Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Misc: Yikes!

Gas prices spike to an all-time high

Oil traders shrugged off Bush's petroleum reserve announcement. Prices in Washington surged to as much as $3.15 a gallon.

WASHINGTON - Gasoline prices in many U.S. cities spiked past the all-time highs set in 1981 and no relief for motorists as oil traders largely shrugged off the Bush administration's Wednesday announcement that it was releasing supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Just a day earlier, analysts had predicted that prices could climb to record levels by Labor Day weekend in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But it happened by midday Wednesday. Gas stations in and around the nation's capital surged to $3.15 a gallon at some stations. They rose similarly in many populated urban centers across the nation, and passed the inflation-adjusted high of $3.11 set in March 1981.

" much as $3.15?"

I just went out to lunch and the cheapest gas I saw in Ann Arbor was $3.19 for regular at a Circle-K. That's not even brand-name gas.

Back in April March when there was some other "external factor" [update: it was the refinery explosion] that caused a spike over $2.00 I remarked that the gas companies would have us used to paying $2.30 by Memorial Day. I was wrong. Gas has pretty much been at least $2.50-$2.70 all summer. Yesterday gas was $2.74 at the same station charging $3.19 today. That's nearly 50 cents in one day. Mark my words, tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or no, gas will stay close to $3 a gallon or higher the rest of our lives. Once they get a chance to cross these thresholds, they are never coming all the way back down again.

UPDATE: I guess this will shut up all the right-wing apologists who as late as last week, were making like prices weren't so bad, "This isn't a historic high if you adjust for inflation...", etc.

BS: Disgusting

I guess the media is biased after all.

I read about this all over, but Steve G's is the first place I saw it.

UPDATE 9/14: Here is an explanation of he origins of those photos and captions.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

War: "Give it to Halliburton...or Else"

This kind of bullshit should come as a surprise to no one. When the Vice President goes straight from the Halliburton boardroom to the White House with $20 million in his pocket, wheels will be greased... [via Mark Kleiman]:
Army Contract Official Critical of Halliburton Pact Is Demoted

A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

[...] Ms. Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.

[...] Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.

[...]Ms. Greenhouse fought the demotion through official channels, and publicly described her clashes with Corps of Engineers leaders over a five-year, $7 billion oil-repair contract awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root. She had argued that if urgency required a no-bid contract, its duration should be brief.

Ms. Greenhouse had also fought the granting of a waiver to Kellogg Brown & Root in December 2003, approving the high prices it had paid for fuel imports for Iraq, and had objected to extending its five-year contract for logistical support in the Balkans for 11 months and $165 million without competitive bidding. In late June, ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel, calling the Kellogg Brown & Root oil contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career." She also said the defense secretary's office had improperly interfered in the awarding of the contract.

Read that last part again. "Ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel..." As outrageous as this whole thing is, this sentence almost bothers me the most. Since when can someone in the Army warn someone against congreesional testimony, when the Congress oversees the Army and can compell it?! I'd like to think that Congress would be enraged by this and emboldened to look into this, but we all know that sin't gonna happen. There are a million reasons why the whole Sheehan fiasco annoys me, sucking up all the oxygen (in the news AND the blogs) so stuff like this never sees the light of day is the biggest.

MORE: For a primer on the whole Cheney/Halliburton connection, go here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Music: Friday Random Ten

This week with arbitrary self-audited "coolness factor!"

1. "Them Bones" Alice In Chains -- I once had a co-worker claim Jerry Cantrell was the modern-day equivalent to Mozart. Come on, he's Salieri at best. 7/10

2. "The Magnificent Seven" The Clash -- What'da we got for entertainment...? An 8 out of 10.

