Thursday, December 22, 2011

The White Sox need Tebow

...or Adam Dunn (aka, Done) needs to find Jesus. Something.

Here is the redux on Dunn's dismal season:

Strange but truest player of the year

Did Adam Dunn's season really happen -- I mean, in real life? I've seen the numbers, printed on actual paper, so apparently it did. But really, friends, it ought to be impossible to do all this:
• On his road to hitting a mind-rattling .159, this guy had more trips to the plate when he DIDN'T put a ball in play (256) than trips when he did (240).
[+] EnlargeAdam Dunn
Eric P. Mull/US PresswireAdam Dunn batted .159 and struck out 177 times in 415 at-bats in 2011.
• He had 52 multi-strikeout games but only 12 multi-hit games. Seriously.
• He got six hits all season -- six -- against left-handed pitchers (in 94 at-bats). Just for comparison's sake,Adrian Gonzalez (who also bats left-handed, last time we looked) got six hits off left-handed pitchers in one SERIES (June 20-22 against the Cubs).
• Other than May, when the Dunner hit a not exactly Ty Cobb-esque .204, he never had a batting average higher than .160 IN ANY MONTH.
• You realize that Dunn went into this season with a higher career slugging percentage (.521) than Gonzalez, Paul Konerko and Troy Tulowitzki (among billions of others), right? You can look that up. He then went out and slugged an incomprehensible .277. That was 50 points worse than Juan Pierre, 63 behind Willie Bloomquist, 69 back of Aaron Miles and 82 lower than Elvis Andrus. You can look that up, too.
• This man had 111 more strikeouts (177) than hits (66). So how many other American Leaguers in history have had 100 more whiffs than hits in a season? That would be nada, obviously.
• And one more thing: If you ignore little technicalities like decimal points, Dunn's batting average (.159) was lower than his strikeout total (177). Other than Mark Reynolds, who pulled that off in 2010, no position player has ever done that in a season where he got more than 40 -- yes, 40 -- plate appearances. And with good reason!

And the best part: we have him for TWO more seasons!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Paul Ryan about to implode

Rep. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has taken up the mantle of enlightening the Republican party about health care and taxes.  He is using Wisconsin Republican Rep Raul Ryan has the vehicle.  Wyden and Ryan have teamed up to fix Medicare and health care "premium support" and there are enough changes to Ryan's original plan to make it work.  The caveats: it will provide universal coverage and it will entail higher taxes to pay for it.  In effect, Ryan is signing on to Obama's Affordable Care Act provisions and even includes a public option.

As Matt Miller says in the WaPo:

With this new plan, Ryan has signed onto the idea of subsidizing people to buy coverage from well-regulated health exchanges that must take all comers and charge them similar premiums regardless of health status (provisions that did not exist in Ryan’s previous premium-support plan). If that framework sounds familiar, it should — it basically describes the dreaded Obamacare! And here’s the kicker: Wyden-Ryan has a public option to boot, because fee-for-service Medicare would remain an option for seniors. 
Wyden has put Ryan in a box where he can be forced to admit that there’s no way to get our long-term fiscal house in order without higher taxes as the boomers age. (I know it must seem crazy to get excited about forcing a politician to admit the obvious, but that’s the kind of breathtaking intellectual dishonesty on taxes we’ve been dealing with). If the media are smart and persistent enough to force this question of Ryan’s endless debt, Wyden will have set in motion a Republican “uncle” on taxes that could fundamentally alter policy debate in the years ahead.

I can see how this plays out.  The Republicans will say that they are forced to raise taxers because of the irresponsible spending under Obama. It will be a lie of course.  The huge and growing debt is a result of the discretionary spending for wars, coupled with irresponsible tax cuts.  In time, to provide the promised health care and Social Security for seniors, the coffers will need to be replenished with the stolen money.  Maybe Ryan's acquiescence will serve as the beginning of that realization, but don't expect it to all happen magically without partisan rancor.

Given the hysterics demonstrated within the GOP about taxes, I cannot envision Ryan, with his reaching across the aisle, surviving this episode intact.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MLB: Milwaukee Franchise to Change name

Breaking News:

Ryan Braun sporting the new uniform for the Milwaukee Juicers

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett

This genre, historical fiction, is outside my usual reading preferences, but Fall of Giants is an excellent synopsis of the war and class struggle that changed Western civilization a hundred years ago. Follett constructs an intricate plot of believable characters that accurately portray likely traits of the various classes in the lead up to and during the Great War. The fall of the European aristocracy and the rise of the working class is played out by representative protagonists from nations of England, USA, Russia and Germany. 

Reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, this novel is an epic that brings us through a world war instigated by arrogance that informed a derelict world view. Young men died as old men lied to cling to their failing grasp of power and the resultant socioeconomic disaster hastened the universal rise of the proletariat. Characters easily garner our sympathy-- princes and paupers alike-- as Follett shows us how their motivations affected their actions and how the outcomes, in retrospect, seem unfortunately predictable. 

This is the first of the Century Trilogy and I look forward to the second installment in Summer 2012. Highly entertaining and easy to read despite it's nearly 1000 pages.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rick Perry wears the jacket

(h/t GoodDoc01 )

How are God and Newt different?

Answer: God doesn't think He's Newt Gingrich.

Newt Links:

Newt the transformational figure in cartoon form.

Newt takes a "no-adultery pledge". You cannot make this stuff up.

Where was war-hawk Newt stationed during the Vietnam War? Come on, you know the answer.

During a recent debate Newt realizes that he is saying he, himself, should go to jail. Video shows the moment at 1:40 mark.

And I quote: “See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. That’s why you get to go to jail and I don’t.”

Conservative radiotalker Michael Savage offers Newt $1 million to drop out of race. And another righty makes the case against "globalist Newt."

Own your very own pet Newt!

Gingrich spokesman outs Newt as "anonymous source." With loyalty like that, who needs Democrats?

Ron Paul's anti-Newt attack ad video.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adopt a Catholic!

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is asking his members to adopt an atheist in time for Christmas:
If we hurry, these [Atheists] can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”

Biologist Greg Laden, in excerpt:
Oh. Bill. It makes me feel bad when you say things like that about me.
I “believe in” quite a few things, at least by my use of the phrase. I believe in my Christian friends, and my Atheist friends, as people, in that I trust them and hold them as important in my life. I stand for many things. I stand for a progressive society, and I stand for making a difference in this world. So, I hope I’m good for something. I feel that my main role in life is to carry out acts that improve the lives of those I love, sometimes by making them laugh, sometimes by helping them stop hurting themselves, sometimes by standing up for them, sometimes by leaving them alone, sometimes by doing stuff for them, sometimes by doing stuff with them so they know they are not alone.
Damn. I suppose that makes me a lousy Atheist.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pujols to Angels

 for 10 yrs/ $254m

He rejected the Cards' 10 yr/ $220m offer.  Mark my words, this is a mistake.  He will fail in the American League, certainly he will not be the mega-star he was in St Louis and at the end of the day his reputation and endorsements will suffer more than the nominal $34m he will make over 10 years. The one advantage is that he can evolve into a designated hitter in he AL, which I'm sure is part of the calculation, but by that time he'll be decrepit and fans will resent paying a DH $25m/yr.

The big winner is Prince Fielder who is next up in the free agent wars.  To offer the 32 yr-old Pujols a 10 year contract is generous to the point of silly and sure to mean that the 28 yr-old Fielder will get an even better offer.  If he's smart, he'll stay in the National League.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Book review: Catching Fire, by Richard Wrangham

Five Stars.

This book was recommended by an evolutionary biologist and is written by an evolutionary biologist and primatologist but the Dewey decimal system in the library categorizes it as a cooking book. Admittedly, I was a bit disconcerted to find it next to Anthony Bourdain's latest tome, but Catching Fire is a gem: easy to read and presents a simple hypothesis with exquisite supporting evidence regarding the social and physiological evolution of hominids.

The basic premise is that Australopithecines developed the ability to process food by mashing and pounding 2.5 million years ago which led to the transition to Homo habilis, the "handyman", who had a larger brain and shorter gut.  The evolution was effected by easier digestion of food which enabled habilines to extract more energy from food sources.  Homo habilus learned how to control fire about 1.9 million years ago which brought about relatively rapid evolution to Homo erectus, a robust species marked with even greater cranial size and short, efficient gut.  This efficiency of calorie extraction allowed greater cognitive ability but also the ability to travel long distances.  Fire affects food in ways that make it easier to digest and therefore more calories are available.

