have a bit of fun:

Has anyone read Rolling Stone lately? RS1150 has a hilarious and right-on look at Republican presidential politicians in Matt Taibbi's article, "The Odd Couple -- How the GOP race became a showdown between a walking OCD diagnosis and a flatulent serial adulterer" Best thing I've read in a long time.
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56. sp34n119w
9:20 PM GMT en Febrero 18, 2012
I wasn't going to blog about this ... or at all today ...
But, I am happy to see note of this guy ... and my afternoon plans have been postponed ...

Most folks have probably not been following this First Amendment story out of Cranston, Rhode Island. It started awhile ago when a parent complained at a school board meeting about a prayer banner at the high school. A student spoke in support of the complaint. The board refused to remove the banner, the ACLU got involved and they needed a litigant and the student agreed to be that litigant. Not surprisingly, things got ugly for that 16-year-old girl, ultimately requiring a police escort for her to go to school and the FBI's involvement to investigate violent threats made against her in various places, including her facebook page.
Also not surprisingly, the court ruled the prayer unconstitutional, as they must and always do. Many in the community are asking the board to appeal the ruling, apparently thinking that spending yet more taxpayer money on a case that can't be won is worthwhile.
That's the recap. Here's why I'm mentioning it now:
A first-hand account from the recent school board meeting where they were again hearing requests for appeal says, in part, that a man

"who got up early in the comment session and said “I went to Catholic schools, where I said the rosary every day. I also said it at home, with my father. In fact, I said it today with a dying friend. So I’m a practicing Catholic.

“On the other hand, my great grandfather came here because he was not allowed to own the land he farmed, in Ireland. Because he was a Catholic. In a prod country.

“Don’t appeal.”

He sat down, and the atmosphere in the room changed. The appeal nuts were no longer whooping and hollering and, when they did resume, a lot of the spirit had gone out of them."

I just think that's worth noting. Because I do realize that there are folks who know the religious history of this country, and why the Establishment Clause exists, and I so so appreciate it when a person of faith stands up for themselves and all the rest of us.


Now I'm told the postponement is over ... seeya!
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55. sp34n119w
2:07 AM GMT en Febrero 18, 2012
BC – this is more a riff on what you wrote than a direct response. Hope you don't mind!

Where to draw the line ...
Right where public good outweighs the individual freedom to be stupid, LOL

Seat belt laws were sold to the public as life savers but they were sold to legislators as money/productivity savers. By avoiding more serious injuries and long-term disability, seat belt use is a public good by all measures and, after all these years, the stats bear that out. Hence, laws to make seat belt use mandatory. For the record, I hate wearing a seat belt – especially in the vehicle I drive most – and I do it, anyway. I probably would never have started doing so if it weren't for the law.

Vaccines are a similar story. Communicable, potentially epidemic, diseases have consequences for everyone, whether they get sick or not. Vaccinations are statistically extremely safe for the individual relative to the risk to everyone if too many do not vaccinate.

Smallpox vaccines are no longer given, I think. Even the military and foreign aid workers don't have to get it. Smallpox was eradicated in the wild a couple decades ago. Were there some folk who felt their individual rights were trampled on when they and their kids were “forced” to get the vaccine? I don't know and I don't care.
Polio could be eradicated. There is a big push on. It would help if there weren't “leaders” telling people that the vaccine is a plot by the West to sterilize Muslims (it happens that Polio's main strongholds today are in predominantly Muslim areas).
These pushes to vaccinate to eradicate are very expensive, and I see where some might also think they cross the line into “personal freedom” territory. Why do we do it? Because it costs so much less than dealing with the consequences of outbreaks, in money and in human suffering.
It would be far less cost-effective to make every effort to eradicate diseases like pertussis and measles and mumps, so it is “voluntary” except that organizations can make it mandatory for attendance/participation.
There is no line, here, though. Vaccinate.

I guess we've got that covered. Again. LOL
Sorry – hot button issue.
I do think it's much harder to know where to draw the line on some issues.

I think what LC said about rigorous scientific study is valid when it comes to things which are measurable in that way. So, if we have an end goal in mind - lessening suffering and costs associated with car accidents, for instance - we can study what best practices will approach that goal, considering costs and human psychology while we're at it - and end up with things like seat belt laws.

Should every car have a breathalyzer installed with the requirement that every driver must pass the test before the car will even start? I don't know. It seems really intrusive. I would rather see better education efforts but, really, how much better can it get? We all know not to drive under the influence of alcohol and many do it, anyway, and innocents suffer from something entirely preventable. That is, many people pay, one way or another, for one person's personal freedom to drink and drive. I can think of some other ways to prevent drunk driving with modern technology but they are all intrusive and subject to misuse.

