2007/03/29

1000

So here we are at a milestone of sorts for Blognonymous. This is my 1000th post. That's a hell of a lot of writing in the 22 months that this humble blog has been around. But what is the true significance of 1000? Well, it's more than...

...the number of days left to Bu$hCo
...the number of words Wikipedia should devote to this administration's sorry legacy
...the number of glowing articles Conservapedia will devote to Bush's legacy (but not much more)
...the number of words in a typical comment from no_slappz (Ok, ok...that's a lie)

On the other hand...

1000 is not more than the number of wonderful people that I've encountered on this somewhat narcissistic adventure, and let's face it, Blognonymous is nothing without the inspiration that I draw daily from other members of the blogshpere. So to all of you, bloggers, readers, commenters:


I couldn't have done it without your help. Now we'll see if, after a short break, I've got another thousand in me. Back on Saturday.

2007/03/28

Blogs of Note - Meme Edition

Earlier this afternoon John Good (Left in Aboite) included Blognonymous in a meme that challenged him to list 5 favorite blogs and discuss why they're his favorites. I have to say that I'm honored to be included in his list, but since this post and the next will have some special significance for Blognonymous, I'll leave further comments for a bit later this evening.

So...without further adieu, here's the group of five outstanding blogs that I would pick:

Fuzzy and Blue
Tina packs more links per square inch than any blogger I know. Her posts have the density of a research singularity, and I know when I'm reading her blog that every angle is covered.

Ice Station Tango
If it's happening in the world, the Station Agent is on top of it. To the extent that this frog keeps up to date, it's because he reads Ice Station Tango.

If I Ran The Zoo
I'm not flogging Tom Hilton's blog because I'm a contributor, I'm flogging it because Tom has the goods. Tom cuts through the crap and gets to the essential nugget of whatever topic he's discussing. Not to mention the fact that his pictures of our beautiful city and the surrounding environs are not to be missed.

Knock Knock
Peacechick Mary has won the coveted 'I made Kvatch snort his martini through his nose," award more times than I can count. Her wit and impassioned writing put her at the top of my 'must read' list every day.

This Blog Will Self-destruct In Five Seconds
If I had half the wit and talent of the Comandante for skewering current events, I'd do this blogging thing for a living.

Shopping Wisdom Part 1 - Use Canvas

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors took the groundbreaking step yesterday of banning the use of plastic bags at the City's groceries and pharmacies. The move was vigorously opposed by the California Grocer's Association who are warning of higher prices for shoppers and in a fit of pique are threatening to go back to paper bags rather than offer compostable bags that cost about the same.

Even our local newspaper, The Chronicle, jumped in with an editorial that lauded the plan and predicted that consumers will demand bio-degradable bags, but you know what I think... Bullsh*t! Consumers will continue to take whatever they're given because this plan, though a good start, puts the focus on the wrong players, businesses. Grocers use plastic because it's cheap, and they will continue to offer the cheapest solution that satisfies the law. That's recyclable paper, not compostable paper.

So what should we be doing? Encouraging everyone to use durable canvas shopping bags...that's what! No disposable bag is ever going to be as good as a bag that can be used thousands of times. I personally have three of varying sizes, one of which I've been using since 1988. I should get a freakin' rebate from the grocers. Oops...actually...I do! So maybe the Supes should have encouraged everyone to use their own bags by subsidizing a larger rebate--maybe bump it up to $.50 for each bag of your own that you use. How about that?

2007/03/27

Getting Old Sucks, Flying Sucks...


...but flying once you're old really sucks!

You Didn't Need That Car/Home/Job Anyway

After putting in place 'watch lists' that, if abused, might keep you from getting a job or insuring your family, we hear about the Treasury Department's list of 'specially designated nationals'. Intended to control the activities of suspected terrorists, the list maintained by the Office of Foreign Asset Control, is now being used by a range of businesses--from auto dealers to mortgage companies--to deny ordinary citizens access to loans and capital items.

Is your name close to that of somebody on the list? Well, then you may get f*cked when you attempt to buy a house, a car, or to get a small-business loan--and for no better reason than the fact that most businesses feel that they just can't risk the government's wrath. Damn straight! The penalties are sort of on the stiff side: $10M and 10 to 30 years in the federal pen. But in this brave new world of a 'watch-list' for every occasion, perhaps business should take the initiative and compensate with the market. For example:
  • Bin Laden Bentley -- Automakers could raise the average price of a car to $1,000,000 to cover those instances where Osama tries to obtain some wheels.
  • Terrorist 'Bomb Payments' -- Mortgage lenders, taking a lesson from the traditional 'balloon payment', could tack on the special 'bomb payment' which literally explodes your interest rate if you're fingered by OFAC.
  • Insurgent Insurance -- Insurers could see record profits and never have to pay out another claim, if they were allowed to tack on a OFAC forfeiture clause.
See...things could be worse. Right?

