Thursday, April 30, 2009

Naked to the world

House Passes Hate-Crimes Bill

Click the byline to view more stories by this author.
By Kerry Eleveld
House Passes Hate-Crimes Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an LGBT-inclusive federal hate-crimes bill on Wednesday afternoon with a 249-175 vote. Democratic representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, applauded the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.

"The law routinely looks to the motivation behind a criminal act and treats the more heinous of them differently," Nadler said on the House floor. "Manslaughter is different from premeditated murder, which is different from a contract killing. We also punish crimes differently if they are terrorist acts, defined as violent acts that 'appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.'"

Republican representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina said that the idea of Matthew Shepard's murder being called a hate crime is "a hoax" while his mother, Judy Shepard, looked on to the House floor from the gallery. Speaking of the slain college student, whose parents have since become ardent voices for the legislation, Foxx said, "we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This -- the bill was named for him, [the] hate-crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

A Senate version of the bill was introduced Tuesday. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, anticipated the Senate would vote on the legislation, now called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, by the end of the year.

"We're confident that we'll make progress in the Senate as well," Solmonese said. "We're in conversations with Senator [Harry] Reid and other leaders in the Senate to try to determine the most expeditious way to move the bill and one that keeps that bill intact and gets it to the president's desk."

President Obama issued a statement Tuesday, putting his full weight behind the measure: "I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance -- legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action."

The bipartisan Senate bill is being carried by Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine. Other cosponsors include Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who switched his affiliation Tuesday from Republican to Democrat.

Civil rights and faith groups held a press conference call urging swift passage of the bill with leaders from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, American Association of People With Disabilities, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of La Raza, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Caroline Frederickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, said that discussion on the House floor Wednesday was sure to include warnings that the bill would impinge on freedom of speech and religious practices. She countered that since 2005 the bill has included specific provisions to protect basic First Amendment rights.

"The bill specifically blocks evidence of speech and associations that is not specifically related to the crimes," she said, adding, "This bill will have the strongest protection against the misuse of a person's free speech that Congress has enacted in the federal criminal code."

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act enhances federal involvement to combat hate crimes and authorizes the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence against a person based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How common is Life in the Universe? Second part

Complex life may be common, but we are only at the beginning of our speculation. Life began in Earth's seas, most probably. And life has to develop on land to create technology. Dolphins are intelligent, but I don't see them building anything, since they haven't manipulatory appendages. Squids and octopuses have, but they couldn't get on land for lack of a skeleton. In fact, only two phyla of the animal kingdom have extensively and efficiently "conquered" the land: arthropods and amniotic chordates, with minor contributions by nemertea, onychophorans, mollusks and annelids. Arthropods major achievement towards intelligence are complex societies like bees, ants, termites. Maybe on a planet a superintelligent colony dominates. Chordates' exploit are we, Homo "Sapisns", Man the Wise. How wise we are we will see later. Getting out of the water is no minor problem for animal life, and, according to some scientists, it requires having a massive moon like that of Earth, that enhances tides and so facilitates the transition from water to land. But many scientists disagree. Another speculate of planets with planetary oceans, where life won't have any land to come to. But if they exist, such planets aren't probably common. Once on land intelligence comes at some point, you should think. But evolution doesn't select for intelligence, or complexity: it selects for whatever comes handy for survival. There were primates in South America and in Africa, and Homo developed only in Africa, South America never experienced the drastic climate changes of East Africa that favored the evolution of the genus Homo. South American Monkeys never saw a reason to leave their trees. And mammals were able to evolve big brains because a meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs. How common is intelligence? We don't know, but it may be not at all inevitable. And moreover, Homo Neanderthalensis was comparably "Intelligent" nearly like us...and they disappeared. Had Neanderthals survived and Sapiens died out, would they have created a technological civilization? We don't know. Homo Sapiens itself didn't became "visible" from space till he invented the radio and television, practically moments ago, on the evolution's time-scale. So, maybe, we are one of the first and few species to arrive at the space communication stage. Homo Sapiens and a handful of species in the whole Galaxy.(And who knows how many in another Galaxies and the entire Universe, but let's consider OUR galaxy) And how Sapiens are we? Major nations of our world accumulated nuclear arsenals which, if deployed, could wipe out civilization many times, causing life to return at bacterial level.Not only that, but we are the only species to massively pollute the water it drinks, the air it breathes, the soils that gives it food. Maybe we've altered the climate at a point to induce dramatic changes. We could go on to describe our "wisdom". Homo "sapiens" indeed! We'll may survive crises and become an enlightened non-warring, non-polluting species. We all hope so. But some intelligent species may have found their way to their Mutually Assured Destruction. So, maybe the nearest intelligent civilization is on the other side of the Galaxy, wondering similar thoughts as we. Who knows?

