Month: January 2007

Under the guise of Religion

This supports the claim that Richard Dawkins makes when he states that forcing religion on a child is a form of child abuse.

In the case of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon and other areas, there’s this little ritual to celebrate the saint Ali Hussein (I.E. son of the cousin of Mohammed, who Shiites believe should have been the successor to Mohammed, hence the root of the Shi’a and Sunni split.) The ritual is to slash the forehead of boys with a razor to simulate Husseins suffering. Charming little practice that ranks right up there with ritual circumcision in the west.

But this paragraph says it all and support Dawkins statement:

Asked if it was difficult for him to hurt the children, he said: “The child doesn’t understand what’s going on. The parents are faithful and believe by doing this, their children will be protected and will enjoy a long life.”

If the child doesn’t understand what’s going on then it is wrong to enforce your religious beliefs on the child.

The Judicial Backlash against Pols starts Locally

This is such happy news to hear. Seems John Celona, former state Senator in RI is now staring at 30 months in the hoosegow for selling his senate office for cash to CVS and Roger Williams Hospital. What’s more interesting is that we’re getting a 7/7 combo from Celona – seven legislators and seven corporations are under investigation. By the way, this is NOT a state case, this is a federal case which means now there’ll be that much more case law to go after corporate influence over legislators everywhere. And RI could be the very first state in which that happens.

Now – follow me here. Let’s say approximately half of those 7 of each roll on other companies and legislators. In the first round we’ll get conservatively get 3.5 more legislators and 3.5 more corporations. Again, I’m being conservative in my estimate. Considering that the entire legislature is comprised of only 113 people, you can see how this going to spread like wildfire. This is because you pretty much know that all your elected officials have their hand in one cookie jar or another.

Now, of those seven legislators I guarantee that most all are in top leadership positions in the house and senate. You know they’ll roll on the rank and file to save their own skins.

And I love how Celona is all of a sudden remorseful. Yeah, right. How can you tell if a politician is telling a lie? His/her mouth is moving. Judge Torres can’t see through the act which surprises me as Torres is known as a tough judge. But then I’ve heard that Torres has some political aspirations of his own which might explain everything.

I see this as encouraging that people are finally waking to the danger of allowing corporations any influence on the legislative process.

Here’s the ProJo article in its entirety:

Celona, Urciuoli sentenced in corruption case
A prosecutor says an ongoing investigation could lead to 14 more criminal cases, involving seven politicians and seven corporations.
01:57 PM EST on Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PROVIDENCE — Former state Sen. John A. Celona, once one of the most powerful lawmakers at the Rhode Island State House, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for selling his office for personal gain.

Shortly after, U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres also penalized form er Roger Williams Medical Center president Robert A. Urciuoli for stealing Celona’s honest services, with a sentence of three years in prison.

Urciuoli took responsibility for Celona’s hiring and requested leniency for co-defendant Frances Driscoll, a former vice president at Roger Williams. “It was my decision and my decision alone to hire John Celona,” Urciuoli said.

Driscoll was convicted in October with Urciuoli. She was found guilty of one count of mail fraud, but acquitted of conspiracy in Celona’s hiring. Her sentencing, originally set for 11:30 a.m. today, is now due to start at 2 p.m.

Celona, a North Providence Democrat who had served as chairman of the powerful Senate Corporations Committee, two years ago admitted selling his office to Roger Williams Medical Center, the drugstore chain CVS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He gained $319,000

He pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in August 2005. Celona was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison this morning for each of the three counts, but they are to be served concurrently. Celona faced 1 1/2 to 3 years.

He was ordered into federal custody March 2.

During this morning’s proceedings, a prosecutor said that Celona’s cooperation in an ongoing investigation could lead to 14 more criminal cases, involving seven politicians and seven corporations.

Celona’s cooperation with investigators has already led to the convictions of Urciuoli and Driscoll and the indictments this month of two former CVS executives.

The federal government’s lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan, characterized the information Celona has provided to federal prosecutors as unparalleled.

Sullivan didn’t go into any details about the seven additional politicians and corporation under investigation. Sullivan said it’s not clear how many prosecutions will come from those 14 separate investigations.

An emotional Celona spoke for six minutes, telling Senior U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres, that he will continue cooperating.

“I would like to express my remorse, apologize and take full responsibility for my past actions. I am truly sorry,” Celona said. “I am in some ways glad all of this has happened.”

That’s because, Celona said, in the past three years he has become “a better husband, better father and in some respects just a regular person living in the real world.”

“I was living in a superficial world in the State House,” he said.

At that moment, through tears and with his voice cracking, Celona professed his faith in Jesus Christ.

The last three years have affirmed that “family and honor are the most important aspects of life, not power, not politics, not glory,” he said.

Judge Torres told Celona, “I have a feeling that you are genuinely remorseful for what you’ve done.”

