2007/07/31

Kvatch Kvetches: A Simpler America?

Robert of Crawford's Crier (an excellent little blog that you really should be reading if you aren't) recently bemoaned the 'Extinct America', an America of safe neighborhoods, moral decency, and trust in our government--an America we might remember from our youth or perhaps a vision we have from our parent's.

But I don't really lament that particular America. Sure more trust in the government would be nice, but I don't for a second believe that the America of...say...the 1800's was a place where I could trust the government. I don't really believe that 'Frontier America' was a safe place for kids. Perhaps that was a mid-20th century America. I don't know...

But you know what I do miss? A simpler America, and it makes me resentful. I resent an America of such dazzling complexity that few can comprehend it without a Ph.D. I resent a tax code so complex that I need a program to do the work for me. I resent shelling out $50 for the software and resent the fact that I'm probably still getting fleeced by the Feds.

I resent the f*ckin' 'Ownership Society'. I don't want to be in charge of my health care choices--my retirement plan's investments--my auto insurance, fire insurance, long-term disability, dental, flood, or any other stupid insurance. I resent the fact that, if I don't make investment banking my god-damned career, my own nest-egg will never grow. I resent the necessity of the two-income family. I resent all the demands on my time--having my leisure moments squeezed to the point where I can hardly find time to sleep.

But most of all, I resent the fact that I live with an ease that no generation in human history could conceive of, and yet I can't seem to stay on top of it's mind-boggling complexity. What kind of ungrateful frog am I?

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Zappa Speaks

Germany, where Frank Zappa has a huge following, has named a street after him. It's a nasty little street in the former East Berlin, but at least it's an enclave of musicians. Though, to me, it just doesn't seem to be enough. I mean...why not a whole town? Doesn't Zappa deserve that? They could call it: Zappadorf!

And what would the caustic Mr. Z make of our current troubles? Well, I'd say that Frank has already rendered his opinion...on the 2004 Election, for example:

The last election just laid the foundation of the next 500 years of Dark Ages.
- Frank Zappa, 1981

Or perhaps he might give us his take on the job Congress is doing:

Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality.
- Frank Zappa, 1985

And I'm sure that Frank would have something to say to Alberto Gonzales:

Perhaps Mr. Attorney General you'd be able to do your job if you didn't have your head quite so far up your bosses ass.
- Kvatch (attempting to channel one of his favorite musicians)

We could really use a little Zappa right about now.

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2007/07/30

Kvatch Konsiders: Impeachment Baby Steps

Suzie-Q turns us on to the fact that the House Judiciary Committee is going to begin impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General. And not a moment too soon, since there appears to be nobody on the Republican side of the aisle that will stand up to defend Gonzales:
By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales ...We had no takers.

-- Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday
Hey…Gonzales is a cabinet level officer. I'll admit that impeaching him may not be as satisfying as going after Cheney. But…you know…baby steps!

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Presidential Kwotes

2007/07/29

Open Source Voting Machines

The results are in, and 3 of 4 electronic voting systems used in California failed to prove themselves 'hacker-proof' in tests conducted by the University of California. Machines from Diebold , Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia had both their software and hardware security systems penetrated or bypassed. Election results were changed and internal processes corrupted. In fact, the only company whose machines were not compromised by researchers, ES&S, got away because they failed to supply equipment by the deadline imposed by CA's Secretary of State. Though there is no reason to believe that ES&S' equipment would have faired any better.

Predictably, with hearings on the findings and potential decertification looming, manufacturers complain that the tests were biased. Counties with multi-million dollar investments worry that they'll be forced junk their expensive little bundles of potential election fraud. But in all cases, the proponents of electronic voting systems make an economic argument at the expensive of the democratic argument: "We should be allowed to do business in any way we see fit." "We shouldn't be forced to make our systems available for testing." "We shouldn't have to junk expensive systems that we've already purchased."

Even the federal government is getting involved, attempting to deal with the electorate's 'crisis of confidence' regarding the reliability of electronic voting systems. As evidence of deliberate vote manipulation in 2000 and 2004 mounts, many people have become convinced that their vote no longer counts. So...in steps Congress to put a band aid on the issue with a law mandating a 'verifiable paper trail'. But what our leader's conveniently ignore is that once an electronic tally has been compromised, the paper trail can easily be forged to reflect the doctored results. Unless the voters themselves are put in control election audits (way too unwieldy to manage), this bill is worthless.

