Monday, February 28, 2005

And You Thought You Had a Sweet Ride ...

Check out Alexi, the Funker-Hearse:

Alexi in action -- CLICK TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

I don't know about you, but it's not everyday I see an old hearse customized with armor and a flamethrower. Oh, and by the way: no, he isn't going to tell you how to build your own. [Warning: The message is brief, but quite the passionate rant].

Running with More Power

Running Scared, the Observations of a Former Republican, has bid a fond farewell to Blogger. The gang has moved to Powerblogs and they even have a brand, spanking new domain name:
I've already updated the blogroll over there in the sidebar. And my own bookmarks, etc. You be certain to do the same now. OK? Now, if you've never checked out Running Scared, go on over and do so. You won't regret it. Jazz and company run a mighty fine group blog, plenty of food for thought to be found. Go on now, and tell 'em that Brainwise sent ya.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


I lay on the bowsprit, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight towering above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment lost myself—actually lost my life. I was set free . . . dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm and the high dim-starred sky. . . . I belonged within a unity and joy to life itself. EUGENE O’NEILL (1888 - 1953)

Friday, February 25, 2005

Git Yer Ministry Title!

Over at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, President-for-Life Sheelzebub announces a new competition for ministry titles. I have applied for Minister of Illustrated Literature or Minister of the Mundane. I would be happy with either one, or maybe something a little more surreal (ooooh, Minister of Surreality?), but I never win these types of contests. ::: SIGH :::: via Light

And If You Thought ...

... the folks in my last post had a strange hobby, how about this guy? From CNN:

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) -- The Kansas attorney general is demanding abortion clinics turn over the complete medical records of nearly 90 women and girls, saying he needs the material for an investigation into underage sex and illegal late-term abortions.

Hey Mr. Kline! Don't you have more pressing issues in Kansas? Oh, I'm so sure Kline has no hidden agenda here. Only the purest of intentions. Hey, doesn't he look like someone you can trust? Wait, maybe you shouldn't answer that.

WWBRCW: What Would Billy Ray Cyrus Watch?

Meet the people who are deciding what should -- and, of course, what should not -- be on your television:
click for the whole motley assortment Finest bunch 'o' has beens ya ever saw, eh?
Be afraid ... be very afraid.
Title and link courtesy of my pal, Loki.

War PR?

Great bit in The Boondocks today (click to see larger image)...
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Boondocks strip 02-25-2005


Sometimes I wake up and don't know Who or What or When or Where. These are the members of that fab four: The Confusions. "Who" is the cute one, always searching for identity. "What" is the cynical one, forcing us to think about the realities of life. "Where" is the quiet one, the one thinking about place and places and where we're all going in life. And "When?" He's just back there keeping the beat, making the rest of us unaware of the magic of time.
Michael Jantze The Norm January 2002

Friday Pet Blogging | A Day in the Life

A day in the life of Milo and Otis.
Just like any other day, they boys spent most of their time in bed -- our bed. But, at least this time they gave us a chance to make it before they got really comfortable.
Tandem kitties! Everyone loves 'em!! Milo (top of image), is wondering, "Do I really have to share this big ol' bed with my brother, Otis?"

Once the boys finally got out of bed for a bit, Otis had to go to work. His cubicle is smaller than mine!

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Otis Not Boxed In Otis attempts to think outside of the box.

Milo has a room with a view. He must be in the surveilance game -- that's gotta be why he frequenly looks so dark and mysterious.

Who knows what evil lurks beyond that window? Milo knows, but he ain't telling you!
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed at the M & O Archives page ... just in case you missed one.

Photo Dates: February 6 and 19, 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005


"...before we can even attempt an ecological healing, we must first reach a mutual understanding and mutual agreement among ourselves as to the best way to collectively proceed. In other words, the healing impulse comes not from championing functional fit [getting all the social pieces to fit together so as to function effectively] but mutual understanding. And that depends first andforemost... on individual growth and transformation. "

-- Ken Wilber (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality)

