Jan/28
2011

Yeah I'm all for science improving our lives, but that's not the case here. This is an example of "because we can" not "because it makes any rational sense whatsoever."

"I pretty much shut out the idea that driving was possible, because I didn't want to focus on that aspect of something I couldn't do," said Riccobono, 34, who has been legally blind since age 5 and was selected from a group of test drivers to be behind the wheel Saturday. "But I think this project is a clear example that when you dream big and put your heart and resources into it, you get to unimagined places."

The [National Federation of the Blind], an advocacy group of more than 50,000 members, hatched the idea a decade ago.

In 2004 it began the Blind Driver Challenge through its Jernigan Institute. The challenge encouraged partnerships with universities and manufacturers to create technology that would enable a blind driver to safely operate a vehicle. (AP)

I'm sorry but no. This is quite plainly a bad idea. There are some things in life for which there is no substitute, and vision cannot be replaced by enhancing the other senses to operate a motor vehicle. The scheme cannot operate in bad weather. It cannot operate in rapidly changing conditions. On a racetrack all alone? Perhaps, but add in one additional factor, like another driver or distracted pedestrian, and the entire concept fails.

A car is a one-ton (or more) lethal projectile that will protect the driver while taking out everyone and everything in its path. We have enough accidents already from the elderly and now some engineering students are being misguided into the idea that adding the completely vision impaired would be a good thing?

"One of the main things I want to do is build technology that helps society," said Paul D'Angio, 23, the lead Virginia Tech grad student on the project. "You can work with the military and make plenty of awesome technology, but it won't help people until years later ...This is something happening now."

Sorry Paul but you're delusional. I know you're a college kid and this helps your resume. I completely understand that the practicalities of the enabling the blind to drive on public roads doesn't even factor in the "Ooooh Shiny" novelty of the project. But what you might have learned in terms of engineering and project development have been hamstrung by one of the most lethal pitfalls on the path to commercialization: public acceptance.

Consider me a bellwether. John Q. Public and my dancing opinion. There is nothing you can say, do or design that will make me comfortable with the idea of a blind person controlling a car. Nice, novel concept, but please, spend your engineering time and resources on more practical applications.

Jan/27
2011

Is this guy for real? No seriously?

[Gil] Meche, a 32-year-old right-handed pitcher, had a contract that called for a $12 million salary in 2011. Yet he will not report to Surprise, Ariz., with the rest of the Kansas City Royals for spring training next month. He will not have surgery to repair his chronically aching right shoulder. He will not pitch in relief, which involves a lighter workload.

Meche retired last week, which means he will not be paid at all.

“When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,” Meche said this week by phone from Lafayette, La. “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.” (NYT)

Ok hold the phones here. A professional athlete forfeited $12 mil because he wanted to feel like he had actually earned it? Please! Someone immediately study this man! Document his upbringings! Enshrine his genes! Whatever it takes... we need, nay we MUST propagate this mentality (and more importantly transplant it to the financial sector.) I don't care if this man is not a mormon, get him a dozen wives and look the other way.

Gods, but we need more people like him. Desperately.

Jan/27
2011

This guy is a bishop? Maybe. But he's clearly one misogynistic motherfucker...

...a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, [stripped] St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.[...]

Yet in this battle, it’s fascinating how much support St. Joseph’s Hospital has had and how firmly it has pushed back — in effect, pounding 95 theses on the bishop’s door. The hospital backed up Sister Margaret, and it rejected the bishop’s demand that it never again terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother. (NYT)

I'm not Catholic but I know Jesus was all about compassion and understanding. Seems the Big Bishop doesn't have a grip on that simple fact. He's gonna follow doctrine blindly until the cows come home or everyone leaves the faith (my money is on the latter personally.)

Hey Tom! Fuck you, ok? You're an asshole. And you know what else? You're going to Hell too. See you there Bro!

Jan/27
2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A member of Oklahoma's Board of Education is drawing heated reaction after saying a newly hired administrator would be "worthless" as a legislative liaison if she takes immediate maternity leave.

The board voted Thursday to hire Jessica Russell, who is due to give birth in April. Former state Sen. Herb Rozell then questioned whether Russell would be around for key days of the legislative session, saying she would be "worthless to us" if she immediately takes six weeks off.

