Thursday, April 29, 2004

An open letter to whoever

I realize that cell phones are incredibly useful. They're also a really cool technology. I'm sure one makes your life easier and let you keep in touch with friends and family more.

That being said, do you need to keep in touch so badly that you're making calls while you're sitting in a stall in a public bathroom? Would waiting five minutes really be so much to ask? I know *I* don't particularly want to be chatting on the phone with someone sitting on the toilet. And it's rather disconcerting for the rest of us in the restroom to hear an animated discussion in Chinese coming from under the stall door. Hello? Are you alone in there?

Really. Have some sense.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I want my meteor!

It was June 8, 1998 when Pat Robertson decided to throw down God's gauntlet to the homosexuals. You see, they wanted to do the unspeakable. They were going to sully Disney World (gasp) with their Gay Day. And they were going to enjoy it. Oh, the horror. The lesbians weren't even going to wear veils, like decent women do. (I Corinthians 5-6,11) And, lo, it was said,

I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you.... But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.

-- Pat Robertson

It's been nearly six years since that, and not a single meteor has struck Florida. I want the meteor I was promised, dammit!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Saturday night mistake

Watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which should be subtitled Watch Two Manipulative Bitches Fall in Love.

Matthew McConaughey takes his shirt off in the first ten minutes. After that, go find something better to do.

Like we needed more?

Just more proof Americans are stupid. Apparently, we believe that Iraq and Al Queso are intimately linked. As if partnering with a corrupt, womanizing dictator would sit well with a fanatical, ascetic, ultra-religious wacko.

From this article:

A new poll shows that 57 percent of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaida terrorists before the war with Iraq, despite a lack of evidence of that relationship.

Evidence? We don't need no stinkin' evidence. Fifty-seven percent? That's almost enough for a Constitutional amendment.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

More deceptive crap

David sent me an email the other day from the John Kerry web site claiming a "record deterioration in the Middle Class Misery Index." Now, I'd heard of the Misery Index, and just figured that this was another name for an economic indicator that had been around for a while. Well, thanks to, I know that's not the case. It turns out that this is just a marketing tactic made up by the Kerry campaign. Rather than being a useful tool for economists to judge the state of our economy, it's an index that looks fairly well tailored by the Kerry campaign to make Bush look bad.

Don't get me wrong. I think that Bush's tax cuts are fiscally unwise and bad for our economy. But don't try to bullshit me by making up something technical-sounding but ultimately self-serving. I mean, had the Middle Class Misery Index wound up having hit it's low point during the Clinton years, but recovered during Bush II's administration, would it have ever been heard of outside some conference room at Kerry Campaign HQ? I think not.

And to doubly piss me off, the stock email I got from the Kerry campaign doesn't say that they invented this index. The fact that it's name so closely resembles that of an existing index makes me think that it was so named in order to confuse readers, as I was. Nowhere in the original email does it say that this index was recently invented by the Kerry campaign, and on the Kerry web page press release, the only indication that it was is in the fact that it's called a "new measure of the pressure faced by American families." (Apparently, the pressures faced by single Americans are not important to John Kerry.)

Kerry campaign people, please don't try to pull the wool over my eyes. If Bush is bad for the economy, say that. If specific policies are especially boneheaded, point them out and let's discuss them. But don't come up with stuff that seems tailored to deceive and confuse me. That just pisses me off and makes me suspicious and actually less likely to believe you.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Those poor, un-free, brown people

I did catch a few minutes of the President's speech the other day, and just remembered this tidbit:

Some of the debate really center around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that. I reject that, because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and, if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

Um, excuse me? Has anyone, anywhere ever heard this "debate" where someone said that brown people can't be self-governing? Who has this man been listening to? India is a pretty darn good example of a brown-skinned, self-governing, free nation.

This is what's known as the straw man argument. Basically, misrepresent your opponent's position, then disagree with the misrepresentation, and therefore discredit the opponent. In other words, it's a cheap shot used by someone that doesn't have rational grounds for his argument.

