Monday, July 31, 2006

We have 10 years and I don't think we'll make it. Do you?

I saw a piece on 60 Minutes on Sunday. You can find the transcript here. It was a story about how the BWH is systematically weakening the message from leading scientists and institutions about Global Warming. It was primarily focused around Dr. James Hansen.

It's funny that I saw that piece when I did. About 3 days ago I came across an article about how NASA had just changed it's mission statement in a way that virtually eliminates the mandate NASA and Dr. Hansen have to study Global Warming.

This isn't shocking at all to me. It's pretty much in line with all the other things the BWH has done to further their causes over the greater good of our country and it's inhabitants.

One thing Dr. Hansen said in the piece (and presumably to anyone else he could talk to) is this:

"We have to, in the next 10 years, get off this exponential curve and begin to decrease the rate of growth of CO2 emissions," Hansen explains. "And then flatten it out. And before we get to the middle of the century, we've got to be on a declining curve.

"If that doesn't happen in 10 years, then I donÂ’t think we can keep global warming under one degree Celsius and that means weÂ’re going to, that thereÂ’s a great danger of passing some of these tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can'’t tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can'’t build a wall around the ice sheets. It will be a situation that is out of our control."

I have to honestly tell you that I firmly believe that we will not achieve the goal that Dr. Hansen has laid out here (and also mentioned in "An Inconvenient Truth"). I completely believe that we will not as a nation, as a species, act fast enough to turn the tide on Global Warming. When people ask me why I don't want to have kids, this general belief that the world is pretty much fucked beyond hope is one of my main reasons.

I ask you this. What reason would all the scientists in the world have to create this issue and promote the message that we are almost to the point of no return? What reason could the Bush White House have to dilute that message?

Lebanon and Israel

Here is my opinion on the Lebanon/Israel situation: We should let Israel do whatever they want to do. If they need military or diplomatic help we should give it to them if we can. We should, however, strongly urge Israel to stop killing civilians else it would threaten our alliance with them.

Let me back up for a bit to support this thought. Let me give you an example. Say for instance that we weren’t allies with Mexico and that there was a group within the United States border that was based primarily along our southern border with them. Say this group was really against Mexico for whatever reason. Let’s for example say the group is a future version of the Minutemen and they decide that to fight against Mexican aggression (real or imagined) they are going to go over the border and kidnap the Mexican army members.

From the perspective of Mexico, the Minutemen would be an American terrorist organization that are infringing on Mexican sovereignty with acts of aggression. Mexico, by most accounts (if they were objective) would have every right to declare war on America if they wanted to. Obviously it is the American Governments job to control it’s citizens and not let them form militias that could, by their actions, threaten whatever détente we may have with our border nations.

Now, let’s take that example and apply it to Lebanon. There is a group within its borders, composed and supported by its own citizens that have acted aggressively against a bordering nation. From the perspective of Israel they are being attacked by people within the borders of Lebanon, and they should therefore have every right to declare and wage war against Lebanon.

The way they are waging war should be considered morally reprehensible by our nation. We claim to be a religiously moral nation and we should therefore act like we are. One of our allies is killing civilians knowingly in their war with another nation. The reason (from what I can gather) we are allies with any nation is that we agree with them morally and politically and consider them friends. A friend would not let another friend do something they considered morally wrong without complaining to them or trying to get them to stop.

So this is simple to me and it should be to you as well. We should let Israel fight its war against Lebanon, and at the same time we should denounce their killing of civilians. I know that the main problem you are going to point out is that Hezbollah is comprised of citizens and that is a case that legal scholars will have to argue (and should have been arguing all the way back to Hiroshima). Whose fault is this? It is clearly Lebanon’s. Think back to the Minutemen. Should Mexico kill them? Would it be morally correct? As far as war makes sense (and to me it really doesn’t), they have every right to kill and fight the people that fight them. But they should allow some time for the American government to sort it out themselves.

This can and should happen in S. Lebanon. Israel should map off a section of the country that they deem to be the taken over by Hezbollah, they should declare war on Lebanon and give it’s government time to meet it’s demands (say, remove all Hezbollah solders from the area). They should wait a fair amount of time to allow the govt. to comply. And then they should roll in their tanks and army if they don’t comply. Perhaps they should allow foreign aid workers to come in and clear out the civilians as well.

The problem is not with Hezbollah. They are inside the border of a sovereign nation and so they are part of that nation. If they attack, Lebanon attacks. And if a country attacks another, that country has every right to defend themselves.

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

I came across this list here. I'm not sure who the original author is..

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

I screamed out in pain when I read this...

What is wrong with our nation when people are offended by a photo of a mother breastfeeding her child? On the cover of a parenting magazine none the less!!!!!

It is stuff like this that make me really, truly fear for the future of the human race:

One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.

"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that."

or perhaps we should most worry about the child of this mother :

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old.

Why we need to stop the War on Drugs

In my mind it goes like this: the war on drugs includes disinformation campains that makes it sound like all drug use is unhealthy while users of drugs see that this isnt' true.. the messages then get ignored by virtually everyone. In addition, the war makes drug education virturally non-existant in schools (except for "just say no" lessons)... The war on drugs also makes drugs hard to aquire for young people who will find a way to get fucked up no matter how. This all leads to :

Children then almost die becasue they start inhaling and eating moth-balls.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


This film is difficult. Lets just say that right from the get-go. You should come prepared knowing the geography of the Middle East, some idea about mergers, some knowlege of the various groups that make up the Middle East and a really good ability to concentrate. If you've got all that, you will love this film. If you don't, you may get a bit turned off. It plays like a Tom Clancy book, there are multiple stroy lines that are all related, but you really don't know how and why. It jumps around from one to the other a buch so you have to be paying attention.

The more I think about it, the more I understand why it didn't do that well here in America. It's not spoon fed, it's not an action film and it doesn't have a nice and tidy plot that ends well.. oh and it also gives you what I believe is the best cinematic depiction of how terrorists can be born.

If you are ready for a challenge and a film that is beautifully shot that makes you think and can prompt discussions with others, you should rent this.

Oh My God

I click on the ads that appear from google (at the top of the page) once annd a while for fun and for profit. In either case, I just came across this one. Can you believe what that is? Can these snake oil proprieters be any more devious and deceptive? Prey on us please.. we're ignorant fucks and all we know about "Stem Cells" is that we've heard it in the news.. this product must be what they all are talking about.. We should buy some right away!

