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Ripped From the Headlines - Gingrich To Be 'Called Home'
Gives no hint of what will happen to the money if it only amounts to $29.9M.
O'Reilly: Attacks on him mean 'there is no longer an honest press in America'
...and Fox News proves 'Loofah Boy' right again!
Censorship Is Bad For Business
Damn! "...controversial or unsavory to any of our users."? Are you people serious? Well that settles it. I'm switching, and then I'm gonna tell Verizon that I find anything sent via text from the GOP, RNC, Rudy, Romney, Bush, and Cheney to be offensive. That should thoroughly torpedo 'Thuglican grass-roots efforts in the next election.
But wait... Just this afternoon Verizon wakes up and smells the moolah. Because, when you're a telco, you don't just say no to a customer that will net you 10 to 20 thousand dollars every time they use their message tree. No sir! You say, "Democrat messages, Republican messages, pro-choice, anti-choice, Elvis sightings, sightings of Paris Hilton's cootchie...BRING 'EM ON!"
So I suppose, to the extent there's something to worry about here, it's the idea that a Telco would assert their right to censor whatever goes through their lines. Imagine if they pulled these kind of shenanigans with your email.
I guess I'd be worried if it wasn't so bad for business.
Time To Retire Feinstein
Even a Republican apparatchik, appointed by the governator, would be better than a woman who at every turn demonstrates contempt for her constituents. At least then there would be no expectation of true representation.
So...Senator Feinstein...could you please just retire. You're an embarrassment--a liability for your state and your party.
Cabinet Department or Public Relations Firm?
Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future....just doesn't cut it anymore. And no wonder... "You can't have those uppity Californians trying to clean up their own air, now can you? God forbid we allow them to save energy with their own mileage standards. Forget the fact that they already have tougher standards. The EPA screwed up when they gave California it's first exemption from the federal requirements. Another exemption? To raise the standard again? F*CK NO! But how to keep EPA from acting on the Supreme Court's instructions to consider the exemption?"
This is the dilemma for Bu$hCo, and their solution? Instruct the DoT to start an illegal lobbying campaign against California's request. Because, after all, the Supreme Court said 'consider the exemption' not 'grant the exemption'. So if you can get EPA to say "no", the whole mess goes back into the court system for another lengthy trial.
So now that DoT is acting like a public relations firm for Big Auto, perhaps they'd consider the following for their mission statement:
Serve the American auto industry by ensuring a profitable, regulation-free environment where the concerns of states and citizens are kept in check and a transportation system based on the automobile is the only choice for the American people, today and into the future.
The Era of the 'American Serf' Is At Hand
Let's start with the basics: FOIA requests filed by John Gilmore, the technologist and privacy advocate, reveal that DHS is storing information on where you travel (even when that travel originates outside the US), by what means, with whom you stay, and what you take with you (a.k.a., the contents of your luggage). Now you may say, "So what's the problem? DHS needs this information to identify terrorists." Well...the problems are two-fold. First, the Privacy Act of 1974, forbids the government from collecting data on how you exercise your 1st Amendment rights. So recording the contents of your luggage and the names of the people with whom you stay, is illegal. Second, building a database of "known associates" may expose those people--your friends and family, for example--to government scrutiny without probable cause. Consequently, civil liberties advocates have asserted, and I agree, that this system is ripe for abuse.
But I will go one step further. I think that it is naive to assume that such a comprehensive database has any purpose other than to restrict the ability of US citizens to travel freely within their own country. In other words, this isn't merely a matter of presenting your "papers" on demand. We're about to enter a new era, one that should be disconcertingly familiar to any student of history.
In Imperial Russia the majority of the population was forbidden to travel without permission from their lord. In ATS, our political ruling class has a tool and a pretense for imposing such restrictions here. So...welcome to the era of American serfdom!
BlognonyBITS - Dan Rather, what are you thinking?
The reputation that you yourself torpedoed?
Do you somehow think that a civil judgment
Will make people forget 20 years of boring?
That your hollow protestations will change
The fact that you were a corporate kiss-ass?