Now if anyone can show me one credible opponent to the war that has said Iraqis can't be free because they have "brown skin," then I'll eat my words. (KKK members don't count.)

OK, now this is going too far

I was in the grocery store with David recently, and came across Orville Redenbacher's Cinnamon Butter Popcorn. First of all, the idea of adding cinnamon to popcorn strikes me as a bit weird. Secondly, this stuff contains a little packet of frosting to pour over your popcorn when it's done.

Are you kidding me? Frosted popcorn? Don't get me wrong, I have as much, if not bigger, sweet tooth than the next guy. I even admit to being somewhat partial to the slightly sweet Kettle Korn stuff that's coming out now. But popcorn that has frosting poured on top? That's going too far.

Are we really such a society that needs spoonfuls of sugar poured on everything? And at 750 calories per bag, it becomes really clear why we're becoming such an obese nation.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


I'm very much a nerd, and so I like numbers and fiddling with computers and such. I get fairly large amounts of spam since I've had my main email address since 1996 or so. I've gotten pretty good at filtering it out, but for some reason, it's a phenomenon that has always rather interested me. So I wrote a couple of quick programs in Java to count how much I've been getting lately. (I'm also teaching myself Java, and this was something I could do with it as practice.) This is pretty much automated, so I'll keep updating it as time goes on.

The results can be seen here.

Not surprisingly, the amount I've been getting has been increasing lately. I noticed a significant jump (like a factor or two) around the first of the year, when the CAN-SPAM act came into force, thanks to the idiots in Congress and the Direct Marketing Association. I only fear it is going to get worse.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Um, excuse me, but did you know your pants are on fire?

I like to think I'm a reasonable person. I'm know for a fact that I'm a very data-driven person. I keep an open mind. If you can make a claim, and can back it up with real facts, I'm prone to believe you. If you tell me that George Bush's tax cuts will improve our economy, I'm actually willing to listen. I don't think that they will improve our economy, mind you, so you'll have to show me some really good data. But I'm open to the possibility.

Don't, however, try to bullshit me. If I find out you've been lying to me, not only does that piss me off, but your argument will immediately get thrown out, and everything you say from now on will be viewed as suspect.

That's why I think I'm falling in love with They call both political sides on all the proverbial wool they try to pull over our collective eyes. And who knew there was so much of it?

Take this example. Just yesterday, I caught the first of what I'm sure will be many Bush campaign ads. This wasn't one put out by some Committee for Family Something-or-another or the People for Preserving Virtuous-sounding Institution. It started out with a voiceover from Dubya himself saying that he approved the ad. [1] In it, the ad states that Kerry voted for higher taxes more than 350 times. I even checked the official George Bush election site, and it says:

...John Kerry has voted for more spending not less, and higher taxes not lower. He has voted for higher taxes more than 350 times, and he has consistently flunked the scorecards of tax watchdog groups...

Geez! Say Kerry's been in political office for roughly 20 years, and that's roughly 1.5 votes for higher taxes per month, every month. I almost always lean Democratic, and I'd have a hard time voting for someone that did that.

Ah, but wait!

Thanks to the folks at, we know this is misleading:

[This claim] includes votes Kerry cast to leave taxes unchanged (when Republicans proposed cuts), and even votes in favor of alternative Democratic tax cuts that Bush aides characterized as “watered down.” ... It's simply untrue that Kerry voted for tax increases 350 times.

Now, the Bush camp splits hairs saying that Kerry voted for "higher taxes" not "tax increases." (Yeah, that difference is crystal clear.) I'm sorry, but claiming that Kerry voting for modest tax cuts is voting for higher taxes is bullshit. Keeping taxes the same is not "higher taxes."

Yes, I understand that spin drives politics. Politics is perception and all that stuff. But this is a blatant attempt to deceive the viewer. That's what I like to call a lie. That's what pisses me off. And regardless of your political affiliation, it should piss you off, too.

