Thursday, May 31, 2007

Military lets soldiers with missing limbs return to active duty

I don't know whether to feel repulsed or inspired by this article. I'm anti Iraq-War through and through, but the courage of the soldiers interviewed in the article really hit me with a heavy dose of humility. I'm disabled, and do feel sorry for myself at times, although I know I shouldn't. But to think how these guys feel, losing their limbs in the sands of Iraq, and not only bouncing back, but insisting that they won't come back to a desk job, insisting to join their company or their unit and keep doing what they were doing before. I know the term's overused, but these men and women truly are heroes.

Thanks to Government Executive (via for the article:

Military lets soldiers with missing limbs return to active duty

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- In the blur of smoke and blood after a bomb blew up under his Humvee in Iraq, Sgt. Tawan Williamson looked down at his shredded leg and knew it couldn't be saved. His military career, though, pulled through.

Less than a year after the attack, Williamson is running again with a high-tech prosthetic leg and plans to take up a new assignment, probably by the fall, as an Army job counselor and affirmative action officer in Okinawa, Japan.

In an about-face by the Pentagon, the military is putting many more amputees back on active duty -- even back into combat, in some cases.

Williamson, a 30-year-old Chicago native who is missing his left leg below the knee and three toes on the other foot, acknowledged that some will be skeptical of a maimed soldier back in uniform.

"But I let my job show for itself," he said. "At this point, I'm done proving. I just get out there and do it."

Previously, a soldier who lost a limb almost automatically received a quick discharge, a disability check and an appointment with the Veterans Administration.

But since the start of the Iraq war, the military has begun holding on to amputees, treating them in rehab programs like the one here at Fort Sam Houston and promising to help them return to active duty if that is what they want.

"The mindset of our Army has changed, to the extent that we realize the importance of all our soldiers and what they can contribute to our Army. Someone who loses a limb is still a very valuable asset," said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, a spokesman for the Army's Human Resources Command at the Pentagon.

Also, just as advances in battlefield medicine have boosted survival rates among the wounded, better prosthetics and treatment regimens have improved amputees' ability to regain mobility.

So far, the Army has treated nearly 600 service members who have come back from Iraq or Afghanistan without an arm, leg, hand or foot. Thirty-one have gone back to active duty, and no one who asked to remain in the service has been discharged, Arata said.

Most of those who return to active duty are assigned to instructor or desk jobs away from combat. Only a few -- the Army doesn't keep track of exactly how many -- have returned to the war zone, and only at their insistence, Arata said.

To go back into the war zone, they have to prove they can do the job without putting themselves or others at risk.

One amputee who returned to combat in Iraq, Maj. David Rozelle, is now helping design the amputee program at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. He has counted seven other amputees who have lost at least part of a hand or foot and have gone back to combat in Iraq.

The 34-year-old from Austin, Texas, said he felt duty-bound to return after losing his right foot to a land mine in Iraq.

"It sounds ridiculous, but you feel guilty that you're back home safe," he said. "Our country is engaged in a war. I felt it was my responsibility as a leader in the Army to continue."

Rozelle commanded a cavalry troop and conducted reconnaissance operations when he returned to Iraq, just as he had before the mine blast. Other amputees who have returned to combat, ranging from infantry grunts to special forces soldiers, have conducted door-to-door searches, convoy operations and other missions in the field.

"Guys won't go back if it means riding a desk," Rozelle said.

He said his emotions at the start of his second tour in Iraq, which lasted four months, were a lot like those during his first stint: "I was going back to war, so it was as heart-pounding as the first time."

Mark Heniser, who worked as a Navy therapist for 23 years before joining the amputee program at Fort Sam Houston in 2005, said both the military and the wounded benefit when amputees can be kept on active duty: The military retains the skills of experienced personnel, while the soldiers can continue with their careers.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Reed, who lost his right leg a year ago in a car bombing, is 2 1/2 years from retirement and has orders to head in July to Fort Knox, where he expects to be an instructor.

"My whole plan was to do 20 years," said the 37-year-old soldier from Shreveport, La. "I had no doubt that I would be able to go back on active duty."

Not everyone comes through treatment as rapidly or as well as Williamson, Reed and Rozelle. Some have more severe injuries or struggle harder with the losses, physically or emotionally. Soldiers who lose a limb early in their careers are more likely to want out. Those with long service are more motivated to stay, Heniser said.

Williamson did not want to return to combat, and it is not clear he could have met the physical qualifications anyway.

The military planned to discharge him on disability, but he appealed, hoping to become a drill instructor. The Army ruled that would be too physically demanding for Williamson, a human resources officer before being sent to lead convoys in Iraq, but it agreed to let him return to active duty in some other capacity.

He is regaining his strength and balance at the new $50 million Center for the Intrepid, built to rehabilitate military amputees. A hurdler in high school, he ran the Army minimum of two miles for the first time in mid-May, managing a 10-minute-per-mile pace on his C-shaped prosthetic running leg decorated with blue flames.

He is working out five days a week -- running, lifting weights and doing pool exercises -- and just got his first ride on a wave machine used to improve balance.

"I could leave here today if they told me I had to," Williamson said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


Wine Recommendation

Now and then, I'll be posting on the blog about wines I recommend (or don't), since I'm starting to drink wine. I used to drink hard liquor but I'm getting too old for that and don't want any more brutal hangovers. Tonight, I've been drinking Coppola Rosso, which is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Syrah. I've had trouble getting into reds (it's much easier and pleasureable to drink a good Pinot Grigio or even a blush), but this is a really good one. It's got a soft taste, not bitter, and not too dry, which is my qualifier for a good red. It's a little fruity too, which is always good, but just a little.

Coppola's wines are becoming quite famous (and yes, the vineyards are owned by the filmmaker), and this is a really good one. It only goes for around 8-10 dollars, and can be found in most fine liquor and wine stores, including the one I work at on Main Street.

Sorry if I'm not ultra-detailed, as I'm not a pro wine drinker. I'm more of a casual one.

Shame on EHarmony.


For years I've hated those annoying EHarmony commercials. For one, there's that old guy who is the founder saying how great EHarmony is; I just find him so arrogant. I sometimes dream of spoon-feeding him live firecrackers. Yeah, I'm a psycho. Also, there's that terrible song by Natalie Cole that plays.

Now, I have another reason to hate them. There has been a lawsuit in California filed against them for excluding gays from their personals. I didn't know prior to this that EHarmony has tight ties with fundamentalist religious groups like Focus on the Family. But yeah, it's disgraceful that EHarmony is homophobic.

This is from Reuters, via Yahoo:

eHarmony sued in California for excluding gays

By Jill SerjeantThu May 31, 7:10 PM ET

The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued on Thursday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay.

Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a "men seeking men" or "women seeking women" option.

They were seeking to make it a class action lawsuit on behalf of gays and lesbians excluded from the dating service.

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had strong early ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family.

It has more than 12 million registered users, and heavy television advertising has made it one of the nation's biggest Internet dating sites.

The company said the allegations of discrimination against gays were false and reckless.

"The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages," it said in a statement.

"Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future. It's just not a service we offer now based upon the research we have conducted," eHarmony added.

According to the lawsuit, Carlson, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, tried to use the site's dating services in February 2007. When she was denied access, she wrote to eHarmony saying that its anti-gay policy was discriminatory under California law but the company refused to change it.

"Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age," she said.

Carlson's lawyer Todd Schneider said the lawsuit was "about changing the landscape and making a statement out there that gay people, just like heterosexuals, have the right and desire to meet other people with whom they can fall in love."

Carlson's lawyers expect a significant number of gays and lesbians to join the class action, which seeks to force eHarmony to end its policy as well as unspecified damages for those denied eHarmony services based on their sexual orientation.

"The Shield" season finale, this Tuesday

What a wild ride it's been. This show keeps getting better and better. This season probably isn't as good as Season 5, but it gives it a run, that's for sure. I'm only disappointed in the number of episodes, I think it was only 10 or 11 this season. But all those episodes were of an exceptionally high quality, very few shows can even compare.

The season finale is this coming Tuesday at 10 PM. It looks like another tipping point between Vic and Shane (It looks as if Shane is going to intimidate Vic's family in a big way), but I doubt there's going to be a final resolution, as there's one more season to go. I'm really going to miss this show when the final episode airs, but at least it's going out at the top of its game. So you really should start catching up on the DVD's if you want to experience a truly great show. If you can't get 'em, there are reruns that air on CW and Spike (check the listings).

