Friday, January 16, 2009

2001 - 2009

Homer's 'Eagle Lady' dead at 85


HOMER -- Jean Keene, the 85-year-old "Eagle Lady" whose feeding program drew hundreds of bald eagles and scores of nature photographers to the Homer Spit each winter, died Tuesday evening in her Spit home.

Keene had been unwell but continued to feed fish scraps to the eagles this winter. In 2006, the city banned feeding of eagles, but allowed Keene to continue feeding until 2010. She had been at it for 30 years.

Keene's sudden passing leaves the city in an awkward fix. With several hundred eagles currently loitering on the Spit, a sudden halt to feeding could bring starvation or an invasion into local back yards, federal biologists say. It's probably too late in winter for them to go elsewhere.

"Some of the younger birds would probably not make it," said Vernon Byrd, a Homer-based biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. "They'd have to forage around, start to get into more garbage and boats looking for food. People would come on the weak ones standing around."

City officials said Wednesday that an assistant who has been helping Keene with feeding will be allowed to keep going with existing food supplies, good for seven to 10 days.

The Man with No Morals


Congress Comes to YouTube

Have you ever wondered what your elected representatives actually do in Washington, D.C.? Ever pondered what day-to-day life on Capitol Hill consists of? Do you want to connect with your Senator or Congressman, but don't feel like sitting down to write a letter?

Starting today you can do all these things via YouTube. As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub ( and The House Hub (

Learn more from the leadership of the House and Senate, here:

So, why are your elected leaders coming to YouTube? The short answer is: you. Your use of YouTube and other online platforms to speak up on political issues and hold your leaders accountable has shown just how powerful this medium can be. You've shown your elected officials that in order to be in contact with you, they need to come to the platforms you use most, and engage with you directly.

These YouTube channels have the potential to make Congress more transparent and accessible than ever before - but only if you continue to connect and engage with your government on the site. The House Hub and Senate Hub are the digital equivalents of a backstage pass to your government. Find your Senator and Representative on YouTube and make a connection... and if your elected representative doesn't have a YouTube channel yet, give them a call or an email and encourage them to get started.


Steve Grove
YouTube News and Politics

Bush's Most Fateful Day

As we ponder George W. Bush's final week as president, what was his most fateful day in office? One is that day in August of 2001 when he got word in a national security intelligence briefing that terrorist Osama Bin Laden was planning a major attack. Thirty six days later the warning came true.

A censored copy of the intelligence memo that Bush saw on Aug. 6 at his Texas ranch was released by the White House three years later. It was entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," and provided many details about his activities, including that members of his organization, Al-Qa'ida, "have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks." At least 70 FBI investigations were underway to find them, the memo reported to the president.

There was even a reference to Bin Laden's desire to hijack U.S. aircraft, although the memo did not foresee that hijackings would be used to crash into buildings, as happened a little over a month later to the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington. 

Bush shuffled the CIA's warning over to his National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice -- and went bass fishing. He never called a meeting or followed up on the matter until nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The day after the intelligence warnings in August there was more recreation time, as Bush played golf and joked around with reporters.

"No mulligans, except on the first tee," Bush said to laughter as he hit a second drive on the first fairway. "That's just to loosen up. You see, most people get to hit practice balls."

Our One God

President-elect Barack Obama, the Rev. Rick Warren, and the Mythical 'Middle Ground'

by Steven Jonas, MD

Right-wing commentators such as the sometimes hard-to-categorize Pat Buchanan, the comedian Bill Kristol, the still-trying-to-shake-her "Reagan Hagiographer" label Peggy Noonan, and so-called "even-handed" cable news personalities such as "Morning Joe and Mika" of MSNBC were all het-up about why the "left" (these folks wouldn't know a real LEFT if they saw one) is so het up about Pres.-elect Obama's choice of Rick Warren to deliver the Inauguration Invocation. "It's a free country," they say. "There's a wide range of views on gay marriage" (which happens to be Rick Warren's least odious on-the-gay-question position) they say. "Obama is showing himself to be tolerant," they say. Obama is looking for "common ground," they say.

"You'se guys" (which is what they would say to us lefties if they spoke Noo Yawk) are just a bunch of whiners. Or worse, you are just as bad as the Christian Fundamentalists, except I cannot remember when any of the above listed "authorities" ever criticized the latter group for anything. For example, when Gov. Huckabee, the funny man, was riding high for a bit during the Republican primaries last winter, he was on the cable news shows a lot.  And thus I saw him a lot.  I don't remember one question ever being asked him about the fact that he is not just a run-of-the-mill Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist (which fact itself never came up in questions), but that he had major Dominionist backing.  (Dominionists believe that Constitutional government in the United States should be replaced by the "Dominion of God," based upon their particular so-called "literal" reading of a particular translation [usually the King James Version] of the Bible, in other words institution of a theocracy).  No questions there.  But that's another story.

