Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Tech Profile: Audacity

by Cylinsier

So I've decided to start some traditions as part of my blog posting. The first one is that every Friday, or maybe every other Friday, I will pick a random computer application, browser plugin, website, or something else tech related and give my review on it. Unless I get stupid and forget, I will always make the title of the blog post a live link to the tech subject in question as well so you can go get it if you want; I did so this time so clicking on the title above, "Friday Tech Profile: Audacity," should take you to the website for Audacity where you can download it. As an aside, other regular blogs I'm considering are beer reviews on the weekend and movie or book reviews once on a weekday. I'd love to hear feedback on these ideas or suggestions for others.

So, Audacity. Its an audio recording and editing program and its free. Pretty cool. Since it costs nothing, I shouldn't have to convince anyone who thinks they might need audio recording software to give it a try, but I'll do so anyway. The program isn't especially feature rich compared to other audio editors, but come on, its free. What you can do is record audio from a microphone or what is currently coming out of your computer speakers, or also import existing audio files from wav, mp3, wma and a couple other formats. You then get basic cut and past features so you can resplice audio and some other filters and effects. Again, nothing to spectacular but more than what you paid for it. You're not going to be recording your band with this program, but it gets simply jobs done easily and quickly. Export back out to mp3 or wav. Supports stereo recording and exporting. Very much worth a look and a donation if you feel so generous. Supported by Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, and most Linux distros and Unix.


Performance: B
Features: C-
Price: A+
Compatibility: A Sphere: Related Content

It's not THAT bad

By Ellipses

The Huffington Post has a story up about a recent Daily Kos poll that finds that only 42% of Republicans believe, affirmatively, that Barack Obama was born in the United States.

If you take the inverse of that figure, 58% of Republicans either don't believe, or are not sure whether our president is an American citizen.

This sounds downright incredible... that 58% of one of the two "legitimate" political parties in this country are essentially crazy...

But it's not that bad, really.

Depending on which poll you look at, those that actually identify as "Republican" number somewhere around 20% of registered voters. Of those 20%, 58% are birthertards. The number of birthertards, therefore, is only really about 12% of the registered voter population. That's actually kind of promising. I would have guessed that a much higher percentage of Americans were looney toons. 12% is not bad at all... unless you are a Republican who hopes to have some political relevancy in the next decade... Sphere: Related Content

Get in line

by Cylinsier

An AP story is reporting that immigration reform proponents are becoming impatient with the fact that immigration reform has not yet been addressed by the current administration and are therefore pushing ahead with legislation efforts and increasing lobbying in an attempt to return their issues to the spotlight. That's great and all. I'm a huge proponent of immigration reform myself. Not only do I think its an important issue to address, I think its an issue that cannot be ignored no matter how hard some might try. Its like trying to avoid breathing air. This issue will have its day on the floor.

But to the immigration reformists, have you guys not noticed that there are other things going on? Sorry, but health care and the economy are sort of a priority right now. It seems the me-first instant gratification culture of America has already been adopted by our many new citizens (and make no mistake, just because they many not vote or have ID cards does not mean they do not exist or do not play a role in our economy and culture—they are citizens in a certain way). However, while the status of immigrants in America isn't improving right now, it certainly isn't getting any worse. What is getting worse or at least has the potential to worse if not immediately addressed is the aforementioned sad and embarrassing state of our health care system and the also aforementioned fragile economy. Now, the latter is something that isn't so much a directly addressable issue as it is a result of other factors, one of which is health care, so it will improve as other improvements are made.

Another thing that could help is indeed immigration reform, so I'm certain this issue will not remain on the back burner for long. But all I'm trying to say is we need to look at the priorities of the nation as a whole, not the priorities of certain minority groups which are important, but need to take a back seat, just for now, until the current fiasco is addressed. It may not be addressed until next year. But immigration reform has had to wait for decades now. It can wait another six months. Sphere: Related Content

Conjunction Junction? Welcome to Misinformation Station

By Ellipses

Quoth Paul Krugman:

" At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to "keep your government hands off my Medicare." The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, "wasn’t having any of it."

It’s a funny story — but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation. It’s not just that many Americans don’t understand what President Obama is proposing; many people don’t understand the way American health care works right now. "

And not that this next part is in any way substantively related to the previous quote, but it is in the same vein of "Are you fucking serious?"

Get ready for this conspiracy theory... you ready?

At last night's "Beer Summit," president Obama drank a NON-alcoholic beer, not the Bud Lite that had been reported, in order to maintain the dietary restriction on alcohol as required BY HIS MUSLIM FAITH.

I'm not joking. This has a good chance at growing legs and running. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The further adventures of partisanship

By Cylinsier

In today's episode of "New ways the GOP can shoot themselves in the collective foot," I was startled to read (on NPR's site) that Obama is having trouble with his judicial nominees in the Senate. No, not Sotomayor. The other nominees for openings like district judges, attorneys and executive positions. In all, there are close to 100 vacancies now waiting to be filled. The picks have been made and sent to the floor, they're just not being voted on.

It shouldn't be this hard. We have a political consensus between the executive and legislative branches, so the Congressional Democrats have to share at least some of the blame for this. They have a majority and Obama's picks came in months ago. So what's the hold up? Apparently, Democrats aren't in a rush to push the noms through because they feel they have bigger fish to fry, like healthcare. Fair enough, but surely nobody wins when these important positions are left vacant? We've seen what Congress does when they try to debate healthcare, and that's a whole lot of back and forth and missed deadlines. If you're going to miss them anyway, at least get some other important work done.

The Republicans are still going to be hard pressed to escape the lion's share of the culpability. Its inexplicable because many of the nominees have overwhelming support from Republicans, but they just aren't finishing the job. The alleged reason is payback for Sotomayor, which is disappointing but probably not surprising. Republicans had requested the Sotomayor be voted on in September, but Democrats scheduled it for August. The GOP readily admits that it is blocking as many Obama nominations as possible to retaliate. It seems to fit perfectly into their recently adopted plan to be as petty and unproductive as possible because the voters gave them the smaller ice cream cone. When asked, they justify their actions by saying that the Democratic majority should be able to override them and it is weak if it can't. Draw your own conclusions.

The result of this stall is that serious damage has already been done. For example, some important legal cases have literally dried up and died because the new attorneys that were supposed to be handling them are still waiting for their day on the floor. Despite the increasingly confusing blame game politics on Capitol Hill, I think its pretty hard to see anyone but the GOP as the major culprit here. In referencing yesterday's post on a similar subject, the GOP needs to understand that they don't need to play to their conservative base. They could burn Sarah Palin in effigy and they are still going to get those votes because the neocon voting block would sooner gargle Osama bin Laden's nuts than vote for a Democrat. What the GOP needs to do is take a look at some numbers.

And what better numbers than these: as of 2004, there were 171 million registered voters in the country. Of those, 72 million are Democrats, 55 are Republican and the other 44 are independent or belong to a third party. So what do these numbers tell us? If voters vote straight party affiliation and the independents split evenly, the Democrats win EVERY TIME. So why aren't the Republicans trying to court those important independents? Either they're stubborn or stupid, or more likely both. The Republicans aren't going to win any elections any time soon by following their current course of action. The rest of the nation is not as dumb as they seem to think we are. The Democrats' numbers may be dropping, but they have a long way to go before they catch up to the GOP.

Its time for the Republicans to wake up and smell their own bullshit. I'm not saying surrender your beliefs, but there has to be compromise for the sake of their party. The Democrats don't need compromise, and that is surely frustrating for the GOP. The Democrats have the numbers to push just about anything through eventually. Doesn't mean they will but they can. The GOP is allowing their pride to be the final nail in their coffin. They have a very short window of opportunity to swallow it and start thinking about people and places other than themselves. Sphere: Related Content

Much ado about... well, you know.

By Ellipses

I imagine more and more people will start to receive this email as the law of exponential viral dissemination takes over. So, why don't we take a reasonable approach to these items (assuming there is any validity to it). The asterisked items are from the email. My response is intralinear. Thanks to SSSS for posting this on the OR forum.

• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!

If you are going to mandate something, you should audit outliers to ensure compliance.

• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!

It already is. All finite goods and services are rationed by either price or availability.

• Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)

Great! So we can have a central body that evaluates the efficacy of procedures so that the MOST effective procedures get universal application? Holy fuck, what a novel idea: find what works and then make everyone do it!

• Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.

Somebody places a very high premium on choice. Just fix me when I'm broken. I don't recall ever having a say in what my insurance companies covered. I guess I could have changed insurance companies, for the lowly sum of what? 1,200 bucks a month?

• Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.

Good! They are people, too. They get treated at our hospitals under today's system, also... See yesterday's blog about how much we hate Mexicans.

• Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.

Oh fuck no! I guess I have to put that in my wallet between my driver's license and social security card... Honestly, this is bad? I'll show you bad... take your pants off.

• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.

There goes the problem of people "stealing" services. I guess this ensures that co-pays get paid.

• Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retirees and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)

I'm starting to think that the right doesn't ACTUALLY know what a community organizer is... Anyway, if the whole thing is tax-payer subsidized, then of course it would subsidize unions and community organizers... it would also subsidize priests, carpenters, porn stars, fast food workers, soybean farmers, and beekeepers.

• Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.

And? They have to conform to government rules now, don't they?

• Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)

And? Isn't this one of the ways of expanding coverage? Am I missing the part where you have to piss on a cross and eat an aborted puppy?

• Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens

God forbid the patients would be able to communicate with the doctors! The alternative is what? Just randomly shooting up wetbacks with whatever drugs are left in the bottom of the bottle?

• Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.

If people need signed up, it probably would be a good idea to use organizations that are... oh, I dunno, good at signing people up for stuff? Who would you rather do the signing up?

• Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.

Good, one less thing for old people to worry about. Or, better yet, one less goddamn form for me to fill out for my grandma.

• Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.

Yes, of course... just like the way the post office has anal fucked UPS and Fedex into oblivion.

• Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.

Surely that isn't the verbiage used in the bill. Last I heard, government wages were pretty decent. You're welcome.

• Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.

OK? What part of "Uni-fucking-versal" did you miss?

• Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.

Oh god forbid! I bet some of them are black, too! Anyway, again... universal? Say it slow.

• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll

Only 8%? That dog needs more bite.

• Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll

Smaller dog, smaller bite.

• Page 167: Any individual who doesn’t' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.

I wonder if the healthcare options for that individual would be less than 2.5%? If so, AWESOME! If not, this fine should be higher.

• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).

You mean like we do now?

• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.

So, you just plug them into the same network as the IRS and Social Security Administration? There's a lot of innuendo in this list... there should be more explanation of why this stuff is bad.

• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.

Treat it as a box of fucking girl scout cookies for all I care.

• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."

How will it reduce services? Oh, and No Fucking Duh it would affect seniors and poor people... THAT'S WHO FUCKING USES MEDICAID!

• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)

Yeah, of course... because fucking postal workers get paid the same as senators. This sounds like bullshit, sorry.

• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.

As opposed to an insurance company?

• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.

Ok??? So the entity who funds and runs the system also controls it's productivity?

• Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.

And this is bad because???

• Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!

Don't worry, it's the same as the world you already live in.

• Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.

So I can't go to the hospital when I'm bored and want to talk to that nice old nurse who takes my blood pressure?

• Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.

I'm sure there's more to it than that... maybe like, "if you fuck up and don't fix the guy and he has to come back, then you are penalized for not being an awesome doctor?"

• Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!

It makes my asshole bleed knowing that they are permitted to do this now!

• Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.

Hear that, Washington Hospital?

• Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.

Yes, of course... because anything with the word "community" in it must refer to acorn. Just like anything with the word "child" in it refers to kiddy-porn snuff films. Retard.

• Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.

"Outcome-based measures" sounds a lot like "shit that works."

• Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.

I don't even know what this means.

• Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.

So we are going to cover everyone except for retarded people? That sounds like bullshit. I bet this is false.

• Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).

I hope they hire the same call center that the insurance companies ALREADY FUCKING USE.

• Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?

Anal rape? Dog sodomy? I can ask dumbass questions, too!

• Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.

Or, it appears to be a service that far too few of our elderly currently use.

• Page 425: Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.

Finally! One step closer to a civilized and dignified death.

• Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.

Awe man, you mean it has to be humane? I can't jump off a skyscraper and splat onto 5th avenue? Fucking Nazis!

• Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT .

an ORDER from the GOVERNMENT for DYING people to receive HOSPICE sounds like NOT A bad IDEA to ME. Fucking caps lock.

• Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.

So I can't get a cock enlargement when I'm on life support? Damnit.

• Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.

Just making shit up at this point, aren't we?

• Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.

God forbid we pay people for their services! Again, just because the word "community" is in there, doesn't mean it's ACORN. Is Glen-Meadows retirement COMMUNITY run by ACORN?

• Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.

Sounds more like mental health care is covered... If a medicaid patient get's a colonoscopy, now, does that count as the government intervening in your asshole?

• Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

You were just pissed about mental health services being covered, now you want them to be undefined? Fucking evil bastard!

Oh, and you are welcome. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cleaning up our act

By Cylinsier

Global Warming is the worst thing to happen to the environmental movement. Ever. There, I said it. Some day some number of years ago now, some scientist found evidence that suggested our way of life was going to destroy the climate within 50 or 100 or whatever number of years, and ever since then, its been all down hill. See, what started off as a single battleground for environmentalists has become the only battleground they've been fighting on ever since. This is because anti-environmentalists latched on to this idea, found some scientists of their own who had evidence that suggested global warming was a farce, and then never let the movement go on to other arguments. And now environmentalists and anti-environmentalists are stuck in a merry-go-round clusterfuck and both sides are so bent on convincing everyone that their opinion of the environment is right that they've completely forgotten about everything else.

Is Global Warming real? I don't know and, frankly, I don't care. If its not real, then that means nothing. If its real, then that also means nothing. Whether or not its going to happen, I'll be dead before it does. But that's not the point. Anti-environmentalists aren't going to let this one go because the have the green crowd wrapped up in it and therefore distracted from other things. The longer they can keep their attention focused on an argument they can at least stalemate, the longer they can delay getting into arguments they can't win. So I'm here speaking to all environmentalists: let it go. Time to move on. There are easier battles to be fought and won in this war and they are frankly more important. Whether or not the Earth goes to shit in 100 years is unimportant because its going to shit right now.

There are plenty of reasons to be pro-environment, or green, besides Global Warming. First, there are the immediate health effects, and by immediate I mean happening RIGHT NOW. Not happening right now but we'll see it in 100 years right now, but happening right now oh my fucking god my child is coughing up blood happening right now. Pollution, especially in cities, has been linked to rising rates of illnesses like asthma and dropping IQs. There aren't any scientists with and studies refuting these results like there are with Global Warming. There's just data, and that data says pollution may or may not be melting the ice caps, but it is destroying living children. There are people that will tell you pollution is lower now than it was forty years ago when these types of studies weren't coming up with these results and then they'll come up with some other excuse to explain it away, but they don't have evidence on their side. Even if pollution is better now, its still not good enough. And these types of studies weren't being done back then. There's a difference between these problems not existing forty years ago and us just not knowing how to find them.

There's also the issue, crossing over into the field of energy, of being enslaved to a substance that isn't easy to get or readily available to us in the amounts that we consume on a yearly basis. Our economy is tied to the providers of oil at a level that doesn't really make sense. To be so dependent on foreign products is unhealthy in a totally different way. The only half-assed solution proposed is to tear up our natural habitats looking for supplies that may or may not be their in our own borders but that even the most optimistic supporters admit isn't enough to really help. Its time to replace this drug that America is dependent on with something readily available and clean. And that doesn't mean something that sits in a barrel in a cave waiting to kill anything that touches it either. Something legitimately clean and renewable.

Which brings up another issue, and that is supply. Even if you don't buy into the first two arguments, there is no one claiming that oil and coal will last forever. The debate rages on about how long it will last, but not a single person in their right mind thinks we aren't going to run out eventually. Why wait until an energy crisis hits to switch to something better? I say do it on our own terms.

