Sunday, April 30, 2006

No he din't! Oh, no he din't!

Stephen Colbert has balls. Balls the size of lobster pots. God bless 'im.

The Final Revelation

"You fuckin' nin-com-fuckin'-poop!"

This might be the funniest thing I've seen in a good, long while. Ladies and gentlemen, behold: the Spirit of Truth.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Senators to push for $100 gas rebate checks

Under proposal, every U.S. taxpayer would get one

From Dana Bash
Thursday, April 27, 2006; Posted: 5:44 a.m. EDT (09:44 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Every American taxpayer would get a $100 rebate check to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline, under an amendment Senate Republicans hope to bring to a vote Thursday.

However, the GOP energy package may face tough sledding because it also includes a controversial proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, which most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose.

Democrats are also expected to offer their own competing proposal, as members of both parties jockey for political position on the gas price issue.

The energy package, sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Pete Domenici of New Mexico and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, will be offered as an amendment to an emergency spending measure now before the Senate funding the Iraq war and hurricane relief, according to a senior GOP leadership aide.

Under Senate rules, either the GOP amendment or the Democratic alternative would probably need 60 votes to pass, which is considered unlikely. However, the amendments would give senators a change to cast votes on measures designed to help constituents being hit by high gas prices.

As outlined by the senior GOP leadership aide, the energy package would give taxpayers a $100 rebate, repeal tax incentives for oil companies and allow the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute retailers unlawfully inflating the price of gasoline.

The measure would also give the Transportation Department authority to issue fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles, expand tax incentives for the use of hybrid vehicles and push for more research into alternative fuels and expansion of existing oil refineries.

The GOP senators are also calling on the Bush administration to suspend deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for six months to increase the nation's oil supply. President Bush announced Tuesday that he would halt new deposits into the reserve until after the summer driving season.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats on Wednesday called for a new energy bill and federal legislation to punish price gougers.

"There's no reason why we can't put forth a real energy policy that addresses the needs of this nation," said Rep. Bart Stupak, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, "from gouging to market manipulation to biofuels. We can do it."

And leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday asked the Internal Revenue Service to let them examine the tax returns of the nation's 15 largest oil and gas companies, as part of a "comprehensive review" of oil industry profits.

"I want to make sure the oil companies aren't taking a speed pass by the tax man," said Grassley, the committee's chairman, in a written statement.

Hey, why not? A $100.00-per-taxpayer handout from the GOP? During an election year?

Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

Like, saaaay...oh, back during the 2000 campaign, when Bush scored some votes with a $300.00 tax rebate bribe?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Other Magical Fruit

"Tony Snow has a fearsome reputation for inducing flatulence."

Well, the Bush administration has a new White House press secretary. Say hello to Tony Snow: Former speechwriter for the ever-so eloquent Bush the Elder, former Fox News propagandist shill, and -- judging by this picture -- aspiring game show host. Just look at the guy! That's one up-beat, happening motherfucker! Woo-HOO!

Go ahead...pull his finger. I dare you. He dares you. Just do it -- you won't be sorry. Judging by his perkier-than-thou, "aw, shucks", car salesman-esque appearance, I think it's safe to say that Snow's smile can only be the brightly confident smile of a man who's been eating them new-fangled Venezuelan fartless beans! That's good, seeing as how Snow is just as full of shit as any other neocon jackass slithering around DC these days.

According to Dim Son, Snow's job is to "explain my decisions to the press."

Naw...! Get the fuck outta here!

The Chimperor went on to add that the randy fucker isn't at all "afraid to express his own opinions", which is great if Snow was to continue hosting his talk show on Fox News Radio, but White House press briefings aren't exactly the place to wax editorial. You see, what you want from the White House press secretary are facts, not a load of opinionated bullshit. But, this is the Bush administration, so I guess I shouldn't expect much in the way of, y'know, facts an' stuff. Or truth... Or transparency... Or, or, or...

