Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I didn't get the newsletter

This past weekend was, apparently, Pride. I didn't even know. Bad queer, no biscuit.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

My experience with my Panasonic CT-27HL14

This is the review I just posted over at Amazon for my crappy TV. Here's hoping it gets picked up by a few search engines.

To make a long story short, this TV died on me in less than a year. It turns out that something is wrong inside the picture tube, and it must be replaced. Looking here, this seems to be a common problem. The tube itself is under warranty, but the authorized repair shop is so far away, and the labor costs are so high, that repairing it is not cost-effective and it's a giant paperweight after only eleven months of ownership.

The only authorized repair place is fifty miles away, and there's is no way I can transport this on my own. After spending about $200 on a diagnostic and travel for the repair technician, I find out that the total repair cost to fix the TV will be $450, about the replacement cost.

Panasonic customer support is *horrible.* I spent weeks trying to get someone there to help me. Three times I was told that my issue had to be forwarded to a "field service technician," and that he would be contact me within 24 to 48 hours. No one ever did. Only two months later was I finally able to get someone to help me. Panasonic has an "unsatisfactory" rating at the Better Business Bureau.

So now I'm going to go buy a Sony. I'm sure it and I will be very happy together.

The frustrating part is that I strongly suspect Panasonic knows there is a flaw with this model. Of the ten reviews posted at Amazon, six of them describe almost this exact same problem. Now I realize that only people really happy or really unhappy are going to go to the trouble of reviewing something, but the fact that there are so many, nearly-identical problems reported is suspicious at best. And the first review tech I spoke to said that they've been seeing a lot of problems with Panasonic picture tubes.

UPDATE: Are you coming here because you've had a problem with this same TV model? Leave a comment, please.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sorry, not Christ-centered enough

Just in case you didn't think the right-wing was trying to turn this country into a theocracy, a judge has banned a family from sharing their religion with their son:

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

So obviously unconstitutional. Yet so very predictable.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

NY Times article on gay marriage

There's a long article on gay marriage and the Christian moralists that oppose it in today's NY Times. It's long, but I recommend reading it.

This paragraph toward the end I think sums it up best:

But, of course, the Christian activists aren't vague in their opposition [to gay marriage]. For them, the issue isn't one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual -- being black, say, or a woman -- and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can't be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened. This really is the inescapable root of the whole issue...

The author is right, of course. It seems to all come down to whether being gay is inborn or a developed characteristic. If it's developed, it can't really be immoral, can it? And that's why all these "ex-gay" programs exist, even in contradition to all the science that says they don't work. As far as I know, there are no studies supporting the contention that these programs work. Attraction (which is what we're really talking here, not behavior) is too innate, too intwined in our personalities to be changed by a force of will. But they don't care about fact, about science, all they care about is their own little hateful interpretation of the Bible, which just can't be wrong, can it?

One great bit is how these "pro-family" actvists keep claiming that marriage is as it always has been for thousands of years, since the dawn of time. As one woman put it, "The gay activists are trying to redefine what marriage has been basically since the beginning of time and on every continent. My concern is for the children -- for the future." Honey, from the beginning of time and on every contenent, marriage has been between one man and a handful of women who were essentially his property. Marriage as an emotional bond between two people is a recent development that isn't even two centuries old.

But then again, this fight isn't about facts. Facts are inconvenient. It's about perception. And the perception on the anti-family side is that they are fighting for a virtue that goes back to the dawn of creation (6000 years ago). That's a hard notion to defeat, whether or not it is true.

(Via Americablog.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Not a good sign

At the Cinescape Coming Attractions site, I came across this tidbit on the upcoming Rendevous with Rama movie:

As [director David Fincher] told Cinescape: “We’re still working on the script. It’s probably one of the most pilfered books of the last 30 years. There are so many science fiction films that owe at least a narrative twist or a notion to Rendezvous with Rama. I mean, Star Trek – The Motion Picture, Alien, Armageddon, Independence Day – all of these movies have plot devices and elements that are taken from it, so I don’t feel you can just do the book. I think you have to re-invent it.

He also revealed his vision of the film would be almost completely CGI: “It’s basically a motion-capture movie. The environment is completely synthetic. The actors are performing in real-time, but you’re editing the real-time component so you can introduce the weightlessness and get the performance that you want.”

Oh dear. I hope we're not going to get another piece of crap with flashy effects that is only peripherally related to the great book it's "based on."

Friday, June 17, 2005

A bloggerific idea

Here is a great idea: Plogress. Take the legislative information from THOMAS at the Library of Congress, and turn it into a blog. Separate each Senator's and Representative's votes out onto their own page and give each an RSS feed.

The only down side is that it's all in the incredibly legalistic language of Congress (voted yes to tabling the motion to vote for the amendment that would remove paragraph 2 of subsction C of ...), but it's a great way for those citizens who actually give a damn about finding out what their elected officials actually do for them.

Go to my Rep, Timothy V. Johnson's, page. It tells you nothing about what he's doing. You can get a list of legislations he's sponsored and co-sponsored, but nothing about what he's voted for, what issues he's working on, or anything else about his actual activities. The guy was elected in my district, and I could never find out anything about his stance on any issues, and I was looking. His News page hasn't been updated in over a month, and then it's less-than-weekly. Come on, communicating this sort of thing is what blogs are perfect for; Dean shows that in his Presidential race and his Blog for America. Let's see some attempt to keep your consituents informed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How can they say this stuff with a straight face?

