As much as I like seeing live shows, the extra fees for tickets have seemed to get even more ridiculous than they already were.
Since I've been a fan of Nine Inch Nails since before Jen's students were born, I was happy that they are finally touring the US for the first time in several years. Of course, I had to use Ticketmaster. I poked around, asking for various grades of tickets to see which combination of options gave me something worth buying. They have one of those Captcha / enter-two-words-so-we-know-you-are-human thing, I guess to discourage robot scalpers?
Anyway, this is one that I got this afternoon:
It sure does.
The always outstanding group Faithless has a new album out, filled with their usual genre-blending yumminess. Seriously, Maxy Jazz is absolutely the best rapper I've ever heard.
They're even more political on this album than in the past somehow... obviously pissed at the world that the next generations are currently inheriting, especially now that Sister Bliss has done the procreating.
Of course, leave it to MTV to ban some of the best protest music of the last few years. The video for their first single, Bombs, is plenty violent as it juxtaposes war footage with clueless folks and kids playing back home. I hope it was the violence and not the anti-war message that got the thumbs down.
Share the GooTubey Goodness with your friends:
To demonstrate how well my experiments went today, here is a cat flushing the toilet.
Last Sunday was fun. We had some friends over for a little brewing (belgian double style again = yummy!) and barbeque and merriment in the early afternoon. At least that was the plan. Then I decided to wash the serrated carving knife in the kitchen sink. Guess why that slightly postponed things?
Yep, I slipped and managed to slice my right index finger. I almost passed out assessing the situation, so it was clearly emergency room time. Phooey. There was lack of mid-afternoon traffic, so we made it to the UCLA hospital in no time, and it was a slow enough day that we were in and out in about an hour. Hooray for health insurance!
It could have been worse... it was about a half inch long and (I think they said) 3 mm deep or so. Three stitches or surgical superglue were the options. I decided on the superglue, since I wouldn't have to return to have the stitches removed. I scar impressively either way. The "water-tight" seal, though, meant that it got fairly gross as healing began, and two days later broken open a little and got all gooey.
I went back to the ER and had it looked at once more. The oozing was pronounced as a normal thing to have happen, although I was given some high-octane antibiotics (5 doses per day for 5 days!). This turned out to be the same brand that Roland the Gunslinger needed in the Dark Tower novels. At least I didn't have to lose a few fingers to mutated lobster-things.
Everyone was fine to start later in the day than we had planned, too, so there was grilled meat after all and there's a beer burbling in the closet again this week.
Oh, and tetanus shots suck a lot.
"President Bush has threatened vetoes on 141 bills during his presidency, but had never actually vetoed a measure before Wednesday."
What finally did it? A bill that included federal funding for stem cell research.
Will anyone ask Chimpy McTurdforbrains why fertility clinics aren't charged with murder when they throw out petri dishes?
Time to go running so I don't throw things...
There is a primary/local election in California tomorrow. I am sick of the statistic that more people voted for American Idol than for President in 2004. For anyone in LA unsure of what to do, especially since there are a lot of folks on the ballot for "superior court judge", here is some light reading:
LA Times Endorsements
Race for the Gavel (1 of 3) [blogging.la]
Race for the Gavel (2 of 3) [blogging.la]
Race for the Gavel (3 of 3) [blogging.la]
LA County Polling Place Finder (with interface by Billy... leave off street or avenue to find your street?)
I've returned recently to the gym on campus to get my San Fran half-marathon training
started back on track. Last week, I managed to drop my UCLA ID on the way to the locker room from the front entrance. I recovered it quickly enough then.
Yesterday, I entered the gym as usual. My problems seem to start with the fact that you need to take out your ID and swipe under a barcode reader (to keep the iron-pumping homeless out?). Once in the locker room, I ransacked my locker to organize the unused gym clothes supply and bag some of the smelliness. Somewhere in that process, I realize that I am no longer holding my ID... again. I unpack everything once more and empty my pockets: no ID. I go out and check at the front desk, where I regained my ID last week: nope. I go ahead and work out and even leave the gym for a run around campus and return: no ID turned in. Oh well, these things happen, but it'd be nice if there wasn't a replacement fee.
One sauna trip and shower later, I return to my locker. The guy with the locker immediately below mine is packing things back up and getting ready to leave. I've never run into him before, but now he says, "Is this by any chance your ID?"
Yep, that's right, kids! Time for more fun with Intelligent Design!
My favorite part of CNN/AP coverage:
In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
... it's a good thing I make my own beer.
Rob Stein, Washington Post
Monday, October 31, 2005
..."There are those who would say, 'We can provide a better, healthier alternative than the vaccine, and that is to teach abstinence,'" Rudd said. (associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations)
Geez, didn't mean to be silent here for a month...