Who else felt bad for the Dutchman? He was slowly trying to worm his way into that girl's pants, but it looked like she lost interest (if she had any at all) and moved on to the new head of the Strike Team. Billings is really something. At first, I thought he was a dumb, lazy cop. But he manuipulated that situation in a masterful fashion, and gave a big "fuck you" to Dutch in the process.

I really liked when Shane told Vic that there wasn't going to be a "trap door" he could get out of this time, that he was done. I started believing it, I was really wondering if Vic was going to find a way out of this one. Then the land developer gave Vic that picture of Acaveda. Oh, that picture. Just in the nick of time, Vic has the trump card that he needs. Ass-Invader knows that he's going to have to help Vic keep his job now, or his voters are going to see him sucking cock, literally. I do feel bad for the guy, I wouldn't know what I would do if I had a gun pointed to my head. I loved Vic's line: "This will be a disaster with the voters, except for the ones in West Hollywood." LOL, too true.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Every Day is Memorial Day in Baghdead

This is a really good article from the Village Voice, with accounts from Iraq Body Count:

by Ward Harkavy | email:
Every Day is Memorial Day in Baghdead
posted: 6:59 AM, May 29, 2007 by Harkavy

bush-coffins-200.jpgListen to George W. Bush give his predictable speech on Memorial Day, if you want, but I'd rather pay attention to what Lily Hamourtziadou, a researcher for Iraq Body Count, had to say.

Here was Bush:

The greatest memorial to our fallen troops cannot be found in the words we say or the places we gather. The more lasting tribute is all around us — a country where citizens have the right to worship as they want, to march for what they believe, and to say what they think. These freedoms came at great costs — and they will survive only as long as there are those willing to step forward to defend them against determined enemies.

Yeah, everything's relative, especially on Memorial Day. But that right to worship didn't extend to the Muslims who were swept off the streets of America right after 9/11, the right to march didn't include the hundreds of thousands of protesters who were kept out of Central Park and instead herded through cattle pens during the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, and U.S. CEO Dick Cheney clearly doesn't respect people's rights to say what they think. He's threatened those who disagree or publicly cursed them.

Bush's speechwriters cast him — and us — as underdogs, causing the president to say:

As before in our history, Americans find ourselves under attack and underestimated. Our enemies long for our retreat. They question our moral purpose. They doubt our strength of will. Yet even after five years of war, our finest citizens continue to answer our enemies with courage and confidence. Hundreds of thousands of patriots still raise their hands to serve their country; tens of thousands who have seen war on the battlefield volunteer to re-enlist. What an amazing country to produce such fine citizens.

What's amazing is the length of this agonizing war — though, contrary to Bush, it's not yet five years old. But let's focus on just the past week. Iraq Body Count, one of the most thorough sources for counting the carnage, gives a weekly wrap-up. Here's how IBC's Lily Hamourtziadou saw the past week, ending Sunday, May 27:

More than 80 die on Monday 21 May. Gunmen kill 7 inside a minibus near Hibhib, one of them a child, while US forces shoot dead a civilian in Ishaqi, after their patrol is hit by a roadside bomb. In Baghdad, Falluja and Baquba, police find 51 bound and tortured bodies.

On Tuesday 22 May 125 lose their lives. In the day’s largest incident, a car bomb blows up 25 people, including 3 children, in Amil, Baghdad. Gunmen shoot dead 8 college students in Baghdad, while mortars kill another 4 students in Adhamiya, Baghdad. Near Baquba, gunmen kill 6 people, mother, father and 4 children, while US forces kill 4 civilians in two different incidents in Baghdad and Mosul. In Albu Ubaid, east of Ramadi, a suicide bomber enters a house and blows up 10 members of the same family. Police find 46 bodies in 5 cities, most of them in Baghdad.

On Wednesday 23 May 110 die, including 20 killed by a suicide bomber in a café in Mandali, 3 children killed by mortars in Khan Bani Saad, a primary school pupil killed when mortars fall on his school in Mahmudiya, and 8 policemen. 49 bodies are found in 6 cities, most of them in Baghdad.

Around 100 die on Thursday 24 May, among them 35 people who die when a car bomb explodes during a funeral in Falluja. Gunmen set up a fake checkpoint and shoot dead 11 people inside a minibus when it stops. After planting a bomb among the bodies, they blow up another 2 who come to the scene. 2 more civilians are shot dead by US forces, while a truck driver is killed by Blackwater security contractors in Baghdad. Also, 27 bodies are found, most of them in Baghdad.

On the quietest day of the week, 58 die on Friday 25 May. In an attack on Aswad village, gunmen kill 17 people, while mortars kill 2 children in Baghdad. Police find 26 bodies, mostly in Baghdad. In Kufa, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr calls for all Iraqis to fight the occupying forces united.

Another 60 civilians are killed on Saturday 26 May. In an air raid over Sadr City, Baghdad, US planes kill up to 5 people. According to several reports and witnesses, as well as Iraqi officials, the dead are civilian drivers queuing in their cars to buy petrol. 11 cars are destroyed in the raid. During another air strike by British forces, up to 8 civilians are reported killed in Basra. Police find 27 bodies, mostly in Baghdad.

Around 75 are killed on Sunday 27 May. Among the victims, a famous Iraqi calligrapher shot dead in Baghdad, a child blown up by a car bomb in Falluja, 2 farmers, a head of council and his assistant, and 3 women and a child killed by mortars in Baghdad. In Baghdad police find 44 bodies, tortured and shot in the head.

Hamourtziadou tries to put this into perspective:

Statesmen talk of morality, use moral reasoning to convince us civilians, us moral agents, to gain our support or to manipulate. Political elites use moral rhetoric both to gain support and to make their public feel good about themselves, to feel they are perhaps giving something up themselves (the lives of their soldiers or their resources) out of their own humanity, for the benefit of others, far away. Elites also use 'fear' to gain support; they speak of 'imminent threats' as they target people’s emotions and insecurities, making them feel as though the state is taking action to protect them.

The reality is that states go to war to pursue their self-interest. The US-led attack and occupation of Iraq had nothing to do with those values that Americans, or any of us in the West, hold dear: Christian ideals, democracy, equality, human rights. We went to war to gain politically and economically. Saddam Hussein’s regime was no longer friendly, and the US stood to lose politically and economically, if the unfriendly Iraqi regime continued to have control of the country and its oil.

So the US did not go to war against Iraq to help it. It also did not wage war on Iraq to destroy it. The intention was neither to help nor to exterminate, but simply to achieve its own goal: control of the region and its resources. Unfortunately, the means by which it has tried to achieve its goal, the reckless and belligerent methods it has employed, have caused devastation on a scale not even the most pessimistic of us could have foreseen.

But it wasn't that bad a week, by Iraq War standards. Nothing compared with this past April 18, when a string of car bombings killed more than 170 in Baghdad, prompting shopkeeper Ahmad Hamid to tell Reuters, "The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood."

On the other hand, what has happened in Iraq since May 27? On May 28 in Baghdad, a car bomb killed at least 20 people in the Sinak commercial district of Baghdad, and this morning a bus exploded in central Baghdad, killing at least 20 more.

"Last King of Scotland" Review & Thoughts

I just saw "The Last King of Scotland", and what a great film. Excellent. It's one film I've seen, and there aren't that many, that's deserved every accolade and award foisted upon it. It's really difficult to make a film based on true events really grip you, to sink its nails into you, but director Kevin MacDonald, Forest Whitaker, and everyone else involved, managed to do just that for this viewer.

It's a clever piece of filmmaking too. I didn't realize this until now, but it's based on a work of fiction. The Scottish doctor wasn't real. He was based upon 3 or 4 people close to Amin though. I didn't know a lot about Amin before I saw this, but yeah, what a scary guy. It's mesmerizing to me how he can be close to the doctor in one moment and then toss them away soon thereafter.

A lot have complained that Garrigan was an unlikeable character who you couldn't really sympathize with. I feel the same, but I think it adds a lot to the movie in the sense that you can get a much stronger, realistic view of Amin. The film wouldn't have felt as genuine if you rooted for the white guy. He symbolized the detachment of other whites who were involved with Africa, like the British who installed Amin into power. Also, it would have been a mistake to excise this character and have the film revolve around Amin, since he's a very hard man to relate to.

