Kvatch's Kocktail Hour - Tooty-sans-Fruity

It's Friday and time once again for Kvatch's Kocktail Hour. This afternoon we honor our favorite Senator, Larry Craig, who seems a little confused about what kinds of drinks he likes:


- 2 oz. rum
- 3 squirts of Tabasco
- Crushed ice

Blend, garnish with a strawberry, serve, and then deny that you like "fruity drinks".

Also check out The Harvey Stallbanger at The Unruly Mob.

And how will you be financing your bypass?

Of all the scary health-care related stories I read this week, none was scarier than a seemingly unremarkable item in the NY Times Business section reporting on a new industry that provides financing for expensive medical procedures.

Now don't get me wrong, I want people to be able to get--not to mention afford--decent health care, and I suppose an interest-free loan for that quadruple bypass looks pretty good when your insurance company says, "Nuh-uh!". But...Jesus H on a gurney! Shouldn't we be concentrating on covering people's medical needs rather than concentrating on ways to shift more of the financial burden onto the sick?

This looks to me like just another way for hospitals and insurers to fatten their bottom lines, but one that has some pretty nasty long term consequences. Consider: An industry devoted to lending money to the sick (or to Paris Hilton for her next tummy tuck) will very quickly begin to demand profits for their efforts. Oh sure they'll agree to regulation, fixed margins and the like, but once there is a profit margin these latter-day loan sharks will seek creative to increase it...

...like...lobbying. Maybe lobbying insurers to broaden the guidelines for denying coverage. Maybe lobbying professional organizations to declare more procedures "experimental". But the greatest danger posed by a large medical lending industry is to proposals for universal coverage or a single-payer system. Because if there is anything this country does not need, it's yet another industry with a vested interest in seeing that Americans remain shackled to the current health-care/insurance/financing juggernaut.


PT Cruiser Blogs His Last

Our very own San Francisco 'Freeway Blogger', PT Cruiser, has decided to retire.
So stop by his place and tell him
to knock off all this retirement
nonsen--I mean...wish him well.

We're gonna miss you PT!

Buddhists Strike Back

This little gem comes under the heading of, "I couldn't make this sh*t up if I tried."

China Bans Buddhist Monks From
Reincarnating Without Permission

- Matthew Philips, Newsweek

So what's next? I humbly submit:

Buddhists Worldwide Respond In Protest
By Refusing To Die

- Kvatch, f-A-ke. P.


Future Headlines - 2008 Here We Come!








Losing Your Health Insurance - Cold Hard Numbers

With the new government stats on household income, the Bush Administration is likely take credit for a whopping 0.7% "surge" in families above the poverty line. That's a whole 500,000 individuals, after 6 straight years of increasing poverty. Way to go Bu$hCo! But...uh...before you start patting yourselves on the back...

...the number of people who've lost their health insurance is a sobering statistic that could bear some additional scrutiny. You see, 2.2 million fewer people are covered than a year ago. And how did that happen? Well many lost their employer sponsored coverage. Others lost their access to government sponsored programs.

In economic terms, this is a double whammy. Not only does one's aggregate compensation decrease by double the value of the insurance (the pre-tax cost plus the post-tax expense of covering oneself), but the quality of coverage also declines. In real terms, this might work out to as much $8,000 to $10,000 dollars a year per individual. And I'm willing to bet that, for a sizable chunk of our newly uninsured, 8K - 10K is the difference between being above the poverty line and being below it. So Bu$hCo, say bye-bye too your 500K uptick in prosperity.

Of course the administration won't spin the numbers this way. Individuals being burdened with purchasing their own health insurance is an expense that doesn't affect the calculation of poverty stats. And anyway, it's really just another advantage of our glorious "Ownership Society", right?

Tuesday Technology Tidbits - Beware Telcos Bearing Fiber

Beware Telcos Bearing Fiber...
Fiber's fast. Fiber's durable. Fiber is what makes extreme broadband possible, but if you're getting it installed by Verizon, make sure they don't rip out your copper, or you may be stuck.

