Friday, June 30, 2006

Paul Laffoley

I had a hard time trying to find readable versions of Laffoley's work until I stumbled upon his MySpace page. Now, if he would start producing large posters of his work...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flag Burning Redux

The Republicans seem to be casting about for bullshitty ideas to pretend to want to implement so that they can pander to the crazier elements of their base (like banning gay marriage, real estate tax, and flag burning). You know, like bringing up a bill or amendment that they know has no chance in hell of passing, but they can use in election ads. So I thought I'd throw a few out bullshitty issues out there and see which ones they actually use to blatantly pander to the Rapture Right before the election is up.

1. Abortion (the old standby)
2. Sex education for kids
3. Prayer in schools
4. Immigration (oh, wait, they already did that)
5. Rap music
6. Video games
7. Movies

... it's so predictable, isn't it? Actually, I'm sure that between their many lapdogs like O'Reilly, Hannity or Coulter, these "issues" are already covered, but I'd like to see if the politicians do it.

It's like Colbert said: "Mentioning Jesus in your speech? That’s small government. Doing what Jesus asks? That’s big government."

That sure cleared it all up as to why Republicans don't seem to make any rational sense when they are talking about "small government" at the same time that they are quibbling over flag burning and gay marriage (and defending an administration which is breaking the FISA laws by declaring they are above the law). And made me laugh until my sides hurt.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Brandon recently told me about Zefrank. I think I have a new hero. This guy is absolutely hilarious. He totally skewers the "NYT is helping the terrorists" garbage that the Bush administration and his right-wing lapdogs are spewing in today's episode. See if you can spot the logic. Anyone paying attention KNOWS that the Know Your Customer shit [1] passed as part of the Patriot Act, so I can't see how this was some big freaking secret.

But for those of you who are allergic to politics, don't worry, since it's not all politics. It's a very smart and funny bit of creativity, and it definitely deserves wider attention, since I'm sure this guy is going places.

[1] Shot down by grassroots before 9/11, but 9/11 "changed everything", so they were able to pass shit they wanted to pass before but couldn't due to people being able to think straight prior to 9/11. Now, in lieu of thinking or making rational, well thought arguments for or against something, you can just construct sentences by stringing words like Saddam, 9/11, WTC, terrorists, and Osama together.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Republicans Are Useful Idiots II

Again, let me clarify. You are useful idiots, or tools if you will, if you fall for such goofy issues as gay marriage. Well, you can tell this is an election year even without looking at a calendar or being told that is because two more stupid issues are being manufactured by Republicans. Another one was the whole estate tax.

Now the next and really, really stupid one is the flag burning amendment. *Blink*. *Blink*.

Yeah, let's ban flag-burning, because it's such an, ahem, burning issue. Sorry, but you are functionally retarded if you think that banning flag burning is really high on the list of pressing issues.

And please don't tell me that people "died for that flag". No one dies for a flag. They die for ideals, or sometimes by being manipulated to think they are dying for those ideals. The ideals that America supposedly has are in documents like the Bill of Rights and are not printed on the flag. No one is proposing a ban on Bill of Rights burning. Either way, they are confusing the map for the territory. Burning any symbol of America does no harm to America in any way, and America will go on without a ban on flag burning.

Again, let me repeat: it's really the Republicans, especially the ones that harp on issues like this, that are the ones that "feel" and don't "think". The Republican noise machine, as usual, has it exactly backwards on that.

How Would A Patriot Act?

This book is very short at only 100+ pages. In it, the author lays out an explanation for how Bush is breaking the law (a law that applies to everyone, and no one is above), and what led him to think he could get away with it. He also discusses a bit of history of FISA and why it was enacted in the first place. He also discusses how the threat we are facing from terrorism, despite all the noise and political correctness to the contrary, is fairly low on the threat level compared to what the nation has faced in the past, and how comparing Bush to Lincoln because Lincoln suspended habeas corpus is a fallacious argument for Bush's actions.

I'd recommend anyone who gives a damn about their country and who is a real patriot to read this book. It's especially timely right now since the Bush administration is making noises about going after the New York Times for releasing information about the government's spying on financial transactions.

Enron - The Smartest Guys In The Room

This is definitely a movie people should see if for no other reason than to understand what happened to California during their power "shortages". Grey Davis was made to look like an incompetent fool by the Republican noise machine at the time. Also, California came in for the usual silly remarks that you hear about California from the rednecks within the Republican party.

