Good news: Sudanese president may be charged with genocide



Off with this asshole\'s headHopefully this will help bring this humanitarian travesty to an end.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir may be charged with genocide, the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations told CNN.
The ambassador said Friday that the International Criminal Court has indicated to Sudanese officials that al-Bashir may be charged over the five-year campaign of violence in the country’s Darfur region.

It is staggering how awful this campaign of terror has been against the Darfuris. The UN estimates 2.5 million people have been displaced (many into neighboring Chad), and 300,000 people killed. Three-hundred thousand people killed. That’s half the population of San Francisco–decimated by janjaweeds sponsored by the government of al-Bashir.

I’m not a proponent of the death penalty, although I’d make an exception for this asshole. At least lock him away and throw away the key.

Is ‘retarded’ an offensive word?



In my mind, no. There’s a difference between ‘developmentally disabled’ or ‘mentally handicapped’ (for people who have Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, etc.) and ‘retarded’ (for people who are stupid). But, because I know and understand sensitivities around the term, I would never use the word ‘retarded’ around developmentally disabled people. But in other company, I freely use the term ‘retarded’ (and ‘barely-functional retard’) in reference to:

  • Creationists
  • Bible-beaters
  • Hypocritical politicians
  • People obsessed with terrorism, who have never lived in or even visited places that would ever be considered targets for terrorism
  • People with horribly misplaced priorities
  • sheeple – mindless drones who are carbon copies of everyone else around them
  • rich brats who try to sound ghetto
  • people who cackle into their cellphones while weaving in and out of their lane while driving
  • annoying narcissists who are convinced that the entire universe revolves around them and their petty concerns
  • People who can’t grasp things that your average kindergartener can
  • pretty much everyone lampooned on South Park

For these sorts of people, the term captures my sentiments toward them like no other.

LabCorp SUCKS



I just spent 2 hrs waiting for a routine blood test. I stress waiting, because I didn’t actually get my blood drawn. I gave up when I did the math and realized I would have to spend at least another hour waiting.

My doctor has outsourced simple bloodwork to a company called LabCorp. You can’t make an appointment, and it’s clear when you walk into their third-world facilities why. I went to two facilities this morning. The first one had one woman at the desk answering questions and refilling piss container bins, and another person in the back doing everything else. There were about 5 people when I got there. Half an hour later, one person had been admitted. I turned to a woman to my left and asked how long she had been waiting: “An hour and 20 minutes.”

Great. So I was in store for a 5 hr wait.

I asked the receptionist/piss-container-filler if there was another LabCorp facility nearby. She said there was, about a 5 minute walk away. She called and after a 2-minute interchange, told me that they weren’t busy.

I raced over there (along with 2 other people). The waiting room had 3 people. Better. After 40 minutes of waiting, not a single person had been called.

The problem is that collection and analysis seem to happen at the same facility. This is mind-blowingly stupid. But, in insurance companies’ bid to pinch pennies at our lives’ expense, this is what we have to deal with. Fucking LabCorp.

Let me tell you how it should be done. In the Netherlands (ranked near the top of international tables rating the quality of healthcare, and paying substantially less than we do here), you get your blood drawn at your doctor’s office, by a nurse. Then they pack the vials into a special sealed container and give it to you. It’s stamped and addressed. They tell you to drop it off at a mailbox (one was conveniently right outside my doctor’s office in Rotterdam). It’s mailed to one of two national facilities that do nothing but analyze blood and piss. My doctor gets the results a few days later.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., you’re waiting a few days just to get your blood drawn.

Someone’s started a blog; register your complaints there. Please.

Should American children learn foreign languages?



You know Barack’s going to take some serious heat for this. Read the video comments.

It’s no secret that the nativists in this country aren’t too intelligent. If they had a few more functioning brain cells, they’d realize that expanding your mind’s capacity with additional mental challenges (such as learning a foreign language) when it’s still developing is a good idea. Maybe they have only a few brain cells that work and are worried about burning them out. Maybe they’re worrying that the American Idol kids are going to start belting out Spanish canciones and they won’t be able to sing along. Maybe they worry that the local Walmart will start listing prices in Spanish pesos, rendering their English dollars worthless.

The fact is that most of the developed world does speak some basic English. But knowing the language of our trading partners and neighbors only gives you advantages and opens up opportunities. Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian – all of these make sense to learn in a practical sense. Euro-nostalgics who want their children to learn French or German aren’t harming their children, even if these languages don’t have the same practical value.

If you need to see a positive example at work, look at Scandinavia. Pretty much everyone there is fully bilingual, in their native language and English (and many are multilingual). And it’s one of the most economically productive areas of the world. I remember only one person on my trip to Copenhagen that didn’t speak English. He was a trash collector.