...And Don't Suck Too Much From Cable's Teat
Because Comcast will cut you off...for 12 months! They may warn you, but they won't tell you how much is too much.

All Your Files Are Belong To Us
If a novel lawsuit against an Internet coupon stealer is successful, it may become illegal for you to remove files from your own computer.

The End of an Era
I started college programming on punch-cards (how old am I?). I finished using slick, new, networked Sun Workstations. Now Sun's changing their NASDAQ symbol from SUNW to JAVA. An era has ended.


Miss South Carolina - Our Next Attorney General

Could she be more perfect? Though, if not for Attorney General,
I hear we need a new White House Press Secretary.

(HT to The Gin and Tonic Lounge for the inspiration.)

The Bush Administration - A Modern Politburo

Yeah, yeah, yeah... So Gonzales resigned. Big freakin' deal! Is it going to change anything? I don't think so.

But here's something interesting... Have you noticed how much the Bush Administration resembles an old-style Soviet Politburo? Remember when Leonid Brezhnev died? The announcements from the Kremlin went something like:

"The Chairman is fine."
"The Chairman is well."
"The Chairman has a slight cold."
"The Chairman is dead!"

At Bu$hCo, when the President announces that you have his full confidence, you know that your time is limited.


A Tissue of Lies

Dear BlognonyFRIENDS,

It's come to my attention that members of the Swiftboat Bloggers for Bunk are spreading lies and disinformation about my Blog World Report campaign, but I'm here to set the record straight.

Those of you who know me, know that I am on the side of the common man. Sure...as an amphibian, I may have a brain the size of a grain of rice, but all of it's cells are devoted day and night to bringing Bu$hCo and it's evil minions low. TomCat and the Invisiblewmn are engaged in a "Rovian" plot to smear my good name, but I know that you, my loyal readers, won't let that happen.

(I'm Kvatch Kopf, and I endorse this message.)

Bu$hCo's Liquidity Solution: Heap Risk On Savers

Admittedly, I'm no export on capital markets. I don't really understand why the crisis in the mortgage industry has caused liquidity in the bond market to "dry up". But this latest move by the Federal Reserve, allowing our largest banks to expose up to 30% of their total regulated capital by lending it to their brokerage subsidiaries, seems like a dangerous move--a move that heaps risk on low and middle-income savers in order to cover the asses of institutional investors and the mega-wealthy who've become exposed to the liquidity crisis through the reckless investment practices of their brokers.

And what's most egregious about this whole thing is the Bush Administration's cynical announcement that there will be no bailout for the poor schmucks who face foreclosure. "Compassionate Conservatism" apparently doesn't include people who make bad decisions about mortgages and their financial capacity. It does, however, include brokerages that make bad decisions about investing in a shaky, poorly regulated market, and it includes the customers they serve. And who end's up holding the bag? Maybe savers. Maybe the Feds, but you can bet it won't be Citibank, Chase, JP Morgan, and BofA or any of the other institutions getting discounted billions from Uncle Sam to shore up their brokerage arms.


RIP, Peacechick Mary and Knock Knock

6 March 2006 - 20 August 2007

Wherever you've gone and whatever you're doing. I wish you well.
Thanks for helping us fight the good fight.


The Coke Sub - Can you tell the difference?

Do you know what this is? A fast attack sub? A "boomer"? Nope. It's the Coke Sub. Seized off the coast of Guatemala by US Customs officials, this little baby was packed to the rafters with illegal substances and bad men. Now I know you think it looks sort of like a Los Angeles class attack sub (depicted below), but there are some key differences:

The attack sub is stuffed with seamen.
What do you suppose the 'Coke Sub' is stuffed with?

The attack sub strikes fear into the hearts of our enemies.
The 'Coke Sub' strikes fear into the hearts of our leaders.

An attack sub has lots of tanks to blow.
The 'Coke Sub' has lots of blow in its tanks.

On an attack sub, the sailors drink a lot of coke.
On the 'Coke Sub', the bad guys snort a lot of...well...you know.

The attack sub costs $1.4B not including its weapons.
The cocaine costs $354M not including the sub.


