Monday, July 31, 2006

Do Nothing!

In an article about the minimum-wage hike being linked to the "death tax" (Or, as I think we ought to start calling it, the Paris Hilton Tax) was this little gem:
If the House sticks to its schedule, it will have worked 84 days this year when votes were scheduled, 26 fewer than the Congress that President Harry S. Truman labeled "do-nothing" during his come-from-behind 1948 campaign. Indeed, in 31 of the past 40 sessions of Congress, the House met more days before the July 4 break than the current House is scheduled to meet before the November election, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Guantanamo, Stateside

Well, well, well. The Boy King didn't like the fact that the Supreme Court determined that his "military tribunals" were unconstitutional and violated the Geneva Convention. The response? To propose a new "terror" bill that reinstates his ability to do so, at will. He apparently still doesn't get the idea that he's not a king, and he can't just ignore Supreme Court rulings (well, ignore any where Scalia isn't the majority opinion, I guess).
The legislation is the administration's response to a June 29 Supreme Court decision, which concluded the Pentagon could not prosecute military detainees using secret tribunals established soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The court ruled the tribunals were not authorized by law and violated treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which established many international laws for warfare.
The new law proposes that:
U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.

A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the
Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.
The definition of "enemy combatant" is so vague that it could include just about anyone, at the whim of the government. Think we aren't going to have "political dissapearances" in this country? Well, this legislation certainly opens the door to it by allowing the rather arbitrary whim of a president who has a serious god-complex. He's already shown a tendency to drop people into a detention center on the thinnest of evidence, and then deny them even basic access to the legal process, and seems willing to extradite them to other countries where they can be questioned without that pesky oversight process. This legislation is a slap in the face to anyone who believes in the three-part, checks-and-balances types of government that we're supposed to have.

Don't like the SC decision? Ignore it. Don't like legislation as it was passed? Issue a signing statement. It doesn't matter. Just do whatever you want.

At one point, the legislation considered actually stripped most of the general legal protections from someone labelled an "enemy combatant" (without, it must be noted, defining just what that is):
The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony
Our "legal system", when dealing with the vague and nebulous "terrorist" -- which can be anyone that the government labels a terrorist, I guess -- is beginning to sound much like that of some of the world's worst human-right's violators. It's not even a trial (fair or otherwise) if the defendent can't attend and defend themselves, or if evidence is allowed that has been 'discovered' through torture. It's a sham. A kangaroo court of the worst sort:
A kangaroo court is a 'judicial' proceeding that denies proper procedure in the name of expediency; a fraudulent or unjust trial where the decision has essentially been made in advance, usually for the purpose of providing a conviction, either going through the motions of manipulated procedure or allowing no defence at all.
I used to scoff at comparisons between the US and repressive regimes like China and N. Korea, or the old, Cold-War Soviet Union. I'm not feeling that confident anymore.

More info at Ameriblog, and DailyKos

Friday, July 28, 2006

Death Tax and Minimum Wage

Well, once again, things get ugly. The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 for about fifteen years now -- and as anyone knows, you simply can't live on that and expect to eat. Lawmakers are perfectly happy to vote themselves pay raises and cost-of-living increases without any qualms whatsoever..but suggest that they do something to actually help the little guy and they start doing their political dance at high speed:
Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, lawmakers said Friday.
The maneuver was aimed at defusing the wage hike as a campaign issue for Democrats while using the popularity of the increase to achieve the Republican Party's longtime goal of permanently cutting taxes on the estates of millionaires and small businessmen
So, basically,they want to pad things for their cronies, and make sure that they get "credit" for raising wages (and no one will remember that the Republicans did not pass wage hikes back in june, even as they increased their own salaries). And they want to pander to the enormous number of people in the US who really do think they are going to be affected by the "death tax". Most of the people out plumping for the tax repeal are never going to be affected...they just want to be.

