29.3.06

22nd Praetorian update


My Imperial Guard regiment, the 22nd Praetorian, is about to gain some new recruits.

I bought some Warhammer Dark Elf Cold Ones, a box of the Warhammer Empire Knightly Order, and along with some plastic 40k Cadian bits left over in my bitzbox, they're going to become a squadron of Rough Riders.


My army (some of which is shown above, click pic for less crap view) already contains some nice substitute models, including Cadians used as Stormtroopers, Steel Legion used as Armoured Fist troops (because the trenchcoats would protect the Praetorian's uniforms from oil and flashburns whilst inside their vehicle) and Mordians used as heavy weapons crew (because the British Army, around the time where they dressed like Praetorians, had Royal Artillery troops in black uniforms with either black pith helmet or black cap).
Even my army commander is a sub model. The Praetorian Commissar (the one in the middle) stands in as Colonel Ironfist, the Heroic Senior Officer.

I really need to find my webcam so I can post some pictures. Most of the ones I have a pretty bad because my digital camera doesn't have a zoom.

Updates on the progress and pics will come, probably at a pace which makes continental drift seem recklessly fast.

28.3.06

Just how dumb are you?

London police experimented with putting officers on ... roller skates.

Now, anyone who's ever tried rollerskating will tell you that they're best suited to flat surfaces. Paths, roads, roller-disco dance floors, etc. So, if persued by rollercop, all one must do is make one's escape over some grass.

Now, if only these rollercops were deployed in some place where there was lots of grass.

Like a park.

D'oh!

Okay, back to the drawing board. Maybe we could mount them on Segways, like cops here in Lexington are.

Or maybe, like, bicycles or something. Horses maybe.

What's that old saying about things not being broke and not fixing them?

27.3.06

Stupid Product Label

From a tube of Neutrogena New Hands restorative hand treatment which is branded "SPF 15":

Neutrogena New Hands helps give hands back their youthful appearance by diminishing the visible signs of aging, such as fine lines and age spots. It is a concentrated treatment designed to help revitalize and improve the appearance of skin while protecting skin from the damaging rays of the sun.


Okay so far? Then read further down the tube:

Sunburn Alert: This product contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards.


It boggles the mind.

26.3.06

Stay Alive

Stay Alive is, despite some indications to the contrary, a very good movie.

Don't let the fact that it has "Malcolm" from Malcolm In The Middle in a pretty big role fool you.

Don't be distracted by the fact that pretty much the only other person you know is "that dude that played Chandler's crazy roommate wasn't he called Eddie or something in those Friends episodes where Joey moved out?"

And, yes, it is heavily based around a video game.

Simple concept (which are often the best): a group of friends get a pre-release copy of a new game from a recently deceased friend (which should have given them a clue, right there). As they play the game, they start to die - in exactly the same way as they did in the game. So, they have to figure out how to beat the game.

I don't know whether or not Stay Alive is, or is going to be, an actual game, but, if not, it can only be a matter of time.

The movie itself is fast-paced enough to keep it interesting. The gore-quotient is not too high, especially when you consider that a good portion of it is computer animation.

There are few, if any, real jump-points, and few, if any, real chill-down-the-spine moments, but despite that it's a reasonably good modern horror.

One for either hard-core horror fans who must see everything, or one for those that want to watch horror but can't stand the true slasher flicks.

Doombreed Rating: ***1/2

I miss Spitting Image

I just found this by a series of very interesting hotlinks and searches.

Here it is, the b-side to Santa Claus Is On The Dole:

The First Atheist Tabernacle Choir

24.3.06

Friday Rodent Blogging

This picture better shows how Selene's fur is changing colour (as well as how cute she is), She's almost totally dark brown now, except for a light brown patch over her forehead and that strange white patch under her mouth that makes her look like she's doing a Bugs Bunny impersonation.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority

According to a new study done by the University of Minnesota, atheists rank below moslems, recent immigrants and - believe it or not, given recent events - gays and lesbians in the estimation of most Americans.

Atheism is also the minority group that most Americans would not want their kids to marry into.

Still working on the 21st century, guys.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (3/20/2006) -- American’s increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn’t extend to those who don’t believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

The study is co-authored by assistant professor Joseph Gerteis and associate professor Doug Hartmann. It’s the first in a series of national studies conducted the American Mosaic Project, a three-year project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States. The study will appear in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.

23.3.06

South Park vs Sceintology: South Park Strikes Back

Last night saw the premiere of Season 10 of South Park, with the episode to answer the question: how exactly are Matt and Trey going to handle the loss of Isaac Hayes?