Next time (after I calm down): Don't look now, but the Democrats are doing the same thing.

[1] I'm hearing these a lot recently, but don't remember ever hearing them before. The candidate comes on and says, "I'm so-and-so, and I approve this message." The fact that these statements are almost word-for-word identical makes me think they're required by some election law.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


I can't believe I forgot about Bush's speech on TV tonight. Completely slipped my mind until it was mostly over. Oh well, I'm sure it went something like this, "blah, blah, blah ... the world is better off without Saddam Hussein ... War on Terror ... Iraqi people are better off ... weapons of mass destruction ... nukular weapons ... Osama bin Laden ... Iraq ... terrorists ... blah blah blah."

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Ow, my eyes!

In case there needed to be more reasons that gay men and lesbians should be allowed to marry, is a pretty good one. Clearly there need to be more gay people involved in the marriage process, just to stop fashion atrocities like these from happening.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Unclean, unclean!

Makes you wonder when the last time Fred Phelps stopped by Long John Silver's.

Friday, April 09, 2004

It needs to be said

I would just like to say to the rest of the country, on behalf of all Texans, I apologize.

You know who I'm talking about.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I think I'll stay a duckling

I happened to catch this review today on Salon about the new FOX reality show The Swan. The premise of the show is that they take a bunch of ugly women, give them lots of plastic surgery, and *poof* they're beautiful. I read the review, and thought, "There's no way this show is THAT bad."

Flipping channels this evening, I came across it unintentionally and, yeah, it really IS that bad. I couldn't watch it for more than five minutes before turning it off in disgust.

These aren't terribly unattractive women, just a bit average looking. What they have in common, however, appears to be very low self-esteem. And FOX is exploiting that.

This show is positively repulsive. It's hard to think how much lower television executives will sink.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A disturbing trend

Yet another (ex) official has come forward with claims that the invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion. This time, nine days after 9/11. I found this particularly disturbing:

We must deal with [Afghanistan] first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq

-- President George W. Bush

Why weren't we concentrating on the people that had actually attacked us?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Ann, you ignorant slut

As anyone who knows me knows how much I truly despise Ann Coulter. Her personal attacks disguised as political commentary are truly the worst of the right-wing attack media. I'm just of the opinion that people like her simply shouldn't be let out into polite society.

Let's take a look at one of her latest columns. My responses to her rabid frothing are in green and her personal attacks are in red

ARE YOU sitting down? Another ex-government official who was fired or demoted by Bush has written a book that ... is critical of Bush! Eureka! The latest offering is Richard Clarke's new CBS-Viacom book, "Against All Enemies," which gets only a 35 on "rate a record" because the words don't make sense and you can't dance to it.

As long as we're investigating everything, how about investigating why some loser no one has ever heard of is getting so much press coverage for yet another "tell-all" book attacking the Bush administration? Gee, Ann, maybe it's because yet another high-ranking official in the administration is telling us how the Iraq war had nothing to do with terrorism?

When an FBI agent with close, regular contact with President Clinton wrote his book, he was virtually blacklisted from the mainstream media. Upon the release of Gary Aldrich's book "Unlimited Access" in 1996, White House adviser George Stephanopoulos immediately called TV producers demanding that they give Aldrich no airtime." Hmm, maybe that had something to do with the fact that many of the claims in his book the book are unverified rumor, and that the author is a bit of a nut, implying implying a vast left-wing conspiracy to keep his book down, even though it went to #1 that year?

... [More Aldrich claims] ... many [TV] headlines like this one on CNN: "Even Conservatives Back Away From Aldrich's Book." That's almost as much TV as Lewinsky mouthpiece William Ginsburg did before breakfast on an average day. (Let's take a moment here to imagine the indignity of being known as "Monica Lewinsky's mouthpiece.") Your attention please: Clinton had sex in the White House. Just in case someone had missed the last half of the 90s, Clinton had sex in the White House. This is a favorite topic of Ann's. She uses it to discredit any idea put forward by a non-Republican (or, to use her term, a "liberal").