Saw on the news where Walenda has been granted permission to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. Now, I think that's silly, but, he probably should have that permission. It's possible that some kid(s) will try to emulate him, and that may be reason enough to stop him, but, I don't think so. It is not a large risk to the population as a whole and I'm guessing the guy has life insurance to care for his dependents if the worst happens. He won't need health insurance, LOL

The contraceptive “debate” being had by a bunch of privileged white men is another case. It used to be that easy access to contraceptives was a Conservative position. Yes, really. Why? Because it saves an incredible amount of money! And suffering and social ills. The stats are there, easily found, constantly quoted - and suddenly ignored. It is so much easier to attack women than to attack our economic issues – some of which would be alleviated, have been alleviated, by cheap/free access to reproductive health care for women and men.
The only way this becomes an issue of individual rights is if an individual is required to use contraceptives, with penalties for pregnancy, and that is not what's happening here.
Another funny fact – Liberals once opposed easy access to family planning services because it was seen as a bigoted attack on minorities by government. ha. ha.
Moral of the story – if politicians need someone to kick around they pick women, children, the elderly, the poor, and any handy non-white group. Health care, education, immigration, minimum wage, social safety nets … the list of issues that affect less powerful groups is long and we never seem to get enough of these “debates”. The folks making the law have no other use for those issues beyond scoring political points – and distracting the electorate from the work they are not doing.

Yep. I'm off the rails again ...

calpoppy – I would say that the theocrats in this country look more to Saudi Arabia than Iran as a model. In SA the rich are really, incredibly, unimaginably rich, and the king and his court have achieved a position on the world stage with a lot of influence over how money flows around the globe and other world affairs. Iran might have been going that way until they had that little revolution awhile back and kicked out our puppet. Now it seems nobody gets much at all. I don't think that's what our guys are after and they'll go for the straight-up theocratic aristocracy model over Iran's failing attempt to meld theocracy with democracy.
Otherwise, in terms of laws, their god is the same as Santorum's god. That's, you know, the irony of the thing.

The sweater is … still there! If I spent half the time knitting that I spend perusing knitting-related websites, I'd be done by now! Ah, well. I did finish my “in between sweater knitting” dishcloth. It came out fine and, more to the point (not really needing a dishcloth, so much), I have a good idea of the properties of the yarn I used. Next up (as another break from endless stockinette) is a scarflette for my aunt because my mom liked the one I made for her for Christmas :)

Glad you have enjoyed the change in the weather! It's about time you got your turn :)

LC – I can imagine! That would be hilarious! Destructive and dispiriting, sure, but aren't most confirmation hearings that way these days? Might as well get a chuckle out of it.

Bogon – you did a good job on that story! Even some character development in there which I've seen authors miss despite having hundreds of pages at their disposal, LOL

I would rather be the straightener, too, if those were my only two choices. But, I don't want that kind of responsibility! I'm more of a consensus sort of person.

[Yes I am. Shut up.] [ ;) ]


Well, that only took about 24 hours to write. Man, I'm wordy.
I did get some knitting done. I also got swamped with work yesterday and today. Tomorrow will be more of the same.
Tonight I will (try to) watch a movie that I bought (a big deal – I own very few DVDs) and that came in the mail today. I've seen it several times. I'm excited!
Can't stop the signal.

Er, weather? Rocking horse. Another low chance of rain tomorrow night, I guess.
Glad I live here :)
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
54. Bogon
12:26 AM GMT en Febrero 17, 2012
Re #52,

The Horror! =:o[
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
53. Bogon
12:14 AM GMT en Febrero 17, 2012
Re #47, yes I did write that, and I had fun doing it. It's a very short sci-fi story.

The toxoplasmosis article provided a lot of the inspiration. Then there's the idea that the human brain might someday be subject to the same kind of viral hacking that currently afflicts computers. There's even a brief allusion to intellectual property law.

I also suffer from BriarCraft's syndrome. Back in comment 33 I was all for "straightening people out", but in comment 43 I'm worried about who is doing the straightening. I'm much more willing to be a straightener than a straightenee. :o>
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
52. LowerCal
12:10 AM GMT en Febrero 17, 2012
Quoting sp34n119w:
Santorum said the other day that god has laws that we must follow. His view, and the view of the other Republican candidates (Paul excepted, I think), is that government should be enforcing god's law. Funny that, with over 30,000 recognized Christian sects alone (in the U. S.), even within one sect "god's law" is seen differently.
Imagine confirmation hearings for Secretary of Religion.
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51. calpoppy
11:35 PM GMT en Febrero 16, 2012
If we do what Santorum wants and follow 'God's law' wouldn't we be just like Iran? But I guess Santorum would think that his God is better then their God.

What an interesting Republican candidate he is!

Nice puffy clouds out, snow has melted at work but I am sure there some left at home. Nice change in the weather for me!

How is the sweater coming?
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
50. sp34n119w
10:57 PM GMT en Febrero 16, 2012
Here, finally, is a great overview of the various views of Catholics on that contraception issue, including those of some other "religious leaders" besides that particular group of men who bent the president's ear.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/16/us-usa- catholics-contraception-idUSTRE81F12620120216
[again, sorry, linky button missing]

Santorum said the other day that god has laws that we must follow. His view, and the view of the other Republican candidates (Paul excepted, I think), is that government should be enforcing god's law. Funny that, with over 30,000 recognized Christian sects alone (in the U. S.), even within one sect "god's law" is seen differently.

Hey, I wonder if that's why we have the establishment clause in the First Amendment! Maybe the guys who got this country going understood that secular law is the only way to ensure religious freedom.
Yet, some insist on theocracy. I really think those folks think that it will only apply to Other people. They don't seem to get that law is applied to all - even them.

BC - two excellent contributions, thanks!
I will have to get back here later to rant on, lol

Did read the linked essay - very nice! I've been saying that for decades. Yeah, don't get me started ;)

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
49. BriarCraft
9:00 PM GMT en Febrero 16, 2012
Getting me started takes awhile; getting me to shut up takes even longer.