And the sad thing is that they will sell 10,000,000 of those bottles..

A remarkable new product called StemEnhance� has just come on the market that can help your body to help itself! If you watch the news, you've seen reports on the benefits of stem cells, however... Unlike the very controversial use of human embryonic stem cells, StemEnhance� is a botanical extract that contains no stem cells. StemEnhance� supports the natural release of adult stem cells from your own bone marrow.

Life on Mars

"Life on Mars" is an amazing David Bowie song. It is an even better television program on BBC America. I just saw the pilot and it was just wonderful. I can't really say why. Perhaps it was the acting? The story? I really don't know.. All I can say is that I loved it and I want more. In some ways if reminds me of the Sopranos episodes this season where Tony was in a coma, in some ways it reminds me of The Matrix and in some ways Quantum Leap.

The pilot is showing again tonight at 9PM on BBCA and those of you who can get BBCA should make an effort to check it out. The pilot is really important since it sets the story up. If you plan on checking out the show at all, I reccomend that you don't miss the pilot.

95 Theses of Geek Activism

I thought this was pretty cool. Check it out.

Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

A month or so ago when we saw the first preview of this new show on SciFi Channel, I looked over at my gilfriend and said something like "ok... now the game show concept has been streached waaay too thin". She disagreed and made me tivo it anyway.

Yesterday we sat down to watch the episode. She got up in about 3 minutes and walked away, I instead kept going and was totally surprised. I liked this show and I'll tell you why.

First off, the concept is that people are competing to have a comic book made about the superhero that they portray by the legendary Stan Lee. To start the show, we saw hundreds of completely insane fanatics and general lunatics pitch Mr. Lee to be part of the initial selectees to compete. That had me in stiches for a good 20 minutes at least.

Once part of the initial group we got to know them and see them a bit. Wathcing these people show up to compete in these home made costumes was simply priceless. These are people who, for the most part, really want to be superheros. This all reminds me of the extremely short lived but amazing TV show "The Tick" (live action version).

The format of the show is a lot like the Apprentice. Mr. Lee (who hosts from his home via video teleconference) is the best rich guy, legendary, host I've seen so far. Unlike Trump, or Cuban or any of the other "top of their game" people, Stan Lee really has a serious interest in this competition. He really is focused on the people, but also is totally not an egomaniac. I love watching him.

The contestants have competitions to follow and are elimated weekly based on their performance. I've only seen one cometition, but (and this is where it gets strange) the competition really feels like something you would put an actual super-hero through.

The show had me lauging so hard that I had to pause the Tivo at one point and that is when one of the heros "Major Victory" was doing his competition. If there ever was a character that needed a whole show made after him, it was this guy. He is simply hysterical in his mannerisms and actions. He reminds me of this superhero dude that I used to love on Cartoon Network named Johnny Bravo but without the Elvis.

Whatever. The show is entertaining and actually has heart. I'm not sure if it is meant to be funny, but my goodness did I laugh a lot while watching it. So.. what can I say? Give it a look and see if you agree.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Take ISPs out of the Equation

You know.. I never thought about this in this way before, but ISPs really don't need to exist any more. The Internet is simply a network or networks and the only reason ISPs came into being was that it was hard to connect to this network. They were little mom and pop organizations with phone banks. They would split the cost of their dedicated line to the net across all those accounts. Eventually they grew into what they are today, effectively they connect what's called "the last mile" from their connection to the net to our homes.

What if, as it is expanded on here each city or county were to finance their own public works project to create their own fiber network to each and every home? Give each person a static IP address and just take the ISPs out of the equation? This would level the playing field and allow everyone to do whatever they pleased with their net connection.

It is the future.. Eventually we all will no longer have cable lines and phone lines and DSL lines.. there will eventually be one single connection per household to the internet and it will be super high speed so it can carry phone, data, tv, etc.. Why not remove all that regulation and all that needless overhead of the ISPs?

I proposed (personally) to mayor Rendell a long time ago that the city build a fiber network, connect it directly to the Internet Node in NJ and give access away for free. My thought was that we build a ring and allow schools and companies to connect to it. I'd never thought of doing the whole deal to each household.. at the time it would have been prohibitively expensive.. I think we can do it now and I think we should!

Editing Films

You know, I gave up my Blockbuster membership the day I rented a film from them and relaized that it had scenes cut from it (I had seen the film previously). I was amazed that they didn't even let me know that they had edited the film. Further research proved that they, as a policy, would edit films to remove content they found offensive. They still do and that's why (I believe) their onlie DVD rental service can't get any traction.

I was always amazed that the MPAA would let them get away with the editing. Apparently, the times are changing and there are judges in this country who agree that it's better to do the right thing and follow logic instead of catering to the crazy right wing thought police. This is a good thing.

I'm so Proud to be a Democrat

Ahh.. take a look at this. It's soo good to know that some Democratic legislators in my own state are now working to ban stem cell research. You know, it really makes me feel good about my party.. we're so organized, we can get so much done because we are united in our public causes..

What the fuck man? Actually I understand what I will call the "Crashing the Gates Principle" which states that a democrat who has some radical right wing beliefs is better to have in a seat than a republican of any kind (think Casey). But still I feel like if we could just organize a bit better like those wonderful R's we could accomplish some productive things..

Unity 08 man!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yea.. apparently it's illegal now to photograph the police

I don't even know what to say about this article. What the fuck man? I hate most cops, but the Philly police on the whole do a pretty good job and usually act pretty well, but I have to say I hope this kid gets a good lawyer and sues the city for a lot of cash! Ugh.. this stuff makes me ill.

( "Cell Phone Picture Called Obstruction Of Justice")

As Philadelphia wonders why we have a violence problem...

I submit to you this article as piece of evidence that the problem may in fact be more serious than we think.

Let me explain. Allegidly this man ran out of his house and grabbed a 3 year old by the throught after having water sprayed accidentally on his car. He then went back into the house and came out with an unlicienced firearm which he threatened the childs mother with. The police "charged him with aggravated assault, firearms violations, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person."

You'd think Bradley might have been in some trouble of his own, but, on Tuesday, Common Pleas Judge John O'Grady threw out charges of weapons violations and aggravated assault against a toddler, and reduced the remaining charges Bradley faced to misdemeanors.