Hey, he can't be any worse than ol' Scotty McClellan. At least Snow doesn't look like an uncooked, sebum-stained haggis.

Then again...

On an unrelated note, here's my Top Ten of the Week:

01) Roy Orbison - You're My Baby
02) Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant - Jammin' With Jimmy
03) Billy Lee Riley - Flyin' Saucer Rock n' Roll
04) The Beatles - Slow Down
05) Louis Armstrong - I Double Dare You
06) Jimmie Rodgers - Train Whistle Blues
07) Leadbelly - The Midnight Special
08) Elvis Presley - Just Because
09) Johnny Burnette - Rockabilly Boogie
10) Harry Belafonte - Jump in the Line

The Magical Fruit

"Beans have a fearsome reputation for inducing flatulence."

Experts make flatulence-free bean

A method of creating super-nutritious but flatulence-free beans has been developed by scientists.

Beans are a cheap and key source of nutrition especially in the developing world, but many people are thought to be put off by anti-social side-effects.

A Venezuelan team says fermenting beans with certain friendly bacteria can cut the amount of wind-causing compounds, and boost beans' nutritional value.

The research appears in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Flatulence is caused by bacteria that live in the large intestine breaking down parts of food - such as soluble fibre - that have not been digested higher in the gut

Beans, such as the black bean commonly eaten across Central and Southern America and tested by the team, contain many of these compounds.

Researchers from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas found that by boosting the natural fermentation process by adding a particular type of bacteria , called Lactobacillus casei (L casei), the amount of these indigestible wind-causing compounds were reduced.

Soluble fibre was reduced by two thirds and the amount of raffinose, another flatulence-causing substance, by 88.6%.

But the amount of insoluble fibre, which is thought to have a beneficial effect on the gut and help the digestive system get rid of toxins, increased by 97.5%.

The team concludes that fermentation involving L casei could decrease flatulence compounds and increase nutritional quality.

They suggest the bacteria is used by the food industry to create better bean products.

The team led by Marisela Granito said: "Given that flatulence is one of the main limiting factors for the consumption of this important foodstuff, the implementation of processes which allow for nutritious and non-flatulence-producing beans to be obtained would be interesting."

'Social concerns'

Dr Frankie Phillips, a nutrition expert and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said: "This study provides an interesting lead in helping us to overcome some of the less desirable aspects of eating legumes - i.e. flatulence - whilst ensuring that the nutritional benefits from eating them remain.

"On a practical note, some people find that gradually increasing consumption levels of legumes helps, as the body adapts, and others have no symptoms at all.

"I'd suggest trying small portions of legumes as part of a meal and gradually eating larger portions as they can be tolerated."

She said that products existed, mainly in the US, which can help reduce flatulence.

She added: "Despite the obvious social concerns, there is no physiological harm from the flatulence caused by eating beans and other legumes, and considerable nutritional benefits from eating them owing to fibre content as well as a wide range of other nutrients and phytonutrients."

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

Bend over, grab your ankles, and get ready for this summer, friends and neighbors. We're all gonna get a chance to hop in the Wayback Machine and revisit the disco-licious, oh-so fun gasoline droughts of the late '70s!

US fuel crunch worsens

By Richard Valdmanis and Janet McGurty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dozens of gasoline stations from Virginia to Massachusetts ran short of fuel on Friday as suppliers struggled with a transition to a new anti-smog gasoline blend using corn-based ethanol as an additive, marketers said.

The disruptions, caused in part by a lack of trucks to move ethanol to supply terminals, comes amid an already severe spike in retail gasoline prices to near $3 per gallon as the cost of crude hits new highs.

"The situation here is chaotic," said Mike O'Connor, president of the Virginia Petroleum Jobbers Association, which represents gas stations in the state. He said his association is seeking a federal waiver to allow the sale of lower grade gasoline to ease the crunch.

Fuel marketers said there were reports of gasoline stations running out of fuel in areas of Virginia, Maryland, around Washington D.C., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and parts of Massachusetts.

