Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Finally, Something to Report

The Georgia Legislature hasn’t been a lot of fun this year. They’ve been wrestling with billion dollar deficits, not leaving them much time for traditional hijinks.

But, yesterday my faith in my representatives’ lunacy was reinforced. The Senate voted for a bill that will limit driver license applicants to taking the written test in English:

From AJC.com:

“Murphy, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said it was a safety issue. Drivers who can’t read road signs pose a danger to everyone, he said.”

That makes sense to me. We don’t want foreigners exiting freeway entrances and entering the freeway on the exits. We all want a safe Georgia.

“But critics of the bill point to the fact that illiterate Georgians are still allowed to drive and are helped with the test.”

What says the sponsor in response?

“[Senator] Murphy said his bill targets non-English-speaking people who can’t read traffic signs and emergency messages, he said the bill doesn’t account for illiterate Georgians.

“We have to make an exception, and we are not going to take them off the road,” Murphy said.”

As to the foreigners, he isn’t targeting them, “[i]t is amazing how many people cannot read English who are driving. You should have to have a basic understanding of English to be able to drive. And it gives them a great incentive to learn English.”

What a public servant. A great safety proponent and as a side benefit he’s teaching people to read English, not all of them, just the ones that can’t vote against him.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Big Boys' and Girls' World That We Don't Live In

The GOP is getting a lot of bad press for approving $2K in “meals” at a racy nightclub in LA. Accompanying the opprobrium for that are reports on the costs of meetings in Hawaii, car service charges and private jet charters.

Let’s skip the racy nightclub and move on to the town cars, jets and fancy resorts in exotic locals.

I’m shocked by the fact that the GOP, the recipient of the largesse, has to front the freebies to get the green stuff.

But I’m not surprised that the venues are expensive. If you are going to woo the rich, I guess it makes sense to do the wooing where they are. The people that give the big bucks live in those kinds of places. When traveling, they don’t use a Motel Eight frequent traveler card. They plop down an AmEx black card for their suite, car service and jet charter. Thousand dollar dinners are not a once in a lifetime experience. It’s what they do. And they aren’t just Republicans. If the Dems are courting their rich, I assume they are spending the same kind of money to be where their rich are.

Going back to my shock earlier in the post, the idea of the GOP or Dems as salesmen just never occurred to me before. I’m used to the political “scandal” of my representatives jetting off with lobbyists to the Super Bowl at the lobbyists’ expense. Here in Georgia, David Ralston, our new Speaker of the House, thinks it’s ground breaking that he has proposed legislation to require lobbyists (not legislators) to report (not limit) what they spend on legislators on a quicker timetable. I guess reporting graft quicker will reduce it in his mind; or, maybe he just wants the status quo to continue, throwing the reporting requirement out as a sop to us people.

Which takes us back to the GOP scandal. Face it, the big boys and girls think, and they are probably right, that they are above us, bullet proof. Yeah, there’s an occasional Rangel and maybe a Steele (here in Georgia a Richardson, the last Speaker) that goes down. But that leaves the rest of them (here in Georgia, Ralston and his friends) to do as they will.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What is a partner?

"Partnership - a cooperative relationship between people or groups who agree to share responsibility for achieving some specific goal.” From Google, of course.

Back when I became a partner in a law firm, I was a partner, not a “law partner.” I would introduce Joe or Sue, “my partner” who could help the client with a particular problem. It was obvious that Joe or Sue and I weren’t an item, or if we were, that we were also lawyers and that was the context in which I was introducing them.

Then, more and more lawyers started adding “law” to the description.

We’ve struggled for a few decades on describing an unmarried couple that were more than “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” Significant other was current for a while but never really caught on. Then partner caught on with its variations like “life partner” and “domestic partner” and caught on again as a description for a non-heterosexual couple. I couldn’t be just someone’s partner any more because that was taken.

The meaning of nouns often broadens and we have to add an adjective to describe the sub-categories. A century ago, a guitar was acoustic, but the latter word did not need to be said because it was subsumed in the noun. Then Les Paul came along and we needed adjectives, acoustic and electric. And often now, an electric guitar is just a guitar – it has become the main meaning of the noun.

What brought this post on was an article about a gay high school kid in today’s AJC.com. He, as opposed to the girl in Mississippi, will be allowed to go to his high school’s prom in middle Georgia with his boyfriend. The article had the necessary quotes from townspeople. The local hairdresser was opposed. The owners of a music shop had split opinions, but rather than being described as partners or co-owners, they were “business partners” with opinions about a budding partnership, no adjective, between the two teens who would be attending the prom.

Whether or not an adjective is needed, choose your partners carefully.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is it just me?

Think back in time, some of you, to when you read a paper paper.

Just how did you read it?

I’ve always started at the front, even as a kid, you couldn’t start with the comics.

Front page, second page, and so on. No flipping to page seven to finish the article you started with. You get to it at whatever page it continues on, which may be after the second or third article you started on the first page.

And at each page, you read what’s there, if it interests you, before you move on to what you’ve started on previous pages. By the end of a Sunday paper, back in the days when it was a real paper, you might have five or six articles going by the time you got to the end of a section.

I have no reason, much less a good reason, for this method of reading, other than maybe efficiency.

Just how weird am I?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is this a new trend?

I eat lunch every now and then at a restaurant called Roxx on Cheshire Bridge Road. It’s a bit pricey for an every day lunch; but, the food is always very good. The service is good, though it can be annoying. The servers follow what is apparently a required script, not listening to what you say (or your body language that is screaming stop, I know what I want) reciting the script as fast as they can get it out of their mouth (kind of like a kid reciting the poem he just memorized).