Now, I wonder what happened here. Hard to say w/o being in on the trial. Could it have been an incompetant DA? I was on a jury once and the DA was fresh out of school and clueless so that is a possibility. Or was the judge influenced in some way? (The man charged was in law enforcement as a Philadelphia School District Cop). Maybe he was innocent.. which I really can't say since I wasn't there.

But something is wrong here and I can't figure out what it is.. can you all help?

America should stop meddling in the Middle East

We should stop meddling in the Middle East. We have nothing to gain and everything to loose. The only thing we should do in the Middle East is what we should be doing around the world: directly supporting our allies and diplomatically supporting countries that are trying to form democracies.

In the case of our allies, support means that if they need our help and ask for it, we give them exactly what they ask for if we can. In the case of fledgling democracies that means we support them publicly and provide them aid as they need it.

It seems to me that our foreign policy as it applies to the Middle East is a lot more than I’ve outlined and it seems to me that that is the reason we have all of our problems. I’m not asking America to be an isolationist nation, I’m asking America to be a nation that deals fairly with the rest of the world and uses its resources in positive ways.

I don’t believe that if we were a nation that was content with ourselves we would have such a problem with Osama Bin Laden. From what I can gather, one of the main catalysts for his fatwa against us was that we had military bases in Saudi Arabia. Why do we have those bases there? Why do we need this heavy military presence in the Middle East? Could it be that we are colonialists and expansionists? Could it be that we don’t want to pay the market rate for Oil?

Now, another part of Osama’s hatred for us is our support of Israel. In that case, I’m sorry, at this point in time they are our ally and we should publicly support them as we would any ally. But they don’t need the help of our military. Israel has the worlds #2 military; they can take care of themselves. And we should let them. It seems to me that we try to influence their policy way too much. Why? Why do we meddle? What makes our nation so smart? Isn’t it obvious that we cause more problems than we solve when we meddle in other nations affairs?

And I really don’t think I’m talking pie in the sky here. I’m just asking us to think more about treating other nations as if they were on the same level as we are and not as bratty little children that we need to baby-sit. We aren’t the adults who know better. Historically in this context I know that much is true.

Now I’ve said before that we should try and influence Israel to move out of the Middle East entirely and I still believe it, but if they want to stay, we should support them in any way they want. If we don’t agree with things they are doing, we have every right to privately try and talk them out of actions, but publicly our stance should be “They are our ally. If they want to attack Lebanon they are fully supported by us”.

If we are allies with multiple nations that are at war what should we do? We should try our best to broker peace or we should choose sides. This stuff is simple although everyone will say: “This stuff is complex beyond all recognition”. You know what? It’s not and I’ll tell you why:

In this context, there are two types of people. There are the leaders of all these nations and factions and then there are the citizens of all these nations. The citizens by and large will go along with whatever their leaders position is. The leaders (of which there are relatively few) are the ones that have differing opinions and it is those differences that cause all the problems in the world that we have today.

Those differences may be huge and they may be based in all kinds of history, but they are still ultimately differing opinions of singe human beings and they are motivated by simple needs and wants. And that, to me, means that it can all be understood. Do you think that if Osama Bin Laden were to sit down with Tony Blair that they would immediately want to kill each other? I don’t think so. I think if they were truly honest and able to really communicate with each other, they would at the worst end up in a situation where they would agree to disagree.

Yea yea, the world isn’t that simple.. I’m telling you all right now that it is. Even you religious people would agree with me if you really understood your faiths. Human life and social interaction while it can get very complex is ultimately simple. We all interact the same ways with each other. We all want and need and feel in relatively the same ways.

So, our country should strive to be more of an entity who if it were a person would be more like a priest and less like a general. How can anyone disagree?

Sirius should buy XM and the Govt. should let them

I still am baffled that Sirius stock is now less than $4 per share, but I'm cool with it since I'm in it for the long haul and at $4 a share I can buy a lot of stock for a little money.. in the future I know that it will pay off..

Even though XM has been taking a serious tumble and is just in a downward spiral from all perspectives, they still have some advantages over Sirius in terms of programming (I have both so I know) on their music channels and on some of their talk channels as well.

But Sirius is ultimately going to win the battle and if XM goes bankrupt or is bought by anyone other than Sirius, then everyone will suffer in the long term. Here is what I mean...

XM and Sirius are (at the heart) two streams of entertainment programming. Sure they have a number of channels, but they are kind of like having the HBO family of channels and comparing it to the Showtime family of channels. There is no theoretical reason why we can't have them both available on the same receivers. I've talked before about how fighting for these receivers is killing the business on the whole. In a perfect world, all receivers in all cars would be able to get terrestrial radio and all channels from all satellite providers.

If XM gets bought by CBS (as postulated in a great piece here), the chances of that happening remain the same as they are now.. low. If XM is absorbed by Sirius then the chances will be very high that competition in the future will occur.

What the govt. should do in this case is encourage Sirius to buy XM with the one caveat that they should open source their transmission technology to the market and allow other providers to play content on their radios. Remember, the ultimate goal here is for there to be one receiver in the cars that is capable of receiving content from multiple providers. Kind of like Cable TV has multiple channels.. essentially everyone is free to compete by starting their own channel.

The more we have these receiver battles, the less we move forward to acceptance of satellite radio. In my world, competition is a good thing from the perspective of the market and the consumer, but if the companies refuse to compete on an equal playing field (like XM and Sirius are doing) then everyone looses. By Sirius buying XM in this way, we get a situation where the field is finally flattened out and made fair.

In the short term this will work really well because the new Sirius will now have 12M subscribers. Car companies will then install the receivers by default and then the choice of weather we want satellite or not will then lie in the hands of the consumer. This could never happen if we have competing standards and that would be the case if this XM/Sirius battle continues along its present trajectory.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rolling Stone talks about Iran

Rolling stone is really rolling. First the voting fraud article and now this one about how the thought of invading Iran has been percolating in the US government. It's a killer spy story and actually makes our neocon friends seem like such assholes (which is always a good thing).. Case in point :

The revelation shocked Franklin and other members of Feith's office. If true, the allegations meant that they had just launched a war to put into power an agent of their mortal enemy, Iran. Their man—the dissident leader who sat behind the first lady in the president's box during the State of the Union address in which Bush prepared the country for war—appeared to have been working for Iran all along.