"There are a handful of outages being reported across the region, but they are temporary," said Catherine Rossi, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "The problem is waiting for the trucks to get to the stations."

AAA is the largest motoring and leisure travel organization in North America.

The U.S. government had warned in recent weeks that gasoline supplies could be disrupted along the East Coast and in Texas as the oil industry shifts to the new anti-smog blend using ethanol.

Gasoline producers had previously used additive MTBE to make reformulated gasoline, required at a third of the nation's pumps to combat air pollution, but are phasing the chemical out because of the risk of lawsuits after several states banned it for contaminating groundwater.

The problem with the replacement additive, experts say, is that ethanol cannot be shipped in pipelines because it absorbs water condensation in the pipes, and requires trucks, rail cars or barges for transport.

"Anywhere there is reformulated gasoline and MTBE there will be a problem," said Jeff Lenard, director of communications at the National Association of Convenience Stores.

A federal waiver allowing the sale of conventional gasoline, instead of the anti-smog blend, would make it easier for fuel suppliers to sell gasoline without the ethanol additive.

"We're patiently waiting to see if the state will make a formal request on our behalf," said VPJA's O'Connor.

The Petroleum Marketers Association of America, which represents stations selling about 55 percent of the nation's gasoline, said it was unaware of any other state associations seeking a waiver.

"We're hoping this situation will be short-lived," said Rolf Hanson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association. "We think it is unlikely the government will grant waivers for a transitional issue like this one."

Yeah, we're all gonna have to find some boots made for walkin' here real soon. This is what happens when a) OPEC has the world's most powerful nation by the short-and-curlies and b) you elect a couple of slimy, duplicitous, greedy oilmen to the highest office in the land. Of course, the criminal, tycoon bastards who run the oil companies are lovin' this country right about now. Where else
but right here in Bush's America can an amply-wattled, robber-baron bastard like Exxon CEO Lee Raymond enjoy a $400 million retirement parachute while the price of gas soars away into the stratosphere?

Maybe it's time this culture quit idolozing plutocrats and tycoons? Ya think? Or do you still think these Pimps of Mammon are swell, all-American guys? Y'all still buy that bullshit that these CEO swine are just a buncha honest-as-the-day-is-long, super-rich, flag-wavin' squirrels just tryin' to get a nut like the next guy, don't you?

No wonder this fucking pig is all smiles; he's the head of a company that pocketed $36 billion dollars in pure profit last year -- the biggest year-end cash harvest throughout the history of human civilization -- and he's taking a cool $400-mil back to his mansion on the hill while the vast majority of Americans pony up to get a cold hydrocarbon enema at their friendly neighborhood Exxon station.

Yeah, we all know why Lee's such a happy guy, don't we, America?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sonic Wind

Well, I got the new Calexico album this week. Garden Ruin, it's called.

Boy, I'll say...

I have to admit that I'm not too impressed with their latest platter. They've traded in almost all of their border-town noir, dusty ambience, and high-desert surrealism for vaguely interesting, singer-songwriter/adult-alternative blandness. Of course, they'll never be able to completely ditch their roots -- there's still a nice, southwestern flavor to a few of the songs. But, listening to Garden Ruin is like listening to somebody from the deep south who's trying to cover up their accent in order to seem more cosmopolitan.

Anyway, here you go: another damned Top Twenty Songs of the Moment:

01) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - No Need to Cry
02) Calexico - Ballad of Cable Hogue
03) Hank Williams - Lost Highway
04) Social Distortion - Ring of Fire
05) Pell Mell - American Eagle
06) The Clash - Brand New Cadillac
07) The Rolling Stones - All Down the Line
08) The International Submarine Band - Luxury Liner
09) Junior Brown - Sugarfoot Rag
10) The Flatlanders - Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown
11) R.E.M. - World Leader Pretend
12) Los Lobos - Las Amarillas
13) Luna - I Can't Wait
14) Teenage Fanclub - Alcoholiday
15) The Rolling Stones - Dead Flowers
16) The Band - Across the Great Divide
17) X - The Call of the Wreckin' Ball
18) Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
19) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - Mood to Burn Bridges
20) Faces - You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, or Anything

Bonus Track: Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)

Saturday, April 15, 2006


You ever stop to wonder what might happen if you took Camper Van Beethoven and The Pogues, stuck 'em in a blender, and Osterized 'em but good?