2007/03/26

Media? My Ass! The NYPD Is Worried About Potential Litigants

After the unjust arrests, protest zones, and detentions sans charges, you just knew that the NYPD would try something desperate in their attempts to do damage control. Because their not-so-secret activist surveillance program is blowing up in their faces, and if they don't get situation under control soon, NYC is going to face some pretty costly litigation.

Though the NYPD still claims that everything, including sharing their findings with other law enforcement agencies, was legal, Federal District Judge Charles Haight has ruled that the police must have, "...some indication of unlawful activity on the part of the individual or organization," before they can go out and monitor political groups or their activities. And herein is the problem for the NYPD. That very opinion makes the NYPD's intelligence files the most important evidence in the case. Thus, the police are trying desperately to keep them sealed, claiming that they are central to their defense. But the question here is how does unsealing the documents damage the NYPD's defense? Council for the plaintiffs are going to get at those documents anyway during discovery.

No. What the NYPD is really trying to do is to keep the documents sealed so that the pool of potential litigants doesn't explode, and their half-assed arguments are aimed at controlling the popular perception of the extent to which the NYPD abused its authority.

Whack the Dogs

I can't put my finger on what I find so offensive about this, two Labradors who've had a 'hit' placed on them because they're particularly good at sniffing out contraband. But something about it is really rotten.

Is it that the poor dogs probably didn't have a choice about becoming 'polycarbonate sniffing pups'? Is it that they don't really know contraband from legal merchandise (they're just really good at finding discs hidden where they should not be)? Is it that they're just 'dumb animals' that don't deserve to get whacked? Perhaps it speaks to the desperation of a crime syndicate that would put a bounty on the furry heads of a pair of pooches?

I don't know. The dogs were taken into protective custody. So they'll probably survive to sniff another day, but it still seems wrong.

2007/03/25

Some Disassembly Required

Recently the Frogette and I decided to purchase a small 'secretary' for our flat's entryway because we needed some extra storage. Now here in Sodom by the Sea, you have basically three choices for furniture: Boutique shops where every piece is custom ordered, costs a fortune, and takes 4 months to arrive; Upscale 'if it doesn't come in earth tones we we don't stock it' places like Room and Board; And IKEA. Well we passed out of our IKEA phase some years ago, and we needed the piece immediately. So the boutique shops were out. That left us with the Pottery Barns, Room and Boards, and Crate & Barrels of the world.

We settled on the piece you see on the left, a 'ready-to-assemble' cabinet from Crate & Barrel, but here's where things get interesting. Though it wasn't expensive, the ancillary costs have me questioning what the hell I was thinking. Consider: This little cabinet has almost no solid wood in it. With the exception of the doors, it's all particleboard. Meaning that it won't last more than about 5 years. It took me 90 minutes to assemble, and...get this...another 90 bloody minutes dealing with the mind-boggling amount of generated waste!

-- 92 square feet of double thickness cardboard (had to be cut down)
-- 5, 36 gallon garbage bags of non-recyclable styrofoam packing

So all inclusive you've got about 3 hours of labor, delivery charges, and the cost to dispose of (or recycle) the packing material--maybe 50% of the item's total cost, shifted to the consumer. At that aggregate cost, and assuming that I'll replace the piece once or twice in a 20 year period, I could have purchased an all wood piece, made in the US, that would last those 20 years, and had it delivered already assembled.

I know that the aim here is to turn furnishings into impulse purchases that you replace as often as you replace your clothes, but when one's own labor (delivery, assembly, and disassembly) is worth more than the face value of the product--when 50% of the resources consumed are in the packaging--we really need to question our purchasing habits and seek out more durable goods.

2007/03/23

Subprime = Suboptimal

The crisis in the so-called "subprime" lending market is reaching the boiling point. Now our presidential candidates are calling for summits and task-forces to attempt to deal with an anticipated wave of foreclosures. Members of Congress are asking why the Federal Reserve didn't exercise oversight while banks and mortgage lenders loosened credit to sub-prime borrowers. And finally, 20 of those lenders have gone under as their business model--financing sub-prime mortgages, selling those mortgages that in turn finances more loans--collapses. But the one thing that nobody's talking about is that correction in the real-estate sector may be a good thing.