L'arte di Michael Breyette

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

We have this only Earth, for the foreseeable future.
We should care for our own planet, because it's our home
Here's Earth's Ten CommAandments.
1) I am your Earth were you live and that nurtures yiu. Never forget it!
2) Don't ever damage your Earth for epèhemeral gains
3) Do not pollute
4) Do not waste
5) Do not consume more than you need
6) Think of those who starve and lack water and health
7) Think of the future generations
8) Don't be selfishly local: think globallly
9) Any living species extinct is YOUR loss, too
10)Learn to love diversity

Chiricoast, by me

Friday, April 17, 2009

City sunset, by me

The art of Ismael Alvarez

The art of Pierre et Gilles

Cosmic Pile-Up, from BAD ASTRONOMY

Blogs / Bad Astronomy

Most massive cosmic pileup ever seen

I recently posted about how cool it was on the Mythbusters when Adam and Jamie slammed a rocket sled into a car at 1000 km/hr.

Now take that collision and multiply it by a million billion gazillion. What you get is this:

Hubble+Chandra+Keck image of MACSJ0717.5+3745, a collision of four galaxy clusters.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, C. Ma, H. Ebeling, and E. Barrett (University of Hawaii/IfA), et al., and STScI.

Holy Haleakala.

That’s quite an image. It’s of an object 5.4 billion light years away called MACSJ0717.5+3745, which is really just a catalog number and a coordinate on the sky, so it’s not nearly as awesome sounding as what it is: a massive collision between four separate galaxy clusters!

Almost all galaxies reside in a group of some sort. The Milky Way is part of the local group, a few dozen galaxies, mostly dinky ones, of which we’re actually the largest. And our little enclave is in the suburbs of the Virgo cluster, a much larger aggregation of hundreds of galaxies. These clusters move around, and sometimes they collide (check out the Bullet Cluster, for example, for a fantastic example of this kind of collision, and how it gave us proof positive of the existence of dark matter).

But four clusters, colliding all at the same time? Wow!

The image is a composite of Hubble (visible light image) and Chandra (which sees high-energy X-rays) data. So what are we looking at?

First off, almost everything you see in that image is a galaxy (grab the big or the ginormous versions of the image for some fun). Foreground stars are the dots with the four spikes going through them (that’s an artifact of the camera used by Hubble, and is most obvious in point sources, and almost non-existent in extended objects like galaxies). So right away you get an idea of what a cluster of galaxies is like… and what a disaster a collision between four of them can be!

The clusters are all moving through space at incredibly high speed, many dozens of kilometers per second. In a vast collision like this one, the galaxies may physically smack into one another, though I suspect that’s not as common as you might think; there is still way more empty space in a cluster than there are galaxies.

Still, the gas between galaxies is spread out over hundreds of thousands or even millions of light years, well beyond the galaxies themselves. So this intercluster gas will indeed collide at high speed, causing it to heat up to millions of degrees and glow in X-rays. In the image, that’s shown as the diffuse material colored purple-red (lowest energy gas) to blue (highest energy or hottest gas). In fact, by mapping the hottest parts of the gas — where the light is brightest and bluest — and comparing that to the positions of the galaxies, astronomers were able to see that there are four distinct clusters in this train wreck. Also, in the collisions the galaxies just keep moving, while the gas slows down as it collides, so comparing the positions of the gas and galaxies the direction of the clusters was found as well. The speed can be found by taking spectra of the galaxies, which was done using the giant Keck 10-meter telescope in Hawaii. That also helps track which galaxy belongs to which cluster, assuming the galaxies in a given cluster are moving at roughly the same speed.

