2006/12/31

Thoughts On Leaving

The Value of Monasticism

If you ever doubt the wisdom of divesting yourself of possessions, spend 5 days in your parent's house trying to figure out what to with all the junk. Garages full of junk, spare bedrooms full of junk, basements full of junk--well, nobody in far West Texas has basements, but you get the point. Papa Kvatch has one whole room filled with boxes containing every paperback he's read in the last 4 decades. And his reason for keeping these packages of concentrated allergens? "I might want to read them again someday." Right Dad. Whatever you've got to tell yourself.

Oh sure...it may not be your problem to deal with now, but it will be, and I'm pretty sure that aside from finding the rare family treasure, nobody likes having to deal with a house full of junk after the death of a parent. So I'm here to tell you, whittle your life down now. While you still have time, decide what's really important, preserve it and get rid of the rest. I'm not saying be a monk...exactly...but definitely learn to live with less. You'll be happier, and your children will be way happier.

2006/12/30

Bush Waxes Nonsensical On Saddam's Demise

Not 12 hours after Saddam Hussein's death by hanging, the Kowboy Koward opened his pie-hole to utter a statement so difficult to parse it bordered on the nonsensical -
Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial -- the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.
Setting aside that no one has any real misgivings about the dictator's guilt, are we saying that a trial fraught with government interference, where the original presiding judge resigned in disgust, where his replacement had an ax to grind, where 3 of the man's attorneys were murdered--effectively a kangaroo court with a predetermined outcome--is the kind of justice that Saddam's victims should have received?

Trials are for people accused of crimes. Saddam's victims needed no trial, fair or otherwise, because they had done nothing wrong, and if they were ground under by that brutal regime we should consider the decade we spent building Saddam up...before we decided to take him down.

So as we break our hands patting ourselves on the back and bestowing faint praise on the Iraqi people, we should remember that we are culpable in making Saddam what he was. This dictator's death isn't an affirmation. It's not justice. It's the grisly exclamation point on our Middle East bungling.

2006/12/28

Let It Snow


Snow this morning on the mountains to the east.
(Exceedingly rare.)

Rain for an hour at my parents place at 5000 ft.
(Unheard of!)

Global climate change?

2006/12/27

Thoughts While At Home

50 Years of Marriage

Mama and Papa Kvatch will be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary tomorrow night, and I must admit I have a hard time wrapping my head around 50 years of marriage. But...as I contemplate their's, I can see parallels to my own.

For instance, I know that my parents married early but had kids late (at least for their generation). They had careers and didn't feel secure about having kids until they were in their 30's. The Frogette and I had a similar experience, but by the time we felt secure enough to contemplate children, our moment had passed. My parents courtship, from first date to marriage lasted 4 months. The Frogette and I dated for only 3 months before getting engaged, and we were married 8 months later. When it's right you just know.

I'm not sure how my parents made it through 50 years, but I do know one thing...their relationship improved a lot once my brother and I were out of the house. We (especially me) were disruptive and manipulative, and I think that if they had it to do over again, they might have decided not to have children.

I often wonder if I'm living the life that my parents might have wished for each other?

Frontier Saves The Day

The end of our travel saga is this: Frontier takes our second United "rebooking" and gets us to West Texas with no further delays--fast, efficient, courteous, and unfazed.

2006/12/25

Deceit By United Or Fraud By American

So after 20 months of blogging, I finally have a post with the immediacy for which weblogs were created... We're stuck in Denver. Not because of weather or even the supposed mechanical failure that scuttled our connection. Nope we're stuck because United and American f*cked around, passed the buck so many times that by day's end there was no way to make it to our destination. Here's how it went down:

9:00a - Arrive in Denver to find our connection's been cancelled. The first United agent we speak with claims mechanical trouble. We learn later that 3 or 4 United Express crews just didn't show up for work.

10:00a - United agent 2, a polite gent named Phil, offers us some alternatives (but no non-stops) for the same day. We finally accept "rebooking" on American.

11:00a - American agent 1, from whom we try to get seat assignments, refuses because we're 2 hours too early but also lets us know that every American flights from Denver to Dallas is booked full, and if we try to get seats they're going to simply refuse. She also claims that our "tickets" are not valid.

12:15p - Back at United Customer Service to ask, "What the f*ck!?" Phil informs us that, "...no, the tickets really are legit because American released 14 seats to him, and we got two." Though, he doesn't bother to check back with American.

