Saturday, July 31, 2004

---------------Jack Ohman, The Oregonian


Is That a Cable Modem in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
You know how cable companies always tout their modem services as being "Always On"? Well, that may be true in the cases of Comcast, Cox, and Time-Warner, but it's certainly not so with Adelphia. Their motto should be "Mostly Down."

I guess that level of service is to be expected of a company who's founders are in jail.

So during the past week I've been repeatedly forced to access the internet through my cellphone, but that's so pathetically slow that I kept falling asleep between clicks of the mouse. Then by the time I would finally wake up two hours later, it was time to recharge the damn battery again. Additionally, the keyboard imprint on my forehead was rather unsightly.

Having said that, I must add that I obviously haven't learned my lesson. Why not? Well, because I've decided to subscribe their new Digital Video Recorder (DVR) service. That's right: Having three VCR's just isn't enough, so now I'm going to add yet another recording device. And all this timeshifting technology is for a person who still hasn't had a chance to watch the stack of 12 VHS tapes he recorded over the past TV season.

But as God is my witness, I vow to eventually find out how the last season of The Sopranos ended.

I have several friends with TiVo units, so I'm familiar with the technology and some of the advantages over standard VCR's. But since you need a conventional phoneline to subscribe to the service--something I don't have--I haven't bothered with it.

However, USAToday had an article the other day about TiVo and some of its up and coming rivals. It mentioned that some of the newer DVR units now available from cable companies have two tuners, thereby enabling you to simultaneously record two separate shows that you'll never have a chance to watch. After checking with Adelphia, it turns out that they do offer this new unit.

There is a downside, however. Between my regular service, plus HBO, the digital package, the cable modem, and the DVR rental, my new cable bill will be so high that I'll be forced to live out on the street. But what the hell--having a roof over your head is overrated.

I'm going downtown today. Think I'll take the Metro and have a candy bar along the way.

See you in five to ten years.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Are You Going to Eat That?
The buzz around DC the last couple of days has NOT been about the Democratic national convention, or the 911 report, or the mounting death toll in Iraq, or the ongoing genocide in Sudan, or possible global warming, or the future of stem cell research, or future catastrophic terror attacks, or any other such trivial matter. No, the divisive issue that has people arguing around here is: Did the Metro Transit Police overeact when they arrested a woman for eating a candy bar in the subway?

Stephanie Willett was reminded by an officer that there is a no food or drink law on the rail system. She then stuffed the remaining portion of her candy bar into her mouth and said--and the lady freely admits this part--to the officer, "Why don't you go and take care of some real crime?" From there the accounts of ensuing events differ somewhat, but the bottom line is that she did end up being handcuffed and detained.

Now this may seem like a trivial matter, and I suppose it is to an extent. But the no food or drink law is CLEARLY posted in the stations and on the trains, and it has been since the system first opened 28 years ago. So unless Ms. Willett is claiming to be a functionally illiterate adult, and I fail to see what possible excuse she has.

This topic flares up every few years. Back in 2000 or so it popped up in the news when a 12 year old girl was arrested for eating french fries. And in that case as well, the violator decided that rather than comply with the law, let's mouth off to the cop who's only out there trying to their job.

For its part, Metro defends the rule as being a major part of keeping the system clean and sanitary.

The woman's defenders argue that the New York and Chicago transit systems don't prohibit food or drink. Well, okay, but that's not really the point, is it? An interstate highway allows motorists to drive 60 miles an hour, but that doesn't mean I can do the same in a residential neighborhood, does it? I've ridden the subway in both those cities, and quite frankly, they leave a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness and odor control. I've also ridden our own Metro system countless times, and it's always been a pleasant experience. The stations and rail cars are always clean, and I don't have to contend with some fat slob splattering crap from his pastrami sub all over me. Most importantly, I don't have to worry about tripping over a rat on the station platform.

Besides, it kinda looks like Ms. Willett should lay off the candy bars for a while.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004



Bad News for Microsoft
Microsoft is awash in billions of dollars of excess cash with no where to spend it. Consequently, the company has announced that it will pay out $75 billion in dividends to shareholders over the next four years.

Well, thank God they're not blowing that money on something stupid.... Like plugging all the damn holes in Windows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

---------------Robert Ariail, The State(Columbia, SC


But 'Shove It' Where?
Needless to say, I must join in the world's outrage at Teresa Heinz Kerry's behavior. Here she is, a woman potentially in line to be First Lady, using language like--GASP!!!!--"shove it!!!! I may yet faint from having typed those horrid words....