3."Cinderella" Cracker -- Featuring a stand-out guest vocals by LP—think Janis Joplin with a better voice. I saw Cracker in NYC a few years back, and they brought her out for the encore to do this tune. Tremendous. Unfortunately, none of her own material was ever close to this good. Extra coolness point for being a "hidden" track. 8/10

4. "Shine A Light" Stones -- Nice gospel-ly deep cut from Exile. 6/10

5."Solar Sister" The Posies -- One of my favorite bands, and a good song. Extra point for the lyric that inspired the great album cover for Frosting on the Beater. 8/10

6. "Couldn't Stand the Weather" SRV -- Music doesn't get any better than this. One of my all-time favorite songs. A standard for me when auditioning hi-fi equipment. A timely selection, as tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary (wow) of his tragic death. 10/10

7. "Black Coffee in Bed" Squeeze -- Pop used to really be musical back in the day. Harmonies, canons, "ooo"s and everything. 6/10

8."Born On The Bayou" CCR -- One of the only things I ever got off Napster. And thank god, because it's the best song Creedence ever did, and it's not on 'Chronicles,' which means nobody under 50 owns it, and you can never find it in a jukebox. 9/10

9. "Magnolia" Screaming Cheetah Wheelies -- Would Mike Farris ever win American Idol? Bo Bice couldn't hold his jock leather "lead singer pants". This guy is in the pantheon of hard southern rock vocalists. 8/10

10. "Full Moon, Empty Heart" Belly -- Always makes me think of a particular scene from 'Homicide'—the greatest TV show ever. An extra point for being part of one of the greatest TV/film song placements of all time (a list-worthy topic for another time). 7/10

Total of 7.7 out of 10 overall. That's a tough score considering both a 9 and a 10 were in there. This is off my iPod mini, so it already is a condensed selection of 800 or so "better" songs.

Outrage: FOX is Making a BIG Omelette

Following up on the brilliant comments by John "Five in the noggin" Gibson, FOX News just drew targets on the backs of an innocent California family. Hey, ya gotta break a few eggs to fight the War on Terror and maintain a level of hyper-paranoia...

For some reason, John Loftus, a former DOJ prosecutor and FOX contributor, thought it would be a good idea to announce the name and address of somebody he thought was a terrorist. FOX thought it would be a good idea to supply viewers with directions and satellite photos! That's bad enough. But here's the worst part—the guy FOX identified, moved three years ago!!
When Blame Knocks on the Wrong Door
Since Fox News wrongly identified a La Habra home as that of a terrorist, its five- member family has faced an angry backlash.

Randy and Ronnell Vorick thought La Habra was about as far away as one could get from terrorism. They were wrong.

For the last 2 1/2 weeks, the lives of the couple and their three children have been plunged into an unsettling routine of drivers shouting profanities, stopping to photograph their house and — most recently — spray-painting a slogan on their property.

Their house, a suburban fixer-upper the Voricks bought three years ago, was wrongly identified in a cable news broadcast as the home of a terrorist.

"I'm scared to go to work and leave my kids home. I call them every 30 minutes to make sure they're OK," Randy Vorick said.

"I keep telling myself this can't be happening to me. This can't be happening to my family. But it is. I want our lives to be normal again," he said.

In what Fox News officials concede was a mistake, John Loftus, a former U.S. prosecutor, gave out the address Aug. 7, saying it was the home of a Middle Eastern man, Iyad K. Hilal, who was the leader of a terrorist group with ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London.

Hilal, whom Loftus identified by name during the broadcast, moved out of the house about three years ago. But the consequences were immediate for the Voricks.

FOX acted unconscionably by revealing that info even if it were accurate. As a former DOJ official who once held a variety of high-level security clearances, Loftus should have realized that revealing that info could have jeopardized an ongoing investigation. And both he and FOX certainly should have realized at the very least they were jeopardizing the safety of that individual. The fact they were flat-out fucking WRONG and have endangered this family is fucking outrageous.
The Voricks said they had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Fox News and Loftus by telephone and e-mail. They want a public apology and correction.

Both have issued apologies — Fox in a one-line statement to the Los Angeles Times and Loftus in an e-mail to the family — after being contacted by the newspaper. The Voricks say they have yet to see or hear a correction.

"John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error, and we sincerely apologize to the family," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Brigante.

Loftus also apologized and told The Times last week that "mistakes happen."

"I'm terribly sorry about that. I had no idea. That was the best information we had at the time," he said.

Loftus said he gave out the address to help local police, and insisted that Hilal, a Garden Grove grocery store owner, was a terrorist.