The Saga of Lt. Ilario Pantano

I'm not certain what to make of this. I even hesitated for a full day before attempting to post this story here. But here goes. A little more than two weeks ago, on February 1, 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of two Iraqis. The strange thing, to me, is that these charges are coming almost a year after the incident in question. An incident in which, from all the accounts I have read -- and the radio interview with Pantano's mother (who admittedly was not there) -- he was defending himself in an unknown and dangerous situation. In a nutshell .... In April 2004, Lt. Pantano was commanding a platoon in one of the most dangerous regions of the "Sunni triangle." Pantano and his men had been dispatched to a house believed to hold insurgents and weapons. Upon searching the property, according to Lt. Pantano's account, the Marines did indeed find bomb-making equipment and were in the process of removing it when they saw two Iraqis attempting to speed away in a sport utility vehicle. It doesn't take a great leap of logic to figure that the fleeing Iraqis have something to do with the hidden weapons. So, the Marines shot out the vehicle's tires and apprehended the two men. After securing the perimeter, the Marines had the two suspects search their own vehicle (standard procedure so that the soldiers would not be hit by any booby-traps). At some point, the two Iraqis stop searching and begin speaking to each other in Arabic, and then turned to advance upon Pantano. So the two Iraqis are coming at the Marine, talking in arabic. According to Pantano's account, he told them, in arabic (a point that some news sources neglected to mention), to stop but they kept coming. Depending on the news source, he may have told them more than once. Whether he told them one or more times, the Iraqi men did not stop. Pantano then shot and killed them because "he didn't know what they were doing but they weren't listening to him. He was in fear of his life" (according to Charles Gittins, a military defense attorney). It later turned out that the men were unarmed and there were no weapons in the SUV. Due to the nature of the situation, and Pantano's exemplary background, Pantano was cleared by his commanders in a battlefield investigation of the incident. So why is it that, nearly a year later, Pantano is being charged with two counts of premeditated murder, charges for which -- if convicted at a court-martial -- he would face the death penalty? This isn't like that idiotic General who said, more or less, "shooting insurgents is fun" [paraphrased]. For all intents and purposes, this Marine seems to have been doing his job and just trying to preserve his own life and the lives of his men. Sure, you can argue all you want that our soldiers should not be in Iraq in the first place. If that is your opinion, you are welcome to it, but that is not the topic at hand. I am not a warhawk, or chickenhawk, or whatever. This post is about an inept bureaucracy screwing someone who seems to be a good man. Oh, as if things weren't bad enough, threats have been made on his life. OK, that was a rather large nutshell. Even so, I've probably left tons of details out. You can get more info in the following links: News: Background on Lt. Pantano: The view from the left: The Islamic view: The Hindu view: From Down Under: What the conservatives say: All sorts of conservative blogs and forums have been writing on this topic, but I don't feel like citing too many of them. It's probably bad enough that I've posted a link to Ms. Malkin's essay. - - - - - - - - - - - UPDATE: - - - - - - - - - - - I'm not certain if the visitors who are still viewing this entry know, but Ilario Pantano was exhonorated of all charges. He wrote a book about his experiences in Iraq -- Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. The book covers not only the hearings, but also provides a biography of Pantano, chronicling his training and service in both the first Gulf War and the current conflict. In September, 2006, Philly talk radio host Michael Smerconish hosted a book club event with Mr. Pantano. I was fortunate enough to attend. I was able to meet Mr. Pantano as well as one of his service buddies. He captivated the audience with his committment and love for the U.S., and he holds no illusions about how the war in Iraq is being fought. What encouraged me most about Pantano's presentation was his insistence on using "soft power" (which helped tremendously in bringing an end to the Cold War) to help win conflicts with radical Islam in the Middle East.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Social (In)Security Calculator

Have you seen this...
I had to blog this. I know it's a complete slam from the Dems, and not necessarily a non-partisan production. I know! But I still love it. Well, I don't love what it implies, of course. No one wants to lose money for retirement. But I have to say that this is certainly well executed.


"Life is misery, and miraculous beauty. The word “miracle” has been used too often and has lost its value. But we live in miracles. The thrushes in the park, the ducks drifting on the canals, the floating seagulls, but also the car on the highway, the mechanical digger in the polder and the large square apartment blocks. Whoever can take the time and the peace to observe is surprised and feels the void of his own being."

