Memo to Sarah Palin

Ronald Reagan, quoted in a Sarah Palin press release:

It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.

Memo to Sarah Palin: If you're going to quote Reagan in a press release decrying "the left" "blaming" you for Jared Loughner's massacre, you should probably be willing to accept personal responsibility for using over-the-top rhetoric and imagery in campaign literature and admit that you shouldn't have done that when you were called out for it EIGHT MONTHS AGO.

We don't let people off scot-free who hire hitmen merely because they didn't pull the trigger themselves. Inciting violence is wrong, too, and apparently you don't realize this, or simply aren't willing to admit that people might have interpreted it that way.

Also, stop being childish by prohibiting NPR from embedding the video. You're clearly unfit to be anything more than a modern celebutard.

posted on 12 January 2011 at 14370 commentstrackback

Voter Fraud in 3...2...1...

The local state senate race is shaping up to be one of the more interesting races this fall, because longtime Representative Robert Jones, who was running on the Democratic ticket against Republican Tonya Schuitmaker, died a couple of weeks ago. Of course, all the ballots had already been printed, and many absentee ballots had already been distributed. Local Democratic freaking-out aside, this caused a great deal of consternation and confusion, since Michigan law discards any votes for a deceased person.

The solution for absentee voters determined by The Powers That Be, apparently, was as follows:

If you voted for Jones, and you wish to vote for his replacement, current Kalamazoo mayor Bobby Hopewell, you must request a new absentee ballot.

If you voted for Jones, don't like Hopewell, and wish to vote for Schuitmaker, you must request a new absentee ballot.

If you voted for Jones, and you don't care if your vote in that race is discarded, you don't have to do anything.

If you voted for Schuitmaker, you don't have to do anything, because even though your ballot has the name of a dead guy on it, your vote was for a living candidate and still counts.

Clear as mud, right?

It gets worse. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

I'm a staunch Republican who wants to ensure a Schuitmaker victory. I encourage everyone who already voted absentee ballots in favour of Schuitmaker to pretend they voted for Jones and request a new absentee ballot...which they then use to vote for Schuitmaker again.

As far as I can tell, there are absolutely no safeguards in place to stop this from happening.

What they should have done was to discard every single ballot that has Robert Jones as a candidate. Yes, this would require all absentee voters who already had ballots to get new ballots, but it would ensure that no one can sway the election in favour of the Republican candidate by voting twice. (It would also have the side benefit of not revealing the political affiliation of anyone who comes in to request a replacement ballot, as the township clerk's office made it very clear that if I voted for Tonya Schuitmaker, I did not need to be requesting a replacement ballot. So much for secrecy!)

posted on 28 October 2010 at 18500 commentstrackback

The Ironical Hypocrite

Someone hand Jim DeMint, the junior Senator from South Carolina, a dictionary with the words "irony" and "hypocrite" highlighted, fast:

[Southers] will not give me a straight answer [as to whether he would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights]. This is all about politics and not security.

This is the same Jim DeMint who has been blocking the nomination of Errol Southers as head of the TSA because, as Joe Sharkey so eloquently put it, "DeMint, a former market researcher, has surveyed the situation and identified the real terrorist threat to America: Unions."

Now who's about politics, Jim?

posted on 05 January 2010 at 20090 commentstrackback

2009 Going Out On Ironic Note

From the Grey Lady:

é─˙If the American government really wants to advance relations with Cuba, I recommend they leave behind the conditions of internal governance that they are trying to impose on us and that only Cubans can decide,é─¨ Ra??l Castro said in his assembly speech.

So, Ra??l, how about letting Cubans actually, you know, decide? No population in the history of the world has ever voted to uphold a Communist or totalitarian government in free and untainted elections, and it strikes me as unlikely that it'll happen this time. (As far as I can remember; readers are free to point out obscure exceptions in the comments.)

posted on 31 December 2009 at 13110 commentstrackback

Risky Businessmen

ABC News is running a nice little scaremongering piece which they say "call[s] into question the ability of the FAA and the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to detect and purge high risk individuals from the list of approved pilots". Ooh! High-risk! There are pilots out there who could kill you! Cower in fear!

Oh, wait. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Case Study Number One in the ABC piece is a Peruvian drug lord named Fernando Zevallos Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who founded the largest airline in Peru, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on drug related charges in 2007 and is currently in prison in Peru following his conviction on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in that country.

The guy is currently rotting in a Peruvian prison. Furthermore, he has a federal indictment pending against him in the US, so if he ever entered the US, he'd be immediately arrested and shipped off to Miami to stand trial. Threat currently posed to the US and its citizens by Gonzalez: approximately the same as the threat any other Peruvian jailbird currently poses, which is zero.

Case Study Number Two is Pedro Benavides Natera, who

was convicted in 2006 for purchasing planes that were to be used for drug trafficking between South America and the United States. Natera is currently in federal prison in Miami and is not expected to be released until 2012.

See above. Threat currently posed to the US and its citizens by an FAA-licensed pilot serving time in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison: approximately the same as that posed by any other federal prison inmate, which had darn well better be zero if our prison system is doing its job.

Case Studies Number Three through Five are a "close business associate" of Gonzalez and two individuals who were convicted on federal arms trafficking charges but have since been released after serving time.

