Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Conclusion

EvolutionBlog has the conclusion of the ID conference.

Darwin and Design in Knoxville, Conclusion
I walked back to the convention center with the sixteen year old. The rest of the posse went a different direction. He seemed keen to persuade me of the absurdity of attributing consciousness to the purely physical properties of the brain. The most interesting part of this conversation was his complete confidence that animals, not even chimpanzees, are not conscious. “That's what it means to say we are created in God's image,” he informed me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Doctors, are the ALL so smart?


As a general rule we all have a good deal of respect for doctors. They put a lot of time and energy into reaching their status, and invest in maintaining their acumen.

But, sometimes it is wise to be cautious. Their are the quacks, selling false dreams and usually causing more than none. And then you have those who get to those letters after their name by lying, just so they can support pseudoscience. And then you have the sort who do the hard work and get to be doctors, then they embrace pseudoscience.

One such is Dr. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon at SUNY Stony Brook. And like some opthamologists, he has an strong opinion on the lie of evolution. As a doctor, willing to go out and, unfortunately for him, tilt at all too real windmills, he has a bit of fame in the ID community. In fact, he has become a good buddy and confident to DI, the Discovery Institute.

So what is he saying?

From Panda's Thumb, Egnor:
Doctors don’t study evolution. Doctors never study it in medical school, and they never use evolutionary biology in their practice. There are no courses in medical school on evolution. There are no ‘professors of evolution’ in medical schools. There are no departments of evolutionary biology in medical schools. No Nobel prize in medicine has ever been awarded for work in evolutionary biology. [Therefore, evolutionary] biology isn’t important to modern medicine. (Quotes are excerpted.)

Doctors don't learn about evolution, or need to...SIGH!

Panda's Thumb will explain how ass backward this guy is on this.

And...again here.

PZ Meyer looks at his ridiculous Darwin - Genetics allegations.

For a sharper view, from a neurologist who actually has an appreciation, not fear, of science - Steven Novella (somehow I dodn't bother to double check the spelling before), of NESS and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

Two people. People who delved into neurology. One is for ID, and one is for the scientifically supported evolution theory. One pulling arguments from his backside, who is running from answers. And, one who is looking for good arguments, research, and the next break (for or against his preferences). Guess which is a good scientists? By which I mean a proper one.

Just a quick medical anecdote to develop this point further- I train fellows in neuromuscular disease, a subspecialty of neurology. They are already fully trained neurologists and are now spending a year focusing on this one area. About half way through the year fellows often realize that, prior to their fellowship, they thought they understood neuromuscular disease, but now that they studied it in more detail they realize how much they didn’t know. That’s when I tell them that they have to extrapolate this experience to the rest of their medical knowledge (and beyond). There is just as much that they don’t know in all the other subspecialties that they are not doing fellowships in. It’s a humbling experience. Detailed knowledge in one area should make us appreciate the potential depth of knowledge (and therefore our own ignorance) in other areas. Dr. Egnor, apparently, never learned this lesson.

The other point I want to discuss is illustrative of what I am saying above. The primary scientific point of discussion is that of information theory. ID’ers like to claim that information theory disproves evolution, and they further claim that evolutionists cannot answer fundamental questions about the increase of genetic information over evolutionary time and so they avoid the topic. What rot! Again – answers are all over the internet.


But there is enough complexity in all of this that if someone smart and eloquent – like ID’ers Behe or Demski – want to create confusion they easily can. They pull an intellectual three card monte and the evolutionary rubes buy it.

Now I don’t blame the rank and file for not having read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on evolution. But I do blame them for thinking they deserve to have an opinion if they haven’t – an opinion not borrowed from the scientific consensus, which would be reasonable, but one which assumes that the scientific consensus is not only wrong but stupid. The reason for such outrageous hubris is ideology.

Dr. Egnor has given us yet another example of how when ideology trumps science and reason the result is not pretty. Combine that with a touch of arrogance and you create an embarrassment. But so far Dr. Egnor seems not to grasp the folly of his situation. He has said that if someone proves him wrong (talking about his claim that there is no evidence that evolution can increase the amount of genetic information over time) he will acquiesce. Well, he has been proven wrong. We’re waiting.

The logic of arguments, and their fallacies.

Steve Novella, of NESS, and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, has a good article on How to Argue.

A guide to examining the premises and logic of arguments - including a list of logical fallacies.

Arguing is one of those activities most people do but few people do well. Many do not understand what a logical argument even is or how to do it correctly. Yet arguing is an essential skill of critical thinking. How we argue reflects how we think, how we evaluate our own conclusions, and how we challenge the beliefs of others.

Darwin and Design on EvolutionBlog

Jason Rosenhouse, at EvolutionBlog, went and checked out an ID (Intelligent Design) extraveganza down Knoxville, Tennessee.

It is lain out so far in 4 parts.

Darwin and Design in Knoxville, Part One
The ID folks put on one of their dog and pony shows in Knoxville, TN this weekend. My curiosity piqued, I decided to check it out.

Darwin and Design in Knoxville, Part Two
At this point Strobel and Meyer left the stage. The room grew dark, and a video came on the large screen to my left. It was an excerpt from the The Privileged Planet, based on the book of the same title. The book was written by astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and theologian Jay Richards, and represented yet another gloss on the fine-tuning argument.

Darwin and Design in Knoxville, Part Three
Stephen Meyer was next up. Strobel and Richards played their parts well, but, let's face it, the conference thus far had mostly been amateur hour. Strobel stepped in it every time he mentioned something vaguely scientific, but he's not exactly thrust forward as one of the major intellects of the ID movement. Richards presented his goofy argument with sufficient eloquence, but there was too little of substance in his presentation to make him worth too much emotional energy.

Darwin and Design in Knoxville, Part Four
So I'm standing on line at Subway, contemplating the very long wait between me and my turkey on wheat, when I happen to overhear part of the conversation going on among the people immediately in front of me. There were four people, an older woman and three teenagers. At this point I thought the woman was the mother of the three teens, but later I would learn they were not related.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

I hear by pronounce you Not-A-Christian

I came across this story earlier, but I like PZ Meyers take on it.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

A the kiss of death in politics. Worse then being Jewish or Muslim, or...Atheistic. The Not-A-Christian.

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

So he is this because, he doesn't annoy people on planes about his faith, doesn't shove down peoples throats at every microphone or camera he meets, and he didn't go and take the Dobson's How Christian are you? test in last month's Cosmopolitan.

PZ Meyer:
I have to marvel at that. Suddenly, the ranks of the un-Christians have swollen immeasurably; a lot of the people I honestly like who go to church but aren't jerks about their religion, i.e., they don't proselytize, have been excommunicated by Pope Dobson, and are on my side in the War Against Religion. I have suddenly learned that none of the members of my family are Christians anymore — they may be a bit shocked to hear that, since they still go to church...


