Thursday, April 30, 2009

Global Warming is a Hoax!
So c'mon whoever is joshing around making the Antarctic ice shelves continue to collapse at an alarming rate, you can cut it out. It's not funny anymore.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama Press Conference
He's awfully good. I could watch one of those every night. Is it no wonder the Republican Party is in shambles?
WHO Raises Epidemic Threat Level Again
Now at level five.
Announcing the increased alert level in Geneva, WHO Director General Margaret Chan urged all countries to activate their pandemic plans, including heightened surveillance and infection-control measures.

She said action should be undertaken with "increased urgency".

She added: "It really is the whole of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic."
There still seems to be quite a bit of confusion over why the strain seems to be deadly to some and only a mild flu in others. I remember from reading The Great Influenza - a good, but hair-raising read - that the deadly flu of 1919 had waves. The first wave was not so deadly, but the second was. It certainly makes sense to me that if Mexico is the country of origin the virus may be further along there than here, meaning a more damaging version could still be coming to the US and other parts of the world. On the other hand, perhaps this virus just isn't that deadly after all. Mexico is "revising down its death toll" from 20 to 7 involving confirmed swine flu cases. Originally more than 100 deaths were thought to be tied to this virus.

You can follow a map of swine flu infections here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Holy Crap
Arlen Specter switches parties. Says his vote for Obama's stimulus bill created a "schism" with state Republicans that can't be fixed, and that his political philosophy is more in line with Democrats than Republicans now that the GOP has moved so far to the right.

I'm not sure actually what a difference this will make, other than his re-election will become easier, but still pretty incredible symbolically. The current Republican Party is out of touch with huge swaths of the country. They appeal to Utah and the Deep South. That's it.

If they had any sense, Senators Snowe and Collins in Maine would follow suit.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This is Not a Good Sign
In the NYTimes piece, the indication is that the World Health Organization wouldn't even decide until tomorrow whether or not to raise the pandemic threat level. But they raised it today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From the Pigs, Not the Birds [UPDATED]
Didn't see this coming. Hopefully they get a handle on the swine flu before it becomes some huge pandemic. Already, it's been declared a public health emergency. In the meantime, everyone wash your hands. Lots.

[UPDATE: Here's the NYTimes story, with a bit more info, and a confusing - to me anyway - quote about the effectiveness of anti-viral meds against this new flu strain:
Ms. Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, said that the government intends to release one quarter of its 50 million-dose stockpile of Tamiflu and Relenza, two antiviral medications to which the new flu strain might be susceptible. Most of the medicine will go to affected states....

But whether the drugs will prove effective against the new swine flu virus remains unclear. Dr. Besser said the new strain is not resistant to the medicines, but he did not know whether either drug would shorten the course of the illness, as the medicines do with more commonplace strains of flu.
I don't know anything about science much less drugs and disease. But how could they know the "new strain is not resistant" to the medicines but not know if it will shorten the illness? If it doesn't shorten the illness, doesn't that mean the virus is resistant to the medication? Somebody educate me.]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Strange Story
The Governor of Oklahoma stepped in to resolve a dispute between the legislature and...The Flaming Lips.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ok, it was kind of bizarre/funny before, but now I'm starting to get a little worried. What's wrong with people? And why do Texans hate America so much?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lowers the boom on Mike Pence (R-IN)
An Earth Day Message: It's the Industrial Waste, Stupid

Dear Global Citizen,

Thank you so much for trying. Problem is, nothing you do really makes much difference compared to the damage wrought by your companies. Your municipal waste pales.

The Earth

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Great Moments in Supreme Court Questioning
Various statements and exchanges pulled from the transcript (pdf) of today's argument:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Had it been the case that, as I recall, someone had -- well, students were popping ibuprofen, weren't they?

MR. WRIGHT: Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE SCALIA: I guess they might pop aspirin as well. I'm not aware that one gets a high on either one of those.
Mr. WRIGHT:...Once you had reason to suspect a student is possessing any contraband that poses a health and safety risk, then searching any place where that contraband may reasonably be found is constitutional, and --

JUSTICE SCALIA: Any contraband, like the black marker pencil that -- that astounded me. That was contraband in that school, wasn't it, a black marker pencil?

MR. WRIGHT: Well, for sniffing.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Oh, is that what they do?

MR. WRIGHT: It's a permanent marker.

JUSTICE SCALIA: They sniff them?

