Bush: still in executive branch

It looks like at least the President is still in the executive branch. How do we know? Because he is hiding behind executive privilege again.

With their traditional candor they say:

“With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation,” White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. “We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion.”

Got that? Let me paraphrase:

We were hoping to evade public scrutiny and hide our blood-thirsty political agenda through other means but, because the Congress is being so thorough and professional in its investigation, we have no other choice but to be fall back on the same childish, untrue and retarded excuse we’ve used in the past.

Cast in the best light, this administration is incompetent. Cast in the most realistic light, they are liars who consider themselves above the law and above accountability to the American people.

Bush: still in executive branch

Cheney: rat bastard

I’m not sure how any rational person could think Dick Cheney is anything other than a complete scumbag.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the latest:

The Office of the Vice President has asserted that it is not an “entity within the executive branch” and hence is not subject to presidential executive orders. Waxman writes, “To my knowledge, this was the first time in the nearly 30-year history of the Information Security Oversight Office that a request for access to conduct a security inspection was denied by a White House office.”

C’mon. All you Right-wing bastards can shut the hell up about Clinton and how he parsed language and got blowjobs. Cheney is trying to destroy America.

Cheney: rat bastard

Crazy, Violent Texans


Texas crowd kills passenger in vehicle that struck child

AUSTIN, Texas – A crowd attacked and killed a passenger in a vehicle that had struck and injured a child, police said Wednesday.

Police believe 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for a Juneteenth celebration when the attack occurred Tuesday night. The man who was killed had been trying to stop the group from attacking the vehicle’s driver when the crowd turned on him, authorities said.

The Austin Police Department identified the victim as David Rivas Morales, 40. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Crazy, Violent Texans

The politics of gun-loving rich people

I don’t think anyone would accuse Ted Nugent of being particularly intelligent. I mean, this is the guy who wrote “Wang Dang Sweet Poon Tang”. He also lives, by choice, in Texas, the most backwards-ass hellhole of anti-intellectualism in the world.

But I like opinionated people, even when they are wrong. Ted has a little editorial for us called “‘Live and let live’ foreign idea to left“. And, yup, he’s wrong. Or at least mostly wrong.

First of all, he’s mad at Paul McCartney for firing someone for eating hamburger. I don’t know anything about that story but I suspect that Mr. Nugent and I pretty much agree on that subject. How about we all have whatever diet we choose? Seems reasonable to me.

Second, he’s mad because some of us want there to be places that are “gun free”. A major proponent of this is churches. Many of us would also rather not have to worry about being shot by drunks arguing in bars (something that happens a lot).

Third, he doesn’t like the estate tax. He falls back on the same old incorrect rhetoric that rich people use to protect their gross collection of assets:

The unfair, un-American, unconstitutional death tax literally destroys mom-and-pop businesses across the land. Think about it.

No, it doesn’t destroy mom-and-pop businesses. The exemption for the estate tax is millions of dollars. As I wrote elsewhere:

Make no question about it — the estate tax still leaves plenty of room for rich cry babies to remain rich cry babies. If you are worth a shit load of money when you die, your children will still have a shit load of money. What we are saying with the estate tax is that your wealth was not created in a vacuum and you have a responsibility to share some portion of your wealth with the country that made it possible after you are dead and don’t need it anymore.

The estate tax is fair, it effects very few people, it helps support the very society that makes extreme wealth possible, it is consistent with a philosophy of a meritocracy, it can be tweaked to protect farmers and small business owners, and we absolutely need it.

And finally Nugent thinks that conservatives stand for “live and let live”:

While conservatives “live and let live,” the left arrogantly thinks it knows better than we do and will burden “we the people” with more government control until we are taxed to death.

Hmm, let’s see. Conservatives want to put the police in the doctor’s office with women who may be pregnant. They want to make sure gay people can’t give each other blow jobs. In Texas you can’t buy a dildo. Conservatives want to do away with the separation of church and state. They don’t want to teach children sex education. They want to deny useful medications to the terminally ill. They want the largest military on earth but they don’t want to pay the taxes that support it. They want to teach Biblical creation myths is scientific fact.

No, Ted just likes his meat, his guns and his money. He doesn’t understand shit about politics or policy.

The politics of gun-loving rich people

Evolution as a Christian Theme

I had the great pleasure to meet Ernan McMullin. He is the godfather of a friend of mine.

Educated at Maynooth College in Ireland, where he received an undergraduate degree in physics and a bachelor of divinity degree in theology, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest 1949. He went on to study theoretical physics on a fellowship at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Louvain in 1954. Joining the Notre Dame faculty as an assistant professor of philosophy that same year, he became a full professor in 1967 and was named to the John Cardinal O’Hara Chair in 1984.(ref).

My friend wanted to get us together because we are both interested in astronomy and science and he is a priest and I’m an atheist. We also both like to discuss and debate.

