Monday, January 31, 2005

Hook, line and sinker?

I was reading through Salon today, and noticed that one of the articles starts with:

I like to keep some distance between the doomsday predictions of everyone from Seoul Methodist ministries to the Landover Baptist Church who believes that the tsunami was God's punishment to heathen Indonesia for its disbelief in Jesus.

Do you think someone should tell them that Landover Baptist site is a parody?

Unfortunately, the linked-to Christian creationist Conference is not.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Damn sinful bunnies...

What is it with these faggy cartoon characters these days? First there was Spongebob, trying to lure kids into the evil of treating people with dignity and respect, and now we've got Buster from Postcards from Buster trying to lure them into becoming maple sugaring lesbians.

PBS has decided to bury an episode of the cartoon show because it showed a family where the parents are two women. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said that it wasn't appropriate because many parents would object to their children being shown a family that included lesbians.

Apparently, however, it is perfectly acceptable to show Mormon and other fundamentalist Christians, which the Postcards from Buster show has shown. So it's OK to portray religions that treat women as second-class citizens, but not a "lifestyle" that pisses off the Right?

The whole fucking point of this show is to expose kids to all sorts of people and families. Some like them and some different. Regardless of what the radical Right likes to think, gay people are here to stay, and gay families aren't going anywere. So for a member of the government to try to sweep this uncomfortable fact under the rug because they don't follow conservative Christian theology is abhorrent, to say the least.

I'd like to point out that this was Secretary Spellings second day of work. Really, what with No Child Left Behind massively underfunded, with Alabama keeping segregation era language in their constitution so that they wouldn't have to form a decent public school system, and all the other problems with our education system in this country, you'd think that she could find something better to do than censor a kid's cartoon TV show in her first week on the job.

Friday, January 28, 2005

More SocSec

I saw this and realized it was so important, I'm just going to steal it outright from Talking Points Memo:

A note from TPM reader Paul Krugman ...
Today's WSJ lead editorial is a classic. It's titled "All you need to know", and shows the CBO projection of declining deficits and stable debt. What they either don't know or believe readers don't know is that this is the *baseline* projection, which assumes that the sunset clauses in the tax cuts actually go into effect, with the whole thing expiring at the end of 2010 (which is halfway through fiscal 2011, in their chart.) It also assumes that nothing is done to reform the alternative minimum tax, which amounts to a stealth tax increase. So what they've proved is that the tax cuts are affordable as long as they go away ...

The sunset clause says that the tax cuts Bush implemented will increase until 2010, when they will vanish. Not increase gradually, but ... *poof* ... surprise, taxes again! The problem is that no one seriously thinks that Congress in 2010 will let a big tax increase happen on their watch, and it's generally assumed the tax cuts will be made permanent near then. But the CBO is required by law to make their projections as if they follow the law as it's written now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

<Yellow ribbon here>

No matter what you may think of the Iraq war, one thing I think we can all agree with is that the men and women over there are very brave, sacrificing their own interests for something bigger than they are, and are doing an incredibly difficult job with always-insufficient resources. One thing that really irks me is when neocons and right-wingers say they "support the troops" as if I don't.

There is an excellent New Yorker article on the changing way the military is dealing with fighting an ever-changing war unlike one we've ever fought before. I know it's long, but come on, we're in a war and 1300+ American soldiers have died so far. Think of it as a little bit of sacrifice on your part.

The article does a great job of getting across just how ingenous soldiers have to be just to get their jobs done, and how difficult it is to do them and prevent people from getting hurt. But this quote towards the end, frankly, send chills down my spine:

Thomas White, who was fired from his job as Secretary of the Army in May of 2003 for clashing with Rumsfeld on a number of issues, including how many troops would be needed, told me ... “If I had it to do again, what Shinseki and I should have done is quit, and done so publicly,” he said. White called it a measure of Rumsfeld’s contempt for the Army that he didn’t name a permanent Secretary of the Army to replace him until this past November. “To spend more than a year at war without a Secretary of the Army is unthinkable,” White said. [emphasis mine]

And, considering that many of the soldiers aren't even into their twenties yet, this part at the very end just breaks my heart:

Within the tiny sliver of the war each [officer] sees, examples of brilliance and bravery abound. They’re proud to be a part of “the most beautiful Army in the history of the world,” as one recently returned captain put it ... But they will also tell you that the war is excruciating. Despite their Buck Rogers technology, they are losing friends to weapons made from RadioShack gizmos, and the people they’ve been sent to help seem to hate them more every day.