When I rule the world? Every single piece of legisltation will have ONE topic and ONE topic only. Every line in the bill has to relate to exactly the same concept and you won't be able to tack on ridiculous things (in an attempt to make them look back because they vetoed the bill on funding orphanages, for example, when you added a rider that also funded Apache helicopters for Sudan). When I rule the world!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Get your Manhood Back

I can't imagine how on earth the recent ads for Hummer SUVs were actually approved, and who on earth thought they were "smart" or "edgy" or even acceptable. I saw these a few weeks ago and was taken aback by the bizarre idea that buying an enormous, gas-guzzing SUV monster Hummer was going to let you 'Reclaim your Manhood" or "Get your Girl On" . Wha?

If you haven't seen these -- a man is in line at the supermarket and the camera carefully scans the things he has bought: tofu, vegetables, healthy food. He furtively pays for these and the camera pans to the man behind him, buying manly-manly MEAT. Obviously, Mr. Health Food Vegetarian is somehow Less Manly. BUt then he get to the parking lot and gets in his Hummer and he is once again restored to the ranks of Manly Men becuase he has a huge, overbearing and ridiculous car. "Reclaim your Manhood" You can see this ad at Hummer World > Televis

The second is a woman standing at the bottom of the playground slide with another woman. The other woman's child pushed rudely into line and gets on the slide. 'Excuse me, my little Bobby was next' she says in a tiny voice. "Well, now we're next" snotty-bitch replies. Next cut: snubbed woman is driving her enormous SUV. No one is going to mess with her again. "Get your Girl On!"

[You can see both the commercials (in their later, less offensive slogans) at under Hummer World > Television Ads. The ads are 'Tofu' and 'Slide']

I don't get it. I mean, sure, I definitely equate the need to have an enormous SUV or ten-cylinder Hemi truck with some sort of deficiency in the male-genital-area, but these are just stupid commercials, no matter how you look at them. Nothing like insulting half the population in one fell swoop, eh? Women are either bitches or doormats, and men who don't eat meat and chips are wussies?

And the funny thing is -- the ad slogans apparently didn't go over well for anyone except the scary group they used as a focus group or test group. Within a week or so, the slogan has changed on both ads to a much less offensive "Restore the balance"

Which prompted another round of "Wha???" Restore the balance by buying the biggest vehicle you can drive on a Class C license and that will make you...better? smarter? Who knows.

A better tagline? "We know you're compensating for something."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Salwar Kameez

Someone on the TT list mentioned that they had recently bought a few Salwar kameez -- a type of garment common in Pakistan and India (and a few other places, I imagine), and found them comfortable and very pretty.

I'm sure you've seen these -- a long-ish skirt or tunic over pants, and these lovely, drapey scarves. We don't see too many out here in Denver, but they look so very comfortable and some of them are just gorgeous. I see a lot of women wearing a shorter version of the top (longer tunic) over jeans and think it looks good.

Well, I discovered that, with a bit of searching on eBay, you can find a bespoke tailor in Pakistan or India who will make one to your exact measurements, and in your choice of fabric (silk, georgette, crepe, cotton) and color and embroidery. If I was a tall and willowly slender person, I'd order saree custom-made as well -- I just love the elegant and very sumptuous look of them. But not being tall, nor willowy, nor slender, let's stick with the generic salwar kameez that is (according to all the advertising) good for any body type. We'll see.

Anyway, a few people have noted that these are incredibly comfortable and yet can be very dressy and I'm always looking for something to wear so I thought I'd order a few (since you can find them for about $40 US including shipping).

It's probably going to be weird to have a pale, pasty northern person wearing very traditional middle-eastern/asian garb, but you know, I'm not a fashion maven and I'm more concerned with "comfortable and nice looking" than "fashionable". So, I'll probably avoid lime green and turqoise or canary yellow (all popular colors, by the way) and stick with someting more subdued.

I'll fill you in on the success of the eBay ordering of custom clothing when thing arrive.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bad Bad Company Names

Yes, these really are all company URLS for valid (and legitimate) companies.

I especially liked Mole Station Native Nursery -- based in New South Wales: and the Italian Power Generator company…

Someone really didn't think these through, did they?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Family Vacations

We spent Saturday down in Canon City, CO, riding the train through the Royal Gorge on my company's quarterly outing. It was fun, and it had been years since any of us had been on a train. We stopped at the Holy Cross Abbey Winery afterwards, and picked up some interesting Colorado wine. Quite a lot of the wine we have downstairs is from Colorado -- we head to the Wine Festival every year and pick up a few cases of wine from the Western Slope. We've been pleasantly surprised by most of them -- although a few have needed a couple years to be drinkable!

