Jan/15
2011

I have high blood pressure. If I go to the doctor after having a cup of coffee, he gives me the evil eye because my blood pressure is really high. I only have two cups of regular in the morning and two cups of decaf in the afternoon. Weekends I go a bit crazy and it's a good thing I don't have my blood pressure taken then.

A while back a co-worker and fellow coffee junkie sent me this from NPR: "It's an appealing notion that our daily pick-me-up may also confer a range of health benefits. And for coffee drinkers there's a lot of research percolating. Several studies suggest that a daily caffeine habit may help protect against Alzheimer's disease. But there's a catch. The cup or two a day that most Americans drink doesn't seem to be enough. Researchers say 500 mg of caffeine, or about five cups of regular coffee, is the dose that seems to protect the brain."

So, I guess the choice is: High blood pressure and the potential for heart attack or stroke, but I will remember everything OR good blood pressure but I can't remember shit and if I do, I might think it's chocolate pudding. Comforting, isn't it?

Jan/14
2011

A teacher at Brooklyn College, Helen Rubinstein, contributed "Won’t You Be My Wireless Neighbor?" to the New York Times.

The opinion piece discusses her years as a WiFi pirate . . . er . . . recipient of neighborly WiFi generosity. I myself have been guilty of such activities in the past, but my piracy was far more sporadic and restricted to when I was traveling. As I have gotten older, wiser and more paranoid about using open wireless, I ceased the practice of hopping on any old unsecure router. Also, more and more people have become more suave and realize that having an unsecured network is the cyber equivalent of hooking up in a bar with some skank and doing the naughty sans condom in the bar's bathroom.

A few months ago, the Belkin_G-Plus_MIMO network changed its name and gained a padlock icon in my computer’s list of available connections. Then — crickets. The era of unintentional, unasked-for or simply unacknowledged Internet sharing, it seemed, had come to an end.
. . .
It may have been unfair, but I don’t believe I was stealing: the owners’ leaving their networks password-free was essentially a gift, an ethereal gesture of kindness. Sometimes I’d imagine my anonymous benefactors, those people behind Netgear 1 or belkin54g, thinking, “Well, I have Internet to spare.”

And, really, who doesn’t? Home wireless networks can usually support five or more computers, yet there are only about 1.4 computers per American household.

In her piece it is interesting how Ms. Rubinstein thinks streaming video in the form of a TV show, a mere act that would give seizures to some internet connections, was hunky dory while she was "borrowing" a connection. She finds nothing wrong with being a bandwidth hog, like crashing a buffet luncheon and eating everything in sight and only leaving a mere crumb for the host. It's there, why not grab as much as two fists (or your receiver) and hold.

. . . getting online free felt so natural. During my Internet-less weeks, in desperate moments, I checked e-mail on my Kindle’s wireless connection, which is complimentary (to encourage e-book purchases). But that was a painfully slow experience akin to surfing the Web on an Etch a Sketch.

In an ideal world, the Internet would be universally available to anyone able to receive it. Promisingly, the Federal Communications Commission in September announced that it would open up unused analog airwaves for high-speed public wireless use, which could lead to gratis hotspots spreading across cities and through many rural areas.

Let's remember, you get what you pay for. Free is not going to equal streaming video anytime, all the time. Free might give you access to e-mail and facebook. Free might make an Etch a Sketch look cutting edge. In lunch analogy terms, it might wind up being the equivalent of white bread with a single slab of government surplus American cheese vs. a sumptuous gourmet buffet.

This is my favorite comment on the piece:

Kenneth, New York - (In reference to a quote on comparing internet vs. phone service infrastructure as justification for free internet) But the infrastructure is most assuredly not free. You may not pay for an IP, but someone has to pay for the cables, the routers, the technicians, the long distance fiber that sends your emails all the way around the globe. In aggregate, that's an enormous expense. ISPs don't make their money expecting one single subscriber's $39.99 to foot all that -- they expect that a city block's worth of subscribers will do that. And if you provide $100,000 worth of infrastructure to a neighborhood but only get four subscribers for the trouble because the rest are freeloading, it's not "sharing," it's economic suicide.

You teach at a college. Therefore if I snuck into one of your classes, and encouraged all but three of your students to disenroll to save on fees (since whether you lecture to three or three hundred in theory has limited marginal costs), would you think the school would continue to pay your salary? . . .

Amen Kenneth. Beautiful analogy.

Where do you teach again Ms. Rubinstein? I think there is a writing class I'd like to audit, for free of course. I'm sure you won't mind a bit.