First, the fact that numerous sub-prime lenders are going under removes (or at least whittles down), one source of predatory lending. Second, home ownership in America per capita is higher now than at any time in our history, but is that good for the economy? Sure it's great to be a homeowner but not when one risks financial ruin to achieve that goal. Remember that taking out...say...an interest only loan to finance more house than you really need, is merely another name for rent with property taxes. It's nothing more than wealth transfer to your mortgage company. Third, if there is any sector of the economy in need of some correction, it's the real-estate market, and I say this as a homeowner. People who go into home ownership believing that the purpose is to turn a quick profit don't have their priorities straight. And it's this attitude that has driven prices into the stratosphere. Correction is needed, if for no other reason than to drive the quick-buck artists from the market.

Now I don't want to sound needlessly cruel, but when it comes to buying a home--probably the most complex financial transaction you'll ever undertake--your best defense against financial ruin is yourself. Concerned about predatory lenders? Then hire a real-estate attorney or broker to act on your behalf, to scrutinize everything. I did, and I have very good credit. Worried about payments? Stay within your budgetary limits and take a long view. Get a financial planner to give you an accurate assessment of what you can afford.

To the extent that we have a crisis in real-estate, it's a crisis of our own making--greed on the part of lenders combined with greed on the part of borrowers. Correction may be painful, but in the end the industry and market will probably be stronger for it.

Sumo Merriment

Who says Fox News isn't a "real" news organization?

March 18: U.S. army vehicle burns in an eastern suburb of Baghdad, Iraq, reportedly after having been attacked by insurgents.

(They'll probably have fixed the caption by the time you get there,
but maybe it was intended to be a metaphor.)

2007/03/22

Inhofe Gets Sent To School

Not a lot of time for blogging today, but this bit (HT to Crooks and Liars) is very sweet.

James Inhofe (R OK) the former chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and consistent administration apologist on climate change, attempts to keep Al Gore from answering questions in hearings yesterday...right up until he gets schooled by Chairwoman, Barbara Boxer (D CA). Listen to the crowd's reaction at the end!

(Quicktime here. Windoze Media Player here, if you need it).

2007/03/21

As The Phrase Turns

"If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action."
Former Vice President, Al Gore In Testimony to the House House Energy and Commerce Committee

"You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong..."
Rep. Joe Barton (R TX), During Gore's Testimony

KK: Gives you a real sense of Republican priorities, huh?

---

"All irrelevant. Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant. I am not his servant... [I'm] the people's servant of California. What they call me — Democrat or Republican or in the center, this and that — that is not my bottom line."
California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger on NBC's Today Show

"If he had the leadership skills to articulate conservative principles and win over the public as (former President) Reagan did, then he would have stayed conservative."
Rush Limbaugh's Response

KK: I didn't vote for Schwarzenegger, but if you ever wonder why he won reelection, that quote tells you most of what you need to know. As for Rush, if Schwarzenegger had followed that windbag's advice, he'd have lost just like every Republican presidential nominee since 1988.

Your Car, Your Weapon

Another day another vehicular homicide in San Francisco. This time a driver turning left from a one-way onto a one-way fails to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrians in the crosswalk, one of whom takes offense and gets in the driver's face. The driver, after exchanging words takes his car up onto the sidewalk and runs the pedestrians down, killing one.

By my count we've had 4 fatalities in two weeks! 3 of them hit and runs! 1 out and out murder!

Perhaps it's time for pedestrians to begin arming themselves against the cagers? Start treating all drivers as if they're prepared to commit vehicular manslaughter? Our City? The police? They certainly don't give a sh*t. What with their pedestrian education programs and intersection "death clocks". So you have to ask if there is a moment when pedestrian aggression becomes justified...becomes self-defense.

How you gonna feel Mr. Escalade driver when, instead of being able to inch your 3 ton weapon through a dozen pedestrians, you end up with a gun in your face?

2007/03/20

Just Say No

An offer to let administration officials testify to a congressional subcommittee only on the condition that the testimony be taken behind closed doors, without transcripts and not under oath, is ludicrous. It's bullsh*t posturing by Bu$hCo flacks that view cooperation with Congress in terms of its PR value, and Congress' would be well-advised to--in the immortal words of Nancy Reagan--"Just say no!"

Time to subpoena Rove, Miers, and anyone else who matters. And if Bu$hCo refuses to put their people under oath, slap 'em with contempt of congress and throw their asses in jail until they decide to cooperate.

The Attorney General Short List

Looks like like Alberto Gonzales is on the way out, and Blognonymous has obtained the administration's confidential 'short list' of potential replacements:

Mr. Burns

A man that would have the DoJ running like a well-oiled machine.