I've been working too hard, and especially in the last week, losing my mind at the complete and total failure of our government to respond to a predicted natural disaster. Jen has done a better job of speaking for both of us.
It's all very sickening.
Cripes. Where to begin? In a talk with reporters yesterday, Bush gave his opinion that intelligent design should be taught in science classes alongside evolution. This is apparently in direct contradiction once again with the comments from his own science advisor. I'd hate to be that guy today.
My two cents: Evolution (once defined for me as simply the gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form) is a fairly solid idea in science. It's mostly the theory of natural selection that has a few holes. It's still the best we have right now, and while we can't go back in time and observe millions of years of speciation, there is compelling evidence.
A population genetics lecture in the genetics class that I did the teaching assistant thing for this past Fall included a short discussion of research the professor did on fruit flies and starvation time. Typical lab flies will live 20 hours without food. For this experiment, they isolated the flies that lived the longest without a foodsource and mated those to form the next generation. After 60 generations, the flies would live an average of 240 hours. Regardless of the natural process that caused this change, this is evolution in action.
Intelligent design is really just creationism dressed up to make it seem more scientific. There's less actual biblical speech and talk of a designer rather than "God," but this still ultimately is a supernatural explanation for things. It's not science. I just finished reading a book by the physicist Michio Kaku where he points out that miracles are by definition not repeatable and therefore completely untestable.
Analogous SCIENTIFIC debate shows that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory. Should we teach the competing theory of tiny ghosts that carry our electrons around on their backs in high school physics?
I'm glad to see that there's an uproar in response, but considering that he's on record as having this opinion since at least his governor days in 1999, I can't shake the feeling that this is yet another ploy to turn the media and national debate away from Karl "Icky Pants" Rove and the utter mess in Iraq.
From the Washington Post
Kan. Debate Challenges Science Itself
By JOHN HANNA
The Associated Press
Sunday, May 15, 2005; 10:46 PM
TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Kansas school board's hearings on evolution weren't limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of "intelligent design" are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what's observed in the world.
Instead, they want to define it as "a systematic method of continuing investigation," without specifying what kind of answer is being sought. The definition would appear in the introduction to the state's science standards.
The proposed definition has outraged many scientists, who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes.
"It's a completely unscientific way of looking at the world," said Keith Miller, a Kansas State University geologist.
The conservative state Board of Education plans to consider the proposed changes by August. It is expected to approve at least part of a proposal from advocates of intelligent design, which holds that the natural world is so complex and well-ordered that an intelligent cause is the best way to explain it.
State and national science groups boycotted last week's public hearings, claiming they were rigged against evolution.
Stephen Meyer, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design, said changing the schools' definition of science would avoid freezing out questions about how life arose and developed on Earth.
The current definition is "not innocuous," Meyer said. "It's not neutral. It's actually taking sides."
Last year, the board asked a committee of educators to draft recommendations for updating the standards, then accepted two rival proposals.
One, backed by a majority of those educators, continues an evolution-friendly tone from the current standards. Those standards would define science as "a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." That's close to the current definition.
The other proposal is backed by intelligent design advocates and is similar to language in Ohio's standards. It defines science as "a systematic method of continuing investigation" using observation, experiment, measurement, theory building, testing of ideas and logical argument to lead to better explanations of natural phenomena.
The Kansas board deleted most references to evolution from the science standards in 1999, but elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservatives recaptured the board's majority in 2004.
Jonathan Wells, a Discovery Institute senior fellow, said the dispute won't be settled in public hearings like the ones in Kansas.
"I think it will be resolved in the scientific community," he said. "I think (intelligent design), in 10 years, will be a very respectable science program."
Evolution defenders scoff at the notion.
"In order to live in this science-dominated world, you have to be able to discriminate between science and non-science," said Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "They want to rewrite the rules of science."
(originally pointed to by Eschaton)
Good editorial on the swift non-consultation of Dubya while the capital was briefly considered to be under terrorist attack this week, with evacuations and all the trimmings... because he was on a bike ride.
That's right: The most powerful figure in the world was not disturbed in the middle of what was momentarily regarded as the most urgent threat to the homeland since Sept. 11, 2001, because he was getting some midday exercise.
And by yesterday, the White House admitted no fault. They weren't wrong in Iraq, even though weapons of mass destruction were never found. They're not wrong here.
"This was an instance where presidential authority was not required, because we had these protocols in place after Sept. 11," McClellan said.
It all begs the troublesome question that will dog his next three years in office: What else doesn't the president need to know?
Gee, without the help of you and the rest of the advertising community, I might have forgotten about my mother.
Just... beyond description...
[I have to update with the contents of a press release, though. "Christian Wire Service"?]
