The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, May 24, 2003


A baby in South Africa was born after growing in the liver instead of the uterus. Huh?
A healthy baby has been born after developing in its mother's liver instead of in the womb.

Reports from South Africa say Nhlahla, whose name means "luck" in Zulu, is only the fourth baby ever to survive such a pregnancy.

In all, there have only been 14 documented cases of a child developing in this way.
And how exactly does something like this happen? Well,
When an egg is fertilised, it normally travels down the fallopian tube to the womb, where it implants and grows.

But sometimes, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube, a standard ectopic pregnancy.

In some cases - around one in 100,000 pregnancies - it falls out of the fallopian tube and can implant anywhere in the abdomen.

In extremely rare cases, such as this one, the embryo attaches itself to the liver, a very rich source of blood.

The baby is protected because it is within the placenta - but it does not have the usual protection of the womb - and is at more risk in the abdominal cavity.

I'd be interested to know if there are any statistics relating the probability of such types of pregnancies to various aspects of life, whether they be living conditions, diet, public health, etc.

UPDATE: googling the issue, as of 1992 the average rate of ectopic pregnancies in the US was 19 per 1000. But that's including pregnancies that develop in the fallopian tubes, etc.

Paul Krugman on saturday? This totally throws me off! Anyway, he discusses the possible onset of deflation and the danger of the so-called "liquidity trap".
Via Atrios, welcome back, Neil Young. Can we forgive and forget? Will the landslide bring him down? (hehe)

Friday, May 23, 2003


I'm no golf fan, but nevertheless, go Annika!

Congresspersons from both sides of the aisle are assailing Bush on the postwar rebuilding effort in Iraq.
Lawmakers have been stewing for weeks over the administration's failure to consult in depth with Congress about the costs, methods and goals of rebuilding Iraq, and some of those frustrations boiled over at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The concerns from lawmakers underscored the challenges facing the administration not only in Iraq, but also in maintaining support in Congress, allied capitals and among the American public for the difficult and dangerous postwar mission.

"I am concerned that the administration's initial stabilization and reconstruction efforts have been inadequate," said Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who heads the committee. "The planning for peace was much less developed than the planning for war." Mr. Lugar said the physical and political reconstruction of Iraq could take at least five years.
Why does Dick Lugar hate America so much?

(btw, that's five years if we're lucky, we could even be the confused middleman in a civil war in the coming years too . . . though I suppose that would make Bush's "victory" speech on the USS Lincoln even more ironic)

Though I don't have it in front of me, this recalls a Tom Friedman interview for RollingStone in which he commented that the Bush team is far better at destroying things than putting them back together. This, of course, was before Friedman fell into the mental state of "Gee, it sounds like such a good idea, but the Bush administration has screwed up just about everything foreign policywise up to this point . . . but . . . but . . . they're due!!!" Oy.

Thursday, May 22, 2003


Martin Scorsese will be directing a Bob Dylan biopic.

Hmm, I'll watch my step on the way out the door tomorrow morning.

NBC/WSJ has Dubya at 62 percent, a steep drop from the Iraq combat period (71).

I guess we may soon find out just how many dogs will be wagged soon enough, ugh.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


Here is the definitive history of Ari Fleischer's tenure as press secretary, courtesy Jake Tapper of Salon (enjoy the 15second AmEx commercial).

Have a Bushism. I can't believe he said this; it should be filed next to the "do you have blacks too?" line to the leader of Brazil.
"First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."—Washington, D.C., May 19, 2003
Don't read too hard, you could develop a sty, or a hernia, if you do.
"I'd like to privatize George W Bush"
-Al Sharpton
Kos has a terror alert level timeline, giving us some perspective on how much of a bullshit farce it really is.
The Republican-controlled Senate yesterday turned back a Democratic effort to stop the Bush administration from conducting research to develop "low-yield" nuclear weapons but faces other showdowns today over the administration's nuclear weapons policy.

The vote was 51 to 43, largely along party lines, in favor of a GOP proposal to lift a decade-old ban on research or other activities to develop these new battlefield weapons.(full story)
Ahh, "low-yield" nuclear weapons, you know, the ones that make several city blocks unlivable for decades rather than several hundred square miles. Will they resemble the "nukes" from Starship Troopers?

I suppose we're setting a good example in the eyes of those blasted commie Saddam sympathizers by expanding our WMD program. Wait a second there...
OK, along with their culture, dignity etc, we're now about to take the weapons of the Iraqi people . . . those of small destruction, of course. We can find those.
BAGHDAD, May 20 — Iraqi citizens will be required to turn over automatic weapons and heavy weapons under a proclamation that allied authorities plan to issue this week, allied officials said today.

The aim of the proclamation is to help stabilize Iraq by confiscating the huge supply of AK-47's, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons that are used by criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and remnants of the Saddam Hussein government.

