Friday, August 31, 2007

Meat more responible for global warming than SUV's?

A good article in the New York Times, linked to by Bru Notes (again, thanks), shows a PR campaign by groups such as PETA and the Humane Society that states that eating meat makes you more liable for the global warming problem than someone driving a Hummer. And there is data from the United Nations that backs this up. This is something I've thought of before, when you consider the transportation and amount of fossil fuels that it must take to ship meat throughout the world. That's not counting the actual raising of cows and other animals for meat on the farm. I eat meat, as I'm sure a lot of left-leaning people do. So it makes you think.

But as Bru posted, I don't agree with PETA's insinuation that those who are already fighting against global warming, including Al Gore and others, should do even more. Global Warming is a lot to adapt to, for anyone who's serious about it. You have to sell your SUV and drive a smaller, fuel-efficient car. You have to recycle more. You have to make a lot of changes, and you can only change so much. I don't think someone who drives a Prius, lives in a small apartment or house and is a good eco-citizen in most respects is an evil hypocrite for eating a hamburger now and then. If PETA and the Humane Society wants to fight global warming on the pretense of saving the animals, have at it, it's a great and noble goal. But they shouldn't expect other environmental activists to do it.

He Sold His Soul to Walmart

Thanks to The Bru Notes for giving a heads up to this really good article from the business magazine Fast Company about Adam Werbach, a former president of the Sierra Club (at 23) who is now helping Walmart in its sustainability efforts. Needless to say, there is a figurative paradox of a lifelong environmentalist working for a company that is decidedly un-progressive in many respects. Werbach expresses his misgivings at Walmart's labor practices, for example, and finds that his political and environmental activism collides with the nature of his work on behalf of Walmart.

Werbach has taken much heat from his peers and the environmental community on this decision. I think it's a little admirable. He had issues with the environmental movement on its willingness to confront the issues and try to right its wrongs, which really echo a lot of the issues I had working with progressive movements locally. He is trying to make this large corporation, which to this point has been a huge strain on our communities, more "green" and more sustainable. Even if he can make baby steps with this, he still deserves a lot of credit. He will take Walmart further with this (that is, if they're sincere about it) than if they'd just gotten a few corporate exiles to run their sustainable development branch.

Idiot of the Day

It's going to be really hard to dethrone my personal Biggest Idiot:

But this guy is still worth mentioning. He is a leader of a right-wing political party in Germany who has said that Rudolf Hess, Hitler's secretary, should receive the Nobel Peace Prize. An idiotic statement, sure, but I think the German government has a pretty radical policy in that he can be charged with a crime and sentenced to prison for making such a statement. I guess all countries have policies that don't really make sense. I just found out that in my country, someone could be arrested for making hand gestures and tapping their feet in a public bathroom.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Enough With the 'Raising Awareness' Garbage

From Adage:

Enough With the 'Raising Awareness' Garbage

Starbucks, Paramount Movie Effort Flops, but That's Just Swell!

Interesting piece -- in the Los Angeles Times of all places! -- about the latest venture between Starbucks and a movie studio. Paramount's summer release, "Arctic Tale," is performing miserably. How you mess up a movie about a cute little polar bear and a chubby little walrus is beyond me. Perhaps that cheesy preaching from Queen Latifah and the grrrl-power/boys-are-stupid vibe didn't help.

That's not the point. The point is "the film has grossed roughly $600,000 domestically since its release July 25."

And that's just fine with Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. "Our measurement of success was not the box office," Lombard said. "Our measurement of success was to do as much as we could to encourage discussion around the critical issue of today -- global warming."

I'm sure that's the sort of thing that Starbucks shareholders want to hear. "We don't measure success in stupid old dollars. We're more interested in conversation." What? Did Lombard follow patrons around and eavesdrop. "Hey! We've got two people discussing global warming on Table 2. Sweet! It's a success." And does that conversation count if it's two global-warming naysayers talking about the polar bear population being at its highest point in the last 40 years?

It seems that in its book and music selections, Starbucks picks things that its core audience might be interested in that they'll actually buy it at a premium price in the store. But with movies, we're supposed to believe that the company is just happy to spark a conversation?

More annoying still is the idea that a company -- hell, anyone -- needs to encourage discussion or raise awareness about global warming. Who ISN'T aware of it by now? Even the deniers are aware of it. Even they are having a discussion about it. The only people not talking about it are those Amazonian tribes who have no contact with the modern world! So stop it already. If you're going to do something -- cut carbon emissions, use solar power, plant trees or whatever -- then do something. Quit it with the "Oh, we raised awareness." Talk about your b.s. metrics.

This is from a pizza place in New Zealand called Hell Pizza

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush warns of "nuclear holocaust" over Iran

What's wrong with this guy?

Latest on Manhunt 2

I typically don't keep abreast of the latest video game happenings. I love gaming, always have, but I'm a classic gamer at heart and I've always been on a strict budget, so it's very vary rare that I buy the newest release. But this Manhunt 2 story intrigues me. The latest news is that the sequel to Manhunt apparently got re-edited, and its initial rating of AO (Adults Only) by the ESRB was brought down to a more marketable (and release-able, since Sony and Nintendo won't permit AO games to be published) M rating. Now, the M rating still makes it perfectly clear that the game isn't for kids. But that's not good enough for the crybabies at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, who want the government to hold their hands in deciding what games to buy for their children. They're now saying that the ESRB hasn't described what led them to change the rating. What does it matter? This is just grasping for straws now.

As one poster commented on Game Politics, you're now seeing these organizations come out of the woodwork to attack games. But they aren't attacking offensive lyrics in music, or graphic violence in movies, because those aren't hot-button issues anymore. They're taken for granted now. Someday, violence and adult situations will be common in games too, and no one will care. This is just a device for a few groups to get notoriety.

Madison Ave. Warms to Climate Change

In something that was unthinkable not too long ago, major advertising agencies are competing for the account of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore's organization to raise awareness of global warming. It was unthinkable due to the fact that many of these agencies have among their clients major corporations whose business depends on the status quo, and denying global warming. The ad agencies feared retaliation from these companies, such as Chevron. But now that the issue is in the limelight, and is very popular, this tactic would likely backfire. So this is yet another step that there will be further awareness of global warming in advertising and other ventures, and hopefully we'll follow up on it and be ready and willing to do our part.

Update on Lauren Upton (SC's Miss Teen USA candidate)

Lauren Upton's the girl I posted about yesterday on the blog, and is now pretty well-known by many for doing such a horrendous job on answering a question at the Miss Teen USA pageant. Again, in her defense, it was a dumb question, but that still doesn't explain the nonsensical gibberish she gave.

Anyway, she was on the Today Show yesterday, in which she gave the "answer" again, and was gently coaxed by Ann Curry and Matt Lauer. Try watching it, I couldn't sit through the whole thing.

I'm kind of disgusted how Curry and Lauer are making excuses for this girl. Don't get me wrong, I do kind of feel bad for her, but her "answer" isn't something that you can explain away by saying she was just "nervous." Yeah, most of us have had to publicly speak during our lifetimes, I've had to do it many times, and it's nerve-racking, and sometimes you flub, or say something you didn't intend to say. But this is just total ignorance. She regurgitated things she was taught to say, although it had zero to do with what was asked. She couldn't just think of a sensible answer. I think that's more the fault of the educational system than Ms. Upton's ignorance or lack of knowledge. But consoling her and telling her it's okay, and attributing it to nervousness is just the wrong approach.

Also, letting her re-answer the question? Ugh. One of the key themes that life is about, and what people her age should be taught, is that you don't get second chances. What you initially do in any endeavor, especially something like speaking to a large group of people (not to speak of the many who found this on Youtube, like me), stays with you. You aren't given a chance to do it right, unless you're an attractive Miss Teen USA candidate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Miss South Carolina tries to answer a question...

And this is what happens.

What a total disaster. OMG. A very helpful person on Youtube commented with what he (or she) thought was what she said.

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us."