"I thought it might help police in that area now that we have positively identified a terrorist living in [Orange County]," he said.

Cathy Viray, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said agents were looking into Loftus' terrorist allegations but stopped short of calling it an investigation.

Jesus. Hey douchebag, when you have a hot tip to help the police, pick up the fucking phone! This is worse than yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, this is reckless endangerment. A one-line retraction in the paper? Not even close to good enough. FOX sould run a correction and retraction on the screen crawl, and post it prominantly on their website. This isn't a run of the mill news typo. They deliberately released this info for no other reason than to "create" news and to stir up trouble for this Hilal guy. They were intentionally stoking their ignorant, hothead, paranoid, racist, jingo-addled audience. Well, they fucked up, and now they have a responsibility to help this family out. They should be providing private security for the family, that would be a start, and would actually "help the police" as well.

I hope they were wrong about Hilal too, so he can sue the shit out of FOX along with the Voricks.

Oh, and what did one of the braindead fucktard FOX viewers spray paint on the house? "TERRIST." You couldn't make that shit up...

[via John Cole]

UPDATE: The Rude Pundit has more:
And Loftus, so plump with speaking fees, said that he gave out the information based on "the best information we had at the time." Is that the unimpeachable excuse for every massive fuck-up now? You know, "the best information we had at the time" said that blacks were mentally inferior to whites who could be best served by being slaves. "The best information we had at the time" said that Native Americans were subhuman savages who needed to be slaughtered. "The best information we had at the time" told Colin Powell that Iraq had WMDs. [...] In other words, "the best information we had at the time" is the catch-all bullshit for every time you operate out of willful ignorance, outright lies, and stupidity. It's a cop-out. It's a way of saying that you're wrong now, but, shit, you weren't wrong then, when, really, and, c'mon, if you're wrong, you're fuckin' wrong, no matter when.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Politics: Today's Reading Assignment

The always excellent Digby has a great post up today, and it leads to an even better comment thread. Basically, Digby's sick and fucking tired of the Democrats being led around by the faction of the party that not only been losing elections and been wrong 100 percent of the time, but also condescending to the rest of us. His conclusion:
I am not a pacifist. And I never said that we should not respond to the threat of global terrorism. But I disagreeed with the way this administration and the Democratic hawks went about doing it --- especially this enormous mistake of invading a middle eastern country for inscrutable reasons, at this time, in this way. And I was right. I don't know if I represent the zeitgeist of the rank and file, but I do know that I and others of "the left" who saw this debacle for what it was have earned a little fucking respect.

Unfortunately, Digby, it ain't fucking forthcoming. The DLC's never-ending pursuit of the mythical "middle voter' and the circular firing squad mentality proves that the lessons have not been learned up top. They continue to blame the "left" as if we've been making the decisions or holding any power.

It's not really fair or effective to try and boil down Digby's post, just go read the whole thing, but I will highlight one of the comments. One of the best, and most damning, pieces of analysis of the failed "success" of the current Democratic strategy I've ever read:
I was thinking about the "we were right and you were wrong" argument. And while I agree wholeheartedly, I wonder if this couldn't more pragmatically be rephrased as "the Democratic support of the Iraq war was a political disaster." That's all anyone needs to say about it because it's indisputable.

And the reason it was a disaster is that the Democrats continue to use what business managament consultants call a "fast follower" strategy. That's when you don't actually take any risks in the marketplace but instead watch what the successful guys do and then mimic them as fast as possible. Instead of paying attention to your customers you pay attention to the other guy's marketing presentations. In a hot market this strategy can work--but when the economy goes sour you're the one holding the bag.

The same is with the Democrats. They're always a half-step behind the GOP, and the difference is that politics is a zero-sum game and there's no benefit to being a fast follower. You get none of the rewards for being ahead of the curve and you get all the risks of being behind it.
Halfdan Adonais | 08.22.05 - 2:22 pm | #

Exactly. And until one of the "hawks" admits they fucked up and comes clean, I will never truly believe in/support them. They aren't leading, they're still following.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

BS/Courts: Legal Urban Legends

Quick. What's the number one "frivolous lawsuit" everyone loves to mock?