Whitaker is one of my favorite actors (Please get your hands on Season 5 of "The Shield" and you'll see why) and he delivers big-time here. I hate the MPAA, the people who hand out the Oscars, but he definitely deserved to win Best Actor. He gave a great speech too, but he is amazing in this movie. I consider a great performance to be one where you forget that it's an actor playing the part and that it's really the character you see. Whitaker certainly gave one. He charmed and scared you at the same time. The rest of the performances are good, Gillian Anderson (who I haven't seen since the X-Files went off the air) has a small, effective part in the beginning.

Again, this is a really great film, essential viewing. If you haven't watched it, you owe it to yourself to. There's also a book out, now I want to read that.

lMilitary: 8 Memorial Day Deaths in Iraq

May's been the deadliest month for U.S. troops and it isn't even over yet. This is the second month in a row that the U.S. death rate has been over 100. This had a chance of stopping, but the Democrats had to vote "yes" to the war funding, to show that they support the troops.

Military: 8 Memorial Day Deaths in Iraq

Email this Story

May 29, 7:53 AM (ET)

(AP) Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr talks after his meeting with the governors of Karbala, Najaf, and...
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BAGHDAD (AP) - Eight American soldiers were killed in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash in a restive province north of Baghdad, the military reported Tuesday, making May the deadliest month of the year for U.S. troops in Iraq.

In other violence, three German computer consultants were kidnapped Tuesday from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in Baghdad, an Iraqi government official said, and two car bombings killed 38 people in the capital, police said.

The Americans - all from Task Force Lightning - were killed Monday in Diyala as the U.S. commemorated Memorial Day, bringing the number of U.S. forces killed this month to at least 110.

The military said six of the soldiers died in explosions near their vehicles and two were killed in the helicopter crash. It was not clear if the helicopter was shot down or suffered mechanical problems.

(AP) A boy lights candles on a street, for the victims of recent shelling in the Shiite neighborhood...
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The Germans were kidnapped by a group of gunmen wearing police commando uniforms who arrived at the ministry in a huge convoy of white sports utility vehicles, which are often used by police, according to the government official and a police officer, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Police have been accused of involvement in violence here in the past.

Germany's Foreign Ministry said it was checking the report.

"The embassy in Baghdad and all of the relevant offices have been alerted and are working to swiftly clarify the matter," the ministry said.

Earlier this year, militants here kidnapped German citizens Hannelore Marianne Krause, and her adult son, Sinan, and threatened to kill them if Germany did not pull its troops from Afghanistan. German officials have not said what the mother and son were doing in Iraq, where they disappeared on Feb. 6. Their fate remains unknown.

In Baghdad, a parked minibus packed with explosives blew up in Tayaran Square, riddling cars with shrapnel, knocking over pushcarts and sending smoke into the sky, witnesses said. The blast killed 23 people and injured 68.

(AP) A boy sits next to candles on a street, for the victims of recent shelling in the Shiite...
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Yousef Qasim, 37, was working in his clothing shop 200 yards away when the blast tore through a line of buses waiting at the square, he said.

"I rushed there to see about four or five burning bodies," he said.

Shop owners grabbed their wares and tried to flee, fearing a second blast, said Talib Dhirgham, who owns a nearby laundromat. Police who arrived at the scene confiscated the cameras of journalists who came to cover the attack.

More than an hour later, a second car bomb exploded in the Amil district in western Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding 36 more, police said.

In other violence, gunmen in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, set up fake checkpoints on the outskirts of the city and abducted more than 40 people, most of them soldiers, police officers and members of two tribes that had banded together against local insurgents, police said.

The attacks came a day after U.S. and Iranian officials met in Baghdad under the auspices of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to try to end the violence here.

Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday criticized the talks as interference in Iraq's internal affairs and warned Iraqi officials not to participate in them.

"I call on the brave people to reject these negotiations," he said in a statement.

On Monday, 36 people were killed across Baghdad in a wave of attacks. Another 33 bullet-riddled bodies were dead, tortured and abandoned in different parts of the capital, the apparent victims of ongoing sectarian violence.

U.S. & Iran Open Dialogue on Iraq

Here's a good article from the Washington Post on the meeting held yesterday between diplomats from Iran and the U.S.:

A lot of byzantine diplomacy and politics at work here. We'll have to wait and see how this develops. But at the moment, Iran might come to the conclusion that it'd be best to cooperate with the U.S. and help stabilize Iraq; the sooner Iraq is stabilized, the sooner U.S. troops will start to withdraw and stop breathing down Iran's neck. But I'm probably being naive. Iran can afford to bide her time, especially if the U.S. backlash against a prolonged Iraqi occupation continues, which it no doubt will.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Scarface" sells 2 million units

I've been playing this game a lot lately. More from Gamedaily:

Today, Sierra Entertainment announced that Scarface: The World Is Yours has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. This is the eighth game from the publisher to eclipse a million units and is the third title to sell more than 2 million units for Radical Entertainment. Scarface: The World Is Yours will be coming to the Wii in Summer 2007.

"Selling 2 million units of Scarface: The World Is Yours worldwide is great achievement and a direct reflection of the outstanding support received by the international retail and gaming community," said Pascal Brochier, president, global retail for Vivendi Games. "This milestone is another strong example of Radical Entertainment's development talents and Sierra Entertainment's commitment to deliver a high quality, compelling gaming experience."

"It's been exciting to watch the continued success of Scarface: The World Is Yours," said Bill Kispert, vice president and general manager of Interactive for Universal Pictures. "It's a testament to the fantastic word of mouth the game has received among players, and reinforces that the Scarface film and character have truly become ingrained in popular culture."

I really recommend this game, especially if you're a fan of the GTA genre. The missions are solid, for the most part, and there is plenty of shit to do. Plus, I think being able to play as Tony Montana fulfills a lot of people's dreams. Having sick weaponry, taking on an army of henchmen and criminals, people being scared shitless of you. The only gripe I have with the game is that some of the missions, like the one I'm stuck on now, require more luck than skill. Most license-based games suck, but this is a really solid one. There was a really good article in a Game Informer a few months back, talking with the producer of the game. He gave 10 Rules on How to Make a Good Licensed game. A lot of them are common-sense, but it's surprising how many designers evade those kinds of rules.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Zombies Invade an Apple Store in San Fran

Yes, zombies invaded an Apple Store in San Francisco yesterday, hunting for brains, whereas the customers at the Apple Store were hunting for Ipods. Thanks to Gizmondo. Read more about it here:

Even Birds Hate Him

This is a good article from the Times about how Bush is warning the public that it'll be a bloody summer for our troops in Iraq. But the highlight comes at the very end. A bird, I think it was a sparrow, took a crap on Bush's arm during the speech. Check out the clip too.

Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone, and Sid Vicious peddle Doc Martens

I found this while surfing through the Gamefaqs message boards this morning:

There is apparently a new commercial in the UK showing passed-away rock legends like Joey Ramone and Kurt Cobain as angels in heaven, wearing Doc Marten shoes. The point, according to Doc Marten, is that their shoes are so durable that as these guys are walking around in Heaven, they're still wearing their Doc Martens. I think any use of dead people to market a product is about as tasteless as you can get, and this is no exception to that. Did the Doc Marten company have to get permission from the estates of these guys to use their images? If so, shame on them too. This is even worse than Jimmy Page helping Puff Daddy rape "Kashmir" or The Who having some of their best songs co-opted by the CSI shows.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Looking for Work

To anyone who regularly views this blog, I'm sorry for the minimal posts, as I realized I had to start getting serious about finding a job. I still hope to post as often as I can, but unfortunately, the tedious and boring work of sending resumes and cover letters has to take precedent. But please, send your feedback and thoughts. And if you know someone who's looking for a hard-working, dependable individual, drop my name :)

Democrats surrender, Iraq war marches on

"Surrender" is the correct term for it. These damn Democrats. They won in '06 for a reason, the voters (I can't include myself in this, as I didn't bother to last year) wanted them to fight Bush on Iraq, and they have just gotten their noses bloodied, big-time. In a big victory, Bush won't concede any of his authority on Iraq. Even in a state of despair and lowering popularity and support, the Republicans can still close ranks and be united. This is a skill that the Democrats have yet to master. The Republicans group together, waiting for the Democrats to blink and give in, and it works every single time. Nancy Pelosi said that September will be the "moment of truth". I think now was the moment of truth, and the Democrats showed what they were made of. There always seems to be a "moment of truth" or to put it in more holy terms, a judgment day for the Democrats. They're always telling us, at this time, that's when we'll finally stand up and refuse to compromise. Unless the Democrats are ruthless, how can they ever hope to succeed?

