Too Many Passings - On Jim Gray and Molly Ivins

The news of Molly Ivins passing is very sad. I know I should write something, but honestly I didn't read her column that often. So I think I'll leave her tribute to John of Left in Aboite and Cranky Daze who has already left an excellent poem in Molly's honor.

Someone else has been on my mind...

On Sunday evening, a senior researcher for Microsoft in San Francisco was reported missing at sea. I didn't make the connection until it hit the Internet the next day that it was Jim Gray. Now most of you wouldn't know of Dr. Gray, but for those of use who entered computer science in the 1980s, Jim Gray was a giant. His research is the cornerstone of modern database management system theory, and he was involved with some of the earliest companies. His texts were, and still are, required reading in the field. His work earned him an ACM Turing Award, one of our discipline's highest honors. Though I never met Dr. Gray, the thoroughness and clarity of his papers and textbooks inspired me to make his area of research the focus of my own graduate work.

Jim Gray left Sunday morning to sail solo from San Francisco toward the Farallon Islands (about 25 miles to the West). His wife reported him overdue that evening. The Coast Guard has been searching for 3 days, but there has been no sign of Dr. Gray or his boat.

I know he's probably dead, but we may never truly know. I feel like I've lost a mentor and am incredibly sad.

FBI to NSA: Our Pipe Is Fatter Than Your Pipe

So now we know that the FBI is engaging in it's own indiscriminate "Fat Pipe" hoovering of data from the ISPs and Telcos--almost as if they feel they've got to "one-up" the NSA who've already been caught with their taps on the lines.

One wonders what these guys talk about in bars:

NSA: So I hear you guys are sweeping up petabytes of data from the Internet.
FBI: Yeah...our operation makes yours look like a pair of cans and a string.
NSA: Really? You know we listen in on your cell calls from the can, right?
FBI: Well I've got a tap on your mother's laptop. Her AIM address is "HotMama4U".
NSA: So what? I've got thirty racy emails from your sister to some dude named Bobo in Weehawken.
FBI: You know we've got your wife and kids under surveillance?
NSA: Oh yeah?! Well, I put your parents on the "No-fly-train-boat-drive" list!
FBI: My guys rendered your brother-in-law to Albania last week. Dude cried like a little girl!
NSA: We're gonna strip your wife of her citizenship and send her to Gitmo!
FBI: Hey...hey. We shouldn't be fighting. We should be cooperating.
NSA: You know, you're right. How about we go and really f*ck over those ACLU pukes?
FBI: Now you're talking!


Ghost Of Executive Power Grabs Past

Or perhaps a more appropriate title would be, Like Father, Like Son

The NY Times reports on Bush's latest executive power grab, a not so subtle, administration-wide extension of a tactic he first tried in February of last year. Back then, Bush appointed a Zampolit ("political officer") to control the message at NASA, and now he's extended this to all the regulatory agencies with one interesting twist: Each new "policy office" will control all guidance provided to industry with the intent that it conform to the President's priorities. In other words, if Bush doesn't like a congressional mandate, he'll have a political appointee in place to see that it's not implemented.

Oddly, this second aspect of the Bush attempt to subvert the legislative process also has a precedent. Bush Senior convened an unconstitutional 'Council on Competitiveness' headed by then Vice President, Dan Quayle, the purpose of which was to evaluate the economic impact of and to decide whether or not to enforce new legislation

So it seems that when the Decision Maker runs out ideas of his own, he's quite willing to use Constitution-busters from administrations past.

Kvatch's Epistle To The Telcos

Porn On Thy Cell Phone Is A Stench In God's Nostrils

The mighty girth of John Holmes
  Fits not in 45 pixels.
So break not thy thumb with scrolling
  For a nobler purpose awaits it.
The moans, the squeeks, and thumps
  Are not for thy co-workers.
Stream not 'Girls Gone Wild 14'
  To John ('The Pervert') of HR.
'Leisure Suit Larry' shall not replace Pong
  For Pong is the chosen game.
And though it looketh like a suppository
  That is not thy PEBL's purpose.

The Lord entreats you...
  Speak these words unto the Telcos:

My ringtone shall not be Bolero
My screensaver not B and D
Please lord don't give me a condom
For a cellphone that I got for free

For I promise to leave it off vibrate
Won't stick in places I shouldn't
Promise not to run up the charges
Downloading things that aren't prudent.

Cause it really is too hard to view
Porn on two square inch screen
And my Blackberry isn't much better
With it's buttons all sticky and mean.

On my RAZR I can't even tell
If the actors truly are nude
Though the telcos are betting the farm
That I'll prove that I'm not a prude.

[ Blame Sewmouse and Fashiongirl for making the suggestions that led to this. :-) ]


On The Other Hand, Some Women...

...shouldn't even be allowed out in public much less in politics. "An example?" you say. How about Paris Hilton? The woman who proves that maybe Sharia Law isn't such a bad idea after all.

Have you heard about Paris Exposed? Supposedly the succubutant stashed all here tawdry tchotchkes in a storage locker while she was between mansions and then...forgot to pay the bill. So what did the enterprising self-storage owner do? He actioned her stuff off to the highest bidder, and voila! Though now it seems that Joe Francis ('Girls Gone Wild') and his former penis-cozy (Paris) are gonna sue to get the site taken down.

Is Paris indicative of the brats that will run this country when I'm in my dotage? If so, we're doomed.

(BTW: The 'Joe Francis' quote comes from A Socialite's Life and gets the coveted I Made Kvatch Snort His Martini Through His Nose Award for this week.)

Senate Soccer Moms? Hell Yes!

This morning's NY Times poses the question of whether or not female candidates highlighting their role as mothers (grandmothers) is a savvy political move, especially in the US where politicians have typically been judged on their so-called 'strength', their tough mindedness. And the answer, at least to my mind is: "Hell Yes!" Or perhaps, "Why are we even discussing this? It's 2007 for God's sake!"

Perhaps if we had more soccer moms in the Senate we wouldn't have spent $350B on a war that has made us manifestly less safe. Perhaps the nation's priorities might achieve a little balance, rather than swinging from the domestic to international on the election cycle. Perhaps we'd be taking the long view on profound issues like climate change, rather than a tragically, perhaps suicidally, short view.

