Thursday, August 31, 2006

Headphone fix

Mint DJ has an excellent fix/preventative measure for Sony MDR-V700's. Mine started to crack in a big way on the left side, and the right had a hairline, but I saved them with this. Unfortunately, there also seems to be an intermittent short causing sound in the right cup to cut out...grrr.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

This book certainly has its critics. It's as if the concepts that Chomsky is always talking about were suddenly thrust into the light. People lash out because they don't want to believe them...even if possibly true.

If you dig deeper, however, you'll most likely find that at least the backdrop story is all correct. Finding out whether Perkins had all these off-the-record discussions - well, that's another story. The book held my interest, and was a quick read. I did tire of his constant harping about how badly he felt about his actions throughout the story, and if I was the editor, I would have pared that down a bit.

One particular interesting point for me - he talks a lot about Panama. I for one cannot believe there are still people walking around that think we invaded Panama for noble reasons, or for any sort of drug interdiction, even. That's just laughable, but the willfully ignorant and naive buy it, I guess. Even back in the days when I rarely read non-fiction, I had deep suspicions about that one. Years later, I read Noriega was on and off the CIA payroll for years.

Turns out an anecdote should have clued me in - I happened to go to a Philadelphia school at the time we invaded. One of my friends was from Panama (well she graduated from there, she was originally from Israel). Let's call her Ann. Ann was back home during the invasion over Xmas break, so she was a bit delayed in getting back. When she got back to school, I asked if everything was okay, etc., she said dismissively, "oh, that fighting was only where the poor people live". Ann went to a very small (and apparently very elite) school - there were maybe about 2 dozen people in her graduation pictures. And here's the kicker: Noriega was in the pictures from her graduation, shaking hands with her dad. I've seen the pictures.

Now all this is a long way of saying that when Ann laughed out loud at the pronouncements of Daddy Bush, I should have took note. It kind of blew by me then (although as an American, I was taken aback by the blatant class warfare - we like to pretend that class doesn't exist), but years later, I wonder what HER dad did. Was he a CIA asset? Mossad? The School of Americas used to be in Panama, even though it was moved by 1989. I cannot help but think that someone from Israel lands in Panama and is rubbing elbows with Noriega is an interesting coincidence.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Every American Should Know About Who's Really Running The World

...and it ain't the Illuminati. This book is a great jumping off point for people who have not been introduced to these concepts. The concepts are who really flings around power. Sure, you can pull on your tinfoil hat and start mumbling about "one world government" and the "new world order" and the UN and the Clintons and Vince Foster. Instead, why not actually read about things that can and have been documented by credible people?

As some of the people have noted in Amazon reviews, sometimes there is just insinuation without cited evidence - even though that evidence actually does exist. In any case, this is something in the vein of some of the books - it really explodes the version of "reality" fed to us via corporate media - whether it's the so-called "liberal media" or talk radio.

Denver Library Podcast

These kids and their new-fangled internets and their mp3s. Even my local library is getting in on the podcasting thing. Pshaw. In my day, we carried around a hand-cranked phonograph on our backs and we did okay. I don't know what their generation is generating.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

2 Many DJs

As Heard on Radio Soulwax, Pt. 2 has to be one of the most interesting things I've heard on one CD in a long, long time. The last few tracks are a bit weak, but the rest of this album is just so amazing that it just doesn't matter.

Imagine the likes of Dolly Parton, Royksopp, Velvet Underground, Salt N Pepa, the Cramps and Sly and the Family Stone all mixed up into one album under the banner of a "dance" album. Hard to imagine, isn't it? It has to be heard to be believed.


Some folks remixed the video of the predictions of 9-12-2006 being the beginning of nuclear war to great effect. I went over to The House of Yahweh's site, and noticed that it looks a lot like the Church of Subgenius's site, except they aren't joking.

I think if you cannot pronounce "nuclear" correctly and instead pronounce it nuke-u-lur, you lose any claim to authority on anything - hey, wait a minute! In any case, it just looks like another demonstration of how dogmatic religion is incompatible with modernity.

While waiting for 9-12-2006 and Jesus coming on his cloud of glory, I think I'll read about another end times scenario in 2012...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Protocols of Zion

Another great accidental find at the library while perusing the documentary section. The title pulled me in - I had to know what a documentary with the notorious name like that would be about. Of course, even more enticing, it wasn't the full name, so was it really about what I thought it was, "The Protocols of Elders of Zion"? Sure enough.