The only solution to these problems is to restore the public's confidence in the systems themselves. This means mechanical systems with physical results that are hard to manipulate. Or...if we must have electronic voting machines, they must be open-source systems that have been subjected to the scrutiny of security researchers and submitted to rigorous validation processes. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we must mandate open-source for electronic voting machines because only open-source can provide the transparency necessary for something as important as elections. The Diebolds of the world can still make money building and deploying machines, but we should never again hear an argument that goes: "Our machines contain proprietary IP that is too important for us to expose." This is an invitation to wide spread election fraud.

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2007/07/27

A Trio of Internet Regulation Tidbits

Senators Call For Universal Filtering
They've danced around the issue. They've tried to couch it in language that privacy advocates would not find objectionable. But on Wednesday Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Stevens (R-AK) both called for universal Internet filtering and monitoring in their respective committees. And to ensure that they would not be challenged, civil liberties groups were not invited to testify.

Maybe These Guys Could Help...
ISPs and Telcos use 'packet inspection' technologies to help prevent against DoS (Denial of Service) attacks and to comply with government ordered wiretaps. That's nothing new, but a new class of technologies that employ 'deep packet inspection' will soon give the ISPs the ability to shape, delay, block, or record traffic based on content. Want Google to fork over a briefcase full of cash? Stop every email packet destined for Gmail. Decide Senator Inouye is right? Dig through every packet for porn and shunt the data to the Feds.

...And My Taxes To Pay For The Data
Having to get a Federal Court order when you want to examine a broad swath of Internet traffic is a pain for the FBI and a money sink for the ISPs who have to intercept and store the data. But a new program will at least deal with the latter problem by paying the the ISPs and Telcos to gather, store, and categorize all the traffic that law enforcement so desperately wants. Your tax dollars at work.

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2007/07/25

Can San Francisco clean up its act?

Mayor Gavin Newsom has wasted a lot of breath on how he'll clean up San Francisco. Most of his initiatives have come to naught, and a recent Chronicle article takes him to task for the deplorable situation of the homeless encampments in Golden Gate Park.
But I contend that there's plenty of blame to go around. From the Mayor, to the City Council, to the police...everybody has an excuse for why they're unable to do anything to help clean up our city. Some of my hot button issues:

Sweepers That Can't-Don't-Won't Sweep...
...because the Department of Parking and Traffic refuses to tow cars off the streets ahead of the sweepers. They say they don't make the rules--the City Council does. The City Council says that ticketing is too lucrative for the city to pass up. What? And towing isn't?! Either way, the trash piles up from week after week of neglect.

Whose Sidewalk Is It Anyway?
When it needs to be repaired, swept, or hosed down because some bum vomited on it, the 10 feet of concrete between my flat and the street is my responsibility. But when I ask the police to help me run off a junkie whose loitering on my stoop... "Hey...that's public property. Nothing we can do about that."

It's A Recycle Bin, Not An ATM
I'm not saying that there's a conspiracy going on here, but when my recycle bins end up on the curb for an hour before getting emptied--and in that hour a half dozen scavengers go through them--something's up. What's also up...or more correctly out...on the street...are any recyclables that the scavengers can't trade for pennies.

It's Not Advertising, It's Trash
This city needs to outlaw the pizza / Thai / Chinese / acupuncture / housecleaning / whatever-the-f*ck-you-want-to-sell-me-today flyer. The damn things arrive on my doorstep by the hundreds. I'm expecting flyers from the local prostitutes any day now, and where will they end up? Uh-huh! Right in the god-damned street with all the others. In California, forests die so that I can get Free delivery and bonus spring roll!.

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2007/07/24

Beer Wisdom

Meeting with the Barbarians on Saturday reminded me of the wonder of Beer, and in that spirit here is some wisdom I've collected over the years regarding this awesome libation:

<<  This...IS BEER!
This...is yellow water that tastes like dirt.
Any beer with a tagline that ends in, "...that still tastes great." is a beer to avoid.
"Light Beer" is an oxymoron. The purpose of beer is to fill you up and slow you down.
Unless it's Iron City or Tecate (and you have a lime and salt handy) don't drink beer from cans.
If sex is the only way you can sell your product, consider selling something else.

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2007/07/23

BlognonyBITS - Whither Customer Retention

Just made the final break from State Farm,
A company I've been continuously insured with
Since the age of 16. And the reasons were many:
Lousy service, elimination of loyalty discounts,
And objectionable politics (a huge GOP contributor).

Are they curious why a customer of 25 years left?
Nope. Didn't object. Didn't even ask why.
Perhaps they're happy I'm gone--risky policy...
In a risky state, reprobate who doesn't own a car.
Or maybe there simply is no ROI for customer retention.