And you know what? It's not even really a gender thing. Men should be judged on the same playing field. Now there's some true equality for you. "Hey Newt, how many kids did you raise, and why did you abandon their mother while she was in the hospital struggling with cancer, you philandering waste of genetic material?!"

I've dumped on Senator Clinton a lot in recent months, but one thing you will not hear me say is that her role as a mother and her advocacy of children's issues makes her in any way less qualified to be president. Quite the contrary, one of the things that I find most admirable about the Clinton's is that they raised, by all accounts and under very difficult circumstances, a smart, mature, well-adjusted child. By contrast, the Bush's raised a pair of vain, spoiled, self-indulgent twits. Does this make Senator Clinton better suited to the job than former Governor Bush? Damn right it does!

Nonetheless, the cro-magnon lobby will keep trying to push the position that 'strength' is all that matters. After all, as the Japanese Health Minister so eloquently put it, women are just "Birth-giving Machines". Yeah, not like that takes any strength.


Bumper Stickers For Scientologists


Schooling Bush and Mini-G

This sums up the problem with indefinite detention and military tribunals about as well as anything I've read.
It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes...

We wouldn't get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law - upon which everything else depends.

Sir Ken Macdonald, Head of the British Crown Prosecution Service
George, Tony? Any questions?

New Blogger Really Is New Coke

Well you'd never guess to look at it, but Blognonymous has been on New Blogger since about midnight, and you know what...BFHD! It ain't all that.

Aside from taking an hour, the transition went smoothly enough. But here's the thing: Google will never be able to retire 'Blogger Classic'--at least not without pissing off users who've made substantial mods to their templates--maybe 25% of us. They didn't even try to convert mine--just put me into what I'm going to call Blogger Compatibility Mode. Blogger ClassicLike a Win98 user who can't upgrade, I'm stuck with the old functionality for my luddite template. And you know what, I'll never switch unless they force me. I don't have the time to learn their new template language and won't risk their transition process. So...hierarchical archives? Not on Blognonymous. Drag & drop template editing? Nope. About all I'm getting out of this is post labels, and I'm not even sure how to format them yet.

And what about self-hosting? Well now...seems Google is really interested in getting you to point your domain at one of their servers. Drag-and-drop template editing doesn't work without it, but again consider what you lose. The ability to back up your blog? Shell access to your host so that you can make custom changes, add complex functionality, or prevent Google from deleting...whatever they want? You betcha!

Yes, there are some definite advantages to New Blogger--I'll probably explore post feeds in a day or two--but like New Coke one wonders, "What's the point?" and I just can't shake that faintly bad taste in my mouth.

Oh! Almost forgot...New Blogger eats comments.

A Whole Lot Of Fine Verse


South Dakota Renames Itself 'Deciderstan'

Sioux Falls (f-A-ke. P.) -

In an unprecedented move, the state of South Dakota introduced legislation that would officially change it's name to Deciderstan. Mary Glenski, speaking for the representatives who introduced the bill, said:
We're just following the lead of our glorious president George W. Bush, a man who knows when to tell the American people to stuff it. Here in South Dakota, the ballot referendum that did away with our recent abortion law was just a fluke. It isn't what the people really wanted, and by gum were not going to let it stand in the way of saving babies.
Another proposal being considered by the legislature would change the state motto to, "Will of the people be damned!"

What Movie Would Jesus Make?

Fear not revelationists. The millennium didn't pass without the appearance of Christ divine. He's here. He's Tom Cruise! Yes you heard right. The couch jumping, psychology dissing, Scientologist is their Christ...or so says David Miscavige, one of that church's leaders, in his own little 'mini-revelation' to The Sun.

So Pat Robertson and his cabal can now rest easy and begin asking that all important question:

What movie would Jesus make?


Poetry Thursday - Where Can I Be Safe

Where can I be safe?
On ashen grimy streets
Air ripped and torn
By angry leaden bees
That rend my brothers--
Cut them down like wood.

Or on the inside?
Screaming metal womb
Ten by six with bars
To lock me down like
Mama's steely arms--
Too young for pride.

Black inmates are dying at a rate 57 percent lower than that of the overall black population.

Poetry Thursday - Truth Is A Slippery Beast

Windspike of Educational Whisper posted this on Tuesday, and it really is worth a read:

Truth is
A slippery beast
Slave to perception

Minus perception’s laces
It’s dangerous
To seek

Will it
Set you free or
Kill you first

Read the rest here...

Poetry Thursday - Snave Gets His Due

I'm going to be busy and away from my usual news sources today. So I'm declaring... Poetry Thursday on Blognonymous. Attack a topic, opine on the news, let me know, but do it in verse, and I'll link it here. Come on all you budding Nerudas, let me see you compose!

And to start we feature a man who never fails to rise to the challenge of verse. Whenever I crank out a few couplets, Snave responds...only better. Here was his response to my SOTU poem:

Primates heading down the ladder.
Bush is bad, is Cheney badder?
They're both bad, is Rummy worse?
Evolution's in reverse!

Shouting preachers make us weary.
Gravity is just a theory!
Now I fear they'll soon be calling
For schools to teach "Intelligent Falling".

Bush can stand and smirk and boast,
But we all know he's really toast.
Republicans feel duty-bound,
But they don't like what they have found.

Now the emperor, widely loathed,
Really, truly, has no clothes.
They'll support their party, true,
But now they don't know what to do.

Stick with Fearless Leader now?
Or get him out of there somehow?
They can't give him adoration
When he's using obfuscation.

Chimpletons, come on, unite!
Help us fight the country's fight!
Not Iraq and not Iran,
But flushing Dumbya down the can!

With your help we'll get it done.
You never know... it might be fun!
Let's be strong, let's not be vague:
Let's send the sucker to The Hague.


Well At Least He Didn't Say 'Ownership Society'

After the SOTU, I was all prepared to dump on Bush's new buzz-phrase, 'Affordable Choices'. I thought that it was just another way of spinning 'The Ownership Society', and when I discovered what it really is, I despaired. What would I write about today? Turns out, there's a lot of vacuous stuff in the SOTU that deserves attention, and I'll focus my efforts on the health insurance proposal that won't end up insuring anybody.