This is a product of our educational system, folks. In all fairness, I felt the question was dumb as well (why do you think Americans can't find the U.S. on a map? Because we're freakin' dolts, that's why). But she would have been better off saying "no comment". It's like that saying, "better to have people think you're an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt", or something like that. It's also important to understand that our educational system has changed from when even I was in school. You were encouraged to think. Now, teachers are more preoccupied with having our kids memorize the questions and answers on the standardized tests than to have them engage in critical and analytical thinking.

Plus, we live in a culture where it isn't very popular to be educated and wise. I'm sure this girl can fire off random facts on Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, on command. She probably knows the best positions. But she is likely one of those people who couldn't find our country on a map, she probably couldn't even find South Carolina on a map.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Alberto Gonzales resigns

The Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, resigned today. I never really had interest in the various scandals this guy was apparently at the center of, but something I find interesting, and that CNN (or any source I've read) hasn't entertained yet, were the reasons for it. Why now? This guy's been in the hot-seat for months. Rumor has it that Bush was ready to fire him months ago, but backed down due to their friendship.

Well, this past weekend, John Warner, a Republican senator from VA, was making noise about cutting troop levels in Iraq. With the assessment of Iraq being put before Congress in a week or so, it's a real possibility that Bush will lose the GOP on Iraq. Some Republicans in the Senate have been very critical and unsupportive of Gonzales. So Bush makes a deal. Stay behind me in Iraq, don't waver, and I'll give you the head of Alfredo Garcia, oops, I mean Alberto Gonzales.

Song of the Day

It's a song I've been hearing a few times on Sirius 30: The Coffeehouse, "Easy" by the Barenaked Ladies. They were big in the late 90's, they were never really my bag, they were one of those goofy frat-boy type bands with the gimmicky songs. But this is a really good song, though, it's from last year, I think.

The Pirate Bay

There is a search engine, based in Sweden, called The Pirate Bay in which you can find bootlegged movies for download like the Bourne Ultimatum and Knocked Up. Needless to say, all of the film and music cartels are waging war. So far, it's been an uphill battle because the group is based in Sweden. Also, it's a search engine, they're not hosting the forbidden content themselves.

The issue of piracy has always been fascinating to me. When I was younger, I thought Napster and the other free file-sharing services were really cool. It still fascinates me, based on the potential of what someone can access. If a 19 year old skater happened to come across a few jazz recordings and decided to download them, just based on there being free. And it turns out he fell in love with the art form of jazz music. Something he couldn't have done if he was expected to drop close to 2o dollars for a CD. That'd be great, and I'm sure that's happened.

However, as I've grown older, I've realized that you don't really appreciate something when you get it for nothing. You don't place a high value on something that's easily obtainable. Also, I know they're big, evil corporations, but I feel it's immoral to cheat anyone or any outfit out of money. If you didn't want to go to the theater to see Live Free or Die Hard, you should wait until it's on Netflix or on HBO. You're not just screwing Fox, you're screwing the director, the writer, you're screwing Bruce Willis and his co-stars, and the crew. Yeah, they may have more money than God, but that's not the point. Stealing is stealing.

Ari Fleischer's misleading message

There is a new organization that is currently airing ads on television with disabled Iraq war veterans urging us to stay the course and that we'll be attacked again if we leave. All very touching, very sincere. But don't be fooled. These ads are being sponsored by a group called Freedom's Watch, an organization bankrolled by millionaires who've donated to Bush's campaign, and is the mastermind of Ari Fleisher, Bush's former press secretary.

Read about it here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On U.S.-Cuba Relations, Chris Dodd Demonstrates What an "Adult Foreign Policy" Would Look Like

This guy has the best idea of every candidate on U.S.-Cuba policy.

I want to see the peaceful transition to democracy occur on the Island of Cuba in my life time.

That isn't going to happen if we continue the misguided policies of the last forty-six years. We must open the flood gates to contacts with the Cuban people. We must remove restrictions on the ability of Cuban Americans to provide financial assistance to their loved ones. Even small sums of money in the hands of ordinary Cuban families can serve as catalysts for private investment to gain a foothold in Cuba.

I have long supported the freedom to travel to Cuba, which is why I have joined with twenty of my colleagues in a bi-partisan way to co-sponsor S.721 the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2007.

It is simply un-American to bar American citizens from traveling to foreign countries. In fact, Americans are currently free to travel to both Iran and North Korea, two countries which pose far more serious threats to American national security than the government of Cuba.

But more than that, the United States' most potent weapon against totalitarianism is the influence of ordinary American citizens. They are some of the best ambassadors we have, and the free exchange of ideas and the interaction between Americans and Cubans are important ways to encourage democracy in Cuba.

For more than forty-six years, the United States has maintained an isolationist policy toward Cuba, which I believe has not achieved its intended objectives, namely to hasten a peaceful and democratic transition on the Island of Cuba. Rather, it has solidified the authoritarian control of Fidel Castro, and has adversely affected the already miserable living conditions of 11 million innocent men, women, and children on the Island.

I have long opposed restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to the Cuban people. Frankly I believe it is immoral to deprive innocent people from access to American medical and farm products. Moreover, we hurt our American farm families with such an ill conceived policy. It is a commonsense policy to encourage Cuban authorities to purchase US food and medicine rather than other foreign purchases that may impact adversely on our nation's security.

The Island of Cuba is in the throes of a transition to a post-Castro Cuba. A US policy of staying the course leaves us on the sides as the future of Cuba is being written. It is time to engage before it is too late to have a positive influence on the political landscape which is rapidly taking shape there. In a Dodd administration the United States will engage with the Cuban people in support of a peaceful transition to democracy.

-- Chris Dodd, United States Senator

Clinton and Obama on Cuba

One of my main interests recently has been to read books on the history of Cuba. Ever since I took a course on 2oth Century Latin American History a few years ago, reading about the region has intrigued me. Cuba, in particular, only because of its distinctive history and that its internal state within the past 50 or so years has been a fascinating mystery.

An interesting little story is playing out among the top two Democratic front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary wants to go with the traditional, conservative, Bush-lite approach of a hard-line on Cuba, including prohibiting Cuban exiles from visiting their families in Cuba. Obama, on the other hand, wants reform in our policy towards Cuba, including permitting exiles to visiting their family, and perhaps beyond that. In a possibly genius move, he was able to coax Clinton's camp into stating that "she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance."

Something like this won't make me run to the polls next year in the primary, but I like some of Obama's stances on foreign policy, although that might be all I ever like from the man.

"The Killpoint" marathon today

Just to let you know, Spike is airing a marathon of their show "The Killpoint", starting today at 3, leading into the season finale at 9. This is an awesome show about a bank robbery gone terribly wrong, and the hostage situation that develops. The performances of Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo breathe life into what could have been a by-the-numbers premise, and it has plenty of action too.

It's a shitty day out today anyway, so you might as well stay in and watch a quality show, like "The Killpoint". 3 PM on Spike.

Ford and GM say factories in US face axe

This is gonna be ugly. I think this could be a death knell for unions in the U.S., at least for now. The UAW either accepts drastic cuts in wages and benefits, or Ford and GM go overseas and the UAW loses, period.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Manhunt 2 Re-rated from AO to M, Gets Halloween Release Date

Thanks to for this news story that the game Manhunt 2 has gotten the "M" rating it needed for a release on the consoles, and that it'll be released on October 31, Halloween.

No one knows the extent of the editing Rockstar had to do in order for MH2 to get an "M" rating, but one thing is for certain: MH2 will certainly be a best-seller, and a lot of the people who play it will probably be young people under 18. That's why these groups who were speaking out about the game before it was even rated the first time really aren't smart. In their outspoken, relentless zeal to "protect" the children, all they did was help promote the game. They're the best marketing team Rockstar could have hoped for.

Can't Stand the Heat?

As per usual, the South lags behind the rest of the country in displaying foresight on certain issues, if they ever reach that point at all. The Georgia legislature recently held a conference called "Global Warming: Debunking the Myth or a Need for Climate Change Policy." Rather than show any kind of balance, the hearing was dominated by global-warming deniers who are paid by the oil and energy companies. Thankfully, the stance of the Georgia legislature is not representative of the rest of the country, in which states are doing their best to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions.