Okay, for those who actually haven't heard of the infamous book and the conspiracy theory circling 9/11, this movie touches on both. The filmmaker is Jewish, and after 9/11, he keeps hearing this far-out conspiracy theory that no Jews died on 9/11. Which leads to the book, in a way - the overlap of folks who believe that and believe the book is probably pretty large. The book is an anti-semitic conspiracy theory as well, but goes back about a century.

The director is puzzled by such nonsense he hears from otherwise normal looking people, so he sets out to talk to various folks - even interviewing the National Alliance, some white supremacy group in West Virginia.

For such a serious subject, this movie has some absolutely hilarious moments. The director (Marc Levin) is pressing the guy from National Alliance about the "Jews control the media" thing. Marc asks him how to explain Rupert Murdoch. The guy says that Murdoch is a Jew, and Marc has to stifle laughter and incredulity at the same time. I think that made it into the trailer.

During a man-on-the-street talk with some guy who is yelling about Jews, Marc asks him that if Jews control New York, what about Giuliani? The guy replies with a remark, stressing the pronounciation - "Jew-liani". Yikes. To me, thinking like that is like some of the thinking in Loose Change (see my earlier remarks about that), but with hatefulness on top.

Also, during the question and answer session the special features, Marc is describing his call to National Alliance. When explaining who he was and what he was doing, the guy told him to stop right there, and proceeded to tell him that they loved his work, and they bootleg one of his movies. Eh?

For the record, I've never read the book, but the movie displays some of the supposed "protocols" from the book. Based on nothing else, one who thinks about it would have to reach the conclusion that the book is bogus. Why? Because virtually no group in history has written down their plans in those terms. Even when people are essentially conspiring to do bad things, they'll couch it in terms that are at worst neutral, and probably more likely spun into a way that sounds positive, even when speaking.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Terrorism: Theirs and Ours

This book has a lot of ideas condensed into a very short book. Unfortunately, I've seen most of them elsewhere, but for someone trying to think outside the neocon "they hate our freedoms, don't look for any root causes, and don't blame America" box may want to start here.

The cover demonstrates the hypocrisy of the very word "terrorism" - it shows Reagan meeting with terrorists, excuse me, freedom fighters in the 80's.

I'd like to see someone ask any of Bush's apparatchik what they mean by terrorism - an exact, precise definition.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blast the Right - Fox and WMDs

Over on Blast The Right, Jack recently did a great podcast trying to explain why something like 50% of the population believes we found WMD in Iraq. He also put together some great audio from Fox the day of Santorum's most recent debacle. I so hope Santorum gets his rear end handed to him this fall. Having that Creationism (oops, I mean, ID) -supporting dolt in office makes me ashamed to be from Pennsylvania.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

On Terrorism

I really enjoyed reading the synopsis from a Cato Institute report on terrorism that BoingBoing put up. The title of BoingBoing's entry was "Only traitors try to make us afraid of terrorists". Maybe the word "traitors" is a bit strong, but I think people that exploit terrorism at every turn are to be called out on it.

That was before the hysteria whipped up over the UK plot. What's odd is how little I am hearing about the allegations that the timing of the arrests was driven by the U.S AND that the suspects didn't even buy tickets yet, and some didn't even have passports. Media Matters has references to how when this did come up, it was disregarded as being from the blogsphere.

Then I see this link about how feasible it all really was (doesn't sound very), nevermind the timing of the arrests, whether people had tickets or even passports or not...

I don't want planes blowing up in the sky any more than anyone else does, but for Pete's sake, the media and our "leaders" should be injecting some actual data into the issue and stop the damn fearmongering. The fact that one must actually actively hunt around for some level-headed reporting on this whole thing is ridiculous.

At BoingBoing, someone sent in asking the obvious: If the liquid could be explosive, why are you dumping it in a crowd? People that ask these sorts of questions must be freedom-haters.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Banned Books Week 2006

Quote used on the site:
“Don't join the book burners . . . .” — Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States, 1953–1961.

Instead, thumb your nose at those that would like to stifle others' access to these books by picking a banned book and reading it.

The ALA put a nice list of 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000 here.

