Stray Thoughts That Stuck in Andy's Brain in 2004

There actually WERE Olympic games held in 1944 in Poland! It's not just a wacky alternate reality I thought up! The story was suppressed for decades, but apparently 6000 prisoners of war, including former members of the Polish Olympic team, held their own 22 day series of Olympic competitions *inside* their prison camp, in Poland, in June 1944. Wow.

The current edition of the Rubik's Cube, now under the Milton Bradley imprint, has an incorrect alignment of colors! The 6 colors are the same, but they're in the wrong places on the cube! It may not seem like much to you, but it's a bummer to anyone who's intensely familiar with the cube, like Kristin.

If you don't realize just how willing the "Just Say No" warriors are to exaggerate, distort, and even outright lie in their campaigns to suppress certain activities, consider the recently-revealed untruths being taught in "abstinence-only" sex-ed programs. A new report by congressman Henry Waxman concluded that $170 million federal tax dollars were spent this year on falsehood-laden programs intended to "overstate the negative consequences of sexual activity." (Children are being taught that any genital contact can cause pregnancy, that HIV can be spread through sweat and tears, and that condoms fail 31% of the time.) When authority figures are obviously lying about sex, why should anyone believe their claims about drugs? (They probably hate rock & roll, too.)

"Now it's easy to stay up. I can go a day and a half without sleep as long as I keep my mind active. Sleep becomes annoying once you realize how much you can accomplish." -- Tony Warren, a late-night worker profiled in "Sleep Is For Sissies," by Walter Kirn, TIME magazine, December 20, 2004

"It's hard to find much wrong with a drug that can battle fatigue and improve creativity and could even help prevent Parkinson's disease and diabetes. It's also hard to find much right with a drug that elevates blood pressure, aggravates stress, causes insomnia and leads to addiction. When both drugs are the same thing, it's hard to know what to think." -- Jeffery Kluger, "The Buzz on Caffeine," TIME magazine, December 20, 2004

"There's huge, massive mother ships going up to the Yukon. They've been filmed and are on video. They're coming and going like taxis." -- Dan Aykroyd, as quoted in The Week magazine, which describes him as being "a firm believer" in UFOs   "A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations or in the motel turn some of the 250 Christian TV stations and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, 'to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?'" -- Bill Moyers, "The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal"

"When producing electricity, for example, it is often possible to switch from coal to natural gas and back again. But most of our petroleum supplies are used in transportation -- mainly to power cars, trucks, buses, and planes -- and, for this purpose, oil has no readily available substitutes. Indeed, we have so organized our economy and society around the availability of cheap and abundant petroleum that we are severely ill-equipped to deal with the sort of shortages and supply disruptions that are likely to become the norm in the years ahead." -- Michael Klare, "No Escape from Dependency: Looming Energy Crisis Overshadows Bush's Second Term"

Congratulations to Joseph Kisenwether, designer of Undercut, which took first place in the 2nd Ice Games Design Contest which I was talking about last week. Undercut is a very cool game, and I agree, it was the best of the bunch. Give it a try sometime!

"I wonder: Exactly how much evidence does it take for Americans to be convinced that a thing is true? And how much evidence to the contrary does it take for Americans to abandon an established belief? When I look at America's widely held beliefs on subjects like global warming, drug safety, or even evolution, the only answer I can come up with is, 'An arkload.'" -- Avery Walker, "Democrats: Get ready to offend the ignorant"

"Your message seems to be that you want allies to share in the dangers and costs of your policies while having no voice in them. The Middle East must be made to accept secular democracy even as you secure your presidency by embracing the religious right. You seek to enforce nuclear non-proliferation everywhere except in the U.S. where you are developing the next generation of nuclear weapons and exhorting a missile defense shield; actions that in the past provoked the arms race. The tragedy of 3,000 civilian deaths is reason enough to start a war, but the tragedy of 100,000 civilian deaths is not reason enough to stop." -- a message to President Bush from the editors of the Toronto Star, seen quoted in "Bush's Embarrassing Canadian Visit"

"According to a notarized affidavit signed by Clint Curtis, while he was employed by the NASA Kennedy Space Center contractor, Yang Enterprises, Inc., during 2000, Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney solicited him to write a program to 'control the vote.' At the time, Curtis was of the opinion that the program was to be used for preventing fraud in the 2002 election in Palm Beach County, Florida. His mind was changed, however, when the true intentions of Feeney became clear: the computer program was going to be used to suppress the Democratic vote in counties with large Democratic registrations." -- Wayne Madsen's Special Report: "Texas to Florida: White House-linked clandestine operation paid for 'vote switching' software"

One of the strangest things I've seen on TV lately is a peculiar import on Comedy Central called "Banzai!" Each show sets up a series of bizarre "What will happen?" situations, labels the various possible outcomes, and then encourages viewers to "Place Bets Now!" and watch to see if you win. No mechanism is given nor even suggested for how to actually place a bet, but there it is, before each scene, "Place Bets Now!" and after an often-hilarious outcome, you'll be told that, if you'd bet on, for example, Choice B, then "you are the winner!" This of course leaves me trying to tinker up a system for actually playing along at home, as a game, using Icehouse pieces (what else?) on a Ouija board to track the bets...

The gay community needs a new word. The lesson of the recent backlash against gay marriage is that the straight community doesn't want the words "wedding" and "marriage" corrupted as was the word "gay" (which used to mean simply happy and carefree). At the same time, the existence of gay unions are grudgingly being admitted to, with many conservatives coming out in support of civil unions. Now, from what I understand, "civil unions" are functionally equivalent to "marriages," at least in some states, so what it all boils down to is a question of semantics. It's like the straight world is saying to the gay world, "OK, OK, you can live together if you must, but you can't use the word 'marriage.' That's OUR word." So, in the spirit of compromise, I urge the gay community to let the straights have their word. Better progress will be made if you find a catchy new name for civil unions, and fight to make that option available everywhere, and transferrable from state to state.

I hate secrets. Secrets are basically lies. When you're keeping a secret, you are being dishonest about your knowledge. If asked about the subject, you must deny what you know, which is bearing false witness, i.e. lying. I particularly hate it when the government keeps secrets. If the government knows something, I think we all have the right to know it. Governments should not be dishonest, which is what keeping secrets forces you to become.

My nomination for this word is "unification." Instead of getting "married," gay couples would speak of becoming "unified," and instead of a wedding ceremony and reception, we'd attend their unification ritual and party. Unification has a nice formal, futuristic sound to it, like a ceremony you'd see being performed on a distant planet in an episode of Star Trek, and it would work for trios, too! Perhaps in a hundred years or so, there'll be a whole series of unification traditions which parallel wedding traditions, and which are similarly honored and respected. If only we could use time travel to skip ahead!

I also hate surprises. I'm very much an "ordered-thinker," so I hate disruptions in my plans, however trivial or mundane those plans might seem. Surprises are usually interruptions, and I hate interruptions. Even if suprises are enjoyable, I can be irked by them. About the only times I can think of when I actually enjoy surprises are during movies and when opening a gift, i.e. at times when I'm expecting a surprise. I certainly would never want a surprise party... I'd try to be a good sport about it, of course, but I really prefer knowing about upcoming events, so that I can be fully prepared to enjoy them, rather than being surprised.

