Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: February 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Monday, February 28, 2005

Clowns to the left of me...

Swartzeneger's plan to eliminate pension

Californians are up in arms about the Governator's new plan to shift the state's employees from their current pension plan to private accounts. Apparently, the current plan's administrators aren't doing so well investing the funds that're designed to provide state employees with their retirement benefits. So naturally, so the state doesn't lose money, they propose putting the onus on employees to take the risk to make sure they have enough to survive on after they retire.

Let me get this right. The current fund administrators, who rely on professionals to determine where to get the best return on investment, are not doing so well. So the solution is to bail out, and give the investment decisions to future retirees, who probably have as much investment savvy as I do. And obviously, I'm not rich, or I wouldn't be using a free blogging service.

So what they're saying is that their experts can't be counted on to make money for the plan, so you're on your own. You can either invest on your own intuition, or pay Wall Street folks to invest your money for you. Just like Social Security reform - it's a win-win scenario for the investment bankers, but a "pay me or starve" proposition for us ordinary folks.

Thanks, Ahnuld. We knew you'd say "hasta la vista, baby" to the most vulnerable of your constituency at the first opportunity. It sets a good precedent for your run for the presidency.

Jokers to the right...

For those of us who have an affinity for the atmosphere and lifestyle of the tropics but still want to drive to get there, we have a haven in south Florida. From Miami to Key West, the flavor of the Carribean is alive and well.

And though developers have drained and paved everything possible by law, there are yet a few wetlands bordering the Everglades that are currently protected from development by something called the Urban Development Boundary, or UDB.

This boundary is a line that runs north and south through Miami-Dade county. It was established thirty years ago to provide a buffer between farmland and the Everglades from the urban sprawl that's occurring all over south Florida.

Now developers and their lobbyists are attempting to move or remove the UDB in order to build sardine-can subdivisions in these protected areas.

'The population is crying out for development, and I think we will represent the population well.''
--- Stuart Miller, CEO of Lennar Corp. (developer)

ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

I'm sorry, but this is too funny! I can just imagine Floridians storming the capital, demanding new subdivisions.

Even in the mainstream press, they're bemoaning the loss of one of the last remaining natural ecosystems in the southern U.S. And then there's the numerous news reports on Everglades refugees, namely amphibians and reptiles, invading existing subdivisions that now occupy their former habitats.

The developers, who have begun purchasing land on the protected side of the line, have the audacity to claim that their goal is to keep housing prices low, thereby allowing for low and middle class citizens to buy homes.

Can I see a show of hands of those who think these new home will be affordable to low and middle class homebuyers? Anyone? Anyone? I didn't think so.

Maybe they think that affluent homebuyers will move out of existing subdivisions for a chance at waterfront property, selling their old homes (which, by the way, the developers have already profited from) at a lower price. Yeah, that's more like it.

It's pure, unadulterated greed - nothing more.

Taking into account the nightmare effects that further development will have on hurricane evacuation, the public (i.e. tax supported) cost of providing infrastructure, and the fact that land outside of the protected area is projected to handle the growing population through the year 2020, does it make sense to anyone other than the developers to open this can of worms?

Florida's citizens have banded together to form an alliance, called Hold the Line, against these developers and their lobbyists. The alliance includes not only environmentalists, but housing rights activists, homeowner groups, and social service providers.

For more information, or to join the Hold the Line campaign, go to, or call 305-213-4348.

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

DeLay slams 9th Circuit Court

It seems that redrawing the map that defines Texas isn't enough for ultraconservatiive Tom DeLay. Now he wants to outlaw judges as well. At the recent Harris County Republican Party Dinner, which has been rechristened the Ronald Reagan Dinner (apparently, Abraham Lincoln, who the dinner was previously named after, was too liberal), DeLay lambasted the 9th Circuit Appeals Court that covers seven western states as the "liberal, left-leaning, wacko 9th Circuit over in San Francisco". DeLay is apparently pushing legislation to break up the Circuit.

Besides, DeLay, who has been admonished for ethics violations over the past few years, needed to get a few more sound bites in, and Harris County was the place to do it. Even though he redrew his district to include several geographic areas that don't support his anal-retentive views, he still enjoys the support of legislators that he has browbeat into submission.

Trying to make some sense of it all
But I can see it makes no sense at all
It’s so hard to keep this mouth on my face
It keeps wandering ‘round all over the place
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
--- Gerry Rafferty, Steelers Wheel

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Homeland Defense. A great excuse to kill somebody

Vigilante Injustice
Hannity & Colmes Minuteman interview

Civil homeland defense. A term that sparks contoversy whereever it's mentioned. Everyone wants to be able to defend themselves against terrorism, or home invasion, or whatever they percieve is a threat to their well being. But where do we draw the line?

Is it okay to shoot someone who attempts to rob you? Many people say yes, especially those who have been robbed. A controversy in itself.

But what about illegal aliens? Is it okay to kill people who are trying to enter this country illegally to escape economic hardship that forces them to relocate to an unknown country in order to try to make a better life for themselves and their family.

There's a movement afoot that aims to man our borders with armed "enforcers" to insure that these illegals don't make it across to take our lowest paying jobs and otherwise endanger the way of life we have come to know and enjoy.

In 2000 Miguel Angel Palafox, a 20-year-old migrant, was shot in the neck by two horsemen dressed in black who attacked him near the border town of Sasabe, about 50 miles east of Cochise County. Palafox crawled back to Mexico with a T-shirt wrapped around his wound and lived to tell the tale, though the riders remain unknown.

Last October, in the small town of Red Rock, between Tucson and Phoenix, two undocumented immigrants were found shot to death by a roadside. Manuel Ortega, a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, says the two victims were part of a group of 12 migrants resting around a pond south of the town. While most of the group slumbered, one of the migrants told the consulate staff, two masked men dressed in camouflage and armed with machine guns appeared from the woods, firing upon the group and killing the two before the others scattered.

But this can't be the work of patriotic and civic-minded citizens, can it? Surely the people who are organizing this movement are guarding against this sort of action.

COLMES: Are these people going to be armed?
COLMES: They're not going to be armed?
GILCHRIST: I'm not going to be armed. However, they can arm themselves at the option under the laws of the state of Arizona.

So there you have it. Although they're not advocating violence, if the individual militiamen choose to use violence to achieve their goal, then that's their right as American citizens. Right?

Granted, illegal immigrations costs us tax money in health care, education and law enforcement. And there are legitimate ways in which us citizens can help minimize it, but killing the illegal immigrants is not an option. It shames me that some of my fellow citizens would even consider this. It's a sad commentary on the mindset of some of the whackos that are part of our population.

Friday, February 25, 2005

No gains in Mainz, it's not like in Des Plaines

Oh, this is way too good to pass up. Apparently, Germany isn't the propaganda capital Bush remembers from his days when he was a history major (snicker, snicker. Like he can remember anything from that era anyway).

He thought he was gonna set up one of his "town hall" meetings there. You know, by invitation only, and all questions prescreened and only of the softball variety? But the German's aren't buying his load of crap like our media would. "Sorry, meine freunde", they said. If you want to meet with the people, it's gonna have to be with real people, not planted sympathizers.