The answer is: brilliantly.

22.3.06

The information age

Not so long ago, I wrote about how, every year, American residents have to file their tax return. The federal government over here is preparing changes to the tax regulations which will allow the accountants that prepare and file these returns to sell the information obtained.

Traditionally, tax information has been almost sacrosanct. Never before has a government tried to sell this kind of personal data.

It's not all bad news, though. The new regulations require written consent from the taxpayer, but there are those that fear that such a consent form will simply be slipped among the large pile of similar forms that are signed en masse when filing

Supporters say that the fears are baseless because regulations require "written informed consent", but opponents argue that not only would it be difficult - if not impossible - to prove that the taxpayer was not properly and legally informed, especially if the form required is phrased properly, but that most taxpayers would never know if their information was sold, whether or not they gave consent, informed or otherwise.

Still other concerns are that some accountancy firms might offer a discount for consent, or might even make consent a requirement for filing.

The reason why corporate America wants this is simple. Imagine how much it would be worth to a business to know that a prospective customer is about to receive a cheque for a tax refund, and to know exactly how much it is going to be worth. Information already available might tell a retailer that I*, for example, have recently purchased a new computer, TV, DVD player, but have not recently purchased a home sound system. Add in the tidbit of information that I'm about to receive a cheque for $2,000 and you have a golden advertising opportunity. Or, if you know, through the DMV, that my car is seven years old, and you also know, through my credit card records, that I've had it in for repair three times in the last year, the amount of my tax return could be invaluable in deciding what kind of payment terms you'd want to offer me.

The reason why most Americans don't want this is just as simple. It's personal, private information that is supposed to remain confidential. I don't want to help advertisers hawk their wares in a more targeted way. I want to decide for myself what I buy. What's most worrisome is that every snippet of your private information that's out there and available makes it that much easier for a criminal to steal your identity, and identity theft already costs Americans millions every year, as well as the fact that it can take months or even years to undo the damage done.


Some people are claiming this is just another example of how the current administration wants to screw the ordinary American. Others are claiming it's just another example of how the government is controlled by Corporate America. Some are saying both, but not the same time as that would be an impressive linguistic feat.

Personally, I think it's another example of how history will come to view this period in time. The latest part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st mark the true beginning of the information age. At no point in human history has information been so valuable and traded so readily. And at no point in history has so much information been available about each and every one of us. Almost everything about our lives, from our spending habits to our criminal records, is recorded and collated somewhere by someone, and with more and more centralisation, more and more of that information is under the control of a smaller and smaller number of entities.

Sure, we're a ways away from the sci-fi nightmare of having our every choice dictated to us based upon some computer's interpretation of our needs and desires, but so much of our lives is already dictated by what sort of information one institution or another has on file about us.

And I've consciously used the term "our information", but is it ours? If I buy a new car, is the fact that I've bought a new car "my" information or the car dealer's? What about my credit card records? Are they "my" information or my bank's?

Clearly, ownership of information is recognised in society, because information can and is bought and sold, but does information that pertains to me automatically imply that I am the owner? In the case of medical information, this is supposed to be the case, but what about other areas? Recently several cell phone providers here in America were revealed to have been selling customer's records over the internet. But does that information belong to the customer or to the company? Did those companies do anything wrong in selling records, even if they are about personal, private information?

In the end, is the amount of privacy we have only going to be dictated by how much the business world is going to allow us?

(which means, of course, how much you pay for)

Maybe the way forward, the thing that consumers really want, is companies that will step up and take all possible measures to protect privacy, making and keeping legally enforceable promises to do so. People would flock to these companies over those companies that only want to use our information to make money.

Who knows?

*all information offered here is for example purposes only and none of it is accurate or even reflects my actual financial status.

21.3.06

I'm sorry, it's what...?

Apparently, there's a saying here that goes "If you don't like the weather in Kentucky, wait five minutes and it'll change."

First day of spring and it's snowing here. Nice.

20.3.06

Kill Mario

I don't know who came up with the idea of taking a fight scene from Kill Bill Volume 1 and dubbing in sound effects from Super Mario World, but they deserve some sort of medal.

This is almost too awesome for words.

19.3.06

V for Vendetta

I'm not sure there are enough good things that I can say about V for Vendetta.

It hits you between the eyes almost from the opening credits and barely eases up at all until the last scene. The plot is complex and absorbing, the characters deep and sympathetic, the special effects, whilst a little comic-book-like are smoothly done and rarely, if ever, overpower the storyline.