Who discovered all of this? A computer security firm called Safe Banking Systems, a company that "markets its proficiency in data mining and the use of 'fuzzy logic' to accurately match names". Even one of the company's co-founders admits in the story

"We are not aviation experts, nor have any relationship except commercial flying."

And because they are self-proclaimed "security" "experts" who admittedly know nothing about aviation, they missed the most obvious problem with their reasoning: that the lack of an FAA pilot certificate would in any way hamper their ability to fly an airplane in the course of committing a crime.

Drug lords -- or terrorists or any other ne'er-do-wells -- do not simply walk up to the counter at the local airport, hand over a credit card, and ask to rent an airplane for a few hours. These are people who do not care about the law; witness their choice of profession. They've already figured out how to acquire the aircraft, money being little object, and issuing an order of emergency revocation against their pilot certificates will no more stop them from piloting an aircraft than taking away a drunk driver's license stops him from driving under the influence.

I'm not saying the FAA shouldn't be revoking these certificates -- they should -- nor am I saying they shouldn't clean up their database -- they should -- but to pretend this is some dire national security issue is downright irresponsible. ABC News, Eric Longabardi, and Joseph Rhee ought to be ashamed of themselves for implying otherwise.

posted on 14 October 2009 at 18510 commentstrackback

Constitution and Editor Fail

From The New York Times:

Orly Taitz, a California dentist and lawyer who is among the leading voices in the anti-Obama movement, made her case in a combative interview on MSNBC.

é─˙Obama is completely illegitimate as a U.S. president for two reasons é─ţ not only because he did not provide the place of his birth, but also because both parents have to be U.S. citizens,é─¨ Ms. Taitz said.

Ms. -- and I use that term loosely -- Taitz is, of course, completely wrong. Not only was Mr. Obama born in Hawaii, but parentage has nothing to do with it (and if it did, a large number of our Presidents would have been ineligible!).

The Constitution states, in Article II, Section 1:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

"Natural-born citizen" introduces (possibly deliberately) some ambiguity that was clarified by the Fourteenth Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

It's quite clear, then, that one's parentage has absolutely nothing to do with one's eligibility for either United States citizenship or for the office of President of the United States. So why would the Times dignify Taitz's completely specious argument by using the entire quote?

While I understand that the ellipsis can be -- and often is -- deliberately intended to mislead (see any number of movie review snippets used by studios desperate for some sort of positive spin on a terrible film), and given the requirement that at least some of Taitz's remarks be used, I probably would have edited it to read as follows:

"Obama is completely illegitimate as a U.S. president ... because he did not provide the place of his birth,é─¨ Ms. Taitz said. é─˙His father was never a U.S. citizen. He was in the United States on a student visa.é─¨

Everything after the first sentence could be dropped if the Times editors were concerned about making Taitz "look bad" (although, really, including the entire quote made her look much kookier) without simultaneously dragging down the credibility of the newspaper by dignifying such a ridiculous argument.

posted on 04 August 2009 at 12590 commentstrackback

Quote of the Year So Far

Bill Maher on the so-called "Birthers" movement:

Why, in this country, is it always the religious right that won't take anything on faith?

(via thepunkguy)

posted on 03 August 2009 at 13190 commentstrackback

Fate, It Seems, Is Not Without a Sense of Irony

So said Morpheus to Neo when explaining what the remaining humans knew about the history of the war against the machines.

Four years ago, it was widely publicised -- and largely ignored by people who mattered -- that the CEO of Diebold, the company that produced millions of electronic voting machines, had said he and his company were "committed to delivering the state of Ohio to President Bush" (that's a paraphrase, but the quote is generally accurate in both content and spirit) in the 2004 election.

How quickly and conveniently some forget.

The Ohio Republican Party is now extremely upset that their lawsuit to force disclosure of voter registration database mismatches has been thrown out. (On quite solid grounds, by the way, but we shouldn't let sound legal reasoning by the Supreme Court of the United States get in the way of a little blatantly partisan bickering, should we?)

Pot, kettle, black.

posted on 17 October 2008 at 18130 commentstrackback

'Bout That Time Again

Rumour has it there's an election coming up.

I picked up my absentee ballot today and, as I was tossing it in the car, had a realisation: I have never voted at the polls in a presidential election. In 2000, I was living in Australia. In 2004, I was living in Jacksonville. In 2008, I will very likely be flying the entire day.

Let's just hope the ballot gets counted.

posted on 15 October 2008 at 19010 commentstrackback

Voter Responsibility

In a few weeks, the good citizens of Evansville, Indiana will go to the polls and cast votes for President, Congresscritters, judges, and...coroner.

Will someone please explain to me why a job requiring a great deal of technical expertise and a medical degree is an elected office?

We don't elect a Surgeon General and we don't elect a Secretary of the Treasury, so why is the coroner of Evansville an elected office?

Some things are above politics. Performing autopsies and determining a cause of death is one of them.

posted on 06 October 2008 at 17060 commentstrackback

Totally Tubular

The FBI has raided the Alaska home of Senator Ted Stevens in connection with an investigation into allegations that an oil company paid for a remodeling job.

