Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So What the Hell's a "Spidergrackle"?

Sooner or later, I'm sure someone's going to ask me about the name. It's nothing very clever or interesting, I'm afraid, but if you really want to know...


Once upon a time in the land of Yahoo, there lived a bunch of trolls. The trolls lived in message boards attached to the news of Yahoo, and fed off of each others' maladjusted personalities. Most of the message boards were full of bad trolls, spewing racist hatred, creationist propaganda, and endlessly recycled insults. No one liked them, and they didn't much like each other, but spewing insults made them happy, so there they stayed.

But there was a special section of the boards attached to the odd and amusing news, which was inhabited by a race of clever, fun loving trolls who liked to joke and make up dirty limericks. These trolls staked the Oddly Enough boards out as their territory, and viciously defended it from anyone who used terms like "RepubliTurds" or "DemoCraps", or people who typed all in CAPS, or posted religious fundamentalist malarkey.

And all were happy, for a time.

One of the things the trolls liked to do was make up silly names related to the news story the board was attached to. In 2003, a Canadian company announced that they had made goats which produced spider-silk in their milk. It was considered a tremendous advance in genetic engineering, but the trolls just thought it was a great source of humor. One of the trolls was quick, and created the ID "Spidergoat". Many jokes based on a Spiderman theme followed.

Then a few years later, a story was posted titled "Hostile Grackles Attack people in Houston". All of the trolls began modifying their names to incoerporate the word "grackle". "Yahilda" became "GrackenHilda", "Midnite_Thundar" became "Midnite_grackle", and, as you may have guessed, "Spidergoat" became "Spidergrackle".

Then one day, an evil, pansy-assed lawyer got flamed by the bad trolls on the news boards and threatened to sue the king of the land of Yahoo for mental anguish or some such bullshit, and the king had no choice but to evict all of the trolls from the kingdom. And the trolls were sad.

They wandered the interwebs for a few years, settling here and there in small groups, but nowhere were they as happy as they had been in Yahoo, so they faded away.

One troll, however, had become attached to his name, and opened a blog using it. And that, more or less, is the story. Don't think they'll be making a movie of it any time soon, do you?

Hey! Wake up!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Political Rant

OK, let me start by stating that I am neither a conservative nor a liberal according to the modern usage of those terms. While I skew left on certain issues like the environment, I skew right on things like fiscal policy. My views would mostly fall into what today is considered libertarian territory. I don't actually vote Libertarian, because the politics of that party tend to be a bit too anarchistic for my taste: but I have to say that the party I have generally supported, the GOP, currently fills me with revulsion.

There are many reasons for this. Firstly, I am an advocate of republican government in a founding-era sense: we are a collective of 50 states joined into a union, but we should have a certain amount of autonomy, and the attendant responsibility to see to our own affairs. This is not to say that I support the view that states should be allowed to trample on peoples' rights, enumerated or no. You'll find none of the weak arguments against the 14th Amendment here. I just cringe when I see the federal government stepping in and administering what should be local processes, or strong-arming states to pass legislation against their will (thank you, Ronald Regan). This opinion conflicts with the "big government conservatism" of the neoconservative movement, and with the idea of an overbearing theocratic state that Christian Reconstructionists seek to implement.

Secondly, I am an advocate of strictly secular government: I am careful not to establish my political views solely (or even significantly) based on religious belief, and to hell with what the Pope thinks. Granted, I am a lapsed Catholic and not the most religious person to begin with, but what faith I retain I feel obligated to keep out of my political advocacy, as I would not care to impose my beliefs on others any more than I would want them imposing theirs on me. I feel we should do away with all religious expression in public institutions, aside from offering ministers to our soldiers (I should qualify this by saying that I don't have a problem with members of government informing their decisions with their faith per se: this is unavoidable. I just don't like to see doctrine enshrined in the machinery). Get "In God We Trust" off of the currency. Get religious oaths out of the courts and legislature. Eliminate government's regulation and, frankly, acknowledgment, of marriage. And rid ourselves entirely of the Pledge of Allegiance (not just the Under God part: the whole damned, vapid, brainwashing, government-worshiping thing). This puts me entirely at odds with the GOP as it has existed since the religious right/neoconservative cabal came into ascendancy in 1988. And it definitely places me at odds with malarkey like the recent House resolution "recognizing" the historical relevance of Christianity in the US (translated: revising history to justify the Christianization of government).

Third, I believe that power in our government has been thrown dangerously out of balance, with authority and responsibility that should be vested in the legislature and judiciary being transferred to the executive. This is not something new, and I don't claim that "it's all Bush's fault", as some are intent on doing. It's a problem stretching back at least to Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, and perhaps much farther. I'm of the opinion that it largely springs from cowardice among the legislators: they don't want to take responsibility for the tough issues, so they wait for the courts or the president to handle them. Precedent is then set for others to handle such problems, and a little more of the legislature's authority slips away. The courts, for their part, contribute to the problem both by taking on the responsibility that Congress abdicates, and by extending protection from congressional and judicial oversight to the executive branch. Thus has our Imperial Presidency been birthed. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is the desired one for the powers that be in the GOP.

