Sunday, February 25, 2007

Craig Ferguson: better than Leno, letterman or Kimbel

Here is Craig Ferguson talking about his alcoholism, and why he doesnt want to make fun of Britney Spears. This is why I think Ferguson is now the best late night talk show host!

Here is a story from an Iraqi blog


The Rape of Sabrine...
It takes a lot to get the energy and resolution to blog lately. I guess it’s mainly because just thinking about the state of Iraq leaves me drained and depressed. But I had to write tonight.

As I write this, Oprah is on Channel 4 (one of the MBC channels we get on Nilesat), showing Americans how to get out of debt. Her guest speaker is telling a studio full of American women who seem to have over-shopped that they could probably do with fewer designer products. As they talk about increasing incomes and fortunes, Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, is on Al Jazeera telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. You can only see her eyes, her voice is hoarse and it keeps breaking as she speaks. In the end she tells the reporter that she can’t talk about it anymore and she covers her eyes with shame.

She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance.

I wonder what excuse they used when they took her. It’s most likely she’s one of the thousands of people they round up under the general headline of ‘terrorist suspect’. She might have been one of those subtitles you read on CNN or BBC or Arabiya, “13 insurgents captured by Iraqi security forces.” The men who raped her are those same security forces Bush and Condi are so proud of- you know- the ones the Americans trained. It’s a chapter right out of the book that documents American occupation in Iraq: the chapter that will tell the story of 14-year-old Abeer who was raped, killed and burned with her little sister and parents.

They abducted her from her house in an area in southern Baghdad called Hai Al Amil. No- it wasn’t a gang. It was Iraqi peace keeping or security forces- the ones trained by Americans? You know them. She was brutally gang-raped and is now telling the story. Half her face is covered for security reasons or reasons of privacy. I translated what she said below.

“I told him, ‘I don’t have anything [I did not do anything].’ He said, 'You don’t have anything?’ One of them threw me on the ground and my head hit the tiles. He did what he did- I mean he raped me. The second one came and raped me. The third one also raped me. [Pause- sobbing] I begged them and cried, and one of them covered my mouth. [Unclear, crying] Another one of them came and said, 'Are you finished? We also want our turn.' So they answered, ‘No, an American committee came.’ They took me to the judge.

Anchorwoman: Sabrine Al Janabi said that one of the security forces videotaped/photographed her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the rape. Another officer raped her after she saw the investigative judge.

Sabrine continuing:
“One of them, he said… I told him, ‘Please- by your father and mother- let me go.’ He said, ‘No, no- by my mother’s soul I’ll let you go- but on one condition, you give me one single thing.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘[I want] to rape you.’ I told him, ‘No- I can’t.’ So he took me to a room with a weapon… It had a weapon, a Klashnikov, a small bed [Unclear], he sat me on it. So [the officer came] and told him, ‘Leave her to me.’ I swore to him on the Quran, I told him, ‘By the light of the Prophet I don’t do such things…’ He said, ‘You don’t do such things?’ I said, ‘Yes’.

[Crying] He picked up a black hose, like a pipe. He hit me on the thigh. [Crying] I told him, ‘What do you want from me? Do you want me to tell you rape me? But I can’t… I’m not one of those ***** [Prostitutes] I don’t do such things.’ So he said to me, ‘We take what we want and what we don’t want we kill. That’s that.’ [Sobbing] I can’t anymore… please, I can’t finish.”

I look at this woman and I can’t feel anything but rage. What did we gain? I know that looking at her, foreigners will never be able to relate. They’ll feel pity and maybe some anger, but she’s one of us. She’s not a girl in jeans and a t-shirt so there will only be a vague sort of sympathy. Poor third-world countries- that is what their womenfolk tolerate. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.

She’s just one of tens, possibly hundreds, of Iraqi women who are violated in their own homes and in Iraqi prisons. She looks like cousins I have. She looks like friends. She looks like a neighbor I sometimes used to pause to gossip with in the street. Every Iraqi who looks at her will see a cousin, a friend, a sister, a mother, an aunt…

Humanitarian organizations are warning that three Iraqi women are to be executed next month. The women are Wassan Talib, Zainab Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad. They are being accused of 'terrorism', i.e. having ties to the Iraqi resistance. It could mean they are relatives of people suspected of being in the resistance. Or it could mean they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of them gave birth in the prison. I wonder what kind of torture they've endured. Let no one say Iraqi women didn't get at least SOME equality under the American occupation- we are now equally as likely to get executed.