Russell left the meeting in tears.

Way to be a total douchebag there Herb. And to an expectant mother. Where are you from, Afghanistan or the Dark Ages or something?

Jan/27
2011

The article deplored the fact that the NRA has effectively used their clout to prevent any research into areas related to gun control. Any. Because they were afraid that it might provide "scientific" evidence that more gun ownership means more gun deaths.

Really? We need science to prove that? Ok. Maybe not becuase it's entirely obvious but nevertheless it's good to actually go through the rigorous execises that lead from hypothesis to numerically substantiated proof. So sure, honest people, well intentioned people, fair people would agree to investigate a topic instead of preventing the research. But be real, we're talking about the NRA here. Their interest isn't in playing fair, it's in making their views the only views.

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the familiar questions inevitably resurfaced: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference?

The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former officials with the government agency that used to finance the great bulk of this research say the influence of the National Rife Association has all but choked off money for such work.[...]

Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate the injury center completely, arguing that its work was “redundant” and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers’ budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before.

“It’s really simple with me,” Mr. Dickey, 71 and now retired, said in a telephone interview. “We have the right to bear arms because of the threat of government taking over the freedoms that we have.” (NYT)

No, I'm not surprised. Nor do I care really. Gun owners are exactly like smokers, they will never agree that their "rights" should be balanced with those of others. Nor will they accept the fact that their choice to accept risk then forces that risk onto everyone else. Sure they're willing to accept what happens when they mishandle a firearm, but who says that they're the one that going to get hit by the stray bullet? "I'm sorry?" Yeah no, not really.

Just as smoking used to be a "right" sanity eventually did win. I have faith that the same will hold true for gun control. So really, I encourage gun owners to enjoy it while they can because someday there won't be any room to play, fair or not.

Jan/27
2011

I really, honestly thought she was his daugter. Until I saw them kiss that is. Amazing how fast the gag reflex works, I'll tell ya, I almost had to cover my mouth and I did have to look away. He was at least 65. At least. She was 15 to 20 years younger. And she snuggled to him like a chinchilla in a rainstorm.

She was a chatty one, happy to make conversation with anyone on anything. Gigglegigglegiggle. Yes, dear reader, she was blond and no, not naturally so. Although the dye job was expensive, it was a pittance compared to the rings and watch she wore. Hubby seemed quite satisfied to let her do all the conversing, his pet poodle on a diamond leash hopping about. The most amusing moment in this vignette came when BimboWife decided to harp on the topic of kids. Well grandkids to be precise...

"And we have three grandchildren! Seven, five and three," she gushed breathlessly.
"You have grand kids? You don't look old enough," said the person next to her, which had honestly been my impression too. Awkward silence. Strangely enough the conversation died out at that point.

I'm not saying that there's really anything all that wrong with the status quo in the personal affairs of rich people. Yeah he probably made a ton of loot back in the 80's. His first wife had the kids, held the dinner parties, celebrated their anniversary with him quite happily. Now she's probably got a decent severance and alimony to let her enjoy her less-attractive years peacefully while he pops viagra every night to keep the young missus entertained. As sordid as that might sound there really isn't anything wrong with that. Chances are everyone is happy with their lot. The only people left holding the bag are the bystanders, oh and by bag I mean barf-bag.

I wonder sometimes if these self-centered people realize that their audience has opinions too? Ok, that was a bit too gratuitious. But as an audience member I detest a performance I can't walk away from. I mean even prisioners have rights, Amnesty International insures that.

I wonder sometimes, if there were no audience, would there still be a market for trophy tits? I mean if Hubby is just looking for arm candy and a good lay I'd think that a call girl is far more cost effective in the long run.

Jan/27
2011

I'm not one of those happy-to-travel type business travellers. I try to be good, stay positive, take in the new or at least different surroundings but for the most part I resent not being home, not sleeping in my bed, not having access to my stuff, missing my workout or any other part of my routine. So it doesn't take much to make me a pretty cranky fuck.

