Thursday, August 31, 2006

Irony Impaired

arlier this week, the illustrious Rumsfield announced that anyone not supporting the president was akin to those who appeased the Nazis. First off, suggesting that there are two positions here: support Bush or support Terrorism is simplistic and stupid. I don't support Bush. I don't support terrorism. I don't know anyone who does (since I don't actually know any terrorists personally). Listen people -- questioning Bush != supporting terrorism. Not in any rational universe. This is a simple logical fallacy: false dichotomy (the black-and-white fallacy). There are far more than two options here, even if the administration is working very hard to convince everyone that there are not.

However, more disturbing to me is that this statement has re-raised the 'publican talking point that we are "fighting fascism" and that the terrorists are "islamo-fascists", a lovely term that Bush threw out into the public arena a few weeks ago.

It's quite obvious that no one in this administration knows what "fascism" is. Here's the basic definition:

Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"
It's a pretty broad brush, but since the current crop of terrorists are not part of a nation, nor do they want to make that nation supreme, nor do they have a single leader, they are not fascists. The label doesn't fit. Hell, you have to actually have a central government in order to develop into a fascist state. Here's a quick list of what characteristics make up a fascist state:
1. Exuberant Nationalism - use of patriotic images, flags everywhere, encouragement to use symbols and slogans by the group in power.

2. Enemies Identified - the national cause is identified by unity against an enemy, people are rallied against a common threat often using religious terminology or images. Dissent is seen as treasonous, or 'siding with the enemy'

3. Disdain for Human Rights - the rights of some can be ignored because of the need for security or safety. The concept of individual rights is traded for the promise of safety.

4. Obsession with Secrecy and national security - the actions of the government are hidden and questioning authority is discouraged. Things cannot be questioned because of 'national security', which is invoked whenever difficult questions are asked.

5. Glorification of the Military -- the military gets a disproportionate share of resources, to the detriment of social needs and soldiers and military culture are glorified.

6. Corporations protected - money and power in the corporate world become emneshed in politics, and the worker/labor unions are supressed.

7. Rampant cronyism and corruption in government - power is maintained through a small group who mutually support each other and deflect any scrutiny.

8. Controlled mass media - media is used as an arm of the state (either directly managed or sympathetically) and the message is repeated constantly and without change.

9. Sexism - fascist regimes are male-dominated and traditional gender-roles are demanded. Homophobia is common.

10. Disdain for Intellectuals - ideologically driven "science" is formulated, while any ideas contrary to the state-belief are ridiculed or stamped out. Academics are the brunt of critiscm.

11. Militarized Police - many in society are wiling to forgo civil liberties in the name of patriotism and the police are given free reign to support the state. National police forces are given the power to investigate anyone and surveillance of the public is often employed.

12. Eraudulent elections - fascists stay in power because they control the election of their offices.

13. Religion and Government are Intertwined - the most common religion is used as a tool to manupulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric is common.
The glorification of the state and the ultimate power of those in charge are not the goals of the terrorists in the Middle East. They are not "fascist". However, if you look with a critical eye at our own government, things are a bit too close for comfort. My comfort, at least. (BTW, if you're interested, do a google search on 'signs of fascism' to see some interesting analysis of current governments and how they fit the definition. You made need to dig out your tinfoil hat)

By pointing the finger and shouting 'fascism' at the vague and multi-dimensional group responsible for 'terror', Rumsfield and now Bush are trying to manipulate us. It's a rude, clumsy manipulation, but it plays to the fears of many Americans, and so it works. "You must support us or how else will you be safe?"

The term has come up in nearly every speech that Bush has given lately (even the "not political" (hah!) speeches he's given in the last few days) and the administration is working hard to place that meme in the public sphere. Fascism is bad, Fascism = Nazis, the people who don't worship at our feet are supporting the all starts to fall into place.

How is questioning the president supporting the terrorists? I can't quite figure out how democrats are being cast as the nazis in this scenario -- any helpful conservative out there want to explain it to me? Or not, since I can't imagine any logical support for that particular analogy that doesn't involve serious intellectual dishonesty and spittle flying. Once again, it all banks on the FEAR FEAR FEAR mantra to keep the voting public docile and agreeable. I'm getting quite sick of it. It's the "message of the day" and it's being plumped in the media every time someone in the administration has a speech.

Oh! And the classification of people who don't support the war or the president as unpatriotic, or against the troops, or 'nazi-sympathizers' is arrogant and insulting. And, I wonder, will anyone notice the irony of Bush implying that his dissenters are 'nazi-supporters' -- when his family is clearly implicated in supporting the actual Nazi party while involved in Union Banking Corporation, which is great-grandfather and grandfather ran as board-members in the years leading up to WWII? Union Banking Corporation From Wikipedia

Probably not. Or even if they did, the media isn't going to report it. See #8 or #4 above.

Never Hug a Swiss Cow

You have been warned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rulers? Who knew?

Katherine Harris (of the Florida election brouhaha) is running for Congress. She is unsupported by her own party, getting criticism from left and right, and yet she seems to be ignoring it and doing/saying whatever she wants to. Either she's stupid, or she knows something we don't about her chances of being elected. Given her role in getting Bush elected, perhaps she is convinced that she will get 'special' treatment. Or maybe she's going to write a tell-all book, who knows?

She apparently is trying to woo the religious right. While speaking to a Baptist convention, she sounded a fervent evangelical tone, saying that "God chooses our rulers," that voters needed to send Christians to political office and that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws." Hey, since when does the United States have "rulers"? Not quite understanding that concept of representative government, are you, Ms. Harris?

She claims that the separation of church and state is a "lie", and when called on her obviously bigoted remarks that only Christians should be catered to, she said that it was only because she was talking to a christian group. Others in the Republican party have said that Harris doesn't represent mainstream party politics. Perhaps this is true, but I have to admit it's fun to watch her melt down in public. She just keeps opening her mouth and saying the damnest things.