But, that’s not what the post is about. The last couple of times I’ve been there, the server brings back the change in the little booklet as always. But, the change is rounded up or down to the nearest dollar. If the bill is $10.24, you don’t pay the 24 cents. If it’s $10.76, they charge you $11.00. (I’m don’t know what happens to a $10.50 bill.)

In the scheme of life, it isn’t a big deal and when leaving a tip, I factor the overage/underage into the tip; but, for some reason it annoys me.

Yet Another Thing I Don't Understand

NYTimes.com has an article today about media plans for pay walls on the new iPad.

It says the Wall Street Journal is going to charge $17.99 a month for a subscription on the iPad

A quick Google search took me to WSJ’s subscription page. You can get a subscription for both print and online access for about $13.00 a month, online only is $8.50 a month, or $9.50 a month less than it will cost you on the iPad.

I’m assuming that the “regular” online subscription won’t work on the iPad. Why does WSJ think it can get more than double its current Internet price on the iPad? Early adopters have a lot of disposable income? The high price is an “opening offer” which will drop if demand is weak?

The article says that Reuters and Newsweek will offer their products on the iPad. Will they have pay walls? A little longer Google search didn’t turn up an answer; but, I did find some thinking on the evolving business model for media on the Internet at Newsweek.com by Andrew Zolli:

“Many new digital platforms are brewing, and early on in the development of each one there will be a battle for the business model—a fight to figure out who will pay. The advent of every new device is another chance to turn it all around.

“When I buy the dead-tree version of my local newspaper, I have no expectation that it should be free. If I pick it up and walk out of the coffee shop without paying, that's stealing. But when I walk upstairs to my office and log on to the Web site for the same paper, I feel a divine right to access the entirety of that paper—and 10 years of its archives—for free. Yet when I use another little computer invented more recently (Amazon's Kindle, say) to access that very same newspaper, I do pay. And I expect to pay. When the market floods this year with the iPad and its inevitable clones, I'll expect to pay on those as well.

“In the long run, the first decade of the Web could come to be seen as a momentary aberration—an echo of '60s free culture when we all took the bad, digital acid. So, media companies, on behalf of all misdirected Internet visionaries, I'm sorry. We like you—we really do—and we don't want a world without you. If you can hold on until we all have new kinds of screens, and new sets of expectations, you'll be fine. You'll be different, but fine. Just, please, don't take my word for it this time. Ask around.”

I wonder if the couple hundred thousand people that pre-ordered the iPad and those that will follow them are ready to pay for what they get free, or much cheaper, on their current computers?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does Newt Gingrich subscribe to the "she was asking for it" theory of rape?

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Georgia representative, gave a press conference here in Atlanta this morning. As reported by Jim Galloway at AJC.com, he said:

“Just as there was no place for the kind of viciousness against Bush and Cheney, there’s no place for viciousness against Democrats.

“I would condemn any kind of activity that involves that kind of personal threat.

“But look, I think there’s something very disingenuous about the Democratic leaders who attacked the tea party movement, who refused to hold town hall meetings, who refused to go back home, who kept the Congress locked up in Washington, and are now shocked that people are angry.

“I think the Democratic leadership has to take some moral responsibility for having behaved with such arrogance, in such a hostile way, that the American people are deeply upset. So let’s be honest with this. This is a game that they’re playing.

“People should not engage in personal threats. I’m happy to condemn any effort to engage in personal threats. But I think the Democratic leadership has to take some real responsibility for having run a machine that used corrupt tactics, that bought votes, that bullied people, and as a result has enraged much of the American people.”

Take a close look at the last two paragraphs. The Dems are playing games and as result have responsibility for the anger and rage that led to personal threats against them.

“Man, that tight sweater, that short skirt, the way she was walking, she was asking for it dude. Can you blame me?

And you know what? There are people that will nod their heads in approval of what Gingrich said and the rapist’s defense.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Well Written Essay on the Hypocrisy of the Ruling Class

By Glenn Greenwald:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/03/22/democracy/index.html

Now here’s a law that’s going to work

Part of the new health care act will require any restaurant with 20 or more outlets to display calorie counts for its offerings.

If you order a Wendy’s Triple with cheese, large fries and a Frosty are you going to pay any attention to the fact that the little display on the wall or the tiny print on the menu says that they have a couple of thousand or so calories in them?

On the other end of the scale, you are at Capital Grille, a high-end steak chain with your sweetie. You order a bottle of wine, a couple of appetizers, entrees, sides and maybe you split a dessert because you feel guilty about all those calories, prominently displayed on the wall of the hallway on the way to the restrooms.

Remember back when the “nutritional labels” became mandatory on food labels at the grocery store? Did that change your buying habits?

I’d really, for the humor value, love for the law to be amended to require the restaurants to do the nutritional label “serving” notice thing. Just how many “servings” are there in a Wendy’s Triple or a Capital Grille 20 oz. sirloin?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

As a change from my recent concern with the world, this post is about a serious hole in the retail world’s offerings

I’m talking about steamer inserts. Laugh if you will; but, somewhere along the line I lost a very nice flat bottom, stainless steel insert that had a hundred or so little holes in the bottom that fit perfectly into two stainless steel pots that I’ve got. It worked wonderfully for corn on the cob, asparagus, green beans and so on.

I’ve missed it, not all that often but often enough.