Geez, a Wrinkle in Time? Strange. I don't get it. I read that in maybe fourth or fifth grade. James & the Giant Peach I really don't get, but last I read that, I was maybe in third grade. Must have been something like Potter where some church ladies got their toes stepped on - even if they don't actually read the flippin' thing.

And the Anarchist Cookbook, LOL. I used to actually have a copy of that. Whatever you might have heard about it is probably wrong. Read some of the reviews over at Amazon if you want to get a clearer picture. Someone calls it a period piece, and that's about right. I read it in the late 80's and got a good laugh out of it for the anachronisms if nothing else. The goofy ideology was funny, too.

All the sex-related ones are no surprise, of course. There are always some wingnuts out there that will get their moral outrage into overdrive at: Janet Jackson's breast, the "gay agenda", and Clinton and Monica.

Suvs and the Reptilian Brain

A few weeks ago, I saw Wall Street Journal actually use the phrase "post-SUV era" (they also mention minivans, but SUVs were often for the same market as minivans, but for the selfish and vain - see below), but I wanted to try to dig up references to it. Unfortunately, WSJ doesn't have much online for free, so I didn't come up with anything from them, but maybe my searches weren't creative enough. It's also possible I have the exact wording of the phrase right.

In any case, it might look like less SUVs (and big trucks in general) will be on the road. I'd venture that a lot of Ford's troubles are due to this - gasoline is roughly 50 cents higher right now than it was last year.

I even wonder if the causes of the "post-SUV era" are behind Volkswagen reintroducing a new, updated scirocco. I used to be the proud owner of a Corrado that I owned for almost 10 years, and I had an old Scirroco for a while as a backup.

Anyway, while digging around for references on the post-SUV era, I found a page that referenced a favorite book of mine, High and Mighty. I've read many reviews that bash Bradsher for the book's more acidic remarks. The funny part is that many of the remarks they bash the author for came from the industry. Allow me some great examples, all from this page:

Bradsher brilliantly captures the mixture of bafflement and contempt that many auto executives feel toward the customers who buy their S.U.V.s. Fred J. Schaafsma, a top engineer for General Motors, says, "Sport-utility owners tend to be more like 'I wonder how people view me,' and are more willing to trade off flexibility or functionality to get that. " According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills. Ford's S.U.V. designers took their cues from seeing "fashionably dressed women wearing hiking boots or even work boots while walking through expensive malls. " Toyota's top marketing executive in the United States, Bradsher writes, loves to tell the story of how at a focus group in Los Angeles "an elegant woman in the group said that she needed her full-sized Lexus LX 470 to drive up over the curb and onto lawns to park at large parties in Beverly Hills. " One of Ford's senior marketing executives was even blunter: "The only time those S.U.V.s are going to be off-road is when they miss the driveway at 3 a. m. "

Ouch. It gets even worse.

The truth, underneath all the rationalizations, seemed to be that S.U.V. buyers thought of big, heavy vehicles as safe: they found comfort in being surrounded by so much rubber and steel. To the engineers, of course, that didn't make any sense, either: if consumers really wanted something that was big and heavy and comforting, they ought to buy minivans, since minivans, with their unit-body construction, do much better in accidents than S.U.V.s. (In a thirty-five m.p.h. crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade—the G.M. counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator—has a sixteen-per-cent chance of a life-threatening head injury, a twenty-per-cent chance of a life-threatening chest injury, and a thirty-five-per-cent chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan—a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup-truck frame—are, respectively, two per cent, four per cent, and one per cent. ) But this desire for safety wasn't a rational calculation. It was a feeling. Over the past decade, a number of major automakers in America have relied on the services of a French-born cultural anthropologist, G. Clotaire Rapaille, whose speciality is getting beyond the rational—what he calls "cortex"—impressions of consumers and tapping into their deeper, "reptilian" responses. And what Rapaille concluded from countless, intensive sessions with car buyers was that when S.U.V. buyers thought about safety they were thinking about something that reached into their deepest unconscious. "The No. 1 feeling is that everything surrounding you should be round and soft, and should give," Rapaille told me. "There should be air bags everywhere. Then there's this notion that you need to be up high. That's a contradiction, because the people who buy these S.U.V.s know at the cortex level that if you are high there is more chance of a rollover. But at the reptilian level they think that if I am bigger and taller I'm safer. You feel secure because you are higher and dominate and look down. That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe. It's amazing that intelligent, educated women will look at a car and the first thing they will look at is how many cupholders it has. "

