Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Dean wants to eliminate anonymity on the web
Dean also suggested that computer makers such as Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Sony should be required to include an ID card reader in PCs--and Americans would have to insert their uniform IDs into the reader before they could log on. 'One state's smart-card driver's license must be identifiable by another state's card reader,' Dean said. 'It must also be easily commercialized by the private sector and included in all PCs over time--making the Internet safer and more secure.'

Hrm. This was 15 months before he announced his candidacy, so hopefully he's changed his mind by now.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Diagnosis of Corporate entities under DSM IV

...the feature documentary employes a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.

Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation's operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.

[via boingboing]

Kerry leads Bush in hypothetical race

And for the first time in the poll's history a Democrat is enjoying a marginal advantage over President George W. Bush. In a hypothetical face-off, Kerry commanded a three-point lead over the president. ...

Overall, 52 percent of those polled by NEWSWEEK say they would not like to see Bush serve a second term, compared to 44 percent who want to see him win again in November.

Sweet. Whomever can get George out of office has my vote.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Too well dressed to be abused
A man accused of domestic violence has been released after a Spanish court ruled that his wife was too well dressed to be a victim of such abuse.

I'm dumbfounded.

[via prosho]

RCMP raids Ottawa newspaper as part of probe into Arar case

It's great to see that the toxic political climate in America is affecting our neighbor to the north. (Arar is the Canadian citizen and alleged terrorist that the US deported to Syria for interrogation/torture as he passed through the US in transit back home to Canada.) Ashcroft must be so proud.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

McSweeney's: My DJ

The doctor starts to give me a little lecture about the importance of performing monthly checks on myself, but it's hard to keep a straight face because my DJ is wearing a surgical mask he found in one of the doctor's drawers and pretending to scratch his records with a tongue depressor. I'm really relieved about not having testicular cancer, and I have to restrain myself from singing along with the words to the sample my DJ drops every twelve measures or so. ... My DJ encourages the doctor to throw his hands up, but the doctor declines.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Photos from early January. I love Austin.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Staples clerk's stupidity endorsed by Mass. state police

A mother's enquiry about buying Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten-year-old son prompted a night-time visit to her home from a state trooper.
So alarmed was the Staples clerk at the prospect of the ten year old learning to fly, that he informed the police, the Greenfield Recorder reports. The authorities moved into action, leaving nothing to chance. A few days later, Olearcek was alarmed to discover a state trooper flashing a torch into to her home through a sliding glass door at 8:30 pm on a rainy night.


At one time it was rare to find US citizens, in the safest and most prosperous country in the world, jumping at their own shadows. Now we only note how high.

I'm an equal opportunity ranter -- today it's the judiciary that's done something to annoy me.

Gay Dad Ordered to Stay in the Closet

Beyond the normal discretion that a parent would exercise to shield their sex life from their young child, which should be a given, I don't see where the court gets off thinking they have a right to interfere.

A state appeals court says a gay father must keep his homosexuality in the closet when his son is around. ..

As part of a divorce hearing, Hogue was barred from "exposing the child to his gay lovers and, or his gay lifestyle."

The appeals court says it found nothing wrong with the lower court shielding the child from the gay influences.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The Bush in 30 Seconds voting is in its home stretch. The panelists will decide the final overall winner, but you can still vote for category winners -- I'm especially fond of "If Parents Acted Like Bush" and "Bring It On."

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Federal 9/11 Detainee Abuse Caught on Tape; Men Falsely Held as Terrorists Were Beaten, Humiliated

In a surprise development, hundreds of videotapes that were originally said by the Department of Justice not to exist were discovered recently by its own internal affairs bureau and document many of the detainee abuses listed in an earlier internal report.

Shocking in their scope and variety, the abuses included .. instances where federal prison guards slammed detainees against walls and bars by their heads or necks, the misuse of strip searches and physical restraints to punish detainees, and the practice of illegally recording detainees' meetings with attorneys. This inappropriate treatment is in addition to the procedural abuses described in the June report, which included a quasi-official no-bond, no-release policy promoted by senior officials at the Justice Department during the roundup.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Stupidity running rampant in law enforcement in NYC
  • Jesse Taveras, who sat on a milk crate outside the Bronx hair salon where he works and was fined $105 for 'unauthorized use' of the crate.
  • Kim Phann and Bruce Rosado, fined for 'loitering in front of a business' while taking a smoke break outside the Bronx barber shop where they work.
  • Pedro Nazario, 86, of Morningside Heights, whacked with a summons for feeding pigeons.
  • Yoav Kashidia, an Israeli tourist, fined $50 for falling asleep on the subway and occupying two seats during his slumber.
  • Crystal Rosario, a pregnant Brooklynite, ticketed for resting on a subway step.
  • Brian Bui, owner of Mekong restaurant in SoHo, twice fined $200 for allowing a customer to smoke under a retracted awning. Bui fought the second ticket and won, but only after spending $3,000 in legal fees.