That said, I also try not to take it out on my fellow travellers because I realize that they too are in exactly the same boat. Nevertheless, not all co-travellers are worthy of that respect. Take the octagenarian (perhaps even nonagenarian) gentleman of Asian descent. Accompanied by what looked to be two, much younger, family members he spent no less than ten minutes to get down the isle and into his seat. Mind you there was no one in front of him, but a line like the animals waiting to board the arc behind. Up he shuffled. Back he shuffled. Up again to his seat. Then to take off his coat. Then to retrieve his coat. Then to put his coat away. Then to put his coat away somewhere else. Then to put someone else's coat away. Then he simply wouldn't sit down. And when he finally did sit down he decided he wanted the seat next to him which required the two other people to get up and shift as well. Ten whole minutes.

I was surprised. The setwardesses didn't intervene. His family didn't appear to want to rush him so we all... stood... and waited... and waited... and finally there was a mad rush once he got out of the isles, backpressure relieved, and the tide of passengers finally surged to the back dissapating into their seats.

I know that the airlines are aware of this and will typically let the very young, very old board first or anyone "needing additional time" (e.g. the lady with the foot-cast) get started early. I suggest that perhaps they need to go a step further. Since everyone's age is known ahead of time why not call their names ahead of time and tell them to board anyway? Fuck embarassment, this is practacality speaking here. Besides the luxury of being offended by the gyrations of air travel is long gone, they've just stared at your naked body on a scanner ffs.

I'm sorry, I know there's supposed to be some leeway given to those at "their time of life" but the inconvenience of the many outweighs the inconvenience of the few. Move it or lose it Grampy, and if you can't we'll get someone to help you.

Jan/27
2011

One moment.

A sputnik moment is a point where you realize you're losing a race, and, instead of giving up, you double your efforts, grit your teeth and try to win. Historically, it's meaning is derived from the US realizing that the USSR had surpassed it's abilities in getting into space. The US reaction was Kennedy's mandate to get a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Despite the fact that their space program was much further along than ours, the US poured it's resources into the space race in order to reach the moon first.

I say that for two reasons.

First, because Sarah Palin is confused and thinks that it had something to do with the USSR bankrupting itself and ending it's economic collapse. She doesn't read much and probably doesn't know what Sputnik's significance was, let alone what a Sputnik moment actually is. She surely doesn't understand the cause of the USSR collapse. She's a talking head that mostly full of hot air. It's somewhat acceptable for her to be clueless. (Though I'm sure her handlers have clued her in by now)

Second, because while I can appreciate the intention of the metaphor, I don't think the Presidents usage is entire appropriate. It's nice to say that we've reach an economic tipping point where we need to double our efforts, but that's not really the same as a Sputnik moment. We're not really in a race with anyone, so it's hard to be losing. We don't have that person out in front of us that has accomplished more than us. There isn't a competition really. I just don't think it works very well. Especially since a large portion of the people you want to convince are the clueless airheads like Palin. It's a little over their heads, even more so since it doesn't work very well.

I think we need a moment for everyone to work together to solve our problems. This country hasn't had a moment like that. There was a window after 9/11, but it was wasted by a fear driven public and incompetent leadership. The moment was lost. Who knows when we'll get another opportunity. I imagine it will be require a great leader standing up and uniting us behind his vision. Reagen demanding the wall come down. Kennedy saying we'll get to the moon first.

I'd love to know what a vision like that felt like.

One nation, indivisible.

Jan/27
2011

Most Fortune 500 Companies outsource some of their work these days. What happens when a critical piece is needed late at night? Nothing. That's what. Why? Because no one in outsourced country is answering their phones or instance message dings. The folks in the US answer the phone, even well after working hours, but no one in the US has the authority to do it anymore. Then there is the part about the outsourced country buggering up the rest of the order because they don't understand English.

Labor in outsourced countries might be cheaper but they act like it. What was that about getting what you pay for? And so much for that $15 mil job being done one time. If I were the customer, I might request a discount.

Jan/26
2011

ß Is Not a B

I play on on-line game. That game only allows a person to name their character something unique to the particular server. When B's run out, some think it's perfectly acceptable to use ß. I drives me a little crazy. I know a bit of German. I know that a "ß" can also be represented (and pronounced) as "ss". Just cause it looks like a "B", it ain't a "B" and people that use it as a "B" just show what stupid Americans they really are.