I half-expected this movie to be pretty dry and depressing. It's much more interesting than I expected and very nicely done. Some of the special features are more interviews with some of the key players, one being the woman who worked for Fortune and who first expressed doubts about Enron.

Friday, June 23, 2006


I saw some little thing on CNN with Lou Dobbs - the sound was down, but I could tell they were hyperventilating about the ability of non-citizens to vote. The title on the screen was something like "Democracy at risk?" while showing lots of Hispanics. And remember, CNN is supposed to be the "liberal" cable news network.

While I'm not exactly excited about that prospect either, could we focus on a larger problem, say, ES&S and Diebold, instead of just trying to rile people up over what essentially racism and xenophobia?

If you click that link above, you'll find out that 80% of votes cast in this country are counted by one of those two companies, and they are owned by two brothers. Who gives a shit if illegals can vote if one family can determine how 80% of the votes will be (or not be) counted? The illegal "issue" isn't even relevant in that case. Not in the slightest.

Solve the Diebold & ES&S problem (let's start with a paper trail at a bare minimum - the voter getting a receipt of how he voted so it can later be verified against the paper trail - AND allowing international observers in to watch anywhere they ask to watch for crying out loud - what the hell happened to this country?), and then we can talk about illegals voting. Until then, shut the hell up about illegals voting, because it just doesn't matter.

Left Behind, The Video Game

I'm a little late to all this, but I heard about this on a podcast. Turns out they are making a video game for hateful Christians.

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.

The game, slated for release by October 2006 in advance of the Christmas shopping rush, has been previewed at video game exhibitions, and reviewed by major newspapers and magazines. But until now, no fan or critic has pointed out the controversial game's connection to Mr. Warren or his dominionist agenda.

What's funny is that Mr. Warren makes that stupid argument about rising violence and no one called him on it, from what I can tell. In case facts matter, violence is GOING DOWN in America. But I'm sure he's one of those dolts walking around saying this country was founded on Christianity, too...sigh.

The Atheist Nightmare's a banana. Well, at least if you watch this hilarious video on Youtube. It's part of a longer version in a series in which they show how to convert "atheists". This stuff is hilarious. I wonder how many sales they got from people with at least two neurons to rub together who wanted to laugh their asses off.

I heard about this on Penn's show and then in the next show they mention some comments they got about it - duh, bananas as they exist in the supermarket are essentially man-made.

And to think, all this time, it's been staring me in the face - it's right on the cover of The Velvet Underground box set I have...

Update: I wanted to also mention that WSJ recently had an article about how all the bananas we eat are essentially clones, and how one disease could wipe them all out. Since WSJ doesn't have a lot of their content online for free, here's an article from National Geographic from 2001 about it.

Why on Earth did these guys pick something so unnatural to argue FOR ID? This makes me wonder if these guys have any fact-checkers whatsoever when they sat down to make these videos. Hell, even an internet connection. At the very least, they could have tried out these "arguments" on a few known "atheists" (AKA "scientists"), and when they get shot down in seconds, they could maybe formulate something a little more sophisticated (if still wrong). I guess that would eventually lead them away from their conclusion of the Bible as literal truth, though.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Weird Trillian Bug

So I started noticed the timestamps next to lines in a conversation were a few hours off. I started wondering why this just started to happen, since I've been using Trillian for years - I must have changed something that borked up Trillian somehow.

Hmm, what could it be? I tried thinking back to recent changes in system level stuff - aha! I had set an environment variable TZ for Perl. I tried unsetting that and running, and sure enough, the correct time displays again!

Here's a discussion thread about it over on Cerulean Studios forums.

What's odd is that you can see from the screenshots that not all times are incorrect. I wonder if they have different routines that do the same thing within their that cues from TZ being set, and one that doesn't.

Two Funny Quotes

Saw these over on Daily Kos:

"I've never been a fan of amphibians. Not only do they strengthen the argument for evolution, they are nature's fence sitters. Come on amphibians, which is it...water or land? Pick one. We're at war."
---Stephen Colbert


"[President Bush,] you were in Baghdad for six hours. You weren't even in the real Baghdad. You were in the Green Zone. That's like going to the Olive Garden and saying you've been to Italy."
---Jon Stewart

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Conservatives Love Authority

I've often pondered the conservatives' fealty to power - I'm talking generalities here, of course. I've noticed this in so many conservatives - they really do seem to recoil in horror when someone attacks someone in power - the extreme case is POTUS, but it seems to even go down to the manager, executives, CEOs, etc.

