Monday, January 1, 2007

Things that make you go... whaaat?

Today's national ad insert for Westlake's Ace Hardware features a Sunbeam "3-Pk. Pest Repeller" for $14.99. It uses ultrasonic waves to help repel mice and six-legged critters, plugs into a regular wall outlet, and also has a built-in night light.

Now, here's the "whaaat?" part: "Not Available in Roswell, NM."

Just Roswell, eh?

A Country Ruled by Faith -- by Garry Wills

New York Review of Books - November 16, 2006

The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government—until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present. George W. Bush was not only born-again, like Jimmy Carter. His religious conversion came late, and took place in the political setting of Billy Graham's ministry to the powerful. He was converted during a stroll with Graham on his father's Kennebunkport compound. It is true that Dwight Eisenhower was guided to baptism by Graham. But Eisenhower was a famous and formed man, the principal military figure of World War II, the leader of NATO, the president of Columbia University—his change in religious orientation was just an addition to many prior achievements. Bush's conversion at a comparatively young stage in his life was a wrenching away from mainly wasted years. He joined a Bible study culture in Texas that was unlike anything Eisenhower bought into. Bush was a saved alcoholic—and here, too, he had no predecessor in the White House. Ulysses Grant conquered the bottle, but not with the help of Jesus. . .
Wills's article details how the Bush administration has injected religion into science, justice, social services, health and war. IMHO, this administration is the most outwardly religious and inwardly, thoroughly corrupt administration that has ever controlled our nation's fate. However, there is hope that the public has had enough of Jesus being used as a cover for whatever illegal or unconstitutional activities their elected officials wish to undertake. Here in Kansas, there was good, bad and ugly in terms of the Religious Right. Many might call Phred "ugly," but I don't think he's a certified member of the RRR. I think he's a megalomaniac loony who's passed on his crazy gene to his kids. Anyhow, read a glimmer of hope in this:

In the Wichita Eagle's list of "Issues that Defined 2006"
Religious Right setbacks. Social conservatives lost key national and state elections. The Rev. Terry Fox also was pushed out of his pulpit and dropped his radio talk show. But don't count them out -- Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is running for president; Kline has a new job in Johnson County; Fox has a new church at a theme park; and the ideological pendulum on the State Board of Education will likely swing again.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

And then there were four...

Just this week, polar bears finally ruled by the Bush administration to be "threatened" (not quite as serious as "endangered," which is a crock. When you see polar bears swimming for miles and miles, then drowning, in search of ice floes, I'd call that "endangered," wouldn't you??).

Now, an ice shelf 25.5 square miles in area and several millennia old has broken off near Greenland. Before, there were five ice shelves. Now one has broken free.

Here's the weird thing: The vibration from the shelf breaking was so intense that earthquake-detecting instruments 150 miles away picked it up when this happened -- in August of 2005, and the scientists are JUST NOW reporting it. Apparently, they felt they had to make absolutely sure why it had happened before reporting it. WHY?

Giant Ice Shelf Breaks Off in Canadian Arctic
Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News
December 29, 2006

A huge Canadian ice shelf 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the North Pole has disintegrated, leaving a large floating island of ice stranded 30 miles (48 kilometers) offshore, scientists reported yesterday. . . .

Sixteen months of study led Copland and colleagues to the conclusion that several factors were at work, mostly related to global warming. . . .

Friday, December 29, 2006

United Methodist COR and "Atheist" series

January 6 & 7, Adam Hamilton, minister of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection at 137th & Roe, starts a six-part sermon series entitled, "Conversations With an Atheist On the Existence of God."

Sounds like he'll be dealing with material by Dawkins and other prominent atheists in his first topic, "Science and God."

Though I'm not part of Adam's flock, I admire him as a minister who isn't afraid to deal with controversial issues. He even tackles questions to which he has no clear answer. In other words, he makes you think.

Paul Morrison honored by Sun Newspapers

Sun names Morrison Johnson Countian of the Year
Johnson County Sun - December 28, 2006
Which Johnson Countian had the most impact on residents' lives, for good or ill, and deserves to be named the Sun Johnson Countian of the Year... This year's choice is District Attorney Paul Morrison.
. . .
Morrison said he plans to pursue an agenda of nonpolitical, no-nonsense prosecutions in his new office in Topeka, just as he did while serving as Johnson County's district attorney.
[Morrison beat out Kline (among others) for the honor. Fitting, isn't it?]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Queer Specimen Indeed

I offer you the queer specimen known as "politicianus slimus ballus" -- Phill Kline. After a humiliating 65% to 35% defeat in his bid to remain Kansas Attorney General, he's taken advantage of his last few days in office to slime Paul Morrison, his successor.

Kline has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue his obsession -- persecuting and trying to prosecute Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita abortion provider. Naturally, Morrison will nix the whole wrong-headed effort as soon as he takes over. But the point is that Kline will force him to do it, and Kansans for Life and other anti-choice groups will see him do it. This way, Kline thinks, he can disadvantage Morris politically.

The real loser is Kline. Phill "Slimy" Kline has acted shamefully and at times, nearly unlawfully, in his role as Kansas' chief law enforcer. He has always played to the Religious Right and blatantly ignored his real job. Now, as Johnson County District Attorney, he might have to learn how to prosecute real crimes, like, oh, murder, arson, theft, burglary, aggravated assault -- you know, the stuff you see on the news every night.

The real injustice is that in switching jobs with Morrison, Kline gets a substantial pay raise, while Morrison, a real lawman, takes a cut. Read more:

Kline tries to keep investigation alive
Charges against abortion doctor are still blocked, but inquiry gets special prosecutor.

By DAVID KLEPPER and JIM SULLINGER - The Star’s Topeka correspondents
December 28, 2006 - KC Star

WICHITA | Attorney General Phill Kline lost a court battle Wednesday, but he also ensured that his investigation of abortion provider George Tiller will continue. For now.
Kline named a special prosecutor, Wichita attorney Don McKinney, to continue the investigation after Kline leaves office in early January. Kline’s successor, current Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, said Wednesday that McKinney would be out of a job once he’s sworn in as attorney general.

An hour after Kline’s announcement, a prosecutor from Kline’s office failed to persuade a Sedgwick County judge to reinstate 30 misdemeanor counts that Kline filed against Tiller last week. . . .

Stranger and Stranger...

Sebelius criticizes Kline's actions in abortion probe
By Scott Rothschild
LJ World - December 28, 2006

Topeka — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today criticized Attorney General Phill Kline’s actions in his abortion investigation into George Tiller.

“The story just continues to get stranger and stranger,” Sebelius said in response to questions from reporters.