They are talking about how Ahmed Chalabi who was one of the cheif people pusing for our invasion of Iraq was being suspected of actually working for Iran.. This stuff is just amazing!

T-Mobile Again

So T-Mobile is in the news again. This time for pulling their ads from some shows (notably "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") at the request of those lunatics at the American Family Association. You may remember that T-Mobile is on my boycot list. Well, now I've got 2 reasons to hate them.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On running "The Bush"

This just in.. an interview with the man who runs "The Bush".. I'm still giggling!

It's about fucking time

Arlen Specter (who I will gladly vote for if he runs again) is preparing a bill to hold the president accountable for his signing statements. It's about time that Congress stepped up to thier responsibility to be a check on the presidents power. The concept of checks and balances was conceived so no branch of the government could gain too much power and our president, by using these signing statments has been using a loophole to do just that.

Congress has allowed the BWH to do this on over 750 bills and it's been quite amazing to me that they have allowed themselves to be neutered like that. It's a good thing for America that they have been trying to distance themselves from him lately. The sad thing, and the thing that I'm most upset about was that it took a Republican to get this bill off the ground. While I understand that the Republicans controll both houses and that a Democratic bill may have faced severe oppression, I don't get why nobody tried. Actually I do know why. The Democrats are a bunch of confused pussies. Too bad I'm one of them.

You don't need ID at the TSA checkpoint

I've been to a number of airports since 9/11 and every one has a different policy about weather I need ID, weather I need to remove my shoes, weather I need to remove my jacket, etc. It's quite frustrating and it shows me that there is a problem with the process they have set up. If all these checkpoints are run by a federal agency and are following federal rules, why are they all different? My only guesses is that the rules are vague and left to interpretation, or that the employees are badly managed.

In either case, I refer you to this story where a man was almost arrested for simply asking a non-TSA, non-Airline employee who he worked for before he showed ID. While he was being a bit of a dick, I can totally see his argument and I can totally see (though not agree with) how the Gestapo/ss officers escalated the incident to the point of almost arrest. I would probably at that point refused to show ID and took the chance to be arrested since the people involved would have eventually gotten fired. The man in this case has been trying unsuccessfully to pursue this matter and I think that had he been arrested, he'd have had a better opportunity..

That is just one story, I've heard (and you have too) of dozens of other cases where there were problems at the TSA checkpoint. Another story that I find interesting is the one of John Gilmore (co-founder of the EFF and a really serious guy when it comes to all this terrorist stuff). Now, his story is a bit different. He was trying to prove a point and trying to get some cause for a legal challenge so he was being difficult for a reason. His case lost on appeal and the opinion is a good read because it teaches you that you don't in fact need to show ID at the TSA checkpoint if you are ok with them doing a more invasive search.

This was proven just recently when he challened some DHS higher ups to travel with no ID. He got one taker.

I'm no fan of just showing ID whenever it's asked of me. I don't like the government sticking their noses into my business every 2 seconds. Though I understand that showing ID is a good idea since it (in theory) allows the govt. to check you against terrorist databases, etc. I think that if you search my bags and my person thouroughly, you will achieve the same thing while actually preserving my reasonable right to travel anonymously.

I for one intend to travel and not show ID more often. We need to exercise our rights more. We need to stand up against these Stalinist tactics "Show us your Papers!!". Fuck that shit. This is America you fuckers.

Monday, July 24, 2006


It says in this article that Fios is costing Verizon $1400 a home to install. I kid you not, I would pay them $1500 right now if they would run it to my home. I would also sign up for their TV and phone services as well. I don't get why they aren't doing this any faster. There is a demand. I am not the only one.

The sex book for Teens

Have a great book that teaches teens that communication is important? Good luck getting anyone to notice.

The RIAA is EVIL and we can help the people they are hurting!

There is a great article on NewsForge about the RIAA and how they prey on defenseless people and use the technical ignorance of judges to extort settlements and perhaps set precidents that will help them in the future. This must be combatted in some way.

I've argued this case to friends and in writing before. There is really no way to link an actual person to files that appear on file trading services. In addition, I argue that just becasue you have files available on a file trading service, you aren't doing anything illegal, if anything it would be the folks downloading them.

From the article, after the RIAA gets a persons name from an ISP that was tied to an IP address (often dynamically) and often shared via wireless routers:

Once the RIAA has a name, the RIAA brings a case against the individual identified. As Beckerman points out, at this point, the evidence is inconclusive. "At most, they can say that someone who might somehow be associated with that IP address might have made some files available. But they certainly don't know that the defendant did. All they know is that the defendant wrote out a check to the Internet provider."

However, this vagueness does not stop the proceedings. The RIAA's preference, Beckerman says, is "to extort a [cash] settlement." If an individual resists, the RIAA brings a federal suit against him, which few individuals can afford to defend against unless they can find a lawyer willing to work for free or for a nominal fee. "You'll notice that you'll never see a big law firm in that category," he says. "The big law firms are like any big corporation -- they need to make a profit. They would be interested in representing the RIAA, not the poor people who the RIAA are pursuing."

This is sad and we should be aware that this is happening. We should at the least donate some money to the EFF and the Free Software Foundation (who has a legal fund up) :

Brown also mentioned that people can donate money to the cause through the FSF Web site, or by sending checks earmarked "RIAA Lawsuits" to the FSF.

Something Interesing happened on 9/11

Benjamin Franklin in 1773 (on 9/11) in a letter to Josiah Quincy wrote:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Eagles Greatest Moments

My girlfriend is a huge Eagles fan and is going crazy as the season approaches. I was browsing my usual haunts when I came across this site which has cataloged a bunch of the best Eagles moments from YouTube. It's pretty good and even though I peg the Eagles to go 8-8 this year, the videos are hard not to watch. I've actually seen most of those games..

Friday, July 21, 2006

George Bush Resume

Someone emailed me this.. I don't know the original source. If someone does, please let me know:

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20520



I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business
in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any gov ernor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay (now deceased), presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S.
citizens, and the world community.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster" a WMD.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

I am a member of the Republican Party.