That appears to be too risky for dubya and company. The event, which was supposed to be the cornerstone of his visit to Germany, has been canceled. And, get this, because of scheduling conflicts. Yeah, he was supposed to be at a photo op at that time, and not a real live, potentially embarrasing brush with the truth.

US President George W. Bush arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday morning. He won't be meeting with the people here, but he will be meeting with a handpicked bunch of Germany's future business and political leaders. Posted by Hello

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the mainstream media. No mention of it yet, but I imagine after the blog world gets ahold of it, they'll have to address the issue eventually.

The countdown starts now. How soon until this shows up on the evening news? And what kind of spin will it have achieved when it gets there? We shall see.

Correction: Okay, okay! The American mainstream media hasn't picked up on the story yet. The link above leads to a German newspaper, which qualifies as MSM. Sheesh! Some people are soooo picky.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

and another thing...

Here's an interesting musical interpretation of the Gannon/Guckert debacle. Doo wa diddy diddy, who did he do? It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it. I give it a 69.

And an informative rant on the "affluenza" epidemic. Hey, I can tell the difference between 300 and 1000 threadcount sheets. And I can feel the lump caused by the cockroach under my pile of mattresses, too.

Quite a concept, though. Incomes for the top 1% are skyrocketing while the rest of us are stagnant, yet we spend more to try and keep up with them in spending. So up goes our debt, and they get richer. Can you say "sharecropper"? Sure you can. I knew you could.

Gummy Sailcats, anyone?
The ASPCA objects to candy in the shape of roadkill. They'd rather have you chewing on fake live animals than fake dead ones. And, stranger yet, someone actually got paid to come up with this idea!

Oh, I gotta be at this funeral!
Hunter S. Thomson to make an ash of himself one last time
Let's just hope he doesn't take a few extra people with him.

And you thought a vulcanologist was a trekkie Spock fan
It's actually a term for a babe that's lava-hot.

Okay, so this one's a joke and all, but you know he wants to.
Bush buys cape and crown, demands royal title

Relationship tip of the day: if you steal your engagement ring, don't tell your fiance where you stole it from.
Fiance returns ring to jeweler to resize stolen ring

Partisanship as an art form

Council support for Democratic mayor bugs GOP

In a bare-faced attempt to show everyone who’s the boss, the Harris County Republican Party (whose acronym is pronounced “hic-urp”) has warned Republicans on Houston’s City Council that they’d better toe the line or face recrimination.

The Council Members’ crimes? Passing up opportunities to humiliate Democratic Mayor Bill White. There have been two occasions recently when the mayor was politically vulnerable, and instead of kicking him when he was down, the Republican dominated city council voted in favor of White’s proposals.

"There's a lot of disappointment that the mayor was able to get Republican council members to support him," said Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

The City Council is officially nonpartisan, but eight of its 14 members are Republicans. That's enough to defeat anything the mayor proposes, even with White casting the 15th vote.

"We're not looking for council members who are going to go along and get along," Woodfill said. "We're looking for council members who are going to stand up for conservative values."

Conservative values? The issues here are the mayor’s Safe Clear program, the bipartisanly opposed plan to remove stalls and wrecks from Houston’s freeways as soon as possible; and Proposition 1, a spending cap proposal also opposed by both Democrats and Republicans on the Council.

Some Democrats on the city council, and in the state legislature, dislike White because he’s too conservative. Republicans don’t like him because he’s, well, too conservative.

But two local political scientists said what really rankles the Republican Party is that White sometimes acts like a Republican, making him one of the few Democrats regarded as a rising political star in conservative Texas.

"Republicans have said they wanted a mayor who runs the government like a business, looks at the bottom line and is consumer-friendly,"said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein.

Stein said the Republican Party is worried because White has often been praised for being such a mayor — even to the point of sometimes alienating Democratic council colleagues.

So because hic-urp sees Mayor White as a threat to their sovereignty, they’re trying to force Republican city council members - who are supposed to be non-partisan - to vote against what they feel is right for their constituents. Values, schmalues! We’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen! (bonus points if you can identify that pop culture reference).

Woodfill said the Harris County Republican Party has a good relationship with Republican council members and is not planning immediate action against them.

But he said the party is keeping a closer eye on them and may take more aggressive stances if they continue to vote for what he called liberal positions.

City Council members don't run as members of a party, but Woodfill said the GOP executive committee could influence their political aspirations through such measures as endorsing an opponent and putting out "score cards" on their votes.

Lesson learned – if you want to do some good, don’t go into politics. Because it’s all about protecting your party, and nothing about improving the lives of the citizens you’ve signed on to represent.

If you really want to help people, make a killing in some ruthless business. Then you can help anyone you want, without having to answer to small-minded handlers that threaten you if you don’t act like they want you to.

Or you can get a blog like this and vent your frustrations in hopes that someday more people will see this process for what it is, and work to change it. I can only dream…

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I know it's only rock 'n roll (but I like it)

Destiny's Child tour to be sponsored by McDonald's

We expect Nascar to be sponsored by beer, cigarettes and automotive batteries. But we like to think of our music as pure, and not sullied by corporate sponsorship. Is that a realistic expectation?

Destiny's Child announced its concert tour today, which is sponsored by McDonald's.

The R&B trio will kick off a 16-country, 72-city tour April 9 in Hiroshima, Japan, the group announced. The tour, "Destiny Fulfilled ... and lovin' it," is sponsored by McDonald's.

I'm all down with Beyonce' and crew. And sure, it's not like they're being sponsored by Jack Daniels, but McDonald's isn't exactly known for promoting a healthy lifestyle, much as they'd like you to believe otherwise. So when a singing group that wants you to believe that they're simple folk who'd never promote anything other than sweetness and rainbows (and of course sex) teams up with a heart attack causing, money hungry corporate conglomerate, you have to wonder at their motivation.

Now, I'm N'Cynic incarnate, but I don't believe it's all about the ch-ching. I think it's about wanting to make music no matter what it takes. If a sponsor is necessary to cover the cost of putting on a show, and you really want to put on a show, then you'll go for it. And whether that's good or bad is not for me to decide. It's for the people who buy the tickets and the records (oops, I mean CDs. My age is showing).

Lets face it, y'all. These guys aren't doing it for you, even though some of them say they are. They're rockin' their hearts out because they love it. They love the rush of the lights, the band being tight, and puttin' it all together to create a sound that stirs emotion in the crowd and in themselves. It doesn't matter if it's rock and roll, R&B, country, polka, rap, disco, big band or reggae. When a bunch of musicians gets in a groove, it's all about personal gratification, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying to you or to themselves.

I remember when Jimmy Buffet concerts broke the $25 admission barrier. I felt betrayed. I mean, here's a guy who claimed he was just doing it for the party, and now he wants to soak me for more than a hundred bucks (counting tickets, concert T's and margaritas). He's buying boats, planes and real estate in St. Barts, and I'm contributing a good chunk of my hard earned paycheck to support his lifestyle. But I did it and enjoyed the hell out of myself. I haven't done it often since, but a Buffett concert is still an event that tempts me, especially compared to McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, the Eagles, and others that cost hundreds just to get in the gate.