Look, if you don't want to believe in Global Warming, that's fine. But don't be so stupid as to think that the issue ends there, that there's nothing else to talk about. Global Warming may be false, but there are other real problems to address. So yeah, if you think Global Warming is a farce, I don't blame you. But if you think its a farce and use that as a justification to drive your Hummer all around town and you want to drill our oceans to support your irresponsible behavior, you need to consider some of the other facts that are right in front of your face. If the anti-environmentalists are right and we do it the environmentalists' way, then we wasted some time and money to grow a few more flowers and no one is the wiser. If the environmentalists are right and we do it the anti-environmentalists' way, we all die slow painful deaths. Think about it. What's the reward to taking the anti-environmental risk? What's the risk to shooting for the environmental award? Sphere: Related Content

The power of stupidity

By Cylinsier

In case you missed it, the big debate raging on Capitol Hill right now is healthcare reform. The Democrats want to reform the system by giving people the opportunity to get government coverage. The Republicans want to reform it by not doing a goddamn thing that takes one red cent of their money. Both sides have their merits and bad points. For the Dems, its that people will finally get the chance to go to a doctor's appointment instead of the emergency room for a cold but at the cost of taxpayer dollars. For Republicans, its that you'll be able to keep all you hard earned money so that when you die, you can afford a nicer Condo in Jesus's resorts but at the cost that when Maria falls and twists her ankle cleaning your golf trophies, you'll have to put her down and bury her in the back yard and find a new one. I can see it from both sides.

However, what I find interesting is the apparent lack of common sense running rife in the GOP right now. I could pick any number of subjects to illustrate this...and I probably will over the next few weeks, but healthcare is the most obvious one now. Let's set the stage: the GOP is represented on Capitol Hill about as well as North Korea. In fact, North Korea gets a little more attention because they shoot big hunks of metal out in the water when they are having a temper tantrum. The GOP doesn't have any missiles anymore so all they can do is pout about it. Anyway, you'd think something as humbling as the 2008 elections would catch the attention of conservative politicians everywhere and let them on to the fact that they are obviously doing something wrong. Well, poll numbers suggest that the handful of them left are still doing something wrong, so I guess the light didn't click on.

The hardline conservative voters, regardless of what they say, are going to vote straight R no matter what you do, Republican congressmen and women. You don't need to cater to those nice wealthy folks in the Hamptons because you could piss in their corn flakes and they'd still vote for you. What you need to do is attract NEW BLOOD if you ever want to see office again. So how's that going for you?

The overwhelming majority of Americans agree that something needs to be done about healthcare in our country. They may not agree on what, and they may be steadily losing faith in Obama's plans, but they still agree that something needs to be happening. The GOP has seemingly translated this into "block everymotherfuckingthing that so much as has blue ink on it." Which they can't do because they don't have the votes. But they can sure make asses of themselves trying.

On healthcare specifically, we have a nation of voters asking for change and a Democratic majority bickering among themselves but at least pretending to look like they are trying to appease those voters. Then, speaking on behalf of the GOP, we have John De Mint claiming the Repubs must defeat this healthcare bill because it will be Obama's Waterloo. Um, John...what the fuck are you talking about?

I wasn't watching C-SPAN when Johnny Dangerously said this, but I wish I had been. I can imagine him now, white pants and blue coat on, saber in hand, ornate nautical hat titled back to accentuate his confused empty eyes, rallying the troops on the deck of...oh wait, Congress isn't a regimen of troops about to go to war. That's right, its a legislating body established to create law for the good of the nation. Now I understand that the GOP gets their cues on what's good for the nation from Revelations and Fox News, but I'm pretty sure you aren't going to win a fight when you don't even have enough people to filibuster. So perhaps diplomacy is in order for a change? I know the GOP congressfolks haven't been familiar with that since Gingrich, but maybe its time to give it a try instead of trying to keep score in some sick imagined game of partisan dodgeball. Remember, GOP, the wealthiest one percent are going to vote for you even if you eat their babies. You don't have to worry about pissing them off because the only thing they hate more than you is the Democrats. You need to worry about sane people and what they think for a change.

Let's take a quick walk around the world of neoconservative political punditry and see what other type of destructive drivel is running through the veins of hardcore GOPers.

Fat-faced hobgoblin Rush Limbaugh doesn't believe that that many Americans are uninsured, preferring to believe his Oxycontin induced fantasies over actual numbers compiled by people. Actually, he just doesn't believe Latinos are human beings, so he takes issue with them being counted. Other than that, he's totally in favor of the current system, which seems to work great to him and is easily manipulate into giving you loads of prescription drugs to get deaf on.

Former beatnik and unrequited lover of Alan Ginsberg, Michael Weiner describes Obama's healthplan as "Soviet." Like, you know, the reds. He then went blathering on about something McCarthyist and got off on some tangent about China. He never actually made a point, he just started yelling that Obama was a communist and a dictator.

Ann Coulter, faux-woman and heinous bitch, began her most recent argument against healthcare reform by claiming that its the government's fault that health care is currently failing. That's interesting since the whole point of the argument is that the private system isn't run by the government; that's what makes it private. She then claims that most of the uninsured choose to be uninsured because they don't want to be. Oh, okay. If that's true then they can continue to not be covered under the new system too. She also makes some references to the Soviets. I think they like to do that because all of their listeners and readers were people that lived through that and are easier to scare into docile submission as a result.

Bill O'Reilly hasn't said much on the issue recently because he's been too busy calling 1-800-SEX-TALK and just being a douche in general. Anyway his arguments in the past have been so blatantly inaccurate that they aren't worth dignifying with analysis.

So that's where the GOP stands in terms of healtcare reform and gaining new support. We have one congressman taking his muskets out of storage and gathering the minutemen for some good old fashioned lines of marching soldiers on the battlefield and then the rest of the far right huddling next to their radios and monitors taking their cues from people who make tons of money force-feeding them bullshit propaganda instead of rallying behind respected figures in their own party. No, the GOP would rather eat their own when they act in anything but totally erratic fashion. Powell is a great example. One of the most liked Republicans in the country...except by his own party.

In the 1980's, we saw one red party self-destruct in Asia. We're witnessing another one doing the same thing within our own borders. Healthcare reform may indeed be Waterloo, but if it is, the GOP will be playing the roll of Napoleon. Sphere: Related Content

Shatner Does Palin (07/27/09)

Sphere: Related Content

Border-line Ridiculous

By Ellipses

Opponents of health care reform often cite the fact that some Canadians come to the U.S. to take advantage of our fantabulous health care system. Those same opponents would literally shit a fork if you even mentioned a universal coverage policy that would include illegal aliens. Fuck, you might as well suggest putting a sombrero on the Statue of Liberty!

So, why is it that when Pierre comes to the U.S. for 6 hours to get cataract surgery, it is a testament to the greatness of our system... but when Jorge goes to the emergency room after dropping a pallet of mortar on his feet, it's the greatest travesty since... well... the last travesty that didn't make any fucking sense, either? I mean, really, Jorge actually lives here. He works long, hard hours, for which he is underpaid. He contributes to his local economy and his employer probably pays some semblance of federal tax.

But his seeking care is what's wrong with the greatest health care system on earth... but some French-Canadian who doesn't want to wait 3 weeks for Lasik is proof positive that the current system needs no fixing?

You really don't have to look hard to find latent, but obvious racism just about everywhere, do you?

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


By Ellipses

For the past several months (ok, closer to a year) I have attributed the "birthplace" conspiracy theory to plain ole' ignorance. I can see how sister-fucking rednecks might be confused as to why a true-blue American, black or not, would ever be named Barack Obama. I mean, really... It sounds so "furrin." Hell, I know a black guy named "Tim" and his mother isn't even a white lady from Kansas!

But as the "birther" movement ebbs and flows like the conspicuous snot bubble in the nostril of an Appalachian banjo extraordinaire, I can't help but think that there is more to this story. No, there isn't more to the story of the mountains of evidence which clearly proves that Barack Obama is more American than Panamanian-born John McCain... but more to the motives of the birthers.

A couple of months ago, I watched Chris Rock's HBO special Kill the Messenger, in which Chris gives all us white folk some really priceless advice. I won't ruin it for you, but Chris details exactly when it is appropriate for white people to say the N-word. Partial Spoiler Alert: No, it's not when "they" can't hear you.

