Published on March 23 2006

CNN.com - Top Muslim clerics: Convert must die - Mar 23, 2006
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Senior Muslim clerics are demanding that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces." "Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001. "Cut off his head!" he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left."

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Published on March 22 2006

What Makes a Lefty: Myths and Mysteries Persist - Yahoo! News An interesting article on left-handedness, and the possible explanations for why we southpaws are the way we are. I learned something new from the article though, when I read this:
In a twist on the genetic model, the gene for hand preference might also be the gene for hair whorl direction, the way a person's hair turns on the top of their head. Half of people with counterclockwise whorls prefer their left hand, according to research by Amar Klar at the National Cancer Institute. The same system that patterns hair and handedness could also play a role in the asymmetrical organization of the brain. "It is clear that the same genetics control both traits, along with the side of the brain where language is processed," said Klar.
If you only could have seen me sitting in my chair here, unconsciously examining the top of my head trying to figure out which direction my hair whorls. All I would have needed was for somebody to walk in on me at that second, and they'd have been sending the men in the white suits for me. Oh yeah, it whorls counterclockwise.

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Published on March 21 2006

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Published on March 20 2006

WarmX Electric Underwear - Gizmodo
If you’ve ever tried on electric socks, you know they involve tons of wires, bulk and discomfort. But now WarmX has developed a line of electrically-heated skivvies that solve all those problems, using special conducting thread that’s woven directly into the cloth to keep you warm.
Would be a little warmer biking though, ya think?

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Published on March 20 2006

Yeah, yeah, I know..first day of spring and I can't seem to shut up. :-P Running my mouth over things which I know nothing about is a good way of avoiding talking about things I'd rather not think about right now. BBC NEWS | Authors wait on Da Vinci ruling
A court case in which The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown was accused of copying has ended, but the judge's verdict may not be delivered for weeks. Mr Brown denies copying The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh for his best-seller. The judge, Mr Justice Peter Smith, said he hoped to give his ruling by Easter. Both books explore the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a child and that the bloodline survives.
I haven't read the book yet, only a few blurbs about it here and there to know the gist of the story. Watching a news report about it this morning, I was struck by one thing. An author writes a possibly somewhat blasphemous book in the West--we make it into a multi-million dollar best-seller. We have lawsuits, with several people fighting over who had the original idea. What happens when a blasphemous book is written about "other religions"?

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Published on March 20 2006

Spring is in the air!! And the ice-fishing is really bad now! :-D first day of spring Taking a break along the road. bridge Such stylish attire for a ride....longjohns under the jeans, long-sleeved shirt under the sweatshirt. Wool-over-Thinsulate mittens. At least I didn't forget the hat! dressed up Even all the cars are coming out in their newest spring paintjobs. nice paint

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Published on March 20 2006

Belzer Proclaims He Knows Better About Iraq than Uneducated Soldiers in Iraq | NewsBusters.org
During the 2004 campaign, liberals contended that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's experience in Vietnam as a ground soldier made him an expert on the Iraq war, but now, by Belzer's reasoning, soldiers and Marines actually on the ground in Iraq have no credibility. Belzer is a conspiracy theorist who authored the 1999 book, “UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe.” His NBC bio notes that “he hosted and produced The Belzer Connection, a series of conspiracy-theory prime time specials for the Sci-Fi Channel.” On the March 17 Real Time with Bill Maher, produced at CBS Television City in Los Angeles and aired live on HBO at 11pm EST, Belzer and Ros-Lehtinen were joined on the panel by liberal writer Michele Mitchell. Belzer had a boisterous audience on his side during this exchange with Ros-Lehtinen which I attempted to transcribe, impeded by the frequent talking over each other:
Keep reading to get the transcription. He even ticked off Mahrer, which is quite a trick in itself. Maybe it was the chemtrails.

