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April 28, 2006

Commercial for Civil War

Kind of interesting. I've never seen a trailer for a comic book before. The narration is kind of bad, but i think it's a good idea. If they keep doing it and get the quality up, maybe they can increase sales. It also works as a really high level primer of what's been going on in the Marvel Universe lately.


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 4:24 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



US Dems arrested in Sudan protest

Reuters:

Five members of the U.S. Congress were arrested on Friday at a demonstration held at the Sudan embassy to protest atrocities in that country's Darfur region, congressional aides said.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, were Reps. Tom Lantos of California, James McGovern and John Olver of Massachusetts, James Moran of Virginia, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, aides to McGovern and Lantos said.

I admire them for their actions (it's much braver than anything i've ever done, by far), but it's really sad that members of our Federal government had to resort to these sorts of tactics, usually reserved for the powerless.


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 3:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link



Finally a sex scandal

They've failed to prevent terrorist attacks, gone to war illegally, let entire cities get washed away, and broken every imaginable law of the constitution, and gotten away with all of it. But now they're in trouble:

About five months ago, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that lobbyist Brent Wilkes (co-conspirator #1 in the Duke Cunningham scanal) knew how to "grease the wheels" of Congress with cash, gifts, favors, and yes, "hospitality suites":
Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington - first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.

Hotline picked up on it, and we wondered aloud here whether the bedrooms hinted at a sex scandal about to blow up on Capitol Hill, or whether there was a more benign explanation. After all, no member of Congress would be stupid enough to, well, prostitute himself and the legislative process by accepting the services of a hooker bought and paid for by lobbyists, right?

Well, folks, we may have ourselves a genuine sex scandal.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there is enough evidence of a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring that investigators are scurrying across D.C., trying to figure out exactly which lawmakers were involved:

In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have fanned out across Washington, interviewing women from escort services, potential witnesses and others who may have been involved in the arrangement.

Prosecutors were tipped off about the sex-for-favors scheme by Mitchell Wade, who has already plead guilty to bribing Cunningham and is cooperating with investigators. Wilkes, through his attorney, has denied any involvement.

Ken Silverstein at Harper's blog dropped a bombshell last night about just how far-reaching the scandal may be, revealing that the FBI is investigating former lawmakers, including "one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post." TPM Muckraker points out that CIA Director Porter Goss fits that description perfectly. Silverstein also disclosed that there are pictures.

It seemed, as Markos said when Hotline first reported on the hospitality suites, "insanely improbable" that the culture of corruption included a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring. Yet five months later, here we are, firmly outside of tinfoil hat territory, reading about a Republican sex scandal in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Best part of all is that it was at the Watergate Hotel.


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 3:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Ridiculous

Joshua has afflicted me with this folk cover of Public Enemy's Bring the Noise


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 3:35 PM | Music| Link



Oh Yeah. Things Are Definitely Getting Better.

It's important that the liberal media doesn't focus on the negative issues concerning Iraq. They should also highlight the positive, such as the booming commerce.

It doesn't cost a lot to set up your own death squad in Iraq. Military uniforms, guns and even police vehicles are easily available to all comers in the markets of Baghdad.
...
"One person came yesterday and took 12 full commando uniforms. Another took 15 army uniforms and ski masks with holes for the eyes," said Tariq, who runs one of the stores.

"I don't care who comes to buy them. As long as they give me the money, I give them the products," he said, adding the most popular items were police commando uniforms.

Although some uniforms such as a plain blue Iraqi police shirt are relatively simple for any tailor to produce, it was unclear where Tariq and others get the complicated camouflage uniforms from.

...

Just a few kilometres from Bab al-Sharjee, at the Nahdha car showrooms, it is possible to buy the same vehicles the police special forces or ordinary police use for $12,000.

For an extra few hundred dollars, sirens and police markings can be added at the central Sinak market. Then it's a short trip to Mureydi market in the sprawling Sadr City Shi'ite slum for fake IDs.


By min | April 28, 2006, 3:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



That's entertainment

I've struggled in trying to define the difference between art and entertainment, if there is in fact a difference. In other words, is the music Brittany Spears* makes, for example, not art, or is it just art that i don't particularly like? (The subsequent question is, is all differentiation between "good" and "bad" art subjective, or can we definitively say that some music is bad? This is all sophomore dorm room philosophy stuff, ofc, but i'm not that sophisticated.) Well, looking at what's now coming to light in the teen book industry, i can tell you this - if what you produce was defined by a marketing department before you were ever commissioned to produce it? That's not art. And i think that defines the majority of the music that you hear on the radio or mtv.

*I know that at this point, Brittany Spears probably isn't the best example of what pop music is up to today, but she was what was playing the last time i even paid attention to the radio.


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 11:03 AM | Music| Link



Yeah, thanks.

I think a lot of the problems we have are due to the fact that millionaire Senators just don't understand how much money is worth today. That's why they think that a $6 minimum wage is something you can live on, and why a $300 tax rebate is enough for us while they get tax breaks in the millions. Now they think that they can solve the problem of rising gas prices by giving us $100. Uh, that's two tanks, fellas. Try again. How about a solution that actually addresses the problem?


By fnord12 | April 28, 2006, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (6) | Link



April 27, 2006

Is this Venom?

The Marvel Chronology Project's Venom entry includes every appearance of Spider-Man in the alien costume, starting with Secret Wars #7. I would argue that it isn't Venom until the symbiote has merged with Eddie Brock.


By fnord12 | April 27, 2006, 10:38 PM | Comics| Link



April 26, 2006

Yep. I knew it.

