Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus!

Today is Festivus, the holiday made famous by a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. Festivus actually goes back to 1966 when the father of a writer on Seinfeld started the holiday in frustration over the commercialism and pressure surrounding the Christmas/Hanukkah season.

So for those that celebrate, enjoy the "Festivus for the rest of us" and may the "Feats of Strength" begin.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jack Versus St Nick

With the holidays right around the corner and a new season of 24 starting in less than a month, this video seems quite fitting

Sunday Funnies - Climate Change

In honor of the clusterf**k that was Copenhagen last week, Pharyngula offers this little cartoon via Joel Pett from USA Today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chuck Norris Has A New Profession, Selling BS

Playing an action hero is no longer paying the bills nor apparently is being a Mike Huckabee supporter so Chuck Norris seems to have decided on his next profession, being a voice for the Religious Right. His latest screed feeds the fearmongering that is the SOP for the wingnut right.

What if Mother Mary Had Obamacare?

The purpose of the Norris post is obviously to play on the faithful's fears by telling us that if "Obamacare" had existed when the unwed Mary had been pregnant, taxpayer funds could have paid for the abortion of the Christian Messiah.
What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?
Of course putting aside the fact that the supposed homeland of Jesus already has government funded health care much more socilalized than anything proposed here including abortions in some cases, and since Norris doesn't seem to have any problems playing around with what ifs...

What if "Obamacare" had been around when Mary was pregnant? Would she have been forced to give birth in a filthy stable without benefit of a doctor or any prenatal care? And considering the high infant mortality rate in pre-Obamacare biblical times, how many potentially great individuals actually did die from the lack of availability to proper health care? (inadequate as it was back then)

All in all I would think it is quite fortunate that he he made it to adulthood at all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Satire At Its Finest

Tiny Frog points us to what Amazon visitors have voted to be the most helpful review to date of Sarah Palin's book "Going Rogue".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Even Google Hates South Dakota

Readers here are aware of my rants on the lack of choices South Dakotans have when it come to cell phone technology. My thoughts on the subject especially when discussing my frustration over the Apple/AT&T exclusivity deal for the iPhone have been posted here on a regular basis. With that in mind, rumors of a mysterious Google phone that had been swirling around for awhile now gave me hope that a revolutionary smart phone might be just around the corner to compete with Apple and that it might actually be available for those of us that are geographically challenged.

The Motorola Droid was an opening act, being the latest and greatest built on Google's Android operating system and taking advantage of Verizon's excellent network. I was so impressed by the initial hype I went out and purchased one but despite many great features and excellent first impressions, a month later it has me wishing for more. (more on that in a future post)

So imagine my excitement when stories began emerging over the weekend on a real honest to goodness Google phone. The Nexus One as it has been officially named, is real and could possibly be available as soon as next month.

As the weekend progressed, more and more details began emerging further increasing my excitement including Google's willingness to sell the phone directly to consumers meaning that it would be unlocked and available to use without having to sell your soul to a wireless provider for multiple years.


To this point we had an open source smart phone with the clout of Google behind it being sold unlocked to anyone who wanted it. Sounds pretty good right? Well this is South Dakota after all so there has to be a catch in there somewhere and this is no exception, and it is a big one.

The Nexus One will be GSM only. For those unaware of what that means, you will have the choice of exactly 2 major cell phone providers, AT&T and T-Mobile.

That's right, the next big thing in the cell phone business will at least initially only work on providers that do not provide service in South Dakota! (AT&T has purchased AllTel's assets here as part of the Verizon merger agreement but what that means is still anyones guess)

To make matters worse, Google supposedly initially approached Verizon with a proposal that would have had them partnering on this phone. If Verizon would have agreed it would have meant that not only would the phone still have been sold unlocked by Google as it will be now, it would have likely been CDMA based making it available for use on most every carrier in South Dakota including Verizon and Sprint.

Of course, like they did with the iPhone, Verizon said no and Google instead went to T-Mobile meaning the phone will be GSM and South Dakotans will remain in the semi-dark ages using a network that severely limits our phone choices.

Oh well, I guess there will always be the next big thing...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stem Cells Used In Promising HIV Treatment

Very few issues cause the far right wingers' blood pressure to rise more than gays and abortion. So the news that researchers have made strides in fighting HIV using stem cells and human fetal tissue must have many of them reaching for their blood pressure meds.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, made a stunning announcement Monday: Stem cells can be engineered to kill HIV.

The results, published Monday in the online journal PLoS ONE, demonstrate that human stem cells can be engineered into the equivalent of a genetic vaccine.
The rest of us will applaud the progress to date and hope that the research continues to show promising results.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Funnies - How To Respond To Homophobes

If you are going to insist on showing off your intolerance and homophobia, maybe it would be a good idea to do so with at least a modicum of fashion sense (insert stereotype here). Open-Air Campaigners protester Michelle Deferio discovered that during her little protest at Syracuse University last month when the locals decided to turn her campaign against gays into a protest against her ankle length corduroy skirt.

The anti fashion faux-pas sign holder, Chris Pesto, ended up attracting 100 or so folks in support of his campaign against corduroy skirts which by the way is also a biblical no-no (Leviticus 19:19) while Deferio ended up hearing from Syracuse University officials notifying her that she might want to take her protest elsewhere.