Conference to Address Judicial Tyranny from Faith Perspective
Confronting The Judicial War on Faith Conference at the Washington Marriott in Washington, D.C. on April 7th and 8th
To: National Desk
Contact: Don Feder, Media Relations for the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, 866-522-5582
WASHINGTON, March 15 /Christian Wire Service/ -- Dr. Rick Scarborough, interim chairman of the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, today announced a Confronting The Judicial War On Faith Conference at the Washington Marriott in Washington, D.C. on April 7th and 8th.
"This is both an historic and a timely event," Scarborough observed. "It will be the first conference to address judicial tyranny from a faith perspective."
Scarborough noted that the conference will take place against the backdrop of the on-going effort of activist judges to prevent Americans from publicly acknowledging God.
"The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on public display of The Ten Commandments," Scarborough commented. "In its last session, we barely escaped a mandate of the 9th. Circuit Appeals Court prohibiting ‘one nation, under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, as a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment clause."
Scarborough went on: "In the meantime, activist judges continue in their attempts to force homosexual marriage on the nation. And Senate Democrats continue to block votes on conservative judicial nominees."
More than just an educational conference, the meeting will be a milestone toward organizing a grass-roots coalition to confront a run-away judiciary.
The conference will consider: The Judicial Assault On Our Judeo-Christian Heritage, Judges: Abortion And Other Life Issues, Judicial Nominations, The Real Constitution, The Decline of Faith And What It Means For America, Remedies To Judicial Tyranny and Mobilizing The Grassroots.
I am so tired of this shit. The freakin' US Congress decided yesterday to insert itself into the debate over whether that poor woman in Florida can die peacefully or not. At least this circus is potentially over.
Time to finally do something like this: http://www.medicaldecisionscard.com/
Why is the concept so hard for America to grasp, though?
What do City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and the city of Beverly Hills have in common? Well, yes, they all think Jamie Foxx is a shoo-in for Best Actor (and who doesn't?), but they're also all in favor of extending the Red Line subway westward along Wilshire, all they way out to Santa Monica.(more from the LA Times)
This astounding consensus, which Councilmember LaBonge has tirelessly worked to build, didn't carry much weight for the MTA Planning Committee. The committee unceremoniously rejected the expansion program, saying that subway tunneling would only serve certain "vested interests". We're guessing they were not referring to Los Angeles commuters, who would certainly benefit from a subway that actually went somewhere.
The Year 2772? "Angular, slightly menacing-looking" characters?
It's no pizza-shilling Muppet, but perhaps I *am* getting old. Phooey on that. At least I have a nice collection of the original Looney Tunes on DVD, via Christmas, to drown my sorrows in...
(original Post-Gazzette link above via BoinBoing)
There once was a darned spiffy dive/sports bar two blocks from my apartment. Plenty of colorful, friendly locals and pitchers of Sierra Nevada for eight bucks. Sometime last summer, Jen and I discovered that they had a karaoke night on Wednesdays. I organized a school outing to blow off steam, and a good time was had.
Jen and Craig and I started going regularly... almost every week. Los Angeles has done crazy things to me, not the least of which is converting me to a karaoke fiend. The hostess was, and still is, a hoot. The Wednesday night bartender got to know us and started offering up the occasional free shot. We had fun getting to know the other "regulars." Our song picks changed almost weekly, ever eager to test ourselves and the limitations of the songlist. It was nifty that some of the regulars, who would often rotate through the same two or three songs each week, started to vary their songs, too. I like to think we were a positive influence, even though we never socialize with these folks without a beer and a microphone.
I became known as "Weird Al" (at least to one guy) because of my tendency to sing "Amish Paradise" once a month or so.
Fast forward to November. Word floated around one night that ownership of the bar was changing. There's a backroom, clubish place adjacent, but hardly ever used. That made the whole establishment a classic money pit, despite the often full front bar. People were sprending rumors that it would close down after the Superbowl and reopen as a Mexican restaurant. Tempers flared. Regulars stated they disliked "change." The place closed briefly in December, only to reopen the following week with a fresh coat of ugly cream paint, revarnished bar, and carpeting that changed and/or ruined the acoustics. The place was renamed to something dorkier than the original name, but it appeared that the restaurant was going to be situated in the backroom, with the old bar remaining a lounge. Karaoke Wednesdays ended up on the promotional advertising.
Things were looking up, even. But, the damage was done. Both our favorite bartenders were apparently fired or fled the scene. The locals started to taper off, at least on Wednesdays. New people weren't flocking in, either, so it became a depressing shell of its former glory.
You can probably see this coming. Last night, there couldn't have been more than a dozen people in the place at any given time. And, the karaoke hostess let us know on the downlow that this was her company's last week at that location. We exchanged emails. She does other locations on other nights, but I already miss the excuse for mid-week festivities.