I’ve made do by putting a “spatter screen” over the pot and kind of covering that with a lid. I’ve wandered the Internet looking for my lost friend. I’ve been to Target, Sam’s, Wal-Mart and Cooks Warehouse (pricey but cool). It’s made and for sale with its pot friends, not as a single. That's not totally true. My friend isn't worth (sorry friend) the lowest price of $55 that I saw.

So I broke down and bought something I don’t need and don’t really want, a metal colander ($7.99) that has handles that will rest on the sides of the pots with enough of a “well” in it that I can maybe properly steam the food, if I figure out a way to cut off the base and then put it in the well of the colander to create a flat surface to put the vegetables on.

I wonder how much a precision hack saw costs?

Monday, March 22, 2010

What is it with this obsession with bazzilion megabit a second Internet?

Google is going to spend some big amount of money setting up 100 or so megabit Internet in a city or two. I keep reading stories about how we’re slackers compared to the rest of the world’s broadband speed.

Yes, U.S. broadband speeds are a lot slower than they are elsewhere.

But, the DSL at work and the cable at home work almost instantaneously. The cable streams movies quiet nicely. Even the 3G and WiFi on the phone are OK, not good, but OK.

I understand the need for more bandwidth, but more speed? For what?

Google acts against its economic interests and for open access to information: Dumb? Naive? True to its motto?

Google just announced it is shutting down Google.cn, its Chinese search site. It will maintain a Chinese language offshore site, which the PRC can easily block. Google doesn’t make much money, relatively, in China. If China doesn’t block the offshore site, it won’t lose much at all, in the short term.

But, Google is giving up a 400 million person market in which it has about a 35% share. That market is going to grow with or without Google’s participation.

Google entered the market with the idea that it was doing good, even with censored results. It left the market apparently concluding that the good done didn’t outweigh the residual bad of censorship.

I don’t know if Google thinks that down the road China will change and it can re-enter the market, or that it thinks that China won’t change, but it’s not willing to play by its restrictive rules. Either way, a shareholder might bitch; but, its withdrawal does tend to demonstrate that it takes the “Do No Evil” stuff seriously.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You know you're in trouble when...

…you’re looking for a nice restaurant and Yelp’s top five for traditional restaurants for the area includes TGI Friday’s (which is also the second best steak place), two Coney Island hot dog joints and a “pub and grille” that a reviewer said was “OK” because it had pool tables (it is rated number one for steaks).

Under “new American,” there are seven choices, one of which is a Chili’s.

The Italian section looks more promising, Olive Garden isn’t among the picks.

I’m going to Dearborn, Michigan Fourth of July Weekend for a convention of sorts. There will be some downtime and a friend suggested we put together a dinner away from the hotel.

I wandered around the Internet and found some of the places that were there decades ago when I lived there as a kid; but, when I was a kid, fancy wasn’t in the budget. Restaurants consisted of A&W Root Beer Drive-ins, the previously mentioned Coney Islands and once a year a trip to Frankenmuth, a couple of hours North of town, for all you can eat family style chicken dinners. I don’t think my friends are going to settle for what I thought was great as a kid.

Hedy, between you and your parents, and I know you’re from the fancy side of town, is there anything good in Dearborn?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Common First Day of Spring Mistake

It hit seventy here yesterday, it was in the mid-sixties even after dark. So I left a window open when I went to bed.

I woke up about 5:30 a.m. to the sound of the furnace coming on. I'd forgotten to shut it off (set at sixty) last night.

It's off now for the season, unless our crazy winter makes one last appearance.

Shorts on the golf course later today.

Friday, March 19, 2010

So Obama's a Liberal?

From AJC.com:

The Barr Code
Government claims right to assassinate citizens abroad

6:00 am March 19, 2010, by Bob Barr

Early in February, our country’s top intelligence official, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), testified to the House Intelligence Committee, that the US government asserts the right to kill US citizens travelling, working or living abroad, if the government had evidence those citizens were in some manner involved with terrorist activities. Such assassinations could be carried out without providing a court any evidence that the targetted persons are in fact guilty of any terrorist or terrorist-related activities; and without providing to such person any of the constitutional guarantees to due process, right to trial, right to confront witnesses, and so forth, which they normally would enjoy if charged with offenses while in the United States.

This startling position continues a policy reportedly instituted by the administration of President George W. Bush in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The policy also is contrary to the long-established view that those rights such as guaranteed a person under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution, are not limited to the place in which a person is found at any particular time; but rather are to be enjoyed by U.S. citizens wherever in the world they may be, by virtue of being Americans. Apparently, even during times of declared war, such as World War II, the US government did not practice assassination of its own citizens who might have gone over to the other side.

Already, according to former CIA official Philip Giraldi, writing in the April 2010 issue of The American Conservative, three American citizens have been placed on the list for possible assassination.

..............................

So, why don't they just off the "bad" guys being held in Guantanamo? They aren't even American citizens. Save a whole lot of arguing about where and how to try them. Pop! Problem over. Change we can believe in.

How fast is your Internet?

Mine is "fast enough" at the office, at home and on the phone, if the phone is connected to WiFi and not 3G.

But really, what is the speed? According to a piece at LaTimes.com, that depends. The author checked his home Internet at a number of speed check sites. The results varied wildly. I did the same checks with the same variances. From 1.5 megabites a second up to over 20. (I have Comcast cable at home.)

The over 20 megs a second site has ties with the providers, I wonder what that means? Check for yourself:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lazarus19-2010mar19,0,6451217.column?page=2

Thursday, March 18, 2010

For those of you that don't read the comments: more Beck!