I was just over on YCD0108's blog and read about Liberal Constipation. It seemed appropriate to share it over here. Not that I'm suggesting anyone here is constipated, but we all probably know someone who is...

Come to think of it, I am a bit irregular from time to time....
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
48. BriarCraft
7:53 PM GMT en Febrero 16, 2012
Reading back through all the dialogue between you and LC, which by the way, I found interesting and at times even thought-provoking, I can't resist throwing in a little something that might be worth mulling over.

In a nutshell, it's "Where do you draw the line?" In a broader sense, it's "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" vs. "Liberty and justice for all."

Personally, I have a lot of trouble with drawing the line. See, I'm a secular humanistic sort, a bleeding-heart liberal on many social issues, but with a strong sense of independence and personal responsibility thrown in for good measure. I'm the type who thinks seat belts are a good thing, but seat belt laws are an affront to my sense of independence. (And don't even get me started on Homeland Security and TSA!!!) To sum it up, I'm a walking oxymoron who frequently loses arguments with self.

Whenever there's a sad news story and someone is interviewed who says, "We need a law so that no one ever has to suffer from {fill in the blank} again." Well intentioned? Yes. New regulation to prevent a 1-in-a-million or 1-in-10,000 or 1-in-100 chance? Where do you draw the line?

The same can be said about vaccinations and birth control and a number of other social/legal issues. Out of {how many ???} childhood vaccinations, 10 may be absolute musts (e.g. small pox, polio), another 10 should maybe be highly recommended, and the rest might be a good idea, depending on the circumstances. But they're all required. Maybe it's a case of too much of a good thing? (No scientific basis here, just an unsupported personal belief!) And this same example could easily be modified to be about umpteen gazillion other well-intended laws and regulations whose authors didn't know where to draw the line, either.

My conclusion is: everything is complicated (even the supposedly simple things). There is no one-size-fits-all. No black-and-white. It's all shades of gray along with a full spectrum of colors, in sizes 0-99XL. And my question remains, "Where do you draw the line?" I might just as well follow with Bill Cosby's question from many years ago and ask, "Why is there air?"

Too bad our legislators can't figure out some way to allow for the common sense factor, as in "Does this circumstance apply to you?" Or a related question, "How much of the population needs to be effected before a one-size-fits-all law actually is justified? I guess because they're just people, too, well-intentioned but also full of their own set of beliefs.

Where do you draw the line? It's a fun debate. I'm not convinced there is an answer, but it's a fun debate. Thanks for letting me add my own little tippity-tapping.
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
47. sp34n119w
7:47 PM GMT en Febrero 16, 2012
Bogon - LOL Did you write that? I couldn't find it anywhere through teh goog.
The scariest (and most interesting) thing about that cat parasite story is that very notion - that we are not in control of our own thoughts and behavior. Neuroscience is showing the same. We are a product of our environment each and every moment, no matter what stories our conscious minds tell us after the fact.

That video was the first thing I heard the morning you posted it. Um, thanks? ;)

BC - hugs are in order any day but I find that strangers take issue. Silly strangers.

Ylee - another beaut! Thanks for bringing the link. I really need to post on your blog so you know I'm lurking, too - I really enjoy the cams and sometimes remember to look during their local daytime!

WTS - glad somebody got rain! Glad you got rain :)
Really appreciate your blog and pics of Sedona - I've never been and now have the itch, for sure!


Let's see ... weather ...
We only got sprinkled upon and then it got really cold and blustery. Looks like the low on the flat was 34 degrees overnight! That's cold. Closer to my house the low was 40 degrees which is also cold.
Today it is sunny, very windy (under a wind advisory again!) with winds from the east, humidity down to 25%, and not too cold.
Same old same old ... is getting old.


Did everyone enjoy their purification rituals yesterday? You did remember, didn't you? It's in the OP! ;)


My buttons are missing. "Bold" "Italic", etc.
I can type in the code for those two but will mess up if I try to make a link.
So, while I wish to point you to an interesting "Big Idea" segment about a book on security and trust in society, I cannot link it, and must thus post the whole url for you to copy and paste, if you are interested.
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/02/16/the-big-ide a-bruce-schneier/


I like Thursdays. Happy Thursday! :)
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
46. WatchinTheSky
5:01 PM GMT en Febrero 15, 2012
Hi sp! Thanks for stopping by. Your sweeping swirls have made it down here and we finally got some rain, .35" - wohoo. And maybe some today!
yes, photos up and even in the new blog. Very fun trip.
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
45. Ylee
10:57 PM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
For Valentine's Day, I give you today's APOD, the Rosette Nebula!

Have a good one!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
44. BriarCraft
7:00 PM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
43. Bogon
11:17 AM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
Quoting sp34n119w (#36):
Ah,well. People are entitled to their beliefs.

I was walking along the promenade at the local mall, when suddenly two men emerged from the shadows to flank me on either side. Each guy grabbed an elbow. The one on the right said, "I'm afraid you'll have to come with us, sir. You've been infected by the —"

And here my mind flitted ahead, as minds will, unfettered by ordinary physical constraints such as light speed. "Herpes simplex virus," I thought. That's a popular option. This was obviously a game of fill in the blank.

Or maybe it was something like "the Hackmont/Socialist meme". It might not be an ordinary virus like colds or flu. It could be an idea.