Bush said that he wants to level the playing field between people that are insured by their employers and those who have to purchase insurance on their own. Well that's a laudable goal. Except that Bush's proposal, a tax-break for everyone...that supposedly will help the uninsured buy insurance, keeps the playing field uneven--just in a different way. The only way to level the playing field would be to make the benefit of employer supplied health insurance taxable income. Then everybody would pay (one way or another) and everybody could deduct. That's level. But Bush didn't propose that. He proposed a givaway of $15,000 in non-taxable income. Those who have insurance will reap the windfall, and those who don't have insurance aren't likely to use their new found wealth to purchase it.

Moreover, the issue is less affordability and more the availability of insurance...at any cost. Do you have a pre-existing condition? Yes? Then you're probably done. Without an employer or COBRA, you're not likely to find insurance. Bush can play with deductions and credits all he wants, but it won't insure more people. The more likely result is that, to pay for the whole plan, Bu$hCo will have to remove the corporate deductions for the cost of insurance, and then many companies will simply do away with the benefit altogether.

"Congratulations, Madam Speaker! Congratulations."

Thank you very much. And tonight I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: 'Madam Speaker.' ...

In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., from Baltimore, Md., saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum. But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as speaker of the House of Representatives. Congratulations, Madam Speaker! Congratulations.

My first reaction to last night's SOTU wasn't very positive (not like it was going to be given the man at the podium). More on that later, but...damn...Bush's opening remarks were gracious!

I haven't had much nice to say about my representative lately, but I do recognize how important it is that Nancy Pelosi is our Speaker. Congratulations indeed!


SOTU Day, Part 3 - The Terrible Twenties

SOTU Day, Part 2 - CAFE Standards To CAFE Obfuscation

Tonight in his State of the Union address, the Great Confabulator is likely to call for better fuel economy standards. Bush knows that the American people are tired of watching his administration ignore the subject of global climate change, or worse, offer up economic calamity as an excuse for doing nothing.

But don't be fooled. The most likely proposal, eliminating current CAFE standards based on 'fleet averages' in favor of individual vehicle ratings, is just more administration dissembling. This proposal was cooked up by the very people who have an interest in not seeing the MPG average go up--Big Auto executives. And the purpose here is to put in place a system that will guarantee, through sheer complexity, that CAFE standards are never raised again.

SOTU Day, Part 1 - Enriching Your Friends

Rumors floating around the MSM suggest that war plans for Iran are much more advanced and wide-ranging than simple strikes to take out their supposed nuclear capabilities. Just this morning, we learn that two carrier battle groups are entering the Persian Gulf in what appears to be a US warning to Iran. So here's the issue... With Bu$hCo nothing is as it seems. Iraq was about oil...not democracy. It was about enriching corporations that put millions into Republican coffers. And they were greatly enriched through instability in the world's oil markets, favorable deals to control Iraqi oil production, and massive government tax giveaways. Likewise, companies such as Halliburton, KBR, and Bechtel were greatly enriched through lucrative contracts to support the occupation. So what then, is Iran about?

I suggest that Iran is about enriching defense contractors. It will be about expending a sizeable chunk of our expensive, non-durable military hardware because, let's face it, we don't have the manpower to attack Iran much less occupy the country. In Iraq, the use of expensive weaponry--tanks, missiles, aircraft--was largely over after the first 6 weeks of the war. So Lockheed, Northrup-Grumman, and General Dynamics didn't get the opportunity to cash in on the $350B we've spent thus far. Iran will be payment in recompense for that oversight.


Homelessness and the Urban Frog

An interesting post over at Sam Gail got me involved in a discussion of homelessness. We've all probably read the story about the Manhattan antiques dealer who sued for damages and a restraining order on 3 homeless men that were camping out on his doorstep. Now it's hard to have sympathy the business owner who sues for $1M when all I think he really wants is a restraining order. He's obviously frustrated with NYC's lack of assistance in dealing with the problem...and it is a problem.

I used to be quite sympathetic to the homeless' plight. But as a new homeowner--a flat on a gentrified block next to a rundown area of San Francisco--I deal with the homeless every day and wonder where the middle ground lies. Certainly not hard-hearted conservativism, "Arrest them and let urban property owners enjoy a homeless-free existence." And not knee-jerk liberalism, "It's a societal failure. As long as one homeless person lack a better place to live, no one has the right to remove the homeless from our streets."

Here in Babylon by the Bay, we have a program that really works--gets the homeless off the streets and into housing they can call their own, but does that excuse the city from utterly failing to help me deal with the homeless that refuse assistance? San Francisco requires that I keep my sidewalks clear of trash and debris, even trash thrown down by the homeless who sleep on our stoop. I'm required to clean up urine and feces. I routinely have to chase loiterers away from the front of our building because the police will not respond to anything less serious than an assault. Their position is that the homeless are not trespassing. It's city property, even though I'm required to maintain it.

My position is this: If I approve expensive bond measures, funding programs that help the homeless get off the streets, the city should do me the courtesy of helping me make my block a nice place to live, and in that sense I sympathize with an antiques dealer who wants to run a business that people want to visit. Does that make me hard-hearted or practical?

Please forgive me for saying, but many arguments I hear about how we must show compassion for the homeless sound like they come from people who don't deal with the problem on a daily basis. The 'failure' isn't just society failing the homeless, it's society failing to assist those who try to deal with the problem, however compassionately.

Of Coffee and the Lesser Caffeinated Beverage

Let's start this post with a story.

Once upon a time at a large Silicon Valley corporation a junior software engineer brought me a can of Coke. You see, she had used the vending machine, and it had dispensed two cans. When I asked her why she didn't want the second one she replied, "That's too much caffeine for me in one day," to which I responded:

Too much caffeine? Is that possible?

Needless to say, I love caffeine. And how do I prefer to have my caffeine delivered? You guessed it...coffee, or as I refer to it: The black elixir; that which makes life possible; the fuel upon which Kvatch's engine runs. I've had friends mention that a Peet's IV drip might be more efficient delivery system, but then I wouldn't get the taste. I cringe when I hear the words 'decaf espresso', and the phrase 'decaf, no-fat, no-foam cappuccino' might as well be translated as "water"!