The article is not forthcoming on the details of the remodeling job, but our sources tell us that Senator Stevens may have upgraded his home to include a series of tubes.

posted on 30 July 2007 at 23300 commentstrackback

Paging the Hypocrisy Police

Sean Hannity, one of the right-wing nutjob talking heads on Faux "News" (motto: "Proudly controlled by the Republican Party since 1999"), is the winner of today's Giant Hypocrite Award. Mr. Hannity has a radio show on which he pontificates about a variety of "hard issues", much like Rush "I'm a Hypocritical Crackhead, and Proud Of It!" Limbaugh, except without any listeners.

A caller to his show just condemned the "left-wing liberal media" for being unable to cover the hard issues such as the war in Iraq, Dubya's ill health at the G8 summit, etc., and berated them for covering Paris Hilton instead.

Sean Hannity's topic for the previous hour? Paris Hilton.

posted on 08 June 2007 at 16170 commentstrackback

Irony Not Dead, Just Blinded by Log in Eye

Irony says, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Indeed, irony is alive and well in the world, this time in the form of Congress's massive hypocrisy: the Iraqi Parliament is considering taking a two-month break over the summer, and US lawmakers are absolutely livid over the possibility.

Never mind that these are the same US lawmakers who were in session for only 97 days in calendar year 2006. Someone needs to point out the whole "practise what you preach" thing to our government, and fast, because they're not doing anything to ease America's reputation as the world's pariah. As a very wise man once said, remove the log from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother's.

posted on 03 May 2007 at 09201 commentstrackback

Disqualifying Conditions

From a security-sensitive federal law enforcement officer application on which I cannot elaborate further:

7. I am now, or have been, a member of a foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group, or combination of persons which fits one or more of the following descriptions:

  • Is totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive.
  • Has adopted, or shows a policy of advocating or approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny other persons their rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Guess that latter statement rules out any registered members of the Republican party.

posted on 04 April 2007 at 21150 commentstrackback

Classy in Miami

A prominent Miami civic leader has been charged with grand theft and organized fraud after the inspector general's office discovered that he had used $150,000 in county money to buy a sculpture of a giant watermelon slice.

When a Miami Herald reporter attempted to ask him about the allegations, he responded in a very classy manner. (Warning: photo not safe for work.)

posted on 03 March 2007 at 01300 commentstrackback

Out of Left -- or Right -- Field

Right, the voting thing. There's a lot of complaint out there about the two-party system, how much it sucks, how it results in two parties that differ in name only, how it suppresses the real desires of the people, etc. The night before the election, I was reading through the local voting guide published by the League of Women Voters and paying particular attention to the third-party candidates for various offices. The following are all direct quotes from candidates' personal statements.

From a candidate for governor, when asked how he would propose to bring additional revenue into the state budget:

Bring good paying manufacturing jobs back to America by replacing the federal income tax with revenue tarriffs.

Perhaps someone should review the difference between "governor" and "Congressman".

From another gubernatorial candidate, when asked what specific proposals he had for increasing jobs in Michigan:

[Corporate welfare] has never increased the number of people employed and it never will. I will hire people directly, WPA-fashion, to do the State's business.

Not sure how that's going to balance the state's budget there, buddy. Sounds like a massive increase in spending to me.

A candidate for attorney general had this to say about enforcing current environmental laws in Michigan:

The environment is very important. Government is guilty of pollution, as well as some private citizens. I would also work to see that new technology is not blocked by private interests to get more MPG fuel efficiency.

Say what who? This guy's background, by the way, claims that he has a B.A. in languages and spent four years in the Air Force. Obviously English wasn't one of the languages he studied.

A candidate for the Senate, whose background claims a B.S. in electrical engineering as well as "suggested the brake light in the rear window 7/7/77", when asked about his concern for the size of the federal deficit:

Our constitution was written to eliminate flat paper money. [Perhaps "fiat", as in "fiat money", was meant here instead. -- cl] Used God's money of silver/gold. Today use our coins -- eliminate paper. Twenty seven hundred years ago Isaiah spoke of the dump dogs that can't bark in the [King James Bible]. Could that be our Federal Reserve System? Not Federal/No Reserve!

It gets better. The same guy, when asked what governmental measures he would implement to improve health care, said:

When the extended family was intact, Grandmother was the herbalist/primary care giver...God's healing herbs are safe and effective without dangerous side effects. We should immediately train up and army of naturopathy doctors using God's natural remedies including Colloidal Silver which cured my Lyme disease.

After reading these statements, it occurred to me that the reason these third-party candidates don't enjoy wide support is because they're so far out in left -- or right -- field that nobody but their friends and family (and probably not even many of those) take them seriously. We elect enough cranks without realising it; the last thing we need to be doing is electing self-proclaimed crazy people!

posted on 10 November 2006 at 22300 commentstrackback

Go Vote!

Everyone go exercise your civic duty and go vote. It's the only meaningful way you can tell your governmental representatives whether or not they're doing a good job.

More on this later. Time for work.

posted on 07 November 2006 at 07180 commentstrackback

Jury Duty Really Matters

This is a subject on which I have written thrice before, largely to condemn my fellow citizens for their unwillingness to serve their civic duty.

Apparently at least one judge agrees with me. A former Howell resident (now living in Flint) who was called up for jury duty, shirked it, and was then found in contempt of court for having done so was ordered by a judge to spend three days observing a trial and then write a paper on the history of jury service.

He plagiarised it.

Even better, the judge recognised it and called him on it. He is now spending a fourth day at the courthouse and re-writing the paper.

Brandon Dickens, you are a real winner.