But wait a minute. Were my thoughts not my own? As far as I could recall, I had come by them honestly.

"— the Glox 7.1 Mind Scam," continued the guy on the right.

Wait. Something was wrong. This didn't fit any of the scenarios I had imagined for how this conversation would play out.

"Glox?" I croaked. "What's that?"

"Sir, do you remember," began the guy on the left, "having a steak dinner last Tuesday?"

Boy, did I! "Oh, yeah!" I enthused. "You have got to try this place! It was a restaurant over on Hartman next to Thompson's Supply. The atmosphere, the cut of meat, the presentation... it was all simply primo."

"Sir." It was the guy on the right again. "Did you know that the Glox 7.1 can overwrite up to 60% of your prefrontal cortex?"

I was speechless.

"The point is, sir," said the guy on the left, "folks who get the Glox? Well, they all remember that. It's diagnostic."

"Putzmann Heresy," I thought, resuming my game of fill in the blank. Heresy? Hold on! Who are these guys? Who are the arbiters of sanity?

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
42. sp34n119w
8:39 AM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
I, for one, welcome our stubby-legged overlords!
You know what I mean.

Thanks gg and Miss Roxie for the BIG smile :)
Happy Love and Chocolate day(s)!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
41. GardenGrrl
5:37 AM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
Think Happy thoughts with Corgi Mind Control...just one more thing to worry about ;-)

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
40. sp34n119w
2:03 AM GMT en Febrero 14, 2012
Okay I'm spamming my own blog again, lol

Here's one person's experience with health insurance, and lack thereof, and how it has affected his family. Comes with data!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
39. sp34n119w
11:18 PM GMT en Febrero 13, 2012
Hi Ylee! No problem. These are the sort of subjects that require a bit of a run-up to tackle, LOL
I don't mean to make anyone feel obligated to respond - and appreciate knowing that you're lurking, anyway :)

Yes! That apod was a stunner! I left it open half the day, waffling over whether to save it or not. Now I'm thinking I should have, after all :)

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
38. sp34n119w
11:13 PM GMT en Febrero 13, 2012
More fascinating biology - cats make us crazy! Seriously, that is some scary, um, stuff, there. Totally awesome science with a whole bunch of room for study and new findings. Love it :)
Even if it does make me look askance at the cat, lol


Reading the Iliad I have found the rules of hospitality very interesting and so different from what I'm used to. When a stranger comes to a town or home he is given food, clothing, a place to sleep – whatever he needs – before he even introduces himself. It is considered rude to ask the traveler for personal information before he has had a bite to eat and, possibly, a good night's sleep. In fact, he isn't really obligated to tell anything about himself, at all. His choice (always “his”, of course, as women traveling alone would do well to stay out of sight).
It occurred to me previously, while reading the Odyssey, that these rules of hospitality are not that unusual in the present day in some areas of the world. Most of us have heard, and some have a hard time believing, that Afghans will offer succor to travelers without knowing anything about them. We bomb the crap out of whole villages for the crime of giving aid to bad guys (by our military's definition) when the men, women, and children who die don't even know that there are bad guys among them. They do not ask for names or affiliations and simply give to those in need.
Standard operating procedure in that society.

If you read something like Beowulf or other older stories from northern Europe you will see that, usually, strangers are barred at the gate until they have satisfied the inhabitants that they mean no harm. This takes the form of offering names and affiliations, along with a list of accomplishments, as applicable. Letters of introduction were once common in Western society and are still sometimes used. Nowadays, if you go looking for a job, it doesn't hurt to have a letter of recommendation from someone the prospective employer knows or would likely respect, which seems a similar idea.
In any case, don't expect assistance unless you can prove who you are and that you are worthy of help, generally. Of course, we have charities that may help with no questions asked, but, maybe we need them for this very reason – the rest of us won't do it.

Anyway … I found an old article on “honor” societies that, I dunno, makes some sense but says some things that are a little offensive to me. I want to share it, though, as it covers a lot of ground and directly addresses Middle Eastern (and other) social mores. His point about language is very well made, I think.


Interestingly, Saudi law is in the news again. A young journalist tweeted something about Mohammed that resulted in 30,000 tweets condemning his words, calling for his arrest for apostasy, and some death threats. He fled the country and got as far as Malaysia where, with help from Interpol, he was arrested and sent back to SA. Apostasy carries a death sentence in SA.
His name is Hamza Kashgari.


I had never heard of Adele until this morning's news.


Weather is chilly and sunny, atm, and rain is a possibility sometime. Hit or miss, as it has been.
Won't bother me – except for driving I'm indoors all day …
… Oh, right! Work!
Seeyas :)
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
37. Ylee
11:10 PM GMT en Febrero 13, 2012
Sp, as much as I'd like to join in the conversation, I simply don't have the time to give the issues their due. Maybe in a couple of days, when I'm on nights, I hope?

Meanwhile did you see the APOD on the 12th? The photographer is very good!
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
36. sp34n119w
10:41 PM GMT en Febrero 13, 2012
LC -
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Thus, children should be vaccinated under most circumstances, despite parents objections.
Thus, in Saudi Arabia women must be properly covered when they might be seen by unrelated men, despite any harm that may come to any woman or a relative few women.
Pretty straightforward, I guess.
I would like to find a way to convincingly show the men of SA that they are not mindless brutes and that men and women both would be a lot happier if they treated women as human beings. Ah,well. People are entitled to their beliefs.

