Sunday, September 24, 2006

Judy Myers is an un-American spammer

I've been on the Internet long enough to remember when spam wasn't a problem. I remember when you could share your email address without fear of having it sold and shared and getting tons of emails for V!agra and Cia!is and Va1uable Mor1gage Offers. The world has changed; I've had to abandon one email account because it was so spammed and my Gmail and Yahoo accounts have a combined 1500 spam emails between them at this very moment.

Yes, I'm very particular about these things, and getting additional spam from supposedly-reputable organizations pisses me off. No, I'm not a BOFH, myself, but I know what responsible list management entails, and it's not that difficult to do.

So this week, you can understand why I was upset to find in my inbox a spam message from Judy Myers, currently running for State Senator.

TRUTH ALERT from Sen. Judy Myers

Hi there!

My name is Judy Myers, and I’m running for the Senate from the 52nd district. During the past year, I’ve been honored to meet many of you, and discuss the issues facing our area.

Blah, blah, blah. So I sent off a complaint via SpamCop, not that I will suspect it will do any good. Then I noticed something odd. Not only is Myers's website not hosted in our very own Champaign-Urbana, or in her home of Danville, or anywhere in the United States at all. It's hosted in Germany. Remarkably hypocritical coming from someone whose website says about jobs:

By raising more than 300 hidden taxes and fees, state government has driven away thousands of high quality jobs to Indiana, Kentucky and other states. I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create an economic climate friendly to small businesses and job creation.

So, apparently Myers objects to driving jobs to neighboring states, but overseas is just fine.

Here's the data, for those of you so technically-minded = (has no rDNS, naturally)

Here's the whois info on that IP address: (edited for space)

whois -h

inetnum: -
descr: Schlund + Partner AG
remarks: in case of abuse or spam, please mailto:
remarks: For abuse issues, please use only
remarks: For NOC issues, please look at our AS 8560
phone: +49 721 91374 50
fax-no: +49 721 91374 20

And just to be careful, I did a traceroute:

  9    71 ms    75 ms     * []
 10    56 ms    56 ms    62 ms []
 11    67 ms    61 ms    58 ms []
 12    58 ms    59 ms    60 ms
 13    59 ms    61 ms    56 ms
 14    58 ms     *       58 ms

There really is no way to tell exactly where a server is located from its IP address, but you can see above that at hop #10, it hits New York, and everything after that is owned by or The webpage redirects to the page, in German.

It's not the message, it's the messaging

Your liberal media at work.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This, too, is a chocolate city

On the way back on this trip, I was keeping track of the train's schedule. As I saw the scheduled times at each stop slip more and more, my "God, I have a four-and-a-half hour layover in Chicago?" gradually turned into, "God, I only have a four-and-a-half hour layover in Chicago?" So, when the train was finally six hours late, you can imagine I was in a bit of a pickle. Not being able to rent a car on such short notice, I took Amtrak up on their lodging and transportation.

Let me tell you, staying with Amtrak when they screw up is much nicer that riding with Amtrak when they screw up. They put me up in a fairly swanky hotel in downtown Chicago for the night, with enough cash for taxis to and fro, and meals. The next train out wasn't until four p.m. the following afternoon, so I took the alternate option of a Greyhound bus home.

I was waiting in the Greyhound terminal at 9:30 the next morning, and looked around to see that I was pretty much the only white guy in the room. Seriously, I'd estimate that the clientele and the staff were 10% white, 10% Asian or Hispanic, and the rest were black. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, of course, but it was simply unusual enough to make me sit up and take notice. It was sort of like a reverse episode of Friends, where every single person in New York City was white. On the bus itself, there's me, one Asian guy, and everyone else was black. It was fairly evenly split between the sexes.

On the train, I didn't notice this. An unusual variety of age, perhaps (see previous entry), but the crowd was pretty racially diverse. I can't help but wonder why this is the case.

The only reason I can think for this is economics. The bus is quite a bit cheaper than the train, I think, let alone flying.

It is, at least, a striking reminder that there does exist a significant class difference in our society. Whether driven by race, economics, education, or some combination of these, that difference exists.