Still think that the oil companies aren't engaged in a mass conspiracy to gouge us of our last dollars and then use the money to flee the planet while the rest of us descend into post peak-oil anarchy? Then why are the oil trucks driving around with flipping illuminati symbols?


By fnord12 | April 26, 2006, 10:10 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link



April 24, 2006

The end is still nigh

I'm not sure where he's going with the Democrats' "preoccupations with gender confusion and racial grievance", but here's Jim Kunstler's latest rant:

The main thread in this bargaining stage is the desperate wish to keep our motoring fiesta going by other means than oil. This fantasy exerts its power across the whole political spectrum, and evinces a fascinating poverty of imagination in the public and its leaders in every field: politics, business, science and the media. The right wing still pretends we can still drill our way out of this, if only the nature freaks would allow them to. The "green" folks thinks that we can devote crops to the production of gasoline substitutes, even though a scarcity of fossil fuel-based fertilizers will sharply cut crop yields for human food. Nobody, it seems, can imagine an American life not centered on cars.

This is perhaps understandable when you consider the monumental previous investment in the infrastructures and equipment for motoring, which includes the nation's car-dependent suburban housing stock -- which in turn represents the average adult's main repository of personal wealth. If motoring becomes unaffordable, then what will be the value of my house twenty-eight miles upwind of Dallas (Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, et cetera)? The anxiety is understandable.

But the problem is not going away. It's not five or ten years down the road -- it's here, now. We're in the zone. We're entering a world of hurt. The pain will ebb and flow, as the pain of a fatal illness ebbs and flows over the days. The price of oil and gasoline will ratchet up and down, but along a discernable upward trendline.

Can we bust out of this narrow tunnel of fantasy? Can we imagine living differently? Can we turn more fruitful imaginings into action before the American scene becomes a much more disorderly place? It would be nice to see President Bush really lead by taking a well-publicized ride on the Washington Metro, or dropping in to visit an organic farm, or signing a bill to increase incentives for small-scale hydro-electricity, or turning loose some federal prosectors on WalMart's human resources department. It would be nice to see the Democrats put aside their preoccupations with gender confusion and racial grievance and start campaigning to restore the US railroad system. It would help to see the science and technology sector return from outer space. Corporate America and its leaders are probably hopeless, but so is the current scale and scope of their operations, and circumstances will decide what they get to do. The mainstream media, representing the nation's collective consciousness, remains in a coma. This morning's electronic edition of The New York Times displays not one home page headline about oil or gasoline prices, despite the trauma of the week just passed.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2006, 2:44 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Who wants a Poopsi?

Paul O'Brien weighs in (eloquently as always) on product placement in comics.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2006, 1:22 PM | Comics| Link



What a surprise!

Every cloud has a silver lining. For example, I sometimes have to read some truly awful comics for this website. But I know from my inbox that quite a few of you reading this really enjoy the negative reviews. Since these readers tend not to buy the comics, their world is made just that tiny bit better when I read a truly awful comic.

Well, good news, kids, because Wolverine: Origins is out, and it sucks.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2006, 1:13 PM | Comics| Link



Never trust a junkie

Except this time, i guess. According to Wikipedia, when Courtney Love tried out for the part of Nancy in Sid & Nancy, she "is reported to have pleaded, 'I am Nancy Spungen.'" Someone should have told Kurt.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2006, 8:53 AM | Music| Link



April 21, 2006

Really didn't want their blood money

They found the Gospel of Judas:

As told in the New Testament Gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus for "30 pieces of silver," identifying him with a kiss in front of Roman soldiers. Later the guilt-ridden Judas returns the bribe and commits suicide, according to the Bible.

The Gospel of Judas, however, gives a very different account.

The text begins by announcing that it is the "secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

It goes on to describe Judas as Jesus' closest friend, someone who understands Christ's true message and is singled out for special status among Jesus' disciples.

In the key passage Jesus tells Judas, "'you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'"

Kasser, the translation-project leader, offers an interpretation: "Jesus says it is necessary for someone to free him finally from his human body, and he prefers that this liberation be done by a friend rather than by an enemy.

"So he asks Judas, who is his friend, to sell him out, to betray him. It's treason to the general public, but between Jesus and Judas it's not treachery."

Which means Jesus Christ Superstar had it right all along:

Now if I help you, it matters that you see
These sordid kinda things are coming hard to me.
It's taken me some time to work out what to do.
I weighed the whole thing out before I came to you.
I have no thought at all about my own reward.
I really didn't come here of my own accord.
Just don't say I'm ... damned for all time.
I came because I had to; I'm the one who saw.
Jesus can't control it like he did before.
And furthermore I know that Jesus thinks so too.
Jesus wouldn't mind that I was here with you.
I have no thought at all about my own reward.
I really didn't come here of my own accord.
Just don't say I'm ... damned for all time.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2006, 4:48 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



It will be "The Internets" after all

Congress is considering a law that would allow internet providers to charge more to process some websites faster than others. Make it stop.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2006, 2:57 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



In which your hosts exhibits his crankiness

Why can't i choose Landscape vs. Letter right there on the freaking Print page? Why do i have to go to an entirely separate function altogether? And why isn't it smart enough to know that if i've got something selected and i hit the print icon, i don't want the whole 90 flarbing page document? And why can't it stretch whatever i'm printing to be the size of the paper i'm printing it on? I hate you, Excel, and one day i will defeat you.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2006, 2:49 PM | My stupid life | Comments (4) | Link



Conspiracy Theories Wanted

You are invited to go read this post and then come back here and let me know what you think was going on. The person with the best explanation will receive one (1) custom-made tinfoil hat*.