Last week, she claimed that not electing "Christian" politicians will "legislate sin" and, obviously, the failure of American society will closely follow. In the furor that followed that statement, she stuck her foot in her mouth again by claiming:
"I think that our laws, I mean, I look at how the law originated, even from Moses, the 10 Commandments. And I don't believe, that uh . . . That's how all of our laws originated in the United States, period. I think that's the basis of our rule of law."
Well, this might be why she had so many problems with election law and balloting initiatives.

Sorry to break it to you, honey, but no, our rule of law is NOT based solely on religious doctrine. As a matter of fact, "pagan" rulers and cultures have far more influence on our laws and legal processes. Read a little history, for pete's sake, before spouting off to gain some sort of support from the religious right. All good scholars of history know that Moses took his laws from those already in the region, most notably the laws of Hammurabi. So what Harris is arguing that we go back to pagan law-givers and honor their rules. Perhaps things would improve.

I'd like someone to ask her on camera to actually enumerate the 10 commandments. If she's going to don the mantle of the uber-religious, she should be able to talk the talk, too, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Telemarketing Counter-Script

Tired of telemarketers who seem to dominate the conversations? Try the attached Counter-Script to be able to take control of the situation and keep those telemarketers on their toes.

Well, we got on the do not call list, and our telemarketing calls are few and far between, but it really is so much fun to mess with them. I feel sorry for the poor schmucks who have to resort to telemarketing calls to make ends meet, but is there anyone who isn't annoyed by these?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Great MN Get-Together

I heard last week that the Minnesota State Fair is the longest-running state fair in the country -- 148 years.

We managed to sneak away from our house-related duties for a quick walk through the main streets of the fairgrounds -- peruse Machinery Hill, gawk at the midway, eat the various fair foods (all "on-a-stick"!) before getting rained on and heading back to the house.

We did discover the best Mini-Donuts (after carefully trying out all the donut stands we could find. We ate three bags of donuts apiece, in about half an hour! (The best donuts, btw, are in the Mini-Donut stand at the entrance to the Grandstand. The Tom Thumb donuts were disappointing.)

We had to laugh at all the food 'on-a-stick', although we weren't able to find the rumored Spaghetti On-A-Stick that arrived last year. My sister had it, and noted that it was more like 'hairy-meatball' on a stick. Pork chops (on-a-stick), Fried Alligator (on-a-stick), Deep-Fried Candy Bars (on-a-stick). Seeing the theme?

The rest of the weekend was spent doing house chores. The Adorable Husband trimmed trees, rewired outlets, fixed gates, installed cabinet knobs. He packed a huge bag of his tools (which did survive being checked in the airplane hold) and went from one end of the house to the other fixing what needed to be fixed. Whatta guy!

I painted with my sister (and with some help from her son, as well) and hung pictures. It's an adorable house, and she has a great sense of style. I'm glad we had a chance to help.

We saw the Adorable Husband's family on Sunday -- the whole family, all the cousins and second-cousins and all the new kids. It was a nice reunion -- a plan they intend to follow every other year, I guess. Dinner with my family was a bit smaller, but just as fun. All-in-all, a lovely weekend.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Sometimes I'm Happy"

During his August 21 press conference, George W. Bush responded to a question about the Iraq War by saying that "sometimes I'm happy" about the conflict. But many readers and TV viewers never heard the remark, since journalists
I have a feeling that this is a common act in the current adminsitration's watch. McCarthyism is alive and well.

I'm not even sure what the context was (probably it was that he is pleased with progress in the war at some points, not that's happy that there is a war), but hiding it away and editing it out bespeaks of a lack of honesty and integrity in the press. I don't like it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plan B Approved

After years of debate (some might say, stalling) the FDA has approved Plan B-- the Morning After Pill -- for over-the-counter use by women 18 and older. Finally!
Under the FDA's decision, Plan B will be kept behind pharmacy counters and can be dispensed only after customers provide proof of their age. The drug has been available with a prescription since 1999.
Despite arguments that selling the pill might 'encourage promiscuity' and long-winded (and entirely false) claims that Plan-B is an abortifacent, it looks like the FDA has finally stepped up and provided women with a viable and safe means of emergency contraception. No, it's not meant as a primary form of contraception (and no one has claimed that it should be used that way), but it does face the reality that birth control fails and that women have the right to determine when to bear children.

I had a discussion recently with a friend, who asked me if I was 'pro-life'. When I explained that I supported a woman's choice, she continually referred to me as 'pro-abortion' -- a trick that many of the extremists use to characterize those who support abortion rights. Um, no.

The opposite of 'pro-life' is NOT 'pro-abortion'. Supporting choice does not mean that I think abortions are fine-and-dandy and should be done on every streetcorner. I don't. Nor does it mean that I think there should be no limits on it. That level of hyperbole is annoying, and intellectually dishonest. I believe that women have the right to choose when to have children, I believe that no one has the right to dictate how and when women can control their own bodies. I wish that there were no abortions, that every single child was planned-for and loved. But I'm a realist, and I will support any woman who chooses to have an abortion if they decide it's the right thing for them to do. Ethically and morally, I feel that I can do no less. I do understand that people on the other side of the argument feel ethically and morally bound to oppose it.

What I'm disturbed by is the subtext of many of the arguments against Plan-B (and also against the recent vaccine for HPV) : conservatives in the Religious Right have argued that making these drugs avaialble might "encourage promiscuity", or somehow suggest to young girls that we are encouraging them to have sex. The subtext here is that a) sex is wrong and bad and b) women must be punished for having it. A case just made it to the court in New York where three pharamacists refused to fill prescriptions for the morning-after-pill, including one pharmacist who actually altered the prescription to show no-refills and then refused to fill it because they felt that the women were "irresponsible" and thus should be denied contraception. WTF?
the supervisor said the pills are intended only for emergencies. She allegedly said women who use it were "being irresponsible" and if they used more than one type of birth control, they wouldn't need it.
What's the logic here? Women who are "irresponsible" and get pregnant should be punished by being forced to become mothers....doesn't anyone see that irresponsible women are going to be irresponsible mothers, too? It makes no sense. But it does play into the "women who have sex are bad" model that many conservatives cling to. Not that I say many, not all. Plenty of people on both sides of the argument are reasonable and realistic. Let's hope that it is this group of people that manages to come out on top.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I'm apparently on a word-bender this week. In a recent article in Wordplay magazine, it was reported that a naturally occuring pangrammatic sentence of only 61 letters showed up in the Feb 17th issue of Entertainment Weekly.
"Then on Jan. 26, Her[zog happened by Joaquin Phoenix's car wreck and pulled the actor from the v]ehicle."