We are evolved to eat cooked food as evidenced by our short gut and the development of taste for cooked food.  Other primates such as chimpanzees also prefer cooked meat although they have not evolved specifically to eat cooked food.  Wrangham hypothesizes that this is due to the easier digestion and the higher caloric extraction from cooked and processed food versus raw food.  He gives a fairly detailed and worthwhile description of how various food sources are affected by mashing and cooking...take that Bourdain! 

Fire also allowed hominids to live on the ground since it afforded greater protection from predators and led to migration across savannahs, increasing the available habitat.  Homo erectus was a robust and long-lived species that survived over a million years in harsh, predator-filled environments.  They lost their hair/fur since they were able to sit and sleep by fire; this enabled them to dissipate heat when running and allowed long distance running.  Fire changed the social relationships between sexes and communities enabling beneficial division of labor and shaping the roles we still have to some degree today.  It all started with the control of fire. 

Darwin recognized the control of fire as "probably the greatest [discovery], excepting language, ever made by man," and Wrangham develops this thesis with strong supporting evidence from anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies as well as observations of lower primates.  

Wrangham discusses the biochemistry of food calorie availability and remarks that the current system of calorie determination is flawed since it does not take into account the processing of food.  Cooked meat contains denatured protein which is easier to digest than raw meat.  Likewise, cooked vegetables and seeds are easier to digest and therefore contain more available energy than raw food.  Wanna lose weight? It's simple, eat raw food which burns more calories in digestion for the fewer calories that are liberated.

Catching Fire is an intriguing, well-written book which answers a lot of questions about how and why we enjoy food and how fire affected nearly every aspect of our physical and social evolution.  It's a short readable book, and gets my highest recommendation. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Packers selling more shares

The Green Bay Packers are offering new stock through February, which will dilute those shares owned by current shareholders.The new shares will mostly be sold to to the unwashed masses to fund new boxes that will allow millionaire season box-holders to have a more pleasant game experience.  

The reason stated in the article that Personal Seat Licenses (PSL), the usual way most franchises pay for stadium improvements,  won't be sold is that PSL's might lose money for the seat-owners.  Heaven forbid the titans of industry don't put their asses in soft cushy heated seats subsidized by working stiffs!  The cost of stadium upgrades instead is borne by poor folks who shell out $250 per share for... nothing-- no dividend, no tickets-- nothing.  The least they could do is rotate some seats in the end-zone for shareholders so that once in a lifetime the sawmill jockey from Fon-du-Lac can grope Kuhn's ass.  

If anyone chooses to waste money on Packers shares-- which by the way cannot be re-sold, thus making them worthless-- they should make damn sure that they've first 1) paid all their health care premiums for life, 2) funded their retirement with real investments and 3) covered their kids' education.  Only then is it allowable to throw your hard-earned money away so that CEO's can have a temperature controlled buffet and warm totties in front of the Jumbotron.  What is it that PT Barnum didn't say? 

Interestingly,  from the article:  "...only two franchises, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Bears, where PSLs were selling at a premium to their initial sale price."  That's called free-market capitalism, but why try it when you can get the hoi polloi to willingly give you money?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Prof Newt, educator-in-chief

Bonus! If elected president, Newt Gingrich will teach an on-line course from the White House!
"The idea would be, why wouldn't you want a president in the age of social media to methodically in an organized way share with you what they're going to accomplish so that those people who really won't understand it can understand it," Gingrich said.

Number 1: Who are you calling "those people"?

Number 2: Newt, how would you find the time to design a "social media" course when there would so many staffers to fornicate with in the White House?  

How much raging narcissism does Newt  have coursing through his veins to think that the American people would  benefit from , as Miranda Celeste says, the "Sleazy, ethically bankrupt, thuggish, pompous, painfully unlikable Newt Gingrich" as president?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Religion changes its “morality” based on secular considerations

Religious morality appears to change under only two conditions: either secular morality moves ahead of religious morality, causing it to change... or scientific advances show that the scriptural basis of religious morality is simply wrong (e.g., there’s no Adam and Eve and hence no Original Sin).
If a religion’s moral dictates remain fixed in stone for centuries, even under the press of secular advances, then that religion loses adherents.  This, of course, is what is happening to Catholicism in so many places.
My comment: I agree.  Consider that the vast majority of nominal Catholics do not adhere to the fundamental behavioral teachings of the Church: 98% use artificial birth control and abortion rates among Catholics are the same as society in general. Church leaders seem to look the other way in order to keep the “faithful” in the flock, although this remains a sore point among conservative, ie, orthodox, Catholics whose numbers are dwindling.
Believers, of course, will maintain that any changes in morality are "inspired" by divinity while all the observable evidence is otherwise-- that moral behavior is determined by very human desires and secular considerations.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fight The Power