*Hat will actually be aluminum.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2006, 1:20 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Gotta Love that Scott Ritter

Back in the fall of 2002, six months before George W. Bush sent U.S. troops rumbling across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, a Time reporter noted to Scott Ritter that some right-wingers were calling Ritter "the new Jane Fonda" and wondering what he'd call his new exercise video.

"If they want to have an exercise video," snorted Ritter, "then why don't they come here and say it to my face and I'll give 'em an exercise video, which will be called, 'Scott Ritter Kicking Their Ass.'"

He also has definite opinions on the ignorance of Americans about the situation in Iraq

They can't even find it on a map. Let's start with that. And those who get the superficial coverage in the news say, "Oh, well, Iraq" - they can say three words about Iraq: Sunni, Shi'a, Kurd. And now they think they understand Iraq. The fact that many Americans feel affronted that Iran, Iraq's neighbor with a long history of interaction with Iraq, would somehow deign to get involved in what's going on and say, "Iran has no right to get involved" - well, again, that just shows ignorance of the situation.

And the anti-war movement

I am not volunteering myself to be the visionary of the peace movement. All I'm saying is that having attended these meetings and reflecting on what I've seen, the peace movement's getting its butt kicked. Who knows what it should look like. The peace movement needs to decide what it wants to look like. But, you know, they need to come together. There needs to a meeting of the minds, a unified vision statement: What do we agree on? What is our focus of effort? And then once you get this mission statement, let's put a little bit of fire into this. Who's going to be the person that makes sure everyone's staying on mission? Let's call that person the "incident commander," whatever you want to call them. Let's break it down. Who's going to do the planning? That's our "operations officer." Let's insert some structure.

But as soon as you mention "structure" to the peace movement, they get all nervous. They think it's abut imposing military standards on them - an absurdity. The incident-command system that I referred to is something used by the firefighters in the United States. The big wildfires down in San Diego - ask your firefighter buddies down there what they did when they brought in national assets, state assets, local assets to fight the big fire. It's called the incident-command system. It's not a military system; it's a control mechanism. The Red Cross uses it. A lot of civilian groups use it. It's used to organize parades. It's used to organize events. It's about organizing, and making sure you don't waste resources. That's what the peace movement needs: organization and to stop wasting resources.

I'm a football fan. At the end of the day, I judge a coach and a team by the score that exists on the scoreboard when the end of the fourth quarter comes. And right now, it's the pro-war movement 60, the anti-war movement nothing. Someone can't tell me, "No, no, we're doing OK." No, you're not. You're getting beat, and you need to recognize you're getting beat, and you need to figure out why you're getting beat, and you need to figure out what you need to do to get yourself back on track. And the key thing here is: Bring a sense of focus and organization, which is lacking.

Link


By min | April 21, 2006, 9:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



April 20, 2006

Sentry is Thor

More people are jumping onto Wayne's theory that The Sentry may actually be Thor. It's a RACMU thread, though, so don't worry... it devolves into a Bendis hatefest soon enough.


By fnord12 | April 20, 2006, 3:50 PM | Comics| Link



He Who Whineth The Loudest

Lots of people in Jersey are all abuzz about Governor Corzine's proposed budget cuts. The one that people at work are most concerned with are the cuts to "higher education" - in other words, universities. I'm weekly inundated by our president's panic-ridden emails that basically amount to "the sky is falling, our doom quickly approaches, beware ye sinners" mixed with a little bit of "it's not fair" a la the Skywalker clan.

Ok. Let's be fair. These particular cuts to higher education are not good news. At the best, there could be hiring freezes and pay rate freezes. At worst, we're talking layoffs, tuition increases, and less money for student loans. Is this something to be upset about? Ofc it is. Is it reasonable to expect people to talk about it and complain? Sure. But should someone in the position of "president" be working to spread the panic? Should we be taking our cues from the Decider-in-Chief? Will there be a nice color-coded system put into place to tell us exactly what level of fear over our jobs we should feel?

Not only that, the other cue they've taken seems to be spinning the facts to give a misleading perception. I've read through most of the Budget and you can check it out yourself here. Comparing this document to the info I've been emailed, I have to say the facts don't seem to match. When discussing how much money the cuts will cost us, they seem to have thrown in every single expenditure they could have to make the picture seem grimmer. When you talk about how much less money you will have this year compared to last year because of budget cuts, you don't add in the cost of utilities. You were going to pay the utilities no matter what. The budget cut didn't bring on a new expenditure. They haven't taken any money away from you by suddenly tacking on utilities. C'mon. It may be more difficult to pay the utilities. You may have to pinch pennies to do it. But that's a different discussion entirely.

The reality is the federal government has failed the States and has withdrawn serious amounts of funding. This state is in sad shape financially on its own. No federal funding makes things even worse. So, there's a short fall no matter which way you look at it, unless you want to run the State by increasing the deficit. I don't think we can really do that. That means you're either going to have to cut spending and/or increase revenue via things like taxes. The proposed budget has both cuts in spending and increases in taxes (sales tax is going to be increased by 1%). All in all, considering the bad shape we are in, I didn't find anything in the proposed budget to be too incredibly heinous or unreasonable.

But, guess what. Nobody wants to be the guy who gets cut. Here's where the spam I've been getting about the dark days ahead and pleas to write the State Senate and General Assembly come into play. Rally the masses to tell our legislators how wrong and misguided they are to cut our programs. Emphasize how detrimental it will be to the community at large, not to mention our future.

