Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Biden: Guiliani's Sentence Structure: "A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11"

This has to go down as one of the best lines ever! In the Oct. 30th Democratic Presidential Debate, Joe Biden was asked a question about Hillary Clinton. He was asked by moderator Brian Williams,
Senator Biden, you said recently, "While Mrs. Clinton was meeting socially with the prime minister of a country, I was sitting down and negotiating with them. I know my experience is considerably deeper and more relevant."

Do you stand by that quote, and is your inference that she is less qualified than you to be president?

His answer was not about Clinton, but about the leader in the GOP race, Rudy Guiliani ... and it was classic.

I'm not running against Hillary Clinton. I'm running to lead the free world. I'm running to lead this country. And the irony is, Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency is here talking about any of the people here.

Rudy Giuliani -- I mean, think about it. Rudy Giuliani -- there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. I mean, there's nothing else.
Watch the clip ... that section is approx. at -2:05 or a little more than 7 minutes in.

Why is it so hard to define torture?

Michael Mukasey's confirmation as the 81st Attorney General of the United States appears in limbo, or even dimming, because he refuses to call waterboarding torture. Yesterday he submitted 170 pages of elaboration on his positions to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he still refused to say waterboarding was torture.

What he did say was that waterboarding was "repugnant" to him, but he did not say it was torture or illegal.

Let's drop the legality aspect for now. Let's just look at trying to define something as torture. I have only one question: why is it so hard to define something as or as not torture?

Here's a medical definition of torture from MedicalNet:
An act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
Let's look at waterboarding first. From Wikipedia:
Waterboarding (aka "water boarding") is the practice of immobilizing an individual on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face to force the inhalation of water, that induces the sensation of drowning. Waterboarding has been used to obtain information, coerce confessions, punish, and intimidate. In contrast to merely submerging the head, waterboarding elicits the gag reflex, and can make the subject believe death is imminent while leaving no physical damage.
Now, let's just ask the simple question: if this were done to you, do you think it would be fun? No. Do you think it might be severe physical or at least mental suffering to feel that you were drowning?

Even more clear than that, from that same Wikipedia article (and other references), in 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Hmmm ...

Or let's try having a snarling guard dog stuck in your face, as was reportedly done at Abu Ghraib. Don't you think that fits the definition of torture?

My simple definition of torture: if it were done to me and I would find it caused me severe physical or mental suffering ... that's torture. And that's how Mukasey ... and Bush ... ought to look at these things, rather than tiptoeing around and saying the definition is unclear.

Judge in "Dry Cleaners Lawsuit" Gets Pantsed; Loses Job

You may recall (now former) judge Roy Pearson's lawsuit against Custom Cleaners, which he eventually lost, but which still resulted in the owners closing their shop last month. Yesterday Pearson lost his job, as after serving a two-year term, a judicial committee voted against reappointing him.

A source said the lawsuit had little to do with the reappointment decision, but what did was a review of his casework and a finding that he did not demonstrate "appropriate judgment and judicial temperament." Pearson also was criticized for displaying a "combative" nature with supervisors and colleagues and for failing to comply with policies in drafting opinions.

"Combative" nature, eh? Sort of the type of behavior demonstrated by say, suing for $54 million over a lost set of pants?

Cheney Embroiled in Confederate Flag Hunting Flap

At least he didn't shoot any people. Vice President Dick Cheney went hunting Monday at the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club in Dutchess County, about 70 miles north of New York City. This is one of those "really fair" hunting clubs, where farm-bred pheasants are released before the arrival of the patrons, so they have really easy hunting.

What really got people's attention though, was when it was discovered that the private club has a Confederate flag hung there (pictured above, hanging inside a garage). After hearing of the picture, the Rev. Al Sharpton said,

"It's appalling for the VP to be at a private club displaying the flag of lynching, hate and murder. It's the epitome of an insult."

It's also weird since New York was definitely not a Confederate state. A spokesperson for the VP said he never saw the flag. Based on what he did to his friend Harry Whittington in 2006, when he shot him, I don't doubt it; his vision probably isn't that good. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Researchers to Sell Rights to Name Butterfly

Remember how baseball and football stadiums used to just be named after, say, the place they were built (Candlestick Park, Three Rivers Stadium) or some other nondescript name? Today stadiums seem to all be named after corporations, like Coors Field, AT&T Park, Petco Park, or whatever. Now researchers who helped discover a new species of Mexican butterfly are trying to sell off the naming rights.

In this case, I'm not upset. They will use the funds to further butterfly research. The winning bidder will determine the species name following the public auction at iGavel.com, which started Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2.

This newly discovered butterfly (pictured), a species of Owl butterfly, lives in Sonora, a Mexican state bordering Arizona. It is of the genus "Opsiphanes," and is just waiting for the conclusion of the auction to get its species name. Could we see it called the Osiphanes AT&T? Who knows?

Britney Crucified Over "Blackout" Album Pics

Well, not literally, but pictures like the one above have incensed Catholic groups. The picture is from her Blackout album, which coincidentally releases today.

"This girl is crashing," Catholic League President Bill Donohue said. "She's not even allowed to bring up her own kids because she's not responsible enough. Now we see she can't even entertain."

Whoa, the album has actually garnered favorable press --- and a lot of it, so in terms of entertaining ... well, that's probably the only thing she's even remotely doing correctly, in spite of her lame performance at the MTV VMAs.

Outside of her music career, she's had a lot of trouble, however, including running over a photographer's foot, losing custody of her children, and losing, then regaining visitation rights ... and the problem is there's plenty more where that came from. The comment from Donohue about "crashing" above may not be far off the mark.