Thanks to Bru Notes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Violent Games Only Make Angry People Aggressive, according to a study

Thanks to

It verifies what many gamers, including myself, have been trying to tell everyone else all along: that violent video games do not make people violent. If they do, the person who is committing the act of violence already has serious anger issues. Look at the sales of games like GTA and Halo. If violent video games had an effect of making normal people violent, we'd be seeing violent shootings on the news everyday by psychopath gamers. But you don't. So, 'nuff said. Now, excuse me while I engage in mass murder in GTA: San Andreas.

"War" out today

This movie looks really awesome.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Captivating Conspiracy???"

Another great post from Liz and the Contemplation of Preponderance blog. This is about the game our politicians and corporations are playing with us in the form of the rising-and-(slightly) dropping gas prices.


I noticed something last week that I felt I needed to research a bit. This morning, I heard on the news that some gas station owners in California have the same impression I do, so I think it's time to share my view. Due to some horrendous circumstances that began last month, I found myself, after nearly two years of semi-monthly trips to town as a passenger, suddenly; twice daily in the driver's seat. I found myself noticing the gasoline prices diligently, with just a feeling that "they" were getting ready to play with them again. I mean, the whole world, with the exception of the neo-con following, realizes, the American administration has done everything within its power to anger every oil rich nation on the globe. And those of us that are not neo-cons are also aware of this power play being perpetrated on us by government or corporate oil powers or both. With the history of the players, between Haliburton and Zapata Oil, it's truly difficult to differentiate between political power and corporate control.
Anyway, as I observed the price going down for the three weeks I was making my same trek, morning and evening, I was truly thankful that the prices were declining, but waiting for what I have found to be the pattern and protocol of the past few years. It seems there is a pattern of a small decline in price, then a fairly noticable one, then the "super unleaded" gets a few pennies cheaper than "regular unleaded," then it all goes up, markedly, at the pumps, when the tankers roll in the next week or two and refill. As I say, I've been watching this for a few years, but this time, I realized, we the people have so come to accept this treatment, that "they" didn't even wait for the tankers to roll in or for the "gas war" to be official. Remember when there was a certain day of the week, or month, depending upon the size of the town, that each station or company received their gasoline delivery and the price would fluctuate, accordingly? Well, not any more! Literally, overnight last week, all the gasoline prices in the area went up by 20 cents a gallon. And . . . we accepted it again! "They" know we will! How in the world, did every station in the area receive a new shipment of gasoline in that twelve hour period? And it was all the companies, well, the few that haven't merged, anyway. What did I learn from this little observation. The cost at the pump has absolutely nothing to do with the price of the gasoline when it's delivered. If this is acceptable business practice, just what is collusion?
We the customer have become the consumer, and we are at the mercy of those in connivance. Just how does a government police itself when it comes to corrupt cronyism?
My son . . . If they say . . . let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; a Proverb of Holy Scripture

I have a loose tooth

I'm seriously bummed. One of the teeth on my bottom left has loosened, so I have to see my dentist ASAP. I can't remember the last time I lost a tooth, it's been many years. I guess that's a sign of getting older.

Video of Adrian Campbell after being fired from Meijer.

Here is a video of the lovely Adrian Campbell after being fired from those lowlives at Meijer's. If you're in Michigan, Ohio, or around that region, please don't shop there.

Also visit its Youtube page to leave a comment.

NBC's To Catch a Predator takes another hit in Esquire

Yet another media outlet is upset at a program that assists in taking sexual deviants off the streets. Esquire claims that the staff of Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series "manipulated and controlled" police during a sting in Murphy, Texas. This Houston Chronicle article doesn't make it clear how the police were manipulated, but I am going to read this article in Esquire for more information.

The editor of Esquire says that TCAP violates these men's rights of due process. This is a total crock. According to the editor, David Granger, the men are "convicted in the court of public opinion". There is nothing in the Constitution that gives anyone a right to avoid judgment outside of the courtroom. These men are given the same legal rights as anyone else, that doesn't change because they were exposed on national television. So they were "exploited" by NBC? You know what? Tough shit.

There is a growing group of people out there who, for some reason, sympathize with these predators. To them, it's either NBC's fault, or Perverted Justice's fault, or the police's fault, or the legal system's fault, or the viewer's fault. They never, ever, under any circumstances, blame the guy who initiated these online conversations and phone calls with the "minor", in which they say things that are extremely explicit, and then they show up, often with condoms, booze, and other things that leave no doubt where their intentions lie.

I'm pretty sure I've talked about Bill Conradt on this blog before, but to go over the basics, as an assistant prosecutor, of all people, he knew what he was doing was a criminal act. He committed suicide because he knew he was in big trouble, and that his career was effectively over. His sister filed a 100 million dollar lawsuit against NBC, which will hopefully get thrown out, and the prosecutors dropped the charges against the 23 men ensnared in the Murphy sting, leaving them free to go after real teenagers this time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


This is a long article, but one that's certainly worth reading. It's about a winner of the Powerball who squandered his fortune in less than 5 years. A lesson one could receive from this article is that if an uneducated junkie comes into a lot of money, he'll probably lose it pretty quickly. It's probably a lesson most of us have learned already, but this is still worth a read, and it's a tragic story.

An Arcade Game Breaks Arms

Careful grappling with this bad boy, you might get hurt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Bad Boss

Working America, a "community affiliate" of the AFL-CIO, recently had a contest entitled "My Bad Boss", in which people can give their horror stories about their employers. Pity I didn't realize this sooner, I could have written my own story. Anyway, the winners are in, and you could also read the rest of the stories, most of which are really good and will probably strike a chord for anyone who's had a scumbag for a boss.

Article in a Michigan paper about Adrian Campbell.

A local Michigan paper has an article on Adrian Campbell's firing from her employer as a result of her appearing in Michael Moore's "Sicko". I'm glad her case is getting some attention, as we've exchanged a few emails and she is a very nice person who didn't deserve to have this happen to her.

Monday, August 20, 2007


That's the name of a new documentary from Bill Maher. You pronounce it the same was as you would "ridiculous". It's, in Maher's words, an atheist's take on religion, which I don't think has ever been done before, at least not in a documentary form. Maher's a really funny guy, so I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

I hate my DS

Well, I don't hate it, but it's pretty darned close. When I bought my DS Lite, I bought the web browser that'd just come out for it. I figured that rather than having to sit behind this desk every time I wanted to surf the web or blog, I could do it from my portable DS, anywhere I wanted. My room of choice when I'm not here is usually the family room, because my HD set is in there, where I can watch a DVD or something on TV. I could just lay back on the couch, surf the web...or so I thought.

I am so pissed at Nintendo. I guess that you can have a seamless wifi connection in your home. The catch is, though, that you have to turn off your computer's firewall protection. So, if I want to have web access on my DS, that won't disconnect if you breathe on it, that won't take you 20 tries to even access a page for a millisecond, I have to leave my computer exposed to any pirate or saboteur who wishes to do harm to it. Thanks a lot, Nintendo, really.

God's Warriors

I'm not a regular viewer of the cable news stations, but CNN has a 3-night special over the next few nights that sounds pretty good called "God's Warriors." It's about the various religious sects within our society and in others, mostly focusing on Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It also features Jerry Falwell, in one of his last interviews, in which Christine Amanpour apparently rakes him over the coals for his glee that 9/11 happened.

Green Zone Blinders

This is a very good editorial in the Washington Post, about the writers and politicians who come to Iraq, boast of the progress we're making there, but yet never step out of the Green Zone, or if they do, they're surrounded by armed U.S. soldiers and Black Hawk helicopters. Now, it's still brave for these people to visit Iraq, but you're not going to get a truly realistic perspective of what's really going on there if you never step off the military base.