And I've just never understood that. I might have bought into a lot of big-L Libertarian stuff, but I've never understood Republicans and why so many of them respect authority, even if it's the most arbitrary and incompetent sort. They'll bitch about "big government" and then look shocked when you tell them that, say, the POTUS is a retard man child who couldn't find it with two hands and a flashlight.

Anyway, how to describe this and try to explore why I think they might act this way has been rolling around my head ever since I started this blog, and I never found any satisfactory way to discuss it. I saw this entry over on that may highlight exactly why conservatives respect authority so much, and it does a much better job than I could ever do. Take this, for example (emphasis mine):

And this is why certain men LOVE the game of absolute power. They have no power, but by portraying it as a fight of good against evil for control of the planet and by putting fish and ribbon shaped stickers on their cars, they can convince themselves that they do, in fact, have the power they lack. To be anti-authoritarian and to try to change the game signals that you are a wimp who doesn't think we can win the game and so wants to pander to the other side instead of giving them what they deserve. It isn't a move of maturity in their eyes, but one of weakness and weakness is the ultimate sin.

NAFTA Highway

I had to giggle today when, on a whim, I decided to jump around the AM dial and listen to what sort of conservative inanity I could find on the way into work. Sure enough, there was Mike Gallagher talking about the NAFTA highway. He sounds all puzzled over it, as if the folks in the right-wing elite aren't the most rabid supporters of it [*]. I'm sure they'll find some way to smear the liberals with this - after all it IS a neo-liberal thing, but has little to do with the people in the group described as "liberals".

BTW, ever notice that wingnuts never mention that term "neo-liberal" when they are championing neo-liberal policies? - I figure they think they might confuse their ignorant audience who usually go ape over the term "liberal" as if it's a bad word.

Anyway, found it ironic that some conservative mouthpiece was down on I-69.

I also flipped over to Laura Ingraham in which she was talking to some guest about what those crazy Democrats were up to and how great everything in Iraq is going. *rolls eyes*

[*] It's this same attitude they adopt when it comes to illegal immigration - they'll go on a tear about "bleeding heart liberals" instead of noticing that their elite conservative pals aren't exactly excited about serious fines on big business that employ such illegals. They'll babble on about the magic of the marketplace and the invisible hand, etc., and then conveniently forget those things when it comes to talking about immigration.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that if Gallagher had been paying attention to other sources than just corporate media and their echo chamber in the right-wing noise machine, he would have known about this a loooong time ago. NPR did something on it 2003 and Counterpunch replied to it here. Yes, I realize NPR is corporate media as well, but they haven't quite devolved to the cartoonish Fox News level (yet).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

PR Projection

I meant to write about this last week - does anyone find it ironic that someone from the Bush administration would call those 3 suicides a "PR move"?

To me, it looks like a classic case of projection - consider how much PR was involved in selling the Iraq war, for example. I'm sure you can find other PR at work for this adminstration without too much work at all.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Review: Mommy Knows Worst

If you listen to right wing radio, many hosts often like to pretend as if the 1950's in the United States were the pinnacle of human achievement. Of course, that's just before the 1960's when all the dirty hippies came along and ruined everything - like struggling for minority rights and putting ideas into pretty little women's heads - ideas like, "oh, maybe being chained to the stove barefoot and pregnant isn't everything in life?". Yes, it was quite the party before the "red diaper doper babies" came along and ended it.

Well, not all the parenting advice made fun of in this book (most via advertisement) is from the 1950's but many of it is, and it sure puts the lie to the notion of that decade being the pinnacle of culture. In any event, this book is hilarious - definitely some laugh-out-loud moments, unless you are a humorless sort like one of the folks that gave this book one star on Amazon. Remember stuff from this book the next time you hear some windbag on talk radio hark back to the "good old days". Oh, and check out the demonic-kids-and-food theme from the site Plan59 which features 1950's stuff.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What's With All The Country Music?

