Saturday, March 24, 2012

News of the Weird

A 50-foot Japanese fishing boat has been spotted drifting in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia. The ship was washed asea by the March 2011 tsunami, and apparently hadn't been seen since. It is believed that no one is on board.

Also, Dick Cheney had a heart transplant. I will not touch it.

A Reason Not to Use Generics?

From the NY Times:
Dozens of suits against drug companies have been dismissed in federal and state courts because of a decision by the Supreme Court last year that makes it virtually impossible to sue generic manufacturers for failing to provide adequate warning of a prescription drug’s dangers....
In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that a Vermont woman who had her hand and forearm amputated because of gangrene after being injected with a brand name antinausea drug could sue the manufacturer for inadequate warning of the risks; she won $6.8 million from Wyeth.
In 2011, the court ruled that similar failure-to-warn suits could not be brought against makers of generic drugs. As a result, an Indiana woman who was also forced to have her hand amputated because of gangrene after being injected with a generic version of the same antinausea drug had her case dismissed.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, so you can rest assured it was brilliantly reasoned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Soon Will Gingrich Endorse Santorum?

To have his/her name placed in nomination at the Republican National Convention, a candidate must have won a plurality of delegates in five states.

Newt Gingrich won't make it. Neither will Ron Paul. So Gingrich's dream of getting the nomination is over. So are dreams of a black horse candidacy by Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, or whomever. Gingrich's sugar daddy in Nevada will surely turn off the spigot soon.

But Gingrich's dream of getting even with Mitt Romney for the negative ad blitz in Iowa doesn't have to be over. There is still havoc to be played.

Paul Ryan's New Budget Proposal

Sometimes Paul Krugman is a little over the top with his criticism of people who disagree with him. This is not one of those times.
Way back in 2010 I declared that Paul Ryan — who was rapidly becoming the darling of the “fiscal responsibility” crowd — was a fraud, a flim-flam man. Very Serious People were very seriously annoyed — they’d anointed him, and they didn’t want to hear anything negative. They even gave him a “Fiscy”, an award for fiscal responsibility.
So I wonder: are they willing to concede, at long last, that he’s a clown?
His latest budget proposal has received some harsh critiques. It calls for huge tax cuts, supposedly offset by closing loopholes and ending tax expenditures — except that in a long report he fails to name a single tax expenditure that he would cut. It assumes drastic cuts in discretionary spending, basically eliminating everything except defense. And over the medium term, of course, it’s a plan to savage the poor while giving big tax breaks to the rich.
So actually two questions: are people finally willing to concede that Ryan is not now and has never been remotely serious? And — I know this is probably far too much to ask — are they going to do a bit of soul-searching over how they got snookered by this obvious charlatan?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Home Market Looking Up in the Villa

For the past couple of years I've noticed an occasional hawk in my Chicago neighborhood – usually high up in a tree, disemboweling some poor rodent.

This morning the neighborhood listserv reported that a pair was nest-building in the next block. I grabbed my 70-200 and my smaller sensor camera (for the extra distance boost) and headed over there. Hawks are not skittish.

I guess they looked around and figured that with all the pigeons, squirrels, and rabbits that have taken over this neighborhood, they'd never go hungry.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Looking to Move?

Last year you may have read the obituary of Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper mining heiress who owned homes in Manhattan, Connecticut, and California – all of which were "meticulously maintained," although she hadn't set foot in any of them for decades.

You'll be happy to know that her three apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue are on the market. Each is about 5,000 square feet.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Game On

Some young Santorum supporters put together this song and video. I hate to admit it, but I kind of liked it. It's positive and upbeat, provided you agree with their politics, which I don't, by the way.

But it's not full of Obama hate. Good for them.

It's got some good right wing mythology:

• "God gave the Bill of Rights"

• "Oh, there is Hope for our Nation again
Maybe the First time Since we Had Ronald Reagan"

[Let's just forget about the Bush family.]

 But it's not aimed at me, is it?

As this is being written, it's only been viewed by about 22,000 people, so it's not exactly viral. And the thumbs downs outnumber the thumbs ups by about 4:1.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Obama the Vulcan

An interesting article in the online Atlantic Monthly about the coming confrontation with Iran. An excerpt:

GOLDBERG: Go back to this language, 'All options on the table.' You've probably said it 50 or 100 times. And a lot of people believe it, but the two main intended audiences, the supreme leader of Iran and the prime minister of Israel, you could argue, don't entirely trust this. The impression we get is that the Israeli government thinks this is a vague expression that's been used for so many years. Is there some ramping-up of the rhetoric you're going to give them?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think the Israeli people understand it, I think the American people understand it, and I think the Iranians understand it. It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran's military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that.