The seriousness of this can not be overstated. Being First Lady is a position which carries tremendous responsibility since she'll be in charge of, um, organizing parties at the White House. Can a loose cannon such as her be trusted with such a sensitive task? I shudder to think about the danger such an unstable person poses to world peace.

---------------Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

The only thing that could be even worse, even more offensive than telling a reporter to "shove it" would be, say, the Vice President telling a United States Senator to "f*ck off" on the floor of the Senate.

Then again, that's too ridiculous to even think about.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Time for a serious post. This would fall under the category of "More."

One conclusion that can be drawn from the final Report by the 9/11 Commission is that no one person was responsible. It wasn't Bush's fault, or Clinton's fault, or the CIA's, or the FBI's. Rather, it was a collective failure by virtually our entire government over the course of several years. In fact, out of all the dozens of individuals and agencies that had opportunities to thwart the attacks, there was only one group that came through in defense of our nation on that awful day: The crew and passengers of United Flight 93. While our own intelligence people failed, and the FAA dropped the ball, and our own Air Force planes flew off in the wrong direction, it was those 40 individuals that stepped up to the plate and acted to defend their country.

And if you listened to the various people that testified, as well as any number of other defenders of the government, the one theme that comes through was the whole idea of hijacked planes being used to destroy buildings was beyond anyone's imagination.

On the surface, that seems true enough.

Unfortunately, it was NOT an unheard of concept. And the story of Bojinka further amplifies the failures of our intelligence community.

It was January of 1995 when police and firefighters in Manila responded to reports of smoke billowing from an apartment. A suspicious police investigator eventually discovered that the apartment was being used to manufacture bombs. The plot--codenamed Operation Bojinka--was to blow up 11 commercial airliners in midflight over the Pacific. Had it not been foiled, an estimated 4000 people would have died.

The one terrorist that was arrested at the apartment, Abdul Hakim Murad, happened to be a trained pilot. And during his interrogation, Murad revealed that there was a phase two to the plan, and that was for him to fly an explosives laden Cessna into CIA headquarters. He also said that there was an additional list of targets to be hit by planes--Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and some skyscrapers--once they had more trained pilots.

Granted, there's a bit of a difference between someone flying a Cessna into a building and hijacking a 767. But when you have groups of middle eastern men learning to fly airliners without bothering to study landings and takeoffs, coupled with what had happened in the Phillipines six years earlier, alarms should have gone off in someone's head.

Friday, July 23, 2004

---------------Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution


Rescue Me
I don't usually do reviews unless I feel I have some sort of particularly useful, insightful, thought-provoking, worthwhile, and/or smartass comment to make, such as "Catwoman is a very good movie. My favorite part was the litterbox scene." But I haven't seen "Catwoman," I have no plans to see "Catwoman," I don't know if "Catwoman" even has a litterbox scene, so therefore I won't say a word about "Catwoman."

That said, the following is not so much a review (here's USAToday's review, however) as a recommendation: Watch FX's "Rescue Me."

So much of what is on regular network TV these days is crap, and "Rescue Me" only further demonstrates that the only reason it's still worth having a TV is because of cable. The show stars Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin, a firefighter in post 9/11 New York city. It's raw, edgy, and let's just say the language is realistic.

He's also an alcoholic with a marriage on the rocks. And if that's not enough, he's also coping with the occasional visits of dead comrades, or fire victims that he somehow failed to save over the years. The most memorable of the deceased visitors is Gavin's cousin Jimmy, one of four firefighters from that particular station killed at Ground Zero. In the opening scene, as Gavin berates a incoming class of firefighters, he mentions that the only remains of his cousin recovered consisted of a single finger. Consequently, whenever the "ghost" of Jimmy appears, he has a bandage where the missing digit used to be.

The show normally airs on Wednesday nights. FX is rerunning the first episode Sunday night at 11 (Eastern), Monday night at 10:30, and Tuesday at 11 PM.

Check it out if you get the chance.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Pedal Power
Lance Armstrong is now firmly in the lead of this year's Tour de France, and it would appear that the only thing that may stop him are disgruntled fans who want to take their anger at America out on him. Disturbing reports have surfaced that many of the spectators along the race route are jeering and even spitting on Armstrong.

Unusual, huh? I mean, the French have such a reputation for being polite, it's a shame that something like this has to happen.

Whatever problems people of other nations may have with America's foreign policies, they should keep in mind that Lance Armstrong is in no way responsible for decisions made by the Bush Adminstration. So if you're frustrated with this country's leadership, fine, direct that anger at the individuals responsible. That does not include Armstrong, or me, or the American tourist with the enormous gut riding up the Eiffel Tower elevator.

Lance Armstrong survived a serious bout with cancer a few years ago. The fact that 90 or 95% of people in his situation at the time would have died within six months makes his current accomplishments even more impressive--and all the more precious. Give the man a break; he's lucky to even be alive.

On the other hand, he's also banging Sheryl Crowe, so how much good fortune can a single individual be entitled to?

Anyway, if the French want to continue to behave like jerks, fine. But I say we give the Germans a call and tell them that if they want to invade France again, go ahead. This time we won't get involved.


---------------Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer


That's Clucking Ridiculous
A major West Virginia based supplier of chickens to KFC has been accused of abusing and torturing the birds.

Authorities were alerted after the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals obtained photos of PFC Lynndie England leading chickens around on a leash.


Mr. Smarty Pants Update
Ken Jennings continues his incredible run on Jeopardy!, having now won 36 straight times. However, he is beginning to encounter an increasing amount of animosity. For example, last night his competitors were spitting on him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

---------------Joe Heller, Green Bay Press Gazette

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Eagle has Landed
It was at 10:56 PM on this date in 1969 that the human race--represented by Neil Armstrong--first set foot on the moon. It was an amazing achievement, conceived and carried out during a tumultuous time in our nation's history.

Yet as incredible a feat as reaching the moon was, NASA has soared to even greater heights during the intervening decades. For example, mankind has succeeded in growing tomato plants in low Earth orbit, and demonstrating that earthworms can successfully mate in a weightless environment.

Who knows what wonders await us in the next 35 years?

---------------Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Granted, George W. Bush last January proposed sending humans to explore Mars, but that idea seems to have pretty much died quiet death since then. And that's truly a shame.

Many critics charged that we should take care of our existing problems--such as poverty, homelessness, and starvation--here on Earth before we go reaching for other worlds. Those may be noble words, but they also represent unattainable idealism.

The unfortunate fact is that poverty, homelessness, and starvation have existed from the moment Adam & Eve were forced to leave the Garden of Eden. Every society in recorded history has always had some luckless individuals at the bottom of the economic ladder, and every society in the future will continue to do so. It's a simple fact that in any hierarchal structure, someone's going to be at the bottom of the pile getting shafted.

Actually, I take that back. We can solve the problem of poverty, homelessness, and starvation here on Earth, and going to the red planet is precisely the way to do it!!

Simply put, we build a really big spaceship, stick all the poor homeless people who are starving on it, and ship 'em off to Mars!

Problem solved.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Pedal Faster
The Tour de France will resume tomorrow. American Lance Armstrong is currently in second place. Assuming he can capture first place and maintain it, he will be rolling triumphantly through the streets of Paris for the sixth time this Sunday.

Even the German army managed that feat only twice.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

What? Nelson Mandela guilty of insider trading?
I was going to steer of the Martha Stewart fiasco, but my conscience will no longer let me do that. Plus, she has said something so incredibly outrageous that I'm ready to heave my guts all over the keyboard.

First, let me say that I think she got off easy. If it had been you or me up on those same charges, we'd already be in prison serving as Bruno's bitch every time he dropped his soap. But Martha got off with a mere five months, and she has the nerve to complain about it, and scream that she's going to appeal. Well, good. And if there's any justice in this world, the appellate court will agree that her sentence was indeed a farce, and instead send her to prison for five years.

But here's the part that really pushed me over the edge: Stewart is now comparing her situation to Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years rotting in a South African jail for the heinous crime of being opposed to apartheid.

My God!! Is Martha Stewart really that far out of touch with reality?

Granted, it's not like she slashed someone's throat and dumped the body in a drainage ditch like so many of us ordinary folk have done, but the fact remains that she received an illegally obtained tip about a stock ready to go down the toilet, and then lied about it to federal investigators. Granted, no physical harm was done to anyone. But what about the millions of ordinary Americans who have invested their life savings in the stock market, especially retirees? Does anyone honestly believe that those same anonymous people would have received a courtesy call from their stockbroker under the same circumstances? No, of course not. And the end result was that a lot of small investors--perhaps your own 79 year old Aunt Gladys--lost thousands of hard earned dollars when ImClone tanked.

And that's why Stewart's conviction is a victory for the little people like you, me, and dear old Aunt Gladys.

Friday, July 16, 2004

---------------Walt Handelsman, Newsday

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Gay Old Time? Only If You're Single
The US Senate yesterday dealt a blow to those seeking a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Despite the setback, President Bush and a number of other Republicans vow to fight on for this important measure designed to protect the sanctity of marriage.

Well, thank God that someone has their priorities straight! I would hate to think our political leaders are wasting their precious time arguing about petty matters such as Medicare, national security, the economy, the burgeoning federal deficit, prescription drug benefits, preventing terrorism, world hunger, or solving the plight of 40 million uninsured Americans.

---------------Walt Handelsman, Newsday

Besides, as long as we have Jennifer Lopez, the average number of traditional heterosexual marriages will continue to rise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Just Say Boo

---------------Mike Thompson, Detroit Free Press


Here Kitty, Kitty
It is unfortunate that the story of Bobo the escaped tiger turned out the way it did. Steve Sipek, his owner, is calling the shooting of the animal "murder" and claims that Bobo was completely harmless. "He had a heart of gold."

Yeah, right. And I'm sure Roy Horn considered Montecure the White Tiger to be completely harmless as well.

The responsibility for Bobo's death rests entirely on Sipek's shoulders. Seriously: What kind of idiot keeps a wild 750 pound man-eating animal in his backyard as a pet? Does Sipek have something against goldfish? If I'm carrying a shotgun and an animal weighing more than Oprah during one of her fat phases decides to lunge at me, the only question is going to be whether to shoot first and then shit my pants, or shit my pants first and then shoot.

This story reminds me of the guy in the DC area a few years ago who was bitten by his pet cobra. The hospital had to scramble to round up enough antivenom from around the country to save his life. A few days later we came to find out that the same thing had happened to this same guy a few years earlier. What? He didn't learn his lesson the first time?

Now I'm sorry, but if you're stupid enough to keep a pet cobra, you don't deserve to live. Seriously. And whatever you do, don't reproduce. We don't need your sperm contaminating the rest of the human gene pool.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed the five foot pet alligator I keep in my bathtub.


Mr. Smarty Pants
A lot of people have gotten caught up in the saga of Ken Jennings, who last night broke the one million dollar mark on Jeopardy!. In so doing, he has set a new record in total winnings for the geek oriented game show. But is this necessarily all that impressive an accomplishment? I think not, and in fact, it only serves to demonstrate that the guy is a moron.

Think about it: Jennings has now been on for 30 consecutive nights. And since they tape five episodes a week, that's six weeks of his life that he has wasted pursuing the million bucks. Additionally, he has had to answer hundreds of questions along the way.

This fool could instead have gone on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, answered a dozen or so questions, and still ended up with the same amount of money. Plus, it would have taken him all of 15 minutes--20 tops--to do it!!!

HA!!! Smart, indeed.

Monday, July 12, 2004

E Tu, Donald?
In an interview in the upcoming Esquire magazine, Donald Trump has come down hard on Bush, saying the President has made a "mess" of Iraq, and that it's "folly" to think that it can be turned into a democracy. And of the failure to catch bin Laden, Trump says "We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn't be focused," meaning Iraq.

Holy Mother of Moses!!! When one of the nation's top businessmen turns on a Republican President, you know it's all but over. I mean, what's next? Ronald Reagan's son addressing the Democratic national convention?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Supporting One's Dick
George W. Bush was asked last week what he thought the differences were between Vice President Cheney and Kerry's newly announced running mate, John Edwards. Bush's reply was short and to the point: "Dick Cheney can be President."

Could be President? I thought he already was!

---------------Dave Horsey, Seattle Post Intelligencer

And thanks to Solar for providing the link to a highly entertaining "music video" featuring the President--er, I mean Mr. Bush--and John Kerry.

Friday, July 09, 2004

---------------Chip Bok, Akron Beacon Journal


Does It Come With an Optional Smoke Detector?
Over two dozen brand new Honda CR-V sport utility vehicles have caught on fire within minutes of their first oil change. According to government regulators, this is somewhat unusual.

So far no one has been hurt or killed in the incidents, though there have been a number of close calls.

Honda's position on the matter, however, is that the fires are the fault of the technicians who change the oil filter, and the company has no plans to issue a recall.