Is America Ready for a FLILF?

Interesting segment on The Daily Show last night. For those who don't know what FLIFL might stand for (I didn't until I took the time to think about it), take MILF and substitute First Lady for Mother ... and think of Fred Thompson's and Dennis Kucinich's wives. Got it now? OK.

This had me laughing out loud (as The Daily Show frequently does) when correspondent Jason Jones interviewed Kucinich's 29-year-old wife. When asked by her what FLILF meant, he said,
"What's a FLILF? A FLILF is an acronym, also a palindrome. Your husband would be a FLILF hunter."
Jones later asked her husband's health care plan, but was obviously not listening, despite the fact that her British accent is very endearing.

Watch the video.

N.J. Man Charged for Sex with 92-Year-Old ... Corpse

Just to be clear, it wasn't say a 30-year-old who died young and was then a corpse for 92 years (not that it would make any difference). No, we're talking about a 92-year-old elderly person who had passed away. I'm sorry, the thought of sex with a living 92-year-old doesn't do much for me, much less a dead 92-year-old. Yes, there's a word for this: necrophilia. And another one, sick.

Anthony Merino, a 24-year-old lab technician, was arrested Sunday after a security guard saw him having sex with a dead 92-year-old woman in the Holy Name Hospital morgue. And yes, that's our culprit in the mug shot above.

He's been charged with second-degree desecration of human remains. Bail has been set at $400,000.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Olympic-caliber H.S. Skeet Shooter in Trouble Over Shotgun Shells

Granted, I can understand why --- she's a high school student, and I'm sure none of you need reminding about Columbine or other such events.

Kim Peters has won several trophies in the male-dominated sport of skeet shooting. In August she was one of 18 athletes to attend this year's Junior Olympic shooting camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She attends Willow Springs High School in Surprise, Arizona. Last week, however, she ended up in hot water when a security guard noticed two unopened boxes of shells sitting in the back seat of the student's SUV.

She was running late that day so she actually committed another offense: parking in a visitor's only lot, and during the ticketing process is when the shells were noticed. Security also found cigarettes, yet another offense. No shotgun, however, just the shells.

She's concerned about her "permanent record" however, and is trying to get the offense expunged. Notably, neither of the other offenses were included on the Dysart School District disciplinary-incident form sent home with her. Most likely once he saw the shells, the guard didn't think anything else really mattered.

The record currently says she has a "dangerous instrument" violation. This wouldn't sell too well to some universities, obviously. The family has offered to "trade" the cigarette violation for the "dangerous instrument" violation, but realistically, I don't think trading should be necessary.

It should be noted that a 2007 federal education statute explicitly excludes shotguns and shotgun shells from being categorized as a "dangerous instrument" because they are primarily used for sport. On the other hand, the Arizona Department of Education says that districts are free to take disciplinary actions where they see fit.

D.C. Madam Clients, Like Birds of a Feather, Stick Together

Last week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Henrietta Holsman Fore's nomination to become the administrator of USAID. While the 13 - 5 vote moved the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, it's interesting to see who voted against her.

Four Democrats and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., voted against her. What's so interesting about this? Vitter has been ensnared in the D.C. Madam's net, as his phone number appeared on her phone records.

Additionally appearing on the phone records was the last head of USAID, Randall Tobias. The day after being called by ABC News over the issue, Tobias resigned from USAID position as well as his positions as Director of US Foreign Assistance.

While obviously the confirmation of Fore will have nothing to do with Tobias' resignation, it's still humorous.

Birds of a feather stick together? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Man Put on Sex Offenders' List After Trying to Have Sex with a Bicycle

First of all, how do you have sex with a bicycle?

Robert Stewart was at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr, south west Scotland, in October of last year, when two housekeepers entered his room, to find him, er, engaged with the bicycle.

They had knocked several times, but had not received an answer so, thinking the room empty, they used the master key to enter.

Deputy fiscal Gail Davidson said, “They then observed the accused wearing only a white T-shirt, naked from the waist down. The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex.”

Stewart was placed on the sex offenders’ list but his sentence was deferred until next month.

My questions are: was the bicycle of legal age? Did it consent? And did anyone get this on video?

Bill Maher Hires "Blackwater" After Security Fiasco

You'll recall on the October 19th installment of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill actually went into the audience to eject some protesters when security was slow to react. This week, Bill introduced his new security firm: Blackwater.
"But please, extend a warm welcome to my security team: Blackwater. They're in the house tonight."
He had some trouble with the monologue, with a slow start and some flubs. But I particularly like the line about Lindsay Lohan and evacuations,
"Lindsay Lohan had to run out of rehab with nothing but the monkey on her back."
Watch the video.

Burglar Slits Own Throat on Broken Window Glass

In Adelaide in South Australia, a homeowner found himself in the strange position of trying to save the life of a man who was trying to burglarize his home.

The unidentified burglar threw a garden statue through the window, breaking it, but then apparently slipped on a piece of the statue. He fell, slashing his throat on a jagged piece of window glass.

The middle-aged resident, who asked not to be identified, found the man outside in a pool of blood when he went to investigate. He tried to staunch the blood flow with towels, but he said the man's throat looked "looked like an axe had hit it." The burglar died while the homeowner continued to try to save him.

Fox Shamelessly Proclaims Bush a "World Series Hero"

You can't even get away from politics in the World Series. Last night, prior to the 3rd game of the World Series, Fox aired a montage of great moments in World Series history.

