Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday Night Plushy Fix

This is the preferred position for Saturday Night Sci-Fi Blogging.

We are all Swamp Thing now

If we are swamp thing, what are they?

Oh, right. Whiney ass titty babies. All they have to do is report the news accurately. That's all.

Friday, January 20, 2006

"Well, I didn't tell them...

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

...that you have a micro-dick."

Save Us!!

Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo

Help us!! the evil preznit tried to fuck us while on a crack binge.

It's a proven fact. Don't blog me.

The Moon is made of roquefort cheese


But don't blog me!

This Carrot Must Die

Maxx saves the world from the alien carrot menace. Again.

He is tireless on our behalf.

Sick Culture

The NYTimes has an excellent editorial up by Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann, If You Give a Congressman a Cookie, that gives an excellent description of the stinking sinkhole of corruption that Washington has become with the republicans in charge.
The two of us have been immersed in Washington politics for more than 36 years. We have never seen the culture so sick or the legislative process so dysfunctional. The plea deals of Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, the indictment of Tom Delay and his resignation as House majority leader, and the demise of Representative Randy Cunningham notwithstanding, this is not simply a problem of a rogue lobbyist or a pack of them. Nor is it a matter of a handful of disconnected, corrupt lawmakers taking favors in return for official actions.

Go read the whole thing.

Pluto, Bitch

AP Photo/Terry Renna

My only complaint with this mission is that they didn't strap chimpy and cheney to the rocket before they blasted off. The New Horizons vehicle is expected to arrive at Pluto around 2015.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What do they need lobbyists for?

Josh has the right take on the state of texas rethuglican lobbying mess. No Voice in Washington?

A state with 2 republican senators and a largely republican congressional delegation needed outside lobbyists to make their case to congress? What complete and utter bullshit.

This is about (a) rewarding your cronies with cushy jobs and (b) laundering state taxpayer funds into republican campaigns. It's the same playbook over and over and over.

Update: Josh has another update on Denny Hastert's district with the same scam running.

Let's call this what it is- patronage. Pure and simple. I'm sure it's going on in every republican fiefdom in the land.

Today in Science

Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images

Giant Jellyfish are invading Japan.

Can we drop chimpy in a tank full of these things? (Via National Geographic News)

Plushy RX for GWPDA

Sometimes it's just an emergency and only plush will heal what ails ya.

Dots? what dots?

Reuters/Jim Young

What am I supposed to connect?

3200 still missing

How can this be possible?

Thousands Still Missing After Katrina
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- More than 3,200 people are officially still unaccounted for nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the state medical examiner wants the search to resume for those missing from the most devastated neighborhoods.

There is no excuse for this. None.

To the Hague, Bitch!

Blair knew too. Bastard.

Via the Guardian, Torture flights: what No 10 knew and tried to cover up

Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday January 19, 2006
The Guardian

The government is secretly trying to stifle attempts by MPs to find out what it knows about CIA "torture flights" and privately admits that people captured by British forces could have been sent illegally to interrogation centres, the Guardian can reveal. A hidden strategy aimed at suppressing a debate about rendition - the US practice of transporting detainees to secret centres where they are at risk of being tortured - is revealed in a briefing paper sent by the Foreign Office to No 10.

The document shows that the government has been aware of secret interrogation centres, despite ministers' denials. It admits that the government has no idea whether individuals seized by British troops in Iraq or Afghanistan have been sent to the secret centres.

I hope the british public has less tolerance for this illegal nonsense than we do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bonus Kitty Blogging

This is Barry in Alaska's cat Hidey. Possibly the most beautiful black and white cat ever.

Better Looking than Chimpy

But then isn't everyone?

January 17, 2006—Fancy imported hair gel is, unfortunately, no guard against a good solid axe blow to the skull.

This sad fact is illuminated by Clonycavan man (pictured above) who suffered three blows from an axe to his head, one to his chest, and was also disemboweled before being mummified in an Irish peat bog.

Experts studying the remains of the murder victim say he likely lived between 392 B.C. and 201 B.C. The man's hair contains a substance made from vegetable oil mixed with resin from pine trees found in Spain and southwest France. The man might have used the product, researchers say, to make himself appear taller.

I hope there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Via National Geographic News, Bog Man Used Imported Hair Gel

Mr. Plushy!!

Lobbyists, Run for Your Lives

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The house democrats unveiled their ethics reform plan today. The NYTimes covers it, sort of, without describing what's actually in the plan. Democrats Unveil Their Own Plan for Rules on Lobbying

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 - With a stinging attack on Republican ethics, Congressional Democrats today proposed a lobbying overhaul they said far exceeds new Republican proposals in limiting the influence of monied special interests on Capitol Hill.

Senator Harry Reid, center, said the Democrats' plans for a lobbying overhaul unveiled today far exceed new Republican proposals. "Today we as Democrats are declaring our commitment to change - change to a government as good and as honest as the people that we serve," said Senator Harry Reid of the Nevada, the Democratic leader, who compared Republicans to organized crime figures he battled as a state gaming official.