UPDATE: In an interesting twist, the plagiarised paper was based off Matthew Baldwin's "Trials and Tribulations" piece for The Morning News. Baldwin is the author of the "Defective Yeti" blog, which I read regularly and find to be hilarious.

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass)

posted on 04 September 2006 at 09370 commentstrackback

Rush Limbaugh is Still a Crackhead

West Palm Beach authorities arrested Rush Limbaugh this afternoon on an outstanding warrant for "doctor shopping" so that Mr. Ditto could get multiple doctors to prescribe him more painkillers, his addiction to which his 2003 entrance into drug rehab apparently didn't cure.

Public service announcement: Virtual Crack is 100% safe. Rush would do well to take note of this fact. Crackhead.

posted on 28 April 2006 at 19370 commentstrackback

Speechless

I'm a member of the team that develops the open-source Camino Web browser. Aside from fixing bugs in the browser itself, my primary duties are doing triage in Bugzilla (assigning bugs to the proper component, testing to see if bugs are reproducible, etc.) and helping the lead developers keep on top of our feedback list.

Bearing in mind that Camino is free and is an all-volunteer effort (no one is paid to work on it), this feedback e-mail came in this morning:

I know you're open source revolutionaries, but you'll catch more flies with honey.

Four totally liberal news sources for your preloaded news sites and nothing even MOR let alone Fox??

You just reveal yourselves to be agenda driven with no good reason. Other than driving your personal agenda.

For the record, our default news bookmarks are the BBC, CNN, the International Herald-Tribune, and Salon.

Gosh, what a liberal freakin' agenda.

Guy could stand to take his own advice. Which, of course, he didn't do, as three minutes later, this showed up:

No multiple home pages? Least not that I can find? And you, a movement within the Firefox umbrella org expect us to move from Firefox just to get faster loading??

Too high a price my friend. I don't want have to reconstruct my web workspace from memory everytime I reboot......

And I can't believe we can't have both.

A HUGE oversight.

What was that about flies and honey again?

posted on 27 March 2006 at 11320 commentstrackback

State of My Tuesday Night

Some down-home redneck in a suit was giving a speech on every single TV channel for about two hours last night. It kept me from watching Scrubs and Love Monkey. The speech went something like this:

Blah blah blah I CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE blah blah WE ARE STRONG blah blah WAR ON TERROR blah blah blah WE WILL WIN blah blah OSAMA BIN LADEN blah blah blah blah blah ADDICTED TO OIL blah blah NEW-KYOO-LUR blah blah blah GOD BLESS AMERICA

Feel my pain, Jedi Master Yoda does.

On a serious note, will someone please remind me why the SotU needed to be a Tuesday? There was nothing happening on TV on Sunday night. Why not pre-empt that? People are more likely to be home on the weekends, too, so if more than five percent of the population gave half a crap, the speech would probably reach a wider audience.

posted on 01 February 2006 at 10480 commentstrackback

Say What Again?

Fire has destroyed the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, the birthplace of gospel music in the 1930s.

Pat Robertson was quoted as saying, "The black devils brought this on themselves by destroying the purity of the Aryan race!" When are they going to learn to keep that nutjob caged up and muzzled?

posted on 06 January 2006 at 18420 commentstrackback

Speaking of Taxpayers' Money

Another project I didn't see in the job description for elected officials: naming the 1985 Chicago Bears the best football team ever.

posted on 08 December 2005 at 23080 commentstrackback

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Great. So while fighting -- and losing -- the War on Drugs, the War on Osama bin Forgotten, the War on Terror, and the War on Weather, Shrub's administration has decided it needs a new War to fight.

The War on "Deviant Porn"

Does anyone else think that maybe this is just a cheap excuse for some stodgy FBI agents to liven up their workdays? Sickos.

posted on 24 September 2005 at 21140 commentstrackback

Kanye West Is My New Hero

This is why.

Story, and related content on Google News.

I was watching it live during a commercial in the Lions game (Go Lions! We finally won a preseason game!) when it happened, and at first I thought they were trying to be funny.

Then I realised he was serious and NBC was cutting away from him to Chris Tucker as furiously as possible. The way Tucker delivered his script reminded me of the scene in Office Space where Orlando Jones, playing a "reformed crackhead", tries to sell magazine subscriptions to Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston).

All in all, a very fortuitous time to be watching NBC.

posted on 02 September 2005 at 23130 commentstrackback

Gull Lake School Board Stands Its Ground

Kudos to Gull Lake Public Schools for standing their ground on the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. Despite threats of a lawsuit by the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, GLPS has said they will continue to enforce their ban on the teaching of the pseudoscientific cockamamie crap known as intelligent design. The ball is in your court, Fundies. Gull Lake just called your bluff.

posted on 29 April 2005 at 23150 commentstrackback

Right-Wing Nutjobs Again Miss the Point

The Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor is contemplating suing Gull Lake Public Schools if "intelligent design" is not taught in their seventh-grade science classes.

Never mind that intelligent design is not science.

Never mind that Thomas More was a respected man who believed that a good education was very important.

Never mind that American public school students have consistently scored near the bottom of worldwide educational surveys, especially in science.

Never mind that evolution is a fact, and "theory" of natural selection doesn't mean what the Fundies want you to think.

Never mind that most pro-creationism (or pro-intelligent design) "scientists" have worthless credentials and aren't scientists at all.