I’m on a Glenn Beck jag. J and I have been going back and forth on his, and his fans’, sanity this week.

I tender into evidence the following (Curmudgeon, I know I haven’t authenticated it, it’s from HuffingtonPost.com):

"They intend to vote [on the health care bill] on the Sabbath, during Lent, to take away the liberty that we have right from God," King said.

"Faith has been perverted," Beck responded, then repeated. "They are going to vote for this damn thing on a Sunday, which is the Sabbath, during Lent."
Beck continued:

"Here is a group of people that have so perverted our faith and our hope and our charity, that is a -- this is an affront to God."

Though Beck conceded that he didn't believe that the Sunday vote was consciously chosen as a plot against God, he did find the timing apt.

"I think it's absolutely appropriate that these people are trying to put the nail in the coffin on our country on a Sunday -- something our founders would have never, ever, ever done. Out of respect for God."

Oh No! The Framers are turning over in their graves, Deists though they were. And, God’s a Republican! My thinking is He’s independent, perhaps not even registered to vote.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Bit the Bullet

I’ve been engaged in a mini-debate with J in the comments to a post about Glenn Beck earlier this week. J in so many words said my opinion (Beck’s a goofball and a buffoon) isn’t valid as I hadn’t put in the research time.

I just did, listening to seven or eight “Beck Talks” segments on his website. He took on a bunch of the issues that are current in the news, attacking the liberal position on each and saying not much of anything of substance, just a series of sweeping generalizations that I’m sure play to the fan base. I also read a couple of transcripts of segments from his radio show. He doesn’t come off as well there, kind of a not so smooth and very right wing Howard Stern, bantering disjointedly with his sidekicks, Stu and another guy who's name I forget.

One plus, he didn’t cry once.

I have to say, I didn’t hear any crazy talk. Just the typical talk radio stuff; and, it was smoother than some I’ve heard, not on a par with Limbaugh and Hannity (comparing smooth not quality), but equally as biased.

I amend my opinion: He’s a typical talk radio/TV guy (as long as he doesn’t cry). He isn’t overly interested in facts and logic (both of which could be used to attack many liberal positions). He’s interested in playing to his audience, he does it well. Indeed, he’s better at it than his opposite counterparts at MSNBC, but again, as equally biased.

He and they are what’s wrong with political discourse in America. Extremism sells. Nuanced debate puts people to sleep. You can’t sell Carbonite and gold (two big Beck sponsors) if your audience is asleep.

A Question for the Audience

I’ve come across “.perl” files twice in the last couple of months, both times on U.S. Government sites where there used to be .pdf files to be downloaded. Nothing that I’ve got, that I know of, will open them. Google sends me to sites that talk about Perl as a programming language.

Anybody know the particular way I’m stupid this time around?

Top O' the Morning to You...

from my half German, half Scotch/Irish person. I'm off to find something green to wear.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not a Word

I just spent a little time skimming NYTimes.com, LATimes.com, FoxNews.com, and CNN.com, trying to find out what the provisions of the ultimate health reform bill that is going to be voted on this week actually are. Nothing in the first three sources. CNN was promising for a moment with a headline “What’s in the House and Senate bills?” But it turned out that was a 5-slide slide show that said next to nothing about what’s in the bills.

From all the back and forth in what I did see, the “plan” now is for the House to simultaneously adopt the Senate bill passed a few months ago, coupled with changes to it necessary to get enough votes in the House to pass the newest version by “reconciliation.” What are those changes? It doesn’t appear that they’ve been worked out yet.

I hate to take the GOP’s side; but, is a Democrat in the House being responsible casting a vote for a bill when he or she hasn’t a clue as to most of its contents? Are the Democrats being responsible even scheduling a vote this week when as of mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the contents aren’t fully known to anyone?

But, the Republicans bear part of the responsibility for this farce. It is hard for a GOP defender to argue that the party has not been the party of No. It decided months ago that it would use health care reform for political purposes in this Fall’s mid-term elections. And which “wing” of the party do I blame? Not the ultra-conservative, reactionary, tea party types. Nope, the majority of the party that isn’t crazy. With them, I blame not the ultra-liberal wing of the Democratic party. Again, most Democrats are moderate (and even if they aren’t, their constituents are).

Lop off the fringe members on the left and the right and there’s more than sixty people in the Senate and 200 whatever in the House that, if they had any courage could sit down together and craft and pass a health care reform bill. It is their fault that that isn’t happening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scary Stuff

Click the link, http://www.quantcast.com/glennbeck.com, for a chart from something called quantcast. I went surfing looking for validation of my unsupported opinion that Glenn Beck would have an audience of minimally educated, low income people.

While the figures are for his website, I would assume they should be roughly valid for his TV show. As you can see, 70% of his audience has some college and/or grad school. 58% make at least $60K a year. Read the chart for the rest of the horror.

To hold to my beliefs, it is necessary to conclude: Women are smarter than men. White people are dumb whether or not they have an education or make good money. The older they get, the dumber they get. We need more kids born.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I’m not sure what I think about this

Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife has formed a non-profit Tea party organization as she finds “herself among those energized into action by President Obama's ‘hard-left agenda.’"

http://huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/14/virginia-thomas-tea-party_n_498283.html

She and Justice Thomas of course have every right to espouse the politics they believe in. But, the Court and now the spouses of the members of the Court seem to be becoming more and more overtly political.