1:45p - American follows through on their threat. An arrogant little ass named Rick informs us that 1) The flight is full 2) United never asked for the seats and American never released them 3) Even if United had, he would seat his stand-by passengers first despite the "tickets" in our hands.

At this point we had to head back to United, wait 2 more hours, and find that there are no other Untied flights to our destination before Wednesday (that's a delay of 48 hours). So we're booked on airline number 3, Frontier, tomorrow at 8:00a. I'm not hopeful. But here's the thing... During the course of the day either United was willfully deceitful in order to foist a problem of their own making off on another airline, or...American committed fraud. "How?" you may ask. Well, once our rebooked tickets were issued, our reservation belonged to American. It was in their system. Effectively money changed hands between the two airlines. For them to deny us a boarding-pass...at that point...is fraud, plain and simple.

Pick your poison, but this is why the two biggest airlines in the nation deserve to go the way of the dodo. You pay your money, and you takes yer chances with no guarantee that they'll even get you to your destination. United is already in receivership, let's hope American follows.

Won't You Guide My Sleigh Tonight?


The Frogette and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

(Now go give Libby of The Impolitic a ribbing. This was her idea.)

2006/12/24

Thoughts On Returning Home

The End of the Line

Tomorrow, the Frogette and I head to West Texas for the holidays (something we don't do very often) and to throw a party for my parent's 50th anniversary. More about that later...

In 1978 both sides of my family--a very widely dispersed bunch--got together for a rare reunion--parents, children, grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, even great-aunts and great-uncles--and all 18 of us where there. Next week we'll be together again for the first time in almost 30 years, and there will be 15.

I was always told that families are supposed to grow with time, and it would disingenuous of me to claim that I don't understand what's going on, but I do. My generation, with the exception of two of the first cousins, has had no children. Oddly enough my hobby is genealogy, and so I'm in a position to see how our family has shrunk over time. Is is sad? Maybe. The Frogette and I don't regret the decision we made, but sometimes I ponder the irony of being the chronicler of the end or our line.

2006/12/23

An Anti-choice Zealot Bungles His Last Crusade

Phil Kline, the recently defeated Kansas Attorney General and anti-choice zealot, got the medical records he needed to continue a two-year witch hunt against Dr. George Tiller, Kansas' only provider of late-term abortions. Mr. Kline filed charges, 30 in all, a last attempt to shut Dr. Tiller down before Kline leaves office in 3 weeks, but he made a mistake.

You see Kansas' law does not allow the AG to file charges without consultation and the consent of the district attorney of the jurisdiction in question--Wichita in this case--and D.A. Nola Foulston didn't appreciate the end run. So what did she do? She filed a brief with the court requesting that all of Kline's charges be dropped, and on Friday they were.

Kline of course is furious (perhaps for being such a dumbass). Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, is furious (perhaps for having incompetent twit, who couldn't even manage to get reelected, for an Attorney General). But one of only three clinics in the nation that can perform abortions for women who find their lives threatened late in their pregnancies stays open, and those women win.

2006/12/22

Global Orgasm Day and The Three Criteria

To have a life that's filled with glee
Ladies use these guidelines three:
  1. Find a man who cooks.
  2. Find a man who can fold a fitted sheet.
  3. Find a man who l-urmph-s mrmph-y like a world champion!
Michael of Silly Humans reminds us that it's Global Orgasm Day. So grab that perfect person (see the three criteria :-)) and put some positive energy into the universe. And if any of you guys out there have three criteria for finding the perfect woman (man), I'd love to hear 'em.

13-point Bush

13-point BushControversy erupted Thursday when The Drudge Report published a claim that the picture at the left was deliberately taken or manipulated by the A.P. to portray President Bush in an 'evil' light.

Frankly, we here at Blognonymous can't see it, but it might be a good idea for Mr. Bush to avoid Vice President Cheney for a few days.

2006/12/20

Christmas Cheer...By The Quart

After discovering that Metallica has been turned into lullabies for your children, it seems to me that we could all use some good ol', adult oriented, Christmas cheer. And a group of scientists at the Catholic University of Campobasso are ready to deliver the glad tidings.

You probably know that moderate alcohol consumption is good for one's health, but what constitutes 'moderate'? Well our learned Italian researchers demonstrate in a new report that up to 4 drinks per day for men and 2 for women can reduce your chances of death from all causes by 18%. Wait...say that again! 4 drinks per day? Moderazione Italiano!

My holidays are about to become joyous indeed!