Read more on Chris's protest here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stimulating The Economy

Student offers Barack Obama a quick way to get the economy moving. Legalize drugs, prostitution, and gambling.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Skating Babies

Posting will be light for a week or so while I make the 16 hour trek to Ohio for Thanksgiving but I thought I'd leave you with this for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Missouri Republican Group Calls For Overthrowing The Government

The Lafayette County Missouri Republicans apparently have had enough and aren't going to take it anymore. Their solution? Overthrow the government.

From their billboard:
"A Citizens Guide to Revolution of a corrupt government.
1. Starve the Beast.
2. Vote out incumbents.
3. If steps, 1 & 2 fail?

So who are the terrorists again?

Supply And Demand At Work?

Remember $4.50 a gallon gas? The oil companies and oil speculators surely did and apparently they miss those good old days. But when the laws of supply and demand aren't working what are they to do?

They resort to Plan B and they manipulate the supply...
Locals in Suffolk watched with growing anger over the summer as more and more tankers dropped anchor.

Southwold mayor Susan Doy said: 'It is wrong that tankers should be left off our coast for reasons of profiteering. Ordinary people are left to suffer as petrol prices go up.'

Andrew Reid, of ship owners and managers Charles M Willie & Co, said the flotilla off the Devon coast, pictured in the Mail yesterday, was 'a drop in the ocean compared to the much bigger fleet full of crude oil off Suffolk'.

He added: 'They are all just waiting there for the price of crude oil to rise, enabling huge profits to be taken. If all this crude were to be delivered there would doubtless be a fall in the crude price and petrol prices.

Sunday Funnies - The First Thanksgiving


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pot Meet Kettle - The Associated Press Edition

Yesterday I briefly mentioned how Sarah Palin's new book "Going Rogue" had been fact checked by the Associated Press with quite a few of Palin's "facts" being called into question. Along those lines Talking Points Memo posted on the AP fact finding mission including how the AP somehow got a hold of a copy of Palin's book before it was released, digitized it, and proceeded to quote it extensively in their fact checking story. They even gave a $500 bonus to the reporters who were responsible for tracking down the pre-release copy.

An obvious case of fair use right?

Considering that the AP apparently doesn't believe in fair use going so far as to try and charge bloggers for quoting with attribution from their articles, will they be paying the copyright holders for this story? At the AP's pricing of $2.50 a word up to $100 for 251 words or more, Palin should be seeing a $100 check soon.

I am sure it is in the mail...

Friday, November 20, 2009

There Is A "Sarah Palin Quitting Early Again" Meme Here Somewhere

The women out pawning a book despite some not believing that she has ever read one is apparently sticking it to her supporters once again and her Sioux Falls fans looking forward to her appearance here on December 6th might want to pay close attention.

Sarah Palin's whirlwind book signing tour in small towns with easily controlled impressed media made a stop in Noblesville, IN and despite folks waiting for hours for one of 1000 wristbands, anywhere from 150-300 (depending on who you listen to) were left hanging after Palin quit signing before all in line could meet their "Hockey Mom" hero. Many were not happy.

As mentioned above, Palin's book tour is strangely avoiding most large media markets to which I wondered whether she was doing so to avoid having to answer questions. Well a story in today's Argus answers that question mentioning that she is also ducking out of interviews even with local rags in the cities she has toured to date.
In her new book, Sarah Palin complains that presidential candidate John McCain's staff kept her away from the media.

But on the first four stops of her book tour, Palin has repeatedly ducked local reporters.

The Argus Leader surveyed 12 local newspapers and television stations which requested interviews with Palin in the first four metro areas she visited on the tour: Grand Rapids, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Indianapolis and Cincinnati. None of the 12 news outlets were granted an interview.
Pretty strange for someone hawking books to be avoiding the non-Oprah media isn't it? Maybe it has something to do with a large chunk of the book already being called out as being less than truthful...

Texan's Banned All Marriage?

Texas is known for many ridiculous legislative ideas already but this one might take the cake. It is possible that in their haste to incorporate homophobia into the state's Constitution in 2005 by banning same sex marriage and civil unions, they might have also banned all marriages in the process.
The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Waited, I Really Did

Anyone who regularly reads my rants knows that I have been quite critical of the exclusivity deal that Apple signed with AT&T to have the iPhone. While it appears that Ma Bell might actually move into South Dakota some time next year as a result of the Verizon/Alltel merger, there has been no word on them bringing the iPhone with them (Alltel's network is incompatible with the current iPhone). Regular readers here would probably also know that I am a tech nerd that tries to keep up with all the latest and greatest gadgets.

So what is a South Dakota techie supposed to do when the so-called greatest thing since sliced bread in the cell phone business is unavailable?

In my case I waited, and waited, and waited hoping Apple would move on from AT&T. In the mean time I ignored the hype over all the latest and greatest Blackberry's. I even held back on switching from Verizon to Sprint so that I could get the Palm Pre (come on Sprint, any chance that you can get more than 5 towers in South Dakota?). A couple of months ago I even resorted to buying a cheap replacement dumb phone on eBay when mine died with the hopes of the iPhone coming here in the not too distant future.

Well I finally decided to stop waiting and gave in to the hype over the latest and greatest toy and I upgraded to the next "iPhone killer" with the huge marketing budget also known as the Motorola Droid. I've only had it since last Friday so this review is based on only the weekend that I have had to really play around with it but I thought I would post my initial thoughts.
I assume the Droid gets its name from the fact that it runs on Google's Android open source mobile phone operating system and from what I am reading, this phone might be Motorola's last chance at survival in the mobile handset market.

