Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chicago study calls Taser's safety claims into question


Tazers aren't safe? You DON'T Say!


The Graphic is COPYRIGHT! BY ME.
Don't touch. I'll make you one. If I see this elsewhere, I'll charge you royalties!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The List According to Mark Morford

I recently made a very happy discovery. A fellow runner, Greg Kuhl, who is in my 1/2 marathon group, recently revealed himself to be a writer. This does not exactly describe him, as he is a very prolific and regularly published, writer from the US.

He has a delicious, trivia-filled mind and happens to be on the same page as I am regarding a variety of issues, including politics and religion. He also runs just at my pace, which is great, 'cause he lets me chew his ear off when it's not too cold to talk and run at the same time (it was -47 today with windchill and we're in the southern part of our area - about 3 hours north of the 49th. If you werent' sure how HARDY we Canadians are, that should pretty much tell you).

He's been forwarding me these great columns by Mark Morford and, as I really like lists, I'm reprinting this one.

I like most of it but I disagree with Mark's point on the so-called "war on christmas." The sooner that beast is slain, the more fun we're all going to have NOT spending our money on crap nobody wants to celebrate the birthday of someone well dead - and who may never have even existed... but I digress...

Here's Mark's column.

Friday, January 25, 2008 (SF Gate)
29 things to be happy about
Yes, it's all doom and gloom and war and global warming and Bush. Except when it's not

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Happiness knows no particular order, and neither does this list:

1) We may very well, within a year's time, have a black president. We may have a female president. We may, unfortunately, also have a bizarre robotic nutball Mormon president. No matter how it turns out, it will be very strange and unnerving and different and a bit startling and therefore at least remotely interesting to watch. Which, you have to admit, is far better than how it's been for the past seven years, which is utterly humiliating, repellent, cancerous.

2) Here is this ingenious new alarm clock. It has an Internet connection that hooks directly into your bank account. If you oversleep, it begins to withdraw funds from your account. And donate them. To groups you really, really despise. Ten minute over snooze? Fifty bucks goes to the GOP. Oversleep a half an hour? There goes $100 to the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, the Bush Presidential Library (for all the crayons). Sleep till noon? Five hundred bucks to the Aryan Nation or National Right to Life or the Lindsay Lohan Cocaine Fund. Because nothing is more motivating than abject hate. Except, of course, abject love. But that's a completely different gizmo.

3) You're not imagining it. Your intuition was completely correct. Tom Cruise really is insane. Also, it is a safe bet that Tom and Jerry O'Connell will not be working together anytime soon.

4) Women and minorities appear to be galvanized by Hillary Clinton's presidential run. Youth and college-educated voters appear to be galvanized by Barack Obama's. No one at all is truly, deeply galvanized by Mitt Romney or John McCain or crazy little Mike Huckabee, and everyone is generally repulsed by the fetid little tyrant that is Rudy Giuliani. All of this, remarkably, seems just about exactly as it should be.

5) There is apparently a fairly good argument to be made as to why Google - a 10-year-old company worth $100 gabillion that's run by a pair of geeky 35-year-olds who still, to this day, in just about every photo, look like they can't believe this is all really happening to them - should buy the New York Times. Which seems, at first glance, totally insane. Then it quickly begins to make perfect sense.

Then you're like, wait a sec, you know what? Screw the Gray Lady; Google should buy General Motors, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft and Dow and Viacom and pretty much all of North Korea and just wipe them all away and replace them with nice organic flowerpots and solar farms and really big trampolines. How much better! (Note to Google: Forget the NYT. Please buy The San Francisco Chronicle. Way cheaper. Plus, we're local. I would very much like to eat free sushi in your amazing cafeteria every day. Thank
you.)

6) Gentle Giants rescue.

7) "I Don't Want to Blow You Up!" is a new children's book by the author of "It's Just a Plant" ( a children's story about marijuhana) It dares to tell children that the vast majority of scarf/turban/headband/burqa-wearing peoples in the world do not, in fact, wish to bomb them, eviscerate them, eat their brains with a rhino horn or hang them upside down and steal their Playstation 3 and rape their dog. Despite what Bill O'Reilly's children's book says.

8) Britain has officially dropped the "War on Terror" label, given how, well, it's not really a war, given how most terrorists are not exactly highly organized armies of well-trained soldiers and are, instead, mostly scattershot clusters of insane fanatical murderers and suicidal religious mutants, and should be treated that way. The war on Christmas, now that's a real war.

9) TheAtlantic.com is now free. No more paid subscriptions to gain access to its excellent archives and full-length pieces. Upside: You can now read David Foster Wallace's brilliant 2005 piece on right-wing radio. Downside: the giant, throbbing mixed blessing that is Andrew Sullivan's blog.

10) Dolphins love sex. Frequent, kinky, aggressive, even violent. Homosexual, bisexual, incestuous, you name it. Sometimes with other species. Sometimes gang-rape style. Sometimes in frothy orgies. Sometimes (sort of) with humans. Yes, dolphins.

11) This just in: The cosmos is actually filled with supermassive black holes. It is also packed with dark energy, a very strange and mysterious material that appears to be pushing out the edges of the universe at a faster and faster rate and no one knows why, or what the hell dark energy actually is or how it works and it might all merely point to the overwhelming fact that the universe is, in truth, a giant, random, unpredictable mindf- of a place that's not even really a place at all, but more of a concept, a theory, a wicked delicious shaman's peyote dream and consequently its mysteries can never be "solved" and its cosmic messages never fully decoded and therefore you get to sit back right now and take a deep breath and exhale very slowly, and smile, safe in the knowledge that we actually know very, very little about anything, and we always will.