All in all, I can see that this cluster will keep astronomers busy for a long, long time. Studying it will tell us a lot about how intergalactic gas behaves, possibly about the nature of dark matter (which cannot be seen in this image — hello, it’s dark matter — but certainly profoundly affects the way this system behaves), and also just plain old what happens when a few hundred galaxies slam into each other across the depths of space.

Gay embrace

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Amazon, come on!

Amazon can't label all gay books as "adults" discriminating them (even those with no sexual content), whilst keeping the hetero XXX stuff on the sales ranks! That's discriminating, and what harm your averrage customer would come to, learning that homosexuality exists! Some citizens and customers are gay, cope with it!!!

It was a "Glitch?", a "Hacker"? Yeah, sure.

And as we're at it...

With Science fiction books, historical fiction books, etc.,with gay characters, why Amazon put only other gay books as "similar"? Why not other Science fiction, historical, etc, books, also? Maybe a science fiction fan appreciates a good science fiction yarn, even when there are gay characters in it!

The similarity criterion on suggesting makes for a bunch of almost identical novels or essays.Why not try with "something completely different from your usual readings but you may like it?". I'll adnit that with voracious readers like me it'll be a bit difficult, but even so it will an be interesting feature.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Bidgood image

Umprintable woes

What's with the printer this time?
The paper that's jammed,
out of toner again?
the connection is broken,
the ink's dried off,
or has the damned contraption
just fused from the strain?
Did yoy curse your printer today?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's raining boys

What do we know of the probability of life in the Universe? First part

Alas, not very much. All we know is OUR biosphere, and we didn't know how exactly it originated. There's however some logical assumptions we can do. Life is compatible with known Nature's Laws, and it began very early on our planet, so we can assume that life's s origin from chemical elements and energy is a natural consequence of natural laws at work.One of the best theories I've heard is- it originated at the bottom of the oceans near hydrothermal vents via energy-aided auto catalysis, and initially it made use of inorganic supports that gradually where replaced with organic ones, till the birth of the first independent living cell with a membrane and RNA. I find it a plausible hypothesis.. Chemical elements components of life have been found to be common in interstellar space, so we can assume that life at the simplest level must be fairly common. There are archaean and bacterial micro-organism that thrive at levels of radiation, extremes of temperature and others, that would kill complex cells. Yeah, and what of complex life?

As you can see, a lot of time, nearly 2,5 billions of years passed betweeen the birth of life and the first multicellular beings.Maybe this gap is due to local conditions, maybe in other biospheres complex life is achieved a lot more sooner.Certainly, a star must live at least a ten billions of years to allow life to evolve. Surely we can't assume life as we know it is the only life that can exist. But complex life seems to need time and a stable environment. It's certainly less common than bacterial level life, we can assume.
(to be continued)


More Yummy!


Would Life Form Differently Around Cool Stars?

(From Uniuverse Today)
Written by Nancy Atkinson

“Life as we know it” seems to be the common caveat in our search for other living things in the Universe. But there’s also the possibility of life “as we don’t know it.” A new study from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope hints that planets around stars cooler than our sun might possess a different mix of potentially life-forming, or “prebiotic,” chemicals. While life on Earth is thought to have arisen from a hot soup of different chemicals, would the same life-generating mix come together around other stars with different temperatures? (And should we call it ‘The Gazpacho Effect?’) “Prebiotic chemistry may unfold differently on planets around cool stars,” said Ilaria Pascucci, lead author of the new study.

Pascussi and her team used Spitzer to examine the planet-forming disks around 17 cool and 44 sun-like stars. The stars are all about one to three million years old, an age when planets are thought to be forming. The astronomers specifically looked for ratios of hydrogen cyanide to a baseline molecule, acetylene. Using Spitzer’s infrared spectrograph, an instrument that breaks light apart to reveal the signatures of chemicals, the researchers looked for a prebiotic chemical, called hydrogen cyanide, in the planet-forming material swirling around the stars. Hydrogen cyanide is a component of adenine, which is a basic element of DNA. DNA can be found in every living organism on Earth.