"We took them on; we ran them out of the state," he said in an elaborate event staged by House and Senate Democrats at the Library of Congress. "Well, here they have infiltrated government."

I loves me some Harry.

The WAPO has finally put up an article as well: Democrats Assail Republican 'Culture of Corruption'

Some details:
Rather than limiting the value of a gift to $20, as House Republicans are considering, the Democrats would prohibit all gifts from lobbyists. And the Democrats take direct aim at some of the legislative practices that have taken root in the last 10 years of Republican rule in Congress. They vowed to end the K Street Project, under which Republicans in Congress pressure lobbying organizations to hire only Republican staff and contribute only to Republican candidates.

Oooh. That's gonna make some folks unhappy.
Under the Democrats' plan, House and Senate negotiators working out final versions of legislation would have to meet in open session, with all members of the conference committee -- not just Republicans -- having the opportunity to vote on all amendments. Legislation would have to be posted publicly 24 hours before congressional consideration. The Democrats also proposed to crack down on no-bid contracting and to require that any person appointed to a position involving public safety "possess proven credentials."

Uhhh, oh. No more crony jobs. I see trouble on this one.

Olbermann was reporting that there would be penalties for war profiteering as well. Ouch. Can you say Halliburton?

Today in Space


Via, meet the Mars Science Labratory, the next generation in unmanned exploration vehicles.

Mars Science Laboratory: Big Wheels on A Red Planet

PASADENA, California – Make way Spirit and Opportunity – big daddy is coming!

The next wheels on the red planet will belong to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—a huge step in how that planet is further poked, probed, and more fully plumbed for new information.

MSL is a huge chunk of machinery. At liftoff in September 2009, it will carry the largest, most advanced set of instruments for on-the-spot science duties ever dispatched to the martian surface. The nuclear-powered rover is being designed to assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life.

On one hand, MSL closes out an intensive period of surveying Mars…while setting the stage for an aggressive agenda of future robotic Mars exploration that ultimately leads to the planting of the first footprints on the red planet.

I loves me some space tech.

Well, of course.

The New York Times reports this morning that US intelligence knew in 2002 that the Niger claims were ridiculous:

2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.

Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department's intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send "25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers" filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.

I'm sure that apology to Ambassador Wilson will be forthcoming, oh, any second now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday Night Kitty Blogging

And some more Mr. Plushy.

Fountain Blogging

A not particularly great photo of a fountain on our campus. But Hecate likes fountains, so here it is.

Photo of the Day

California. Just because it's beautiful.

Gore Smacks Back

Al Gore responds to chimpy minions.

Via the Raw Story: Gore Responds the White House Hypocrisy

Former Vice President Al Gore: "The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program.

The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program."

Simple, clear, direct. That's the way to deal with these thugs.

Oh, and Scottie? shut the fuck up. You're the git who lies for your master day in and day out. You have no credibility. None.

Midday plushy fix

Just because.

Pluto or Bust


NASA artist's concept painting shows the proposed New Horizons Spacecraft as it approaches the planet Pluto and its moon Charon. The icy, never-explored distant planet of Pluto is the target of a new space probe NASA is planning to launch an ambitious mission to investigate the outer reaches of the solar system.

We'll have an update on this mission in about seven years or so.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Twisters in Space

Giant twisters in the Lagoon Nebula. From, which has a gallery of spectacular images from the Hubble Telescope.

Bonus Lion Kitty Blogging

Because we can never have too much plush.

Hero of the Day

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Former Vice President Al Gore gestures while addressing the American Constitution Society on the threat to the Constitution from President Bush's domestic wiretap policy, Monday, Jan. 16, 2006 at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washigton. Gore asserted Monday that President Bush 'repeatedly and persistently' broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant.

Thank you Mr. Gore for saying the obvious.

Update: Hecate at hecatedemetersdatter has an excellent rant, and the full text of Gore's speech. Go read.

You Can Never Say That No One Told You.

We are Stardust, We are Golden....

Reuters/NASA/Ames Research Center

The Stardust Capsule Return is shown as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, as seen from NASA's DC-8 Airborne Laboratory January 15, 2006. The aircraft was located near the end of the trajectory, just outside of the proposed landing site. NASA's Stardust sample return capsule successfully landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range early on Sunday. The capsule contained cometary and interstellar samples gathered by the Stardust spacecraft.

The Miracle of Modern Chemistry

Arnold shows off his new plastic face.

Monday Plush

Lion kitty Maxx wishes you a happy MLK day and hopes you have the day off.

Spying on Tigers

Here's a spying program I approve of- India is preparing to install spy cameras and radio collars to try to save the dwindling numbers of wild tigers from poachers.