As of this writing, the Droid is the only handset that I am aware of with the latest version of Android installed (ver. 2.0) and coming from being forced to use Windows Mobile on my work phone, currently an HTC Touch Pro 2, the difference is like night and day. Not more than a minute after the salesperson handed me the phone after activating it, it rang and I had to quickly figure out how to unlock it. A quick swipe with the finger later on the absolutely gorgeous touchscreen, I was on my way.

Being built on Google's OS, the first thing you will notice is that it plays nice with Google's other services including 2 that I use quite often, Gmail and Google Voice. The Droid enables push email from your Gmail accounts so you'll never have to manually check them again, enter your log in information and you are set.

Google Voice also works quite nicely and from what I understand Android equipped phones are currently the only phones that you can utilize your Google Voice number right from the phones dialpad. In other words, making a phone call from your cell phone will show your Google Voice number on the caller ID display of the person you are calling. All you need to do is download the free Google Voice App from the Android Market Place (and have a Google Voice account of course).

Speaking of the Android Market Place, just about any functionality or feature that you could ever want on your Android phone has a application available on the Market Place. It's not near the 100,000 or so apps available for the iPhone but the open source community is quite good at identifying a need and writing software to address it and in this case, big brother Apple has no control over what you can put on your phone.

Another great feature is Google Maps with turn by turn navigation. Using your phone's built in GPS, you can use Google Maps for free turn by turn navigation that supports voice directions even being able to switch to Google Street view once you get close to your destination. Oh did I say it was free?

That's some of the good, now for some of the bad.

Android 2.0 is a new OS version loaded on a brand new handset and there is bound to be bugs/usability concerns. A few that I have encountered or have heard of include a few biggies.

- Voice dialing over Bluetooth does not work so true handsfree calling is not currently possible.
- Another Bluetooth issue I have encountered is problems using the Bluetooth audio. After having a tough time getting the Droid paired with the Sync system in my Ford Fusion (you need to type the security code in really fast or it will time out), music played from the phone over Sync would drop out from time to time and from what I've read, it is a common problem not associated with Sync.
- Push email with Gmail works well but syncing with MS Exchange is buggy, especially with highly secure Exchange setups so getting corporate email setup can be a challenge.
- Auto focus on the camera is iffy to the point where I have just turned it off completely and once a photo is taken, the images take a while to load and some have had problems with noise showing up in the pictures.
- No "send" or "end" buttons on the phone. To make a call you must press the phone icon.
- The included music player doesn't have a stop button so to stop a song you either have to pause the player or use task manager to close the application completely.

I am sure there are more but most of the other problems I have heard of come from those using a smart phone for the first time like battery life issues etc. but what is nice is that it seems that Verizon/Motorola/Google are listening. They have already planned an OTA (over the air) operating system update that could happen as soon as December 11th and will supposedly address some of the above concerns.

Like I said, this post is based on only a weekend of use but so far I am thoroughly impressed and will write updates as needed in the future. But as of now the Droid on Verizon's excellent network is a great option even if AT&T ever decides to bring their crappy network and the iPhone to South Dakota.

Howard Stern Takes On Kirk Cameron

This is definitely NSFW but is an excellent discussion on the Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort butchering of Darwin's "Origin of Species" from Howard Stern.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dobbs Quits CNN

CNN's Lou Dobbs announced he was quitting the network effective today so that he could “engage in constructive problem-solving” on national issues.

So who are the birthers and anti-immigration folks gonna get their propaganda from now?

More Truth From Fox News

Damn it now they have me prefacing things with "truth" statements but in this case there seems to be another issue with protest attendance figures and this time Fox News talking head Sean Hannity seems to be having "truth" issues.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Trust me...

Why is it that some folks often seem to preface their arguments by telling us that "the truth" is this or "the truth" is that? Many that often just cut and paste from sources like Whirled Nut Daily and other similar sites seem to believe that just because they state that what they are saying is the truth we should believe them.

Take this site for instance. On their somewhat barren home page alone, the word "truth" is mentioned at least a half dozen times.

Does constantly feeling the need to tell us that they speak the truth instill any confidence that they actually are or would providing verifyable facts be a better tactic?

You Knew This Was Coming

When a fundie Christian extremist goes off the deep end and kills someone like when Eric Rudolph bombed Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996, Christians are quick to give assurances to the world that the act was not condoned by the mainstream in their faith. So when a lone Muslim fundie goes off the deep end you would expect these same folks to realize that the extremes of any religion including Muslim's do not necessarily represent the faith as a whole.

Yes I know, what was I thinking.
It it is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday's massacre is living proof. And yesterday's incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers.

Of course, most U.S. Muslims don't shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you're right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it's used, and we'll welcome you back with open arms.

This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.
Someone needs to start working on that "jihadi-detector" right away and once that is done they can concentrate on fashioning an effective "Gaydar" as well so that those mean old gays can be kept out of the military ensuring a completely American Family Association approved fighting force.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh My This Is Bad!

Nepotism is rampant in politics and has become almost expected, ain't that right Brendan? But oh my just because you were married to Beatles legend John Lennon doesn't mean you are talented and Yoko Ono keeps proving that point. The latest from her comes from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and he even managed to keep a straight face.

And to further prove how irrelevant Rolling Stone Magazine has become, they rated Ono's latest finger nails on a chalkboard album 4 out of 5 stars...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Faith Based Prison?

The whole Constitutionality of this proposed Oklahoma based Christian prison is questionable but it would certainly solve the problem of what to do with the pedophile priests...
A 150-acre site on the edge Wakita has been selected, and an agreement has been reached with Corrections Concepts Inc. to manage the 600-bed prison if and when it is built ... [Bill] Robinson said the $42 million project would be financed with bonds.