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Whatever It Takes

Impersonating a law enforcement officer is illegal everywhere and is usually a pretty serious offense. So when you find someone doing it, my guess is that it's often for monetary gain, and there is no question in the perp's mind that it's illegal. Not so Jay Garrity, the controversial ex-aide to Mitt Romney who apparently created bogus law enforcement badges so that he and other Romney staffers could intimidate reporters, avoid tolls, and gain early access to campaign venues.

So why does this seem so god-damned offensive? Perhaps because it's symptomatic of laissez faire attitude toward law that has a huge proponent in the current administration. I mean, why shouldn't Romney's staffers do what it takes to gain advantage over the other GOP hopefuls? They're not hurting anybody...not really. So what does it matter if they break a few laws in the process? Bush and his administration do it...all the time. Hell, in the name of national security, Bush has taken to creating law by executive fiat.

Of course, for those of us on the other side, this looks like imperial arrogance. "You want documents on how we politicized the Justice Department? F*ck you! We're the GOP and we do what we want." "Filibusters? F*ck you! We're the GOP, and we'll use any tactic that furthers our goals even ones we threatened to take away from you." "Impersonating an officer? Well...f*ck you! We do what we must to get our man elected. We're serving the greater good here."

Conservatives often argue that things are different now--that sometimes we need to go to extremes to protect our country. Well, I don't know about protecting the country, but on the former point I have to agree. Things certainly are different now. We know this because ordinary people have internalized the "whatever it takes" attitude. They're learning the lesson that Bu$hCo is teaching.

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2007/07/22

Absurdly Personal - Of Rovers and Redemption

Tammy Faye Messner, the weepy, over-the-top televangelist we all remember from the eighties passed away Friday at the age of 65, and on hearing the news I tried to summon up some shred of sorrow. I mean I know that in the intervening years, through the incarceration of her first and second husbands, the collapse of the Bakker media empire, and her battle with colon cancer she's become a better person. But still I was coming up empty.

Meanwhile, on Mars, the greatest, most astounding scientific endeavor in human history could be coming to an end as a continent sized sandstorm starves the two mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, of vital solar energy. And lest anyone underestimate the importance of the little scientific packages that really, Really, REALLY! could, these machines have been up on mars doing their jobs for 10 times their original operational lifetime! The scientists at JPL deserve medals.

So here's the thing... I am more saddened by the imminent end of the rover mission than I am by the death of someone who, I think, really did try to redeem herself, and I'm having a hard time figuring out what that means.

2007/07/21

Bureau of Inertia

Well dear readers, the Frogette and I are off to an afternoon of drinking with the Barbarians -- (B)ay (AR)ea (B)loggers (A)nd (R)eaders. But before I go let me leave you with a shout out to a blogger who really deserves some of your clicks.

I fancy myself a decent, if not outstanding, satirist, but Mr_Blog is truly a master. Check out his post on the new cabinet level department: The Bureau of Inertia.

It's a treat.

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2007/07/20

As The Tinfoil Hat Spins...

...for when you average garden-variety conspiracy theory just won't do.

A new executive order effectively gives George Bush the dictatorial power to seize the assets of anyone who opposes his administration's policies on Iraq. Now that by itself is pretty scary stuff, but never let it be said that your author doesn't know a good conspiracy theory when he stumbles across one.

Read these headlines and see if, in light of Bu$hCo's latest power grab, you don't agree:

Pentagon seeks $1.2B for armored vehicle

Obama, Clinton Have $30 Million-Plus

Pentagon Aide Says Clinton Helps Enemy

What did I tell you.

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DeLay Opens His Pie Hole

I contend [abortion] affects you in immigration... If we had those 40 million children that were killed over the last 30 years, we wouldn't need the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today. Think about it.
-- Tom DeLay - Speaking at gathering of College Republicans

But Tom...they'd probably all vote Democrat and you wouldn't be able to deport them.
-- Kvatch

Apparently the former asswipe from Texas believes that the apex of a parent's ambition for their child is a low-skill, low-wage, low-prestige job with no benefits.

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2007/07/19

Just Say "I Do"

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

Faced with the worldwide rejection of their "Abstinence Before Marriage" campaign, the Bush Administration today announced a new program designed to encourage young women in the developing world to marry early. One State Department spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity, referred to the new initiative as "A Bride Before A Ride," and said of the program:
We want these young women to get hitched before they're tempted to engage in 'The Devil's Business'. These days, with puberty comin' on as early as the age of 9, we figure we've got nothing to lose.
The program will send $623M in assistance to 16 countries where young women are often forced to marry. Though, when asked about reports that child marriage deprives girls of education and threatens their health, the State Department responded, "Well we don't think that the people of Utah would agree with you."