Jan/14
2011

Star signs

Recently, there has been a bunch of buzz about the zodiac "changing", affecting everyone star charts and astrological signs.

You see, the star signs were laid out a few thousand years, based on when the sun passed through the various constellations. But over time, the earth's axis tilts back and forth. So, when it was set up, the sun went through Libra between Date A and Date B. But now thousands of years later, its in some other constellation during that period, so everyone that thought they were Libra was wrong.

Astronomers have known this for a long time. But recently, some reporter made a note of it, and wrote a story. Suddenly, people are upset and trying to figure out what it all means. Maybe they were really compatible with their college flame. Maybe the 'Leo' tramp stamp was a bad idea!

I'll save you all a lot of trouble. It's bullshit.

Not that the stars and sun changed. That's true. Astrology is bullshit. 100% worthless bullshit. No value, no meaning, no purpose. Grade A fertilizer. The stars don't play any significant part in the development of your personality. They also don't determine what sort of things you can expect from your day, week or month. They're just giant balls of plasma undergoing fission that sit so far away that the gravitational pull of your cell phone exerts more influence on you.

Sorry your sign changed, but it was all meaningless anyway, so try not to get your panties in a bunch about it.

Jan/13
2011

Well, actually I don't think I ever said that but I may have thought it once or twice, perhaps. Or read it somewhere.

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's broadcast standards council has ruled that Dire Straits' 1985 hit "Money for Nothing" should be censored because of a homosexual slur in its lyrics.

The council said the British band's use of a slur referring to gay people three times in the song breaches the national broadcasters' code of ethics. The council said an edited version of the song could be played.

Let's see the song came out in 1985 and now it's 2010, so twenty-five years later (and concidentally at the same time the word 'Nigger' was removed from Mark Twain's famous Huck Finn, someone decided that the song was offensive. The album fucking won a Grammy, but now? It's gotta be edited.

Well you know what? All the fucking *faggots* in Canada that decided the song needed to be edited can go fuck themselves. At least I can still listen to the un-edited version here in the Ol'U.S. of A.

Jan/13
2011

I know sometime in the recent past I ranted about how invasive American security was compared to Israel. I know I said they had the superior and more effective system. I know I said that we could learn a few things from them.

Well I take it ALL back.

The incident was called “Bra-Gate” by The Jerusalem Post because one Arab-Israeli journalist working for Al Jazeera, Najwan Simri Diab, was denied entry to the event because she agreed to take off some of her clothes but refused to remove her bra.

An Israeli photographer, Menahem Kahana, told Haaretz that he was subjected to extra screening and was asked to remove his trousers.[...]

Despite this, the journalist [Al Jazeera employee, Ms. Simri Diab], who is pregnant, said that she cooperated with the extra screening, up to a point: “They later took me downstairs to the security check cell. They asked me to take off my coat and then my vest. I did. Then they asked me to take off my shirt. I took a deep breath and did it. I was left with just my undershirt and trousers, without my shoes and the rest of my equipment. The female officer felt me with her hands for 15 minutes in any place possible. I told her I was pregnant and asked her not to use the manual device, but compromised on that later too.” She drew the line, however, at also removing her bra.

Seriously? That's fucking inhuman and obscene. I mean that's the kind of stuff Jews were subjected to during WWII, and now they're happily applying the same humiliation of others. Nope, no irony there, none at all.

Jan/12
2011

Mexico Run Amok

Drug cartels have take virtually total control of the border cities in Mexico. The police have been wiped out as has anyone who dared to protest the lack of government protection. The latest atrocity isn't the death of an activist who protested the myriad of unsolved, female murders but the government's slander afterwards.

Chihuahua state Attorney General Carlos Manuel Salas says Susana Chavez was strangled and mutilated after a night of partying with three teenagers, who were drunk and on drugs. He said Wednesday that the killing had nothing to do with Chavez's activism. (AP)

Really, she was murdered not because she protested (guess all those death threats she'd received were just jokes) but because she "partied" with inebriated druggies.

BULLSHIT.

Mexico is incapable of wiping its own ass after it shits. Now maybe it needs to start trying to wipe its mouth instead.

Jan/12
2011

I ~think we can all agree on the following:

1. You should get experience or training before handling a gun
2. Guns, like cars, should be trackable through a unique ID
3. There are some places (like airplanes) where guns should not be permitted by civilians
4. Not everyone should be allowed to own a gun

Four things, not too much, I don't think I overloaded anyone there. However, *if* we can agree on those four statements then we also agree on the existence of some form of gun control.