On Sunday, the Adorable Husband took of to Madison, WI for the family vacation. The whole Clan is spending a few days at the Speckled Hen Inn. I'm stuck here working on a project, but since I've already had three months off (more!) this year, I'm a bit short on vacation time. Besides, when I'm not sitting at my desk working, I'm asleep. That's about the extent of my social calendar for the next few days, I think. Work and nap. Life is pretty hard, eh?

Tall People

There was an interesting show on Discovery yesterday about tall people, which I watched while lazing about the house. Being married to a bona-fide Tall Person, I've seen at least some of the behaviors (people often ask him how tall he is, or how the weather is "up there", etc). Much of the show focused on how tall people often try to hide their tallness or try to minimize their size -- women especially. Even many of the tall men said they were embarassed by their size, or had low self-esteem, or spend their childhood trying to be invisible to avoid teasing. I rather doubt that the Adorable Husband has an residual self-esteem issues from his height; he's always viewed his size as positive.

Only about 5% of the male population is taller than 6'2" and the generally accepted range of "Tall" is 6'-6'3". Less than 1% of the US male population is 6'4" or better. The Adorable Husband is (depending on when you measure him, morning or evening) between 6'4" and 6'5".

Average height for men in the US is 5'9" and for women, 5'4 1/2" (which makes me just about average! Ha!) . Of course, average height for men in the Netherlands is 5'11 7/8".

I've had tall women get pretty snippy with me about marrying a Tall guy -- there is still a weird stereotype that the woman must not be taller than the man, and for tall women the dating pool of tall-enough men is pretty small. I have to admit that I definitely fit the stereotype: being around men who are my height or shorter is always weird, so I can sympathize with the tall women who believe I've unfairly snagged one of the guys in their height range. Sorry about that.

But, being tall apparently does have some benefits: Taller politicians do better, taller men are seen as more trustworthy, tall people are more likely to marry and have children. More than half of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are over six feet (in 1980), and studies have shown that taller people tend to have higher salaries.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Plague. Or Just Spots

For the last couple of days, I've felt completed knackered -- worn out, unbelievably tired, fuzzy, achy. I've been going to bed at 9pm and sleeping 11 or more hours, and even then feeling like something the cat dragged in. Getting out of bed has been an effort of will and I think I dozed off in the shower this morning.

And I have a headache and my knees and elbows hurt and -- the Adorable Husband thinks this is the sign of the coming apocalypse -- I'm cold. I'm never cold unless I'm sick and have a raving fever. Which, apparently, I do.

While I think I may have the plague, he seems to think I may actually have West Nile. We sit outside on the porch alot nowadays in the cool evenings (especially with the recent rain) and about a week ago I made the mistake of sitting out in a pair of shorts. The mosquitoes ate me alive -- I looked like some sort of shotgun-blast victim with dozens of itchy spots. I tend to go barefoot alot, so I expect a few bites on my feet but this was outrageous. For the last week I've been a pustulous, spotty mess.

So, there's actually a pretty good chance that the Adorable Husband is right. West Nile is a big problem in Colorado. Most people never get sick at all, a few get flu-like aches and tiredness, and only a teensy percentage get meningitis or neuroloogical issues. I may be in the flu-like-symptoms camp. I'm certainly not working a t full speed this week. Low-grade fever and I'm a bit whiny, if you hadn't noticed. There have only been two documented cases so far in Colorado, but most people never actually go to the doctor. The count in previous years has numbered several hundred (about 300 in 2004, 100 in 2005) documented cases.

So, multivitamins and lots of sleep, sayeth the Nurse Husband. Easy to oblige -- it's about 1:30 on Friday and all I really want is to go back to bed for a nap. Just a few hours, you know? Whine.