A bond underwriting company said that if a government jurisdiction will commit to sending 310 inmates at a cost of $42.80 a day, bond sales can begin, and the project can proceed.


Robinson, himself an ex-con and prison minister, said he had been working for years on the idea of an all-Christian prison, and he had invested $1.3 million so far on construction plans and other expenses.

He said a lot of prisons have faith-based or Christian units, but he knows of none with an all-Christian staff.

"The staff, being all born-again believers, will see this as a mission," he said.

"I want people to understand what it's about. It's about changing criminals into citizens."

The prison would accept only men near the end of their sentences who volunteer to come into the prison and sign an agreement to participate.
(via Right Wing Watch)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Photographic Proof

There seems to be some question in regards to the number of local Democrats that got together to discuss South Dakota's Democratic candidates and issues. Erin McCarrick, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party says 1200 showed up.
"Yesterday, I was with about 1,200 Democrats and independents. We were really focused on South Dakota candidates and issues. They are excited and unified about it," said Erin McCarrick, executive director of the state's Democratic Party.
On the other side South Dakota War College's PP poo poo's that number.
1200 Democrats? She’s actually claiming 1,200 Democrats?

What, did Erin go to the mall and make an assumption? Considering that most years South Dakota Democrats can’t get many more than 100 people to their state convention (and the last ones in the door get drafted to run for a constitutional office) I’m just a little bit of a doubting thomas at this claim.
Well I figured I would get to the bottom of this and lo and behold one of my spies sent me this photo he swears was taken at the meeting.

Oh wait my spy was referring to one of those other get togethers....Nevermind

AT&T Suing Verizon

AT&T is suing Verizon Wireless over their advertisments showing maps of each companies 3G coverage. AT&T claims the ads unfairly represent their actual coverage as their non-3G coverage area is much larger than what the map shows. Verizon off course says that nothing they said in the ads is wrong.

Unfortunately calls to anyone using AT&T's network in South Dakota for comment went unanswered because of course AT&T has no coverage here...Can you hear me now?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


You may remember the neo-con flavor of the month Carrie Prejean whose claim to fame until now was her comments against gay marriage during the Q&A session of the Miss USA pageant. Prejean didn't win and she eventually had her Miss California crown stripped causing her to sue the pageant organizers.

Well we are learning today that Ms Prejean has dropped her ridiculous demands and settled for not much more than the pageant paying for her boob job after the lawyers for the Miss USA organization offered to release her previously unreleased solo sex tape.
A legal standoff between Carrie Prejean and Miss California USA officials reportedly ended when a Pageant lawyer played his trump card: a sex tape far more hard-core than the nude pictures which had previously scandalized her – and in which she had the starring role.

After being shown the hardcore home video - in which she apparently engages in a solo sex act - Prejean dropped her million-dollar-plus demands, reports, and bolted from the negotiating table.
What is it with neo-cons and their sexcapades?

How's That For Inflation?

Average health insurance premium for family coverage in 1999: $5,791

Average health insurance premium for family coverage in 2008: $12,680


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Lines Before Were Nothing

Wow, if you thought the wait to renew your drivers license was long before...
Starting at the end of the year, if you come into a driver license station in South Dakota to renew your driver license it's going to take a little more work. That's because federal regulations are changing, and it's going to take four and sometimes five different forms of identification just to renew the license.
I'm curious what my soon to be of driving age daughters will need to provide for their 3rd, 4th, and 5th forms of identification considering they are a few years away from having a utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement or mortgage document.

FISA Construction Boom

Remember just a few months ago when Congress and Barack Obama voted to give away some of our 4th Amendment rights as part of the new Government surveillance rules and nobody seemed to care? Well now that the NSA has pretty much carte blanche to monitor our communications without warrants they will be needing somewhere to store all those ones and zeros that make up our private data.

Enter their currently under construction datacenter in Utah that could eventually have enough storage to hold ever bit of porn ever produced, or in the NSA's case, all of our digital communications.
There’s an interesting article in the current New York Review of books (predictably, a book review) detailing the history of the National Security Agency, that shadowy power-behind-the-power to which we surrender much of our privacy. That in itself is interesting, but I found the introduction a bit shocking: the NSA is constructing a datacenter in the Utah desert that they project will be storing yottabytes of surveillance data. And what is a yottabyte? I’m glad you asked.

There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, a thousand terabytes in a petabyte, a thousand petabytes in an exabyte, a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte, and a thousand zettabytes in a yottabyte. In other words, a yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000GB. Are you paranoid yet?
How's that for change you can believe in?

Monday, November 2, 2009

22 Milliseconds Costs Company $850,000

In a lawsuit reminiscent of the McDonalds Coffee spill case, a jury awarded a family and their son's estate a total of $850,000 after he was killed from being struck by a line drive during a baseball game. So who you ask was determined to be at fault for the families unquestionable tragic loss?

Despite findings that there were no defects with the bat, the jury still felt that Hillerich & Bradsby Co., the maker of the aluminum bat was to blame because they didn't properly warn everyone that using their bat could result in a batted ball traveling a few MPH faster than it would have with a wooden bat.
In the verdict read in District Judge Kathy Seeley's courtroom, the jurors found the company, which makes Louisville Slugger bats, liable for failing to warn users of the danger of its aluminum bats and that this failure caused the accident that killed 18-year-old Patch.
Baseballs hit with aluminum bats, such as the one used in that American Legion game, only give pitchers milliseconds to respond in a defensive stance, the plaintiffs said. Plaintiff's attorney Joe White said the average time needed by a pitcher to defend a batted ball is 400 milliseconds. Patch had 378 milliseconds to respond, he said.
Guess what, coffee is hot and spilling it in your lap could burn your mommy or daddy bits and standing on a pitching mound 45-60 feet away from someone hitting a ball in your direction can be dangerous no matter what the bat is made from. A great loss for the family for sure but hardly the fault of the bat maker.