Any of you readers who are not true Christians in the eyes of Dobson might as well give it up now and join me in total godlessness. When the Republic of Gilead is established and the Dobsonites run the country, you're going to be up against the wall with the rest of us heretics, anyway.

Creating life, old style

Scientific America is doing an interesting story on experiments delving into the origins of life on Earth.

A Frankensteinesque contraption of glass bulbs and crackling electrodes has produced yet another revelation about the origin of life. The results suggest that Earth's early atmosphere could have produced chemicals necessary for life—contradicting the view that life's building blocks had to come from comets and meteors.

It is an interesting look, as the researches fine tune and modify the experimental enviroment and the hurdles that kept lifes Alpha from ending up as our Omega.

Bada discovered that the reactions were producing chemicals called nitrites, which destroy amino acids as quickly as they form. They were also turning the water acidic—which prevents amino acids from forming. Yet primitive Earth would have contained iron and carbonate minerals that neutralized nitrites and acids. So Bada added chemicals to the experiment to duplicate these functions. When he reran it, he still got the same watery liquid as Miller did in 1983, but this time it was chock-full of amino acids.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

McCain wants to say what needs to be said... win the argument.

Sen. John McCain in the past few years, but a hard press this last day, has made a lot of claims about Iraq. He has been claiming that things are going amazingly well in Iraq. He says much of Baghdad is safe. He says the US military leader rides around the city in an unarmored vehicle, cause things are just so safe.

Suffice to say, people in country have been at a loss as to what the hell McCain in talking about.

In the Green Zone. the safe of the safe zones in the country has new rules in place, like no one without flack jackets outside. Also, no congregating at certain former party spots.

That doesn't sound so good.

And then on the military leader in Iraq, General Patraeus.
I checked with General Petraeus' people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up armored Humvee. You also told Bill Bennett on his radio program on said there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhood today, yet retired General Barry McCaffrey said no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection.

So where the hell is McCain getting his info? Maybe he's going to whatever source Bush goes to, in the hopes it'll make him president.

Climate always sunny and calm for the White House

From the ABC News The Blotter:
Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject.

Researchers for the non-profit watchdog Government Accountability Project reviewed thousands of e-mails, memos and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and from government whistle-blowers and conducted dozens of interviews with public affairs staff, scientists, reporters and others.

The group says it has identified hundreds of instances where White House-appointed officials interfered with government scientists' efforts to convey their research findings to the public, at the behest of top administration officials.


"The evidence suggests that incidents of interference are often top-down reactions to science that has negative policy or public relations implications for the administration," the group says in its report.

Nice. So impuning those that bring up the inconvient points about our impact on the environment, and makinb specious counterclaims on the science just ain't enough.

Stifling the discourse is also needed, apparently.

Some of the alleged interference -- including restricting scientists' ability to talk with the press and Congress -- may have violated federal laws protecting their right to speak, the group concludes.

"Directives and signals" from White House offices, like the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, are handed down to political appointees and politically-aligned civil servants through off-the-record conversations, the report says. Frequently, those giving the direction have little or no scientific background, according to the report.

The alleged interference took the form of "delaying, monitoring, screening, and denying interviews" between government scientists and media outlets, as well as delaying, denying or "inappropriate[ly] editing" press releases conveying scientific findings to the public.

Political appointees also suppressed, delayed and inappropriately edited reports produced by government scientists for Congress and the public, the Washington, D.C.-based group concluded.

In some cases, the policies and practices the group says were enacted to squelch damaging scientific information "constitute constitutional and statutory infringements of the federal climate science employees' free speech and whistle-blower rights," the report finds.


Tarek Maassarani, the report's author, cautioned that he did not see evidence of a single coordinated White House effort to block credible climate research. Instead, he believed officials acted only when a piece of research or particular issue showed up on their political radar. "They're reacting to situations most of the time," Maassarani told ABC News.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The GOD simulator

Here is a fun little simulator.

The God Simulator

It took me awhile to get through. I kept finding everlasting peace and joy. It was hard to make the right decisions to lead to a dark and nasty end times.

It ain't easy being God. But it is good to be 'da King.

What is said in the army...

Comments from Army recruiter Marcia Ramode:
When Andrew informed Ramode that he is gay, and believed that the DADT policy was wrong, the two engaged in a three-day email exchange that included statements by Ramode, in her official capacity as a recruiter, that boggle the mind. (Jersey Journal):

Jersey City resident Corey Andrew, after Ramode learned Andrew was gay.

This from a person acting as a representative of the US armed forces. This following on the comments of General Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we
should not condone immoral acts.

So what is the deeper result, deeper affect?

What does the top man in the military freely spouting like this say? What about when recruiters are open and proudly passionate about this hatred and bigotry?

Well, remember what happen when those academy kids were watching 24? Remember the military officials zealously trying to get in to talk with the shows producers? The hope that they could convince them to change the positive way it always shows torture? The trouble as the military kids were convinvced by it that torture was cool and effective?

Well, now go back and consider when the leadership and PR people of spout bigotry so openly. What does that say to the rank and file?

Doesn't make me feel good in the least.


BREAKING NEWS! Dennis Miller isn't funny...and Franco's still dead.
That is an old joke. but it gives me more of a laugh then Dennis Miller. I remember once finding him humorous. He did obscure pop and historic references, peppered around simple cultural commentary. It wasn't the greatest stuff, but fun and times.
But, as most of us have seen, he ain't been funny for years. Is it 9-11, or ages? I can't say for sure.
But watching his tonight in The Daily Show, it is clear he is just not funny.
He made some obscure references, but the focus was on the fact Democrats suck. Pelosi blinks. Byrd's old. Reid's dead. YAWN!
That stuff can be funny. Sure, it can be. But you see clearly that that is the sole focus for Miller. What about Boehner, the name alone. Or, how about Hastert or Delay? Nope. All his venom is for one party. And it is venom. He hates them. It is like listening to Limbaugh mock Michael J. Fox or the Elizabeth Edwards. Or, O'Reilly call for boycotts and misfortune. Their is no mirth or real humor. Just hate.
Which is why is not in Stewart's or Colbert's league. They have a sense of humor and a zeal to go after any side.
And that is why we can usually find Miller doing conservative meeting, Republican get togethers, and political campaign stops. He has found his niche.

Snow dealing with resurgence.

Sadly, he has has a resurgence of his colon cancer. He is a mouthpiece for a corrupt admin, but cancer is one of those illnesses and events in life where we all have to pause. It is a thing you don't poke at or wish on people.
I hope for the best for him.

The Horror of YouTube


Here are a couple of the bad things you can find online, via YouTube.

Peanut Butter and Bananas. You'll never look at them the same again. Not now that you learn that they are the clearest proof ever that evolution is a lie and we are partaking in a Christian world

Who knew?

Thanks Kirk freakin' loon.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A trip to the Emerald City

Crooks and Liars has an interesting review of Imperial Life In The Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

This week marks the four-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Here's what we're celebrating: Four years of bloody occupation. Four years of military incompetence. Four years of barbaric savagery. Four years of torture. Four years of U.S. crimes against humanity. Four years of Orwellian insanity.

