Now? You want to do this now?
I have a right to know! I'm getting married in four hundred and thirty years!

Tuesday, November 29

World

Republican Menu, 2008 Style

Voters: We've got Giuliani and Rice; Allen and Rice; Romney and Rice; Rice, McCain and Rice; Rice, Rice, Thompson and Rice; and Frist.

Hugh: I'll take the Frist.

Voters: Sorry, Frist's off. You could have some Rice instead.

Attila Girl: Rice Rice Rice Rice Rice Rice Rice Rice lovely Rice, wonderful Rice!

Update: Blargh. Links to Hewitt fail due to broken referrer-spam filter. Click here for working-link version.

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Saturday, November 26

World

Cortona

It's a where, not a what.

Spam - it's an education.

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Sunday, November 20

World

Hell No, We Won't... Er, What?

The best liveblogging of the withdrawal debate I've seen:
So, the entire last 6 hours in a nutshell is:

“Hell no! We won’t vote! oh, wait. We have to vote? Well, in that case, Hell no! You’re all wrong! We object! Do we still have to vote? Okay. We all vote on the same side you do.”

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At Euphoric Reality.

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World

Correcting Fluid

Original story by Liz Sidoti for Associated Press. Additional editing for accuracy by Pixy Misa.

WASHINGTON - The House on Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail. Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt, although it was exactly what they had wanted.

"Our troops have become the enemy. We need to change direction in Iraq," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Democratic hawk whose call a day earlier for pulling out troops sparked stirred Republicans to respond to a nasty, personal debate season of Democrat attacks over the war pretty much everything.

The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal, after Democrats had failed in desperate attempts to stop the resolution coming to a vote.

"We want to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will not retreat," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said as the GOP leadership pushed the issue to a vote over the protest of Democrats. [Hey, that paragraph didn't need any editing!]

It was the second time in less than a week that President Bush's Iraq policy stirred heated debate in Congress. On Tuesday, the Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal, and then scored an own goal by submitting their own bill for the same thing.

Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine veteran decorated for combat service in Vietnam, issued his call for a troop withdrawal unconditional surrender and the abandonment of the Iraqi people at a news conference on Thursday. In little more than 24 hours, Hastert and Republicans decided to put the question to the House.

Democrats, aghast that their bluff had been called, said it was a political stunt and quickly decided to vote against it in an attempt to drain it of significance.

"A disgrace," declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame," added Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

Republicans hoped to place Democrats in an unappealing position — either supporting a withdrawal that critics said would be precipitous or opposing it and angering voters who want an end to the conflict living up to the reality of their own demands. They also hoped the vote could restore GOP momentum on an issue — the war — that has seen plummeting public support in recent weeks according to the same polls that predicted a comfortable win for John Edwards last November. [Kerry. What? Kerry was the presidential candidate, not Edwards. You're kidding. No, really, he was. Does it matter now? Guess not.]

Democrats claimed Republicans were changing the meaning of Murtha's withdrawal proposal. He has said a smooth withdrawal would take six months, although Murtha's own proposal called for an "immediate redeployment".

At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message — stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message — that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran.

Democrats booed and shouted her down — causing the House to come to a standstill. However, no pies were thrown.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, apologised to the nation for the behaviour of the House Democrats, explaining that they were a bit tired and would "feel better after a nap".

"It's just heinous," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., said of the Republican move. "Whatever that means. It's a good word, though. Heinous. I think it means they pulled this out of their ass.

"This is a personal attack on one of the best members, one of the most respected members of this House and it is outrageous," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "We never intended it to come to a vote."

A growing number of House members and senators, looking ahead to off-year elections next November, are publicly worrying about a quagmire in Vietnam. [Iraq! What? The war is in Iraq, not Vietnam. Iraq? Isn't that a desert? Well, yes, mostly. So how does it become a quaqmire? Isn't that a swamp or something? Oh, never mind.] They have been staking out new positions on a war that is increasingly unpopular with the American public according to the latest opinion polls, which we both know aren't worth diddly, has resulted in more than 2,000 U.S. military deaths - far fewer than any other major war - and has cost more than $200 billion, which would be enough money to rebuild half of New Orleans, at least until next year.

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Saturday, November 19

World

Be Careful What You Ask For

House Republicans, showing vastly more political acumen than their Senate colleagues, have proposed that American forces withdraw from Iraq immediately, and are bringing it to a vote.

The Republicans, of course, intend to vote against it. The point is to force the Democrats to go on record. Or to go on record refusing to go on record. As John Cole notes at the above link, it's time to shut up and vote.

I wonder if the Democrats even know what a petard is?

More at Let Freedom Ring and Bareknuckle Politics.

(via Insty)

Update: No End But Victory is liveblogging the debate, but I'm a bit confused as to what exactly is happening right now. One thing for certain: The Democrats are not happy bunnies.

Oh! Here we go. Looks like it's on for real now. I'm sure the Democrats are enjoying being held back past 8 o'clock while their words are thrown in their faces.

MuNu Views:

Ace of Spades
The Jawa Report
The Llama Butchers

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World

Modest Proposal Number 317

America becomes part of Australia.