A few years ago, Jimmy Buffett changed his sponsorship from Miller to Corona. Was it a change in attitude, or a change in lattitude? Did he change his beer preference? I doubt it. He just saw an opportunity to make his show bigger, which again was a choice by him to finance his personal jones at the expense of corporate America.

I think Jimmy expressed it best in one of his early tunes, before he became a big, crowd-drawing star:

I know that it may sound funny
But money don't mean nothin' to me
I won't make my music for money
No, I'm gonna make my music for me

Of course, that's my opinion, and I may be wrong. Maybe they are all money hungry, panderering to the public's weaknesses. Regardless, I will still listen to both Jimmy's and Beyonce's music. And neither one will likely entice me to eat more cheeseburgers.

Aterword: Saw The New Outlaws concert on CMT tonight. It was a kickass concert, but can someone please explain to me exactly how Big & Rich (Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy) and Gretchen Wilson (I'm Here for the Party) fit in to the "moral values" that decided the presidential election a few months ago?

Size does matter!

Tiny Is Beautiful: Translating 'Nano' Into Practical
Women in Physics Match Men in Success

Nanotechnology, the science of tinkering with really, really small things, is growing by leaps and bounds. Scientists are not just using it to build vast armies of miniature robots these days. They’re also using it for completely useless purposes, which is why they became scientists in the first place instead of getting real jobs.

The term “nano” comes from the Greek word nanos, meaning “teeny tiny”. Not to be confused with “nano nano” which is derived from the Orkian term “nanosheebazneeitz”, which nobody really knows what it means, because Mork never told us. But it helped power his interstellar egg from his home world to Earth, and brought to mankind such benefits as Good Morning Vietnam, Death to Smoochie, Mrs. Doubtfire and Comic Relief I - IV.

Nanoparticles, which are bigger than a molecule but smaller than a breadbox, allow manipulation of elements by altering the size of the nanoparticle. In normal physics, an element retains its properties regardless of size. But a smaller nanoparticle has different properties than a larger nanoparticle of the same element. For example, a supersmall nanoparticle of silicon will have different electrical properties than a medium size nanoparticle of silicon. And if you super-size it, it will make you really fat.

Other properties can be manipulated as well. Different sized nanoparticles of gold or silver will reflect different colors. Nanoparticles in various forms can be used to deliver medicine directly to cells, absorb nasty byproducts from those same cells, and even microwave chicken from the inside.

So here’s my plan. We dump a couple of pounds of supersmall silver nanoparticles into the water supply of, say, Texas. The properties of that particular size of silver nanoparticle will absorb all of the yellow and red wavelengths and reflect only the blue.

Voila! Instant Blue State! With this strategy, we can’t lose in 2008. Bwaa – haa – haah!

But why stop there? We can add nanoparticles to, say, Starbucks coffee or Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and have it absorb the colon blockage that has to be causing all of the anal retentiveness in this country today.

Or we could just commandeer the vast armies of miniature robots and have them conquer the world for us while we sit safely at home. You know, the way our so-called leaders are doing it now.

Monday, February 21, 2005

C'mon, you know we were just kiddin'...

Bush attempts to schmooze Europe

Two years ago Dubya told the rest of the world to piss off, that he was going to invade Iraq with or without them. Now he’s trying to win them back – sort of.

Bush's speech, during his five-day trip to Belgium, Germany and Slovakia, was aimed at both U.S. and European audiences. "In a new century, the alliance of America and Europe is the main pillar of our security," he said.

He uses the word "alliance" 12 times in the speech…

It was in this same century that the word “alliance” disappeared from the White House dictionary. In fact, the entire section between “a hole in the ground” and “ass” has been missing since November 2000.

Word has it he had to practice using the word, and during practice had trouble with “pillar of security” as well. Seems it reminded him of his “security piller”, which he kept referring to as his “woobie”.

But don’t go thinking he’s gotten all gushy on them in order to win back their favor. Noooo! He told Libya to stop occupying Lebanon. ‘Cause that’s our job! Imagine those upstarts thinking they can just up and invade anyone they want!

And he’s made it clear to Russia that they’re still in the doghouse, despite their efforts at democracy:

"We must always remind Russia that our alliance stands for a free press, a vital opposition, the sharing of power and the rule of law.”

Sure glad we don’t have to meet these standards. Let’s see how we measure up:
  • A free press – nope. Not unless you’re friendly to, or in the pay of, the Bush administration.
  • A vital opposition – nope again. Not unless we can come up with a charismatic candidate for 2008. Or even someone that can pass as a human.
  • The sharing of power – nope yet again. We used to have that here in Texas until Tom DeLay and company redistricted it out.
  • The rule of law – well, kinda sorta. Unless you invoke “national security” status. Then the rule of law doesn’t apply.

Bush also threw in his expected attempt to take credit for the resumed peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

"The world must not rest until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict," Bush said.

Bush said a future Palestinian state must be "contiguous."

Of course someone had to look up the word “contiguous” for him beforehand, and had it spelled phonetically on his teleprompter. I wonder why they haven’t thought to do that for “nukular” yet?

Speaking of nukular…

On Iran, Bush said the United States was working with European allies Britain, France and Germany in the "early stages of diplomacy." Bush did not, however, note that the United States is not fully backing the Europeans' approach to offer Iran economic and political incentives not to develop nuclear arms.

Likewise, He didn’t tell the Europeans what they wanted to hear on the Kyoto treaty either. Namely, that we would join the effort to save future generations through the reduction of greenhouse gases. Instead, he left it to the marketplace.

Bush said the answer lies in "the power of human ingenuity."

"Emerging technologies such as hydrogen powered vehicles, electricity from renewable energy sources, clean coal technology will encourage economic growth that is environmentally responsible," he said.

So, as with most of his speeches, Dubya managed to produce nothing more that a lot of greenhouse gases of his own. And of course the usual threats to any nations that might stand in the way of world domination. Or, as he calls it, “global freedom”.

Death of an icon

"You have to know the material you're writing about
before you alter it."
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Posted by Hello

Hunter S. Thompson, a pioneer of gonzo journalism, died yesterday at his home in Aspen, Colorado from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Although some tinfoil hat types might find that suspicious, I would think that if the powers-that-be wanted him gone, he would have been gone long ago.

Hunter, who was known for his scathing diatribes against those in power, was a pioneer of the style of hyperbolic political commentary that so many of us admire and try to emulate, myself included.

It was in the early 70’s when I first became politically aware. Up until then, the only thing I knew about politics was what was fed to me in civics class. To me, Woodstock was a music festival – I didn’t get its political overtones. Then the attention shown to Vietnam and Richard Nixon made me look at our social landscape in a different way, and Hunter S. Thompson was there.

I started reading Rolling Stone magazine for the music news, but Hunter was always there (well, most of the time, anyway – he wasn’t known for his consistency) to make me laugh and think.

Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in the 1980 film “Where the Buffalo Roam”, which covered (sort of) the 1972 Super Bowl and presidential race. In my opinion, this was a much better portrayal of the ideal “Dr. Thompson” than Johnny Depp’s rendition in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. But that’s just me – I understand the critics liked “Fear and Loathing” better. Although, Hunter didn’t have too high and opinion of movie critics, or other Hollywood types either.

