Saturday, June 30, 2007


Michael Moore's new movie opened yesterday, I hope everyone goes to see it, health care is the worst crisis we face in America today.

Here's his site:
An Awesome First Night for "Sicko"

And here my friend Long Live the Village Green does a review:
Long Live the Village Green

Because Darcy's been sick for the past 14 years I've had a lot of experience with health care. She gets Medicare and Medi-cal, do I have horror stories? You bet, but none are as bad as the people she's emailed with who have had the same lung disease. All those people had private insurance and not one of them got approved for a lung transplant. Some fought hard and finally got one, some just gave up and died, when you have a fatal lung disease it can be hard to get yourself into the fray. One did OK because she was rich, she signed a guarantee of payment with the hospital then hired her lawyer to sue the insurance company, after which they were happy to insure her.

I haven't seen the movie, Darcy's been sick all day, we never get out to the movies any more. We'll see it on DVD.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip

Saw the last show this week. Once again Aaron Sorkin proves he is too smart for network TV. The show apparently bombed almost from the beginning and Darcy and I loved it from the beginning. A smart and grown-up show on TV! Amazing, this can't last, and it didn't. Ever since the first show of Sports Night came out years ago I knew this guy Sorkin was great. By the end of the first season of The West Wing I knew he was the best writer TV had ever seen, which means I knew he was doomed for failure. I'm still amazed that West Wing was such a hit, most of the dialog had to go right over the heads of most of his watchers, yet it lasted for years. Sorkin leaving the show was immediately evident and it took a dive, but we still kept watching just because the characters were so good, but they never again achieved what Sorkin had, but then again, who could.

So, Aaron, my hat's off to you. Though I feel you are doomed to failure I salute your efforts and promise I will be a faithful watcher of anything you do. I do, however, have one thing to say to you - HBO. Or maybe Showtime, they are more desperate because HBO has kicked their ass for years on weekly shows, with the exception of Dexter.

I think the ones I feel most sorry for in this are Matthew Perry and Sara Paulson, great chemistry and great characters and they put in fantastic performances. Everyone was excellent on the show but those two really stood out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Al Gore for President

On Alternet is an article about why Al Gore should run for president.

The majority of my Democratic friends have devoted most of their attentions to the three avowed front-runners -- Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards. Yet during the last six months or so, whenever I've asked them whom they would choose if they were choosing between four candidates -- Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and Al Gore -- probably 90 percent have told me, in a heartbeat, that they'd go for Gore.

If that is true that's very encouraging. So I want to write an open letter to Al Gore.

Dear Al:

How are you? You've looked good on the last few TV appearances I've seen, and I've heard you are on a diet and working out. Of course I'm here to talk about why you should run for president. Seems like a bad idea on the surface, life is good for you right now, you are more popular than you have ever been and have managed, practically single-handedly, to completely change the political discourse on global warming. So why should you run?

Because both you and the country need the world's greatest do-over. I doubt if there is anyone outside of the fanatical right wingers who doesn't feel that you should have been president, and that we'd be in so much better shape right now if you had been. How often does an entire country get a chance to correct a horrible mistake? The reason the presidential race has moved up so dramatically to be started far earlier than ever before is that the entire nation just wants Bush out of there and would rather focus on his successor than deal with what he is doing right now.

Then there is the fact of the terrible damage Bush and his people have done to America as a whole. You are the best man to undo much of that damage, you are the one who could rally most of America behind you and get things done. And I also think that your running would energize the Democratic party and assure their full control of both branches of Congress.

And it isn't just the fact that you can heal the American psyche, you are also the best man to be president of all the other candidates - by far. And take Obama as your VP. The country needs President Al Gore.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Touch Screens

There is a short little article in Time Magazine on the idea that iPhone is going to create a revolution by turning computers into touch screens, making the mouse obsolete.

Odd article since it starts out looking like it's going to be all about the iPhone then suddenly ends up being mostly about Microsoft's Milan. Which I really didn't mind since I'd never heard of it, looks very interesting. Think of basically a coffee table with a computer in it that you can operate with your fingers. One example was to place your cell phone with a digital camera in it on the table and all the pictures you've taken suddenly show up on the screen and can be passed around to people sitting around the table, that would be cool. Makes me think of Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

But I wonder how great an idea this really is, after all, touch screens have been around for 30 years and haven't caught on at all, except maybe in bars. Seems far more appropriate for the iPhone, excellent for something small and hand held but imagine having to move your arm across a coffee table to use your computer, you'd get tired fast. And you'd have to be really paranoid about anything messing up the screen, which I would think is a problem for the iPhone as well. I'm a big Palm fan but you can't use one without putting a screen guard on it or the screen gets worn out really fast.