Twenty years after the end of the Vietnam War (which the Vietnamese call the American War) Vietnamese officials informed former Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara that they would have fought us until the end of time if necessary, as we were invaders to their beloved homeland.

Ask yourself this:

If you were a young patriotic Iraqi, wouldn't you be part of the so-called insurgency? Wouldn't you fight an occupying army in your own country? If so, for how long? Until you saw the light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps?

Today there is very little light at the end of the Iraq tunnel. Maybe that limited light should be used to read this riveting work of non-fiction.


Purity Ball!...See, it makes it's own jokes.

Bill Mahr, on Real Time, is the latest to come to notice these Purity, that name.

This is where dads get all prepped up in finery, daughters get in gowns, and they go to a prom of sorts. At the prom, dad gives daughter a ring, and she swears off sex until marriage.

Let's just call this what it is, an interim marriage agreement. Daughter pledges to love, honor, and obey (Dad says no sex, so no sex.) dad, until death (marriage).


So the Christian men's groups are getting to be more and more about being manly men of God (You know, He-Men, like Jesus.). And now they are expanding to marrying their daughters. You've come a long way Christianity. Good job.

But here is some of the earlier work on Purity Balls.

Daddy’s little hymen - The Dad Pledge
I, [daughter's name]'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

Hot Live Purity Ball Action - video from a Colorado Purity Ball.

ABC News - Teen Girls 'Date' Dad, Pledge Purity - Purity Balls Include Big Night Out With White Cake and Vows, but No Groom
Even ABC News seems notice the creepy.

The event shares all the hallmarks of a wedding: Vows are exchanged, a white cake is served and there is even a first dance. But at the beginning of the event instead of fathers giving away their daughters' hand, they're holding on tight.

The event's purpose is to celebrate father-daughter bonding, but the main focus of the evening is for the fathers and daughters to exchange pledges in an elaborate ceremony. Fathers vow to protect the girls' chastity until they marry, and the daughters promise to remain abstinent.

"[In] today's day and age, if the daughters are sexually active before they're married that ceremony really is meaningless because the father's not giving anyone away," says Angela's father, Bret Merkle.

Yeah, it is not supposed to be all about dad. DUH! Originally, dad's giving away daughters was about the political or land deals. But since then, it is about your daughter getting together with someone she loves and she wants to be with. Not about you. Sorry.

"I'm going to stay pure until I'm married and I'm not going to date or kiss a boy," says 12-year-old Sarah Merkle.

"I saw so many young girls get hurt by the whole dating process," her father explains. "People are just chasing after instinct, chasing after their pleasures and desires and that's going to sting in the end."

So the deal is signed all is set, but would dad still bitch about the HPV vaccine, somehow I think it still threatens him...I mean his daughter, of course.

Young women and some young men sign virginity pledges at churches, rallies or programs sponsored by groups such as True Love Waits, and the movement is growing. This is partly fueled by government support. The current Bush administration's annual funding for abstinence initiatives has more than doubled to around $200 million.

Yeah, that works so well. What was the affect again? A massive increase in oral sex, wasn't it?

But critics say if these girls are only learning abstinence, they're not being taught important information about STDs and condoms.

"I could see it winding up in more teenage pregnancies and that type of thing because they don't know everything that they need to know," comments Deanne Keegan, a South Dakota mother who counsels youth at her local church.

And that is the real tragedy of this control and paranoia about knowledge. This kids go into the world plum stupid.

The study examined the sex lives of 12,000 adolescents and found teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage have the same rates of sexually transmitted diseases as those who don't pledge abstinence.

But some fathers discount the studies, and think their relationship with their daughters will help them stay strong.

I don't want to dicount the value of a strong familial connection. It hepls. But it is not an end all, be all. Education is vital.

"We don't want them to be weird or to stand out in a bad way, but we believe with the right beliefs and attitudes … they can be different," Brett Merkle said. "There's lots of temptations in life and we're trying to teach our girls to be strong against those temptations and meet them with the appropriate behavior."

Yup. Cause it is all about daddy. Daddy will take care of it. Daddy will prevent it all. Girls don't need to know about STD's or other threats. Daddy's willpower will hold it all at bay.

Dads, you can't control them. You can't guarantee anything. Get them taught the science and health issues. Prep them, teach them, love them, and learn to trust and be there if things get rough for them. At some point you have to let go, and it really is not going to be when you hand them to another man to control.

THAT's being a DAD.

Blasphemy Challenge rejoinder

Greta Christina has a good response to those that seem to be upset that their religion is being questioned, and mocked by some. It seems some Christians don't care for the cavalier mocking and/or denouncing of the Christian Holy Spirit. It seems to really hurt them that some would go out of their way to belittle it. To think, some people don't respect Christianity. They can't handle the truth! Anyway...

Greta has something to say on that.

It is a long piece, but an interesting one.

Birthday wishes.

On March 26th, 1941, Richard Dawkins was born into this world. I'm not sure who he was a pain in the side of his first 20 years, but in the decades since he has been a thorn in the side of those seeking to deny scientific knowledge, and those looking to allow religion blind deference. Not to forget, a wonderful science writer, The Ancestors Tale is a must read.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Richard Dawkins!

May you peeve the right people off for another 66 years.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sexual Education

A couple of stories on being educated on sex.

HPV Vaccine:
Vaccine but not heard
American conservatives think laws that require STD vaccinations would endorse premarital sex. Why are cowardly lawmakers starting to agree?

A lot of this focuses on the teaching of and promoting of abstinence. These girls could be protected from a cancer. But the fact it needs to be given before sex ever occurs, it is tied to allowing them to have sex. Did I mention, it can prevent a form of CANCER!

Well, it is good to see where these groups and parent's priorities are.

More on abstisence ed:

Governor kinda sorta tells your daughter to run out and get knocked up, we swear
Ever wonder how abstinence-only “education”, which is only “education” if you thinking lying to someone and refusing to educate them about the facts is “education”, got any traction with voters at all?

Here’s a hint: It’s probably because people think the only other alternative is having the radical sexual mafia telling kids to go out and fuck immediately. Where do they get this impression? From the so-called liberal media. Check out this headline from the Cincinnati Enquirer, in a story that’s about Ted Strickland’s entirely reasonable rollback of education that doesn’t educate.


Why they didn’t just title this piece “Democratic Governor Wants Some Grubby Kid To Penetrate Your Daughter”, I don’t know.

Mother Load

The American Prospect is running a series of stories of women, family, and the workplace.

MOTHER LOAD - Why Can't America Have a Family-Friendly Workplace?

How many fingers?

An interesting piece on Skeptico (the one with the k is the bad one).

How do you prove photography to a blind man?

That was the question I was asked: how would you prove to a blind man, that photography exists?