Now thinking of being a paralegal

While researching for jobs, and thinking of going to law school in a few years, I had a thought that becoming a paralegal might be a good idea. It can help train me for law school, and if I decide against going, I'll still be certified to work as a paralegal. I read of the opportunities and the professional outlook for paralegals, and it's pretty stellar. It's really slated to grow over the next decade, as a lot of firms are looking to save money and delegate more work originally allocated to lawyers, to paralegals instead. And it looks to only cost a few thousand dollars for a course, so it might not be a bad investment.

A Change for the Blog

In case you haven't noticed, I've changed the name of my blog again, hopefully for the last time. I liked "Fun 'N Politics", but I just found it very generic, and didn't explain a lot about the site or myself. But I had a thought when I was walking to Target today. I'm someone who's very unique in that I live in a suburban area, where everyone drives a vehicle, and I'm a pedestrian. If it's a far distance, a family member usually drives me, but a lot of times, I walk. It's not a really uncommon sight to see, but walking on the side of the street here is usually associated with being homeless or very, very poor. Someone who's pretty sophisticated, goes to Starbucks most days, and blogs, can't be seen on Route 112 walking, can't he?

But this just came into my head as I was walking, and thought "what a cool name for my blog." I really do like it, and I think this will be a keeper.

Trailer for the 11th Hour documentary

This movie looks really good. I liked "An Inconvenient Truth" a lot, but it got too dry at times; it was like listening to a lecture. But this film is a lot more vivid, has perspectives from a lot of different people; some will call the trailer, and the film itself, alarmist, but that's something that you need at this point.

Speaking of the movies, I bought a Simpsons Season 7 DVD, and in it was a free movie ticket to see The Simpsons Movie. So hopefully I'll get to see that tomorrow. I still want to try to see Rush Hour 3, and this Friday, War is coming out. That movie looks freakin' awesome.

The Bookmobile, Venezuela Style

Whatever your views are on Venezuela and its current leadership, by any standard, this is a great thing. Very cool, too. "Book" mules are being sent into the very deep, rural areas of the country with books and other things to get people to open their minds and educate themselves.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Teens vandalize their town out of what they saw in a video game

A group of teens committed a series of acts of vandalism in their small Canadian town. They say that they replicated what they saw in a video game called "The Warriors". They were apprehended and a few are going to court. The noteworthy thing about this, though, is that the Mounted Police is saying that this was an isolated incident, that this was just a few kids being stupid and copying what they saw in a game. If that happened here, you'd be having cops, politicians, parents, and all the other blowhards saying that video games are evil, controlling our children, and that they should all be banned.

The War on Democracy

This looks like a really good documentary, I hope we're able to see it here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Russia restarts Cold War patrols

As if global warming wasn't bad enough already.

Hezbollah brings Israel war to computer screen

It's really amazing to have seen gaming slowly evolve. It started out with fun little games like Pac-Man and Frogger, just perfectly innocent ways to waste your time. Now, you're seeing games with deep storylines, philosophy, and in some cases, a political message. Like this "Special Force 2" game, a sequel to a war game by Hezbollah. While there doesn't seem to be much meaningful about this game; it's in the "Ethnic Cleansing" realm and being marketed to kids, with a message of killing Israelis, it does make you wonder what other kinds of messages games have in store for us.

Hotel mistakes Nobel laureate for bag lady

Hotel mistakes Nobel laureate for bag lady
Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent

Friday August 17, 2007


She was wearing a Mayan dress, the traditional attire of indigenous people in central America, and the hotel's response was also traditional: throw her out.

Staff at Cancun's five-star Hotel Coral Beach appear to have assumed this was another street vendor or beggar, so without asking questions they ordered her to leave. Except the woman was Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel peace prizewinner, Unesco goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights.

The attempted eviction, an example of discrimination against indigenous people common in central and south America, backfired when other guests recognised Ms Menchú and interceded on her behalf.

The human rights activist was in the Mexican coastal resort at the request of President Felipe Calderón to participate in a conference on drinking water and sanitation and was due to give interviews at the hotel.

David Romero, a journalist and newsreader who was due to interview her for state radio Quintana Roo, told local media that hotel security tried to eject Ms Menchú from the lobby. They relented when told who she was. It was said not to be the first time a hotel has tried to throw her out.

Ms Menchú, 48, was awarded the 1992 Nobel peace prize for protesting against human rights abuses during Guatemala's brutal civil war.

Commentators noted the irony of upmarket resorts discriminating against real Maya while trying to attract tourists with fake Mayan architecture and spectacles.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rudy the Flip-Flopper

Thanks to Liberty in Crisis for posting the video to this. If the right-wing runs with this, he might be in trouble, also counting the 9/11 comments.

Our Medical System Needs a Remedy

My series of "Sicko" inspired, health care related posts continues. This blog is from one of the best, more unheralded bloggers on the Internet, KDLiz and the Contemplation of Preponderance.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Our Medical System Needs a Remedy

I have found myself in a situation that I would have never guessed I'd be in. I've spent three weeks, night and day, at a hospital bedside. And you know, it stinks. Everything about it stinks. Let me qualify my viewpoint with the fact that I simply do not have any faith in doctors or the medical system. I place my faith in G-D, but that is not the order of the day, here in America. I don't have a TV at home, but I've seen plenty of television the past three weeks, and I had no idea that just about every other advertisement is for a medication. I have come to realize the programming of our nation appears to be highly effective. Through the news, it's heart and ulcer medications. Through the political programs, the advertisements are for cialis and viagra. Late night, we see medications for restless leg syndrome and sleep disorders. But that doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the American medical system. I've had the privilege of dealing with HIPPA, which is just stupid. HIPPA has so many loopholes for the system, and the patient can get lost or caught in every one of them. I also found out, nurses are exempt from the HIPPA rules. My husband's cousin is married to a nurse and to quote him, she "tracked him down" and found out which hospital he was in. For all of you that think HIPPA is there for your privacy and protection, think again! And hospitals have crossed the line from mercy, compassion, and charity to big, very big business. There are now charge cards that allow so much time to pay, interest free, for visits to a doctor, a dentist, or even a vet. Then the card has the same regulations and charges as any credit card, because many hospitals no longer carry accounts past thirty days, even with their disproportionately outrageous costs. Tell your insurance company to be quick or you'll find yourself dealing with collection agencies or attorneys. I read an article today, about a woman that has battled cancer, paid the cobra insurance premiums between employment, still had to file bankruptcy over the co-pay of her medical bills, and now she is busy working, so she can pay insurance premiums costing over $600.00 a month. Ah, the compassion of the big business that medicine truly is! I'm wondering when the price of medical care is going to be figured in to the "quality of life" equation. Which now brings me to the candidates and their ideas. I haven't heard that any of the GOP candidates have made health care an issue, with the exception of Tommy Thompson, who has now dropped out of the campaign, but he's on the board of VeriChip, the chip that is implanted for medical information and now endorsed by the AMA. Hillary seems to want socialized medicine. Obama proposes some gradual insurance coverage plan. You know, for a guy that is supposed to be a fresh face, a splash of political freshness; considering as instantly as he rose to political stardom, he certainly can't make any promises with such immediate results to "we the people." John Edwards wants to make health insurance mandatory like auto insurance. As I have observed, first hand, and listened to the candidates, I'm truly leaning toward socialized medicine. America ranks close to 40th in medical care world wide and past 40th in life expectancy. Apparently, what America is doing isn't really working so well, anyway. So, how can it be improved? I don't agree with John Edwards. I don't use hospitalization or doctors, so I shouldn't be forced to carry insurance. I have no idea what Obama is really even saying. He's got such "GQ" style, but this gradual stuff just doesn't keep me hanging on his every word. Hillary's socialized medicine, if that's really the plan, seems to be the best. I'm already paying taxes that are funding all sorts of things I don't believe in, so why not medical treatment as well? Then, people can actually make a choice. A hard working single mom that really puts her faith in medicine can afford treatment, and a person like myself, who doesn't choose to seek treatment is simply paying taxes. I'm not sure what we'll do with all the unemployed insurance salesmen and handlers, but socialized medicine will finally bring everyone to the place of knowing what they believe and where they place their trust. I know my mother-in-law and sister-in-law share the same faith. I've heard them both speak of life in the hands of a doctor, as if life were truly in the power of educated man. I'm thankful my loved one has survived this treatment, but I'll be very glad to leave this "temple of healing" and take him home to seek The Healer.
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the YHVH thy G-d, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the YHVH that healeth thee.
I am the YHVH: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images. Holy Scripture

Arctic sea ice shrinks to record low

...and the fiddle continues to play.