Coming on the one-year anniversary of the Katrina devastation, it seems to be particularly important to remember that class difference. Republican pundits chastised New Orlenian residents for not preparing better and for not evacuating sooner. But it was not a sea of poor white faces at the Superdome. If such a disaster struck Chicago, or Houston, would we see pictures much different on CNN?

(2006-08-28 12:13)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Positively Kafka-esque

There are two AP articles that have got to be some of the most chilling things I've ever read:

From "U.S. War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000":

the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law... Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were "mistakes," U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross... Every U.S. detainee in Iraq "is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq... Reports of extreme physical and mental abuse, symbolized by the notorious Abu Ghraib prison photos of 2004, have abated as the Pentagon has rejected torture-like treatment of the inmates. Most recently, on Sept. 6, the Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual banning forced nakedness, hooding, stress positions and other abusive techniques... The new manual banning torture doesn't cover CIA interrogators.

This is the sort of thing we used to hear about the Soviet Union. People picked up in the dead of night, and shipped off somewhere. I had no idea that this number of people were being held. Gitmo is a few hundred prisoners, and the number removed from CIA torture facilities secret prisons is barely over a dozen. But 14,000 people?

If we're detaining "security risks" (and, by the way, exactly what does that term mean?) but getting it wrong 70 to 90% of the time, something is seriously wrong. If we're not getting it wrong that often, why are we releasing these people from detention?

The next story, "U.S. Holds AP Photographer in Iraq 5 Mos," puts a face on one of the 13,000 detainees in Iraq:

The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing... In [the AP photographer's] case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, [[AP executives]] said.

This is an AP photographer that is being detained. One of his photos was part of a group of 20 that won a Pulitzer Prize. If he's a terrorist, fine, detain him. If things are going as well in Iraq as the Bush administration says, fine, give him a trial, show the evidence, and punish him. If all they have are vague accusations, unsupported by evidence, let him go.

We're told that if we give into the terrorists and live in a climate of non-stop fear, then the terrorists will have won. I say, if we give up the very things that make us a civilized nation, then the terrorists will really have won.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, Glenn Greenwald responds to a completely lickspittle editorial by John Yoo in today's NY Times. He quotes some little-known "lefty blogger" to explain why the President should not be allowed to break the law, even in the face of the "Islamofascist Nazi" threat. Go read it. I'm seriously starting to think that reading Greenwald's stuff should be a prerequisite to citizenship.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Welcome to the blogosphere

This week brings us two new entries to the sidebar. The first is I Could've Been Clever brought to us by Billy. He also has another blog, Softcore Gaming. I'm not going to blogroll that one, because it's dedicated to console gaming, which I just don't do or even know much about. But if he wishes to discuss Civilization IV or Dungeon Siege 2, I'll be happy to check in more often.

The other is, which, oh, I just happened to come across one day. It's full of brilliant and witty prose and dedicated to stopping Ann Coulter. So tell your friends, and tell your enemies. Help spread the word.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A sad passing

Former Texas governor Ann Richards dies

Former Gov. Ann Richards, the witty and flamboyant Democrat who went from homemaker to national political celebrity, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.

It's hard to find the words to express what a shame this is. She was a great woman.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Train scenery

There appear to be largely two groups of people that take the train: old people and hot college boys. OK, there are probably some poor people on board, but nobody really cares about them. There are probably some hot sorority chicks as well, but (a) I am not really qualified to judge who is a "hot" sorority chick, and (b) Pffft, why wold I care about hot chicks anyway?

It really strikes me, though, how bimodal the age distribution is, though. (Yes, I'm a total geek.) There seem to be a large number of seniors, I assume because train tickets are much cheaper than airplane tickets and seniors are more likely to be on a fixed income. Cost is probably a big factor for the younger crowd, as well. There are very few middle-aged people here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the eye candy. I just wish that incredibly hot guy (hot in a cuddly-boyfriend sort of way, not in the underwear-model sort of way) hadn't gotten off at Reno.

(2006-08-27 11:52)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another Republican Pharisee

I picked up a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle in the train station, since I knew I'd have quite a bit of time on my hands on this trip.