Riiight. The old lady in the McDonald's drive-thru, who burned herself with the coffee. Now, I never thought this was a frivolous lawsuit—but many persist in believing that it was. And that this woman walked away with millions of dollars for being a clutz. That's because nobody knows what actually happened beyond Jay Leno's jokes or the FOX NEWS asshole misrepresenting it to use as Exhibit A for tort-reform.

Go here for a quick summary of the case. Here are some high(low)lights:
At the trial, it was revealed:

• McDonalds required their coffee kept at 185 degrees Fahrenheit, plus or minus 5 degrees, significantly higher than other establishments. [Coffee is usually served at 135 to 140 degrees]

• An expert testified that 180 degree liquids will cause full thickness burns in 2 to 7 seconds.

• McDonalds knew before this accident that burn hazards exist with any foods served above 140 degrees... that its coffee would burn drinkers at the temperature they served it.

• McDonalds knew of over 700 people burned by its coffee, including many third-degree burns similar to Ms. Liebeck's.

• McDonalds had received previous requests from consumers and safety organizations to lower their coffee temperature.

Evidence showed that McDonalds served their coffee so hot to save money. This let them get away with a cheaper grade of coffee and cut down on the number of free refills they had to give away. McDonalds executives testified that they thought it would be cheaper to pay claims and worker's compensation benefits to people burned by their coffee versus making any of these changes.

Even the trial court judge called McDonalds' conduct willful, wanton, reckless and callous.

Ms. Liebeck tried to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her medical expenses. McDonalds offered her $800. She sought mediation, but McDonald's refused.

And the "vast millions" this frivolous scammer walked away with? That number was based on two days worth of coffee sales for McDonalds as punitive damages. And she never saw that money, the judge reduced the verdict to less than $600,000.

And what's the second most-cited example of the "frivolous lawsuits" that need to be combatted? According to this story in the LA Times, it's probably fake.

So the famous example is completely exaggerated, and the rest are fabrications. (Just like the estate tax/family farm scam). Just a little something to keep in mind when the President gets back from his month-long siesta and starts his bullshit about tort reform.

[via John Cole and Ezra. The facts cited above are from a link provided by a commenter at Cole's blog. UPDATE: In the comments here, Ted challenges the veracity of those facts. An article in the lawyer-lovin' liberal Wall Street Journal actually bolsters my case. Link.]

Friday, August 12, 2005

Music: Friday Random Ten

"Another Record" Genesis -- The beginning of the end for a great band.
"Behind the Sun" RHCP -- My favorite "slow" Chile Peppers
"Kings" Steely Dan
"Me Died Blue" Stephen Delopoulos -- Song from a PASTE magazine sampler. Cat Stevens clone. Good tune.
"Definite Door" Posies -- Great song. Great album. Completely overlooked band.
"Do it Again" Matthew Sweet -- Love that nerd-rock/pop
"Morning Dew" Allmans
"Life Without You" SRV
"Takin' my Time" Little Feat
"La Dolly Vita" Smashing Pumpkins

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Politics: Tough Times Indeed

From the Village Voice. [Thanks to Ezra who mentions this strip in passing during a good Hackett post-mortem.]

Monday, August 08, 2005

Baseball: Manny Update—En Fuego!

In the week since the non-trade—batting .563 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. I'll take it.

Politics: The Pen is Mightier Than the Sliderule

John Cole uses this column by Michael Kinsley as a chance to bash Paul Krugman. Well, Cole is right—Kinsley is a much better writer than Krugman—but that should go without saying. Kinsley is a seasoned writer and veteran editor, while Krugman is an egghead economist. Kinsley uses pretty words to dissect topics, Krugman uses statistics, numbers and blunt language. In fact, it is amazing that Kinsley can write an entire column effectively ripping apart the flat tax without once relying on any substantive numbers to make his case.
Poking Holes in the Flat Tax
[...] The so-called flat tax is another hobby horse of the right that swept the nation, then got swept away. But someone forgot to tell Steve Forbes, the amiably blank-faced magazine heir, who ran for president on the issue in 1996 and 2000. Now he has a book out: "Flat Tax Revolution." It's getting the full fair-and-balanced treatment — that is, unashamed open-throated puffery — on Fox News and other conservative outlets. So even though the idea looks pretty dead right now, a stake through its heart might still be prudent.

