Americans don't elect Senators to the Presidency (Letter to the Editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

On a topic I've covered before: Letter to the Editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Regarding Hillary Clinton and the race for the White House ["If Clinton runs in '08, can she win?", April 9]: no, Clinton can't win.

The reason has nothing to do with her being a woman, or her position on the issues, or her relation to Bill Clinton.

Americans simply don't elect Senators to the Presidency.

Happy Yuri's Night!

April 12th is the 45th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight. In 1961 he made a single orbit in a flight lasting 108 minutes, becoming the first human being in space.

I'm celebrating with a beer at a bar in Fell's Point, but all over the world more organized celebrations are taking place. (Even on Antarctica!)

Looking up at the full moon in the clear spring sky, I think of how at liftoff, Yuri shouted, "Poyekhali!" - "Let's go!" Here's hoping we, as a species, do.

Karate news

Hello friends! As many of you know, for the past few months I've been training to test for my fourth degree black belt in karate.

I'm happy to say that last weekend, in an all-night test at the headquarters of the World Seido Karate Organization in New York, I completed that process and was promoted to yondan.

I want to thank all of you for your support over the years. Sometimes it all connects up in unexpected ways...a lesson on poetry pays off on the dojo floor; or some simple remark by a friend gives you the confidence you need to stick with it.

So thanks. (And I might actually have some free time now to get out and see some of you I haven't seen in a while! :-) )

-Tom
(now, "Sensei Tom" to his students :-) )

"You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

A beautiful political moment: March 1st in Annapolis, a hearing on a proposed constitutional ban on equal protection for gay and lesbian couples was taking place. Professor Jamie Raskin, from the law school of American University, testified againt this piece of crap.

Apparenly right-wing dingbat Senator Nancy Jacobs stood up and shouted: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?" To which Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

Coffee: Heart trouble for some, pick-me-up for others

AP reports on a study showing that some people may have a genetic trait that makes them "slow caffeine metabolizers", which for them makes coffee consumption increase the risk of heart attack.

This genetic variation may explain why there have been such mixed results in studies about caffeine and heart disease.

British bars selling sex toys - in vending machines

Love that European sensibility about sex: bars and nightclubs in London and other British cities have begun selling sex toys such as mini-vibrators out of vending machines.

The company has also has exported about 20 of the machines to Italy and about 10 to the United States - that should be interesting, given our sexual politics these days...

"Constraint therapy" for stroke victims may help them regain function

This AP story concerns a fascinating therapy for stroke victims who lost partial use of one arm.

Their strong arm was restrained during two weeks of intensive therapy, forcing them to use the weakened one, and to "rewire" the brain. Most people saw significant improvement.

As the cliche goes, use it or lose it!

Grand jury decries 'arrests without merit'

The Baltimore Sun reports that a grand jury convened to "address the lack of confidence that exists between many members of the public and law enforcement", has decried a tremendous number of arrests made by city police without merit.

Just within the African-American population, over 21,000 arrests without charges being filed were made between April 2004 and April 2005.

The grand jury also handed down indictments of three cops: one accused of raping a woman brought to the station house in handcuffs, the other two accused of doing nothing to stop it.

Cops gone wild. Welcome to the police state, brought to you by the War on (Some) Drugs.

Democratic party delenda est

So Russ Feingold has introduced a modest resolution to censure Bush for his egregious violation of the Bill of Rights in the form of domestic spying. Not to impeach, not to criminally prosecute, not to publicly horsewhip and tar and feather, but merely to censure, to say "naughty boy!"

And not a single other Democratic senator has stepped forward to co-sponsor it, and only one has said he'll vote for it if it comes up. Everyone else is hemming and hawing as if Feingold's proposal for the Senate to actually do its goddamn job and act as a check on presidential power was more of a challenge to them than, say, authorizing Bush to go kill 100,000 people in an illegal, immoral, and stupid war.

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