Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Remember when you were a kid...

and you got in trouble for doing something or other - and your parents took something away from you for a span of a week, or you were grounded for a week... remember how you would be nice for 5 minutes and then ask for said restriction to be lifted? Yeah - that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting Closer...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama's First 100 Days

Environment - ***** - From the 23b in stimulus money to the cutting of 'clean coal' subsidies to the telling car companies that if they wanted federal money they had to stop spending cash fighting the govt on emission standards and pollution controls to naming CO2 as a pollutant etc - he's really pretty well nailed this one (he should've given that kid who screwed up the treasury auction in Utah a pardon - but he still can). There's a real sense that the scientists are back in charge - and that's really really good.

Economy - ** - Well, it's not a complete disaster - and it's not like the guy had a lot of good choices here (though he's compounded the problem with some bad ones - Geithner for example). He's played way too nice with the banks, the stimulus package was too small and pointed at some very bad models, and he isnt showing the leadership on the issue we need if we're really going to get ourselves out of this mess. But he didnt just do nothing either - he's pushing the banks a little and he did blow a ton of cash to flood the system with seed money. Was it wasted? Sure - lots of it was... but some of it will help.

Healthcare - ** - First he tried to put the known lobbyist Daschle into Health - then they buckled on stimulus money to combat a 'possible flu pandemic' to a republican senator even though they control both houses... otherwise nothing at all has been done here to advance nationalized healthcare. Perhaps when all those flu infected truckdrivers coming up I-35 start spreading it around gas stations, and all the poor and unemployed who have no healthcare dont go to the doctor until they've spread it around a while - then we'll see someone say 'you know, maybe the cost of free 10 minute clinic visits is cheaper to the economy than closing schools, shutting down businesses, and generally letting everything grind to a halt'... The only reason this isnt 1 star is he's told everyone that he's not taking healthcare off his agenda.

Torture - ** - He released the memos and he has announced we're closing Gitmo. Otherwise, the prisoners there say torture is as bad or worse than it was (even though he's theoretically said it should stop), he's said we're not going to prosecute anyone for any of it, and he's been very flip-floppy on the idea of anyone looking into the matter.

Middle East - *** - He announced a timetable for troop pullout of Iraq and he's got Gates executing on it. Iran is making positive noises re not building nuclear facilities (having the russians do it - which was part of the original suggestion to help solve the potential crisis) and they're even making 'Israel has the right to exist' noises. He's told Israel that the 2 state solution is coming and they'd best get on board. But we boycotted a UN conference on racism specifically because the language pointed out what's been going on in Israel qualifies, and i get the real sense that a lot of the reality of us actually pulling troops and us actually getting israel to listen to us is far from the early bluster. This one is more of an (I)ncomplete than anything - because none of it counts until something really changes.

Personal Freedoms - * - Stacking Justice with RIAA lawyers, making the new copyright treaty a state secret, fighting against the EFF on the subject of warrentless wiretaps on exactly the same grounds as the Bush administration, having the FBI pushing around government spyware/trojans that keylog and sniff your computer etc... 1 star is too many. He deserves an ass kicking for this one.

Cleaning Up Foreign Relations - **** - from opening up a dialog with cuba to talking with Iran having Chavez making happy noises, he's doing an ok job actually talking to people who dont care for the US very much. Even Russia - in rather serious trouble with the price of oil back down in the basement - has been making fairly nice noises. Europeans turned out in droves to cheer him on his recent overseas visit - and he's making the right noises to reassert america's standing (that story of brokering the deal between china and france at the G-20 meeting was a great anecdote)