2007/07/18

Fedware - The New Frontier In Malicious Software

Malware (malicious software) is scary enough. A rootkit can give an attacker unfettered access to your system and your most sensitive data. A keystroke logger can capture the passphrases that you use to encrypt files and volumes. These days, especially on Windows, you absolutely must have security software that continuously scans for the viruses and worms and install the malicious pieces of code. But what about when it's the federal government doing the attacking?

Recent high-profile prosecutions have revealed that, for example, the DEA employs keystroke loggers to give them access to the encrypted files of suspected manufacturers of illegal drugs, and if the DEA is doing it you can bet the farm that the FBI and Secret Service are as well. So here's the question: How do you protect yourself against over-zealous law enforcement agencies installing Fedware on your computers? And more importantly, will your security software manufacturer protect you or expose you?

Oh sure, if you're up to no good a rootkit is sort of like a wiretap, ordered by a court and used for evidence gathering. But we know that the Bush Administration, under the guise of fighting terror, has instructed the DoD and FBI to illegally monitor all sorts of groups--peaceniks and protesters--that aren't exactly out there cooking crystal-meth to feed to your kids. So what do you do to protect yourself.

Unfortunately, the answer may ultimately lie with the company whose security software you choose, and when a Federal order comes down many vendors, such as CheckPoint (ZoneAlarm) and McAfee (Norton), will quietly ignore Fedware and won't tell you about it. Hell CheckPoint goes so far as to 'whitelist' borderline software from vendors that request an exemption. But really...should you even trust what a vendor says about their policy on detecting Fedware? After all, they're in the business of selling you a security package, and if they reveal that they're...essentially...not secure, why would you stick with their product?

Ironically, the solution to this problem may lie with the open-source software community. A high-quality, thoroughly reviewed, well-understood, open-source security package may be your only defense against Fedware because, in the end, there would be nobody that could be ordered to intentionally sabotage the product.

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2007/07/17

BlognonyBITS: Cindy...Please Stay Out Of It

Ever since Cindy Sheehan announced that she would challenge Nancy Pelosi for CA-8 if the Speaker fails to put impeachment back on the table, I've struggled for a response. But lacking further inspiration, I'm left with my original feelings on the subject:

Make your challenge if you must, but when the election finally does roll around, please stay out of it.

Don't make the mistake of believing that San Francisco's frustration with Pelosi--our referendums in favor of impeachment--will translate into votes for you. This district's electorate is complex and fickle. You won't succeed in unseating Pelosi, but you will be just enough of a distraction to put a stake through the heart of any serious challenge.

There's no question that Pelosi has to go, but unfortunately Ms. Sheehan, you are not the one to make that happen.

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Health Care Myths - The Same Day Appointment

A day or two ago, I was surfing Zen Yenta's World when I came across a wholly foreign concept. Ms. Yenta mentioned that she hadn't been feeling well and went to the doctor. "Do you mean," I replied, wonder in my voice, "...on the same day? Is that even possible?"

Out here in the Sodom by the Sea, the same day appointment is like winning the lottery. In other words, it doesn't happen to real people. At my GP, nurses and administrators screen everyone who calls to determine whether or not your complaint is life threatening. If not, you get an appointment one to five days in the future which guarantees that either: 1) You'll be over it or 2) You're dead. Either way, they don't have to treat you. And the response if you happen to disagree with their 20 second diagnosis? "Well then go to the emergency room." Which is just another way of saying, "If you don't mind paying for it out of pocket, you can get all the health care you need."

Consequently, I've found that the only way to get timely access to care is to game the system. Go without an appointment and sit in your doctor's lobby until they see you. Coughing a lot, sneezing-- in short making a germ spreading ruckus--seems to speed things along.

How are things where you incubate?

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2007/07/16

Microsoft's Vista - OS or Peeping Tom?

There's a lot of news out of Redmond these days, and most of it is bad...for consumers that is.

It's An OS / It's An Ad-server / It's A Peeping Tom
Check out this patent application. Pretty much turns your operating system into a server of targeted ads. But that's not all. No sir-ee! The sources listed for making ad-serving decisions include: "...user document files, user email, user music files, podcast files, computer status messages, and a profile database storing existing tag data." It other words ALL YOUR PERSONAL FILES! Now that's innovation!

Try Then Buy Before Your Files Die
In order to increase uptake on Office 2007, Microsoft has put in place a "Try Before You Buy" program. The kicker for users is that "trying" Office 2007 will convert any files the program touches to Redmond's new document format, a process from which there is no return unless you get a compatibility pack that allows you to get access to your important documents.