The movie is set in an alternate version of "not too far in the future", where the USA has been reduced to an anarchistic third-world nation begging the rest of the world for medical and financial aid, allowing Britain to regain its former place as the world's most powerful nation, albeit under the boot of a tyrannical theocracy headed by Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt).


Enter V, a cloaked figure, masked in the likeness of Guy Fawkes, who blows up the Old Bailey on November 5th - a date that needs no explaining to British viewers, but in order to maintain international appeal, is explained in the movie but without belabouring the point - and then issues a challenge to both the government and the British people: In one year's time, on Guy Fawke's night, V will destroy the Houses of Parliament. The government is challenged to stop him, if it can, and the people are challenged to join him - to rise up and reclaim their country from those that have taken it.


What follows is a beautifully done tale of totalitarianism vs patriotism, set against the slowly unfolding story of V's origins and the development of Evey (superbly played by Natalie Portman) from terrified victim to confident freedom fighter.


It's good to have a good vs evil movie that doesn't revolve around "truth, justice and the American way" for a change, a patriotic, stirring movie that British people can cheer about.

The climax of the movie is a scene which is, I'm sure, powerful enough for all audiences, but for me it brought a lump of patriotic pride to my throat the likes of which I've rarely experienced before.


And as if that's not enough, there's a further layer. British audiences will be able to play "spot the Brit" as many British actors have parts, from non-speaking cameos up to major roles. And watch for the Benny Hill homage - it's hilarious.


If you only see one movie this year, see this one. And it's worth going to the cinema for it. Trust me.


Doombreed rating: ******

18.3.06

South Park vs Scientology: Update

Tom Cruise, who was "in the closet" in the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" (the episode which caused Isaac Hayes to quit) has reportedly forced Comedy Central to refain from showing that episode again with threats of boycotting publicity events for the upcoming Mission Impossible III. For the record, a "spokesperson" for Cruise denies it, but Cruise is known to be one of Hollywood's most litigious actors.

UK audiences may never see the episode.

Okay, so now I have another reason not to watch MI III. The first two, for those interested, are that (a) the first two MI movies were crap, and (b) Tom Cruise is one of my least favourite actors.

Anyway, in a move which proves why Matt Stone and Trey Parker are awesome, they issued a statment to Daily Variety magazine which read:

"So, Scientology, you may have won this battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!

“Temporarily anozinizing our episode will not stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies.

"Curses and drat! You have obstructed us now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu."

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants to the dark lord Xenu.

Fan-freaking-tastic.

17.3.06

Happy Get Drunk And Start Fights Day

Today is March 17th, St Patrick's Day. The day when the Irish celebrate being Irish, Americans get to celebrate that the Irish get to celebrate being Irish, and American politicians get to pretend they're Irish in order to win the Irish-American vote.

Apparently the English-American population isn't big enough to make April 23rd anything other than the day after april 22nd over here.

I wore my England football shirt today.

Friday Rodent Blogging

We've noticed a change coming over Selene. Not just that she'll happily take pumpkin seeds from my hand - without biting me - but that she's changing colour. She used to be light brown all over but now her fur's turning much darker along her sides and tail.

Obviously she's some sort of mutant chameleorat.

She's still cute as can be, though.

Garfield: the dark side

This is strangely compelling. A blogger has gone through a selection of Garfield cartoons and removed all of Garfield's dialogue, leaving a rather sad tale of a man who rants non stop at his cat.

Check it out
.

15.3.06

The Hills Have Eyes

This movie is the ultimate in religious conversion. It's so bad that an atheist is left almost praying for the end, and the theist might almost conclude that there can be no god, for no loving deity would allow such drivel to exist.

Yeah, it's that bad.

As a horror, it's only redeeming feature is a blood-quotient that is only surpassed by Braindead. As any form of entertainment, it sucks so hard that many theatres are experiencing minor black holes as a result.

The plot is the done-so-often-before notion of a family breaking down miles from nowhere and getting viciously attacked by the locals. The thing that is supposed to set this movie apart - that the locals are mutants created in the aftermath of US nuclear testing in the New Mexico desert in the 40s and 50s - is so pointless and so disconnected from the script that it might as well have not been included. Sure, that the hideous inbreds are mutants makes them more visually impactful, but other than that it's totally beside the point.

There are jump-points, but the same feeling can be engendered by randomly screaming "BOO!" into the ear of the person in front of you.