But here is where things get a little weird. It's been cold in the Bay Area this winter. No...not Minnesnowta cold, but pretty damn cold--compounded by the fact that our apartments are typically insulated with air. And so in the afternoon, when I don't usually want to brew a whole pot of coffee and then waste half, I've been making tea, and...uh...enjoying it. Is something wrong with me? In my opinion tea is the ugly sibling of coffee--a pretender to the caffeine throne. So...what? Am I sick? Is this a symptom of getting old? Am I--god forbid--going to lose my taste for coffee?


(T)otally (S)tinkin' (A)rbitrary

My Lobbyist is Bigger Than Your Lobbyist
Never let it be said that TSA isn't willing to be reasonable when circumstances require it. Rumors are floating around the Internet that the agency has increased the amount of liquid you can bring onto an airplane--in it's own original retail bottle, of course--from a measly 3.0 ounces to a generous 3.5 ounces. Though TSA has not deigned to explain the increase, one interested party notes that 3.5 ounces is size of most small perfume bottles.

Here's A Thought: Explosive = Bad
And just in case you thought that TSA wasn't being thorough in their coverage of "bad things to bring on airplanes", I commend you to the TSA Permitted and Prohibited Items list wherein you'll find that the following aren't permitted in your carry-on OR your checked luggage: Blasting caps, dynamite, fireworks, flares, hand grenades, plastic explosives, and realistic replicas of explosives. Hmmm...seems pretty reasonable to me. But since they're all prohibited, couldn't they just have distilled that whole list down to, "If it goes boom, or looks like it might go boom, it's prohibited."

And One Final Thought
Perusing that Permitted and Prohibited Items list is definitely interesting. Did you know that snow globes are prohibited, even when they're under 3.0...I mean 3.5 ounces in volume? That'll show those terrorists. I'm sure that some operative is just itching to sneak a Santa globe filled with plastique through TSA.


Blognonymous In Mind-bending 3C!!!

You've seen it in 2 column.
Now view Blognonymous in eye-popping, mind-bending, 3C!!!

The fluid content column is tremendous! The floating sidebar is stupendous!!
The amount of work Kvatch put in was HORRENDOUS!!!

New content provides the thrills!
Kvatch's opinions are still shrill!
Tons more ads should pay the bills!


(And please let me know what you think or if you see any problems in your browser.)

Craigslist and eBay - Twin Pillars of My Economy

"One man's junk is another man's treasure...", is a statement that is perhaps more true now than at anytime in history, and no companies have capitalized on this more adroitly than eBay and Craigslist. I've used these services to sell computers, furniture, services, accessories, music, and electronics. I've made charitable contributions. I've gotten jobs. Hell, I could probably support my extravagant lifestyle for a month just by getting rid of junk on these twin pillars of the new economy, and with that in mind, I've made some observations about these two giants of the 'second-hand marketplace':
  • Unless you're a moron who's addicted to 'reserve pricing', items on eBay will always sell.
  • Items on eBay almost always sell for more than you think they will.
  • You can get more money for your stuff on Craigslist than on eBay, but...
  • ...your stuff will only sell about half of the time.
So what axioms can we derive from these observations? Well...I've distilled it down to two factors:

The eBay Insanity Factor
When they (whoever they are) invented eBay, they tapped into something primal in the human psyche--the desire to compete, auction-style, for treasures. I've watched an item of mine double in price in the last 10 minutes of a auction. I've watched items go for 2 to 3 times what I thought was a low, but decent, price. I can't explain it, but I'll tell you one thing: I don't ever buy on eBay. I only sell cause I don't want to get caught up in what drives these eBay nutballs.

The Craigslist Flake Factor
Craigslist is, to put it mildly, a wacky place. An item at a fair price often finds a buyer, frequently for more than you would get on eBay. But you'll also get: A dozen emails offering to send you a 'same-as-cash' money order if you'll just ship the item to Africa; calls from people who insist on seeing item before buying it and then don't show; calls from people who promise...PROMISE that they'll bring cash and then show up with their checkbook; people who want you to deliver the item; people who offer 1/4 the price...IN CASH--OOOOH! (As if you'd accept anything but cash.) I've even had one woman offer me half the price of a workstation I was selling in cash and sex to cover the remainder.

So...could I live without eBay and Craigslist? Sure, but I wouldn't want to cause, God help me, I love getting rid of stuff and am just glad that my junk's not going into a landfill.


But Don't You Dare Call Me A Lobbyist...

...and the idea that I'd have to tell the lucky 500th visitor to Blognonymous to buzz off, just so I could avoid jail or fines, really stuck in my craw.

What are we talking about here? Why Senate (bill) S.1, To provide greater transparency in the legislative process, of course, and it's very egregious Section 220 which would have criminalized 'paid' efforts to influence the general public without registration and disclosure. What constitutes 'paid'? The Senate didn't say, but many readers of the bill agreed that ad placement would count. And how were you supposed to avoid this whole mess? By either 1) registering as a lobbyist or 2) having an audience of less than 500 people. Though the Senate didn't mention how they planned to count up my readers.

But now Section 220 is history, stripped out of the bill last night, and (Will I get this out without my head exploding) ...I have the Republicans to thank. ARGGGHHH!

Spinning Habeas Corpus On A Technicality

Well Blognonymous seems still to be in business, so let's not pass on this little gem...

"The Constitution does not say that every citizen has the right to habeas corpus."
Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales - Senate Judiciary Hearings 2007/01/18

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9

Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge within their respective jurisdictions...
Title 28, Section 2241 of the US Code

So yeah, technically...not a right, but guess what Alberto, you f*cking moron, Article 1, Section 9 is a limit on the powers of Congress. So you and your megalomaniac boss don't get to decide either!

And politicians on both sides of the aisle freaked when Silvestre Reyes mixed up Iran and Iraq. Mother puss-bucket!


Blognonymous Down For A Bit

As I mentioned in my post on Spocko's troubles with Disney, I'm moving my domain and hosting from 1and1.com to another provider. The domain transfer process is under way, and while I get the DNS issues sorted out, Blognonymous may be out-o-commission. Please bear with me. I'll be back just as soon as I can.

