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Bug

Journal: Ok, that's a bug.

Journal by pherris
Over at OSDir it seems ACs can moderate any postings and moderate the same post multiple times. Registered users can't moderate unless given mod points. Let's hope someone from the "Happy Fun Slander Corner" doesn't figure this out. Go ahead, give it a spin. I don't know if it makes a difference but I had cookies shut off. Maybe it's somekind of weird honeypot. =)

In the words of the late, great Mr. Rogers: "Sure kids, can you say 'troll magnet'? I knew you could."

Businesses

Journal: The Next Four Years - Borrowed Time by Paul Krugman

Journal by pherris
Today's commentary from Paul Krugman on Public Radio's Marketplace.

Long story short: the US dollar is tanking and investors in US debt have no good reason to stay invested. I'll bet that the Loonie will be trading at par [against the USD] by August 2005. If you have any debt with an adjustable rate change it to a fixed rate now. Those carrying a high debt load are really going to get hammered by next fall. Quite frankly it's pretty fucking grim. Thankfully between a low mortgage, two years left on a 4.5% car loan and my better half's student loans I'm fairly clear. I've got a few friends living off their credit cards and will get wiped out if the economy collapses.

For those outside the US buying US made goods: bargins will abound this summer.

Politics

Journal: Snake eyes 2

Journal by pherris
Well, it looks like bush is on his way back to Washington barring a miracle in Ohio and the RNC picked up three Senate seats (totaling 53) and four House seats (totaling 228 out of 448 or 53%). The US is now 0wn3d by the RNC. They can pass a law without any outside help.

While this will effect almost everything, the SCOTUS' (Supreme Court) make up might be one of the biggest. Chief Justice Rehnquist (currently being successfully treated for thyroid cancer) is 80, John Paul Stevens is 85, Sandra Day O'Connor is 75 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 70. Rehnquist, Stevens and O'Connor are RNC appointees, Ginsburg is a DNC appointee. It's likely atleast one of the first three will leave the bench to take advantage of the current RNC stronghold.

The next four years is going to be like Nixon's second term: pure dirty tricks.

User Journal

Journal: William F. Buckley, Jr. Retires

Journal by pherris
As most know I swing pretty hard to the left on some issues and pretty hard to the right on others (i.e.: gun control) so it may be a bit of a surprise that I have quite a bit of respect for William F. Buckley, Jr.. WFB is a conservative in the truest respect and writes well about it. While I disagree with some of the things he agrees with (like supporting the Heritage Foundation, IMO a first class troll tank) he does make some sense. He's often spoken out against the concept of a "Nanny State", something I agree with.

WFB is retiring and conservatives are losing one of their great rational minds. Please don't confuse true conservatisism with the current RNC or Bush. When WFB speaks in the abstract he many times makes sense. At times he's toted the party line and supported RNC (I'm sorry, the Grand Old Party is dead and a nasty mutation called the RNC has risen from it's ashes) leaders, but again, when not doing that he made sense. BTW, the DNC also sucks just as much, but that's for a later journal.

All the answers do not come from the left or the right. Both have some good and some bad.

Here is WFB's last column (not his last writings for the NR, but AFAIK his last regular column).

June 29, 2004, 12:07 p.m.
Free Weeds: The marijuana debate.
by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great. The laws aren't exactly indefensible, because practically nothing is, and the thunderers who tell us to stay the course can always find one man or woman who, having taken marijuana, moved on to severe mental disorder. But that argument, to quote myself, is on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating. General rules based on individual victims are unwise. And although there is a perfectly respectable case against using marijuana, the penalties imposed on those who reject that case, or who give way to weakness of resolution, are very difficult to defend. If all our laws were paradigmatic, imagine what we would do to anyone caught lighting a cigarette, or drinking a beer. Or -- exulting in life in the paradigm -- committing adultery. Send them all to Guantanamo?

Legal practices should be informed by realities. These are enlightening, in the matter of marijuana. There are approximately 700,000 marijuana-related arrests made very year. Most of these -- 87 percent -- involve nothing more than mere possession of small amounts of marijuana. This exercise in scrupulosity costs us $10-15 billion per year in direct expenditures alone. Most transgressors caught using marijuana aren't packed away to jail, but some are, and in Alabama, if you are convicted three times of marijuana possession, they'll lock you up for 15 years to life. Professor Ethan Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance, writing in National Review, estimates at 100,000 the number of Americans currently behind bars for one or another marijuana offense.