General Manuel Noriega

Out of prison and looking for a new challenge.

Former Senator Palpatine

Defeated in his recent bid for reelection, Palpatine is a renowned for his political skill.

Syndrome

Promises to modernize DoJ and revolutionize law enforcement.

General Zod

The "law-and-order" favorite.

2007/03/19

Search Engines and Anonymity's Demise

There was a time, not so long ago, when you could hide behind a screen of anonymity. Your writings, actions, even personas could be kept separate from your public identity, but that time is past, and giant search engines like Yahoo, Google, and MSN have had a large role in the demise of online (and offline) anonymity.

Take, for example, the case of Yu Ling, a 55 year old Bejing resident whose husband Wang Xiaoning was arrested and is now serving a 10 year sentence in "...Beijing Prison No. 2...for inciting subversion with his pro-democracy Internet writings." Mr. Wang was convicted largely on evidence provided by Yahoo, his Internet Service Provider--his anonymity undermined by the very service that he thought was protecting it. Now...setting aside the tragedy of Ms. Yu's plight, I think it's naive to assume that a multi-billion dollar business like Yahoo isn't going to play ball in a multi-billion dollar market like the People's Republic. But one has to wonder about the implications of our own personal histories coming back to haunt us in odd, and sometimes detrimental, ways.

On this very blog I maintain a pseudo-anonymous persona that I don't usually let slip, but figuring out my real identity is merely a matter of executing a proper WHOIS lookup on my domain name. Sure I could do more to armor my identity, but given a few other key--and easily obtainable--pieces of information even that would be difficult. So where does this leave someone who has been relentlessly critical of nations, governments, companies, industries, and online/offline personalities? I would say: At considerable risk.

For example, I have been courted by Google for jobs on two separate occasions, but would they really want to hire me knowing that I have often published scathing critiques of their technology initiatives? And potential damage from what I would call "interconnection abuse" doesn't stop there. Consider that there are now companies that pay millions just to obtain "click-stream" data from ISPs, and although the data is considered anonymous because it contains no explicit identifiers, determining the person behind the stream is no more difficult than that WHOIS lookup I just mentioned.

So finally we get to the point: How will the inability to remain anonymous affect our lives? When literally every online action is monitored and correlated, can we count on our ability to exercise our right to speak, to work, and to travel? Or will we have to self-censor our every online action in order to keep from being made into outcasts by governments, nations, corporations, and the media? Unfortunately, the simple phrase "I was Googled," may take on a very sinister meaning in the near future.


I've been thinking about this topic for a while but want to thank Victor at Argville for inspiring me to get this posted.

2007/03/18

BlognonyBITS - The Cooter Gets A Bye

A bum takes a pee against a wall.
He's arrested for exposing himself,
Convicted, and labeled a sex criminal.
Britney Spears goes commando and gets
Photographed with her cootchie exposed.
People gossip, leer, and opine but...
...nobody gets arrested. WTF?

Bush's War

Surviving Iraq
Thanks to the Frogette for finding this picture,
and here's some information on the book he's reading.

2007/03/17

Is the best the GOP has to offer?

Here, let me summarize for you John McCain's answers to a reporter drilling him on foreign aid to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and condom use as a way to prevent the spread of HIV:

Abstinence ...
Abstinence ...
Abstinence ...and...

You've stumped me.

Interestingly, the Arizona senator is not only unable to articulate his current position. He's apparently unable to remember any position he ever had:
Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.
So let's just distill this down to the essentials, shall we? When you do this much dissembling over an issue about which everyone has an opinion, one of two things is occurring: Either you're getting senile (Ronald Reagan style), or you just changed your position and are having second thoughts.

Either way...if the rest of the Republican field bungles their responses as effectively, the Democrats should find 2008 to be a cakewalk.

2007/03/16

The USPS Really Needs A Better Ad Agency

I have very fond memories of Star Wars. Though it looks a little hokey 30 years down the line, at the age of 12, it was everything I had always dreamed science fiction could be.

Just my personal opinion, but his sort of stupidity doesn't honor Star Wars in any way.