Arctic sea ice shrinks to record low

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer1 hour, 29 minutes ago

There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

"Today is a historic day," said Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the center. "This is the least sea ice we've ever seen in the satellite record and we have another month left to go in the melt season this year."

Satellite measurements showed 2.02 million square miles of ice in the Arctic, falling below the Sept. 21, 2005, record minimum of 2.05 million square miles, the agency said.

Sea ice is particularly low in the East Siberian side of the Arctic and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, the center reported.

Ice in the Canadian Archipelago is also quite low. Along the Atlantic side of the Arctic Ocean, sea ice extent is not as unusually low, but there is still less than normal, according to the center located in Boulder, Colo.

The snow and ice center is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. It receives support from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation.

Scientists began monitoring the extent of Arctic sea ice in the 1970s when satellite images became available.

The polar regions have long been of concern to climate specialists studying global warming because those regions are expected to feel the impact of climate change sooner and to a greater extent than other areas.

Continue to read here.

My thoughts on the Padilla trial

I have followed the whole Jose Padilla saga casually. While I have been troubled throughout, from the moment he was apprehended and deemed as an "enemy combatant" although he was an American citizen, I'm not ready to take the step that the government just did this to him for the hell of it and that he doesn't really have ties to terrorism at all. However, I think a solid case can be made here for a miscarriage of justice towards Padilla.

I'm not even talking about the "enemy combatant" thing. The fact that after a trial that stretched on for three months, for a jury to render a verdict after just a day-and-a-half is certainly a cause for question. While I'm no legal eagle (not yet, anyway), to pore over the evidence, recordings etc over the timespan of a 3-month trial, not to mention the jury instructions, is certainly going to take more than 18 hours.

When you look at the conduct of the jury prior to yesterday afternoon's verdict, this wouldn't be surprising. The jury dressed in red, white, and blue for the week leading up to the Fourth of July. That had to have signaled a red flag to the defense. You're dealing with a conservative, super-patriotic jury in a case of potential terrorism. That's like having Osama Bin Laden and the eleven top captains of Al-Qaeda on the jury. You're making a mockery of justice by packing the jury with 12 people who voted for Bush.

In another article in the New York Times, one of the jurors admitted that she had made up her mind before the trial began. I really hope this case is appealed. Padilla may indeed have engaged in acts of terror, or at least aided and abetted them, but as an American citizen, he deserves a fair trial.

TalkLeft is a really good blog with plenty of information on the Padilla trial.

Celeb spottings at Starbucks

This is a months-old post from the Starbucks Gossip blog, but I couldn't stop reading the discussion. It's about the celebrities (and there are quite a lot of them) who are regulars at Starbucks, and what they drink, et al. Very fascinating.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fats Domino receives gold record replacements in New Orleans

This is a nice story. Music legend Fats Domino, whose home and possessions (including his collection of gold records) were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, got replacements of the gold records, replicated exactly as the originals were. I only know a few of his songs (like Blueberry Hill, and Walking to New Orleans, which Spike Lee used to haunting effect in his "When the Levees Broke" documentary), but I do know of his impact on generations of musicians. Thumbs up to Capital/EMI for doing this.

The government is using domestic surveillance (oh, and AT&T is in on it too)

There are a few cases in federal court in which a now defunct Islamic organization is trying to make a case that the U.S. government wiretapped them without a warrant, and another case that the government and AT&T colluded in a widespread datamining program that ensnared many unwitting Americans on their phones and Internet.

The government says that this is done to help catch terrorists and that Americans' rights are respected in the process. But how can that be possible? How, in the act of catching revealing transmissions from "possible" terrorists, can these agents not take a glimpse at our private activities as well? And that isn't even factoring in AT&T's role in this. AT&T is being granted state security privileges. We could kiss our Fourth Amendment rights goodbye, if we haven't already.

Read this punch-by-punch account from Wired's Threat Blog. Your head will explode.

UPDATE (2:30 AM EST): I just read this really good article in the LA Times. The lawyer representing the Islamic organization that's filed suit against George W. Bush tells the story of how he had to write a brief for the case in a Justice Department building, in a room with no windows, watched over by guards, with no notes or lawbooks allowed.

Post-Katrina literature

After two years, literature about Katrina is starting to make its way into the hands and hearts of readers. I, for one, am very much looking forward to reading some of these works. Katrina was an American tragedy, even more so than 9/11, in my opinion.

Also, I was out yesterday and saw Spike Lee's outstanding documentary, When The Levees Broke, on DVD.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The website of 24 Director, Jon Cassar

This is a really cool, well-designed website by one of the key directors of 24, Jon Cassar. He gives you an example of a typical day spent producing 24, as well as the audiobooks he listens to on the way to work, among photos and other things. A really special shout out to Sarah (bsb_fan_1_22) for giving me links concerning these past three posts.

24 Bloopers

While it's hard to imagine, the cast of "24" screws up occasionally, just like everyone else.

Car commercial with Kiefer

This commercial really rocks. Why is Kiefer relegated to voiceover work in U.S. commercials?

Davido, Java Jitter & The Starbucks Rejection Tour

You have to see this video:

This guy's been thrown out of around 200 Starbucks for trying to sing his song. And it's a really cool song too. These Starbucks people need to lighten up a little bit. The guy's immensely talented, just based on the video, and he's promoting Starbucks in the song. You'd think they'd have a little sense of humor. Thankfully, some of the barristas saw it for the good-natured humor it was, and looked like they were having a good time.

And that blond lady? Man, lord have mercy. If that's Davido's squeeze, I seriously envy that guy. I've never seen a sexier lady in a Starbucks apron.

Army foresees conflicts over oil and globalization

This is a short article from the U.S. Army's website. It's a pretty standard article in which the Army's chief of staff is talking about the Army adapting for the future. But something I found interesting was when Casey referred to a world in the future that'll be in "persistent conflict" due to impacts like "globalization, competition for energy...(and) climate change". Now, I'm sure this isn't news to most of you, the fall of the availability of oil & global warming is going to make this world a tough place to live in future generations, but I find it noteworthy that the U.S. Army is openly admitting this.

Fox News bullies antiwar protestors


Stop the repressive fines on the ANSWER Coalition

In an unprecedented action, the ANSWER Coalition today received citations fining the organization $10,000 for the placement of posters announcing the September 15 March on Washington DC. The fines come after a campaign led by FOX news calling for the DC government to take action against those putting up posters for the September 15 demonstration. Tens of thousands of dollars in additional fines are expected in the coming days. Bush’s Interior Department is threatening similar actions against ANSWER. The September 15 posters are legal and conform to city regulations.

This is part of a systematic effort to disrupt the organizing for the September 15 Mass March that is timed to coincide with the report of General Petraeus and the debate in Congress on the Iraq war. Iraq war veterans and their families will lead this dramatic march from the White House to the Congress on September 15. The last thing the government wants is to see the streets of Washington DC fill up with throngs of anti-war protesters right in the middle of the debate. But we will not be stopped. Organizing for this demonstration is taking place in cities and towns throughout the country.

Please send a letter to day to Washington DC Mayor (Adrian M. Fenty) and to the Director of DC Department of Public Works (William O. Howland, Jr.) demanding an end to the fines, harassment and repression of the anti-war movement. We have a right to publicize the September 15 March. Fining the anti-war movement tens of thousands of dollars for putting up Free Speech-protected literature makes a mockery out of the First Amendment.


To sign a petition and send it to these guys, please click here

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chris Matthews

I really don't watch much television news at all, but I have seen a few minutes here and there of Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC. I could take or leave it, I guess there are a lot worse anchors and hosts out there, but he did something last week that, IMO, has to be seen to be believed.