So, to the new owners: Good luck. You managed to lose my business, any recommendation to UCLA friends, and status as a place to bring out-of-town guests. I reckon you also lost the business of at least thirty people who also regularly stopped in, too. All this before the new restaurant even opens fully.
Oh, and $8 burritos in Los Angeles, anywhere in Los Angeles, make me laugh.
I have disabled comments from non-typekey users and disabled all trackbacks, since I am wasting way too much time cleaning up stupid movabletype spam.
If the uptoolate.com webhost ever wakes up and upgrades to perl 5.8, I might give MT-Blacklist a whirl, but my hands are tied at the moment.
This almost makes me want to try a different blogging software package, but I'm doing enough web development for the lab right now to take on anything additional for fun.
Via Yahoo News:
White House Defends Commandments Displays
Thu Dec 9, 9:18 AM ET
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to allow Ten Commandments displays on government property, adding a federal view on a major church-state case that justices will deal with early next year.
The government has weighed in before in religion cases at the high court, including one earlier this year that challenged the words "under God" in the classroom recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The government supported a California school district in that case. Now, it is backing two Kentucky counties that had framed copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses.
The animated video for "Mosh" by Eminem and produced/hosted by the Guerrilla News Network, attempting to energize the youth into voting this year, now has a new ending.
I keep trying to blog about the election, but I invariantly end up depressing or outrageously angry or both... I mean, a majority voted for this guy? Reports, despite a supposedly record voter registration, that only 17% of people 18-30 actually voted? I'm glad I'm leaving that demographic in 31 days. Stupid Kids! Time to be a curmudgeonly old person already?
Finally, I leave it to an international tabloid rag to sum things up for me...
The Ozy and Millie comic Hits the Nail on the head again...
A followup to this...
BBC NEWS | Americas | Coma woman intervention 'illegal'
Published: 2004/09/24 10:13:30 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Florida Governor Jeb Bush acted illegally by intervening to keep a brain-damaged woman alive against her husband's wishes, a court has ruled.
The decision by the Florida Supreme Court means Terri Schiavo's fate is again uncertain, 14 years after she fell unconscious after a heart attack.
Mrs Schiavo's parents have battled to keep her alive, and gained the support of Mr Bush. He may yet go to appeal.
He brought in a law last year allowing him to insist she be kept alive.
After "Terri's Law" was passed, her feeding tube was reinserted, six days after it had been removed with a judge's approval.
But the Supreme Court on Thursday declared the law "unconstitutional as a violation of separation of powers, as a violation of the right of privacy and as unconstitutional retroactive legislation".
Mrs Schiavo's husband Michael has argued for years that he wants her to be allowed to die humanely.
Florida's state constitution protects the right of terminally ill patients to die "with dignity."
The woman's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, have long fought to keep her alive, saying she has given signs of consciousness, and could recover over time.
But the court said on Thursday: "Medicine cannot cure this condition. Unless an act of God, a true miracle, were to recreate her brain, Theresa will always remain in an unconscious, reflexive state."
A spokeswoman for Mr Bush, the brother of President George Bush, said lawyers were considering whether to ask the Florida Supreme Court to rehear the case, or appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Even if that does not happen, Mr Schiavo may not be able to allow his wife to die immediately.
Lawyers for her parents are trying in another case to have his status as her legal guardian removed.
Good of him to love his daughter. Too bad he is such evil incarnate otherwise.
On 9/11 itself, there's a "NASCAR race in Richmond" listed. This would be the "Chevy Rock 'N' Roll 400" at the Richmond International Raceway. Obviously, a NASCAR race has nothing -- nothing -- whatsoever to do homeland security. It is, however, a GOP-friendly event in Virginia, a battleground state where Bush's lead is within the margin of error.
The Smoking Gun comes through with links to video, so this time we can watch Bush make an idiot of himself, instead of just reading about it.
During a bout of televised procrastination this past weekend, I was subjected to an advertisement that made me want to throw things. Muppets characters (Ms. Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo, and Fozzie) argue about what pizza topping to order. Then, Jessica Fucking Simpson zooms into the room to tell them not to worry, just order this new Pizza Hut special where you can get 4 small square crappy pizzas all with different toppings instead of just the one crappy pizza.
It's like a nightmare where I can't wake up!
Just when I thought the situation with the MBTA in Boston was bad, it gets worse.
T to check packages, bags at random
By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff | June 8, 2004
Next month, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will become the first transit agency in the nation to institute a permanent policy of randomly inspecting passenger bags and packages on subway and commuter trains, MBTA police officials disclosed yesterday.
The stop-and-search procedure, largely prompted by the March 11 train bombings that killed 191 people in Spain, will involve explosive-sniffing dogs and all 247 uniformed MBTA police officers, and is set to be in place for July's Democratic National Convention, MBTA T Police Chief Joseph Cartercq told the Globe.