A Vote For Kvatch Is A Vote For...

...ah hell, I don't know. But after the disappointment of this year's Koufax Awards going nowhere, I've decided to stump for my nominations at Left of Centrist. You see Sandy Koufax may have been pulled from the field, but Robert Rouse has stepped in with nominations from his Blog World Report--which, by the way, I am thrilled to be included in whenever Robert finds something from Blognonymous that he feels is worthy.

So...VOTE FOR BLOGNONYMOUS! Nominated in these fine categories:

'Top Dog' Award
'Funny Bone' Award
'Hall of Fame' Award

...and I promise: Flies in every pot; The check's in the mail; I won't take any money from lobbyists that isn't thrown at me; George Bush will still suck ass as president even if I win!

Cloak of Cluelessness

Some months ago I heard that Bush would travel to the upcoming APEC Summit in Sydney accompanied by technology that jams cell phones in the vicinity, and I joked about the Presidential 'Cone of Silence'.

Well it turns out that not only does The Decider travel without having to hear protesters, he doesn't have to see them either...for real. In fact, the White House's advance staff takes great pains to ensure that Bush is never confronted by people who oppose him or his policies. They've even got a manual.

First order of business? Enlist local police to keep protesters away from presidential appearances--cordon them off into 'protest zones' that aren't visible from the venue or the president's motorcade.

Second, if protesters do make it into a venue, make sure that they can't be seen by the President or the media. Got that second part? Protest is OK as long as it doesn't get reported!

Third, use ringers to shout down anybody who verbally opposes the President.

And finally, if all else fails, use security to throw the protesters out.

Unfortunately, the notion of a Cloak of Cluelessness around Bush is no metaphor.


The Downward Climate Spiral

When I first read the linked article I thought, "Blistering heat in the Southeast this year. Yeah makes sense." But then upon reflection I found myself getting really nervous.

In a nutshell, the high temperature of the water in the Tennessee River forced the TVA to shut down Unit 2 at the Browns Ferry nuclear power station. At 90 degrees, the water was simply too hot to effectively cool the reactor. And once Unit 2 was offline, the TVA had to buy power on the open market satisfy demand which was higher than normal to start with because of the heat. So...where do you think the power came from? Almost certainly from coal-fired generators--probably plants in net energy-producing states like Wyoming.

Now those of you who've read Blognonymous for a while know that I'm a nuclear power advocate. Though not without environmental, legal, and logistical challenges, nuclear is still a very important component in moving our country toward a future free of fossil fuel dependence, and the plain fact is that we're going to need all the nuclear (fission), wind, solar, fusion, matter/anti-matter, whatever-the-f*ck technology we can deploy--along with a huge dose of conservation--to get ourselves out of the current climate mess.

So was Browns Ferry an isolated incident? I sure as hell hope so. At 30%, TVA generates more of their energy mix from nuclear than just about any other producer, and they're also having trouble with their hydroelectric generation (10%) due to low river levels at their dams. So if we're passing the point where we can deploy nuclear projects safely because of cooling issues, and the only alternative is the one power source that's causing climate-change problems in the first place, then how the hell are we going to get ourselves out of this mess?


BlognonyBITS: Hillary Clinton and Bu$hCo's Minions

The Bush administration has politicized
Everything from DoI to DoJ, NOAA, to NASA, to FEMA.
Should we assume that the Secret Service is exempt?

Senator Clinton has Secret Service protection for life,
Accompanying her in Congress and on the campaign trail.
What do they report to their paymasters?

Denying Children Health Insurance As Political Cover

The Bush administration is taking advantage the congressional recess to circumvent our legislators' will to expand the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. By issuing new rules that strictly limit the program to families below 200% of the federal poverty level, while at the same time imposing new guidelines for state by state exemptions, the administration is attempting to put a stake in a program that has broad bi-partisan support in Congress and among state's governors. Even Republicans such as Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) and Tim Pawlenty (MN) are supporters.

