Thursday, June 30, 2005
NightmareI dreamed last night that President Bush ordered an atomic bomb to be dropped on LA. My family and I were in the car literally outrunning the edges of the blast cloud. We barely escaped, then watched the aftermath ensue. Ground zero was Glendale, where I used to live, and I remember trying to call my old neighbor to see if she was okay. No answer. Bush was on TV talking about his resolve and determination. I remember thinking that Bush needed to do a "show of force" with his nuclear arsenal, and we were an experiment. (Perhaps this was a comparison with Saddam?) It was one of the dreams that last hours, where there are minute details with an actual, logical string of events. Where this came from I can't say. I read a cute e-mail yesterday talking about how all the blue states were going to declare their own soveriegnty and call themselves "New California." Maybe this is where it came from. The e-mail listed who would get what, but I guess it forgot to mention who gets the nuclear arsenal. I woke up in a cold sweat (literally) at 4:00 AM. I was laying there for only a few moments, recovering from the dream, when the phone rang. It was work. A major system was down. My nightmare continues ...
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Idea #1,083I was just reading Defective Yeti, and realized something. Those Diamond Lanes we have here in California? They are just as slow as the rest of the lanes. Kinda funny, isn't it? Well, they should stop offering a non-reward to people who carpool in an SUV that gets three gallons to the mile, and start rewarding people who save gas by using Hybrid Vehicles. Basically, the Diamond Lane should actually be a *reward* for people who deserve it. What say ye?
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
Coincidence? Perhaps ...
. The voice of Tigger and the voice of Piglet have died on the very same day.
Friday, June 24, 2005
An Open Letter to Katie HolmesKatie, Congratulations on your relationship with Tom Cruise. However, before you "embrace scientology" as the tabloids claim you have done, please read up on it. Thanks, -The Butcher (The rest of you TMOTM readers can read up on it too. Scientology isn't for fun.)
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
File this under: WTF?A "progressive Christian Seattle Billionaire who wishes to remain anonymous" intends on encoding an evangelical message into diamonds using nano-technology, and sending it into space so that he can convert extra-terrestrials into becoming born again Christians.
Hallelujah, Pt. 2Six out of 10 Americans now oppose the Iraq war. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." I watched "Control Room," recently. It's a very cheap documentary about Al Jazeera, the Arabic news station that fell under rhetorical attack for being soft on terrorism. It was quite an eye-opening documentary. In my opinion, Al Jazeera was absolutely biased during the invasion of Iraq. But as you watched how these very reasonable and rational journalists went about their job, it made me realize that their bias was just about as strong as the American journalists bias for our actions. But one moment stands clear. The main journalist that the documentary focused on was a very large and likable Arabic fellow who was completely flummoxed by the US invasion of Iraq. It seemed crazy and absurd to him (as it did to me), but he said something that was astounding. He said (I'm paraphrasing) "I believe in America and I believe in the Constitution. I think this craziness is temporary and Americans themselves will eventually see it and put a stop to it." Amen, brother.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Hallelujah!Congress should be conducting an official inquiry into whether Bush deceived the nation.
The Great Firewall of ChinaI found this headline extremely clever when I thought of it. On a whim I did a search and found that about 4,000 other clever writers thought of it too. But damn them all, I’m using it anyway. My blog posting earlier about Yahoo, Google, Gates, and China prompted further research. It turns out that TMOTM is a bit behind the times, as this was a major news story last September. Let’s see … I think I was focused on the election back then. What a waste of time that was, since I could have been focusing on censorship in China instead! After all, we might as well fight battles we can win, no? Onward into the valley … etc. Google, it turns out, does not censor any actual websites. China itself does that, ostensibly with the proverbial great firewall in my extremely popular headline. What Google did do, was opt to not show the results of any links that would not work behind China’s firewall. So what could have happened, if someone had searched for issues on “Taiwan independence,” they would have seen the headline, but the link would not have worked, telling that browser that their government has forbidden them to see it. However, with Google’s decision, that browser won’t even see the headline, and thus be blissfully unaware of the truth. And Google denies any culpability, since they aren’t actually the ones doing the censoring; China is. Google is, after all, a company that once pledged to “Do No Evil.” But here they have placed profit over their core mission. Google is sanitizing China’s oppressive policies. How convenient for China, and how profitable for Google. That is evil in my definition. So what really sucks, is now I have to stop using my beloved Gmail account. I will be moving back to my yahoo! account until I have researched Yahoo!’s activity in this. For what it’s worth, Yahoo! has been very difficult to reach on this, while Google was easy to reach, and responded promptly. Bye bye Google.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Another Amendment Outlawing Flag (yawn) Burning
. Congress is wetting itself again, and morphing our government, bit by bit, into something that looks remarkably similiar to the militant Islamic groups we are at war with. The war could have been values versus icons. But really it's turning into icons versus icons. Today's installment: another amendment to outlaw flag burning. Seven times this has been tried, and seven times it has failed to become law. Perhaps this time, with the country frothing at the mouth to conjur patriotism where it never existed, and to hush any nay-sayers as non-patriots, will the law pass. Why don't we just get right down to it and make it illegal to desecrate a Bible? That will give Islamic interrogators something to do, since we are apparently fighting to preserve icons rather than ideals, just like Islam. Fine. Make flag burning illegal. I couldn't give a shit in these days when there are bigger fish to fry. Congress shouldn't give a shit either, really. Aren't there more important things on the table? Is it the Rules Committee who decides which bills will be voted upon? What are they thinking? And here's what I have to say so I don't look "unpatriotic:" If I saw someone expressing themselves by burning a flag, I would express myself by stopping them. Just like that Dodger did (Rick Monday?) in the 1970's. I also believe it is dangerous to legislate against any freedom of expression. But go for it Congress. Knock yourself out.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Welcome China to the "Too Much Information Age"
Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men, places profit over American values. Apparently, China wants to be part of the Information Age, but they don't want all information available to it's proletariat to browse. Words like "democracy", "freedom", "human rights", "demonstration", and "Taiwan independance" are considered profanity to China's government. And what could be even more profane than for three big American Corporations to conspire with China's oppressive government by creating web portals that enable this censorship. To quote the article further: The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) earlier said it "deplores the irresponsible policies of United States Internet firms Yahoo! and Google in bowing directly and indirectly to Chinese government demands for censorship". It has called on the United States to apply the principles of its Global Internet Freedom Act on its private sector's activities in "some of the world's most repressive regimes". The Global Internet Freedom Act, passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2003, aims to combat online censorship imposed by governments around the world. In their efforts to conquer the Chinese market, Yahoo! and Google are "making compromises that directly threaten freedom of expression," RSF has said. ______________________ There's only one thing to do. We have to protest Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! I will stand by to see how these three large organizations respond. If they don't respond well, then some grass-roots action will be in order. (Sigh--what a pain in the ass.) I'm all for companies making money for being innovative. But I am sickened by these examples of money-grubbing at the sake of basic freedoms.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
"I know I said the Patriot Act would only be temporary, but me and my friends with guns here really really think Congress should make it permanent.
The "Denying Street Memo"This memo, known now as the "Downing Street Memo," was a brief blip in the news a few weeks ago. I never posted anything about it because I was waiting for the flurry of news and information that I fully expected the press to convey. Dead silence. This was originally posted by the London Times. I'm not familiar with whether that newspaper is considered "reputable" or not, so wouldn't know if London Times is closer to the Washington Post or The National Inquirer. So since none of the rest of the news was biting, I disregarded it as possibly fraudulent. But now it's back in the news. President Bush and Tony Blair stood side-by-side and denied the memo's contents. Bush said "It's Patently not true." Conspicuous by omission were comments from Tony Blair stating that the memo was a fraud. If I were the British Prime Minister and someone came up with a memo that had absolutely no connection with reality, I would not only deny it, but state that the memo was obviously a hoax. At the very least I would say that I was going to check into its sources to validate its authenticity. That was not said. (If they were said, those words did not make it into the news.) Then I read this: Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference to intelligence being "fixed around" Iraq policy. " 'Fixed around' in British English means 'bolted on' rather than altered to fit the policy," he says. Now that is interesting. Why would this "expert" come out of the woodwork to poo-poo the whole thing as a misunderstanding, when what this "expert" is saying is basically a pile of dung? To validate my own opinion, I called upon my most recent acquaintance who I consider an expert on British English: Pinhut. Mr. Pinhut is a British Writer with a degree and everything. He had this to say: "To my mind, it most certainly is not a simple question of a phrase having a second meaning. Just on a semantic level, rather than idiomatic, "fixed around" does not equate to "bolt on". Besides, on the whole, English at that level of the civil service and government is largely purged of idiom, with words and phrases generally corresponding very much to a straight interpretation, the disambiguation being a result of most of the participants having been trained in law. By and large when obfuscation or ambiguity appear in government documents, they are very much intended! (such as in the whitewash report the inquiry into Iraq and the death of David Kelly delivered). Other popular means of avoiding a straight answer exist, a famous example being a British politician who admitted to having been "economical with the truth" (!) although I prefer Nixon's "I misspoke myself" On a personal level, I've also not encountered this suggested other meaning, perhaps Niblett would like to furnish a single example! If you have read the one page of advice from the Attorney General on the war's legality you will see what expertly rendered British English legal advice consists of. Shame it made no difference!" __________________________________________ Well said, Mr. Pinhut! So, now it looks more and more as if the Downing Street Memo actually has credence--but only by the government's botched response to it.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Fear Leads to Hate. Hate Leads to Anger. Anger Leads to ... SufferingThe US Supreme Court Outlaws the use of Marijuana for Sick People.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
OK, Maybe We Desecrated the Quran a LittleAfter The White House made a huge deal out of how Newsweek's report was just completely out-of-control, they are now having to admit that ... well ... maybe the report was kinda right after all. But come ON people, why is everyone making such a big DEAL about it?! Face it, Mr. President, your house of cards will never stand when they are built on lies. But I recommend you continue pissing off the press. They are all against you, and you must control them!
