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    • God As Idea, By Eric Anderson
      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Just One of Thousands of Reasons Why I’ll Never Fly Again

Nightmare at 20,000 feet

Nightmare at 20,000 feet

Here’s today’s police state update.

A BLIND INTERNATIONAL interpreter who says he was dragged off a Belgium-bound flight, arrested and held in custody in Philadelphia for hours without food or water faces an arraignment Thursday.

His crime: He questioned why his U.S. Airways flight was delayed nearly two hours.

Nicola Cantisani, 61, of Brussels, Belgium, a professional translator who has been blind since birth, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police said.

Apparently the plane Cantisani and his wife were on was sitting on the tarmac for about 2 hours with no explanation provided for the delay. Passengers couldn’t use their cell phones and were told to stay in their seats. I have been through this kind of experience, and it’s extremely frustrating when the airline crew won’t give you any information and you’re not allowed to leave the plane or even use the bathroom. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone who is blind. Isn’t it bad enough that you are treated like a criminal when you go to an airport these days? Can you believe my 83 year-old mom has several times been pulled out of line and patted down by airline security thugs? I haven’t flown since before 9/11, and I plan never to fly again. I prefer driving where I at least have the illusion of control over my surroundings.

Anyway, back to Mr. Cantisani and the horrendous ordeal that has given him posttraumatic nightmares. Continue reading

Tuesday Evening Open Thread

Have the Illuminati returned to destroy the Catholic Church?

This movie sequel is actually the book prequel to The Da Vinci Code.  I’ve read both books and seen the first movie.  I liked this book better.

I enjoy Dan Brown’s writing.  Like Tim Powers (Last Call, Anubis Gates) he mixes history and fiction to make a great story.

What’s on your mind?


15 More Minutes


At least SOMEBODY finally said it:

President Barack Obama ended up in the middle of an unlikely controversy this morning — the debate over Miss California’s position on gay marriage.

At a press conference addressing Carrie Prejean’s disputed title in the Miss USA competition, pageant owner Donald Trump compared Prejean’s stated views on gay marriage to Obama’s.

It’s the same answer that the president of the United States gave,” Trump said. “She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart.”

In her own remarks moments later, Prejean echoed Trump’s statement, telling reporters: “The president of the United States, the secretary of state, and many Americans agree with me in this belief.”

In the final round of the Miss USA pageant, Prejean told judge Perez Hilton: “I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.” (emphasis added)

This whole kerfluffle is absurd. Why does anyone really care what a beauty pageant contestant thinks about an issue? She’s not running for political office.  Attacking her only gave her a platform to speak from.

The pageant paid for her to get a boob job and paraded her around in a swimsuit, but they’re angry because she had photos taken wearing lingerie.  People call her a hypocrite because she claims to be a Christian, but one of the pageant officials criticizing her for posing in her skivvies is a former Playboy centerfold.  Hypocrisy overload!

Now today we find out she took some other photos where wasn’t wearing ALL of her skivvies.

You may as well get used to the name Carrie Prejean, cuz she’s gonna be around for a while.  She’s famous now.  Any bets on whether she’s a contestant on next season’s Celebrity Apprentice?

My life in their claws

I feel like a mouse in a room full of cats. In the struggle for health care reform, will Big 0’s need for popularity or his need for Big Medicine’s money win out?

A few weeks ago, I would have bet on number two. Never forget that this is the (expletive deleted) whose idea of the right way to gut Illinois’ attempt at State-assisted health care was to say

“We radically changed [the health care bill] in response to concerns that were raised by the insurance industry.” (Obama, 2004/05/19)

But (will wonders never cease?) the Dimmicrats seem to have understood that they have to get something accomplished this term or people might start to wonder why the Repugs were to blame for everything. Even Big 0 is on board for using the “nuclear option” to stop filibusters on health care reform. So they’re going to reform.

This is giving me that uncomfortable Hope(tm) feeling. They never did specify what they were hoping for. Turned out to be rather different from what I was hoping for. Now they’re going to reform health care from a Kafkaesque trap to . . . to what? They’re not saying.

But the fact that the health insurance moguls have suddenly started participating gives me a bad feeling. Next thing you know, health care will be radically reformed in response to their concerns. I can’t bring myself to share Krugman’s kind words, although I hope he’s right that industry interest in controlling costs is “some of the best policy news I’ve heard in a long time.”