-- Janwillem van de Wetering, Novelist (1931 - )

Some Updates

I made a few changes to the layout recently. Nothing too deadly serious, but I wanted to make note of them:
  1. Referrers no longer appear in the sidebar. They now appear at the very bottom of the page, in the footer. You see, there were times that a referrer's URL was so long that it actually forced the entire sidebar to be shifted below all the final post. Moving this list to the footer remedies the situation.
  2. All of the BLOG RESOURCES listed in the sidebar are now represented by little buttons.
  3. Speaking of the BLOG RESOURCES, there is a brand new one: Free Blogging. It will take you to the Committee to Protect Bloggers' site that was featured in a post here yesterday.
  4. The OTHER BLOGS list was updated. I removed links to blogs that have not shown any activity since last October/November. And I added a link for Light, a very interesting and spiritual blog that links to us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Free Arash and Mojtaba

No, we're not giving anything away. We're talking about bloggers Mojtaba Saminejad and Arash Sigarchi, who are being detained by the Iranian authorities. The fledgling Committee to Protect Bloggers is trying to unite the blogging community in an effort to free Arash and Mojtaba from prison. Check here for the first announcement, and here and here for some updates (“Free Mojtaba and Arash Day”).

Just Say "No" to Negroponte

President Bush has nominated John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence. If confirmed, he'll oversee fifteen different intelligence agencies. If you find this to be a highly irresponsible and possibly dangerous choice, you need to contact your Senator now. If you don't know your Senator's contact information, you can find it at You can even use the site to compose and send email: Please stop by Father Jake's to get some ammunition for your letter.


"Life is this simple: We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the Divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. It is true."

-- THOMAS MERTON (1915-1968) [Resources]

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mystics and Scientists Conference

Mystics and scientists meet to discuss 'Healing the split' at a conference to be held at Sparsholt College in Winchester, England, this April. Presenters at the Scientific & Medical Network's conference will discuss the misconception that science and spirituality are opposites.


"I don’t believe that nature is God or that we should be worshipping it as God, but I do believe that it is how God talks to us most forcefully." -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Recommended | "Upon This Rock" by John Jeremiah Sullivan

GQ magazine has a story about a writer's experience at Creation East, the Christian music festival. It's fairly long, but it's a good read. Is it cynical? Hell, yeah. But it's also earnest, thought-provoking and perhaps a tad nostalgic. Now, I must warn you that the story contains language; that means there are ideas and even a few words that might be considered offensive to some people. There, I've told ya. If you go and read it and get all offended over it ... screw ya, because I already warned ya. I'll tease you with a few short excerpts... Renting an RV:
The reason twenty-nine feet is such a common length for RVs, I presume, is that once a vehicle gets much longer, you need a special permit to drive it. That would mean forms and fees, possibly even background checks. But show up at any RV joint with your thigh stumps lashed to a skateboard, crazily waving your hooks-for-hands, screaming you want that twenty-nine-footer out back for a trip to you ain't sayin' where, and all they want to know is: Credit or debit, tiny sir? Two days later, I stood in a parking lot, suitcase at my feet. Debbie came toward me. She was a lot to love, with a face as sweet as a birthday cake beneath spray-hardened bangs. She raised a meaty arm and pointed, before either of us spoke. The thing she pointed at was the object about which I'd just been saying, "Not that one, Jesus, okay?" It was like something the ancient Egyptians might have left behind in the desert.
The pain of an 80s flashback:
I stood in the center of a gravel patch between the food and the crowd, sort of gumming the straw, quadriplegically probing with it for stubborn pockets of meltwater. I was a ways from the stage, but I could see well enough. Something started to happen to me. The guys in the band were middle-aged. They had blousy shirts and half-hearted arena-rock moves from the mid-'80s..."Oh, shit. It's Petra."
Baldwin and Busey:
In the midst of all this, I began to hear, through the shell of the twenty-nine-footer, Stephen Baldwin giving a talk on the Fringe Stage -- that's where the "edgier" acts are put on at Creation. If you're shaky on your Baldwin brothers, he's the vaguely troglodytic one who used to comb his bangs straight down and wear dusters. He's come to the Lord -- I don't know if you knew. I caught him on cable a few months ago, some religious talk show. Him and Gary Busey. I don't remember what Baldwin said, because Busey was saying shit so weird the host got nervous.
All this and more can be found in JJS's article. Enjoy!

I Wonder How Many CEU's ...

... you can get for a refresher course on exorcisms. I'll bet the homework is just killer.

Smijer & Buck

I just added Smijer & Buck to the blog list in Prophet or Madman's sidebar. Why? Well, I was directed to see this cat post (which is a wonderful little pic), and I just plain got caught up in some of the other material there. I like it, and you might, too.

