Archive for the ‘odd’ Category

You won’t be able to shoot animals in Wyoming on the internet anymore

The bison of Wyomings flag originally faced the fly end; but animals on flags almost always face the hoist end, and the bison was turned

The bison of Wyoming's flag originally faced the fly end; but animals on flags almost always face the hoist end, and the bison was turned

The Wyoming Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would outlaw internet hunting in the Union’s least populous state.  First used in Texas, which has also since outlawed the practice, internet hunting allows people to shoot animals with a remote-controlled gun and a webcam. 

“It’s absolutely despicable to have a remote gun, unless we were able to send the gun to Iraq or something like that,” [Sen. Charles] Townsend said. “So lets vote it out of here right now.”

John Emmerich, deputy director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said after the Senate vote that the department supports the bill and opposes Internet hunting. He said 38 states have already passed bans.

Wyoming game rules make allowances for hunters who use wheelchairs as well as for blind hunters, Emmerich said.

However, Emmerich said, “Killing something on the Internet is not consistent with the whole concept of hunting and fair chase.”

According to Wikipedia, internet hunting has never been a viable industry.  There is some worry that the remote control guns may now just be relocated to other countries with looser laws on what you can shoot from thousands of miles away.

Obama takes oath of office… again

Due to some technical difficulties with the oath of office as given on Tuesday, Barack Obama had Chief Justice John Roberts administer the oath again Wednesday evening.

Due to an apparent misunderstanding of where Roberts would pause in the oath for Obama to repeat after him, Roberts flubbed part of the Constitutionally-stipulated oath, reversing the order of some words. As Article II of the U.S. Constitution says:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Here is the original oath:

The administration and legal scholars said this probably wasn’t necessary, but was done out of an over abundance of caution.

Craig, the White House lawyer, said in a statement Wednesday evening: “We believe the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday. Yet the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time.”

The Constitution is clear about the exact wording of the oath and as a result, some constitutional experts have said that a do-over probably wasn’t necessary but also couldn’t hurt. Two other previous presidents have repeated the oath because of similar issues, Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur.

Hopefully Justice Stephens, who delivered the significantly longer Vice Presidential oath to Joe Biden without incident, isn’t giving Roberts a hard time about all of this back at SCOTUS headquarters.

Factual error in Obama’s inaugural address

Well, Obama was president for all of maybe seven minutes* before he made his first mistake, a factual error.  It came in the second paragraph of his inaugural address:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

Of course, we do need to remain faithful to the ideals of our forbearers and to our founding documents; and of course the oath of office has been taken amidst many circumstances.  However, it has not been taken by 44 Americans, despite the fact that Obama is the 44th president.

This man's defeat in the 1888 presidential election screwed up Obama's inaugural address

This man's defeat in the 1888 presidential election screwed up Obama's inaugural address

This is because, including Obama, only 43 people have held the office.  Why?  Because Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States, having served two non-consecutive terms—the only person, thus far, to do so.  C’mon, Barack, don’t be hatin’ on one of your predecessors.

The fact that Cleveland takes up two ordinals has some other consequences.  For instance, there will be two $1 coins minted for him in the Presidential Dollar Coin program (presumably with somewhat different designs, unless the mint just wants to be cheap).

Incidentally, Cleveland was a good president, according to the assessments of most historians.  He issued 414 vetoes, more than all other presidents up to that point combined and more than any other two-term president (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served just over three terms, vetoed 635 bills); only two bills were passed over Cleveland’s veto.  Over 200 of those vetoed bills concerned Civil War pensions for individual people, many of whom never even served in the military (one would have given a government pension at taxpayer expense to a man who fell off his horse on his way to enlist and so never served).

One further anecdote concerning Grover Cleveland may be informative.  In 1902 there was a serious strike of coal miners who wanted better working conditions.  But this was a serious threat to the country, which used coal in most of its industry and to heat many private homes in the winter.  President Theodore Roosevelt put together a commission to get the facts of the situation and wrote the following to his predecessor on 11 October of that year:

In all the country there is no man whose name would add such weight to this enquiry as would yours.  I earnestly beg you to say that you will accept.  I am well aware of the great strain I put upon you by making such a request.  I would not make it if I did not feel that the calamity now impending over our people may have consequences which without exaggeration are to be called terrible.