"I have no trepidation about being first,'' Carter said. "I don't want to be the first to do an interview about having a serious incident that may have some terrorist indications to it. I want to be in a position to prevent and detect and apprehend someone prior to them causing damage. We want to do this to encourage people to feel safe on the MBTA, to utilize public transportation.''
The policy was made public only weeks after the MBTA announced a controversial decision to begin requesting identification from T passengers police perceive as acting ``suspiciously.''
Since the Madrid bombings, which were allegedly carried out by Al Qaeda terrorists who concealed explosives in their backpacks, counterterrorism agencies across the globe have concluded that subway and commuter rail operations are possible targets. In London, police reacted to the bombings by issuing new security guidelines that allow officers to stop and search passengers and their bags if riders are acting suspiciously.
Last month, the US Transportation Security Administration unveiled a pilot program to screen the bags of all passengers at a single Maryland Rail Commuter station in suburban New Carrollton.
But the MBTA policy would be far more ambitious -- and in the eyes of civil libertarians, far more invasive -- as police conduct random inspections of bags and briefcases that are not tied to suspicious behavior. The policy is being developed in coordination with the TSA and with several other transit agencies in the United States and abroad, Carter said. It is not yet fully developed, he added.
MBTA Deputy Police Chief John Martino, who is overseeing the development and implementation of the policy, said police, some accompanied by explosive-sniffing dogs, will randomly pick out riders for inspection throughout the transit system daily. If the dogs are present -- there are only four used by the force currently -- riders would not have to open their bags, but make them available for the dogs to sniff, Martino said.
If no dogs are present, "a brief opening and a quick look in will usually be enough to judge if there's any cause for alarm," Martino said. "Wherever possible, we would use an explosive-detection canine that would just sniff -- no requirement to open them at all in that case."
Martino said, however, that the number of inspections would increase dramatically during the convention at the end of July, just as thousands of commuters who normally drive to work will cram onto subways and commuter rail trains because of extensive road and highway closures. He also said riders can expect the number of inspections to increase whenever the US Homeland Security Department changes the color-coded threat advisory to orange or red, the highest levels.
Martino would not specify how many bag inspections will be conducted, either during the convention or at times when the threat level is not elevated.
Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said she understands the need to increase vigilance on the region's rail and bus systems, but contended that the system being devised by the MBTA is deeply flawed and may violate the US Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure.
"The Fourth Amendment doesn't stop at your wrist when you carry a briefcase; it includes your bag," Rose said. "It either has to be truly random, or it has to have a root in a reasonable basis of suspicion."
"What does random mean? How do you ensure that is random?" Rose continued. "That means no discretion at all."
Rose dismissed comparisons of the T's policy to baggage checks at the nation's airports and called the move excessive.
"It's not imaginable to stop everybody getting on trains for their morning commute, and let's face it, a train doesn't have the same mass killing potential that a hijacked airplane does. You can't drive a train into a skyscraper."
T riders told by a reporter about the bag inspection policy yesterday reacted with a mixture of terrorism-weary resignation, annoyance, and in some cases, skepticism that police officers were capable of carrying out a truly random search system.
Alejandro Roberts, 25, a filmmaker from Dorchester interviewed at the JFK-UMass Red Line station, said he would be upset if such a search were to make him late for an appointment, but expressed greater worries about the specter of racial profiling.
Pamela Pratt, 46, a hospital supervisor from Randolph, said , "We all know who will be stopped -- black people like me or my brothers."
Other passengers, however, said they understood that they may have to give up some privacy to protect against attacks such as those that occurred in Madrid.
"It's a gray area," said Caleb Charland, 23, a Dorchester photographer. "I don't want people searching my bags, but if it increases safety, I understand."
Carter, who confirmed that the agency was developing the plans, said T officials have not announced the policy because he and other police officials are still working out the details on how to balance security and privacy concerns.
"Everything we do here is to protect and uphold and defend the constitutional rights of everyone, particuarly our patrons on the system," Carter said. "That is one of the reasons why the policy is not something that is just sitting there, ready for us to publish tomorrow morning. . . . How do we do this to make sure constitutional rights are in place? We don't want to abridge those rights, but in this era, we need the highest degree of security."
Carter said he is determined to have the baggage inspection procedure in place for the Democratic convention, which has been deemed a special "national security" event by the US Secret Service.
"We're on a very tight clock here; we're working feverishly to come to a finalized policy," Carter said. "We will meet with various groups, particularly the leading civil rights groups about this, but we will not be deterred in ensuring we have the highest level of security for the convention."
Carter and his deputies said the cost of the new program would be minimal because the force, including canine units, is already patrolling stations.