That's all good. I might not like the tone used to send out the rallying cry, but so far I'm with them on the message. I see where it's coming from.

Here's my question. What do these people want to see cut instead of higher education? The money has to come from somewhere, right? It's simple math. You've got to balance the equation on both sides. If the money doesn't get cut from program A, then it's got to come all or in part from programs B-Z (meaning pensions, policemen's salaries, special education, after school programs, etc.). OR everyone has to pay more taxes to pay for these programs. There's no magic money that's going to fall from the sky. Where's it going to come from? It's great that you want to protect yourself. That's totally reasonable. So what's your proposed solution to the problem?

A group setup a convenient action alert online so that we could email the Senate and Assembly and express to them our concerns over how mean they're being to us. I emailed them my question. I figured they must have some solution in mind since they're running this campaign. Here's the reply I got:

In our budget advocacy we won't be recommending specific cuts to other programs, that being the job of the legislature at the moment, and ultimately the governor.

Taxes are already raised in this budget, currently proposed as a 1 cent increase in the sales tax.

We're hoping people will express the opinion that the university is the wrong place to cut if we want economic growth for the state - certainly NJ needs it - and that RU and NJ higher education are absorbing more than their share of the burden.

If I can be of any additional assistance, please let me know.

Oh. Nice fluffy non-reply there, chum. So basically, you have no solution to offer. You just wanted to whine about it. If you whine loud enough, mebbe the governor will even let you stay up an extra hour later and give you an ice cream sundae.


By min | April 20, 2006, 2:52 PM | My stupid life| Link



No Takers

from Talking Points Memo:

In all seriousness, I think the real story here continues to be that things are so bad at the White House, the level of denial and secrets to be kept, the self-bamboozlement and bad-faith so profound, that they just can't manage to bring in any new blood.

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem -- the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

Finally, can they find anyone on the outside who wants in? This, remember, seems to be the problem with Treasury Secretary Snow. He has already, in essence, been fired. But they can't come up with anyone crazy enough to take the job.


By fnord12 | April 20, 2006, 12:45 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Pharmaceuticals Propping Up The Sick To Push Their Pills

They've been doing it for years. Why not? It's a brilliant strategy if you want to sell your product. The testimonial. Who can resist the "I've used it, and it's worked wonders for me" line? Except now, they are getting the testimonials to manipulate people into pressuring health agencies to OK the drug faster.

First they find what they call an "opinion leader". Someone who can be quoted, someone who seems to be credible. And they try to get that person to basically sell the drug to the public. It also helps if they get out a message that says "the government is keeping you from getting this miraculous life-saving drug". Play up the outrage. It's a good motivator.

Lisa Jardine was at home recovering from chemotherapy one evening last May when the phone rang. She was not feeling all that well; the conversation that followed made her feel worse. There was only one breast cancer story around last May, as is still true today: Herceptin. It was a wonder drug - it halved some women's chances of having a recurrence of their cancer. But women who would die without it were being denied access, apparently for financial reasons - or so the story went. Women with aggressive, early-stage breast cancers had taken to the streets and the courts for their right to get it. So when - a week before the phone call - Jardine, who had had breast cancer, was asked in a newspaper interview what she thought about Herceptin, she responded that although she was confident she was receiving the best of care, "if Herceptin really is as effective as we are being told, I do feel I ought to be given the choice".

Then came the phone call. "Halfway through the following week, the phone goes at home," says Jardine, professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London, writer and well-known television presenter. "It's a really nice woman. She says to me, 'I read about you in the paper and I gather you'd like access to Herceptin and you can't get it.'"

By now, however, Jardine had decided that she did not want the drug. "I said, 'No - that's not the case with me. I have decided not to have Herceptin.'

"She said, 'Even if you don't want it yourself, would you come and talk to some of our seminars because we're running a big campaign to promote Herceptin? Either we could find funding for Herceptin or, if you really don't want it or decide against it, there would be fees for appearances.'

"I said, 'Could you tell me where you are from?' She said, 'We work for Roche.'

...

It helps to explain how a drug such as Herceptin, despite being as yet unlicensed for use on women with early-stage cancer, and despite there being only a few years of test data from its manufacturers Roche to support claims being made by some for benefits for this group of women, came to be a household name and a cause celebre.
...

The industry journal Pharmaceutical Marketing ran a recent piece describing how "motivated patients can move mountains and boost your drug's fortunes".

Once you stir up the public outrage ("I should get everything that I deserve that I'm not already getting), it makes it that much easier for the pharmaceuticals to get their drugs approved. Especially with the UK's parliamentary system, MPs feel more beholden to their constituents than our Congressman. Your constituency is outraged. You might not get elected again if you don't appease them. Plus, how bad does the government look when you've got cancer patients saying you're keeping from them the one thing that could save their lives?

Look, it's good that politicians are beholden to their constituents. They ought to be. Their job is to represent the people, afterall. I know here in the States it seems more like the elite are there to keep the rabble in check, not to represent them. But, hey, it looked good on paper. Anyway, when the government fails to do its duty to its citizens, they certainly should speak out against it. But what's happening here is pharmaceuticals manipulating that system. They create a mythical problem. They feed this story to a public all too willing to feel abused by the government (and not without good reason considering little things like the lies that brought about the Iraq invasion and the widening gap between the rich and the poor) and sit back and watch the show. It's not the lawyers we should despise nowadays. It's the PR people.