So, like a lot of lemmings, I bought an iPod. I also have an iTrip, and so I'm tuned to an FM station that's probably often used by others with broadcast systems in their car, or iTrip or the like.

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard snatches of some cowchip-kicking country when a vehicle passes me (usually a truck or SUV). I'm in the middle of suburban sprawl, and so I scratched my head over that one until it hit me. The suburbs HAVE no identity. That's why so many of the white kids listen to hip hop and that would explain why soccer moms and hockey dads would listen to country.

I mean, think about music and the regions/cities they are associated with - Philadelphia - soul music.
Detroit - also soul music.
Chicago - blues, house music.
New Orleans - jazz.
Nashville (and the sticks) - country.
The sticks - bluegrass.

Broomfield, CO - ?
Englewood, CO - ?
Highlands Ranch, CO - ?

I guess if you live in the suburbs like I do, you have to co-opt someplace else's cool (as you see it) music, so I can understand why people listen to country music where there isn't a tractor in sight.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

No Place To Hide

Sometimes reading two books at once can create weird synergies in your mind. Two such books are the previously-mentioned IBM & the Holocaust and this book, No Place To Hide.

Since I'm computer nerd and I used to sub to Computer Privacy Digest, read 2600, and occasionally drop in on Slashdot, I happened to know a bit about the issues involved already - and that's even before I worked for a company that was later acquired by the oft-mentioned Acxiom.

Not only do you have to watch out for Big Brother, you have to watch out for all the Little Brothers, and it just so happens that's who Big Brother outsources to so that they can slip through laws created as a reaction to COINTELPRO. Think that technology like OnStar sounds like the greatest thing since sliced bread? The book mentions a story in which a company, not necessarily OnStar, was tapping an individual's car for a week or so (IIRC) at the behest of the authorities.

I know, I know, don't tell me. Repeat after me that tired old mantra: "If you don't have anything to hide...yadda yadda".

Read this book and sleep tight, citizens. :)

Bush and Buck - Separated At Birth?

Yesterday Sci Fi was running the Buck Rogers show everytime I happened to look over at the television. I couldn't help but notice the frightening and weird similarity of Buck Rogers' (Gil Gerard) facial expressions to that of GWB.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tuning In Example

RAW talks a lot about the idea of "tuning in" - not a novel concept I suppose, but the manner in which talks about it makes it interesting.

A recent glaring example of this that I've noticed is hearing/reading people bitch about seeing Kerry/Edwards stickers on cars. I heard this complaint as early as the fall of 2004, as if the election is over and one should immediately tear off the sticker and try to cover any trail of supporting the losing candidate and let the kowtowing begin. Well guess what? I've seen just as many Bush/Cheney stickers, possibly more...I guess you really do live in the reality tunnel that you construct.

If you are going around in life looking for any sort of thing you view as "dissent" against our "war president" you'll see Kerry/Edwards stickers everywhere. You'll also have to mention it in op-ed pieces, on rabid right wing radio, and blather on about it to anyone within earshot about it. If you don't hold this bias, you'll probably still see them, but also notice Bush/Cheney stickers - hell, I've even recently seen a Dole sticker from the 1996 election.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bill Bennett Gets Spanked By Stewart

Saw this commentary about Bennett on Daily Show on BoingBoing (and saw the show via Tivo). Check out the comments. Some dippy dittohead trots out the tired and wrong comment that "marriage is about procreation" (guys like this must be soooo fun at parties). This argument is just so damned easy to shoot down that you almost hope this guy is a liberal pretending to be a dumb conservative, but I'm afraid it's probably not the case - tune into right wing blather radio, and you'll hear it ALL THE TIME. As some of the commenters note, real "traditional marriage" was about protecting property rights. Also, don't forget - up until the sixties, "traditional marriage" didn't include mixed-race couples in some states of America. Now that's a tradition to be proud of!

I wish the people pretending to be adults in this country could just set aside this stupid issue once and for all, realize that being against gay marriage is to be on the wrong side of history, and move on to issues of substance. I cannot believe we are even still talking about this nonsense in the 21st freaking century.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Dream of Benzene

I saw this link about famous dreams on Boing Boing some time ago, and thought it was fantastic. The mind is a weird and wonderful thing.