The acting is wooden to say the least, the characters are unlikeable, the bad guys are pathetic and the plot devices are juvenile.

I consider this movie to be one of the worst movies I've ever paid to watch.

Doombreed rating: Pants (as in "great big sweaty, smelly pile of your dad's old saggy skidmarked")

14.3.06

Well boo hoo waah

It seems that Isaac Hayes. who plays Chef in South Park, has quit over the hilarious scientology episode, "Trapped in the Closet."

Hayes, a scientologist himself, said
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins."

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

But I think Matt Stone said it best; ""This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians" and that he and Trey "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

See, this is typical. Hayes was bang onboard when South Park was bashing christians, jews, moslems, in fact, every religion except scientology. But when it's his beliefs under fire, suddenly it's time for "respect and honour".

Here's a hint: when religious folk talk about respecting beliefs, they almost always mean respecting their beliefs. When they talk about tolerance, they almost always mean you tolerating them.

I cannot wait to see how they deal with this in the show. Maybe Chef will be killed off in some horriffic accident? Maybe they'll keep the character on with some sort of Mr/Mrs Garrisonesque sexchange op? Maybe Parker and Stone will just find someone who can do a reasonable Chef impersonation and hire them to do the voice? Whatever it is, this ain't over.

Here's a little postscript/edit:

It's gratifying to see that the christians have somehow managed to find away to turn this whole thing - South Park vs scientology - into, and I quote, "Catholic bashing."

I shit you not.

13.3.06

Storm warning

This picture is of the storm that was rolling over Kentucky whilst we were on our way home from the cinema (see previous post).

Here's a hint. That dark wall over the road isn't, as it appears, the horizon. It's the storm.

What fun we had when that bugger hit.

Still, it made for a beautiful, if ominous, photo opportunity.

16 blocks

You've got to feel sorry for Bruce Willis. He's finally hit the age that actors dread, that age where the roles he gets offered change from "rippling sweaty hero" to "broken down older cop close to retirement."

Having said that, 16 Blocks is a stunning revelation. A better actor than could be indicated by virtually anything he's ever done before, Willis manages to pull off the role of a booze-soaked, overweight, has-been cop with almost heartwarming ease. Far from the wiseass hero in
Die Hard, or the still-proud but overlooked sheriff in Hostage, Jack Mosley is a man whose career is nothing but a distant memory, the butt of the precinct, and the cop nobody expects to do anything worthwhile.

One gets the impression that this movie might have been intended to be
Die Hard 4 (which rumour still suggests is in the works), but is way too powerful a film to simply be the arse-end of that particular series. Besides, the character of Jack Mosely is far to ignominious an end for John McClane, as much as it would humanise the character.

The plot is laughably simple for such a complex movie. Mosley, dragged out of his usual too-drunk-to-be-this-hungover morning is told to escort a witness named Eddie Bunker (played admirably by Mos Def) 16 blocks across the city to the District Attorney's office. The witness, however, witnessed cops being Bad Cops, and those cops want him dead. Will Mosely shake the habit of a lifetime and actually do the right thing?


Well, of course he bloody does, otherwise this would be the shortest and most pointless movie in history.


What follows is
Die Hard with brains. Shootouts galore, yes, but there's story, there's character development, and, yes, by the end of the movie one actually cares whether Mosely and Bunker make it. One wants to see the bad guys go down so much that it's hard not to boo them when they're onscreen.

Overall, this is a movie that will rank on the "good" side of Willis' star "Good/Shite" resume.


Doombreed rating: *****

12.3.06

Fun for all the family

Above is a pair of pictures I snapped of some signs that stand alongside the interstate we were travelling along not so long ago. The signs, which are hard to read in the pictures, read "IF YOU DIED TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU SPEND ETERNITY?" and "HELL IS REAL" on the sides that you see when going from Ohio to Kentucky, and each sign has five of the ten commanments on the reverse side.

So that's 5 points each, right?

10.3.06

Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene, discovering (much to her delight) that her house has a hole in the top that she's now big enough to reach, hence the honey bar and the salt lick up there.

Here she is, apparently, either playing Panzerkommandant or is trying to figure out how to get the honey bar and the salt lick down from up there. Some sort of pulley system seems to be in order.

9.3.06

Bless me father, for I have sinned (and I have no intention of giving it up)

Yes, confession time. I have been hiding a deep, dark secret. A secret shame, if you will. Nobody - until now - outside of the Doombreed household knows about this, my horrible burden. I am almost scared to admit it, knowing that it may prejudice many against me, that many might decide not to continue their friendships with me over this incredibly divisive issue.