Now, it doesn't stop with the random opinion leader. That would be leaving too much to chance. No. What you've also got to do is establish a steady set of supporters. Patient groups. Donate money to patient groups. The groups will cite their guidelines and talk about their integrity but....BUT "we believe it is important to maintain cooperative relationships with companies that manufacture and market cancer drugs and other treatments, in order to foster communication between the patients...and the companies whose decisions will affect their treatment".

Ah yes. Integrity. Remember the Body Shop? They sold their integrity for £130m to L'Oreal last month. That's about $280m US Dollars.

How much money does it take to get you to start blurring the lines? How much to convince you that the ends justify the means? We're a non-profit organization that wants to increase awareness of its patient members so that we can improve treatment, but we're going to need funding to get that message out, to keep our campaign going. Here's a pharmaceutical who's going to donate a very generous sum to our organization. It's going to be a strictly hands off relationship. Sure sure. We aren't going to shill their product for them. But they're not our enemies. We all use drugs that they've manufactured. They've done their share of good. And they can provide us with good info on the drugs they do manufacture. It's a win-win situation. And we've got those guidelines to keep us in check.

You get the picture. Perdition. Good intentions.


By min | April 20, 2006, 9:40 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link



Biometric ID Cards

A few weeks ago, the House of Lords finally passed Blair's identity card legislation. By 2010, it will be required for new passport holders in the UK to carry these ID cards. The cards contain biometric data which include retina and iris data, fingerprints, and voice patterns. On top of that, it will have personal information such as nationality, insurance number, and any number for any other IDs issued. Read here for the full list.

From the point of view of privacy, you're talking about one huge database to house all this information in one place for everybody with a UK passport. Who's going to construct the database? Write the program for the database? Who's going to have access to this database? Have access to every single bit of data on your life, including physical characteristics? Is Clerk #52 going to be able to alleviate his boredom by surfing the database? Even if it's Special Officer #52 with super secret security clearance, that doesn't mean he couldn't also be a pedophile. And just how easily can this database be hacked into? Well, let's ask the Dutch:

"Despite strong encryption, the Dutch biometric passports have already been hacked. What if someone hacks the UK system and uses this to forge cards? Obviously this would make a mockery of the whole ID card system. The government needs to tread carefully with the implementation of these cards, or the seeds of disaster will be there from the making."

But privacy issues aside, it's not even likely to stop forgery and fraud. This article in New Scientist from 2003 says that it won't prevent people from having mulitiple cards and multiple identities. Not only that, scans are so sensitive to environmental factors that even if you are you, a scan of you now compared to the data saved might not match.

A plan to introduce biometric ID cards in the UK will fail to achieve one of its main aims, New Scientist has learned. The proposed system will do nothing to prevent fraudsters acquiring multiple identity cards.
...
The problem, says [Simon] Davies, [an expert in information systems at the London School of Economics and director of Privacy International], is the limited accuracy of biometric systems combined with the sheer number of people to be identified. The most optimistic claims for iris recognition systems are around 99 per cent accuracy - so for every 100 scans, there will be at least one false match.

This is acceptable for relatively small databases, but the one being proposed will have some 60 million records. This will mean that each person's scan will match 600,000 records in the database, making it impossible to stop someone claiming multiple identities.

...

Davies sees no prospect of improvements to the technology solving the problem. Bill Perry, of the UK's Association for Biometrics, agrees that there is an upper limit to the reliability of iris scans. There are too many environmental variables: scans can be affected by lighting conditions and body temperature, so much so that a system can fail to match two scans of the same iris taken under different conditions.

Well, I suppose we can be positive and hope that by 2010 the technology will have improved. Take heart. Forgerers and hackers are a lazy, unmotivated lot. That's why they don't have proper jobs. I'm sure they work slowly. And how many legal citizens and immigrants could they possibly mistakenly detain and rendition in that period of time? Couldn't be more than several hundred, right?


By min | April 20, 2006, 8:37 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link



April 18, 2006

Heckuva Job, Rummy

As everyone has heard by now, several retired generals have called for Rumsfeld to step down as Secretary of Defense, because, frankly, the man is an incompetent.

After 3 years, Iraq is on the precipice of civil war and still has no government.

But how can anyone refute an endorsement like this?

Bush: "I'm the decider and I decide what is best and what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

In this same press conference, Bush says he "hear[s] the voices". Contextually, he's speaking of the critics who say Rumsfeld should step down, but when you're dealing with a guy who thinks God speaks to him, you've gotta wonder.

Video clip available on CNN's site.


By min | April 18, 2006, 3:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Ok, Now I'm Creeped Out

Digby's got a couple of posts up about this thing called the Purity Ball. Basically little girls and their fathers dress up like it's a prom (gowns and tuxes), and then the little girls pledge to their fathers, the "high priest in [his] home", to stay virgins until they are married and can give their virginity to their husbands as a gift.

Little Susie says:


I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

And Big Daddy replies:


I, (daughter's name)'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

"Cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity"???? Who else is starting to get skeeved? These girls are 10 years old. Their pledging to their fathers to be sexually pure.

a) A 10-yr old should have no true concept of what that even means and if she does, as Digby points out, now we know why they make no exception in their anti-abortion stance for incest and rape.

b) Um....where are the moms? Not that the presence of Mrs. Stepford Wife or Mrs. Evangelical Fanatic would make this event any less creepy, but why aren't they at least making the pledge to their Family instead of just to Daddy Dearest?

c) Also, Digby asks the question "What? No Mommy-Son pledge of purity?"


By min | April 18, 2006, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



That's One Evil Bitch

Michelle Malkin is at it again, folks. Crooks and Liars has an entry about Malkin posting on her site the personal contact info of undergrads who protested the presence of recruiters on their campus.