The letters between the brackets represent a 61-letter pangrammatic window - a consecutive block which contains all letters of the alphabet...

That 61-letter span is the smallest naturally occurring window yet discovered
A pangram is (from Wikipedia)
A pangram (Greek: pan gramma, "every letter"), or holoalphabetic sentence, is a sentence which uses every letter of the alphabet at least once.
Usually, they're used to show typefaces -- 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is a designed pangram to show all the letters in the alphabet, as is "How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts! "

But that particular sentence was written specifically. There appears to be an ongoing word-sleuth search to find naturally occuring pangrammatic sentences (which would seem to be something only savant-level "beautiful mind"-type people can see). I can't imagine that you can just "see" one of these -- I have to believe that some sort of software scans for it, but at least one page assures me that these "jump out" at people who are attuned to them.

However, the article is a bit misleading, as there have been several shorter sentences that qualify:
Lillie de Hagermann-Lindencrone's 1912 book In the Courts of Memory: "I sang, and thought I sang very well; but he just looked up into my face with a very quizzical expression, and said, 'How long have been singing, Mademoiselle?'" at 56 letters.

The May 2006 edition of the magazine reveal a 47-letter example found on the internet: "JoBlo's movie review of The Yards: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron...
More listed here, and here even more here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

No Plague!

Aha! The blood tests reveal that I do not have plague and I do not have West Nile. Yeah!

Of course, we still don't know what has me still feeling a bit under the weather -- just a bit slow, occassional low fever -- but it's nothing that the docs are very worried about.

At any rate, it's obviously viral, so there isn't anything to do but treat the symptoms and take it easy. I can do that!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Planning has Commenced

The Adorable Husband commented today that he knew we'd finally decided on a destination for our trip next year, because every day this week, brochures and books have been in the mailbox.

I'm having a hard time finding guides and suggestions for Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. We've decided on Scandinavia, but when and how long and exactly where we'll end up is still up in the air. We're targeting May or June, and will probably go for a month. We're taking any and all suggestions for things that we absolutely have to see, things we should avoid, and tips/tricks for the trip.

More words that I Need to Use

More words from 'The Meaning of Tingo', which I picked up yesterday (and have been giggling through ever since.

uitwaaien (Dutch): To walk in windy weather for fun.

and iktsuarpok (Inuit): To go outside often to see if someone is coming.

Nah, I don't do either of things. Riiiiiight. I've been known to unzip my coat so that i can make big wings and lean into the wind and walk downhill...and if you've ever seen me before a party, you know that I absolutely iktsuarpok.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough -- it's had me laughing out loud for hours.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where is that, again?

This is definitely related to the previous posts of appalling geographic ignorance. This is from a note that my mother-in-law sent this week, regarding their upcoming trip.

My ILs are going to Malawi in September as part of a building/charity trip, and one of the recommendations is to get Malaria pills. So, my MIL dutifully goes to the doc, gets the appropriate prescription and picks up the pills.

The insurance company beancounters apparently did not like the claim, and have disputed it. Malaria pills? Huh? What for? We don't cover that.

So my MIL calls the insurance contact and explains that the pills are for their upcoming trip and were suggested by the state department, etc.

"For vacation?" the bright-and-cheery clueless insurance twit says. "Where are you going?"


There is a palpable silence, and then the insurance twit asks, "And what zipcode is that?"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Words, Glorious Words

There's a lovely book out there -- There's a Word For It -- that has words for some actions and thoughts that English simply doesn't cover. We should adopt these words. We should use them. They are lovely words.

My favorites? Three from the Pascurnse language of Easter Island, which really seem to imply that the island was a wee bit too small and that family and community relations were often a bit strained;

Tingo: outrageous borrowing, taking all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them, until nothing remains.

Which is then closely related to hakamaroo: to keep borrowed objects until the owner has to ask for them back.

The borrower, a passive-agressive poster child, may then have feelings of anga anga, a groundless thought that people are gossiping about you.

I love these words. This pretty much describes my relationship with the Library.

Other great words -- drachenfutter, a german word for the peace-offering gift from a guilty husband to his wife. It means, literally, Dragon's Food. Another good German word would be good for those of us working in officies: radfahrer, someone who flatters superiors and browbeats subordinates.

Name the Seven Dwarfs

Can you name the Seven Dwarfs?

Ok. Can you name the current Supreme Court Justices?

If you got more of the dwarfs than Justices, you are in good company. Well, maybe not "good" -- Americans, according to a Zogby poll of pop culture, are three times as likely to be able to name two of the dwarfs as they are two of the justices. 75% of people could name at least two dwarfs, while only 25% could name two current justices.

More people could identify Harry Potter than Tony Blair. Three times as many people could name Bart Simpson than knew the names of the Odyssey and Iliad. 60% can name Superman's home planet, but only 37% knew Mercury is closest to the sun. Twice as many (23%) can name the last winner of American Idol than can name the last SC Justice (11%). Yikes!

And even scarier:
Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges – Larry, Curly and Moe – than the three branches of the U.S. government – judicial, executive and legislative. Seventy-four percent identified the former, 42 percent the latter.
Do these people not pay any attention to the world around them? Do they not care? I actually blame the media for this one -- look at the news any given day and the top stores are entertainment or fluff or carefully screened political news...the Supreme Court pops up rarely, and discussion of the basic facts of government or the working of the legislature get buried in the hue and cry over the latest issue -- everything is dumbed-down to soundbites and spiffy graphics.

I shouldn't be surprised, though. Most people can't even point New York on a map---- and 2/3 can't find Iraq on a map despite all the news coverage, more -- 88% -- can't find Afghanistan.
  • Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
  • Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
  • Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
  • Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
  • Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.
  • Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.
Pathetic. Only about a quarter of people even think it's important to know where things are. No wonder Americans are thought of as stupid or ignorant or naive. It's embarassing. I was quite pleased to note that I could name almost all the dwarfs and an equal number of justices, and I could point to all those things on a map.