Thanks for yet another article that answers the "what" question on the health care rule. Have you got one that answers my "why" questions? Better - I'd like to know your (and others') answers here, rather than random writers on the 'tubes.

Regarding the "what" - most analysts have said from the outset that Catholic institutions are unlikely to make use of the rule. It is vague enough that other organizations will be able to, though. We'll have to see what the final draft looks like.
Also re: "what" - since the money seems to be what matters to you, and if neither employer nor employee is going to pay the cost, who will? What does it mean to you that insurance companies have to "reach out" and to offer this benefit to a small-ish group of people? Will it cost the insurance company to do this? Will they, out of the goodness of their hearts, simply eat those costs? Maybe the CEO will take a cut in pay or reduce his bonus. Maybe they'll spread it across stockholders shares. Or, maybe, they'll hike everyone else's rates so that, while a few organizations save money, others get stuck paying for it.
Insurers are asking these questions, too.

Do you read the articles you link?
"Today's decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction." - Dolan

Gosh, I wonder what direction that is. I wonder what the second step is. And the third, and the one after that. I wonder what will satisfy the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that their own personal beliefs are being properly enforced by the U. S. Government. You don't wonder that?

How does a religious entity have a moral objection, anyway? Is this like corporations having free speech? These are the questions that interest me but I understand that they aren't interesting to everyone.

How about the guy who thinks the rule should apply to him if he owns a Taco Bell? Being a man of conviction he thinks he can impose his personal convictions on his employees and that the government should help him do so. And why wouldn't he think that? It's just been proven so. I guess that's the second step.

See, I think religious freedom is an individual right. I also think individuals can make contraceptive choices for themselves and don't need any authority figure to make those choices for them – not religious “leaders”, not government, not employers. All we need government for is to make sure that everyone has equal access. After that, we get to make our own decisions, as individuals, regarding whether or not we avail ourselves of that access, for any reason – religious or otherwise. No special rules needed or appropriate.
Well, as I say, this aspect may not be all that interesting.

On the fun note - hope you enjoyed one or more of the links! I spent just about all of my computer time yesterday indulging my curiosity on evo stuff, link-hopping all over the place, LOL


Random stuff to follow ...
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
35. LowerCal
9:32 PM GMT en Febrero 12, 2012
Allow me to clarify. I am out of patience with the anti-vaxers. The harm that results from their *behavior* has been demonstrated. Sanctions on them to prevent that behavior or the harm that results from it should be implemented posthaste.

I thought it would be commonsense that it is not necessary to conduct a scientific study to determine if chasing women back into a burning building presents real risk of real harm. I wonder that I have to clarify that! I suppose it's necessary that I additionally clarify the risk of real harm is to the women.

To establish risk of harm (per my definition) presented to the mental state of the men, the "value" of the women, etc. would require rigorous sociological studies.

On another subject (my first link re. Obama's contraception policy) here are his exact words on the policy and there is a video of his announcement at the link.
"But if a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -- not the hospital, not the charity -- will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge without co-pays, without hassle."

I can see I'm about to cross post and I haven't read the essay on why the public's understanding and accepting evolution is important but I am very interested and it does look like fun.
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34. sp34n119w
8:26 PM GMT en Febrero 12, 2012
I'm glad you decided to pitch in, Bogon.
How and whether to "straighten them out" is, of course, the problem, and I'm in agreement with you and LC. It's got to be done and it shouldn't be oppressive.

Our local high school made proof of pertussis vaccination mandatory for enrollment this school year and I think it's a good idea. It meant hassle for those parents who had to look for their kid's old vax records or get the kid re-vaxed (and what parent needs more hassle?) but it also meant that kids who weren't vaccinated got it done. That potentially saved some lives.
I think the high school previously assumed that it was taken care of in elementary school but they can no longer make that assumption. Easier all around to require proof than to try to track down old school records.

[This seems a good time to remind folks that adults can and should get the TDaP vaccine (TD only if over 62(?)) and, for older folks, the pneumonia vaccine is one of those better-safe-than-sorry things since that form of pneumonia is one that often kills those recovering from surgery/illness that leads to extended bedrest. Chickenpox vaccine, too, is essential for the older crowd. They should be available at your pharmacy, and certainly at hospitals or clinics. Okay. Done lecturing.]

then you need a new deity; this one is broken.
Clever :)


Happy Darwin Day!

Today marks the 203rd anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. It has been 153 years since the publication of his signature work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which famously ends with:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

That is the only place in the text where any form of the word "evolution" is used. Isn't that interesting?

Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True, has a nice post about OoS up today. In the comments I found a link to an essay detailing why the public's understanding and accepting evolution is important.
Oh, looky, another example of how unsupported beliefs can cause harm - evolution deniers.

Also at WEIT Jerry linked to the National Academies Press where there exists a ridiculous amount of educational material across disciplines for all levels. Your tax dollars at work - while you can buy printed copies you can also read them online or download them for FREE (the price is your email address but it is not intrusive). I snagged two related to evolution (one was, Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution) in honor of the day and we'll see if I ever get around to reading them, LOL


There. That's fun, isn't it? Well, it is to me! :)

I oughta go check the weather forecast, as long as I'm here ... ;)
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
33. Bogon
4:31 AM GMT en Febrero 12, 2012
Hi, sp. I've been following your conversation with LowerCal for the last few days. On a couple of occasions I was tempted to wade in with my two cents, but I remain unsure how or whether I can add value.