Style - **** - When he tried to be bipartisan and got 0 votes for his stimulus package I thought he had totally lost the thread. But now he's using that to explain to the republicans that going forward he's just doing it his way - because why bother soliciting their feedback. They're upset - understandably - but screw them. I probably would have gone ahead and put other stuff into the stimulus package, but I think maybe he was right, it was the first salvo in a long fight, and giving the pubs the opportunity to slit their own throats could be critical if he intends to stick them with everything else he wants to do. He's managed to keep most of his rabid supporters loving him too - even though his policies pretty much suck eggs to this point. The only time he looks off balance is when he's really really pushed by the left on issues involving what's 'right' vs what's 'politically expedient'... we always knew he was an operator - but it's the one place he struggles in the limelight. Plus - authorizing the Seals to deal with the pirates was ballsy - and exactly the sort of 'in your face' strong president macho crap that you can shove down everyone's throat. (Two fair gaffes so far, the shaking Chavez's hand (which wasnt bad at all, but it could've been handled better) and the giving Gordon Brown some DVDs in a gift exchange when Brown gave him an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet - esp when the DVDs were Region 1 Encoded lol... that's just pathetic)

In total - I'd give him 2 1/2 stars. He's better than average on style, worse on substance. He's a Sigue Sigue Sputnik president. God help us.

Swine Flu

I'm staying home.
It's not time to freak out.. yet.. at least, not until Madagascar closes its ports.

Friday, April 24, 2009


What is it about torture that the far right loves so much.

They go on about how effective it is - even when the FBI interrogators made clear at the time and now after the fact that nothing positive was gleaned from these sorts of activities.

So how is it that the GOP has become the party of Torture? McCain is out there saying 'waterboarding is torture' - but idiots like Peggy Noonan have the temerity to suggest that the fact that we torture people is just something we should shield our fragile little eyes from...

So the point I want to make here is - if you'd asked me 10 years ago 'will a significant number of Republicans embrace a policy of torturing people in US custody' - I'd have laughed at you. Torture is evil and wrong and flies in the face of everything we stand for. We've prosecuted people - executed them - for doing these sorts of things.

So the question is - when does the Republican party embrace Slavery. It was popular in the south... It is endorsed in scripture... All they have to do is rename it 'Enhanced Personal Services Contractual Obligation'.

Sure - laugh it up - imagine this is hyperbole... but remember they're out there telling you Torture is GOOD with a straight face.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Government of Morons

That's the funniest damned thing I've seen all week.

EDIT: omg - it gets better... he's posted the video to youtube himself and he's PROUD of it!! BWAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH

Thing One and Thing Two - Analogy Day

It's bad test question construction day. Today we play SAT Intarweb Analogy Funtime.

1) This is to This as

    a)This is to This
    b)That is to That
    c)One is to Two
    d)Red is to Blue

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stewart Nails It Again

Torture... a word. Something ok to say a couple days ago - or put differently - it was ok 'at that time and in that cultural context' but has no bearing on the events of today... we have always been at war with Eastasia indeed. Somehow appropriate from this administration... Then again - you commit torture you get a walk... you complain about it in a letter to the president you get to go to jail

Monday, April 20, 2009

Language = Attitude

So after spending 4 weeks 'thinking about' the release of the torture memos Obama went down to Langley today to give a peptalk. He said upholding U.S. values and ideals in the face of such an enemy is "what makes the United States special and what makes you special."

He's right. They're special. In the mean time McCain went on Fox this morning. described waterboarding as 'absolutely torture', and said it was a “serious mistake” for the Obama administration to release the torture memos. “The release of these memos helps no one, doesn’t help America’s image, does not help us address the issue.”

Believe it or not I totally agree... you DON'T RELEASE THE MEMOS if you're not going to DO anything about what they say. It's like saying 'I have video of the president molesting an 8 yr old boy, but hey - not on my watch so it's all good - wanna watch?...' Only BAD THINGS come from telling the world you torture people and it's ok because you thought about it and decided you probably wont be doing that anymore. McCain is absolutely right - for the wrong reasons - but absolutely right.

In the mean time I only have one thing to say to you Mr President.

Happy Monday

From the Christian Science Monitor (emphasis mine):

Interrogators, who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity, said they believed Zubaydah told them everything he knew before waterboarding began. They communicated this to agency higher-ups in Washington, who nonetheless insisted on the use of the practice, and asked to watch it take place.