These folks then proceed, not surprisingly, to talk about Warren only in the context of his opposition to gay marriage.  They trot out all of the traditional arguments in defense of the position (whether it is theirs or not is often left unclear) that "traditional marriage" is "between a man and a woman" and thus should not be/cannot be changed. There are two problems here, folks. First, if that were the only way that Warren demonstrated his antipathy towards gays and equal civil rights for them, one could have a rational argument with him and the people he represents, using one or more of the usual arguments in favor of the gay-marriage-is-just-fine position.

On the proof of the supposed evilness of girls

T. Komplexify
Weizguyy Institute of Smart Axes


In this article, we discuss the classic proof that girls are evil. The author will briefly discuss the origins of the problem and review the classic proof. The author then indicates a mathematical flaw in the argument, invalidating the statement. The article concludes with a revised and corrected statement of the result.

I. Introduction

I recently received an email discussing the differences between men and women from various mathematical and engineering points-of-view. Most of it was extremely funny, and sooner or later all shall certainly appear within the mathematico-humorist community, properly researched, and appended with standard references in the literature.

However, one portion of the email included a mathematical "proof" of the fact that girls are evil. This proof is doubtless familiar to many readers, having circulated a few times in mathematicians' inboxes. However, for those readers unfamiliar with this well-known proof, we present it now.

II. Statement and classical proof of result

Theorem. Girls are evil.

Proof. It is axiomic in all cultures that girls require both time and money, and any man with either a deficiency in available "quality time" or "disposable income" knows that this a joint-proportion, whence

Similarly, it is has been proved that "time is money" [1], whence

Substitution yields

We also know that "money is the root of all evil" [2], whence

Substituting again yields

Squaring on the right-hand side of the equation yields

establishing the result. Q.E.D.


Greenpeace Buys Land To Block New Heathrow Runway

By Dave Demerjian


Greenpeace announced today that it has bought a parcel of land that sits directly in the path of a proposed third runway for London's Heathrow Airport. It's the latest move in a long-running battle between environmentalists who say expanding Heathrow would be an environmental catastrophe, and expansion advocates who say without a new runway Europe's top airport will become an antiquated also-ran. 

Greenpeace's plan for the 0.4-hectare parcel, which it purchased from an undisclosed owner, is sure to have expansion advocates reaching for the Rolaids. The group will sell off the land in tiny pieces to environmentalists, celebrities, and anyone else who feels like buying in. This means that if the UK government were to exercise eminent domain laws to acquire the land, it would have to deal with thousands of different landowners and the lawsuits they would be sure to bring. Regardless of where you stand on the expansion issue, you can't deny that Greenpeace's move is a brilliant one.

Among those that have already bought a chunk of the land from Greenpeace are actress Emma Thompson. "I don't understand how any government remotely serious about committing to reversing climate change can even consider these ridiculous plans," she told Sky News.

Bush Hoofs It On Back Home to Texas

by Mickey Walker

Bush is going home to Texas, a friendlier place he dearly loves and can call his own.  See, ever since Texans kicked out Jack Brooks, Carl Parker, Ralph Yarborough, Ann Richards, and many more native Texans, Texas has gone to the dogs.  Since the days of Governors Alan Shivers, Bill Clements, George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and other indecent political morphs, Texas done got God and fetus power, by cracky.  And shoot, religion's been tee-totally good for big oil and awl bidness in Texas, too.  None of these God-fearin', whiskey-bottle-hidin', Texicans never got the red ass atall when Bush went AWOL as the VN War raged.  Might near all my cousins and neighbors think it's plumb rude to trash a fellow Texan, no matter how much fruit and nuts he's got on his cake.  Look. Truth don't matter here, just ask Kay Bailey, Tom DeLay, or John Corn Dog.  Us Texans know how to keep a family secret, like Bush getting picked up in Kinnebunkport, Maine for DUI.  You just wipe the slate clean, just like nobody could test Cheney to see if he was drunk when he shot that there lawyer in the face in South Texas.  What's done and said in Texas stays in Texas, and sometimes in Maine when you got Texans like the Bush's payin' taxes up there, get it?

Secrecy was invented right here in the Lone Star State.  I mean is there anything worse than word gettin' out that your sister done been to see a psychiatrist?  Coo Coos in the family tree and all?  Us Texans can't have stuff like that leakin' out.  "Bush's bad he done as president is old news."  Texans are quick to tell you.  Besides, Texans say, "Look at all the stuff W done us right on.  What do you mean, danglin' preposition?  Ifen Sarah Palin kin do it, it must be all right, and she ain't even from Texas."  Texas don't know nothin' about hockey, neither, but she's a hockey mom, she says, and that ain't no hockey.  She'd make a good Texan, with her politics know-how and down home way of speakin', ya know?  Buford, down at the Tomball feed store, said Bush hepped us good old boys and done us right by reducing taxes, capital gains, and returning 2 Trillion in tax cuts that was our own money in the first place.  "It ain't no paradox I tell you."  Buford allowed.  "It's just about how we Texans are about standin' up for what's right and what's not.  It's our money and the Salvation Army and Head Start can go piss up a rope.  And another thang:  we don't care whether GW went to no drills in Alabama when he was in the Texas Air Guard.  Heck that's too many cow plops down the trail to get worked up about, anyhow.  He hepped us keep our hard-earned money instead of lettin' Ted Kennedy give it all away to all them no-counts on welfare."