Does anyone see a disconnect in the supposition that Obama was born in Kenya? Sure, his father was Kenyan, but the fact that he actually lived in Indonesia would have led me to assume that his place of "furrin" birth would be... Indonesia.

But, of course, water-headed birther adherents would expect an Indonesian to look more like Jon from Jon & Kate than like the people that make their car doors lock. Side note - Jon is Korean, French, and Welsh.

Therefore, I posit that the "birther" story is just a way for the ignorant among us to get around the racism issue. Rather than just huff and puff and call Obama a "N," they think they are being clever in suggesting that he's REALLY not one of us. That way, the issue of his blackness never comes up. Once he's "furrin," it doesn't matter what his race is.

So, let's step out of reality and into the convoluted, but strangely simple world of the birthers.
According to the Birther's Geography of the World Handbook, the world consists of 8 countries.
Those countries are:
Kenya (also called "Africa")
The Middle East

America is the "good" one. Jesus wasn't born here, but this is where he lives. America is always right and can always kick your ass. You are either with us or you're against us. Dead or Alive.

Europe is where socialism, homosexuals, and weakness comes from. America kicked Europe's ass to become a country. In Europe, they kill you when you get too old to wait for years for communist health care.

Kenya (Africa) is where black people come from. Barack Obama is black, so he comes from Kenya and can't be president. Only Americans can be president, and in America, we don't name our kids "Barack Obama." Case Closed.

China is where bad Americans want to send our jobs. China invented electronics and math. America needs to kick China's ass.

The Middle East is where the Iraq is. We liberated the Middle East, but the only way to make sure that they love us is to kill the rest of them. "Them" = Muslims. Muslims come from the Iraq.

Mexico is all lands south of Texas. People who live in Mexico are called "Immigrants." They take all the good jobs and don't pay for health care.

Canada is "not America."

France is also "not America."

Hope that cleared things up for you... now you can save that money you would have spent on a passport because really, there's nothing to see "out there."

You're welcome. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why you should watch the UFL

by Cylinsier

There's a new football league in town. Well, not in your town, probably. But in a couple towns, come October 8th, there's going to be a little extra hitting, a little more catching, and bit more running each week for a couple of months. The United Football League will kick off its inaugural season that day, fielding four WHOLE TEAMS. Okay, so its a baby league, four teams isn't so bad. The cities with teams are Las Vegas (the Locomotives...that's a stupid fucking name), New York (the Sentinels), Orlando (the Tuskers...what is a tusker?) and San Francisco (the motherfucking Rockfish, I shit you not). By the way, google tells me a tusker is a Kenyan beer. Wikipedia claims it is an elephant with tusks, of which there are clearly a large number in Orlando. Urban Dictionary says it is a dude with an erect penis that shows through his pants or shorts who is often seen in bars and clubs full of hot young women grinding and dancing (credit to Gearls). This last definition is my favorite one and seems most appropriate, so we'll proceed on the assumption that the helmet logo of the Orlando team is a barely concealed package in a pair of tight khakis. Besides the aforementioned cities, games are scheduled for LA, Hartford, and possibly Sacramento. LA and Hartford teams are possible should another season follow.

The UFL season is set to a 6 game schedule, so it'll come to an end around Thanksgiving. The television rights went to Versus. So since you won't be able to watch the games live, hopefully their website will have some sort of free or very cheap streaming option. Or maybe you can find a local bar and go a couple hours before the game starts and ask them to turn it on. You're going to need a couple hours because it'll take them that long to stop laughing at your goofy ass.

But the UFL is actually taking a good first couple of steps here. First, they aren't overextending themselves in the first season. They have some interesting names attached to their franchises. Jim Fassel and Denny Green are two of the four head coaches, meaning some interesting scowls and possibly epic locker room meltdowns may be in store. And former Buffalo Bills sometimes-QB J.P. Losman will be leading the Vegas team into battle. The games are scheduled for weekdays mostly so as not to directly compete with the NFL. Most importantly, the UFL is avoiding any and all comparisons with the XFL, which shows they have at least some common sense.

So what does the NFL think of this? Well, some sources say they view the league as direct competition, but others say they are looking to the UFL as a developmental league. The UFL themselves insist they are a top tier pro league, but their actions indicate that they may be comfortable in the developmental roll; each current UFL team is unofficially tied to a pair of NFL divisions. Said team then gets first dibs on any players cut from teams in those divisions who give up looking for jobs with other NFL franchises. So getting scrubbed from Panthers might mean you end up with an erection...or in other words, a member of the Tuskers. Its already looking like a a farm team relationship to me, and really what's not to like about having player development options? Assuming the UFL gets in gear, it might be nice to take that rookie RB sitting on the bench and get him some playing time to see if he's really going to cut the mustard. That way when your starter blows a knee out in week 11, you'll know whether to give the rookie a go or go grab that free agent or trade fodder without having to take a guess.

But that's not why you should watch the UFL. I'm going to tell you why you should watch the UFL: to give the NFL a heads up.

The timing of this league is pretty fortunate for football fans. If you haven't been keeping up, the NFL is nearing the end of its current collective bargaining agreement. Now there's no doubt in my mind a new one would be in the pipe right now if Gene Upshaw, RIP, hadn't died unexpectedly. That threw a big monkey wrench into the works and what we're looking at as a result is an uncapped year in 2010 (which doesn't necessarily mean what you might think because while there is no upper limit to spending, there is no lower limit either and free agency will become more heavily restricted), and a possible lockout in the 2011 season. That's football!

Except now, there might still be football!

I can see the light bulbs coming on. That's right, do your part to keep the UFL alive and kicking for a couple seasons, and you may just get yourself a ticket out of sports hell in 2011. Worst case scenario, we'll still be watching football then. Maybe not NFL, but something competitive on the gridiron. Best case...well, before the UFL, the NFL lockout was a matter of how long the league can wait out the players. If the players call the league's bluff, the league doesn't give a shit; they have a deal where they get paid millions by DirectTV regardless of whether or not a game airs. That's right, their cash is already guaranteed. TV is the majority of the league's income, so they're basically set through 2014 no matter what. The players get shafted of course, but stupider things have happened, and while a lockout is pretty far-fetched, you never know when a union is involved. But something tells me another league out there snatching up hungry fans isn't going to sit well with the NFL if they aren't putting their product out there ever week to compete.

So is it really that hard to put a bit of your time this fall into helping a new league takes its first steps? We're only talking six weeks, a few hours one weeknight each week. The result is that every one of you that catches a game is sending a little message to the NFL, and that message is lockouts are bad for business. Sphere: Related Content

Palin works so hard she finishes her gubernatorial term early, while Dobbs gets a free pass from CNN to be a ‘tard

By Ellipses

Alaska managed to pass its painful kidney stone known as “Sarah Palin” this weekend, and if past trends are indicative of future performance, she should be promptly flushed out into the wild blue yonder of sickening over-exposure in the run-up to the 2012 election. Taking her place is 46 year old Sean Parnell, who seems woefully underprepared to pilot the great state of Alaska. Consider these dismal stats:

Parnell has an elitists’ law degree in addition to his bachelors, but he only went to 2, count them two, colleges in order to obtain them. Clearly, he is in no position to fill the scholastic vacuum left by FSU Palin – “Five School Undergrad.”

Parnell worked as a state representative for Alaska, followed by a stint as state senator, before spending a spell with oil and gas lobbying firm Patton Boggs. Conspicuously absent from his resume is his duties as “Russia Watcher.” Is Alaska vulnerable? Is Parnell S.O.S. (Soft on Soviets)?

After losing a congressional race to Don Young by a margin of 304 votes, Parnell opted out of two opportunities. First, he declined to force a recount, saying that his chances of winning were too small to justify the expense. Then, he decided not to run against indicted senator Ted Stevens. A real Pitbull would have forced a recount while simultaneously running for the U.S. senate.

Clearly, Sean Parnell is no Sarah Palin.

In other “Fuck me with a pommel horse” news, Lou Dobbs apparently has the green light to put forth batshit-crazy allegations as it is “his editorial decision to make.”