He had a woman named Erin Burnett on his show. She is with CNBC and hosts a few financial programs on that network. While in the course of talking about the recent woes of the stock market and the housing situation, very serious issues and addressed by Ms. Burnett pretty elequently and intelligently, Matthews told her to "get closer" to the camera and that she was a "knockout", among other things.

Now, admittedly, she certainly is a knockout, there's no doubt about that. But for Matthews to say that ON THE AIR, while she's talking about serious issues like the stock market and subprime loans? That's conduct best suited for a bar or an office party, and even then its appropriateness would be arguable. I don't understand why he wanted her to come closer. Was he trying to cop a feel through the camera? This guy obviously has woman issues, and should apologize to Erin Burnett.

Here's a link to the video. Youtube has it as well, but it also shows that specific moment. I think it's more powerful when you see the interview in its entirety.

Super Columbine RPG

Has anyone ever played this game? It's a freeware game, designed by one person with the Playstation program RPG Maker 2000 (which sounds really awesome from a game development standpoint) that depicts the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. You play the two shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. On the surface, it does sound like an unsavory, tasteless game. But the designer has tried to put it in a meaningful light, and being a lifelong gamer, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and try it out. I'll let you know what I think of it later.

Leaders Playing Dress-Up

Read this post from the Conflicting Opinions blog, lol.

Starbucks workers fired for wearing nose rings

There has been a case before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for three years involving two Starbucks employees who were fired for wearing studs in their noses. But this wasn't as part of a fashion statement, but rather because it's a part of their Indian culture. Starbucks wants them to bring an expert forward stating that this is indeed true. I find this to be a pretty sad story. Businesses worry so much about presentation and how their employees come off to customers, in the service industry, I feel they really go too far sometimes.

This kind of reminds me of something that happened at the store I used to work at. One day, as this could be a quiet, boring place, I brought in a music CD. It was the Unplugged album from Alice in Chains. So, it was an acoustic record, about as close to easy listening as you can get from a group like AIC. After awhile, my boss stopped by, which was pretty rare. He made a point of stopping my CD, turning on the radio to the adult contemporary station, and telling me that he didn't want the store to be a haven for dirtbags and that's why he liked WALK (the contemporary station). 7 out of 10 businesses used it, so that's why he wanted it playing all day.

I could have played this album all week, and not one customer would have complained. But my boss felt that he knew what the customers wanted and didn't want. In reality, as a customer at whatever store I go to, I don't expect much. All I expect is friendly service, a fair price, and a clean, presentable store. I don't expect perfection, or someone else's vision of what they think my experience should be like, especially if it's coming at the expense of the people who are working for that store. I couldn't care less if the person making my coffee had a stud in their nose. As long as they were friendly, made it right, and were fairly clean, that'd be good enough for me.

Media Backlash Hits Homeland Security Mod Chip Raids

The oppressive, unjust raids last week by Homeland Security on a few people who used Mod Chips on their video game consoles, is getting a mini-backlash from the media. This media is reduced to a small-town paper and a few noteworthy tech blogs, but they're better than nothing. Wired puts it nicely: "Ahh, DMCA, let us count the ways that you suck." The DMCA is a law passed by Congress and the corporate media, including the big video game companies. The DMCA says that even after you buy, say, a DVD or a Nintendo Wii, the product still isn't really yours. If you make a backup copy of your Matrix or South Park DVD's, the DMCA says that you're breaking the law and can have your doors busted down by the federal government, at the behest of Big Media. If you want to install a Mod Chip to play a game that hasn't (and might not ever) been released in the U.S., or play a homebrewed game, the Big N can throw you in prison for a long time, or fine you into a cardboard box.

Can't the manufacturers of game consoles (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft) simply get rid of the practice of region-locking? This would make consoles able to play games made for that console the world over, rather than just for a particular territory. It'd pretty much kill the demand for mod chips among legitimate gamers. That would leave the pirates, whose persecution wouldn't bother me nearly as much.

Monday, August 13, 2007

U.S. Slips in Life Expectancy

This is definitely relevant in light of "Sicko". Along with the fact that we rank 36 in health care quality, just above Cuba, we place 42nd in life expectancy, with a lifespan of 77.9 years. Experts have stated that our health care crisis certainly plays a big part in this. But also just as importantly, is how we take care of ourselves, or don't take care. Most Americans are either overweight or obese. We shovel junk in our mouths and don't exercise. And I'm no different. Here is what I ate and drank today:

Breakfast--a bowl of Wheaties
Lunch--Steakhouse dip sub from Quiznos, and a large iced coffee from Starbucks (light milk and sugar, though).
Dinner--Baked Macaroni and a bottled water.

I guess that isn't too bad, but it could be better. I don't remember the last time I had a salad. I stopped going to the gym months ago because I had plans that never came to fruition. I don't really exercise, but this article has inspired me. But being an American with a low attention span, I'll probably forget about it after watching TV or playing Marble Blast (I love that game, get it for PC).

Military czar: Draft should be considered

From AFP:

Military draft should be considered: US war czar
Published: Friday August 10, 2007

A top US military officer in charge of coordinating the US war effort in Iraq said Friday that it makes sense to consider a return of the draft to meet the US military's needs.

Lieutenant General Douglas Lutte, who serves as White House deputy national security adviser, said the all-volunteer military is serving "exceedingly well" and the administration has not decided it needs to be replaced with a draft.

But in an interview with National Public Radio, he said, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table."

"But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another," he said.

The United States did away with the draft in 1973 near the end of the Vietnam War.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is America Turning Left?

Probably, but even so, our way of "left" is still much more conservative than in many other places around the world. That's the perspective of this good, short editorial in The Economist. A very good point it makes is that the GOP's implosion is much more akin to the Democratic downfall of the 1960's rather than Bush Sr's defeat in 1992. By that, there is such a thirst for a change in political direction due to Bush's overreach, rather than the awkward non-direction of his father. The far-right has gotten everything it's wanted, but everyone else is pissed off in the process.

But you shouldn't rejoice just yet if you're craving real change in America. The Democratic front-runners (Hillary, Barack) are the right-leaning New Democrats. They want to maintain the status quo, just in a kinder and gentler way. They want to put band-aids on our health care system, rather than give it the total overhaul it obviously needs. They want to remain in Iraq and possibly install our forces in other countries as well. And business? Their money is good with the Democratic Party as well as the GOP.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Personal Website

I know that I already have this blog and my Myspace page, and my Facebook page, etc. But I am interested in building a website using as much pure HTML language as I can. I really want to master it, so as part of that effort, I've put up my personal webpage. It is at

Right now, you'll click on it and get a brief message. But I'm hoping to have more up very soon. Also, when I'm back to being liquid, I might register for my personal URL. It'll probably be

Pearl Jam censored by AT&T

From Pearl Jam's website:

After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.

When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:

- "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and

- "George Bush find yourself another home."

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11

If you are thinking of voting for Giuliani for President next year, this is required reading. Rudy has consistently told 5 lies about September 11. They simply aren't true, and this article does an excellent job of painting a portrait of this man, who constantly hedged and dillie-dallied in protecting NYC from a terrorist attack. He neglected to take relatively simple steps such as replacing the radios of NYC firemen. In the first WTC attack in '93, there were faults and miscommunications with these radios. Eight years later, they were using the same kinds of radios and they were failed by these devices again. They didn't hear the order to evacuate the WTC buildings, and later Giuliani hides this by claiming that they bravely decided to hold their ground and rescue people. A blunder of this magnitude can make Rudy G. indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.