2007/03/15

BlognonyBITS - Chris Rock(s)

Satan's Little Mint

A roundup of reactions to faceless and Godless dollars coins:

It's obviously a liberal, secular-humanist plot. First they remove God from the public square then from our money.
Bill O'Reilly, Faux News

Only effete French faggots would use something called a Euro! So we should invade their countries, convert them to Christianity, and force them to use Dollars!
Ann Coulter

It's illegal to deface the national currency, and I accept responsibility for ensuring that we investigate this fully.
Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales

Soaring prices for these coins on eBay should not lead to irrational exuberance in currency speculation.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan

If I get handed one of these, I'll shoot the mother-f*cker!
Vice President, Dick Cheney

Well I think that the Democrats share the blame here. They don't support dollar coins, and this has emboldened our enemies who have removed our sacred symbols from our money.
President, George W. Bush

2007/03/14

Lessons Learned

What lesson can we take away from the resignation of Alberto Gonzales' Chief of Staff and the Libby conviction?


Don't ever be "second banana" at Bu$hCo!


(Might be a good lesson for the AG before too long.)

Future Headlines - Mark Noonan To Rejoin The Military

NOONAN MAKES GOOD ON PROMISE, REJOINS MILITARY

AIR NATIONAL GUARD WELCOMES NOONAN

PRESIDENT BUSH EXPRESSES PRIDE IN NOONAN'S CHOICE

NOONAN PHOTO-OP ON BOARD CARRIER REAGAN STUNNING SUCCESS!

NOONAN REPORTED AS AWOL

NOONAN SPOTTED STEALING DONUTS AT BLOGS FOR BUSH HEADQUARTERS

2007/03/13

BlognonyBITS - Hydrogen Sucks, Here's Why

Hydrogen production is expensive, too expensive to be practical.
Fossil-fuels, not renewables, are still the best source for hydrogen.
So why does Detroit push hydrogen over pure electric or pluggable-hybrid?
Because Big Oil tells them to. And why does Big Oil care? Two words:

Fueling stations!

Big Oil doesn't want you filling up your car at home.

2007/03/12

What Your Contractor Thinks Of You

Two weeks ago I posted on my troubles finding an electrical contractor for a half-day job to install heaters and thermostats in my flat. Over two months, a total of 8 electricians wasted twice the amount of time it took to do the job itself before I was able to find one willing to complete the work.

Well yesterday an electrician's forum linked the post, and I've been getting hits continuously ever since. So in case you're interested in what contractors think of us, the people who pay them, take a gander. Interestingly only one poster seemed concerned about what having 7 of 8 electricians blow off appointments, fail to return calls, or deliver plainly ridiculous estimates says about their profession. In fact, the moderator had this to say:
...but it is obvious that the op in that blog is a pita and extreemly self absorbed.

He honesty believes that there should be a line of electrical contractors waiting to answer his call to install a few crumby heaters for next to no pay.

I would probably be the guy who estimated double the rest. Then I would go back to work happy to konw that he will never call me back.
I'm not sure how this guy figured out what the job cost--perhaps he's psychic. As for the rest...most preferred to cherry pick our comments. Ridiculing us is apparently more fun than addressing any issue the post raised.

Happy Birthday To Me

The way I see it, if you can't toot your own horn on your birthday, when can you? So today, on the 301st (that's in 'Frog Years') anniversary of my birth, I'm going to announce that my humble blog was nominated for not just one but two 2006 Koufax Awards. Check it out:


Not sure what kind soul nominated Blognonymous (and I sure as hell don't know what a 'Consonant Level Blog' is), but thanks. You've made my b-day.

2007/03/11

Prominent Christian Calls On Science To Correct Homosexuality

Of all the objectionable stuff I've read in the last week (and for some reason there was a lot), none was worse than the comments of Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Christian radio commentator.

You see...Dr. Mohler is calling for the acceleration of research into the biological basis of homosexuality. He feels that, once that basis is determined, a pre-natal test may be developed which he believes will 1) Force liberals into a quandary about whether or not to have a homosexual child; 2) Lead to a hormonal "cure" for homosexuality, and 3) End homosexuality once and for all. Where this Christian eugenicist stumbles is in his repeated attempts to transfer right-wing relativism onto the left.

First he assumes that liberals, when faced with the choice, will abandon the courage of their convictions and abort a child rather than have a homosexual baby. He transfers his inability to stick to his own convictions--that homosexuality is a choice and not genetically determined-- when science presents the opportunity, for a purpose no more noble than ridiculing the left.

Second, he makes the unfounded assumption that having a homosexual child is the same "shameful" experience for liberal parents that it is for conservatives. He then assumes that liberals would choose genetic correction rather than go through with it. Now, setting aside the fact that Dr. Mohler probably doesn't know any liberal parents, he's again transfers his own twisted values onto the left and fabricates their response in order to prove his point:
If that happens, how many parents -- even among those who consider themselves most liberal -- would choose a gay child? How many parents, armed with this diagnosis, would use the patch and change the orientation?
Answer: None...well...at least among those of us on the left. Dr. Mohler practically salivates at the notion that a "perfect moral storm" as he puts it will snare all the groups he so desperately despises, homosexuals, feminists, leftist parents. The problem for Dr. Mohler and his ilk is that, unlike Christians who faith is so hollow that they gladly let a little science in when it serves a political purposes, we on the left don't abandon our principles so easily.

