Archive for March, 2010

Poor science

Posted in Humor, Rant, Science on March 30, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

At work we have these online safety courses.  You go through a program and then take a test.  I took one today for Radiation Safety (I don’t really know why since I deal pretty much only with oils, but it was a required course.)  Given my BS in Physics, I skimmed over the introductory stuff on the makeup of atoms and the differences between Alpha, Beta, and Gamma radiation.  After going through the program, I went to take the test.   I spent almost a minute on the first question because I wanted to not answer it because it was phrased incorrectly.

“In orbit around the nucleus?” Orbit? How early 20th century. Haven’t these people ever heard of quantum numbers and orbitals? Don’t they teach quantum mechanics in school any more?


Working cover

Posted in Books, Writing on March 29, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

Here’s the working cover for A Man of Few Words. I still plan to tweak it a bit, but what do you think?

Must there be light?

Posted in Odds, Rant on March 27, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

I figured I’d write this up for Earth Hour.

A few years ago I dated this woman whose apartment was on the second floor of a building. Instead of a simple light switch for the light in the stairwell, there was a timer switch. You had to turn it on for at least five minutes before the light would come on. Whenever I visited, I would turn it until the light came on, walk up the flight of stairs, and be in her apartment within four minutes to spare on the timer. But my girlfriend, if we came back from dinner or something, would crank the timer all the way around up to, I think it was a thirty minute max. I wanted to ask her why she turned it on for so long, but given her nature, it most likely would have turned into an argument, so I never found out her reasoning.

There is also a timer switch in the laundry room in the apartment building where I live. Whenever I go in with my laundry, I turn it on for five minutes, do whatever, then turn it off as I leave. But I don’t know how many times I’ve gone in to the room, nobody is there, but the timer is one for twenty minutes. Why? Can anyone explain why someone who goes in to, say, move their clothes over to a dryer needs to turn the light on for half-an-hour? Anyone? I mean, if it was just a simple on/off switch that was left on, I’d say people were just lazy. But it takes more time and effort to turn the switch all the way around. People may even have to take their hand off to get a new grip. So why do people do it? Why must there be light in empty rooms?

Tea Party vs. their opponents

Posted in Politics on March 24, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

This just disgusts me.

The backlash: Reform turns personal


Reps. Louise Slaughter and Bart Stupak have received death threats.

A tea party participant published what he thought was Rep. Thomas Perriello’s home address and urged disgruntled voters to “drop by” for a “good face-to-face chat.”

Vandals broke windows at Slaughter’s office in New York and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s office in Arizona.

And angry voters are planning to protest this weekend at the home of Steve Driehaus — who’s already seen a photograph of his children used in a newspaper ad published by reform opponents.

The vitriolic health care debate has become personal — too personal, say House Democrats who voted for the bill and now find not just themselves but their families in the cross hairs of opponents.

Slaughter, a Democrat who chairs the House Rules Committee, said a caller to her office last week vowed to send snipers to “kill the children of the members who voted yes.” Her office reported the call to police, who were dispatched to provide protection for Slaughter’s grandchildren. She has also been in touch with the FBI and U.S. Postal Service inspectors, who intercepted a letter en route to her home in upstate New York.

Stupak, the Michigan Democrat whose last-minute compromise on abortion guaranteed passage of the bill Sunday, said callers have left messages for him saying, “You’re dead; we know where you live; we’ll get you.”

“My wife still can’t answer the phone,” Stupak told POLITICO on Tuesday. The messages are “full of obscenities if she leaves it plugged in. In my office, we can’t get a phone out. It’s just bombarded.”

Stupak, a former police officer, said he’s not fazed by the threats or by the prospect of protests at his district office this weekend. “I’ve looked down barrels of guns,” he said. “I’ve talked my way out of it.”

But Democrats said their political opponents go too far when they bring members’ families into the fray.

Driehaus, a Democrat from Ohio, was outraged last week when a group called the Committee to Rethink Reform used a photo of him and his two young daughters in a newspaper ad urging him to vote against any health care reform bill that included federal funding for abortion. Both the group and the newspaper — the Cincinnati Enquirer — apologized for including Driehaus’s daughters in the ad.

“I’m very protective of my family, like most of us,” Driehaus said Tuesday. “There is no reason for my wife and kids to be brought into any of this. If people want to talk to me, if people want to approach me about an issue, I’m more than happy to talk about the issue, regardless of what side they’re on. But I do believe when you bring in a member’s family, that you’ve gone way too far.”

Driehaus faults Republicans for providing encouragement to the most extreme opponents of reform. Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned that anti-abortion Democrats would suffer politically if they voted for the health care bill; he singled out Driehaus, saying he “may be a dead man” and “can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati” because “the Catholics will run him out of town.”

“Mr. Boehner made comments about me and my predicament when I go home which I felt were wildly out of bounds for his position and very irresponsible, quite frankly. He’s from next door. That’s not helpful. That’s irresponsible,” Driehaus said.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “The leader does not condone violence, and his remark was obviously not meant to be taken literally. He is urging Americans to take the anger they’re feeling and focus it on building a new majority that will listen to the people.”