The victims of Hunter’s barbed tirades, which include Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as well as Nixon, Humphrey and their cronies, were often portrayed as fools, crooks and criminals. His writing was instrumental in shaping my drive to question authority rather than take press releases at face value.

So thank you, Dr. Thompson, for helping me become the cynical, narcissistic rabble-rouser that I am today. You will be sorely missed.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday Funnies

You don't want the truth. You can't handle the truth!
Posted by Hello

and the owners ain't so bright either...
Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

And in other news...

NHL season uncancelled
Hockey fans uninterested

Women fired for refusing to engage in girl on gorilla action
Male research volunteerism drops

Nagging women live longer
No, it only seems that way

Highway slippery as a greased pig
Only in Virginia...

In this corner...

Okay, let's stop fooling around and get this over with. I propose nominating Sylvester Stallone for Governor of Pennsylvania and pitting him against the Governor of Cahleefornia for a winner take all, champion of the world, death match contest for all the marbles.

A blue state guy (Sly) from a red state, against a red state guy (Ahnold) from a blue state, in a slugfest to determine who wins this crazy contest we've been waging since Republicans were considered progressive and Democrats had the moral vote.

Then again, maybe not. It may be several sequels until Rocky wins for good, and the Terminator will just keep coming back.

Come to think of it, that's kinda how it is aready. I guess life does imitate art after all (if you use the term "art" loosely).

Thus is the circle of life. Although at this point in world affairs, I wish we were at the top of the arc instead of at the bottom...

Social Security reform reformed

Finally! Someone has come up with an alternative to Dubya's Social Security plan. Leave it to Giblets over at Fafblog to make sense of an issue that makes no sense. Case in point:

Under Old Social Security, which Giblets has cleverly dubbed "Social Insecurity," your payroll taxes pay for the retirement of old people, and when you are old other people's payroll taxes pay for for you. This system is demographically flawed and will explode! But under Giblets's new plan, "Partial Gibletization," a portion of your payroll taxes go towards the funding of a kick-ass party for Giblets in a big mansion made of gold with a huge pool and a ton of hot naked chicks, which will stimulate the economy and encourage job growth! The rest of your taxes will go towards making a rocket ship that will launch old people into the sun.

See what I mean? I think we should go further, though, and make the most of the resources available to us. We've been told for the past few decades that our greatest natural resource is our people. Sure, by launching our elderly into the sun it will add to the solar energy available to us, but there's already more there than we can use. Why not use them here, where resources are rapidly diminishing?

We can use them in their current form as an alternate energy source. It may seem like manual labor is a step backward, but given the current economy, the price of fuel and wage disparity, an old guy with a rickshaw may still be a more economical mode of transportation than filling up the Hummer with unleaded.

But what about those too old and infirm to labor for the greater good? Even the most feeble of seniors can contribute to society. There's a lot of protein in the human body. Instead of consuming dog food in their waning years, they can provide it. Soylent Green, anyone?

And as for the kick-ass party, please invite me. I'll be dog food myself before long, and I want to make the most of the years remaining to me. Though in my case, the chicks will be baby chickens. I like mine sautee'd in tabasco with roquefort on the side. And an extra plate for the bones.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A little help here?

If you've visited in the past week, you may have noticed an unusual silence. What happened was that our web host had some bugs which affected "a small number of users" which unfortunately included us, and we were unable to post to or or even edit the site in any way for almost a week. What can I say? You get what you pay for.

So we're in the market for a new web host. We're looking for a provider with good uptime, reasonable cost and good customer service and technical support. You know, all those things everyone advertises but doesn't necessarily provide.

Any suggestions you might have will be welcome and appreciated.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming

Sorry, folks, we had some some technical difficulties, and we've been unable to update this site. Several theories have been put forth as to why this has occurred.

Conservatives blame it on liberal, elitist, big government, tax and spend, tree hugging, granola eating, pinko, commie, leftist traitorous moonbats.

Progressives blame it on the right wing, corporate sponsored, fascist, redneck, gun-totin', big business, isolationist, jack booted wingnuts.

Fundamentalists claim it's God's/Allah's punishment for condoning homosexuality, hedonism, other beliefs, infidels, SpongeBob SquarePants, Sandra Bernhardt, and for not giving enough money to the purveyors of the One True Faith.

The Bush administration blames it on Social Security, terrorism, nukular proliferation, the media, Congress, and Bill Clinton's policies.

Tinfoil hat folks know what really happened, but don't think you'll believe them anyway. They recommend you go ask Elvis. He's hanging out at Area 51 with Jim Morrison and Deep Throat.

As a service to our readers, we've had a crack team of experts working diligently around the clock to solve this crisis. After intensive investigation involving top notch forensic labs, reformed hackers, satellite imagery, deep earth core sonograms, psychic mediums, aboriginal shamans, and my Aunt Irma's knee that acts up when it's about to rain, they report that the actual reason for the malfunction is that the janitor unplugged the server to plug in his vacuum cleaner, and forgot to plug it back in.

He's really, really sorry, and promised never to do it again, right before we had him drawn and quartered and fed to our pet dragon. Sparky likes his food in bite-size chunks.

It's not like she did anything wrong or anything...

Attorney seeks Lea Fastow early release
Indictment document

Waaaa! It’s tough being stuck in a dirty old prison with no room service, when you’re used to being waited on hand and foot. No, I’m not talking about Martha. I’m talking about poor, misunderstood Lea Fastow. I mean, all she did was cheat on her taxes. Everybody does that, right? What’s a few hundred grand between friends? It wouldn’t make even a small scratch in the federal deficit anyway. And because she got caught, now she has to spend five more whole months without double mocha lattes, day spa visits, or debutante galas. Doesn’t your heart just ache for her?

Weep no more for her, America. Her attorney, Mike DeGeurin has asked US Judge David Hittner to vacate her sentence. Because the mean ol’ judge put her in a short term maximum security prison instead of the country club she was expecting. And because her husband and partner in crime has to go to prison also, and no one will be left at home to watch the kiddies. Except the nannies, governesses and the rest of the household staff, of course, but they’re little people and don’t count.

"She has now spent seven months under fluorescent lights, not allowed outside for fresh air even for recreation, in overcrowded conditions and without the basic programs offered by a normal institution. She has been serving hard time in the literal sense and without complaint," states the motion.

Poor Lea! Having to live like a criminal when she’s only, well, a criminal. A well-to-do criminal, but a criminal none the less. And she obviously received some preferential treatment. How else to explain the staggered sentences she and hubby Andy received. How many common folks would get that kind of consideration from our justice system. Even Judge Amy would balk at showing that kind of favoritism. The family that does crime together, does time together.

And what about the other occupants of the prison? Surely she’s not the only person there subject to the overcrowded conditions. And fluorescent lights? The horror! Imagine what it must be doing to her complexion!

Lea is being painted as a stoic pawn in a witch hunt for the big guns of Enron. Well, she may have been a pawn, but she participated actively and voluntarily in their schemes, even included her children in them, and was rewarded handsomely for it. So save the posturing, Mikey. She’s a crook, and crooks that get caught go to jail. Unless they’re politicians of course. We have to draw the line somewhere.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Don'cha just love this guy?