At least the lawyers won't go hungry...

Google Voice - Invites

In honor (or maybe inspite) of my move here I am offering to random commenters my 3 invites for Google Voice which like most of Google's services starts out as invitation only.

For those not familiar with it, Google voice gives you a single phone number that you can setup to ring any or all of your phones, saves and transcribes your voicemail online, gives you the ability to listen in on messages as they are being left, and as of just recently it now allows you to move your cell phone voicemail away from your carrier which gives you all the Google Voice functionality from your cell phone. Of course the real advantage is you just give out your Google Voice assigned phone number and no matter what happens in the future with your other numbers, you can be still reached using that same number.

I have been using the service since I got the invite back in July but because I rarely get calls outside of work I really haven't had the chance to put it through its paces so I am a bit short on details. But if you have more questions, you can find more of what it does here and here. And if you would like to try it, just comment on any post and close it with your desire for an invitation and later this week I will shoot out my invites to 3 of you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Makes You Go Hmm....

Some food for thought to close out your Halloween weekend via care2.

Some of the latest polling shows that a larger percentage of people believe that houses can be haunted than believe that human caused global warming exists (37% to 36%). Among Conservatives, only 18% believe in man made global warming while 28% believe in haunted houses.


Teacher Suspended For Teaching

An Illinois High School English teacher has been suspended for having his students read an article documenting the fact that some so-called unnatural acts aren't as unnatural as some would like you to believe.
Delong is said to have allowed students to read the article “The Gay Animal Kingdom” from the June 7, 2006, edition of Seed magazine. Seed magazine is a science and culture publication.

The article by Jonah Lehrer talks about the research of Joan Roughgarden, a biology professor at Stanford University who said she has documented homosexual societies among the more than 450 animal species.
Another example on how knowledge can be a terrible thing when it contradicts one's world view. The more ignorant they are kept, the easier they are to control...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Digs, New Name, Same Subject

The web host excuse train has again reared it's ugly head forcing me to make changes that I was hoping not to have make.

You might have noticed the slowing of my posting history of late and if you are reading this locally and not via my RSS feed you also undoubtedly have also noticed my new digs. Both items are related and are a direct result of hosting issues related to my now former blog directory and my soon to be former web host Site5.

After almost 3 years, the aforementioned host decided that my blog directory was behind the slowdown of their server (of course the fact that it is severely oversold had nothing to do with it...) and should be shut down for abusing server resources as a result. Despite their taking my directory down several days ago, the other 2 sites I had hosted with them under the same account and on the same server continued to run slowly and at times become unavailable for extended periods. Noticing the irony of that fact, I made sure to let Site5 know of their server issues to the point where they are surely dreading reading their email.

So to make a long story short, I have decided to rid them of their obligation to host my sites and have shuddered the directory and have moved my blogs (SDHumanists and the archives of Politics and Hypocrisy and A SD Moderate) here to Blogger for what I hope is the final time. I will be tweaking things for a few more days so forgive the mess which unfortunately also includes the loss of many of the photos associated with the older content.

As far as feeds go, I have kept the feedburner feed active so if that is normally how you read my rantings no more changes are needed other than ignoring the sudden influx of posts that you might have come across that was a result of moving to the new domain.

Again I am sorry for all the changes lately but I am hopeful that this will be the final one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I have been following the nomination process for the 2009 Crockoduck Award, which is given each year to the most ignorant of those who cherry pick science to fit their worldview, from the beginning.

Each year the competition is usually stiff with Kent Hovind winning last year but this year it was no contest.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quick Thought - Fox News

President Obama's disdain for Fox News is well known but one would have to wonder if in fact they are "Fair and Balanced" as their tag line would suggest, would they really have to keep telling us so? One would think that if true it would be obvious and could go without saying over and over and over...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!?

Those of us that understand that the 60's television show The Flintstones was fiction might have missed a Fundie milestone that occurred yesterday though PZ Myers didn't.

According to 17th-century Archbishop James Ussher and still believed by many to this day, everything everywhere turned 6013 years old yesterday. Ussher used various biblical sources to calculate the exact date of god's creation of all things as happening on Sunday October 23, 4004 BC.

And I didn't even bake a cake...

Franken Discusses The Healthcare/Bankruptcy Claims

Diana Furchtgott-Roth from the Hudson Institute recently published an article that sought to debunk a study claiming that the share of bankruptcies attributable to health care costs rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007. Minnesota Senator Al Franken discusses this claim with Furchtgott-Roth and throws out a few numbers of his own.

UPDATE: Apparently I am behind the times, Cory over at the Madville Times beat me to posting this...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Health Insurance Companies' Bait And Switch Tactics Backfiring?

The health insurance industry initially vowed to help the Obama administration's efforts at reform but then pulled back on those efforts by coming out against the proposed legislation at the last minute. Now the Democrats seem to have taken that policy switch as further reason to try and put in place deep reforms aimed squarely at the insurance industry's heart as payback.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned insurance companies on Thursday that health-care reform could cost the industry dearly through new fees, fewer regulatory protections and fresh competition from the federal government.