BTW, Keeping track of all seven dwarfs is actually quite simple: two S’s, two D’s, and three emotions. Two S’s: Sleepy and Sneezy; two D’s: Dopey and Doc; and three emotions: Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy.

The justices are Breyer, Thomas, Ginsberg, Alito, Kennedy, Stevens, Roberts, Scalia, Souter.

Barefoot Flying

If you've flown anywhere in the last few years, you've probably been instructed to remove your shoes and put them through the x-ray machine for carry-on baggage. This was the "new" process put in place after Richard Reid attempted to light explosives in his shoes aboard an airline flight.

So, everyone dutifully pulled off their shoes and walked barefoot in the security lines so that our shoes could be scanned for possibly explosives or other "items of interest". It has always been optional, but every airport I've been through requires it, even for thin little flip-flops. We've all learned to wear slip-on shoes. No biggie.

But, it's all been for naught, I discovered.
Washington -- X-ray machines used to screen passengers' shoes are unable to detect explosives, according to a Homeland Security Department report on aviation screening.
X-raying the shoes with the existing equipment simply doesn't have the ability to find explosives. They might find other items, but the main worry -- explosives in the sole of the shoe -- don't get caught.

And the TSA has known this since 2005.
In its April 2005 report, "Systems Engineering Study of Civil Aviation Security -- Phase I," the Homeland Security Department concluded that images on X-ray machines "do not provide the information necessary to effect detection of explosives"

Findings from the report did not stop the Transportation Security Administration from announcing Sunday that all airline passengers must remove their shoes and run them through X-ray machines before boarding commercial aircraft.
They haven't upgraded the equipment to handle the new requirements. Might this be because they have had their budgets slashed, and money quietly diverted from the actual security issues by Bush's war? As the latest terror plot revealed that this was certainly tried:
WASHINGTON Aug 11, 2006 (AP)— While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.
Congress stepped up and blocked this diversion, but Homeland security and it's control of TSA is more and more a joke -- a political exercise that does little to enhance actual security and grows into a bigger boondoggle every year.

Not to mention that the very phrase "Homeland Security" makes me cringe. References to "The Homeland" really grate on me, and sound somehow innapropriate in a country supposedly founded and run on democratic principles.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One Small Step...

The original recordings of the first moon landing -- including the famous "one small step for a man..." leap from Neil Armstrong, have gone missing. Apparently for more than a year. Iniitially, they were stored in the National Archives, but returned to NASA in the late 70s. They've been looking for them for over a year, and no sign of them has turned up.
The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said on Monday

Armstrong's famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma said
Not that they'd be playable, anyways. Like old movie reels, the film has degraded and would be unusable, unless the films had been stored very carefully. Mostly, it sounds ike they were stuck on a shelf and then misplaced. Oh, there are copies galore, but the originals have gone missing, perhaps permanently. Even though we haven't lost the iconic images and video (there are versions on NASA's website for download), losing the originals still is a loss.

Everyone remembers the grainy, black-and-white images of Neil Armstrong bounding like a kangaroo on the dusty moon surface, the stiff flag -- whether you saw them on TV "live" or if you saw them as archive footage much later. I was about three when they landed on the moon, and while I might have convinced myself that I remember them on television, I'm sure what I really remember is a much-later viewing in science class or part of a documentary.

But, one thing I didn't know was that the view we were used to was actually a film of the original recordings as displayed on a monitor:
Because NASA's equipment was not compatible with TV technology of the day, the original transmissions had to be displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for broadcast
I compare those gray and murky shots with the crystal clear images from the latest Discovery mission and I am reminded once again that they got men to the moon the first time with the computing equivalent of a sophisticated Palm Pilot. My desktop computer probably rivals the computing power available to Mission Control when they first "slipped the surly bonds of earth."


Carryon Luggage

As I had hoped, the British have a pretty reasonable response to the hand-luggage bans.

The Home Secretary, John Reid, admitted that the checks at airports were not "indefinitely sustainable" as thousands of travellers endured a fourth day of disruption. And late last night, the government announced the security threat at UK airports had been downgraded from "critical" to "severe".

The downgrade will mean passengers will be able to carry one item of hand luggage for most flights, but would still be banned from carrying liquid onto flights.

The TSA has relaxed their screening just a bit, as well -- liquid medicines are allowed, lipstick is back on the 'allowed list', although gels (including insoles and baby teething rings) and other liquids are still not allowed.

There is still some sense that the US forced the hand of British authority and that the arrests were premature -- and the much-touted "link" to al-qaida is pretty damned thin. But that's the terminology that gets Americans all hot and bothered, so you can sure it's what is showing up on all the headlines. Ah. well.

I hope that we'll be back to "normal" soon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chapstick and Evian

From the AP:
Investigators have uncovered no signs of U.S.-based terrorists linked to a plot to blow up airliners headed to the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said today.

"Currently, we do not have evidence that there was, as part of this plot, any plan to initiate activity inside the United States or that the plotting was done in the United States,"
I'm quite relieved, as are many people. This is what I figured was true -- this was a homegrown plot in Britain, and dealt with handily by the British and Pakistani authorities-- using intelligence, investigation, monitoring, and patience. Good on them.

So, does that mean that Bush, Lieberman, and the rest of the republican politicians and radio blowhards will stop using this as a way to stoke up the FEAR FEAR FEAR in the American public and stop trying to a) take credit for the operation -- which they had frankly nothing to do with and b) try to milk political advantage out of it?

I'm sure it won't.

Puppy Puppy Puppy

My sister and her husband recently lost their little pug dog, Hardy. Anyone who is a dog-person will understand just how empty the house can be when you're used to a dog being around, and won't be surprised that it didn't take long for them to start looking for a new puppy.

They love pugs (me, well, they're cute I guess -- in that 'so ugly they're cute' way) and so found a local breeder and last weekend brought Truman home.

He really is cute. He doesn't quite look like a real dog, more like a stuffed animal.

Lefties Rule!