Legal Discovery? Why It's Built In
I'll let this tidbit speak for itself:
Vista—Microsoft’s latest operating system—may prove to be most appropriately named, especially for those seeking evidence of how a computer was used.
Automatic backups, "shadow file copies", detailed system transaction records...a litigator's paradise!

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2007/07/15

Kvatch Konsiders: When 'Gay' Is The Answer

The Nvisiblewmn has a great post up examining the connection between homophobia and the violence that seems to plague suburban, largely white, conservative US high schools. Now I don't want to take anything away from her post, but I think I should call your attention to the one obvious fact that stands out, at least for me, like sneakers with a tuxedo:

If we had more gay students in our schools, say 50%, we wouldn't have all these problems!

Now...I'm tempted to make this simply a numbers argument--you simply can't bully a group of students that make up 50% of the population--but I feel that I should delve deeper.

Let's start with a premise: Heterosexual high school age boys are louts, crude, rude, socially retarded members of society that, if we weren't so conditioned against cannibalism, we'd probably turn into soylent green and consume. They dress badly, they act badly, they're stupid, and semi-literate. Have you looked into a high-school boy's room lately. AUGGGGGHHHHH! There isn't enough money in the Superfund to clean 'em all up.

But, on the other hand, if 50% of all males were gay, the positive effects would be astounding. Aside from reducing violent outbursts from brawls to shouting matches, "Go away our I shall taunt you a second time..." heterosexual boys would have to dress better--maybe even learn to coordinate an outfit--groom themselves, and maybe...just maybe...learn to relate to women. Because let's face nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a "hag brush-off". "Gee Slash, I'd love to go to a monster truck rally with you, but my best friend Steve is taking me to a revival of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat."

In short, what I'm trying to say is this: If we want to stem the tide of youth violence in this country, the answer is obvious. We need more gay adolescent males. Nuff said.

2007/07/13

Kvatch's Kocktail Hour - The Gonzo Martini

It's been a bad week for Georgie and the GOP. From the DC Madam to executive privilege, our friends across the aisle are behaving like they've been backed into a corner. But at Blognonymous we say: "No hard feelings guys. It's Friday! Let's all lift one together,":

The Gonzo Martini (at right):

- 1 part everclear
- 5 parts Jose Cuervo gin

One sip of this baby, and you won't remember what you said yesterday much less six months ago.

More drinks at The Unruly Mob and If I Ran The Zoo.

OK...So The Sun Really Isn't To Blame

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

Faced with new evidence that the Sun really isn't to blame for global warming, the Bush Administration clarified its stance by revealing that what they had really meant to say was that sun...screen is the primary culprit.

At a press conference earlier today, newly appointed head of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association Scarlett 'Babsie' McPherson claimed, "...you know if sunbathers would just stop using SPF50, maybe try a bit of tanning oil or some spray on, then all those nasty cosmic rays would get absorbed. You know...rather than bouncing around the atmosphere where they can heat things up."

Administration officials refused to answer questions regarding Ms. McPherson's previous employer, the infamous 'DC Madam', Deborah Palfrey.

(Thanks to the Station Agent for inspiration).

2007/07/12

In the East Bay, Discrimination Stinks...Literally

OK, so it doesn't rank up there with decades of disenfranchisement for blacks and women, but watching your garbage pile up just because you live in a poor neighborhood still sucks. Especially when you have the San Francisco Chronicle to tell you that your well-to-do neighbors' garbage IS getting picked up despite a union lock out by Waste Management, the disposal company that holds most of the East Bay contracts.

It went down like this... On July 2nd, 3 days after their contract expired with the local Teamsters, Waste Management locked out their workers in anticipation of a strike. Since then talks have broken down, as have collection schedules--though apparently in some neighborhoods' the schedules are more broke than in others. Some East Bay residents claim they haven't seen a truck since the strike began. In fact, With no talks scheduled and the garbage piling, the City of Oakland has had to resort to suing Waste Management to get them and the Teamsters to agree to a 'cooling-off period.

But regardless of whether or not the garbage gets picked up in a timely fashion, residents of East Oakland aren't paying any less for their service than their well-heeled neighbors, so where does Waste Management come off ignoring the poor?

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2007/07/11

The 787 - Beautiful! Revolutionary! Troubling?

Boeing rolled this baby out on Sunday 7/8/07, the company's first new jet in 12 years, and it now seems obvious why this plane has over 600 confirmed orders before it's even taken to the skies. It's gorgeous!