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide - Part 5

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse.
The children were all
Fast asleep in their beds
Cause Rockabye Baby
Played next to their heads.
Radiohead
and Nirvana too
Metallica, Pink Floyd,
Ramones and U2.
It's hard to believe
That sales are so bad
The bands I quite like
Would pimp for this fad.
Cause the absolute
Horror of lullaby rock...
It's one step below
Easy listening schlock.

Part 4 <<  Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide

2006/12/19

"We've been tagged! May we burn the tagger?"

In this installment of 'The Book Meme', the Station Agent learns the value of not tagging someone at 10:45 AM PST, leaving the tag'ee to choose the closest book in his home office...

The Rules -
    * Find the nearest book
    * Name the book
    * The author
    * Turn to page 123
    * Go to the fifth sentence on the page
    * Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
    * Tag three more folks.
The Book -
    Java Cryptography by Jonathan Knudsen
The Excerpt -
    Other Padding Schemes

    ...This implies that somewhere in the padding, there is some data that describes the length of the padding. In PKCS#5, for example, the padding length is distributed throughout the padding data.

    Modes

    The 'mode' of a cipher determines how blocks of plaintext are encrypted into blocks of ciphertext and vice versa.
So how do you like them apples, Station Agent?

For my tag...Tom Hilton, the Anon-Paranoid, and KnightErrant get the nod.

Kvatch Konsiders - A Permanent Democratic Majority

On the subject on sending another 15,000 to 30,000 troops to Iraq--the 'surge' that will rescue...what?...order from a jaws of debacle--outstanding posts have been written by bloggers like the Copy Editor and the Reality-based Educator, and I'd be hard pressed to add anything substantive. But I do want to make one observation:

President Bush's poll numbers continue to drop like one of Cheney's hunting partners--another 3 to 6 points since the mid-terms--due mostly to his stubborn refusal to accommodate the wishes of 7 in 10 Americans. If he does send the troops, won't it be his party that reaps the sh*tstorm? In other words, Bush holds the 2008 election in his hands. He can appear generous and accommodating by listening to all sides and then planning the withdrawal of our troops. (Whether he does it or not is irrelevant). Or he can dig in and commit to another disastrous deployment, thus paving the way for a permanent democratic majority.

He can't be that stupid. Can he?

Blognonymous Says Happy Holidaze!

Bush DancesJust a little holiday cheer from Blognonymous.

Click the picture or this link and hope it still works. I'm sure I'm violating some policy or another on this site.

(And then go thank Mags at You Forgot Poland!)

2006/12/18

Most Encouraging News Story of the Day

The GOP stalwarts raising the mega-bucks necessary for the Halliburton/Bush Presidential Library have done the equivalent of calling for volunteers.

WE GOT $500 MILLION HERE. ANYONE INTERESTED IN OUR MONEY STEP FORWARD!!!

Southern Methodist just took a big step backwards. Baylor is holding their ground, and I'll bet UT Dallas is getting itchy to retreat. My money's on the Baylor, hometown U of Wacko, Texas.

Gracie @ SamGail has got the complete story. Check it out.

When Newt Becomes President...

Limitations on free speech are enacted for the good of the nation.
Bill O'Reilly is arrested and jailed as America's formost advocate of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Would Newt Gingrich have the courage of his convictions? I doubt it.

Thanks to Russ and the Station Agent @ Ice Station Tango for inspiring this post.

2006/12/17

The Pursuit of Happyness

I originally had another post in mind for this evening, but after seeing The Pursuit of Happyness earlier today, I think I need to blog about it. You see this movie is supposed to leave one feeling hopeful. After all Chris Gardner, the movie's subject and a self-made man who rose from poverty to become a millionaire stock-broker, is an inspiration. But I didn't leave the theater feeling inspired. I left feeling angry, and I've been getting progressively angrier ever since.

So what is it that's got me pissed? The realization that stories like Gardner's are extraordinarily rare and getting more rare every year. The game of getting ahead by one's own efforts is rigged. For every 1000 would-be Gardners, 999 fail to go anywhere. In fact, income inequality and class rigidity have become so profound that the American dream of having one's children do "better" than oneself is just that...a dream.

Jobs that once supported a vibrant middle-class are disappearing in favor of low-wage, low-skill, no benefit service sector positions that cement one's status as a member of the working poor. On the other end, high-skill, high-pay, financial sector positions--that pay out an ever increasing percentage of American wealth--are closed to most people.