DIY helium balloon aircraft – the stuff of childhood dreams



This is extremely cool. The guy used a lawnchair to build an airship that carried him 235 miles (from Oregon to Idaho) that was lifted into the sky by a bunch of helium-filled balloons. He periodically shot balloons with a BB gun to maintain the right altitude. He landed safely 9 hrs after liftoff.

End the HIV immigration and travel ban



AIDS ribbonDid you know that HIV-positive immigrants can not become US citizens? Did you know that the US is one of a handful of countries (including the Sudan and Saudi Arabia) that doesn’t allow visitors, much less immigrants, into the country who are HIV-positive (without special permission)?

I didn’t. But now that I know, I’m outraged.

Upon a bit more research (courtesy of Andrew Sullivan, who faces deportation in March unless the law changes) I learned that this senseless bigotry was initiated into law by none other than Jesse Helms, the nasty old racist and homophobe who (thankfully) died this past weekend. Hopefully this bigoted law will die with him.

The fact is that HIV does not constitute the communicable threat that people thought it did in the 1980s. I am gay and HIV-negative, spend a lot of time with HIV-positive people, and do not, in any way, fear for my health. And the costs of treating HIV are similar to that of other chronic illnesses, like diabetes (so it’s not as if HIV-positive people are going to screw our healthcare system any worse than it is already).

I’ve written my senators, Dianne and Barbara, and encourage you all to do the same.

It is sad that plenty of bright people who have plenty to contribute to our country’s discourse, creativity and productivity are being turned away because this bigoted law still sits on our books.

Fox News: we’ll make you look ugly if we don’t like you



It’s always been amusing to me that Fox News claims to be “fair and balanced”, when it is clearly anything but, but this gun is smoking so badly that there’s an air quality advisory in effect for a full 50 mile radius around their headquarters.

The fact is that the people the network caters to are, to put delicately, not the most intelligent people in this country (but they are numerous). They’re the type that equates physical ugliness with evil, having been inculcated to believe so by the worst Hollywood pap. So, why not use Photoshop to make your adversaries look like they deserve the enmity you feel for them?

Jacques Steinberg - Before and After Fox News\'s Photoshop

Steven Reddicliffe - Before and After Fox News\'s Photoshop

Let’s see, they get:

  • yellowed teeth (because bleached teeth are closer to Godliness)
  • distorted features (bad people have big noses, chins and foreheads)
  • dark circles under their eyes (to match their dastardly souls)

(And I love how they emphasize that overly-Frenchified name, Jacques, when they mention Steinberg – see the video, at the 1:06 mark)

I want to know – do any reasonable people, of any political stripe, think that Fox News is an actual legitimate news organization? Come on.

My favorite freaks: the crazy cat guy



Crazy cat man with friend on a leashThis is the second installment on a series I’ve started. The crazy BART lady was the first feature.

This guy is pretty old and shabby, but has an unusual relationship with his bushy, sullen cat.

He’s about 60 years old, and would probably be about 5’9″ if he could stand upright. But years of carrying his life-in-a-backpack and an obese cat across his shoulders have reduced the poor guy to a stoop.Crazy cat guy with cat on backpack

Totally unobtrusive. Never heard him make so much as a peep. He just ambles down the street with his cat perched on top of him, motionless.

I’ve seen him:

  • with the cat sitting on his backpack (see Tim’s picture to the right)
  • with his cat sitting across his shoulders (I’m serious)
  • holding his cat by the leash. He’ll pause as the cat investigates a fire hydrant or a piece of molten gum.

A┬ádisplay of symbiosis like I’ve never seen one.

Innocence vs Wisdom



Innocence vs WisdomI remember a time when there was no guilt associated with eating ice cream. Or when I was oblivious to the darkness of a black woman’s complexion when estimating her beauty. And when I would happily agree with criticism of the U.S., feeling like I had allies abroad.

Experience gives you wisdom. It also irrevocably destroys your innocence.

I remember realizing as a teenager that I couldn’t subsist on dessert and expect to be in shape. Getting pudgy earns you advice, and reading up confirms that advice. Ice cream and cookies for me became the mixed blessing that pesticides are to farmers today.

I remember a black female friend correcting me: T. wasn’t beautiful, but K. was, because she was light-skinned. The eyes of the black men in my dorm confirmed her position more strongly than mine. Today, I can’t help but perceive women of color through the prism that I know their culture values their beauty through.

I remember feeling the burning resentment against all things American from a large segment of people I met when I lived abroad. Their cricitisms of the U.S. had a strong undercurrent of loathing that mine didn’t. Judgments against religious bigotry and self-serving conservatism seem less valiant when they’re coupled with haughty sniping about our lack of fashion sense and stupidity.

Part of understanding the way things are makes you lose a part of you that didn’t understand enough about the way the world worked to be bothered by it.

But, then again, being bothered by something is what makes you act.

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