"You get a ton of information, but headquarters says, 'There must be more,' " recalled one intelligence officer who was involved in the case. As described in the footnote to the memo, the use of repeated waterboarding against Abu Zubaydah was ordered "at the direction of C.I.A. headquarters," and officials were dispatched from headquarters "to watch the last waterboard session."
...because, you know, you just cant watch a good torture session from the confines of your living room...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Reminder

We dont torture for 2 primary reasons.

First - it doesn't really work as a method of information gathering.
Second - we don't want people to do it to us.

After reading the details of the Bush Torture Memos including but not limited to the idea that one admittedly evil asshole was waterboarded 183 times in one month I have to wonder. So after a simulated drowing 182 times, did he break at 183? (no, according to other stories nothing valuable was ever gained from this prisoner)

All this still really leads to point #2. Let's assume there will be another US conflict sometime in the future (otherwise buying all these bullets is a bit of a waste)... and lets assume that the enemy captures a few. When the women in enemy custody are covered in insects or have towels wrapped around their necks so they can be thrown harder into walls - repeatedly - and denied sleep or fed fried rat on cardboard - or simply waterboarded 182 times (afterall we've established that 184 isnt torture) - remember this day. Remember that we've made it perfectly clear that we consider doing these things to be perfectly ok to enemy combatants. And, at the end, when you hear the horror stories of what they did to our American servicemen and women remember that we set the bar.

At least we make sure those most precious to us wont be subjected to this.

Edit: "Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect — all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners." Obviously the question is whether the senior members of the government were giving this advice as 'an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation' or whether they were 'written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal'... I know a really good way to find out. Let's ask them... in a way in which we know they'll answer the question...
As far as I'm concerned - Obama deciding to whitewash this situation is as vile a betrayal of the system of laws designed to prevent this as the actions of the perpetrators themselves. He is quite clearly as morally bankrupt and despicable as the last asshole to run this country.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Activist Judges

"I cant believe these judges... don't they understand we're at war? Oh wait - Obama's pulling this crap? Wait... I thought he was a secret muslim? I'm totally confused." -- imaginary Freeper comment

Dont worry Mr Freeper... I'm confused too. I thought we were electing one of the good guys.

When people go and do Room 101 crap you're SUPPOSED to say 'that's bad - and we're going to punish the people who did it'... not 'that's so last year, did you see the last episode of Lost'. There's a word for people who do that - the word is asshole. Mr President - you are an asshole.

Another Day Another Disappointment

"President Obama's assertion that there should not be prosecutions of government officials who may have committed crimes before a thorough investigation has been carried out is simply untenable. Enforcing the nation's laws should not be a political decision." -- Anthony Romero, Executive Director ACLU


Why do i find myself wishing Obama could spend some time with a few Alabama teabaggers.

Edit: Oh for the days of a real president who understood the idea that we are a nation of laws. "I expect them to be treated, the POWs I expect to be treated humanely. And -- just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals." You tell em George...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You know

you win some
you lose some
of course, you know who else was only following orders?


why would he defend crap like this... seriously - do they have something on him? or was he always a complete and total douchebag.

Monday, April 13, 2009


...with apologies to Shepherd Fairey and Tadaomi Shibuya but this story just made me sad and i had to break out photoshop and a quadtone

Big Shock

So the govt is investigating... dont see what there is to investigate. Most everyone I know got a notification in the mail that the interest rates on their cards were being moved into the 20%+ range (no late payments... no change in work status etc...)

The smart thing to do, of course, is to run it up and default on it... but i cant bring myself to be a dick.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Monday

Happy Easter


Nothing good comes from taking people hostage off ships carrying food relief to starving countries. Then again - one should probably ask 'why are so many Somalians suddenly looking to be pirates?'...It surely cant be an effort to stem global warming. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the tons of nuclear waste European nations have been dumping off the Somalian coast..."it cost European companies $2.50 per ton to dump the wastes on Somalia's beaches rather than $250 a ton to dispose of the wastes in Europe"... or the giant fishing trawlers that have swept through Somalia's coast and steal $300m worth of fish a year. Let's dump that toxic waste off the coast of Cape Cod, and let some mitsubishi corp drift net fishing vessels run rampant off the coast of Laguna and see what happens.