In contrast to Aldrich's book, which was vindicated with a whoop just a few years later when the Monica Lewinsky [Again with Lewinsky?] scandal broke, many of Clarke's allegations were disproved within days of the book's release. Clarke claims, for example, that in early 2001, when he told President Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about al-Qaida, her "facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before." (If only she used botox like Sen. Kerry!)

Sean Hannity has been playing a radio interview that Dr. Rice gave to David Newman on WJR in Detroit back in October 2000, in which she discusses al-Qaida in great detail. This was months before chair-warmer Clarke claims her "facial expression" indicated she had never heard of the terrorist organization. Actually, Ann, go back and look again. His quote says he got the impression she was confused, not that she actually was.

But in deference to our liberal friends, [Wait, what?] let's leave aside the facts for now. A few months before Clarke was interpreting Dr. Rice's "facial expression," al-Qaida had bombed the USS Cole. Two years before that, al-Qaida bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In fact, al-Qaida or their allies had been responsible for a half dozen attacks on U.S. interests since Clinton had become president. (Paper-pusher Clarke was doing one heck of a job, wasn't he?) In the year 2000 alone, Lexis-Nexis lists 280 items mentioning al-Qaida.

By the end of 2000, anyone who read the paper had heard of al-Qaida. It is literally insane to imagine that Condoleezza Rice had not. For Pete's sake, even The New York Times knew about al-Qaida. Like, totally, "literally" insane, huh? And what's with this dig at the Times? I'm not a big fan of the legitimate conservative press, but I'm not going to imply that George Will is somehow stupid.

[Summary of Rice's credentials]

All this was while Clarke was presiding over six unanswered al-Qaida attacks on American interests and fretting about the looming Y2K emergency. But chair-warmer Clarke claims that on the basis of Rice's "facial expression" he could tell she was not familiar with the term "al-Qaida."

Isn't that just like a liberal? [Wait. Hold on a minute. Liberal? Clarke is a registered REBUBLICAN. He served under Clinton, yes, but he also served under two Republican administrations. The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger -- but the black chick is a dummy. Maybe even as dumb as Clarence Thomas! Perhaps someday liberals could map out the relative intelligence of various black government officials for us. So now, apparently, Clarke makes these claims, not because he thinks they are true, but because he is a racist. And not only is Clarke a racist, but ALL liberals (since Clarke must be a liberal) are racists and think that blacks are stupid. Thanks for clearing that up, Ann.

Did Clarke have the vaguest notion of Rice's background and education? Or did he think Dr. Rice was cleaning the Old Executive Office Building at night before the president chose her -- not him -- to be national security adviser? OK, that's just to repugnant an accusation to even respond to.

As we know from Dr. Rice's radio interview describing the threat of al-Qaida back in October 2000, she certainly didn't need to be told about al-Qaida by a government time-server. No doubt Dr. Rice was staring at Clarke in astonishment as he imparted this great insight: Keep an eye on al-Qaida! We've done nothing, but you should do something about it. Tag -- you're it. Oh, great, so now our elected officials are giving orders to their subordinates via telepathy." That look of perplexity Clarke saw was Condi thinking to herself: "Hmmm, did I demote this guy far enough?" Now it's not clear whether or not Clarke thought he was demoted, but it's very clear that Rice, herself, does not think he was. Ann, it seems, disagrees

I'm rather concerned about the new liberal radio programs with Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo. One thing the liberal side has always had over the conservative press is the lack of the character assassination that they tend to stoop too. Coulter and Limbaugh are two names that come to mind. I just hope that it doesn't get dirty on both sides.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Headlines that shouldn't be

Seen on the ticker of a news program this morning:

President to sign bill today outlawing harming a fetus in a Rose Garden ceremony.

Something tells me that one's not going to come up much.