But the more sinister aspect of this little bit of Bu$hCo maneuvering is that the new restrictions fall disproportionately on larger, bluer states--those states where the federal poverty level is a woefully inadequate standard. California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, for example, have all been granted exemptions to extend the program to families making many times the federal poverty level. But the new rules require that states show 95% enrollment of children below the 200% level before they can exercise their exemption, allowing the administration to cut the more populous states off at the knees while protecting the so-called "red states". State health officials have called the 95% standard hard to achieve and impossible to demonstrate.

So, as the election season approaches, expect to hear the Bush administration trumpet how they reigned in a "wasteful" federal program--in their words, "...return(ing) the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children." What they won't mention is that the pain from their changes won't be felt by their own constituents.

HT to Mauigirl for turning Blognonymous on to this issue.


Terrorist Midget Thwarted By TSA

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

Department of Homeland Security officials announced today that TSA has succeeded in thwarting the diabolical plans of the Javaid Iqbal, a terrorist midget who carries dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and Loompaland. Javaid was recently detained in the US when a routine search of his baggage turned up quantities of spitballs far in excess of Department of Commerce import restrictions.

In response, the United States government has refused entry to Mr. Iqbal, returned him to the UK, and put all entry ports on notice to be on the lookout for other Oompa Loompas attempting to enter the US illegally. DHS officials are also working with the FBI to discover the whereabouts of Willy Wonka the radical leader of the Loompa Liberation Army, an organization that has declared their intent make war on the "Crusader forces of the US and UK". The LLA has claimed responsibility for recent bombings of confectioners in the United States and Great Britain.

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Your "Real ID" May Soon Be Your Passport

Real ID, the programs that states love to hate, the unfunded mandate that is supposed to be the law-o-the-land by May 2008, is about to make all of our lives a whole lot more complex. With over half of the state legislatures passing laws that repudiate the federal standard, some of us are going to be forced to use our passports when we want to board a plane, enter a federal building, or even travel to a national park.

"Tent..Coleman stove..fishing pools...beer...passports..."

And what about your current driver's license? Well that's under the gun as well. The new federal standard is designed to make you have to hit the DMV for a new one sometime before 2013, and when you do...get this...you'll need to have with you:
  • A photo ID (presumably the license that isn't good enough anymore)
  • Your birth certificate
  • Proof of your Social Security number
  • Proof of residence
Now I ask you, how many of us actually have our birth certificates and our social security cards? Not to mention that you better never be between residences. After all, only dirty terrorists move from one place to another without permission from their Lord--whoops, sorry, I keep confusing the US with medieval Russia.

Guess my government hasn't considered that carrying my passport with me at all times might in and of itself pose a security risk. Though I suppose that they'll be taking care of that with an RFID transmitter.


Faint Praise of the Padilla Trial Obscures the Truth

In yesterday's Washington Post, Jenny Martinez, a Standford University law professor and lawyer for Jose Padilla (though not in his criminal trial), tries to detect the silver lining in the ruling. Setting aside that Padilla was convicted on flimsy evidence, by what appears to have been a biased jury, of a far different crime than the one that precipitated his detention and torture, Dr. Martinez spins the trial as a triumph over the Bu$hCo's attempt to dismantle our judicial system:
The trial showed that our federal courts are perfectly capable of dealing with terrorism cases... The Bush administration has claimed since Sept. 11 that the federal courts cannot be trusted with terrorism matters. It has argued that we should scrap our centuries-old constitutional protections and replace our system of checks and balances with one awarding the executive complete discretion to lock up whomever he wants, for however long he deems appropriate. The Founders rejected that kind of arbitrary and oppressive power. And the federal court in Florida has shown how weak the administration's case for abandoning the Constitution really is.
But the stark reality remains. Regardless what this trial showed, the Bush Administration does have the power to lock up Americans indefinitely and without recourse. That power was affirmed by the Supreme Court, and consider how much it worse it would have been for Padilla had he been arrested in late 2006 rather than 2002. In 2006, with its recently granted authority to co-opt the assets of anyone who opposes its so-called "wartime" policies, the administration could have decimated the Padilla family's finances long before the man ever came to trial. The net of punishment could have snared every member of his immediate family, perhaps even his friends and associates.