I fear the worst, though. Our only leverage against it is threatening to throw the Congresscritters out of their jobs. Which brings me to the point of this post. (You knew I’d get somewhere eventually, right? Right?) Call, email, fax the relevant Critters daily. Hourly, if you have the stomach for it.

Katiebird has corralled a wealth of information in one place. Her posts and others at The Confluence have really helped me know when and what to do for maximum effect. (Keep it up, Katie! and Stateofdisbelief! and everybody!) The single payer day of action was a real W00T! moment. Now that the industry has decided to “help,” constant threats to Congress are our only hope(not tm).

Tuesday: Rosen, Davidson and adolescent males

Let me say up front that I am not one of those “I am the victim of the patriarchy” type of women.  My approach has always been one of confrontation and anger when someone threatens my personhood.  I don’t whine.  (Oh, brother, I can just hear the comments now.)  Maybe that’s because I think of myself as person first, female second.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t pervasive cultural trends and conditioning that need to be eliminated and/or reversed.  For example, this notion that somehow the thoughts that come out of the mouths of women are worth less than those that come out of the mouths of men really frosts my crockies.  You will probably not be surprised to find that there is some recent research on the subject and attitudes about the appropriateness of women taking on certain subjects is already in place by high school.  That is, in the male adolescent brain.

Consider this recent study noted in Science Daily back in February of this year noting Gender Bias Found in Student Ratings of High School Science Teachers:

A study of 18,000 biology, chemistry and physics students has uncovered notable gender bias in student ratings of high school science teachers.

Researchers at Clemson University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University have found that, on average, female high school science teachers received lower evaluations than their male counterparts even though male and female teachers are equally effective at preparing their students for college.

The findings appear in Science Education online in the research paper, “Unraveling Bias from Student Evaluations of their High School Science Teachers.”

Most notably, say the researchers, the physics students in the survey showed the largest bias toward female physics teachers. In biology and chemistry, male students tended to underrate their female teachers, but female students did not. In physics, both male and female students tended to underrate their female teachers.

“The importance of these findings is that they make it clear that students have developed a specific sense of gender-appropriate roles in the sciences by the end of high school,” said Geoffrey Potvin, assistant professor of engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences at Clemson.

“Such a sense of what are and what are not appropriate roles for males and females in science likely impacts the choices students make when they consider their college studies,” said Clemson researcher Zahra Hazari, also an assistant professor in engineering and science education and the department of mathematical sciences. “Such a bias could negatively impact female students and contribute to the loss of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Put aside the fact that there aren’t any jobs in these areas in America anymore, I think we can begin to understand why Larry Summers thinks that women can’t cut it in science and math.  What is striking about the study is that both male and female teachers were equally able to prepare their students for college level courses.  The outcome was identical but the female teacher didn’t get the same credit for her work.

Now, some commenters have complained in the past that we bash men unfairly.  This isn’t true.  There are some feminist bloggers who will go out of their way to accuse all men of being latent rapists and Taliban wannabees.  We tend to stay away from that kind of blanket condemnation because it simply isn’t true.  However, if some of our male readers out there feel put upon that their behavior is being called to task for being insufficiently respectful of opinions that emanate from the mouths and keyboards of women, then I can only say one thing: stop doing it.  Women don’t share the belief that they are not as smart as men, that their opinions aren’t as valuable or that their passions and research are “pet issues”.  We all grow up in the same families and schools so whatever the genesis of these differences that exist in the minds of men are subtle and profoundly irritating to those of us who have to put up with them. We have to read the ridiculous bitchy sniping of Sonia Sotomayor from the keyboard of Jeffrey Rosen and listen to the textbook case of gender bias from Adam Davidson and we get angry.

Yesterday’s Planet Money reviewed the angry responses from listeners to Adam’s attack on Elizabeth Warren’s credibility.  I have to applaud her for not decking him.  She sounded feisty and offended, as well she should.  But somehow, Adam’s mea culpas do not yet sound sincere.  He apologizes in a pro forma way without real understanding of how his attitude towards her greater authority is less than it should be.  He undermines his own credibility in the process.   And without true understanding, it is going to be very difficult to have women in power.  The next time one runs for high office, we will be subjected to the same crap that Hillary and Sarah put up with in 2008.  The country is 51% female.  To diss more than half of the population as insufficiently capable of expressing a well-thought opinion is a recipe for disaster.  It can result in the election of a complete neophyte to office who will be easily manipulated by the oligarchs.  How else could it be that a man with no experience or political philosophy can be promoted over a more qualified female in a period of our nation’s history when experience and knowledge base is crucial to that nation’s economic survival?