Don't get me wrong. Taking shots at people just trying to get by at sea wasnt acceptable behavior from Scylla - it surely isnt acceptable from thugs looking to live large off the misery of others three thousand years later. But there are usually underlying causes to things like this - and it's important you look beneath the simple fox news 'kill the pirates' blather to the 'why the hell are we talking about pirates' question...

This is one of those 'strong and rich preying on weak and poor' stories... perfect for easter. So the next time you read about those horrible pirates and how they're doing such awful things - be sure to remember to swallow that pill with a flagon of medical waste ye mateys... tis' a bitter grog but it be true.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


who the hell climbs a fence and swims a moat to pet a polar bear
zoos should have a giant meatgrinder for people to climb into - that way the morons can kill themselves without bothering the animals

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

A celebration of the day man killed god...
did i get that wrong?
man i always screw that one up

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Boggles the mind...

So there's a massive earthquake in Italy and 150 are dead and 17,000 are homeless... what does their duly elected leader do? He tells them "they should see it like a weekend of camping"... wow - Barbara Bush revisited. It's so nice to have an elected leader who isn't a total jackass for a change...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

highlight of the season

didnt expect this...

I dont know what it is about japanese school girls and gibson guitars - but the two seem to go together a lot

Monday, April 06, 2009

Happy Monday

You know you wanna...

not sure if this is any worse...

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition Stasi!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Time Warner's Disingenuous Email

I sent a note through to Time Warner telling them I wasn't pleased by their plans to cap and meter. The nets were a flurry of activity last week on the subject - with the idiocy of the move going right to the top of Reddit and Digg. The response I got from TWC was 'we have to find an equitable solution for everyone'... which is exactly the sort of garbage excuse they teach crap middle managers to use on hard working employees at a big company when they're not going to give them a raise. Honestly the response was offensive to me - it was so hamfisted and filled with garbage marketing - making assumptions that I didnt actually KNOW better (though, I suppose, most people dont actually know better).

So last night I ran across this from the NYTimes. To be fair - there are huge population density advantages to tokyo over a city like Austin, and there are restrictions against VoIP in Japan that limit that interchange of service (though, with that kind of bandwidth why not just push 30 fps HD video conferencing - who the hell needs the CLECs)... but that's still no excuse for the absurd talk from the greedy monopolists at TWC telling us that they need MORE of our money for less.

The reality is that in 1996 Clinton passed the Telecom act which gave out over $200b in tax breaks to these carriers but they had to spend that money on infrastructure improvements to hit big bandwidth targets. They charged consumers fees on their bills - kept the money - and delivered none of the infrastructure improvement (because regulators never enforced anything - and no one ever called them on it).

Now a decade later - after a huge telecom boom which saw billions spent by other companies (who didnt reap the tax benefits) and who's infrastructure was snapped up for pennies after the bubble burst (and everyone doubled down on real estate) there were 10s of dark fiber strands in the ground for every lit one... so all that OC-48 gear that got deployed and depreciated (more tax writeoffs) suddenly got big wave-division multiplexers attached that can split the light into 160 channels - so suddenly every strand of fiber can carry 160x what it used to...


The most prescient point in the NYTimes article (to me) was this... (emphasis mine)

Competition, or the lack of it, goes a long way to explaining why the fees are higher in the United States. There is less competition in the United States than in many other countries. Broadband already has the highest profit margins of any product cable companies offer. Like any profit-maximizing business would do, they set prices in relation to other providers and market demand rather than based on costs.

I sent this quote to TWC as a response to their garbage boilerplate - and flatly called them liars.

Their response?
I totally understand your concern. It is feedback like this, which will enable us to adopt a best course plan, which will be profitable to both the customers and us. Our plan to adopt a tiered plan is currently in its nascent stage. We are taking in customer feedback and closely watching the evolution of the Internet so that we may decide what needs to be done. Also, contrary to exaggerated media reports, no final decision has been taken. Please be assured that any updates regarding this will be reported and you will be informed. Once again, we thank you for being a valuable customer and your feedback. We shall forward this to our higher resources.