Friday Pet Blogging | A Visit to the Vet

More Milo & Otis images captured by my Treo camera phone. This time, three images from their event-filled trip to the vet on February 5th! It's hard to believe we've had these fellows for a year now. (And it's even harder to get them into their kitty carriers -- oof!).
waiting for the vet
Milo wonders, "Are we done yet?" While Otis calculates the distance for his next leap.
Otis takes the whole vet thing in stride. He's one cool customer. I think all the compliments from the vet are going to his head.

Milo's not happy
Milo is not happy about this vet visit. (Hey, nobody likes to be told, "You're overweight, bub!")
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed at the M & O Archives page ... just in case you missed one.

Photo Date (all three): February 5, 2005


"All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why." -- JAMES THURBER (1894-1961)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Just In Case

An old Civil Defense Handbook from Denver:
'Just In Case Atom Bombs Fall' Click the cover to go and read it ...

Talking to Lucy

Jazz from Running Scared has been Talking to Lucy, and you can talk to her, too. After checing it out myself, I can certainly understand why Jazz found the experience to be a tad disturbing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

John Rogers says, "I Miss Republicans"

And he means it. Or, rather, he meant it because this was written back in December 2004, but I just came across it today. And I have to share it because I love it! So here is I Miss Republicans, a nod to the politicians who used to be "Sober men in suits, pipes, who'd nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science." It's a biting critique of what the Republican party has devolved into.

Metamorphose and Ego Death (A Beginning)

This is going to be an incomplete post, because I am still working on my notes here. A short while ago, I came across something that Jim Morrison wrote:
"Metamorphose. An object is cut off from its name, habits, associations. Detached, it becomes only the thing, in and of itself. When this disintegration into pure existence is at last achieved, the object is free to become endlessly anything." (Jim Morrison, from THE LORDS)
And ol' Jim's short passage started some thoughts in my own head and I wrote them down right away...
Odin on the World Tree... Christ on the Cross... The shaman on his quest... Myself at rest... We are called to die to our old lives (ego death) and arise as something new ... something transformed, transmuted, transcended. A frequent death and rebirth -- daily? weekly? monthly? Whatever you can muster. Failing as often as we try, but always striving to come into our own fruition.
I'm not certain where I am going with it, but I wanted to throw it out there and let it steep some more.


Planting saplings...
An old man was planting a sapling peach tree when a young fellow stopped, and said, "I don't mean to sound brash, but it takes many years for a small tree to bear fruit. Do you really expect to eat the fruit from this tree?" Rather than be offended the old man answered, "Probably not, but I've been eating fruit from trees others have planted all my life."
- Adapted from a story found in Riches for the Mind and Spirit by John Marks Templeton.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Hangin' with my Bro'

I still have to download the most recent cat photos from my Nikon, but that doesn't mean I have to leave you hanging (for much longer). I can leave you with Otis & Milo's brotherly affection forever captured by my Treo camera phone:
orange brothers

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed at the M & O Archives page ... just in case you missed one.

Photo Date: January 30, 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


"Nature can provide for the needs of people; [she] can't provide for the greed of people." -- Mohandas K. Ghandi (1869-1948)

The Moon is Back!

I'm talking about "Current Moon Phase" image that appears in the sidebar here. The real moon never left ... unless you believe the moon disappears when you're not looking at it. Whoops! There it goes again.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tutorial | How to make an Internet Cartoon

Thank goodness. Someone (Keaton) has finally provided step-by-step instructions for creating an Internet Cartoon.

Not Bringing You the Moon

Michael Parkes' "The Moon Thief"
Just a quick post to let the regular Prophet or Madman readers know that I have temporarily disabled the Moon Phase in the sidebar. The site that provides the code for displaying the current moon phase -- CalculatorCat -- has been down for a few days. I don't know what their problems may be, but this disruption was causing delays in loading sidebar here. So, I commented out their code. There are plenty of Moon Phase Calendars out there, but I found CalculatorCat to be the best at providing a current moon phase image for your own site. I hope they come back soon.


