...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 29, 2008

Useless AI Blogging

Worst Idol season ever.

I half expected Paula to say she was dodging sniper fire on the way to the Kodak tonight.

DC is solid again, but he'll always be Daughtry lite.

Jason should have gone home last week, and failed to take advantage of his second chance. He needs to go home.

Brooke went 1 and 1. Second song was nice; first was ill advised.

DA had an off week. Utterly unconvincing on both songs.

Someone please take up a collection to buy Syesha some shoes.

Posted by annika at 08:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 26, 2008

Wright - Moyer Love Fest

I forced myself to watch the Wright-Moyer1 love fest last night on PBS. Here's the transcript. Knowing Moyer, and his talent for partisan obfuscation, I didn't expect much. My expectations were not exceeded.

If the purpose of this interview was to rehabilitate Pastor Wright for those whose only knowledge of him was based on "snippets" of his sermons "run in an endless loop," the interview failed.

Here's the Moyer-Wright argument, in a nutshell:

1. Pastor Wright is a good guy, and really smart.2

2. The "snippets" were taken out of context.

3. And besides, you wouldn't understand them anyway.3

When I first heard the audio of Pastor Wright's vitriolic sermons, the first thing I thought was "this guy shouts like a fascist." If you've ever heard recordings of Hitler or Mussolini at the crescendo of an oration, the tone is eerily similar.

I've since heard the context, and not only do I understand what he was trying to say, it's no different in context than it is out of context. The man is full of hate. Just because you can construct an elaborate argument to justify your hatred doesn't mean you don't hate.

I don't mean to equate Pastor Wright with Hitler or Mussolini, but their methods of proselytization are similar. It boils down to this: Out there you're a victim; in here you're safe because I will tell you the truth.

Many people naturally want to hear that they're victims, because it explains life's inherent unfairness in a way that relieves them of any responsibility. And many people are naturally attracted to conspiracy theories out of ego-gratification. I know the "truth" -- you believe the "lies." Therefore I'm smart and you're a fool. That's all it is.

So what if Wright's ministry did good work in the community? So does my church, and without all the race-baiting hate speech. It is possible to preach the gospel without dividing people into us and them. But perhaps not as profitable.

One passage from the interview stood out for its absurdity.

[A]fter every revolution, the winners of that revolution write down what the revolution was about so that their children can learn it, whether it's true or not. They don't learn anything at all about the Arawak, they don't learn anything at all about the Seminole, the Cheek-Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. They don't learn anything. No, they don't learn that. What they learn is 1776, Crispus Attucks was the one black guy in there. Fight against the British, the- terrible. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal while we're holding slaves." No, keep that part out. They learn that. And they cling to that. And when you start trying to show them you only got a piece of the story, and lemme show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred because you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred. And when you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth.
I don't know what schools Pastor Wright went to, but I was taught all that stuff in every single history class I ever had. In a good number of law school classes too. Pastor Wright, if he knew what he was talking about, should have no problem with the history curriculum of today's students.4 In that sense, Obama was right when he said that Wright's profound mistake was thinking that America hadn't changed. We have changed, and we can do even better.

In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan addressed the same question, with a very different take, and one that I think is superior and unifying in contrast to Wright's divisiveness.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.

. . .

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do


1. I know there's supposed to be an "s." I omit the "s" because that's what LBJ did.

2. See, he uses the word "hermeneutic" in a sentence to show how smart he is. Even Bill Moyer doesn't know that word, which proves how smart the Pastor really is.

3. Wright said, "The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly." Again, he divides people into us and them. If you were there, you understand and presumably agree. If you disagree, well, you weren't there so you couldn't possibly understand and you're opinion has no value. Interestingly, Obama would have it both ways. He agreed, but only with the stuff he heard when he was there. He disagreed, but only with the stuff he didn't hear because he wasn't there.

4. A recent poll of 2000 High school students asked them to name the top ten "most famous Americans." The top three were: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Oprah Winfrey came in 7th. And check this out, "when the researchers polled 2,000 adults in a different survey, their lists were nearly identical."

Posted by annika at 07:41 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

April 21, 2008

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 75


Posted by annika at 11:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 20, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog Re-Emergence For The Following Musical Interlude

If you forget everything else I ever told you, remember this: A thorough study of bluegrass music must ― repeat must ― begin with an examination of Bill Monroe.

Posted by annika at 08:46 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Anybody have a recommendation for a good 24" flat panel monitor? I was looking at the Samsung at Costco, but I hear ViewSonic is also good.