I got email this week from a guy I used to work with at NASA who, like me, married a girl he met there, and he says Diet Coke is fizzier (so much so he can tell just by looking at it!) which probably accounts (somehow) for the faster melting phenomena I observed a couple of weeks ago.

I'll admit that those ads with Captain Kirk & Mr. Spock are amusing, but I find it very sad hearing Captain Picard's voice extolling the glories of a cholesterol-lowering drug, particularly given the dreadfulness of their tacky, rhyming ad copy. Can't he find any better jobs than this? It's sad how far a Starship Captain can fall to earth when his mission in space is over...

"Canada suddenly has utopian appeal for many left-leaning Americans. Its universal health care, gay rights, abortion rights, gun-control laws, drug laws, opposition to the Iraq war, ban on capital punishment and ethnic diversity mirror many values of the American left. Immigrants, including an estimated 1 million Americans, make up nearly 20 percent of Canada's population. The United Nations named Toronto the world's most multicultural city." -- a CNN article called "Canadians Open Arms to Americans," which also points out that the United Nations has ranked Canada as the best country to live in for eight consecutive years
I have an extra experiment I'm planning to run for myself during National Game Week: that's when I intend to try out the 6 games in the 2nd Ice Games Competition (the voting deadline is December 3.) But I'm not suggesting that rabbits play these games at Little or Mini-Experiments, since these games aren't yet proven winners.... testing out new pyramid games is better done at private gaming parties.

"It's time for the Democrats to face reality: They are the party of urban America. If the cities elected our president, if urban voters determined the outcome, John F. Kerry would have won by a landslide. Urban voters are the Democratic base. It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America." -- "The Urban Archipelago" by The Editors of The Stranger

"People ask if I miss it, but they don't understand that American culture is so ubiquitous that there's nothing to miss. I don't see myself moving back. It's not that I hate the United States. I just always thought it would be a shame not to live in a foreign country. Plus I like being a foreigner. It keeps me on my toes." -- David Sedaris, who lives in London, answering an interview question, "Will You Ever Move Back To The U.S.?"

"As a psychologist who studies drug abuse, I worried about these ads from the beginning.  The 'facts' in them are exaggerated and out of context.  Their single-minded emphasis on marijuana, rather than far more addictive and lethal substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine, makes little sense. Now, scientific data -- from the very surveys that Congress set up as yardsticks to measure the success of the drug control policy office -- tell us that these ads have boomeranged." -- Mitch Earleywine, "Anti-Pot Ads Have Backfired"

Alison went in for Jury Duty yesterday, and got sent home early because the courthouse building BURNED DOWN! (She says jury duty was pretty dull until the fire started, and that she had nothing to do with it.)

Having recently switched from drinking a lot of Coke to drinking a lot of Diet Coke, in both cases from a glass with ice, I have developed a theory: Diet Coke melts ice faster than regular Coke. Testing and explaining this hypothesis would make a great science fair project if I'm right... but then again, I might be wrong. I guess I should do an experiment...

Think of the country as a huge corporation at which we all have jobs. We're on the Board of Directors, and CEO Bush is up for review. A well-run company would fire the CEO without hesitation after a term as unsuccessful and misguided as Bush's has been. Their obligation to the stockholders would compel the Board of Directors to remove a bad CEO, regardless of how beloved he might be... even the company's founder can and should be removed from the helm if it becomes clear he's leading the company into bankruptcy. This election is not about the new guy's resume, and it shouldn't be about loyalty to the team you usually root for. This is our one and only chance to fire an incompetent CEO before he sinks the whole company. If you can't bring yourself to vote for John Kerry, but agree that Bush doesn't deserve to keep his job, please just stay home on November 2nd. Pretend you forgot to vote. Better yet, vote Libertarian or Green!

"George W. Bush has used the name of God for his own selfish gain, to appeal to conservative voters under the façade of being one of us, but by his fruit we know him. Jesus said, 'Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.' .... Let us not find ourselves like the people Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:21-23, at the Judgment Seat of Christ saying, 'Lord, Lord, did we not vote Republican in Your name, and in Your name cast out homosexuals, and in Your name oppose many abortions?' just to hear Jesus say, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.' George W. Bush's character and policies directly oppose the commands of Jesus Christ. We cannot support him, his policies, or his candidacy. Christians must vote George W. Bush out of office." -- Why Evangelical Christians Must Vote Against Bush

"The Supreme Court can legalize marijuana by fiat. Think of it ­ no negotiations and tortured lobbying, but genuine experts expounding on the facts, constrained by rules of evidence. Pick one: Bush or Kerry. Which candidate is most likely to name judges who will interpret the Constitution of the United States according to facts in evidence rather than DEA propaganda?" -- Jules Siegel, "The Doper Vote"

Having announced that we're planning to sell our house and move sometime next year, I'm suddenly feeling like a senior in college all over again. It's like we'll be graduating in the spring, and at that point, we're going to need to decide where we want to go to settle down. When we leave, we'll be saying good-bye to a lot of close friends, though of course we'll plan to stay in touch... it will be the end of one era in our lives, and the beginning of another. So, we're getting used to the idea of the coming changes, and we're excited about the Future, but we're also trying to savor our final months in the comfortable space we're in now. In the spring, everything we'll change, but right now, it's only October and we have a busy senior year ahead of us. Let's enjoy it!

Years ago we installed a third seat in our van, which we called the rumble seat. We salvaged it from a Honda at the junkyard, and we salvaged it again from the wreckage of Bertha, thinking we might install it in the next van. But now, it's found a home in the room we call the Bridge, where it's become the perfect chair to sit in while playing console videogames! When you're playing a car-racing game, you can even fasten your seatbelt!
    "The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda. Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs. Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq." -- The Lone Star Iconoclast, "Kerry Will Restore American Dignity"

"We just saved him several minutes of his life." -- Mitch Altman, inventor of the TV-B-Gone (a universal remote, with one button, which turns off nearby televisions by flashing out 209 different "power-off" codes) after turning off the TV in a pizzeria, thus causing a patron to leave before the end of a show he was absent-mindedly watching

"And, most importantly for my own personal safety, I gave up smoking pot many years ago. I really miss the profound religious/spiritual experiences that came with it, but it just made me too darn paranoid on some occasions, and it was just too darn risky a thing to be caught doing in 'the land of the free.'" -- Ken, on the Something mailing list, October 12, 2004

"If a 10-kiloton terrorist nuclear weapon explodes beside the New York Stock Exchange or the U.S. Capitol, or in Times Square, as many nuclear experts believe is likely in the next decade, then the next 9/11 commission will write a devastating critique of how we allowed that to happen. As I wrote in my last column, there is a general conviction among many experts - though, in fairness, not all - that nuclear terrorism has a better-than-even chance of occurring in the next 10 years. Such an attack could kill 500,000 people. Yet U.S. politicians have utterly failed to face up to the danger." -- Nicholas D. Kristof, "The Nuclear Shadow"