I thought that at worst, Giuliani was exploiting 9/11 by making his role in the day bigger than what it actually was. I never really looked into the issue. Thanks to this finely-reported piece, I have a totally new perspective on the man. Leave it up to the Village Voice to report this, rather than the Times or television media. They'll probably just ignore it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

One Big Party, And We the People Aren't Invited

A great blog from KDLiz's Contemplation of Preponderance, who is back after a thankfully brief absence:

One Big Party, And We the People Aren't Invited

Well, Congress is on vacation. This new Congress seems to be anything but "new." The democrats promised radical change and staunch opposition to the Bush regime, when the majority changed from right to left, and yet here we sit, nearly a year after the big "shake up" election. I'm literally amazed at just how much Bush policy continues to pass through the House and Senate, with the GOP in the minority, and supposedly some GOP moving away from Bush doctrine. Why couldn't the democrats be so powerful when they were the minority? And why are they still so impotent, now that they are the majority? I am truly, now convinced with this latest legislation before the "big break" that political parties are just for show. Let's face it; the politicians are going to do what is best for the politicians. The ones that were elected in 2006 have a considerable amount of time before they have to worry themselves with rallying votes again. We already know that 2008 is not about electing someone that truly will be a good leader, it's about voting against the "party" of non-choice. Hillary is the leading democrat right now and she openly admitted to taking big corprate money, and we already know what Clinton policy did to the unions with NAFTA, before Bill was reelected. Obama is 'promising' fresh and new, but it was clearly obvious at the national convention in 2004, before he was even elected to Senate, that the groundwork for his political career was in place. It just seems, that new faces, new names, and the 'opposing' parties continue to utilize the same methods and produce the same results. More war, more laws, more government spending, more party talk, with fewer rights, less representation, and empty promises from both sides of the political aisle.
Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him . . . Holy Scripture

Off to see The Simpsons

I have another interview on Monday, and I've been filling out resumes and stuff, so I'm gonna take the afternoon off and see The Simpsons Movie. Spiderpig, Spiderpig...a spiderpig does what a spiderpig does. Or however it goes, I love that commercial. TTYL.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Holy Grail of Commercials

I've been looking for a video of this commercial for years, and someone finally put it up on Youtube. Watch it:

I'm not the only one fascinated by how absurd (but entertaining) this commercial is. What ten-year old would know who Robert Loggia is? Hell, most adults probably never heard the name. I only know who he is because he's been in a lot of movies (Scarface, Big, etc.) and I watch the opening and closing credits. My brother and I used to poke fun at this commercial all the time. I remember I'd drink orange juice and say "I'm drinking this because Robert Loggia said it was good for me."

The government can now spy on us, and it's official.

The government can now spy on us if we're talking or emailing with someone. They can spy on Americans abroad without a warrant, and can force our cell phone companies and ISP's to make their networks open to government spooks. Read about it here.

And the Democrats just let it happen.

Escape from 'Made in China'

A very interesting book just came out called "A Year Without 'Made in China' ". It's about one family's quest to go a year without purchasing anything that's made in China. Needless to say, in today's market economy where a lot of cheap goods here in America are "made in China", that's really difficult. I haven't read the book, but from this article, Sara Bongiomi and her family didn't appear to have done this as part of a solemn vow to buy "Made in USA" products (good luck finding those anywhere) but as more of a way to show how an average citizen is tied to the world's economy. As her and her family go a year without buying anything made in China, something as commonplace as shopping becomes a really difficult thing, since a lot of items in most any store are in China. A funny part in the article is how even American flags and related apparel are made in China too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Much Ado About Nine Cents

This is a really good article from a stock market blog about the recent nine cent increase at Starbucks.

I want to add to it a little bit. I'm perplexed as to how when there's a price increase at Dunkin' Donuts or McDonald's, the customer knows about it when he's being rung up, while in the case of a Starbucks price increase, you hear about it in the news media, it's a really big to-do. The competition Starbucks is facing from Mickey D's and Dunkin' in the form of coffee is really overblown. As Lee points out, the stores cater to entirely different markets. I'll give myself as an example. Recently, a Starbucks opened up a couple of miles from my house, on a really busy road. A few months prior to that, a Dunkin' Donuts opened at my local shopping center, which is just around the corner from my house. I don't drive, and I'm a coffee drinker, so you'd probably assume that I am a regular at Dunkin' Donuts. But I'm not. I walk a pretty far distance, in hot weather, to drink my iced coffee at Starbucks.

The reason is fairly simple. These days, I'm looking for a job, so I need a quiet place to go over openings and write out resumes. I also always have at least a couple of books to read for recreation. I'm hopefully going to law school next year, so I'm also researching into that. Dunkin' Donuts isn't a place where I can do that comfortably. Starbucks, on the other hand, has stools, long tables, a few sofas. So I'll gladly go a little out of the way for that experience.

The article does make one error, though. I've never paid 5 and change for a drink at Starbucks. Not yet, anyway. The only drinks that cost close to that much are the Frappuchinos and the vente-size mochas and the Caramel marcha-however-the-hell-you-spell-it. I get a large cup of iced coffee for around 2.70, with refills for 55 cents. Dunkin' charges 3 dollars for an iced coffee. The only positive is that they add milk and sugar for you, but that's not something that I can't do myself.

Plus, I haven't been going to the new 'Bucks for that long, and they already know what I drink. They even know that I want room for milk. I've never seen that kind of service at other big places. I'll gladly pay an extra nine cents for that.

The fool's gold of economic development

This is a really good post from Bru's Notes:

More than 200 people lost their jobs yesterday in Roseburg, Oregon after Dell closed its call center there. While the closure came as a shock to many employees and the community, no one should be the least bit surprised it came to this. What's surprising is that elected and economic development officials, desperate for jobs, keep rolling out the red carpet for global corporations whose only long-term allegiance is to making money for their shareholders.

Back in 2002, Dell chose Roseburg for its call center after starting with a list of 3,300 communities as potential sites for the center, according to a December 23, 2002 article in The News-Review of Roseburg. To win the selection process, the city, Douglas County and the state of Oregon agreed to give Dell a package of tax breaks and other inducements. According to The News Review, the package included a property tax waiver of up to three years, a state income tax credit worth up to 25 percent of property investments that relate to online trade, a reimbursement of $250,000 for Dell expenditures on telecommunications upgrades and equipment, and even an agreement to build a 75-car parking lot at no cost to Dell.

In that same newspaper piece five years ago, well-known Oregon economist Joe Cortright warned, "Places that are going after call centers have to be very cautious." He was very aware that the trend then (and now) was toward moving corporate call centers overseas to save costs. It's also the case that business conditions change rapidly and companies react accordingly. That same month of December 2002, as the article noted, DirecTV closed its call center in Beaverton, Oregon and laid off 400 people after shutting down its Internet subsidiary.

The warning signs were there five years ago, making what happened yesterday in Roseburg no surprise. Too often winning the chase for jobs from outside corporations is nothing more than fool's gold. It may look like real economic development, but it is soon followed by the realization that the same thing that draws large companies to a community – lower costs and higher profits – is what sends them on their way when their business declines or better opportunities present themselves elsewhere. Dell is just the latest example of this. As has been widely reported, Dell sales have been falling, and they are in the process of shedding jobs.

So what's the choice for communities hungry for jobs, like Roseburg, which has long struggled to overcome the deterioration of timber industry employment? It's doing everything possible to take care of existing local employers and to encourage local entrepreneurship. This is not the quick-fix answer public officials seek, and it doesn't let them bask in the glow of ribbon-cutting ceremonies with out-of-town corporate fat cats. But independent locally owned businesses are the long-term foundation for a sustainable economy.


I just read a really good article in Business Week on how Google has just opened up a data farm in a town in North Carolina. They've gotten many tax incentives and subsidies from the state and the county, as well as the town, and in return, they've promised and offered nothing. When the town balks, Google or whatever company can just threaten to go somewhere else, and the town falls on its knees to kiss the ring.

In addition to state and local governments adopting a policy of supporting local businesses rather than bending over for global corporations with no roots or ties to the community, they should also form alliances with each other so that these corporations can't just play one off the other, like they've been doing successfully.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A nice glass of wine and Sideways

The recipe for a relaxing late night. Sideways is one of my favorite movies, and always gets me in the mood for a few glasses of wine. I'm drinking a nice Columbia Crest white. Also reading up on financial options for law school. I might post once or twice more before I go to bed, otherwise, I'll see you tomorrow.