Fourth, as a civil libertarian, I am appalled at the overbearing nationalism our country is in the throes of, and the amount of erosion we are subjecting our freedoms to. USA PATRIOT, the MCA, Presidential signing statements, warrantless wiretapping, "extraordinary rendition", no-knock warrants, and the militarization of police units are just the most obvious examples of the weakening of the liberties that the Revolution was fought to win.

Oh, and I'm not too thrilled that the GOP spends so much time obsessing about butt-sex while our economy slides into ruins. If homosexuals spent a tenth as much time thinking about sodomy as Pat Robertson does, they'd never get anything done. Get yourself a hobby, Pat: collect stamps or something.

So really, I'm a man without a party (or perhaps a grackle without a nest).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Battle Over Florida Public School Science Standards

The vote on the new Florida science standards for public schools comes down today, and the religious wing-nuts have been busy flapping their arms in protest of the fact that the new standards use the word "evolution" (WARNING: that link leads to painful stupidity).

While it looks like the standards will pass, the language is likely to be changed to insert the words "scientific theory of" in from of every occurance of the word "evolution". So if the standard is proposed:
Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying the biological sciences.
The new version would be:
The scientific theory of evolution is the fundamental concept underlying the biological sciences.
Some ET proponents have complained that this compromise, in specifying the word "theory", will allow creationists to use the tired old "theory, not a fact" argument to perpetuate their fraud about the reality of evolution being debatable. I would argue that they would continue to do so anyway. It's not like they've abandoned the SLOT or moon-dust arguments, and those were blown to kingdom come a long time ago.

No, I'd say let the compromise go through if necessary, and concentrate on teaching the students the difference between the scientific and vernacular definitions of the word "theory". This kills two birds with one stone: evolution is presented as factual (as it should be), and any other theory that fundies might want to try to smear (e.g., Big Bang), is buttressed as well.

Update: it appears the revised standards have been approved, albeit narrowly. Welcome to the 20th century, Florida! only one more century to go, and you'll be caught up with South Carolina!

Now if we could just drag Wisconsin out of the Teddy Roosevelt era...

Kermit the Freindly Demon Froggy

Scientists have announced the discovery of history's largest known frog, Beelzebufo ampinga, which lived some 70 million years ago and reached 16" in length and weighed in at as much as 10 lbs. The discoverers opine that it may have been large enough to prey on hatchling dinosaurs. That's one bad-assed toad.

Domestic Spying Case Rejected by SCOTUS

The ACLU suit challenging the legality of the Bush Administration's domestic surveillance program will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court. The court rejected the appeal without comment, leaving in place the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that the plaintiffs have no standing because they cannot prove that they have been victimized. Of course, the reason they can't prove it is that the administration has classified any information which indicates who was wiretapped, thereby rendering establishment of standing impossible.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We Men Really Aren't That Complicated

Dunno how Cosmo, etc, keep finding new 'secrets' to let their readers in on.

HT: Cyanide and Happiness

Saturday, February 9, 2008

With Freinds Like These...

Somebody explain to me why we're allied with Saudi Arabia. These bastards take our money, and then do this to our citizens.

Jumped-up middle ages tyrants should not receive any aid or respect from this nation. I don't give a tinker's damn how much oil they have. We should cut all ties with these jackasses.

Update: Oh, and it's not any better in our new pet country, Iraq.

Friday, February 8, 2008

News Flash: Ted Haggard is Still Gay

Guess that Christian anti-gayness therapy didn't quite work. Poor Ted: I guess Jesus just hates him.

The Christian Right is just an endless source of amusement.

Cool Science Shit

Woods Hole and Webb Research have a heat-driven submersible which has been exploring the ocean around the Virgin Islands since December. I find this fascinating. There's so much down there that we don't know about, and technology like this could really help to expand our understanding of the oceans.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fun With Flowcharts

Having just finished a year in which I had to do a lot of process and work flow analysis, I found this offering from Saint Gasoline hysterical.

Stand up to Warrantless Wiretapping

The Downsize DC blog has a post regarding the "Protect America Act" (translation: the George Bush can Spy on Anyone He Damn Well Pleases Act) which is well worth a read. You can also, through the site's links, send your Senators and Reps an email asking them to oppose its passage. This is a dangerous bill which has serious 4th Amendment ramifications for us all. Anyone who values their liberty should oppose this legislation. Please take the time to do so.

Hat tip to Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Woohoo! Let it Snow!

The weatherfolk did overestimate what we'd get (surprise, surprise), but we still got a pretty good dumping last night. This has been a good winter for those who make their living by the plow. Good for the water level in lake Michigan, good for winter sports (I'm a x-country ski-er
m'self), good for the water table levels, and most of all good for the trout streams!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We're Not the Only Idiots!

From the Telegraph: almost a quarter of the teens in the UK think that Churchill was a fictional character, and half believe that Sherlock Holmes was real.

Guess we yanks are no longer the sole record holders for extreme nincompoopancy.

What a World, What a World!

Yahoo bastards deleted my Grackle board. And the Bong and Gnome boards. And even the damned bar! Fvckin' lawyers!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Not sure what I started this for: a lark, I guess. I've never been one to put myself forward much.

I live in Milwaukee, as I have for almost all of my life. I'm currently between jobs, though I plan to re-enter the workforce shortly.