Sunday, April 09, 2006

Say it ain't so Nigeria

[I know, it's been a loooong time, sue me.]

Well, they found the so-called forgers of the document our President proffered to convince us that War with Iraq was necessary. The story appears here.

First off, can I say how dismayed I am to learn that it was members of the Nigerian consolate in Italy that produced these documents. What a stain on these people's hard earned reputation. Never let it be said that Nigerians have a reputation for anything but absolute honesty. I hope this forgery doesn't change that. Hopefully two bad apples can't spoil it for the whole bunch.

Second, F-ing Glad has obtained a transcribed copy of the actual forgery. Without further adieu:

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Lulu Peple Jumbo. I am the head of the uranium depository in Nigeria. I write you in respect of a foreign customer who has a Domicilliary accuont with our department. His name is Late Engr. Armen A. Seginian who died eight years ago in a plane crash in an island in Iran. The name of the island is, Kish Island located in Iran and it is about 45 minutes to UAE. By air. Since the demise of this our customer, Late Engr. Armen A. Seginian, who was an government contractor, I have kept a close watch of the records and accounts and since then nobody has come to claim the yellowcake uranium in this a/c as next of kin to the late Engineer. He had only 500 tons of yellowcake in his a/c and the a/c is coded. It is only an insider that could produce the code or password of the deposit particulars.

As it stands now, there is nobody in that position to produce the needed information other than my very self considering my position in the department. Based on the reason that nobody has come forward to claim the uranium as next of kin, I hereby ask for your cooperation in using your name as the next of kin to the deceased to send this material out to a foreign storage facility for mutual profit between you and I.

At this point I am the only one with the information because I have removed the transaction file from the safe. By this doing, what is required of you is to send an application laying claims of the shipment as next of kin to the late Engineer. I will need your full name and address, company or residential, so that i can computerize them to tally with next of kin column in the certificate of deposit.

Finally i want you to understand that the request for a foreigner as the next of kin is occassioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and for that reason alone a local cannot represent as next of kin. When you contact me, then we shall discuss on how much money will be required.

Trusting to hear from you,

I remain Respectfully yours,

Mr. Lulu Peple Jumbo.

As you can plainly see, this is a very official looking document. Clearly the President had every indication that this crucial transaction was imminent. That this turned out to be a Nigerian forgery is as big a surprise to me as anyone.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Vatican Gets It Right on ID

The Official Vatican Newspaper just announced that Darwin's evolution is science and ID is not. (Here)

I think the Christian Fundies ought to listen to the Vatican here. The Catholics have been in the game a lot longer than the Baptists or Methodists and know a little something about opposing science. After all, they did lock up Galileo for suggesting that the Earth was not the center of the universe. (oops)

So the lesson to be leared is this: Science doesn't care what your magic book says. For a scientist, the hypothesis is only the beginning. You can base your hypothesis on the bible, but that is where it ends. Then you are on your own and must rely on empirical evidence. That evolution is proved and re-proved every time a biology paper is written, is evidence that the hypothesis is true.

I love how IDers talk about macro and micro evolution. They say ridiculous things like "We've never seen a mouse evolve into horse." Of course you haven't. It never happened. It is as if they have never seen a taxinomic tree before. It is as if they didn't understand that lots of small evolutions add up to a big one. A million little changes in some prehistoric animal and you end up with horses and mice and people.

They can't believe this for three reasons. They don't like to admit that we are animals. (they would say "just animals" as if the word were an insult) They don't like to admit that the planet has been around for more than 7,000 years. And they don't like to admit that the guy who wrote Genesis is about as factually uninformed on the way things work as could possibly be imagined.

But none of those reasons are rational.

At least the Vatican understands that. At least the Vatican has admitted that you can't actually take the bible literally. They ought to know. They put the Bible together. They selected the books that made the cut and the ones that didn't. They supposedly have the originals. They did most of the translations. They know it is a crock of shit as far as a scientific or historic instrument. Does it have intersting parables? Yes. Is it filled with ridiculous rules that NO ONE follows? Yes. Is it a collection of books written by men? Yes. The Vatican knows this. They had it put together.

The fundies need to stop with the ID. It really makes them look stupid. If you beilieve that Jesus is coming back soon, fine. Believe it. Just don't expect me to feel confident in your ability to make long term decisions on things that effect us all. Things like Climate change. Unlike you, I am unwilling to depend on Jesus to bail us out if we start a chain reaction we can't stop.

I'm not saying we are the next Venus quite yet. (where greenhouse gasses make the planet 400˚c hotter than it should be, hotter than Mercury even which is much closer to the sun) But messing with the climate of this planet is not a good idea. Unless of course the magical Jesus is just waiting for some temple or such to come and bail us out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Freedom Isn't Free!

I saw a pick up with one of those "Freedom Isn't Free" bumper stickers on it the other day. Of course it also had other stickers that suggested the driver was a conservative.

Even putting aside the fact that conservatives seem oh so willing to trade freedom for the possibility of increased security, (which is tough to put aside) it suddenly occurred to me that this is still a ridiculous bumpersticker for a republican to have on their car.

Here is a proposed revision that more adequately describes the true Republican sentiment as it pertains to freedom and its cost:

Freedom: actually less expensive than most people think. Cut taxes now.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

John Saves Halloween! (Not Really)

Subject: Halloween
Dear Neil,

You wrote:

Halloween. The thrill of simply walking up to a door, yelling "trick-or-treat," and seeing someone give you something for nothing. Something good. Something special.

It was a tough day to take off, what with all that was going on in the news.

But looking at their cowboy-hatted heads — yes, theirs fit — somehow this day, it mattered more than any of that news.

As a father and former boy myself, I too recall the joys and excitement of this holiday.

Therefore, I am asking you, a Fox News personality, to talk to John Gibson about expanding his Christmas crusade to all endangered holidays. This article from the Christian Science Monitor explains how much danger Halloween is actually in.

So far, Mr. Gibson has ignored my pleas.

A traditional American Holiday is to be protected, regardless of whether it is the ACLU or the Christian Coalition that is doing the damage. Right?


A concerned citizen in Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Me and John

OK, I confess. Not only do I post occasionally here, and not only do I make snarky comments on other people's blogs, I also send snarky emails to various Fox News personalities. Yes, I am that pathetic. My favorite one-way friend is John Gibson. (Though I seem to remember one of my better missives being sent to O'Reilly in which I apologized to the poor underling that had to read it and commiserated with them about what a cheap bastard their boss must be, what with the 25% discount on Factor Gear™ they likely get as a Christmas bonus every year.

Of course, in the dozen or so messages I have sent to these clowns, I have only gotten two responses. One from Mike Straka (the Grrrrr guy) and one from my boy John. And I truly love John Gibson. He really doesn't get the attention of a Hannity or O'Reilly, but he is easily worthy. He is just as nutty. Anyway, his big obsession is The War on Christmas and he doesn't disappoint.

So here's what I recently wrote to my friend John:
(slightly edited for clarity)

Subject: Why a war?

John John John. . .

Someone has obviously been hitting the egg nogg early.

First you claim that Christians are 84% of the Country*. Then you talk about the "less than ten percent of this country that is not Christian." Huh? Percentages are based on the number 100 last I checked. 100 - 84 = 16 which is greater than "less than ten."

But that is just a dumb mistake. The really ridiculous thing you do is to basically fail to point out the difference between private and public displays. Christians are allowed to celebrate Christmas, Easter, Lent, Ash Wednesday and whatever other important religious holidays they think are significant in whatever way they want. Just like Jews, and Muslims, and whoever the hell celebrates Kwanzaa. It is when you somehow require the acquiescence of public institutions that problems arise.

Why are Christians so uniquely fragile that they need the State's recognition? We don't live in a country that recognizes Ramadan. Yet Muslims are thriving here. We don't live in a Kosher country, yet Jewish families are happy as the clams they can't eat. So why do Christians need more? What makes Christianity so much less able to sustain itself on its own? Why do Christian parents, for instance, need their children to pray during school? Isn't prayer twice daily at home enough? Why do Christian parents need to have a society that supports their beliefs? Can't they, like any Hindu family, do it as a family, and not lean on the government to help with the brainwashing?