Her response to the students when they asked her to remove the info because they were RECEIVING DEATH THREATS from her readers:

"As for SAW, my message is this: You are responsible for your individual actions. Other individuals are responsible for theirs. Grow up and take responsibility."

Check out SAW's (Students Against War) site for some of threats they've received.

Here's a taste:

"You will pay for your seditious activities. It is only a matter of time...We are retired military snipers & we are watching you..."

"I hope...one a fine young American very, very soon puts his shiny gun barrel
up to your left temple and pulls the trigger. Now THAT will make
America a much, much better place to live for the rest of us, you
utterly disgusting piece of shit..."

Ezra Klein manages to dredge up some pity for the old girl. I don't know why he bothers, but hey, go for it. Personally, i'm completely baffled by how her brain works. At least she's not going on again about how Japanese Americans deserved to be put in internment camps during WWII, she herself a Japanese American. Now, the windy road of logic she followed to get to that point would really be interesting to study.


By min | April 18, 2006, 1:36 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Iran - The Conversation That's Not Even Sane

FDL has a nice post that hammers home the insanity of even talking about "glassing" Iran.

First: bombing a country is a declaration of war and Iran will react to it as such. To meaningfully damage the Iranian nuclear effort will require massive bombing. This isn’t one pinpoint attack. Oil will soar to $150 a barrel or so, your economy will crater, so will everyone else’s, your allies will abandon you and you will be all by yourselves. And people won't blame the Iranians, they will blame you.

By min | April 18, 2006, 10:59 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Who are these guys?

Why did the original artwork for Pac-Man and Space Invaders look so different from what was actually in the game?


By fnord12 | April 18, 2006, 7:55 AM | Video Games| Link



April 17, 2006

Olympic Pigs

   
Hundreds of Russians gathered for the first day of the annual "pig Olympics" on Saturday, cheering a field of 12 piglets who competed in three events: pig-racing, pig-swimming and "pigball."
...
Alexei Sharshkov, vice-president of the Sport-Pig Federation, which claims 100 members, said the competitors had a happy future ahead of them, win or lose.

"They go on to produce a new generation of sport pigs. They don't get eaten," he promised. "How could you eat a competitor who is known around the world?"

Link


By min | April 17, 2006, 2:23 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link



Moron Taxes

Fuck Tax Day

Your President and mine has so little sense of decorum that while he was telling crippled vets he couldn't afford to pitch in for their medicine, he was dropping two million federal clams on a fucking yacht. Way to rub it in our faces, asshole. I bet if we sell back some of that body armor, we can hook you up with a fish finder.

By min | April 17, 2006, 12:18 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



April 14, 2006

I just want to say...

...that i can't believe they brought back Bucky, ok? I don't care what the circumstances were, i don't care how good the story was... it's just stupid.


Oh and me and Joshua have agreed that they can cancel the next Spider-Man movie and just go ahead and do Secret Wars already. (OK, they can do an Avengers movie first, if they want to.)


By fnord12 | April 14, 2006, 3:56 PM | Comics| Link



Interesting music links

It's the rec.music.theory FAQ. Some interesting stuff, check it out.

Also that story you heard about that guy who heard a song and didn't realize that there were two guitarists playing on it, so he learned to play both parts at once? Probably not true. Although i bet a lot of interesting techniques have been developed by people attempting stuff like that. Or by people trying to emulate different instruments, like Tom Morello playing like a James Brown horn section or a turntable scratch.


By fnord12 | April 14, 2006, 3:31 PM | Music| Link



Tax Time

I guess there's still some slackers out there who haven't done their taxes yet (sheesh! we did ours weeks ago...), because i'm seeing a lot of articles on taxes, like this one on people who were withholding their taxes to protest the war and this proposal to lower or eliminate income tax and instead create an environmental tax on polluting corporations.

As much as i oppose the war, i don't think it's right to withhold your taxes every time you disagree with a government policy. That's what elections are for.

I like the second proposal though.


By fnord12 | April 14, 2006, 3:27 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Chumped again

Republicans in Congress have been pushing an anti-immigration bill that, among other things, made being an illegal immigrant a felony. Then they did some polling and found out that if they passed this they would be invigorating the (legal, voting) Latino community. So they tried to get the felony part out of the bill. Democrats, who wanted to kill the bill altogether, blocked Republicans from removing the felony language, thus ensuring that no one would vote for the bill. Good move, good political manuvering.

But now Republicans are running Spanish-language ads in Latino communities saying that Democrats hate Latinos and using the fact that they voted to keep the felony language in the bill. And of course the media is going along with it calling the Democrats hypocrites. Poor Democrats can't catch a break.

I called them chumps in the title, but this really is a question of money. In today's environment, you can't rely on your opponent to be civil, and you can't rely on the media to actually do any reporting, and you can't rely on voters to have enough time or interest to actually go out and investigate these claims on their own, so it's all about being able to get your meesage out. And Republicans, by the virtue of the fact that they are the party that represents the wealthy and the large corporations, will always have more money to get their message out. The solution is out there, in the sense that there's more of us working people than there are rich people, but we have to be active and help organize and also donate when we can, and that's an uphill battle.


By fnord12 | April 14, 2006, 9:52 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



April 13, 2006

Seanbaby

Even if you've already read them, it's good to go back every so often and read Seanbaby's Superfriends and Hostess Fruit Pie pages. If you haven't read them yet, go now and burn away the hours at work. For those of you who need to go right to the one about how to restore your virginity, it's here.

His Nintendo pages are pretty funny too.