Jan/26
2011

You're going to see a specialist and there may be an operation involved. When you get to their office a little man in a white coat totters into the room. Liver spots decorate the wrinkled fingers which tremble a little as he pokes at you. Peering at you through thick glasses you he asks you for the third time why you're here. Then he tells you that surgery is the only option. Nervous? I know I would be.

To lift this burden from peers while protecting patients, 5 percent to 10 percent of hospitals around the country have begun to address the issue of aging physicians more systematically, said Dr. Jonathan Burroughs, a consultant with the Greeley Company, which advises hospitals and health care companies.

“The other 90 to 95 percent are not willing to take this on,” he said. In some instances, their efforts have been squashed by a vocal medical staff. (NYT)

I think I fairly characterize most well established Doctors as arrogant about their capabilities. I'm related to more than one and from my interaction at family events there isn't anything they don't know, have an option on, and are unequivocally correct about. Try questioning a Doctor's opinion when you're in their office. Chances are good that you'll get a double helping of attitude along with a verbal bitch slapping. How dare you!

But they are aging. And that means there is an impact on their skills. Who is making that assessment? Who is testing that they still retain the judgment and physical capabilities to perform? Can we really expect that the medical community will police themselves? Ok, ok, please stop laughing.

One-third of the nation’s physicians are over 65, and that proportion is expected to rise. As doctors in the baby boom generation reach 65, many are under increasing financial pressures that make them reluctant to retire.

Many doctors, of course, retain their skills and sharpness of mind into their 70s and beyond. But physicians are hardly immune to dementia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and other ills of aging. And some experts warn that there are too few safeguards to protect patients against those who should no longer be practicing. “My guess is that John Q. Public thinks there is some fail-safe mechanism to protect him from incompetent physicians,” Dr. Norcross said. “There is not.”[...]

Medical professionals are supposed to report colleagues’ unsafe practices and bad behavior. But doctors are reluctant to confront their fellow physicians, especially their seniors, who may have trained them.

The problem is not a simple one. The there has been a decline in the number of new medical professionals, as stated above there are financial reasons that prevent older physicians from retiring, and there is also the missing mechanism of quality assurance - some process that regularly and repeatedly checks a Doctor's capabilities and raises a flag when anomalies occur. Most of all there is a sense of resistance when "ordinary" people step in and make a fuss.

One would think, given the high cost of medical insurance, that there would be a movement to ensure that high-risk professionals like surgeons are occasionally tested to ensure that they are in the best possible form. But reality dictates that until people die (note that suffering is ok, dying is not) nothing will change. The burden then lies on the patient, Caveat emptor, if you're not sure about the doctor's capabilities don't take a risk. Really, are you willing to bet your life on an old geezer's ego? If you're not sure think about if you'd be willing to drive with them in a car. That at least should give you a baseline to work from.

Jan/25
2011

Pack That Tie

So a car salesman in Chicago wears a Green Bay Packers tie to work, refuses to take it off after being asked. He loses his job. Fair?

OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) — A car salesman in suburban Chicago who was fired for refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie says he won't be coming back even though his former boss has relented.

John Stone wore the tie to work at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn Monday, the day after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.

Stone says he wore the tie to honor his late grandmother, who was a big Green Bay fan.

That's a tough one really. From the salesman's point of view I can see that "it's only a tie". He also wore it for his Grandmother. Really for most people it's nothing more than a point of discussion, not something that should escalate to the point of making life changing decisions. I would also imagine that John wasn't the only salesman on the floor that day so the risk of losing a sale is mostly his. Were I a customer I would simply pick a different salesman if I didn't like his tie.

For the owner it seems a bit extreme to fire someone if they're not violating acceptable dress code or behavior. True it's his store and his rules, but I doubt that he really considered other options like sending the salesman home, or asking him to do paperwork in the back where his tie wouldn't be seen.

Now, since it made the news, the owner has offered John his job back but he's refused. Coincidentally he also has a job offer from another dealership. I would say that the salesman definitely won that round, and perhaps the owner learned something from the incident. Sure, maybe they're your employee and you can fire them at will, but if your business depends on the public opinion think first before you punt someone on a whim or suffer the backlash.