We're so Proud

At the recent summit, Dubya has made assinine comments "off mike", gave a "backrub" to the German Chancellor (he's lucky she didn't deck him for inappropriateness, at the very least -- if someone had touched him like that, the Secret Service would have them on the floor in a second), and basically acted like a white-trash hick. He's not a hick -- he's the product of some of the most elite culture in America: East Coast, Ivy League school, political family, definitely born with the silver spoon. Either this is coldly calculated to appeal to the uneducated masses, or he's too stupid for it to have "taken". The accent? C'mon, he was born and raised and schooled in Connecticut. It makes him sound "homey" and "likeable", I guess. Voted "Best guy to have a beer with", as if that makes him somewhoe qualified to lead the country.

If you've read any of the blog, you know by now that I think Dubya is the Worst. President. Ever. I know that other presidents have had blunders, some of them stupid, but this president just seems to be exude frat-boy crass.

Note especially #6.

YouTube: Top 10 George Bush Moments from Letterman

Numa Numa

Ok, this is apparently an old clip, but I just about laughed myself silly.

Numa Numa - Flash Video

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Internment Camps

Well, not only are many of the trailers provided by FEMA to displaced Louisiana resident empty, but those that are living there are certainly being treated more like prisoners than people in need of aid. Security guards? Calling the police because a resident of the trailers asked a reporter into her "home" and wanted to talk to him?

Aren't we supposed to support personal freedoms? Isn't that what the Boy King keeps telling us is the reason terrorists hate us? They "Hate our freedom", right?

What freedom?

From AP:
MORGAN CITY, La. — Residents of trailer parks set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house hurricane victims in Louisiana aren't allowed to talk to the press without an official escort, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

In one instance, a security guard ordered an Advocate reporter out of a trailer during an interview in Morgan City. Similar FEMA rules were enforced in Davant, in Plaquemines Parish.

FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Rodi wouldn't say whether the security guards' actions complied with FEMA policy, saying the matter was being reviewed. But she confirmed that FEMA does not allow the news media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.
The guard apparently refused to allow the reporter to leave his business card, and cited rules by FEMA that residents don't actually have the right to free speech -- they are monitored, and prevented from talking to the media without a "handler".
If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” Rodi said. “That’s just a policy.”

Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said FEMA’s refusal to allow trailer park residents to invite media into their homes unescorted is unconstitutional.

“That’s a standard for a prison, not a relief park and a temporary shelter,” Leslie said “They cannot deny media access. It’s clearly unconstitutional … and definitely not legal.”. . .
When the same reporter stopped at the chain link fence to talk to another resident, the security guard saw this, too -- and responded by ordering the woman back "into her trailer".
“You are not allowed to talk to these people,” the guard yelled at Ardeneaux. “Return to your trailer now.”. . .
That sounds like a prison to me. But I gues FEMA has done such a smash-up job of handling things that they're afraid of a little realistic reporting. Can't talk to the refugees, you know. They might...say something. The administration must believe that if you don't let people say anything, then the problems don't exist.

Lead from the Rear

Jay Leno:
“Vice President Cheney said when it comes to war Americans need to know where he stands. I think they know where he stands. With those seven deferments, I think it's near the back.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Way we Weren't

Just popping in to recommend an absolutely fascinating book -- The Way We Never Were

Turn on the television or read a newspaper and you see people yammering on about how we have to "reclaim marriage" or go back to "traditional families" or somesuch nonesense. Arguments about same-sex marriage, stay-at-home moms vs working mothers, and this bizarre rose-colored-glasses idea of what marriage and family life are supposed to be.

The Waltons, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver - people hold these up as the "American Ideal" for marriage and decry the "moral lapses" of modern life. They want to go back to this idealized version of television families, in the belief that this will solve all of the modern world's ills. If only wives were submissive and obedient, if only children were discplined, if only husbands were providers and protectors....just like they used to be.

The Way We Never Were punctures those pretty dreams and shows that the "perfect family" of the past (whether it's the Victorian nuclear family or the Cleavers) is a myth. Most everything we believe about "family" in the past decades is based on false impressions and carefully created images of what family life "ought to be", certainly not the realities of actual life.

Sure, the divorce rate was lower in 1950, but satisfaction with marriage was also lower. The nuclear family was pretty much invented in the Victorian period; they also created idea that women must be helpless and domestic and a combination of perfect mother yet perfect sexual wife. Drug use and alcohol abuse were more than double what they are now. Sure, some of the facts might make any particular era attractive, but when you take the whole package, the "perfect model" of marriage is seriously flawed. Frankly, things aren't so bad nowadays, despite what you hear on TV, and following the history of marriage and family life in the last few centuries is quite enlightening.