By fnord12 | April 13, 2006, 9:48 AM | Comics & Video Games| Link



April 12, 2006

Rightwingers know how to contest elections.

Not like John Kerry. See the recent election in Italy.


By fnord12 | April 12, 2006, 9:57 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Irant

I've read that we have to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons because if they get them they'd be able to launch them as far as Europe. Does it occur to these people that Europe can launch nuclear weapons into Iran right now? Or that we can launch nuclear weapons to anywhere in the world right now? Why is that allowed, but not the reciprocal?

I suppose the response would be because the leader of Iran is a crazy fundamentalist. Well, we're the ones who invaded another country (Iran's neighbor) without provocation and in violation of international law. So crazy is a relative term. And Iran's current PM is pretty scary, with his 'wipe Israel off the map' comments, but how did he get there? Prior to our invasion of Iraq, there was a student democracy movement in Iran that was getting stronger. But by labelling Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil" and then invading the first country on the list, we stirred up some strong anti-US sentiment and gave a gift to the fundamentalists, leading to Ahmedinejad getting elected. And now we're going to clean up our mistakes by making even more of a mess?


By fnord12 | April 12, 2006, 8:55 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



What's wrong with you now, Prince Charming?

I got an earache.

So... i need to go to a doctor. In order to go to a doctor we have to register them as our Primary Care Physician with our insurance. We picked our previous doctor based on proximity to our home. But we learned that she actually only visits her Somerset office once a week, and sometimes if she doesn't have a lot of appointments, she just doesn't bother to show up (i learned this the hard way).

So we got a new primary doctor based on min going on our insurance company's website and finding a doctor that was accepting new patients. So i call the doctor's office to make a new appointment.

"Are you a new patient?"
"Um, yes."
"The doctor is not accepting new patients."
"Ummmmmm. Well, he's my primary..."
"I understand, but he's not taking new patients."
"Ummm, but he's listed on my insurance card as my..."
"I understand that but you'll have to find a new doctor."

So don't tell me that private corporations are more efficient than big government. I'm moving to Canada.


By fnord12 | April 12, 2006, 8:24 AM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



April 11, 2006

Kos doesn't like democracy.

The DailyKos is the most popular of the center-left blogs. He started off by doing election analysis (and being pretty bad at it) but he's a very partisan Democrat that always supports Dem candidates even when they are pretty far to the right. Now he is attacking unions for not supporting a Dem candidate who is anti-union:

This is extraordinarily stupid. Mind-boggling so. It's rare for one seat to really matter in the House? Sure, but we're 15 seats away and we'll be making gains this November. Enough to take back the House? I'm still skeptical, but regardless, it'll be extraordinarily close. If that one seat costs us the majority and the subpoena power to investigate the Bush Administration's myriad abuses, will it have been worth it?

The unions don't have to support Bean. She hasn't earned that support. But to work to defeat her makes no political sense. Not if the unions want control of the House by the party of the people, rather than the ideologues currently running the country into the ground.

How is it any better for unions of the House is made up of anti-union Democrats instead of anti-union Republicans?


By fnord12 | April 11, 2006, 5:03 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



All Sorts of Stuff


Were Rabbit


 
Switzerland tries a new tactic for attracting tourists.

A cow-milking 'Mr. Switzerland' and other handsome men are featured in a new advertising campaign seeking to entice soccer widows to leave their sports-obsessed men behind.
...
"Why not escape this summer's World Cup to a country where men spend less time on football, and more time on you?," the advertisement, says over images of a strapping farmhand, a sexy train conductor, a fit mountain climber, a dapper ferryman and a brawny lumberjack.

It ends with Renzo Blumenthal, Mr. Switzerland 2005, milking and then leaning up against a cow.

"See our loveli lakes.
The wonderful telephone system.
And mani interesting furry animals
Including the majestik moose."

In other unrelated news, we get a sample of how our nation cares for the elderly.

An 82-year-old woman received a $114 ticket for taking too long to cross a street. Mayvis Coyle said she began shuffling with her cane across Foothill Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley when the light was green, but was unable to make it to the other side before it turned red.

She said the motorcycle officer who ticketed her on Feb. 15 told her she was obstructing traffic.

And when a sick day just isn't enough,

Two people who police say conspired to get off of work for a few days by filing a fake obituary with a newspaper have been arrested.

James Ralph Snyder, 36, and Mary Jo Elizabeth Jensen, 33, both of Waterloo, participated in the scam by filing an obituary saying Jensen's 17-year-old son had died, police said.


By min | April 11, 2006, 1:50 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link



Revolution happening everywhere except here

Looks like it's almost time to add Peru to the list of South & Central American countries that are taking a left turn. With any luck they'll be able to stand up and take over after we run out of oil and collapse under the weight of war.


By fnord12 | April 11, 2006, 1:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Oh, So Now It's Illegal to Keep People From Voting?

Pshaw!

And, anyway, just cause the guy was working for the Bush campaign when he implemented the phone-jamming operation targetted at Democrats doesn't mean the Bush campaign was responsible. Sure, he called us to tell us how it was going, but that doesn't mean anything. And on top of that, just cause he did do it doesn't mean he's guilty neither.

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.
...
The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.
...
Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans' New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.

...

Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.

Link


By min | April 11, 2006, 11:18 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Whose Turn Was It To Watch The President?

The handlers let him slip off his leash, and he started answering questions.

President Bush said Monday that he declassified sensitive prewar intelligence on Iraq back in 2003 to counter critics who claimed the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
...
"You're not supposed to talk about classified information, and so I declassified the document..."