Apparently, the Southern Poverty Law Center sends a letter to CNN saying “What the fuck, yo?” regarding Lou Dobbs’ utterance on his radio program that Obama has a “documentation problem” and then, like a typical racist white guy, suggests, without finishing the thought, that Obama is “undocumented,” which of course is intended to play on the general disdain that a certain segment of our population has for “furriners.”
(In case you missed it, “typical racist white guy” is intended to be ironic)

CNN president Jon Klein, in an interview with Greg Sargent, said that "We respect our viewers enough to present them the facts and let them make up their own minds," he said, adding that what Dobbs does is "his editorial decision to make."

Holy shitballs Batman! I wish I had that kind of leeway at work! Would it be wrong of me to put forth the fact that Lou Dobbs has not provided any documentation or other evidence to refute the allegation that he frequently dines on par-boiled puppies in a renown gay bar in Tijuana ?

Palin/Dobbs 2012! Sphere: Related Content

Credit where credit is due

by Cylinser

There's something you're going to figure out about me eventually, so best to get it out of the way now. I'm an information junkie. Some people sky dive and hang glide. Others have unprotected sex with multiple dubious partners while their wife thinks they are closing a business deal. Some people cash their paycheck and spend it on black jack. Some push dirty hypodermic needles into their veins and inject dangerous and highly addictive narcotics into their bloodstreams. And every now and then, one takes over a country and starts and international crisis. Me? I get high on information. Not a day goes by that I haven't been on, C-SPAN and wikipedia multiple times. Also, I listen to NPR a lot. Its the latter that I'll be talking about today.

Over the weekend while taking a long out of town trip, I'm naturally listening to NPR news when they get to a story on credit card fees, specifically the fees that merchants pay to accept credit card purchases. Now I don't carry cash on me. I prefer to pay for everything with plastic because its more convenient for me, credit card theft is easier to protect against than a cash grab, and in general I tend to think of money as dirty because it has absorbed the blood and sweat of thousands of unidentified and likely highly infectious people you've never seen before. But this story made a compelling enough argument that I'm thinking of trying to transition back to cash, at least for a while.

You see, merchants are forced to pay a fee to all the major credit card companies to be able to accept payments from their card carriers. Apparently, debit cards also carry a fee, somewhat smaller but still present, which I didn't know. It seems twice a year these companies get together and arbitrarily determine what fee they will all agree to use until the next time they meet, with maybe some slight variation from company to company. But basically, they stay on the same page with each other to ensure that no one is offering a significantly better deal. These fees typically fall somewhere between one and two percent, but can be as a high as four.

So? Well, its more serious than you think. According to the story, based on the current economy, the cost of restocking, paying employee salaries and benefits, bills, etc., your typical franchise or local mom and pop corner store is going to take home about $2 on ever $100 taken in. That's right, $2. For the no-math club out there, that's two percent. Now back to that fee, which tends to be at our above one percent. Suddenly, your penny-on-the-dollar credit fee becomes fifty percent of your take home...or more...maybe even enough to put you in the red. Not so small anymore, is it?

The point of the NPR story was that a lot of businesses in a certain area (sorry, can't remember specifically where) were considering asking consumers to boycott using credit cards for a certain amount of time to get the credit card companies' attention. When I first heard that, I was taken aback. You mean I have to use cash?! GASP! But I thought about it...and that's not really so bad. I could easily pay cash for a lot of things I used plastic on if I just make a point to remember to have some on me. But how many other people are going to have the same reaction I initially had and never get beyond that? Probably a lot. But I thought of a more effective idea.

Why don't these companies find a way to pass that charge on to the consumer? I don't know if there are any laws in place that prevent marking up credit card purchases...probably are, but what about a sale? Pay with cash and save X amount of dollars on all goods! Think about it. I walk up to you and say, "hey, merchant fees for credit cards are bullshit, pay with cash!" You push me into the gutter and mutter something about alcoholics in public. But what if you walk into the store and they say, "hey, buy that carton of milk with cash and we'll cut the price by 10 cents!" Hmm, now its interesting.

Look, these credit card companies don't need the income from this fee. Credit card companies make major bank off of their card holders' unpaid bills. In fact, that's probably where the majority if their cash comes from. People who use their card sparingly and pay their bill in full every month are of no use to them, but the big group of people that have big bills every month that are never paid in full and are constantly accruing interest are their bread and butter. Some companies also make money through monthly fees associated with simply having a card, but most of those disappeared when people decided they didn't want to pay that anymore, and indication that enough people can force the credit card companies to alter their business methods if they want to.

There's probably at least a few of you out there who notice the potentially fatal flaw in this effort, and that is a large number of people in this country rely heavily on their credit cards to make ends meet. Some of them are poor financial planners but just as many are probably barely making enough to feed their family and are only keeping up by falling back onto a credit card. I don't have numbers, but clearly the effectiveness of this plan would depend on the number of people that fall into this group. And its a tough think to accept, but really the bigger that group is, the better for the rest of us. Credit card companies are companies after all and they do need to make money to stay afloat. In that sense, we need a steady supply of people who can't polish off their bill every month but who are paying at least some of it every month at the same time, or we all lose our credit cards.

But I've gotten off the point. The point is that, however you slice it, the current situation of credit fees on merchants is going to cause some serious problems in the near future if it isn't dealt with. Credit card fees for merchants are threatening to put a lot of people out of business, but the alternative is to stop accepting credit cards...and see your clientele drop to zero. Some of these small businesses are really between a rock and a hard place. The solution for them is to see more cash purchases and less plastic without refusing credit-only customers.

As I said above, I would be in favor of them finding creative ways to pass that credit fee on to the consumer because I can afford it, but I don't know how much of their other clientele can't and how many of them would be drive to competitors as a result. Still, in the mean time, there's no question that every cash purchase is more favorable to the merchant than a credit purchase, so I'll be making an effort to have some green on me when I shop local or locally owned from now on. If you can manage that, I would strongly encourage you to do it to...unless you like seeing a Starbucks on every corner instead of your local coffee shop. And who knows, if enough of us do it, maybe the credit card companies will decide they don't need that fee after all? Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm a Criminal

See Dick type. High, my name is Dick Mace. Or at least that is what a few college roommates would call me when I was being a drunken asshole. Contributing to some faggy blog has been a dream of mine since I was just a little kid. I remember it like it was yesterday… striking out in kickball… and realizing that I’m destined to vicariously live my life through create-a-player versions of myself on sports video games. I’d like to thank ellipses for inviting me to create-a-player on this blog. There is no doubt that I will come up short of his standards of being “brilliant, witty, and all-around awesome”.

Overall, I’m a pretty easy going guy. I’m talking Lebowski style easy going….like I really don’t give a fuck about anything. But in bi-polar fashion, I tend to snap and get really worked up about the few things that I’m passionate about. This week, one of the issues that I’m passionate about came to the forefront of the headlines once again. So enough of the introduction, and on to my first faggy blog post.

This past week I stumbled upon the headline, “$1 billion in marijuana seized in California”. The legalization of marijuana, or at the least, the decriminalization of marijuana is an issue very close to me. As a child, I watched first hand the medicinal greatness that marijuana has for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. As an adult, I’ve been a “victim” of the federal government’s stance on marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Ok, ok, so I really shouldn’t be playing the victim card. Getting stoned is my preference over getting drunk or enjoying a relaxing cigarette. It’s just shitty that the least addictive and least harmful of the substances happens to be the one that is illegal. Anyway, my first reaction is, “ONE FUCKING BILLION???!!!” It turns out that the drug task force divides the amount of marijuana confiscated into grams. A gram on the street goes for $20. So $1B is figured out as if these growers are divvying up their product into grams – which would only take thirty years to sell. The final street value was estimated at $1.26 billion.

Reading further into the story, I discovered that the 82 arrested growing these crops are illegal Mexicans with ties to drug cartels. Suddenly I found myself on the side of the authorities. Especially since these Mexicans were wielding automatic weapons. Then the comment came from drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, whose own son is in a Florida jail stemming from marijuana related charges. Czar Kerlikowske states that “legalization is not in the Presidents vocabulary, and it’s not in mine.” Then the really uninformed statement came, “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.”

Gil, ol’ Gilly boy, come on now. You’re a czar not a doctor. It’s truly amazing to me that our government’s word is louder than those who are actually in the medical profession. I challenge you to find me a doctor who will go on record saying that pot has no medicinal benefit. Being a Schedule I substance says just that:
1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

This is the same classification as heroin. Fucking heroin!