So stories like Chris Gardner's are as rare as that of the basketball player from the streets who eventually makes it to the NBA, and I see nothing in that to feel hopeful about.

Komandante's Kristmas Kampaign

While the rest of the Kommanders in the War on War (WoW!) have been no more active than a Bu$hCo Defense Secretary, Comandante Agi has been stirring things up in Orange County.

Click over to This Blog Will Self-destruct for his most recent campaign...

"No beta for you!"

Spoke too soon. There will be no beta for Blognonymous. The frog has not been invited. Is Blognonymous too big? Kvatch's template...too complex? Who knows.

2006/12/16

New Blogger vs. Blogger Classic

Blogger ClassicWhat is New Blogger? Is it just a cynical attempt to introduce Google into the famous Blogger recipe without changing the taste? Will we complain so bitterly that they'll be forced to resurrect Blogger Classic, lest we reject them and move to Typepad. Or perhaps this is just a power grab, a play for greater market share and shelf space. Who knows? But tonight Blognonymous will find out.

Pray for the frog. Pray for this blog. Indeed...pray for us all.

2006/12/15

Unsung Musical Treasures

The best thing about collecting a lot of music is the rare gems, bands and albums, that you find, learn to love, and then find again years later. Here are some gems I've recently rediscovered:

ZZ Top - Antenna

High production values and gobs of money marked ZZ Top's descent from edgy blues-rock combo to irrelevance, but 1994's Antenna broke that slide because it was so reminiscent of Tres Hombres. "Fuzzbox Voodoo" is, quite frankly, one of the ZZ Top's best.

Cocteau Twins - Milk & Kisses

The swan-song for an eclectic band that specialized in using the human voice as an instrument. If you were into ambient, you couldn't get away from Cocteau Twins for the better part of a decade, but in 1993 everybody thought that this band had nothing left. They were wrong.

Poi Dog Pondering - Pomegranate

The best of a series of unloved albums from a band that almost never charted. This CD is packed with great material, but track 9, "God's Gallipoli" is probably the catchiest, most poignant song about the end of life ever recorded.

The Silencers - A Letter From St. Paul

No finer band has toiled in obscurity longer than The Silencers. I first heard them in 1986 when their debut album was released. It was a time. I was fresh out of school, at my first job, had a lot of arty friends, and thought... What the hell does a quartet from Scotland know about the Twin Cities? I've followed 'em ever since.

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide - Part 4

Wherein we highlight what you give to your nieces and nephews when you're... The Weird Aunt and Uncle.

SpongeBob SquarePants iPod SpeakerMany Blognonymous readers probably already know that the Frogette and I have no little tadpoles. This isn't a bad thing. It was a choice we made after drifting well into our thirties without getting on the kid bandwagon, and over the years we've taken tons of cr*p for that decision. But that is for another post.

Today we're going to talk about being The Weird Aunt and Uncle. You know this pair. Every family has a set. They're the ones who made all the "wrong" life choices--the childless ones who show up at family functions like special guest stars. They give out too many presents, presents that are just a bit too expensive, and that, for the kids at least, almost always make noise.

And what is the this season's perfect from that oddball couple? The SpongeBob SquarePants iPod Speaker System! Yes indeed, this is the gift that the Frogette and I were born to give. Loud (in more ways than one), hip, happening. In short, something that will further endear us to our brothers and sisters!

HT to Fred @ MCCS1977. I could never have imagined that this gem even existed!

Part 3 <<  Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide  >> Part 5

2006/12/14

The Currency, The Blind, and The Dullards At Treasury

What kind of dullards occupy the Treasury Department? The kind that can't see past the cost of helping this nation's blind deal with our 'one-size-fits-all' currency. The kind that can't produce a solution more imaginative than differing bill sizes. In fact, Treasury's only response was to file suit to stop a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling calling for changes to the currency under the Rehabilitation act.

But let's not cast aspersions here. Let's look at what Treasury Department officials and Bush administration lawyers said in their filing (as quoted in Salon) -
...government lawyers argued that varying the size of denominations could cause significant burdens on the vending machine industry and cost the Bureau of Engraving and Printing an initial investment of $178 million and $37 million to $50 million in new printing plates.
What a bunch of nonsense! First, bill sizes only have an effect on the vending machine industry if you change the height. Change a bill's length and vending machines are happy, happy as long as they can still read the proper markers. So that leaves us with the Treasury's disingenuous argument about printing plates.