This is a good blog post from a journalist at CBC News.

Democrats surrender, Iraq war marches on

Comments (23)
By Henry Champ

Washington newspaper headlines pretty much tell it all.

In the more liberal Washington Post, the story is headed: "Democrats Relent On Pullout Timetable."

In the conservative Washington Times: "Democrats Surrender."

Most would say the Times has this one nailed. It certainly smells more like a surrender, not a relenting, and has to be seen as a big political win for President George W. Bush.

In his months-long fight with Congress, the president does not lose a single shred of his authority over the war in Iraq.

The Democrats wanted to establish timelines for U.S. troop withdrawal that would have seen the first American soldiers leaving this fall. Bush vetoed that bill on May 1.

The Democrats then attempted to frame legislation that would set up benchmarks, which, if not met, would start the troops coming home.

Those benchmarks included evidence that Iraqis were taking on more of the fighting, that security was improving in Baghdad and the troubled provinces, and that the president's troop escalation in Iraq was working. The Democrats never found a formula they could agree on.

Surrender dates

For the Republicans, the crowing started immediately.

House Minority Leader John Boehner: "Democrats have finally conceded defeat in their effort to include mandatory surrender dates in a funding bill for the troops." Note the phrasing: Surrender dates.

This debate started with the capture of Congress by the Democrats back in November. They saw their victory as a mandate to end the conflict in Iraq.

There is no question the polls have indicated the president's handling of the war is unpopular, and that public opposition to it is growing. In fact, fewer Americans than ever before believe that victory is possible in Iraq.

As a result, the Democrats initial efforts to bring troops home had considerable public support. But the presidential veto changed everything.

And the ultimate victory had much to do with party unity.

Some Democratic lawmakers wanted to stay the course, send back the bill and force the president to veto again. Others worried that voters wanted their troops supported and so desired a compromise with the White House. Another group wanted a schedule of benchmarks and argued among themselves over what kind of package they could assemble.

Closed ranks

On their side, meanwhile, the Republicans closed ranks, withstood Democratic attacks, public opposition to the war and doubts within their own party that Iraq was going badly.

They also continued to fire away on the one theme that was working for them, that the Democrats were in effect surrendering on the battlefield. It worked. The Democrats blinked.

Talking as much about his own party as Congress at large, anti-war Senator Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said after the retreat, "There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action."

Democrats promise that they will be back in the fall. More funding will be needed by then, and the success or failure of the president's troop escalation will be easier to judge as will the abilities of the Iraqi military and police.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats main spokesperson, says September will be "the moment of truth."

So, some might say, was the month of May.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dems back down on withdrawal date in Iraq war bill

This says it all. Ignore the attempts by them to be optimistic in the later paragraphs, they just caved. I need to unregister from the Democrats.

Dems back down on withdrawal date in Iraq war bill

WASHINGTON — Flinching in the face of a veto threat, Democratic leaders on Tuesday dropped their insistence that a $120 billion bill to fund the Iraq war include a date to withdraw troops from the country.

President Bush had vetoed one Democratic-drafted measure already and threatened to reject another if the timelines were not stripped. Bush had said that the timelines were setting a date for surrender and that withdrawal could only come when Iraq is secure.

Congressional leaders said they hoped the compromise would be cleared for Bush's signature by Friday.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House GOP leader, said: "Democrats have finally conceded defeat in their effort to include mandatory surrender dates in a funding bill for the troops, so forward progress has been made for the first time in this four-month process."

Democrats vowed to challenge Bush's policies in other ways.

"We're going to continue our battle, and that's what it is, to represent the American people like they want us to represent them, to change the course of the war in Iraq," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Lawmakers in both parties claimed victory in legislation that contained no binding limitation on Bush's powers as commander in chief.

"I view this as the beginning of the end of the president's policy on Iraq in this war," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. "It ends the blank check of more troops, more money, more time and more of the same."

Emanuel pointed to a provision setting standards for the Iraqi government to meet in developing a more democratic society. U.S. reconstruction aid would be conditioned on progress toward meeting the goals, but Bush would have authority to order the money to be spent regardless of how Baghdad performed.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she is unlikely to vote for the war money because it lacks "a goal or a timetable" for a troop withdrawal.

Republicans agreed to concessions in terms of as much as $8 billion for Democratic domestic priorities such as additional disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina victims and farmers hurt by drought.

Final details of the measure remained in flux, although Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said at an early-evening news conference, "We're very close to having things tied down."

The bill would also include the first increase in the federal minimum wage in more than a decade. Both the House and Senate have passed measures raising the current level of $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour in three separate 70-cent increases over 26 months. Those measures included modest tax breaks, mainly aimed at helping businesses that hire low-skilled or handicapped workers.

Obey outlined an unusual procedure in which lawmakers in the House could cast two votes, one on the war-related provisions and a second on all other items. That would allow liberal Democrats to oppose the war funds, confident that Republicans would supply the support needed for it to prevail. The opposite would be true for the domestic spending, which draws more support from Democrats than Republicans.

The bill would then go to the Senate, where senators would have to vote yes or no on the entire package.

The Iraq war has dominated the early months of the Congress that took office in January, as majority Democrats promised to pressure Bush to change course.

The funding dispute led to a veto of legislation that contained a timeline for a troop withdrawal. The House failed to override the veto, and that led to negotiations.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the negotiated measure would provide "the funding and flexibility the forces need. That's what we've wanted all along."

UPDATE: This is actually a much better article:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

24 Finale Thoughts

Last night was the Season finale of 24. Awesome describes it nicely. Some people have complained about a drop in quality this season. That's arguable, I could understand why they might feel that way, but I think it was pretty solid and I'm sure my opinion of it will only heighten with repeated viewings. If those people are looking for something a little more stimulating, they should switch over to Two & A Half Men, or something.

This may be unusual, but I want to start with the ending. Some people loved it, some people hated it. I loved it. Kiefer should be nominated based on that one scene alone. Devane was excellent too. Heller really was an asshole when he told Jack that everything he touches dies. That might be technically true, but as Jack pointed out in the closing minutes of last night, Heller and everyone like him looked to Jack for the good of the country, so they share a lot of the responsibility for how Jack's life is.

At the very end, when he's looking to the sea, I thought that was really intense. He was perhaps considering suicide. Jack realized that he is a killer who can't love people even though he wants to. The most exciting thing, to me, about the ending, is the possibilities it leaves open for next year, which are pretty much infinite. No one knows, based on the end, what's going to happen next year. Whereas in all other seasons (with the possible exception of Day 3), you had a general idea of what was likely to occur at the beginning of the season.

And to the people who were upset at the producers and TV Guide for being misleading in giving a "spoiler" to the ending ("A long-thought dead character returns"), get over it. This is "24", these people guard the plot development and twists with a secrecy that would be welcomed in the CIA, they're not going to give "hints".

From last night's episodes, it seems apparent that this is the last we'll see of Bill and Karen. I'm hoping I'm wrong, as I love them, especially Bill. They were kind of the Tony and Michelle for the balding, middle-aged crowd. But it was great how they risked it all for Jack, knowing that he's always right. Just one thing, I had no idea Bill could fly a chopper. Did he call CTU and ask them to upload the chopper-flying program? I didn't see him blink his eyes.

Two (possibly, three) characters died this year: Curtis, Milo, and possibly Charles Logan. Curtis's upset me the most, as his death didn't really make much sense. Milo gave his life selflessly for Nadia, leaving the way clear for Doyle. The last we saw Logan, he was crashing in the back of the ambulance. If he is dead, I'll miss him the most, as he was the president I loved to hate.

I would have liked to see Wayne Palmer make an appearance in the finale. I wonder if he'll be okay, and I better be informed next season.

A part I loved was when Doyle apologized to Jack after the fake component blew up in his face. "I'm sorry, Jack, you were right. Get the boy." Jack: "You were just following orders." Than he "commandeers" a helicopter, totally disregarding orders. Only Jack could do that, LMAO.