It used to be that Justices didn’t say much of consequence outside of the opinions they wrote. Now they all seem to be spouting off. The Chief Justice is troubled by the fact that the President and Congress are politically motivated. Justice Ginsburg openly is supporting ending judicial elections (though I happen to agree with that view). Justice Scalia delights in popping off in speeches.

Justices are people. People have opinions and biases. But, judges hold a unique position. They are called upon to apply law to facts without bias. They don’t of course always do that. But more and more they have little compunction about making their biases public.

Now we have their spouses playing politics, to an extent parlaying their status as the spouse of a justice to get attention for their views. (Her public partisanship is a bit ironic, her husband says little, having not asked a question at an oral argument in a number of years now.)

The more and more publicly passionate “law” becomes, the less and less moral authority it has. The more and more it’s the big kid dispensing his or her brand of school yard “justice.”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something Things I Wish Websites Would Do For Me

It’s just a little button. But it would be so helpful. A real time saver.

I just finished reading an online article in this week’s New York Times Magazine. The Magazine’s articles tend to run many pages (NYTimes.com articles often run several pages). At the end, you have two choices to get to where you started. You can hit the back button however many times it takes to return to where you started. Or, you can hit Home or the Times logo to get to the main page and then navigate your way back to where you found the article and resume your surfing.

Why not a button to take you to the page that had the article’s hyperlink?

And while I'm at it, though I think I may have written this gripe before, websites, quit making me click to "continue reading this article" unless it is really long as discussed above. Advertisers have to be on to this page view scam. Big offenders recently are AJC.com and CreativeLoafing.com. Stop it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Family Feud

Long time readers will know that one of my brothers is a Marine. As I understand it, the present tense is correct, once, always.

He read an article on FoxNews.com about a very brief interview with a Navy Seal and his lawyer about pending charges against the Seal and two others for assaulting an alleged terrorist they had apprehended.

My brother sent me the link and gave me his thoughts about the charges using the theme “you can’t handle the truth!” from the Nicholson/Cruise movie A Few Good Men.

Here’s his raw Email (published with his permission and encouragement) and then my quick response. Then I’ll write a bit more.

Him:

As I have said before Jack Nicholson is the real hero in the movie “A Few Good Men” not Tom Cruise. Some of you don’t understand the line that Jack said in the movie as he portrayed the USMC Lt. Colonel . What was that line you ask? “You can’t handle the truth”.

So why start with a reference to an old movie? Because a Navy Seal is on trial for giving a “fat lip” to a murdering coward. Remember the Fallujah incident of the American that was killed and then dragged around town, burned and then hung from a bridge while the citizens of that city celebrated? I remember. This guy and two other Seals captured the bastard that killed him and tortured his body in public. He is on trial because the guy has a fat lip. I am tired of this Political Correctness and ACLU crap that this country seems to think they must maintain. This country for the most part can’t handle the truth. They want safety but they won’t let those who do the job of ensuring it carry out the mission without oversight into things that they can’t understand and “can’t handle”. So what if the guy got a fat lip from a Navy Seal that captured him??? IMO he is lucky that is all he suffered. It is WAR people. Wake up. Let those that are trained do a job most of us don’t understand do it without reprisal.

Maybe it was the physical beatings that I took from my Marine Corps Drill Instructors that jade me to this. Maybe I understand more than some others do because of what I went thru. If you care to watch another movie, “Full Metal Jacket”. That is what I endured. I got regularly punched and knocked onto my ass from DI’s that had contempt for me. They screamed at me just inches from my face one minute and then whispered into my ear hate and contempt for my sorry ass the next minute. They told me I was not worthy to be a Marine in THEIR Corps. They told me softly and they told me loudly. They told me with pain. I proved them wrong. I took their words, their punishment and their pain. They told us that if we could not survive what they were dishing out in Boot Camp how would we ever survive being a POW in a time of war. How could we perform our mission under pressure?

Even if the guy did get punched who cares. I don’t.

Me:

I read the article and did a search for news reports. I can't find anything that sets out the facts of the incident. Without them, I don't know what he did, when he did it and what the specific charges are. If the bad guy got the injury during the apprehension, I don't think the Seal did anything wrong, probably. If the guy was in custody and restrained and the Seal was taking little vengeance, the Seal probably violated the [UCMJ]. Even if that's the case, it's understandable and I would hope he wouldn't get slapped too bad. That said, and this has nothing to do with me being liberal, everybody knows the rules of the game. For a poor analogy, if I'm speeding and get a ticket, it's no defense that the speed limit is too low or that everybody goes as fast as I was going. I broke the law and have to face the consequences.

Should the [UCMJ] be changed to allow a Seal to after the fact take out his anger on a terrorist? Probably not in my liberal view.

As to the "you can't..." Oh, I can take it. I know full well that a lot goes on in and around war that doesn't pass legal muster. It doesn't bother me too much; but, again, like the Nicholson character, the Seal, a CIA operative, you get caught, you know what's coming.

Finally as to how you were trained, as you know, that is for the most part a thing of the past. I think it should be. My proof: the military is turning out some pretty good Marines, soldiers, sailors and Seals with the new "kinder and gentler" training.

So, we have the visceral reactions of the hero (he is, he’s decorated) and the lawyer. Neither is sufficient.

What are the core issues?

First, we are at war whether we want to be or not. War is not pretty. There is truth to the broad defense of the warrior of “you can’t handle the truth!” There is also truth to the proposition that we should be “better” than our enemies. Is an eye for an eye the best answer?

I don’t know what the Seal and his friends did, I still can’t find a media report that includes anything but reports of the reaction to the charges against them.