So unimaginative apparachicks how about:
    Diagonally lopping off the corners of the bills?
By trimming the corners by 0's, 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's and in patterns (opposing 2 corners versus adjacent corners) you generate 7 unique patterns, and that would cover all the bills from the $1 through the $500. Vending machines still take the bills because the 'footprint' hasn't changed, and Treasury doesn't have to lift a finger to adjust the plates.

So simple. So easy--when you're not invested in squashing any proposal, that is.

2006/12/13

The Battle To Hack Sequoia Voting Systems

As usual Brad Blog has the story. Harri Hursti, the Finnish computer security expert who hacked Diebold's optical-scan and touch-screen voting machines has accepted the challenge--and presumably the 1000 to 1 odds--layed down by Riverside County Supervisor, Jeff Stone.

Let's review again how Mr. Stone inserted his big fat foot into his mouth:
I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...we should bring the media in...
Right you are Supervisor Stone. Diebold's been getting all the attention, but democracy demands that we put all these infernal machines through the wringer, and Hursti is just the man to try. So Jeff, with VelvetRevolution.us sponsoring $1000 toward Mr. Hursti's attempt, you gonna put your money where your mouth is? You gonna risk a cool million? It's a small price to pay, right?

Kvatch Konsiders - Gilead Here We Come

Just thinking out loud here... Isn't mass infiltration of the military by evangelical Christians exactly what leads to the establishment of Gilead in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale?

It's been a while, but truth is starting to look an awful lot like fiction. Now where did I put that RFID-enabled passport?

2006/12/12

Kvatch Konsiders - Our Commitment To Secular Humanism

It's a simple question really. Why would you start a 'War on Christmas' and then surrender on the first day?

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide - Part 3

[The following is an advertisement that I wish like hell I was getting paid for.]

Friends, do you worry that there are no gifts out there that give your child a positive Christian message? Are you concerned about the pointless violence in video games? Are you afraid that, when the end times come, your child won't know what to do?

Well ease your fears and give your child a game they'll love. Left Behind: Eternal Forces is the FPP ("First Person Proselytizer") that teaches your child to either convert the unbelievers...OR SHOOT THEM. Yes, your child will learn what's required of them at the end of days, and you can rest easy knowing that they're not playing a game with the morals of "Leisure Suit Larry".

(Left Behind: Eternal Forces, for PCs running Windoze XP because Mac users are liberal devil worshippers.)

Part 2 <<  Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide  >> Part 4

2006/12/11

A Whole New Career For Mariah?

Tip o' the hat to the Fashiongirl who gives us the seedy details of Mariah Carey's attempt to stop the pornstar Mary Carey from trademarking her name.

Though I have to say...considering that Mariah is largely washed up as a singer, porn could open some breathtaking new horizons. I mean really, look at that picture will ya!

Hooray For The People's Republic...

...since they seem to love Blognonymous. Or maybe not. For at least a week I've been picking up tons of traffic from China Netcom--hundreds of page hits, sessions that last hours.

Is it a crawler? An attack? Is the 'Great Firewall of China' deciding which posts pass and which don't. Or perhaps this is preparation for my being captured and spirited off to the Middle Kingdom? (Can you tell that I just watched the end of 24's 5th season last night? :-) ).

Oh well...until I get taken on that slow boat to China, any traffic is good traffic. Right?

(Check our my SiteMeter, it's probably happening right now!)

Incarceration Nation Part II

In my last post I argued that Constitution-busting privacy invasions are the product of a government that doesn't trust it's citizens, assuming that they are either 'terrorists in waiting' or in sympathy with the so-called enemies of the state. But really, government paranoia and fear of one's fellow citizen are amply demonstrated by this country's unhinged penchant for locking up it's own people.

No contemporary nation--not Russia, or China, North Korea or Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or South Africa--incarcerates it's citizens with the zeal that we do. We don't just have higher per capita incarceration (at 737 prisoners per 100,000), we have a higher absolute incarceration rate! 2.2 million people are behind bars here. The country with the next highest number of prisoners, China with 4 times our population, locks up 1.5 million.

And if those stats don't make you queasy, try these on for size: One in four prisoners, world-wide, are locked up in the US. Where other Western industrialized democracies incarcerate 1 person per 100,000, we incarcerate 7. We put people away for longer and for more offenses than any other nation. Indeed, with our mandatory minimums, our three-strikes laws, jail time for practically every offense under the sun, we don't look peaceful and prosperous. We look puritanical and paranoid.