In the meantime, if you need a 'Kvatch-fix' head over to If I Ran The Zoo. I post there occasionally. In fact, head over there anyway. Tom has a great blog!

UPDATED 2007/01/19, 8:55 am PST

I've been informed that my doman transfer might happen anytime in the next 3 business days. So if I get through the afternoon, I'll post through the weekend and see what happens, and if anybody has a suggestion for a new hosting company, I'd love to hear it. I'm looking at iPower and BlueHost.


Kvatch Konsolidates The News

I would'a blogged, but they beat me to it and did it better.

Political Purge at the DoJ
Tom Hilton of If I Ran The Zoo has got the goods on Bu$hCo's purging of some of our more effective US Attorney's. Seems the administration isn't too keen on going after corrupt lawmakers, well at least not corrupt Republican lawmakers--would rather spend DoJ's time prosecuting immigration cases and digging up dirt on Democrats.

A New Conflict Resolution Strategy?
Daniel of Seeking Utopia turns us on to the newest craze in sport violence--Professional pillow fights--and wonders if this could be turned into a new way to settle multi-national disputes. But here at Blognonymous we say: Why not bring back dueling and let the nasty bastards take it out on each other with some finality? I mean who wouldn't want to see Cheney and Chavez face each other on the field of honor? Though Cheney would probably would wind up shooting his second.

NFL Officials Say 'One Train Wreck Is Enough'
And finally the Fashiongirl covers the anguish of Britney Spears as she tries to get a place in the upcoming Super Bowl halftime show. NFL officials apparently turned Ms. Spears down because they've already engaged Paris Hilton for the extravaganza.

GOP Intellectually Bankrupt - Reality TV Show Planned

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

House Minority Leader, John Boehner, admitted today that the GOP is intellectually bankrupt and could use an influx of new ideas. "We're thinking outside the box here," Rep. Boehner said "...considering all possible sources. Because frankly, we've got nothing."

Boehner's statement was timed to coincide with the announcement of an RNC funded Reality TV show that would solicit ideas from the conservative base. Outgoing RNC Chairman, Ken Mehlman, said of the new show -
I think that this may be my legacy to the GOP, and I'm pretty excited about it. We're thinking of calling it The Strategist and using the format of NBC's The Apprentice. Karl Rove wants to be our 'Donald'. How about that, huh?!
Though it's not known how ideas and contestants will be eliminated from the show, one rumor suggested that the tagline, "That's just a stupid liberal idea..." might be used.

Ideas for The Strategist's first season include:
  • Debt reducing bake sales at GOP fundraising events
  • Faith-based outreach programs for disgraced Republican lawmakers
  • TV shows like Pimp My Stock Car, designed to bring Blacks and Latinos into the NASCAR fold


All The Sex News Printed To Fit

Titillating topical tidbits to tempt your tawdry tastes...

Life for Adultery
Michigan's second highest court has concluded, reluctantly, that current state law requires adultery involving coitus be treated as 'first degree criminal sexual conduct', a crime that can carry a penalty of life imprisonment. The logic is tricky, but basically boils down to this: A person must be charged with 1st degree CSC whenever, "...sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony." And what would that 'other' felony be? Well how about adultery, a minor felony in MI. Voila! The ultimate in legislating morality.

Life in Prison? Naw...We Want Death!
And in Texas they may get it for repeat sexual offenders who prey on children. Now you're probably saying to yourself, "Good! Texas knows what to do with people who prey on children!" But opposition is coming from an unexpected direction, prosecutors and victims advocates, who argue that it may make the situation worse since molesters will then have an incentive to kill the only witness to their crimes.

The Perils of Porn Popups
This is a cautionary tale for those of you who aren't careful about spyware and malware on your computers. Take a lesson from Julie Amero of Windham, CT who faces up to 40 years in the slammer after her conviction on four counts of risk of injury to a minor or impairing the morals of a child. And the culprit in this sad little tale, malware that kept diverting Ms. Amero's browser to sites like meetlovers.com and femalesexual.com with auto-click popups. Maybe Ms. Amero should'a pulled the plug considering that the infected computer was in her classroom.

Corrosive Rhetoric As Trial Balloon

Not content to limit political 'trial balloons' to policy positions and catchy phrases--who could forget when 'stay the course' first hit the airwaves--administration officials have taken the McCarthyish step of feeding veiled threats to the media, only to retract them a day later.

Last Friday, deputy assistant Sec. of Defense for Detainee Affairs, Charles "Cully" Stimson, said in a radio interview that companies might want to consider taking their business to firms that do not represent suspected terrorists. Then, on Saturday, the Pentagon hustled to retract the remarks saying that Stimson's comments "do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the thinking of its leadership..."

But of course the damage has been done, the message delivered. Don't do business with firms that go against Bu$hCo policies. We've got our eyes on you.


The Library of Congress Speaks

Thanks to Fred and the Comandante who turned me on to this.
Get one for your blog here.

For MLK - Emancipation Day Redux

MLK Day is one of those holidays that should really inspire one to write something non-topical and profound. But frankly, I've never been very comfortable with a holiday that honors one man. Do we honor President Lincoln, a man who--to the extent that any President does--deserves his own day?

The United States isn't about great men and women. It's about great ideas, great struggles, and great actions. So, with that in mind, I'm going to punt and point you at a post I did last August which is a much more fitting sentiment for MLK Day.


Emancipation Day

Though I revere Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I've always been a little uncomfortable with having a national holiday in his honor. Why? Well it has nothing to do with his stature, his vision, his oratory, or his commitment to civil rights. No...it just seems to me that even Dr. King would be uncomfortable with a day dedicated to his memory. Somehow it seems too small--seems not to have the right focus.

Read the rest...


Noncompulsory, But Warrantless, Is Still A Crime

Another disturbing expansion of illegal domestic spying has the CIA and DoD issuing 'national security letters' to gather domestic intelligence. You'll recall that the FBI has liberally used this power since September 2001, issuing thousands of warrantless requests for information, a practice they claim is legal under the Patriot Act. In fact, Dick Cheney once again took to the airwaves Sunday to defend the indefensible on the conservative's softball network of choice, FOX.

