Monthly Archives: July 2006

International trade deadline, or Make mine a gibson

If you are a baseball fan like I am, then you know that today was the trading deadline for major league baseball teams. Not a big deal to the non or casual baseball fan, but almost a holiday for those of us who dwell in the temple of baseball. Of particular interest to me in the last day or two was the fact that my Yankees picked up a stellar right-fielder named Bobby Abreu for little or nothing, much to the despair of thousands of Philadelphians, and at least two Nashvillians.

There was a fun trading frenzy today, albeit bereft of the big names everyone expected to be traded. All the trade talk made me think….what if there was an international trading day where people outside the confines of baseball or sports could be traded?

Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Richey for a flat of smoked Norwegian salmon might be a good deal, or better yet, how about Mel Gibson to the Hezbollah for those two Israeli prisoners? I’d be willing to extend the deadline for THAT trade for quite some time.


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Blogging from Beirut

Thanks to Clicked, I found the blog of a cartoonist, musician Mazen Kerban. The blog is called Kerblog. I understand that there are probably bloggers and cartoonists who tell a similiar story from the Israeli side. Kerban’s cartoons give us a perspective we don’t get to see very often.

The cartoon to the left is entitled Qana (we know it as Cana). I do know that what happened at Qana puts the lie to the story that the Israelis are only bombing strategic targets. I understand that a temporary cease fire may be in effect now as a result of this tragedy.

What I do not understand is why it takes this kind of a tragedy to get to a cease-fire. I also understand that the Arab world was largely critical of the Hezbollah movement until the bombing started. Is this what Israel REALLY wants?


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Oh, those funny church signs…

here’s a cute one!

or, how about this one!

It’s a can make your own fun church sign here!

ht: Vic Bowker


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Ladies and gentlemen, the comedy stylings of Ann Coulter

Since our last comedy outburst that helped push book sells..damn, those 9/11 widow bashing jokes only take you so far, Ann has topped herself by claiming that Bill Clinton is gay. That’s quite a kneeslapper. I was wanting more yuks from Ms. Coulter than just the Clinton haha, so I found this interview in the New York Observer. My two favorite parts of this ‘bit’ are the jokes about those darn Iraqi civilians and the status of the Middle Eastern countries vis’ a vis’ George Bush.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeres Anne…

What would have to happen to make you say it was a bad idea to invade [Iraq]?

[Coulter] “That’s a good question. It would be a mistake if we just futz around and the whole country became like one long Falluja. I thought we were wasting way too much time on that. This is a war, let’s go in and win it. Just take the city! I think if it got to the point where it was going on for six, seven years, and it was just Americans patrolling without killing anyone — I’m getting a little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties. I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning.”

[Gurley] After we bomb North Korea, what’s the next country we should invade?

[Coulter] “Iran. Though that’s the beauty part of Iraq: It may well not be necessary. Because precisely what I’m saying with nuking North Korea — …. They’re a major threat. I just think it would be fun to nuke them and have it be a warning to the rest of the world.”

[Gurley] What about Mecca?

[Coulter] “Seriously, I think the rest of the countries in the Middle East, after Afghanistan and Iraq, they’re pretty much George Bush’s bitch,

God, isn’t she GREAT. Can you imagine the FUN of dropping the big one on North Korea. Don’t forget to tip your waiters.

My second favorite thing after listening to Ann’s comedy is how her defenders all claim that she really has a good message under all that ‘flair’.


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Research Even Mary Could Love

MILAN, Italy, June 29 (UPI) — Italian scientists say the stem cells they extracted from “virgin birth” embryos are capable of turning into neurons.

Read all about it.

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One More Time with the Stem Cells

Okay, John, you’ve made a liar out of me. I said that I had written my last word about the issue, but that was then; this is now. I appreciated the Jonathan Alter quotes you posted below. He’s fair and balanced enough to include some valid criticism of the pro- side and he generally avoids condescension (though labeling his opponents “anti-cure” probably crosses the line). However, his arguments do nothing to negate my objections. He says, “The second argument made by opponents is that non-controversial adult-stem-cell research is so promising that there’s no need to mess with embryos. This is contrary to the principle of science, which is that you move ahead with all reasonable approaches because there’s no telling what will work.” Notice the word “reasonable.” There’s the rub. I forget what it’s called in logic, but I think he just assumed the point he’s trying to prove. I don’t care how pragmatic and useful and promising any kind of research might be, if it’s morally and ethically wrong, I’m against it. That’s the very nub of our disagreement: whether it is “reasonable,” i.e. morally defensible, to destroy human embryos for the benefit of the already-born. Granted, it is not a glaringly black-and-white question. I see the shades of gray, but the issue (as well as its potential for unintended negative consequences) raises enough qualms in my mind that I come down on the side of caution.