Beyond the timing of the offense, if there was an offense, that I seized on in my Email response, what is it that we should be telling our warriors? And let’s be realistic here. There are those among us, I’m included, that don’t want violence, guns, war. I want it all to “poof” go away. It isn’t going away for the most part because of the huge cultural differences between the “Western” nations and the “rogue” countries and groups. We can pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow and we will be attacked at the next opportune moment.

So, again, what to do with a Seal that we need, that we have trained to have a hair trigger, that may have reacted (and it’s the wrong word) inappropriately? Or that flat violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

We’ve faced this issue for the life of our country. The old people start the war and the young go to fight it. Every now and again, the young’ns, having been wound up, screw it up.

I can’t help but revert to my legal background. If he attacked the guy when he didn’t need to, he has to face the consequences. That said, he was conditioned to react with violence, should we have a few more co-defendants, a bit older?

There’s more here that I’m having trouble articulating, feel free to weigh in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buckets and Thimbles

There are a number of news reports about Bill Gates not being the richest guy in the world any more. He’s been passed by a Mexican mogul named Slim (look for his picture and you’ll understand why his name tickles me.)

What struck me is not that Bill is now only number two (and that Warren Buffett has moved down to three on the Forbes Billionaires list). Rather it is the fact that all three billionaires' net worth went up, substantially, from last year:

Slim from $35 billion to $53.5 billion.

Gates from $40 billion to $53 billion.

Buffett from $37 billion to $47 billion.

I guess the Recession hasn’t hit everybody. From the Forbes.com article:

“In his annual shareholder letter Buffett wrote, ‘We've put a lot of money to work during the chaos of the last two years. When it's raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble.’

Many plutocrats did just that. Indeed, last year's wealth wasteland has become a billionaire bonanza. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year.”

I got to get me one of those buckets to replace my thimble.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

In Praise of a Good Ol' Boy

I was hanging out after work today with Big Rick and my friend the cop. You saw the picture of the truck in the post below.

Neither Rick, nor the cop, are liberal, commie, pinkos like me; and, we all agreed on our Georgia Government’s decision to blatantly violate the law.

A year or so ago a young woman was murdered while hiking in the Georgia mountains. Her killer was arrested and confessed. He’s doing time.

Hustler Magazine made an Open Records Request for the crime scene photos, which show her nude and mutilated body. The head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said no, you want them, sue me.

Thing is, Hustler is legally entitled to the pictures. There are times when legal just doesn’t get it. This is one of them.

If the State loses in a trial court, I say appeal. If it loses there, keep up the appeals. If the end result is you have to comply, block out the body and start the process all over again.

Every now and again it’s a good thing that a good ol' boy says that ain’t right.

Where the Words, I Think, Add to the Picture



You don't get the full down hill tilt from the picture. I'm thinking about the physics of the situation - inches from the bumper of the car, put it in park, turn it off, open the door, rush to the bed of the truck, get the chunk of wood (click the picture if you want to see it a bit more clearly) and jam it in below the left rear tire of the car.

And the aftermath - it's in the parking lot of a bar. Run the above sentence in reverse after a few adult beverages.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Comcast is the Worst Internet Provider In the World, with apologies to Keith Olbermann. TWO UPDATES

Here’s how I spent part of the last hour. See below the transcript for the rest.

dave>
Comcast keeps taking over my search engine.

analyst Sonia has entered room

Sonia>
Hello Dave_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Sonia. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Sonia>
Hello, Dave!

Sonia>
Thank you so much for patiently waiting on the queue. How's your day so far?

Dave_>
Fine, I just was online with s tech named Kathleene, I have Firefox set to use Google to give suggestions if I type a bad URL. For some reason you have decided to redirect me to customer.comcast.com (which gives lousy results). Kathleene had me delete Recent History which took me back to Google; but, you took it over again. I don't want that, how do I get rid of you?

Sonia>
Oh I see.

Sonia>
I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this might have been causing you.

Sonia>
No problem!

Sonia>
I would be very glad to assist you on that.

Sonia>
Dave, all you need to do is to turn off the Domain Helper.

Sonia>
Kindly log-in to http://dns-opt-out.comcast.net .

Sonia>
You will need to log-in using the primary username of your account.

Dave_>
If that works fine; but, why did you opt me into it without my asking? Very annoying.

Sonia>
That's by default, Dave. That's why you have an option to deactivate the service/feature if you want to.

Dave_>
Again, bad business. I would like the option to opt in rather than having wasted the last half hour trying to get rid of it. Thank you for your help, assuming it works

Sonia>
It will surely work, Dave. Once you deactivate the service, it will be fully deactivated within 24 hours.

Sonia>
The technicians who will be working on this will send you a confirmation email confirming the successful process.

Sonia>
Then when you receive the email, reset your modem so the changes will fully take effect.

Dave_>
Are you telling me that you took over my computer and won't give it back for a day? Check out the raging post I'm about to write about this foolishness at ratherthanworking.blogspot.com. And now you tell me I have to reset my modem? This is garbage. I know I shouldn't bother you with this as you aren't in charge; but, this is really outrageous.

Sonia>
Dave, I understand how you feel regarding this issue. As I said, within 24 hours, not the whole 24 hours. As soon as you deactivate this feature from your account online, the account technicians who are in charge of this will be working on this right away, then they will send you a confirmation email once the process is completed in the system. The modem reset will refresh your connection from the system so the changes will fully take effect.

Sonia>
I apologize if these steps was not directly given to you by the previous analyst so you should have saved some time troubleshooting the other way.