But not to be outdone, the Central Intelligence Agency and Pentagon are getting into the game by issuing the letters to obtain banking and credit data from financial institutions. The kicker here is that Congress has expressly turned down requests to make such 'letters' mandatory, thereby limiting Pentagon and CIA expansion into domestic intelligence gathering. So what do the spooks do? They issue 'non-mandatory' letters that adhere to the letter of the law, and most financial institutions roll right over and give them what they want.

So the question arises: If a financial institution exposes private data in response to an illegal, noncompulsory CIA or Pentagon request--given that in many states the legal requirement is to keep such records private--can the institution be charged with a crime? Sued into non-existence through a class action?


Kvatch Kvetches - It's Out of Our Hands

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD? Who Cares? The 1000 Lb. Gorilla Has Spoken
Did you know that this battle is over? Did you know that history will repeat itself? And the winner is..."HD-DVD"!!! Why? Because that's where the porn industry is going, and where pornographers go all will follow. Seems Sony doesn't want porn to be produced on their new format. So, like Betamax a quarter century ago, Sony kills their own baby.

I Like Yelp. You Like Yelp.
And the people who get paid to write the reviews really, really like Yelp. Now where the f*ck am I going to go for an unbiased opinion about that new noodle joint that opened up on the corner? [kvatch,kvatch]

Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends
Well I can't put it off any longer. Seems Blognonymous has been 'invited' to switch to the new Blogger. You'll recall that I tried this some weeks back with only limited success, but the choice no longer seems to be mine. With that in mind, I'm going to try and get this squared away once and for all and won't be posting again until at least Sunday afternoon. See you then, and wish me luck.

Osama Vision


Nothing Says 'I Love You' Like 20,000 Volts

Friends, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and this year don't be the schmuck who gives same-day flowers or the last minute card. Give your sweetie something that will put some charge in your relationship: The Taser C2 personal protection device.

Yes this little beauty, now in attractive colors for the style conscious vigilante, really says I care...enough to arm you with a weapon that can stop a crazed wolverine at 10 paces.

So this year, give a gift with some zap! The Taser C2!
(Not for use as a defibrillator no matter how good an idea you think that is!)


Windows Vista, NSA Edition

Windows NSAYour Computer, Our Data

Given the mind-boggling number of security issues with Microsoft's operating systems, it's not surprising that they called in some professionals to help out with Vista. What is surprising is who they called.

So...before you upgrade to Vista, ask yourself one question: In light of NSA's new found willingness to break the law in the service of national security, do you trust the agency not to tamper with Windows in ways that compromise your data?

Gilmore v. Gonzales Decided - "Papers Please" Now For Real

John Gilmore's suit against the DoJ, alleging that the government cannot enforce a regulation that they refuse to disclose (in this case the requirement that air travelers produce ID before traveling), is finished. The Supreme Court on Monday let stand without comment a lower court ruling against Mr. Gilmore.

Setting aside whether or not requiring photo ID before traveling by air is reasonable or lawful, the Supreme Court's failure to address this issue leaves in place a dangerous loophole that a power-obsessed administration like Bu$hCo is quite likely to abuse. Consider... The crux of Gilmore's suit was not the requirement itself, but the fact that TSA and the airline: 1) Refused to produce the law or regulation, and 2) Asserted that Gilmore had no right to review any such regulation.

Now think about that. A law or regulation that a citizen has not right to review. In other words: "This is for your own good because we (the government) say it is, and you don't get to challenge our decision." Now imagine if the executive were to take this sort of nonsense to it's logical extreme. Secret laws could be enforced that you wouldn't even know about until you'd run afoul of them. Ad-hoc--spur of the moment--regulations could be created by agencies that know that the courts won't interfere. In short, by refusing to consider this case, the Supreme Court is giving the executive a tool that they can use to bludgeon law abiding citizens.

"Papers please!" may be just around the corner...for real!


Future Headlines - It's A Stinky Business







The Arts Meme...

...or "Damn! Do I sound pretentious, or what?!"

Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:
Angry Candy, Harlan Ellison (The most gifted short story writer of our time.)

Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music:
String Quartet #5, Philip Glass - This piece was commissioned by Kronos Quartet, and I had the good fortune to hear them play it at the Kennedy Center in 1995. I sat transfixed, tears streaming down my face...but with my hands clenched in complete and utter frustration as I watched a third the audience walk out. At that moment I realized that my tastes were so different than 9 in 10 classical music patrons, that every performance I attended from then on would a struggle to seek out and hear modern music.

Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue:
Oh...so many films...but I'll make this easy and apologize in advance for picking something so pedestrian. The Incredibles. Pixar has yet to produce a film yet that I didn't enjoy. The Incredibles is the best from the most consistent studio in movie history.

Name a performer for whom you suspend of all disbelief
Helen Mirren - She's the best actress of her generation, maybe of any generation.

Name a work of art you'd like to live with:
Cirque Calder (Calder's Circus), Alexander Calder - A tremendous achievement and entertaining!

Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life:
Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card - I'm not religious, but if I had to decide on how I'd like to be memorialized I'd want a 'Speaker' to stand and tell my life as it was, not how I would want nor how it could have been. If you haven't read the book, it's hard to explain. If you have, then you already know what I mean.

Name a punch line that always makes you laugh:
"I suggest you not underestimate the staggering drawing power of the
Garden State, and show up two hours in advance."

...followed closely by:

"No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than central air." (Can you guess which film?)

Tom Hilton tagged me, and now it's my turn. Cranky Daze, Sewmouse, and the Undeniable Liberal get the nod.

UPDATE: Sewmouse and Cranky Daze have done their's.


Going To War With The Intel You Have...

...doesn't mean you can't gin it up for the MSM and the electorate, right?

And in steps retired Vice Admiral John McConnell to take the place of outgoing National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. By all accounts the admiral is 'Cheney's man', unfazed--as Negroponte was--by the need to 'harden' the intel on Iran, clear about making the case for military action, and receptive to the need to augment domestic surveillance. Indeed, McConnell seems just the sort to help history repeat itself.