Cleveland replied “You rightly appreciate my reluctance to assume any public service. … [However,] I feel so deeply the gravity of the situation, and I so fully sympathize with you in your efforts to remedy present sad conditions, that I believe it is my duty to undertake the service.”

Cleveland’s only substantial savings were invested in the anthracite industry, and due to possible conflicts of interest, he had to sell those assets, which he did at the then-deflated prices.  However, Roosevelt never subsequently called upon him to serve on the planned commission.  It was an unfair way to treat a good man—much moreso than simply forgetting that he’d served two non-consecutive terms.

* Note that, under the Constitution, Obama took office at noon, even though he didn’t take the oath until about 12:05.  Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution just says that “Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation…” [emphasis added]; he still holds the office prior to that point, according to legal scholars.

A stimulus package for… the porn industry?

There are news reports that Larry Flynt of Hustler and “Girld Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis are planning to ask Congress for a $5 billion federal stimulus package.   Apparently, adult DVD sales are down 22 percent over the past year, so maybe porn isn’t as recession-proof as some previously thought.

Anyway, like that’s really gonna happen.  A $5,000,000,000 bailout for pornographers, about a third as much as the auto industry was seeking?  I think the auto industry is more than three times as important to our overall economic well-being as the porn industry.  The pornography industry makes about $13 billion per anum and, as Flynt and Francis admit, is in no danger of collapsing any time soon.

I’m sure that Messrs. Flynt and Francis also know this and are simply making this request to get publicity.  Maybe sort of like the folks that tried to hit up Virgin Galactic to film a porno on one of their space ships.

Incidentally, Francis, of “Girls Gone Wild Fame,” is scheduled to be tried in federal court in a few months on tax evasion charges, according to the LA Times.

World’s oldest living person no longer living

The flag of Portugul, Maria de Jesus's home country

The flag of Portugul, Maria de Jesus's home country

The world’s oldest living person, Maria de Jesus dos Santos of Portugul, has passed on. She was born on 10 September 1893, making her 115 years 114 days old at her passing.  The cause of death has not been reported.

She only got to enjoy her title of World’s Oldest Person, bestowed on her by the Guinness Book of World Records, for 37 days; she inherited it from American Edna Parker, who died at the age of 115 years 220 days on 26 November 2008, and passes it to American Gertrude Baines, who is currently 114 years and 272 days old.  Ms. Baines, an African American woman, is reportedly in good health and living in a Los Angeles area nursing home.  However, the last 15 title holders lived only an average of 278 days after inheriting the title.  If Ms. Baines lives that long, she’d die on October 6th of this year.

But Jeanne Calment, who is the oldest verified person ever, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old (44,724 days), held the title for 2363 days.   While it is seems somewhat odd to wish Ms. Baines a long and prosperous life, (she’s already had one!) this blog certainly wishes her the best and hopes that her remaining days, however many they are, are healthy and fulfilling.

If you are interested in super centenarians, check out Wikipedia’s article on the World’s Oldest People.

2009 has been delayed

The 2009th year of the common era is going to be delayed and its predecessor is being extended.  For real.  But just by a second.

As reported by MSNBC, the extra second, which is required to keep the time in sync with the Earth’s rotation, was ordered by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (yes, that’s a real thing—here’s their website).  Said rotation can vary slightly due to various factors, like the planet’s liquid core sloshing around and the gravitational effects of other Solar System bodies.

Leap seconds are added periodically; the last was inserted into 2005.  Wikipedia has, unsurprisingly, more information on them.

FBI agents stole $7.8 million from taxpayers

The logo of a very corrupt organization that's run for itself, not for you

The logo of a very corrupt organization that's run for itself, not for you

MSNBC reports that FBI agents posted to Iraq received $7.8 million in overtime and pay that they weren’t entitled to, an average of $45,000 per employee between 2003–2007.  They claimed the pay for, inter alia, doing watching movies, exercising, and attending parties.