The blunt admonition echoed a round of harsh statements Wednesday from senior Senate Democrats, and came in response to the insurance's lobby's aggressive campaign to block reform legislation from advancing. An internal industry study released earlier this week found that the Senate reform bill would cause premiums to rise sharply, but the report's findings have been widely disputed.

Pelosi said the House may adopt a Senate provision that would assess a flat fee on insurance companies that is expected to generate about $40 billion over 10 years, as a way to pay for its reform bill. She advocated House language that would require health-insurance companies to to spend 85 cents of every dollar they collect in premiums on benefits.

And she singled out the antitrust exemption that has protected the industry since 1945, the McCarran-Ferguson Act that allows states to regulate insurance without interference from the federal government.

Now we will see if the Democrats have the votes and more importantly the so far missing backbone to go through with this in the face of the huge lobbying machine backed by big insurance. If they actually do follow through,  it couldn't happened to a nicer industry (said as I am looking over the changes and fee increases to my 2010 health insurance policy)...

I'm Not A Racist Quote Of The Day

Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell on why he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way"

But at least he lets them use his bathroom.

I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poor Orly

The queen birther Orly Taitz, who was recently warned to quit wasting the court's time with frivolous lawsuits regarding President Obama's citizenship, has been smackdown once again. This time it will hit her pocket book in the form of a $20,000 fine for continuing her crusade against Obama.
Counsel Orly Taitz is hereby ordered to pay $20,000.00 to the United States, through the Middle District of Georgia Clerk’s Office, within thirty days of the date of this Order as a sanction for her misconduct in violation of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Judge Clay Land wasn't impressed with Taitz
The Court finds that counsel’s conduct was willful and not merely negligent. It demonstrates bad faith on her part. As an attorney, she is deemed to have known better. She owed a duty to follow the rules and to respect the Court. Counsel’s pattern of conduct conclusively establishes that she did not mistakenly violate a provision of law. She knowingly violated Rule 11. Her response to the Court’s show cause order is breathtaking in its arrogance and borders on delusional. She expresses no contrition or regret regarding her misconduct. To the contrary, she continues her baseless attacks on the Court.


Creationism Vs Evolution From The Simpsons

The Simpson's take on creationism as only they can.

(h/t - Unreasonable Faith)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fact Checking

More Jon Stewart.

This time Stewart takes on CNN and wonders why the "news network" spends time fact checking a Saturday Night Live skit but on real news, not so much...
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There

Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

"Radical Gay Agenda"

Some in our local blogosphere like to scare the uninformed in regards to the so-called "radical gay agenda".  Not that it will change the minds of the aforementioned homophobes, Jon Stewart shows us just how "radical" these folks and their "agenda" really are.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Queer and Loathing in D.C. - Radical Gay Agenda
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Healthcare System Is Just Peachy

Unless you are a 4 month old with a healthy appetite.

Alex Lange is a chubby, dimpled, healthy and happy 4-month-old.

But in the cold, calculating numbered charts of insurance companies, he is fat. That's why he is being turned down for health insurance. And that's why he is a weighty symbol of a problem in the health care reform debate.

Insurance companies can turn down people with pre-existing conditions who aren't covered in a group health care plan.

Alex's pre-existing condition — "obesity" — makes him a financial risk. Health insurance reform measures are trying to do away with such denials that come from a process called "underwriting."

"If health care reform occurs, underwriting will go away. We do it because everybody else in the industry does it," said Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the company that turned down Alex.

By the numbers, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Guns Don't Kill People...

Let's give everyone carry permits as there is never too many guns out there.

Even more remarkable, no one was hurt.

Obama Wins Peace Prize, Wingnut Heads Explode

Feel free to debate the merits of the Nobel Foundation's choice of Barack Obama for a Nobel Peace Prize but I cheer the choice just so I can watch the Obama hater's heads explode in disbelief.
Two weeks, and he was nominated? Good gosh, you’d think that someone thought he was the messiah.  (Oops, I forgot. Some people do.)

If we’re basing awards on ideas and possibilities now, Obama had better quickly come up with an idea for a screenplay.   It’s almost Oscar nomination time.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Re-Writing The Bible...Again

Apparently for some, the Bible like the media, has taken on a Liberal bias distorted over the years by obviously slanted errors in translation. Andy Schlafly, founder of the conservative clone of Wikipedia, aims to fix that with his new project that will make the bible fit his vision of intolerance Conservatism simply by re-translating it into modern English.
Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts of Christianity

  • * lack of precision in modern language

  • * translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English.

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity

3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]

4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".

5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census

6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story

9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels

10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles.

After all, if you don't get it right the first 10 times or so, try, try, again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Quotes Of The Day - Brain Power And The Flintstones

Richard Dawkins was on "Real Time With Bill Maher" last Friday which resulted in several great quotes from Dawkins on religion plus a debate on what drives terrorism.

On Evolution and Natural selection:
"One of the main principals of Darwinian Theory is plenty of variations for natural selection to work on. And there’s sure enough, there are plenty of variations in brain power. All the way from Einstein on the one hand, to Sarah Palin on the other."

And on how Britain seems to be dumbing down to America's level on creationism:
"Eighteen percent of the British people think it takes one month for the earth to orbit the sun … And twenty-eight percent of the British people think humans walked with the dinosaurs. Twenty-eight percent of the British people get their science from “The Flintstones.”


Too bad Dawkins whose namesake award from the Atheist Alliance International was given to Maher the day after this was filmed didn't ask Maher about his views on medicine as that would have surely been an interesting conversation...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Atheist Propaganda?