I watch American Idol.

There, I said it.

Oh, but it gets worse.

I watched last year, too. I watched. I cheered on Constantine Maroulis, a name I know without having to look it up. I liked Bo Bice. I was upset, but not too much, when Carrie Underwood beat Bo in the final.

Friends, I went to the American Idol tour when it came to Columbus, OH.

I'm watching it this year, too. I'm rooting for Chris Daughtry (because he's good), Katharine McPhee (because she's phwoar as well as being good), Kellie Pickler (ditto), and Taylor Hicks (because, let's face it, the guy's so funny he deserves to win on sheer personality).

Mrs Doombreed likes Ace Young because he's so very talented and nothing whatsoever to do with his smouldering good looks.

Kevin Covais just needs to go away. There's something supremely annoying about him. Same goes for Paris Bennett. Really, the cute gets old after a while.

And Ryan Seacrest needs to get down on his knees and kiss Simon Cowell's butt. Seriously. On camera. Seacrest may think he's funny, but just watch the show and notice how often Cowell is right about which contestants are going home. And that's because he's been in the business for a long time and he's been successful for a long time, because he knows what he's talking about!

Those
that know might recall how much I disliked the original British version, Pop Idol, which spawned the phenomenon, but I've got into American Idol, so guilty sin or not, it's no longer my secret shame. And I'm not quitting any time soon.

So, yeah, hail Mary full of grace, ave Maria, in nominus patre, whatever. Pass the remote.

8.3.06

UltraViolet

Yesterday, the ever delectable Mrs Doombreed and I went to see UltraViolet, the latest comic adaptation in a seemingly endless line recently.

UltraViolet is good. It's not outstanding, but it's good. I don't know how, if at all, true to the original comics it is, but the movie is a few hours of pointless entertainment which is almost pure eye candy and very little plot.

Basically, some unidentified future government created a super virus to make supersoldiers, but the virus instead made hemophages, which are - I think - vampires. They have the strength, the speed, the fangs, the natty dress sense, but there is no actual bloodsucking in the movie. Anyway, the government moves to exterminate the hemophages, any of which can pass on the virus to a human, by establishing a totalitarian quasi-religious/medical New World Order that would make Machiavelli twitch.

Without the highbrow premise (and the interest that comes with the inclusion of John Hurt) that V for Vendetta promises, this movie was never going to rank high on anyone's social commentary list. There is very little to stimulate long, heavy discussions into the nature of man and its tendency for oppression, nor is there much for the Academy to consider worthy of a gold statue. The movie, however, is unapologetic. This is a blast of fun, frenzied, special-effects filled gaudiness, take it or leave it.

I don't think I'll be buying the DVD when it comes out, but I'm glad I saw it. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.

Doombreed Rating: ***

7.3.06

Single guys, beware

I love Mrs Doombreed. I really do. But the picture above is the end result of what I used to call "a day off."

Single guys everywhere should be aware of this. When you get married, suddenly a day where you are not actually at your job is no longer defined as a day off, it is defined as a day to "get things done around the house."

In this case it was finishing off assembling the last two of four new bookcases, plus the assembly of one of two new bedside tables, and act which will involve rearranging the bedroom furniture in order to fit them in. Done, probably, on my next "day off."

But worse, oh so much worse, is that I like it. I realise that sleeping 'till 3pm and then spending the afternoon staring at the TV, moving only to get a new beer or wipe the drool off of my chin, may be more relaxing than getting up in the morning and doing stuff all day, but at the end of the day, you end up with a feeling of accomplishment rather than that nagging feeling of having wasted an entire 24 hours.

I enjoy the feeling that comes from actually having done useful stuff instead of simply knocking minutes and hours off of my life. It's satisfying, something I never thought I'd say when I was younger.

Of course, if any of you tell my wife this, I'll deny it.

6.3.06

Sad, sad, sad

You'd think Our Lord And Savior Of The World would have better things to do than appear in sheet metal.

I mean, come on, it's not even a good picture. It's fucking oil stains for fuck's sake. It doesn't even look like Jesus, it looks more like Val Kilmer on the cover of The Doors. Or possibly Che Guevara.

And, yet, to utterly no surprise whatsoever, it is, at the time of writing, up to $1,025.

There's a sucker born (again) every minute.

Sad. Very, very sad.


I almost wish this were an atheist exploiting christian stupidity. Maybe it is.