The narrator said,
"The story of the World Series is told in seven chapters, each with their own tale, each with their own hero. These stories take us back in time to the place where we witnessed greatness."
Interspersed with the actual clips were "dramatizations" of the reactions of TV viewers.

Chapter 4 was Bush throwing out the first pitch in Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. As the clip rolled, the actors in the dramatization were laying it on thick. No only that, they were supposedly New York City firefighters.
FDNY 1: "Hey, the President's at Yankee Stadium. Price (?), come here."

FDNY 2: "Look at that."

FDNY 1: "Robert, Robert, check it out. He's in our uniform, he's wearing our uniform. I mean, look at this. All right, Mr. President, let's see what you got. A strike."
Greatness? Could you be any more ridiculous and self-serving than that? Looks like I have to stop watching Fox period, not just Faux News.

Watch the video.

Faux News Lies About "No Deaths in Iraq This Week"

At the start of this clip, Kilmeade says "You know something? Not one US military, member of the military, was killed in Iraq for the first time since 2004 this past week, and almost no one's talking about it." Well, quite possibly it's because he's lying, or at the very least mistaken.

He then went on to say, "In Iraq there were no casualties in the Al-Anbar Province last week, or in Iraq, US casualties ... terrorists attacks have drop 59%, sectarian attacks off 72%, IED attacks down 80%. It sounds like I'm making this up! If it was a year ago and I told you this is where we're going to be at, would you say I predicted this?"

Yeah, it does sound like you are making it up, because you are. The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website has been tracking US and coalition deaths since the beginning of the war. Their figures are confirmed by the DoD.

Taking a look at the week from October 19th to 26th, when the broadcast occurred, if you drill down into the month of October on their website, you can see seven deaths between Oct. 19th and the 25th, the date of the last reported casualty. Even giving Kilmeade some slack, and excluding the ones listed as non-hostile, there are still four that are a result of hostile action.

What can I say? Fair and balanced? Nowhere in their motto is the word "accurate."

Watch the clip.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yes, Virginia, There is a Draft for Iraq. Just Not the One You Think

There has been much speculation that in order to keep up, not with just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with any future conflicts, the United States would have to re-institute the draft. Well, there is a sort of draft that's been instituted, but not a military draft. You could call it a State Department draft.

The State Department has been having trouble (small wonder) getting employees to go to Iraq voluntarily. On Friday the State Department announced that diplomats would have to take a one year assignment in Iraq, if requested, or lose their jobs.

Let's face it, who would want to go to Iraq? Harry Thomas, the State Department’s HR director, said about 250 “prime candidates” would be notified Monday that they have been selected to go to Iraq. You can bet people are crossing their fingers, and doing so all weekend long.

Those selected will have 10 working days to respond to the demand that they go to Iraq in summer 2008, and that only those with valid reasons, like a medical problem, would be exempt.

Sounds like a military draft, eh? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket You need to be 4F to get out of it.

Bill Maher on Dumbledore: "If I had the slightest interest in homosexuals with powers, I'd be a Republican"

Besides a burka fashion show, in his New Rules segment on the Oct. 26th Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill addressed politicians and disasters, Old Spice trying to become hip, Dumbledore and his homosexuality, Halloween, and FEAR as shoved down our throats by politicians.

Here's Bill's New Rule about Dumbledore:
I don't give two fingleberries and an McShittol that Dumbledore is gay. What concerns me is adults who read 800-page books about magic schoolboys, and then try to talk to me about it. If I had the slightest interest in homosexuals with powers, I'd be a Republican.
And on FEAR:
At the Republican debate this week Mike Huckabee said Islamo-Fascism is the greatest threat we've ever faced. Really? More than the Nazis? And the Russians? And the Redcoats?

We are the most powerful nation on Earth, with the largest economy and the best military and we're made to act the fool by a few thousand cave-dwellers who still put out their video on VHS.

And that's the problem. Because of the incompetence that goes by the name George Bush, we have become the most insecure paranoid superpower ever. We don't think we can get anything right anymore. We can't take care of our citizens after a hurricane or plan for our wars, or maintain our infrastructure, and our celebrity rehab facilities obviously aren't working at all.
Watch the video:

Is Sarah Jessica Parker Really the Unsexiest Woman Alive?

Maxim magazine has revealed their list of the five unsexiest women alive. The list is:

5. Britney Spears
4. Madonna
3. Sandra Oh
2. Amy Winehouse
1. Sarah Jessica Parker

Now, I have to question a couple of them here. I admit, Britney doesn't look anywhere near as hard-bodied as she used to, but surely there are worse. Or maybe her behavior just adds enough to the mix to make it reasonable.

Madonna? This one I'm not sure I agree on. OK, OK, not as hot as before, but it hasn't been that long since Swept Away and she was pretty hard-bodied there.

Sandra Oh? Well, she shares something with Sarah Jessica Parker, and unfortunately it's a ... well, I hate to say it, but kind of a horse face. And she doesn't have a body to make up for it.

Amy Winehouse? Just take a look at the picture; I would really agree with this one.

Now here's the one I really disagree with --- Sarah Jessica Parker. I admit, as I said above, she does have a horse face. I mean, you can't accuse her of being beautiful. But that's not this list. It's not the homeliest women alive. It's the unsexiest women alive. All one need do is take a look at the photo below and I really think that Parker doesn't qualify for that.

'Course, I admit this is likely pre-baby, but I did see a Time (or was it Newsweek) shot of her post-baby, showing her abs are still as sexy as ever. Too bad I can't find it online.

Cheney on "Cousin Obama"

As we know from my prior post, Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are very distantly related. Friday on Kudlow & Company, Larry Kudlow interviewed Cheney, and among other things, discussed "Cousin Obama."