The researchers detected hydrogen cyanide molecules in disks circling 30 percent of the yellow stars like our sun — but found none around cooler and smaller stars, such as the reddish-colored “M-dwarfs” and “brown dwarfs” common throughout the universe.
Cool Stars May Have Different Prebiotic Chemical Mix

Cool Stars May Have Different Prebiotic Chemical Mix

The team did detect their baseline molecule, acetylene, around the cool stars, demonstrating that the experiment worked. This is the first time that any kind of molecule has been spotted in the disks around cool stars.

“Perhaps ultraviolet light, which is much stronger around the sun-like stars, may drive a higher production of the hydrogen cyanide,” said Pascucci.

Young stars are born inside cocoons of dust and gas, which eventually flatten to disks. Dust and gas in the disks provide the raw material from which planets form. Scientists think the molecules making up the primordial ooze of life on Earth might have formed in such a disk. Prebiotic molecules, such as adenine, are thought to have rained down to our young planet via meteorites that crashed on the surface.

“It is plausible that life on Earth was kick-started by a rich supply of molecules delivered from space,” said Pascucci.

The findings have implications for planets that have recently been discovered around M-dwarf stars. Some of these planets are thought to be large versions of Earth, the so-called super Earths, but so far none of them are believed to orbit in the habitable zone, where water would be liquid. If such a planet is discovered, could it sustain life?

Astronomers aren’t sure. M-dwarfs have extreme magnetic outbursts that could be disruptive to developing life. But, with the new Spitzer results, they have another piece of data to consider: these planets might be deficient in hydrogen cyanide, a molecule thought to have eventually become a part of us.

Said Douglas Hudgins, the Spitzer program scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington, “Although scientists have long been aware that the tumultuous nature of many cool stars might present a significant challenge for the development of life, this result begs an even more fundamental question: Do cool star systems even contain the necessary ingredients for the formation of life? If the answer is no then questions about life around cool stars become moot.”

Or, could life form differently around cooler stars from anything we know?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fear of heights?

From the blog "Bill in Exile" Minorities should be the least bigoted against other minorities, right? think again...
Dear Scott,

Did you see that Michael Richards tirade on TV today? Holy shit! Is that guy off his meds or what? I particularly liked the part where he screamed "Nigga, Nigga, Nigga" at the black hecklers in the audience in a faux British accent. What do you suppose that was meant to signify?

Anyway, there was a huge discussion about the event here amongst the Hoople Heads and brothers with the Hooples taking the position that it wasn't prejudiced because Richards is a Jew and members of minorities can't be prejudiced against other minorities. Can you fucking believe? I'm telling you I just about choked at that little bit of jaw droppingly stupid social theorizing.

The brothers of the Nation of Islam and the home boys of course took exactly the opposite view going to the extreme and even espousing their current favorite theory that EVERYONE is prejudiced against blacks even if they may not be prejudiced against other minorities and because of this condition blacks therefore, are the ONLY minority group with an inherent right to be prejudiced against anyone else they may choose to dislike.

This argument was made with a completely straight face when I raised the point that of all the "oppressed minorities" blacks are historically the most virulently homophobic even to the point of hating fags more than they hate whitey. Which, as I pointed out is interesting given that us fags come in all hues and colors and have really never done anything bad or oppressive toward blacks other than to simply try to exist peacefully.

Of course, that was met with sputtering rage and comments about disgusting butt sex and unnatural lifestyles that didn't contribute anything toward the propagation of the species which is, in their opinion,the most important reason for being. At that I turned to the group of black inmates most vocally making this argument as we sat in the TV lounge and said,

"Well, why should us fags worry about propagating the species when we've got young black men like you making babies and then abandoning them and their mothers because you're too fucking shiftless to step up and be responsible for the kids that you bring into the world?"

So now I'm worried that the Nation of Islam boys have a contract out on me and if they weren't such a bunch of shit talking pussies I'd really be worried. All the same Scott, if you don't hear from me in a week or two you'll know that I got shanked in the shower.



I'm consoling myself thinking that Ckretta King endorsed our cause.

Heavenly Body

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy bunnies by Ismaelalvarez

A Vote for gay marriage

Iowa lets people get married

Wow, I get wrapped up in my own personal world for a coupla days, and find out I almost missed this: the Iowa Supreme Court said that banning gay people from getting married is unconstitutional.