College Republicans at Marquette University tried to collect donations for the "Adopt a Sniper" program, but University officials "rescinded the College Republican's ... table in the Alumni Memorial Union Monday, saying the program's message did not fit the university's mission and therefore could not be set up in the AMU" [source]. By the way, the program used to be called 'Adopt a Sniper' and is now called American Snipers ( But for the rest of this post, I'll use the name that the students and University have used. Now, this isn't what it sounds like (or, maybe it is -- I don't know what you think it sounds like). "Adopt a Sniper" is a legitimate, nationally recognized organization that raises money in order to help military snipers do their job better and make their lives easier while they are working in combat zones. Their programs provide "everything from the basic hygiene type items such as handy wipes to tactical products such as holsters, high speed rucksacks, new optics, rifle accessories, to mini binoculars and batteries" [source]. According to the Marquette University student (I didn't catch his name) who was interviewed on the Michael Smerconish show this morning, snipers are typically outfitted with standard body armor, which they actually remove in order to do their job -- this is for dexterity and speed I imagine. And the students were trying to raise money to get the snipers specialized body armor. The school's response has brought out charges of hyper-liberalism while applauding the students' efforts. Most stories trot out blurbs about the university's support for abortion rights groups as well as gay student organizations, and the College Republicans seem to want equal treatment. In my opinion, college is the place for students to be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions. I just think it is good, if not essential, for students to be exposed to ideas and policies that might be shocking or controversial -- instead of just hearing lectures about the topics (or never hearing them at all). Regardless of my own opinion on a topic, I think students must be exposed to all sorts of ideas and given the chance to form their own, well-reasoned opinions. If the shool is sponsoring abortion rights groups, give an anti-abortion group equal time (note that I am staying away from the misnomers "pro-life" and "pro-choice"). If there is an anti-war demonstration, give equal time to a rally that supports the troops. And so on. Now, I can understand that it might be a bit much for University officials to accept students raising money for guns and ammo -- I can see how that would be considered against their precipts for "mission week." But if there is some way that the students can guarantee that all funds they raise will be used for body armor (defense is a good idea), hygiene products, or other non-offensive items, then why not let them support the troops in this way? You can read all about this story in the MU campus newspaper, at CNN, or the Post-Crescent (just an AP story). For more information, you can check out what the Marquette University's College Republicans are saying right now [CRMU Website], and look at the American Snipers program for yourself [website].

Monday, February 07, 2005

Now Less Evil!

This just in ...
This site is certified 25% EVIL by the Gematriculator
A detailed analysis at The Gematriculator has confirmed that this blog is 25% evil. Unfortunately, accurate measurements of good and evil are ephemeral at best, and each new post -- including this one -- can tip a blog closer to either pole. So, what am I to make of this rating? Does it mean that I am more Prophet and less Madman? I dunno. But I am sure that the question will continue to be debated for centuries (that is, of course, if by "centuries" I actually mean "random and brief moments of sheer boredom").

Carnival of Cats | Feb 6, 2005 Edition

The latest Carnival of Cats is hosted over at Running Scared. There is even a link to our boys' Yin and Yang gig. So go check it out, and then stop by Laurence's blog where the whole crazy thing got started started.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Super Bowl Preparation: The Terrible Towel (Philly Variant)

My father sent me an email chock full of pre-game preparation tips, just to help us get ready for the Super Bowl on Sunday. Keep in mind that practically everyone in my family belongs to the Pittsburgh Steeler fanbase. But dear ol' dad knows that my wife and her family -- not to mention just about everyone else around here -- are firmly camped in the Eagles' fanbase. So here is the message from Dad:

It is almost time for the Big Game!

You should skip a half-day of work and begin cooking goodies.

Clear all breakables from the viewing area. Ensure that floor coverings in the viewing area scrubable, etc.

And don’t forget your Terrible Towel. Make sure it is clean, bright, and well starched. A stiff towel will keep (other) unruly fans at a distance. And . . . Wait a minute! Wrong fans.

OK! OK! I Know. Get two average size, green Walmart-type bags. Place one bag into the other per usual double bagging practice. On the day of the game, purchase the best Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich you can find. (Home made is acceptable.) During pre-game activities, place the sandwich in the bags. Twist and securely tie the bags to keep the contents enclosed there in.

You now have the Philly version of the Terrible Towel. Swing responsibly.

It should be a good game. And, now your team has the tools to win.

Please use only as directed.


To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.


But wait, there's more ... Prophet or Madman recently featured this essay about Thoreau and the 150th anniversary of Walden.

Friday Pet Blogging | Yin & Yang in Repose

I don't know if they are Taoist, but Otis & Milo are certainly experts in duality. This photo catches the brothers doing their level best to imitate the famous Yin & Yang symbol:
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- The Yin and Yang of Cat Napping
Time to take a nap.
Snuggle up real close to me.
I'll purr you to sleep.
[from Cat Haiku]
Can you imagine how happy I was to catch them like this and be able to snap a photo? Two cats can live as cheaply as one, and their owner has twice as much fun (Lloyd Alexander).