"Perhaps it was not by chance that it was a woman who asked the president, at the town hall debate last Friday, to list three instances in which he had made wrong decisions since taking office. If women react to Mr. Bush's made-no-mistake tactic the way they react to it when it is used by men in their lives, a majority may well be more angered than reassured. That's because it drives many women nuts when men won't say they made a mistake and apologize if they do something wrong. I'm reminded of a woman who was angry at her husband because she had given him an important letter to mail and he'd assured her he'd mail it, then told her the next day, 'I forgot to mail your letter,' and stopped there. She waited in vain for the sentence to continue, 'I'm sorry.' In the end, she was angry not about the letter but about the missing apology." -- Deborah Tannen, "Being President Means Never Having to Say He's Sorry"

"The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was such a horrendous event that it required a strong response. But the President committed a fundamental error in thinking: the fact that the terrorists are manifestly evil does not make whatever counter-actions we take automatically good. What we do to combat terrorism may also be wrong. Recognizing that we may be wrong is the foundation of an open society. President Bush admits no doubt and does not base his decisions on a careful weighing of reality." -- A Personal Message from George Soros: "Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush"

Lately we've been playing Poker, Texas Hold 'Em style, and this week we tried it using Icehouse pieces instead of poker chips. As usual, scoring with pyramids works great! Smalls are worth $1, Medium are worth $5, and Larges are $25. As you lose, you can watch where your money goes (sort of) by seeing the pyramids of your color stacked up in other players' piles, and when your stash runs out, you go to the Loser's Lounge!

The C.O.O. of Convenant Communications called and apologized to Kristin about Search, Ponder, and Play! He said it was a mistake and that his company would take steps to make things right! Yay!

I miss Aslan. I find little reminders of him around every corner, but the times I'm finding myself missing him the most are when we're eating. I've long been in the habit of setting my plate or bowl on the floor when I'm done, for one of the cats to lick clean, but since our last remaining cat doesn't care for people-food, our table scraps now go unappreciated. Endings of meals have become sad for us.

In December 2002, I mentioned on this page that I'd like to see an "authentic adaptation of HG Wells' 'The War of the Worlds' set (as it originally was) in Victorian, England." Well, it would seem that a company in England was secretly working, even then, on making exactly the movie I wished for! I can't wait until next year when it will be released!

"I didn't actually see the report live -- Wolf had already moved on to his next story -- but I was struck by how casual this was: innocent civilians killed in a U.S. airstrike, and it wasn't even the news hook; the death of the reporter was.
So, through the miracle of TiVo, I rewound. And there it was.
Being killed by a U.S. airstrike.
Non-combatants. Celebrating on a disabled U.S. vehicle, granted. But civilians nonetheless. Certainly not in combat against any U.S. troops."
-- Bob Harris, "Our Savage Numbness"

"We seem to have convinced young people that binge drinking is safer than smoking even a little marijuana. 54.4 percent of 12- to-17-year olds said they considered it a 'great risk' to their health to smoke any amount of marijuana once or twice per week. Only 38.5 percent saw great risk in binge drinking once or twice a week. Policy has come completely unhinged from reality. Despite a tripling of marijuana arrests since the Nixon era, marijuana use has skyrocketed while officials pick through the data for encouraging snippets and ignoring the big picture. Worse, they find reason to cheer at figures suggesting that we may be driving kids away from a comparatively benign drug toward one that is far more lethal." -- Bruce Mirken, "Dressing Up Failure"

"This current American juggernaut is the mightiest empire the world has ever seen, and it is absolutely immune to the individual. Short of violent crime, it has assimilated the individual's every conceivable political action into mainstream commercial activity. It fears only one thing: organization. That's why the one thing that would have really shaken Middle America last week wasn't 'creativity.' It was something else: uniforms. Three hundred thousand people banging bongos and dressed like extras in an Oliver Stone movie scares no one in America. But 300,000 people in slacks and white button-down shirts, marching mute and angry in the direction of Your Town, would have instantly necessitated a new cabinet-level domestic security agency." -- Matt Taibbi, "The 60s Are Over!"

It would seem as though the design for my card game Aquarius has been used, without my knowledge, consent, compensation, or credit, as the basis for a game called Search, Ponder, and Play! released by a Mormon-oriented publisher called Covenant Communications. But hey, at least it's getting good reviews! :-)

I was at a diner, eating a slice of chocolate cream pie, when I discovered a small piece of metal in my mouth. I assumed one of my fillings had popped out, and rushed to see my dentist. It was a false alarm -- my fillings are fine -- but even so, I've decided to finally take my dentist's advice, and switch over to Diet Coke.

"The core issue is this: Our president is incompetent. He is not a good president. Let me count the ways... [Reason #] (6) He is diminishing scientific progress, the great engine of the 20th century. Only the truly ignorant can believe that the proper role of government is to hinder medical research and environmental study in the name of God." -- Richard Reeves, "The Real Issue: Bush Is Incompetent"

"If ever there were high crimes and misdemeanors, the lies about the war in Iraq fit that category. We are an odd people. We impeach a president because he lied about his private sex life, which killed no one and harmed no one beyond his family. Yet we support and may well re-elect a 'strong' president whose lies are responsible for so many flag-draped caskets, so many poignant obituaries, and so much grief. How many women are sobbing in church these days because of Bush's lies?" -- Andrew Greeley, "Bush's Lies Cause Untold Pain"

"What better way to win the war on drugs than to eradicate the war itself? As a child I was always told that walking away from a fight made me a bigger person than actually fighting it. Right now we are pummeling the low-income residents who smoke pot, but you and I, Mr. Ehrlich, have a chance to help them back to their feet with education rather than punishment. I think that our current war on drugs is comparable to the unsuccessful prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century. Alcohol was out of control before it was legalized again and I think that marijuana will follow a similar path." -- Jennifer Stavish's letter to Governor Ehrlich, urging him to legalize marijuana in Maryland

"Now, 35 years after the fact, some Republican-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Bush are suddenly lying about John Kerry's service in Vietnam; they are calling him a traitor because he spoke out against the Nixon administration's failed policies in Vietnam. Some of these Republican-sponsored veterans are the same ones who spoke out against John at the behest of the Nixon administration in 1971. But this time their attacks are more vicious, their lies cut deep and are directed not just at John Kerry, but at me and each of his crewmates as well. This hate-filled ad asserts that I was not under fire; it questions my words and Navy records. This smear campaign has been launched by people without decency, people who don't understand the bond of those who serve in combat. As John McCain noted, the television ad aired by these veterans is 'dishonest and dishonorable.' Sen. McCain called on President Bush to condemn the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush ad. Regrettably, the president has ignored Sen. McCain's advice." -- Jim Rassmann, "Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush"

  "If elected, Kerry will take the helm of a federal government that denies the medical value of marijuana, in defiance of DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young's 1988 ruling that, 'Marijuana ... is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known. ... It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance.' With the new research, 34 states endorsing medical marijuana, and a federal bill working its way up, the genie will be hard to put back into the bottle. The Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case challenging federal authority over medical marijuana, and unless the Court wants to overrule its own conservative majority's series of states' rights rulings, it will have to acknowledge the federal government's limitations. 'Direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the Federal Government,' the Court ruled in 1925." -- Ellen Komp, "Kerry: Get an Herbal, not a Fetal Position"