I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.
When we were talking about it at dinner last night, Chicago Ted reminded me (if I ever knew) of this dialog from Star Trek (The Doomsday Machine):
Capt. Kirk: Mr. Spock, relieve Commodore Decker immediately. That's a direct order.
Matt Decker: You can't relieve me and you know it, according to regulations...
Capt. Kirk: BLAST REGULATIONS! Mr. Spock, I order you to assume command on my personal authority as Captain of the Enterprise.
Mr. Spock: Commodore Decker, you are relieved of command.
Matt Decker: I don't recognize your authority to relieve me.
Mr. Spock: You may file a formal protest with Starfleet Command, assuming we survive to reach a Starbase, but you are relieved. Commodore, I do not wish to place you under arrest.
Matt Decker: You wouldn't dare.
[Mr. Spock signals two security guards who immediately step forward at his command]
Matt Decker: You're bluffing.
Mr. Spock: Vulcans never bluff.
Matt Decker: [sadly] No. No, I don't suppose that they do. Very well, Mr. Spock, the bridge is yours. 
Let's have another look at those ears.

More Moral Leaders In Action

Okay, first we have a hand-written note from late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordering the destruction of a memorandum naming 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children.
During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to [an assistant, who is now on trial for covering them up].
"I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up," he testified.
Meanwhile, over in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Bishop Walker Nickless says plans to require health insurance to cover contraception are a plot by the the Devil, and says Christians "have to stand up and violently oppose this."

No, really, he said violently.

See for yourself:

A loyal, practicing Catholic once told me, when speaking of the Catholic hierarchy, "the higher up they are, the more evil they are." I have seen nothing to contradict that since Cardinal Joseph Bernardin died.

I apologize to anyone who is offended.

A hat tip to Steve Benen, from whom I stole my last two posts.

More Apologizing

Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, apologizes "to any I have offended" when he said
he was not sure if President Obama was a true Christian and that he could not definitively say that the president was not a Muslim.
Asked if he would declare that Mr. Obama was not a Muslim, Mr. Graham replied, “I can’t say categorically, because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”
I'm tired of accepting apologies from these clowns. We will not raise the level of discourse until there are consequences for this sort of stuff.

Friday, March 02, 2012

When an Apology is Not an Apology

By now you've read the story about Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull in Montana, who sent a racist joke (about Obama, natch) to friends through the court email system. Most news sources understandably are reluctant to publish the text of the joke, but Talking Points Memo does us a real service by doing so.

"The federal judge’s email called the joke 'a bit touching' and said he wanted all of his friends to feel what he felt when he read the email. 'Hope it touches your heart like it did mine,' he wrote."

According to the Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune, once he was outed:
The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.

"It was not intended by me in any way to become public," Cebull said. "I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended."
What's with this apologizing "to anybody who is offended by it" that we're seeing all the time now? How about just apologizing, assuming every decent person on earth will be offended?

And while we're at it, what's with "intended to be a private communication"? So what? Racist is only despicable if it's in public?

But the judge doesn't consider himself racist. If I sent a similar joke about a Jew, would I be allowed to say I don't consider myself an anti-Semite? Or would people say, "Oh yes, you are!" Hell, I would say "Oh yes, you are!"

 TPM says the judge has "initiated a judicial misconduct review by filing a complaint against himself with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals." The result of this will be something short of removal, as only Congress can remove a federal judge. Smart move on his part.

This clown is a Chief U.S. District Judge. He looks old enough to retire. He should.

I apologize "to anybody who is offended" by the ranting tone of this. It's not as well constructed as I would have liked,  but life is too short to spend it on people like this.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mao Tse Tung was Not Very Funny

It's been a while since we've had visitors from China at Sempringham, so we were sitting here wondering how to encourage a little traffic from the People's Liberation Army's cyber unit. In the past, all it took was a mention of China, and in no time we'd have a sudden interest in my little blog from the other side of the world. And that's great! I welcome it.

So if you're dropping by from China: welcome friend, I hope to visit you soon.

While sitting here wondering how to attract Chinese visitors, it occurred to me that maybe if I told some Mao jokes, it would help get their attention. So to Google I went, looking for Mao jokes. I found a total of two; the first wasn't funny, and the second required an understanding of the finer points of the Chinese language to enjoy.

Comedy Central has a whole web page devoted to Mao jokes. It's blank!

At first, I thought this odd, that there was such a paucity of Mao jokes. I remember a B. Kliban cartoon about Mao, and it was funny:

So I wondered, "Gee, is this something just unique to Mao, this paucity of jokes, or is there something else at play here?"

So I googled "Hitler Jokes."

I wish I hadn't. Just about everything I found was repulsive, Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic crap. There are some really sick people in this world.

I guess there's nothing funny about being a mass murderer. And that's a good thing. What was I thinking?