No one condones death threats against members or their families, but not everyone is apologetic about taking complaints about health care reform straight to the homes of members.

Mike Troxel, an organizer for the Lynchburg Tea Party, posted what he believed to be Perriello’s home address on his blog this week, sarcastically urging other tea partiers to stop by and “say hi and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care.”

The address turned out to be the home of Perriello’s brother — who has four children — but Troxel told POLITICO he didn’t intend to remove it from his blog. “If they would like to provide me with the address of Tom, then I’d be more than happy to take it down,” he said. “I have no reason to believe it’s not his house.”

A fellow tea party blogger said he thought it was fine for Troxel to post Perriello’s home address. “They have our home addresses,” said Kurt Feigel, who complained that protesters had little choice but to go to Perriello’s home because Perriello’s office doesn’t “respond to e-mail; they don’t respond to letters; they don’t respond to us showing up at his office. So what am I going to do?”

Perriello said his family doesn’t want him to be afraid. But when asked if he was scared anyway, the Virginia Democrat replied: “Whatever.”

“I’ve lived in Sierra Leone for two years, where the life expectancy is 34 years old. If the worst thing that happens is that special-interest groups spend millions of dollars against me and my most ardent opponents organize against me, it’s hardly a ‘cry me a river’ moment — as long as people act civil and within the law.”

Others are less sanguine.

C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for Giffords, said staffers in the Democrat’s district office were “a little bit shaken” Monday when they arrived at work to find the glass front door shattered and covered in plywood.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) said he had to change his personal cell phone number after a Republican gave it out to health care opponents.

And Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Blue Dog Democrat from California, said he’s gotten physical threats over health care reform.

“There are some folks that identified themselves as being members of the tea party [who] called, [and] my staff has gotten to know their names over time, and they have been very loud and very ugly,” Cardoza said.

With the House vote behind them, Democrats hope to show voters that health care reform won’t wreak the devastation opponents predict — and that tempers will cool as a result.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said he’s already getting 95 percent fewer calls since Sunday’s vote.

“The real problem is the people who are calling and talking about a revolution and overthrowing government,” he said. “They can be angry. We’re all for that. But when they talk about taking over the government, the leadership has to do its part to stop that.”

Andy Barr contributed to this report.

The Tea Party and the Republicans are starting to sound more and more like the party of some Third-World dictatorship where they don’t think anything of assassinating their political opponents.

Genocidal Conundrum

Posted in Odds, Writing on March 23, 2010 by oneoveralpha

One of these days, I need to get some business cards made. They’ll read “Stephen L. Thompson – Professional Dreamer and Destroyer of Worlds.” The Professional Dreamer part is because I feel deep down writers are dreamers who, hopefully, get paid for their dreams. (But will I have to wait until I’m a professional writer to be a “professional” dreamer?) The Destroyer of Worlds comes from the fact, not to brag, that with my bare hands I’ve driven humanity to extinction – twice. At least twice. That’s where the conundrum comes in. In one of the stories I’m working on, a character from the distant future casually remarks that these aliens will exterminate humanity a few thousand years from now. Does that count? Can I now say that with my bare hands I’ve driven humanity to extinction – thrice? (Actually, because of other stories, the number would be higher.) Do I have to write a story with the details of how humanity becomes extinct for my genocide to count, or can it just be mentioned in passing?

In case you’re wondering, I don’t always lay waste to the species. In some stories I only kill a billion or so. 😛

How the Tea Party could be dangerous

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

A leader of Florida’s Tea Party movement, Everett Wilkinson, wants to vote out of office those who voted for the Health bill. That is his right as an American citizen, just as it is my right to not vote for Republicans because of Bush. But he is a potentially dangerous radical:

“When they leave office, we’re going to make sure the private sector is aware of who they are and we’ll make it virtually impossible for them to have a job even after they leave office” (emphasis mine.)

I’m not a health professional or anything, but I think the desire to punish those who disagree with you is a mark of mental disorder. I’m not saying all Tea Partiers are dangerous mental cases, but this is a leader in one of the state movements. Shouldn’t that worry people?

Here is the full article:

Tea partiers vow revenge over health overhaul

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer Brendan Farrington, Associated Press Writer – Tue Mar 23, 4:09 am ET

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tea party activists aren’t just angry that Democrats passed a major health care overhaul, they are out for revenge.

They do not see passage of the landmark reforms that usher in near-universal medical coverage as the end of the debate. Tea partiers instead vow to support attorneys general who plan a lawsuit seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. They are demanding the bill be repealed or not funded and want to kick out of office all supporters of the measure.

So far, the nascent movement has almost reveled in its rebellious and grass roots nature and has avoided becoming as much a part of the establishment as the Republican and Democratic parties. But some tea party organizers see the health care debate as a galvanizing force that could stir its followers to greater action and something to rally around with midterm elections this year.