What we face is the politician's fear of endorsing any change in existing marijuana laws. You can imagine what a call for reform in those laws would do to an upward mobile political figure. Gary Johnson, governor of New Mexico, came out in favor of legalization -- and went on to private life. George Shultz, former secretary of state, long ago called for legalization, but he was not running for office, and at his age, and with his distinctions, he is immune to slurred charges of indifference to the fate of children and humankind. But Kurt Schmoke, mayor of Baltimore, did it, and survived a reelection challenge.

But the stodgy inertia most politicians feel is up against a creeping reality. It is that marijuana for medical relief is a movement which is attracting voters who are pretty assertive on the subject. Every state ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana has been approved, often by wide margins. Of course we have here collisions of federal and state authority. Federal authority technically supervenes state laws, but federal authority in the matter is being challenged on grounds of medical self-government. It simply isn't so that there are substitutes equally efficacious. Richard Brookhiser, the widely respected author and editor, has written on the subject for The New York Observer. He had a bout of cancer and found relief from chemotherapy only in marijuana -- which he consumed, and discarded after the affliction was gone.

The court has told federal enforcers that they are not to impose their way between doctors and their patients, and one bill sitting about in Congress would even deny the use of federal funds for prosecuting medical marijuana use. Critics of reform do make a pretty plausible case when they say that whatever is said about using marijuana only for medical relief masks what the advocates are really after, which is legal marijuana for whoever wants it.

That would be different from the situation today. Today we have illegal marijuana for whoever wants it. An estimated 100 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once, the great majority, abandoning its use after a few highs. But to stop using it does not close off its availability. A Boston commentator observed years ago that it is easier for an 18-year old to get marijuana in Cambridge than to get beer. Vendors who sell beer to minors can forfeit their valuable licenses. It requires less effort for the college student to find marijuana than for a sailor to find a brothel. Still, there is the danger of arrest (as 700,000 people a year will tell you), of possible imprisonment, of blemish on one's record. The obverse of this is increased cynicism about the law.

We're not going to find someone running for president who advocates reform of those laws. What is required is a genuine republican groundswell. It is happening, but ever so gradually. Two of every five Americans, according to a 2003 Zogby poll cited by Dr. Nadelmann, believe "the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and make it illegal only for children."

Such reforms would hugely increase the use of the drug? Why? It is de facto legal in the Netherlands, and the percentage of users there is the same as here. The Dutch do odd things, but here they teach us a lesson.

As someone who read WFB as a youth, his writings will be missed. If you learn anything from the man please remember that intellectual honestly and conservative politics can and should peacefully coexist.

I wish him good health for many years and the wind to fill his sail.

User Journal

Journal: Make that $1600 check out to the "DoD" svp. 2

Journal by pherris
"The US Senate has unanimously approved a $447bn defence spending bill which includes $25bn for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

$477b ÷ 294m people = a $1623 USD bill to every US man, woman and child for stuff that is meant to kill other people.

From US approves $447bn defence bill:

It is 5.7% larger than the 2004 defence budget, excluding the Iraq money, but is 1.7% below what President George Bush was asking for.

Senators also voted to boost army numbers by 20,000.

And the US House of Representatives has approved record funding for the US intelligence agencies.

The approval came despite recent criticism over intelligence failures, including the September 11 attacks.

The Senate must approve its own version of the bill before it can become law.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a similar defence budget for 2005 by a 403 to 17 vote.

The Senate's budget includes a 3.5% pay raise for all military personnel and $10.2bn for a missile defence system.

Programs such as the F/A-22 Raptor aircraft, Joint Strike Fighter and DD(X) destroyer program are also set to receive billions of dollars.

The extra spending on Iraq and Afghanistan reverses a previous spending pledge.

But the White House, in making the request last month, said it was down to "recent developments on the ground and increased demands on our troops".

The increase in troops was initially opposed by the White House and Pentagon and aims to relieve the pressure on the US Army.

It increases the Army size by about 4% to more than 500,000.

Ed.: Formatted as originally posted. Apparently the BBC doesn't know how to form a proper paragraph.

(sidebar)

2005 Defence Bill Highlights:

$76bn weapons and ordnance

$68.6bn research and development

$30bn national defence programs

$10.2bn missile defence system

$4.6bn Joint Strike Fighter

$925m heavy armoured vehicles

$905m light armoured vehicles

$727.3m Chinook CH-47 helicopters

$603.2m body armour

$131.1m reconnaissance drones

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address to the US, 1961. FYI, to some that don't know he was the former Allied Supreme Commander in WWII and US Army five star general.

User Journal

Journal: My Life by Bill Clinton 1

Journal by pherris
Let me save you some money: it's 900+ pages, the first half filled with self praise and the second half about Ken Starr. Much like his eight years in office. Hey, I hate Bush as much as the next guy but Clinton was still a miserable president. Let's look at low lights:

He signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act. Laws are meant to protect rights, not remove them.