If you like the idea of a Slavic gypsy-punk band who are heavily into Russian wedding tunes, Bertolt Brecht, and vodka, then Gogol Bordello will drop-kick you over the moon.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Nobody Told Me There'd Be Days Like These

Oh my God, I made a mix! Oh my God! Beck, Beck, Beck!

Here you go: a bunch of songs not for the asking: my top 50 tunes of the moment, in no order other than alphabetical by song title.

Snicker away...

01) Frank Black - (I Want to Live on an) Abstract Plain
02) U2 - A Sort of Homecoming
03) The Who - Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
04) Paul Westerberg - As Far as I Know
05) Big Star - Back of a Car
06) Social Distortion - Bad Luck
07) Urge Overkill - Bottle of Fur
08) Luna - California (All the Way)
09) The Mamas & the Papas - California Dreaming
10) Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars
11) The Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait
12) The Flying Burrito Brothers - Christine's Tune (Devil in Disguise)
13) Matthew Sweet - Come to California
14) The Posies - Definite Door
15) R.E.M. - Driver 8
16) The Yardbirds - For Your Love
17) Neil Young With Crazy Horse - Fuckin' Up
18) Led Zeppelin - Gallows Pole
19) Pearl Jam - Given to Fly
20) The Rolling Stones - Happy
21) The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Highway Child
22) Pearl Jam - I Got Shit
23) Wilco - I Must Be High
24) Frank Black & the Catholics - I Need Peace
25) U2 - In God's Country
26) Cracker - Let's Go for a Ride
27) Frank Black - Los Angeles
28) The Creation - Making Time
29) Led Zeppelin - Misty Mountain Hop
30) John Lennon - Nobody Told Me
31) Pell Mell - Nothing Lies Still Long
32) Loretta Lynn & Jack White - Portland Oregon
33) Led Zeppelin - Ramble On
34) Pavement - Range Life
35) Social Distortion - Ring of Fire
36) Chris Cornell - Seasons
37) Matthew Sweet - Sick of Myself
38) The Beach Boys - Sloop John B
39) Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant - Stratosphere Boogie
40) Mudhoney - Suck You Dry
41) Junior Brown - Sugarfoot Rag
42) R.E.M. - Texarkana
43) The Beatles - The Ballad of John and Yoko
44) Grandaddy - The Crystal Lake
45) Johnny Cash - The Rebel - Johnny Yuma
46) The Band - The Weight
47) Jerry Garcia - The Wheel
48) Meat Puppets - Up on the Sun
49) Dinosaur Jr. - Whatever's Cool With Me
50) Bob Dylan - When I Paint My Masterpiece

I sense a curtain call coming on...

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Truth Is Out There

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Truth Unveiled by Time (1645-52)

Time and again, when creationists try to "disprove" the validity of Darwinian evolution, they tend to fall back on arguments that are vague enough to not be dismissed outright. One of the classic "lines" parrotted by creationists, when the truthfulness of Genesis is called into question, is that "no one knows how God measures time", therefore cosmology and evolutionary theory don't invalidate the Biblical creation myth.

If nobody knows how God measures time, then it stands to reason that the mind of God, to some extent, must be unknowable to man. How is it, then, that believers in Christianity and interpreters of the Bible can claim such confidence in their explication of the will of God when something so elementary -- such as understanding how God marks the passage of time -- lies beyond the reach of human comprehension?