Whatever the driver is, I can only hope that there are a LOT less of these things I have to share the road with in the future. These things embody the worst aspect of America - The thinking is that one is entitled to drive the biggest, most ridiculous vehicle based on how it makes you feel regardless of issues like other drivers, safety, Peak Oil, or environmental concerns. It's like the 1970's never even happened.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Spreading Disinfo - Laura Ingraham

While driving to work this morning, I was between podcasts, so thought I'd turn on some right-wing channel like 710 to hear Laura Ingraham and see what inanity I could find. Like Limbaugh and Limbaugh-lites out there, Laura loves to do the not very subtle ad hominem attack, while always chastising others (always liberals) who do ad hominems. In fact, Limbaugh and all his imitators have done much to educate people on the term "ad hominem", and boy do these listeners throw that term around. Nothing else indicates you are talking to a dittohead like hearing "ad hominem" or "intellectually honest".

Anyway. So Laura comes back from a commercial break, and immediately launches into some clip she's ho-ho-ing and snickering over from, as she has so cleverly dubbed her, Cynthia "cellphone" McKinney. In the clip, McKinney is bringing up the issues with electronic voting machines. Of course, Ingraham finds this a riot, or at least pretends to. The audience is supposed to feel smug in their superiority over this crazy black woman who is spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories. I laughed at Ingraham's little ploy, knowing 99% of her listeners are clueless as to what she is doing, and how correct McKinney is, and turned off her show. Thing is, if any of those listeners did even the most basic of digging, they'd know Laura's full of shit to imply that McKinney is wrong on this. I'll have to think up my own little "cute" middle name for Laura, like she did for McKinney, but for now, I think Laura "Heritage Foundation" Ingraham will have to suffice.

The problem is, Laura is just glossing over facts, like nearly all far-rightwingers do. Let me drag up this link which has 20 facts about voting. Here are definitely ones everyone in this country needs to know.

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

Why would anyone object to a paper trail, if they don't have anything to hide? It's time to stop running our elections like a banana republic, in spite of what elitists like Ingraham want.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Power of Nightmares

After the recent reports of a terrorist plot that has been foiled, I saw some commentary on a bulletin board in which they were wondering how real the plot really was (I have to admit my first reaction was to wonder how the Bush administration would exploit this, even if it is real, since the only thing the Republicans seem to have an edge on is fear - well until I saw this recent poll. Now I wonder what they win in the polls on now?). They referenced the excellent documentary The Power of Nightmares.

It seems the library doesn't have this, but Google video does. I highly recommend this. Kudos to BBC on putting together a wonderful, thorough documentary on the rise of neocons and Islamism. I wonder if Fox News would ever tell you that Al Qaeda was the name that the American government gave to OBL's little group? I wonder if they would tell you that Al Qaeda is apparently barely even real?

Apparently BBC has the guts to do so. I wonder if they have reactionaries in Britain that are always clamoring to yank the rug out from under BBC's feet when documentaries like this are created? We have nutty Republicans here that want to whack PBS/NPR when they even get a slight whiff of "liberalism" (what others might refer to as "objectivity" - when it speaks truth to power, anyway. If you aren't mouthing what the power structure wants you to, you must be "liberal", even if the facts are on your side.) on PBS or NPR.

Again, kudos, and I cannot recommend enough. The British still seem to have some semblance of a participatory democracy - witness Blair having to take the heat from actual citizens, not doing a walk-on at a staged event like our "leaders" do. They also seem to have kept the idea of real analysis in their media, as well.

Man, what I would give for an ala carte cable system that let me boot Faux News, MSNBC, CNN and similar right-wing nonsense for a few BBC channels - and not "BBC America", either.

Republican Noise Machine

This book is an excellent account of who is behind the right wing jihad on objectivity in the media. It's made all the better by the fact that the author, David Brock, is a former member of that effort.

While reading this book, I got to thinking it would be a really great thing to put together a presentation style similar to They Rule, but instead, applied to members of media - pundits, regular talking heads, PR firms, foundations, and the far-right people who start/fund them. For instance, you could have Joe Coors, and his ties to Heritage Foundation and Moral Majority outlined, and what their goals and shady associations are (Google "Paul Weyrich" and "nazi"). Then realize that these people and organizations affect what is in the news and how it is spun every day.