Jan/25
2011

Sometimes there is a loss so great that no amount of money that can compensate for it. Revenge won't make anything different. Sometimes all someone wants is an explanation. Sometimes that person can only hear one side of the story and that will never answer all the questions. It might not be the full story, but hopefully it can be enough.

Jan/24
2011

Some people are grumpy and mean. Some people talk out their ass because all they can see is shit. Show some people a rainbow and they talk about rain. Agree with them or be called names.

Dude, seriously, go get laid or something because you are truly Mr. Cranky Pants.

Jan/24
2011

Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress.[...]

The [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] sued Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer in 2006, seeking $100 million in fines and $115 million in restitution. In 2008, the three former executives settled with the regulator, returning $31.4 million in compensation. Without admitting or denying the regulator’s allegations, Mr. Raines paid $24.7 million and Mr. Howard paid $6.4 million; Ms. Spencer returned $275,000.[...]

Asked why it has not cut off funding for these mounting legal bills, Edward J. DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said: “I understand the frustration regarding the advancement of certain legal fees associated with ongoing litigation involving Fannie Mae and certain former employees. It is my responsibility to follow applicable federal and state law. Consequently, on the advice of counsel, I have concluded that the advancement of such fees is in the best interest of the conservatorship.” (NYT)

Astonishing. Mega mortgage executives do their job poorly, put millions into debt, ruin the national economy and when they're finally called to account they pay back an insulting pittance AND have the people suing them foot the bill for their legal fees.

Please can't we bring back tar and feathering? These fuckers deserve it most of all.

Jan/24
2011

“I can’t die,” he [Jack LaLanne] most famously liked to say. “It would ruin my image.” (NYT)

Hardly Jack, hardly. If anything you've become a patron saint for the physically fit, right up there with Charles Atlas himself (luckily for us Joe Weider is still alive but he too is on the path to deity-dom himself.)

I have a soft spot for the lean, bouncy little Jack. Memories of my mom stretching and bending in front of the TV, or kicking and twisting to his record make me smile. His show, which I can barely recall, was truly novel. Jack would talk to you the viewer, not the invisible audience. It was part of his success, that hallmark intimacy.

His life was quite remarkable, a less than ordinary fifteen year old on the path to dropping out suddenly inspired to become one of the world's foremost fitness gurus. Driven to improve himself and others, raise awareness in personal health and good nutrition at a time when gyms and spas were unheard of. Remember those days? Smoking wasn't bad for you, cars didn't have seat belts, drinking and driving was considered humor and a thick steak was considered the healthiest meal going. Jack bucked that trend and did so in the friendliest way possible.

Personal accomplishments Jack did one very special thing for everyone without even trying. He lived to a ripe, old, healthy age and demonstrated how simply it could be done.

You go Jack, you're awesome and your image will never tarnish even long after you're gone.

Jan/23
2011

Summary: The "Sheriffs First Act" is supposedly a means to ensure that the Federal Government cannot act without the approval of local Sheriffs. In reality it burdens local law enforcement and leave them holding the bag. In a genuine emergency or terrorist attack the President will be unable to help in a timely manner. Then when people die because of inaction the blame will fall on the local police for not acting quickly enough.

But the most amazing thing is the stream of motivated but clearly uneducated people that support this idea as a good thing. None of them bothered to check their facts before blurting out their views. People, this is what the Internet is for ok?

Some said their sheriffs would protect them against episodes such as the 1993 federal raid on Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, or the deadly siege by government law enforcement agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992.

Others cited the confiscation of private citizens' guns during Hurricane Katrina as a justification to keep the federal government in check — even though it was the New Orleans Police Department, not the federal government, that confiscated those guns.

One man said something must be done to stop the march toward a stateless world government. Another said this bill would protect him from having to defend himself by force against federal government abuses by having the sheriff do it for him.

I feel for the police in Montana. They're being used as a patsy by people who care less about what's actually good for the state than they do about their political views. But I guess as long as stupid people vote there isn't much that can be done about it.

Several law enforcement officials, including sheriffs and sheriff representatives, spoke against Senate Bill 114, saying it is misguided, politically motivated and could harm criminal investigations and jeopardize interagency cooperation.