Last month, T police announced that the entire force has been receiving counterterrorism training that includes spotting suspicious behavior. The ACLU and riders groups, fearful that the policy could lead to random ID checks, have contended that the stops represent an unwarranted intrusion. But T officials insist that the "behavior pattern recognition" training that all officers are receiving is geared toward security, and not to pestering riders.
Martino said the T Police Department is seeking to double the size of the dog unit to spread the baggage inspections across the vast transit system.
For now, however, Deputy T Police Chief Thomas McCarthy, who oversees intelligence operations, expressed confidence that the heightened presence of police officers will send a message that the MBTA is not a good place for terrorists to attack.
"You send a message that we're a harder target than some other place," McCarthy said. "That will hopefully make it safer."
David Abel of the Globe Staff contributed to this story.
Okay, I know it's 2004 and we're all supposed to be afraid of the brown people who hate our president and want to kill us all, but I still shake my head at the continuing erosion of civil liberties and the destruction of the nice country I once lived in. The Boston Globe has been reporting this weekend that the MTBA may begin stopping random passengers for ID. Are they going to kick people off the trains who are trying to commute to work because they forgot their wallet?
Why not just cut to the chase and implant microchips so we can track everyone's use of this public utility?
In Hamburg, Germany, I would get asked to routinely provide notice of who I was on the trains. But that was a yearly boarding pass with my photo attached, and I could otherwise just walk straight from street to platform to train car without turnstiles. The ID check was really just verifying that I paid to be there, and people were always caught trying to ride for free.
Side rant: the cliche was true... German public transit ran on time. In Boston, I missed trains because they were early all the time. I often would have to wait at least a half hour for the next one, and almost always then be late for something.
The subtitle on the full article says it all about where this is doomed to go, too: "But raise concerns on racial profiling".
T riders say they'll accept security stops
But raise concerns on racial profiling
By Peter DeMarco, Globe Correspondent | May 23, 2004
Subway riders interviewed yesterday said they won't mind if MBTA officials conduct random identification checks this summer as long as the increased security measures don't become a substantial inconvenience or raise the specter of racial profiling.
"As long as it's quick and short, it doesn't bother me," said Tom Reardon, an accountant from Dorchester, at the JFK/UMass stop. "But I don't think they should deny anyone a ride. Anyone can forget their license."
Mea Johnson, 26, an African-American student, said she didn't want to be stopped "just because I'm a minority."
"But if there was a situation where it seemed appropriate, if there is a real threat, and not just them asking whenever they want," she said, "then sure."
Just when transit police will begin identification checks, and to what extent they will be asking riders to show driver's licenses or some other form of identification, remains unclear.
MBTA police officers have been training with State Police troopers from Troop F at Logan International Airport, who are experienced in identification checks, officials said. Some riders have reported that they were asked for identification while boarding trains at South Station as part of a training program.
MBTA officials, however, would not comment yesterday on particular facets of any security measures planned this summer.
Instead, in a statement issued yesterday, authority officials said only that transit officers working with State Police are being trained "to detect whether the actions of one or more individuals indicate any level of risk or threat to the transit system and, where necessary, take steps in response to the observed behavoir."
US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, said, to his knowledge, federal officials have issued only "vague" directives to transit agencies on conducting identification checks.
"I've heard it's one measure they're considering. But it's very general at this point," he said.
On Friday, Lynch filed legislation calling for an additional $4.5 billion to increase rail security nationwide, which he says is woefully inadequate.
He did, however, praise MBTA officials for "being ahead of the curve" in terms of security measures, noting that scores of transit officers are training with the State Police in preparation for this summer's Democratic convention.
Some non-citizens, including Alejandro Alcaras, 20, a Cambridge College student from Mexico, questioned whether they would need to start carrying passports with them on rides.
Other riders, however, said they always carry identification with them anyway and felt that it would be no bother to show it.
"We're over in Iraq now. Who's to say [a terrorist] won't come over here to cause havoc?" asked Bob Fuller, of Stoughton.
"It would be an inconvenience," said Mark Giglio, 16, of Newton. "But maybe a necessary inconvenience."
This looks far from over, but my pretty good day has now brightened some. I thank the Rhino that my mother was in Hawaii.
By Vickie Chachere Associated Press Writer
Published: May 6, 2004
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A law pushed through by Gov. Jeb Bush to keep a severely brain-damaged woman alive was struck down by a Florida judge Thursday in the latest turn in one of the nation's longest and bitterest right-to-die cases.
The governor's office filed an immediate appeal.
Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird ruled that Terri's Law, named after Terri Schiavo, is unconstitutional because it violates the disabled woman's right to privacy and delegates legislative power to the governor.
The law was passed in October, just days after the removal of a feeding tube that has helped keep Schiavo alive for more than a decade. Bush immediately invoked the new law to order the feeding tube reinserted.
The tube will remain in place while the governor pursues his appeal.