In an earlier comment exchange on this issue, you said that I’m the one on the slippery slope because my position taken to its logical extreme would agree with the Italian government’s, which says that every embryo created has to be implanted. Actually, that idea doesn’t bother me as much you might think. When Randy and I were going through our infertility ordeal, the doctor suggested hormone treatments to increase my ovulation. We tried the relatively benign Clomid and when that didn’t work, the doctor suggested Pergonal. He warned us that Pergonal works so well, a woman often becomes pregnant with multiple embryos, and then the doctor must perform what is euphemistically called a “thinning-out” process to destroy all but one or two, so the mother can safely deliver at least one baby. Randy and I took very little time to decide that we didn’t want to go there. So I’m pretty much already at the bottom of that slope. The whole idea of creating “surplus” embryos makes my skin crawl, even while I acknowledge the understandable and overwhelming desire of couples to conceive and bear their own children.

As you know, Randy and I chose to adopt, and on that issue, Mr. Alter is vastly misinformed. There is no “large constituency” of infants available for adoption. He’s conflating the number of older children in need of homes with the much smaller number of available newborns, for whom adoptive parents are waiting in line. Maybe there was “federal funding and intense outreach” to promote the idea of embryo adoption, but if so, they need to hire a new ad agency. I had only vaguely heard of it before we started this little back-and-forth. Maybe interest will grow now with the exposure President Bush has given the Snowflakes organization.

I also question his last statement, that “no lab that receives federal financing can take part in embryonic-stem-cell research.” I haven’t done enough research to refute him, but I did read this in the Wall Street Journal:
“No fewer than 11 private stem-cell research centers exist across the country; Harvard alone employs more than 100 researchers and has 17 new stem-cell lines. More than 60 U.S. and international companies are pursuing stem-cell research–from such giants as Johnson & Johnson to start-ups. In 2005, the venture-capital industry put more than $102 million into the stem-cell industry. All of this casts doubt on the claim that America is “losing” quality researchers to other countries for lack of funding.”

Anyway, as usual, you and I will have to agree to disagree. I have little hope of changing your mind and nothing you’ve said has changed mine, although the process of thinking about your ideas and putting my thoughts into coherent sentences has been immensely valuable. For that, as well as many other things, I thank you.


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Death throes, or Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s what we get for our $2,000,000,000 a year

An Iraqi blogger named Fayed started his blog a few months ago because he was tired of hearing all the negative things about the war and wanted to, as the song goes, accentuate the positive. The name of his blog is Healing Iraq.

Fayed has since emigrated to Jordan (along with 500,000 other Iraqis). Why would this man leave his beloved country?

He blogged this a few months ago.

Please don’t ask me whether I believe Iraq is on the verge of civil war yet or not. I have never experienced a civil war before, only regular ones. All I see is that both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat lynchings and summary executions. I see governmental forces openly taking sides or stepping aside. I see an occupation force that is clueless about what is going on in the country. I see politicians that distrust each other and continue to flame the situation for their own personal interests. I see Islamic clerics delivering fiery sermons against each other, then smile and hug each other at the end of the day in staged PR stunts. I see the country breaking into pieces. The frontlines between different districts of Baghdad are already clearly demarked and ready for the battle. I was stopped in my own neighbourhood yesterday by a watch team and questioned where I live and what I was doing in that area. I see other people curiously staring in each other’s faces on the street. I see hundreds of people disappearing in the middle of the night and their corpses surfacing next day with electric drill holes in them. I see people blown up to smithereens because a brainwashed virgin seeker targeted a crowded market or café. I see all that and more.

Don’t you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.

This is from a more recent blog right before he left for Jordan.

The instructions vary between neighbourhoods. Amiriya and Ghazaliya have the full menu, while others stress only 2 or more of them. So far, enforcing the hijab for women and a ban on shorts for men are consistent in most districts of western Baghdad. In other areas, women are not allowed to drive, to go out without a chaperone, and to use cell phones in public; men are not allowed to dress in jeans, shave their beards, wear goatees, put styling hair gel, or to wear necklaces; it is forbidden to sell ice, to sell cigarettes at street stands, to sell Iranian merchandise, to sell newspapers, and to sell ring tones, CDs, and DVDs. Butchers are not allowed to slaughter during certain religious anniversaries. Municipality workers will be killed if they try to collect garbage from certain areas. Private neighbourhood generators are banned in a few areas. And the last I heard is that they are threatening Internet cafés and wireless providers.

This is not the talk of some couch-ridden anti-war got-it-soft liberal American.

In other parts of my blog (and many other blogs) we debate federal funding for embyronic stem cell research. One of the chief reasons for opposing this research is that the ‘opposers’ don’t want federal funds being used to support research that is morally repugnant and that destroys what they consider to be human life.

Do we really want more American dollars, and much more importantly, more American lives, to be sacrificed and spent for what Iraq has become?

ht: NRO (and that’s not The Nation or the Progressive)


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