Misery Accomplished

Unfinished business

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 
by Gene Lyons
No sensible person wants to see the United States become the kind of country where "regime change" means flinging the party out of power into dungeons.

That said, it's nothing short of pathetic to observe pundits who urged President Bill Clinton's impeachment for lying about a private sexual matter rending their garments over the prospect of holding Bush administration insiders responsible for war crimes including kidnapping, torture and even murder.

Excuse me, make that "extraordinary rendition," "enhanced interrogation" and a series of regrettable accidents. Or something. Even the Bush administration seems not to have invented a bureaucratic euphemism for prisoners found beaten to death in solitary confinement. And how did President Bush, who claimed a dictator's power to imprison thousands purely on his say-so, determine them to be "enemy combatants"?

Not by anything resembling evidence in many cases. Some were certainly guilty of plotting against the United States. Many have confessed, although confessions obtained by torture aren't worth the blood they're written in-one reason several hundred "detainees" remain in military prisons in Guantanamo and Afghanistan today. Others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or belonged to the wrong tribe. Some were grabbed up by Afghani and Pakistani warlords eager to collect $5,000 U.S. bounty payments.

Others, such as Canadian telecommunications engineer Maher Arar or German national Khaled el-Masri reportedly were snatched because their names resembled somebody else's, stripped naked, drugged, beaten, transported to secret "black sites" and brutalized. Although guilty of nothing more than being of Middle Eastern descent, by the time U.S. authorities admitted his innocence and returned him to Canada, Arar had signed numerous false confessions of plotting with al-Qa'ida in countries where subsequent investigation proved he'd never been.

Goodbye, Asshole

A fond farewell to the "Mission Accomplished" man

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Watching Putsch prance around trying to put lipstick on his failed presidency (an action akin to bronzing a turd) is both funny and sad. It's bad enough that despite everything that has happened over the past eight years, one in four Americans still think he was a good President. "Bob" once said that "If you consider how dumb a person with an IQ of 100 is, then ponder that by definition half the population is dumber than THAT!" Figure you can spot the dumbest 25% by the Bush stickers on their cars.

You look at the Putsch supporters, and you think of Detroit Lions fans. Yes, the team did go 0-16 this year, and there weren't many bright spots. But where the Lions have it over Putsch is that you can at least hope that the team will do better next year. Supporting Putsch at this point is a bit like supporting the Cleveland Spiders, a long-defunct major league baseball team that suffered the ignominy of compiling the worst record in major league history. As with Putsch, who was given a country that was at peace, had budget surpluses and no problems bigger than Clinton's zipper, the Cleveland Spiders were contenders who traded away all their talent, including some pitcher named Cy Young, and went 20-134 the following year. They were 84 games out of first place, 35 games out of next-to-last. They were so bad they got traded to the American League.

Did Putsch even have 20 wins? I've been trying to think of bright spots in his presidency, and about all I could come up with was his fight against AIDs in Africa. I applauded his move into Afghanistan to capture bin Laden, but that ended the minute I realized the fool planned to stay and occupy the country. Just like Alexander. Just like England. Just like the Soviet Union. England beat the odds: they survived the attempt.

AIDs in Africa. A good thing on his part, surely. But that was all I could come up with. The rest of his eight years were just one protracted cringe of humiliation and shame for Americans and all of America's friends.

There was 9/11. He reacted exactly like a schoolyard bully who just got gobsmacked, blinking in utter disbelief, at a total loss, and then picking himself up and running away. Who can forget his frantic race around the country in AF1, hopscotching from one imagined point of safety to another, until finally, three days later, he realized it was safe to bluster and then, and only then, went to ground zero to shout defiance at a foe who had already walked away, laughing?

And the party dirtbags who put that stammering, shiftless idiot in the White House didn't waste any time exploiting 9/11. The first thing they did was call for a tax cut for the rich. Less than two weeks after 9/11, I wrote that this was "the sort of sickening tackiness that so often accompanies right wing sanctimony and ignorance. Unfortunately, it isn't limited to the trashiest lower reaches of the right.
While Democrats in the House and Senate were setting differences aside – even the matter of the fact that Putsch stole the election – Republicans, with a whoop, were taking advantage of the war fever, patriotism, and confusion to push as hard as they could for their various pet projects.

Bush Presidency Highlight Reel