What gives? Isn't the fact that Christmas displays are already in every department store, mall, restaurant, private club, private school, and 84% of the nation's living rooms and front yards enough for you? Do you really need to add courthouses and city hall? What does that say about you and your security in your own beliefs?

Don't get me wrong. I love the secular Christmas holiday. I decorate a tree every year. But I can't see how, for the life of me, having public institutions making similar displays helps me at all. Get over it dude. There are real problems in this country. This ain't one of them.

How many pieces are you going to waste on this non-story? It is two so far and we aren't even past Halloween. I know you have a book to shill, but who do you think you are, Bill O'Reilly?

Seattle Slough
Seattle, WA

* I disagree here. The City University of New York's ARIS study, conducted in 2001, has Christians at about 76% of the population and they called over 50,000 Americans. Plus you'd have to concede that lots of people would claim to be Christians but are only saying so because of social pressure. As they say, there is an Atheist in every choir.

Plus, many Christians don't like or celebrate Christmas. Mostly because there is nothing Christian about it. The colors red and green, the symbol of the stag, the hanging of mistletoe, the burning of a decorated log, the jolly fat man - all come from the Pagan ritual of Yule, which was celebrated at the winter solstice long before the Romans brought Christianity to Northern Europe. Jesus wasn't born on the 25th of December. No one knows the date he was born. (Heck, no one knows the date he died, and people at least knew who he was then)

I will let you all know if I get a response. And I will surely post it here, no matter how thoroughly this renown and published Christmas Expert refutes my logic. Not saying he will. But just in case.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thanks Fox! Yet again.

From Fox News' Junk Science column comes this feeble attempt to debunk some recent global warming = bigger hurricanes claims:

"And as far as Wilma being the “strongest” hurricane on record, chief meteorologist for and former Hurricane Hunter flight meteorologist Jeff Masters told Reuters that similar storms could have occurred before the 1960s.

“Back then we didn't have satellites and we didn't have aircraft reconnaissance. So it's quite possible that a lot of those hurricanes [were as strong, or stronger than Wilma].We just weren't around there to see,” said Masters."

Let me get this straight. The statement is false because why now? No one claimed Wilma was the strongest hurricane ever. They said the strongest hurricane on record. Which this idiot seems to think includes storms not on record. Junk Science? How about that junk you're shooting into your arm dude. Wake the fuck up already.

Quite possibly the weakest debunking ever.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Half Mast

BACKGROUND (PART I): I generally don't listen to right wing radio. Those brave souls at places like have much tougher constitutions than I for putting up with hours and hours of this crap.

However, while my little pick-up's crappy radio still works, it's (high-tech for 1992) display is no longer functional. So I have to find radio stations by sound alone. Thus I caught, and am now paraphrasing, this exchange from Mike Gallagher's show. Gallagher was discussing the phoney uproar about a column which has the right all a titter.

BACKGROUND (PART II) Apparently, there is so little for the right to complain about that is not of their own making, they are resorting to picking on local columnists. In this case, a Dallas Morning News columnist responded to the vociferous concern of some of Georgia's finest about the proper way to display flags, which to them seemed more pressing than the unbelievable tragedy that led to the gesture in the first place.

Of course, Bill O'Reilly, who was named in the column, attacked the colunist first on his national television show. So a day or two later, I was not surprised to see that Mike Gallagher, an O'Reilly fill in, is tackling the same pressing issue on his national radio show:

Gallagher has some woman on the line who is expressing her concern (talking point) that if we fly the Mexican flag at half mast, do we have to do the same for all the other countries? Etc. Etc.

Gallagher says (again I am paraphrasing): "But aren't you offended that this columnist suggested that you and others were more upset about the flag issue than about the murder of those migrant workers?"

Woman: "Oh yeah, my aunt lives right across the street from where those murders happened. It could have been her!"

No shit. She wasn't concerned that five human beings were beat to death with aluminum baseball bats, another was shot, and another raped beyond than the fact that it could have been her aunt. What a horrible, horrible bitch that woman must be.

Gallagher thanked her and moved on. How bad are these people?

Not really off topic: If you haven't read this piece by Bill McKibben from Harpers about the so-called Christian right, you must. Immediately.