Hopefully Cheng will be in prison for a long time. Although I really doubt we'll see it in any season, I would love for a Bubba to get hold of him, put him in a little dress and a wig, and have Cheng say "me love you long time" in a little Asian girl voice.

I hope to comment more on the finale later, but that's it for now, unfortunately. I always look forward to every season, and it always seems so long the day after, but this time, I'm really, really excited about the next season. It ended on a somber note, but you know that Jack has come full circle and this opens up any number of possibilities for where the show can go. The critical drubbing, although I disagree with some of it, can only make the producers think outside the box and come up with new, innovative ideas to make "24" even better. I have to curb my 24 withdrawals, there's only so many times I can watch the DVD's, I have to start reading the books.

Predator Sentenced to a Year in Jail

One of my favorite things on television to watch is "To Catch a Predator", which is on Dateline NBC now and again. While surfing the web, I chose to visit Perverted Justice's website. PJ is the organization that uses decoys in chatrooms to expose online predators who want to meet children for sex. Anyway, two days ago, it was posted that one of the men featured was sentenced to a year in prison.

This wasn't just any predator, but one of the most memorable from my perspective, due to his position around children; he was a middle-school teacher. Also, it was funny as hell to see his interview with Chris Hansen after he found out that there was no 12-year old girl for him to have sex with. He pleaded with Hansen to "just execute" him. While such a thing isn't permitted by law, Walter Babst is still facing justice. He will serve a year in prison and five years' probation. On top of that, he will have the restrictions of a registered sex offender, like not being able to be around children unsupervised, and to not have a job dealing with children. So, no more teaching for him.

I just finished the book, and one of the things that really hits you as you're reading these accounts, is that the day of the weird-looking guy in the trenchcoat, watching over kids in the schoolyard, really doesn't exist anymore. That guy can just get behind his computer and hit up kids on personal sites like Myspace. Myspace, and sites like it, are "shopping malls" for pedophiles, as Hansen puts it in the book. And what's worse, most of the guys on the computer aren't even the weird guy in the trenchcoat. The case of Walter Babst, like David Kaye (the infamous rabbi) and countless others, reveals an ugly truth: that many of these guys are indistinguishable from you & me. They have families and friends, and are considered upstanding members of the community. Go on the website,, and watch the California investigation to see this guy, Walter Babst. You'll recognize him immediately, his first line to Hansen is "I'm a sick son of a bitch" (I'm not going to argue that one). But just looking at the guy, you'd never think he'd want to risk it all to have sex with a 12-year old.

Anyway, here's the link to the article on PJ's website:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Only Oceans Remain

No, actually, this isn't a post related to global warming. I found this group, Only Oceans Remain, on Myspace Music. This is actually the first time I listened to one of the groups featured on Myspace, I know it's pathetic, but I don't nearly have enough free time in the day to check out the bands on there. But I found out about this band via a Gamefaqs message board, and I was really impressed. I heard shades of Radiohead, for example, and a bunch of other groups. But the quality of the music and the recording is exceptional for an independent. I highly suggest that you visit their Myspace page and listen to all four of their songs.

That's the link, go to it, now. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"To Catch a Predator" book

After waiting awhile, I've finally gotten to start reading the new book out called "To Catch a Predator". It's by Chris Hansen (the reporter behind the series) and it's based of course on the "TCAP" specials that air on Dateline NBC. If you have children and want to keep them safe from the many sickos that populate the Internet, you owe it to yourself to pick this book up. It's a fast-paced, easy to read book that gives a lot of advice and pointers to protect kids from internet predators, and also provides further background on the reports that first aired on television.

For example, David Kaye (the rabbi who came to the house to meet who he thought was a 13-year old boy, only to be confronted by Hansen) was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. That made me feel a little better to know that this evil man is getting justice.

A big thank you to Nancy of the Patchogue-Medford Library for reserving the book for me, and even DROPPING IT OFF at my job. Seriously, that was such an awesome thing to do.

Check out the "To Catch a Predator" website, complete with help for parents and complete videos of all the specials at


Gamespot reports that for the third straight month, the seven-year old Game Boy Advance has sold more units than Sony's Playstation 3. Ouch. What a tremendous fall from grace for Sony.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Final Fantasy II

I find this game pretty addicting. I'm still early into it, so it might yet turn into a grindfest, but I just reached the point where I get that tool (name escapes me at the moment) where I can get into the door of the Kass'ion village, and Josef sacrifices himself so that I and my party can get out of the cave. After playing FFI, where the story was nonexistent and I was just leveling up, this is so refreshing. To me, the value and playability of an RPG has everything to do with what story there is and how good it is. A game where I'm just leveling up and battling monsters is liable to put me to sleep. I really like a game like this, it's really like reading a good book. I took a night off last night from playing it, I started playing Boktai for Game Boy, but I might start playing again tonight.

Heartburn from GOP's Menu

This is a really good article I found in the Washington Times, of all places. It details the tough decisions a fractured Republican base might have to make as far as the presidential candidates go. The front-runners are, in most respects, solid candidates (in the eyes of the GOP, of course), but they each betray the conservative base in some way. McCain, while a hawk on Iraq, has voted against Bush's tax cuts. Rudy, while known as a "leader" due to 9/11, has socially moderate-to-liberal positions on issues such as abortion that really bother social conservative. Anyway, read about it here:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

19 Senate Democrats vote to keep Iraq going

The Reid/Feingold bill in the Senate, written to cut funding for Iraq, was defeated on Wednesday 67-29. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but at least a majority of Senate Democrats voted for the bill. This includes our two New York senators (pro-war, both of them) and presidential contenders (including Hillary and Barack Obama). This is a positive step, but a lot of work still needs to be done. Call our senators and thank them.

Oregon Chai Tea

This is wonderful. I just discovered the Oregon Chai line of tea lattes at my area Target. Basically, it's tea concentrate in a box, you fill the cup halfway with that, than add milk or soy. You get a delicious, creamy, and healthy drink. I have one in the morning and one at night, it totally relaxes me.

I emailed them to tell them how delicious their tea lattes were, and also to ask them how I can recycle their boxes, and I got a wonderful personal email back, they even offered me coupons. What a great company, and their tea rocks. Go visit them at Just for the email and the coupons, they are now the official sponsors of my blog, unless they say otherwise. :)

Video of Chris Hitchens on Hannity And Colmes

Here is part of the video I found on Youtube. It's not the meat of the segment, unfortunately, but he still says some interesting things that basically give the gist of what happened. Hannity was such an asshole.

Christopher Hitchens Rules

I know this is a repetitive title, but it's true. I'm listening to Howard 100 on Sirius and is talking about the death of Jerry Falwell. Falwell was a malicious man and the news of his death was taken by me in the same way that Bin Laden's death would be taken: as no great loss, as the death of a hateful religious extremist. This is the man who blamed America for 9/11. Anyway, Stern aired footage from Fox News's "Hannity and Colmes", in which they were interviewing writer/intellectual Christopher Hitchens about Falwell. Hitchens just told it like it was. He called Falwell "a turd", "an extremist who blamed America for 9/11", etc etc. I'm going to track down a full video on Youtube, hopefully, it really was a great appearance. Hannity took himself to new lows in trying to mischaracterize Hitchens, and he was having none of it. Hitchens' blunt honesty on any issue is very refreshing, although I've disagreed with it at times.

Ron Paul Rules

To be honest, I haven't been closely following the presidential primaries, but one of the GOP candidates is Ron Paul, who I've admired for a long time for being an atypical Republican in Congress, in that he doesn't just toe the Bush, pro-Iraq line and is very (rightfully) critical of U.S. foreign policy.

In the last debate, Rudy Giuliani tried bullying Paul for his contention that "blowback" from U.S. foreign policy was responible for 9/11. He even demanded that Paul retract his answer and tell us that he "didn't really mean it."

Paul's response (thanks to “I believe the CIA is correct when it warns us about blowback. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and their taking the hostages was the reaction. This dynamic persists and we ignore it at our risk. They’re not attacking us because we’re rich and free, they’re attacking us because we’re over there.”

Exactly. In that one sentence, Paul told more truth, in a more significant and powerful way, than Kucinich did in '04 (Sorry, Dennis).