Music by the Isley Brothers, used without permission.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

A nation of victims

Susan Jacoby has an excellent piece in the WaPo about the Republican's recent Iowa Thanksgiving Family Forum in which she notes the tendency for politicians nowadays to call attention to their hardships as a simplistic means test for the office of president.  A family member's affliction or a personal trauma can be presented as a totem that qualifies one for president, and of course, there is a heavy dose of hardly believable religiosity.

Jacoby points out that both Democratic (John Edwards) and Republican candidates do this, in sharp contrast to, say, FDR, who went to great lengths to downplay his disability in public appearances, yet he championed the cause of the less fortunate in public policy.  Jacoby: 
The Iowa forum was a triumph of the union of psychobabble and public religiosity that has come to dominate American politics. President Obama’s refusal to engage in this kind of faith-infused psychological exhibitionism is one of the main reasons why the media (and not only conservative media) have tagged him as a cool professorial type who does not know how to make a connection with ordinary people. Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, who were not present at the faith-and-suffering group therapy session, are also bad at exploiting whatever sorrows lie in their past to advance their candidacies. That’s probably one of the reasons Republican voters aren’t enamored of Romney and barely register Huntsman in their polls.
To really get the full flavor of the Iowa Family Forum, you have to watch the video, complete with 36 minute introduction containing religious and patriotic claptrap.  Then the candidates-- Perry, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum and Bachmann-- amble onstage to bare their souls of their deepest, most meaningful personal traumas, failures and triumphs.  I cried...I almost cried...I DID cry!  Read Jerry Coyne's site (contains embedded video) for another excellent review.  I got through the video of the freak show but not without some personal trauma myself...I'll have to tell Frank Luntz about it the next time we're both in front of a camera.
Nothing new was learned.  These people are not like me; they are so unlike anything that would appeal to me that I don't know that I would hire them to change a furnace filter let alone run my country.  Such histrionic appeal to the lowest common denominator, simplifying complex coping skills, and belief in supernatural bogeymen and saviors, all seem counterproductive to tackling any remotely involved job, especially that of president of the United States, which is, as Rick Perry says, "the most difficult job in the whirl."
I don't have a problem with individuals trying to sort out their problems, but is it necessary to do it with Frank Luntz in front of millions of onlookers? 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

UC Davis: Assault and battery?

I'm no lawyer, but this looks like a felony.

via KagroX:  "UC Berkeley's policy on tear gas & pepper spray says: Use of tear gas or a tear gas weapon, EXCEPT in self-defense, can be a felony."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barry's righteous rant

From Barry Ritholtz' Big Picture, an excerpt

In America, we are too busy dropping the kids off at soccer, running around looking for sales and bargains, racing to keep our heads above water. We seem to forget to get outraged. Our control over our once Democracy — the one we had a revolution against a monarchy dictating decisions from afar — slips away from us. Not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but with a 1000s acts of gradual ceding of power to the new Monarch. We have given up hard won rights to a coordinated attack from all three branches of government; Our Congress has become the legislative branch of eBay — Congressmen are auctioned off to the highest bidder; they even have a Buy It Now button to get specific legislation passed. The executive branch has fallen under the sunk cost fallacy, afraid to prosecute banks because we spent so many billions bailing them out. It turns out that even our once venerable Supreme Court is just as corrupted, with lobbyists partying with Justices and backdooring ethics by hiring their wives.

In short, our new overlords are enormously well funded, well connected, relentless and perhaps most of all, patient. This new King was not appointed by primogeniture, or even Divine Right, but by acquiring enough profits in the free market that they can buy control over society, even as they thwart that free market ideal for their own ends. We have become, in short, a Corporate Monarchy.
The right question isn’t why am I angry, sad and outraged. The proper question is, why aren’t you?