"With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to." -- Vice President Dick Cheney, August 24, 2004

"What if we have a president who believes in science?" -- John Kerry, while accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, 7/29/4

"There is a real story here, but it's not about the dire effects of potent marijuana. The real story is the misuse of science by government officials seeking to justify current policies and hold onto their jobs. The administration's misuse of science in this area is, if anything, more blatant than in fields that have generated far more controversy, such as reproductive health. And with the administration now talking openly about shifting prevention and law enforcement resources toward marijuana and away from drugs like heroin and cocaine, which actually kill, this dishonesty is putting America's young people at risk." -- Bruce Mirken and Mitch Earleywine, "The 'Potent Pot' Myth"

"The Bushites have served notice that their economic plan is to drive America towards bankruptcy as quickly as possible by blowing the budget on needless wars and gigantic handouts to people who need them the least at the cost of racking up enormous debts and starving all the government services that ordinary Americans rely on. It's economic suicide, and the financial markets of the world are starting to take that into account by backing, slowly but surely, away from the American dollar and the shakey, no-longer-guaranteed-to-be-solvent American economy the dollar represents. I guess it's ironic that, for all their obsession about security, the Bushites' policies expose and weaken America's most vulnerable flank. America's military supremacy is unchallenged and currently unchallengeable, but it has gaping weaknesses in its economy. The Bushies are running America just as Bush ran all his previous companies: at a loss, crumbling into debt and eventual bailout. Who the hell is going to bail out America once Bush is gone?" -- also from Bob the Angry Flower's "Bush on Mars" essay

"Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them? Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT." -- Ron Reagan, "The Case Against George W. Bush"

"Consider what we've seen in Bush's first term. After running a campaign based on the messages of bringing civility back to the White House and of being a uniter rather than a divider, after losing the popular vote but taking the presidency through a blatantly partisan and legally indefensible Supreme Court decision, what did he do? Did he reach across divides to create a new America, offering basic respect to his opponents as Americans just as devoted to the dream of America as he was? No, he didn't. The approach has been, tentatively at the start but locked in after 9-11, to push every agenda as far as it can go with zero compromise. Gigantic budget-busting tax cuts, secret energy policies, billions in handouts to drug companies, aggressive new powers of search, seizure and detention, and of course two wars, one of them launched with a case riddled from end to end with falsehoods against the objections of eight tenths of the world. And incredible as it seems, get your head around it -- this is all stuff Bush did when he's still holding back because he's worried about getting re-elected." -- Stephen Notley's blog, "Bush on Mars," January 23, 2004

"Around 900 US troops have been killed in Iraq. Thousands more are casualties, many missing limbs. Around 12,000 innocent Iraqi civilians are dead. An unknown number of Iraqi conscripts and soldiers died. The 'Coalition of the Willing' has sustained death and casualties. Our 'Shock and Awe' blitzkrieg has devastated the already damaged infrastructure including plumbing and sewage, insuring that tens, if not hundreds of thousands, more civilians will die of sickness and disease. Our use of the radioactive and toxic depleted uranium munitions will no doubt cause cancer and birth defects among Iraqis and US vets for generations to come. Meanwhile, the 9/11 Commission has declared that Saddam did not have WMD, he was not linked to Osama or al-Qaeda, he was not behind the World Trade Center attacks and his decimated army posed no imminent threat to the US." -- Christian Dewar, "Who Would Jesus Torture? The Religion of George W. Bush"

"Terror must be maintained, or the Empire is doomed." -- Spock with a beard (seen quoted on the Rash.Log)

"More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -- Woody Allen (seen quoted in Ginohn's email sig)

"Had government officials performed the vital research, they would understand why McMahon is alive today.  Prior to his acceptance in the IND program, George had been through 19 major surgeries, was declared clinically dead several times, took 17 prescribed substances on a daily basis and was confined to a wheelchair. For the past 14 years, George has smoked 10 marijuana cigarettes each day. During this time, he has had no surgeries or hospitalizations, he no longer takes any pharmaceuticals (aside from the occasional aspirin or antibiotic), and he is fully ambulatory.  He is living proof that marijuana has medical value, yet, many federal legislators refuse to admit it. They stubbornly persist in criminalizing patients, spreading misinformation, defying the express will of the people and denying the states their constitutional authority to resolve the issue independently." -- Christopher Largen, "Prescription Pot? Only From Bayer And The U.S. Government"

A really promising initiative to tax and regulate marijuana sales in Nevada may not make it onto the ballot this fall after all. The campaign organizers insist that 54,120 valid signatures were turned in on schedule, but the government is trying to disqualify many of the signatures under a previously unenforced technicality, and is claiming they missed the 51,337-signature requirement by more than 16,000. So now it's a court battle, and of course MPP needs extra funding. We're giving them the Stoner Fluxx Foundation Donation this week, and we've also set up a page at their server to make it easy for others to help with a small gift of their own. Thank you for helping us try to change the world!

"We have a leader who combines the worst features of an ignorant imperialist with the moral certainty of a reformed drunk who is convinced that he can do no wrong, because Jesus guides his actions. He is surrounded and shaped by older, more adept politicians who are in some cases far more ruthless and cynical, or as narrow and deeply flawed, as he." -- Jack Lessenberry, "The Establishment Turns On Bush"

"During the Clinton Administration, we turned huge deficits into record surpluses. Now, just four years later, $5 trillion of expected surpluses have turned into $3 trillion of new debt. As a result, we are giving our children something they don't want and don't deserve: a $25,000 birth tax. That's the share of our national debt owed by every child in America." -- Senator Tom Daschle, "Doing Right By America"

"With Introverted Intuition dominating their personality, INTJs focus their energy on observing the world, and generating ideas and possibilities. Their mind constantly gathers information and makes associations about it. They are tremendously insightful and usually are very quick to understand new ideas. However, their primary interest is not understanding a concept, but rather applying that concept in a useful way. Unlike the INTP, they do not follow an idea as far as they possibly can, seeking only to understand it fully. INTJs are driven to come to conclusions about ideas. Their need for closure and organization usually requires that they take some action." -- Portrait of an INTJ: The Scientist

"The people I have spent the last decade working and playing with have inhaled more than a few puffs and taken a variety of trips down Alice's rabbit hole. Yet some way, somehow they have turned into able and impressive members of the republic. These are people with good jobs, who engage in charitable pursuits and who rarely cut in line at Whole Foods. We've taken some of our old vices with us into adulthood without burning down the house or checking into rehab. We've done a good job prolonging our adolescence, but now we're facing adulthood's ultimate gut check: children." -- Larry Smith. "Do You Puff, Daddy?"