Schiavo's husband, Michael, has fought a long court battle to remove the feeding tube and carry out what he said were his wife's wishes not to be kept alive artificially. The dispute has pitted him against his in-laws, who say her condition could improve.
Baird said Terri's Law improperly gives the governor "unbridled discretion" and interferes with Terri Schiavo's right to make her own medical decisions.
The judge said Terri's Law "in every instance, ignores the existence of this right and authorizes the governor to act according to his personal discretion."
He said the governor failed to spell out any compelling state interest that would be adequate to override Schiavo's rights.
Pat Anderson, an attorney for Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said they were disappointed, but not surprised.
Michael Schiavo's attorney had no immediate comment.
Terri Schiavo, 40, was left severely brain damaged more than 14 years ago after her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. She left no written directive about her wishes if she were ever incapacitated.
Several right-to-die cases across the nation have been fought in the courts in recent years, but few, if any, have been this drawn-out and bitter. The tangled legal fight between Michael Schiavo and his in-laws has been heard by at least 20 judges in at least six courts.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal has previously upheld Michael Schiavo's legal quest to remove the tube.
The governor's attorneys have defended Terri's Law, saying it creates an additional layer of protection for a disabled woman who left no record of her wishes and whose husband has a conflict of interest in wanting to end her life.
Michael Schiavo is engaged to another woman with whom he has two children. At one point in the case, he stood to inherit hundreds of thousands of dollars from a medical trust fund that paid for his wife's care; the money has largely been depleted through legal bills.
Bush's decision to intercede in the case brought criticism from Democrats and accusations that the Republican was pandering to anti-abortion conservatives.
The New York Times > Arts > Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
May 1, 2004
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
PENSACOLA, Fla., April 29 — Robert and Schön Passmore took their children to Disney World last fall and left bitterly disappointed. As Christians who reject evolutionary theory, the family scoffed at the park's dinosaur attractions, which date the apatosaurus, brachiosaurus and the like to prehistoric times.
"My kids kept recognizing flaws in the presentation," said Mrs. Passmore, of Jackson, Ala. "You know — the whole `millions of years ago dinosaurs ruled the earth' thing."
So this week, the Passmores sought out a lower-profile Florida attraction: Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park and museum here that beckons children to "find out the truth about dinosaurs" with games that roll science and religion into one big funfest with the message that Genesis, not science, tells the real story of the creation.
Kent Hovind, the minister who opened the park in 2001, said his aim was to spread the message of creationism through a fixture of mainstream America — the theme park — instead of pleading its case at academic conferences and in courtrooms.
Mr. Hovind, a former public school science teacher with his own ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, and a hectic lecture schedule, said he had opened Dinosaur Adventure Land to counter all the science centers and natural history museums that explain the evolution of life with Darwinian theory. There are dinosaur bone replicas, with accompanying explanations that God made dinosaurs on Day 6 of the creation as described in Genesis, 6,000 years ago. Among the products the park gift shop peddles are T-shirts with a small fish labeled "Darwin" getting gobbled by a bigger fish labeled "Truth."
"There are a lot of creationists that are really smart and debate the intellectuals, but the kids are bored after five minutes," said Mr. Hovind, who looks boyish at 51 and talks fast. "You're missing 98 percent of the population if you only go the intellectual route."
The theme park is just the latest approach to promoting creationism outside the usual school curriculum route, which Mr. Hovind and others see as important, but too limited and not sufficiently appealing to modern young families. Creationist groups are also promoting creationist vacations, including dinosaur digs in South Dakota, fossil-collecting trips in Australia and New Zealand, and tours of the Grand Canyon ("raft the canyon and learn how Noah's flood contributed to the formation").
Dan Johnson, an assistant manager of the park, said there were also creationism-themed cruises, with lectures on the subject amid swimming and shuffleboard.
A Kentucky creationist group called Answers in Genesis says it is building a 100,000-square-foot complex outside Cincinnati with a museum, classrooms, a planetarium and a special-effects theater where moviegoers can experience the flood and other events described in Genesis.
Ken Ham, the group's chief executive, said marketing surveys suggested that the complex would draw not just home-schooling families and other creationists, but mainstream church groups and curiosity seekers. Mr. Ham said a former Universal Studios art director was designing exhibits for the complex, including dioramas of Adam and Eve and a model of Noah's Ark. The complex will open in 2006 at the earliest, Mr. Ham said.
At Dinosaur Adventure Land, visitors can make their own Grand Canyon replica with sand and read a sign deriding textbooks for teaching that the Colorado River formed the canyon over millions of years: "This is clearly not possible. The top of the Grand Canyon is 4,000 feet higher than where the river enters the canyon! Rivers do not flow up hill!"
There is a movie depicting the creation, the flood and the fall of man, which fast-forwards from a lush Garden of Eden to a New York City traffic jam.