I knew what he was getting at. We had been discussing psychics. He was a firm believer in psychic powers, had had psychic experiences, and regularly visited a psychic. His point was, since I had not experienced psychic powers, I would never be able to believe in what he “knew” to be true. You could never prove to a blind man that photography exists, and likewise no one would ever be able to demonstrate to me that psychic powers were real.

From here, they turns the argument on its ear.

First, they will show how in fact photography could be proven to exist through a long series of controlled tests run by the blind man.

Then, they take it farther. Offering the example as a way to show that, in fact, the failures of psychics is a valid reason to disbelieve.

It is a quite fun thought exercise and mental judo.

Wouldn’t the blind man say to all this, “why can’t you just tell me how many fingers I’m holding up?

They stick to you.

When people like Ann Coulter, Jerry Farwell, or Pat Robertson do or say something horrible, most conservatives shy away and say they have no connections to them, they are unimportant, they don't reflect their thinking.

Yet, they keep get invited back to parties, conventions, and find raisers. They are sought for money, support, and endorsements.

So, when conservatives try to shy away, it is time to say NO. NO, you take their money. NO, you go to them for photo ops. NO, you give them platforms to spout their hate.

We've seen a lot of Coulter nonsense, and we'v seen Falwell ass kissing.

Here is some Pat Robertson groveling.

Mitt Romney will be delivering a commencement address at Pat's Regent University.

Rudy Giuliani will stop by Regent to pay homage to Pat. He will be the featured speaker at the University's Executive Leadership Series on April 17.

John McCain sucks up to Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network on The Straight Talk Express bus, bleating about his need to garner the evangelical vote, and his courting of the fringe right. ("I have had meetings with [Southern Baptist Convention President] Dr. Richard Land. I have met with Reverend Jerry Falwell. I have had good conversations with [Evangelical leader] Reverend [John] Hagee. There are many others.")

Sam Brownback turned to CBN to accuse Mitt Romney not a genuine social conservative.

And the next time he calls for someone to die, or a city and its citizens to be wiped from the face of the Earth, they will laugh and shrug him off. No biggie. But they will go back, on their knees.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Looking at Lomborg

Evolutionblog has a look at Bjorn Lomborg.

He has a claim to fame through his work to discredit environmentalist, focusing on mythifying global warming. He's wrote the book, Skeptical Environmentalist. A grating thought as he is focused more on debunking by any means than actually just applying critical analysis. If your skepticism is indistingishable from the working of denialist...well, you know.

Speaking of cranks, all of the recent fuss over Al Gore's testimony to Congress on the subject of global warming has seen the revival of statistician Bjorn Lomborg. You might remember him as the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, the book that was going to set us all straight on the subject of environmentalism. According to Lomborg, everything is much better than we've been led to believe.

I only made it through about half of Lomborg's book before conking out. I was not really in a position to assess a lot of his claims. There were some crank warning signs, like the conversion story about how he used to be an environmentlaist until he took a sober look at the evidence, and the sweeping commentaries contradicting the conventional wisdom in scientific disciplines different from his own. But these were inconclusive.

I read many of the hostile reviews of the book. Some of them were incisive and compelling, but others were far longer on invective than they were on substance. So I left it as an open question whether or not Lomborg was a crank.

As he did in the New York Sun last month, Lomborg played a savage game of scientific apples-and-oranges, accusing Gore of “wild exaggeration” in the process. The UN said sea levels might rise one foot--but Gore said twenty feet, Lomborg railed!

Of course, as we've noted, Gore was talking about what will happen if the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets break away. By contrast, the UN report was predicting future sea levels if the ice sheets don't break off. (For the record, the UN report said that sea levels may rise by as much as 23 inches if the ice sheets remain intact.) Lomborg's presentation is baldly deceptive--a bald-faced scam on the American public. And no, it really doesn't make sense to think Lomborg doesn't know this.

So there was Lomborg, committing a crime against your nation's voters. But our sense of disturbance really took shape in the moments after his latest deception. Although the groaning problem with Lomborg's claim has been discussed at an array of web sites, Alan Colmes made no attempt to contradict his grossly misleading statement. Ditto Jon Coifman (the Natural Resources Defense Council), who was there to provide fairness-and-balance. (We'll post their “responses” tomorrow.)

Indeed, Lomborg's bald deception now rules discussion of this topic. In early February, he presented his utterly bogus claim in the pages of the New York Sun, where it would have done minimal damage. But last week, the New York Times' William Broad made a fateful decision; he wanted this nonsense in his paper too. So Broad used Lomborg's apples-for-oranges in his “Science Times” report about Gore. By yesterday, the Dane's poisoned fruit was being cited all over your struggling nation.

Global warming can be confusing. A lot of research is still needed. But results are coming in, confirming many troubling benchmarks. The fact many political and business interest are affected by what is happening makes it tougher. Businesses have been hiring scientist to muddy the water. If Lomborg wants to help, he should do more that just troubling the waters over minutia.

Health Care Forum

The Center for American Progress is holding a forum on Health Care.
[This] Saturday, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama, and Gov. Bill Richardson will be joining us for a special, live forum on health care. Please join us in this historic conversation.

Saturday, March 24th, 2007, 12:15 pm ET - Live at University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Watch A Live Video Webcast.

Submit Questions for the Candidates.

If you are interested in the health care issues, and you should be, it would be good to listen in and see what happens.

Friday, March 23, 2007

At look at Frank Miller's recent work.

Here are some looks at Frank Miller's recent work with Batman

All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder

Bet it sounds fin and exciting, and a classic sort of tale of team work and good old fashion fun.

You really don't know Frank Miller, do you?

A look at issue 1.

A loo at the issues use of the Vicki Vale character. You may remember her from the 1989 movie Kim Bassinger. But she has been around quite a while. She started as a feisty photojournalist dedicated to her stories, you know, like Lois Lane.

In the Miller vision, she is a bit different. How does she go. Well, how do you introduce a character like this? How about in her underwear prancing around a penthouse with the windows wide open, commenting on various heroic manhoods. PERFECT?

How do you draw this? Focus on her tuckus, OBVIOUSLY! And this piece has Miller's notes on how the artist should work. Ass shots. Focus on her thighs. Panels made up of her backside with word bubbles around it. Clearly, she is a key character to the story. A character with something to say, and bring the writer. Yeah, she is here for a reason. Pity it is just for an erection.

And there's more.

Pain Is One Hell Of A Motivator.

A look at issue 3.

Here we meet Black Canary. A great character. She goes back to the early days of the superheroes. She was in the background of that Power Girl image that I keep bring in up. She is a fighter, a damn good one. She is best known these days as the top operative in Birds of Prey, a female superhero ops team, lead by the former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. She kicks the toughest butts. And is a respected elder in the hero community.

So how does FRANK come at her?

-She is a bartender, in a slime pit where she is put upon and treated like meat.
-Okay? The costume comes from...?
-The fact it is a kinky Sin City! So they have the women dress in stilettos and fishnets, and masks.
-SIGH Fine. So she fights crime in secret, from the midst of the dreck, right?
-No, she just serves drinks and gets talked down to and objectified.
-Then she snaps.
-She had enough, right?