We now live in a nation of punishment without charges--conviction without trial--which is very convenient for the administration, as it saves them the embarrassment of bungling the prosecution of terrorism cases, and Dr. Martinez' sunny assessment does nothing to obscure that truth.


Kvatch's Kocktail Hour - Rove on the Rocks

It's Friday and time once again for Kvatch's Kocktail Hour. This afternoon we honor the great man, Karl Rove, with a drink befitting his stature and legacy:

Rove on the Rocks

- Southern Comfort Bourbon over ice
- A dash of 10W-30

As slippery and the man himself.

Check out The Enduring Majority at The Unruly Mob and Machiavelli's Mojito at If I Ran The Zoo.

The US Government - Friend of Phreakers, Hackers, Spammers, and Terrorists

It's pretty simple really:

If you force the telcos to build in complex technology that let's you selectively, and at will, intercept the communications of anyone you feel like, the phreakers will learn how to exploit it for themselves.

If you force ISPs and businesses to consolidate records of all transactions, all sites surfed, and all emails sent, hackers will break the databases, sell the information to spammers, and then...well...you ain't seen nothing yet phishing-wise.

If you build in all these centralized vulnerabilities and the hackers have learned how to exploit them, their methods will be available to terrorists, and you know what happens then?


And Now The 'Bad' News - Retail Prices On The Rise

Bu$hCo may have a hard time grokking why Americans continue to feel depressed about their personal economic situation...

...but that's because The Decider doesn't have to buy his own eggs or milk for his kids. The graphic pretty much tells it like it is.

Yo George...95 in 100 Americans don't have enough invested in the stock market to worry about its ups and downs, but no orange juice? Get a clue, dumb ass!

Good News, Bad News - US Troops Not Gonna Get 'Left Behind'

The Good News: US troops in Iraq won't be receiving copies of Left Behind: Eternal Forces in care packages.

The Bad News: The Pentagon giving a group that specializes in proselytizing to soldiers and that refers to their activities in Iraq as a "Crusade" access to our military forces.

24 Hours of Good News - Plug That Car In

Want to know the future of car travel in major US cities? Then look to the plug-in hybrid vehicles that Toyota is putting on the road for testing purposes. Like traditional hybrids, these are powered by batteries and a small gasoline engine. Unlike a traditional hybrids, they have twice the battery capacity and can be charged directly from the electricity grid.

Naysayers will tell you that this technique is merely shifting the power generation from fossil fuels burned in the car's engine to fossil fuels burned at the generating station--essentially a wash, but this is nonsense. Even accounting for the generated electricity, these cars best their "pure-hybrid" counterparts by many miles per gallon. Moreover, new studies show that any opportunity to take advantage of the electricity grid reduces overall US energy dependence due to the availability of environmentally friendly energy blends. In California, where we generate more than 40% of our electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, this is especially the case.

So the next time you buy a car, ask your dealer where to attach the power cord.


24 Hours of Good News - Locally Universal Health Care

After only 6 weeks of operation, San Francisco's foray into the world of universal health care has already signed up all the participants it expected before the end of August. The 1000th member enrolled late last week, and with 30 to 40 people joining the program each day, the goal of covering the city's 82,000 eligible uninsured will be reached in just 18 to 24 months.

Though the program is not insurance and is does not extend outside the city limits, it provides basic preventative health care, urgent care, prescription drugs, and surgery to adults who do not qualify for Medicare or Medi-cal and who don' t have access to insurance. So...for the unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and those excluded by insurers due to pre-existing conditions, the program is a boon. Only time will tell if this kind of health-care experimentation will pay off with wider adoption because, if it does catch on, it's sure to put the fear of God into the for-profit managed health-care industry, not to mention the GOP.

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24 Hours of Good News - Hybrid Transportation

This is a Daimler-Chrysler Orion VII, diesel-electric hybrid bus. It gets 35% better gas mileage than a standard bus; puts out 90% less particulate matter; emits 40% fewer nitrogen/oxygen compounds and 30% fewer greenhouse gasses. But best of all, their electric engines make these buses quiet! I know because one of these babies can be seen in the morning on a route that goes right by the Blognonypad.