There are no mechanized rides at Dinosaur Adventure Land — no creationist-themed roller coasters, scramblers or even a ferris wheel — but instead, a simple discovery center and museum and about a dozen outdoor games, each of which has a "science lesson" and "spiritual lesson" posted nearby. A group of about 60 parents and home-schooled children who visited Wednesday, including the Passmores, spent all afternoon trying the games, which promote religious faith more than creationist tenets.
Take Jumpasaurus, which involves jumping on a trampoline while trying to throw a ball through a hoop as many times as possible in a minute. The science lesson: "You will use coordination in this game, which means you will be doing more than one thing at once." The spiritual lesson, according to Mr. Johnson: "You need to learn to be coordinated for Jesus Christ so you can get more things done for him."
Somewhat more creationist in approach is the Nerve-Wracking Ball: a bowling ball on a rope, dangling from a tall tree branch. A child stands before the ball, and then a park guide gives it a shove from a specific angle, so that it comes careering back at the child's face only to stop just in front of it. The child wins if he does not flinch, proving he has "faith in God's laws" — in this case, that a swinging object will never come back higher than the point from which it took off.
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which tracks creationist programs, said traditional creationists like Mr. Hovind had in fact given up on building intellectual credibility years ago.
"They have been going the grass-roots mainstream route for at least 20 years," she said. "So I'm not surprised they are the ones sponsoring group vacations and theme parks and things like that."
Dinosaur Adventure Land, tucked behind a highway lined with car dealerships in this metropolitan area of 425,000, sits next to Mr. Hovind's home and the offices of Creation Science Evangelism, which he said he founded in 1989. Mr. Hovind is well known in Pensacola, and even in a region where religious billboards almost outnumber commercial ones he is controversial. Escambia County sued him in 2000 after he refused to get a $50 permit before building his theme park, saying the government had no authority over a church.
Just last week Internal Revenue Service agents used a search warrant to remove financial documents from Mr. Hovind's home and offices, saying he was not paying taxes and had neither a business license nor tax-exempt status for his enterprises.
Mr. Hovind did not want to discuss the I.R.S. investigation, saying only, "I don't have any tax obligations."
The man who calls himself Dr. Dino is also controversial among creationists, some of whom say he discredits their movement with some of his pseudo-scientific claims. Mr. Hovind got into a dispute in 2002 with Answers in Genesis, when he took issue with an article it published called "Arguments We Think Creationists Should Not Use." One such argument was that footprints found in Texas proved that man and dinosaurs coexisted; Mr. Hovind said he considered the argument, now abandoned by many creationists, valid. Mr. Hovind said he gave 700 lectures a year and that 38,000 people had visited his park, at $7 a head. According to a map that invites visitors to pinpoint their hometown, most come from the Florida Panhandle and from Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Rachel Painter, camp director at the Alpha Omega Institute, which runs several creationist family summer camps in Colorado, said creationist vacations had gained popularity as the number of Christian home-schooling families had grown. The institute started its camps 18 years ago with 4 families per session, she said, but now up to 18 attend each, and from more states.
Wade and Joan Killingsworth, who belong to a home-schooling coalition called Solid Rock Christian School, said they took their children to Colonial Williamsburg over spring break and came to Dinosaur Adventure Land because it was similarly educational. But they and the Passmores, who traveled from Alabama with eight minivans of like-minded families, said this type of road trip had far more to offer.
"We've been to museums, discovery centers, where you have to sit there and take the evolutionary stuff," Mr. Passmore said. "It feels good for them to finally hear it in a public place, something that reinforces their beliefs."
Well, crap. or as Stephen King might put it, "shit on a stick!"
Let's see. If I round numbers a little, we're talking 6 months since I last posted. Meh. I can do better.
In completely brief and completely random neuron firings:
I made it past the anniversary of my mother's death.
I have camped in Joshua Tree, Big Sur, and Lake Skinner.
Jen's friend from frickin' summer camp 18 years ago, Beth Holmes, died. I hope that Jen saved her excellent web eulogy somewhere, too.
I'm still in grad school. This is neat. I have chosen a laboratory, but that remains a subject I'll hold close a bit longer, lest I mix work and fun too much. It's an interesting model organism, anyway.
I am taking five minutes from late-night studying to update for once. I've two exams this week, see. And graduate school has been a lot of work (duh).
Despite the title of this post, I am feeling strangely at peace with my preparation so far. What a difference seven years makes...
Oh, and my free samples of Vitaballs have arrived. I now own three, individually wrapped gumballs with a Nutrition Facts label proclaiming the zero grams of fat and 100% RDA for 11 different vitamins.
Hmm. I just noticed that one package feels like it contains two gumballs, not one like the serving size is careful to point out. Do I win a prize?