Jan Ullrich

I love Jan Ullrich, lets get that out of the way right off. And let me also say that a private organization should have the right to fire anyone for any reason. With that said, I still think its shameful that T-Mobile has dropped Jan from their team even though his name has only been linked to the Puerta doping investigation. They are essentially forcing him to prove his innocence which is just fucked up in my book. Even if he is proven guilty in the future, that doesn't change the fact that right now he still should be treated with respect by his team and the public. Well, that's the last time I buy T-Mobile cell service...

Tigers Swing

So Nike did something cool, and they did an ok job of it, but not as good as I'd have liked. They put Tiger Woods in front of a set of super slo motion cameras and recorded his golf swing. After that, they created this cool web site where you can click on one of 5 angles to see the swing from that perspective. The cameras and the angles (and even the preview buttons) are in sync. That's all the cool part. The crappy part (and I'm amazed by this clearly stylistic decision) is that they made everything so dark that you can hardly tell what the hell is going on. Am I missing something?

Here is the site.

Also, my girlfriend (who alerted me to this in the first place) notes that there is a slighty brigher version (but poorly compressed) on google video here.

Floyd! and the Incredible Tour de France

I haven't written about the Tour lately but rest assured I've been watching it. Every stage, every day now since July 1. I have to say in some ways it has been better than last years Tour, in some ways worse, but in all ways it has been entertaining.

We started off in the flats watching the incredible (but outspoken) Robby McEwen sprint like a maniac and solidfy his Green Jersey. We took a turn into the Pyrenees where we saw a few of the Yellow contenders strut their stuff, back to the flats for a few and now into the Alps where the race is beginning to make clear who the real contenders are. It's been a pretty crazy race with the Yellow Jersey changing hands 7 times so far. This is a big difference than the Lance days where once he got it, the race was essentially over.

Anyway, if you look back at my top ten list prediction you will see that of the riders who started, I had essentially picked George Hincapie first and Loyd Landis second. George has been a bust particulary (I feel) becasue his team wasn't behind him from the start and possibly becasue of his crash earlier this year. But Floyd has been another story. He's been pretty amazing to watch.

Floyd doesn't have much of a team to support him. I know this because I can't name any of them except one. Usually by now you are so used to seeing riders at the front that you can name even the most obscure ones. I haven't seen many Phonak riders this tour. And where they have been most needed (in the mountains and fighting the breaks in the flats) they haven't been able to step up. But that hasn't stopped Floyd Landis from holding the Yellow jersey after the Pyrenees and then again taking back in the first Alps stage.

But 2 days ago Floyd just appeared to die on the course. Some say he bonked, some say he simply had a bad day, I say he was dehydrated (which is just inexcusable coaching). But nonetheless, the guy lost almost 9 minutes to the 2nd place rider and lost the Yellow jersey.

Let me tell you what that means. With only one mountain stage, one flat stage and a time trial left in the race, anything more than a 6 minute gap from the yellow means that you have no chance of winning. In the non time trial stages you are generally marked by the other riders and if you start to try to get away from them, they will chase you down. Everyone is always watching and marking the progress of their closest opponants. On a flat stage making up any time at all is close to impossible. On a time trial you are riding alone and of the top contenders, there really isn't more than maybe 2 minutes seperating them all. On a mountain stage the only way to do it is to find more energy than the others AND pull off an attack that they can't counter.

Yesterday, Floyd somehow did the impossible.

Before most of the mountains, he took off from the main group and attacked. At first it looked like they were just amazed that he had the energy. Then it seemed like they thought "well, maybe he'll gain a minute or two if he rides this inspired over the final mountains". Then he was out of their sight. He went on to pass all of the 15 or so riders ahead of the main pack. Passing each amazed one he just kept going. He was drinking a ton of water. Every time you saw him he was either pouring it over himself or drinking something. That, to me, was the clue to his dehydration issue from the day before.

Floyd won the stage. Read the full story here. It was simply incredible. Here was a guy who was by all accounts, finished. Here was a guy who said "you know what? fuck it, I'm not giving up". And he sure didn't. He is now 30 seconds off the leader of the race. Today I think he'll still be 30 down. In the time trial (his specialty) he will take the jersey and call it his own. You should all watch the TT on Saturday and see. It will be simply awesome!

Those nasty Stem Cells

My friend Albert beat me to this, but I wanted to post it too. This cartoon (by Daily News Cartoonist Signe) just sums up the BWH perfectly.. and keeps my anger nice and fresh... Fuckers!

(love the kid on the right with the hole)

While on the subject of stem cells, see here for some more about how fucking stupid taht veto was.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I'm not the only one who feels this way, but the Big Lebowski is definitely one of my favorite films of all time. I mean I fucking love that film man! Ok.. so a friend sent me this link which is a bit annoying to watch, but also quite interesting too.. that's not why I'm posting now. You Tube when you watch a video tries to show you other related stuff.. and that's where I found this clip. If you are a fan of the film you will laugh outloud because the acting in the scene is hysterical (especially near the end).. the fact that it was dubbed over the Ninga Turtles makes it even funnier.. There are others there too..

FBI plans new Net-tapping push

I want to write a big post about this but I don't know what my opinion is right now. First off I think I want others in the blog world to be more aware of this issue. Secondly I hope to form an opinion on this. On the one hand, what makes building tapping ablility into network gear any different than what is mandated for phone switches? To have the ability to tap isn't the same as tapping everything.. but on the other hand, why let the govt have more potential to abuse its power and infringe on our rights? Also it's all kind of moot to me becasue if I wanted secure communication I think I could achieve it (or come close to it) with just a little effort and if I want secret communication over the net I could do that too with a little more work.. Easy Encryption for everyone is my big belief and this article should at least give us more cause to fight for that.


It was about 10 years ago that I saw my first Cirque du Soleil show. I was on a business trip to Las Vegas and on an expense account and bored so I asked my concierge what I should see. She arranged for me a ticket to see the show in the hotel I was staying at. That show was "Mystere". I of course had no idea what to expect. I was thinking "a circus?, that sounds lame...". So it came as a complete surprise to me how simply amazing the experience was. Mystere was simply one of the best theatre experiences I'd ever had.

The next time I was back I ended up seeing Mystere again with some family and friends. It was just as wonderful the second time. Then they opened a new show "O". I had high expectations for the show and I was far from dissapointed. I was simply blown away at how much better it was than Mystere. Now since then I've seen each one a few more times and of all the people I've been with, the concensus is that half of them love Mystere more and the other half loved O more. In all cases, they were amazed.