Captioned: "It's not the insults that these vermin pass off as flirtation. That's not what set her off. ... It's a man. That's what set her off. A single, solitary man. A man that's got her thinking all different. A man she's never even met."


Liam: "What's gone and gotten into your head, sweetheart?"

Canary: "... Batman."

So...why is she standing up for herself? Batman!
Why is she going out to fight? Batman!
Does she have any opinion on herself and her value. ...Batman?

That is obviously the only way for her to work in a Batman book...of course they have mentioned Superman, and he seemed to come to form without Batman kicking his butt into action. Oh, she's a girl...

...And we are talking Frank Miller.

How to portray women in comics.

I came across a couple of good pieces looking at how heroines of comics are drawn and put out there. They focus on the Power Girl work by artist Michael Turner, as seen down the blog.

Oh well, boys will by boys. Ain't they cute?
Here is a look that pulls up some of the boys, who are fans, who are trying to jump to the images defense and to the defense of similar work.

But to me the more important part is the closer look at the quality of drawing.

If you want to look and review it again, please do. I had trouble focusing, the point of focus is obvious, and it seems to have thrown of my ability to see the amazingly severe and scary physiological flaws in how the female form is shown.

If you look, you will notice that her breasts, while gigantic, are also, if real, firmly embedded in her ribs and the body cavity. And for that matter her right arm is very messed up and built..I don't know how to describe it. Then the classic and continuing problem with these like works. Where does she keep her internal organs. With that waste how can she have intestines, a stomach, kidneys, AND a liver? More to the point how can they in any way be healthy.

There are oddly "built" women. But this is a hero, a power house, a force to be reckoned with. And her we have a sickly fainting prone model with comedy implants.

Now Power Girl has been drawn well endowed for years now. And a well endowed hero ain't bad. But artists in the past had a habit of drawing her as a full figured woman as well, as if they studied the human form and in drawing her realized that for proportion sake she would needed to be bigger overall. And that has lead to a tall and muscular female figure. But in the past so many years, she has been shrunk and the artists are grabbing the mags fulls of models and that is where she is again. Small, vulnerable, shy, but often the breasts stay fully inflated.

I miss that old power girl.

But, really, she is only gone as long as the artists stick to the ribless/rib sticking out style. Come on artist, do some research...outside of porn.

The other piece.
Sexy, Not Sexist

It is a look at the same Power Girl image and a comparison to an Adam Hughes cover of Wonder Woman. It does celebrate WW beauty, but it also shows her as a living breathing being. She also seems much more real, with expressions and active eyes.

And that is the crux. These heroines are attractive. And there is nothing wrong in celebrating it. But looking at the two images side by side you can see the difference. One's a dull weak form, the other living active being. They are both selling some sex to an extent. Just one is also mocking.

SC, another state with a GREAT IDEA....YEESCH!

The South Carolina House passed a bill this week on the issue of women's reproductive rights.

A bill approved in the South Carolina House this week would force women to see a fetal ultrasound before they have abortions.

After three hours of passionate debate, the House voted 91-23 to require women to sign a statement swearing they had seen an ultrasound image of their fetus before getting an abortion.

A half-dozen other states offer ultrasound images to abortion patients, legislative staffers said. But those states do not require abortion patients view them.


And if you had any doubt that this law was about punishing women, and somehow making them “face” their transgression, check this out:

Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, railed against Republicans for opposing his amendment to exempt victims of rape and incest from the required ultrasound viewing.

This logic goes to show that this isn’t about making sure women are informed—it’s about punishing them. So women who were raped shouldn’t have to have their noses rubbed in their pregnancies and be punished any further--that’s just for the “bad” women who wanted to have sex. Ugh.

This is about punishment and shame.

This is about shoving their beliefs in women's faces, in the hopes of guilting them from their decision. Now this as an offer has some reason to it. If the person is wavering, they may want to look. Having the option available...still, it seems like a wedge, even then, to force more pressure and expectation on pregnant women. I can see writing the offer into law allows it to become a HARD offer.

What makes things worse is that now the women coming in have to pay for yet another procedure. As someone who, before surgery, needed to have an ultrasound done, it ain't cheap. So it is another hurdle, another cost, for those living on the lower end of the economy. So to force it is suspect. It offers no medical assistance, and frankly in the first trimester their is really nothing to see but a tiny blob.

It is a slow bleed by government, in the hopes it can make the option just painful enough to not be possible, but try and keep their hands reasonablly clean.

Bad timing in MO

In the wake of the Edwards' announcement of Elizabeth Edwards cancer return, the actions of Matt Blunt, Republican governor of Missouri, look all the worse.

Missouri Republican Governor Matt Blunt recently announced he's slashing funding for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide free cervical cancer and other health screenings to poor women in the state.

"Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic to access lifesaving tests," Blunt said in a written statement.

Except for the fact that the affected clinics don't even provide abortions. They do, however, provide cervical and breast cancer screenings -- about 1,500 a year -- paid for under the Show Me Healthy Women program. This just drives home the point that, even though anti-choicers love to characterize Planned Parenthood as an abortion provider only, their clinics primarily provide other types of reproductive and women's health care.

"Gov. Blunt's sudden decision to cut a 15-year partnership to prevent cancer in southwest Missouri is a shocking, misguided act driven by political ideology rather than sound health care delivery," [Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kellie] Rohrbaugh said in a written statement.

Blunt's timing is awful. Missouri is one of several states considering a bill to make the HPV vaccine (which prevents some types of cervical cancer) a school-entry requirement. If the bill manages to make it through the legislature and lands on Blunt's desk, he's going to face a lot of pressure from his conservative base to veto it.

Here's an idea for Blunt and other conservative governors: If they want to defuse some of the tension over the HPV vaccine, they should seriously step up the public funding for cervical cancer screenings and regular reproductive health care for low-income women. Not that screenings are a substitute for vaccination, but it would go a long way toward showing they aren't totally deaf to women's health concerns.

Sara Anderson has more.

Planned Parenthood. ACTUALLY learn what it is and what they do...before you start trying to dismantling it.

Germany seems to be embacing Islamic law.

Just as Merkle is ready to set out a Christian European constitution, her judicial systems seems to be embracing Islamic religious pracitces.

The hell?

A German judge has stirred a storm of protest here by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

Her husband is abusing her, she wants out and away from this guy fast, a complete cut. But wait! The Koran can tell us something here. OH! I bet this will be good.

...the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, said that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which she said it was common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote, sanctions such physical abuse.

WHAT! Some cultural milieu supports smacking women around, so Germany will stand up for it? WHAT! What about German law? This is happening in your jurisdiction. It isn't some story of diplomats gone bad. It is people who immigrated and accepted your legal system. And seeing as this guy grew up beating women and being told he was right, he gets to continue? WHAT!