And perfectly correct. I’d add "of course", but some folks don’t get it. But it really is simple. We have two choices, legally: allow any consenting adults to be legally married, or allow none. This is because there’s a difference between being married legally — in the eyes of the law — and being married religiously. If your established religion hates teh ghey, then (besides that being your loss) don’t allow them to marry within that religion. But the State has no legal right to tell people to be married or not. So if it allows consenting oppositely-polarized heterosexual couples to be married and exact benefits from it, then they cannot consistently bar any two consenting adults, heterosexual or otherwise.

When we make laws barring one kind of marriage or another, we’re pussyfooting around the actual problem: some people are ooked out by gays. If that’s you, well, then, that’s you. You are what you are (though you can also strive to be more). But just because you’re personally uncomfortable with it, doesn’t mean a) it’s wrong, and/or b) it should be illegal. I think "reality shows" are an abomination upon our society, but I don’t think they should be illegal, and I’ll pit my abhorrence for them against anyone else’s homophobia any day. At least mine is based on critical thinking.

Of course, not everyone sees it this way. My irony gland nearly detonated upon reading this:

“It’s, quite frankly, a disaster,” said Brian English, a spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center, a nonprofit research and educational organization committed to strengthening the family.

It’s ironic, you see, because he’s not really committed to strengthening the family. He’s committed to weakening other families (and you can see this for yourself by going to their website). And we know those gay couples really are families. Here’s why:

Dawn BarbouRoske told the group, “We’re proud that our kids will be able to grow up knowing their family is respected.”

Her daughter added: “Hi, I’m McKinley, and I’m really, really happy. I feel that my family has always had this right, and today it is true. No longer shall we be just people who aren’t allowed to be married. We are able to get married.”

She has a daughter? Hey, so do I! And I know I have a family, so hers sounds like a family to me, too.

I can’t believe I have to point stuff out like this sometimes, but the very existence of that "Family Policy" group shows that it needs to be pointed out.

I congratulate the canny and wise decision of the Iowa court, and tell the folks who live in the Hawkeye state to in fact keep their eyes open: there is already talk of trying to push through an amendment to make gay marriage illegal, since that’s voted upon by the people. So Iowans, perhaps the choice will be up to you. Will you think critically and do the right thing, or will you let your hearts and minds be closed on this issue?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fight discrimination, harassment and violence against Lesbians and Gays in the EU


The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) today publishes its new report "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II - The Social Situation". The report finds that discrimination, harassment and violence against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) persons are widespread throughout the EU. The FRA calls on political decision-makers to further improve equality legislation and ensure accurate reporting, in order to improve the situation.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "Many LGBT persons experience discrimination, bullying and harassment. There have been physical attacks and even deadly assaults against LGBT persons in some countries. These are alarming signals in an EU that prides itself on its principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination".

The FRA report finds that discrimination affects the lives of LGBT persons in all walks of life, ranging from harassment in schools to discrimination in employment or health care. In some Member States, LGBT NGO premises have been vandalised or burnt down. Events such as Gay Pride marches have been banned or obstructed in some Member States. The report also notes that hate speech by public figures is a particularly worrying phenomenon, as it negatively affects public opinion, thus fuelling intolerance.

Morten Kjaerum: "We know that very few incidents are reported to the police or other public authorities. This means that crimes go unpunished, victims do not obtain justice, and authorities are not able to take the necessary action to respond to such crimes or prevent them from recurring. I call on the EU governments to improve the recording of hate crimes and to train their police accordingly. In addition, we need campaigns to inform everyone about diversity and non-discrimination, as making a complaint requires people to be legally aware."

At the same time, the Agency notes that in some countries there is encouraging evidence that efforts are being made to improve the situation. For example, a number of countries have introduced anonymous reporting mechanisms, where a complaint can be made either via the internet, or to independent bodies in which LGBT organisations are involved. In several Member States, Pride events were celebrated with the participation of government ministers and political parties. The EU's anti-discrimination rules have also started to have some positive effects. Yet, the legislative protection against discrimination still has gaps. While EU-wide legislation bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the context of employment, it does not yet cover sectors such as housing, education, or health services. In order to remedy this situation, the EU Commission proposed more comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in July 2008.

Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the FRA's Management Board, concluded: "Everyone in the EU must be able to live without fear and discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation. I call upon all EU governments to support the newly proposed EU anti-discrimination legislation."