Sunday, September 28, 2008

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Sometimes you come across something that gets it completely right:

But it was a reckless choice. Palin has proved herself to be spectacularly unprepared for a national campaign and embarrassingly inarticulate and unreflective. She is held in protective custody by a campaign that trusts her less and less. A few conservatives have suggested she should be dropped from the ticket. - E.J. Dionne Jr. Washington Post

In this and his recent to & fro'ing on the bailout, maverick is looking increasingly more like reckless.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Bailout Plan

According to statistics on the White House's web site there are about 75M homeowners in the US. Instead of sending the $700B to the organizations that, as Ollie would say "got us into this mess" why don't we split the funds up amongst these US homeowners? The math comes to about $10K per home which in turn represents about 6 months of payment on the average mortgage. The money could be directly deposited into homeowner's mortgage accounts which in turn would save the banks and give the economy a kick start in re-energizing.

Now I don't have one of them fancy economics degree but this seems to be a win-win to me, unless you're a Wall Street type looking to get off scot-free that is.

Tainted Baby Milk & The Olympics

According to some news outlets the current Chinese baby food contamination may have been known about prior to the Olympic games. However, in order not to detract from the World's media and political leaders gushing over their new found Chinese friends, the problems were covered up by the Beijing government. I can only hope that we did not deliver them a public relations bonanza literally over the dead bodies of children.

Also from The Daily Telegraph.

Payback's A Bitch

Is it only me who sees the irony in us returning the favor to the Chinese? They sell us toxic toys, toothpaste and food additives and we sell them toxic investments. Seems like a fair trade to me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pondering The Questions

With Congress not exactly falling all over themselves with the Fed's plan to save the US economy I have some questions.

1) Let's just say we don't bail out Wall Street, what is the likely scenario beyond the "it'll be really bad" line which only reminds me of an old Castlemaine beer commercial?
2) How does the proposed bailout stop the flow of mortgages going into foreclosure?
3) What about other financial commitments held by those in default? Presumably people who can't pay their mortgage will also default on their credit card, car, HELOC and other loans. Will we be bailing out GMAC and the like?
4) If companies receiving taxpayer's money return to profitability do we recoup the funds issued plus fair consideration for our risk?

These and many other questions we are left to ponder upon Grasshopper.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin, Yahoo & Anonymous

All over the internets is the story that VP candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account at Yahoo was hacked by the lovable, anti-Scientology folks at "Anonymous." Why is this more than just an invasion of privacy? Because Ms. Palin used this unsecured account to conduct official Alaska business, thereby keeping the e-mail's contents off the legally required record keeping radar.

Originally posted on Wikileaks, which of course is down right now, the screen shots are starting to make their way around the web. I found mine here.

Now we can sit back and watch the illegal wire-tapping Republicans scream about privacy rights! What fun and japes eh?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google Pipped To The Post

Chrome, the new & well received browser from Google is based on open source code and while the original creators are dragging their heels on Mac and Linux versions the guys at Wine have ported it to both systems. Obviously this is proof of concept stuff, but fully functioning nonetheless.

File Under: Couldn't Give A Crap

Just in: Zune owners will be able to access free WiFi (via Wayport, purveyor of the slowest hotel connections imaginable) at McDonalds' restaurants. Since the Zune doesn't have a web browser or e-mail client, the only thing you'll be able to do whilst getting burger grease on your player, is to download music. It's a match made in heaven I think.

Warning - Reprint

I ' m a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight…

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you’re a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic “Muslim” (who, by the way, is a Christian). Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a “maverick”.

Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable. Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law Professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs Committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience. But if your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive and next in line behind a man in his eighth decade of life.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian. If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and then left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a true Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control and only teaching kindergartners how to avoid strangers who might be sexual predators, you are eroding the fabric of society. However, if, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's. If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until
age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA , your family is extremely admirable.

Save The Bigs Banks By Making Bigger Banks?

As the news from Wall Street deteriorates further, the recent agreement from Bank of America to purchase ailing Merrill Lynch seems to be just more of the same. Isn't creating giant financial firms through unregulated banking what got us into this mess in the first place?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Today is the 7th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and attempt on Washington DC. Yet there are now children headed into 2nd grade classrooms who were not even born when it all happened.

My feelings are terribly mixed on the subject. Of course there is the indignation and sense of affront, the respect for the tremendous bravery of the mostly doomed rescuers and the sadness for the thousands of people who stood no chance in the buildings and in the air. Sometimes, as I schlep my bags and coffee aboard another early flight I think that about that day and the passengers just like myself, sleepy and a little grumpy, headed for the exit row, little suspecting what their day held for them.

However, there is another side to 9/11 that troubles me. The constant invoking of that day as an excuse to subvert and trample on the rights of law abiding citizens both at home and abroad. The egregious use of the attacks to trample on portions of the Constitution our forefathers fought so hard for. Their use as a partial justification for the war in Iraq. It seems barely a day goes by without some politician or official touting 9/11 as an explanation for some dubiously legal action.

Yet seven years later the almost mythical Osama bin Laden is still at large and the World Trade Center site is still a construction zone mired in politics, inter agency infighting and greed. A single "enemy combatant" has been tried in the US (and found guilty of lesser charges). Our forces are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan remains largely under Taliban and militia control. So called terrorist arrests in the US have turned into damp squibs and in the UK attempts to convict the liquid bombers have been frustrated. All we seem to have achieved is the creation of another huge government agency and the rightful suspicion of the civilized world around our use of off-shore prisons and interrogation methods.