I was irritated because my cable went out last week. Really puts things in perspective.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Spongebob Queerpants

David forwarded something to me about the recent controversy with James Dobson and his Focus on the Family group and how they're attacking Spongebob Squarepants because he's in a video distributed to schools for teaching tolerance of all people to their kids. There was even a New York Times article on it. The problem being that, since the video doesn't describe gays as evil, vile beings, it's "pro-homosexual." Dobson's assistant said, "We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids." Yeah, brainwashing them to respect and treat people civily, we sure can't have that in the public school system. (Note that the video makes no mention of gays or sexual orientation.)

I won't comment much more on it here, since other's have done so better than I (Kos, James Wolcott)

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine lays into Dobson (here) and follows up in a second post (here). I made a couple of comments in the comments section of the followup, noting that anyone that disagreed with the conservative Christian dogma was called an anti-Christian "bigot." (Down towards the bottom; yes, I know there are 80-some comments on that article.)

How did we get to the point where suggesting that people be treated with respect gets you attacked as a bigot?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fuck IE

I just finished playing with the template for the blog. You'll notice that there's a little Google ad up in the corner. Yes, I'm a blogwhore. I actually added the Google AdSense thing a few days ago, but it wasn't visible from the top of the page, so I adjusted it this evening.

It really only took me about 20 minutes to get the layout to work right. Then it took me another freaking hour to get the layout to not look like crap in IE. Firefox can handle the CSS just fine. IE? Crap-o-rific. But that's what you get when Microsoft is the primary, the dominant, the monopolistic player in the market. So all I can say is:

Get Firefox!

Seriously, use it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

SocSec

David sent out a mass email telling people about this FactCheck.org article. It's a bit cryptic to me, but it looks like the Bush administration citations of an $11B shortfall in Social Security is a number based on an infinite projection into the future. In mathematical terms, it sounds like they're integrating from now to inifity. Previously, Social Security only attempted to forecast 75 years into the future.

This is, of course, an outragous attempt at deception. The idea that we can reliably forecast the economic state of our nation 100+ years into the future is ludicrous. The idea that we should basically eliminate the Social Security program in response to this is criminal. That's like expecting an accountant in pre-Great-Depression times to have forecast the Internet boom.

But all this makes no difference. It is taken as axiomatic in the news these days that Social Security is about to collapse under its own weight any day now. As usual, in this administration, the messaging trumps the message. So expect to see this $11B number thrown about a LOT on Fox News.

There is a bit of resistance to this attempt at deception, however. There's the FactCheck article, and now a website dedicated to getting the word out:

There Is No Crisis: Protecting the Integrity of Social Security

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

More gay.com spambots

Looking through the referrer logs for my little blog, one of the biggest reasons people come here is some sort of web search on the gay.com spambots. It's surprising how widespread all over the world the visits are from. Everywhere from Mexico to Asia to Eastern Europe. Yet it's interesting how little information there is on the web about the bots.

I've long believed that these bots are run by people outside the USA. There's just something about the poor English that suggests they were written by someone with a poor handle on the language. For example:

  • i need good cock to suck
  • i just wanna some sex
  • hi, i need a good company guys
  • i will swollow your cum!
  • hit me for the chat! [Hit you? Oh, if only...]
  • hey guys, let's have some fun tonight. i'm a horney, smoothe bod, and a hell of a f**k [Because, you know, I'd be so offended if he'd actually spelled out "fuck."]

Lately, all these bots are advertising sites hosted at icamsonline.com. So let's see what lovely person is responsible for that domain:

whois -h whois.enom.com icamsonline.com

Registrant Contact: sss
Frank Lxxxxxxxxx (xxxxxx@hotpop.com)
(973) 822-xxxx
Fax: none
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Morristown, NJ 07960
US

New Jersey. That figures. Interestingly, however, the Google phonebook for Mr. L. is just a wee bit different:

Frank Lxxxxxxxxx - (973) 451-xxxx - xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Morristown, NJ 07960

Note that the phone number and address number are slightly different.

Now let's take a look at the icamsonline.com domain, which resolves to 81.31.38.5:

whois -h whois.ripe.net 81.31.38.5 ...

inetnum: 81.31.38.0 - 81.31.38.127
netname: EXMASTERS1
descr: Exmasters.com web hosting
country: CZ
(etc...)

The CZ top level domain is for the Czech Republic. So this domain is hosted by exmasters.com, which is an adult hosting company, and has previously hosted this spammer's domains. Some of the previous ones no longer resolve (hornydolls.com, inetmates.com), so it's not clear if this exmasters is spam-friendly or whether they simply drag their feet when cleaning off their spammers' sites.