But I'm always a contrarian, I don't use a mouse I use a Wacom tablet like any good artist should. What I want is an iPhone but with a 21" screen and only a little thicker, that has a color Wacom tablet across the front and a complete Mac inside and you have to use a pen, not your finger. Wacom does make a 21" tablet with a color LCD screen but it costs $1,800 and you still have a buy a Mac to plug it into, too expensive and not mobile enough. Someday they will have it, but not yet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Great Blog

The name probably looks intimidating but don't let it bother you. This is what it means: "Ballard (1981) coined the term "pharyngula" to refer to the embryo that has developed to the phyolotypic stage, when it posesses the classic vertebrate bauplan." The tag line under the log, in case it's too small to see is: "Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal."

See? Very simple. This is a science blog run by a biology professor but is really much more of a social commentary about the state of America today.

Take this interesting article which is about why you have to register with the government to buy a chemistry beaker in some states but any idiot can buy a gun without registering it at all.

Or this one: An almost biblical curse about a very tragic case of inbreeding in a small Mormon community that believes in polygamy.

This one is about Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion doctor outside his clinic:

" Behold, Paul Hill Days.

A couple of deranged Christian organizations are planning to send their members to Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the end of July to thump about like a gang of gumbies, bellowing about what a good man Paul Hill was. God's man. A hero. A martyr.

And to crown this exercise in lunacy and poor taste, they're planning a reenactment of the murders."

It's truly amazing that there are people who think it's a good idea to celebrate a murderer, and that reenacting the murders is a fun day.

The whole blog is filled with these gems and is really worth a look. Back in the day the hippies used to say that our society was sick, they were right but we were downright sane back then compared to America in the 21st century.

I'm sure glad the iPhone will be out soon to cheer me up, though I probably won't be getting one for a couple of years, since I just signed up for 2 more years at Verizon with 2 new free phones. Hopefully in 2 years the iPhone will be even better, more affordable, and - wishful thinking - Cingular will have become a provider worth having. Or maybe a competitor will come up with a phone almost as good that sells only for Verizon. Sounds like a great idea for Palm or LG, because right now Cingular would have to pay me to use their service, and if it wasn't a whole lot of money I'd still turn them down. Which means I can be bought but I'm not cheap.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Did This Happen?

I'm sitting here listening to Cat Stevens songs and thinking about my youth, we had such ideals back then, we wanted so much and dreamed so far. World peace, love, brothers and sisters to all. It's with tears in my eyes that I look at what we've become as America totters on the brink of fascism and we are responsible for the death of close to 1,000,000 people in Iraq. We railed and protested against our parents and their generation for being hypocrites, but looking back now they were practically saints compared to what this generation has become. The worst our parents did was fail to live up to the ideals of what America should be, what the boomer generation has done is throw those ideals to the ground and stomp on them as if they were evil.

I'm now old and tired, as old as my mom was when Cat recorded these songs, 3 years older than my dad ever made it to. Oddly enough there is still fire in my belly, rage against the machine. Too bad it's accompanied by nausea. My whole body hurts and I'm tired down to my bones and my beloved Darcy is about to die soon. And Cat Stevens is now a devote Muslim who did not condemn the Ayatolah's death sentence of Salman Rushdie, so much for peace and love.

And on top of that we stand at the brink of world disaster with global warming. It won't lead to the end of mankind but it will lead to world-wide problems like nothing we've ever seen, millions of refugees across the globe, hunger, misery and death for multiple millions of humanity. I fear the future will look at the baby boomer generation and see us as either monsters or insane, maybe both. We all claim Hitler and the Nazis as the worst evil that men can sink to but future generations will put that label on us.

How did this happen? Christians and rich people, the fundamentalists who have tried to ram theocracy down our throats and the neocons who have gladly used them as the means to power. If any good can come from all this it will be if both such groups are reviled and hated for as long as humanity lasts.


Darcy here with the grandkids, click on the photo and you'll get a good enlargement, same as with yesterday's installment of me and Darcy.

I'm stressed, I've held up well for the last 14 years but one reason was I always thought we'd get through every problem, now I don't think that, time is running out. When Darcy went into the hospital last Tuesday night I started to freak a bit, she was just going in for tests but it still got to me like it never did before, as if all the 14 years of stress that I'd been ignoring just fell right on top of me. We've always known it was a matter of time, that we were only fighting a delaying action, but delays were good. I didn't look beyond that because I didn't want to see the future. And let me tell you that living completely in the now sucks big time, don't listen to those fool Buddhists who would tell you otherwise.