The war on terror is nothing new. That war is just an extension, an outward facing expression, of the deep distrust that fuels our government's war on us.

Part 1 <<  Incarceration Nation  >> Part 3

2006/12/09

A Federal War of Attrition

ATS, the newest government assault on the 4th Amendment, is just another in a long series of sweeping programs designed to give the federal government a thorough picture of citizen activities. Total Information Awareness, Basic Pilot, Secure Flight, and all of the others have at their core one central idea: That Americans are no more trustworthy than foreign criminals; that they are an enemy to be controlled through comprehensive profiling; that the only way to ensure the nation's safety is to limit freedom of speech, freedom to work, and freedom to travel.

There's no question that many of these programs are illegal and, one way or another, will be consigned to the dustbin of history, but with a new assault exposed every six months, it looks like the Bush Administration is engaged in a war of attrition against the American people. If only two of these programs (any two, pick your favorites) manage to make it past the gauntlet of the media, the courts, and Congress then Bu$hCo wins...and we loose.

So here's my, admittedly non-comprehensive, list of programs and their fates:

Total Information Awareness - The DARPA funded granddaddy of information driven assaults. Exposed in 2002, it was killed in 2003 by having its funding withdrawn, but many now classified children of TIA live on under the code name 'Topsail'.

Basic Pilot - An effort by DHS and INS to link social-security databases with federal law-enforcement and immigration data for the purpose of validating employment eligibility and discovering illegal aliens. Basic Pilot was a central to the debate over the (C)omprehensive (I)mmigration (R)eform (A)ct of 2006 and is still in use.

Secure Flight - TSA's attempt to check every single airline passenger against terrorist watch lists. The program was suspended early in 2006 for failing to demonstrate that it's systems could not be misused or hacked from the outside.

CoCD Proposal - An attempt by the CDC, under the guise of dealing with pandemics, to do exactly what the ATS does--gather an unprecedented amount of information on every single airline passenger coming into the United States. This program received an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny when a secret 'memorandum of understanding' regarding data sharing between HHS and DHS was revealed.

Terrorist Surveillance Program - Or... The biggest mass privacy violation in this nation's history--an unprecedented attempt to circumvent the 4th Amendment. ACLU v. NSA resulted in a ruling (stayed and currently on appeal in the 6th Circuit) that the program is unconstitutional. Hepting v. AT&T, the EFF's class-action lawsuit against the telco for assisting NSA with the TSP program is going forward after dismissal motions by AT&T and by the government were rejected at the district court level.

Automated Targeting System - And then there's ATS the 'terror score' database that will do for domestic passengers what CoCD tries do for international passengers while automating checks in a way that surpasses Secure Flight. Only now we find out that ATS is probably illegal as well, since it seems to violate congressional funding prohibitions.

So there you have it... 6 egregious programs, of which, three are still active and one is under study. And this isn't even an exhaustive list. What new assault will we face next month?

2006/12/07

Kvatch Kvetches - It's All About Elections Stupid!

In this segment the GOP asks itself the burning question: If we enfranchise them, will we ever win again?

While the MSM was focused on the Iraq Study Group, a whole different federal advisory panel was busy rejecting a recommendation that states should only use voting machines whose results could be independently verified. Too burdensome for state elections boards, according to some of the members.

Guess restoring the public's confidence in elections is less important than inconveniencing the states.

***

Republican congressional leaders decided yesterday not to bring to the floor a bill giving the District a full voting member of the House...

Yes indeed. We certainly wouldn't want those uppity D.C. residents getting a say in whether or not we continue to treat the District like a Congressional fiefdom.

***

Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down the gauntlet to Election Integrity advocates... offering to bet them "a thousand to one" they can't hack into the county's electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Now there's a bet worth taking. Especially when you consider that the machines have already been hacked...numerous times. Where's my bookie?

We All Yearn For The 1950's

Sorry folks, but the blog muse seems to have abandoned me this morning.

So while I await inspiration, here's a quote from the New Republic's Brink Lindsey (reprinted by Sebastian Mallaby at WaPo) that, at least for me, really exemplifies the difference between Democrats and Republicans:
    Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s while Democrats want to work there.

2006/12/06

The Iraq Study Group Lays An Egg

Conditions in Iraq are "grave and deteriorating," with the prospect that a "slide toward chaos" could topple the U.S.-backed government and trigger a regional war...