Statement 1 argues the point that people need to pass some sort of test before being permitted to hide a weapon on their person that they may not be skilled enough to manage. This doesn't apply to larger guns, like shotguns, because (omitting the Hollywood trench coat method) you can reasonably avoid someone if you actually see the weapon in their hands.

Statement 2 has two major points: first that guns are expensive and pass from hand to hand so it's good to keep track of ownership. Second since they're often used to kill people it's good to know who the owner was for legal issues.

Statement 3 says that in special circumstances the risk outweighs the need for personal protection. For example it's pretty hard to get attacked on a plane, and the consequences to everyone if your gun discharges could be massive. Why take that risk?

Statement 4 says that some people simply are not sufficiently in control of their mind or body to be trusted with a firearm.

Statements 1 - 3 are easy. We already have laws for these. But 4 is a problem. And I'm still looking for an answer. How do we prevent guns from getting into the hands unstable individuals? That's a serious question, and I'd appreciate an answer.

Jan/12
2011

"Anyone pointing out that certain politicians said or posted hateful, violence-filled rhetoric is actually responsible for the violence that results."

What?

It's exactly the kind of spew you'd expect from Iran or Afghanistan. It's so fucking retarded it's un-American.

Jan/11
2011

The real problem, he [Wendell Potter, former Health Care executive] says, lies in the fact that the United States “has entrusted one of the most important societal functions, providing health care, to private health insurance companies.” Therefore, the top executives of these companies become beholden not to the patients they have pledged to cover, but to the shareholders who hold them responsible for the bottom line. (NYT)

- from "When Insurers Put Profits Between Doctor and Patient"

Profits over conscience? Pshaw. Whoda thunk it. Health insurance needs regulation, because they can and will let people die just to make a profit. They can and will refuse to insure people who need treatment because it will cost them money. They can and will seek, not what is best for their customer but for their shareholder.

A seventeen year old girl who needed a liver transplant to survive didn't because her insurer refused to cover a treatment they called "experimental". Then they hired the best marketing executives money could buy to repair their image. Can you imagine how that money could have been better spent? Perhaps saving the life of the girl in the first place?

Oh yeah, and Fuck You Cigna.

Jan/11
2011

Well whaddaya know. Snow. Well, possibly, maybe snow. That is if the predictions are right. But as of this minute? No snow. But heck, this comes as a total, nay absolute surprise! In the northern hemisphere? In January? Snow? Why it must be Armageddon!

Ffs we go through the same, stupid, repetitive bullshit every year where the first "major" storm is greeted with general hoopla and alarm that was reserved for potential Soviet Nuke strikes. Tens, nay, hundreds possibly even thousands rush to their local supermarkets and hardware stores. People hunker down in their homes preemptively cancelling meetings by the truckloads. "MY GODS I'M WORKING FROM HOME TOMORROW BECAUSE OF THE STORM."

Wuss.

Ya know I've brushed over a foot of snow off my car in the parkinglot on more than one occasion. I'm not certain where this fear of the white, fluffy stuff came from but wtf it's only frozen water. Still people are running about apeshit spastic, hands in the air, pants on head stupid.

From my rather copious experience the Upper Northern states get snow in winter. By now, having lived through at least a half dozen "blizzards" a storm needs to linger a good three days for me to sit up and take notice. And even in those conditions the roads still get plowed and CVS and 7-11 are still open.

Maybe it's the novelty of being the first weekday storm. Maybe it's just bunch of bored weathermen trying to induce some affirming mass-hysteria. Maybe people are just too stupid to remember the storms from the year before and the year before that and so on and so on ad nauseum. But please, get a grip. It's only snow. You've seen it before and you'll see it again. And if you really need to go somewhere, you'll manage it if you use just a little common sense and care. Trust me, it'll be ok.

Jan/10
2011

Simply said.

"My right to live peaceably, assemble and speak freely, should outweigh any right of a person to carry in public the means to kill me."

- posted by mdemploi on "Tombstone Politics" (NYT)
San Diego
January 10th, 2011
7:33 am

Jan/10
2011

TUCSON — During Tucson’s first rush hour since a weekend shooting left six people dead and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, talk radio hosts pushed back against arguments that their heated political rhetoric had played a role in the tragedy.