There's an article on page two about some remarks Rep. Katherine Harris made this week about how "God did not intend for the United States to be a nation of 'secular laws' and that a failure to elect Christians to political office will allow lawmaking bodies to 'legislate sin.'" Speaking of sin, there was a time not too long ago that claiming to know the mind of God like that was considered blasphemy, and could get you tied to a big stick and set on fire. Fortunately for Rep. Harris, we now live in a more enlightened time when we (even women!) are allowed to speak our minds on such issues without fear of such retribution. Rep. Harris is even allowed to defy the will of God's chosen representative on Earth (i.e. the Pope).

The full quote from Harris is:

If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.

She went on to say that the doctrine of the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics." Yeah what would those Founding Fathers know about God's intentions for this country? They were probably just a bunch of commies anyway.

Keep religious people out of politics? Harris has apparently been not just been drinking the American Taliban's Kool-Aid, but freebasing it. Did I fall asleep to wake up in a world where Congress is populated primarily by atheists? The actual percentage of Congress that is Christian is 92%, as opposed to 77% of the American populace as a whole. It sounds to me like Christians are already over-represented.

Republicans are fond of saying that America is fighting a "culture war" against Satanic forces of Hollywood, the Homosexual agenda, and the east coast elites. (I prefer to refer to all the above as simply "Americans." It's so much shorter.) It seems that they are the ones trying to start such a war.

Proving that, if there is a God, She has a wicked sense of humor, page seven of the same paper has a story about how Somalia is being taken over by an Islamic militia. The militia is loyal to the Supreme Islamic Courts Council and is "setting up regional courts to rule based on the Muslim holy book, the Quran." Perhaps they could get together with Rep. Harris to compare notes.

(2006-08-26 15:39)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why America is fat

I haven't been eating in the train's dining car for a number of reasons. It's surprisingly expensive, for one thing. It runs on its own schedule, rather than mine, is another. I try to eat fairly light when traveling, and that's not really conducive to doing so.

Fortunately, the train has a snack car as well, which has drinks, nibbles, and even sandwiches. Surprisingly, the few things I've tried aren't half-bad, considering their prepackaged nature.

Anyway, I stopped down there to get a cup of coffee to, I hope, get rid of this headache I've picked up. There I saw a cinnamon roll that I swear actually called my name. Considering that, since the train is now five fracking hours late, it might be dinner as well, I decided to listen to it's siren call. Briefly checked the back and saw: 240 calories. Not so bad, so I picked it up. It wasn't until I got back to my seat that I also noticed on the package: Servings per container: 3.

This isn't a package of Pop-tarts, that are easily divisible. Nor is it something you're likely to eat part of and share the rest with a friend. This is obviously supposed to be a single-person, eat-in-one-setting sort of snack. It's forty percent of an adult's caloric intake, and sixty percent of an adult's daily fat intake. I'm a reasonable sort of person; I make an effort to read labels, and yet I was still taken in by it.

Just another reason why America is fat.

(2006-08-20 17:11)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Two ships passing in the night

I'm right outside Sparks, NV, waiting for another train to move its butt out of our way, so we can get moving again. The family in the seats in front and in back of mine has been traveling with me since Chicago, and they're about to get off. There's Thomas, about 10 years old, his mother, whose name I haven't caught yet, Grandma, who is rather frail and, I suspect has Alzheimer's, and Uncle Mickey. They were thinking of moving to a sleeping car because sitting this much isn't so good for Grandma's circulation. Thomas needs to sign up for PE for for next year. The Mom is on the phone to Michael, I assume her husband, who is waiting to pick them and drive home, I think in Carson City.

We haven't really spoken a word to each other, you just pick these things up living in close quarters like this where everyone's private spheres overlap.

Now they're going to leave and we will never see each other again. Sometimes I think it's good to be reminded that we all have these little things, relationships, whatever, that are so important to us, but then, so does every one else. I often think the same thing when driving on the freeway, to see some remnant of a house or a barn that has almost completely fallen down. Today, I saw as we went past, just a stone doorway standing out in the brush. No door, no house around it, just a door frame standing in empty space. No idea how old it was. It could have been ten years or a hundred. I can't help but wonder who built it, did they feel some sense of pride in their work, why did they leave it? Not only do I wonder if they are still alive somewhere else, but is there anyone alive that still knows the answer to these questions, or has it been lost forever. How many of the things in my life, in your life, will someone be wondering this about in a few decades?

(2006-08-20 13:39)