Cheney didn't appear too happy to have to discuss his relative.

KUDLOW: Speaking of another Democratic front-runner, you and Senator Obama are apparently related. This information comes from your wife, Lynn, she appeared on our program not too long ago. Mareen and Susan Duvall, immigrants from France. You spoke to Mr. Obama about this shared experience?

Mr. CHENEY: Cousin Barack? No. No, we haven't. We haven't had the opportunity to talk about it.

KUDLOW: You haven't once?

Mr. CHENEY: No.

KUDLOW: You call him up and say, `Well, heck, there's a family tree.'

Mr. CHENEY: I didn't know whether that would help him or hurt him. So I thought I'd probably stay away from it, so. Apparently we do have a common ancestor about eight or nine generations back.

As you may recall, upon hearing the news of their relationship, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Every family has a black sheep."

Watch the video:

Friday, October 26, 2007

FEMA and Their Fake News Conference

FEMA can't seem to get it right, can they? Still trying to make up for the errors of Katrina, Tuesday they held a press conference and, when no legitimate reporters showed up for the hastily called press conference, they substituted staffers for reporters.

Today, after the Washington Post blew the story wide open, FEMA apologized, and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, addressing the issue, said, "FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California. It's not something I would have condoned. And they - I'm sure - will not do it again. I don't think that there was any mal-intent. It was just a bad way to handle it, and they know that."

Some of the problem with the whole fake press conference idea was the soft-pedeled questioning.

For example, FEMA Deputy Administrator and Vice Admiral Harvey Johnson, who was at the podium, was asked, "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"
"I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far. This is a FEMA and a federal government that's leaning forward, not waiting to react. And you have to be pretty pleased to see that."
Nice patting yourself on the back, Harv.

Later, "What lessons learned from Katrina have been applied?"
"I think what you're really seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership; none of which were present in Katrina. So, I think, as a nation, people should sit up and take notice that you have the worst wildfire season in history in California and look at how well the state and local governments are performing, look at how well we're working together between state and federal partners."
Wow, talk about a great performance.

Watch the fake news conference yourself:

AT&T and Their Concern for Wildfire Victim's Loss: "Pay for Your Satellite Receiver, Now"

AT&T has shown a total lack of sensitivity for San Diego fire victims. Unfortunately, I'm sure this is not going to be an isolated incident --- unless AT&T gets a lot of flak for this.

Matt and Dannell Azola's two-bedroom home had burned to the ground in the wildfires in Southern California. Dannell said she called AT&T because she wanted to cancel her telephone and cable service.

"I called there to let them know that our house was destroyed, to cancel all the stuff and the first thing they asked me was if I had a chance to grab the receiver for the satellite dish. I told them no, that's the last thing that was on my mind. Then they tole me I would have to pay the $300 for the receiver."

Darnell asked if the bill could be postponed until after they received their insurance payment, and she was told no.

As the reporter said, this is disturbing, that a company would treat victims this way, when other companies are going out of their way to pour assistance in.

My guess is this wasn't an AT&T receiver, but a DISH Network receiver. As you may know, they partner with Dish Network in many areas, and have all the bills, satellite and telephone, put onto one bill.

At any rate, this is ridiculous, and I encourage you to call and email AT&T and let them know how you feel.

Update: In an obvious CYA move, AT&T relented.
"This customer initially called AT&T to discuss other communications services. After she was transferred to Dish, the disaster policy Dish has in place was not followed. This customer will not be charged for service cancellation or equipment fees----that is our policy, and the policy of Dish, in times of natural disasters. We have spoken with this customer to clarify our policy, and we are committed to taking care of all customers affected by the fires."
Especially when to do otherwise would make us look bad.

Watch the video:

Colbert's "1,000,000 Strong" Passes Obama on Facebook in 5 Days

The Facebook group, "One Million Strong for Barack" is only at 384,946 members as of this writing. That's after 9 months. Meanwhile the Facebook group "1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert" has reached 1,037,938 members, and was only created on Oct. 17 at 5PM.

What does this show? The wild popularity of Stephen Colbert? Certainly that --- this type of response was a certainty based on the response to his call to change Wikiality for elephants, and his successful campaign to get a Hungarian bridge named after him.

Despite the fact that Colbert is no real threat to the Presidential candidates, he's gained double digit status in Rasmussen Reports' latest phone survey. 13% prefer him to Clinton or Guiliani. If Thompson is substituted for Guiliani, he still gets 12%.

And yes, I did join the Facebook group. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Che's" Hair Auctioned for $119,500

People will auction off ... and buy ... anything. I wonder what the socialist revolutionary "Che" Guevara would have thought about this capitalist use of his hair. A former CIA operative auctioned the lock of hair and other items, including a scrapbook with previously unpublished photos, to Bill Butler, a Houston-area bookstore owner for $119,500.

Gustavo Villoldo, 71, had helped in the capture of Guevara in Bolivia in 1967, and said he had clipped the lock of hair from Guevara prior to burying him.

Heritage Auction Galleries, who ran the auction, has auctioned off hair before including strands from the heads of Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Dana Perino and the "Health Benefits" of Global Warming

I'm happy to say despite the resignation of Tony Snow as White House Press Secretary, we still have plenty of unabashedly ridiculous statements coming from the current holder of that post, Dana Perino.

Wednesday in a press conference, the conversation eventually turned to the testimony of CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, whose testimony on the public health impact of climate change was alleged to have been "heavily edited." In response to this, Perino made sure she brought up the many positive health benefits of global warming.

