The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Wouldn't your favorite classic video games be better if they were entirely Peep-based? (link via susan)

What a charming, charming man that Terri Schiavo's parents have chosen to be their public face.
Holy crap.

Another bright idea from our friends at the NRA in the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Minnesota:
All options should be considered to prevent rampages like the Minnesota school shooting that took 10 lives — including making guns available to teachers, a top National Rifle Association leader said Friday.

"I'm not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students," the NRA's first vice president, Sandra S. Froman, told The Associated Press.


Froman said if it is the responsibility of teachers to protect students in a school, "then we as a society, we as a community have to provide a way for the teachers to do that."

Froman cited the 1997 school shooting incident in Pearl, Miss., where a teacher retrieved a gun from his car when a student opened fire, then held the student at bay until police arrived.
Coming up next, guns for librarians? Lunch ladies? Student council? I'll tell ya, as a former appointed member of my high school's government in 1998-1999, I sure wouldn't have minded having a piece of my own to enforce my position on what the prom theme should have been. ("Damnit, we're going with 'A Tron Christmas', and Mr 9-millimeter agrees!")

Of course, I'm sure Mary Rosh thinks it's a good idea.

Friday, March 25, 2005


In the middle of the feeding (tube) frenzy, the Social Security Trustees released their 2005 report on the status of the current system, saying that the trust fund will keep it solvent until 2041, one year earlier than last year's report. Links to responses from economics-minded bloggers...

Max Sawicky: The books aren't cooked! But we still don't need private accounts!
Brad DeLong: Wait a minute! The earlier insolvency date is because of a new productivity model! The old model would have made the report consistent to those of prior years!
Matthew Yglesias: Hmm, this looks overly pessimistic! And the changes in death rate calculation are mysteriously unexplained!
Atrios: I'll bet the administration wouldn't want to look at stock market projections based on 1.6% productivity growth!
Kevin Drum: Medicare is in a much worse state than Social Security is, so what gives?

Thursday, March 24, 2005


I was on the road for much of yesterday, far away from the Bay Area, and while driving at night, I found myself listening to KCBS, as it was one of the few AM stations that came in as far away as I was. As a result, I heard about this story more than I'd like to admit, so I might as well blog it:
An unlucky diner bit into a segment of a human finger while digging into a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, Santa Clara County health officials confirmed Wednesday.

The diner, who visited the restaurant Tuesday night, spit out the well- cooked digit, notified restaurant workers and became sick to her stomach, health officials said.
The search for the source of the finger has continued today, but without solid results. Are our friends at Wendy's concerned?
Asked whether customers were still buying chili Thursday, an employee at the Wendy's said only, "We always sell a lot of chili."
That's the real mystery.

This is a fascinating discovery, one that, hopefully, will shed more light on the nature of earth's Mesozoic inhabitiants.
For more than a century, the study of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones. Now, researchers have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue, including what may be blood vessels and cells, from a Tyrannosaurus rex.

If scientists can isolate proteins from the material, they may be able to learn new details of how dinosaurs lived, said lead researcher Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.
You know where this is going...
"We're doing a lot of stuff in the lab right now that looks promising," she said in a telephone interview. But, she said, she does not know yet if scientists will be able to isolate dinosaur DNA from the materials.

It was recovered dinosaur DNA — the blueprint for life — that was featured in the fictional recreation of the ancient animals in the book and film "Jurassic Park."
But don't worry, if they can't find a complete code, I'm sure Monsanto will step in with the rest!

If you're new to the story and need an overview, you'll need to go elsewhere. Any old AP story will do. Basically, think Citizen Ruth, minus one functioning brain.

--We're in a protracted struggle, war, what-have-you, with anti-American religious extremists of the kind who carried out the attacks of September 11th, 2001. In one sense, the conflict is ideological, but in another it is an ideology contest, as we are competing with Islamists for the (yeah, I know) hearts and minds of the large moderate populations of a great many countries. We could have announced a worldwide effort to curb global AIDS, end millions of needless deaths in poorer countries from wholly curable and treatable diseases like TB, malaria and influenza, and blunt the scourge of global poverty and hunger. We also could have launched a concerted effort to convert our society to non-oil-based sources of energy, to un-dirty our hands in our Mideast policy and to force the diversification of economies there. Soooo...
--Wouldn't that have been a lovely time for George W Bush to "err on the side of life"? And of course,

--Whom would you rather the conservatarians funneled millions of dollars into an effort to feed?
--I promise, no jokes about President Bush taking the side of a brain-dead person. Oops, I hope that wasn't one.

--Given the concerted effort in some circles (Limbaugh, DeLay, etc) to smear Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and legal guardian during her 15 years of being in a PVS, one wonders what these people really think of the sanctity of marriage. It would appear that when these people say "sanctity of marriage", they mean only one thing by it. Then again, we knew that already.

--Given Bill Frist's clear hypocracy between his comments on Schiavo and his harsh words for John Edwards last fall (about Edwards' comments on Christopher Reeve and stem cell research), I'd like to ask a hypothetical person, tangentially related: If embryonic stem cell research could lead to a reversal of Terri Schiavo's state, what would Frist and his conservatarian buddies do? (UPDATE: John from AmericaBlog makes the point that Frist seems a lot more optimistic about Terri Schiavo's chances for recover than those of Christopher Reeve when he was alive)

--Billmon's post on Jeb's increasingly desperate measure to virtually kidnap Terri is quite amusing.

--Your one-stop shop for tracking the crass hyping of the culture-war right is . . . John Cole? Well, with posts like this, this, this, this, this, this, this and a whole host of other posts since, Cole displays the sanity on the right that has earned him a blogroll link here for a while now.

--Instapundit: "WHAT HE SAID: "I know nothing about the Schiavo matter, and despite that have no opinion." Wellllll, you didn't know anything about Iraq's WMD, did you? Did that stop you from having an opinion? Also, there's plenty for the average follower of American politics to have an opinion on in this story, including but not limited to a long line of usual suspects on the right who are happy to put up millions of dollars to advance their opinions. What is their not to know about anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-stemcell, anti-tax groups pour huge resources into the case?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Washington Post, yesterday: "New EPA Mercury Rule Omits Conflicting Data"
When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule.
And from this week's Onion:
EPA To Drop 'E,' 'P' From Name
WASHINGTON, DC—Days after unveiling new power-plant pollution regulations that rely on an industry-favored market-trading approach to cutting mercury emissions, EPA Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that the agency will remove the "E" and "P" from its name. "We're not really 'environmental' anymore, and we certainly aren't 'protecting' anything," Johnson said. "'The Agency' is a name that reflects our current agenda and encapsulates our new function as a government-funded body devoted to handling documents, scheduling meetings, and fielding phone calls." The change comes on the heels of the Department of Health and Human Services' January decision to shorten its name to the Department of Services.
(WaPo link via Drum)