He gave me a pamphlet for a talk he had given in 2004 called “Evolution as a Christian Theme”. We also discussed this topic in person. He believe that the theory of evolution is completely consistent with Christian theology. I told him my line, that if intelligent design is true, the design is called evolution. He said, “Exactly right!”

In the “Evolution as a Christian Theme” pamphlet he concludes his argument rather concisely:

[T]hese proponents of what nowadays goes under the label of “Intelligent Design” implicitly assume the inadequacy of the original creation to bring about the Creator’s ends without further later causal supplementation on the Creator’s part…[T]hey appear to conflate the order of nature with the order of grace; they seek miraculous signs in nature of a kind that would seem appropriate, rather, to the order of grace.

Fucking brilliant. The ID folks look for God in nature without realizing that God is, apparently, smarter than them: he made nature purely natural. His intent was encoded, if you will, in his creation, from the moment of creation.

So the problem with the ID folks is that not only does their science suck, so does their theology! Their infantile misunderstanding of theology has led them to believe things that are completely absurd and they jump through incredible hoops to justify them.

I’m not a Christian. I don’t believe in the Creator the way Dr. McMullin does. But in terms of a theological argument, I haven’t heard a better one: science is never and could never be at odds with the will of the Creator.

Evolution as a Christian Theme

Majority of Republicans Are Idiots

That left wing radical group, The Gallup Poll, have released results with the headline “Majority of Republicans Doubt Theory of Evolution“.

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.

That’s right, folks, a majority of 1 of the 2 political parties in the USA put their fucked-up political/religious ideology in front of generally accepted scientific fact. They don’t argue with electromagnetism or gravity or thermodynamics. Science has apparently avoided blasphemy in these areas. But with evolution, and apparently evolution alone, science is wrong. Hundreds of years of peer-reviewed, scrupulous, detailed, exacting work by thousands of people is wrong because, you know, the Bible tells me so.

Majority of Republicans Are Idiots

What the hell is wrong with Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker?

A 17-year old boy has consensual oral sex with a 15-year old girl and is charged with aggravated child molestation and given a 10 year prison sentence, of which he has served 2 already.

A judge “threw out Wilson’s 10-year sentence and amended it to misdemeanor aggravated child molestation with a 12-month term, plus credit for time served, and he would not be required to register as a sex offender.”

But the Attorney General doesn’t like it:

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Monday afternoon that he had filed notice of appeal, arguing that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court.

Maybe Mr. Thurbert needs some consensual oral sex.

What the hell is wrong with Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker?

The physics of auto accidents

8 highway deaths mar Memorial weekend

One type of energy that physicists like to keep track of is kinetic energy, which is the energy associated with movement. A body in motion has more energy than the same body at rest.

Kinetic energy is generally proportional to the square of the velocity (from the equation E=(1/2)mv^2). So you have twice as much energy when you are going 70 mph as when are you going 50 mph.

Force, in physics, is generally thought of as the ability to change the velocity of something over time. So it takes more force to slow something down quickly and less force to slow something down slowly.

If you get in a car accident, what you hope is that your kinetic energy will be a) dissipated by something other than you and b) dissipated over as much time as possible.

Letter ‘a’ above is why we have airbags and crash zones in cars. They absorb energy. It’s also why we have seat belts. If you get ejected from the car, you may slow down a bit slower (b), but you absorb all the energy yourself. This is the functional equivalent of jumping off of a building.

Letter ‘b’ is why it is often a good thing if you roll a car, because the energy dissipates more slowly. You have to be in a seat belt to take advantage of this, though. Rolling a car converts some of the energy to rotational kinetic energy. People are routinely hurled unceremoniously through windshields and side windows of cars only to be slammed into the ground at 50 mph.

So rather obviously, head-on collisions are by far the worst. The energy gets dissipated much too quickly and a ton of force is applied to you, the occupant. So stay sober and stay between the damn lines because crossing the center line kills people dead.

But most importantly, wear your seat belt. Your odds of surviving go way, way up if you stay in the car. When you leave the car you almost always die, due to both ‘a’ and ‘b’ above.

If you are wearing your seat belt and you have to make a quick decision whether to run into a wall or roll the car, roll the car.

The physics of auto accidents


Here is my first widget, for Mac’s Dashboard, VizWidget. It does one very simple thing: it searches VizieR for anything within 1 arc minute of the object or position entered. It returns 1 row of every catalog that has an entry. It calls the web browser to do this and does not display the data in the widget itself.

Download VizWidget (Macintosh OS 10.4.3 or greater)

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is required. If you’re using Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget’s icon in the Widget Bar to open it. If you’re using a browser other than Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, unarchive it and place it in /Library/Widgets/ in your home folder. show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget’s icon in the Widget Bar to open it.