Overcome it, guys.

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Moringin Paper

  • Terrible News
  • When will this nightmare be over?
    U.S. soldier kills 5 comrades in Iraq

    A U.S. soldier fired on his fellow troops at a counseling center at a base outside Baghdad on Monday, U.S. officials said, killing five people in the worst such attack of the six-year war.
    “Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all,” Col. John Robinson, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a written statement. “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this terrible tragedy.”

    Why Did a U.S. Soldier Kill His Fellow Troops in Iraq?

    David Kilcullen’s Iraq invasion lesson for the US: don’t do it again

    [D]on’t invade countries in pursuit of a few Islamic terrorists and turn the whole population against you.
    That is the message from David Kilcullen, an Australian academic turned military strategist and one of the most influential advisers to General David Petraeus. Kilcullen, the author of a thoughtful new book on lessons from fighting radical Islamists, is blunt about the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan — and invasions in general.

    Suicide bombing in northern Iraq

    A suicide bomber has driven his car into an Iraqi police patrol, killing six police officers, in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

  • Some good news
  • Iran release of US journalist removes obstacle to US-Iran dialogue

    The decision to free Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi Monday after more than three months behind bars in Iran removes one of many obstacles to a new US-Iran dialogue pursued by President Barack Obama, while also clearing away the episode in the runup to Iran’s hotly contested presidential election next month.

    Journalist’s Release Shows Divide Among Iran’s Leaders

    After Iran Frees Saberi, Will the U.S. Reciprocate?

  • Afghanistan Headaches
  • US sacks top military commander in Afghanistan

    The top US military commander in Afghanistan was sacked yesterday after both the Pentagon and the White House decided that “fresh thinking” was needed to win the war.

    Commander’s Ouster Is Tied to Shift in Afghan War

    The move reflects a belief that the war in Afghanistan, waged against an increasingly strong Taliban and its supporters across a rugged, sprawling country, is growing ever more complex. Defense Department officials said General McKiernan, a respected career armor officer, had been removed primarily because he had brought too conventional an approach to the challenge.

    Taleban using white phosphorus, some of it made in Britain

  • The hottest of all hot potatoes
  • Obama’s New Middle East Diplomacy

    An Agenda for Mr. Netanyahu (NYTimes editorial)

    For Obama and Netanyahu, it’s showdown time

    There’s a lot riding on the US president’s masterplan for peace in the Middle East. Expectations are high, but will it deliver?

    Pope angers Israel with call for Palestinian homeland

  • Economic woes
  • Economists Downgrade U.S. Recovery Outlook, Survey Indicates

    His Shrillness is asking us to be less delusional
    Paul Krugman Says Rapid Recovery ‘Extremely Unlikely’

  • THE defining issue of the Obama Presidency
  • A Moderate Plan for Health Care (NY Times editorial)

    Businesses sign on to health care reform, Obama says

    Why healthcare providers joined forces with Obama

    The last time a Democratic president took office promising major health reform, 16 years ago, the effort crashed amid fervent opposition by key groups in the healthcare industry.
    Industry groups see that momentum is building toward reforming the system – and they want to be inside the tent affecting the outcome, not outside having decisions forced upon them.

    Health care debate hits the airwaves

  • Is Obama throwing gays under the bus?
  • Young Ross Douthat, who is off to a great start as NY Times op-ed columnist has some interesting thoughts
    Faking Left

    Obama promised to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy He still intends to — but not yet, not yet. He said he supported federal recognition for civil unions. His administration has ignored the issue. He backed repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Don’t expect that to come up for a vote any time soon.

    Is My Marriage Gay?

  • “Torturegate”
  • Richard Cohen says if you left a baboon in front of a word processor long enough, he could write something correctly
    What if Cheney’s Right?

    GOP’s torture strategy: Pelosi

    Pelosi defense: couldn’t object in ’03

  • From the world of neurology
  • This is very interesting
    When Senses Intersect

    Dr. Richard Cytowic is one of the leading researchers of synesthesia, a condition in which two normally separated sensations – such as sight and sound, or touch and taste – occur at the same time. As a result, a synesthetic person might experience the taste of a dish on her fingertips, or be convinced that the letter X is a vibrant turquoise.

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