From my MIL today:
August 11, 2006 · Congratulations to left-handed men! And not just because this Sunday is International Left-Handers Day, but because a new study shows southpaws are richer than righties, 15 percent richer for left-handed men who attended college, and 26 percent richer if they graduated. Researchers at Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University can't explain the wage difference, and they don't know why women lefties don't have the same advantage.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bah, humbug

I'm feeling bleagh today, so I'm spending a lot of time channel surfing and (obviously) posting on the blog. Obviously, the news is entirely focused on the thwarted terrorist plot.

However, I'm seeing the same clip of a stern-looking, but slightly gleeful, Bush today:
“this country is safer than it was prior to 9/11… We’ve taken a lot of measures to protect the American people, but obviously we are still not completely safe…. It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.’’
A few comments. Is the country really safer than it was prior to 9/11? I don't think so. I don't think any of the so-called 'safety measures' have addressed the real dangers, it's all just visible fluff to make people feel better. I find it amazing that we are constantly assured that the security measures will keep us safe...and yet every time there is a threat of any kind (bombs on busses, or the new liquid-bomb idea) we have to scramble to put new protections in place -- the current measures are never enough to catch these things. Things are never forbidden until there is some incident. The 'security experts' always seem so surprised.

I mean, wouldn't you assume that the government (ours and everyone else's) has smart people thinking of the possible threats so we can put preventive measures in place? Why are we always reacting to these things as if the idea hadn't occured to anyone but the attackers? We didn't ban lighters on planes (which I've always thought were a bit iffy) until we had an incident of someone trying to use one to light his shoe-bomb. AFter that, we can't have lighters (although we can still have matches!) and now our shoes have to be off and xrayed with everyone else. No one prior to this ever thought that bulky shoes could be used to hold something? That having a way to light an explosive was a possibility? Why does it take a "planned attack" for people to recognize that these are a realistic possibility?

And I've seen people all day say that these bans should be permament (ie, no carry ons, no liquids, ban laptops, etc). Shouldn't we be expecting TSA and the government to find a way to test these things so the 99.99999999% of people who are not terrorists can travel with some semblence of civility? We joke about 'Naked Air', but we're certainly heading that way. I just read that the UK has banned BOOKS from planes. Books. Why?

The primary reason I don't think we're safer now than we were is that the misguided war in Iraq and our ham-handed foreign policy in the middle east have generated a tremendous amount of hatred towards the US. Don't get me wrong -- this is in no way justifying or explaining the behavior of terrorists, but it does mean that there is a larger pool of people out there who might act against the US. We have created a terrorist training ground in Iraq -- a country that previously had very little association with known terrorist groups. Despite this, I still believe that we are no more likely to suffer a terrorist attack than we were before. 9/11 didn't "redefine the world" -- it just initiated the US into the arena the rest of the world has lived with for years.

"we are still not completely safe" -- well, duh. No, we aren't. We never will be. This is a misguided and ridiculous goal. We will never be completely safe and we shouldn't expect to be. But this is one of the things that the knee-jerk American response to terror plots fosters: if only we give up a little more, if we spy a bit on our neightbors, if we let the government into our private lives and let them listen to our convesations and read out mail...we could be safe. I don't want a Nanny state. No one should. The expectation that everything will be wrapped in cotton and bubble-wrap and we will be carefully shielded from anything that might hurt us is...infantile. There is inherent risk in everything we do. Roughtly 45000 people died in auto accidents last year in the US, yet we don't ban driving or require helmets to do so. Going out your front door is dangerous. Ride a bike? Take a bath? You are more at risk from these actions than you are from terrorists. Travel, especially air travel, will never be 100% safe. Expecting it to be so is naive.

" It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.’’" Again. Duh. Does anyone not believe this? How condescending and patronizing to suggest that we are so ignorant, so entirely out of touch that we believe we are not a target. Of course there is a threat to the US. Of course there are threats to other countries...that's the world we live in. Well, maybe Bush doesn't quite get it, but the rest of us are well aware of the risks in the world.

I'm alternating being shaking my head in disbelief at the wide-eyed surprise expressed by the news outlets and talking heads who can barely wait to talk in hushed and breathless tones about the incident, and being angry that once again, a terrorist group has impacted so many people -- they don't even need to actually complete an act...just the threat makes everyone jump to and run around like scared rabbits, slows down travel, slows down commerce, and impacts daily life for millions of people.

When? Where?

Some 30 percent of Americans cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York's World Trade Center occurred, according to the Washington Post.
But wait -- it gets better --
95 percent of Americans questioned in the poll were able to remember the month and the day of the attacks

Notes on Terror Alert

Britain arrested people suspected of planning (and nearing execution) of a plan to blow up airplaines from Britain to the US. It sounds like this is a legitimate threat, and that the plot included smuggling liquid explosives onto planes. Hence, British Airport Authority has currently banned anything liquid on board, and has pretty much limited carry on luggage to a ziplock baggie with your ID, passport, and wallet. Nothing else. No laptops, electronics, phones, books, etc.

Until they confirm that they have caught everyone (and the suspects arrested are British citizens and are of Pakistani descent -- aren't the Pakistanis on our side? Anyway...) these seem like annoying and invasive security measures, but are probably warranted. Most short-haul flights are cancelled, and the airports are chaotic. But, I trust the British to resolve things and get back to normal fairly quickly.

The US? Not so much. TSA has also banned "liquids" on flights, but so far has not banned other carryon luggate such as laptops or iPods. I wonder how long that will last? I travel often, and I require a laptop when I do, for business (class notes and presentations, etc, or even a work machine when I'm at a remote client site). What I want to know is, if they ban laptops as carryon luggage, how are the airlines going to guarantee that my laptop is a) returned at all and b) not damaged. I suspect they are going ot quote "national security" or "tsa rules" to absolve themselves of all responsiblity for damage or loss to anything in checked luggage. That's not going to go over so well.

Bush immediately starts spouting off about 'Islamic Fascists" -- which leads me to believe that he doesn't have the slightest clue what that means. The word he wants is 'fanatics' or 'zealots' -- and I"d like him to explain how this shows that we are 'safer here because we're fighting them over there'. Yeah, I can see how the War on Terra has made us safer. Yup. Fuckwit.