If you'd like to contact Dr. Mohler and let him know what kind of ghoul he is, his email is here.

Addendum: The original version of this post had to be removed from the Blogger database due to a problem with the dating and how it was included in the RSS feed. I've restored the post but the comments are gone. Sorry about that.

Labels: ,

BlognonyBITS - It Sucks To Be A Lesbian

Even in these modern times,
Men still make 15% - 20% more than women.
So when you're talking about earning potential,
Gay couples have got it all over the rest of us.
Heterosexual couples are next.
It sucks to be a lesbian.

(Thanks to the Frogette for providing this observation.)

2007/03/09

All Rules Federal Are Out-Sourceable

Taking Reagan's "government is the problem," mantra to it's logical conclusion, the New York Times reports on a new Federal project that allows the IRS to engage tax attorneys to write tax law. Hallelujah! The very people that exploit the loopholes in the code will now get the opportunity to create the loopholes!

But wait...what's that you say? "95% of us don't make enough to use any of those loopholes," details, details! This is a good thing. Trust us. And oh..the breathtaking possibilities this opens up:Well OK... How about we just do away with Congress altogether? We'll let lobbyists pay for congressional seats directly, and then they can write whatever regulations they want. Now how come we didn't think of this before?

BlognonyBITS - The Incredible Expanding Resume

Back in the day, we were told that one's
Resume should never be more than two pages long.
My two page resume generates no interest.
My four and one-half page resume, detailing every
Stupid thing that I've ever accomplished,
Generates three job interviews in a week.
Brevity is dead. Long live the search-engine.

2007/03/08

BlognonyBITS - The Incredible Shrinking Interview

Me? Looking for gainful employment again.
Used to have interviews that lasted a whole day,
Back when a company's investment in me meant something.
Now I get interviewed for two hours...maybe three.
There's a lesson in this. I just know it.

Now That's More Like It - Habeas Corpus Restoration

I am usually loathe to simply parrot the news, but this has me grinning from ear to ear. From Raw Story:
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommitee on Intelligence, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, announced today the presentation of bills that would reverse "problematic parts of the Military Commissions Act," according to a statement released by Harman's office.
Now let's be realistic here. We know if these bills make it through the conference committees, out of Congress, and to the President's desk, Bush will either veto them or will attach a signing statement that says essentially: "As the Commander in Chief, I am not required to implement any legislation that impinges on conducting the military affairs of the United States...oh and by the way, these are bad guys who have no rights and we don't torture them." But the damage to Bu$hCo and the GOP will be enormous. Democrats will harp on how a Republican president demonstrated his disdain for the Constitution--how he ignored the will of the people. The complex constitutional question of Presidential authority vs. constitutional imperatives will be lost in the noise, and each Republican presidential candidate will get tagged with the "just another damn Constitution busting Republican," label.

In other words...this could be really interesting.

BlognonyBITS - Scooter Will Sing

With half of the Blogsphere using that old Libby jingle, I just thought I just add my $.02:

When we talk Libby, Libby, Libby
Facing jail-o, jail-o, jail-o
They'll slip a pardon, pardon, pardon
'Neath the table, table, table.


Please feel free to add your own verse.

2007/03/07

Bollywood Bush


Washington (f-A-ke. P.) -

As President Bush embarks on his Latin American tour, the White House has announced that it is no longer cost effective to produce the adoring crowds that accompany the Mr. Bush to all of his speeches.
Americans are too expensive and, quite frankly, no longer as enthusiastic as we need them to be. You can't count on the Latin Americans either. Might shout pro-Chavez slogans at any moment. So we've decided to go with Bollywood extras. They're cheap. You can't beat 'em for enthusiasm. They look great, and man can they dance!
...explained Press Secretary Snow.

When asked if this might be referred to as "image out-sourcing" Mr. Snow declined to comment.

2007/03/06

Republicans Eat Their Own

I thought this evening that I'd write something pithy about the Libby conviction, but...I got nothin'. So...