I could ramble on for hours about the lobbying from big drug companies, cigarette manufacturers, and even breweries like Anheuser-Busch. Who pay out the largest bribes – excuse me, campaign contributions - to our wonderful government leaders. These industries would all take a decent hit if pot was to be legalized. So lets keep allowing our government to tell our country’s brightest doctors and scientists what has, and what doesn’t have medicinal purposes. Drug company bribes go a lot further than scientific proof, and they always will.

My first successful faggy blog. And nobody tried to rape my asshole. Phew!
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 24, 2009

Social Networking and Parenting

by Cylinsier

So I'm having a discussion with the wife and we get to talking about kids and what they should and shouldn't be allowed to do at home as opposed to in public. Specifically, we were talking about how we don't give a shit if they say shit like shit around us, but that we'll have to get them to understand that you have to temper your language out in the public sphere.

From there, the discussion expands into what they will and will not be doing out in public without us knowing. Which I recognize is not a problem unique to us but rather the ultimate question any parent worth their weight in aluminum in the history of ever has probably contemplated at some point. But it occurred to me that parents with kids from high school and down right now (and let's face it, once the kids go off to college, they aren't really under your control anymore anyway) may have a much easier time keeping tabs on their kids than any generation before.

Consider the times we live in. The concept of privacy is vastly different for the kids growing up right now than it has been ever before. We have at out fingertips sites like Facebook and Twitter, cell phones that call, text, and shoot video, Youtube available to use for free to anyone who has a video camera, and blogs to talk about whatever we want to whoever will listen. All this amounts to one thing: wherever you go, whatever you do, someone is always watching. And kids these days seem to want it that way.

Parents out there are probably thinking, "Must keep kids away from technology for as long as possible!" Certainly, you don't want seven year old Cindy out there with a MySpace page ripe for perusing by any anonymous pervert, and there are a lot. But when they get a little older, start learning about stuff in school that you don't want them to learn about, and start experiencing those raging hormones...maybe some of these sites aren't such a bad idea?

Consider the role models for our youth today. I'm going to reference one in particular and compare her to someone from our parents (or maybe grandparents) youth. Disney starlet Vanessa Hudgens versus Disney starlet Annette Funicello. Hudgens, as most of you are probably already aware, is the star of the massively popular teen film series "High School Musical." Around the time the second movie of the trilogy was popular, she had an experience which has become all to familiar to young female celebrities in her age group. She had naked pictures of her show up on the web. Disney's reaction was basically to forgive her and she went on to star in the third film and remain a major role model for kids. I wonder what would have happened if Annette had done the same thing? Of course the internet didn't exist back then, but I mean what if racy photos of her had shown up in tabloids? You think she would have stayed on Disney shows?

The point is that the internet has given us all the tools to be uninhibited for better or for worse, but this is a double edged sword. Teenagers like to be uninhibited anyway, but the change that has affected them the most is the seemingly lax attitude towards a lack of public inhibition. We now live in a world where a sex tape does not end your career, it makes it. See Paris Hilton. The bright side for parents is your teenagers were going to potentially make stupid choices anyway. That's what hormones make you do. But now you have tools at YOUR disposal to at least know when and what they did!

What I'm getting at is this: when your kid hits that age, maybe you should go out and get him or her a cell, or set up a Facebook page or let him or her Twitter...with the caveat that you get to friend them or follow them! Kids see Hudgens or Hilton showing their bodies to the entire world now; they may be surprisingly less apprehensive about letting their parents friend them than you think. And then, when your daughter posts her breasts on Johnny from down the street's blog...well, at least you'll know its time to buy her a box of condoms, right? Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Windows Vista SP3...I mean Windows 7

by Cylinsier

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that the code for Windows 7 had been finalized and that they are on schedule for their October 22 launch. And everywhere, the Vista haters rejoiced...or something.

The claims of improvements over Microsoft's much maligned XP successor include improvements to speed, appearance, performance and compatibility. Now we'll get to those in a second, but I have a bone to pick here.

Let me set the stage for you first. I am what you would call a "power user." My home PC is built from scratch. I purchased a case, motherboard, video card, ram, hard drive, etc. etc. and screwed my machinery together myself and then installed all my own software. Why did I do this? Well, besides being a geek, my reasoning was that I could save a little money, get exactly what I wanted in my machine and avoid all the useless junk that computer manufactures install on your computer that you don't need and will never use. When it came time to pick an operating system, I chose Windows Vista Ultimate 64. This was several months after all the negative reviews of the system had been out, but I figured that the reviews were just a result of people being apprehensive towards change and basically not knowing how to use a computer as well as they thought and that after a year or so, people would soften to the OS and in another 6 or 7 years, we'd be having the same fit over the next big step. And guess what? I was right.

Well, almost.

See, people got so bent out of shape over being too lazy to learn (and by learn I mean stop being whiny bitches) Windows Vista that Microsoft folded to their whims and moved up production of the next Windows. All of a sudden, Vista appears to have been stuck with the stigma of being the next Windows ME instead of the Next XP as it was supposed to be. And I don't blame Microsoft for this; it was the smart move on their part. What do you do when the consumer doesn't like the product? Well you don't keep trying to force it to them, that's for sure. Microsoft did the only thing they could. They moved on.

But what about the few of us, and I can't be the only one, that weren't Vista retarded? Look, Vista isn't perfect and I do understand some of the negative reaction. For one, Vista was built to take advantage of the 64-bit architecture and then butchered into a 32-bit version for those who didn't want to commit to a 64-bit system. The 32-bit version doesn't really get the job done. On the other side of the coin, the 64-bit version, which works like a dream by the way, does have the occasional compatibility issue (much rarer than its made out to be, though). This is more a result of the architecture and not so much the OS itself, and 64-bit IS the future, so everyone needs to get used to that now. But the point is, Vista is not that bad an OS. In fact, I've been using it for over a year now and I think its fantastic.

Let's take a look at some of the claims of improvement that Windows 7 promises.

Microsoft freely admits that 7 is built on Vista's skeleton. However, they tout improved visual features that make it easier to handle your desktop. That's fine. In fact, that should be expected from each new incarnation of an OS. But Vista wasn't confusing to look at. To use? Maybe, if you aren't willing to learn anything new. But to look at? No, Vista was visually an easy system to observe. If there are still a lot of you out there using XP that think 7 is going to magically return many of the interaction traits that Vista took from you, you have another thing coming. Software changes and you have to adapt. This is how things get better.

Microsoft also claims quicker startups and shutdowns. This is one I can appreciate. Vista is a slow beast sometimes, but I just attributed that to the power. 64-bit systems have been slower since XP so I knew what I was getting into.

Really, there isn't much else that is supposed to be drastically improved. Things are going to be different from Vista, but that doesn't mean the same as XP. However, Microsoft has wisely predicted that people will forget all about the missing XP features. They will only be happy that its not Vista. But the thing is, it IS Vista, just with a bow on its head like Malibu Stacey in that old Simpsons episode.

The reason I can tell you this is because I've run an RC of 7 on my machine. Like I said, computer geek. I managed to snag one of Microsoft's demo copies and gave the thing a run and I'm telling you right now, Microsoft is selling you Vista with a new name and a bow. And frankly, good for them. That's what they should be doing because the Vista backlash is one big self-driven disappointment. Really, the only thing that's wrong with Vista is that its Vista. So Microsoft is changing the name, a couple colors, and doing a tweak and reselling it. You will buy it. You will like it because its not Vista. But just be aware, you are basically paying the price for a full OS and getting a Service Pack.

Now as long as we're all happy, who cares, right? Well, what about the few of us who did get into Vista, did recognize its positive traits, and are now faced with watching the OS we supported and genuinely liked go extinct way before its time? I hope Microsoft will consider us in its pricing of this version of Windows. All I'm asking is for a little thank-you to those of us that supported Vista by offering a reduced price upgrade. Considering how few of us there are that apparently liked Vista, that shouldn't set them back too much. As for the rest of you, grab 7 when it comes out if you are ready to upgrade and enjoy it, but just remember in the back of your head that Microsoft is turning the backlash of Vista into a highly lucrative rebound move, and you Vista haters have no one to blame but yourselves. Sphere: Related Content

Bullshit Sandwich

By Ellipses

The latest spin from the right on the topic of health care is that, surprise, we don’t ACTUALLY have a health insurance problem. That’s right, America. All this time, you have been fooled into thinking that there are hordes of uninsured people out there. Luckily, our friends on the stern side of the political spectrum have come up with a simple mathematical formula to disseminate the truth about America’s uninsured.


