September 2009

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Major Miniaturist Makes Art That Comes With Its Own Microscope

Willard Wigan — who suffered from dyslexia as a child, and can barely read or write today — creates some of the most elaborate pieces of art. WSJ’s Gautam Naik reports these micro-sculptures are small enough to fit inside the eye of a needle.

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Texas Moratorium Network

Below is the complete video that aired on Nightline on Sept 17, 2009. The top video is part one, followed by part two. Judge John Jackson makes some very disturbing comments in part two, claiming that Willingham was likely a devil worshipper because he liked heavy metal music. Judge Jackson even makes the bizarre, absurd statement that he believes the burn patterns on the floor appear to be in the shape of a pentagram, which Jackson sees as more evidence that Willingham was likely to be a devil worshipper.

Trial by Fire
Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Innocent Until Executed
We have no right to exoneration.

…The court has never found a constitutional right for the actually innocent to be free from execution…

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Taking on a major new constitutional dispute over gun rights, the Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to decide whether to apply the Second Amendment to state, county, and city government laws.  In another major case among ten new grants, the Court said it will rule on the constitutionality of one of the government’s most-used legal weapons in the “war on terrorism” — a law that outlaws “material support” to terrorist groups.

The Court had three cases from which to choose on the Second Amendment issue — two cases involving a Chicago gun ban, and one case on a New York ban on a martial-arts weapon.  It chose one of the Chicago cases — McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521) — a case brought to it by Alan Gura, the Alexandria, VA., lawyer who won the 2008 decision for the first time recognizing a constitutional right to have a gun for personal use, at least in self-defense in the home (District of Columbia v. Heller).

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/court-to-rule-on-gun-rights-terrorism-law

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No, I’m not trying to stoke a flame war here.

I am posting “for the record”.

My moniker is “iconoclast”, a breaker of images. I’ve always posted “en role”, I’ve always been an “agent provocateur”, seeking to incite debate, arguments and the questioning of the status quo.

I am flattered that my role has recently met with an ad hominem response. It means that I’ve done a good job.

Some of my OP’s are amongst the few times I present myself out of role. My pet peeves are neoliberal economics, rhetoric vs. policy, manipulation and institutionalized corruption. I miss the lack of ideological awareness that used to be a guiding factor in democracies. I deplore political apathy, but understand that this has always been a goal of the powers-that-be. I am not an extremist by nature, and only assume the role of an extremist when an extreme is unopposed. Above all, I despise unreasoning faith, be it political, economical, social, religious or spiritual. I consider war to be a crime unless in self-defense. I support the weak against the strong. Yet I am a moral relativist.

I (re)state this because, as Timancir said so well, we seem to be drawing new conclusions about ourselves as a “psychotic group”. Also, I reiterate because there’s been some bruising of late.

So there you have it, my POV.

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46) “Hot For Teacher” (Edward Van Halen)

“I winged that one,” says Eddie Van Halen. “If you listen to it, the timing changes in the middle of nowhere. We were in a room playing together and I kind of winked at the guys and said, ‘Okay, we’re changing now!’ Because I don’t count, I just follow my feelings. I tend to do a lot of things in threes and fives, instead of fours.

“My weird sense of time just drives my brother Alex nuts because he’s a drummer, so he has to count. But generally he’ll say, ‘Well, Ed, you did it in five again. If that’s the way you want it…’ But that’s not the way I want it, that’s just what feels right to me.”

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Greenwald has posted an interesting little collection of news blurbs comparing the press’ way of explaining similar events taking place in different countries. It’s not an opinion piece, just articles c&p’s and posted side by side:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/28/countries/index.html

Now, can anyone claim that we’re not regularly propagandized?

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For the second time on this board I have posted what I considered non-controversial topics that would garner me an easy bounty of “5s” and “Thumbs ups”. I mean that is what this is all about, right?