"Thank you all for signing up for events, for helping to cover when people were late, for being so enthusiastic, for bringing so much spirit and energy that we were drawing people away from Pokemon (wow!)... Our Big Experiment is very unusual and special, and I think just about anybody who walks into our space must realize it right away. Thank you for bread, for covering my early morning Top Rabbit slots when I was running around, for keeping the demo tables in the booth hopping, for helping to clean up the Lab, for participating in our Rabbit discussions, for volunteering, for all of the warmth and affection. Thanks for hugs, everybody.... Thanks for water, for peanut butter and homemade jams, for little Tirades and painted shirts, for little tomatoes, for mobiles and for pistachios. Thanks for smiling, for laughing, for hugging me when I most needed it, for winning The Star, for keeping track of the data, and for doing so very much more than we could have asked. Thanks for recycling, for playing games, for being so darned friendly and fun to play with, for making the impression we always do when we show up somewhere and play. Thanks for photographs and ideas, for running to North Market to keep us fed, and for holding hands when we crossed the streets. Thanks for your patience and understanding, for the martini (or two), for staying up late and getting up early, for listening and talking. Thanks for letting me part of your team. Thanks for chocolate. Thanks for setting everything up, for tearing everything down, for packing and unpacking, counting, drawing, making signs, standing on top of stacks of chairs, for bringing duct tape, for having string, for helping to figure out every problem. Most of all, thanks for being there. Thanks for being my friends! I'm deeply grateful for all of this and more." -- Russell's post-Origins thank you message to the Rabbits

"The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, director of alcohol, tobacco and drug programming for the United Methodists' General Board of Church and Society, said delegates to last month's convention voted 877 to 19 in favor of an amendment to drug-use guidelines that supports the drug's medical use in states that allow it." -- The Washington Post, June 26, 2004 , "Support For Permitting Medical Use Is Growing Among Major Religious Denominations"

"Bush defenders try to explain away Bush's inaction as not wanting to upset the children. Michael Moore explains away Bush's inaction by suggesting he hadn't been told to leave. But Michael Moore failed to follow that line of reasoning through to its logical conclusion; where were the people whose job it is to get the President to a place of safety in event of attack, the people who would have, SHOULD have, pulled Bush out of there, children and public appearances be damned! The Secret Service did nothing. The dog did not bark." -- "The Secret Service at Booker Elementary: The Dog That Did Not Bark"

"The most telling moment came during Clinton's second big initiative, health-care reform. By any objective measure, the United States had--and still has--a terrible system, which spent far more per capita on health care than any other country while leaving a higher percentage of our population uninsured than in any other advanced industrialized nation. While many Republicans were skeptical of Clinton's preferred solution to the problem, they at first accepted a responsibility to pass some sort of plan. Yet they came to be persuaded by the advice of conservative operative William Kristol, who urged in a series of influential memos that the GOP oppose the Clinton plan "sight unseen," and commit to sinking whatever plan was devised--on the grounds that successful passage of any plan would keep the Democratic Party in power. In keeping with this advice, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole even abandoned his own health-reform proposal, the better to create gridlock." -- Paul Glastris, "Perverse Polarity"

"For the White House, the most devastating segment of Farenheit 9/11 may be the video of a befuddled-looking President Bush staying put for nearly seven minutes at a Florida elementary school on the morning of September 11, continuing to read a copy of My Pet Goat to schoolchildren even after an aide has told him that a second plane has struck the twin towers. <...> Mr. Bush's slow, hesitant reaction to the disastrous news has never been a secret... seeing the actual footage, with the minutes ticking by, may prove more damaging to the White House than all the statistics in the world." -- Philip Shenon, seen quoted by Jack Beatty in "Bush's Monica Moment"
  "Sure, people were up in arms about Clinton's lie -- "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" -- but it pales when compared with Bush's lies. Bush told the American people and the rest of the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and he initiated a war based on that lie. He killed hundreds of American soldiers and wounded and maimed thousands. He killed thousands of innocent Iraqis. Bush used these lies on top of 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq, which was part of his agenda from the day he stole the election. As we know from the congressional hearings, Bush was obsessed with Saddam from the day he took office. According to Richard Clarke's and others' testimony, the obsession with Iraq diverted attention from Bin Laden and the other terrorists who actually did threaten us." -- Michael Moore, from the interview in Playboy magazine, July 2004

"And they criticize, gripe, and complain about almost everything and almost everyone almost all the time." -- Joanna M. Ashmun, from her page about the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Generalizations are usually flawed by exceptions.

"The torture scandal is a public problem because American interrogators and jailors represent the public they serve. Citizens of a democracy should not be comforted or assuaged by blaming a few 'aberrant agents' if torture is systemic and routine. The public is responsible for stopping, protesting and preventing torture. If we fail, we risk the specter George Orwell cautioned against in 1984: 'If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.'" -- Lisa Hajjar, "Torture and the Politics of Denial"

Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. Everywhere you look, you see people riding by on bicycles, yet in my whole month there, I never saw anyone wearing a bike helmet. (After posting last week's photo I got emails asking why I wasn't wearing a helmet... but there just weren't any available!)

Amsterdam's population used to be in a serious decline, reaching an all-time low in 1982, just when they started tolerating cannabis sales in "coffeeshops." Since then, more and more people have been moving there... gee, I wonder why? (Now, some are complaining about "drug tourism" but it seems to me tourist dollars are still dollars (or euros, I should say)...)

"The shaming truth is that everything has gone wrong. Just as it was bound to go wrong, as many of us predicted it would go wrong--if anything more hopelessly wrong than any of us would have dared to prophesy. Iraq is an epic train wreck, and there's not a single American citizen who's going to walk away unscathed. The shame of this truth, of such a failure and so much deceit exposed, would have brought on mass resignations or votes of no confidence in any free country in the world. In Japan not long ago, there would have been ritual suicides, shamed officials disemboweling themselves with samurai swords. Yet up to this point--at least to the point where we see grinning soldiers taking pictures of each other over piles of naked Iraqis--neither the president, the vice president nor any of the individuals who urged and designed this debacle have resigned or been terminated--or even apologized. They have betrayed no familiarity with the concept of shame." -- Hal Crowther, "With Trembling Fingers"

"It's quite possible that spam alone is killing e-mail. Add all the bogus messages containing viruses and you can see people becoming disillusioned." -- John C. Dvorak, "The Death of E-Mail"

I've reached a new conclusion about JFK: I don't think there was a second shooter, but I do still think there was a conspiracy. I think someone unknown fired the shots, and that Oswald was set up to take the fall. Having studied the matter for a long time, I feel that this scenario fits the evidence better than either the single-nut-acting-alone theory, or the multiple-shooters-working-together theory.

"Red Alert!" This is what you should say whenever you're playing Binary Homeworlds and you move into a position that would allow you to completely destroy your opponent on the next turn, much like the term "check" in a game of Chess. It's particularly important for more advanced players to announce Red Alerts to newer players (as I learned this week while teaching Shel to play during our visits to Amsterdam's coffeeshops). Optionally, you may also wish to say "Yellow Alert" whenever you have the power to vaporize half of your opponent's home star system.

The lessons of the Dutch Coffeeshop model could be well applied in the states right now -- for cigarette smokers. As Smoking Areas shrink and become increasingly forbidden, tobacco smokers in America will need lounges they can take refuge in, just as cannabis smokers in Holland already have now. (Unless of course, tobacco is simply outlawed, in which case, as we know from the success of the drug war, it will magically be eliminated from every aspect of our lives...)