Is your sole desire for your waning years
To spend your time sitting in a sterile courtroom?
A Moment of Silence
Perhaps the greatest mime the world has ever known, but also a scholar, teacher, movie star, and French resistance fighter. Say what you will about mime. Marceau's performances where magic.
Emigration *IS* An Option
'Sex Sells Seats'
I'll be posting the results this evening.
What price democracy?
Tuesday Technology Tidbits - Music Industry or Balkans?
Buried in the latest Apple iTunes update is a little "feature" that not only prevents your iPod from working with anything but iTunes, but that also links your music database to a single device. Got music of your own that's managed by another program? "Tough!" says Apple.
Universal Says: "We didn't really like selling music anyway."
And not to be outdone, Universal Music Group escalated their war with Apple by signing a deal to offer music on Spiralfrog's ad supported service. The catch is that the MP3s can't be burned to CD (yeah, like that will last), and they won't play on the iPod. Oh well, so much for Universal's sales.
Larry Craig Prepares for the Future
Larry Craig welcomes visitors to the Twin Cities' newest attraction.
The BlognonyPOLL - Emigration
A Metaphor For America's War On The Have-nots
|This is Our Lady of the Angels, a magnificent $180M cathedral erected by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Opened in 2002, it is an opulent testament to the wealth of the church.|
|These are the Sisters of Bethany who live and work with the poor in East Santa Barbara. In December, these elderly nuns will be evicted from their convent home of 40 years so that the Archdiocese can sell it to pay for 1/10 of 1% of a record $660M settlement of hundreds of clergy abuse cases.|
The GOP's 'Small Price'
I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.So let's break it down.
First: Patraeus lied in his testimony. Everybody knows it, and yet the GOP continues to support a rosy picture of Iraq created from whole cloth by Bu$hCo apparatchiks.
Second: The 'investment we're making today' is money being thrown down the toilet with no measurable progress in stemming terrorism. It is not 'small'. It is borrowed straight from foreign creditors, and it will be paid off by our children, our grand-children, their children, and by generations to come.
Third: The Middle East today is demonstratively less stable, and the political situation degrades by the week...by the day...by the hour. In fact, every minute that the Bush Administration continues to meddle in the Middle East makes the United States less safe.
Fourth: As pointed out at The Horse's Mouth, the so-called sacrifices fall, without exception, elsewhere than on our leaders and especially not on a GOP leadership made up of witless chickenhawks who, in their utter hypocrisy, describe those sacrifices as their own.
So thanks Rep. Boehner. You're a credit to your party.
Start a war, win an election?
Ostensibly, this article is about the German government's recent announcement that they would support no further sanctions against Iran and about how that decision is forcing administration officials to start the planning for an air campaign against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities. But buried in the story's eighth paragraph is a quote from an anonymous, but "well-placed Bush administration source", stating that the time frame for an attack is 8 to 10 months from now..."after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections."
Now imagine how that will affect the presidential race. Though the conventions haven't taken place, our super-duper early primaries have already selected the presumptive nominees. A second war will put an enormous amount of pressure on the Democratic nominee to definitively state her/his support or opposition. If the Democrat supports an Iranian War, the Democratic base falls apart. Anti-war liberals start making plans to emigrate and moderates, unwilling to support the party but with no viable alternative candidate, refuse to vote. If the Democratic nominee opposes the war, Republicans use it as a rallying cry. The right-wing noise machine goes into overdrive, tarring the Democrats as 'America haters', and the Republican base goes to the polls in droves.
Either way, it's a win for GOP, and so if the question is: Would Bu$hCo time a war to provide Republicans with political advantage in 2008? The answer seems to be an unequivocal, yes!
Tuesday Technology Tidbits (A Little Late)
Want a really green car? Well you can't have one!
They're called PZEV, partial zero emission vehicles, and in some cases outdo even conventional hybrids for their cleanliness at the tailpipe. The catch? Unless you live in California, New York, or one of six other northeastern states not only are they not available, it's illegal to sell them. Yes indeed, and if the Feds catch you trying to buy one, the fine can be as high as $27,500.