Yes, you read right, global warming has positive health benefits.

From the press briefing, first Perino, in response to a question about Gerberding's testimony, said,
... And we have experts and scientists across this administration that can take a look at that testimony and say, this is an error, or this doesn't make sense. And so the decision on behalf of CDC was to focus that testimony on public health benefits -- there are public health benefits to climate change, as well, but both benefits and concerns that somebody like a Dr. Gerberding, who is the expert in the field, could address.
The press wasn't completely snowed, as later someone called her on that statement ...

Q And one more. You mentioned that there are health benefits to climate change. Could you describe some of those?

MS. PERINO: Sure. In some cases, there are -- look, this is an issue where I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals. There are also concerns that it would increase tropical diseases and that's -- again, I'm not an expert in that, I'm going to let Julie Gerberding testify in regards to that, but there are many studies about this that you can look into.

Thank you for the pseudo-science, Ms. Perino.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Misplaced SIM Foils Funeral Plans

Arso Banjeglav of Montenegro loved talking and texting on his cell phone, so much so that he told his son Brano that when he died he wanted it put in his coffin.

Well, Arso passed away at the age of 67, and they buried the phone with him. But, after the funeral in the central Montenegrin town of Cetinje, they discovered that the SIM wasn't in the phone, because Brano's son had taken the SIM out while playing with the phone.

Now they want to dig up the body to put the SIM in the phone. Of course, such an effort would be costly.

Honestly, is the SIM all that important? After all, the phone is with him. Maybe they'd better make sure any necessary memory cards are in the phone as well. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Family Security Matters and Their "Ten Most Dangerous Organizations in America" List

Well, this ought to be interesting. As SourceWatch says, Family Security Matters is a conservative front group that claims to represent "security moms" and supports President George W. Bush.

The mission statement from their website says,
"Our mission is to inform all Americans, men and women, about the issues surrounding national security; to address their fears about safety and security on a personal, family, community, national and international level; to highlight the connection between individual safety and a strong national defense; to increase civic participation and political responsibility; and to empower all Americans to become proactive defenders of our national security and community safety."
Here's their list:
  1. Media Matters for America
  2. Universities and Colleges
  3. MoveOn.org
  4. League of the South
  5. Center for American Progress
  6. Family Research Council
  7. American Civil Liberties Union, National
  8. CodePINK
  9. Muslim Student Association
  10. ThinkProgress
OK, digest that for a while.

Interesting to see League of the South there. That's almost progressive thinking on FSM's part! That organization is a Southern nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is "a free and independent Southern republic." In other words, they want secession.

I'm also surprised about the Family Research Council, as that's a right-wing think-tank and lobbying organization formed by James Dobson.

But ALL colleges and universities? And groups like Media Matters, CodePINK, the ACLU? Last time I checked, civic participation (part of their mission statement) would be fostered by, oh say, higher education as well as free speech and the right to dissent.

The preface to the list says, "Certain organizations in America are growing powerful in American politics because the propaganda they push forward is taken as fact by many in the media and the general public."

Hmmm ... based on that preface, if it was my list I'd probably put Faux News at the top, or maybe ... FSM!

Dallas Takes on "Saggers" with Rap, Not Rules

Saggin' is wearing your pants with the waistband closer to your knees than your hips ... a well-known fashion statement nowadays. However, just because it's well-known doesn't mean it's accepted by communities. Quite a few cities have at least considered an anti-saggin' law. But Dallas, although it first went down that road, decided on a different tactic.

Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway called a news conference and proposed a new saggin' ordinance. But instead fate stepped in. In South Dallas, a rapper named Dewayne Brown saw Caraway on TV. Brown's stage name is Dooney Da' Priest and, inspired, he wrote a song, "Pull Your Pants Up."
If you stand up straight, bet your pants fall.
Might as well walk around with your pants off.
Pull 'em up, pull 'em up, pull 'em up.
Be a real man. Stand up.
Is that your underwear, man? Pull your pants up.
One thing Brown wants to remind youth is that saggin' is also called jailin', because it apparently got its start from young men trying to imitate jail prisoners with sagging trousers whose belts have been taken from them.

Clear Channel is donating ad space on billboards toward the campaign against saggin', and Brown has designed a billboard ad (shown above).

So, instead of trying for force youth to change with laws, Dallas is trying to meet them on their own turf, so to speak. We'll see how it works out.

Brownie to Bush on Calif. Wildfire: "You're NOT doing a heckuva job"

Ironic, much? In an telephone interview with WJLA-TV, Michael Brown, former head of FEMA, who was erroneously told by Bush, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" after Katrina, said that,

"The White House needs to recognize that we are overstretched. They need to increase the size of the regular Army and stop relying so much on the National Guard." He also said that another problem is that "some of these guys are home from National Guard duty in Iraq for literally 5 hours before they have to turn around and respond to something here, and that's not good."

Meanwhile, R. David Paulison, Brown’s successor as FEMA chief, defended the National Guard’s strength when asked about it Wednesday morning. Paulison said there are “plenty of Guardspeople” available.

Glenn Beck and his "Sympathy" for California Wildfire Victims

It's nice of Glenn Beck to cast a partisan net over a tragedy like the wildfires burning out of control in Southern California. On his Oct. 22 broadcast of his syndicated radio show, Beck said:
We all love America. We just disagree on how we should function, what we should do, big government, small government. It doesn't mean you hate America. I think there is a handful of people who hate America.

Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.
Nice, so a lot of the people in California are America haters? The USA Today's On Deadline column asked for a statement, and received a response from Beck's TV producer. Chris Balfe was surprised over all the negative press, and said, "To most rational people, unfortunately still means unfortunately."

Eh? I see --- you're saying it's unfortunate that they are losing their homes, but you're still calling them haters of America? Frequently the use of the word "unfortunately" in such a context doesn't really mean you feel all that bad for the people, Glenn.

Download and listen to the radio show clip here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Judge Judy: World of Wha-Craft?

And this is why I wonder about things like having senators like Ted Stevens, who don't understand technology, involved in making decisions that affect things like Net Neutrality. Of course, Judge Judy hardly affects things on the scale of the Senate.

In this clip from Judge Judy's show, the plaintiff is trying to get money from her ex-boyfriend, who apparently stiffed her for rent and did nothing but play World of Warcraft. While the girlfriend knew the term, and the acronym WoW, the judge didn't, and had to ask them to repeat it several times, and explain it as well.

"World of Warcraft. You ever heard of that?" she asked her bailiff, who shook his head.

In the end the case was pretty open and shut and she found for the plaintiff in the amount of $700 (you won't get to see it, though). Watch the clip:

"Brit and Run" Sock in eBay Charity Auction

I suppose people will buy (or auction) anything, though I will also say, this is a charity auction. You'll recall last week's Britney fiasco, in which she ran over a photographer's foot while exiting a Beverly Hills medical building (where she reportedly received some "lip enhancement").

TMZ is auctioning the sock, which belonged to its photographer. Proceeds will go to the Children’s Defense Fund. The sock will also come with a Letter of Authenticity. The auction is currently at $561 and there's only a few hours left, so if you want to bid, er, hurry.

"Fox and Friends" Use Outdated Memo to Imply California Wildfires an Al-Qaeda Plot

I guess that means there are no American arsonists. Give me a break. Today on "Fox and Friends," on the Faux News channel, hosts said the wildfires may be an Al-Qaeda plot. However, not only do they use a memo from 2003, they actually say it was a memo from this year. And, the memo does not mention California. The exchange took place between Steve Doocy, Alisyn Camerota, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade.
DOOCY: You’re looking live at pictures from San Diego — Santiago, CA, where the wildfires continue. We were talking earlier in today’s telecast with Adam Housley and apparently police officers in a hovering helicopter saw a guy starting one of these fires. And Alisyn, Alisyn Camerota, an FBI memo from late in June of this year (emphasis mine) is popping up this morning and it is ominous.

CAMEROTA: This actually has happened for many years in the past as well. An FBI sent out to local law-enforcement said that an al Qaeda detainee had given them some information that the next wave of terrorism could be in the form of setting wild fires. Adam Housley said lots of people on his block were asking him about it. Obviously this is something the FBI has looked into. They will continue to investigate it.

CARLSON: If they have this person in custody it probably won’t take long to be able to develop a link if there is one.

KILMEADE: A June 25 memo from the FBI’s Denver offices reported three days ago, excuse me, five days ago, by the Arizona Republic, that is a newspaper, they have been carrying the story and they continue to expand upon it. (I can't find this Arizona Republic story ... but I did find the real USA Today story, also linked above --- from 2003)

DOOCY: Brian, the plot they say, according to this detainee, and they don’t know if the detainee is telling the truth. The plot was to set three or four wildfires. But they don’t mention California. They mention Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. We do know for a fact that a number of the fires in southern California are of a suspicious nature and they are investigating arson.

The only valid thing they said was that California was not mentioned. And of course arson is suspected. In something like this, it always is, but generally it's not a terrorist plot. And the out and out --- misinformation --- about the date of the memo is striking. This is obviously meant to fan the flames of fear in the U.S. again.

As far as starting fires ... it's quite possible these were backfires, lit for wildfire suppression. Finally, Faux News, how could this be? If it were an attack on U.S. soil, the GOP could no longer crow about "no attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11." Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Japanese Invent Portable Car Toilet

I suppose any country that could invent a "vending machine disguise" would just have to invent something like this. Tuesday at the Tokyo Auto Show, Kaneko Sangyo Co unveiled "a portable toilet for use inside a car that totally conceals the user with a curtain."

It's called the "Kurumarukun." Seeing as how I haven't gotten a demo of it (nor would I want to), I'm not sure how well this thing works. However, the "instructions" say that drivers assemble the cardboard toilet bowl, fit a water-absorbent sheet inside and draw the curtain.

Uh, huh. Well, for guys this isn't really necessary ... at least half the time. And I'm not sure I'd want to use this for the other half of the time anyway. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If you're interested in this, cross your fingers ... or maybe your legs; it won't go on sale until November 15th.

One More Perk Gone By the Wayside as Belgian Police Reminded: Brothels are Off-Limits While On Duty

I wouldn't think you would have to remind the police about this. Perhaps because prostitution is legal in Belgium, the police there see this as something they just do when they're taking a break. At any rate, apparently a local police chief in Brussels' northern police district thought it was enough of a problem to have to write a letter to his subordinates.

"These officers think their duty hours are to be used to drink alcohol in bars, practice sports..., visit brothels or massage parlors, and entertain relationships with residents of the neighborhood during their patrol. It is only by setting a good example that the police can make itself respected," said the letter, which was reprinted in a Belgian newspaper.

The letter was confirmed as authentic by a police spokesman, but he said the police chief had only reacted to rumors of such on-duty behavior.

Uh-huh. Either way someone goofed up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mitt Romney and Obama bin Laden: Measured Mistake?