I'm very depressed and having lots of trouble concentrating. I used to be able to write with no problem at all, and write well, but now it feels jumbled, as if I can't quite find the right words for a pithy one liner. At work I'm really running slow because of the lack of concentration, I used to be able to focus so completely I was incredibly fast and accurate in everything I did, Darcy used to call it art mode, and knew not to talk to me because it wouldn't get through. Now I'm distracted by everything, I'll go look at a web site at work and the next thing I know I've wasted 2 hours and no longer remember what I was working on. And fatigue is grabbing me harder than ever, but I'm having trouble sleeping.

And I don't see it getting any better in the near future. The only release will be when Darcy dies, and I don't see that as an improvement.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Do You Really Want The Truth About God?

This is not from me but is too good to not post. I especially like the part that the secret of the universe just happens to exist in the church down the street from you, what a coincidence! I've had this for a long time and don't know where I got it but fortunately the author's URl is down at the bottom. I checked it out and his site is still there with lots of good stuff on it. I even wrote to him to get permission to publish this:

Do You Really Want The Truth About God?

By Wayne Adkins
Apr. 24, 2005

"I'll have ten plausible explanations and uh... hold the truth." That seems to be good enough for most Christians nowadays, fundamentalists in particular. Where are the seekers of truth today? Gone the way of the home cooked meal I guess. It's just too much work.

Why do you suppose it is that a child born in Iraq will likely become a Muslim while a child born in Utah will likely become Mormon and a child born in Central America is likely to become a Catholic while a child born in Alabama is likely to become a Protestant? Do you think the argument for Islam is any more compelling in Iraq than it is where you live? Do you think the argument for fundamentalist Christianity is any more compelling in Alabama than in Utah? No. We are products of our environments.

So you attend your hometown church and, lucky you, it happens to be of the one true religion! But there were a few things you don't quite understand, so you ask your local clergy or you read the latest and greatest apologists and "presto," it all makes sense. But if people of all different religions were asking these tough questions and getting straightforward answers, wouldn't people eventually figure out the truth and gravitate toward it? Wouldn't the religion closest to the truth become the obvious choice as truth seekers everywhere found the truth?

Enter the plausible explanation. It seems that most people are comfortable with any plausible explanation for a problem as long as it lets them hang on to their current beliefs, true or otherwise. For instance, when scientific evidence flies in the face of long held religious beliefs, Christians will accept any explanation that lets them hang on to their existing notions of truth. Ask a fundamentalist how old the earth is and they will tell you with a straight face that it is only 10,000 years old, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

So, you say, that is just how faith works. Faith is what saves us and it wouldn't be faith if we had all the answers, right? The problem is that the truth has been lost in all of this. Mahatma Ghandi once said that "There is no god higher than truth." What good is faith if it has you believing in something that is not true? Suppose your spouse has been coming home late from work every day for a month. Suppose each day you are given a plausible explanation for where they have been. "I had a flat tire" or "I had to work late" or "I ran out of gas". The truth is that they have been having an affair. Do you want the truth, even if you don't like it, or do you want to go on accepting plausible explanations? Most would say they want the truth.

So why wouldn't you seek the truth when it comes to religion, a decision that shapes the rest of your life? You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first. You wouldn't buy a house without having it inspected. But people walk into the church that is closest to their home, or the one like their parents took them to, and accept that they have found the truth. When they see a problem with it, if they ask about the problem they accept whatever they are told without verifying it at all. Great apologists are made, not because they are particularly adept at finding answers to those tough questions, but because people don't look past the first explanation they are given.

I was once a bible college student studying to become a preacher. I am now an atheist. Why? Because I looked for the truth, even when I didn't like what I found. As I began to face difficult questions like contradictions in the Bible, the abhorrent morality propogated in the Bible, and the fact that it all just didn't make sense, I had plenty of mentors to turn to. But I soon saw a pattern of them giving me an answer that "could be" a plausible explanation for each particular problem. But often these proposed explanations were ridiculous and if they were challenged I was blasted for not just having faith.

Suppose that you were buying a building and you were told that the roof didn't leak. You walk in and find a puddle on the floor. "That came up through a crack in floor" you are told and assured that the roof doesn't leak. You find another puddle and are told that the water blew in through an open window. Upon finding another puddle you are told that the water fountain leaks, but the roof is impervious to leaks. The next puddle is explained as a spill and yet another is explained as recent mopping. Then drops sart falling on your head. "Condensation from the air-conditioning ducts," you are told. But as you look up you see water running down the rafters above the ducts. "Oh, that could be from my kids playing with their super soaker water canons in here, it didn't come through the roof." Plausible explanations are made for each little puddle of water you find, but as you survey the building, the floor is covered with water and the seller is standing there telling you the roof doesn't leak. How can you buy that?