You scratch my back...
Telcos and ISPs voluntarily cooperate with the Feds on illegal surveillance of Americans.
...and I'll scratch yours:
DoJ sides with the Telcos on 'Net Neutrality' and starts muscling other federal departments on the issue.
And just in case your employer wants to 'chip' you...
Point them at this article that says that those embedded RFID transmitters are causing cancer in laboratory animals.
What is there left to say?
California GOP Prefers a Texan Wingnut To Schwarzenegger
Two Sad Bits on a Sunday Night: Thompson's True Colors
If you're politically committed against this war and to do something to further harm the president, the way the Democrats seem to be in Congress, then anything [in the Petraeus Report] that's a mixed message is going to be seized upon in a negative way. ...If we look weak and divided in this country, we're going to pay a heavy price for it in the future...Get that? Dissent, opposing the President, weakens America. And...since candidates never reveal any truth that might harm their campaign, you can bet that Thompson's closely held beliefs pale in comparison to what he was willing to say on Hannity & Colmes--A neocon wet-dream.
Two Sad Bits on a Sunday Night: Steve Fossett Missing
I recall vividly his successful 5th attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon.
"When you think housing, think Chrysler!"
Chrysler Chief Sees Link of Housing to Car Sales
Chrysler's new chief, Robert L. Nardelli is concerned that problems in the housing market and the broader economy are hurting car and truck sales. So today he announced an new initiative designed to stimulate flagging sales:
Today Chrysler is launching the 'Live In Your Car America!' campaign.
Wouldn't you like to have a beautiful new Chrysler 300 rather than a squalid closet in Hell's Kitchen? We're just saying to Americans, don't worry about those foreclosure notices. Don't worry about skyrocketing prices or plunging values. Sell your house and buy a Durango. We'll even throw in a free mattress and a shaver attachment. Your kids will love with our built-in entertainment systems. The only thing we can't provide is a toilet, but hey...that's what truck stops are for, right?
It comes down to this: When you think housing, we want you to think 'Chrysler'! Because, let's face it, a 30 years fixed-rate on a Town & Country is gonna give you a very affordable payment.
Idaho Conservative Group 'Jumps Shark' To Support Craig
Kvatch Konsiders: The Day After We Bomb Iran
I Hate To Say iTold You So, But...
Oh well--the frog says, overwhelmed with schadenfreude--I'm just going to pop over to the Apple store and drool over the device that they should have released in the first place. Two months ago, when I pronounced the iPhone "doomed", I talked about what I really wanted: An OS X enabled iPod with the nifty touch screen and WiFi, a "...perfect synthesis of...my digital assistant and my digital music player". And guess what? Apple announced my dream gadget yesterday, iPod Touch.
Eat your hearts out iPhone weenies!
The United States, World's First Corporate Kleptocracy
In a traditional kleptocracy, the government directly extends the power and wealth of the ruling class through taxes and the looting of wealth in natural resources. The United States is no longer rich in resources but is rich in the productivity of its workers. Our country is also rich in geo-political influence and military might. And so we find the Bush Administration, at almost every turn, advancing policies that indirectly transfer wealth to the powerful by:
1) Removing regulations on, curtailing oversight of, or blocking corrective action against predatory industries. Example: Enron and the gaming of California's electrical markets with FERC blocking corrective action after the fact.
2) Creating geo-political instability designed to enhance the profits of particular industries. Example: The Iraq War with it's direct and indirect benefits for the defense and petroleum industries.
3) Actively supporting inefficient, but highly profitable, corporate service delivery systems instead of more efficient government systems. Examples: Private insurer health care and mandatory non-governmental retirement financing
4) Supporting predatory laws that amount to non-tax "taxes" that favor corporations over individuals. Examples: Bankruptcy reform, medical savings accounts, privatized social-security
5) Massive politicization of the regulatory (EPA, OSHA), investigative (DoJ, FBI, BATF, Customs), military, and judicial functions of government, thereby ensuring compliance that supports the other four areas.