In the seven years since the attacks, 9/11 our spirit of shared suffering has become a cause célèbre to be manipulated as needed to fit the political aspirations of the day. Perhaps that's the biggest and final tragedy?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chili Cheese Fries? Not Today, However...

Straight out of a movie this one. We were grabbing a bite to eat at Goff's Hamburgers in Highland Park. My friend decided that some chili cheese fries were in order but was told at the counter (by Rose, in no uncertain terms) that "we don't have that." "OK, how about a side order of chili, some fries and a side of grated cheese? Sure that'll be $4.50 please!"

Monty Python would have loved it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Java, E-mail, Webmail and Vulnurabilities

I can feel a slight twinge of sympathy for Newegg, they seem like a nice company and I've used them for purchases in the past. However, I think they're in for a bashing on the internets as this morning they sent out an e-mail flyer with a Java script that opened a dialog box requiring a non-existent user name and password. You could not cancel out of the box, rendering your entire e-mail acount useless. Compounding the problem is that using webmail via a browser caused the same actions. Since the webmail pages are Java based, disabling Java in the browser denies access to your acount!

I fixed the problem with some skullduggery which eventually required me to completely delete my e-mail acount from Mail, I am currently re-downloading 21,000 e-mail messages which is not what I wanted to do on a busy work morning.

Newegg may have done us all a favor though in showing that e-mail readers and webmail systems that do not allow the suspension of Java are incredibly vulnarable to this sort of flawed code. In this case the problem was merely incompetence, what if the intent had been malicious?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Best Of Craigslist - Scooby Doo Edition

Nice ad in the local Craigslist. "Meddling Kids Not Included!"

Republicans Need To Hire A Songwriter

Disclosure: The fact that I spent many of my idle teenage hours staring at this album cover no way influences the opinions expressed in this post.

Joining John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and Boston are the Heart sisters who, like their fellow musicians are objecting to the use of one of their songs, in this case "Barracuda," to promote Palin at the RNC.

From an e-mail sent to Entertainment Weekly by Ann & Nancy Wilson -

"Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image...[It] was written in the late '70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women...There's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."

Looks like the Republicans are running out of classic rockers to promote their candidates. Might I recommend Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" as a suitable alternative?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Food Fight!

I'm not sure which is stranger, a food fight at a Donna Summer concert in Chicago OR the the fact that it was a sell out?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fox News Makes Racist Remarks About Kettle

Fox News, America's Election HQ and ever the bastion of fair and unbiased reporting has accused gossip rag US Weekly of "blasting" VP nominee Sarah Palin. At issue is a cover and story that is markedly unfriendly to the Alaska Governor. Apparently, by contrast, previous issues have devoted much ink to the happy Obama family of whom, the publisher is a big supporter.

I'm not a reader of US Weekly, however I am so terribly appreciative of Fox's one network crusade to keep election media reporting fair and balanced.

High Speed Longboarding

Rumored to be a Canadian, the video features a fearless longboarder hitting speeds of 100KM/H (62 mph) on the A8 autobahn (map) between Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. He better keep going as apparently the German police would like a word with him about the stunt.

I'm partial to longboards myself (I have a Surf One) but even though we share the same wheel setup I'm not planning to hit my local freeway anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

From Rock God to RIAA Tool

"I hope he rots in jail," said Slash, the former Guns N' Roses lead guitarist. "It's going to affect the sales of the record, and it's not fair."

So says the former guitar player for Guns & Roses in the LA Times. He's referring to music industry blogger Kevin Cogill (a self-confessed GnR fan) who posted 9 yet-to-be-released tracks from GnR's long awaited new album on his blog. For his efforts Cogill received a visit by the FBI, was arrested and is currently out on a $10,000 bond. Suffice to say, his defence against the music industry heavyweights will be a public defender.

ADA Craig Missakian, prosecuting the case claims that Cogill's actions caused "significant damage." If by that he means the world discovered that the new GnR album sucks than I guess he's right about one thing. As for Slash (real name Michael McKagan), yeah, that's the spirit of rock n' roll, big bad rock star that you are. Why fight the man when you can work for him?

Browser Wars - New Forces Arrive

Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of IE-8 comes a new entrant into the increasingly crowded browser space. Yesterday Google announced that it's browser project Chrome will be available for download sometime today. Google are claiming via an online comic book that this is not your father's software but a complete re-think of the way a browser should work and interact with the web and the user. They make a compelling case too.

A Bono style leak of some screen shots appeared yesterday and were subsequently removed. Currently (9am PDT) the Chrome download page takes you only to Google's search page.

Update: Press conference at 11am PDT, CNET will be live blogging.
Update: Windows version for download today at 12:00pm PDT

Strange Days Indeed

Palin seems to be an odd choice for VP for a candidate who is running on a platform of experience. The pairing seems a little like a Vegas wedding, the 2 having met only twice before and smacks of a desperate attempt to lock in the dissatisfied Clintonites. The Republicans are talking about her integrity and that she and McCain are like soul mates, or could it be that no one else (chris, Jindal, Romney) actually wanted the job?