LowerCal seems to be doing a great job of remaining patient and analytical with people who believe that vaccinations are a bad thing. Depending on what the vaccination is for, that may be okay.

In general it's my opinion that when people are screwing up, they need to be straightened out. If they are really seriously screwing up, you may not have time or resources to figure out why they are screwing up. It could be because they are stupid or damaged or because they are acting on the basis of some bizarre belief system. If they are screwing up badly enough, you straighten them out first, then figure out why later.

Same deal with the Saudi women in the fire. Pull 'em out first, dress 'em later. I don't think Allah should have a problem with that. If he does, then you need a new deity; this one is broken.
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32. sp34n119w
9:45 AM GMT en Febrero 11, 2012
Re: Re: 29

That's a fine definition of harm, LC.
It works well when the belief is something like “vaccines cause autism” where the harm on either side of the proposition is easily quantified and where the claim is scientifically testable. The claim has been tested, with the results being an avalanche of evidence showing that there is no connection. Nevertheless, people still believe the connection is there. Anti-vaxxers “know” it is.
Some folks “know” that burning wood solely for ambiance is okay, too, and refuse to accept that it does significant harm to the environment and human health, including their own.
Just bringing it back around ;) Hey, I just came back from having a cigarette. I'm hardly one to talk

Saudis make no secret of the fact that their laws are based on religious beliefs. They have several books written by trusted religious leaders over the centuries, all backed up by the Big Book of Answers and the writers' own revelations, to support their beliefs. That's all they need.

One such belief is that if men see certain parts of any woman not related to them, harmful things will happen. Among those harmful things, the worst one, is that men will sin in their hearts, feeling lust, thus endangering their own immortal souls. Additionally, men may be physically overcome by their lust and go on a rampage of rape and murder, infecting other men as they go, leading to great destruction. Also, the woman who is so exposed devalues herself and all other women.
The way to avoid all this harm, obviously, is to keep women covered up at all costs and to severely punish any woman who is exposed in order to both set an example and reestablish the value of all other women. So say the religious leaders, the books, and the law.
The moral police did not want those girls to die in that fire. They acted to achieve the least harm. Better some dead schoolgirls than a complete breakdown of society.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you and most everyone who reads this is, like me, in complete disagreement with Saudi law regarding what caused the most harm in this case. We would most likely agree that the girls ought to have been rescued from, rather than locked into, that burning building. Even if they were buck-naked they should have been rescued. Fair assumption?

So, you wrote, “any claim of harm should be demonstrated by rigorous scientific study” and I thought you or someone else might have an idea on how to do that in this case. I can't, so I asked. I ask again, because I'd like to hear some ideas on that.

Just for reference, saving me pulling up many separate and long articles, here are the wikipedia entries on the legal system of Saudi Arabia and the mutaween which has brief mention of the fire (they say 14 dead, not 15) and a bit on the reforms, in case anyone's interested in learning about that.

I did not ask you to support anything so I'm going to suppose that your "you" is General Yu and take it as a general statement of your general position on such matters. It seems such a commonsense position that I wonder that you feel the need to state it.

Regarding the quote:
It is not unusual for some item of information to be taken as true when it has not been proven. That's rather the author's point, I'm thinking. If it is proven it is no longer a belief but knowledge. Beliefs need to be reassessed from time-to-time. Right before pulling the trigger on a gun seems a good time to reassess one's belief that the gun is not loaded. The analogy works well enough.
Then again, the entire book is one analogy after a metaphor and, as noted in a previous comment, I don't always get those.

Re: Re: 30

I wrote:
Though they have the right to voice their opinions as American citizens
so we're in agreement there, not surprisingly.

I wrote:
It will now be much more difficult ...

which comports with your emphasis in that it shows my understanding that service is still available to those women. For me, the extra burden has nothing to do with money, and money has nothing to do with the broader principle of who should be running my country and for whom. Citizens? Corporations? Churches?
A few powerful and self-appointed overseers who receive special privilege over citizens is what it looks like to me and I don't care from which quarter they come – they are enemies of freedom and democracy. They are enemies of humanity.
I wonder if I am being clear.

Thanks for bringing the link and pointing out that one aspect, though, for anyone who hasn't been paying attention.


On the same story - tonight I watched part of Granholm's show and I'm glad I did. She spoke like the Catholics I personally know and it was refreshing to hear that from someone on tv - even if it is a show nobody sees, lol
If real people spoke up about what religion means to them, and what they think the church should be doing - and shouted down the authoritarian bullies using religion to gain personal power and wealth - I'd be able to do something else with my time! haha
Hopefully this is a link to the page with that short video piece (ads at beginning and end).


Anyone else bored with this turn of conversation? Guess so, since it's just me and LC participating, lol
'sokay. It's not a fun topic.

I'll see if I can find something fun tomorrow but right now it's very late - I had a looooong day and can't even really blame it on missing yesterday - and I'm off to bed. After I have another cigarette ;)

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
31. LowerCal
1:05 AM GMT en Febrero 11, 2012
Re. 29:

I see I need to define the "harm" I was speaking of. Harm would be death, injury, illness or financial or property loss.