I've seen people mix up Obama and Osama before, but never to this extent. This goes beyond what you would call a simple gaffe, and seems more along the lines of perhaps a "measured mistake." Either that or he's just addled.

Tuesday while commenting on the Democrats, and specifically John Edwards, and their criticism of the "global war on terror," Romney said:

"Actually, just look at what Osam — Barack Obama — said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."

So, I can see switching Osama and Obama, but adding the Barack? That goes beyond a slip of the tongue.

The nice thing is Obama spokesman Bill Burton always has a nice comeback, as he did when it was revealed Cheney and Obama were distantly related. He said, "Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe."

Halle Berry's Censored Oops on Jay Leno: "This is like my Jewish cousin"

During a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno yesterday, Halle Berry showed just why live TV is risky. While showing Jay some shots of herself that she had morphed with Apple's Photo Booth, she showed a picture of herself with a huge, distorted nose, saying "This is like my Jewish cousin." Jay said, "I'm glad you said it."

When the show aired they cut out the Jewish comment, but realistically, she just made a mistake and it's really no big deal --- unless people make it into one.

Smartly, Berry issued an apology yesterday, saying, "I so didn't mean to offend anybody - and after the show I realised it could be seen as offensive, so I asked Jay to take it out, and he did. We were going through pictures to see which ones looked silly, and one of my Jewish friends said (of the big-nose picture), 'That could be your Jewish cousin!' And I guess it was fresh in my mind, and it just came out of my mouth. But I didn't mean to offend anybody. I didn't. I didn't mean any harm. The scene was cut from the show."

Watch the video, it's about 1 minute into the clip. You can definitely see where both Leno and Berry had the word "Jewish" excised from the tape. According to those in the audience, the laugh track was added also --- as no one laughed.

VT Gunman Seung-Hui Cho Used to Advertise Flemish Opera

It could be termed strange, eclectic, thoughtless or perhaps even in poor taste --- The Vlaamse Opera (The Flemish Opera) is advertising its new production of "Siegfried" with a poster which includes a photo of a threatening Seung-Hui Cho. Cho is the man who murdered 32 of his fellow students at Virginia Tech University in a rampage in April of this year.

That image is also on their website, and is posted above. The site can be viewed in either Dutch or English.

I'm totally at a loss as to why they did this, as even trolling their site I couldn't get a clue. There is, I'm sure, an esoteric reason for it. The summary of the production says:
The third part of Ivo van Hove's version of Wagner's Ring cycle will, once again, be a both intriguing and moving present-day interpretation of the work.
I did notice, however, that tickets appear to still be available for all showings.

Apple Says 250,000 Potential iBricks Sold

Apple had one heck of a fiscal Q4. However, in listening to Apple's earnings call, generally hardly a wealth of interesting info, we heard an fascinating tidbit of information: just how many potentially bricked iPhones (or iBricks) they thought had been sold so far.

As may you know, Apple went to great pains with software update 1.1.1 to restore full control over their iPhones. Many devices which had been unlocked were bricked by the update (meaning, made useless except for using them as a doorstop or brick).

In response to a question by Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford Bernstein, which was actually about the effect of the iPhone's price cut on sales, Timothy Cook, Apple's COO said:
Toni, we were very happy with the elasticity that we saw. It enabled us to far surpass our expectation of hitting around a million units cumulatively by the end of the quarter. Some number of these were sold to people that have an intention to unlock and where we don’t know precisely how many people are doing that, our current guess is there is probably 250,000 of the 1.4 million that we sold where people had bought them with the intention of doing that. Many of those happened after the price cut.
Why they would even bring that up in response to that question, I'm not sure. But the data itself is quite interesting. I'm sure T-Mobile is really rooting for those hackers now. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, October 22, 2007

Parrot Saves Family from Fire by Mimicking Alarm

I think it's time to consider parrots over dogs ... not only did a parrot warn its owner about a burglar in Dallas, Texas last week --- resulting in the death of the burglar --- in this case a parrot warned its family about a fire by mimicking --- only much louder --- the sound of the smoke alarm.

In Muncie, Indiana, Shannon Conwell, 33, and his 9-year-old son fell asleep on the couch while watching a movie. They awoke about 3 a.m. Friday to find the house on fire and the family's arrot, Peanut, imitating the smoke alarm.

Apparently Peanut was much louder than the alarm itself, as Conwell said, "He was really screaming his head off."

Conwell grabbed his son --- and thankfully, the heroic bird --- and ran out of the house. The reason for the fire is still under investigation.

I'll bet this bird gets some really nice treats for some time to come.

In Rare Feat, Mother Becomes Pregnant Twice in One Month --- and Carries to Term

It's rare enough that a woman can become pregnant two separate times in the same month --- that's called superfecundation. But to carry to term --- that's even rarer. Apparently the odds are one million-to-one, as usually the second, younger fetus will die as the older gets better nourishment in the womb.

But Beverly Robson, 32, of Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, delivered Leah (6lbs, 6oz.) and Lara (4lbs, 4oz.) by Caesarian on Sept. 26. She and her husband Craig were warned about the possibility of losing Lara, but fortunately she carried the baby to term.

Bob Aitken, medical director at Darlington Memorial Hospital, said: “I’ve known only one case like this in 30 years delivering babies.”

Robson and her husband also have two sons, Kyle, 9, and Zack, 6.

Stephen Colbert on 'MTP': "I would consider Larry Craig for my running mate"

As you probably know, Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, has thrown his hat into the ring and joined the Presidential race. Sunday on Meet the Press, Tim Russert grilled him over issues like running mates, the letter "T," and Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street.