Can you imagine how much more successful we would be finding and breaking these plots if we weren't squandering money and time in Iraq? We might actually be able to circumvent terror plots instead of settling in as a long-term occupying force in a country that had nothing to do with our actual attackers. Think about it. Putting money into actual intelligence work (and paying attention to the results!) would be far more effective and cost a lot fewer lives.

The tinfoil hat sector has suggested that the hoopla around this incident (not the incident itself, mind you, just the rabid, frothing response) is calculated to play the FEAR FEAR FEAR card just before elections. At some level, somewhere, I'm sure someone thought of that. Over the weekend, there was a report that we were on Yellow Alert level -- I was bemused by this, since yellow is where we've been for the last three years and it's not news. Today, we're at Orange (or is it red now?) and the UK is on critical alert. The British discussed this with the US over the weekend, but did not act until yesterday -- when they were sure they could get the suspects.

Does it say something about me that I have 1000 times more trust in the British to deal with this in a competent and realistic way than anyone in the US government responding to this? The banners on the newschannels are really annoying "Terror in the Air!" crows Fox, and articles that this is a "reminder that we're at war". Oh, yes. Step right up and give up a little more of your freedom so that we can make you safe!
[From TalkingPoints Memo] Also a pretty stark reminder that President Bush's War on Terror, the way he's chosen to fight it, is at best irrelevant to combatting this sort of danger. These are homegrown Brits apparently trying to blow up planes over the Atlantic. Good thing we've got a 150,000 or so troops in Iraq to take the fight to them.
And more here -- a very good, critical view of why this is a condemnation of the War or Terra! and not a sign that we should redouble our efforts and "stay the course".

I'm glad I'm not travelling right now. But will any of this stop me from travelling in the future? Nope. I'll just be more annoyed by the security measures and pissed that I can't bring books on the plane.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Black Sheep

Anyone who has done tech work will understand the following joke (and may even think it's funny). Everyone else? Well, this is just going to confirm that we're weird.
A project manager, a developer, and a tester are riding on a train in Scotland. Along the way, they pass a black sheep grazing placidly in a field.

The project manager says, "Hey look! The sheep in Scotland are black."

The developer scoffs and says, "Nah, at least one of the sheep in Scotland is black. Maybe more."

The tester shakes his head and says, "To the best of my perception, there is at least one sheep in Scotland which is black on the side facing us."
OK, it made me laugh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Take the Quiz

This was fun. The New Yorker has a quiz on Bush's Twentieth Hundred Days.


19. Which of these words were among the top ten responses in a Pew Research Center poll that asked voters for the first word that came to mind when they think about George W. Bush?

(a) “Decisive,” “charming,” “brilliant,” and “truthful.”

(b) “Booze,” “cocaine,” “failure,” and “smirk.”

(c) “Illegitimate,” “simian,” “hotheaded,” and “torture.”

(d) “Incompetent,” “idiot,” “liar,” and “ass.”

Actually, the quiz is pretty interesting, and you have to have been paying attention pretty well to who says what and reading the news (not just listening to it). It's still a sharp criticism of Bush, but it's a relatively intelligent one.

New MS Office

I admit, while I will always jump on a chance to dis Microsoft as the Evil Empire, I also am a dedicated user -- there is simply no alternative that provides the same breadth of functionality and integration.

I've used Wordperfect, and was forced to use the truly horrendous OpenOffice on several occasions. Despite thinking that Microsoft hasn't created a truly original thing in years, it's the defacto standard.

Anyway -- MS ha a new version of the Office Suite coming out (Office 2007) which is currently in Beta testing. However, they've offered something very different this time: the ability to see how things work by logging in to a remote desktop and actually running the applications over the web (technically, it's in Citrix, and requires a downloadable plugin to the IE browser, but it does run in the browser quite seamlessly). Quite cool. You don't need to install any applications on your machine, and you can see and tinker with all the new UI pieces.

People are Stupid

Ok, this really annoyed me. Five meerkats at the Minnesota Zoo had to be killed for rabies testing because some kid ignored the barriers, fence, rocks, and plexiglass partition and got bitten.

First off, the girl had to climb over rocks and circumvent a four foot plexiglass barrier -- which must have taken some time and where in the hell were her parents? Isn't a 9-year old girl old enough to understand the concept of "fence"? Or that you aren't supposed to actually touch the animals in the zoo?

And then,
The meerkats — two adults and their three babies born in spring — were vaccinated for rabies, but state health protocol required that they be killed and tested because the girl's parents didn't want her to undergo a series of six painful rabies shots.
Wah. The parents couldn't be bothered to actually watch their kid or teach her properly, and then demanded the destruction of the animals because it would be difficult for their pweshious baybee to have to pay the consequences for her actions. Give me a break.
The girl had to work to get her hand inside the enclosure. Zoo officials said she must have crawled over a driftwood barrier, climbed up more than 3 feet of artificial rock and reached over 4 feet of Plexiglas to get her arm into the exhibit.

Because meerkats stand just a foot tall on their hind legs, she had to have dangled her hand low for an animal to bite her finger, they said.
People are so f-ing stupid. I am reminded of people here in Colorado who approach buffalo or rutting bull elk to get pictures with their kids "because they're cute", or the aprocryphal tale of a parent smearing honey on a kids arm to get the bear to lick them.

Hey, people, take responsibility for your own actions.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Customization Run Amok

Did you know that you can get M&Ms with custom messages?

For around $12 for an 8 oz. bag (minimum of four bags, for $45) you can put up to sixteen characters on two colors of M&Ms. They even offer little tins or festive bags so that you could use them as party favors.

You've always been able to order bags of a single color, or get custom-mixed bags of M&Ms for special occassions, but I didn't know you could get custom messages put on them. Huh.

And, there are 21 colors available (way more than the normal bags contain). I could get a five pound bag of purple M&Ms for only $50.

Millionaire Voters

In a rather bizarre approach to getting people into the voting booths, Arizona is considering making general elections into 1 million dollar lotteries.

So far, it look slike this will be on the ballot in November.
Mark Osterloh, who has spearheaded the measure onto the ballot, says "it's just like religion: Sometimes incentives are necessary.