I'm here in Amsterdam at the same time as a bunch of Hollywood big-shots, who are here for on-location filming of "Oceans 12" (the sequel to the remake of "Oceans 11"). I haven't actually seen any stars, but I have seen paparazzi types standing around waiting for a glimpse. Anyway, I guess I'll have to see the movie... I hear they filmed a key scene in De Dampkring, one of my favorite coffeeshops!

"Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on." -- Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey"

"Okay, Bush's defenders say, but even if he did go to church, it's tough for a president to be really involved with a congregation. He is, after all, running the free world. But, then again, he has spent almost 500 days on vacation over the past four years. You'd think some of that time could have been devoted to planning the next church social or sitting in on mission board meetings. Jimmy Carter found time to teach Sunday School at a local Baptist church while he was president." -- Amy Sullivan, "The Wafer Watch Continues"

 "There's a train-wreck fascination to William Saletan's piece in Slate juxtaposing, in chronological order, reports on the torture of Iraqi prisoners with blithe assurances from Bush and Rumsfeld that there are no more 'rape rooms and torture chambers' in Iraq. And the excuses have plumbed new lows-- e.g Rumsfeld attempting to claim that what took place is 'technically different from torture', or explanations that the guards were 'not adequately trained.' As Phil Carter says, 'You don't need to know the rules under the Geneva Convention, and you don't have to be a lawyer, to know that it's wrong to shove a chem light into a detainee's rectum and take a picture of it.'" -- The Zompist's Rant Page, 6 May 2004: "Throwing the game away"

The next time you face the unpleasant task of saying goodbye to a beloved pet, I highly recommend a vet who can provide the needful services during a house call. Marley departed this Earth from his favorite spot in the sun, quite peacefully, surrounded by his friends. Having done it the other way in the past, dragging the pet off in a box to die in the dreaded vet's office, I definitely recommended the in-home hospice route. It may be more expensive, but it's totally worth it.

"In the early 1990s, the WHO asked a group of international scientists, including Cohen, to produce what it billed as "the largest global study on cocaine use ever undertaken." In 1995, the study was done.  It concluded that most users consume cocaine occasionally, that occasional use usually does not lead to compulsive use, and that occasional use does little or no harm to users.  It was a flat contradiction of the drug-war ideology, so the U.S.  threatened to pull its funding if the report was released.  The WHO buckled.  The report was buried." -- Dan Gardner, "You Can't Trust The Drug 'Experts' -- Research on Illicit Substances Is As Biased As Its Funding Source"

"Today, in response to continued criticism about the war and the occupation, the government responds by yelling 'Appeaser!' every time it can and asking the fatuous question: 'Isn't Iraq better off without Saddam?' Well, no, actually it isn't, in the coarsest terms. Some 12,000 Iraqis were killed during the war and another 2,000 since the 'end' of the hostilities. I don't know how many people Saddam routinely dispatched every year with his acid baths and spurts of homicidal spite, but my guess is that 14,000 would have been pushing it, even for him. What I mean is that as a result of our actions many more people have lost their lives (or, for that matter, been maimed or made homeless) than would have been occasioned by another ten years of Saddam's rule." -- Rod Liddle, "Things Were Better Under Saddam"

"Trying to eliminate Saddam would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. There was no viable exit strategy we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- President Bush I, seen quoted by Dr. Robert Bowman

"As a pilot who flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam, I can tell you that the best thing our government can do for its combat veterans is to quit making more of them. Peace is patriotic; a preemptive war is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, a war crime, and TREASON. I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That includes a renegade president. Wake up, America! It is time for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the whole oil mafia to be removed from office and indicted for TREASON." -- Dr. Robert Bowman, "Some Dare Call It Treason-Wake Up America!"

"By the 1980s a new government policy took effect that made the already growing problems in Chicago's poor black neighborhoods worse.  It was called the 'War on Drugs,' a movement launched by the Reagan administration in response to the sudden explosion of crack cocaine. The intent was to rid urban streets of narcotics.  Instead, in Chicago and cities across the country, the program led to the mass incarceration of black men, most of whom served time, then returned to their neighborhoods with a criminal record, giving them even less of a chance than they had before of finding legitimate work. In 1970 the total population of Illinois prisons was 7,326.  As of Thursday, the population was 43,945, a sixfold increase that experts say is the direct result of the increased drug convictions that began in the 1980s." -- Rex W. Huppke, "On Streets, Drug Trade The Only Game In Town"

I'm still searching for the exact date of Woodrow Wilson's 1916 Executive Order that mandated the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at military and naval occasions. After mentioning this quest last week, I got lots of helpful emails, but none which answered the question. Yes, I know the song didn't *officially* become the National Anthem until Congress said so, on March 3, 1931, and yes, I know President Wilson declared Flag Day on May 30, 1916, but unless that Executive Order was the same one which first officially designated the SSB the NA (which seems unlikely to me) then my question remains unanswered. I've even written to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library (still no response) for help! I need this answered in 2 weeks!

"I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wrangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country." -- Colin Powell (seen quoted in Ginohn's email .sig)

We were sad to learn of the deaths this week of Weird Al Yankovic's parents, who perished from carbon monoxide poisoning during their sleep. Our hearts go out to you in this difficult time, Al. (His request to everyone: get a carbon monoxide detector!)     "Any praise for the metric system hits a raw nerve with me. The metric system is a symbol to me of the division of the ruling class and the people doing all the work. The ruling class (no pun intended) makes all these rules that are completely impractical, and everyone else has to sort of make do, find their way around it. The metric system also symbolizes to me this blind faith we have in science, that science is some kind of ultimate truth, instead of a tool we use to make life easier for ourselves. And because of this blind faith we have, 'science' ends up making life harder, less practical for ourselves." -- Joan Pontius, "METRIC LAND (or What I Think of the Metric System)"

After living without it for almost a year, while saving up money for repairs, I'm finally driving my purple car again! It may be old and clunky but it's still a joy to drive...and it has a crystal gear shift knob!

"He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family. With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity. He called a press conference and publicly delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe - at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece. It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring 'peace for our time.' Thus Hitler annexed Austria in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war." -- Thom Hartmann, "When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History"

Someone is using my name in a hoax of some kind. I've been pointed to a webpage that purports to be an interview with me, Andrew Looney, about a computer game called Subspace 2: Legacy. But Icebreaker remains my last video game... I have nothing to do with this "interview" by Harvey Birde. If this is supposed to be an April Fool's joke or something, I don't get it.