Now, I understand that this should need no explanation because it’s Republican Math; you know, like

Adam & Eve + 6,000 years = Today, but I will, nonetheless, go through this step-by-step.

“10.” This represents the number (in millions) of uninsured illegal aliens we have. Now, this presents a big cross-platform opportunity for the GOP. First, you can shoot down health care because we wouldn’t want to legitimize a bunch of brown people by expressly and intentionally covering their medical needs with a national health plan. Second, if we can somehow figure out how to know that a wetback is an illegal wetback instead of just a really tan guy with an accent, then we turn them away and save all the good health care for good old regular Amurkins. That leads to a third issue, which is the stimulation of the economy through the need for this Gaydar for Mexicans. Also, as the illegal population dies off from common illness and disease, that’s 10 million good, blue-collar jobs that will be available for God-fearin’ legal Americans. You know, cleaning shit houses and picking ‘maters. Or, as I’m sure Jeff Sessions would say “Black People Jobs.” On a tertiary level, this solves the welfare problem, too, because it should be EASY for a single black woman to support her kids on the salary of a Honduran

(read: Mexican) maid.

“15.” This represents the number (in millions) of prosperous, happy-go-lucky folks who say “Health Insurance? I don’t need no stinkin’ health insurance!” These are twenty-somethings who treat their bum knees and meningitis with some good old-fashioned hell-raisin’ and skirt-chasin’. These are also rational, single men who have figured out that their regular health care bills (sans emergency life or death stuff) are less than what their premiums would be, so they have made a sound business decision, free of Worshintin’ Bureaucrats, to forgo formal coverage. All of these people in this group make between 50 and 100,000 a year and they are the independent streaked backbone of America (as well as accounting for 30% of syphilis cases).

“15.” This represents the number (in millions) of people who qualify for an existing government health care coverage plan, but just don’t take advantage of it. These people are poor enough, old enough, special-needsy enough, or just black enough (again, according to Jeff Sessions) to qualify for existing French Health Care. But they are also too stupid to go get them some. And you know what Jesus said, “If you don’t want to help yourself, you can go die in the street with the Mexicans.”

“10.” This represents the number (in millions) of people who actually don’t have access to affordable health insurance and don’t qualify for a government program. You see, America, there are only FIVE PITTSBURGH’S worth of people who are a broken foot away from losing everything they have and resorting to back-alley tug jobs to buy Ramen for their kids. The liberals talk like our hordes of uninsured are a cancer on our society, when in reality, it’s merely an unsightly AIDS scab that will go away in time (like the Mexicans). Certainly, we don’t want to change the best health care system in the world (you know, the one that costs twice as much and gets you dead 3-5 years quicker than other developed nations) for a measly TEN MILLION legitimately uncovered people! I mean, let’s look at it a different way. If you took those ten million people, and represented them in seconds… one person = one second… all of them together would only add up to 4 months worth of time! Hell, that doesn’t even get you to the 4th of July, America!

So, let’s do the Republican Math. 40 million people don’t have coverage, and rightly so, because they are either Young, Dumb, or Mexican. And 10 million people don’t have coverage because of Barack Obama is a Muslim. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Identifying Bias

By Ellipses

Scott Beveridge’s article on the Elrama power plant in the July 17 Observer-Reporter can be determined to have a distinct liberal bias. Beveridge’s article exaggerates the impact of consumers’ choices of energy efficient products, ignores obvious elements of the supply-demand dynamic, and paints the plant operators with a deceptively defeatist brush to minimize their inherent influence in the broader matter of domestic energy policy.

The article opens with Beveridge’s assertion that the Elrama plant is “operating at a bare minimum because of increased competition and smarter electricity consumers.Beveridge goes on to quote Benny Ethridge, the plant manager, in a way to suggest that the plant’s operating at 12% of capacity is due to compact florescent light bulbs and efficient appliances.

The demand for coal power is affected every time someone replaces a

traditional light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb or an old home

appliance with a new energy-efficient one, Ethridge said.”

Either Etherage is being deceptive in his disclosure of the reason that his plant is operating 88% below it’s capacity, or he is not particularly adept at accurately retracing cause-effect sequences. While replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with compact florescent lighting and upgrading appliances can have a marked effect on a household’s electricity usage, it has virtually no impact compared to a decades long population exodus from a region, both in individual citizens departing, and heavy industry and commercial development relocating. All of the energy star refrigerators and curly-cue light bulbs in the world aren’t going to compensate for the loss of the factories and mills that have closed down in the Monongahela Valley in the past 30 years.

How is that, though, a liberal perspective on the story? In going forward, we must generalize a couple of viewpoints and accept some premises as self-evident. First, we should assume that the environmental movement and primarily environmental concerns are the dominion of the left. We should also assume that the agenda of the left is to promote energy-efficient alternatives as equal substitutes for existing technology, and to portray the technology of yesteryear as woefully inefficient, dirty, and irresponsible.

By asserting that this power plant is operating at only 12% of its capacity because of newfangled light bulbs and new appliances, the message is clear: “New technology is devastatingly efficient and the path to a greener future is as easily traversed as replacing your light bulbs.”

Furthermore, Beveridge portrays the old technology in a way that suggests pity or a condescendingly patronizing attitude toward the plant operators. The plant is operating at such a reduced capacity that it isn’t even enough to require their half-century old pollution scrubbers to work up to today’s standards. So, for the few hours a week that it’s turbines limp to life, it belches soot and smoke, not unlike that racist, though elderly relative that is tolerated despite their anti-Semitic rants, odor, lack of control over bodily functions, and general unpleasantness because, quite frankly, they are old and nearly dead anyway.

Ethridge is quoted again as saying that the plant is “trying to compete as best as possible." Any sympathies for the energy industry can be attributed either to false pity for an industry that the left is all too quick to cheer the demise of, or to the author’s penchant for romanticizing the coal-fueled Burghs and Vales of Southwestern Pennsylvania in a sort of self-deprecating nostalgia for the age of blissful ignorance and self-righteous, blue collar arrogance that is present in every run down hole-in-the-wall mill bar along America’s Rust Belt.

The article ends with a pair of quotes that both appear to include typos. The first quote is attributed to Kurt Miller, resident of neighboring West Elizabeth:

"It let loose a load noise," Miller said. "Within a minute, it was

putting out pretty black smoke."

I am not familiar enough with power plants to know whether there is such thing as a “load” noise, or if I should assume that the noise that was “let loose” was, in fact, “loud.”

Also, there is some ambiguity as to whether the smoke was extraordinarily black (pretty black), or if the sight of smoke pouring forth from the plant is, to the valley folk, a beautiful sight (PRETTY black smoke). In context, the message is clearly the former, but the haphazard construction of the ending of this article suggests either an extraordinarily busy writing schedule (entirely possible) or perhaps an inability to maintain a consistently attentive connection to the demise of a power plant, a monolithic symbol of America’s industrial, fossil fuel-fueled era of false progress and faux prosperity.

The final quote contains a typo that may be a subliminal nod to the biases held by the author, and perhaps even of the editing staff:

"We have done everything we can to reduce our operating costs, lower

emissions and reduce efficiency," Ethridge said.

Certainly, the plant operator did not intend to suggest that his staff has done everything to reduce efficiency, but perhaps his failure to achieve the first two items in the list had a sub-conscious effect of Mr. Beveridge’s assumptions about the third. And since people generally bring their biases with them to an article, it would not be surprising for that misstatement to slip by an editor who fully expects power plant operators to not work in the best interests of the environment.