So a few years ago, I ended up going to see Circe in New York. They had a travelling tent show and I went to check it out. I was impressed, but not really blown away. I guess what was amazing to me was more than just the show. Perhaps the stage made a differnce (it sure did in O).

Then they came to philly and I've seen the previous 2 shows here. Again, I was impressed but not too much.

Yesterday I went to see the third appearance in Philly of Circe. "Quidam" was the show. Of the 4 tent shows I've seen, this one was the best one. It wasn't up to the LV standards, but it sure came close. This time for the first time we sprung for the Tapis Rouge tickets. These are obcenely priced tickets that include a coctail party with overflowing champainge glasses, a decadant intermission spread, and (the reason I bought these ticets) center seats for the show. The tent shows are in the round and unless you are aligned in the center, you are not getting the full effect since they really align along the center line. If you can afford it, buy these tickets.

So my review is that if you've never seen Cire, Quidam is a great intro. If you have seen other tent shows, this one is better. If you've seen O or Mystere (there are others now in LV.. none as good), this will be a nice refresher.

Oh.. and it's amazing how much they make this travelling show appear to be in a fixed location. The seats are comphy, there is air conditioning, full bathrooms, a serious amount of technical stuff as well.. I'm always impressed that they put all this into a truck at the end of the show..

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

TV from the Moon

Being that I have a strong TV background I found this article quite interesting. It outlines in detail how the video of Armstrong walking on the moon was received and processed before it got back to the USA (at the time, the moon was only in view clearly by a station in Australia). Apparently the images from the moon were quite sharp, but they were improperly converted on the Earth so what was seen by the US TV audience was very degraded and compressed. I was about 10 months old at the time, so I didn't see anything...

Oh.. For all you conspiracy people here's an interesting tidbit : according to this presentation, the original tapes (the high quality Slow Scan tapes which are apparently super sharp) were placed in the National Archives. These tapes are now missing and the only machines available to play them back are about to be decommissioned:

In 1970, the tapes were placed in the US National Archives in Accession #69A4099. By 1984, all but two of the over 700 boxes of Apollo era magnetic tapes placed in the Accession, were removed and returned to the GSFC for permanent retention. These tapes are now missing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Eraser

The new Thom Yorke album is pretty fucking good.. Go get it!

The Sharpest Object Ever Made

This is pretty cool (to me at least):

Forget the phrase, "sharp as a tack." Now, thanks to new University of Alberta research the popular expression might become, "sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation." Maybe it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, but considering the researchers have created the sharpest object ever made, it would be accurate.

The stem-cell debate (and why pro-lifers are morons)

I should have a weekly post "What I read in The Week this week" which would give you the highlights of what I read in a magazine that in itself attempts to fit all the news from that week into tiny readable nuggets. It seems like I always get inspired to post stuff from there. Well, anyway, today I want to make you aware of a great article on about stem-cell research. Actually it makes the argument that the anti-abortion idiots are against stem cells for other than moral reasons or they are simply idiots. Here is a taste :

...If you believe that embryos a few days after conception have the same human rights as you or me, killing innocent embryos is obviously intolerable. But do opponents of stem-cell research really believe that? Stem cells test that belief, and sharpen the basic right-to-life question, in a way abortion never has.

Here's why: Stem cells used in medical research generally come from fertility clinics, which produce more embryos than they can use. This isn't an accident—it is essential to their mission of helping people to have babies. Often these are "test tube babies": the product of an egg fertilized in the lab and then implanted in a womb to develop until birth...In any particular case, fertility clinics try to produce more embryos than they intend to implant. Then—like the Yale admissions office (only more accurately)—they pick and choose among the candidates, looking for qualities that make for a better human being. If you don't get into Yale, you have to attend a different college. If the fertility clinic rejects you, you get flushed away—or maybe frozen until the day you can be discarded without controversy...In short, if embryos are human beings with full human rights, fertility clinics are death camps—with a side order of cold-blooded eugenics. No one who truly believes in the humanity of embryos could possibly think otherwise.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Madonna and the Moron

Last night I went to the Madonna concert. A friend had wanted to go so I got us some tickets. I was lucky enough to score seats in a box (I’m not a fan of concert crowds and standing during the whole show and being forced to dance and wave my hands, etc.). Madonna is not my favorite artist, but hers is a concert that I’d always wanted to see for the pure spectacle of it (Michael Jackson and Prince would be two others on my list for the same reasons).

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was pretty surprised. The show was really good and highly recommended. The stage was huge with a huge catwalk extending all the way up to the ½ way point of the Wachovia Center. Also there were two side catwalks extending diagonally out into the first 15 or so rows of the side audience sections. On these catwalks were the other performers in the show doing all kinds of stuff.. dancing, running, jumping, skating, singing, etc. The band was made up of 4 guys on the stage, each on their own moving platform. They didn’t do much except play in perfect synchronicity with the 3 huge video screens playing cool video clips (including one that made huge fun of GWB). The band also had a costume change which was pretty impressive since the rest of the show seemed to change clothes for every song. The lights were cool and there were all kinds of surprises. She did mostly new songs so I didn’t know them at all. But they were all pretty good.

Madonna herself was quite good for a 48 year old. First off, she looked amazing and was in incredible shape. She was pretty skilled at pacing herself so she looked like she was doing a lot of running around but she really wasn’t. Even though she wasn’t going crazy the whole time, she entertained quite well. It was if she was thinking “hey, I’ve done this too many times now, I know how to pace myself perfectly.. no need to act like a speed freak”.

So, now for the moron. Most stupid things people say and do these days seem to really disappoint me but I’m hardly ever surprised. Last night I was genuinely shocked at what happened. One of the people in Madonna’s show was this Indian looking guy who played this cool Middle Eastern horn and did some singing as well. The reason I said he was Indian looking was his complexion and his turban. After a few songs Madonna sat down on a stool with a guitar to sing and this guy sat next to her. Madonna joked “This is my friend James [I think that was his name], he walked all the way here from Yemen”. So I was off a little bit. The guy was probably a Yemeni Hindu.