The flat tax is a game of three-card monte that deliberately confuses the issues of simplicity, fairness and the total tax burden on society. A simpler tax system would be a very good thing: good for the economy, and good for everyone's sanity. But contrary to what Forbes would have you believe, progressive tax rates — higher taxes on higher incomes — aren't what make the current system so complicated. It's as easy to multiply by 40% as it is to multiply by 17%. Even Republicans can easily do it — or hire someone to do it for them, if necessary.

[...] Forbes figures that almost everybody would pay less under his proposal than under the current system. And just to make sure, he would let you opt to calculate your taxes under current rules, if you prefer. So everybody would pay less. That is swell. But it has nothing to do with the flatness or otherwise of the tax system. You could just as well combine a tax cut with a proposal to release all the animals from the National Zoo. People might like that too. A simpler tax system would be very nice. But find me some folks who would choose a flat tax over the current system even if it meant that they would pay more, not less. Then I'd be impressed.

Then Kinsley channels Hannibal Lecter and gently disembowels Forbes...
Debate on this quickly becomes theological, so let's note only that tax rates were higher than they are now when Forbes had the inspiration to be born into a wealthy family, and higher still when his father, Malcolm, first built the family fortune.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Politics: Hackett Lost. There Is No "Bright Side"

Alright, the lefty blogs are all excited about the moral(e) victory in Ohio, because upstart Paul Hackett almost won the election against a sitting Republican. Claiming this is a harbinger of elections to come, Democrats have turned the corner and Republicans are quaking... Ain't it just grand, let's all pat each other on the back, we're taking back the House AND Senate next year...etc.

Bullshit. And here's why. In my opinion, the Democrats couldn't run a better candidate than Paul Hackett in that race -- an outsider, a self-made businessman, good-looking, straight-talking, take no crap man's man. And here is the key point -- A FUCKING RESERVE MARINE WHO RE-UPPED TO GO TO IRAQ. WENT, AND CAME BACK AND YELLED "THIS WAR IS BULLSHIT!" Unless the Democrats' minor leagues are filled with candidates like that, they are going to continue to get smoked.

And this "ultimate" candidate got a ton of free press and momentum and still lost to a damaged goods, old bat embroiled in a scandal rocking the corrupt Republican Party running the state. I don't care about what a red district this is, if we can't win that race, there is no way there should be any consolation prize.

Here's kos with some "donut" analysis:
DCCC post-mortem ignores Hackett war stance
by kos
Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 18:08:48 EDT

David Sirota:
Hackett, an Iraq War veteran, made headlines in the campaign for taking a strong position against the original decision to go to war in Iraq, even calling the President of the United States an SOB.

And while it's true, Hackett didn't support full withdrawal from Iraq, few would deny that his position opposing the war was a key part of his campaign.

Ultimately, the anti-war position defined his candidacy, and was the clear reason he was able to do so well in such a Republican district. That should be no surprise: polls have been telling us for months that America agrees with Hackett in believing going to war in Iraq was a mistake. Meanwhile, Americans' view of President Bush's handling of Iraq is at its lowest level ever.

Incredibly, however, in a memo sent to all Democratic House Members about what Democrats should learn from the Hackett race, the DCCC makes not one mention of the Iraq War and its effect on the election. Not one. It is as if the party is going out of its way to deny the importance of Democrats taking a strong position against the war, or making the war a serious issue in their campaigns...

National Democrats have advised their candidates for two straight cycles to ignore the war and make the campaign about "health care and jobs". Yet the war issue didn't go away in 2002 or 2004, and it won't go away in 2006.

The fact that the DCCC ignores one of the most striking lessons of the Hackett race is mind-boggling. If there was such a thing as "political malpractice", they would be guilty of it.

I say "donut" analysis because kos is missing the giant freaking hole in his argument -- Paul Hackett can criticize the War and call Bush an SOB because HE WAS THERE! And that's it. Hackett's near-win on that platform does not give cover for the soft-hands local Democrat in East Wherever to run for higher office next year on an anti-war stance. Here was a uniquely qualified guy making the strongest case possible and he still lost. Next year when the Administration starts drawing down troops (whether they should or not) they'll be running on having already WON the war, what ground will that leave Dem opponents?