Fascinating book, well annotated with sources. While you might not agree with every conclusion, you can see the data behind it. It reads a bit like a thesis, but I'm definitely enjoying it.


Not much blogging, really, since I've been in Boston, MA teaching an Oracle class. Class went well, but I am NEVER driving in Boston again. Tunnels. Tunnels with exits in them, stacked layers of freeway six or eight high. No road signs. Freeways that you have to u-turn on to get going the right direction. AAAARRRGGGHHHGGG!!

And, of course, road constructions and road closures. Last week parts of the roof of the Williams tunnel collapsed, killing a woman in her car. They closed off most of the tunnel for inspections, and have determined that the epoxy used to hold panels in place (wiht bolts, of course) has failed and that a large number of the panels are apparently staying in place by habit, not actual fasteners. Inspections show that most of them need to be replaced or redone to keep it safe. People are being investigated and subpeonaed and the Governer is working to remove Amorella, the head of the turnpike authority. APparently, they have known about issues in the tunnels of the Big Dig since 1999 -- and yet moved forward with construction.

I didn't have to drive through that tunnel, but there are three or four others that cross the harbor into the airport. One the way back to the rental car place, I discovered that the exit they wanted me to take was actually in the tunnel itself. This was the first time I've ever considered not filling up the rental car (which, by the way, was a minivan because at 11pm when I got the car it was the only thing left) because I was petrified to get off the carefully planned route to find a gas station. I was working about an hour out of Boston, and never saw a gas station. I decided that if I didn't see a station that was literally on the road so I could pull off and directly back on, I was going to just return the damn thing as it was and pay $7 a gallon for gas.

I developed a serious phobia about driving -- to the point that one of the students in my class actually drove me back to the hotel (well, she let me follow her back).

Class went well, although it was hard to tell if they were happy or not. Half the class had never seen the toolkit at all, and the other half worked with it every day and this was a "refresher" for them. And, the second day of class saw us mushed into a tiny conference room with not enough tablespace for everyone. Rather hard to teach when you can't actually stand up! I love teaching class, but it is awfully tiring.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pronunciation Woes

Yup. English is difficult. Try these:
  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Chairs! We have chairs! With cupholders.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trapped in the Inside Lane

Anyone who has driven in Europe (or in a few cities in the eastern US) has encountered roundabouts. Call them what you will -- rotary, roundabout, traffic circle, ring-junction -- they confound most drivers who run into them the first time. Once you've driven a few, they are less of a problem (although I honestly cannot think what the inner lanes of roundabouts are for, really).

Still, this roundabout in Swindon, England, would confuse even the most roundabout-inured driver (Picture from the Urbanthought blog)

It's a huge roundabout with FIVE mini-roundabouts in it (which is actually called a Magic Roundabout). Someone was taking a serious amount of drugs when they designed this one!

It even has a Wikipedia entry describing the traffic patterns.

Omnipotent? I Don't Think So.

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel. When questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on whether the President’s interpretation of the Hamdan case was right or wrong, Bradbury replied,

“The President is always right.”

Well, that's nice to know.

Of course, that's just what these people were saying when Clinton was president, right? Right? Hello??

Director of Lessons Learned?

White House paying $100,000 salary to "Director of Lessons Learned" -- and check out some of the other bizarre titles.

From AMERICAblog:

At any rate, the list of White House salaries (after their latest salary increase) prompted some pretty snarky responses:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) offers a few more lessons learned: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the President said we continue to be wise about how we spend the people's money.

"Then why are we paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'?

"Maybe I can save the taxpayers $100,000 by running through a few of the lessons this White House should have learned by now.

"Lesson 1: When the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State say you are going to war without enough troops, you're going to war without enough troops.

"Lesson 2: When 8.8 billion dollars of reconstruction funding disappears from Iraq, and 2 billion dollars disappears from Katrina relief, it's time to demand a little accountability.