San Francisco is getting 86 of these in 2007. What's your city doing for the environment?

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For Every iPhone Sold A Tree Dies

In case you were wondering if the newest gadget from Apple is truly the king of the mobile marketplace, yours truly is not your oracle. Being a poor T-Mobile customer, I don't get to have one of Apple's new iCellPodPad's. But Ars Technica turns Blognonymous on to the fact that, when it comes to consuming natural resources, the iPhone reigns supreme (with AT&T's help).

I know when I get my T-Mobile bill, I'm comforted by the fact that they list every call. Do I want to know who tried to market a subprime loan to me at 6:30 pm last night? Well T-Mobile knows that their number was blocked and tells me so, right on my bill! Likewise AT&T, who not only wants you to know who you called, but what web-site you tried to surf at 300 baud--all of them!

Consequently, an iPhone bill takes the prize at a whopping 50+ pages of double-sided nonsense. Wondering where all that money you're paying AT&T for your iPhone plan is going? I'd say that printing, paper, and postage are pretty safe bets. Hell, the bill itself probably weighs more than your phone!

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Whatever You've Got To Tell Yourself, Karl


Google Moon View (Beta)

We beat the Russians in the '60s,
and you-know-who will probably beat China in the '00s

(Thanks to the Station Agent for the inspiration.)

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Global Climate Change and Weather Perfection

A couple of weekends ago, the Frogette and I did something that we may never have done in our ten years in San Francisco. We ate at a cafe...at 5:30 pm...OUTDOORS!

Now those of you not familiar with the weather here in Sodom by the Sea, we have three seasons that I refer to as Sun--Late September through early November, when the city warms up and clears up, what most people call 'Indian Summer' but which we just call 'summer' cause it's the only one we get. Rain--November through February (or May in an 'El Nino' year) when it does exactly that...rains...and Rains...and RAINS! And Fog--the rest of the year--when we're lucky to see the sun and wind lashes this god-forsaken rock above the Pacific as if we're being punished for our wicked ways.

But San Francisco does have one redeeming characteristic, climate-wise: The best brunch weather on the whole god-damned planet. From 10:00 am to 1:00 pm most days, anytime of year, the weather here is terrific. In fact, when friends ask what time of year they should visit our fair city, I answer simply..."Brunch".

This summer has been different, though. We're getting plenty of warm days--well warm for us, the rest of you would refer to it as FABULOUS--temperatures in the 70's, clear skies, and calm winds. In point of fact, this weather has been spooky, and I'm almost sure that it's due to global climate change. So my burning issue is this, the weather has been so nice that I'm thinking of buying a car just so I can add a few more tons of C02 to the atmosphere. Is that wrong?

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Silver Lining Department - What Sub-prime Crisis?

To the extent that there's anything good about the crisis in the sub-prime lending market, it's the fact that I'm not getting nearly as many of those ridiculous "mortgage refinancing" letters these days.

Economics? Hell! What about basic math?

A tale that I wish was apocryphal...

I read recently with a certain amount of wonder that slightly less than 50% of US high school seniors scored well on a new test designed to assess economic literacy. "Economic literacy?" thought I, "We didn't even have an economics course when I attended high school." And though the questions don't seem to be particularly tough--it doesn't seem like rocket science to answer correctly that "...lower tax revenue and higher spending increase the national debt"--perhaps we shouldn't be too quick to congratulate ourselves. Read on...

Last weekend I was in Peet's Coffee, a Bay Area roaster that gives you a tiny discount on your beans if you recycle one of their bags. So in I come with my empty 12 oz bag, a "pre-pack" that is sold in grocery stores. The girl behind the counter looks at it and remarks, "That's not a full pound, is it?"

"Nope," I responded, "...it's 3/4 of a pound."

"So...how much goes in there?"

At this point I got distracted by something the Frogette said, and the frustrated cashier called over the manager who took charge of the situation. "Just fill the bag. Then when you ring him up charge the lb price and multiply it...by...uh, .8 ...I guess."