12) You can now study, in academic circles, the glory that is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

13) The pollutive factories, the mountains of plastic, the enormous carbon footprint, the illusion of better taste, the myth of health. Yes, people seem to be waking up to the giant $15 billion sham that is the bottled water industry. Fact: The EPA's regulations for tap water are actually more stringent than the FDA's rules for bottled water. Solution: Filter your own tap water, get a Sigg. Easy.

14) Dude, like, did your dad just post a message on your FaceBook wall? Is that your mom texting you from her iPhone? Yo, brah, is that your grandma doin' the jitterbug on her own MySpace page? Dude, WTF are all these old people doing all over the Web 2.0?

15) RU-486, that very safe, woman-empowering drug from France that induces a very early stage abortion, is proving to be a quiet, revolutionary, highly personal and yet very effective giant middle finger to the misogynistic Christian right, much of Congress and about half the Supreme Court.

16) Hormone-free, grass-fed beef really does taste better. Organic food really is healthier. Tell everyone you know.

17) Absinthe.

18) Whiskipedia.

19) Drawn!

20) Gary Vaynerchuk.

21) The disappearing car door.

22) Arts & Letters Daily.

23) Cate Blanchett.

24) Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain."

25) Abstinence education is, of course, a dismal failure.

26) Karl Rove is gone. Trent Lott is gone. Rick Santorum is gone. Richard Pombo is gone. Sweet Jesus, a whole rancid stew of hardcore Bushites has vanished like rat-tailed thugs from a murder scene, leaving behind all manner of shrapnel and smoking craters and karmic wreckage for the next wave of politicos to try and clean up. But hey, at least they're gone.
Mostly.

27) Gay couples are just as committed in their relationships as anyone else, and are often more satisfied. I know, big shock. Will these two new studies matter a whit to the right-wing homophobes who ignore all such studies, including those that have proven, say, that the adopted kids of gay couples turn out just fine, or that married gays don't actually cause riots, floods, or Ebola virus outbreaks? Of course not. No matter. Still good fuel for the fight.

28) A whopping 84 percent of Americans claim to be somewhere between "pretty happy" and "very happy." No, no one knows what sort of crack they're smoking. I mean, haven't they all seen the global warming? The imminent apocalypse? The staph infections and the drug-resistant bacteria and the Islamo-fascists and Dick Cheney's black and vile stare? Why all the happiness? It is because of all the Prozac? Or is it because of No. 29?

29) 1.20.09.

Thoughts about this column? E-mail Mark.

Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. To get on the e-mail list for this column, please click here and remove one article of clothing.

Mark's column also has an RSS feed and an archive of past columns, which includes another small photo of Mark potentially sufficient for you to recognize him in the street and give him gifts. He also has a raw Facebook page, but has little idea why.

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Copyright 2008 SF Gate

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Step parents and disrespect

How is it so many step parents do not understand that "step" is closer to "interim" or "momentary" than it is to "step in to someone else's shoes"? In old English, the word referred to bereavement or deprivation.

In my case, I have not ceased to exist, nor have I even remotely - like a billion time less than .0000000000090% remotely - stopped being the MAIN parent in my children's lives. I am also the foundation for these, well, orders: 'THINK for yourself" and "Challenge Everything."

So, when the step parent in my children's lives, who would very much like to have some respect, repeatedly disrespects my brilliant, thinking ADULT children by foisting off her inane brand of insanity (religion) on them, despite their repeated requests that she stop, I get a little hot.... It's way worse when I know more about what's going on with her kids at their universities than she does.... but I digress....

I have no particular quarrel with her having religion. I personally think religion is an absolute poison that blinds a person to reality and stifles their ability to love, live and reason. But that's my philosophy. I don't care if anyone else agrees with me.

She, on the other hand, is intent on foisting her stupid, childish 'faith' off on my children, who have patiently explained that it isn't something they're interested in or are going to come to or accept or whatever it is she wants of them.

Worse, her spouse, my X, not only participates in this lunacy, he also will not listen to his children when they say that his and his wife's religion and their determination to choke my children on it are spoiling an already distant relationship.

I am convinced that several really traumatic, damaging events in my X spouse's life have been quite conveniently covered up in the name of being the eldest son in a good, church-going family that not only doesn't talk about such things, they simply pretend they didn't happen, despite the wide-reaching damage done to at least three little boys and probably closer to five or six. I'm boggled by his commitment to a life in an open-topped, glass box called religion, all things considered.

Today this step parent forwarded a clip from the bizarre and weird GodTube. I would be writing 24 hours a day for the next month if I were to start pointing out the abject horror of logic that site is. Worried about indoctrination of children? Well here you go; GodTube is as base and scary and mind-warping as anything the Scientolgists can throw at you.

I'd contact this step-person directly but, well, suffice to say, I'm incapable of doing it for several reasons; mostly because I already question the sanity of someone who would marry my X - I certainly questioned my own for a few years - but more of someone who is perfectly capable of living a good, moral and logical life but chooses a demonstrably false paradigm by which to abandon her right to self determination.

Another reason is that I am fully aware that most 'religious people' are logical somewhere in their being and in order to force that logic down, they resort to intense verbal defensiveness when anyone touches that very tender spot they hide. In short, I don't want to be on the hot end of the defensive blast that's sure to occur were I to ask this insensitive person to quit.

But whatever. I don't actually care about that. I care only that each time she/they forward their ridiculous crap to my children, they further drive in the wedge of alienation between them and my very intelligent, world-minded girls.

Madam, if your religion and your "personal relationship" with the definitely-dead and probably never-existent Christ of the hilariously-impossible 'virgin' birth are more important than a logical, real relationship with my two children, then all I can say is it's absolutely your loss. But at least you spouses are equally yolked with the suffocating noose that is religion....

It is sickening and sad.