This is not intended to disparage Scott Beveridge at all. He is, after all, a human maker (in the Platonic sense), with human biases and human failings (depending on your orientation). But the point is that bias exists in each and every one of us. Some industries attract certain types of people. Media tends to attract people with pronounced biases, and individual organizations tend to attract people of similar bias. Therefore, media will contain more profound bias than, say, retail sales. Individual media outlets will come down firmly on the left or the right. The bias is systemic. It starts at the top, and trickles down to the interns. It is disingenuous to say that individuals can be relied upon to set those biases aside and report evenhandedly. Even if the production staff is capable of doing that, the fact that someone must choose what is news and what is not on a particular day allows for bias to percolate through the content that is chosen for submission to the public. Perhaps the public would be better served if entities would be upfront about their biases and then allow their product to compete honestly. Also, in regard to the subject matter of this essay, it should be noted that Beveridge’s article is not necessarily a “news” story. It doesn’t report on an event, such as a car crash or the aftereffects of a storm, but rather it speaks to the state of our region. It could have been written last week, today, or a week from now. In material that actually relates a record of events, it would certainly be less likely for one to find bias in the reporting of a car accident, though a good critic should be able to tease out fibers of the reporter from the cloth of the story. What material like this does, though, is cast a tint on the more subjective items in the news cycle. If a page contains 3 completely unbiased stories, 2 with this level of bias, and 1 that swings the other way, it appears as if that particular page leans more markedly in one direction that what it really does. The stain of bias bleeds into other content that, on their own, would not appear to have a political orientation.

To read Scott Beveridge's story, click the title of this post. Sphere: Related Content

Pi Approximation Day

By Cylinsier

In case you didn't know, today is Pi Approximation Day, so named because its July 22nd, 22/7, which is also Archimedes' popular approximation of Pi as a fraction. How does one celebrate π day? Typically by eating Pi, er, pie and talking about numbers. I know you're all itching to get into numbers with each other, but have a slice of pie if you get the chance. I prefer apple myself. 3.1415926535897932384626433832795… Sphere: Related Content

Pash is Posh

By Cylinsier

Pash is an indie rock band based in Washington DC, one of the major hot scenes for good music that you never hear on the radio...because its too good! For the record, the other top scenes are Seattle, New York, LA, and i'll give a shout out to El Paso for At the Drive-In.

Pash has a lot of things going for it. First, the vocals are handled by a woman with a great voice, which is always a win for me. Their songs range in mood from pop-punk to somber alt rock. They're a lot more listener friendly than some of the more underground stuff, so if you want to hear stuff that you aren't hearing but you're weary of being screamed at or challenged by crazy time signatures and keys, Pash is a good place to start.

Follow the title of this post to link to their myspace and give "the Best Gun" a listen. If you are feeling more daring, add them to your Pandora stations, then keep an eye out for the tracks "Joyce Kilmer" "Palindrome" and "Kingwood," all among the best songs of the last few years even though you've never heard them before. Sphere: Related Content

HP6 is W00t!

By Cylinsier

So, I've been invited to participate in the blog here and, obviously, I accepted. Its possible that you know me as Abomb! Its also possible that you just stopped reading this. If not, thanks, I guess.

Anyway, when I was invited to post on this blog as an author, I thought to myself, "hey, cool!" Then, after I agreed, I started to get a little nervous. What can I talk about that will interest other people? Do I have anything to say that anyone else cares about? What if I total ruin the mood of the blog? I decided that I had to come up with something to talk about in my first post that would be non-confrontational and pleasant, so as not to immediately alienate everyone. I decided on a movie review.

But then the pressure was really on! What movie can I review to let everyone here know I am a a cool counter-culture philosopher? Then it came to me...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out last week and I saw it with the wife and sis. I also have read all the books (killed em off over a week in the summer a couple years back right after the last one came out; me not being the type to wait many years for collective parts of a story). So, for those of you who don't know anything about Harry Potter...are you in the Taliban or something? Do you live in a cave? Go google it.

HP6 (as it will be called from this point on) picks up immediately where HP5 left off. A bruised and battered Potter leaves the Ministry of Magic as the press looks on. We then watch a few shots of the summer passing and the dark lord's evil forces wreaking havok on magic users and the rest of us alike. Dark times and whatnot. Finally, we come around to Harry again, sitting in a subway station hitting on some chick, which should be the tipoff for those of you following along with my review on your iPhone or Blackberry as you watch the movie (or you can NOT be that person and turn your shit off); this whole episode of Potter is as much about teenage angst and hormones as it is about anything having to do with wizards and dark magic. Probably 90% of the movie is teenagers trying to get laid, which actually makes it quite accessible to those of you who drowned your inner child in the bath tube of your adult lives long ago.

I want to interject at this point that HP author JK Rowling revealed that she wrote the character of Dumbledore, Harry's mentor and your friendly neighborhood old fart, as being gay. Not that I've told you that, you won't be able to not see it in his every gesture. And I find amusement in knowing that. You two Christians in the back row who were overlooking the whole witchcraft thing and came to watch anyway...yeah, you can leave now.

So Dumbledore whisks Harry away to some random shack where they turn a chair into a man and then convince him to teach potions class at school. Perhaps this is why we are having job shortages; there are plenty of unemployed workers out there in need of income and we're transforming furniture into educators. I could comment on the state of education as well...but this movie takes place in Britain so I'm not going to. If it was America though, oh boy would you be getting an ear full.

The next thing you know, Harry's in a swamp and then he's in his friend Ron's house and then they are on the way to school with the rest of their friends. It all moves pretty quickly to start which is understandable since the amount of content in the book could have easily been two movies (and the last book WILL be two movies, but I digress). Speaking of digressions, I have to point out that each subsequent HP movie truncates the story further and further. In the first one, the biggest benefit of reading the book was seeing how the visualization compared because it was basically all there. Now, reading the book is more like reading the instruction manual for an SR-71 before trying to fly it; practically a necessity. Not that you won't be entertained, you just won't know what the hell is going on.

Potter spends the year cozying up to both Dumbledore and the new potions professor, Slughorn, while trying to land Ron's sister Ginny. Meanwhile, Ron spends the movie playing Quidditch and making out with this crazy chick. Hermione spends the movie trying to land Ron and showing off her cleavage that she now has. Being that she is over 18, it is legal for me to point this out.

Eventually, some shit goes down and Harry and Dumbledore go to a cave to get a locket that contains part of Voldemort's soul. They then fight zombies, which is awesome as a rule.

They return to the castle where Draco reveals what we knew all along; he's trying to kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore talks him out of it though. However, Draco already let some of Voldemort's other cronies into the castle, plus Snape is playing double agent and joins them. Since we saw Snape take a vow to complete Draco's task for him if he fails earlier in the film, we wait on the edge of our seats to see if he will really do it (or the two people in the theater who A give a shit and B haven't read the book wait on....oh nevermind, those where the two Christians who left already). Snape then casts the killing curse, ending Dumbledore's life and sending him over the tower wall and down to the




Everybody cries and shit. Then Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to skip their last year of school to go fight Voldemort, kind of like skipping high school to go to Iraq in terms of danger and overall likelihood that it will work out good for you.

Oh yeah, and Snape was the half-blood prince. It kind of a big reveal in the book. It doesn't matter at all in the movie. By the time you even get to the last scene with him where he says it, the audience is like "the half who what?"

Conclusion: Rather than giving this movie a straight up grade, I'm going to tell which people will like it and which won't.

People that will like this movie: folks who enjoy some lighthearted fantasy, HP fans, perverts who liked Emma Watson better when she was younger, most casual moviegoers who have a rough idea of the story and have seen at least the last couple movies in the series, most kids under 15 and over 10, girls with a thing for Daniel Radcliffe, anyone who enjoys a good Alan Rickman performance, and people who in general are obsessed with magic, witches, wizards, mythical creatures and whatnot.

People that will not like this movie: HP haters, people that don't like fantasy movies, people looking for a deep and coherent narrative, people looking for a movie that challenges you, people who don't like teen romance to the point that they can't overlook it for magic and shit, people that don't like magic or mythical creatures or all that, hardline Christians, homophobes (because of me), people who just really hate children, kids under 9, people who see the movie with people who brought kids under 9, and zombies.

My personal feelings: I liked it a lot, it was a good addition to the series, and I'll probably watch it again when it comes out on video. I'm a sucker for sagas. Sphere: Related Content