So, let's take a look at one of the spamvertized webpages in general. For example, http://icamsonline.com/gary Getting past the redirects through obfuscated Javascript, the ultimate payload for this spambot is:

http://clickcash.webpower.com/SetPermanentSignupCookie.cgi?svc=IF&lang=ENGLISH
&type=REVSHARE&mode=1&art=FRIENDS/FRIENDS1.JPG&acct=CHATSTREET
&url=https://orders.webpower.com/iFriends/viewprefmain.htm

Ah, so it's ifriends.com / webpower.com / clickforcash.com, as usual. This site is responsible for pretty much all of the gay.com spam. They seem to be unwilling to do anything about it, so much so, I can't help but wonder if they are part of the abuse themselves. I've noticed that I get a lot of referrer hits for "ifrends scam" as well, so I also wonder if even the hot young things beating off for you on cam that they advertise is a scam or not.

Update (7 August 2005): I'm suspicious that this registration information may be faked, so I removed the identifying information in case this is an innocent bystander. See this post for details.

Update (16 Nov 2007): Mr. L or someone with the same name showed up in the comments claiming not to be affiliated with the site. As I suspected identity theft previously, this doesn't seem implausible, and I've obscured the used for the registration. The domain has since expired and been picked up by a domain name squatter.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Very bad, indeed

The New York Times had an amusing editorial today talking about the end of Crossfire, and how it and red-faced-screaming-talking-head shows like it have badly influenced the news media. We saw this prominently during the election, when FOX News anchors basically spouted White House talking points left and right. Or should that be right and right?

CNN has stated that they are moving to a more news-oriented programming lineup. Probably to their benefit, now that the election is over.

The editorial ended on a great note, which I just want to share:

And last month, when the tsunami hit Asia, viewers got a chance to notice what they were in danger of losing to talk TV. CNN, with a comparatively large international army of journalists at its disposal, went out and covered the story. Fox News and MSNBC had to depend more on conversationalists in the studio, all of whom agreed that tidal waves were very, very bad.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Gay.com

After hanging out in the gay.com chatroom for a while, I can only wonder what it would be like to be hit on by a man that was (a) under 50, (b) not married, and (c) not looking for "discreet" sex. Yes, I know, I'm a prude.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Vote or die!

If you put their philosophy a certain way, most people would agree with much of the conservative movement. Lower taxes, more individual freedomes, less governmental intrustion into everyday life. So I think it's important to make your voice heard.

Vote in this IllinoisLeader poll:

Gay rights legislation. Do you support the Illinois Legislature's action to make homosexuals a protected class of citizens based on their sexual orientation in the same way that minorities have anti-discriminatory protections based on their race?

Right now, the Yes side is winning, 78% to 21%. Equal rights for all! Isn't it great?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mmm, tasty

A couple of weeks ago, in a staff meeting, somehow the topic of ginsing came up. It turned out that my boss had some red ginseng chocolates in his office, and he brought them down and offered one to everyone. Being the curious food nerd that I am, I took one, but forgot I had it until today.

I've just eaten what I would swear was slightly chewy, chocolate covered dirt. With a cinnamon aftertaste.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

DCVDP

In this post, the Infidel David asked if there really was such a thing as Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. Could I make this stuff up? From their website:

DietCherryVanillaDP

Saturday, January 08, 2005

It's all in your point of view

A Muslim shiek has explained the recent tsunami as being God's punishment against those in the afflicted nations for their sins. He specifically cited fornication, homosexuality, usury, and corruption. I guess if God were a cop chasing a suspect through a crowd of people, he'd shoot at him with a flamethrower.

He's only half right, though. Clearly, this disaster was a punishment from God for our sins. But it wasn't these sexual sins. After all, they've been going on in the world since the dawn of time; why would He decide to punish them so much now? No, clearly this tsunami is a punishment for a recent crime against Nature. And as should be clear to even the most unbeheaded of infidels, the abhorrent crime I speak of is the creation of a thing that should not be: Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. This is simply an unholy combination of things that He never meant to be combined.

So there you have it. Two possible explanations. Now, how shall we decide which one of us is right?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Back from vacation

More on vacation later.

But I've returned to find Fred Phelps rejoycing in the deaths caused by the tsunami. Jesus would be proud. Any possibly that the Phelpsians have even a single shred of human decency among them has been eliminated, however.