This my friends is 'the Airbus killer'. A plane that shows that Boeing understands the needs of their market far better than their European competitor. "Why?" you may ask. Well read on...

Beautiful! - This plane is like the cover of an old sci-fi periodical announcing "The Future!". The sloped nose; flush windows; wings swept up and back like a majestic bird. We haven't seen a airliner this magnificent since the de Havilland Comet. And unlike the 747 and A380--both of which make you wonder how they even get off the ground--the Dreamliner actually looks like it belongs in the air.

Revolutionary! - This is the jet that literally dozens of airlines have been waiting for--medium capacity but able to fly the world's longest air routes. Through the use of carbon composites in the fuselage, this jet will use 20% less fuel and has revolutionary new Rolls-Royce engines that are more efficient and quieter. But most importantly, this jet incorporates a revolutionary stabilization system that should significantly reduce the effects of turbulence...

Troubling? - ...and therein is the problem. Though you may not be aware of it, every Airbus jet since the A300 and Boeing's 777 and 787 are "fly-by-wire" aircraft. In other words there is no physical connection between the pilot and the control surfaces. Computers do the work of translating pilot inputs into things like pitch and yaw. Now this isn't really something to worry about. Fly-by-wire is well-understood and well-tested technology, but...add stabilization to that mix--almost certainly handled by different computer programs designed to sense changes in and compensate for wind-speed, air pressure, etc...--and it seems you're adding a complex set of variables to an already complex calculation. And, though I'm sure that Boeing's engineers have a really good idea of what they're doing, I'm also a software engineer who has a pretty good idea of how difficult such calculations are to perform, especially when the pilot input and the stabilization directives conflict.

Turbulence sucks, and the older I get the more nervous it makes me, but I think that in this instance I'd be willing to just deal with it. Especially when I'm flying in something as pretty as the Dreamliner.

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Pope To Catholics: We're Number 1!!!

The Anglicans are saying there's nothing new under the sun, but it still sucks to be given the big kiss off by a man who looks like Uncle Fester.

With his most recent encyclical, il Papa has basically told members of the Orthodox and Protestant denominations that 1) they're not true Christian churches and 2) they, "...do not have the means of salvation". Yow Benedict! Harsh...very harsh.

Guess all you Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, what-have-you's had better not bet the farm on the whole heaven thing. Though, I hear that the Islam might have a deal for you.

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2007/07/10

All Star Censure

Tonight Major League Baseball winds up it's annual three day tribute to itself with the All-Star Game here in San Francisco.

Now I am not a baseball fan, but even I recognize the significance of the event. There is a chance, a small one, that Barry Bonds will break Hank Aaron's home run record, and even if it doesn't happen tonight it's bound to happen in the next few weeks. The problem is that a Bonds record will forever be a sham because of his performance enhancing drug use. Major League Baseball knows it--they're constantly spinning the scenarios, doing damage control before the record is even broken. Bonds knows it--he's facing angry fans at just about every ballpark he enters, probably why he sat out the Home Run Derby last night. And the fans really, really know it. They're putting up banners, waving signs, booing Bonds...so much so that MLB has taken to keeping unruly fans out of the parks.

So this is what our 'national pastime' has come to, a corporation beyond the law using its authority to keep their fans from calling a spade a spade. Maybe it's time we gave NASCAR the 'national pastime' designation?

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Let The Confessions Begin!

Oh...so much to write about today. Let's start with some verse for the DC Madam:

The DC Madam's list is out
And those with power now will spout
Confessions honed to stem a rout
That might reduce their cherished clout.

But it's too late. We rush to view
The lurid details--when, and who
Frequented the Madam's crew
And paid her for a tawdry screw.

So let the plaintive whining start
By clueless louts who for their part
Should have been a bit more smart
And kept their hands off Madam's tarts.


...and the BHFRIK adds some mighty couplets of his own.

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2007/07/09

"In God We Trust" Provokes My Disgust

OK...I admit it. I'm a bad frog. After participating in the first 'Blogs Against Theocracy' swarm, I thought I'd sit this most recent one out, not having anything particularly interesting to say on the subject. But when I read that, after minting 600M coins in the new 'Presidential' dollar series, the House is apparently unsatisfied and wants them redesigned to prominently display 'In God We Trust' on the coin face, I just had to write something.