Phone calls poured in to stations across the dial to denounce Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik of Pima County, who said at a news conference over the weekend that Arizona had become “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry” and that local TV and radio hosts should do some “soul-searching. (NYT)

Dupnik made a valid point that scared the angry-man crowd: "If you're always preaching violence why aren't you to blame when it happens?" Of course instead of acknowledging the fact that their hate-filled words could have an impact they immediately pointed the finger right back. Typical of an immature child who's best response is "I'm rubber you're glue..." Brilliant guys, brilliant.

Hate sells. People listen to it because that's what it takes to get their attention. Anything with three or more syllables and they lose focus. Anything that requires an attention span of more than sixty seconds and they drift away. But raw and raunchy, overbearing and belligerent, now that's what people won't tune out. Host Garret Lewis is a good example.

Garret Lewis, host of "The Morning Ritual" on KNST (790-AM) in Tucson, said Sherriff Dupnik’s comments had “incited stupidity around the world.”

“People have the image now that we’re a bunch of racist bigots and there are shootouts in the streets,” Mr. Lewis said. “Again, he has absolutely no proof that any of this is true.”

Proof? There's a lot of dead, innocent people in your state Mr. Lewis, what more proof do you need? Seems like the burden of proof is really on you to demonstrate that your rhetoric did not push a borderline case over the edge. Hosts like Jon Justice who wanted dispensation from the public need to face the fact that some of their pigeons are coming home to roost.

Some callers, however, made it clear that they believed that the state’s conservative-leaning radio hosts bore some responsibility.

“You ought to be ashamed,” Dale said on Mr. Justice’s program. “You are part of the problem.”

Mr. Justice, his voice cracking, responded, “There’s nothing I have said on this radio station that could have inspired” Mr. Loughner.

Again, I'd like to ask Mr. Justice to prove that. I'm sure he's quick to take credit for inspiring people to act, so why not with Jared? And once again, when presented the opportunity to man-up and take the opportunity to re-examine his approach Jon's knee-jerk reaction made it clear that wasn't an option>

“Was Jared Loughner a Mike Gallagher listener?” the host [Jon Justice] asked. “You’re dishonest, Rick.”

Gee Jon, do you know that Jared wasn't a listener? That he didn't hear your talk repeated? That nothing you said ever reached his ears? Calling someone dishonest because of their opinion seems like pure hypocrisy. Talk radio is overwhelmingly conservative (I guess liberals just like to read more?) and overwhelmingly angry. If such fervor is used to 'inspire' then where are the safeguards against "disturbed" individuals acting on those emotions? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if all you hear is "death", "destroy", "murder", and "kill" coupled with accusations that certain people are "Un-American", "Anti-Freedom", or "A Threat to Democracy" that someone will eventually make those threats a reality.

Q.E.D. folks. It's already been proven.

I don't expect anything more than a temporary burp in the continuum of vitriol, protected as it is by our freedom of speech. But since we cannot control how people are influenced, nor can we control their mental state, how do you guarantee that this type of incident won't be repeated? I asked that question a few posts ago, apparently to no avail but I'll try one more time: if anyone can buy a gun then how do you prevent crazies from killing innocent people?

If we can't be civilized enough to control what we say, why the fuck should I trust anyone to control their trigger finger?

Jan/10
2011

Then I'd probably have my own island by now. Sounds like a fantasy right? Only not so much when you're talking about doctors where the cost of *any*thing is in the seven digit range.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will not overturn a Florida surgeon's $5 million slander award after a hospital executive said he would not send his dog to the doctor for surgery.[...]

Sadow and the hospital had been fighting in court because the doctor was denied privileges to do surgery in Lawnwood's open-heart institute. A Lawnwood official then told another doctor about Sadow: "I would not send my dog to him for surgery."

Sadow sued for slander, and a jury awarded him $5 million in punitive damages. A Florida appeals court upheld the award.

Impressive huh? Getting 5 mil for someone badmouthing you. Given the rate at which people bad mouth each other the entire nation would be bankrupt in under an hour if this kind of thing became a standard. Fuck that, politicians alone would be filing papers within sixty seconds or less.

I'm sorry, but NO one deserves that kind of money for an off-hand comment like that. Frankly I think it justifies Sadow's comment in the first place with the addendum that "even if you did try and take your dog to him you probably couldn't afford it."

Jan/10
2011

Comments in CAPS

Only the retarded or the maladjusted cannot or will not post or make comments in mixed case. Screaming in all capital letters neither makes your statement more important nor more intelligent. In fact, it makes me twitch toward the delete button.

Thank you for your time.