"Lesson 3: When you've 'turned the corner' in Iraq more times than Danica Patrick at the Indy 500, it means you are going in circles.

"Lesson 4: When the national weather service tells you a category 5 hurricane is heading for New Orleans, a category 5 hurricane is heading to New Orleans.

"I would also ask the President why we're paying for two 'Ethics Advisors' and a 'Director of Fact Checking.'

"They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the President.

"Maybe the White House could consolidate these positions into a Director of Irony."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dungeon Update

We have Sound! And Video! and velvet curtains! As promised, here are a few pics of the process of getting things installed. Mark did most of the actual fastening of things, I did the measuring and layout.

Getting the screen up, levelled, and centered properly was difficult.

But it was worth it!

Chairs arrive on Thursday.

Different Philosophy

Apparently, Joe Lieberman, running in Connecticut, has filed paperwork to create a new party -- "Connecticut for Leiberman" for his run in that state should he not manage to win the primary.

Hm. Connecticut for Lieberman. Connecticut For Lieberman.

Compare this to another politician who called his campaign Dean for America -- not America for Dean.

Different philosophy and different priorities, don't you think?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cinema Success!

Not much blogging this weekend, since we spent the whole time setting things up, going to Home Depot for the parts we forgot, configuring, going back to Home get the idea.

We got the speakers set up, the receiver configured, the projector and screen up -- and lumped for hours watching movies. Wow.

Personally, I love the curtains. Very theater-like. This might be the coolest things we've done in a while. The Adorable husband is still taking pictures, so I'll post things in the morning, but just so you don't think we've disappeared...nah. Just hiding in the basement.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Humungous Picture!!

Mark is just holding the projector against the ceiling, but HUZZAH! Giant screen!

Strange Dogs

I spent the day on conference calls (for work) at my kitchen table. Looking out on the porch, I noticed that the silly brown dog spent the day sleeping like this:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Whew. At least for now...

We got letters in the mail a few weeks ago regarding the theft of a laptop containing information about veterans -- the VA wanted to warn us to watch out for identify theft and any odd behavior in our credit history, etc. They weren't clear what data was actually missing (although it was enough to warrant a bit of panic about identify theft), but they were investigating the incident.

We keep pretty close track of our finances and our credit history, so I'm confident we would have found anything amiss pretty quickly.

I am, however, quite pleased to note that the laptop and missing data have been recovered. The FBI seems to think taht the data had not been accessed, which makes about 26 million people breath a sigh of relief (although I don't know if I'd really relax much). An employee had the data at home on a laptop, which raise some serious issues about security. But -- the interesting part was this:
At the time, VA officials were quick to blame the data analyst involved for violating agency policy in taking the laptop home. However, it has since emerged the worker, who was placed on administrative leave during the course of an inquiry, had written permission to take the sensitive data away from VA offices in order to work from home.
It still should have been ecrypted, and stored only on the servers in the office behind firewalls -- and frankly, the employee should have been accessing them remotely using one of the many VPN protocols. There are a lot of holes in this process and no one seems to have thought much about security.

Net Neutrality

This...drivel is from the guy in charge of the Net Neutrality issue in the Senate. Senator Ted Stevens is the one who is managing the debate on the proposal to "prioritize" information on the 'net.
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?
Um. Got an "internet"? Anyway...
Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially….

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
It's patently obvious that he (and most of congress apparently) have absolutely NO IDEA how this works. Not one f-ing clue. Tubes? "Filled with stuff?" And they're going to decide how it's run? The internet is really not stovepiped like most of the government is, you know?

We need a class of 10-year-olds to go in to Congress and show them how this works. Perhaps with big, simple graphics and very small words.

You can listen to the whole speech (if you can manage to decipher what in the heck he's talking about). It's a complete mess.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Separation? Nah...

Ok, found this on flickr -- The Fundiwhacko Status of enormous (72') addition to the marquee of a Memphis church.

They're adding a Statue of Liberty...only it's not quite Lady Liberty....she's holding a huge glowing cross and carrying the ten commandments and has JEHOVAH written on her forehead.

An article about how the 'Statue of Liberation' is being erected is here -- and more commentary is here, with more pictures

Does this strike anyone else as really, really odd? And in incredibly bad taste?