This presentation would really have much more impact (at least visually) than just a barrage of data, and people could make their own charts, much like in They Rule. I really got fired up about doing this, but then realized I have next to no time right now to devote to such a project. A visual representation of the sorts of things you could find on wikipedia,, and about these people and organizations would go so much further to making the average person understand just how much manipulation there is of objective truth, and how much the idea of "liberal media" is a just a lie.

Of course, folks could just read this book, but it's mostly going to preach to the choir. "Intellectually honest" conservatives who choose to pick up this and read it and bother to research a bit for themselves may find that they have to question everything they think they know about the "liberal media", and why the din on, say, talk radio, tends to sound soooo similar to each other.

Even if folks don't actually to bother to read this entire book, and if a presentation like this is never made, people should at least look up the groups that a particular talking head represents. Know who the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, Moral Majority, Family Research Council, etc. are and what they stand for. Look into who funds them. Even if the organization of the talking head brought in as an "expert" isn't given, google that person, and try to find out who pays for them.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My New Firefox Extension - DenverLibPlus

I converted my DenverLibPlus Greasemonkey script to a Firefox extension. I was getting some questions about how to configure it, so I figured it would be more user-friendly for config, even if a full-blown extension for this is a bit of overkill. Now you don't have to edit Javascript to get your card info and preferences set.

I'm trying to get it onto the mozilla addons site, but for now, you can download it here.

UPDATE: This has been put on Mozilla addons site.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Condi, Weiji and Wedgies

Egad. I saw Condi used that silly untrue anecdote about how the Chinese have a character for danger + opportunity = crisis. Whenever I hear a story like the one about weiji repeated over and over as if it's common wisdom, my bullshit meter starts to twitch. And so I looked it up, a looooong time ago. Turns out it isn't true.

Okay, for those that keep going around saying this, and for apparently our "leaders", I'd like to say that this stuff about weiji is not true. It might not be a coincidence that weiji sounds an awful like "wedgie" - as in giving a wedgie to people who like to repeat stories without corrobatiing them.

I think RAW made some remark about how "common sense" is what makes people think the sun rises in the East. I wonder if "common wisdom" falls in the same category.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tinfoil Hats

I'd like to just immediately discount the 9/11 conspiracy theories in Loose Change and the 9/11 Truth Movement. The official storyline (even if the motives given are ridiculous - only the dumbest of children can really believe they attacked us because "they hate our freedoms") is the easiest one to believe, and I think Occam's razor applies here. However, some of the information in here did give me pause to think, even if the entry in Wikipedia does much to refute those points.

I guess the reason I am given pause to think is that without evidence, many other American government misdeeds would have been considered only fodder for the tinfoil-hat-wearing crowd, and just another "conspiracy theory" along with who-shot-JFK style theories. Until the proof came out via whistleblowers or hard evidence, these were just considered crackpot theories, too. Consider a short list:

Operation Mongoose
Pentagon Papers
The recent warrantless wiretapping
School of the Americas

So I don't think these people are as nuts as others would like to think - I think a healthy suspicion of your government can only be a good thing, given the long history of deception. Here's the rub - I cannot think up a "cui bono" that makes sense in this case. If you were doing this as an inside job, why attack the Pentagon? Why attack the WTC? I understand the Reichstag sort of thinking - instilling fear to control people's thinking, kill all dissent and end all rights, but this could have been done in other ways, I would think.

Other problems: where are the people on these flights that supposedly didn't really crash? Where did they go? Gitmo? Why use airplanes at all, why not just use a truck bomb and have demolition charges take the towers down? If demolition charges were used, the sheer logistics of that is overwhelming. How would they be wired so that no one could see them? Wouldn't that take a huge effort? And on and on...

I remain unconvinced of any inside job on this. I do remain convinced of our government's absolute and complete dysfunction (to put it nicely) when it comes to foreign policy, but I just cannot find anything substantive in these 9/11 theories - in this case, it does seem that the consensus reality position on this seems to be the most correct. I could always be proven wrong and/or convinced if some evidence came to light.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Google Dual Index

I wanted to put a screenshot of Google Dual Index in "action", as it were...

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