This scares the hell out of me. There are currently 520 detainees at Guantanimo Bay. How many have actually been charged with being terrorists? A grand total of four.

It's always been clear that the administration isn't at all concerned with silly little things like "laws" and "evidence." Now they are formally claiming that the detainees can be held at Gitmo forever.

From a Reuters article:

It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity. (Deputy Associate Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins)


I think that we can hold them as long as the conflict endures (Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway)

"The conflict" there being the War on Terror. Which of course we can't win, because it's not meant to be won. There is no enemy to surrender, there is no capital to conquer, there is no leader that can be killed. The War on Terror is meant to scare us into giving up power over our lives. It's meant to be a tool for political speechmaking. Imagine tomorrow that we win the WOT. How would we know? Is there a certain time without a car bomb going off somewhere on the planet that will define the end? Will it end with the deaths of bin Laden and Abu whazzizname Zarqawi? Or will someone from the Justice Department just stand up one day and say, "OK, we're done! Last person out turns the lights off."

Now the administration is actually saying that, given a declaration from Donald Rumsfeld or some other official that you are a terrorist, bam, you can be held forever without access to any legal recourse or oversight of your situation.

Remember Bush's Education Secretary has called our largest teacher's union a "terrorist organization." Any Democrat or "liberal" that speaks out against the Bush administration is often accused of being soft on terror.

If we permit the government this power it will be misued. It's not a matter of if, but when. Maybe not today, but God forbid there is another terrorist attack in this country.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Nancy Grace-less

I don't get CNN Headline News, but from what I saw of her on CNN during the Petersen trial, Nancy Grace's show is every bit the rush-to-judgment, shrill platform for her rantings I expected it to be. This SF Gate article details what appears to be more lynching mentality than legal analysis:

At the three-month mark, the Nancy Grace show is already strangely skewed from the real world. Guests who advocate a wait-and-see attitude toward suspects are used as punching bags. Guests who bring a scary amount of anger are praised, often becoming regulars.

"I think the common theme of this show tonight, Nancy, is very clear," victims' advocate Marc Klaas said during one of 14 appearances he's made on her show. "There are people on this earth who should never be allowed to give birth."

But as FOX News and Bill O'Reilley and his ilk have shown us, people aren't interested in watching reasoned analyses of the news. They want shrill rhetoric and wild accusations. A certain looseness with the truth isn't amiss, either, so long as it's in line with their ideology. Soon, I expect there will be chair-throwing between pundits.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Feed me!

OK, I set up an Atom feed for the blog. Works fine for me in Thunderbird.

This is the actual feed address:

I imagine sticking this in your favorite reader software might work.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Imagine this

I want you to imagine something for a moment. Modern medicine is learning that certain virus are risk factors for certain cancers. This is oddly enough, good news, because we know we can prevent the spread of viruses and stop them from infecting people through vaccines. So imagine if a virus has been linked to a nasty form of cancer. So strongly linked, that 98% percent of the people with this cancer also have the virus. A cancer that kills thousands of American women every year, and is the number one cancer among women of childbearing age in the developing world. A virus that is so common that roughly 15% of adults have it, and may not know. Now imagine that we have a vaccine that may be able to prevent women from contracting the virus, and may protect them against this form of cancer.

Now imagine that someone wants to stop your daughter, your sister, or your mother from getting that vaccine because ... she might get the wrong idea and actually have sex.

This isn't a hypothetical situation. Conservatives want to do this in our country right now with an experimental HPV vaccine.

No mention of the existing Hepatitis A or B vaccines, or any of the HIV vaccines currently under research. I guess we shouldn't give those to American women either, or else they'd become raving sluts.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I've been playing around with RSS for a while, reading a couple of my regular blogs through Thunderbird. I also tried RSS Bandit for a while, but didn't like the interface.

Does anyone see any reason to put up an RSS feed for my little blog? Would it make anyone's life easier?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Sorry, I seem to have peed on your Bible

A few weeks ago, Newsweek reported there had been reports of guards mistreating the Koran at Gitmo. Their anonymous government source then couldn't recall exactly what military report where he'd read that, and the resulting firestorm caused Newsweek to retract the entire story. It was accused by the White House of inciting Muslim riots worldwide, causing the deaths of over a dozen people, and damaging American interests.

The Pentagon said that no such abuse had taken place on May 17:

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman denied the substance of Newsweek's original report, calling the article "irresponsible" and "demonstrably false."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the article had "had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

Making note of the rioting and deaths, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the news media needed to be more careful.

"I think it was Mark Twain who said that something that's not true can speed around the world three or four times in a matter of seconds … while truth is still trying to put their boots on," Rumsfeld said after a hearing on Capitol Hill. "And people have said, my goodness, why does it take so long for someone to come back and … have the actual facts?"

Via Americablog, Reuters, and the AP, we find out today that abuses did happen, including one guard accidentally splashing urine on the Koran. Accidentally. Oopsie.

Here's the part that pisses me off: "The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening..." So, in other words, there was a deliberate attempt to bury this information so that it would get minimal press.