Don'cha wish he was this honest in real life...?

(got it from Northstar) Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Beaches? We don't need no stinking beaches!

Congress jump-starts energy bill for Bush

Here it comes. The earth dramatically shifted to the right last November, and this is the first aftershock. A wave crashing onto the shoreline that preludes the tsunami to come.

Last year, Republicans tried to push through an energy bill that included the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a cutback on government spending on coastal restoration after catastrophic oil spills, boosting domestic oil and natural gas supplies, and shielding producers of MTBEs (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) from lawsuits arising from contamination of drinking water supplies in numerous communities.

The bill was defeated, but that was before the shift to a Republican dominated Congress. Now the House is storming the beaches with a vengeance, and the Senate will no doubt follow their lead.

No mention yet of their promises to focus on alternative energy solutions that were so prominent just before the last election, and nary a sound from the "conservation" candidates who pledged to protect the environment in their caimpaign rhetoric.

So grab your surfboards, y'all, and hit the beaches while you can, before they become overrun with tar and dead critters. And buy stock in bottled water, 'cause we're gonna need it once the natural sources are all polluted.

And hang on, 'cause it's gonna be a wild ride!

Not Coming Soon to a cable channel near you!

FCC backs cable companies on digital channels

I don't have a digital TV yet, but I do have a digital cable box.

The FCC has required broadcasters to provide digital channels, if they want to retain over-the-air spectrum, by December 2006 or when digital televisions reach 85% penetration, whichever comes later.

But apparently, the broadcasters are attempting to use this requirement to dredge up the "must-carry" controversy that raged in the '90s to try and force cable companies to carry all of their multi-channel offerings. Before then, the cable companies could choose whether or not they wanted to carry local channels. Most chose to, because they provided local news and an alternative from TBS, WGN, and the other not-so-local channels that they downlinked from satellites.

"Must-carry" required cable companies to carry local broadcasters to prevent monopolizing what their customers were offered.

Now, armed with digital technology, broadcasters can squeeze more channels into the over-the-air spectrum that they hold long-term leases on, allowing them to broadcast more channels than they could in the past. And now they want the cable companies to be required to allow space on the cable system for all of their offerings, even if it requires the cable companies to remove other channels to make that space.

The FCC disagreed, which I believe is better for the customer. If Fox, for example, decided to split their current spectrum into six different channels, why should I have to give up other channels so they can have space on my cable box? Especially since they most likely wouldn't provide six times the entertainment, or six times the quality, or even six times the choices. Chances are they'd use one for weather, one for shopping, and then split their current offering four ways to fill up the rest. I can live without four times as much Simpsons on TV.

The commission's only dissenter, Republican Kevin Martin, contended the ruling would hamper the ability of small, independent minority and religious broadcasters to get on the air.

"The public could have benefited from more free programming," he said.

Wow! Three hot buttons in one statement! That makes me believe it's the right decision just because of that. Keywords "minority", "religious" and "free" are all used, and none of them apply. There's no shortage of minority or religious broadcasting on cable, and I don't think five extra broadcast channels is going to make my cable bill go down any. Do you?

Of course, I could be wrong. If so, let me know. But no satellite people, though, 'cause these rules wouldn't apply to you anyway.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

And in other news...

Other planets in galaxy may have layer of diamonds
So that's why Bush wants more funding for space exploration. It's all part of his nefarious plot to hoard all the riches in the universe! Help us, Buck Rogers! Save us from this evil madman!

Valentine's Day is Monday, guys. Don't screw it up again.
Make it red roses and white chocolate, or you'll have blue ba... er, a blue holiday.

Woman gets 80 years for killing mom over chores
Can you say "hard labor"? On the bright side, there's not much chance she'll have to do windows.

Judge faces charges for masturbating during trials
Justice isn't blind, it's just squinty-eyed.
- or -
If you keep doing that, Justice, you'll go blind.

Two fans injured by overweight stage diver
I don't know who's dumber - they guy who jumped or the girls who tried to catch him.

Man arrested for lawyer jokes cleared
Charges dropped because of insufficient evidence. Apparently the jokes weren't that funny.

Man accused of stalking Anna Kournikova
Caught him lounging nekked in her neighbor's yard. See, I told you it wasn't me.

Army pilot disciplined for using helecopter to deliver pizza
Yeah, but did he get it there in 30 minutes or less?

Detroit's population continues to decline
Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

...or would you rather be a worm?

Leave it to the Norwegians to spend money answering the burning questions that keep us all awake nights. And I thought we were the only ones who squandered taxpayer's money like that.

Study says worms on fishhook feel no pain

``The common earthworm has a very simple nervous system -- it can be cut in two and continue with its business,'' Professor Wenche Farstad, who chaired the panel that drew up the report, said Monday.

Norway might have considered banning the use of live worms as fish bait if the study had found they felt pain, but Farstad said ``It seems to be only reflex curling when put on the hook ... They might sense something, but it is not painful and does not compromise their well-being.''

Well, the hook may not compromise their well-being, but what about being eaten by a fish? Or the fish being eaten by a Norwegian? I guess that'll be covered in a different study.

Farstad said most invertebrates, including lobsters and crabs boiled alive, do not feel pain because, unlike mammals, they do not have a big brain to read the signals.

Ohhhh! That explains why our current regime's policies aren't as painful to some people!

Abbas and Sharon agree to end bloodshed. Bush scrambling to take credit.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders declare end to years of violence

Will wonders never cease? Israel and Palestine agree on something more than to disagree.

"We have agreed on halting all violent actions against Palestinians and Israelis wherever they are," Abbas declared in a statement made after the meetings, as he, Sharon, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II sat around a round table.

Sharon made a similar pledge. "Today, in my meeting with chairman Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere, and, at the same time, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere," he said

Of course, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the hardliners in Sharon's party haven't bought into the plan yet, and whether they'll abide by both leaders' pledge remains to be seen.

Broad strokes of the plan include the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, Israeli pullout from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the return of Egyptian and Joradian ambassadors to Israel.

The two leaders hammered out their agreement in Egypt in the company of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Although no representatives from the United States were present, Condo Rice managed a photo op and sound bite from Rome after the agreement was reached, and Bush handlers primed the American media with reminders about Dubya's invitations to the White House to both leaders.

Who wants to lay odds that the Bush administration will take credit for this accord?

My work here is complete. I will return to my Home Planet now.

(pic courtesy of Northstar) Posted by Hello

Talmadge Heflin, an 11-term State Representative and former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee withdrew his challenge to the election that gave his seat in the Legislature to newcomer Hubert Vo last November, when Vo won the election by 33 votes. Heflin’s attorneys challenged the election results, insinuating voter fraud.

On Monday, Will Hartlett, a fellow Republican and “master of discovery” assigned to investigate the challenge, issued a report that stated Vo won by at least 16 votes and that there was no evidence of intentional fraud.