He lobbied and signed into law Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (aka the Brady Bill). A bill that did nothing stop violence. When was the last time a bayonet lug hurt anyone?

"I did not have sexual relations with [Monica Lewinsky]" and then said it wasn't sex because "both parties did not receive sexual gratification" while arguing over what "is" means.

Reigned over an administration that oversaw the arrest and conviction of 4.8 million US citizens for marijuana possession and then said [in Rolling Stone] in the last week of his presidency that he should've pushed for decriminalization.

Oversaw America become a "Prison State" where the US imprisoned more of it's citizens, both in total and per capita, than any other country. Yes, even more than China. When he left office the US federal prison population was close to 2m (now over that), compared to just over 1m in 1990.

Clinton was a great example of the new "Republocrat". Big government for everyone! Let it be run by federal civil servants (btw, most of which are quite good at their jobs, there's just too many) or private industry (good at making a profit).

"I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." - Henry David Thoreau, the beginning of "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

If you must buy his book wait a month and pick it up for about $5 at your local used bookstore. Recycling trash is a good thing.

Media

Journal: Reality TV that isn't cruel

Journal by pherris
It seems an all to common trend in reality TV is cruelty, be it willingly like on "Fear Factor" or unwillingly, like on "Punk'd". One show though seems to have grown out of that manure pile, giving the viewer viewable entertainment and the "contestant" a reward they don't have to embarrass themselves for; MTV's "Pimp My Ride".

It's a fast paced 22 minutes starting off with Rapper Xzibit picking up some deserving sole's car, normally found in a dilapidated condition, taking it to West Coast Customs and tricking it out like there's no tomorrow. It looks like they're dumping in roughly $10k in parts and $10k in labor, a sizable amount for a $500 car.

In what seems like an unusual act of kindness for television, in a recent episode West Coast Customs was about to "do their magic" on an eighty-something Ford Escort to find that it was structurally unsound. It appeared that a different front (or rear I guess) half had been poorly welded on. For a crew that had the ability to fix it they wisely declined. Long story short, someone got Scion to give them a new Scion xB wagon worth about $15k. Then they tricked it out with five monitors, onboard WinXP box, custom interior and a body wrap. Very nice job.

Everyone was a winner: the viewer got to see a good show, a young guy got a new ride, then had it customized to the hilt and Scion (Toyota) got a free ad with a little extra karma for the gift (which I have little doubt will be written off as an advertising expense).

While there have been other reality type shows that were not degrading and entertaining like "Ground Force" (UK version, the US version was horrible) and "Iron Chef", this is the first show that I had seen that appealed to the teen to 20s crowd. The same crowd that watches "Fear Factor" and "Punk'd".

Sometimes nonpublic tv surprises me.

User Journal

Journal: Log on to Yahoo email with a single URL 3

Journal by pherris
Before people freak and scream "SECURITY RISK, SECURITY RISK!", yes it is and you should only use it on a machine that you alone have 24/7 access to (i.e.: like the one in your house). If you need https because you're getting sniffed please ignore this entire journal entry.

This little URL trick lets you switch between multiple accounts without logging off the previous one.

First account's user name: myfirstusername
First account's password: myfirstpassword

URL for the first account: http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?.src=ym&login=myfirstusername&passwd=myfirstpassword

Second account's user name: mysecondusername
Second account's password: mysecondpassword

URL for the second account: http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?.src=ym&login=mysecondusername&passwd=mysecondpassword

Since /. tossed in an extra space or two in the above URLs try right clicking and copying. This works for their briefcase by switching ".src=ym" with ".src=bc". What can I say, I'm too lazy to type and have too many yahoo email accounts.

User Journal

Journal: The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre in the 50 pack 1

Journal by pherris
It seems Mel isn't happy just releasing "The Passion of the Christ" on dvd like every one else releases dvds, for sale one copy at a time. If you want it now you need to buy 50 copies at a time for $900USD ! He's calling it the "church pack". Don't like it, wait until September. It's both funny and sad at the same time.

Ok, it was bad enough he did the movie in the first place (and charging people $10 to see Jesus beat down like Rodney by the LAPD for 90 minutes). But there's just some bad mojo about using peoples' deepest religious feelings to part from them their money like Moses parted the Red Sea (not that I believe in that stuff, but you get the point). Turning out a Pro-Jesus flick and dvd in the US is a very sound business decision and Mel the money changer is making some big bucks.

Hey, it's your money. Give it to Mel, a man worth more than $100M USD or give it to a Jim Bakker type preacher, I don't care. It's your money.