Iraqis who refuse to comply with the edict will be subject to arrest. Only Iraqis authorized to use military-type weapons because of their police or military duties will be exempt.
The aim of such a thing is somewhat understandable, yes. But this is a proclamation? Weren't Queen Victoria and Lord Lytton into proclamations? Sigh.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Um, that's nice there, Mark Fiore, but were the democrats anywhere near organized 17.5 months before the 1992 election? (hint: Mario Cuomo was polling at 20%)

Atrios points to this, and we see -- as if it hadn't been obvious already -- similar problems with conservative journalistic outlets as well.

The Onion's infograph this week is on the various misdeeds of NY Times reporter Jayson Blair. When I read
"Wrote fabricated story about Iraq possessing massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction"
I nearly fell off my swivel chair.

But it does raise an interesting point. The administration needs cover for its lies about WMD in Iraq, and thus its inability to find any of them in said country. So what perfect timing it was to discover A) a lying reporter B) a lying reporter for those commies at the New York Times!, and C) a lying black reporter*, allowing conservative commenators and pundits around the country to spread the subtext that A) blacks cannot be trusted, and just as important, B) this is why affirmative action is bad. Of all of those points, only the first -- that he was a lying reporter -- has any meaning or relevance at all. White people lie too; of course, their lies are more in the neighborhood of "Don't worry, Native Americans, these blankets will keep you warm and healthy!", etc. For more recent, pertinent lies, in this case from the NY Times, there's always Jeff "Whitewater" Gerth.

* - I'm masochistic so I read Drudge from time to time, and his big banner headline called the Blair story a "Black Eye" for the NYT. Classy.

Monday, May 19, 2003


According to the NY Times, Ricky Martin is "going back to his roots".

His "roots"? What, soap opera?


If you're a nerd, and you go past the blogger home page form time to time, no doubt you've hit up the Matrix Essay blog that they recommend. I've wasted to much time already.
A British study confirms that lying is an essential part of politics.

Interesting. Lying also happens to be an integral part of, oh I don't know, everything else on earth. Hehehe. Back to work!
A federal court Monday temporarily restored limits on political donations and advertising that it had struck down as unconstitutional, making 2004 candidates operate under the law passed by Congress last year until the Supreme Court settles the matter.

The Justice Department and the law’s sponsors had asked the three-judge panel handling the case to

A three-judge federal panel yesterday suspended enforcement of its May 2 ruling that struck down or modified key provisions of the nation's new campaign finance law, effectively restoring the law as the legal ground rules for political fund-raising until the Supreme Court decides if the measure is constitutional.

The decision negated the immediate effects of the panel's earlier 1,600-page ruling that found several sections of the law known as McCain-Feingold to be unconstitutional. Most notably, the panel had struck down a provision that barred the national political parties from raising unlimited amounts of "soft money" in unregulated contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals.

Now the soft money ban will remain in effect, at least for several months. (full story)
Yeah yeah, I know that with the ban in place, Republicans have an even more significant fundraising advantage over Democrats because of hard money. But political expediency aside, it's the right thing to do, dammit! I'm a fan of clean elections, so yeah.

Arcata is a small town/city near Eureka CA, up in redwood country. And they're defying the Patriot Act:
(AP) More than 100 cities and one state have passed resolutions condemning the USA Patriot Act, saying it gives the federal government too much snooping power. But in this liberal fold of Northern California's Redwood Curtain, a simple denouncement just doesn't go far enough.
To cooperate with the act, the City Council says, is criminal.

Starting this month, a new city ordinance would impose a fine of $57 on any city department head who voluntarily complies with investigations or arrests under the aegis of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism bill passed after Sept. 11.

Arcata's law is mostly symbolic, since federal law trumps any local ordinance. Still, the notion of civic disobedience is drawing plenty of attention.

"We knew we were doing something a little bit bold," says Dave Meserve, the councilman who sponsored the ordinance. "It certainly did not occur to me that it would catch the imagination of the American public."
Symbolism is still an important thing, and thus I salute Arcata. I have some history with that particular town, as that it is situated near the ultra-hippie Hartwood Institute, home to offical TFM brother Dylan Salisbury for over a year, where he cooked all-natural food, played various instruments and skinnydipped with Ani DiFranco. At least I think that's where it was.

Some men are born for some jobs, some aren't. One who was, I'm absolutely sure, is White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The man is, as Steve Martin put it in Housesitter, "the Ernest Hemingway of bullshit". Sadly, he is resigning.
"I love this job," Fleischer told reporters at his informal Monday morning briefing. "I believe deeply about President Bush as a man and I believe deeply in his policies, but it's my time to go."

He would not speculate on who would take his place, but presidential aides said deputy press secretary Scott McClellan was the likely successor, although there are other possibilities.
Hmm, in terms of a replacement, I can think of only one person on this earth who can match Fleischer's special batch of skills. Funny thing is, he's out of a job too:

Shrub recently expressed his fondness for Mr Sahaf in his interview with Brokaw, so you never know.

And by the way, can't we spin this as Fleischer whimping out, this time ultimately, in the face of tough questions from an 80-something woman? Hehehe, Helen, make sure you rip the next one a new one.

Sunday, May 18, 2003


What would be wrong with a national election holiday? I'd love to hear a real reason why there would be a problem with that.

(inspired by today's Howard Dean town meeting in Iowa)