And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.


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Great VW customized site!

here's a great VW site, customized VW's. Great! Here's my favorite picture: VW bugs at a Nazi rally!!! Sense of humor anyone?

Jaguar shot to death

A jaguar attacked a zookeeper who wasnt supposed to be in its space, and when the zoo keeper was rescued the cat threatened the rescuers so it was shot. The story suggests the zookeeper was new, just trained. Also absent is why the cat wasnt sedated instead of killed: the only gun they had wasnt a tranquillizer gun? Jorge the jaguar was in the zoo for two years, was supposed to "mate" with a new female jaguar. I think Zoos generally are brutal places - some absolutely horrible. I enjoy seeing the Siberian tiger at the pittsburgh zoo, but feel sorry for him, being confined in such a small space (but Ive seen worse). Of course I feel bad for the zoo worker (you go to work only to be mauled to death? horrible!). Maybe they should close the zoo. Or stop keeping jaguars. But then again, without zoos, could some species vanish? I am not an expert. Here isa picture of Jorge the Jaguar.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cleopatra and Marc Anthony: Nerds?

As a former journalism minor, I realize that news has to be "entertaining" - people read the news, watch CNN, in order to be entertained. So discovery of a coin with Marc Anthony and Cleopatra results in a news story about how ugly they were - beauty is cultural. Who is to say what beauty was to Romans, or Egyptians in the 4th century BC? I think Marc Anthony looks kinda like young kirk douglas, and cleo? She looks ok too. I always thought you had to look into someone's eyes to see their real beauty...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One more time! Afro Bats at the MET in NY City

I posted this before but here is another link to watch the Afro Bats, street performers in NY City at the Met Museum of Art. This is part of the virtual NYC web site, where you can ride subway or walk in central park (on videos), or take virtual walking tours of the city. You can even watch a Bat Mitsvah reception! Great site.

Brawl between Cheney and Millersville Univ during basketball game

Here is a brawl between two PA State System of Higher Education universities: Cheney and Millersville. There is a racial dimension to this: Cheney is a traditionally African American campus, Millersville is very white. There are racial tensions on our campuses - it is a real problem. I notice racial tension on SRU's campus, and even detect it in my classroom. Cant we all just get along? Racial hatred is about as dumbed down as you can get - universities are places where students can expand their minds, not show how dumbed down they are.

Terrorists new idea: give average joe schmo the middle finger!

Here is a video about terrorists planning the Boston Teen Hunger Force act - what could be more devious than putting a blinking light giving the middle finger to average Americans! So devious! Damn those terrorists! Really funny, laugh out loud funny...thanks Noah!

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Saddam post execution video

OK, here it is....the Saddam post execution video...the only one I will show...


Perth light show

here's a pic of spectators watching Austrailia Day fireworks on a beach in Perth, but you can also see the McNaught comet (center), and a thunderstorm/lightening (right). awesome!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Save the South Sydney Rabbitohs Cheer Squad!!!

Russell Crowe has dropped the South Sydney Rabbitohs cheerleaders from his rugby team. Crowe rescued the South Sydney Rabbitohs with his purchase of a half share of the team, but now wants to axe the cheerleaders. He says they detract from the game (?) What goes better with violence than sex? Ok, rugby isnt supposed to be "violent," and American football is more violent, I know that...but firing the cheerleaders? There was a recent incident where opposing fans threw stuff at the cheerleaders calling them "sluts," - what? Wholesome young women like this? Why would men watching rugby thrown stuff at beautiful young women? what is wrong down under? Too much Fosters ale? I suggest the following: 1) change the Rabbitohs name to something more masculine - what about the South Sydney Devils (after Tasmanian - that's nearby isnt it?) (2) dress the cheerleaders in Rugby uniforms so they wont offend the "sensitive" Rugby fans (3) spend some money on a "ringer" to improve the South Sydney Devils record - fans always like winners - maybe thats why they threw stuff at the cheerleaders, they are frustrated by the team?