Never mind all that. If the Fundies don't get God into science class, we're all going to Hell.

Gimme a friggin' break.

posted on 21 April 2005 at 18490 commentstrackback

Giant Hypocrite of the Day

The award for today goes to Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader and real-life counterpart to Eric Gordon.

DeLay is angry with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, mostly because Kennedy, along with the rest of the court, refused to hear the Terri Schiavo case. Mr. DeLay rails against so-called "judicial activism," but what he's really mad about in this case is that Kennedy, a Republican appointee to the court (by no less a conservative icon than Ronald Reagan!), isn't being activist in favour of DeLay's right-wing Fundie nutjob policies.

Sorry, Tommy, but that's how the Supreme Court works. Just because you feel a compelling need to interfere in someone else's life doesn't mean SCOTUS has to agree with you.

posted on 20 April 2005 at 11560 commentstrackback

Not to Toot My Own Horn, But...

Apparently some folks have been reading the stuff I've posted on The Apple Blog. Cracked me the heck up. Thanks, guys.

posted on 11 April 2005 at 22580 commentstrackback

Stop the Bigotry!

The scariest Presidential candidate in recent memory was at Western Michigan University for a speech and Q&A session last night, where a 24-year-old protester attacked him with a bottle of salad dressing.

The video is absolutely hilarious. (Requires Windows Media Player, unfortunately.)

posted on 01 April 2005 at 10481 commentstrackback

Militant Feminazism

I know Rush Limbaugh came up with the term, and he generally applies it to anyone who has a hint of respect for females, but it wouldn't be out of line in this case.

The conservative Internet forum Town Hall is running a piece by columnist Mike Adams discussing feminists at the University of New Hampshire:

One FAL memberé─˘s monologue follows: é─˙Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-Is-Fun. I am 23 years old, and I am what a feminist looks like. Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening men's lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting the patriarchyé─˘s death. I hate men because they are men, because I see them for what they are: misogynistic, sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic beings who only serve to pollute and contaminate this world with war, abuse, oppression and rape.é─¨

Further along in the article, a UNH journalist is quoted as asking:

How is this any different than hating African-Americans or Jews?

I have to agree with Adams here. It's no different. Hatred is not a viable platform. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from displays of militant hatred toward men, most of whom not only have nothing against women, but believe gender makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things. Yes, there are a few bad apples in the bunch. Yes, there are sexual predators among the male gender. But there are sexual predators among the female gender, too. Witness the several recent local stories about schoolteachers (in recent cases locally, all women) being sexually involved with underage students. Crime has no gender, it has no race, it has no sexual orientation, and it has no political affiliation. To generalise all men as "misogynistic, sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic beings who only serve to pollute and contaminate this world with war, abuse, oppression and rape" is to lower yourselves to the level where you perceive men to be.

I'm all for empowering women, but when they start talking about cutting off my fun bits, they've crossed the line.

posted on 30 March 2005 at 11450 commentstrackback

Modern-Day Taxation Without Representation

Sitting in Pittsburgh with some time to kill.

Geoff, of William Cut fame, writes about an anti-police bumper sticker today.

The bumper sticker in question reads:

To serve and protect, not to serve and collect

The guy's got a point. Issuing tickets for revenue is taxation without representation, which is exactly what we Americans (yes, I know Geoff is Canadian) fought a war to prevent. It's terrible that public safety can't make budget with tax revenue, but perhaps that's because public funds are being poorly managed. There's no reason spending on other programs couldn't be cut in favour of public safety. Ticketing people for doing something decidedly unsafe is a good policy, but ticketing people for going 5-10 MPH over the limit only serves to pad department coffers, especially when you have police chiefs setting ticket quotas.

Driving 41 in a 40 isn't endangering anyone. Forgetting your new licence plate registration sticker isn't endangering anyone. Having a failed turn signal (or forgetting to use it) isn't endangering anyone, especially since half the drivers out there don't use them anyway. Don't make up excuses to ticket people.

Ticket the people who are truly a danger on the road. Ticket the d-bag in the Explorer who thought running the light on the cross-street three seconds after my light turned green was safe. Ticket the two or three people who, every single cycle of the light between about 1600 and 1800 daily, run the red light turning left from eastbound Stadium Drive to northbound Drake Road in Kalamazoo. Ticket the guy who just passed me on a motorcycle on the shoulder on I-94 going about 95 and weaving in and out of traffic all over the place. Those folks are a menace to society, and deserve to be assessed huge financial penalties.

Don't even get me started on red-light cameras and the concomitant shortening of yellow lights at intersections where the cameras are installed.

posted on 24 March 2005 at 13340 commentstrackback

Hope You Voted Absentee

Because if you didn't, your vote might not count worth beans.

Electronic voting in the United States is one of the scariest things to happen to the world in my lifetime. Let's hope that it's the worst that I see.

posted on 31 October 2004 at 21161 commentstrackback

The Gay Issue

Everyone's up in arms about Kerry's mention of Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter at the last debate. Stuart James, at the Chattanoogan, got it right. This isn't some "tawdry political trick," unless you count the way the Republicans have turned gay marriage into a central campaign issue, in spite of the fact that a majority of Americans think there are far more important issues to be dealt with (the war in Iraq, terrorism, health care). The Little Bushie Brigade is using this to suck up to the Christian Right.