Heflin could still have pursued the challenge after Hartlett’s report, and could possibly have overturned the decision. I mean, here we are, deep in the heart of the Lone Star Red State – where the stars at night are big and bright (clap, clap, clap, clap), and the Repubs gained a sweeping victory last November when the earth shifted dramatically to the right. I was expecting some kind of soft-shoe shuffle to keep him in power.

And I would have thought they would have had to drag him out kicking and screaming. The fact that he conceded gracefully heartens me that there may be hope for us after all.

So I will retire to my Fortress of Solitude, until the time comes again for me to fight for Truth, Justice and The American Way. Well, Truth and Justice anyway – The American Way is going to take more than just me to fix.

And I was just kidding about that Home Planet thing. I was. Really.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Memo from Grandpa: Please don't eat worms.

Carl Hiaasen is a grandfather - again. In his column yesterday, he offers to his new grandchild, not advice, but a plea to use his life wisely.

The world into which you have so hungrily arrived is a complicated, troubled and sometimes heartbreaking place. You were fortunate to have been born in the richest and most tolerant country, though it's far from perfect. You'll get a chance to make it better, and I hope you do.

Waiting down the road are opportunities so plentiful and varied as to throttle the imaginations of those of us born in the '50s. The choices you make ought to be yours alone, but it would be baloney for me to say that I'll be bursting with pride no matter what you do.

Example: While flipping TV channels the other night, I came upon a program called Fear Factor. Believe it or not, the show features young men and women swallowing live worms and repulsive parts of dead animals -- the ultimate goal being to get famous and win a wad of cash.

You will learn that this sort of witless self-degradation is what passes for entertainment in some parts of modern American culture.

Surely the parents (and grandparents) of Fear Factor contestants never dreamed those kids would someday show up on national television with cow entrails dangling from their expensively straightened teeth, but there you have it.

That's what I mean about choices. When I was growing up, it wasn't nearly so easy to make an ass out of one's self in front of millions of people. Today, almost anybody can do it. It's practically an industry.

For what's it's worth, it would be just fine with me if your ambitions led you in other directions. I could coast happily into old age knowing that you never groveled in Donald Trump's boardroom, or chose your fiancee from a gaggle of strangers on the lawn of a French castle.

Aw, Grandpa, you never let me have any fun! If not making a fool of myself for wads of cash, what else is there?

A few weeks ago, something called a tidal wave smashed into the coasts of Asia and Africa, killing more than 160,000 persons. It was a horror that you have no reason to contemplate at your tender age.

But here's what happened afterward. Millions and millions of people around the world reached into their own pockets and sent whatever money they could afford to help the survivors of that tragedy. And thousands more -- nurses, doctors, rescue workers, volunteers -- hopped on planes and flew to lend a hand.

I couldn't tell you the names of these people because they didn't do it in order to become celebrities or win a prize. They did it because they were needed, and because it was decent and humane and right.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you can't gobble live worms on TV and still be a good person. I'm just asking you not to be fooled into believing that sort of thing is remotely important, no matter how much attention it gets.

It seems silly to be laying all this on you now, when your only worldly concern is scoring a dry diaper and some warm milk.

I trust that your father will spare you from this column until you're much older and well on your way.

I'm not too worried. After all, your dad turned out just fine.

And if he ate any worms, he was smart enough not to broadcast it.

Don't worry. The Bush administration will put a stop to this!

Adam over at Fanatical Apathy has an interesting take on the Social Security reform issue. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, here's a sample:

Okay. So we take peoples' money away, and let them choose from an approved list of investments that they can put it into. Am I missing something here?

Is there any other government program that looks anything like this? Mostly when I earn money I either get to keep it and use it how I see fit or it disappears into the hungry maw of the Common Good: Defense, infrastructure, social programs, museums about the history of artichokes, etc.

I'm sure that when he hears about this idea, President Bush won't stand for it. He's all about Freedom and Liberty and Small Government. A guy like that would immediately see that forcing people to invest a portion of their earnings is a violation of personal liberty. Because when you stop calling this a reapportioning of the Social Security tax, you see it for what it is - compulsory personal investment. Big Papa government telling us how to spend our allowance because we're not responsible enough to do it ourselves.

Damned big government liberals. Don't worry, our President will take care of of the clowns who came up with this.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Patriots 24, Eagles 21

A great defensive game on both sides. Mega turnovers. Maybe instead of complaining about practice field conditions, they should have been practicing on them, 'cause game field conditions seemed to be a contributing factor. Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball, and sometimes even remaining vertical.

But the Patriots caught on fire in the second half, and then the Eagles caught on that they needed to do something about it. Alas, it was too late, and the Patriots intercepted McNabb's attempt to drive close enough for a game tying field goal with seconds left in the game. No doubt New England will be labeled a "dynasty".

No wardrobe malfunctions, and very few erectile disfunction ads. Cialis made it into the third quarter, though.

All in all, a very entertaining Super Bowl. That makes two years in a row. Maybe it'll become a habit, and we can label this annual event a dynasty.

Pay up, y'all!

product message optional

Fedex hit the nail on the head with number seven, above, of the ten keys to a successful Super Bowl commercial. Although there were too many animal gags and not enough attractive females.

Speaking of animal gags, there were multiple nods to Bush in the form of ads featuring chimpanzees.

P. Diddy's Diet Pepsi truck ad was only too indicative of the effect that our cultural icons have on the behavior of lemmings.

Anheiser Busch produced a "Thank You" ad featuring soldiers returning home to a cheering crowd. Obviously they used actors, since the only real troops returning home are wounded or in caskets.

My favorite was the Lay's Potato Chips ad where the kids threw a bag of chips over the fence of a guy that never returns their lost balls, and he throws back everything that's been lost - a dog, a car, and MC Hammer. Best part was when the kiids threw MC Hammer back...

As long as they make it to the game on time...

Stolen limousine stopped, passengers freed by Jacksonville police

Those wacky Floridians. Carjacking a limo and picking up passengers. What a yuckster! Hope he gets to watch the Super Bowl on TV in jail.

Super Bowl XXXIX

  • At stake: National Football League championship for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
  • Participants: Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) and New England Patriots (AFC). This is the fifth appearance for New England and the second appearance for Philadelphia.
  • Site: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla. This is the first game hosted by Jacksonville.
  • Seating capacity: 76,877.
  • Kickoff: 6:25 p.m. EST today.
  • Players' share: Winners get $68,000 each; losers get $36,500 each.
  • Uniforms: NFC will be the home team, will use the West bench, and will have its choice of wearing its colored or white jersey.
  • Sudden death: If the game is tied at the end of regulation, it will continue in sudden-death overtime. The team scoring first will win.
  • Officials: There will be seven officials and two alternates appointed by the commissioner's office.
  • Attendance: To date, 2,984,890 have attended Super Bowl games. The largest crowd was 103,985 at the 14th Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

put your money where your mouse is

The post below was lifted from Eschaton. At least all the noise is generating some revenue for charities.

Place Your Bets
Eagles vs. Patriots.
I suggest we choose a charity for each team.
If the Pats win, all us betting on the Eagles have to donate to the American Friends Service Committee (Ntodd's choice).
I'm going local. If the Eagles win, all you New England losers have to donate your bet to Project Home.
Count me in for $50. Pledge your bets in comments here or at Ntodd's place or on your blog, if you have one. I'll throw up a link to everyone's blog who's in (subject to my ability to keep up).