Posted by annika at 08:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 19, 2008

Yet Another In A Series Of Satirical Environment Related Posts: Earth Day Suggestions


It's a well known and scientifically accepted truth that we are all on the verge of a major environmental catastrophe, which can only be averted by the election of Bronco Bomber. Unfortunately, we can't count on the gun-toting, God-clinging, xenophobic racists who vote in this country to recognize the Obamessiah as the Planet's one and only salvation. It doesn't look good for the old Obameister right now, but don't despair. We can still do our part. Here are thirteen practical suggestions for making this year's Earth Day count:

  1. Refrain from swatting any flies. Flies are people too, and swatting is a violent act. Instead, try talking to the fly without preconditions.
  2. Don't needlessly waste electricity at night. Turn off all your lights and stop watching tv. Instead, read a book and use your cell phone as a reading light.
  3. Rather than waste water by going in your toilet, reuse old plastic grocery bags instead. Better yet, don't flush and plant a tree in the bowl. Presto, instant carbon offset!
  4. If you're already walking or biking to work, bravo for you. But remember that you exhale more CO2 when you exercise. Offset that contribution to greenhouse gasses by carrying a co-worker on your back.
  5. Did you know that leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth wastes about thirty gallons of water a day? Stop brushing your teeth.
  6. Don't buy any product that was ever manufactured, assembled, transported, marketed or sold by a large corporation. Instead, make all your own stuff. I know a guy named Fred who furnished his entire house using only natural materials he found locally or brought home from work.
  7. Watching tv is a huge waste of electricity, but if you must watch your favorite show, wait for the re-runs. It's a great way to recycle.
  8. Act. Be active. Activate. Actualize. Activist. Accentuate. Use these words in a sentence.
  9. Wear hemp jewelry. My boyfriend proposed by giving me a hemp ring he made himself out of some free twine he stole from IKEA.
  10. Browbeat your friends into becoming environmentally conscious. Guilt-trip them about eating meat. Set their pets free. Just be obnoxious in general.
  11. Paint your house green. Then tell everybody you live in a green house. They won't know.
  12. Practice Zero Population Growth responsibly. For instance, a hollowed out leek makes a great condom.
  13. Water plants with your own blood.

Posted by annika at 10:25 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 18, 2008

Bonus Friday Science Poem

Here's a poem, which purports to explain Schrödinger's conjecture. It's by Cecil Adams, a long time idol of mine, in response to a poem by one of his interlocutors. This post itself was inspired by Stewy.

Schroedinger, Erwin! Professor of physics!
Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics!
(Not bad, eh? Don't worry. This part of the verse
Starts off pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.)
Win saw that the theory that Newton'd invented
By Einstein's discov'ries had been badly dented.
What now? wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, "Don't panic,
No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic.
Consider electrons. Now, these teeny articles
Are sometimes like waves, and then sometimes like particles.
If that's not confusing, the nuclear dance
Of electrons and suchlike is governed by chance!
No sweat, though--my theory permits us to judge
Where some of 'em is and the rest of 'em was."
Not everyone bought this. It threatened to wreck
The comforting linkage of cause and effect.
E'en Einstein had doubts, and so Schroedinger tried
To tell him what quantum mechanics implied.
Said Win to Al, "Brother, suppose we've a cat,
And inside a tube we have put that cat at--
Along with a solitaire deck and some Fritos,
A bottle of Night Train, a couple mosquitoes
(Or something else rhyming) and, oh, if you got 'em,
One vial prussic acid, one decaying ottom
Or atom--whatever--but when it emits,
A trigger device blasts the vial into bits
Which snuffs our poor kitty. The odds of this crime
Are 50 to 50 per hour each time.
The cylinder's sealed. The hour's passed away. Is
Our pussy still purring--or pushing up daisies?
Now, you'd say the cat either lives or it don't
But quantum mechanics is stubborn and won't.
Statistically speaking, the cat (goes the joke),
Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked.
To some this may seem a ridiculous split,
But quantum mechanics must answer, "Tough @#&!
We may not know much, but one thing's fo' sho':
There's things in the cosmos that we cannot know.
Shine light on electrons--you'll cause them to swerve.
The act of observing disturbs the observed--
Which ruins your test. But then if there's no testing
To see if a particle's moving or resting
Why try to conjecture? Pure useless endeavor!
We know probability--certainty, never.'
The effect of this notion? I very much fear
'Twill make doubtful all things that were formerly clear.
Till soon the cat doctors will say in reports,
"We've just flipped a coin and we've learned he's a corpse."'
So saith Herr Erwin. Quoth Albert, "You're nuts.
God doesn't play dice with the universe, putz.
I'll prove it!" he said, and the Lord knows he tried--
In vain--until fin'ly he more or less died.
Win spoke at the funeral: "Listen, dear friends,
Sweet Al was my buddy. I must make amends.
Though he doubted my theory, I'll say of this saint:
Ten-to-one he's in heaven--but five bucks says he ain't."

Posted by annika at 09:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 17, 2008

Best Pickle Discovery Of The Year

Oh Baby Baby, how was I supposed to know...

...that these plain-wrap brand pickles would be so dang tasty.


I got them at Ralph's.

N.B. This post should in no way be construed as having been inspired by, or being in any way related to the previous post.

Posted by annika at 05:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack