Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rumors on the internets can get you a fabulous stay in an undisclosed location

Have you heard of the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007?

The House passed it on October 27, 2007 404-6, and it's on its way to the Senate. I'm kicking myself because it always seems like these types of issues come up AFTER they've passed. Of course, the Senate needs to approve as well, and Dubya needs to remember to not use his banana to sign it into law, but it looks pretty clear: this is going to happen.

An excerpt from the legislation, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jane Harman states:
The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.
Taken by itself, it's not surprising to hear: I'm sure terrorist cell members are using gmail, although they might not be tracking their actionable items on Google Groups.

The legislation establishes a committee comprised of:
  • one member shall be appointed by the President from among officers or employees of the executive branch and private citizens of the United States;
  • one member shall be appointed by the Secretary;
  • one member shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;
  • one member shall be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate;
  • one member shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
  • one member shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;
  • one member shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives;
  • one member shall be appointed by the ranking minority member of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives;
  • one member shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate; and
  • one member shall be appointed by the ranking minority member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate.
This committee meets to:
Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or ‘lone wolf’ violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.
Now, this may seem relatively harmless posturing on the Dems to demonstrate proactive measures to combat terrorism, and it very well may be...but the spirit imbuing this legislation could very easily be used to start persecuting you for thoughtcrime: What are you doing visiting the Al-Jazeera website anyway? The Economist...why don't those sneaky intellectuals sign their articles, and why did you leave an anonymous comment on that anti-American story? Hmm...I think we'll need to detain you for questioning. Please slip this black eyeless bag over your head and draw the cord. You won't be away from your loved ones for very long. Don't bother packing any luggage. We'll take care of that for you.

Don't think the legislation could creep, like a poorly managed software development lifecycle? Check out the page on the State of Alabama's Homeland Security website (page recently removed, but archived...thank you Internets) statement on 'anti-government' groups. Then take the interactive quiz just for fun! Yay!

Does that mean if we, American taxpayers, are supporting the procurement of weapons for Afghan or pro-American fighters are transforming our country's government into one smacking of socialism, thus undermining the God-given right of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps? If that's the case, how about we just ditch drugs patents (bite my sac Phizer), stop immortalizing doctors, and introduce universal healthcare.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Heart: it's not just the classic rock female duo

VP Cheney's doctors found that he had an irregular heartbeat today.

[wait for it]

Most of his physicians were more surprised by the fact that they even found a heartbeat at all.

"I've been his doctor for over 10 years, and I've never heard more than a rattling rusty nail type sound coming my stethoscope", said a physician identifying himself as "'one of Cheney's caregivers'".

The White House was quick to issue a statement designed to deflate concern. In it, White House spokesperson, Dana Perino, indicated that Cheney had already been released from the hospital, and was enjoying some leisurely quail hunting on his friend's ranch and was contentedly shooting his GOP backers in their faces.

When asked for a comment, his Dark Lord and Creator Satan replied, "Dick is a helluva guy. He's done a bang-up job up there, and if it was up to me I'd let him stay on Earth for the next 2 millennia. Hell, if I did, I wouldn't need to worry about how to usher in the Apocalypse! Ol' Dead Eyes would handle it for me. But, there are rules. I was playing poker with the Axis leaders from dubbleya dubbleya two, and lost to Stalin. We'd played on who'd receive the honor for killing more of his own people, and it looks like Cheney's gonna lose that one. Sorry Dick! You can fault that sneaky Russian for killing his own soldiers, but he's a truly a skilled gentleman at Texas Hold 'Em"

When asked for his comments, Sen. Trent Lott indicated he wished his GOP buddy the best, saying that he'd always held the Number 2 spot in his 'private list of favorites', the Number 1 being reserved for Sen. Strom Thurmond (ret), of course. Then after banging his left fist over his left chesticle, he threw up a deuce, kissed it, threw down the mic, yelled out "I'm audi-5 bitches!", walked through the crowd and said "and when I leave, come together like butt cheeks". AP reporters took this as an indication that Sen. Lott was tendering his resignation.

While there is a risk that VP Cheney could develop blood clots which could result in aneurysms and thus a stroke, most Americans polled didn't seem to find this to be much of a concern, as the President was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, stunning his physicians who had collectively agreed that there were no indications that he ever possessed a brain. Indeed, all Presidential cranial imaging on file indicated that his skull housed visions of sugarplum fairies, which doctors theorize danced through his head.

Needless to say, should the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi becomes President, Mitt Romney vowed to return to his Mormon roots and give up his run for the Oval Office: a statement which drew cheers from reporters covering today's monumental events.

please note: this is not real news, as it's not fair to link Satan and VP Cheney...that would be unfair to Satan (thanks Ann Coulter!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What would Valerie Plame be thankful for?

OK, so this has nothing to do with Valerie Plame, who happens to be a hot ex-secret agent who was outed for her husband's criticism of the Bush administration, but while thinking of a title for this post, it just popped into that dark, cobwebbed attic I call a mind.

With the mortgage market crumbling, the war in Iraq remaining a constant legacy that we entrust to new generations (along with the hefty multi-billion dollar price tag), and oil spills in the SF Bay Area, it can seem like there's a constant stream of negative shite being spewed upon us.

It's easy to feel desensitized to the daily announcements of trains running over people, people being killed in auto wrecks, soldiers dying because of 'roadside bombs' or some other variation of an IED, the Bush administration jacking itself off on the American people with Congress and the Senate mired in CYA initiatives with the pending 2008 election, Oprah's Leadership Academy's South African officials raping its educational wards, and other general macro downers.

But there are some items out there that are cautious positives, weighing against the tide of geo-political detritus. Sometimes they're harder to see because for some reason 'good things' don't always get the press they deserve or because sometimes they never make the news. I guess this post could be considered an all-purpose 'thanks' for Thanksgiving list.

Here are just a few...

Senator Obama running for President...hell, there are some great candidates out there, and I'm just glad we can change the course away from that of the Bush regime. 2008's candidates have the advantage (thank you President Clinton for not inhaling) of being more frank about their 'formative years'. While Bush never wanted to discuss how many lines he did, or how many whiskey sours he slurped off of the strippers at his ranch, Obama came right out and indicated that he's made some 'poor choices' in his youth. While he's mentioned this before in his memoir, let's face it, unless it's on TV or the internets, people might not be aware of it. It's good to see that we're no longer pulling the wool over our eyes and making our Presidents more than an man...or a woman (wink-wink Hillary).

Open source software. Saving money, now more than ever, is on everyone's mind, and if you're looking for ways to cut costs with regards to spending on productivity software use at home there are some amazing and completely free open source alternatives out there. CNet's Crave has 10 alternatives that are completely free and will most likely satisfy most non-intensive needs. These include an open source equivalent to MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access), Photoshop, CD/DVD burning software, audio conversion/authoring software, etc.

Stem cell developments. Scientists in Japan figured out a way to make skin cells develop into stem cells. This is amazing. While the current method isn't exactly perfect (10 out of 50,000 cells only seem to take the change, and so far the method causes cancer which isn't good), future research could make this a viable option for repairing a failing liver, heart tissue, brain cells, etc. Will religious zealots move to strike this research down calling it hubris and immoral, as the extension of this type of technology suggests that creation of life need not be achieved via the union of sperm and ova? Perhaps. But even Nancy Reagan got on the bandwagon when the Gipper was going. Of course, the Bush administration took credit for the recent success:
On Tuesday, senior aides to Mr. Bush said he drove the experiments by holding his moral ground.
“This is very much in accord with the president’s vision from the get-go,” said Karl Zinsmeister, a domestic policy adviser to Mr. Bush who kept the president apprised of the work. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the president’s drawing of lines on cloning and embryo use was a positive factor in making this come to fruition.”
Come on! If Dubya gets to claim this, can Gore get the credibility that he did indeed invent the internet?

Khymer Rouge war crime trials. Ever see the 80s movie, The Killing Fields? Atrocities upon atrocities were committed by this political party in Cambodia, to which this movie attested. Recently, one of the party members, known as Duch, was on trial in his native country to account for his actions. What were they? The NY Times reports his actions thusly:
At least 14,000 people were tortured under Duch’s orders at Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21, and sent to the killing fields. Only a handful are known to have survived.
“Under his authority, countless abuses were committed, including mass murder, arbitrary detention and torture,” said a presiding judge, reading the indictment to the court.
He listed methods of torture that included beating, stabbing, suspension from ropes, removal of fingernails and drowning in pits filled with water.
Not one of the people for whose death he's responsible can be brought back, but he's being brought to justice, and I don't think Cambodians will be attempting to rewrite their equivalent of the War Crimes Act, recently attempted by our own favorite little war chimp.

So. Happy Turkey Day. Hug your loved ones, and if you don't have any go out and make some. At least Boba Fett had Han Solo...according to Robot Chicken, that is...(if you're getting this via RSS feed or in an email, you're not seeing this video - head over to the actual blog to view)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blog strike

Been so busy with work and winter and playing Team Fortress 2 that I haven't been able to post for a while, so this one's a jumble of 4 topics: the writer's strike, the Top 10 Online Flash games courtesy Cnet's Crave, the sale of a WoW character, and MyLifeBits.

I hope the writer's strike recently initiated goes on for a whole year.

I hope the surplus of filmed shows is completely drained, and the vast inventory of television production vaults are entirely withdrawn.


Becase I want 'reality' shows to rule the airwaves. I want high quality programming like The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor/ette, Studs n' Skanks, Kid Nation, Punched in the Face, and all permutations of Punk'd to dominate television. I want syndicated episodes of The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show to become the commodity for which networks will bankrupt themselves while they compete for fewer and fewer viewers.

'Lost' will epynomously actualize itself, and there will be no savior for 'Heroes'. 'Gray's Anatomy' will develop a terminal illness, and 'Desperate Housewives' will get a divorce on grounds of adulterous behavior with the kids from 'That 70s Show' and they'll need to move to some city where they film 'CSI' variants.

An entire season of television will see significant delays of DVD production save for the newest 'Survivor'.

And maybe people will start reading more books and watching less crap. Oh sweet bliss.

Crave UK, part of Cnet, puts together 'Top 10...' lists on a fairly regular basis, and one of their current ones is a must see for those who engage in a little time-killing anti-boredom activity at work. I myself have never engaged in this questionable behavior, however, I know there are many that do. Lazy sloths.

I'm posting this one because I played most of these over the course of the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I highly recommend Desktop Tower Defense.

Ever need to sell your World of Warcraft character online? Need help in specifying all those esoteric details? You need to talk to this guy. Just an excerpt of his post:
the priest was the best geared priest on its pvp server hands down pre bc. I was the first priest to have full t1, full t2 and the first piece of t3. I took a long break and recently came back to play BC. I lvled to 70 and started farming epics, but the game just isnt the same anymore. I still have alot of those old epics as well as old weapons like Benediction/Anathema from back in the day.

Currently wearing 11 enchanted epics from various lvl 70 raid instances and have more in the bank for DPS. My current build is holy/Disc and I can achieve 1700 plus healing easily and almost 2k buffed. I have about 1k arena points saved up to buy new gear.

Priest has 5 different epic riding mounts and 1 flying mount. 375 tailoring and 355 enchanting currently. Every single pre BC enchant is known including all AQ 40/AQ20 MC and rep enchants etc. Currently have a lot of epic tailoring patterns to play with at lvl 70. Just need to farm primal nethers to make the good stuff. Plenty of enchanting mats etc as well. About 120g on this toon.
You need this character! Anyone with a character possessing holy/Disc is worth a thousand mouseclicks.

Philip K Dick was right...again.

FoxNews is reporting that Microsoft is working on a venture to backup your life. It's a crazy thing to think that (based on Microsoft estimates) 'a 1-terabyte (1,000-gigabyte) hard drive will cost less than $300...and could easily hold all text documents, voice files and photographs of a person's complete life experience — but if it came to video, it would be only enough for four hours per day for an entire year.'

To tie this directly to a Dickian theme, an India-based company went to far as to use a clever phonetic spelling for the business, reQall. While reQall doesn't implant memories as in Dick's tale, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale', it suggests that there's a market for helping people to remember.
Because reQall converts what you say to text, remembering is as easy as searching the web. You can read and edit your posts, see what you’ll need to remember next week, search for a particular item and more. You can even see an overview of your activity on a calendar view.
Don't know if this is going to be the 'killer Web 2.0 app', or if it'll end up being one more online 'resource' that you'll need to remember that you could use if you just took the time out to set up an account with them.

I'm waiting for the movie version of Burn:Cycle.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The 1st Lady of Hip Hop Parody

Check out Melia Mills' video. Went to school with her, and now she's the self-billed...1st Lady of Hip Hop Parody

Friday, November 2, 2007

Shiva holes

Do you remember the Walt Disney film, The Black Hole?

It's a personal favorite of mine, as it remains firmly embedded in my childhood memory as one of the top 5 best ever. Robert Forster, who wouldn't make another big comeback until Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, was the the captain of a ship, the Palamino, who finds another ship thought to be lost hanging just beyond a black hole's event horizon. Reunions, theorizations on travel in a black hole, kidnapping, shooting robots, laser lobotomies, and trips into the great beyond ensue. It had an addictive theme as well.

I had the audio record for the movie. You know the big 33 1/3 speed record you'd play, while reading the accompanying storybook rich with movie photos? Man, those were awesome. I also had 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' and the Star Trek Buena Vista records. I recommend the Robot Masters mp3 sample.

Where was I? Black holes. Some interesting recent work in astronomy suggests that at the core of every galaxy is a supermassive black hole. How big is 'supermassive'? Well, according to an article in the Washington Post (where's there's also an ad in which I was involved: see the Presidential Candidate search), the one at the heart of the Milky Way, which is the galaxy in which the Sol system hovers, is 4 million times the size of our own sun. I can't even comprehend this. Is it like 4 million pushpin heads crammed together in something the size of a carnival balloon...or a hot air balloon?

Even more interesting,
To the enormous surprise of those who study the universe, the size of a supermassive black hole appears to have a direct and unusual correlation to the galaxy around it. Researchers calculated a decade ago that the mass of a supermassive black hole appeared to have a constant relation to the mass of the central part of its galaxy, known as its bulge. This relationship supports the notion that the evolution and structure of a galaxy is closely tied to the scale of its black hole.
This means that every starlight starbright galaxy in the multiverse contains a black hole so massive, that given enough time they could eventually consume the host galaxy, and spit out new elemental particles needed for new stars, suns, planets, and such. Philosophically speaking, they are a catalyst of destruction and creation.They're like giant celestial Shivas busting out an endless Nataraja.

Meanwhile, people back on Earth pay over $3 (if you're lucky) for a gallon of gas and work in cubes like these for eight hours a day for years upon years. Perhaps it could be argued that we impose our own event horizons upon which we spin inexorably to the great unknown at which time the process begins anew. I hope my next cube has a window.