Betting on the Eagles:
Coast Pulse
Funny Farm
Two Glasses
Throwing Things
Culture Ghost
Stinging Nettle

Betting on the Pats:
alt hippo
Carpe Datum
Fester's Place
Crooks and Liars
Something Requisitely Witt and Urbane

Super Sunday Funnies

Posted by Hello

Ain't that the truth...Posted by Hello

How to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb Posted by Hello

Bad Social Security! Bad! Bad! Posted by Hello

These cards aren't marked! They are messed!
A chocolate mess! Posted by Hello

Welcome To Tombstone,
The Town Too Tough To Die. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The other white meat

Super Bowl festivities kick off in Philadelphia with wings and breasts.

PG rating prevents us from showing what else is painted... Posted by Hello

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Bared breasts, binge-eating and boozing, but no vomiting please -- it's Super Bowl weekend in Philadelphia and the party starts with an eating contest that draws more than 20,000 rowdy sports fans.

A truck driver from New Jersey who goes by the name "El Wingador" wolfed 162 chicken wings to reclaim the Wing Bowl, an annual pre-Super Bowl event with added flavor this year.

A raucous capacity crowd of some 23,000 packed an indoor arena to watch 29 finalists try to eat the maximum number of wings in two 14-minute rounds and a final two-minute frenzy of wing-gorging. Scantily clad women dubbed "Wingettes" handed out plates of wings and wiped sauce from contestants' faces.

Student Colin Brightfield, 19, came to support his rugby teammate Douglas Detock, known to the competition as "Obi Wing," who qualified by eating more than 60 live cockroaches, and not throwing up.

Winner Bill Simmons, who weighed 312 pounds before the contest, edged out defending champion Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, weighing just 99 pounds. The two were even at the end of regular competition among the 29 finalists and faced each other in a final two-minute "wing-off" which Simmons won by a single wing.

It appears the Super Bowl is off to a flying start. Let the games begin!

Q. How can you tell when Bush is lying to us?

A. His lips are moving.

In his SSOTU (Sad State Of The Union) address, Dubya said he would curb spending by reducing or eliminating inefficient or redundant programs. According to the Houston Chronicle today, areas that will take cuts include:

  • local law enforcement
  • firefighters
  • environmental protection
  • Medicaid
  • home heating aid for the poor
  • transportation
  • farmer's subsidies
  • Native American and low income area schools

Since, according to him, the economy's doing so great, where's all the money going?

  • tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy
  • war, since it's necessary to protect our freedom from fear
  • domestic security, also necessary to protect our freedom from fear
  • Social Security reform

Ah, America! Land of the free (as long as you toe the line), and home of the poor - unless you're a FOB (Friend Of Bush).

Saturday Morning Cartoons

What the mainstream media didn't tell you. Posted by Hello

Don't worry, we'll rescue them! Posted by Hello

Joe's wife - "this whole thing has me deflated". Posted by Hello

Okay, we'll pay the ransom. How much?Posted by Hello

Have they no shame? Posted by Hello

In your dreams... Posted by Hello

What are you people... on dope? Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

The jury is still out

Okay, I've been unusually silent on the Social Security issue. That's because I'm reserving my comments for when I understand it more. There are conflicting reports coming in continuously, and I'm trying to get a handle on them. It's kinda like 9/11. When somone told me that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, I was like "Wow!". Then when the other tower was hit, that's when I was hit also. Someone was trying to hurt us. And it pissed me off.

When Bush initially suggested 'private accounts', I thought "when people are putting their FICA money elsewhere other than FICA, what's going to pay current retirees?". I answered myself "more national debt, of course".

Then, in his SOTU address, he said that all money put into 'personal accounts' would belong to us. Now I hear that, in addition to reducing our benefits by whatever we put into these accounts, we would be charged broker fees, and the gubmint gets to keep profits over and above what we would've gotten with Social Security, and I thought, "WTF?".

Not so, say the yaysayers. Yet I've heard these terms bandied around: "benefit offset" and "No Stockbroker Left Behind".

Atrios has asked that we attempt to explain this plan in layman's terms. So until I can do that, I'll withhold my comment and judgment, since all I've seen so far is smoke and mirrors. Judging from past experience, though, chances are that the administration is going to screw us. But once the smoke clears I'll try to explain it, and you can decide for yourself if our own people are trying to hurt us.

Then we can both be pissed off.

I feel safer. Don't you?

Report: FBI wasted millions on 'Virtual Case File'

After 9/11, the FBI shifted its primary mission from criminal investigations to preventing terrorism. After all, who better to tackle the daunting task of preventing domestic acts of violence than the folks who out-thugged organized crime, foiled many a kidnapping attempt, and struck fear into the hearts of interstate ne'er-do-wells.

But it appears that this august organization has fallen victim to the same knee-jerk reactions that gave us the Patriot Act and racial profiling. They embarked on an ambitious quest to develop a database that would allow them to link intelligence from law enforcement agencies across the nation. A logical and noble goal, given the secretive nature of imbedded Enemies of the State. Unfortunately, their plans went awry, and it's just now coming to light three years later in a report by the Justice Department's Inspector General.

"After more than three years and $170 million expected to be spent developing the Virtual Case File, the FBI has not provided a clear timetable or prospect for completing the VCF," the report said.

"In the interim, the critical need to replace the FBI's obsolete case management system remains," concludes the 81-page report.

But it wasn't their desire to develop this database that's at fault. It was their haste and lack of research that lead to the dismal news that we still don't have even a hope of success on the horizon.

The FBI had recently admitted the Virtual Case File technology, which had been delivered by contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), had failed to meet the bureau's requirements and that much of the time and effort invested had been lost.

Lawmakers and the contractor agreed that the intense pressure to get a product out to FBI agents following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, contributed to the problem.

"This was both SAIC and the FBI all going to the sounds of the gun with our heads down on a very ambitious, high risk, highly concurrent project," SAIC Executive Vice President Arnold Punaro told reporters.

The FBI has established a short-term project in its New Orleans office to determine whether any portion of the VCF project can be salvaged.

In the meantime, the FBI is continuing to explore with outside consultants the prospects of purchasing commercially available off-the-shelf software.

Excuse me? Are they telling us that there might be programs already developed that could accomplish this task? He-llo! Ever heard of Best Buy? Nobody attempted to Google this? Maybe their "outside consultants" will recommend this course of action (hopefully without millions more in consulting fees).

FBI Director Robert Mueller promised a Senate panel late Thursday that he will decide within two months whether to scrap (the) special computer software...

Mueller testified that if a current test shows the project has to be scrapped, he estimates the loss to taxpayers at $104 million.

"I do not take that lightly," Mueller said. "I am tremendously disheartened."

I'd be tremendously disheartened too. If this had happened in the private sector, Mueller would be looking for another job. Wingnuts constantly complain about how hard it is to fire someone in a government job, no matter how inept they are. I guess this validates their opinion. Too bad it involves an organization that, according to them, is so critical to protecting our "freedom from fear".