"That's why we need a Constitutional amendment that will protect marriage for straight people. Until we have the right to enter that sacred union, violate it, exit it, and enter it again with somebody else, again and again, regardless of what crimes we commit, until we're too old and feeble to mouth the words, 'I do,' -- unless we have that right and gay people don't, then there is truly nothing sacred in the United States of America." -- Adam Felber, "A Concise History of "My Marriage (2003-2004)"

"You really have to experience it to fully understand, but perhaps this helps: Fluxx is really a simulation of life. The goals change constantly and seemingly at random, but often under the control of other players, and sometimes under your control. The means to achieve those goals are distributed randomly and totally unfairly. The rules for achieving those goals change constantly and without any rationale. The pace goes from being impossibly slow to too fast to keep up. Sometimes, everybody just gives up. Mostly the game just ends suddenly with the last person you'd expect as the winner. And in the end, the best way to win is to set a goal that matches what you have, rather than the other way around." -- Roy Levien's review of Fluxx at

"So once again those who favor a less militant approach to the nation's drug war - and only want the freedom to make their case to the public - have been forced to trot back to federal court to secure their First Amendment rights. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Drug Policy Alliance, among other groups, filed suit against U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and the Washington Metro, after the D.C. transit system refused to accept a paid ad by the groups that proclaimed: 'Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Lock Up Non-Violent Americans.'" -- Robyn E. Blumner, "A Phony War Defeats Free Speech"

"Assume for a moment that the statistics above are reasonably accurate and hold constant for a few years. Also assume the service on debt goes up a mere 14 of 1 percent per year. As the graph below shows, by the year 2011, 100% of the revenue the government receives will go straight from the taxpayer's pocketbook to the holders of US debt instruments. There will be no money for any governmental function in the United States of America whatsoever." -- Don Smith, "USA Out Of Business"

"#5: The Chocolate Love Robot (while very desirable, and highly sought after) is not a winning combo in Fluxx." -- one of the lessons learned about Fluxx, as reported in Part VI ("Fluxx and beyond...") of the UberCon III report posted at

"He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys." -- William Saletan, "Confidence Man"

"Is that just a custom bag, or are you actually Andy Looney?" -- question I was asked by a complete stranger who noticed my Looney Games bag in the UofMD Student Union building, 3/4/4

Needless to say, I'm massively opposed to the idea of writing anti-gay prejudices into our sacred Constitution. However, as long as we're talking about amendments, I have 3 questions which I consider of more importance than stopping gay weddings:

  1. What happens if the Capitol building is bombed and we need an all-new Congress in a hurry?
  2. Why do we still have the Electoral College?
  3. Where in the Constitution is the Drug War justified?

"There is an important distinction between the Democratic presidential candidates not mentioned... The Bush Justice Department has conducted a series of raids that have terrorized medical marijuana patients and caregivers throughout California.  Sen.  John Edwards of North Carolina has said it would be 'irresponsible' to end these raids, apparently seeing no problem with Drug Enforcement Administration agents pointing automatic rifles at sick and dying people. Sen.  John Kerry of Massachusetts has pledged to end the raids, and at least indicated an open mind toward changing federal law to permit medical use of marijuana -- not as strong a stand as some of us might like, but a vast improvement over the policies of George W.  Bush, or of President Clinton before him." -- Bruce Mirken, Director of Communications, Marijuana Policy Project

"I read a book called, Tough Questions Jews Ask, by Rabbi Edward Feinstein, which had several tough questions. Basically, there is a class that asks the rabbi, who is the teacher, questions. One of these questions questioned the existence of God, because this person couldn't believe in such a thing. He couldn't believe in an 'invisible spirit who lives in heaven and rewards good people and punishes bad people.' The problem was that this person had the wrong definition of God. The rabbi's view was quite different. He said that it is important that our ideas of God change over time, otherwise they don't fit us 'any more than the clothes and shoes we wore as little kids.'" -- Dustan Levenstein's Bar Mitzvah Speech, Jan. 17 2004

"In 2001, the famous Hempcar traveled 13,000 miles across Canada and the US on a tour of 50 cities in a 92-day marathon. The vehicle burned hemp fuel exclusively, achieving 21.5 miles per gallon, setting one record after another! Hemp fuel is produced by pyrolysis; high heat is applied to the dry biomass in the absence of air to produce gas, pyrolytic oil, or methanol, which burns with 95.55 efficiency. Unlike fossil fuels, no polluting ash or sulfur derivatives result. All of America's fuel could be produced domestically if 7% of the continental United States were turned over to hemp biomass production." -- Jorge Cervantes, page 70, High Times magazine March/April 2004

According to a study done by the American Highway Users' Alliance, the 15th worst highway bottleneck in the nation is right where we live! It's that horrible intersection in the northeast corner of the DC beltway, where I-95 hits I-495. (An even worse spot is just around the corner, in Bethesda: coming in at #7 on their list is the I-270/I-495 intersection...)

"Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global 'Peak Oil' and related geo-political events." -- Matthew David Savinar, "Life After The Oil Crash"

"Wanting to use cannabis ( kaneh bosm ) is a natural intrinsic response within the brain that is a blessing from Christ God Our Father. Humans are created with something similar to cannabinoid receptor sites in our brain, waiting for THC to bind to, that do nothing else. Who do you think put those there? To fix the root of the problem requires that we identify and educate failed clergy who proclaim to be Christian on the one hand, and support caging their brother for using a plant on the other hand. Thank Christ God Our Father for cannabis. The only Biblical restriction placed on cannabis is that we accept it with thanksgiving." -- Stan White "Wanting To Use Cannabis Is A Blessing From Christ"

As EAC shapes up I grow increasingly excited about the project I'll be starting when this one is finished... I've been promised by my boss (i.e. Kristin) that my reward for completing EAC on time will be a month-long research trip to my favorite city: Amsterdam! Given the milestone I've met this week, I think it's fair to say I'll be spending the month of May overseas this year! (It will be the longest time I've been away from home since the epic Looney family California road trip of 1971, when I was 7...)

"Computers that Maryland voters will use in the March primary contain 'vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious individuals,' according to programmers who tested the equipment. Hackers could easily compromise 16,000 touch-screen computers in precincts statewide, Michael Wertheimer of RABA Technologies told a state legislative committee on Thursday." -- Tom Stuckey, "Md. Vote Machines Flawed, Consultant Says"

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others." -- Thomas Jefferson (seen quoted at

"As a fighter pilot in the Air National Guard, Mr. Bush was required not just to report for duty but to log a minimum number of hours of flying time per month to maintain his qualifications to fly. Based on a number of newspaper accounts and official records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, he did not show up for duty and was grounded for not taking a required annual physical exam. His failure to report for duty as ordered and to log his flying hours to maintain his state of readiness as a fighter pilot when others his age were fighting and dying in Vietnam calls into question his character and traits as a leader. Although Mr. Bush was never penalized for shirking his duty, his conduct is relevant today in that it casts doubt on his credibility as our commander in chief. It should not be ignored by the media." -- John P. Soder Jr., "Mr. Bush's Guard Service"

"It's more than a little ironic that, just a week after the President uses the State of the Union Address to rail against performance-enhancing drugs, we hold a Steroid Bowl brought to you by - you guessed it - performance enhancing drugs. It all comes back to the "what's-your-pleasure" hypocrisy in this country. If your pleasure is the slurry, cheery buzz of an apple martini, you're legal and accepted. If it's the serene, introspective buzz of a joint or, say, the warm, itchy buzz of Vicodin, then you're illegal and unaccepted. If you want to risk taking a pill to get your penis hard, "ask your doctor," but if you want to risk taking a pill to get your biceps hard, pee in this cup and turn in your locker room key. We all have our reasons for ingesting what we ingest. We are a nation dependent upon drugs to act as an antidote to everything from our boredom and depression to our impotence and the poisoning effects of our toxic food supply. To arbitrarily single out certain drugs and certain drug users as immoral, while others skate (and profitably I might add) is a complete hypocrisy."-- Bill Maher's blog, January 30, 2004

Fannie May Candies is going out of business! They were the manufacturers of one of my all-time favorite treats, a chocolate-caramel-pecan confection called a Pixie. Similar candies exist, but none are quite as good as genuine Pixies, so I'm deeply saddened by this loss. Perhaps, as they suggest at their website, someone will buy the company and revive the tradition.