Need I remind anyone that the official site of the Westboro Baptist Church represents what the Christian Right will do if given the chance? (Warning: extremely offensive Web site for the uninitiated.)

posted on 17 October 2004 at 15430 commentstrackback

Jon Stewart Rips Crossfire a New One

For those of you who haven't noticed, Jon Stewart ripped the guys on CNN's Crossfire a new one when he was on the show recently.

Kudos to Jon, and jeers to the so-called "mainstream media," particularly to the so-called "Fair and Balanced"(tm) Fox News Channel, who are becoming less and less "media" and more and more "political entertainment" every day. Shame on them.

posted on 16 October 2004 at 14230 commentstrackback

Blind Trust is No Trust at All

Slashdot has a great story on Daniel Horn's Obfuscated V Contest, inspired by the Internation Obfuscated C Code Contest. The basic premise: write code for an electronic voting machine that intentionally (but not obviously) mis-counts the votes to favour one candidate over another. Bring on the "but Diebold already does this!" jokes.

posted on 16 October 2004 at 13590 commentstrackback

JibJab Wins Suit

I know, I know, I'm two days behind on this one. I got really busy earlier this week and totally forgot about it until earlier tonight, so here we go.

JibJab settled their suit against Ludlow (out of court) because, as the EFF discovered, Ludlow failed to renew the copyright after the song was published in a 1945 songbook. Brilliant move, guys.

Now, how about a criminal prosecution for fraud, since they've been demanding royalties from people who have used the song since 1973, when the copyright expired?

posted on 27 August 2004 at 22550 commentstrackback

Canadia Gets it Right

The Globe and Mail is running and article on the failure of the American "mainstream" media to maintain its integrity. The description of Jon Stewart's Daily Show is particularly amusing (though not entirely redundant, given that the paper's main audience is Canadian, not American), but the best part of the article is this:

The cable news shows that Jon Stewart mocks have become absurdly partisan. The print press is going through a period of self-flagellation as newspaper after newspaper apologizes and backtracks on its initial coverage of the need to go to war with Iraq.

There is no longer a mainstream media in the United States. Every outlet postures and preens. Comedy is now as important as political commentary. Only the jokers have integrity.

That's not a typo in the headline, by the way. You Michiganders and other Midwest folk will get it.

posted on 26 August 2004 at 13410 commentstrackback

Whom to Believe: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, or Kerry

The Washington Post is running an excellent article detailing the arguments on both sides of this ugly fight. I recommend anyone with a vested interest in who wins the November elections here in the States go read it.

posted on 21 August 2004 at 13070 commentstrackback

This Dubya Really Is Dumb As Rocks

Not that the real thing isn't also, but...

The guy who makes the iRac, a delightful little product that I've just reviewed for the upcoming September issue of ATPM, just e-mailed me to say he has another little business on the side. Sam Girton, college professor at Ohio University, sells George W. Bush garden gnomes.

I need one of these things for strategic placement in a public urinal.

posted on 04 August 2004 at 22050 commentstrackback

JibJab Files Suit

The two brothers behind JibJab have, with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed suit against Ludlow Music for the right to parody.

It's a shame they had to file a lawsuit in order to attempt to exercise a Constitutionally protected right, but hopefully the judge will see the silliness of all this and rule for JibJab Media.

posted on 01 August 2004 at 13530 commentstrackback

Ridge Contemplating Retirement

Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge is contemplating retiring in November regardless of the election outcome, CNN is reporting.

Why?

Because he needs to pay for college for his two teenage children. You know, because his government salary of $176,000 per year isn't enough to put two kids through college and still live on.

Apparently, Ridge is also making mortgage payments on a $900,000 house. Did he not get the memo that government jobs don't pay that well? Still, one would think a two-income family bringing in mid-six figures would be able to comfortably put about five kids through college.

Yet another example of the stellar talent Dubya is putting into positions of power.

posted on 31 July 2004 at 12050 commentstrackback

Give Me Parody, or Give Me Lots of Money!

The JibJab video is making the current owners of Woody Guthrie's song very very angry. Some excellent points have been made on the side of parody, in blogs at Blogspot, Corante, and Lessig. Of particular note is the comment by "bilge:"

A pity that the "framer's intent" crowd are mute about copyright. Because originally, copyright was only for 14 years. Now, no work ever produced in my lifetime will enter the public domain before I die.

How much better would the world be if the public domain was actually allowed to take ownership of works that the public has already paid for? We'd have a culture that was actually ours, instead of locked up in perpetuity by corporate monoliths. We'd have more The Wind Done Gone and less Family Circus.

Now all we need is for someone to make a satire of the parody (or is it a parody of the satire?) where TRO and Jibjab sing these lyrics.

posted on 28 July 2004 at 00260 commentstrackback

Political Humour of the Day

In honour of the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, I give you:

This Land, a parody of Woddy Guthrie's famous folk song.

(3.7 MB, requires Flash to view.)

posted on 26 July 2004 at 15530 commentstrackback

It's the Economy, Stupid

Looks like John Kerry might get to resurrect Bill Clinton's first-term campaign slogan.