That definition would have precedence over *anyone's* other considerations of harm.

I do not believe any authority should be given to moral, thought or belief police.
".... I know that the beliefs that underlie those rules still exist and will continue to manifest in many other ways which I would consider harmful. What scientific study would prove the case either way?"
If you want my support in blocking anyone's belief based action or inaction you would have to prove to me the harm that would result from that action or inaction.

If you "know" but cannot prove isn't a more accurate term "believe"?
'Why do beliefs matter?
"I didn't think the gun was loaded."'
That's an argument from analogy with a false analogy. Whether or not the gun was loaded is easily proven... and before any harm results too.

Re. 30:

The Roman Catholic Bishops do not have any civil authority in this country but they are free to criticize this country's executive branch policies that affect their church.

Obama changed his proposed policy based on his own political considerations but...
Obama's compromise means ultimately that women would still get birth control without having to pay for it, no matter where they work. ....

Under the new plan, religious employers such as charities, universities and hospitals will not have to offer contraception and will not have to refer their employees to places that provide it. If an employer opts out of the requirement, its insurance company must provide birth control for free in a separate arrangement with workers who want it.

[Emphasis added by me.]
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
30. sp34n119w
11:39 PM GMT en Febrero 10, 2012
Why do Bishops get to make United States law? Why are they allowed to demand that certain citizens will not be afforded a benefit of law that is to be provided to all other citizens? Who made them “leaders” as they are described in every media report? Are they elected or hired by the people they claim to represent? Can they be fired by those same people? No. They are the minions of an authoritarian organization based in another country. Though they have the right to voice their opinions as American citizens, they do not speak for any American citizens,. In fact, the citizens who are being forced out of a benefit of citizenship have demonstrated, through word and deed, that they disagree with the Bishops. These citizens seem to think that they are individuals with the same rights and freedoms as any other citizen, and the autonomy to make use of their rights and freedoms as they see fit. It will now be much more difficult for the individuals in this one group of American citizens to exercise a benefit of being a U. S. citizen. Because Bishops who answer to a petty dictator in another country, who have no legal standing or authority beyond that afforded to any private citizen under our Constitution, are allowed to make law in our country, against the will of the people, and outside the system of representative government that we have established. Why? Why would the U. S. government consent to using its considerable power to enforce the rules of a religious sect?
Who's next?
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
29. sp34n119w
5:42 AM GMT en Febrero 10, 2012
Hiya! I spent my day at the courthouse, basking in warm sunshine, finishing a book I'd laid aside a couple weeks ago ... all in all not a bad day.
Functioning on three fewer hours of sleep than normal, mind, and with plenty to do at the end of the day, but, hey! I did my civic duty! By lazing around all day, LOL

LC - oh, good! And thanks for bringing the extra vaccination info. I do think the tide is turning on that - there seem to be fewer uncritical accounts of the anti-vax movement on tv (that I've seen and I guess that's not saying much) so that might help.

I saw on the news this evening that a person who attended the superbowl village thingy in Indy has been diagnosed with measles. MEASLES!!! I don't even know what that is, exactly - it has never been a part of my world. Guess it is now. Hurray for mommy instinct.

I agree in principle with both of your points. I'm tired enough that I oughtn't keep tippity-tapping, but ... two things came to mind.

Today I was reminded of an event that occurred in Saudi Arabia a few years ago. A school for girls caught fire and when the students tried to leave the building the moral police stopped them because they were not wearing head coverings. 15 girls died in that fire. Is that harmful? Or is it more harmful to the girls to be seen without head coverings? Or is it more harmful to society if men see women without head coverings?
I know what my answer is but the moral police and those who pay them would disagree. Though some rules have been changed since then I know that the beliefs that underlie those rules still exist and will continue to manifest in many other ways which I would consider harmful. What scientific study would prove the case either way?

The other is this insanity ... which I just wrote too many words about and deleted, LOL

Need sleep :)

From the book I read today:

Why do beliefs matter?
"I didn't think the gun was loaded."
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
28. LowerCal
12:28 AM GMT en Febrero 10, 2012
sp, you did address what I wrote. I agree entirely with your response as far as it goes but I would like to clarify my thinking on a couple of points.

One, any claim of harm should be demonstrated by rigorous scientific study. Avoiding vaccinations is an excellent example. The presence of unvaccinated individuals in the general population poses a health risk to those too young to be vaccinated, those who have specific health issues that prevent them from being vaccinated and even those who *have* been vaccinated as vaccines are not 100% effective (e.g. the measles vaccine is "only" 95% effective). (Here's a link for anyone wanting more information about the issue - Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines - New York Times.)

Two, restrictions should be applied in the narrowest possible manner limited to specifically preventing the harm. Great care should be taken to avoid just penalizing people for thoughts or beliefs they may have however misguided those thoughts or beliefs may be. Continuing with the vaccination example I agree with these opinions:
• Perhaps it should be harder to opt out of vaccination. (Twenty-one states allow parents to decline vaccination of their children simply for "philosophical" reasons; 48 allow a religious exemption, but few demand documentation from parents to support claims that their faith precludes vaccination.)

• Perhaps there should be higher healthcare and insurance costs for unvaccinated people, or "healthy behavior" discounts for people who do get vaccinated, paid for from what society saves by avoiding the spread of disease.