Look. I like Paul Hackett, I want my party to comb the country for more guys like him. He is exactly what we need. But when faced with the chance to actually support him, the Party blinked. He had to raise his money and support from the internet, and got little help from the Party. What's the lesson there? This fucking Party doesn't recognize a five-tool player when he comes knocking on the door asking to play. So, no, I'm not encouraged by this at all, it merely serves to underscore the weaknesses and blindspots of my Party top to bottom.

UPDATE [08.08]: Pinch-hitter Nick over at Ezra's place has an interesting analysis of the results and how they broke down. He concludes that Democrats would be wise to inundate local rural offices with candidates and resources (I agree) and that slowly turning those voters back to the Party is a more effective gambit than merely trying to drag urban voters to the polls (I also agree). I think his analysis discounts too much the appeal of Hackett himself as the candidate. The right guy (gal) running with a clear message and appeal is waaay more than half the battle.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Music: Friday Random Ten or Saved by Neil Schon

"Little Earthquakes" Tori Amos
"Living With The Law" Chris Whitley
"Moon" dada
An amazing stretch with three of my all-time favorite songs in a row. Now, my iTunes is set up to give preference to higher-rated songs, but that's still pretty good. Skippable stuff still comes up often enough ("Woodstock '94" being a leading contributor)...
"Let Me Love You Baby" SRV
"Evidence Of Autumn" Genesis
"Julie Paradise" Screaming Trees
"Only A Fool" Black Crowes
"Headphones" Bjork (sorry, skip...)
"Savoy" Jeff Beck (skip again, from "Guitar Shop," a depressingly crappy album I once thought was cool)
"La Do Da [live]" Journey (Ah, my penance is over, the '70s save me again...)

Misc: Chicken Little (literally)?

Like apparently most of the world, I ignored much of the stories about Asian Bird Flu. "Ahh, that's halfway around the world in villages where chickens run around the house..." John Cole had a post the other day, and I scrolled right past it. But exploring a new site today (Rck Moran's Right Wing Nut House) I found his post "The Coming Catastrophe" disturbing, if not frightening. The original Washington Post story they each refer to is here.

Is this real or the next Y2K? I hope they are wrong...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

LOL: New Humor Links

What can I say? It's a slow day at the office.

So, there's a guy here in Ann Arbor that looks like a 2:3 scale Mr. T. He works it -- mohawk, beard and everything. Even with that guy around to remind me, it's easy to forget how freaking ridiculous the real Mr. T (and the resultant hype) was. Go watch this, and, no, I don't remember him wearing fuckin' hot pants either.

That link was courtesy of Alien Loves Predator

Spamusment. Remember how funny you thought The Far Side was twenty years ago? This is the new Far Side.

The Comics Curmudgeon. Your daily newspaper's comic strips... ripped to shreds. You might have to scroll for a good one but they're there.

BS: (lack of) Intelligent Design

Obviously there has been a ton of stuff flying around about teaching "Intelligent Design" in schools alongside evolution in science class. Why the silence on a topic so clearly worthy of my wrath? I've not had much to say (write) simply because this is a topic I need both hands to tackle -- literally. As long as I am typing one-handed this bullshit is one topic that will have to wait for the rant it deserves.

So for now, enjoy the picture and the writings of others: Otto Man who supplied the photo in his post. WaPo, John Cole over and over and over again. Others: Obsidian Wings, bad astronomy and Pharyngula (whatever the hell that is).

UPDATE: Panda's Thumb has a tremendous list of links. Just head over there if you feel like immersing youself in the ignorance-pandering of the Moron in Chief.

Politics: Highway Bill Pork

$1.5 million for a bus stop in Alaska. Seriously. Not a bus system, or even a bus, but, you know, the thing you sit in while you wait for the bus. WTF?