And Dubya's recent TV ads promising further tax cuts could turn out to be an eerie echo of his father's infamous "Read my lips: no new taxes" blunder. How much did Dubya's famous "tax cut for all Americans" save you last year? Three bucks? Twenty? Mmm-hmm. Think about it.

posted on 25 July 2004 at 14190 commentstrackback

Fear the E-Ballot

If you aren't very upset with the state of electronic voting in this country, you should be. Diebold is being sued again for their shoddy workmanship in building totally insecure, totally hackable electronic voting machines.

Will anything be done to solve this problem before the November elections? Worse, will anyone care if it isn't?

At stake here is nothing less than the future of liberty. Spread the word.

posted on 13 July 2004 at 16080 commentstrackback

2004 Muzzle Awards

Since 1992, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has awarded its annual Muzzle Awards to individuals and groups in the United States who have committed the most heinous acts against our freedom of speech in the previous year.

The 2004 Muzzle Awards have just been announced. Their stories would be funny if they weren't so frightening.

posted on 13 April 2004 at 22590 commentstrackback

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Dubya has all but admitted the WMD ruse was just that: a ruse to get approval for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.

Please, please, please let the voters remember this in November.

posted on 26 March 2004 at 17420 commentstrackback

From Robert Frost to John Kerry in Just Two Clicks

As I just mentioned, one of the things I found in my wallet this afternoon was a stanza of a Robert Frost poem.

For the life of me, I couldn't remember the title of the poem. I hit Google, first searching simply for "Robert Frost," which yielded several interesting sites but nothing to jog the memory. I then Googled the first line of the poem that came to mind: "But yield who will to their separation."

This produced an immediate result, which is wholly unremarkable except for two things. First, I went to college with a kid named Alex Dodge, who happens to share a name (though not a body, as I quickly ascertained from the Alex Dodge link on the sidebar) with that blog author's son. Second, the sidebar contained a link to a site with a strangely familiar-sounding name: uggabugga.

I have no idea where I might have heard of uggabugga, but upon seeing it, absolutely nothing looks familiar.

But the site is great. It's another one of those "Dubya is horseshit" blogs, but it's really really interesting and isn't just a bunch of leftist ranting like one might expect. There are links to stories like "Bush Wants Kerry to Identify Supporters So He Can Invade Them," a reference to Kerry's recent statement that he (Kerry) has the support of "foreign leaders." (It's funny. Laugh.)

posted on 26 March 2004 at 03090 commentstrackback

And They Didn't Even Have to Deal With Chads

Orange County, California, used electronic voting extensively in county and state elections last week. In 21 precincts, there were more ballots cast than registered voters. An estimated 1500 voters cast the wrong ballots, and at least 5500 ballots were tabulated for the wrong precinct. There's a good discussion of this over on Slashdot.

Remember, the 2000 presidential election was decided by far fewer votes than this. All it takes is one fucked-up county in a swing state, and we'll have four more years of Dubya and the Little Bushie Brigade. Couple that with Diebold's CEO's statement that his company is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year," and you have a very scary situation.

posted on 10 March 2004 at 00580 commentstrackback

Here's 10 Grand -- Go Bury the President

Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury's cartoonist, is now offering US$10,000 to anyone who can verify Dubya's account of his National Guard service record.

And these same Republicans had the gall to call Clinton a draft-dodger. Shameful, I tell you. Absolutely shameful.

Then again, this isn't really news...what has Bush II's administration done YET that wasn't shameful?

posted on 24 February 2004 at 15560 commentstrackback

Ralph Noodler

Nader is running again.

Because giving Dubya the first election wasn't bad enough. Someone should drop a Corvair on his head.

posted on 23 February 2004 at 23500 commentstrackback

George W. Hypocrite

Dubya really has a gift for public speaking, I tell you. In a news conference this afternoon addressing the issue of gay marriages, he managed to spit out the following line:

Yes, I am mindful that we're all sinners...and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of the neighbor's eye when they've got a log in their own.

So how about you stop trying to remove the speck from the eye of homosexuals whilst ignoring the log of illegal war in your own eye?

posted on 30 July 2003 at 22220 commentstrackback

"And on the Terror Markets Today..."

I can't even begin to describe how incredibly tasteless and morally wrong I find the idea of a Terror Futures market, or a "Policy Analysis Market" as the Pentagon is euphemistically referring to it.

I think maybe the Bush régime has been reading the Onion too much lately. C'mon, people. This is real life. You can't do that.

Here's one to think about: say a very wealthy trader on this so-called "terror futures" market makes a great investment, like buying futures on the assassination of Yassir Arafat at five cents a share with a $1 payoff. What's to stop this trader from turning his "futures" into a sure thing by paying off a hit man?

posted on 29 July 2003 at 11410 commentstrackback

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Microsoft and Dell, the bastions of privacy and security in the computer industry, have won a $90 million contract to supply the Department of Homeland Security with computers and software.

Great. So now all the terrorists have to do is be sure to launch an e-mail virus or two the night before they attack, and no one at the entire department will be able to do anything with their computers whilst the terrorists are attacking the country.

How much did the Sweaty Monkey promise Dubya's 2004 re-election campaign to pull off this travesty?

posted on 16 July 2003 at 15440 commentstrackback

Comical Ali Sighted In Abu Dhabi

According to CNN, Comical Ali, more properly known as Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Information Minister, was sighted landing in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

Rumours that the White House is attempting to hire him as Mike McCurry's replacement are entirely unsubstantiated.

posted on 12 July 2003 at 13440 commentstrackback

The Rumours of Irony's Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

I can't recall a single point on which Orrin Hatch and I have ever agreed. You can add this one to the list.