News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts, and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put 7th-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of modern German law in deciding a case involving domestic violence.

Well it should get people ticked. Because putting outdated, backwards religious and cultural positions in your argument for ruling is idioctic and unconsciounable. Just as lame and troubling as an American judge putting scripture into his argument. Quoting a witty line is one thing, but basing arguments on them is another thing entitly.

The woman’s lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, said she decided to publicize the ruling, which was issued in January, after the court refused her request for a new judge. On Wednesday, the court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Judge Datz-Winter from the case, saying it could not justify her reasoning.

“It was terrible for my client,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said of the ruling. “This man beat her seriously from the beginning of their marriage. After they separated, he called her and threatened to kill her.

He's threatening murder, and the judge is trying to look to the Koran for answers. Thankfully the system did step in. It is a relief, you can only try and imagine what this woman was going through. She us a Germany citizen, of Moroccan descent. She gets married, only to flee her husband to the steps of a court that began quoting the Koran at her. It sounds like a nightmare.

Let's look at the events again.
The 26-year-old woman in this case, whose name has not been disclosed, was not so fortunate. Born in Germany to a Moroccan family, the woman was married in Morocco in 2001, according to her lawyer, Ms. Becker-Rojczyk. The couple settled in Germany and had two children.

In May 2006, the police were summoned to the couple’s home after a particularly violent incident. At that time, Judge Datz-Winter ordered the husband to move out and stay at least 50 meters (164 feet) away from the home. In the months that followed, her lawyer said, the man threatened to kill his wife.

Terrified, the woman filed for divorce in October, and requested that it be granted without waiting for the usual year of separation, since her husband’s threats and beatings constituted an “unreasonable hardship,” the requirement for waiving the delay.

“We worried that he might think he had the right to kill her because she is still his wife,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said.


In January, the judge turned down the wife’s request for a speedy divorce, saying that the husband’s behavior was not an unreasonable hardship because they were both Moroccan. “In this cultural background,” she wrote, “it is not unusual that the husband uses physical punishment against the wife.”


In a statement defending her ruling, Judge Datz-Winter noted that she had ordered the man to move out and had imposed a restraining order on him. But she also cited the verse in the Koran that speaks of a husband’s prerogatives in disciplining his wife. And she suggested that the wife’s Western lifestyle would give her husband grounds to claim that his honor had been compromised.

The woman, her lawyer said, does not wear a headscarf. She has been a German citizen for eight years.

Judge Datz-Winter declined to comment for this article. But a spokesman for the court, Bernhard Olp, said the judge did not intend to suggest that violence in a marriage is acceptable or that the Koran supersedes German law. “The ruling is not justifiable, but the judge herself cannot explain it at this moment,” he said.

Judge Datz-Winter narrowly avoided being killed 10 years ago in a case involving a man and woman whose relationship had come apart. The man emptied a gun in her courtroom — killing his former partner and wounding her lawyer. The judge survived by diving under her desk.

German newspapers have speculated that the ordeal may have affected her judgment in this case, a suggestion that the court spokesman denied.

A new judge will be assigned to the case, but Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said her client would probably nonetheless have to wait until May for her divorce, since the paperwork for a fast-track divorce would take several months in any event.

Her Nightmare continues.

For some, the greatest damage done by this episode is to other Muslim women suffering from domestic abuse. Many are already afraid of going to court against their spouses. There have been a string of so-called honor killings here, in which Turkish Muslim men have murdered women.

“For Muslim men, this is like putting oil on water, that a German judge thinks it is O.K. for them to hit their wives,” said Michaela Sulaika Kaiser, the head of a group that counsels Muslim women.

So what do we learn here. We have a judge looks to be pushing cultural acceptance down peoples throats, they beat people, it's there way. BAD! But then we have the nation's leader, who is trying to shove Christ down a continent's throat. BAD! To extremes. Both are BAD. Neither is making things better for people.

Should we rid the mind of God?

Off of they are linking to viedo of an interesting debate. It was held recently at George Square Lecture Theatre, by The University of Edinburgh Philosophy Society and The Christian Union.

The debate subject, Darwin and humanity: Should we rid the mind of God?

One side, Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, a former atheist who has been very critical of Richard Dawkins, and has gone as far as to expend a lot of time and energy writing multiple books criticizing him and his ideas. The other side, Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University, well-known atheist and supporter of Richard Dawkins.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Going after Gore.

Unsurprisingly, the noise machine has gone into full force to attempt to discredit a humiliate Gore...again. Yeah, they finally realized that all the stuff they threw out into the media in 2000 hadn't completely killed Gore's spirit. Worse, some people might not remember the old punchlines and tropes.

But on places like Scarborough Country, they are trying to revive the classics like, Internet foundations and Love Story stories. Next week, Joe will be trying to rebuild WHAM!

The nonstop barrage of attacks on Al Gore from the far-right tells me one thing: they're terrified of the former Vice President and the influence he continues to wield. Last night on Scarborough Country, Republican strategist Terry Holt advanced for the umpteenth time the right's favorite Al Gore smear — that he claimed to have invented the interent. This juvenile nonsense has been debunked time and time again, but since these hacks continue to employ it, here we go again.


It all started when the wingnuts seized on this statement Al Gore made to Wolf Blitzer in 1999. Since the right is so devoid of substance and couldn't challenge Gore on a policy basis, they took this phrase and attacked Al Gore (with the help of the media who dutifully recited the attack) as a pompous liar and serial exaggerator; something that continues to this day.

Why don't we ask Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, two men who could really claim to have "invented the internet," what they think about Al Gore:

[T]here is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening.

While his phrasing was clumsy and somewhat self-serving, the fact is, as Senator, Al Gore did take the legislative initiative and help pave the way for the internet as we know it today. Instead of acknowledging this, the wingnuts twist his words and attack his character. By now you think they would have grown up a little bit. Unfortunately, they never cease to amaze.

Can't win on the science? Can't win on the public policy?

Not nice people.

Some of the not nice people around these days.

First, The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.
The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. Sounds innocuous enough, I know. But these assholes are just using breast cancer and health rhetoric to push their anti-choice agenda.

The Australian court.

In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Criminal Appeal erased the criminal record of a man who twice had sex with a woman in his car.

A jury had found him guilty of having forced intercourse but ruled an earlier act of fellatio was consensual.

The appeals court, however, ruled last week that the verdict was "illogical" and "unacceptable" and quashed his conviction.

Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Isobel Redmond warned the new laws may interfere in people's private lives.

"When reading the legislation, one gets the feeling even married couples will need to sign a contract before they have sex," she said.

"You reach a point where you're trying to legislate for every human behaviour.

WOW! That's disturbing.

The Road Hog Sexist Pig.

A woman was walking down the street, and chose to ignore the catcalls some asshole was yelling at her as he drove past. Apparently he thought he was so entitled to her attention that he turned the truck around and ran her over. In other words, "that's what you get for ignoring me, bitch." Hard to hollaback from underneath your harasser/assaulter's vehicle.