BTW, you can get Sideways on DVD for really cheap if you look, Target had it on sale for 5 dollars a few weeks ago. I bought it and must have seen it 4 times already.

The Pursuit of Happyness

I saw this movie with Will Smith tonight, "The Pursuit of Happyness", thinking that it'd be an okay way to kill 2 hours. But it really made me think. It made me think, for one, about how lucky I am. That although I don't have a job at the moment, I was able to save to prepare for such a possibility, so I don't have to worry about money the way Chris Gardner (who is based on a real person, and Smith plays him in the movie) did. I'm surrounded by all these luxuries that I take for granted, including the computer I'm typing on. Now that I have all this time on my hands until I get something, I go down to the Starbucks that just opened near me and I have a few cups of coffee, maybe a snack, while I'm reading and looking for work. Chris didn't have the money for coffee, plus there probably weren't any Starbucks in his day either.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm pampered. I've had to work hard to get my degree, and I walk a lot because I can't drive. Not to boast, but I do walk long distances sometimes and people look at me in disbelief when they realize this. I'm disabled, and I've had to overcome quite a bit of challenges. I still have more battles to go. But this movie's helped make me realize that I didn't do it all by myself. I've had help, a loving family (well, my mom and brother anyway) who's always been supportive and have helped me realize these opportunities. Not everyone has that.

There have been times when I'd feel sorry for myself and would obsess over the opportunities that have been denied to me over the years for being the kind of person I am. There have also been times when I'd tell myself that I've done a lot, when no one expected me to, that I got my degree, and that it's okay to sit back and relax, and not to worry. But this movie showed me that you should never feel comfortable, that you should always keep striving and pushing for your dream, no matter the pain or the hardship. The more I think about it, the more I want to make law school, and being a lawyer, happen. It's going to be a lot of work, and cost a lot of money. But I can't let that deter me. This is my due.

But you really should see this movie. It's very inspiring and has a great message.

Dumbass of the Day

One of my guilty pleasures is reading (and sometimes blogging) about a person who does a really dumb thing. It's usually a criminal; for example, last week someone was arrested at a courthouse in my county for bringing a stolen car to court on another matter. Seriously, what kind of idiot drives a stolen car to court?

Anyway, this wasn't so much stupid as it was a simple matter of being outsmarted. A producer from Dateline NBC smuggled in a hidden camera to a hackers' convention in Las Vegas. She was outed by somebody within NBC to Defcon, the hackers' conference. In turn, she was then outed by the people at Defcon, and fled the scene. I don't know what Dateline was thinking. An attractive blond lady is going to stick out like a sore thumb at a geeks' convention. What, there were no online predators or IPod thieves for Dateline to bring to justice this week?

Watch the video here

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Get a free air freshener

Here is a chance for you to get a free air freshener, but there's a catch. You have to join the online community of the Sierra Club, which is free. The air freshener is also quite useful, it contains a list of the best and worst oil companies in terms of polluting the environment, their positions on global warming, and other things. So it comes in handy when you need to fill up.

Get it here

New funds for U.S. infrastructure proposed hours before bridge collapse


Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix: New Bridge and Road Funds Proposed — Hours Before Tragedy

Just hours before the Minneapolis bridge collapsed yesterday, two senators with presidential ambitions jointly introduced legislation that would rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska deserve some credit for foresight in trying to spotlight a desperate need before this latest disaster sent politicians scrambling to talk up the problem.

Their bill proposes a national bank charged with prioritizing projects and developing creative ways to finance them. And notably, the supporting materials for the Dodd/Hagel plan shows that at $132 billion a year, the overall price tag for repairing dilapidated roads and bridges is quite close to the annual $120 billion that the U.S. is spending in Iraq.

Considering that Dodd and Hagel are calling for an end to the Iraq war, the Minneapolis tragedy hands them an enticing opportunity to argue that Americans should rebuild their own country before spending billions more on someone else’s.

Contributing Editor Craig Crawford is a news analyst for NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. He can be reached at


This bridge tragedy, more than anything else, should outline the risks of fiscal conservatism. It leads to cutting corners and only giving the bare-bones treatment to our nation's infrastructure, such as our bridges. And then when something like this happens, our politicians say that this is a tragedy which shouldn't have happened, and then they throw money at the problem, when it probably would have cost less if they'd given the issue the money it needed in the first place.

I Updated My Profile

My profile, while not being bare-bones, could have had more put into it, and it has. I put down my favorite movies, books, stuff like that. So check it out by going to the left of the blog.

Adrian Campbell

Here is the email that Adrian Campbell sent me the other day. As I've explained, Adrian was featured in "Sicko" and was soon after fired from her job for appearing in the film. Please contact Meijer's to complain about their petty, vindictive treatment of Adrian. Scroll down for the phone number.

Hi Jeff,

This is Adrian Campbell, the American who goes to Canada for healthcare in SiCKO. I will attach a picture to confirm. I came across your blog, and wanted to say thank you! It means a lot when I get supporters of universal healthcare. I read your profile, and was quite impress too. Howard 100 is one of your favorite stations? That is mine too, I love having Sirius.

So, yes I am with out a job cause of my appearance in SiCKO. I am looking, but it is hard in Michigan. There are very few jobs here, cause we have the highest unemployment rate in the US. It sucks.

I am trying to make something of my appearance. I am not sure what at this point. I like the idea of Hook A Canuck, as an actual show on tv. I came across some message board on comedy central's website, and someone has dubbed me the "SiCKO Hottie."

I am going to Washington DC on September 29th, along with Donna Smith and her husband Larry to march in the Healthcare not Warfare protest.

Thanks again for your support!


Adrian Campbell
American SiCKO

When in doubt, offer sympathy and pass the blame

A really good blog from Crooks and Liars (

When in doubt, offer sympathy and pass the blame

(h/t Diane)

As would be expected, Bush held a press conference (video here (.wmv)) expressing sympathy for the people of the Minneapolis area the day after the massive bridge collapse. As should be expected, Bush used it as an opportunity to slam and blame the Democrats.

We also talked about — in the Cabinet meeting talked about the status of important pieces of legislation before the Congress. We spent a fair amount of time talking about the fact that how disappointed we are that Congress hasn’t sent any spending bills to my desk. By the end of this week, members are going to be leaving for their month-long August recess. And by the time they will return, there will be less than a month before the end of the fiscal year on September the 30th, and yet they haven’t passed one of the 12 spending bills that they’re required to pass. If Congress doesn’t pass the spending bills by the end of the fiscal year, Cabinet Secretaries report that their departments may be unable to move forward with urgent priorities for our country.

This doesn’t have to be this way. The Democrats won last year’s election fair and square, and now they control the calendar for bringing up bills in Congress. They need to pass each of these spending bills individually, on time, and in a fiscally responsible way.

The budget I’ve sent to Congress fully funds America’s priorities. It increases discretionary spending by 6.9 percent. My Cabinet Secretaries assure me that this is adequate to meet the needs of our nation.

Unfortunately, Democratic leaders in Congress want to spend far more. Their budget calls for nearly $22 billion more in discretionary spending next year alone. These leaders have tried to downplay that figure. Yesterday one called this increase — and I quote — “a very small difference” from what I proposed. Only in Washington can $22 billion be called a very small difference. And that difference will keep getting bigger. Over the next five years it will total nearly $205 billion in additional discretionary spending. That $205 billion averages out to about $112 million per day, $4.7 million per hour, $78,000 per minute.

Put another way, that’s about $1,300 in higher spending every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year for the next five years. That’s a lot of money — even for career politicians in Washington. In fact, at that pace, Democrats in Congress would have spent an extra $300,000 since I began these remarks.

And President Bush, how much have we spent in Iraq since you began your comments? Nevermind the crassness and insensitivity to the Minneapolis residents of turning this into an opportunity to play partisan politics–after six years, we’ve come to expect that. But to be so tone deaf as to chastise the Democrats for fiscal irresponsibility when he is responsible for the largest budget deficit in the history of this country and due to his wrong-headedness on Iraq, literally bleeding money into the sands of Baghdad just shows how completely out of touch with reality this President is.