1.27.2005  


Whoever decided that Downhill Battle should send coal to the RIAA for Christmas was a genius! These folks decided that for every $100 donated to one of three online rights groups over the holidays, they ship a piece of coal to the RIAA. I can't think of a better christmas present for those scrooges. (via Boingboing)

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 27.1.05

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1.24.2005  


After a rabbi ruled that good jewish women could not wear the color red, several women of the Israeli parliament wore red to the parliamentary session. I say, good for them. I'm not sure why this particular rabbi decided he didn't like red, but I know of no scripture that forbids it, and for millenia the jewish religion has been okay with it. This seemingly arbitrary ruling got what is deserves: nothing but contempt from the women of Israel.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 24.1.05

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1.23.2005  


The Pope today reaffirmed that the Vatican doesn't believe in condoms as a way to stop AIDS. Why, I'm not sure. It seems to me that a simple practice that will save countless lives of people in countries too undereducated to know better should not be sacrificed on the dubious alter of a commandment that could be interpreted in several ways as condom-affirming. "Go forth and multiply" is hard when an easily-stopped virus is killing people faster than they can procreate. It is also irresponsible, both spiritually and humanely, to bring a child with AIDS into the world when there is such a ludicrously simple way of preventing that nightmare.

In this case, I simply think the Church is flat out wrong. When you have the power to stop a horrible plague, should you really hold out based on a commandment that, to many, doesn't refer to multiplying the body of humanity in general, but the body of the church in particular? In this case, I think the cost is too high. How many millions more people must die before the Church is willing to admit compromise?

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 23.1.05



...This guy. Why he thought that it was a good idea in today's paranoid political and social environment to fake suicide as realistically as possible I don't know. I also don't know why these two professors would resign over such a thing. Performance art can be weird, that's sort of the point. And I've personally seen a lot weirder than this. So I don't know why they'd get all up in arms about this one piece, but then that's the art world for you.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 23.1.05

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1.20.2005  


This chair, featured on boingboing, has the unique feature of spikes in the seat the retract when you "purchase a free seating license!" An artist's commentary on the increasing need to buy licenses for silly things, and on the information age's increasing tendency to require identification for everything you do.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 20.1.05

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1.19.2005  


I'm not too big on petitions, but I couldn't agree more with this one:

The Petition to Stop Ashlee Simpson

Anything that means we never have to hear her again is a very good thing indeed. Join the 20,000+ other who think so too.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 19.1.05

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1.18.2005  


Today I listened to two very different albums in their entirety, and was struck by their similarity: the Clash's immortal London Calling, and Rufus Wainwright's new Want Two. One is the Everest of punk, the raw height to which all other punk albums aspire and never reach, the album which gave birth to the grunge movement, that influenced punk, rap, rock, and jazz indelibly. Cut as the seventies faded to black, London Calling remains today as relevant, as raw, as necessary as it was in '79. It's political animosity feels perfectly comfortable in today's atmosphere of political upheaval. The Clash rail against the machine, against authority, against those who would use violence uselessly and waste lives in the name of the very freedoms that they undermine. As I listened today, it occurred to me that London Calling is that rarest of records: the classic that hasn't aged a day, that remains, in spite of time, immediately and urgently modern.

The other album was ostensibly the opposite of London Calling. Where The Clash shred guitars and scream in rage, Want Two is a masterpiece of swelling, elaborate orchestration and lush, classical instrumentation. Wainwright's lovely, smoky voice couldn't be more different from Strummer's raw screams. Yet, the two albums are remarkably similar. Want Two rails against authority with a quiet force. It asserts itself in swells of strings, sticks up for the people with little voice against the power of supressive authorities. Often sporting the same somewhat satirical edge as the Clash classic, Want Two makes an equally strong political statement amidst the great music. Rufus's wrenching arrangements protest the oppression of his gay, but oh-so-human spirit. And some of his songs eschew satire or gently witty poetry for the raw impact of straighforwardness. Like the Clash, Rufus understands that beneath the cultural references lies a deeper spirit, and that sometimes no clever allusion can approach the impact of simple humanity.