- Iraq Study Group Assessment (reprinted in the Washington Post)
Dear God please tell me that we didn't pay money for this load of tripe!
If current trends continue, the potential consequences are severe.

- James Baker and Lee Hamilton, Letter From the Group's Co-chairs
Oh...do ya think?!

I could have convened a panel of bums off the street and obtained more insight into the situation in Iraq. I hope these high paid schmucks were give nothing better than Chex Mix and tap water while they labored to produce what appears to be...NOTHING!

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide - Part 2

Who needs more junk? As we get older the holidays become an exercise in how to accumulate more things we don't need. So the Frogette and I came up with a gift-giving rule for ourselves and our families: If we can't eat it, drink it, spend it, or attend it we don't want it.

And nothing says "Merry Christmas" at Kvatch's pad more than BOOZE! Yes indeed, wine, vodka, gin, and most especially seasonal ales, stouts, and porters make this frog's holidays happy! Take for instance this little bottle of joy over on the left. It's a porter that got a bad rep in Maine for having a label that was deemed "undignified and improper". But I say...find me a local distributor so I can get a taste and buy six-packs for all my friends.

HT to the Comandante for the heads-up on the controversy.

Part 1 <<  Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide  >> Part 3

2006/12/05

When Only The Quran Will Do

OK, enough is enough! All of this hoopla over Rep. elect Ellison's use of a Quran in his swearing in ceremony is just so much bullsh*t posturing -
  • A Muslim who swears on anything other than a Quran, cannot be trusted!
  • A Jew who swears on anything other than the Torah, cannot be trusted!
  • A Christian who swears on anything other than the New Testament, cannot be trusted!
  • An atheist or agnostic who swears on anything at all, cannot be trusted! (This is what 'affirmation' is for.)
  • The tradition of swearing on a Bible comes perilously close to an establishment of religion.
  • A tradition that flies in the face of the Constitution and makes a mockery religious tolerance is not only meaningless, it's dangerous and needs to be changed!
Does that make things sufficiently clear? Can we stop talking about this nonsense now?


HT to TUA @ The Future Was Yesterday, as well as that conservative f*ckstick Dennis Prager, for getting me mad enough to post on this.

Kvatch Konsiders - Out Of The Frying Pan...

Bolton resigns
And into the fire...

Rumsfeld nominated as
next UN Ambassador

(Oh God...please stop me before I again put fingers to keys!)

2006/12/04

Cranky's Contribution

Recently in the dead of night, Cranky Daze added a poem to one of my old posts, and you know what? It's good. Really good...certainly better than the average limerick you usually get on Blognonymous. So, not having a poetry section to copy it to, I'm reprinting it here.

Thanks Cranky!

Never fear, Decider, dear,
Historians will know your name.
In every case, you'll see your face
Upon the hall of shame!

Your legacy will ever be
Writ large on every grave,
Of those who died because you lied
For power that you craved.

As ages go your name will grow
Synonymous with greed.
But all the gold that you may hold
Can't buy what you most need.

So carry on, you Devil's spawn,
March on to meet your fate.
The lies you've told, your lust for gold,
Have earned our bitter hate.

And when at last, your life has passed
Whenever that may be,
Within the tomb, there will be room
For you and your legacy!

- Cranky Daze


And here's a link to a poem of mine on the same topic.

Domestic Partner Benefits For Everyone!

Some days I wonder if living in the Bay Area could be any more dull politically. We never figure in national elections. No municipality votes more homogeneously than San Francisco, and we're totally ignored by politicians at every level because they gain nothing by campaigning here. But on other days, I get to say..."Gee living here is great!" Today is one of those days because Carol Migden, Babylon by the Bay's state Senator, resubmitted universal domestic partner benefits to the California legislature.

Just to fill you in on how things work out here on the Left Coast: California already makes domestic partner benefits available to gay and lesbian couples, as well as to heterosexual couples where at least one partner is over the age of 62. Migden's legislation would expand that benefit to all heterosexual couples and is designed to cope with the reality of many couples raising children out of wedlock.

Predictably conservatives are going crazy and are accusing Senator Migden of encouraging couples not to marry and of placing governor Schwarzenegger in an untenable position. He may have to veto what will probably be a very popular piece of legislation. Oh my! But then again, who cares what conservative cranks in this state think. We're expanding rights here. Migden is our state Senator. She's a lesbian. She's a progressive. We really like her, and you can't have her! Hahaha--HAHAHA (insert more evil laughing here).