Check out the man's website:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


To show that the Salem-like policing of our airwaves doesn't stop at terrestrial radio, XM has suspended radio personalities Opie & Anthony for comments made on their show last week, by a homeless guy who was a guest, about having sex with Condi Rice, Laura Bush, and Queen Elizabeth. Would the reaction have been different if the people mentioned were, say, Paris Hilton or Angelina Jolie?

This is another example of how the real villains here aren't the shock jocks, or the people who cry out against them, but the guys at the top who sign these guys up, knowing what they talk about (and likely encourage them) because it draws a diehard audience, until it goes too far; then they subject the DJ's to a public flogging and suspension and/or termination.

I always looked at satallite radio as the last bastion of people who can speak freely and have the freedom to offend, without worries of losing advertisers or corporate sponsorship. That expectation is now shattered. XM wants to merge with Sirius, so they need to keep things friendly with FCC. So O & A had to be sacrificed. It's always about the dollars. At least we still have Howard. And he's been around much, much longer than O & A. Sirius isn't going to fuck with him.

I Just Added a Hit Counter

I now have a hit counter on the blog, to show the traffic and number of people hitting the site. It's at 000000 now because I just installed it. I know people have been coming here, lol, now I'll know how many exactly.

California-Sized Area of Ice Melts

California-Sized Area of Ice Melts in Antarctica

LiveScience Staff
2 hours, 44 minutes ago

Warm temperatures melted an area of western Antarctica that adds up to the size of California in January 2005, scientists report.

Satellite data collected by the scientists between July 1999 and July 2005 showed clear signs that melting had occurred in multiple distinct regions, including far inland and at high latitudes and elevations, where melt had been considered unlikely.

“Antarctica has shown little to no warming in the recent past with the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula,” said Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “But now large regions are showing the first signs of the impacts of warming as interpreted by this satellite analysis.”

Changes in the ice mass of Antarctica, Earth's largest freshwater reservoir, are important to understanding global sea level rise. Large amounts of Antarctic freshwater flowing into the ocean also could affect ocean salinity, currents and global climate.

NASA’s QuikScat satellite detected snowmelt by radar pulses that bounce off of ice that formed when snowmelt refroze (just as ice cream turns to ice when it is refrozen after being left out on the counter too long.)

Maximum high temperatures of 41 degrees Fahrenheit that persisted for about a week in Antarctica caused a melt intense enough to create an extensive ice layer.

Evidence of melting was found up to 560 miles inland from the open ocean, farther than 85 degrees south (about 310 miles from the South Pole) and higher than 6,600 feet above sea level.

Water from the melted snow can penetrate cracks and the ice, lubricating the continent’s ice sheets, sending them toward the ocean faster and raising sea levels, the scientists said.

“Increases in snowmelt, such as this in 2005, definitely could have an impact on larger scale melting of Antarctica’s ice sheets if they were severe or sustained over time,” Steffen said.

No further melting has been detected through March 2007.

Jerry Falwell dies at 73

Television evangelist Falwell dies at 73

By SUE LINDSEY, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the folksy, small-town preacher who used the power of television to found the Moral Majority and turn the Christian right into a mighty force in American politics during the Reagan years, died Tuesday at 73.

Falwell was found without a pulse in his office at Liberty University and pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later. Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell's physician, said he had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality.

Read the rest at:;_ylt=An0MLpGz9fTxZQZxLtUVl5dH2ocA

Now, I feel bad when anybody dies, it doesn't matter who it is. Even someone like Falwell, who's said some reprehensible things. But I can't forgive someone for blaming America for 9/11, like Falwell did. I'm also appalled that the AP didn't mention this in the article about his death. Here is what Falwell said after 9/11:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" (

So Falwell blamed America for 9/11. It was horrifying to me then, and still is after his death, that someone can use one of the most horrific days in our history (if not the most horrific) as a platform for his hatred and bigotry. Shame on the AP and the rest of the news media for not mentioning this upon his death.

NoTube! Security fears push military to ban posting vids

I read this in The Daily News this morning.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military blocked Web sites including YouTube and MySpace for soldiers around the world, saying they pose a security risk.

Internet use has become a troublesome issue for the military as it struggles to balance security concerns with privacy rights. As blogs and video-sharing become more common, the military has voiced increasing concern about service members revealing details about military operations or other information about equipment or procedures that will aid the enemy.

"I put my blog on there and my family reads it," said Lt. Daniel Zimmerman, an infantry platoon leader in Iraq.

"I keep it as vague as possible," said Zimmerman, 29. "I'm pretty responsible about it. It's just basically to tell a little bit about my life over here."

News Wire Services

What a disgrace. Our men and women in uniform are risking their asses every minute of every day in Iraq, and now the Pentagon is saying that they can't blog or make videos. I'm at a loss for words. If anyone should be able to blog, it's someone who's making the ultimate sacrifice and is serving in Iraq. But the Pentagon is flat-out stating that letting them do that will be aiding the enemy. So after years of baring their fangs to activists, saying that dissent is aiding the enemy, now they're saying that our troops can be aiding the enemy simply by blogging and telling their families, as well as any other American who reads military blogs, about their lives over there.

How this administration treats our military is sickening.

U.S. Sweeps Iraq Seeking 3 Soldiers Missing in Attack

This was in the New York Times:

U.S. Sweeps Iraq Seeking 3 Soldiers Missing in Attack
by Kirk Semple

BAGHDAD, May 13 — About 4,000 American ground troops supported by surveillance aircraft, attack helicopters and spy satellites swept towns and farmland south of Baghdad on Sunday, searching for three American soldiers who disappeared on Saturday after their patrol was ambushed, military officials said.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella insurgent group that includes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, asserted that it had captured the three missing Americans and claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed four other American soldiers and an Iraqi Army soldier. The group offered no proof for its claim.

For the rest of the article, go here:

The problem with this is that on top of 4,000 soldiers going on a wild goose-chase that'll likely prove futile, it's only further agitating the already-dour relations between the occupation and Iraqi citizens. How many more doors are going to be knocked down as a result of this? It seems that as with so many other events and aspects of this invasion, Bush and the military are just taking another page out of the "just do something" playbook, rather than actually coming up with a sensible tactic.

Angry Video Game Nerd

There are varying opinions on this guy, but I think he's hillarious. The name pretty much sums it up, he's a nerd who reviews really shitty video games, and therefore gets very angry. Watch his videos here:

Caution: the videos do contain repeated profane language, so you might want to prevent the kiddies from seeing them. I especially recommend the Spiderman one, which is really funny and was a lesson for me, since I bought the Spiderman game for Game Boy that was shown on the video. Probably the worst 5 dollars I've ever spent, truly a shitty-ass game.

This is totally random...

I just came across this on Youtube. I haven't heard this in years, but it has some kind of cult following, judging from the comments. Total cheesy 80's fun.

Nintendo's Virtual Console

First, here's a story from Gamespot:


The Wii's Virtual Console is nothing if not replete in heavy-hitters from days gone by, and Nintendo has added to that roster with a trio of new offerings arriving in the Wii Store today. This week's lineup of retro games sees the arrival of Nintendo Entertainment System hits Pac-Man and Ninja Gaiden, as well as a TurboGrafx-16 fan favorite in Ninja Spirit.

No stranger to the process of cross-platform pollination, Pac-Man's latest outing is a port of the NES version of the game. As one might expect, Pac-Man follows the titular yellow ball as he gobbles up power pellets and fruit while evading the pursuit of ill-intentioned ghosts. Pac-Man can be downloaded for 500 Wii Points ($5).

Playing bodyguard to Namco's pride and joy is a pair of ninjas, Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden and Irem's Ninja Spirit to be specific. With Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword looming on the horizon, the side-scrolling NES version chronicles Ryu Hayabusa's original ninjutsu-fueled exploits to avenge his father's death at the hands of the evil Dragon Clan. Ninja Gaiden will set gamers back the standard Virtual Console NES game price of 500 Wii Points ($5).

Released a year after Ninja Gaiden and situated squarely in its shadow, Ninja Spirit of TurboGrafx-16 fame puts the player in the role of Moonlight, who, coincidently enough, is also out to avenge his father's death. Players can expect to wield the typical ninja accoutrements as they navigate through seven stages of enemies and traps in this side-scrolling adventure. Ninja Spirit will cost gamers 600 Wii Points ($6).