Via the Independent Online: India turns to spy technology to save tigers

Even as the controversy rages over ID cards and Big Brother-style surveillance in Britain, an even more comprehensive system will go into operation this week in India. The local version has hidden cameras in the depths of the jungle and radio collars that will allow satellites to track every move of those wearing them.

But in India there have been no protests over civil liberties - indeed, the system has widespread support, because here the hope is that electronic surveillance can bring one of the world's most endangered species back from the brink of extinction. Tigers, not people, will be wearing the radio collars.

The whole set-up is part of a major new effort by India to protect its dwindling population of wild tigers from poachers. Under the scheme, every wild tiger in India will be issued its own photo-ID card - which will be kept by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) so it can identify the tigers from sightings and verify they are still alive.

The new system is being launched as part of a national tiger census, amid fears that the tiger will be driven to extinction in the wild within a generation.

I wish them the best of luck. If tigers disappear from the wild, a little bit of magic will go out of the world.

Meanwhile, back in the Real War

Via BBC news, another US helicopter has crashed in Iraq.

US helicopter downed near Baghdad

A US helicopter has crashed north of Baghdad, with witnesses quoted by the Reuters news agency saying it was shot down by rocket. The fate of the helicopter's two-man crew is unclear, the US military said.

The military said it was investigating the incident, which took place at 0820 (0520 GMT).

A US reconnaissance helicopter crashed on Friday near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing both its crew, in an apparent attack by insurgents.

More signs of progress I guess.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

What I'm reading...

Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)

Technically this is "young adult" fare- but this series is very amusing. The main character, Barimeus, a mid-level djinni, is hilarious.

Oh, Boo Hoo Hooo!!

Ralph Reed appears to be in trouble in Georgia.

In Ga., Abramoff Scandal Threatens a Political Ascendancy

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. -- Ralph Reed, candidate for lieutenant governor, had just finished his opening statement to the Dawson County Republican Party when retired pulp paper executive Gary Pichon sprang from his seat with a question that cut to the chase:

"Did you accept any gifts, commissions or other payments of any kind from Mr. Abramoff, and are you likely to be a party in the unfolding investigation?"

Silence enveloped the 60 or so Republicans in the auditorium, and Reed's cheerful manner turned tense. "No," he replied. "No to all these."


Reed seems to think that he's somehow "owed" a public office. Somehow I don't think he's gonna be able to wash that Abramoff slime off so easily. (no picture because Ralph Reed fucking creeps me out.)


Jane Hamsher at firedoglake points out that the WAPO managed to publish an entire article without mentioning just what made Ralph Reed worth millions to Abramoff:

WAPO Bats 1000

But would someone like to explain to me how it's possible to do a three page article on Reed's ties to Abramoff and never once mention what exactly Reed did for Abramoff that made him worth millions?

It's really quite simple. Reed had the fundies in his hip pocket and he used them to bang the anti-gambling morality drum so loudly that then-Texas AG, now US Senator John Cornyn shut down the casinos who were competing with those run by Abramoff's clients. In a series of emails he also took credit for "choreographing" Cornyn. That's not complicated. It's a fucking paragraph.

Indeed. Just not that complicated.

Sunday Night Lion Kitty Blogging

Lion kitty Maxx demonstrates his expertise on living the plush life.

He makes it look sooooo easy.

The Eye, the EYE!!

Credit: NASA/JPL/J. Hora (CfA)/W. Latter (NASA/Herschel)


A dying star surrounds itself with a spectacular cloud of gas and dust in this infrared image from the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope. The cloud is known as the Helix Nebula. It formed as a star's outer layers puffed into space. Dense knots of material form streaks that point back toward the central star.

More Space News


Worlds With Multiple Suns Abundant

That's good news in case we need to get off the planet. More places to go.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two new studies suggest that planet formation around multiple star systems may be more common than previously thought.

The findings were presented here at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

One study, lead by doctoral student Deepak Raghavan from Georgia State University, confirmed that 29 planet-harboring star systems also contained a second star; three actually had two companions and were triple star systems.

Raghavan and his team combed through archived star data to identify 131 star systems with planets that scientists had previously suspected of having companion stars. They then used telescopes at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile to confirm the results and to also look for new systems with multiple stars.

The group found one previously unknown stellar companion around HD 38529, a star known to have planets but until now was thought to be a single star system.

Is it time to invade South America yet?

Chile has elected a center-left female president. Good for them!

Chile Gets First Woman President

Isn't it funny how most of the world is rejecting conservative thought? Meanwhile, back in America, we sink ever deeper in religious superstition and fascism.


More photoblogging

The Littlefield fountain, with the full moon coming up.

Wrong again, WAPO

Someone should clue Ms. Howell into the wonders of these here internets.

Getting the Story on Abramoff

A simple search would have told her that no democrats, none, nada, took compaign contributions from Jack Abramoff. But hey, don't let those little facts get in the way of your narrative.


Photograph by Game McGimsey, courtesy USGS

Alaska's Augustine Volcano erupts. Via National Geographic News.