Bush gets "validated" from both sides

"Wow! It really is purple!" Posted by Hello

Mattel's GI Joe has been taken hostage by terrorists from rival Hasbro. The rebels are demanding a fleet of armored Hot Wheels and 70 virgin Barbies. A spokesman for Mattel says "we never negotiate with terrorists and everyone knows we couldn't find a chaste Barbie if we tried. We do have some inexperienced "American Girl" dolls though."
(thanks, Steve!) Posted by Hello

The first step on the road to the White House

Why not? It worked for that other clown.

"We're gypsies on a pirate ship, and we're setting sail for the Governor's Mansion," said Friedman, who calls himself "The Kinkster." "I'm calling for the unconditional surrender of (Governor) Rick Perry."

With a shot across the bow of the underachieving incumbent's struggling dinghy, Kinky Friedman throws his cowboy hat into the ring for the 2006 Gubernatorial election.
"We're definitely going to win this booger," Friedman said.

That remains to be seen, but at the very least, it'll be an entertaining race.

"There'll be no surrendering," said Luis Saenz, political director for Perry's Republican re-election campaign. "Kinky definitely has the potential to enliven the debate, and after watching him on the I-man show (Imus in the Morning) it appears the Democrats are not the only ones who've been smoking something."

Jason Stanford of the Chris Bell for Governor exploratory committee said, "Kinky's funny, but Rick Perry is a joke." Bell, a Democrat, lost his re-election campaign for Congress last year.

I, for one, think he'd be an improvement over Perry, and I've yet to see a viable alternative among Texas' Democrats or Republicans. Or, as Kinky labels the parties, ""decaf or regular, paper or plastic."

He says no one should consider his running just a laughing matter.

"Humor is what I use to attack the windmills of politics as usual".

Friedman said teachers, police officers and firefighters have been left behind in a state that is first in the nation in executions and trailing in education funding. He supports the legalization of medical marijuana and wants to increase public school funding through casino gambling. He also wants a return of nondenominational prayer in school.

So, go for it, Kink! Anything I can do to help, just let me know. I'll start by volunteering to help collect signatures to get on the ballot. Even if I don't end up voting for you, I at least want you in the race.

To get on the Texas ballot as an independent, Friedman must collect 45,540 signatures between March 8 and May 11, 2006, from registered voters who did not cast a ballot in any party primary or runoff. Friedman said he will use volunteers to collect the signatures and is predicting success.

Friedman sees himself as an intellectual version of a political outsider like actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won the California governor's office. Friedman had little good to say about Perry.

"This governor is more interested in ironing his shirt than ironing out the problems Texas has," Friedman told the Houston Chronicle.

Friedman said he uses humor to make people feel uncomfortable in an effort to challenge them to think about sometimes-unpleasant topics.

"The anti-wussification campaign is primarily against political correctness," Friedman said. "It's sad, people are afraid to say Merry Christmas. Particularly me. I'm a Jew."

For all of his cynical wisecracking, Friedman also has had a serious side.

He was a Peace Corps volunteer, and his father, Tom, a University of Texas professor in educational psychology for more than 50 years, ran Echo Hill as a summer camp for children in a Jewish social setting. Kinky runs Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Medina.

Finally, a candidate worthy of our trust. Whether he'll have the experience to get things done or the temperament to tolerate politics-as-usual is yet to be seen. At least he's honest. And that's a quality that is far too rare in politics these days.

Kinky Thoughts

Candidate Friedman sounds off on ...


"We're No. 1 in only one thing -- executions. I'm not anti-death penalty. But I'm damn sure anti-the-wrong-guy-getting-executed."

"I think we're 48th in funding for public education. The only states below us are West Virginia, New Mexico and Arkansas. That means Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are ahead of us. When Mississippi is ahead of you, you've got a problem. I'm worried about Guam slipping ahead of us, too."

"People are nervous. They're afraid to say 'Merry Christmas.' Afraid to light up a cigar. We didn't get to be the Lone Star State by being politically correct. America's last stand is Texas . . . I want to take things back to a time when cowboys all sang and their horses were smart. I'm looking to evoke an older, richer spirit of Texas. I'm going to fight this wussification of Texas if I have to do it one wuss at a time."

"More than $100 million was spent in the last gubernatorial race by the two candidates for a job that pays $115,000. That smells fishy to most of us. Something is wrong with that picture. I've always said a fool and his money are soon elected. But not this time around. The guy with the most money shouldn't always win."

"I'm not really a charismatic atheist. I have Jesus and Moses in my heart. They were both independents, by the way."

"If you think Rick Perry is inspiring people, fine. But I think he has failed in the spiritual-lifting department. This governor is, in my opinion, more interested in building golf courses than he is in improving public schools."

"Willie [Nelson] and I play, on his [tour] bus, usually. He's very good and very fast. An instinctive player. Of course, you need to wear scuba gear to avoid the second-hand-smoke."

"Us Jews have had cocaine around for thousands of years. We call it horseradish . . . I admire people who struggle with their demons and conquer them."

"Publishing four books in one year is an index of an empty life."

"I believe people who smoke cigars live longer than nonsmokers. When I smoke one, there's that feeling of being above the fray. That will serve me well during the campaign when everybody is running around like a rooster with its head cut off."

(courtesy of David Casstevens)

ain't technology great?

East Texas PDA Posted by Hello
(lifted from Northstar at The People's Republic of Seabrook)

A Newspeak Primer: Lesson Two

Thanks to Fafblog! for setting the record straight on Social Security reform. It's all so clear now!

Q: Is Social Security in crisis?

A: Yes it is! And if we don’t do something right now it is going to EXPLODE!

Q: Oh no!

A: In forty years.

Q: Then what happens?

A: Then Social Security runs out of money! That means either your benefits are reduced, or all Social Security everywhere explodes in a giant fireball and we will have to run away from the fireball and jump away from it in slow motion to escape!

Q: Tell me more about this crisis in gritty detail!

A: The fireball is huge and loud and expensive and there is grinding guitar music on the soundtrack informing everyone that we are bad, bad dudes! The radiation turns all old people into very poor mutants who must scavenge and eat each other for food. Eventually the robots come: they are unstoppable. What has science done!

So naturally, to make their "solution" more palatable, the gubmint employs Newspeak, which has served them so well in the past:

Q: I’m following you so far, but what if privatization…

A: It’s not privatization it is private accounts.

Q: Alright then, what if these private accounts…

A: They are not private accounts they are personal accounts.

Q: Okay, if these personal accounts…

A: They are not personal accounts, they are privamatupilous splendiferacy.

Q: I forgot what I was talking about.

A: Oh good! Have a lollipop with your splendiferacy.

How will it all end? Probably like this:

Q: I ended up with crap stocks, and my private account went empty early. What do I do?

A: You run out of money and starve. But you’ll starve in freedom, because you OWN your empty personal account, which means you OWN your starvation!

Q: I feel so free and hungry!

A: A wise man once said it is better to live in freedom than to die in slavery … the slavery of a secure retirement.

Q: Give me liberty AND death!

A: That’s the spirit!

Q: Wheeee! *hack hack wheeze*

Read the rest of the post at Fafblog!. You'll be glad you did.