Let's talk about this then...
You sell me 8Mbps down and 384Kbps up for $50 a month, right? Let's not talk about whether that's hugely profitable for you... we'll just pretend it's not for some reason. Ok. Now you're upset if I use too much of it... ok. We'll I'm upset if my internet speed isn't 8Mbps down like I'm supposed to get.

Tell you what... you charge me your metered rate - and in return you make sure my 8Mbps is a CIR. Any day my meter says I dont get 95% of my 8Mbps 95% of the time you don't charge me for that day at all. I've negotiated much harsher contracts with Cable and Wireless and MCI over the years - this is hugely padded in your favor. What? No? Nevermind? You mean you've oversubscribed my bandwidth and if you actually had to deliver it 'on demand' like you claimed you'd have to have spent some of that $200b on infrastructure improvements instead of executive bonuses?

It cuts both ways assholes.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Even funnier

Look what the banks want to do now.

So let's play this out out for you...

BankA has $10m of crap.
Due to new rules they value said crap at $100m just because it's a friday.
BankB has $100m of crap too.

BankB goes to the federal reserve and borrows $8m at the fed discount rate of .25%
BankA goes to the federal reserve and borrows $8m at the fed discount rate of .25%
BankB buys BankA's crap for $100m - using $8m in 'matching' tarp funds and $84m in 'low interest govt financing'
BankA buys BankB's crap for $100m - using $8m in 'matching' tarp funds and $84m in 'low interest govt financing'

The banks just moved 92% of the debt off their books for nothing.

Now it gets fun

BankB creates a collateralized asset pool consisting of ONE paddle game, ONE lamp, and ONE ashtray - and sets the value of that pool at $100m.
BankA creates a collateralized asset pool consisting of ONE remote control, ONE magazine, and ONE chair - and sets the value of that pool at $100m.

Each bank now swap the asset pool for the original $100m of toxic crap - then sell the collateralized asset pools at auction, realizing the loss (sorry govt - you lose) - and keeping all the actual property itself. So long as the actual crap was worth more than the $8m they put up front in the auction (i said it was worth $10) the banks turn a profit.

Oh sure... the money has to come from somewhere... but that's not the banks problem (anymore).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Timewarner Cable shoots itself in the foot

Timewarner has decided that Austin Texas is the place to implement metered bandwidth for it's customers. No more moving 200mb files around for work... no more watching Stephen Colbert on the comedy central site... no more pop-3 mail access with 10mb attachments...

The tests in Beaumont - that hotbed of hightech knowhow - showed 25% of the users went over their caps.

Honestly - if this is the way Austin treats its tech savvy then perhaps it's time to consider moving. I hope the Austin tech crowd stands up for itself with the city council - they have the power to stop this.

Wetwired has it right - only some of us are victims of the monopoly. These companies took government money to build infrastructure to come out here - and now they're going to hold us hostage because out here there are no alternatives - and man did they fight that whole 'set up a competing company on the infrastructure to provide a competing service' fight in the 90s...


At some point

someone is going to have to call them on shit like this...
in my opinion, right after your new government decides on a foreign minister who's responsible for quotes like this '...the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Lieberman called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide the buses to take them there' might be a good time.

Of course, it's hard for us to exert any moral authority thanks to the last 8 years - but we should probably try anyway.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Not April Fools

Idiot congresswoman wants a constitutional amendment that says "The President may not enter into a treaty or other international agreement that would provide for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States."

This isnt about preventing burger king in NYC from taking Euros... or the Starbucks in Laguardia from taking CAD... or Proctor and Gamble from making coupons for toothpaste you can use at the Piggly Wiggly... it's about keeping the the govt from giving the power of the federal reserve to a foreign power.

Umm... last I checked the largest percentage taking govt paper were foreign nationals already... so dont they control that situation now as it is. Are you suggesting the use of basket currencies by US firms should be illegal? or that the US set a fixed exchange rate for the dollar? What exactly is she trying to accomplish with this constitutional amendment... and why arent other equally important issues put into the constitution as well - i'm pretty sure the nation is equally in dire need of a constitutional amendment banning the president from entering into an international accord allowing human/raccoon sex.