What you, the Americans, get:

  • Leaders who actually say what they mean. Well, you've got Rumsfeld, but we've got Howard and Costello and Downer and lots more where they came from.
  • Your President replaces our Governor General as head of state.
  • A really big naval base in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • Kangaroo steaks. Tastier and leaner than beef. And no BSE!
  • Tim Blair.
  • Holly Valance.
  • Several thousand miles of beachfront property.
  • The weather that California claims to have.
What we, the Aussies, get:
  • Nuclear warships. We've always wanted some.
  • Amazon.
  • The Bill of Rights. Particularly the second one.
  • Dave Barry.
  • Condi Rice.
  • A free trade agreement that really means it.
  • Halloween and Thanksgiving. It's a long haul to Christmas down here, and they will break the monotony nicely.
As part of the merger, the Senates of both nations will be disbanded and auctioned off for charity.

What say you?

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Friday, November 11

World

Mind The Planet

Glenn Reynolds links to an article at Tech Central Station by Uriah Kriegel that explains why ID is non-science rather than just bad science.

It's a good discussion of the notion of falsifiability, and how we distinguish scientific theories from other ideas. Unfortunately, he trips up when discussing Einstein's Theory of Relativity:

When Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, the first thing he did was to make a concrete prediction: he predicted that a certain planet must exist in such-and-such a place even though it had never been observed before. If it turned out that the planet did not exist, his theory would be refuted. In 1919, 14 years after the advent of Special Relativity, the planet was discovered exactly where he said. The theory survived the test. But the possibility of failing a test -- the willingness to put the theory up for refutation -- was what made it a scientific theory in the first place.
It sounds like Einstein predicted the existence of Pluto - but Pluto wasn't discovered until 1930. What Kriegel is actually referring to is the orbit of Mercury.

Astronomers had known since the 18th century that Mercury didn't behave as it ought. Its orbit could be calculated quite precisely using Newton's Law of Gravity, but it stubbornly refused to follow that orbit. It wasn't out by much, but it was enough. Some astronomers suggested that the difference might be due to the gravitational effects of another planet orbiting closer to the Sun (they even tentatively assigned it the name "Vulcan"), but no such body was ever observed.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity had nothing specifically to do with Mercury, but it did provide a prediction of Mercury's orbit which was slightly, but still significantly, different from that produced from Newton's Law. The calculations based on Relativity happened to fit Mercury's observed orbit as precisely as we could measure it - strong support for Relativity, but not a decisive test as Mercury's odd orbit was something we'd known about all along.

What happened in 1919, though, really was something new. One of the predictions of Relativity is that gravity not only affects the path of matter travelling through space, it actually bends light. Nothing in Newton's Law of Gravity suggested any such thing. In 1919, just after the end of World War I, a British Navy exepedition set out to observe a total solar eclipse off the coast of Africa. You see, during a total eclipse the light of the Sun is hidden and stars that are near the Sun (as observed in the sky, that is, nothing to do with their true locations) are visible.

Astronomers could measure very precisely the positions of these stars relative to one another. And then they could do the same thing again during the eclipse. Einstein predicted that because the light of these stars would be bent by the gravitational field of the Sun, that they would appear in different positions when observed during an eclipse. What's more, he was able to calculate just how great the difference would be.

The expedition, led by Sir Arthur Eddington, made the observations required, and Einstein was proved correct. He become a household name almost overnight.

More details here, courtesy of Penn State.

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World

Reckon He'll Do

Peter Costello, Treasurer of Australia and likely our next Prime Minister:
If you are somebody who wants to live in an Islamic state governed by sharia law you are not going to be happy in Australia, because Australia is not an Islamic state, will never be an Islamic state and will never be governed by sharia law.

We are a secular state under our constitution, our law is made by parliament elected in democratic elections.

We do not derive our laws from religious instruction.

There are Islamic states around the world that practise sharia law and if that’s your object you may well be much more at home in such a country than trying to turn Australia into one of those countries, because it’s not going to happen.

I wasn't sure he would measure up to John Howard's example, but I think I'm starting to come round.

(via Tim Blair)

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Thursday, November 10

World

If At First You Don't Succeed

Change the rules.

The Kansas Board of "Education" has adopted the anti-evolutionary "science standards" they have been pushing for some time. The standards are not even complete, but the six-member dingbat wing of the board pushed them through over the objections of the four-member sane wing.

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
This will come as a surprise to every scientist and science teacher on the planet. Science is the search for natural explanations of phenomena. That's the most fundamental definition of science; science explains natural events in terms of natural causes - i.e. other natural events.

That the Kansas Board of "Education" (or at least the dingbat wing thereof) would redefine science in this way can mean only one of two things: Either they are ignorant - and, since the facts of the matter have most certainly been presented to them, ineducable; or they are willingly participating in an act of fraud against the state's schoolchildren. I'm not sure Hanlon's Razor is sufficiently sharp for this one.

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Wednesday, November 09

World

Cheese Eaters

France surrenders.

(via LGF)

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