Go read the whole thing, and the comments, too.  And for the full discussion, read his excellent book Bailout Nation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." 
--- Mahatma Gandhi

Occupy Wall Street:

Evolutionary Tree of Life

For a larger gif, go here.

Newsflash: You are ALREADY mandated to buy health insurance

From the NYT:

But not only is there a precedent for this, there is also clear support for it in the Constitution. For decades, Americans have been subject to a mandate to buy a health insurance plan — Medicare. 
Except that this health insurance is for other people, and the 65 y/o version of yourself.  So it is the hallmark of insanity to buy this necessary product for other people but not for yourself.  Would you buy an iPad for every senior citizen but not for yourself?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Links to Drink By: Wednesday AM

I know this is the lazy man's way to blog, but this is what I'm reading:

Newt Gingrich took $1.6 million from Fannie and Freddie.  What, you mean it's not Barney Frank's fault!!?

Six reasons why young people leave Christianity, especially in Ireland...

God's power presented graphically.

Businessweek: Americans won't do dirty jobs.

"Fathoming Amazon"

Charles P. Pierce: 2012 election field is an embarrassment to democracy

Jimmy Fallon as Jim Morrison

Monday, November 14, 2011

Links to Drink By

Irish billionaire goes bust: the biggest individual loser of the current financial meltdown.  Why didn't he just buy bonds and retire 20 years ago?

John Corzine is another case for the rich just buying municipal bonds and retiring: now Corzine's fortune is up for grabs.

John Feinstein: Paterno is not the victim, and...

Jeffrey Pollard: What Paterno could do now to promote healing

Former Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder: The Folly of the Flat Tax

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Um, no, we aren't.

I've read a lot of opinions on this scandal but none is more chilling than Christopher's at the conservative Catholic website Christopher's Apologies.  He made a video drawing the accurate analogy between this child abuse scandal and the Catholic Church's priest abuse scandal, and he makes a mild leap to the Gosnell case where a doctor was killing newborn infants and calling it abortion.  Okay, a gratuitous, albeit obtuse and inaccurate, jab at abortion, but I'd agree that Gosnell's office was also a similar hierarchy that eschewed outside oversight and covered up crimes.  Fine.

Christopher, for some unknown reason, goes on to draw a direct line from anal intercourse with a 10 year-old  to consensual sex between adults, as in the Tiger Woods and... wait for it... the Bill Clinton peccadilloes.  Bill Clinton analogies never get old for conservatives.  But Christopher gets whacky when he equates failing to report child sex abuse to keeping an extra hamburger that was mistakenly placed in your McDonalds bag.  Is this what goes for Catholic morality these days?

If Christopher is to be believed, we are all Penn State, we are all lax in our duties as citizens and human beings.  Not!!!  I was trying to imagine how graphic the image would be of witnessing an adult male raping a 10 yr-old in a shower, especially witnessed during an otherwise ordinary day at work.  The graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, had seen such a thing in 2002 when he was 28 years-old, certainly an age of knowing right from wrong.  Is it really within reason to merely report such an occurrence to Joe Paterno and then go about your career within the coaching hierarchy of a university for another nine years, never questioning why the cretin Sandusky is not just out of prison, but still working at the university!?

McQueary's grand jury testimony says that he told Joe Paterno the graphic details of the incident and then went about his career.  Paterno, for his part, told the athletic director but found nothing untoward about Sandusky, his long time former assistant, continuing to work at the university.

There are surely enough WTF moments in this saga to boggle the mind.  At no time did any member of the Penn State University athletic department or administration have empathy for the victims and future victims of this pedophile.  Does this sound familiar?  Is the Catholic Church's priest abuse scandal analogous?  You bet it is.

Nittany Lion
And the common denominator is that both institutions are examples of top-down hierarchies with little or no outside oversight.  One law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania remarked that nobody from the coaches to the athletic director to the university president himself-- nobody-- ever thought to notify the police of the crimes that were being witnessed and discussed.  Protection of the university and Coach Sandusky's reputation became paramount, with no apparent consideration for the victims.  Even JoePa's final statement "I wish I had done more" seemed more a plea for his own personal reputation than for any justice or empathy, echoing similar sentiments from various bishops.

Anyone who could for a minute analogize child abuse to keeping an extra nickel of change from a restaurant, as ersatz Catholic moralists seem to be doing, needs to do some re-evaluation.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions.
Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them.