Both Democrats and Republicans should worry. Anyone who can affect the world with his Wikiality, including the elephant article editing affair at Wikipedia --- as well as getting a Hungarian bridge named after him through a campaign on his show --- shows enough popularity to worry about. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Some excerpts from the at times hilarious exchange:
MR. RUSSERT: We know you’re doing it ...

MR. COLBERT: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ... but why are you doing it?

MR. COLBERT: I’m doing it, Tim, because I think our country is facing unprecedented challenges in the future. And I think that the junctures that we face are both critical and unforeseen, and the real challenge is how we will respond to these junctures, be they unprecedented or unforeseen, or, God help us, critical.

...

MR. RUSSERT: You are now Colbert (pronounces it Colbare).

MR. COLBERT: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: “Sesame Street.” There are two characters...

MR. COLBERT: Is this...

MR. RUSSERT: ...Ernie and...

MR. COLBERT: And Bert. Ernie and Bert.

MR. RUSSERT: B-E-R-T.

MR. COLBERT: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: Then why aren’t you Colbert?

MR. COLBERT: Are you saying that I don’t have the right to drop the T in my name? Are you saying that? Last time I checked, this was America. Or does that mean not a thing to you anymore?

MR. RUSSERT: But why did you change your name?

MR. COLBERT: I changed my name because I knew that there were people out there who, who needed T’s.

...

MR. RUSSERT: Would you consider Senator Larry Craig as your running mate?

MR. COLBERT: I would.

MR. RUSSERT: Have you had conversations with him?

MR. COLBERT: Define conversation.

MR. RUSSERT: Have you spoken to him?

MR. COLBERT: No, no.

MR. RUSSERT: Have you met with him? Have you been in the same room together?

MR. COLBERT: Yes. And my...

MR. RUSSERT: And how...

MR. COLBERT: Sorry, my lawyer’s telling me to say no more.

You can see the Netcast here. Also, Colbert comes out of character and you can see that clip, a Web extra with Russert here, including why he won't let his kids watch his show.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Britney Regains Child Visitation Rights

Britney Spears has been granted visitations rights again, after losing them on Wednesday. Reports surfaced on Saturday that Spears had been seen driving with her children, and in fact some photos were posted around the web showing just that --- as well as someone in the front seat with them that appeared to be a court-appointed monitor.

Today her attorney Anne Kiley confirmed that she has regained her visitation rights, though Kiley did not elaborate on just what Spears did to regain those rights.

My question would be, how long before she screws up again? Things have not been going well for Spears, and it seems like her life is always verging on an out-of-control state.

Emu Collision Results in Motorcyclist Death

Yes, you read it correctly. In Edenhope, about 400km west of Melbourne, in Australia, a motorcyclist hit an emu, fell off his bike, and was killed.

The victim has not been IDed but was said to be a 47 year-old Mount Gambia man. The area in which the accident occurred is notorious for wildlife crossings.

It's unclear if the emu survived the accident, but emus can up to two meters in height and weigh between 30 and 45 kilograms (66–100 pounds), so it's possible.

Reason for Child Abuse: "I'm not a morning person"

My guess is he didn't have coffee that morning. On Friday, in Pennsylvania, Juan Arreola, 20, pled guilty to two counts each of endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment and simple assault in regards to his treatment of his girlfriends two-year-old son.

On June 7, while moving into a new apartment with his girlfriend, Arreola kicked her son out of the way, then squeezed the toddler's face, bruising it. On June 10, while watching the boy, he admitted punching him to keep him awake. When the child's mother took him to the hospital later that day, the boy was diagnosed with bleeding around the brain.

The judge asked Arreola about his treatment of children, and Arreola replied: "I was working till midnight. I'm not a morning person."

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14, with a maximum penalty of 20 years.

9/11 Truthers, Slow Security, Force Bill Maher to Take Matters into His Own Hands

On the October 19th episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, protesters disrupted the show ... such are the dangers of live television. In this case, security was very slow to act, and Bill actually got out of his seat to help escort the protesters out personally.

Maher has been taking heat, including protests outside the studio, from the 9/11 Truth movement when he said last month in a New Rules segment that, "Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion have to stop pretending that I'm the one who's being naive."

The 9/11 Truth movement, for those who don't know, believe that "the perceived cover-up and anomalies in the official account can be explained only by the theory that members of the US government planned, carried out, and covered up the attack or deliberately allowed the attacks to take place."

At any rate, these were obviously 9/11 Truthers, based on the comments from the protesters, including "What about Building 7, Bill?"

Watch the video. The action doesn't really take off until about 1 minute into the clip.

Vending Machine Disguise, Artwork, or Both?

It sounds like something out of a spy movie --- a disguise that looks like a vending machine. And that's not all. There are other disguises, such as a backpack that turns into a disguise that looks like fire hydrant.

Such is the report by the New York Times, but they were fooled --- this is really not what it seems. The Times reports this as being designed by "experimental fashion designer" Aya Tsukioka, as clothing designs are intended to reduce the growing anxiety in Japan over street crime. While it's true that despite its low crime rate, worry has been growing in Japan over crime, particularly as amplified by a sensationalistic press (where have we seen that before), that's not the origin of this outfit.

This outfit was really a work of art --- and an award-winning one at that. Artist Aya Tsukioka won an award for this work of art in 2001. Now it's being recycled as a perfect solution to the fear Japan is feeling over a perceived rise in crime.

However, it should be noted, that despite the apparent ridiculousness of this --- it seems to work. When Tsukioka demonstrated it, obviously she drew attention while putting it on, but once fully covered, passersby seemed to not notice her.