Jan/10
2011

I don’t trust people online.

More accurately, I don’t trust my information to people online. My name, address, phone number. They can be found if you’re looking, but not in the first 3 pages of Google. I have over a dozen emails, all used for different purposes. Separation of information allows me to know that if I have email in X account, it came from family, Y account came from websites I frequent, and Z account is online purchases.

Likewise, I separate my passwords. Trivial things have a trivial password. Private information and emails is complex. My banking passwords are even more so, and each one is a unique password. I have a hardcopy stored in a safety deposit box, just in case something happens to me. That’s a pain in the butt to remember and keep up with, but I do it.

Why? Because I don’t trust people online. And I don’t think anyone should. There is a ton of information out there about most people. And sometimes if you know A you can figure out B. Everything from shopping habits to what you did last weekend can be out there depending on what you post and where you post it.

All of which brings me around to my point. The White House recently proposed an Internet ID project to be run by the Dept. of Commerce. Basically, it’s a single sign-on that you would use for more or less everything.

Sounds nice? Don’t have to remember passwords anymore, right? Well, there’s the catch. The security mantra for years has been segregation of information and passwords to provide security. One Internet ID is one item to use to get EVERYTHING about you. That means losing it doesn’t mean someone vandalizing your facebook page. It means they can steal every cent your own. That would make those IDs the most valuable piece of information for thieves to get. It’s even better than knowing you mother’s maiden name and your SSN.

And then of course, the paranoia perspective goes further. Once someone has access to all of this information about every single person, I find it difficult to believe that it won’t be used for other purposes. It’ll probably start with consumer protection or ‘homeland security’, but I’d bet my last dollar that the IRS hooks into it fast enough. You know, to “help” you with your taxes. And it probably wouldn’t be long before large companies get “aggregate” data out of the system, in order to better help your shopping experience.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’ll be the best thing since sliced bread. But I can’t help seeing the huge negatives involved with a plan like this. And it makes me think about all those emails and passwords I keep track of. They may be a pain in my ass, but frankly, I’ll take that over any sort of system that tracks my online activity in the name of ‘security’, especially one run by the government.

Jan/09
2011

I don't think I need to explain this one. Really.

Jan/09
2011

It's the same story: angry man with gun decides that law and morality have no hold on him, that he is above the agreed on structures of society, that his will, his views, his opinions are worth more than the weight of an organized nation. Certainly worth more than another person's life. I find it amusing that in both cases these zealots tried to run away after they shot their targets.

Arizona is to Punjab as Jared Loughner is to Malik Qadri.

I haven't heard the analogy drawn yet but I don't consider myself smarter than the pundits so it's only a matter of time. Perhaps they're more concerned with "getting it right" or hewing to what is "politically correct" but I'm not so I'm saying it first.

Consider the similarities, both political lawmakers, both declared "targets" by opposing parties, both popular, both elected as part of a democratic government, both victims of being gunned down. But wait! This is the US right? We're a first-world nation with all the perks, education, health care, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of *thought* right? The place where people can dare to dream and change the values of a nation through dialog and peaceful demonstration. We RESPECT the rights of others to act and behave as they choose with the express intent that they, in turn, will respect us.

What the fuck happened folks, why has America become the land of "if you don't agree with me you need to die?"

The answer is that politicians are increasingly relying on violent and angry rhetoric to get a rise out of an otherwise jaded and ignorant audience. Just like the change in tenor of television programming from the 70's, 80's and even 90's to today, it takes extreme images of violence and anger to get a rise. Hate sells folks. Face it. And we're no longer civilized enough to care.

So if that's what it takes to succeed how do we prevent die-hards from taking their second amendment rights into the streets and exercising them at will? If you have an answer I'd love to hear it.

Malik is now a folk hero. He's showered in praise and rose petals in his homeland. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the street to call him a hero. Their support is lavish and vocal. But if you were looking for the key difference between Pakistan and the United States here it is: Jared has been labeled as "mentally unstable", not a hero. And the response from the opposition party, while laced with with quick denials that they are not responsible, has tried to make it clear that such behavior is truly Un-American.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, issued one of the strongest statements, saying: “I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families.”

He added, “Whoever did this, whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race.”(NYT)

The United States is to Pakistan as Gabrielle Giffords is to Salman Taseer is NOT a true statement.

America needs to pull back from the abyss, because we're getting closer and closer to the type of society we revile. I think, I'd like to think, most people know it. The question is: who is willing to do anything to change it?