Dave_>
I fully understand, still totally wrong on Comcast's part to take over the computer and make me go through all this. It isn't the first tech's fault, it is your employer's fault. It may be time to go elsewhere.

Sonia>
I understand, Dave. Are you able to log-in to turn off the feature?

Dave_>
I'll stop with you and do that. If it doesn't work, I'll be back. You really ought to tell a "power that be" that this is a bad policy. People don't like their computers being taken over and then being forced to "opt out." Leaving now.

And the “Thank you for your help, assuming it works?” It didn’t. I logged in, gave my user name and password – no access to “Domain Helper,” I get an endless loop asking me to log in again. I’m tired of this for now. I’ll harass them tomorrow while I’m sitting at the car dealer in the morning while they check out why my check engine light and electronic stability control not working light came on about 4,000 miles before the warranty expires.

TO THE RAMPARTS! DUMP COMCAST!

It seems I’m not a happy consumer at the moment.

UPDATE:

I'm at the car dealer waiting to hear what my next problem's solution is. I went online and found a Comcast blog dealing with its roll out of the Domain Helper "feature." Someone named Scott McNulty with Comcast extolled the virtues of the fact that Comcast unilaterally has hijacked all of its customers' browsers, re-directing any mistyping of a URL to its DNS server which gives you Yahoo search alternatives to your misspelled URL and, surprise, Ads!

I spent some time reading customers' comments on the hijacking and found not a one that was happy. The majority were as irate as I was in the transcript above. Another "surprise," most had the same problems I had - you couldn't get rid of the "service." But, one unhappy customer noted that Google has a free DNS server service. I am now the pround custodian of an "8.8.8.8" route to the Internet, having end run the bastards at Comcast.

It's another pretty day in Atlanta with a projected high in the low sixties. And, I must be living right - I just saw them pull my car up outside. Nothing too bad could have happened in forty minutes.

SECOND UPDATE:

I've got to say that after the fact, Comcast does respond, quickly and in force. When I got to the office from the dealer (O2 sensor went bad for the second time) I had an Email from a guy in their corporate complaint office that was quite apologetic, though still defending their hijacking as a "service." I responded in a bit more detail about what bothered me. About 15 minutes ago I got a response to that from someone else in the same office with another apology and as you can see below in the comments, yet another response, with another apology and offer of help.

I suppose the quick, multiple apologies, coupled with each of my correspondents saying they were going to pass my complaints on to the people that make these (to my mind stupid) decisions is about as much as I can ask beyond getting the couple hours of my life back. And, since Clapton, not Comcast, is God, I guess that isn't in the cards.

It's 70 degrees here in Atlanta

Blue skies. That's it, other than I'm quite pleased even though it is Monday.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

With Apologies to Jim Donahue

Jim writes The Velvet Blog, see Recommended side bar. Jim doesn’t like Cablevision, one of the main TV providers on the East Coast.

His hated provider is in a battle this weekend with Disney, the owner of ABC, the broadcaster of the Oscars later tonight. Last I knew, Jim isn’t going to see the Oscars unless he hooks up an antenna.

But, I read something this afternoon about Cablevision and Senator Kerry wanting to arbitrate the dispute. That is stupid. Disney/ABC wants more money for what it provides to Cablevision. Cablevision doesn’t want to pay more money. Both equally reasonable or unreasonable depending on which of them you are. As a Cablevision customer, I’d root for your provider in the long run, the other side in the short run (now a couple of hours).

Arbitration? Just what is an arbitrator going to decide? There isn’t any law to be applied. One side wants to pay less, the other side wants more paid. Both perfectly acceptable outcomes.

How dare that mean Disney cut off it’s programming to the Cablevision subscribers! Were I the evil Michael Isner, I think the president of Disney, I’d do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, when I had leverage. Were I running Cablevision, I’d be demonizing Mickey Mouse for his evil manipulation of the Oscars. Damn the little rat!

Business, pure and simple.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Postettes

Some little things, nothing of any consequence.

I really should read recipes more thoroughly before I start them at 5:30 p.m. expecting to eat by now, (7:30 p.m.). I am now “cooling completely” the combined tomato and b├ęchamel sauce for the lasagna that may start baking in say 45 minutes. I wonder if they sell home blast chillers. And, just why do I have to do this to something that's going in a pan with noodles, spinach, ground chuck and cheese and then is going into a hot oven?

From NYTimes.com:

“Perhaps concerned that his repeated suggestions that the Holocaust might not have happened have become less shocking over time, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upped the ante on Saturday, telling intelligence officials in Tehran that the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was staged.”

I know it’s for home consumption; but, just how is it that you deal with someone like this? I’m thinking you don’t, you just marginalize the country as best you can.

I hope marginalizing Iran doesn’t cost too much, I saw a headline that says all the stuff we’ve been doing over the past 18 months is going to cost something like 7 or 8 trillion bucks.

Do you want a car that has “go kart handling?” Whenever I hear a Mini Cooper ad that boasts that, I think I want a bit more for six figures, including a size that doesn’t look like it was designed for the clowns at the circus to pile out of.

This being Oscar weekend, I have Hurt Locker and District 9 on Netflix. Maybe it’s time to finish this and watch one while the lasagna sauce “completely cools.”

It’s going to be in the low to mid sixties tomorrow here in the Peach State. My tee time is Noon.

Think it’s ok to throw a few cubes of ice in the pot?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Clean Slate

They’ll break my heart in a couple of months, but right now, like every other baseball fan in the country I know my team, the Atlanta Braves, is set to go all the way.