"Over the years new equipment and additional astronauts would be sent to join the original crew. In time, the colony would grow to the point of being self-sustaining. When this stage was reached, humanity would have a precious insurance policy against catastrophe at home. During the next millennium there is a significant chance that civilization on Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid, a killer plague or a global war. A Martian colony could keep the flame of civilization and culture alive until Earth could be reverse-colonized from Mars. Would NASA entertain a one-way policy for human Mars exploration? Probably not. But other, more adventurous space agencies in Europe or Asia might." -- Paul Davies, "The Next Giant Leap For Mankind Won't Come Without Risk"

OK, so David Kay says, "It turns out we were all wrong." There weren't any WMDs in Iraq. War supporters don't care, saying what really matters is that we got rid of an evil dictator. I'm reminded of Jimmy Stewart's character in "Rear Window," as he urged his detective friend to go look for clues in the apartment Jimmy had been spying on: "If you find something, you've got a murderer -- and they don't care anything about a couple of house rules." But detective Doyle knew better, reminding Jimmy that you can't go in without a search warrant, and that evidence obtained without one is inadmissible in court.

I hate hearing politicians who claim to embrace "family values" attempting to limit the definition of "family" to just one type of voluntary union. So what if gay couples want to call themselves married? It's not like that somehow prevents regular weddings from happening, and I certainly hope no one thinks that outlawing gay weddings will turn homosexuals into straights. So how exactly do gay weddings threaten traditional ones?

"Doodles of Mass Destruction: According to the Washington Post, this is what our WMD hunt has turned up so far. They describe it as 'secret sketches for two illegal long-range missiles, one using two engines and one using five boosters.' I describe it as what third-graders draw in their notebooks during history class. I mean, come on - I've made better drawings with lipstick on a bar napkin at 3 a.m. But hey, when a smart guy like Dick Cheney looks at these doodles and sees a 'mortal threat,' who am I to judge?" -- Bill Maher's weblog, Jan 12, 2004

"DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET" -- message on a piece of paper which Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, sitting behind the cameras, held up for President Bush to read as they all sat listening to Sandra Kay Daniels's second-grade classroom read a story about a goat on that "interesting day" of 9/11

We were all deeply saddened this week to learn that a fan named Kerry Pearson (whom we knew as Lux Lucre) unexpectedly passed away. He built a bunch of Fluxx web-pages, and he was my age! Life is precious... cherish it!

"Of course, U.S. companies have been moving jobs offshore for decades, long before Wal-Mart was a retailing power. But there is no question that the chain is helping accelerate the loss of American jobs to low-wage countries such as China." -- Charles Fishman, "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know"

"The Bush White House fought mightily against creating the Kean commission in the first place. When public pressure forced Congress to go ahead despite their objections, the White House did everything possible to throw nails in the road. ...they put the commission on a starvation budget. Then they fought attempts by the commission to see critical documents. Now they don't want to testify in public or under oath. Do you get the impression the administration has something to hide? Here's the most likely reason the administration is acting guilty: It *IS* guilty. When Chairman Kean says 9/11 could have been prevented, he's really indicting the White House and top administration officials for failing in the worst way possible...they didn't protect the American homeland." -- Joe Rothstein, "Why Is Bush And His National Security Team Acting So Guilty About 9/11?"

"This was the year when fakeness ruled: fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey. An action movie star became governor and the government started making its own action movies, casting real soldiers like Jessica Lynch as fake combat heroes and dressing up embedded journalists as fake soldiers. Saddam Hussein even got a part in the big show: He played himself being captured by American troops. This is the fake of the year, if you believe the Sunday Herald in Scotland, as well as several other news agencies, which reported that he was actually captured by a Kurdish special forces unit." -- Naomi Klein, "The Year of the Fake"

"Nerds are always getting in trouble. They say improper things for the same reason they dress unfashionably and have good ideas: convention has less hold over them. It seems to be a constant throughout history: In every period, people believed things that were just ridiculous, and believed them so strongly that you would have gotten in terrible trouble for saying otherwise. Is our time any different? It's tantalizing to think we believe things that people in the future will find ridiculous. What would someone coming back to visit us in a time machine have to be careful not to say?"-- Paul Graham, "What You Can't Say"

"Suppose in the future there is a movement to ban the color yellow. Proposals to paint anything yellow are denounced as 'yellowist', as is anyone suspected of liking the color. People who like orange are tolerated but viewed with suspicion. Suppose you realize there is nothing wrong with yellow. If you go around saying this, you'll be denounced as a yellowist too, and you'll find yourself having a lot of arguments with anti-yellowists. If your aim in life is to rehabilitate the color yellow, that may be what you want. But if you're mostly interested in other questions, being labeled as a yellowist will just be a distraction. Argue with idiots, and you become an idiot."-- Paul Graham, "What You Can't Say"

"I was experiencing a wonderful bliss I call 'the sweet spot in time' when you finish a script, hand it in, and you have about 24 hours before everyone starts telling you what's wrong with it." -- Paul S. Eckstein, in an article called "Busted for a Roach," published in the Feb 2004 issue of High Times magazine

"Don't talk about clothes. Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean was a momentous event: the man who won the popular vote in 2000 threw his support to a candidate who accuses the president of wrongfully taking the nation to war. So what did some prominent commentators write about? Why, the fact that both men wore blue suits." -- Paul Krugman's proposed rules for next year's election reporting

"By abandoning the impossible goal of becoming a 'drug-free' society, we can begin to focus our drug education programs on keeping people, especially young people, safe.  Instead of programs being evaluated solely on whether they increase or decrease non-problematic, occasional drug use, we can look at how our policies affect rates of death, disease, crime, suffering and their cost to the hard-working taxpayer. We all live with drugs all around us, whether it's cigarettes or Prozac or pot. We know we can't get rid of them, so let's try instead to reduce the risks associated with them." -- Glenn Backes, "Abandoning the 'Drug-Free America' Myth"

"Ebenezer never lead a savage federal army of fascistic uniformed pirates who operate under color of law, prey mercilessly on harmless Americans, and seem to be accountable to no one. Ebenezer never dishonored his country; America's Drug Czar dishonors everything that was ever good, decent, or honorable about the USA on a daily basis. Those who enforce America's drug prohibition must be one of three things: evil, stupid, or insane. Dickens' Scrooge was none of those things." -- Susan W. Wells, in the Afterword of A Drug War Carol

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