You see...I'm with that minority of Americans against whom, most everybody else agrees, discrimination is just peachy. I'm speaking, of course, of atheists and agnostics. I'll never be elected to a high public office in this country because, let's face it, having an unbeliever in a position of power is dangerous. In many localities I wouldn't be allowed to teach school. Can't have a doubter influencing young minds, now can we? In fact, the ways in which we discriminate against non-believer's are too numerous to count, and although I don't think about it too often, this unspoken agreement that we're all people of faith is perhaps the most pernicious. It's like when you're family tells you, "Just come with us to church. It's important that we're all seen there together."

And where does that unquestioned tenet most often appear? ON OUR GOD-DAMNED MONEY!!! 'In God We Trust' stamped on every stupid coin--on every bill--as if having our legal tender emblazoned with a hollow protestation somehow gives the words meaning. What utter nonsense!

So...when I learned that, with the new dollar coin series, the words were being minimized and moved to the edge, I was actually kind of glad. It's not a perfect "separation of church and state" solution--after all we're not talking about establishment of religion here, just faith--but it seemed to be a decent compromise. Though now I guess...it's not good enough for the busy-bodies in the House. They want to hold up the whole program and waste more millions moving "In God We Trust" back onto the coin face.

And finally, here's a newsflash for those representatives whose faith is so shaky that they need a reminder on their money: Not all of us trust in God, and you people, quite frankly, have better things to do.

2007/07/08

Porn Squad


They may--or may not--fix your computer, but while they're at it they may also steal your music and movies, files and photos, programs and porn.

Beware. Geek Squad's comin' for ya pork chop!

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2007/07/07

The Prodigal Bloggers Return

Within the last month two of the three missing bloggers I recently memorialized have returned--Enigma and Neil Shakespeare. (Now if only Rex Kramer would return to blogging...) But as happy as I am to be able to read their excellent posts again, I would be remiss if I didn't mention some other bloggers whose absence is keenly felt:

Betty Cracker
Karena
Robot Buddah of The Johnny Sutra
Fatcat Politics
Stephen McArthur of Orwell's Grave
Michael Miller of Informed Dissent

Hope you all are doing well.

The Frog Adds One

Since first responding to this meme, not only have I been tagged twice more (by Lola Heatherton and Snave), but the number of random facts you're supposed to list about yourself has increased by one. So on 7/7/07, it seems fitting that I should add an eighth item to my list:

8) I'm really, Really, REALLY afraid of open water. My idea of the worst death imaginable is drowning. I won't swim in anything larger than a pool. I won't go on any boat smaller than a large ferry. I can't stand being out of sight of land. Hell...I don't even like flying over the open ocean.

Pretty ironic for a frog...wouldn't you say? And in case you missed the original seven, here they are.

2007/07/06

WOB - War on Bureaucracy?

Once again Blognonymous is forced to award the coveted, I Made Kvatch Snort His Martini Through His Nose prize to the MSM. Yes, Faux News gets the nod this week for the most nonsensical bit of reasoning we've seen in a long time.

According to National Review Online columnist and Fox pundit Jerry Bowyer, the bureaucracy endemic to nationalized health-care systems makes them a breeding ground for terrorists.

And from this, I think we can conclude that either Fox News believes that US HMOs, PPOs, and the like are free from bureaucracy...or...our terror alert level just increased to purple!

Next up...the War on Bureaucracy!

Born In The USA

Where I live, there aren't many people who fly the flag on Independence Day, or any other day for that matter. In fact, I suspect that displaying Old Glory is getting more rare by the year. So doesn't a law designed to punish merchants for selling flags made overseas seem just a little bit cuckoo? We're trying to encourage flag sales, right?

2007/07/05

Putting Their Mouths Where The Money Is

So Libby's had his sentence commuted, and now we're all waiting to see if a pardon is in the offing. Though many conservative apologists are latching onto the fact that Libby is still on the hook for $250,000 in fines, the plain fact is that Scotter will never have to pay. The Libby Legal Defense Trust has got convicted felon covered. "How covered?" you might ask...


Well, when it fund raising, these guys are no slackers, but the actual numbers are hard to come by. Rumors were that the goal was $5,000,000--enough dough to cover Libby and 19 other would-be GOP criminals. Even Republican heavy hitter and presidential hopeful/savior Fred Thompson is on the advisory committee, holding a fundraiser at his Virginia home.

Think Libby will get to pocket the change? If so, it's the sort of return on investment most of us could only dream of. All that's required is that you do the President's bidding, take a year off for the trial and conviction, and then wait for the post appeal shenanigans. Simplicity itself.

2007/07/04

Happy 4th!

2007/07/03

Eagerly Awaiting "The Plus-sized Society"

Have you heard? Of course you have. It's all over the media. Americans are getting bigger...taller and heavier. From planes and trains, skirts to shirts, many of us are being forced to squeeze into spaces that are, quite frankly, not keeping up size-wise.