So, what is the point of this article? I would encourage you to examine WHY you believe what you believe. Ask the hard questions and fearlessly pursue truth. Educate yourself about both sides of the argument. Sure it will take some work, but if you were wrong about God, wouldn't you want to know? Christians are trying to legislate their brand of morality, put God into government and "creation science" into our schools. So ask yourself what you belive. Is it that every species of animal once survived for a year on a single wooden boat? That the earth is only 10,000 years old? That God divided people by race and language because people were "too united"? That Samson killed thousands of men with a jawbone because he didn't cut his hair? That unicorns once existed? That Jonah lived in a whale for three days? That after 2,000 years of waiting, Jesus is going to return? Why do you believe these things? It's time to grow up and put the God fairy-tale where it belongs, in your past alongside Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the monster under your bed.

About the author: Wayne Adkins is a former fundamentalist christian who became an atheist after two years of bible college. He is now a military officer recently returned from a year in Iraq...a real live atheist in a foxhole. He has written a manuscript debunking biblical inerrancy and the existence of God which can be found at his website at


I love this picture, me and Darcy sitting out by our pool having a barbecue. Looks like the perfect Southern California day, doesn't it? Darcy is frowning at Bennet for taking the picture, she thinks she looks so bad she doesn't want any pictures taken of her. I just want food. Even here the fact she is now skin and bones is obvious, the drugs have been hard on her.

She just spent 3 days in the hospital for testing of all kinds, her doctor wanted to get to the bottom of what was wrong. She was miserable, couldn't sleep and was so weak at one point she fell and hurt her thigh and is using a walker now to get around, but that should be only temporary. They found out two new things, she has cirrhosis and thrombocytopenia, that second one is a low platelet count which causes easy bruising and at it's worst can be quite dangerous, causing internal bleeding. She is bruised all over, especially on her arms, she has one bruise on her chin just from leaning on her hand while reading.

We don't really know how bad each disease is, just found out about them as she was leaving the hospital at 7 PM last night, we'll find out about treatment next week. But that gives me some hope, I thought she was just breaking down and they wouldn't be able to find anything specific but this gives us something we can deal with. I've been reading up on Milk Thistle, which is the long time herbal standard for liver problems but the web, as usual, has conflicting reports. There have been several studies showing it's benefits but I found one recent article that showed it did nothing, I don't have a lot of confidence in that one though.

For 14 years we've just been buying time, we knew it was a battle we would lose eventually, but hopefully we can buy some more time still. We haven't done badly so far.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Granddaughter Ally

Since I was a step-grandfather I didn't think too much of the idea, there was a reason I never had kids of my own. But Ally was such a neat kid from the very beginning she quickly won me over and I've been trying to impart my many years of wisdom to her. Since she is only 6 and half that has met with limited success, I've told myself to be patient, but that isn't one of my strong suits. The main thing I wanted to do was teach her a love of learning and hopefully, a love of science. I've had help from her mother on that, she enrolled her in 2 weeks of science camp last year and is doing it again this summer. Ally is also in a small private school so I'm hoping she is having more fun that I did when I was her age. But when that new Planet Earth Discovery series came out she didn't want to see it. I recorded all the shows for her, thinking they were great and she'd be interested, but she was bored and wanted to change the channel. Sigh. I did get her to watch about 10 minutes on an older such series to show her the weird alien animals living at the bottom of the ocean.

Yesterday we were babysitting and Ally asked me if I had that alien fish show, unfortunately I hadn't
saved it. We only have DVR with limited space and I can't record anything off the cable box. But as luck would have it there was a show just starting on the science channel about the Great Coral Reef in Australia so I put it on. She sat and watched the entire hour, totally absorbed, even during the commercials, I was amazed. And delighted. Of course, I had to add my own comments, like when this woman put on a diving suit and went down to study the reef I said: "She's a marine biologist, isn't that a cool job where you can go out and dive in the ocean for your work day? No stuffy office every day for her!"

I don't know if it will take but I'm very please with her interest. Marine biologist would be a great career for her, her mom got her swimming very early and she's really good already and this year Summer wants to teach her how to surf. I told her to get her mom to teach her how to scuba dive.

Ally,the marine biologist - very cool!