Referring to future prosecutions, he said, “You’ve testified and apparently will be testifying in future cases.”

Torres spoke of the culture of corruption and said he hopes this sentence will send a message to other office-holders.

“The message doesn’t seem to have sunk in,” he said, referring to other cases in Rhode Island.

“I hope, but I’m not sure I can say I’m optimistic, that what’s happened in this case” will deter further corruption, Torres said.

Celona must also serve two years of supervised release. As conditions of that supervised release, he must commit to eight hours of community service each week for two years.

He also must pay the cost of the supervised release, the cost of which is $3,450.

Urciuoli was convicted after the same trial of one count of conspiracy and 35 counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced today to 3 years on each of the counts and all are to be served concurrently.

Urciuoli has until noon April 2 to turn himself in to prison officials. Torres denied a request to stay Urciuoli’s sentence until his appeal can be heard.

The jurors acquitted a third defendant, Peter J. Sangermano Jr., who owned the Village at Elmhurst, where Celona was paid $257,000 as a consultant from 1998 to 2004.

Take that you ID proponents

Watch Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson rip apart intelligent design. I particularly like his description of our nether region, calling it putting a pleasure complex in the middle of a sewage treatment plant.

I always wondered how such a perfect deity could allow such imperfect beings to exist, particularly when those beings are supposedly created in the image of said deity. This would mean that the god of Christians, Jews and Muslims is an imperfect being. Then there’s the whole thing about the ‘others’ in the various versions of the Bible. Yes – who did Cain go off with hmm? Explain that one. While we’re at it, explain the various versions of that inerrant book, the Bible.

Tyson also brings up a good point with the frozen waterfall analogy. You have to take it in context, and that’s something that the Intelligent Design community consistently fails to do. You cannot have good without bad, and either your intelligent designer is completely infallible or the designer is fallible. Can’t be any combination in between.

Oh I could go on and on and on. Just sit back and watch.

How to break oil and gas dependence

Came across this on Digg, and it’s very though provoking if not a very long and detailed read.

On The Oil Drum|Sustainability, Energy Independence and Agricultural Policy the case is made for using biomass (I.E. Not just corn mind you, but all the by-products of agricultural production)

In short – we could:
a) Cut our dependence on foreign oil and natural gas. I mean completely cut imports. Imagine how hard the spread of radical Islam would be when they have no money.

b) Decrease carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. There still seems to be mixed opinion on whether or not our current society produces an excess of carbon dioxide that influences our atmosphere. I happen to think we do, while others including friends think it doesn’t. But we’ve had some seriously weird weather past decade or so which leads me to believe that things are changing for the worse or better depending upon your perspective.

c) Finally come damnably close to achieving Type 1 status on the Kardashev Scale. A Type 1 civilization uses all the energy resources of its planet, or approximately 10^16 watts of power. That’s 100,000,000,000,000,000 watts.

It’s worth it to think about how we could make life better for every one of us.

TMI Tuesday #68 is upon us

1. Do you think people in general are too forgiving of or too harsh on promiscuous women? Promiscuous men?

Definitely too forgiving of promiscuous men. After all, a guy who has his a snake pit of his own is known as a stud, whereas a woman who has too many male partners is known as a whore, slut, etc.

2. Suppose you’ve been dating someone for a year, and they’re slowly getting fat. Does this romance have long-term potential?

No it doesn’t. Only a shallow asshole would consider that a reason to ditch someone.

3. If you have five VERY successful dates with someone, are you a couple?

Nope – takes a long time before I consider myself in coupledom. Of course being off the market for oh, 15 years now I can’t really say if I’d be the same next time around.

4. When you have a “toe-curling” orgasm, do your does curl up, or down?

Down – actually it isn’t just toe-curling. How do I put this – contortions would be too mild a word. Total body spasm would be closer to the mark.

5. Can great sex be reason enough to stay in a relationship? (What about just okay sex?)

I don’t think so. There has to be a little bit more there for me to consider it a relationship.

Bonus (as in optional): When you’re unhappy in a relationship, do you treat the other person badly? Examples we’ve tried: causing jealousy, picking fights, withholding sex, getting real quiet.

No – I generally just come out with the fact that I’m unhappy.

Fox News Once Again in the Atheist Fray

This interview of Brian Flemming, creator of The Blasphemy Challenege on Fox is ludicrous. The host of the show ought to be brought out back and given at least 100 lashes of a wet noodle.

I knew that the sky fairy (aka God) was myth when I was a tender child of eight. Oh I was forced to go to church but that did no good, nor did twelve years of Catholic schools. I like to recommend that people send their kids to Catholic schools since if anything, they teach you how to think. If you can think, you immediately realize that religion is bullshit.