Sort of makes you feel like Neo in The Matrix, doesn't it? Not a battery...a wealth creation machine for corporations. The proof in the stats. Real income for the majority of Americans has not increased in 7 years while corporate profits have ballooned and are, for certain industries, at historic highs. Productivity continues to climb while wages fall, even during a period of low inflation.
One wonders how long such a system can last since most kleptocracies fail, bloodily, when there is no more wealth to loot. The powerful leave, and poor fight each other for what's left.
Tuesday Technology Tidbits - "At the sound of the tone..."
Yes you heard right my friends. The end is nigh as AT&T discontinues their venerable "time-of-day" telephone service. I wonder if you can still hear WWVB's time broadcast over the phone?
"At the tone, 6 hours 42 minutes 15 seconds, Universal Coordinated Time... [BEEEEPPPPP!]"
Google Uber Alles
It's not like you need to be told that, when you surf Google, they track everything you do from your results to your clicks. But did you know that when you use Google apps pretty much everything that's stored in their servers belongs to them? Got a mess-o-data in Google Spreadsheets? Well...they own it! Here's the language from their user agreement:
...you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services...How you like them apples? Can anyone say, "blackmail"?
Skillserv - Or 'How Kvatch Spent His Labor Day'
Well here it is September, and ironically I completed the last few items on Labor Day and put the site up live on the Internet yesterday afternoon. "Why ironic?" you might ask. Mostly because this little project is designed to help consultants and contractors accurately estimate rates for their billable hours.
You see, when I left my corporate job back in May of 2006, I found that the world of technology contracting had changed...a lot. Though there is plenty of work around, it's now almost impossible to get to the hiring managers because thousands of staffing agencies guard the doors, 'body-shops' whose sole purpose seems to be offering up semi-qualified candidates at cut-rate prices. They pay their 'code-monkeys' a pittance and skim 25% to 40% of the billable rate off the top for doing...essentially...nothing. Qualified, experienced engineers don't stand a chance because our rates are too high. We happen to know what we're worth.
But what if these kids also knew what they were worth? What if they knew that when they work sans benefits, their effective salary is considerably less than what they'd make going corporate? This is where Skillserv comes in--a subversive little application originally designed to help me estimate my own rates while taking into account the complexities of taxes, billing status, and benefits. My goal is to help the kids, and just about anybody else who works independently, figure out what they're worth, how much benefits cost, and how their tax status affects their earning potential.
Worth 'wasting' my holiday for? I hope so, and I would encourage you to take a look if you think it might be valuable. If not, please forgive the indulgence of my using my blog to flog a pet project.
Labor Day Is For Un-American Pussies
My fellow Americans, we have the most productive workers in the world. They're a big part to what makes this country great, and so I'm declaring an end to the anti-American practice of celebrating Labor Day.
We all know that terrorists want to harm our great nation, and one way they do this is by encouraging our workers to rest when they should be out there kickin' Chinese butt, but I want you to know that the terrorists never rest. So like me, if you need a month--I mean a day off on Labor Day, do the "American" thing and take a day of vacation.
Thank you and God bless the United States of America.
San Francisco's Municipal WiFi Is Dead - Long Live Muni WiFi
Around here, when you say 'coffee', you mean 'Peet's'.
Oddly, I made it all the way through college without ever touching coffee, but at my first job I quickly discovered that, in order to get through those interminable afternoon meetings, one needed a pick-me-up. And thus I made the acquaintance of that nasty black-sludge that used to masquerade as coffee in offices across America. Fortunately the 'real' coffee revolution was only a few years off, and soon one could obtain decent coffee just about anywhere you turned.
But here in San Francisco, when you say Coffee, what you really mean is Peet's Coffee. Oh sure, there have been others. Spinelli's (acquired by Tully's and rebranded); Tully's (eventually shut down most of their Bay Area stores); Pasqua's (acquired by Starbucks...and then shut down). But through it all, there has always been Peet's. Who do you think taught Starbucks' founders how to roast coffee? Alfred Peet.
Alfred Peet passed away Wednesday at his home in Ashland, Oregon. He was 87.