TSA Asks - What's Under Your Clothes?

TSA announces the deployment of "backscatter" x-ray technology that can determine what you do, and do not, have on under your clothes.

TSA Cootchie Detector
Agency officials have said that this will allow them to definitively determine whether or not Britney Spears is "flying commando" but also strenuously deny allegations that the technology is being referred to privately as "the cootchie detector".

(But seriously folks, check out James and Libby who take a much more sober look at this technology.)

2006/12/03

Kvatch Kvestions - Hugo Chavez' Legacy

Let me start by saying that my feelings about Venezuela's leader are complex. On the one hand, I think that he is doing more to help Venezuela's poor than any leader in that country's history. On the other hand, his bluster on the international stage does his country no favors...in OPEC, at the UN, or anywhere else.

Today is Venezuela's general election and Chavez will almost certainly win another term as President, but when that country's opposition threatened a boycott--and who really wants to waste time running against a man that is essentially unbeatable--Chavez threatened to call a referendum that would make him President until 2031, or 'President for Life' if you prefer that term.

So my question is this, how will history judge Hugo Chavez, a man who would freely make himself into a tyrant--a benevolent tyrant perhaps, but a tyrant nonetheless--when there is no need?

(Thanks to the Atlantic Monthly (subscription only) for the information on the Venezuelan general election and the opposition's stand.)

2006/12/02

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide - Part 1

Giving new meaning to the term 'Party in your pants', we present the iBuzz2, a couples edition of the popular iBuzz announced back in March. Just plug it in and find a whole new way to enjoy your favorite music!iBuzz2

Blognonymous Holiday Gift Guide  >> Part 2

Pity The Poor West Coast Blogger

While the calm, collected East Coast blogger sips his or her morning coffee and lazily composes the "Great American Post" for an audience that has yet to awaken, the frazzled West Coast blogger wakes up early or stays up into the wee hours--desperately composing a hurried piece in order to catch that precious early morning traffic.

And which early morning surfers can a California blogger compose for? That single reader in Hawaii? His devoted following on the Kamchatka peninsula? Bloggers in Fiji? No! 9 time zones of cold, dark, empty Pacific water force us to get those posts up while our fingers go numb and our heads droop over our keyboards.

And in what perverse universe did I manage to cultivate a readership that skews toward areas West of the Mississippi? Fully 2/3rd's of you, my Blognonyfriends, are East Coasters or residents of the Midwest. (Don't suppose any of you have plans to move to Alaska?) And many of you may have noticed how I time my posts to catch the East Coast lunch hour and that precious time after dinner. (Sorry West Coast readers, but I have to pimp those posts to suit the traffic.)

But not to worry, I'm the kind of slut who'll do anything for clicks. I've even changed my posting patterns. I used to compose my serious piece for the morning, trying in vain to comment on the topic du jour. Then, after some reflection, I'd post a humorous piece in the afternoon. Well...so much for that. Blognonymous' traffic increased 30% when I switched my humorous piece to the morning, saving my serious stuff for the early evening. Guess Blognonymous is like talk radio, nobody wants to hear bad news just before they head for work.

2006/12/01

What's Your Terror Score?

Here I was all ready to do something light and topical for Friday afternoon, and what happens...THIS! F*ck! "Light and topical" will have to wait. M-MM-MUS-ST-BB-B-LOGGGG!!!!

So you're probably aware that the US forces foreign government's to grant access to overseas databases in order to profile you when you fly internationally. You're probably also aware that if you pay a fee, you can get cleared for express passage through security--a sort of "No I'm not a terrorist. Really!" certification. But what you may not know is that over the last 4 years the feds have been compiling a huge database of travelers, each of whom are assigned a "terror score" that can be used to single them out for extra scrutiny or to deny them passage. But, as if that weren't enough, the so-called (A)utomated (T)argeting (S)ystem has these other delightful aspects:
  • You don't get to see your score (in fact they won't even tell you if you have a score)
  • You don't get to challenge your score
  • The feds intend to keep the scores around for the next 40 years
  • The feds have asserted that they can, and will, share this information with...state, local, and foreign governments, law enforcement, the courts, Congress, and government contractors
  • The feds have even gone so far as to suggest that the data be used when making hiring decisions, contract awards, licensing decisions, or for granting clearances
Mother puss-bucket! This is as bad as Secure Flight. Hopefully it will meet the same fate.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Department?


And they surf Blognonymous. That's sort of spooky.