Monday, January 05, 2004

For those who were unclear, the answer is apparently yes.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies says: "They've discovered that llamas make tasty and easy-to-kill meals. "

Granted, they're wolves, but hey. Close enough.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Vacation and personal distractions have combined to totally fry my brain. I can't think about anything for more than 10 seconds before my mind takes off in a different direction. I'm lucky to get through a single sentence without losing my focus. It's a good thing I'm trying to get stuff done for T instead of a customer -- there's no way I can bill by the hour until my brain calms down and lets me focus.

Picked up my Z yesterday. Yummy.

I found this tidbit interesting -- it's from a lecture given by Michael Crichton at Caltech about how bad science becomes accepted as fact:

"In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was 'responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults,' and that it ' impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of people.' In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.) Furthermore, since there was no statistical association at the 95% coinfidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified second hand smoke as a Group A Carcinogen.

This was openly fraudulent science, but it formed the basis for bans on smoking in restaurants, offices, and airports. California banned public smoking in 1995. Soon, no claim was too extreme. By 1998, the Christian Science Monitor was saying that 'Second-hand smoke is the nation's third-leading preventable cause of death.' The American Cancer Society announced that 53,000 people died each year of second-hand smoke. The evidence for this claim is nonexistent.

In 1998, a Federal judge held that the EPA had acted improperly, had 'committed to a conclusion before research had begun', and had 'disregarded information and made findings on selective information.' The reaction of Carol Browner, head of the EPA was: 'We stand by our science….there's wide agreement. The American people certainly recognize that exposure to second hand smoke brings…a whole host of health problems.' Again, note how the claim of consensus trumps science. In this case, it isn't even a consensus of scientists that Browner evokes! It's the consensus of the American public.

Meanwhile, ever-larger studies failed to confirm any association. A large, seven-country WHO study in 1998 found no association. Nor have well-controlled subsequent studies, to my knowledge. Yet we now read, for example, that second hand smoke is a cause of breast cancer. At this point you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke.

As with nuclear winter, bad science is used to promote what most people would consider good policy. I certainly think it is. I don't want people smoking around me. So who will speak out against banning second-hand smoke? Nobody, and if you do, you'll be branded a shill of RJ Reynolds. A big tobacco flunky. But the truth is that we now have a social policy supported by the grossest of superstitions. And we've given the EPA a bad lesson in how to behave in the future. We've told them that cheating is the way to succeed. "

Saturday, January 03, 2004

"Drum Machine" -- very cool. Make sure you have your sound on. [via blort]

Cincinnati Cornhole Classic
"We are very excited to be hosting a cornhole tournament, one of Cincinnatians’ favorite pastimes," said Matt Dunne, U.S. Bank Arena General Manager. "This event will be fun for both participants and spectators and we look forward to crowning a Cincinnati Cornhole Classic Champion."


Friday, January 02, 2004

God tells Pat Robertson Bush will win landslide in 2004

Well, since everything else this crackpot says is wrong, I'll take this as a vote of confidence in Dean.

My Nissan dealer is extraordinarily slow. But, with any luck, I'll have it tomorrow.

If you've seen the South Park movie, then this rollercoaster safety sign from Disneyland Paris is probably rather amusing:

[via boingboing]

This is old news, but I just came across it again.. makes my blood boil. It just goes to show you -- if the Taliban had oil and were selling it to us at a good price, we never would've invaded Afghanistan -- the Saudi regime is just as screwed up, but we're willing to look the other way.

Saudi morality police let schoolgirls burn because they're improperly dressed

U.S. unemployment rate hits 9.7%

Higher than you've been hearing? No surprise there. When the economy sucks long enough, people give up on finding jobs. Magically, once that happens, they don't count anymore. LA Times article is here [registration required].

There are also the 1.5 million people who want a job but didn't look for one in the last month. Nearly a third of this group say they stopped the search because they were too depressed about the prospect of finding anything. Officially termed "discouraged," their number has surged 20% in a year.

Add these three groups together and the jobless total for the U.S. hits 9.7%, up from 9.4% a year ago.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

The right-wing assertion: Fact Sheet: 2003: A Year of Accomplishment for the American People

The left-wing dissection: Claim vs. Fact: 2003 - A Year of Distortion