The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

It's all over now

Not my MBA, which finishes in 73 days. At least we're done with classes; all that remains are my distance classes and three projects.

No, more interesting than that is how World War I finally ends on Sunday:

The final payment of £59.5 million writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war.

This, one must admit, is a head-scratcher. Good thing no one held a grudge after 1919, else we'd have had real problems.

Maybe it wasn't a hoax after all

A classmate sent me what turned out to be a hoax story claiming an activity that I will describe simply as a fun activity shared between a man and one other person can actually prevent breast cancer. Sadly, it can't, but apparently a component can do lots of other good things:

[Psychologists Gordon] Gallup and [Rebecca] Burch reasoned that certain chemicals in human semen, through vaginal absorption, affect female biology in such a way that women who have condomless sex literally start to smell different from those women who do not—or at least, their bodies emit the pheromones that “entrain” menstrual cycles among cohabitating women. (Their hunch was indeed borne out by reviewing the existing literature on menstrual synchrony.) But this happenstance discovery of asynchronous lesbians was just the tip of the semen iceberg for Gallup and Burch, who quickly discovered that, although much was known among biologists about basic semen chemistry, virtually nothing was known about precisely how these chemicals might influence female biology, behavior and psychology.

... In fact, semen has a very complicated chemical profile, containing over 50 different compounds (including hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins and immunosupressants) each with a special function and occurring in different concentrations within the seminal plasma. Perhaps the most striking of these compounds is the bundle of mood-enhancing chemicals in semen. There is good in this goo. Such anxiolytic chemicals include, but are by no means limited to, cortisol (known to increase affection), estrone (which elevates mood), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (also elevates mood), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (another antidepressant), melatonin (a sleep-inducing agent) and even serotonin (perhaps the most well-known antidepressant neurotransmitter).

It's always fascinating to me the sorts of things that pop up in random reading.

Durham residency, day 2

Yeah, it's just not as exciting as previous residencies, but it's seriously more work.

Fortunately, I still have time to read gems like this:

Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center may be charged $200,000 by the city of Gainesville, Florida, for security costs incurred by the canceled Koran-burning originally planned for September 11.

Jones' announcement of "International Burn-A-Koran" day resulted in some violent protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and threats against Americans. In response, Gainesville upped its security. According to The Associated Press: "Police Maj. Rick Hanna said more than 200 officers were on duty last weekend patrolling the church, the University of Florida football game and "soft targets" like the mall. Another 160 sheriff's deputies were also working because of the planned protest at Dove World Outreach Center."

Though Jones didn't go through with the protest, city officials say they want Jones to foot the bill for the security anyway.

To the tune of "Personality," everyone sing: "'Cause he de do do..."

Speaking of economics, here's a brief lesson for people who want the millionaire tax cut to continue:

Not true, but funny

From Dan Savage the week before last:

Is everyone in the Republican Party a closeted homosexual?

—Ken Mehlman's Out Now

Everyone except Ken Mehlman and Ben Quayle.

Of course, this simply isn't true. Other Republican leaders have come out as well.

Gay kaken am meer

Apparently a former Hitler Youth called me a Nazi today:

The pontiff praised Britain's fight against the Nazis - who "wished to eradicate God" - before relating it to modern day "atheist extremism".

Afterwards his spokesman Federico Lombardi said: "I think the Pope knows rather well what the Nazi ideology is".

Yes, Ratzinger should know what the Nazi ideology is, but I'm afraid we athiests are rather unlike him. In the same speech he also said, "I also recall the regime's attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives," forgetting, I suppose, how these pastors were resisting the organization he himself wanted to join and how the organization he himself now leads turned Jews over to the Nazis throughout the war.

Really, is there any reason to continue treating this man with the deference and respect we show actual world leaders?

Follow-up on pipe bomb

I regret my headline from Tuesday. Apparently, the man committed suicide:

The young man who died in a pipe bomb explosion Tuesday in Evanston committed suicide after a nearly lifelong fight with depression, his family said Wednesday.

"We are devastated that our beloved son, Colin Dalebroux, lost his 15-year battle with depression," the family said in a statement from their home in Madison, Wis. "We know that Colin committed suicide."

It's one thing if he had died trying to hurt other people; quite a different thing if, as is the case, he took his own life.

Ach, he's nae welcome here

Sullivan asks, "What if the Pope came to Britain and not even the Catholics showed up?"

ONLY 65,000 Catholics are now expected to take part in the papal mass in Scotland tomorrow – one third fewer than originally expected and a mere fraction of the total number in the country.

The figure falls far short of the 100,000 pilgrims it was originally hoped would flock to see Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

The Catholic Church denied that the controversy over the Pope's handling of the Church's child abuse scandal has undermined his imminent arrival.

But critics of the visit claimed the figures revealed the extent of indifference towards the first visit by a Pope to Scotland for 28 years.

The Catholic Church says more than 250,000 attended the mass in Bellahouston Park when Pope John Paul II visited in 1982.

I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles away from Ratzinger.

Darwin award nominee?

This caught my eye this morning only because it occurred directly across the street from where I lived during most of 2007. Parker used to chase tennis balls in the tennis courts right near the scene:

A man walking his dog this morning near an Evanston middle school discovered a decapitated body, perhaps the result of a pipe bomb explosion, and some hours later police destroyed what they suspected was an explosive device in the vicinity.

He said his dog led him to the body of a shirtless man whose head was missing and whose legs were folded behind him. A shopping bag lay nearby, and there was a strong odor of what he thought was gunpowder.

The body was near tennis courts, between a fence and a pine tree, he said.

On returning home, he said neighbors told him they had heard a loud explosion between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. He said police told him they had come out earlier to investigate the sound of the explosion but were unable to find anything at that time.