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Mark Felt, Anonymous Sources, and the Freedom of the PressWith Deep Throat's identity revealed, a lot of old-timey conservatives are coming out to voice their criticism of him. Here are a few quotes from today's news: G. Gordon Liddy: "If he possessed evidence of wrongdoing, he was honor-bound to take that to a grand jury and secure an indictment, not to selectively leak it to a single news source," Chuck Colson: "Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate. He was in a position of that kind of influence. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration." Former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan, in an appearance on MSNBC television, bluntly said Felt was a "traitor." However, the Washington Post says: "Had Felt remained quiet, Nixon might have succeeded in one of the most serious abuses of power ever attempted by an American president," [Until recently, of course -TB] The New York Times says: “Now, at a time when reporters' right to keep sources secret is under so much attack, it's worth asking whether Deep Throat would have shared his secrets" if he had not been confident the Post reporters would keep the secret. _____________________ I am very very curious about why Mark Felt chose now to come forward. I find his timing spectacularly poignant. Even at 91 years of age, he obviously still reads the paper, and still cares about what is going on. A few weeks ago there was an incident that gave me pause. I did not blog about it because I was too busy at work. But here's what happened. Newsweek printed a story about how interrogators in Guantanamo were desecrating the Quran. The news story quoted an anonymous source. It was run by the Pentagon for approval first, but the Pentagon did not express any disapproval over Newsweek's desire to print the story. So they printed the story. There was a riot in Afghanistan, and people were killed. It roused a great deal of suspicion over whether Guantanamo was another Abu Ghraib. Then ... and here is the important part ... The White House assails Newsweek for what he considered a "botched", "bungled" report. I've still yet to read exactly where the mistake was. All the facts were corroborated since the article was published. The White House, however, cleverly diverted the criticism away from what was happening in Guantanamo, and shifted the criticism to how the Press was out of control by saying things that lead to horrible consequences. Newsweek retracts the story, saying mistakes were made. But what exactly were those mistakes? I'm not really certain. But in these times when the White House is brandishing so much power, it's difficult to tell how sincere Newsweek is in their apology. After all, any news organization that gets shut out of the White House might as well take up internet porn for a living, because their business of journalism is through. Was Newsweek irresponsible? Or were the Guantanamo interrogators irresponsible? It's like when we were kids. Is stealing candy from the store isn't bad, or is getting caught stealing candy bad? Here is the where the Neo-Cons apply their newly invented "dance of the seven veils" that cleverly disguises the truth in a very alluring way. Even the President jumped in the fray. He made a personal statement to the news saying that Newsweek should do even more than a retraction. Try to find that story in a news archive now. I can't. But I read it on Yahoo. Regardless, for the President and/or The White House to insinuate their policy into Newsweek's policies (Newsweek ended up modifying its policy regarding anonymous sources) is an egregious assault on the freedom of the press. Apparently, the source used by Newsweek was not credible. Hmmm. The story turned out to be true, though. So where was Newsweek’s big mistake? The mistake that was stated was that they used an anonymous source that lacked credibility. Their de facto mistake was to criticize the current administration. Enter Mark Felt, stage left. At a time when the use of anonymous sources is being discredited, the most famous anonymous source in history "outs" himself. I think ... to prove a point. Anonymous sources are credible, Mr. President. The Press can be trusted to know the difference between a liar and someone who is afraid to tell their story publicly for fear of reprisal. And in this day and age, reprisals clearly happen to those who speak out against the current administration. Perfect timing, Mr. Felt! This smokescreen of how some members of the press are "taking sides" is absolutely dangerous. The press SHOULD be allowed to take sides. They took sides when President Clinton made his indiscretions, and I did not see any attack on the Press from the White House then. The incorrect concept that the press should be neutral what people learn in High School journalism class about writing news articles, but is not a requirement of the Press in general. Get that idea out of your head, people. The press is not supposed to be neutral. They are supposed to be the opposition when an opposition is needed. And these days, opposition is sorely needed. PS. I got some of these ideas while chatting on the phone with Brian, who is away in Paris. I've stolen his ideas before, however, and I will due it again. So sue me! Also, E. J. Dionne of the Seattle Times says some interesting things on the topic as well. I highly recommend this column.