I'll admit, the premise of Ricky Gervais' new movie at first glance sounds pretty much like a Jim Carrey type comedy minus Jim Carrey. After all a movie that revolves around a world in which the concept of lying doesn't yet exist until one man invents it has sophomoric (nothing wrong with that if that's what you enjoy) written all over it.

And of course the TV marketing campaign doesn't disappoint with the standard plain looking guy (Gervais) lying to a beautiful woman about how the world will end if they don't have sex. Of course in a world without lies, she must oblige right? Well what the marketing campaign doesn't tell you and what I am sure has Gervais, whose comedy act often involves humor at religion's expense, smiling is what the first lie ever told was according to the movie.
The film is set in a world where there is no lying, until the character played by Ricky Gervais tells his dying mother that she will go to heaven and be with the angels, thereby inventing religion. Before that, because everyone told the total truth, religion could not exist.

So it's not only a comedy but also a work of non-fiction as well? Might be worth a look just to see the reaction when that plot line is revealed.

UPDATE: Some are now calling it the most blatantly, one-sidedly atheist movie ever released by a major studio. Sounds like a must see now.

The Obama Olympic Legacy?

Conventional GOP political wisdom seems to be that the chosen one, otherwise known as Barack Obama isn't the messiah that all of us left of center are perceived to think he is. (can an Atheist have a messiah?) The latest example being used is his unsuccessful trip to Copenhagen, Denmark to try to bring the 2016 Olympics to his adopted home town of Mombasa Chicago. Of course his trip couldn't get Chicago more than last place finish and will likely provide political fodder for the Glenn Beck crowd for months.

While some are quick to jump on the blame Obama bandwagon, a couple other reasons for Chicago's losing bid seems to be a bit more plausible for those of us not laying awake at night suffering from Obama paranoia.

First on the list could be the rightwing's own campaign to politicize the recent murder of a 17 year old Chicago teen. You know the one that Michelle Malkin recently used as another backhanded attempt at ripping Obama while tying it to Chicago's Olympic bid at the same time.
Community organizing has not stopped Chicago’s teen violence epidemic. The Olympics will not solve this long-festering problem, either.

This type of rhetoric does nothing to downplay Chicago's already less than stellar reputation of a being a rough town and these kind of reminders certainly didn't help their cause.

Even more damning I would suspect would have made it hard for any US city to win an Olympic bid as things stand now. Have you tried flying into the US from foreign countries lately? Well some I.O.C. members have and it wasn't a pleasant experience.
Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

Of course, when most of these I.O.C. members' countries begin living under the constant threat of attack from religious extremists, maybe they can then talk of the trials of airport security. But I can say with certainty that the TSA experience is probably not used in any tourism literature found in foreign travel agencies and was likely another negative factor in the final decision.

So short of Obama actually being the messiah which would have allowed to him to just impose his will, Chicago probably never had a real shot with or without his help but feel free to blame him anyway. Everything else is his fault so what is one more thing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Overpaid Celebrities

I always wondered why folks give credence to Hollywood celebrities' opinions when making decisions on major issues (or anything for that matter). Recent case in point is the Will Ferrell video on health care reform.

Someone else apparently felt the same way and came up with this.

Oh and Whoopi, sex with a 13 year old is rape no matter how many hit movies he directs...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If You Thought Airport Security Was Bad Before...

Not sure if you noticed this from the news yesterday but it seems that Al Qaeda has developed a new tactic for their suicide bombers.
To get his bomb into this room, Abdullah Asieri, one of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, avoided detection by two sets of airport security including metal detectors and palace security. He spent 30 hours in the close company of the prince's own secret service agents - all without anyone suspecting a thing.

How did he do it?

Taking a trick from the narcotics trade - which has long smuggled drugs in body cavities - Asieri had a pound of high explosives, plus a detonator inserted in his rectum.

At least the TSA already has a large supply of rubber gloves...

New Rule - You Might Be Nuts If You Are Bill Maher

Stealing a line from Bill Maher. New Rule, just because you are a vocal critic of religion doesn't mean that on other subjects you can't be batshit crazy (ok some might think that is crazy as well). Case in point is the comedian and skeptic Bill Maher himself and his outright crazy ideas on medicine.

I first became aware that something didn't seem right when he sent this via Twitter the other day.
If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.

Okay, was I missing the joke somewhere? Did Jenny McCarthy hack Maher's Twitter account? Then I find out that Maher has less than traditional ideas about medicine in general.
Maher is as loopy as they come on medical matters. He's a conspiracy theorist who blames Big Pharma for controlling health care, thinks modern medicine is a failure, and promotes 'alternative' therapies that don't work. It is a serious embarrassment.

Apparently that is not all as he is also sympathetic to those in denial about AIDS/HIV and rivals the nutty Jenny McCarthy in his anti-vaccine views as evident by his appearance on Larry King a few years ago which ties in with the swine flu tweet I mentioned earlier.
MAHER: I'm not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. It just shows you, you can...

KING: You mean you don't get a -- you don't get a flu shot?

MAHER: A flu shot is the worst thing you can do.

KING: Why?

MAHER: Because it's got -- it's got mercury.

KING: It prevents flu.

MAHER: It doesn't prevent. First of all, that's...

KING: I haven't had the flu in 25 years since I've been taking a flu shot.

MAHER: Well, I hate to tell you, Larry, but if you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there's ten times the likelihood that you'll get Alzheimer's disease. I would stop getting your...