"What does God say? Do what you're supposed to do and I will reward you with eternal life in heaven," he said. "The only thing we're saying is do what you're supposed to do with voting and we'll reward you with a chance to win a million dollars."
Well, I for one think it's a horrid idea -- we have enough people who are uninformed and generally ignorant of political issues and candidates who are voting based on soundbites or whether they think one of the candidates is handsomer/prettier than the other. Do we really want the yahoos who would only be interested in voting if they nmight get something for it, to be voting?

There are arguments that it's patently illegal. Federal statues prohibit offering money or giftst to to someone to vote or to change their vote, or for taking money to do either of those things.

Frankly (and unfortuantely also illegally), I think that voters should have to show some basic understanding of the issues and candidates before voting. It should be an essay question, or something. If you can't actually summon a single fact about the person you're voting for, you should have to take a remedial course, or something.

It's hard to stay informed. There is no way you can be a passive receptor of news (from radio or tv) and actually be well informed. You have to actually invest the time and effort to look for alternate viewpoints and accurate information about the issues.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Miami Pirates..

In the last two weeks, we've gone to see Pirates of the Caribbean and Miami Vice -- both movies had wildly varying reviews, from "best movie ever" to "dreck!"

I loved the first Pirates movie, so I had high expectations of the sequel. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same malady of many 2nd movies...too slow, too long, and just not as engaging as the first. Dead Man's Chest is really just a two-hour trailer for the next movie (which, if Hollywood karma stays true, will be a good one). Oh, the movie is fun enough -- there are some amusing moments, the special effects are pretty good, Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is as weird and oddly effiminate as ever.

But the new villains are just...gross. Seriously. I was actually squicked out by the bad guys -- they were just too icky and gruesome that it almost overwhelmed their actual role as bad guys. The skeletons-in-the-moonlight guys of the first movie were startling and fascinating to watch. The sea-mutants of this movie? Bleagh. Expecially for someone with a serious phobia about sea-creatures with legs.

It also confirmed my belief that while Orlando Bloom is lovely to look at, he doesn't have a whole lot of depth and Kiera Knightly doesn't actually have any facial expressions, just a weird hollow-cheeked protruding jaw thing going for her. None of them actually had much to do in the movie anyway: the choppy storyline never really gave them a purpose.

Miami Vice was a surprise. I liked it, but it's definitely an explosions-and-gunfire movie with only a passing relationship to the iconic television show. The movie is dark, grainy, and the whole things seems to be shot at night in smog. The bantering relationship between Crockett and Tubbs is not there (probably because you can't actually have Jamie Foxx -- who has an Oscar -- play a sidekick. Still, he seems to have only about thirty lines in the movie, most of which are devoted to professing undying loyalty to his partner.

The whole movie is more a modern interpretation of the series than an homag, and it's missing the spiffy clothes and Miami scenery (it's storming the entire time). The music is good, though, as we expected. The Adorable Husband enjoyed it (and the audience had a couple of "Yeah!" moments when the bad-buys bought it). Since Colin Farrel does actually get naked in the movie for a few moments, I was happy enough. Yes, I'm shallow.

I think we'll stick with watching Netflix movies downstairs. We can always fast-forward through the boring bits.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Far-reaching Hurrican Victims

More old news resurfacing, with an interesting twist..

Remember a few months ago when a WH advisor was caught "shoplifting"? There was some murmur that it was "someone else" (possibly his twin brother?), and that it was a mistake and all the rest of the normal platitudes of someone caught doing something wrong.
At the time, Mr. Allen denied the charges through his lawyer and said there had been a mix-up concerning his credit card. The accusations included at least 25 efforts to collect refunds on goods he never bought.
Lost control twenty-five times? Yeah, right.But it's his excuse that really made my jaw drop:

His excuse? He's a Katrina Victim. His job and his life were so stressful in the aftermath of the hurricane that he succumbed to the urge to steal. Mind you, he doesn't live in any place affected by the storm, he was in Washington and doing his job as an influential policy advisor. A position from which he has since resigned, thankfully. It's old news, but this surfaced again today in a New York Times article:
Former White House adviser Claude Allen tearfully pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge Friday, telling a Montgomery County judge that he lost his bearings after working 14-hour days and getting little sleep in the "tumultuous time" after Hurricane Katrina.

"Something did go very wrong," said Allen, who began crying during his remarks to the court. "I failed to restrain myself ... I did not appreciate what was going on."

How many of us have "failed to restrain ourselves" when faced with such urges? As a kid I stole a piece of candy from a local store. My mother marched me back and made me apoligize and pay for the candy and pretty much humiliated me. At seven, that had a serious impact on me. Apprently Mr. Allen never quite learned that lesson and his "control" is so weak that he has to steal. More than twenty-five times.

And it's not "shoplifting" -- let's at least be correct here: What he did was buy an item (from an expsensive DVD player all the way down to items costing less than five bucks), take it to his car, then return to the store with the receipt. There, he picked up another of the same item and returned it. This wasn't spur-of-the-moment theft, this was planned and executed fraud to the tune of roughly $5K.

There is still a theory that it really was his Evil Twin, and that he took the rap to keep his brother (who has a history of legal problems) from doing hard time. It's a story so odd it might actually be true.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

BAD Travel Karma

That's its. I surrender. I don't want to travel anymore. ever.

I'm out in Chicago teaching a class today and tomorrow. I rather like doing this, so I signed on to do this several weeks ago. But, after the fiasco of driving in Boston, I should have learned. I should have known that travelling ANYWHERE was going to be a big mistake.

Let's start the beginning: I decided to travel in the evening (8:55 flight) . Why I decided to do this is entirely beyond me. I'm not billable at a client right now, I could have flown out at noon and spend a leisurely evening reading a book. But no, I decided to wait until evening to fly so Ic ould have dinner with the Adorable Husband. Mistake number one.

Then -- since he is on call and can't take me to the airport, I drove myself, intending to park in the ramp for two days. The ramps and close-in lots are FULL. So full, infact, that they have someone routing traffic around the entrance to them and aren't even letting people in to try. I usually ignore the LOT FULL signs because someone is always leaving. I might end up parking on the top floor in the last spot, but I usually ge ta spot. No go. So I go back out to the remote parking lot, about fifteen minutes away.