I can prove it:

We have five starting pitchers that based on past performance could be the best rotation in baseball. In games so far they haven’t given up a run in the Grapefruit League. (Of course you have to do a bit of cherry picking of their performances, shake well and hope they all have career years. Then too, one is coming off ligament surgery; I’m sure that won’t be a problem.)

We are deep, deep in the bullpen. (This is leavened by the fact that our new set-up guy and closer are over 40 and the closer is coming off ligament surgery.)

We have a new first baseman that is something like 6’6” and has hit a ton over the years. (Did I mention he’s coming off….)

Chipper Jones, our third baseman is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. (He can’t have another abysmal year like 2009 – it just isn’t possible – he’ll return to All Star form, I’m sure.)

Our 2009 blue-collar outfield is going to out perform itself, aided by a 20 year old future superstar right fielder who’s played about ten games above the AA level.

And the rest of the team that I haven’t mentioned is solid (they really are).

So this could be the year we return to glory. Or not. I’m betting on the under.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Depending on your job, take your kid to work day is not always a good idea

My dad was a butcher. I never handled the knives or the slicer. I was allowed to empty the trash and mop the floor. I also got to return the “this number next” plastic cards from the wall to the hanger thing on the top of the meat case (for you youngin’s that is the predecessor of the little piece of paper with a number on it that you pull out of a dispenser).

I haven’t read more than the headlines; but, apparently an on duty air traffic controller let his son talk to pilots over the tower radio. The controller and his boss are suspended. I imagine there was no real danger. Still.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pizza

This is a comment whore post.

I’m surfing and watching a Travel Channel show on pizza around the country.

The best pizza: not as thin as New York, not Chicago deep dish. Spicy. More than an average amount of tomato sauce. A good amount of cheese, your choice among the traditional. Best with tomato sauce, then toppings, then cheese on top. Toppings? No California stuff, chocolate or other dessert things. Beyond tomato, some onion and if you want peppers OK, but that’s it for vegetables. Mushrooms are a must. The basic fatty meats are a good idea: Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon of some sort, hamburger if you like. It needs to be bubbling hot, reheated is acceptable but not recommended. Cold doesn’t get it (sorry Pos).

OxHaDe. HaDeOx. DeOxHa. DeHaOx, HaOxDe, OxDeHa

I think that’s all the permutations. And I think my point is that the three leading candidates for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s next Governor are toxic chemicals, best buried away where they can't poison anyone:

John Oxendine, our current Insurance Commissioner, openly extorts money from insurance companies and their employees and threatens other politicians with public outing of their connections to people that he may investigate. He then goes hunting on land owned by insurance executives and his son shoots someone a‘la Dick Cheney. He takes shots at the next two in the list for resigning their current positions to campaign (in Georgia, if you are a state official you can’t solicit money during the legislative session, he doesn’t need it because he’s way ahead in extorted money).

Karen Handel, recently our Secretary of State, who never saw a non-Republican that she thought wasn’t an illegal immigrant. Georgia has the distinction of having to have all of its voting laws and plans pre-approved by the Justice Department due to past shall we say past racially discriminatory indiscretions. Ms. Handel has been shot down by the Feds, I think, three times now on plans to inhibit minority voting by ID schemes.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (until yesterday when he resigned to campaign) used to be a Democrat (which really isn’t a Democrat in Georgia) until he found it more useful to be a Republican back in the early nineties after he got to Congress. He thinks it’s a good idea to have the President once and for all put this Birther stuff to bed by publishing his birth certificate, not that he thinks he’s a godless, commie, bastard foreigner mind you. He also has defended threatening the state’s director of the Department of Revenue because the latter thought that it might be a good idea to add to the number of body shops that could certify that a total loss car had been properly repaired so as to get a rebuilt title beyond those owned by Rep. Deal (from which he’s been making about $150K a year) because his partner in the deal is also his constituent and it’s his job to represent his constituents’ interests, or something equally as silly that I can’t quite remember. (I checked, that is a sentence.)

We’ve also got some guy named McBerry running who says he isn’t a racist but says that 1850 was the best year Georgia has ever had and thinks we all ought to pay more attention to the Tenth Amendment.

And some of you think I’m crazy for not being a Republican.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Back to the Basics

I’ve mentioned over the years that I practice a boring offshoot of law – most of my clients are in some way involved in the construction business. Most of what I do concerns contracts, statutes and regulations, their drafting, interpretation and arguing about.

Over the years I’ve learned that something I learned in grade school is of great help in figuring out what an insurance or government contract “means.” Diagramming. If you are old enough, you remember writing a sentence and drawing lines to show nouns, verbs, etc. The same concept works for contracts.

My exercise this morning and the early part of the afternoon was to take a contract, an incorporated regulatory clause, a set of drawings and a set of technical specifications, all of which conflicted, in substance and as to method for resolving conflicts in the provisions. The answer is worth some significant bucks.

So, I took out a piece of paper and divided it into four columns, one for each type of document, and put the conflicting provisions next to each other. Then I applied each of the conflicting methods of interpretation to the substantive conflicts, wending my way through the maze.

One path through is good for my client, the other, not so much.

To provide a bookend to my antiquated method of the practice of law, I actually have to go to a law library and root through real, live books because the legal rules for choosing which rules of interpretation to use (your head hurt yet? mine does) are in and of themselves esoteric and not to be found in the online resources I have. I hope I remember how to use a card catalogue, though that is online.