So I don't suppose that the Democrats (Did I hear a rumor that they're now in control of the Senate?) might want to put the kabosh on this nominee? Seems to me that one military officer willing to drive a stake through the heart of the Constitution--General Michael Hayden, now at CIA, formerly of NSA illegal surveillance fame--at the top of our national intelligence hierarchy is enough.

Only America Haters Are Afraid of Cars

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

Today National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration officials announced a new policy that would prevent consumers, lawyers, and public safety advocates from getting access to data collected by the government about vehicles sold in the US. The data consists of warranty claims and customer complaints and is mandated by the Transportation, Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act of 2000.

Spokesman for NHTSA, Louie "V8" McDougald, said of the new policy:
We're just looking out for the American consumer here. You make too much of this kind of data available, and people might stop buying cars. Where would we be then, huh? I gotta feed my ki--uh--you know this might be a terrorist thing. Maybe Osama wants people to stop driving--make 'em take planes. Easier targets...you know?

Read the article folks. I'm making light of this but am still amazed at how the administration is rolling over for the auto industry. Every day...more secrecy.


Disney Sockos Spocko

From Libby @ The Impolitic we hear about the troubles that Spocko's Brain, a great blog that I really should read more often, is having with KSFO, Disney, and 1&1 Internet.

For those of you that haven't been keeping up, here's the skinny. KSFO, a San Francosco talk-radio affiliate of ABC, has some of the most offensive on-air personalities in the Bay Area--a little like Limbaugh only half as articulate and twice as offensive. Well Spocko got pissed and tried to do something about it. He ripped MP3's of a few particularly noxious KSFO programs, posted them to Spocko's Brain, and then called up some KSFO advertisers--companies that include Netflix, Mastercard, and Bank of America--to inquire if the station's programming reflected their corporate values. And guess what? A bunch of those same advertisers abandoned KSFO.

But the story doesn't end there. In steps Disney/ABC, only after the advertisers have already left, to take out their frustrations on Spocko. They file a cease and desist order, insisting that the recording be removed as a violation of their copyright, and when Spocko refuses, muscle his Internet service provider, 1&1, to pull the plug on Spocko's Brain which 1&1 does.

Now Libby and Spocko have done an excellent job skewering Disney/ABC, so let me take a swipe at 1&1. Many of you may not know this, but Blognonymous is hosted at 1&1, and I've been preparing to leave them for a couple of months now. Why? Because where most ISPs maintain a service level of 99.9%, 1&1 can't even achieve 98%, and when they do go down--often during Internet 'prime-time'--they immediately do maintenance. Those stints in October when Blognonymous was off-line, sometimes for hours? 1&1 trying to recover from a disk crash. Apparently anticipatory hardware monitoring isn't something 1&1 engages in. (And they're arrogant mother-f*ckers too.)

So here's a thought for anyone who wants to show some support for Spocko: Post on this topic. Tell Disney/ABC/KSFO to go f*ck themselves. But in addition, if you host with 1&1, leave.

Beach Impeach

Ocean Beach, San Francisco 6 Jan 2007

(Photo Courtesy John Montgomery/San Francisco Chronicle)

UPDATED 2007/01/09, 7:50 pm PST -

This morning Brad Newsham, organizer of the Beach Impeach Project, stopped by and let us know how he managed to get those impossibly straight letters. Thanks Brad!


Flying Scares The Crap Out Of Me

Boeing is poised to overtake Airbus in booked orders, and though it's true that nothing lands as smoothly as an Airbus (on a clear day when it's obvious that the computers are doing the work), I have to say that Boeing's recovery is great for America. On the other hand...

... Flying scares the crap out of me!

And you know what? It didn't used to be this way. I've been flying since the age of two, and there was a time--not so long ago--when I looked forward to plane travel. I can still remember the excitement of leaving the ground. Not any more...

Is it a lifetime's worth of turbulence and bad landings? Nope. I'm a pretty logical guy, and I know that the chances of my dying in a airplane crash are about the same as my replacing the Decider as our next president. Hell, I'm more likely to die outside my flat. Crossing a single street in this pedestrian shooting gallery I call home is more dangerous than all the plane flights I'll ever take.

And what about aircraft themselves? More air-worthy in my opinion. Planes can do things, handle weather, deal with crowded air corridors in ways that your average 727 could never have attempted. But perhaps that's the kernel of the problem. When a more robust aircraft has to cram in to an approach pattern with dozens of other planes, things get a bit dicey...at least from the passenger's perspective.

I mean, has anyone else noticed how fast aircraft descend from altitude these days? I can remember, as a child, how aircraft used to go 'nose up' with the engines revved down, to gently sink though the atmosphere. Now-a-days the engines rev up, the nose goes DOWN, and planes are flown toward the ground. EEK! F*ckin feels like falling. Ah...that's it then. Now matter how hard I try to convince myself that I'm not about to die, a high-bank turn with the nose pointed at the ground convinces me that all is lost.

I don't care how much more efficient it makes dealing with the number of flights, rapid steep descents executed simply because modern aircraft can take it f*cks with your passenger's heads, and don't we pay the bills? Huh? I don't like having to get off a plane, with my legs shaking, to face a smiling pilot who says, "Please fly with us again," when all I want to do is grab him by the throat and scream, "Thanks for scaring the crap out of me, ASSHOLE!"


2007/01/04 - A Very Fine Day

Historic  >>Pelosi Elected Speaker of the House
<<  Righteous


Kvatch Konsiders - The Hollywood Bush

A recent post by Cartledge at Grub Street Journal got me to thinking about Bush and his Hollywood-like refusal to accept the situation in Iraq. "Why Hollywood?" Because where else do you find so many stubborn generals willing to throw men at lost causes, hoping to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?

But there is one, the craven French general, Mireau from Stanley Kubrik's Paths of Glory, who seems to be a particularly close match. Mireau is so blinded by his desire for a promotion that he ignores the advice of his subordinates and orders his men to execute a suicidal attack on the Germans. And when the attack doesn't succeed, he accepts no responsibility, blaming the failure on his soldiers' cowardice. This parallels Bush's reaction to the debacle in Iraq so closely it's spooky.