I use to be much kinder to churchies but that was before they wanted to impose, via the law, their beliefs on others that gays shouldn't marry. Not that I really give a shit who marries who because it's none of my business and it's none of yours. If the churchies want to turn their pulputs into a lobbiest's microphone then I'm speaking my piece too. "Freedom of Religion" also means "Freedom from Religion."

If I may quote the great FZ:

The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing

Some take the bible
For what it's worth
When it says that the meek
Shall inherit the Earth
Well, I heard that some sheik
Has bought New Jersey last week
'N you suckers ain't gettin' nothin'

Is Hare Rama really wrong
If you wander around
With a napkin on
With a bell on a stick
An' your hair is all gone . . .
(The geek shall inherit nothin')

You say yer life's a bum deal
'N yer up against the wall . . .
Well, people, you ain't even got no kinda
Deal at all
'Cause what they do
In Washington
They just takes care of NUMBER ONE
An' NUMBER ONE ain't YOU
You ain't even NUMBER TWO

Those Jesus Freaks
Well, they're friendly but
The shit they believe
Has got their minds all shut
An' they don't even care
When the church takes a cut
Ain't it bleak when you got so much nothin'
(So whaddya do? Hey!)
Eat that pork
Eat that ham
Laugh till ya choke
On Billy Graham
Moses, Aaron 'n Abraham . . .
They're all a waste of time
'N it's your ass that's on the line
(IT'S YOUR ASS THAT'S ON THE LINE)

Do what you wanna
Do what you will
Just don't mess up
Your neighbor's thrill
'N when you pay the bill
Kindly leave a little tip
And help the next poor sucker
On his one way trip . . .
SOME TAKE THE BIBLE . . .
(Aw gimme a half a dozen for the hotel room!)

To the Christians that respect others rights, I apologize. Go talk to those that give your religion such a bad name.

Quickies

Journal: Roll Call 1

Journal by pherris
Just curious, any other vets here? Even though my service days are far behind me and long ago I seem to be reminded of them with all that's going down these days. I can't be the only one. Add the fact that the draft will most likely be back next year and I wonder about the next generation to serve. My father served, like his father and like his. All my grandfathers that carried my last name at sometime served in the military. I had a great-great-whatever grandfather that served for the CSA and one that fought at the Battle of Trenton. Of course he was a Hessian. =)

This is a tradition that I hope is broken by my only son.

If you're of or near draft age or thinking about enlisting ask your service related questions. And remember, the advice you get is worth what you paid for it.

User Journal

Journal: Which side are you on? 4

Journal by pherris
Man, my dream job is to be a labor organizer. Helping my fellow man while pissing off every piece of shit management drone I come in contact with. Requirements include being a pain in the ass and swinging a Louisville Slugger. Fuckin'ey. Where's Woody and Jimmy when we really need them?

Years ago I tried to get the CWA into my shop of +400 underpaid and mistreated workers. They weren't interested. Almost got fired for that move. I guess wearing a CWA t-shirt (from a friend at US West) that said "Don't shoot - I'm craft" didn't help. Unions aren't perfect but are a shitload better than what we have now. It just means we need better decentralized unions.

Which side are you on?
by Florence Reece (1931)

Come all you good workers,
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

CHORUS:
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner,
And I'm a miner's son,
And I'll stick with the union
'Til every battle's won.

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there.
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses,
Don't listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize.

BTW, J. H. Blair was the Sheriff of Harlan County, KY and killed a few coal miners that spoke out in favor of organizing.

Handhelds

Journal: Palm PDA Recommendations? 1

Journal by pherris
Well, time once again to think about getting a new Palm. My M105 still works well but I'm tired of reading books on an 160x160 pixel screen. I'm looking at the Tungsten E with a 320x320 screen, expandable memory and a $200 price tag (which, I guess, isn't too bad). I'd rather have the Tungsten C but at $400 it just seems too pricey for a pda, though the keyboard looks nice.

Has anyone here used Tungsten E? If so what did you think? Any Palm recommendations?

Thanks.

User Journal

Journal: Has anyone here ever seen a "bitch book"? 4

Journal by pherris
A "bitch book" is blank journal style book that is placed in different areas of a ship where people frequently pass during a normal day. People would write whatever they wanted. The rules were simple:

You may not deface the book in any way, shape or form. Ripping pages out was not allowed.

"What read here, what you see here, when you leave here let it stay here." No matter how bad the comment was no one could be held responsible for it. This was total free speech.

Protect the book. Someone takes it, get it back.

Mine was on a WLB in the early '80s. Anyone here ever see or write in one? If so, where? Is there a need for a net version?

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

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