KING: What did you say?

MAHER: That went better in rehearsal but it was still good. Absolutely, no the defense against disease is to have a strong immune system. A flu shot just compromises your immune system.

And finally we have this concerning his views on "alternative medicine" from his show last week starting at the 50 second mark.

Who would have known?

(h/t - Respectful Insolence)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Open Records Taken Too Far?

I will be the first one to agree that government employees must give up some of their privacy when they agree to be paid with taxpayer money, but how much loss of privacy is too much? The reason I ask is because of a story about a now former cop in my old home town that appeared in the local paper last week that documented line by line why the 18 year vet was fired including his trip to alcohol rehab.

To be fair I must state that I personally know the individual in question having gone to school with one of his sisters but how much personal information is too much? Does John Q Public need to know dates and times that a patrolman on the local police force was absent? Is it any of our business that the officer has been treated for any illness or addiction? The officer broke no laws and was fired for attendance issues. Should anything more than that be public information?

On one end you have South Dakota where you just about need to sign away your first born to get any information about what goes on in state and local government and apparently in Ohio everything seems to be fair game no matter what is does to the individual involved. Somewhere in between is where it should be.

Friday, September 25, 2009

You Know That Spelling Thing...

Just one day after I wondered aloud about why the lunatic fringe seems to have issues with spelling, Steve Hickey posts on the dictionary definition of lunatic fringe, Orly Taitz. It seems the lawyer behind all the Obama birth certificate lawsuits, who was recently warned to quit wasting the court's time with frivolous birther lawsuits, is coming to "Sue Falls" for a little chat with some of the locals here in our fine state.
On Saturday I will fly to Sue Falls South Dakota and give a presentation atSheraton. 16 State Representatives and Senators RSVPed.

If you are interested to attend, please contact Garland Peterson

Is it any wonder that even among some in the "birther" crowd, Taitz is considered out there? I do wonder though which 16 members of our state legislature will be showing up to hear her talk. Any guesses?

Riling Up The Troops Once Again

The next big issue on the minds of the lunatic fringe seems to be the 2010 Census. Their paranoia ranges from claims that the data collected will be used to round up all the government critics to worries that the Census numbers will be manipulated to stack Congressional districts in favor of the Democrats. We've already seen some of the results of that paranoia with the successful campaign to defund ACORN and we might have seen another result with the recent hanging death of a Census worker in Kentucky.

51 year old Census worker Bill Sparkman was found hung near a cemetery in rural Kentucky on September 12th with the word "Fed" written across his chest. The FBI is still investigating whether the death was a homicide or suicide (who writes "fed" on their chest before hanging themselves?), but it begs the question. With over one million Census workers poised to start canvasing the neighborhoods next year, is this latest scare campaign by the wingnuts going to lead to incidents of violence similar to what might have happened to Sparkman?

As always, Fox News seems to set to mood for the wingnut right and below is some of their early work with everybody's favorites Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann along with some goodies found on YouTube from folks fearing the Census.

(h/t - Right Wing Watch)

Did They Really Need A Forum To Figure This Out?

The University of South Dakota apparently felt the need to figure this out once and for all when they hosted a forum on Wednesday to settle the question, "Is the Obama/Hilter comparison valid?"
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a universal health care system, Wymar said. If Obama is compared to Hitler because he favors universal health coverage, that would make the leader of nearly every other leading nation also like Hitler, Wymar said.

“Are they all Hitlers?” Wymar asked. “Maybe they should have a conference of Hitlers."

Obama and Hitler have tremendously different backgrounds, said Don Pryce, a retired USD history professor.

Whereas Hitler dropped out of junior high, was homeless and didn’t hold a full-time paying job until he became chancellor of Germany, Obama worked his way up the ladder, Pryce said.

Hitler was abnormal in his ability to love or his ability to work, Pryce said. Hitler reportedly had sexual obsessions, including relations with his niece who later committed suicide, he said.

“On the other hand, Obama is married to a woman of intellect, poise and charm, and they have two children,” Pryce said.

The two leaders also have different governing styles, Pryce said.

“Hitler had a mindset. He had a view of how the world works, and how to bring it about,” the professor said. “He had a significant refusal to compromise. He ideology was victory, not consensus. Win, not lose.”

Hitler’s politics had a sense of absoluteness, filled with hatred, intolerance and inflexibility, Pryce said.

“In contrast, Obama seeks bipartisanship, cooperation and global understanding,” the professor said. “Unlike Hitler, genocide is not part of Obama’s goal.”

Hitler symbolizes the ultimate evil, leading to the deaths of million of people, Pryce said. “His 12 years in office was marked by a self-destructive impulse,” the professor said.

Hitler exhibited strong anti-Semitism his entire life, Pryce said. Hitler expounded on his hatred of Jews in “Mein Kampf,” his autobiographical manifesto on socialism.

“In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, if the Jews win, all life would be doomed. There would be no life left if the Jews won,” Pryce said.

“If the wrong race won, Hitler was sure that life would surely come to an end. He needed not just to save the human race, but life itself.”

Hitler saw a struggle of the races, Pryce said. War was necessary, with the need for the superior to enslave the inferior, he said.

Ironically, Hitler suffered from an inferiority complex, Pryce said. Hitler’s rabid anti-Semitism was rooted in his own fear that he was part Jewish, he added.

“It was a sign of extremism and distrust,” Pryce said. “What (Hitler) thinks and knows was the only truth, and he had to win. He was the savior of all life in the universe.”

There, aren't you glad that they settled that question?