5.3.06

Good readin'

Thanks to the "blogs of note" feature on Blogger, I've discovered the blog of none other than Neil Gaiman.

Sweet.

4.3.06

Oh, my.. Walmart?

Further to this post and this one, I've heard some more very good news. Reversing its previous decision, the retail giant Walmart (the largest retail chain in the world) has decided to stock the emergency morning-after birth control pill known as "plan B" in its stores.

Kudos.

Church and State

So, Tony Blair's caused a shitstorm over his comments about Iraq and his god.

I miss England so much. It seems quaint that politicians get lambasted over trying to mix politics and religion when compared to some of the things that go on over here, especially considering that it's "over here" that has a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, and it's "back home" that has the constitutionally mandated entanglement of same.

Truly, the world is upside-down.

3.3.06

Friday Rodent Blogging

Dammit, man! Can't a girl even get a drink in peace?

Selene, washing the taste of Doombreed flesh out of her mouth.

(just kidding, she hasn't bit me seriously except for that one time)

Hooray for Michigan!

With reference to yesterday's post about the pro-life movement's gathering strength, here's an encouraging story showing that people are trying to reduce unwanted pregnancies without doing away with women's rights:

State to give birth control to the poor


Note, though, that the fundies are pissed at the idea.

Anyway, good on ya, Michigan.

Abortion in South Dakota

Well, today I bring the sad news that the South Dakota legislators have passed a bill banning abortion in all cases except where the mother's life is at risk. There's no provision for rape or incest, no help for those caught out by failed birth control. All that's left is for the state's republican governor to sign it into law.

[In the USA, government powers are split between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. For a law to become law, it has to be passed by the state's legislature, then signed into law by the executive (the governor) and it can be blocked by the judicial (the state's courts). It can also be vetoed by the governor. Just so it's clear]

The problem is that even if the state's courts rule the law unconstitutional and overturn it, the decision can - and will - be appealed at the next level of courts, eventually, of course, ending up before the US Supreme Court which, with the confirmation of Justice Alito, seems to be - at least, this is the religious right's hope - stacked in favour of upholding such legislation.

The only hope for South Dakotans is that the governor will refuse to sign it (unlikely in the extreme) or that one court along the way will block the legislation and the next court in the line will refuse to hear the case (even more unlikely).
Sadly, the pro-life movement has been gaining momentum here from the second Roe v Wade was passed, and now they have supporters at virtually every area of government.

It's sad because this just isn't the USA I was taught about in school. In a truly free country, abortion would be available. Don't like abortion? Don't have one. You have the right to not have an abortion, but in a country that loves freedom, you don't have the right to prevent anyone else from having one.


If you don't like abortion, work to make them unnecessary, not illegal. Reduce unwanted pregnancy and you reduce abortion - it's causal. Campaign for better information and education about birth control (but of course, the religious right also paradoxically hate birth control - go figure), work to improve the adoption/foster care system, contribute to systems to educate girls about pregnancy and ways to avoid it. All these are simply examples of ways to work to reduce abortion without trampling over people's freedoms and whilst respecting women's rights.

But the pro-life lobby aren't interested in freedoms and respect. A glance at their literature shows it to be full of hate, vitriol, and lies, strange considering that most style themselves as Christians. Not that the pro-choice lobby are saints. A lot of misinformation and exaggeration goes on there, too.


South Dakota's new law is even sadder because it's obviously just another step towards an eventual federal ban (that's where abortion is banned across the entire country rather than just on a state level). America has been sliding towards this for a while now. It's saddening that the question has been settled in most civilised countries, yet here in America, the extremist minority still seek to control the lives of the majority - in a country built on individual freedom and liberty. It's saddening all the more for the fact that they are winning.


State legislators have also passed the preliminary stages of getting a similar law onto the books in Mississippi, and the US Supreme Court has just ruled in favour of pro-life groups in a case dealing with how law enforcement may deal with their protests. Here in Kentucky, both pro-choice and pro-life legislation are on the books, but the latter are more wide ranging and more supported.


I know that this country's abortion struggle is not my fight. I'm just a visitor here. But it does make me all the more determined to keep an eye on things in the UK, and to do my part to support the right to choose back home.

1.3.06

Going out in style

This post is being typed on our new computer. Yep, the old steam-powered hulk is gone (as far as the corner of the room) and a new, ultra-slim model now adorns the desk. What's more, Windows 98 has been retired and now I'm blogging with the power of Windows XP.

Finally, the Doombreed household joins the 21st century.