Next thing I hear is a genuine exclamation of terror from a woman in the next box: “What the fuck is a terrorist doing on stage?”. This was impressive since it was quite loud there at the concert and it’s hard to hear anything other than the show. But I heard this lady. Throughout the entire song all she would do is complain to whoever (I couldn’t turn around much to see since it would be too obvious) she was in the box with that they should leave immediately because (and I’m sure I heard this right) “We shouldn’t give her our money since she supports terrorists!”. They must have told her she was an idiot because then she started arguing with someone and said “He’s got a bomb under his fucking yarmulke! This is bullshit! Yemen is where the terrorists come from!”.. and on and on.

Do I even have to explain how shocked I was at this? I mean, seriously. I can understand some ignorance and stupidity, but this lady was past that and in a fury over something that clearly was a delusion. More than that, her delusion was obviously a symptom of the fear mongering by the BWH combined with the general group conditioning to not use ones brain that has been being going on with the GOP followers.

I don’t like the two party system, but I still can envision one that encourages debate and I can respect the Republican party, but this woman is an example (here in a Blue state, in a cosmopolitan city) of how bad it is becoming with our citizens. People are past intelligent debate and are turning into deaf and blind followers of the new Nazi party. People like this woman (that I had heretofore considered only existing in the southern Red states) instill me with all kinds of fear and dread.  Wow.. we are worse off than I thought!

Should plants be illegal?

Isn't it about time that we start a national discussion on why it is illegal to grow certain types of plants in our backyards? Two of them that I know of are listed as Schedule 1 drugs by the DEA and posession of them will lead to serious jailtime. Mushrooms of a certain breed and a certain weed are two completely natural substances (no different than dirt as far as nature is concerned). Why is it that it is illegal to have them growing on your own property?

And don't tell me that its for our own good. Pot has been proven safe and useful in any number of studies and it seems that mushrooms are on the same path. Imagine that. Imagine that a natural substance could be harmless to us. For those of you God people out there, think of it this way: If god gave us the earth, why would he have created these plants? I bet after you thought about it for a while, all you could come up with to counter me is to say something like "God the Lord put them on this earth to tempt us and we should fight the temptation. They are a test that we should all strive to pass. Praise Jesus!". I say that if we allow the government to keep us from them then they are blocking the will of god since they are effectively making us skip gods test.

But enough of this religious crap. This is just plain stupid and we as a people need to start realizing that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


In the early 50's a man named Solomon Asch did an experiment that essentially proved that people in groups on average believe what the majority of the group believes, no matter how illogical. This was more than peer pressure, this was actual belief.

The experiment went like this. A person was ushered into a room along with a group of other test subjects. The other test subjects were all plants so this person was the only person actually being tested though she/he wasn't aware of this. The people in the room were shown a drawing with one line on one side and a number of lines on the other side of varying lengths. Each 'subject' in the room was asked to announce which of the lines matched the first line on the drawing. The fake subjects (all going before the real subject) announced an obvious incorrect answer. When it came to the test subject, a number of the times they announced the same answer. In some cases it was found that the subjects had done more than just go along with the crowd, they had actually believed the lines were the same length!

On the web I've seen a number of reports on the experiment like this one, this one and this one, all have varying statistics so I don't know which to trust.. however the gyst is always the same, people follow the group and sometimes for non-obvious reasons. It's interesting to see that this phenominon exists and has been proven. Now think about it on a larger scale. Think about how it influences our society and our beliefs and our values. Think for a moment how someone manuipulating the group thoughts can gain a huge amount of power. Think about the BWH fear mantras. Think about the Right Wing talking points..

Most of all, try, and try hard to think for yourself. Challenge what the group thinks once and a while, you may find that the group is wrong.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Should it be Illegal to not disclose STDs?

There is a man in Pennsylvania who is going to be charged with a criminal act for having someone perform oral sex on them while he knowingly was HIV positive (story here). While I find it reprehensible that someone would do such a thing I still wonder if this case will set a dangerous precedent.

Fist off, this case could easily be extended to include other STDs since they are potentially life threatening as well. Secondly, will all sex acts now be classified depending on their risk to others? What about kissing? Is that the same as oral sex? Is it different if its man to woman? woman to man? woman to woman? man to man?

I have a hard time understanding the law and that's part of the reason I never became a lawyer. In my world everything follows some logic and can be objectively tied to everything else. I am fully aware that even the most objective things can be subjectively broken down : what defines an Apple? What is gender? How do we define a color? But at least in my world things are relatively objectively defined.

In the law, that's far from the case. Everything is subject to some interpretation and it's up to you as a lawyer to argue that your definition is more correct than your opponent. I suppose because I can see these distinctions I would actually be a wonderful lawyer but I really couldn't morally accept the fact that I was manipulating things and in a sense cheating.

I don't know if this guy should go to jail for what he did. To me on the surface what he did was wrong but I'm not sure that it was criminal. I don't know what the odds are that you could transmit an STD to someone orally. I don't know (and nobody could know) that the victim here wasn't HIV positive already and should have disclosed that as well. I don't know that the underlying law was meant to be interpreted this way. I don't know what this precedent will do in the future. What do you all think?

You can't wear that T-shirt Man!!

Just in case Howard and I have blog readers that differ, I offer you this story that I saw linked to on his blog. Apparently a vet was arrested in a VA hospital for an "offensive T-shirt".. Really, what is going on and when will it stop?

I mean seriously. This is America. This is supposed to be the land of the free. How is it that we have so many seemingly subjective things that we are not allowed to do? I've talked about being arrested for having brass knuckles on your possesion or a glass pipe or for selling a plastic tube in store.. it all makes no sense. This is America people, we should be not only allowed but encouraged to do what we want to. By wearing the T-shirt, this guy was being the most patriotic fellow there....


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Before the Internet, this wouldn't ever have happened

I've complained about the net off and on but there is one thing that it does really well and that's allowing people to connect on virutally anything. What I mean is that no matter what your hobby, idea, fetish is, there is always someone else who you can chat with. Before the internet existed, making contact with those people was incredibly difficult. Now, it's not easy, but it's certainly not as hard anymore.

So, with that said I direct you to the story of the guy who traded a paperclip for a house. Sure he may have been able to do it w/o the net, but I bet it would have been majorly hard to do...