In the face of today's political turmoil and culture wars, both of these albums speak to the need to deny authority in the face of overwhelming need from the world around us. They ask for a peace, for an end to the endless violence. If one is a masterpiece of raw rock and the other of complex, operatic heights, it couldn't make less of a difference. Both are completely and amazingly applicable to today.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 18.1.05

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1.15.2005  


From a recent article in Salon,
Speaking to the Times, [Missouri] state Rep. Cynthia Davis seemed to compare opponents of intelligent design to al-Qaida. "It's like when the hijackers took over those four planes on Sept. 11 and took people to a place where they didn't want to go," she said. "I think a lot of people feel that liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go. I think a lot more people realize this is our country and we're going to take it back."
Oh yes, very educated. Isn't it comforting to know that one of our legislators equates hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings with teaching accepted scientific fact in schools. Now I know why we have the courts: if legislators like this shaped our laws completely, we'd still be taught that the sun revolves around the Earth.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 15.1.05



Today the federal court in Georgia calmly informed sneaky Creationists that they can shove it. Cobb County, Georgia has made national news for preparing stickers to go on biology textbooks informing students that
"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, concerning the origin of living things.This material should be approached with an open mind, studied cafefully, and critically considered"
The court opinion holds that because of the atmosphere surrounding the stickers in Cobb County, their placement on textbooks constitutes an tacit affirmation of Creationist (read 'religious') dogma, and is therefore illegal.

A brief review of why these stickers are utterly absurd: The word "theory" in science does not mean "suggestion," it means "near-certainty, backed by truly massive amounts of data, thoroughly researched and determined to be the best possible explanation of relevant phenomena available to mankind today". The stickers want to single out evolution as "only a theory and not a fact", but gravity, heliocentrism, the laws of motion, the idea that the Earth is round, etc. are also "theories" in the scientific sense. The stickers are demeaning to science, and do nothing whatsoever to promote education.

A brief review of why evolution is considered a theory in the scientific sense: We have proven that alleles change in frequency over time. Proven. We have also recorded documented speciation events (one species splits and becomes two that have different characteristics and cannot interbreed) both in the lab and in the wild. The fossil record has provided numerous examples of lineages that change (with intermittant forms) over time from a very different looking creature into one that we are familiar with today. An example: Eohippus (a two and a half foot critter looking like a cross between a beagle and a deer) is the prehistoric common ancestor of both modern horses and some forms of deer. Many other examples exist. All of this is evolution, and it's all proven. The only still-controversial aspects of the theory come at the very beginning, where lab experiments have been conducting suggesting (but not proving) that the earliest life could indeed have come from abiotic material. Exactly how is still hotly debated, but there is no question that over time species evolve. Only the beginning is still debated, as are many aspects of other well-accepted scientific theories (we still don't have all the wrinkles smoothed out of relativity theory, but you don't see stickers about that). We may not have all of it ironed out completely, but massive amounts of evidence suggest both that evolution occurs and that species can over time evolve into something completely different.

The Georgia opinion is the second excellent, influential, and common sense decision to come out of the court system this weekend (see my earlier post Swinging' Singles for information on the other one). It's good news for our nation that in spite of the craziness going on today, there are still justices out there with their heads screwed on straight.

The bad news to come out of this case is that the school district, having spent big bucks to legally pursue the issue and likely to spend even more on appeals, is one of the poorest in Georgia. In other words, not only are these people cheapening their kids' education with these ridiculous stickers, they are now stuck with the tab for massive lawsuits. Even though the district doesn't have money to waste, they are indeed wasting it on foolhardy legal wrangling instead of spending it trying to get their kids a decent education. How selfish and irresponsible. The adults in charge of the district and responsible for beginning this whole sticker initiative should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

Brian Leiter mentions the decision, and recommends the excellent legal breakdown of the opinion found here. Kids at Swat provide a hilarious send-up of the sticker controversy here (I'm thinking of making a t-shirt). Wizbang has a long and only occassionally educated discussion of the subject here, although beware because ost of these people are neither biologists nor know completely what they're talking about.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 15.1.05



For those about to rock, we salute you. Now, the AP reports that VA singles have the court's permission to have sex. It's about time.

The Virginia Supreme Court has finally struck down an obscure 19th century law prohibiting singles from 'fornicating' before marriage. Basing their decision on the strong anti-sodomy precedent handed down by the US Supreme Court last year, the VA justices ruled that the law is an unnecessary invasion of rightful privacy. Not terribly interesting in and of itself because the law in question is so obscure, the verdict does, however, give strong indication of which way the court will rule when the state's anti-sodomy laws are brought into question. I personally expect a test case within the next year or so to strike down the anti-sodomy laws.

This is good news for us all, not just Virginians who finally have a legal sex life. This case indicates a strong and growing trend in courts across the nation, and crucially, in the conservative South, striking down archaic law in favor of strong rights to privacy. The fact that this verdict comes out of Virginia is a good indication of the strength of the privacy trend in the legal world. And it's good news especially for the pro-homosexuality movement.

All in all, the VA court is to be congratulated. They managed to make a very good, very common-sense decision, and opened the way to remove some of the more egregious examples of needless and invasive legislation from the books. Let's hope more state courts follow their example.

Update: I recommended the link to the boingboing megablog, and they published it here! Exciting.

{ } Rain on a Tin Roof | Posted by Morrighan on 15.1.05

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The Droplet...

Silent on the Subject of Cheese
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Name: Morrighan
Country: US of A

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