– Thomas Jefferson

Your health care dollars hard at work

I'm sure this guy is worth it.  Not.

Fortune magazine lists the highest paid executives under 40 years-old, and there are the expected wunderkinds of the tech world, or communications or entertainment, but then there are the guys (and almost all are guys) in the insurance business, and specifically the health insurance industry. What possibly can a 39 yr-old, or anyone really for that matter, do in health insurance to earn $6.5 million per year? Did he invent a magic weight loss pill or figure out how to cure cerebral palsy? No. More likely he came up with some novel foolproof approach for denying claims on necessary medical care.

I can truly understand paying individuals who add value to a product or create wealth within society or can play shortstop, but health insurance executives do none of this. They are useless middlemen who shuffle money around and take a huge cut. I know of no highly trained physician who comes close to making a tenth of this Howdy Doody look-a-like's salary.  Atrocious.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Catholic theologian relents and allows release of video [UPDATE]

[UPDATE]: The video is up at the Gaines Center site.  I guess I don't really see the point of Dr. Haught's drama.  Dr. Coyne was vociferous, but polite and on point.  He makes the case that Christianity and science are not compatible and having read one of Haught's book (The New Atheists), I can say that his talk was similar in style, obtuse and without any substantive claims.  His Christianity is emotional, ie, an emergent phenomenon of his material being. Coyne's site has some comments to read as well.


Under pressure from the blogoshpere, John Haught has agreed to the release of the video of his recent debate with evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne.  The kerfuffle ensued when the sponsor of the event, the University of Kentucky, announced that it would honor Haught's unilateral request to nix the release of the video.  Coyne's website has been abuzz with comments which have boiled over to reddit and other sites, and even an on-line petitionHaught himself has provided a comment as to why he initially vetoed the video's release.

My own personal experience is consistent with this high sensitivity of the faithful when their beliefs are challenged.  I agree with Coyne's approach that our society-wide deference given to religion should be challenged with facts and reason at every turn.  Now, we must wait and see if the video really is released.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Panel recommends HPV vaccine for boys

From the NYT:

Boys and young men should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, to protect against anal and throat cancers that can result from sexual activity, a federal advisory committee said Tuesday.
Parents of boys face some uncomfortable realities when choosing whether to have their child vaccinated. The burden of disease in males results mostly from oral or anal sex, but vaccinating boys will also benefit female partners since cervical cancer in women results mostly from vaginal sex with infected males.

For the record, The Kalamazoo Post made a similar proposal in 2007:

My modest proposal is to make the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine mandatory for boys and optional for girls. Frankly, I'm hesitant to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for anyone, especially for the first five years of use until unforeseen problems can be studied. My bias is to keep such things optional for all, but if mandatory vaccination is to be instituted, I would argue that boys should be required before girls.

Newer data on the increase in males acquiring HPV related anal and head/neck cancers makes the recommendation more compelling.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Did WikiLeaks end the Iraq war?

From Glenn Greenwald:

From a CNN report on why the Iraqi Government rejected the Obama administration’s conditions for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline: 
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline would require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.
But the Iraqis refused to agree to that, opening up the prospect of Americans being tried in Iraqi courts and subjected to Iraqi punishment.
The negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks’ release of a diplomatic cable that alleged Iraqi civilians, including children, were killed in a 2006 raid by American troops rather than in an airstrike as the U.S. military initially reported. 
That description from CNN of the cable’s contents is, unsurprisingly, diluted to the point of obfuscation. That cable was released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama adminstration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.

This is in contradistinction to the run up to the war in 2002-03 when the news establishment-- and especially the NYT's Judith MIller-- were abetting the Bush administration's case for war with obfuscations and outright lies.  
Greenwald continues:

History is filled with examples of those who most bravely challenged and subverted corrupted power and who sought reforms being rewarded with prison or worse, at the hands of those whose bad actions they exposed. If Bradley Manning did leak these cables, his imprisonment is a prime example of that inverted justice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Links to drink by

David Foster Wallace was a dick...or had a very dry sense of humor.

112,000 owners make the Packers unique.

The illusion of skill, read Kahneman's entire piece.

Qadaffi, just another dead asshole who spent his nation's wealth.  Take my word for it, don't even bother with the's too depressing.

No due process for American citizen Awlaki, or his 16-year-old son.

Spain's stolen babies.