Nine Year Bug

A co-worker was trying to find a way in Java 1.5 to get free space info about a volume...I dimly remember doing this, but I'm pretty sure I did it via JNI to call the Win32 API function which made it platform dependent code, and he wanted to avoid that if he could. It turns out that Sun HAS put this functionality in Java 1.6 beta, and it only took nine years to close a bug entered for this.

Luckily, Jakarta apparently has a class that handles this without having to wait for 1.6 to finalize.

Republicans Are Useful Idiots

Well, let me qualify that. The Republican voters who fall for the Rove-ish machinations about gay marriage AGAIN are useful idiots. Let's review the events so far - there was much fear-mongering during the 2004 election about the French-looking flip-flopper (who happened to not dodge the draft and then go AWOL, but what's a few facts between friends - Bush is the War President, people!) making gay marriage legal. This despite the fact that he didn't support gay marriage, but again, when did facts matter to Republicans, especially strategists like Rove?

Now, let's suppose that you actually want to make sure you never are offended by seeing two guys or two gals getting married, and you support this stuff. Ask yourself, and be honest here. I know the phrase "intellectually honest" is a favorite when Republican drones are babbling their talking points, so let's use that. Be "intellectually honest". Why didn't anything happen after the 2004 election for this, and is only being talked about in an election year? Hmmm? Republicans have control of the House, the Senate, and the Executive branch. It can be argued they have control of the Supreme Court. What kept them from even talking about banning gay marriage before?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised if this works, however - people who believed this shit before are the ones who voted for a president whose administration has actually said they "create their own reality".

Wake up, sheople. You'll vote for these motards and instead get tax cuts for the rich and more corporate welfare for defense contractors and the like, anyway. Abortion won't be rolled back, and more than likely being against gay marriage will be on the wrong side of history, right up there with supporting Jim Crow laws. Study the history of marriage if you don't believe me.

Book: IBM & the Holocaust

You'd think this book would be a bit ponderous to get through - excluding the notes at the end, this book comes in at 420+ pages. It wasn't a chore to read, though. The author adds in human elements to the story of IBM and Nazi Germany that make it really quite intriguing. This isn't the sort of thing you are taught in high school about WWII. One can't help but notice some similar sorts of behavior in MNC's today, and so it really shouldn't be that surprising.

The book also has a website at

I've also started reading No Place to Hide at the same time which documents how much surveillance has and is going to intrude into our lives, and I can't help but get a chill when I think of the relatively primitive Hollerith's role in the Holocaust and juxtapose that against what is available today.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The obsession with this date by some is pretty funny. Releasing the remake of The Omen on that date is pretty brilliant - it really taps into that superstitious mindset, and is fun to boot. But some people actually take this stuff seriously, even when our calendar is really quite arbitrary when you think about it.

Just before I left on vacation, I was reading an interesting article about how we should change our calendar system from the Gregorian to something more modern. This article was in Free Inquiry. I didn't get to finish it before leaving, but a funny thing happened during my trip - my brother's girlfriend was talking about how she knows someone, maybe her sister, who thinks something really bad will happen on 6/6/06. I had to laugh, thinking about that article, and also some writings by RAW about re-jiggering your coordinates a bit by thinking of and/or using different calendars such as Mayan, Jewish, Therion, etc.

Who knows, maybe all the religious nuts are right about this date. After all, Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds. Maybe that's the seventh-and-a-half sign. Of course, since it's highly unlikely and there is no proof, it must be a "miracle" and not what most would call a "lie". I guess his followers are used to accepting that sort of stuff, though.

I think Penn & Teller should devote a whole episode of Bullshit! to Pat Robertson.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Back From Vacation

So Tiffany, Silas & I went to the East Coast to visit my brother and my parents. We stayed in Philly most days, but two Saturdays ago we went to NYC for a day trip via train. We were checking out Central Park and on the way out of there, my brother Pierre and I noticed Apple's new flagship store (just opened in mid-May, I think) and decided to check it out while Tiffany and Silas beelined for FAO Schwartz.

Wow, what a cool design for the store. At least the exterior. I had seen shots of it either in WSJ or elsewhere before the trip, but you have to be there to get the full impact. Inside, not counting the stairs, it's kind of a let down compared to that cube. In any case, they were getting lots of foot traffic, and hopefully that keeps up for them since they plan on staying open 365 days a year, 24/7.

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