Here’s the Flemming interview:

And here’s my pronouncement:

A Little Late to the Party

I recall having heard about Avenue Q some time ago and my first thought was “Oh great, musical puppetry. Yawn!”. Never really gave it a chance until I found a link to the Avenue Q interpretation of Fiddler on the Roof. Oh that was great and of course I’ve been wasting time on YouTube watching a bunch of their videos.

After the 2nd video it struck me, Avenue Q is Sesame Street for teens and adults. That being said I’ll have to go see them live some day. I’ve never been a person who loved musicals but they actually pull it off, and the puppetry is top notch. I should mention it also has a strong Monty Python flavor to it, as evidenced by this video titled “Everyone’s a little bit racist”. Puts me in mind of the song “Every Sperm is Sacred” in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”. Ahem – “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great and if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.” has been stuck in my mind for pretty much perpetuity.

Find out what kind of reader you are

I turn up as a:

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you’re not nerdy about it. You’ve read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

So in other words about 65% dedicated reader, and about 50% obsessive-compulsive and 50% book snob. Sure, I’ve read things that other people haven’t. I mean who else has come across The Adolescence of P-1 about a self-aware computer, or The Arms of Krup 1587-1968.

And the two best sellers I’ve read in the last year were Freakonomics and The Tipping Point. Of course Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” was a good book but it is a little heavy on the science which I just eat right up. And the book The Worst Hard Time about 30’s era dustbowl America was fascinating.

Unconscious Mutterings #33

Once again Polt got me going on this one, so let’s begin:

I say … and you think … ?

1. Limit :: As n approaches x
2. Voice :: Mail
3. Change :: Static
4. Expression :: Stay quiet
5. Tailor :: Rack
6. Lemonade :: Iced Tea
7. Thought :: Unconscious
8. Phoebe :: Kates
9. Impression :: Depression
10. Sister :: Sledge (Think 80’s here.)

Has rationality broken out in D.C.?

This is an interesting little synopsis of the current Democratic efforts in currently in congress. A few of them are really encouraging.

For example, John Conyers bill HR676 would extend health care coverage to EVERY American citizen. Put it this way, I’d be so much more likely to start a business and hire people if I knew they had health care coverage. I’d even be likely to be a reasonable wage too. In my book, the only thing stopping me is asinine taxes in Rhode Island and the lack of affordable health care.

As far as verifiable elections – Rhode Island has such a system but even there people come up with bogus arguments just to throw a wrench into the system. Our ballots are paper and all that one has to do is draw a line to complete an arrow pointing to ones choice. But some people are not the sharpest crayon in the box, and so draw lines everywhere. Of course you can’t count that ballot. And we did have a little issue this past election because for cities like Providence, it was a four page ballot. Otherwise it’s a good system with multiple points of verification. This should be the standard for the country – it’s inexpensive (With the exception of printing the ballots) and effective.

With regard to the Healthy Families Act (S 932 and HR 1902) I’d like to see some language added to it. I’d like to see sick, vacation, personal, comp etc. all dumped into one paid time off (PTO) account. Then you could take time without having to worry about whether you have enough sick time, etc. If you lumped all my time together I’ve got almost 400 hours of PTO in my bank, that’s 11.4 weeks, but because about 100 of that is sick time, it gets reduced to 8.5 weeks if we used PTO.

The Employee Free Choice Act (S 842 and HR 1696) would put the brakes on Wal-Mart and the like. I think it is time for unions to return to the U.S. with a vengeance. Contrary to popular belief, we ALL benefit from union acitvity.

Numbers five and six on the list are sort of one in the same or could be combined. We should not have bases in the Arab or Persian world. And we shouldn’t be hiring private contractors to torture our prisoners of war.

I’m fully in favor of Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act (S 2573 and HR 5150) since I have about $20K in student loans that I’m still paying on. So it’d save me about $6K which thrills me to no end. Plus the fact I’m thinking about going for either another B.S. or a graduate degree which will add to the total.

I solidly support number eight, the Media Ownership Reform Act (MORA — HR 3302).Media consolidation has given us Clear Channel and networks like Fox, NBC, etc. owning far too much market. Then you have the Providence Journal which is owned by Dallas based Belo Corp. Since Belo bough the ProJo it’s gotten to the point where the paper isn’t fit to line a cat litter pan, and the website is absolutely hideous.

TheClean Money, Clean Elections Act (HR 3099) act would do more to help us than anything I’ve spoken about so far. That is because if you had publicly financed elections, corporations would then have diminished influence on the political process. If you’ve been reading my blog you know my disdain for corporate power and you’ve seen my solutions for limiting corporate dominance over our lives.

Finally, the Clean EDGE Act (S 2829)has all sorts of goodies in store. By reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we reduce the ability of radical Muslim clerics to spread their message of hate. The bill also proposes clamping down on price gouging, which has been going on for some time.