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, the cashier looked at me and with a bit of embarrassment said, "At least someone can do math."

I submit to you that teaching economics is great, but this society's got a much bigger problem.

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Back In Business - 1and1 Is History

While Blogger deals (or doesn't) with what appears to be a bug in their software (they upload all labeled posts every time you publish, regardless of content), I took the step of switching Blognonymous from it's old host 1and1 Internet (you know...the ISP that f*cked Spocko) to a new provider, eApps Hosting. Not only is eApps oodles more reliable than 1and1, you should notice Blognonymous loading a bit faster.

eApps is also where I'm planning on hosting the website for the Frogette's new company and a little side-project that I've been working on myself. Stay tuned for those.

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Blogger Hosed...Again

Friends... Starting at about 6:00 PM last night Blogger stopped being able to upload new and updated posts to my domain. I've checked with my ISP and tested my server's connections myself--all seems well. So this looks like a Blogger issue, though one that they haven't acknowledged yet. I have no idea when things will be resolved. Hell I don't even know if I'll be able to publish this post. But since it has no labels, I'm hoping that it won't stall.

Since historically Blogger has been pretty deaf to their user base, I suspect it might be a while. In the meantime, my latest post (which a few of you might have seen briefly) went up at The Unruly Mob last evening.

Hope to be back soon.



Future Headlines - Blanket Immunity for Lawbreakers






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NYC Police Told To Reveal All

These days Bu$hCo is proving itself to be an implacable enemy of transparent government. And consequently victories in the civil liberties arena are hard to come by, but not on Monday because Federal Judge James C. Francis IV slapped down New York City and it's overzealous police department by ordering the disclosure of the field intelligence reports and dossiers illegally compiled in order to stifle dissent at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

For those of you who haven't been following this case, the NYC Police have been arguing that their methods, tactics, personnel, and procedures need to remain secret to ensure that they're not "misinterpreted" by the public nor "sensationalized" by the media. Because, as we all know, the public tends to go overboard when faced with unjust arrest, protest zones, and indefinite detention without charges.

But NYC's argument was always a weak one, especially considering that an earlier ruling by Federal District Judge Charles Haight stated that the police must have, "...some indication of unlawful activity on the part of the individual or organization," before they can go out and monitor political groups or their activities.

So it's not exactly the broad-based ruling against Federal secrecy that one might prefer. But these days, with Congress doing their best imitation of Bush's dog Barney, we have to take the victories we can get.

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Another Day, Another Award

Shaun Mullen of Kiko's House got tagged with this little meme/award and has graciously included your's truly in the Partisan Pissant Provocateur Award. And so it only seems appropriate that I say a few words...

Thank you, thank you. I just want to say that I could not have achieved all that I have without help. And so I feel that I should thank a few people. George, Alberto, Dick, Turd Blossom...where would I be without you guys? Ann, you voracious she-harpy, you're my home girl. And all you wonderful people at Bu$hCo...this award's really about you. In addition, I really want to tha--



Paris or Los Angeles?

The battle's on my San Franciscan friends, and the Chronicle has identified precisely what's at stake. We're going to get a chance to decide what kind of city we want to be because two upcoming ballot measures are directly in conflict with each other.

First the initiatives: On the one hand we've got billionaire and GAP founder, Don Fisher assisted by bunches of merchants groups who want to stuff more cars into our city by relaxing the rules on the creation of off-street parking. On the other hand we've got SF Board of Supervisors President, Aaron Peskin and the liberals who want to provide additional funding for MUNI (our municipal transit system). But here's the problem, the MUNI initiative also reaffirms our current parking restrictions. So we can't have it both ways.

Now for some numbers: This city has approximately 470,000 vehicles registered to it's 820,000 inhabitants. That's low by American standards, but what isn't low is the fact that it translates to almost 10,000 vehicles packed into every one of our 49 square miles. On top of that, on any weekday another 35K cars are driven into San Francisco.