The lot is the size of Iowa and I end up parking waaaay out in the lot, about a block from the nearest shuttle bus pick up point. WHen I get there, it starts to rain. And I mean Inundation. It was actually hard to drive, my wipers couldn't keep up. I sat in the car with the rain pounding down and thought, "Well, I'll just wait until the rain stops. It never rains for long."

Twenty minutes later, sstill sitting in the now-fogging car, I realized that if I didn't get intot he airport, I'd probably miss my plane. So, taking one long, last look at the thundering rainstorm, I grabbed my bag and ran for it.

By the time I got to the bus stop, I was soaked through. COmpletely drenched, from head to toe. My shoes squelched, my hair was dripping, I had damp and clammy underwear.

As I was standing there squeezing four gallons of water out of my hair and out of my shirt...

it stopped raining.

Steaming gently, I stood in line to go through security -- which, at 8pm at night was half-closed and slower than I've ever seen it. I finally cleared security at 8:10, five minutes after my plane was supposed to start boarding. The train ride is about 5 minutes and I bolted for the discover that it was running just slightly late. Yeah!

A stop in the bathroom where I managed to at least change into a dry shirt and sort of towel-dry my hair. I look like a dead rat. My pants are still soaking wet, and I now have a rolled up polo shirt in my bag that is leaving wet spots on the outside as it drains.

Into the plane about 45 minutes late. Back away from the gate. Sit. There is Weather all over the eastern seaboard that is slowing traffic. My airplane seat is now wet and my damp underwear is getting mighty uncomfortable and chafing. We finally take off.

And circle for an hour in Nebraska, because of the weather. THe nie pilot comes on and explains that they have closed down O'Hare and Midway because of lightning and we're in a holding pattern. Fifteen minutes later...the holding pattern is broken so we can land in Rockford and refuel.

Two hours later -- after sitting on the tarmac in Rockford -- we take off and head into Chicago, landing at approximately 3:10am. Along with several hundred other people whose planes were delayed. People are sleeping on cots in the airport. At this point, too tired to even see straight, I head to pick up a rental car.

It is to laugh. The rental counter is closed. They close at midnight. There is NO WAY to get a car ( I called, and the rude person at Thrifty told me I should have arrived earlier). YOu'd think that if they close the aiport at 10 and reopen at about 1am that the car rental places would figure out that all those people who wanted cars were going to show up between 1am and 4am, right? They don't care.

I was so tired that I was flummoxed by the closed car rental place and called the Adorable Husband, waking him from a sound sleep to tell me what I was supposed to do. (I did apologize later!). "Get a cab, honey." Oh, oh yea! I can get a cab.

I have eighty bucks in cash, no ATM card (and the line at the ATM was about 30 people long) so I just get outside (into the incredibly hot and humid CHicago evening) and stand with 275 other people to a cab. Forty minutes later, after confirming that a ride should cost no more than 70 bucks (premium for after midnight, and premium for going ot the suburbs) I get a cab and a rather crabby gentleman who is a wee bit put out that I want to go to Lombard.

Handing over all of my cash to the cabbie at approximately 4:45 am, I check into my hotel room and lay down just in time for the Serious Thunderstorm that rattles the windows and sets off tornado warning sirens. I remember thinking that if there was a tornado, I probably woudln't have to teach, and falling asleep a bit after five.

The alarm went off about four seconds later (ok, not until 6:30, but it certainly felt like four seconds) and I dragged myself to the office to set up the class by 7:30. I can only hope that things will get better!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Onion strikes again

Very funny article in The Onion today (If you don't know, the Onion is a SPOOF, a satire, a parody of the real news -- which often are mistaken for "real" news because they tend to be, well, plausible.)
In a decisive 1–0 decision Monday, President Bush voted to grant the president the constitutional power to grant himself additional powers

"As president, I strongly believe that my first duty as president is to support and serve the president," Bush said during a televised address from the East Room of the White House shortly after signing his executive order. "I promise the American people that I will not abuse this new power, unless it becomes necessary to grant myself the power to do so at a later time."

Sometimes, parody hits a little bit close to home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Seller's Remorse?

Don't buy a truck from Bill Heard Chevrolet in Tennessee (or in any other state, for that matter).

Apparently, a gentleman names Kieselhorst bought a 2003 truck from the dealership, negotiated a price, signed a contract, paid cash plus his trade-in, and drove his new car home.

Just one day after he bought the truck, a salesman from Bill Heard called to say the dealership was having second thoughts about the deal.

He told Kieselhorst that if he wanted to keep his truck, he needed to fork over another $10,000 -- something he refused to do. After all, he says, they had a signed deal.

So the dealership STOLE THE TRUCK. As a matter of fact, after demanding another $11,000 on the second call, they have the truck for sale on the lot.

Let me get this straight: the dealership made the deal, accepted the cash, and then decided that they didn't like the sale price? So they demanded more money. And when they didn't get it, they decided to take the truck back. They claim they were "hoodwinked" by Keiselhorst's wife.

"This is the way this company does business," Calligan [reporter] says. "They really thought they would be able to pull a fast one on their customer."

After we tried to get their side for days, Bill Heard faxed us a statement just before air time, saying that Kieselhorst "should have known" that the deal he got was too good to be true
So far, they haven't returned his money, and the DA won't press charged because it is a "civil matter", because it is a contract dispute. Sorry, but if I have the paperwork and a signed contract, and someone -- anyone -- takes the car, it's THEFT. It's not like they even had the gray area of "financing didn't come through" or something like that. They just wanted more money.

Every talk radio station in the country picked this up -- our local station had call-ins from people who had had the same kind of experience here in Denver (including the threat of a felony lawsuit if they didn't pony up another $3K after the sale was finished). I doubt that Bill Heard Chevrolet expected the kind of publicity they got from this.

Of course, even a cursory search of the name in Google revealed that the "largest Chevrolet dealer in the country" has a long history of this kind of fraudulent behavior in other states as well. Hm.