No longer content to swift-boat their opponents, Republicans are now going after each other in a race to the bottom of sleazy campaign tactics. Salon has a delicious article detailing the latest incidents, but the best--the absolute gem--is an email circulating among the GOP base extolling them to, " '...trust your instincts' about the Mormon faith because 'Mitt Romney has a family secret he doesn't want you to know.' "

Gee...now what could that be, I wonder? Oh come on. Romney's got some polygamist ancestors! What else? Even if you hadn't read the breathless revelations in the media from a couple weeks back, I doesn't take a genius to puzzle out that Romney's almost certainly got a few more "great-great-grannies" than you or I.

And what about that anonymous emailer? For that matter, what about you and me? What nefarious skeletons can we dig out of our ancestral closets? Were your ancestors slave owners? No? Are you white? Then get a clue! By the time you go back as few as 5 generations you're the product of 32 different families, and chances are better than 50/50 that somewhere in there you've got a slave owner, a cattle rustler, or an indian killer. In other words, somewhere in your past one of your ancestors did some naught sh*t, and if that's the new standard by which we judge our candidates, then none of us are qualified to run.

Hey Edwards...It's About Health Care, Stupid!

Snave at Various Miseries dug up what is perhaps the most breathtakingly stupid thing that has come out of John Edwards mouth in this never ending campaign season: "...keeping Iran from nuclear weapons 'is the greatest challenge of our generation.'"

Since this post is really about what the 2008 election will turn on, I'm only going to spare a few words about the so-called "Middle Eastern Bomb". Iran will probably have one if they want one, and if they do they will never...ever...directly or indirectly threaten the US with it. To do so would ensure their annihilation. If they do get one, they will never use it. To do so will ensure their annihilation. If they do get one, they will spend all of their efforts ensuring that such a device never makes it into the hands of extremists. Because if they don't, they'll be blamed for whatever happens and will run a huge risk of annihilation. This is what mutually assured destruction is all about. Nuff said.

So what is it about Edwards statement that is so stupid? The fact that Bu$hCo policy--gearing up for a war in Iran, throwing 30K more troops into Iraq despite the will of the American people--is going to guarantee that the next election is about domestic issues. When the electorate feels it's being ignored, it tends to swing the priority pendulum further to one side, the domestic side in this case, and the issue that is on the electorate's mind is health care. Consider: The MSM is filling the Internet with stories about how broken our health care system is; how millions go without insurance; how easy it would be to fix with a fraction of the money that is spent on the war. At the same time, we see daily reports about how the government is using accounting tactics to strip millions from existing health care initiatives--examples include steep cuts AIDS/HIV prevention funding and funding for research into women's health issues.

When your child is sick and you lack insurance; when you have a catastrophic illness that wipes out your savings just before your insurance company drops you because you're suddenly a 'bad risk'; when you hear that we could cover every uninsured child in America with 3 days of Iraq War spending, you rapidly lose interest in whatever it new international crisis the neo-cons are flogging.

2008 will be about health care, 'the greatest challenge of our generation', and John Edwards is a fool for opening his mouth to say otherwise.

2007/03/05

Off Shore, Near Shore, and Now...Jail Shore

File this under the heading of 'unintended consequences'.

Colorado has got a big problem. After passing one of the nation's toughest illegal immigration laws, the state's agricultural industry is nearing collapse because most of the low-wage migrant workers it depended on have fled. But proving that necessity is truly the mother of invention, state legislators have come up with a novel solution: Put convicts in the fields and make them pick vegetables...practically for free.

Farmers like it. Legislators like it. Big Agro likes it. Prison guards like it (they get paid to watch the prisoners). Seems everybody likes it. And what does your author think? Well, these are prisoners. Do they have a right to control what they do, or do not do, while incarcerated? Probably not, but there is a big difference between making license plates for the government and laboring to fatten Archer Daniels Midland's bottom line.

There is also a pernicious dark side to convicts laboring on behalf of big business. Get corporations used to the idea that they can fill their low prestige, low skill jobs with prisoners and suddenly you've got government and Big Agro colluding to lock up more and more people. Yes sir! Ease that temporary labor shortage with Jail-o-Sourcing!.

HT to Deb of Deb's Web who wryly noted how indentured servitude seems to be back in fashion.

Pre-election Stress Disorder


It's 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries will even take place...
20 months before we vote...
23 months before our next President takes office...

So why the hell do I have to be subjected to a daily stream of what the candidates and would be candidates are doing? Why should I care what they say? Because you know that anything they say now is meaningless. Why is Senator Clinton in the race? Why is Senator Obama? Do they think that our being subjected to their daily inanity through the 2008 Iowa Caucus is going to make us more likely to vote for them?

