Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Texas has gone off the deep end.

No way guys. There is absolutely no way that fetal protection laws will be misused. Don't exaggerate so much.

For any exaggeration anyone may have done, I'll bet no one went so far as to guess that this would happen.


Prosecutors planning to use Fetal Protection law to put doctors on death row:
Texas doctors who perform abortions without parental approval or after the third trimester could face capital murder charges because of a new law that takes effect this week, a prosecutors group says.

The Texas District and County Attorneys Association has outlined that scenario in its new book updating the Texas penal code and in public presentations around the state. The group says such charges could occur under the new law because of the 2003 fetal protection law.

Key legislators said Monday that wasn't their intent.

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, who pushed the parental consent measure, said in a prepared statement that her legislation was strictly limited to giving parents the right to consent when a minor is considering an abortion and to preventing late-term abortions.

"There were no discussions about the death penalty during our legislative discussions of this issue," Nelson said.

A capital murder conviction can result in the death penalty.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

White Nights.

Macaroni boils in
two inches of water
for so long that the whitish
bubbles of pasta glue fall below
broken shells.

Half the package is burned to the
bottom of a stainless steel pot
and starch deposits run white
lines up and down the sides
like layers of stratus clouds
that mark up a late summer sky,
tired after a season of
lysol and aspartame injections.

Pour the shit down the drain
and claw at hardened pasta.
The fork rips tiny shreds in
the layers of stale semolina flour
as glops of pasta matter drip
into the sink.

Spray it with hot water and
feel the green mix of steam and
newly borne mold strains rise
into your sinuses and flecks
of decayed wheat spores spiral
about the sink

But then the water stops and
the rapid orbit of particles falls
into a lazy suspension
dispersed about miscellaneous
chunks of hamburger and
onion and cheddar cheese

until the fork grinds into the drain
and churns the clot
in haphazard circles
that release more shells up
into the atmosphere
and down the pipe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


From "Astronaut's Risky Missions" in the August 5, 2005 issue of The San Francisco Chronicle:
Although the term "spacewalking" sounds casual enough, " 'spacewalking' is really a misnomer. You're 'space floating,' if you will, and controlling yourself with your hands," said experienced spacewalker and one-time Palo Alto resident Dr. Scott E. Parazynski of NASA. He has participated in three spacewalks since joining NASA in the early 1990s.

A spacewalk is "the ultimate astronaut experience, without a doubt. It really defies description or characterization because it's so overwhelmingly beautiful," Parazynski told The Chronicle on Tuesday. "I don't know that there's a human being alive who is eloquent enough to do it justice."

In space, you're protected only by your oxygen-filled high-pressure suit, and moving around in it requires considerable effort because it's like walking inside an inflated balloon, Parazynski said. Yet you quickly become accustomed to moving in three dimensions -- you can spin on your head as casually as ordinary Earthlubbers walk backward -- and it rapidly becomes second nature.

And the view! Like a mountain climber perched atop the needle nose of the ultimate mountaintop, you feel wonderfully alone, "enveloped by the enormity of the universe. You're traveling around Earth more than 17,000 mph. You see continents (pass by you) at a single glance through a very thin layer of glass, your (helmet) visor."

One time, Parazynski was on a spacewalk when he and the shuttle flew "through the Northern Lights," or aurora borealis. This famous upper-atmospheric sight was glistening on and off in the orbital space around him due to interactions between high-speed cosmic particles and the extremely thin wisps of residual atmosphere roughly 180 miles above Earth. "They're wispy, beautifully colored lights. ... It was a wonderful experience."

The Milky Way.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


I know it's a huge, stupid cliche, but looking at shots of outer space reinforces how silly all of this is. We worry about every little thing when we're half of a blink and no greater force gives a shit about us. We're a speck on a spiral galaxy arm orbiting an enormous black hole. And that galaxy is one of so many of them that we can't even conceptualize the number. The universe goes on and on and on. And in the end, long after our own Sun has burnt out, it'll spread so far apart that everything freezes and life becomes impossible.

I keep dreaming about all of the horrible things that happen to little planets like ours. Comet strikes, gamma ray bursts, black holes, and on and on. The dinosaurs didn't see it coming. We might not either when the burst from a Supernova somewhere else in the galaxy happens upon our unfortunate planet, igniting the atmosphere and broiling us all to death. It's all random and out of our control.

So what we have is this. Not some elusive dream you have about thirty years from now. Not some illusory state of perfection you think you had ten years back. Not a happy world that you're supposed to suffer through your life waiting for. All I have is a book, a bottle of cheap vodka, mountains of research to be done, a hard drive waiting for me to put whatever I write or sequence on it, and whatever I want to do with myself right now.

I'll take a vodka.

edit: Here's a pretty good explanation of our galaxy. Jesus.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Doing all of my research electronically is nice in that it's really efficient and makes copying and pasting cards between different files and into frontlines really easy, but it's wrecking havoc on my eyes and body. I probably stared at this screen for thirteen hours today. Gaahhhh

Bike riding tomorrow. I'll have to make time between working on the aff and electronicizing space exploration.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Whenever I'm feeling really stressed out, I force myself to set aside the time to make a risotto. It forces me to concentrate on something that takes patience over a period of time much longer than what it takes to cook most dishes. The bulk of it is spent gradually adding a broth/wine mixture to rice while constantly stirring it. Focusing on it is almost meditative, giving me a chance to reconnect with concrete things that are going on around me and to calm down.

Then, after it's finished, I get to eat it and (more often than not) it's amazing. The subtlety of a good risotto borders on the sublime.


Four days in the rain and everything's finally starting to blur together and I think I'm crashing into a glass window. Thank goodness I have an important orange bottle back and the Sigur Ros and Ladytron leaks. Time for a twelve hour soma vacation.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Can we all finally agree that global warming is happening?


Goodbye to all of the overblown hype about differences between satellite, radiosonde, weather balloon, and ground temperature readings. For some time, that differential was somewhat of a mystery that climatologists were still working on and the typical proponents of faith-based science rushed to assume that it vindicated their preformed liberterian and/or conservative ideological sentiments. What a surprise: it turns out that the actual scientists were correct.

Can we finally start to fucking do something about this? What amount of evidence will be sufficient to warrant action? What level of impact will justify some sort of effective cuts in GHG emissions?

Surely, not the possibility of rapid thawing of the West Siberian tundra creating a positive feedback loop that results in runaway warming?