The woman was taken to the hospital and is in serious condition. The driver of the truck is still at large. If he's ever found, police say they may charge him with attempted murder.

They MAY charge him! Huh? Maybe I should have added the Florida police above. But I may just be misreading that.

Edwards, not ready to throw in the towel on ANY front.

This morning the media was buying into the story from Politico that the Elizabeth Edwards had a return of her cancer concerns, and that Edwards was going to end his campaign.

The Edwards family has a different plan.

Elizabeth Edwards did announce that through unfortunate luck it was discovered she had malignant cancer in her bones, about the right ribs. But it has been found very very early. So while it may reach from the bone, to a lung, it is a a point that it can be treated.

Curing is not possible. But it can be treated. The family stands upbeat for the public and media. They are eager to get the treatment needed, and they are eager to get on the campaign trail again.

They are a family of fighter. They have lost, suffered, and failed at reaching on some campaigns. But they keep it up.

We have no intention of cowering in a corner.

Good for them. I wish her the best, and her family.

And I hope his voice get heard more now. Especially with ideas, like expanding guranteed health care to everyone. It can't be allowed to fall in the cracks.

Not a...great day in Iraq...not good at all.

In Iraq the thunder of explosives were heard from Baghdad's Green Zone

Where Prime Minister al-Maliki and Secretary-General (of the UN) Ban Ki-Moon were in a news conference when a mortar struck some 30 yards from their site. Causing the Secretary-General ducked a bit, and Maliki...acted like this happens to him everyday.

Early in the morning on Thursday, before dawn, some 200 Sunni Arab guerrillas in Muqdadiya (Diyala Province) stormed a jail and freed 33 prisoners, many of them guerrillas. I can't think of another recent operation that involved a company-sized fighting force. Thirty persons died in the fighting. One wire service reported, "Insurgents battled Iraqi and US reinforcements, set fire to the police station, courthouse and 20 police vehicles before making their escape." If they accomplished all that after US reinforcements arrived, imagine what they could have accomplished if no US and Iraqi troops had come out to confront them.

Not a good day.

Kit Bond, let them have matches!

Kit Bond doesn't like Al Gore, or environmentalism.

Yesterday, GOP Senator Kit Bond attacked Al Gore for being concerned about global warming. Bond's argument was that Al Gore doesn't care about little young match girls who are going to freeze to death because their poor parents can't afford to heat heir homes in the winter because of people like Al Gore (i.e., if we have to trouble ourselves with global warming, it might make energy costs go up).

But the irony in such an argument, about letting little poor children freeze is here.

Putting aside the question of whether it's worse for this girl to put on two sweaters or swim to school every day, it's people like Senator Bond who are stopping little girls from having heat in the winter. Bond has repeatedly voted against the LIHEAP program, a program that helps pay the winter heating bills (and summer cooling bills) or low-income and elderly families. And it wasn't the only time that Senator Bond voted to freeze little girls to death because he's too cheap.

Maybe he would like to refrain his claim? Maybe, he can pick something that does not point back to him and kids freezing or baking to death.

Stewart and Goodwin vs. Bolton on Lincoln

Thankfully John Stewart felt as strong I hoped he would about Amb. Bolton's dismissal of Abraham Lincoln.

His, and Doris Kearns Goodwin's, response are here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An early stage of morality.

From the New York Times:

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.

Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.


So much for the notion that a beardy face appeared and handed us a stone tablet that explained it all.

Or, that the human form was blessed alone with an understanding of others, empathy.


Weekday fun

Plenty of fun on TV today.

From The Daily Show, we got John Bolton. Watch. Listen as he explains Abraham Lincoln to John Stewart. Someone who is an avid fan of the Lincoln presidential period. Someone who has interviewed respected historians who have written tomes on Lincoln's presidency. Someone who apparently doesn't get Lincoln. I mean, Lincoln did hat dissenters of any sort in his cabinet. Right? That is what history shows?

Then think. Think that this guy thinks he knows how to handle international diplomacy. Think that he sat down with George Bush, and Bush thought, 'this guy is pretty smart'. Think about it, won't you?

Then from the committee hearing, starring Al Gore.

Inhofe didn't realize he wasn't the head of the committee, as his party is not in the majority. He attempted to dictate how the procession would continue, how Gore would be allowed to answer his questions, and Committee Chair Barbara Boxer needed to step in...and give Inhofe a time out.

Sen Boxer:

"We're freezing the time for a minute. I want to talk to you [Inhofe] for a minute, please.

... don't make the rules anymore...You used to when you did this. [Holds up chairperson's gavel.] You don't do this anymore. Elections have consequences."

The express riders must still be making there way to his offices in Oklahoma with the news.

I know we will all miss them:

The secret Republicans only Congressional meetings.
The meetings banned because a senior Republican refused to attend and gavel it in, or acknowledge it.
The gaveling out of meetings, when the Republicans got what they wanted, or they did not like where things were going.

...and theirs more...SIGH.

So long crappy incompetent single party governance. Miss ya.

Just being lazy

It has been a long and tiring day for me, but I thought I would put out a comment I made below about use of character goes evil plot and writer laziness at times. And I'll be revising it, to be honest. Continued revisions another reason I rarely finish writing projects.


In many ways having a character go amoral – have sex is an easy way to go (Read LAZY – on my mental list of the ways comic writers choose to go the lazy route on potentially interesting ideas).


[In] Superman III, he does go amoral. He hits on women. But the way to show he is “bad” is that he becomes gunky and grimy. Look at the video on the alter ego link for a look at him at the end. He is unkempt in a way that is almost comical. In comics they do the shaded eyes and grim look and hulking presence, with menacing stance (and, perhaps, the cape is frayed...from combat). That says BAD.

For Supergirl, she needs to show MORE FLESH. Get a bit lesbian. Is that bad?

This is the big problem. The guys can be shown as getting kinky. But also, getting loose. Getting mean. Getting harsh.

With the femmes, not so much.

I remember working with a character and trying to work out a story of an alternate world, with the evil version of the female heroine (I spend so much time imagining, I never actually write.). The way I saw her, she was in darker outfit, a common symbolism. But it wasn’t revealing, or provocative, didn’t make sense. It was more militant and utilitarian. As to her style of acting, she was tougher, more than willing to use force, knock down building, kill, and put her perceived better goals above societies.

She was evil. And it really never occurred to me that she should be preoccupied with sex or boys. Maybe it was because the character was so close to me, that I had invested in it, that I was interested in taking the character in a way that wasn’t a walking…sashaying…slinkering cliché. And that, I think, is a problem for many writers and editors today. They really have a so-so connection to their characters.

It is just lazy.

Superman has gone bad a number of times over the years. Not that long ago he tried to take over the world with the superman bots. I wasn't really reading that closely at the time, but that sounds intimidating, Supes alone is a scary thought. ANY Kryptonian should be!