The first time I posted Christian faith is at odds with science : Pharyngula. I was obviously very impressed with the arguments made by the author of that piece, as it spoke more concisely to my own philosophy on that particular subject than I ever could. Of course, I understand that my point of view on the subjects of religion and spirituality are not a majority view, but I have spent enough time with you all to realize that this would not be a very controversial subject. I figured it would be post, get a couple of “5s” and at least one or two “1s” from our lurkers, move on to the next topic. Boy was I wrong!

My post inspired a separate post by Pierri Science and religion. If you weren’t witness to that particular post, I suggest you go back and read it. It is truly a wonder to behold in the length and strength of its arguments. The comments on that post alone comprised over 25,000 words. I have visited a lot of political sites over the years – both large and small – and I have never encountered such a debate as occurred on that thread. Unfortunately, it was a wonder tinged with tragedy, for that thread was where we lost the participation of Pierri. I am sure that I am not alone in my hope that someday he returns.

My next foray into the non-controversial is the latest controversy: What Does He Stand For?. The comments in this thread are fast approaching 20,000 words of logic, passion and a little bit of comedy. Once again, I thought that this post would be a read, comment, move on kind of thing. Wrong again.

For all of those years on the “Curtains Board” we made common cause against the neo-cons, right-wingers and Bush apologists that mostly came from across the tracks at the “Soars Board”. We became a formidable crew of “debate assassins”, each with their own particular style and subject specialty. I don’t think it is bragging to say that, as a unit, we were virtually unmatched in political debate.

But that was then, and this is now…

Now the “loyal opposition” is gone (or at least lurking in the shadows, afraid to do anything more than downrate posts) and we are left with ourselves. In a way, although these friendships were forged on the “Curtains Board”, we were so busy doing battle with the other side that we never had the time to get a true sense of where exactly each of us stood on the political spectrum. Now, here we are finally discovering ourselves in more depth than ever before and some of the differences are rather jarring.

We each have a mental picture of the other members of this motley crew built up over years of cyber-conversation. Those mental pictures were built of time and circumstance and now they are being re-drawn, the blank spaces filled in and additional elements added…

…I can’t help but feel that this is a good thing.

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Arrgh

Over here, under a “socialist” government, we have our fill of neoliberalism too.

Zapatero gave money to the banks, which were quite profitable in any case… his stimulus package consisted in providing low-rate loans to small businesses… but making private banks the arbiters of who gets how much.

No need to wonder that the banks have held on to the money and that very few loans were dished out.

To add insult to injury, that neolib obsession with a balanced budget has lead him to raise taxes.

On the rich? On the companies that are making fortunes (banks)? No, he’s raising the sales tax. This – from “socialists”.

No wonder Spain is lagging behind in leaving the recession.

At least we have national health, and thus far Zapatero has resisted the temptation of outsourcing healthcare services. That is, in the few places where his government has authority over the matter. Our autonomous government in Madrid is in the hands of the PP and hardly anything is left of the old state-provded healthcare aparatus. Hospitals are built – and handed over directly to private companies that charge the autonomous government for healthcare coverage. Waiting lists are growing longer.

A new, real, left is needed. Here, there and everywhere.

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47) “Jessica” (Dickey Betts)

Dickey Betts’ instrumental “Jessica” is as uplifting a piece of music as can be found in all rock. And that, says Betts, is no coincidence: the music actually began with his desire to express pure jubilation.

“My instrumentals try to create some of the basic feelings of human interaction, like anger and joy and love,” says Betts. “With ‘Jessica,’ I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t quite find it. Then my little daughter, Jessica, crawled into the room, and I just started playing to her, trying to capture the feeling of her crawling and smiling. That’s why I named it after her.”

Betts wrote the song’s melodic theme while emulating one of his heroes—the gypsy guitarist Django Rheinhardt, who had the use of only two fingers on his left hand. “I came up with that melody using just two fingers as a sort of tribute to Django,” says Betts. “That the song turned out so well is very satisfying. In general, writing a good instrumental is very fulfilling, because you’ve transcended language and spoken to someone with a melody.”

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Trippy

Cheaper than drugs, but pretty effective…

groovy...

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