By Staff -- GameSpot
Posted May 14, 2007 7:25 pm PT
Copyright ©2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I was so excited about Nintendo's plans to add a form of backwards compatibility to its new system, but now that I think about it, it's a waste and doesn't really add value to the Wii itself. When (or if) I upgrade to a next-gen system, the leading frontrunner is the 360 because in addition to its online services (Xbox Live) and the ability to also download classic games, you can also play them against other people ONLINE. On top of that, there are Achievements and maybe more extras. This adds appeal to me to pay extra for the games because I'm getting something more for my money. Nintendo wants you to download a game you may very well already own a hard copy of, pay for it, with no extra features. They're really shooting themselves in the foot. They can't depend on the younger generation, since they're only going to want to play the Wii games, and the classic gamers are going to be hesistant to pay again for these games when nothing new's being added.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"24" Thoughts

Good episode overall. Something that still doesn't make sense to me, is why would Russia attack the U.S. over a piece of circuitry? Despite the writers' efforts to make us understand how this can be possible, I just don't get it. So the writers of "24" mean to tell me that there's a country, especially one as advanced defensively as Russia, that bases their entire security system on one piece of circuit technology? Also, and I mentioned this last week, shouldn't the U.S. be holding China's feet to the fire for what Cheng and his guys are doing?

It's probably just me, but I found the Lisa Miller subplot really humorous. It left plenty of room for ad-libbing from me. When Daniels was yelling at Tom after Lisa being attacked, asking, "Where were you?", I thought Tom would say "Sorry, I was just changing my underwear."

We'll have to wait till next week for Jack to, hopefully, exact his final revenge on Cheng. He almost did tonight, but he got away. I'll miss Cheng, he's a bad guy I love to hate, and I get a kick when he calls Jack "Mister Bowah".

Jack and Co. were able to take back CTU from Cheng's men, in a cool, condensed 80's action sequence. He then rescued Phillip, who by the end of the episode was taken by Doyle via helicopter, presumably as part of the deal that the White House is about to make with Phillip Bauer.

Another thing that doesn't make sense: if Phillip wants to take away his grandson and groom him because he's his "legacy", why do it in China? I'm sure a shadowy creep like Phillip Bauer would have connections all over the world. Why would he go to China?

Anyway, that's about it for now. From next week's season finale, I know that Bill's coming back and that something might have happened to Chloe (we see a crying Morris standing over her, at least that's what I saw).

Also, remember that the season finale starts at 8 next week, not 9.

"Brokeback Mountain" Lawsuit Issued Against School Board

'Brokeback Mountain' Lawsuit Issued Against School Board
A lawsuit has been launched against a school teacher who showed Brokeback Mountain to a class of young students. Twelve-year-old Jessica Turner and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking $500,000 against the Chicago Board of Education after the movie was shown at Ashburn Community Elementary School. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Friday claims Turner "suffered psychological distress" after viewing the R-rated film, which was viewed by the class without permission from the student's parents or legal guardians. Turner's grandfather Kenneth Richardson, who complained to school heads in 2005 over profanities in educational reading literature, says, "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this. It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this. This was the last straw. I feel the lawsuit was necessary because of the warning I had already given them on the literature they were giving out to children to read. I told them it was against our faith." R-ratings denote the film in question contains one or more adult themes - adult language, strong sexuality, nudity, violence or drug use.

Courtesy of IMDB


It's pretty safe to assume that the lawsuit is due to the film's content, not necessairly that it's rated R. With that being said, if I was a parent, I'd do the exact same thing as that girl's grandparents did. But it wouldn't be based on the content of the film, it would be based on my personal opinion that this movie can literally bore people to death. "Brokeback Mountain" has to be one of the most overrated, pretentious, artsy pieces of shit I've ever seen. After all the hype and acclaim, I couldn't even make a half hour before I turned it off, and I'm no stranger to indies or arthouse films. If this film can induce rampant boredom in me, a nearly 30 year old man, imagine what horrors it can inflict on grade-schoolers.


Special thanks to Johnarama for telling me about this program. GigaTribe is a freeware program that enables users to create their own P2P (Peer-To-Peer) network. This way, they can share their files only with people who are also in their private network. The best thing, is that GigaTribe encrypts the private P2P network, meaning that the RIAA can't threaten teenagers or 20-year olds, or some other unprotected, defenseless group.

Find out more here:

I'm done with NBC

Yes, Zap2it has confirmed it: "Raines" has been cancelled.,0,7050500.photogallery?index=5

What a miscarriage of justice. NBC renews a show that has done extremely poorly in the ratings, and a show that was buried in the graveyard of Friday nights was still able to get better ratings. That show, however, couldn't have been a favorite of the NBC President, so it was cancelled. What a shame, "Raines" was a darkly brilliant show that really could have matured into a cult favorite if NBC had given it a chance. They gave Sorkin's clunker "Studio 60" a full season. They renewed "Friday Night Lights" and "30 Rock", both shows that haven't been able to find an audience. This is good, but why couldn't they have done the same for a show that only aired seven episodes?

I'm through with NBC. I'll buy the DVD's of "My Name is Earl" and "Heroes", but I won't be watching any NBC programming in the near-future.

Raines a long shot to be renewed

I don't have an official source for this, but several articles I've read this weekend indicate that the chances of "Raines" being renewed are pretty slim. "Friday Night Lights" has been renewed despite its pathetic ratings, and "Law & Order" has also been renewed. With several new shows as well, there don't seem to be a lot of timeslots left. Also, there has been zero mention of the show in the articles. One small newspaper in El Paso had Raines on a list of shows already cancelled, but I'm still holding out a small sliver of hope.

Richard Heller almost made me a Republican

I'm re-watching Season 4 of "24" on DVD, and this kid Richard Heller is annoying the shit out of me. I look at "24" as an escapist fantasy, its plots of terrorism and national security notwithstanding. Although some call it a political thriller, I try to distance it from that genre, as it's very light on politics, and only glosses over it in most examples when the plot isn't really tied to anything political. What I mean, is that Jack Bauer doesn't spend 24 hours trying to understand where the terrorist is coming from or what his gripes are. It's television, we want to see him kick their asses. At the end, it's an action show, although much better than any action show I've ever seen.

It also doesn't have a political agenda, as some would try to claim. In various seasons, we've seen Jack try to stop a war perpetuated by oil interests and to prevent Muslim terrorists from nuking Los Angeles. So it's pretty even on that scale. But one of the creators, Joel Surnow, is a right-winger who has been on Limbaugh more than once. And it's apparent he had a heavy hand in the fourth season (the season that has Muslim terrorists) because in addition to the Muslims, there are several "liberal" characters that in spite of my stances on progressive issues, I have grown to loathe.

One of them is Richard Heller. See him in this clip here:

While I agree with some of what he's saying, he's such a little punk. He must go a week in between bathing. And who lights up a joint right in front of their dad? I love how Devane smacked it right out of his hand. (note: On the commentary on the DVD, Surnow states that he regretted writing the "Sixth-grade Michael Moore logic" line. He then said that he should have made it "fifth-grade Michael Moore logic", since it doesn't make it out of the fifth grade. Ouch.)

Another character in Season 4, albeit minor, was the Amnesty Global guy. This was the bald guy in the suit (he reminded me of Dana Carvey's Turtle character in that Master of Disguise movie) who was representing Joe Prado, who was assisting Marwan and the other terrorists. He's another guy I just wanted to slug in the face. Jack was trying to persuade him to interrogate Prado, since Prado really wasn't a good guy, but the Amnesty Global guy kept bringing up the Constitution and due process. Again, it's one of those cases where you agree with the opposing viewpoint, but it's done in such a way, and you get caught up with the show, that you just want to strangle the guy and let Jack and CTU have their way.

Despite that, I will not become a Republican. But I'm still planning to unregister as a Democrat at some point (they suck), I'll probably change back to being an Independent.

Medford's a nice town, really

I live in Medford, which isn't the best town in Long Island, but it compares very favorably to our neighbors, Patchogue and Coram. I mean that you don't have roving bands of bums and malcontents in this town, which is good for me because I walk a lot (I don't drive). Anyway, this does give Medford a bad name. Staples just opened here around a week ago, and it's been robbed already. Read this:

By Christine Armario

A Staples store in Medford was robbed by a man who threatened to shoot a cashier if he didn't hand over cash, Suffolk County police said.