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Published on March 20 2006

Demagogue
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday lobbed a litany of insults at U.S. President George W. Bush ranging from "donkey" to "drunkard" in response to a White House report branding the left-wing leader a demagogue. "You are a donkey, Mr. Bush," said Chavez, speaking in English on his weekly Sunday broadcast. "You're an alcoholic Mr. Danger, or rather, you're a drunkard," Chavez said, referring to Bush by a nickname he frequently uses to describe the U.S. president. A White House report released last week on pre-emptive force in national security described Chavez as a "demagogue" who uses Venezuela's oil wealth to destabilize democracy in the region.
It is *so* tempting to revert to Kindergarten-hood and say "I know you are, but what am I?" What is it about so many political arguments that make me feel like I'm back on a playground--name-calling, whining, and "he said it first". I see it everywhere from internet newsgroups and message boards to much closer to home. Everything always descends into "waaaah, I'm not getting my way". Hopefully, Mr. Chavez will follow proper playground procedure, take his ball and go home. Oddly enough, we don't really need him as much oil-wise as he thinks we do, and probably don't pay him enough attention as he thinks we should. Is that part of it? Is that much of the anti-American feeling out there? Does it give people like Chavez bigger cojones when they "stand up to" the US? Do they puff out their chests a little more? Stand a little straighter? Swagger a little more? Is that why Europeans look down their noses and sniff when talking about us? Because they CAN? Of course, it's always easier to talk smack about a country that you know is just going to ignore you and isn't going to attack you. When it comes to countries that riot and make threats over cartoons, that's a whole different story. Wouldn't it be different to see Europe mouth off to Islamic nations? It's always easier to call someone names on the playground if you're fairly certain you aren't going to get knocked down for it.

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Published on March 20 2006

This week March 20 through March 26 Libra The Sun moves into your opposite sign of Aries on Monday, and this highlights your relationships and brings you a chance to focus and reflect on them. If things have been quiet, they should soon become livelier. Mars continues to move through Gemini, which is making you rather restless and eager to pursue new paths and trails. If you haven't yet booked that vacation, you might want to wait until after Saturday, when Mercury turns direct. This brings an end to administrative delays and computer errors - it is full steam ahead.
Promises, promises....

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Published on March 19 2006

Top News Article | Reuters.com
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government defended on Sunday a new job law that has provoked mass protest marches and played down a threat from unions of a possible general strike if it fails to withdraw the law by Monday night. Spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said the conservative government passed the law, which lets employers fire people under 26 for any reason during a two-year trial period, in a bid to fight youth unemployment. Opponents of the First Job Contract (CPE) law, including unions, student groups and left-wing parties, argue it is regressive and will create a generation of disposable French workers insecure about their future employment. "What is our objective? It is to mobilize against unemployment, especially among youths," Cope said on LCI television. French unemployment stands at 9.6 percent nationwide and over 20 percent for young people.
What am I missing here? The students are insecure about their future employment--WITH A 20+% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE?????? Wouldn't a "first job"--even though you know it's not a lifetime gig--be preferable to nothing at all? Wouldn't an incentive to employers to hire these young people--and we're not talking 16 year olds here, we're talking University graduates-- be something desirable? After doing a little more reading, I have suddenly become very sympathetic to the students' sad plight. Go here and you will understand why.
Moreover, French businesses are weighted down with regulations and restrictions that make its labor market one of the industrial world's most rigid. France's minimum wage is roughly double that of the United States. The workweek is limited to 35 hours. French workers are entitled to a minimum of five weeks of vacation and 36 weeks of paid family or maternity leave, with additional time off available on an unpaid basis. It is very difficult for French companies to lay off or fire employees. Dismissals are subject to stringent bureaucratic constraints. As a result, French companies are extremely reluctant to hire new workers. On average, the United States creates more new private-sector jobs in a month than France does in a year. At the same time, the generosity of French welfare offers little incentive for the unemployed to look for work. The result is a growing population of idle, disillusioned poor with little connection to society at large.
I am protected by a negotiated union contract, and I had to work 25 years to be eligible for 5 weeks of vacation per year. (My father was horrified that I got that much vacation that soon!) I had NO paid maternity leave, and was back on the job (too early physically, I might add) after about four weeks off with my kids. It's only been in the last dozen years that I could take ANY sort of maternity leave and not fear dismissal if I'm not covered by a contract. 35 hour workweeks? :-O I think I'm relatively lazy in my 40-48 hour week, in comparison with friends who are putting in 60 hour weeks. Yeah, I need to start learning to speak French. Ooh, la, la...

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