Now the merchants will tell you that this shouldn't be a "transit only city", but they're wrong. If there is any city in America that should be transit only (or at least very, very transit-friendly) it's San Francisco! Do we want more downtown congestion? No! Do we want more pollution? No! Do we want more frustrated cagers clogging up our transit lanes, maiming our pedestrians, bicyclists, and each other? NO!!!

In short people, San Francisco should remain a transit first city because we simply don't have the square mileage to be another Los Angeles, and really...who needs another LA anyway?

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Finally! The Eternal Question Answered...

What would Jesus do?

You can all thank Mama Kvatch for this one.

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Kvatch's Kocktail Hour - The Executive Privilege

It's Friday and time once again for Kvatch's Kocktail Hour. Since the last time we lifted our glasses Bush has invoked executive privilege more often than Paris Hilton has flashed her naughty bits. So this afternoon I give you...

The Executive Privilege

- 5 parts Cristal champagne
- 1 part Budweiser
- Stir then garnish with pretzel nuggets

A rare, yet tacky drink that you hope the Decider chokes on.

Check out some other cocktails at If I Ran The Zoo and The Unruly Mob.

Meet The New Boss

Gonna be a busy day at the Blognonypad. So until this afternoon, let me just leave you with a thought:

Why is everybody getting all freaked out about Rupert Murdoch's takeover of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal? As I see it, a right-wing, shamelessly partisan rag with a political ax to grind is getting taken over by a rich, right-wing, shamelessly partisan, meddling, media oligarch? So how exactly are things gonna change at Dow Jones? Looks like 'business as usual' to me.

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A 7 Continent Day

That's kind of cool--hits from all 7 continents at once. Not sure that's ever happened before. Now if only I could have gotten Antarctica. Where's the Station Agent when you need him?

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If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat 'Em

I'm late to this party, but the Culture Ghost had a blurb about Republican efforts to rig the next presidential election, and it's just too important to pass up.

This brilliant piece of subterfuge comes in the form of a California ballot initiative that would ditch our 'winner-take-all' system in favor of splitting our electors roughly in line with the popular vote. Proposed by Thomas Hiltachk, a Sacramento lawyer with deep ties to the GOP, this measure would basically give Republicans the presidency in 2008 by stripping as many as 20 electors from the Democrats, and if you think that Hiltachk isn't getting his orders from the RNC or Karl Rove, think again.

But to get this passed in California, Hiltachk and his supporters will have to tell three BIG LIES. These are:

This System Would Be More Fair - Almost certainly true, but only if it's implemented all over the country, all at once! As it stands, it does nothing more than tilt the electoral college further toward the GOP.

This System Is Better For California - The argument being that candidates will spend more time campaigning in California. But moving our primary up will accomplish the same thing without rigging the election's outcome.

This Isn't Any Different Than the 'Popular Vote Movement' - The biggest lie of all because the popular vote movement has a built in fail safe--it doesn't go into effect unless 19 states carrying the balance of the electors all agree to join. This measure does exactly the opposite. Without being rolled out nation wide, it fixes the election's outcome, probably for a generation.

With such bad prospects for 2008, Republicans have apparently decided, "If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em!"

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Second Life Imitates Strife

OK...I admit that I'm not a Second Life devotee. I've got way too many things going on as it is to consider leading a whole 'nuther existence in the virtual world. But I have to say that I'm surprised that it took so long for the cyber-crime wave leaking out of Linden Labs to morph from misdemeanors to crimes against...uh...humanity (?).

Yes indeed, terrorists have discovered Second Life. "elite jihadists" are supposedly using the virtual world for recruiting and for dry runs of operations that might be a little hard to practice in real life. And this...on top of the home grown Second Life Liberation Army, a group that has left a trail of virtual dead, while busily blowing up cyber java-joints with logical nuclear weapons. But the burning question you have to ask is: Does your would be cyber martyr expect 70 virtual virgins to inhabit his electronic after-life?

Oh well..not to worry. All will be set right when the Society of Jesus enters Second Life to bring the Good News to Linden's Lab of iniquity. Wonder what you've got to do to get a virtual indulgence?

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