• There could be restrictions on the community and social activities in which unvaccinated people can participate, like lengthy school trips for kids, etc.

This is not about creating more government to intrude further into our lives. This is about calling on government to do what it's there for in the first place: to protect us from the actions of others when as individuals we can't protect ourselves. It is appropriate, and urgent, that we act to protect public health from those whose choices about vaccines are putting the rest of us at risk: ....
Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
27. sp34n119w
7:22 AM GMT en Febrero 09, 2012
gg - oh, yeah. Analogy and metaphor both seem to go right over some folks' heads. I admit, I miss metaphor occasionally, too. I'm very literal-minded and get frustrated when metaphors are used excessively.

Surveys have shown that atheists are the least trusted group in the US - but they've never included feminists in those surveys, to my knowledge. I think atheists would get a bump up if they did, sorry to say.
Those who challenge the status quo are bound to be reviled. We can be grateful to those who stand up anyway.

LC - that's the coolest thing ever! Maybe not ever ... but definitely today! :)
We may not have exciting weather but the combination of ocean and geography give us some very interesting atmospheric effects. Those loops can be spellbinding.
Thanks much! :)

I have heard similar stories of being required to either work on a day off or attend a religious service from folks in the military. How many parents, when sending their kids off to serve, understand that there may be forced indoctrination? I imagine there are some Catholics who'd rather their kids were not forced to hear that the trinity, transubstantiation, and the saints are all Satan's work. The devout kids themselves probably don't like it much. Just as an example. It would work the other way around, too, but it's hard to imagine a Catholic base commander forcing servicemen to take the eucharist. Not their way, really (they require swords and thumbscrews and such) (kidding!!!) (that was years ago).
I think there is something about that in the First Amendment ... hmmmm ...

Ranking junk food and the dog above the wife gave me pause though
Oh, yeah, see? Weird stuff in that one.

I suspect hard data of future studies will show pluses and minuses and dearly held beliefs (by anyone) will continue to be dearly held.

I don't doubt it. Beliefs are necessary, as they provide a framework for how we deal with the world around us. Nobody has time to fully reassess every aspect of every situation at every moment of every day. However, it is good practice to occasionally reassess beliefs to see if they are working, particularly in light of new or better information. Beliefs can be wrong, unnecessary, harmful. That is no indictment of the person who holds the belief – we are all subject to this. That's the brains we got after eons of random mutations. It obviously has value, but it is of the same value as a love of fatty foods and sugar.

Unsupported beliefs held by individuals are rarely a problem. I mean, I don't care that some people in Norway still put milk out for the fairies at night, you know? Belief in fairies is silly but pretty harmless (unless the milk attracts critters who cause the neighbors problems, which apparently does happen).
When harmful beliefs become widespread and persist in the face of evidence, as in the anti-vaccination movement, this is a problem for everyone and is no longer just a matter of personal belief that can be ignored or indulged by the rest of us. The consequences are too dire.
Belief in Santa Claus is pretty harmless for little kids. In fact, for many children, there is quite a lot of evidence to support that belief! In the end, though, they must give it up in the face of better evidence to the contrary. If you find an adult who truly believes Santa Claus exists, along with the myths that go with him, you would probably think twice about trusting that person with, say, watching your kids or performing an angioplasty. That person is entitled to believe whatever they want but it naturally affects how s/he is viewed by everyone else. Doesn't it?

Well, that's what what you wrote made me think about but I am not sure I'm addressing what you wrote.
Let me know.

Member Since: Diciembre 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
26. LowerCal
10:37 PM GMT en Febrero 08, 2012
Way to go 9th Circuit, indeed! To me it would strain their credibility if the Supremes even chose hear it.
Prop. 8: U.S. Supreme Court might not take gay-marriage case - latimes.com

Actually it was my experience in the Army that various policies and how strictly they were observed or not depended on vagaries often not very far up the chain of command. On Sunday mornings during basic training we had the option to pick up litter or attend "the brigade commander's wife's church". Think about all the peculiar dynamics that might be implied there, lol. Anyway, I always suspected that the nonacceptance of "Unaffiliated" as my preference was just due to the personal prejudice of the sergeant interviewing me. I was able to select a denomination I was confident wouldn't precipitate any rituals that violated my beliefs or disbeliefs so I didn't make it a point of contention.

What I can tell you about my reaction to the Doritos dog commercial is that I'm a sucker for dark humor and the premise was sufficiently ludicrous that I was able to enjoy it as such. Ranking junk food and the dog above the wife gave me pause though.

I was able to put together a really good loop of orographic effects from sundown Monday through sundown Tuesday. The full resolution 720x480 file is 19 MB. The 350x233 file was the largest I could upload to WU. If the image slows anyone's page loading too much let me know and I'll remove the image and just leave the link.

Orographics Loop

.... "For the same reason you don't see" when it comes to a dearly held belief. ....
I did get that about the analogy and it is excellent in that way.

Of course no analogy is *perfect* and as GG points out that is sometimes overlooked so I felt I should point out that the analogy is not perfect as far as
.... even when they are shown to be both unnecessary and harmful. ....
is concerned.

Back when I took Sociology as a college elective it was considered a "soft" science. That is changing tremendously as you are well aware, sp. I suspect hard data of future studies will show pluses and minuses and dearly held beliefs (by anyone) will continue to be dearly held.
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