So perhaps the Decider should have chosen a different career--a "Reverse Reagan" that would have had him playing an endless series of incompetent generals on the silver screen. Probably would have been a lot better for the nation.

Land of 10,000 Lakes...

...except that they're methane, they're on Saturn's moon Titan, and the pictures come from the Cassini probe.

Very, very cool!

(And could I post anything more geeky?)

Big Oil - Tobacco of the Double Aughts

Anybody remember the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), that quasi-scientific, Philip Morris funded group dedicated to discrediting scientific data on the health risks of tobacco use? Would it surprise you to learn that where global climate change is concerned old tricks are still the best tricks?

Taking a page out of the tobacco industry's playbook, ExxonMobil has been funneling millions to think-tanks and foundations that publicly dispute the links between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists goes one step further and identifies Big Oil's tactics as being derived from the tobacco industry's 40 year struggle.

There is, however, one major difference between twisting the facts of tobacco use versus those of global climate change. Setting aside the issue of second-hand smoke, one can choose to use tobacco...or not. But once the 'tipping point' on global climate change is reached, no amount of energy-saving privation and few new technologies will help us. The battle at that point will be reduced to limiting the consequences of global catastrophe.


Divest Thyself - New Year's Resolution Edition

Some of you may have guessed that, after visiting my 'rents place, I'm renewing my commitment to cleaning the clutter in my life. So I thought that it might be time to repost a list that I did last year and then throw the topic open for discussion.

So the question is: For the New Year, what one thing could you get rid of that would really improve your life?

Here was my list from last year:
  • TV - It's an evil little box. If you have to have one, you choose. Don't let the media foist anything on you.
  • Cars - OK...you all know that I'm a crank on this topic, but it's still an evil little box on wheels. Getting rid of it is true freedom.
  • Addictions - Enjoy everything, but don't ever let any substance control you. (Does this apply to coffee?)
  • Money - You can't take it with you, so I'm working on giving it, spending it, or saving it for when I need it. The trick is never to hoard it.
  • Hubris - Face it, we--none of us--know anything more than anybody else.
  • Inhibitions - I want to do everything. I want to get to the end and be able to say "I'm full. I tried it all."

Kvatch Kvetches - Ugh! Politics As Usual

For Congress, Bush Chooses Schooling Rather Than Negotiating
And the f*cker doesn't even have the balls to talk to congressional leaders directly, choosing instead the OpEd page of the Wall Street Journal to deliver his admonitions. Here's a bulletin for you Georgie, the election wasn't about pork barrel politics, save for the notion that record deficits piss people off. So maybe you should tone down the arrogance before you alienate the few remaining Americans who think you don't suck.

When Legislating, Pelosi Chooses Speed Over Cooperation
And the GOP gets cut out of the loop, complaining all the while. But for those who recall, it was Gingrich who first trumpeted the wisdom of freezing the opposition out of the legislative process. Guess the chickin's is coming home to roost, huh Newt? Think that Pelosi will sacrifice an ambitious agenda to make the GOP feel better? I wouldn't put odds on it.

Pat Prognosticates - Tells Us We're Doomed
So...uh...Pat, if you're trying to improve your apocalyptic track record, this might not be the way to do it. That whole 'tsunami hits the United States in 2006' thing didn't work out so well. At least you wouldn't let them nail you down to the type of attack.


Surge Protector

Friends, are you plagued by insurgent spikes? Concerned that troop level fluctuations might interfere with your ability to 'Stay the Course'? Well...worry no more. Dada's Daily has the answer with its new Anti-Bush Surge Protector (patent pending). Yes with this handy little tool, you'll never again have to hear the words: "Is that 20,000 soldiers in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me?".

Why Detroit Is Doomed or Go Short On Ford

Do you ever wonder why Toyota is poised to overtake GM as the world's #1 automaker? Then look no further than the Ford Interceptor, a concept car that will soon be making the rounds at North American auto shows. If the surprise success of the DaimlerChrysler 300C is a decent metric, Ford will rush this Mustang on steroids into production.

Ford InterceptorDon't be fooled, though. This car purports to be a lot of things that it isn't. For instance, Ford claims that this "environmentally friendly" monster will run on E85 (85% ethanol fuel), but when the rubber hits the road it's 400 horses will be delivered by a conventional engine. Why? Because you just can't get that particular ethanol blend. So the ultimate gas mileage is more likely to be like the competition, the measly 21 MPG delivered by the 3700 lb. 300C.

And what about looks? Seems to me this "high-beltline", low-visibility, thug, looks like the male porn-star of cars: Great for the tartlets but "well-hung" in ways that will make 99% of the population run screaming. In other words, a car "...inspired by the sporty muscle cars of the 1960s," is exactly what America doesn't need right now. So sure...this thing will probably sell to men with small dicks, but 99 in 100 potential customers will head to Toyota for a Camry Hybrid.


Nothing But Work, Work, Work

In my last post for 2005, I basically melted down calling attention to the fact that left leaning pundits were bemoaning the Bu$hCo/Neocon hijacking of our country. But this year, I thought that I'd delay my first post until I had something positive to say. Well...so much for that.

Frankly, even with Democrats in control of the House and Senate all I see ahead of us is work, work, work. When Bush's Republican "yes men" controlled Congress, we could chant, rant, wail, and rail about all the horrible abuses, the laws, the lies, the deceit. But we were absolved of doing more because our representative's efforts accounted for didly. Now we've got a scant 730 days (much less if you account for congressional recesses) to undo the damage of Bu$hCo's 6 year assault on the Constitution, and it doesn't look like we're going to get much help from the Democratic leadership.

And what about the Great Confabulator, Bush? Well true to form, he's locking himself into a course of action that will put him squarely at odds with 75% of Americans. He continues to violate the constitutional separation of powers by making de facto law with illegal signing statements. Did you know that the executive has now granted itself the power to open and read your snail mail, anytime, for almost any reason, without a warrant? (Check out the second to last paragraph.)

Yes sir! Being powerless sucks, but having your party back in power without the cojones to affect real change is going to suck a whole lot more. We can't let that happen. Time to roll up our sleeves and kick some Democratic ass!