Ah, but the beauty of it is that the inimitable Mr Hatch doesn't practise what he preaches.

Can I take a hammer to his computer and WWW server, please? Please? PLEASE?

posted on 20 June 2003 at 19160 commentstrackback

Ayatollah Once Already

I fail to see how the Iranians' collective distaste for years of religious-based oppression and subsequent protesting against it is our fault.

But hey, I suppose we've been blamed for worse.

posted on 16 June 2003 at 21411 commentstrackback

Enjoying That Spotlight?

For all the crap British royals have to put up with, you'd think that their driving whilst on private property would be free from public ridicule and criticism. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

Leave the kid alone. He's 21 and he was on a dirt road on some rich guy's estate. So he passed some old grandpa who was going 20 MPH. BFD. I can't think of a single one of my friends who hasn't violated posted speed limits at least as egregiously on public roads here in the US.

posted on 15 June 2003 at 23060 commentstrackback

Bush For Babies

As if Dubya's cutting of US family-planning funding to any overseas clinics that provide abortion or lobby on its behalf wasn't bad enough, he has now cut the funding available to any AIDS clinics that are not separate entities from the local family-planning clinic. In poor areas of Africa and the Carribean, separating the two "is an unlikely development," writes Joan Ryan of the San Francisco Chronicle. Much more likely, she speculates, is that these small clinics "would have to shut down their family-planning clinic altogether in order to qualify for the AIDS money."

Great, just what we need. Higher third-world birth rates. Because that's going to make the AIDS pandemic so much less of a problem.

What an idiot.

posted on 01 May 2003 at 09220 commentstrackback

Call the Ball, Mr. President

Looks like Dubya is going for a JAG-like return to the air when he lands on the USS Abraham Lincoln later today.

I find myself wondering how anyone on the ship has the authority to give orders to the Commander-in-Chief, and what sort of freedom he has to do whatever the hell he wants up there. Sort of a scary thought, really.

posted on 01 May 2003 at 01440 commentstrackback

Extend Wrist, Endure Slap

Am I the only one who thinks that these fines are ridiculously low for breaking the law?

Mmmm...American Corporate Welfare. No wonder Enron fell apart at the seams.

posted on 14 April 2003 at 18380 commentstrackback

Jesse Ventura-san

The Japanese now have their own version of Jesse Ventura, pro wrestler-turned-politician.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

posted on 14 April 2003 at 18220 commentstrackback

Global Politics Quiz

Shamelessly stolen from a poster on an online forum:

1. Which is the only country in the world to have dropped bombs on over 20 different countries since 1945?
2. Which is the only country to have used nuclear weapons to take the lives of thousands of civilian women and children?
3. Which country was responsible for a car bomb which killed 80 civilians in Beirut in 1985 in a botched assassination attempt, thereby making it the most lethal terrorist bombing in modern Middle East history?
4. Which country's illegal bombing of Libya in 1986 was described by the UN Legal Committee as a "classic case" of terrorism.
5. Which country rejected the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to terminate its "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua in 1986, and then vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law?
6. Which country was accused by a UN-sponsored truth commission of providing "direct and indirect support" for "acts of genocide" against Mayan Indians in Guatemala during the 1980s?
7. Which country unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in December 2001?
8. Which country renounced the efforts to negotiate a verification process for the Biological Weapons Convention and brought an international conference on the matter to a halt in July 2001?
9. Which country prevented the United Nations from curbing the gun trade at a small arms conference in July 2001?
10. Aside from Somalia, which is the only other country in the world to have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
11. Which is the only Western Country which allows the death penalty to be applied to children?
12. Which is the only G7 country to have refused to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, forbidding the use of land mines?
13. Which is the only G7 country to have voted against the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998?
14. Which was the only other country to join with Israel in opposing a 1987 General Assembly resolution condemning international terrorism?
15. Which country refuses to fully pay its debts to the United Nations yet reserves its right to veto United Nations resolutions?

US Presidents responsible for each of the above:
1. Various, but the most egregious examples of unliateral aggression were Republicans. See 3-9.
2. I could get into a lot of reasons why this was necessary to end the war in Japan, but suffice it to say this probably saved more lives that would have otherwise been sacrificed in an invasion than it took in civilian casualties. And it was Truman, by the way.
3. Reagan.
4. Reagan.
5. Reagan.
6. Reagan.
7. Dubya.
8. Dubya.
9. Dubya.
10. No idea.
11. Not really the president's decision to repeal.
12. Clinton, with a Republican senate.
13. Clinton, again with a Republican senate, and a Republican house.
14. Reagan.
15. Mostly Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. Reaganomics, people.

posted on 29 March 2003 at 15120 commentstrackback

Look! Salmon!

In what has to be one of the most drawn-out fights in recent memory, the Senate recently rejected Dubya's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I wonder what sort of effect that vote will end up having on Apple's board of directors?

posted on 20 March 2003 at 23410 commentstrackback

Free as in Speech

It's nice to see German courts still believe in free speech, even if the political party in question is, well, very questionable. Hey, we don't particularly like the KKK here in the States, but we don't tell them they can't talk, either.

posted on 18 March 2003 at 18200 commentstrackback