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Photo Date: January 30, 2005

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Heretical Ideas

I just added Heretical Ideas to the list of blogs in my sidebar. I found it over the Yule holiday and have looked at it often enough to warrant a link here. [That's right, brainwise, keep reading and linking blogs that are much better than your own. Maybe the quality will rub off on ya. Maybe.]

Reactions: Lists, Cartoons, and Zs

Heretical Ideas has a list of Tom Traina's Initial Reaction to the State of the Union Address; it's an interesting and, in my opinion, reasonable list of likes and dislikes -- and the dislikes outnumber the likes at about 2-1. I still think this is one of the best comments on Bush's push to "save" Social Security (and this came out last month):
CLICK FOR CARTOON -- 'Chicken Little' by Bill Mitchell' Chicken Little by Bill Mitchell (Click for Full Cartoon)
Me? I tried to watch the ol' State of the Union on C-Span -- and do some research on Social Security -- last night, and I fell asleep. I never made it very far past Bush's remarks about activist judges. I awoke during the encore airing of the address, which was right in the middle of the Social Security rap again. Fortunately, I didn't drop my iBook.


In honor of last night's State of the Union Address, here is today's quotable quote (and, nope, it's not from the address):
“Folks, it’s the first mark of fanaticism when you assume all your opponents are either stupid or immoral.” Orson Scott Card, novelist
And this really does apply to folks in either camp.

Space Tree

OK. Space Tree is .... um ... let's see, how am I going to describe this thing? Well, it's a webcomic. And ... it's animated, so you need Macromedia Flash in order to view it. And the main character -- Space Tree -- he's um ... well, he is a tree ... in space .... he's kind of a square-jawed, er, trunked, hero type ... You should probably just watch it and see for yourself: via

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

But What is She Really Saying?

Write down the first letter of each paragraph in this column.

Still Alive ... 38 Days After the Tsunami!

CNN is reporting that a group of officers found a group of 9 people from the Nicobarese tribe on India's remote Campbell Bay island. Led by Inspector Shaukat Hussain, the police team were combing the island for bodies and didn't expect to find any survivors at this late date.
"They were sitting in the forest when we saw them, and they just ran to us, without saying anything. "When the tsunami came [December 26, 2004], they had climbed on to a hill. They kept walking, they got lost, and were wandering in the forest, resting, then walking again. They traveled from the western side of the island to the eastern side, until we saved them."
Amazing. Just amazing.

Swabbin' Felons

Not too much fanfare around this, but this is the first week for PA House Bill #835, which is:
An act that requires all convicted felons in Pennsylvania to submit a DNA sample to the Pennsylvania State Police. Any felon serving a prison sentence must provide a DNA sample, regardless of if they were convicted before the effective start of the new law. Also removes the statute of limitations for felonies and certain misdemeanor sex offenses for DNA evidence.
Passed last year, this new law increases the number of crimes for which convicts must submit DNA samples. Most of the crimes are sexual in nature, but the new law added burglary, robbery, and kidnapping to the list. These additions were due in part to research that shows criminal behavior changes over time, and people who commit crimes in the burglary and robbery categories are frequently involved in assaults, homicides and sex crimes. Even parolled felons must submit to the testing as the law affects anyone who is under some kind of observation/supervision.

Collected DNA samples are sent to places like the Bode Technology Group for processing. Currently, officials acquire a felon's DNA sample via his/her blood, but they will probably move to the old cotton-swab-in-the-mouth method as it is much more cost effective.

Pennsylvania is only one of the 30+ states that collect DNA material from convicted felons. And from what I heard on the radio this morning, PA got into the game kinda late, but is making serious headway.

And that has some privacy advocates and the ACLU nervous.

Technically, HB #835 covers only felony crimes -- not misdemeanors. And the DNA will only be made available to law enforcement personnel -- not insurance companies and HMOs. But some folks are saying that this is a slippery slope. They claim: Today it's felons, tomorrow traffic violations; and today crime investigators get the data, but tomorrow's insurance adjustors will be using it, too.

Now, I have seen stories attacking the DNA initiative, but not in PA. The bulk of complaints seem to be centered in California.

What say you? Are you worried about Big Brother handling your DNA? Do you agree that convicted felons have -- by the nature of being convicted -- surrendered any personal and privacy rights they enjoyed prior to committing their crimes? Talk to me.


A little nonsense now and then Is cherished by the wisest men.

ROALD DAHL (1916-1990)