No matter how loosely one reads Genesis, the Biblical assertion that the world was created in six days simply cannot be reconciled with the fact that this planet is approximately 4.5 billion years old. To concede this fact by saying that "nobody knows what a year is to God" means that you cannot dismiss the possibility that every other "truth" contained in the Bible is either, at best, incomplete or, at worst, utterly false.

If this is the case, then the imperfection of scripture raises two possibilities: either the men who wrote the scriptures were inaccurately reporting the word of God, or God Himself is fallible. If the former is the case, then it suggests that there can be no factual, authoritative basis for Biblical notions such as creationism because the Bible itself represents an erroneous interpretation of the word of God. (Of course, this assumes that the mind of God can be known to mere mortals.) If the latter is closer to the truth, then how can a fallible being be celebrated as a supreme, omniscient deity? If the ramblings of a flawed and lesser deity are the basis for Christian scripture, then it follows that the Bible cannot be the ultimate source for natural or moralistic truths.

Such arrogant confidence in the "truth" of one religion versus science or even other religions is completely unfounded and wildly irrational. Scientists are painted as foolhardy elitists simply because the burden of proof falls on the side of reason. Scientific facts are earned, not created, through strict adherence to the scientific method and rational agnosticism. Science progresses and evolves, not due to blind faith or dogmatic adherence to doctrine, but through skepticism, exhaustive analysis, and a willingness to abandon disproven notions in the service of furthering humanity's understanding of "natural truths."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Meet the Bassamander

Newfound Fossil Is Transitional between Fish and Landlubbers

Paleontolologists working in the Canadian Arctic have discovered the fossilized remains of an animal that elucidates one of evolution's most dramatic transformations: that which produced land-going vertebrates from fish. Dubbed Tiktaalik roseae, the large, predatory fish bears a number of features found in four-limbed creatures, a group known as tetrapods.

Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago and his colleagues found Tiktaalik on Ellesmere Island, some 600 miles from the North Pole, in deposits dating to 375 million years ago. Like all fish, Tiktaalik possesses fins and scales. But it also has a number of distinctly un-piscine characteristics, including a neck, a flat, crocodilelike skull, and robust ribs. As such Tiktaalik neatly fills the gap between previously known tetrapodlike fish such as Panderichthys, which lived some 385 million years ago, and the earliest tetrapods, Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, which lived about 365 million years ago. "Tiktaalik blurs the boundary between fish and land animals," Shubin observes. "This animal is both fish and tetrapod; we jokingly call it a 'fishapod.'"

Especially significant is the anatomy of Tiktaalik's pectoral fin, which contains the makings of a proper tetrapod arm. Thanks to the spectacular three-dimensional preservation of the bones--many of which were found still articulated--and the discovery of multiple specimens, the researchers were able to estimate the range of motion of the fin bones. "Most of the major joints of the fin are functional in this fish," Shubin notes. "The shoulder, elbow and even parts of the wrist are already there and working in ways similar to the earliest land-living animals." Tiktaalik, the scientists believe, used its fins to support its body on a substrate.

That doesn't mean Tiktaalik was primarily a fish out of water, however. Today Ellesmere Island is the icy dominion of the polar bear. But 375 million years ago, as part of a supercontinent that straddled the equator, it was a subtropical delta. Based on the sedimentological profile of the rock in which Tiktaalik was found, the team posits that it spent most of its time in shallow water. "This kind of shallow stream system seems to be the place where many features of land living animals first arose," comments team member Ted Daeschler of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. ("Tiktaalik" is the local Inuktikuk word for a large freshwater fish seen in the shallows.)

Tiktaalik is already drawing comparisons to the iconic early bird, Archaeopteryx, for its explanatory power as a transitional fossil. But it certainly leaves room for more discoveries, especially those bridging the new gap between it and the first tetrapods, along with those that contain clues to the origin of the tetrapod hindlimb. Two papers detailing the findings, as well as an accompanying commentary, appear today in Nature. --Kate Wong