Friday, July 07, 2006

PayPal now charging fees

I've used Paypal literally since it began. I've always been quite happy with the servive over the years, simple, fast, efficianet, popular. So you could imagine that it came as a huge surprise that when I looked at my last ebay sale payment, I was charged a fee for the transaction. The fee is a huge 3%. Now, I've never complained when they held my balances for 20 or so days with no interest and I've never charged them for the free advertising they get when on my eBay auctions I state "will accept paypal only". But they decided to charge me to use their service out of the blue.

I'm sure they sent me an email on the subject at some point, but I never read any paypal emails since 80% of them are phishing attempts (something else I never complained to them about.. and never charged them for my services in helping them track down phishers)..

So, they can go fuck themselves. I'm not using their service again until they drop these fees. I'm sure my business is nothing to them, but if I can spread the word, perhpas I can affect them in some way. Besides, what they are doing is just plain wrong. Bummer.. dumb asses...

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Some anonymous reader asked me my opinion on N. Korea and I sort of formed one for him/her in the comments section of this post. While on the subject, I saw this post on the Mighty Middle by Michael Reynolds that seemed to sum up the situation pretty well.

It seems to me that our country has a myopic and shortsighted view towards foreign policy. It seems to me that we try to solve foreign problems as they come. It seems to me that these problems pop up because of poor foreign policy decisions we've made in the past. I'm no diplomat and I'm no genius, but I think we should think about the global repercussions of our actions.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Sad Truth

I’m quite embarrassed to say that my mom and her husband are hardcore Bush/GOP supporters. But even so, I was shocked to learn that they haven’t seen “An Inconvenient Truth” yet. My mom was instantly opposed to it because apparently they used a penguin in the marketing of the film and she thought that was pandering to the “March of the Penguins” crowd. My stepfather said they just hadn’t had time to see it and he was interested to learn more about this issue of climate change. With them being clueless Red State Sheep I understood this reason quite clearly.

Of course you all know I’ve seen the film and found it really amazing (as did most others as well). Also, I knew that it was partially a Gore campaign ad and I knew that would be a hard thing for my mom and stepfather to deal with so I told them that it was in there, but easy to separate. I was confident that the rock solid facts and science in it would trump any party crap. I told them that no matter what party we were in, or nationality, it was really important to see this film.

So, I convinced them to go see it. At one point to bring it all home I said “Listen, compared to the Energy industry, what possible financial motivation could Gore (and others) have to push for the climate change cause?”. I did this in hopes to tell them that Al made the film to educate America, and not so he could get rich. They didn’t get my point.

Anyway, they watched the film and hated it. In a 5 page email, they told me that the EPA has all this info on their website and that the Bush Administration is well aware of this issue and is on top of it. Further they went on to tell me that Kyoto was bad for American jobs and that Bush was right to not sign it. Then they finished up their argument with this statement “Al did not discover this problem any more than he discovered the internet.”. My lord!

Now their response was surprising but now that I think about it, I would imagine not very extraordinary. They are a typical Red State family and just refuse to see logic even though they are both quite intelligent. Sadly their kind is representative of most of America (D and R) who simply buys what is fed to them on TV because it paints a rosy healthy happy picture all the time.

I thought “Truth” would appeal to everyone and really be a catalyst for rapid change and acceptance of this issue, I was wrong. Al Gore, by using his celebrity to sell this issue has in some ways planted it firmly to the Left in our sad, pathetic political culture war and that’s really too bad.

Rush Gets Off

I don't get it at all. Rush Limbaugh is not going to be charged for his recient embarressment with the bottle of Viagra that wasn't his. What I don't understand is how this isn't the same thing as what he was arrested for in the first place and why he is on probation.

Charges in the Viagra case could have nullified a deal Limbaugh reached with prosecutors last month in which a single “doctor shopping” charge was deferred for 18 months, so long as Limbaugh does not get arrested for any reason.

Authorities had accused Limbaugh of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to get overlapping painkiller prescriptions. Limbaugh denied the charges but admitted he was addicted to painkillers.

I wonder if the average joe would have gotten the same treatment.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We have to get the troops out of Iraq

So, a girl was raped by our troops and then killed along with her family. I can totally believe it. Look I am a huge fan our our troops. But lets be realistic here. These guys are doing a job they were not trained for (occupying a country), most have been there way too long (multiple manditory tours), and I would imagine that they have no idea why they are still there.

These are men who are trained to see other humans as targets and not as people. We want them to be this way, that makes them good at what they are supposed to be doing, but if you sit them in a town under immense stress and over long periods of time, can you even fault them for not behaving as normal humans in society?

But we don't care do we? The BWH will do it's best to kill this story and I would imagine that the troops involved will be court marshaled and that will be the end of it. No discussion on the real reason why it occured. No discussion on the effects of this occupation on our troops and the Iraqis. We have to get them out of there. Admit we made a huge mistake and pull them out. It is time.

Flag Burning

Dammit. I'm such a slacker. I've been ready and willing to write something about this issue for a few weeks now but I just couldn't seem to get started on it. Now my friend Howard at Smedly Log beat me to it perfectly. He doesn't really get into a personal viewpoint, but he has a great quote up there by Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) that when you read the full text sums up what I feel almost perfectly.

First off, let me say that it should be obvious that the GOP is setting up an issue for the next presidential election and possibly the mid-terms as well. They failed on the gay marriage amendment and now they are on their second candidate. It is so sad that our government is wasting time on this issue. Even though the american people feel that this issue is at the bottom of their list of important things to deal with (see question 12 on page 5 of this FOX news poll) the GOP knows that if it makes it to a ballot somewhere it can swing an election.

Lets just stop and consider this amendment for a second. How would it be written? If it will be illegal to burn a flag, how will 'flag' be defined? Would it be just a cloth flag of certain dimensions? Or would it be any representations? Say a paper one, or a photo of one? How about the flag jacket that out Philadelphia mayor Street wore after 9/11? Does that count? I don't want to get too technical here but what I'm trying to say is that a flag in the traditional sense is not unlike other symbols of America (like bunting and those goofy pins everyone wears).

Lastly, like it said in the Smeadly post, if the flag is a direct representation of our country and our country is the land of the free then would the burning of this symbol be an expression of that very freedom and by it's nature be one of the most purely patriotic events that could occur? I think that it clearly is. So on this fourth of July where it is illegal in most states to light of fireworks (god knows why), I say that we burn american flags as a sign of our independence...

PS. as a public service, here is an amazing site dedicated to the issue.