One employee defended the fact that he claimed pay for the time he spent doing laundry, “When you’re in that environment, anything you do to survive is work for the FBI.”  It must be nice to work for that agency when you can do immoral things and get away with it.  Just about all the agents posted to Iraq claimed 8 hours of overtime per day, every day, for the three months they were there.  There’a a term for that sort of behavior: stealing.

South Korean lawmakers get in fight, break out power tools

MSNBC reports that members of South Korea’s unicameral parliament have gotten into fisticuffs.  Again.

The chamber of the South Korean National Assembly looks like this when there is no fight going on

The chamber of the South Korean National Assembly looks like this when there is no fight going on

This time, the ruling party locked opposition members outside the committee room where the recently signed South Korea-U.S. trade pact will be introduced.  They feared that the opposition would try to oppose ratification of the pact.  Go figure.  Opposition members tried to batter down the door to the room, using a sledge hammer and eventually a power saw to break through—but to no avail, as the ruling party members had piled furniture up behind said door as an additional barricade.

The ruling Grand National Party controls 172 out of 299 seats in the National Assembly and so should be able to push the trade pact through.  The U.S. Congress has not yet approved the deal.

Fights are not at all uncommon among South Korean lawmakers—even on the floor of the National Assembly itself.  Sometimes they even throw chairs and microphones.  Here is a video of a fight that broke out last December:

People selling their bodies to make ends meet in bad economy

MSNBC has a story about people selling their bodies for money to make ends meet in the current economy:

Increasingly, industry officials say people are hoping to trade spare body fluids, tissues and other parts for payments that can range from $20 to $50 a pop for blood plasma to $60 to $100 for a shot of sperm, $200 for a shiny ponytail and up to $7,000 for a fertile egg.

At the Seattle Sperm Bank alone, donor applications have tripled from 50 to 150 a month during this financially precarious autumn, staff members said, while officials at egg donation agencies from Chicago to Houston estimate that calls are up at least 30 percent over last year.

Apparently, sperm donors can make $60 a pop ten times per month.  But according to one industry insider, only 9 out of 1000 applicants are finally approved (medical reasons and failing a background check are two possible pitfalls for would-be sperm donors).

If you clicked on this post thinking it was about prostitution, you need not be disappointed.  ABC News reports that Nevada’s brothels, which operate legally, are seeing a big increase in the number of women applying.  (In the video report one brothel owner said she had a 72-year old woman apply!)  While demand for prostitutes has remained steady, incomes are down as the customers have less money to spend.

I hope I’ll be excused for not including any images with this post, but Nevada’s flag is really lame.

Washing your hands may make you evil

Cleanliness may not be next to Godliness after all. Researchers have found that experimental subjects who had been primed with concepts related to cleanliness (e.g. pure, immaculate, pristine, et cetera) or who had just washed their hands were less likely to be troubled by questionable behavior, which they rated on a scale of 0 (perfectly okay) to 9 (very wrong).  The Economist has the story.

The researchers report that those who were given the “clean” words or who washed themselves rated the acts they were asked to consider as ethically more acceptable than the control groups did. Among the volunteers who unscrambled the sentences, those exposed to ideas of cleanliness rated eating the family dog at 5.7, on average, on the wrongness scale whereas the control group rated it as 6.6. Their score for using a kitten in sexual play was 6.7; the control group individuals gave it 8.3. Similar results arose from the handwashing experiment.

Dr. Simone Schnall conducted the research, which is published in Psychological Science.  The Economist reports that her hypothesis is that “feeling morally unclean (i.e. disgusted) leads to feelings of moral wrongness and thus triggers increased ethical behaviour by instilling a desire to right the wrong.”  The article concludes by saying:

Physical purification, in other words, produces a more relaxed attitude to morality. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Pontius Pilate is portrayed in the Bible as washing his hands of the decision to crucify Jesus. Something to think about for those who feel that purification rituals bring them closer to God.

Anyway, if you want to manipulate someone into doing something wrong, get them to wash up before making your proposal.