They said Troy Schnoor, 44, of Shirley, approached the cashier about 8:10 p.m. Saturday with a pack of gum he appeared to be purchasing. But instead of taking out his wallet, he said, "Give me the money or I'll shoot you," then reached down into the open cash register and took some money, police said.

The store manager called 911 and described the robber to police. As Officer Thomas Pryor was responding to the call, he spotted Schnoor walking on Horseblock Road in Medford.

The description fit, but no gun was found, police said. Schnoor was taken to the Sixth Precinct station house and charged with third-degree robbery.

He was arraigned in First District Court, Central Islip, and held on $50,025 cash bail.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.


So, a man robs a store, and his getaway vehicle of choice is...his FEET? Someone put this guy in the genius files. He's probably one of the losers who come into my store every day.

New "24" Tonight

It's Monday, and we all know what that means: a new hour of "24". Here is the description of tonight's episode, from Yahoo:

"The administration copes with a compromising situation; Jack stops at nothing to protect the country from an international incident."

Well, that doesn't tell us a lot. Only that I've been hearing "international incident" a lot on the show, whereas it was first an "international situation".

At the end of last week's episode, CTU was under siege by mercenaries hired by the Chinese government. Jack has been captured, and Josh Bauer has been apprehended by the mercs to take back to Phillip Bauer. Phillip Bauer wants Josh in exchange for fixing the override switch to the Russian nuclear weapon that Cheng now is in possession of. Why Phillip couldn't have just waited an hour or so for Josh to be released from CTU, we'll probably never know. Doyle and his men are out in the field, so they probably won't be able to save CTU. Lisa Miller is carrying on her X-rated romp under the prying eyes of Lennox. I don't know how people can say "24" jumped the shark, it's still must-watch TV, LOL.

Remember, "24" on Fox tonight at 9. Tune in, for the good of the country, of course.

The RIAA are the most hideous, despicable monsters.

Here's why:


By ANNA JO BRATTON, Associated Press WriterSun May 13, 2:50 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — At first, Sarah Barg thought the e-mail was a scam.

Some group called the Recording Industry Association of America was accusing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore of illegally downloading 381 songs using the school's computer network and a program called Ares.

The letter said she might be sued but offered her the chance to settle out of court.

Barg couldn't imagine anyone expected her to pay $3,000 — $7.87 per song — for some 1980s ballads and Spice Girls tunes she downloaded for laughs in her dorm room. Besides, the 20-year-old had friends who had downloaded thousands of songs without repercussion.

"Obviously I knew it was illegal, but no one got in trouble for it," Barg said.

But Barg's perspective changed quickly that Thursday in March, when she called student legal services and found out the e-mail was no joke and that she had a pricey decision to make.

Barg is one of 61 students at UNL and hundreds at more than 60 college campuses across the country who have received letters from the recording industry group, threatening a lawsuit if they don't settle out of court.

"Any student on any campus in the country who is illegally downloading music may receive one of these letters in the coming months," said Jenni Engebretsen, an RIAA spokeswoman.

Barg's parents paid the $3,000 settlement. Without their help, "I don't know what I would have done. I'm only 20 years old," she said.

At least 500 university students nationwide have paid settlements to avoid being sued, Engebretsen said. Students who don't take the offer face lawsuits — and minimum damages of $750 for each copyrighted recording shared if they lose.

UNL officials have been told 32 more letters are on the way. At least 17 UNL students who did not take the settlement offer have been sued, according to the RIAA, although the university has been asked to forward only five subpoenas.

But the students coughing up the cash question why they're the ones getting in trouble.

"They're targeting the worst people," UNL freshman Andrew Johnson, who also settled for $3,000. "Legally, it probably makes sense, because we don't have the money to fight."

Johnson got his e-mail in February, with the recording industry group's first wave of letters targeting college students. He had downloaded 100 songs on a program called LimeWire using the university network.

The money to settle came from the 18-year-old's college fund. He'll work three jobs this summer to pay back the money.

Johnson compares what he did to people driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.

"It's not like I downloaded millions of songs and sold them to people," Johnson said.

But just one song can bring a lawsuit, Engebretsen said.

"It is important to send the message that this is illegal, you can be caught, and there are consequences," she said.

The industry realizes attitudes need changing, and money from the settlements is reinvested in educational programs schools and other groups can use to spread the word that song sharing can have severe consequences.

Some of the programs are tailored to start with third-graders.

"We do recognize that by the time students reach college, many of their music habits are already formed," Engebretsen said.

Earlier this month, members of Congress sent a letter to officials from 19 universities, including UNL, asking for information about schools' anti-piracy policies.

According to the letter, more than half of college students download copyrighted music and movies. The information requested is intended to help assess whether Congress needs to advance legislation to ensure illegal downloading "is no longer commonly associated with student life on some U.S. campuses," the letter says.

Barg is still angry about her letter from the recording industry group, which she calls bullying. But she agrees sharing music is common, and that other students don't understand the consequences.

"Technically, I'm guilty. I just think it's ridiculous, the way they're going about it," Barg said. "We have to find a way to adjust our legal policy to take into account this new technology, and so far, they're not doing a very good job."

Barg thinks the university should send an e-mail to all students, warning them that the recording industry won't look the other way.

As campus clears out for the summer, UNL officials are considering launching a new educational campaign in the fall.

"If we can do anything to help educate students about what illegal file-sharing is, we're willing and interested in doing that," said Kelly Bartling, a university spokeswoman.

Bartling said no one wants students to have to worry about how to pay tuition because of an expensive settlement. "It is a hugely expensive lesson," Bartling said.

Johnson, the UNL freshman, doesn't think the threats from the recording industry group are going to solve the problem. Friends who know he got in trouble still share music online.

"People are still going to do it until they get caught, and they can't catch everyone," Johnson said.


If you have read this, I guess it's pretty redundant for me to state this, but the RIAA are monsters. I have mixed feelings on downloading music in general. When I was in college, a good friend of mine downloaded a lot of music. I mean, he downloaded entire album catalogs of a certain few artists. A year or so ago, we talked and he told me that he disposed of the entire collection that he'd spent so much time downloading. It wasn't because he felt guilt over being a pirate, it was because he realized that he didn't appreciate the many, many albums he was able to download because he didn't have to pay for them. That made a lot of sense to me, that's why I never pirate and look down on people who do.

However, there is a line between downloading insane amounts of music, and downloading a song here and there just to listen to, because you want to hear the single by your favorite band from their new album, or it's a kitschy song you remember well from the 80s or 90s. To the RIAA, no such line exists, and as a result, good kids are getting in trouble.

61 students at this campus alone have gotten threatening emails from the RIAA. Although some have bravely (and perhaps foolishly) accepted the consequences of a lawsuit rather than caving to these scumbags, most of them have no choice, as they're just struggling to pay their tuition. The young woman interviewed for this article had to get bailed out by her parents, they paid three thousand dollars to the RIAA. I'm willing to bet that you go into most of these "pirates" dorm rooms, and you'll see a tower filled with legit music CD's, bought at a retail store. My friend had a tower. So it's not like most people who download music never buy CD's and just freeload off the music industry. 18 to 32 year olds are the RIAA's biggest customers, and how do they pay back their biggest customers? By threatening them with lawsuits.

This other kid interviewed has to work three jobs this summer to make up for the money he lost that went into the RIAA's coffers. I can't say this enough, this is one group of sick people. They're even planning to go into schools, and teach kids, as young as third-graders, that sharing is wrong. Aren't one of the first things we're taught as kids is that sharing is good, even important? Share with your neighbor. That's one of the first values we're taught. And the RIAA is telling us that we can't share.

This is also a lesson in how far the U.S. Congress is in the pocket of RIAA and all the other lobbyists out there. There should be Congressmen up in arms, fighting for these kids and telling the RIAA to back off. But no, they're getting campaign contributions from the RIAA, so they're going to let the RIAA deciminate and possibly ruin these kids.

Jenni Engebretsen is the spawn of Satan. If the RIAA depended on me to keep them in business, they would have boarded up long ago. I only buy used CD's, because they're reasonably priced and the money I'm giving isn't going into the pockets of the RIAA so they can prosecute 19 year olds for downloading the new Linkin Park song. But maybe I shouldn't speak about it, next the RIAA will go after people for selling and buying used records. I'll keep checking my email box.