Link


By min | April 11, 2006, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



April 7, 2006

The Wall Solution

..."[T]he House of Representatives in December, sponsored [a bill] by Republican James Sensenbrenner. Provisions of the bill include building an 11,000-kilometre wall between the US and Mexico..."

"I'm sorry. Did you say a WALL??? They passed a bill to build a wall???"

"Oh yeah. It'll be nice, too. I hear it's gonna be made of iron."

"Shiny. Excuse me. I have to bang my head against some bricks now."

I don't want to hear anymore snarky comments about China's Great Wall. By this measure, China was 700 years ahead of its time.


By min | April 7, 2006, 1:39 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Man held as a terrorist suspect for listening to the Clash and Led Zeppelin

Link:


The lyrics to both tracks made the driver fear his passenger was a terrorist.

The words of the Clash track begin: "London calling to the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down." And Led Zep's Immigrant Song goes: "The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands, to fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!"

...
Mr Mann said he was 'frog-marched off the plane in front of everyone, had my bags searched and was asked 'every question you can think of'.

If only i could get people arrested for the type of music they listened to. But seriously, i don't want to live in this world anymore.


By fnord12 | April 7, 2006, 12:58 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (1) | Link



Definitive McKinney discussion

This is basically all that needs to be said on McKinney.

And yes:

The fact that white Democrats are so unwilling to stand up for McKinney is just plain shameful.

By fnord12 | April 7, 2006, 12:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



April 6, 2006

Maybe that's why it was snowing

Fitzmas isn't over yet.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2006, 1:04 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



What the Ramones wanted

I Don't Wanna Be Learned/I Don't Wanna Be Tamed
I Don't Want You Around
I Don't Want To Live This Life (Anymore)
I Wanna Live
We Want The Airwaves
Now I Wanna Be A Good Boy
I Just Want To Have Something To Do
I Wanted Everything
I Don't Want You
I Wanna Be Sedated
I Wanna Be Well
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
Now I Wanna Sniff Some Blue
I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement
I Don't Wanna Walk Around WIth You


By fnord12 | April 6, 2006, 12:54 PM | Music| Link



Get off the couch

And go endure some social training. Or something. At least go give Joshua some traffic so he can hire me as his QA analyst. You run or cycle and then you record and compare your progress.

And i've got to start jogging again so quit screwing around with the weather. Snow in April... sheesh.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2006, 12:50 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link



Some recording engineers are really bitter about home recording

http://newyork.craigslist.org/jsy/muc/148676176.html:

Gee, those damn studios are really ripping people off aren't they!

So - you will build me a studio in my house that will get me
the kind of results a studio that gets 5 grand for a demo would get me?
So this must assume a few things eh?

Like: You will sell me a can o' expertise/ability/experience
I can snort that will magically give me the recording
chops, and aesthetic sense, plus technical expertise of
these guys who "rip me off" - right?
Or do I have to spend many many frustrating hours (more
like years) learning how to get GOOD at USING all that gear?

And of course this assumes I have a space available that
is worth all this $$$ gear... Or does that 5 grand include
structural and acoustical renovations to my space?
Nah...You can just get "acoustics in a can" nowadays -
with plugins and convolution modeling ANYbody's bedroom
is a great concert space!

Look...I am ALL in favor of "home studios" and "D.I.Y" recording
but it is disingenuous bullsh*t to market your services on the
premise that it is "just that easy". Many artists do not have the
technical aptitude or disposition to deal effectively with the
nuts and bolts of recording and are happier when the process is
made as transparent and user friendly as possible. NOT every
artist wants to spend countless hours poring over software help
menus, looking for plugin updates, or wasting more time on learning
to record - than he spends making his music!!!

To all you fellow Craigs musicians - Think it through!
IF you want to embark on the adventure of recording and
control the whole process - GO FOR IT, but remember that is
time NOT spent on your craft. For those that "just want a great
recording" consider a more modest home studio and go to a
REAL studio to get serious results you can hand around without
having to make excuses or apologies for!


By fnord12 | April 6, 2006, 12:47 PM | Music| Link



April 5, 2006

McCain insults American workers.

Found on This Modern World:

Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. "Pay a decent wage!" one audience member shouted.

"I've heard that statement before," McCain said before threatening to leave.
. . .
But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.

"I'll take it!" one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

Some in the crowd said they didn't appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.

"I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him," said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. "He's supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?"



By fnord12 | April 5, 2006, 11:30 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Tom Delay involved in persecuting religious minorities. And golf.

BLITZER: Given the appearance that some might say, you know, "He's going to one of the great golf courses in the world at St. Andrews. He's playing golf and" -- what the argument is -- "on somebody else's dime."

DELAY: That's an appearance created by the national media and my detractors. There is nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal. There was nothing against the House rules in taking that trip to help build a conservative movement.

I'm involved all around the world. I've been involved in Christian persecution in China. I'm involved in Jewish persecution in Russia. I'm involved in supporting Israel. I'm involved in the war on terror in Indonesia and in Malaysia. I have been heavily involved in a lot of issues -- and I travel. And I also play golf.


By fnord12 | April 5, 2006, 10:42 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



April 4, 2006

All Nouns Work With Monkey

"Where'd you get those corn fritters?"

"What's it to you, El Cid?"

"Look, I don't know why you can't ever answer a simple question."

"Simple is as simple does, El Cid."

"Oh forget it. I'm getting a ham sandwich."

"Don't you mean a 'ham' sandwich?"

"Whatever. You're just jealous cause I've got credentials. All you've got is that shirt button and a hedgehog monkey."


By min | April 4, 2006, 2:02 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



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