When he goes bad it is usually dark figure with cataclysmic results.

When you look at Supergirl, she usually sheds so clothes (though the new costume makes that all, but impossible), strikes poses, and can be scary. Why not just let her be a small, silent, deadly and scary ass evil, and just skip kinky ONCE?

Evil Maxwell Lord is scarier than evil Supergirl. That is so wrong. ;)

And it is not, as if this is a genre flaw. IT IS THE WRITERS and EDITOR MANDATES!

Now, again, a character that is evil, or goes evil, can have a sexual appetite. Everyone does. It just seems that if you look to history for allegories, you will find the most interesting villains and the most terrifying ones, really aren't known for obsessing on it. They obsess over death, power, their philosophies, dominion, etc.

Hmm. Plotting and drama wise, what is better a villain that is caught up in their predilections, or one plotting, planning, and moving pawns, and contemplating their next steps? Ones cheap and weak, one is a serious tool for the writer and and the promise of twists and turns in the plot for the reader.

[Sorry, the PUBLISH button lept up and I had to slap it down.]

Just sayin', it seems lazy, and when we are in our creative writing we often dip into the baser parts of the brain.


Supes gone.

Supergirl gone bad.

Two images, drawn years apart, by differnet artist (I think). Yet, they seem so akin to me. Odd, hmm.

To be fair with the image on the left, she was a bit scary.

First Lex Luthor.

Then she went onto best most of the Justice League.

But can't the girl have some pants or something? When Supes is evil, he gets pants.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Senate reaction to the growing US Attorneys trouble.

The glacial, sartorial Senate has decided to react to the situation with the instilling of US Attorneys in this country. You see, with the Patriot Act, among the powers given to Bush was the ability to just select and install US Attorneys, without Senate approval.

The Senate, has voted, 94-2, to end this power. Presidents will need to go to the Senate from now on when they want to change Attorneys.

So odd, such fast action. But the Republicans are looking at a possible Democrat president in '08. When the Patriot Act went into place, the dream of decades of Republican dominance was still a not utterly insane dream of a craven egomaniac in the back of the White House.

Or, maybe they are realizing that oversight is not an evil thing. It would have been nice to have them realize it sooner, if so.

No crying! Scientists don't cry!

On Aetiology, their is a look at the acceptability of tears in academia.

Over at Am I a woman scientist? I ran across this post discussing crying in the workplace. I'd never given much consideration to the issue previously, but there are several thought-provoking posts and articles on the topic.

First, let me take a step back to a post Am I a woman scientist? linked to, here at A Natural Scientist musing about crying as a sign of weakness in women. From there, a link goes back to this Chronicle story describing the aftermath of a miscarriage, and the author's inability to discuss it with anyone at work for fear of breaking down and crying.

Some interesting themes emerged from these posts.

To Gay, or De-Gay.

A funny look at the attempts to De-Gay people.

From the Daily Show, Diagnosis Mystery.

The fellow in charge, is a pill. An ex-gay, who is an expert in becoming an ex. Because...yuck, sex with men. I think that is how Haggard proved he wasn't really gay.

The keys. Hitting a pillow and screaming about daddy, and why he wasn't there. Being held by him and cradled. And then a tape that cajoles you to love hetero sex with women.

You know, I just noticed, this is just focused on guys. What about all the lesbians?

4 Years Down, Year 5 and counting.

At Informed Comment, Juan Cole gives us...

Bush's Top Ten Mistakes in Iraq during the Past 4 Years

10. Refusing to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when his incompetence and maliciousness became apparent in the growing guerrilla war and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

9. Declining to intervene in the collapsed economy or help put Iraqi state industries back on a good footing, on the grounds that the "market" would magically produce prosperity effortlessly.

8. Invading and destroying the Sunni Arab city of Fallujah in November, 2004, thus pushing the Sunni Arabs into the arms of the insurgency in protest and ensuring that they would boycott the January, 2005, parliamentary elections, a boycott that excluded them from power and from a significant voice in crafting the new constitution, which they then rejected.


Turn about is fair play.

I finally found the page with some fun...maybe a bit disturbing examples of the shoe on the other foot.

From CounterPunch:

Totally Appropriate Covers (with bonus, never before seen script excerpts)!

Well, we’ve done just about every variation on the theme by now, so let’s go back to the basics: Black on black, a full cover shot of Batman’s ass. Add in the utility belt for colour – give it that Sin City look. Show me thick, powerful legs under that latex or whatever the hell he wears. Clenched butt muscles. Make it obvious this is no BatGIRL we’re talking about.

I know. Some people are going, GEEZ! What is with that? That is SO unfair. You HAVE TO be exaggerating.


Here is the proof. Frank Miller's OWN cover.

When DO we see Billy Batson in the gimp suit?

One Diverse Comic Book Nation has a list of articles dealing with Power Girl and Mary Marvel.

Daughter of the SHORT STACK: The Smexy Edition

Yes, yes…it’s been 10,000 years since I was able to do a SHORT STACK, but with all the hullaballoo about Justice League of America #10 cover (aka the booblicious Power Girl cover) and the Countdown cover featuring Black Mary Marvel, I thought now was the time to introduce DAUGHTER OF THE SHORT STACK.

“when do we see Billy Batson [Captain Marvel - SHAZAM] in the gimp suit?”

When indeed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ricky Gervais on Atheism

If you haven't had the pleasure of enjoying Ricky Gervais, of the BBC's The Office, HBO's Extras, and various other shows, and his humor about the bible and atheism, take some time sometime.

On, they have links to a clip on atheism from Extras, and links to his jokes about how spot on the bible is. Listen as he explains where we came from.

Funny stuff from a funny guy.

Why pick on the comic industry?

Some ask, why people being so picky?

Why pick and prod at fantasy stories? Just let it be.

Well, an important reason is how women and girls are shown. Specifically the examples and heroes that are put forward for young girls to admire and imagine themselves as.

Why look to comics for this?

Seven Reasons Why The Comic Book Industry Needs To Create More Teen Role-Models

See? Time to get cracking.

Drawing women. No, draaawwing, with a pencil.

This story may be more a joke or myth, but it comes with a moral.

This is the cover for the upcoming issue of the comic book, Justice League of America.

Pictured is Black Canary, and Power Girl.

So much can be said. And I will point to some odd and irritating art habits and accepted rules in the comic industry, one of these days.

But you may...notice...Power Girl's (the one in white)...breast.

The story going around is that the original cover came in and the order came back that she needed a...reduction. This is the result. May be a joke. Still, look at her. She is supposed to be a serious 3 dimensional (No jokes...okay.) character and hero, a peer of Superman.

But if you look at many comics, and some real nasty work in the 90's, the need for reductions is not a rare. I have to link later to a great and actual art book put our by Marvel comics that really is a piece...

As for Power Girl, thank kryptonian physiology that she is a Kryptonian (Superman's species), or she would be in a hospital in traction.

She has a spine and back muscles of steel.