MR. WRIGHT: Well, that's the -- I mean, I'm a school lawyer. That's what kids do, Your Honor, unfortunately, Your Honor. But --

MR. WOLF: ...It sort of strains credulity to think that you would have loose pills concealed against a student's genitalia. That's what you'd have to think was the custom here. . . . What this school official did was act on nothing more than a hunch, if that, that Savana was currently concealing Ibuprofen pills underneath her underpants for other's oral consumption. I mean there's a certain ick factor to this.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Maybe I'm -- maybe I'm not articulating this. You keep focusing on the fact that it's unlikely that the pills would be concealed in her underpants. That doesn't go to the brassiere at all.
JUSTICE BREYER: It's not like you have any studies on this. But I mean, I hate to tell you, but it seems to me like a logical thing when an adolescent child has some pills or something, they know people are looking for them, they will stick them in their underwear.
JUSTICE BREYER: In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, okay? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.

Setting aside the weirdness, the clearly out-of-touch Justices seem on the verge of exploding any notion of student privacy. Only Justice Ginsburg seemed bothered by the idea of strip searching 13-year-olds. Scalia argued it wasn't even a strip search if she didn't have to get completely naked. Kennedy and Breyer said it just sounded like gym class to them. What's all this talk about psychological trauma?

More women on the bench, please.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Once Again...
For reasons that escape me, I didn't win a Pulitzer Prize this year either. Did you? Here's the list of winners in "Letters, Drama and Music." Here are the winners in journalism. After 3 years as a finalist, nice to see Steve Reich finally win one for music. Wonder what Philip Glass is thinking.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green
NYTimes op-ed today: How Eco-friendly is your bottle?

Of course, there's another issue that nobody likes to bring up: forgetting which receptacle is best, why do we feel the need to drink so much anyway? In the car, at the desk, on the couch, on the move. I'm guilty of this. If I can take a beverage somewhere, I feel like I should. One of the funniest signs at school are all the no food/drink notices in the classroom. As if a student could make it through an entire 50 minute class without the water bottle, coke bottle, starbucks cup, etc. And of course, I can hardly enforce this rule, since I have a cup of the local brew's coffee on the table myself.

Seriously, what is your theory? Why all the obsessive drinking?
Sunday Stat
After 3 games in the new stadium, the NY Yankees pitchers are giving up 12.33 runs per game at home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ancient History Deep Thought After Teaching on "Contemporary" Music Today
1976 was 33 years ago. As far away from today's college sophomores as 1954 was when I was one.

Our textbook is still called "Twentieth-Century Music", 9 years into the next.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

High Speed Rail
The President unveiled his high speed rail plan today - pretty exciting really. But I have to admit it looks like they are purposefully avoiding Tennessee. C'mon would it be that hard to run a line from Atlanta to Cincy that stops in Music City? So we can get in on the fun?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Did President Obama Break Copyright Law With His Gift to the Queen of England?
As you may have seen, our President gave the Queen an iPod as a gift during his recent travels to Europe. It was apparently loaded with pictures, videos and a few dozen "show tunes". Not that anyone is going to go after him for it, but did he break the law by making these copies and distributing them? Via Lessig, Fred von Lohrmann, expert on such things from EFF, takes a stab at answering the question. Pretty fascinating/frustrating. Short version? We have no freaking clue. Further evidence that, as he says, our copyright laws are broken.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Because He's Smart Enough and People Like Him
Franken inches closer to Senate.

Remember back when it wasn't cool to use your legal options to challenge election outcomes? I guess we've moved on from the era of 2000, when Gore was branded a sore loser and a bad American just for going to court.

I'm sure if Coleman was ahead, he wouldn't be yelling at the top of his lungs for Franken to accept the outcome and bow out. And I'm sure, being a Democrat, Al wouldn't cave to the pressure and meekly do just that if the situation was reversed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's True
I've been stupidly busy. That's not much of an excuse, but if you really care, you may want to hop over to my other blog, which received a much-needed face lift. It's where I've had to spend msot of my blog time - working out kinks, many of which remain, steps.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Guess Who?
Said this, about Obama:
He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage - cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse.
His writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things.
And this, about the South:
[T]he Southern air (is) filled with rambling ghosts and disturbed spirits. They’re all screaming and forlorning. It’s like they are caught in some weird web - some purgatory between heaven and hell and they can’t rest. They can’t live, and they can’t die. It’s like they were cut off in their prime, wanting to tell somebody something. It’s all over the place. There are war fields everywhere … a lot of times even in people’s backyards.
I was in Elvis’s hometown – Tupelo. And I was trying to feel what Elvis would have felt back when he was growing up.
I felt the ghosts from the bloody battle that Sherman fought against Forrest and drove him out. There’s an eeriness to the town. A sadness that lingers. Elvis must have felt it too.
Answer here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Republicans really are more comfortable in ridicule/attack mode than with actual governing responsibilities. They certainly don't care if any of the stuff they're saying is even remotely true. It's like the Clinton years all over again.