Now before I go further...let me state categorically that this is not an anti or pro-fat post. I have no animosity toward heavy individuals nor desire to see anybody change their lives. Quite the contrary, I'm merely observing a trend and anticipating how it might benefit those of us on the smaller side. You see...I'm as light as I've been in a decade, and as little as two years ago I was as heavy as I've ever been. 15 lbs. of weight loss mostly due to changing my eating habits and removing stress from my life. Now you may say that 15 lbs is not a lot, but I'm not a big guy to begin with, and frankly I'm thrilled that I've finally got the snacking under control. I no longer eat everything that's put in front of me. I'm careful and...I'm lucky.

But not so the poor 6' 4" or 300 lb guy who has to squeeze into an modern economy airline seat. And what is United doing for that poor schmuck? NOTHING! Or what about health care? I had an MRI not too long ago, and I thought at the time that a lot of people wouldn't have been able to fit into that machine. Turns out I was right. In fact many hospitals refuse to acquire equipment that can accommodate the plus-sized individual despite the fact that failure to do so is essentially health-care discrimination.

And herein is the point of this little post: I think that it's high time that American companies started dealing with the reality of obesity in America. Sure I'd prefer that we didn't have this problem, but that's not a reason for people to be made miserable when they travel, buy clothes, or seek out health-care. And I'm willing to do my part--selfishly, I'll admit. Would I pay a bit extra for my airline tickets if United gave us all some extra room by removing seats from their planes. You betcha! Would I like to save a little for my insurance company by using the extra-small MRI? Absolutely--keeping in mind that a smaller MRI, with smaller magnets, use less electricity. So maybe I could get a bit of a rate cut?

Does this mean that I'm advocating for a sort of "thin-tax". Maybe, but if I'm getting a benefit then, as with any tax, I think I can deal.

2007/07/02

A Tale of Two Sentiments

Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."


No modern president has seen such a sustained rejection

"Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?"

Kvatch Says...

Don't bother looking at the rest of the world you stupid, arrogant, imperious, hypocritical son-of-a-bitch. Plenty of people right here in God's country hate you.

Executive Privilege - The Road To A Permanent Republican Minority

On the subject of administration's role (or lack thereof) in the political motivated firings of 9 federal prosecutors, Bu$hCo has basically told the House and Senate Judiciary Committee to f*ck off. In fact, by failing to provide an assertion of executive privilege by the President himself and by refusing to supply the customary list of withheld materials, the administration has gone further than their predecessors in telling Congress where to stick it. Want to guess what will happen with the Senate Judiciary Committee's subpoenas for documents about Bu$hCo's illegal wiretapping program? Yup. Executive privilege once again!

Senator Leahy and Rep. Conyers are prepared to issue criminal Contempt of Congress charges. Though ultimately it won't do any good. That's not to say that a court case wouldn't be valuable, but the DoJ has the responsibility to prosecute such a case, and Gonzales won't. On the other hand, if the Democrats have the stones, executive privilege can be used as bludgeon to turn the GOP into a minority party...permanently!

How? In short the electorate needs to be reminded every god-damned day about Bu$hCo's willingness to use any means to keep illegal activities safe from scrutiny. Senators who refuse to support Contempt of Congress charges need to be targeted for defeat as 'co-conspirators'. When Giuliani whines about how his administration will be different, he needs to be shouted down with the words, "That's what Bush said!" Republican candidates from Schwarzenegger to the lowest state official need to be lashed to GOP criminality like a narc to an anchor.

Remember...if the situation were reversed, Republicans wouldn't hesitate.

2007/07/01

The Frog Tells All

So I've been tagged with this meme a few times (Ahab and Fashiongirl, at least), and I figured that it's time that I got on it. So here are 7 random facts about me:

1) I have an unnatural ability to guess and estimate. Work or personal life...doesn't matter. I can tell you how much you paid for that dress. I can tell you how long that project will take.

2) I don't freeze up during public speaking. 10 or 10,000...irrelevant. I just go into 'presentation mode'.

3) I'm an obsessive "law-abider". I only cross with the light. I pay for the music I download. I don't use software I don't own. Hell I won't even use software my employers don't own.

4) That said, I challenge authority all the time even when there's no need.

5) I'm a weeper--movies, music, books--and it's getting worse as I get older.

6) I've never owned a car that I cared about, but I miss the motorcycle that I sold last summer.

7) If my checking account has $0.00 at the end of the month, and all the bills are paid, all the savings tucked away...I WIN!