Google lists over a 1000 stories about Clinton and Obama showing up in Selma for a civil rights march. Who cares!? Katrina victims are being evicted from their trailers! Bush is gearing up for war with Iran! Republican congressman are colluding with the administration to have capable US Attorneys fired from their jobs! Pay attention to the nation's business for f*cks! sake.

If you wonder why it is that our voting percentages are so low, look no further than the "endless campaign". By the time an election rolls around, everyone is so exhausted, so cynical, that nobody cares who gets elected to office. The electorate just wants it to end, if only for a few months.

2007/03/04

Focus on the Family Fights Environmental Friendliness

Reverend Richard Cizik is the National Association of Evangelicals' Vice President for government relations. He's a tireless advocate for expanding that organization's political agenda to include religious freedom, compassion for the poor, and good stewardship of the environment. But he's recently come under attack from a group of Christian leaders, 30 of 'em headed by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who want him silenced or dismissed for "dividing and demoralizing evangelicals".

Now why would silencing Pastor Cizik be so important to you Mr. Dobson? You worried that by taking global climate change seriously, evangelicals might divert their focus from the rapture? I mean you already missed the 2000 mark for the second coming. So what does it matter now if evangelicals worry about the next 993 years?

Oh wait a second. That's it, isn't it? You're thinking that, while their busy changing out their incandescents and installing solar collectors, your supporters might have a bit less money to put into your collection vault--might have to wait to get that personal Gulfstream, huh? Or is it just that environmentally sensitive congregations might not tow your political line? Won't follow you and your friends blindly down the path to theocracy?

Either way, it makes you out to look like a crass charlatan more interested in your own enrichment than in the gifts your God put on this earth for you, and everyone else, to enjoy.

2007/03/03

Mouthpiece of Sauron

2007/03/02

To Record Is Corporate - Banking/Finance Edition

Back in September, Blognonymous tried a little experiment to determine how Telco's respond to customers who refuse to be recorded or who attempt to record service calls themselves. What we discovered was very illuminating. The policies are all over the map frankly and are sometimes illegal, since many states like California require both parties consent to a recorded phone call.

Well, here we are back again with a tiny table of paranoia covering the banking/finance industry. Sorry it's so small, but I've only got so many banking relationships -
    InstitutionRecords Customer
    Calls
    Shutoff on
    Request
    Allows Customer
    To Record
    Wells FargoYesYes (very difficult)Yes
    TD AmeritradeYesNoYes
    Washington
    Mutual
    YesNoYes
    ETradeYesNoNo

2007/03/01

The F-22 Problem Could Have Been Worse, Right?

Let's start this post with a maxim: Writing good software is hard to do. Oh sure any bozo can program, and in the heady years of the 'Internet Boom', every bozo did, but creating software that works right takes patience and discipline. Testing is key, but because of corporate pressure, software complexity, and poor training testing is often the first task to be jettisoned when the going gets rough.

And here's where the F-22 Raptor, the newest US "superfighter", enters our story. About two weeks ago, a flight of F-22's headed for Japan crossed the International Date Line and got lost. What happened? The navigation software didn't make the proper distinction between "180 degrees West longitude" and "180 degrees East longitude". In fact, the fighters were in such trouble that they had to be escorted back to Hawaii by their accompanying tanker aircraft.

Now you'd think that, at a cost of $300M per, these aircraft would have top-notch software but apparently not. Well at least the it wasn't the avionics system flipping up to down or something like that. But in that spirit here's a list of Kvatch's favorite software bugs of all time:

The Mars Climate Orbiter
Scientists at Nasa JPL use meters. Engineers at Lockheed Martin use feet. The craft plunges too steeply into the Martian atmosphere. The engines overheat and shut down prematurely causing the poor spacecraft to bore straight through the atmosphere and head back into space.

Lockheed Again - The Mars Polar Lander
Faulty sensor software informs the flight computer that the lander has touched down when in fact it was still 40 meters above the martian surface. The descent engines cut off, and the $165M lander crashes at speed into the frozen landscape.

Before Melissa There Was the Morris Internet Worm
The first worm to cripple the nascent Internet, and all because the program forgot to check if a computer was already infected before infecting it again. Computers all over the nation went down in the first major Denial of Service attack.

The End of Time As We Know It
Many of you may not realize this, but time began on 1 January 1970 and will end on 19 January 2038 when the internal clocks on many older UNIX system will simply "roll over" and reset themselves. This particular issue is a splendid example of a bug programmed into a computer system with malice of forethought. The engineers simply assumed that no contemporary computer system would ever make it to the "end-o-time" date. Let's hope not!