Huh? If Honda is going to claim that the there is nothing wrong with the vehicles, then it is also saying that it's perfectly normal for any car to erupt into flames the moment it leaves the Jiffy Lube parking lot. Now I don't know about you, but I've never had a vehicle go all Hindenburg on me under any circumstances, and I'm fairly certain none of my friends have either.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Have Another Drink
A study shows that a particular cactus extract can help cure some symptoms of a hangover.

However, it won't do anything about that fat chick you woke up next to in the morning.


---------------Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution


Back on June 9, the day former President Reagan's casket arrived in DC, there was a brief security scare which led to the evacuation of the Capitol. The cause was an unidentified plane headed for National Airport just across the Potomac from DC. It was later identified as a small jet carrying Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, and the confusion was caused by a broken transponder. While the FAA knew about the problem and had cleared the craft to enter restricted airspace, they, um, kinda forgot to tell NORAD.

As it turns out, Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence came damn close to getting a promotion that day.

An inquiry into the incident has revealed a serious gap in communications that day. As a result, the General in charge of air security for DC was moments away from ordering an F16 to shoot down the Governor's plane when it finally turned for its final approach to the airport.

And Osama didn't even have to lift a finger....

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

At Least He's Not a Tampon

John Kerry made what was really the only logical choice in selecting John Edwards as his running mate. Edwards, though he's only 51, has already served almost a full term in the Senate, and prior to that, he accumulated vast amounts of experience suing over spilled cups of coffee. This certainly qualifies him to be Vice President.

On the other hand, Dick Cheney looks like that weird neighbor of yours down the street who eventually gets arrested for being a child molester. That certainly qualifies him for being a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The Republicans wasted no time accusing both Kerry and Edwards of being (gasp!!) liberals!!! Well, yeah, I suppose that's true. But on the other hand, neither of these guys has gone and invaded a foreign country without having a clue as to what they would do after they won. And at the moment, that sounds like a pretty qualification to me, even if John Kerry is a douche bag.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Oh, How Close We Came to Being French
Today is the Fourth of July, the day the United States celebrates its independence. This particular Fourth, however, also marks the 250th anniversary of 22 year old George Washington's surrender to the French at Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania. The skirmish was an early battle in what we now know as the French & Indian War. Had Washington been killed there, who knows how things might have turned out twenty some years down the road.

However, Washington was released by the French after the battle. He became an aid to a British General, and the conflict went on for another 11 years. Despite the early setback, Britain and the Americans went on to win. Had it gone the other way, however, the French would have taken control of the colonies, those early Americans would have become French citizens, and all of Europe would have ended up speaking German.

And despite initial claims to the contrary, no weapons of mass destruction were found then either.

Saturday, July 03, 2004


How Does One Do That Anyway?
During a campaign swing through West Virginia, Vice President Dick Cheney said that John Kerry was "out of the mainstream and out of touch with the conservative values of the heartland."

Hmmm.... Wonder if those conservative values include telling colleagues on the floor of the US Senate to go f*ck themselves?

Friday, July 02, 2004

What's Up, Chief?

There are few things in life as embarrassing for a guy as getting beaten up by a girl. Thankfully I personally have never been in such a situation, mainly because I've always managed to outrun them. That's really not all that surprising, since most girls tend to run like, well, girls.

A few days ago Andrew C. Hython found himself at Dulles Airport near DC. He decided, for whatever reason, to steal a car from the valet parking area. When he was unable to get out of the parking lot, he ran into the terminal with several parking attendants in pursuit. He then began knocking people down, kicking them, stomping on them, and making a general pest of himself. The situation quickly escalated past the usual low level physical assaults that routinely take place at airports nowadays.

Enter one Suzanne G. Devlin into the picture. The 5' 7" 150 lb. Devlin was at the airport dropping off her husband when she witnessed some of what was going on. She politely asked Mr. Hython to calm the f*ck down.

Hython made the mistake of ignoring Ms. Devlin's request, at which point she tackled the 5' 9" 260 lb. man from behind and pinned him to the ground with her knees until Airport Police finished their donuts and showed up.

Okay, okay. So I made up the part about the donuts.

Oh, one other important detail: Devlin is the acting Chief of Fairfax County Police in suburban Virginia. She was off duty, unarmed, and out of uniform at the time.

Meanwhile, once word gets around about the circumstances of his arrest, Mr. Devlin is likely to become quite, er, "popular" among the other inmates.