Secret Garden movie

Just saw the 1993 movie "Secret Garden" and it was great. Based on book written by Frances Hodgson Burnett the movie was filmed perfectly - great location, sets, costumes. The allegory (the life is a garden, you grow what you plant, love nurtures growth and so forth) is beautiful. What impressed me about the story was how much was fantasy - the young boy who tames animals, the young girl who is wise beyond her years, birds "talking" to children - that was great. I am always amazed at such imagination and fantasy in the minds of an author, and the allegory was beautiful. What could have been a shallow, trite story was instead a beautiful fairy tale, with lessons for adults.

Monday, February 05, 2007

One picture worth one thousand words

Here is the Superbowl summarized in one picture, compliments of Nathan. Two throws and Rex would have been the hero, unfortunately, two interceptions.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jason Altmire on Stephen Colbert

Our new PA Congressman, Jason Altmire! On the Colbert Report!

Sen. Jim Inhofe: The Shame of Oklahoma

You may remember Sen Inhofe as the dufuss who defended the torture of prisoners in Iraq (they were detained, they must be guilty) like a guy walking away from a lynching defending the crowd and blaming the victim. Well here he is on global warming: quoting Michael crichton, a fiction novelist, and he might as well quote wil e. coyote while he is at it.

Inhofe is the Dume Mass who lost his inherited fortune in the savings and loan scandal of the 1990's, of course the taxpayers paid for that one, then he sued his brother over inheritance (and won) to replace the inheritance he blew on lousy, in side deals with his lobbyists from the Senate. This paragon of virtue is of course re elected from Oklahoma, the dry state that still has accusations of homosexuality highlighting every conceivable political race, no matter how trivial - when you are down in the polls in OK, call your opponent a homosexual (or refer to his "single" status, or that he is divorced, or that he has male roommate - some kind of vague but lethal accusation). Known as the dumbest man in the senate, here are this observations on global warming:

Senator James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma recently provided us with an update of his views on the issue of climate change in a speech given on the opening senate session, January 4, 2005. His speech opened with the statement:

As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, "much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science." I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations.

Cutting through much of his polemic, Inhofe's speech contains three lines of scientific argument which, according to him, provide "compelling new scientific evidence" that anthropogenic global warming is not threatening. We here submit his statements to scrutiny.

(1) The Paleoclimate Record

Inhofe relies upon novelist Michael Crichton (see here and here) to support his contention that

"We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a 400 year cold spell known as the Little Ice Age."

Scientific studies come to the opposite result. All published scientific investigations of the causes of 20th century warming have consistently found that natural factors alone cannot explain the warming. Model simulations of large-scale temperature changes in past centuries , for one, can only reproduce the post-"Little Ice Age" warming through the inclusion of non-natural, anthropogenic forcing. The IPCC concluded in its 2nd asessment report that "that there is a discernible human influence on global climate", based in fact on a variety of different techniques, including so-called "Detection and Attribution" studies. These studies involve detailed analyses of the spatial patterns of the observed 20th century changes, which differ for different causes of warming (e.g. anthropogenic factors such as increased greenhouse gases or industrial aerosols, or changes in land use, and natural factors such as changes in solar output or explosive volcanism), each of which have their own unique spatial pattern or "fingerprint". Another simple reason that natural causes cannot explain recent warming is that none of the natural factors which could potentially cause warming (e.g., the combined solar+volcanic forcing or even the somewhat more dubious hypothesized forcing by cosmic ray flux changes) show a trend since the mid 20th century.

Inhofe then launches into a slew of criticisms of the "Hockey Stick" reconstruction of past temperature changes in this speech, touching on every one of our documented "myths". Consider, for example, his reference to

"the well-known phenomena of the Medieval Warming [sic] Period--when, by the way, it was warmer than it is today"

All quantitative paleoclimate reconstructions of the past millennium published in the scientific literature have come to the opposite conclusion. They consistently find that late 20th century warmth is anomalous in the context of at least the last 1000 years for the Northern Hemisphere on the whole. Though certain regions appear to have exhibited mild conditions during the so-called "Medieval Warm Period", there is no credible evidence we are aware of that average temperatures for the Northern Hemisphere or globe were as warm as (let alone warmer than) the late 20th century.

Inhofe then attempts to criticize the "Hockey Stick" reconstruction by citing a modeling study by the German GKSS group that actually supports the "Hockey Stick" conclusion that late 20th century warmth is anomalous in the context of the past 1000 years (see GKSS curve in Figure ) as well as the conclusion that this warmth can only be attributed to anthropogenic influences.