In states across the country, tea party groups planned protests and vowed to target any congressional member who supported the measure passed Sunday night.

“There’s going to be a whole, all-out effort for an Election Day onslaught,” said Michael Caputo, a public relations consultant who works with tea party activists on the national level, as well as in Florida and New York. “The health care process has been an incendiary issue for the tea party organizations since Day 1. Losing that vote is going to inflame them more.”

The number of tea party groups has been growing for a little more then a year. Many in the movement were previously not politically active and have a strong independent streak, making organization sometimes difficult.

Most share a common belief that government spending and influence should be limited and they’re angry about policies President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress are implementing, including last year’s $787 billion federal stimulus package and health care.

In a conference call with tea party activists Monday night, Eric Odom of the Patriot Caucus mapped ambitious plans to set up state chapters, organize voters online and raise money to oust incumbents who supported the health care overhaul.

He predicted the vote would increase support for the movement across the country.

The government “has declared war on our way of life,” Odom from Nevada told listeners.

“It’s now time to boot them from office,” said Odom, who chairs the Liberty First PAC, a fundraising arm of the group. “We absolutely must have your help.”

In Florida, about 85 tea party groups encompass about 100,000 people, according to Everett Wilkinson, a leader in the state’s movement. A small rally is being planned in Boca Raton on Tuesday with more likely the rest of the week in response to the vote, he said.
There are similar reactions elsewhere.

“We will be more determined than ever to see that this country is governed the way the constitution intended,” said Brenda Bowen, a tea party organizer in Greenville, Ala. “We are all getting our second wind. When we do, you’d better watch out.”

Even though they didn’t stop the bill, Tim Dake, organizer of the Milwaukee-area group GrandSons of Liberty, said he and others intend to push for a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit forcing people to buy health insurance. The amendment has been introduced by Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Wisconsin Legislature, but there are no plans to hold a hearing on it.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is pushing a similar measure in Florida. If lawmakers put it on the ballot, at least 60 percent of voters would have to approve it.

Christen Varley, head of the Greater Boston Tea Party Organizers, said the House health vote was both “heartbreaking” and a wake-up call.
“I think we all went to bed a little dejected last night, but from the communication I received this morning, people are energized,” said Varley. Sarah Palin is scheduled to headline a tea party rally on historic Boston Common on April 14.

Massachusetts already has a form of universal health care, yet the state made passage of the bill more difficult when voters elected Republican Scott Brown to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — who spent nearly his entire career pushing for health care for all. Brown’s election took away Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Willie Lawson, a Tampa-area conservative radio talk show host who speaks at tea party rallies, wondered what effect the vote will have on an April 15 event at a University of South Florida stadium.

“It’s just a big punch in the gut. It really is to a lot of people,” said Lawson, who wondered whether people new to the movement will be discouraged by the vote and not bother to come. Others, he’s sure, will be more fired up.

“For some people it will just be more raw meat, more raw meat out the back door to get people to come,” he said. “The hardcore people will be there. They’ll be angrier than ever.”

Whether or not tea partiers will be able to turn anger into organization may vary from state to state.

“People in the Tea Party movement are fiercely independent. They don’t like being told what to do. It’s like herding cats,” said Chad Capps, strategy coordinator for a Huntsville, Ala., group.

While tea party activists have made themselves heard, University of North Florida political science professor Matthew Corrigan said the movement alone won’t be enough to oust incumbents.

“Do they have energy? Yes. Have they been getting into the media? Yes, but they still haven’t sold me on the fact that they can swing elections,” Corrigan said. He added, however, that tea party activists could be more influential if they work with Republicans against Democrats.

And for Wilkinson, it doesn’t just stop at voting out the lawmakers who supported the measure.

“When they leave office, we’re going to make sure the private sector is aware of who they are and we’ll make it virtually impossible for them to have a job even after they leave office,” Wilkinson said. “Wherever they are, we will be there. We are not stopping. We’re not going away. This is just the beginning.”
Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc in Boston, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala., and Michael Blood in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.

Rotting corpses

Posted in Writing on March 20, 2010 by The Prince of Pithy

I think it was Wednesday, I was returning to work after lunch. I had a stomach full of good food, I had the windows rolled down for the cool breeze, and I had Apocalyptica cranked up. When I pulled in and turned off the engine, I looked at the building and I just had this urge to continue driving. There was no specific destination, just the need to enjoy a warm afternoon. But being a good wage slave, I got out and returned to work.

Since then I’ve been working on a poem about the experience. The working title is “An Afternoon’s Execution.” It starts with the condemned – with a full belly – walking towards the gallows. He enters and “The door closed like a guillotine / leaving him trapped with the stench / of rotting corpses of sunny afternoons.”

Ever since I came up with “rotting corpses of sunny afternoons,” a part of my mind has been bugging me saying it sounded familiar. Today, while returning to work on another “condemned” sunny afternoon, I remembered what it reminded me of. It’s from the education film “Global Warming or: None Like it Hot!” from the Futurama episode “Crimes of the Hot.”

My brain just works that way.