Courts: The Good Roberts

The LA Times has an article about work John Roberts did on behalf of gay rights. And he did it pro-bono:
Roberts Donated Help to Gay Rights Case
In 1996, activists won a landmark anti-bias ruling with the aid of the high court nominee.

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm's pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case.

Gay rights activists at the time described the court's 6-3 ruling as the movement's most important legal victory. The dissenting justices were those to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Roberts' work on behalf of gay rights activists, whose cause is anathema to many conservatives, appears to illustrate his allegiance to the credo of the legal profession: to zealously represent the interests of the client, whoever it might be.

[...] The case was argued before the Supreme Court in October 1995, and the ruling was handed down the following May. Suzanne B. Goldberg, a staff lawyer for New York-based Lambda, a legal services group for gays and lesbians, called it the "single most important positive ruling in the history of the gay rights movement."

I'm pretty confident that Roberts is an exceptional litigator. I also think an instance such as this can be instrumental in demonstrating that his record as a lawyer, even in the Solicitor General's office, is not necessarily indicitive of his future positions as a judge. He is "zealously representing the interests of his client."
[...] In the blistering dissent, Scalia, joined by Rehnquist and Thomas, said "Coloradans are entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct." Scalia added that the majority opinion had "no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to."

Anytime there's a "blistering dissent" from the Three Horsemen, it's usually a good thing.

UPDATE Yeah, except "Kelo v. New London." Oh, and the tip came from BlondeSense.

Misc: A Monopoly In Spite of Itself

I'm a Mac guy. Always have been. Will be as long as they build 'em. But every once in a while I am forced to cross over to the dark side and use, or even purchase (gasp), a Microsoft product. Now is one of those times. My new G5 came with various trial programs that have since expired, and I am now faced with the prospect of purchasing Microsoft Office. Fortunately I work at a College so I get discounts on this stuff. So I go down to the Bookstore, and I find Microsoft Office 2003. Two thousand freaking three??!!. What fucking genius at Microsoft came up with the idea of naming products after dates? And is that person now cleaning toilets in Redmond? It is now almost 2006, and the new software I need is clearly marked "I'm three fucking years old (an eternity in computers), and practically obsolete! Buy me at your own peril!"

I remember back when everyone was worried about Y2K, Microsoft had big plans for a futuristic-sounding ?Windows 2000! Well, true to form, people were still being forced to buy Windows 98 well into the year 2000.

Their products are widely despised, bloated, buggy, vulnerable and out of date. And on top of that, they are badly named and marketed. How exactly is it that Microsoft owns the hemispere and Apple is the niche player? I'm not complaining (really!), I'm just wondering.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Baseball: Stand By Your Manny

Ramirez pinch-hits 45 minutes after trade deadline

BOSTON (AP) -- Two games after Manny Ramirez was booed by the hometown fans, all was forgiven.

Ramirez earned a loud standing ovation before and after his pinch-hit single in the eighth inning Sunday lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.

[...] Entering the game 54 minutes after the 4 p.m. deadline passed for trades without waivers, Ramirez bounced a chopper up the middle to score Edgar Renteria and give the Red Sox their fifth consecutive victory. After Renteria crossed the plate, Ramirez took off his batting helmet and pointed both hands at the crowd in a double-barreled salute.

"That's hard not to get chills when that stuff is happening," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's about as electric as you'll see it."

Great. I am extremely happy the Sox didn't do something stupid like trade the best run-producer in the game. Aside from the fact that they were poised to recieve pennies on the dollar, it just wasn't right. And maybe now the jackass fans in Fenway and the imbeciles on Boston radio will STFU and be thankful for what they have -- a World Championship after ninety freaking years, courtesy of Manny. Schilling got all the glory, but Manny was the deserved MVP.

MORE: Sports Guy's column from a few weeks back is looking prophetic... How do the Yankees sit idly by at the deadline in second place to Boston? Because Steinbrenner either doesn't care anymore, or somebody else is filling his turtleneck.

Politics: On a silver platter

Can we get Rick Santorum on TV all the time? This guy is money and he doesn't even KNOW it!

Watch this clip and tell me how many intelligent, thinking women (or anybody in their 20s) will continue to blindly vote Republican.

Please continue to run as the Party of Chastity, guys...