Furthermore, he attempts to criticize the methodology underlying the Mann et al (1998) reconstruction (one of more than a dozen estimates coming to essentially the same "Hockey Stick" conclusion), based on a reference to a comment by "three geophysicists from the University of Utah" [Chapman et al (2004)--see the response here] related to a modeling study by Mann and Schmidt (2003). That study has nothing to do with the Mann et al (1998) temperature reconstructions or methodology whatsoever (and did not even reference them) , but instead analyzed the factors governing the difference between ground surface temperature and land air temperature change in a climate model simulation of the latter 20th century.

(2) Global Sea level Rise

Estimates from tide gauges indicate that sea level has changed at the rate of 1.8 to 2.4 mm/yr over the last century. Satellite altimeter estimates currently show a global sea level change of 2.8+/- 0.4 mm/yr over the last 12 years. Due to the different methodologies involved, a direct comparison of the two values is not straightforward, but the satellite results provide absolutely no support for Inhofe's contention that "there is a total absence of any recent acceleration in sea level rise".

(3) Recent Arctic warming

Inhofe contends that "current Arctic temperature is no higher than temperatures in 1930s and 1940s" and cites many studies that appear to agree with him. However, the context for those studies is important and was well covered in the Arctic Climate Impact Assesment. In particular, natural variability in the climate system is particularly large in the high latitudes, such as the Arctic. This implies that temperatures from any one or two years may not be very representative of a long term trend. Arctic temperatures did indeed have a peak around 1940, but the decadal mean temperatures are now (1995-2004) warmer than the mean over 1935-1944. The variations in temperature in the Arctic resemble the global mean changes over the last century but are larger, clearly demonstrating the effect of polar amplification. More important are the causes of these temperature changes, and this cannot be determined simply by looking at one time series (this is further discussed here). The current consensus view is that warming in the 1940s was likely a combination of increasing GHG and solar forcing combined with a significant amount of internal variability, particularly associated with the North Atlantic. The subsequent cooling was related to the post-war increase in (mainly) sulphate aerosols. Subsequent to the 1970's greenhouse gas forcing has become dominant, leading to the recent warming.

As is made very clear in the ACIA report, the Arctic is a complex and dynamic environment. It is well known that changes to atmospheric circulation associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) can have important consequences for temperatures in the region. Over the last 35 years, the NAO has strengthened (implying more westerly winds), and this has lead to enhanced warming over Eurasia, and consequent cooling over southern Greenland, particularly in winter. Thus the Arctic is warming despite this dynamical trend, which itself may be related to anthropogenic forcing (Gillett et al, 2002).

Finally it is worth providing a bit of context for this latest speech. Inhofe has a history of making inflammatory and incorrect claims about the science of climate change. He previously gave a speech on the senate floor in July 2003 on "The Science of Climate Change" (partial transcript here) in which he stated that "catastrophic global warming is a hoax" and made a rather substantial number of false claims about the science. In fact, Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona subsequently provided two climate scientists mentioned specifically by Inhofe, Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University (whom Inhofe referred to as "the father and promoter of the catastrophic global warming fearmongers") and Dr. Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the opportunity to respond to several of these false assertions in the Senate record--see the account provided in the article "Earth Last" by science journalist Chris Mooney. In this speech, Inhofe repeated many of the standard contrarian arguments challenging the mainstream, consensus view of the climate research community that the activity of human beings now has had a discernable impact on global climate and that this warming is likely to continue as anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase. Most of these arguments are debunked on the pages of RealClimate. Inhofe, for example, once again promoted each of the "myths" we have documented about the "Hockey Stick" reconstruction of past temperature changes, citing contrarian criticisms that have since been thoroughly discredited.

aqua teen hunger force terrorists!

The Cartoon Network show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" had some lighted signs displayed in major cities, and Boston wents nuts, claimed it was terror related, arrested the two guys hired to put up the signs. At the time, there were blogs on the net talking about the signs, so I can only guess Boston police have yet to check the net for what is happening in the world (or nation, or policing). For Cartoon Network? - Lots of free advertising! Way to go! BTW, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is an amazing satire of society - really funny shows, and the edge is they are a talking milk shake, a carton of fries, and a meatball.