Thursday, January 28, 2010

Al Franken on the Democratic Health Care Message

Via Talking Points Memo:

The opponents of reform have found their bumper sticker, their slogan, their rallying cry, it's one word: No. You can read that on a bumper.

Our bumper sticker has -- it's just way too many words. And it says, "Continued on next bumper sticker."

The Conan O'Brien - Robert Reich Detective Show

Hitler Hates the iPad

Via 5 Blogs Before Lunch

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SOTU: The Truth Can Be Hard To Hear

Remember this - I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.

Hold On, I'm Coming - Sam and Dave

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an interesting piece on Peter Guralnick's book, Sweet Soul Music. Over the years, I've been astounded by how remarkable the duo was, but I wasn't aware that it caused "issues" with some other performers.

It's impossible to listen and come away unimpressed.

House Republicans Warned to Behave or GOP Leaders Will Turn This Car Around Right Now

GOP Leaders Warn House Republicans: Show Obama Respect Tonight!

I heard John Boehner will be standing by the entrance, urging colleagues to spit their gum into an old coffee can he'll be holding.

Seriously. How can you put your faith in a political party that needs to be coached like an 8th grade basketball squad?

Financial Reform - Is The Game Over?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sherrod Brown on White House Spending Freeze

Sherrod Brown gets it:

Start with this: The people who have been most outspoken about debt are the people most responsible for it.... The people, as I said, who have been most outspoken against the budget deficit have been those that voted for the Iraq war, and charged it to our kid, those who voted for the giveaway to the drug and insurance industry in 2003 and charged it to our kids, and those who voted who tax cuts for the rich and charged it to our kids, and those who ignored infrastructure needs in this country for a decade and charged that to our kids. And they come and they're screaming the loudest about the balanced budget. And that disturbs me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Windows 3.1 Replica

Some of us lived and breathed Windows 3.1 back in when it was first released.

Ah, the 16-bit wonder. And Minesweeper.

If you'd like to transport yourself back to that time in technology - and apparently, quite a few people would like that very much - there's now a JavaScript powered website that allows you to party like it's 1992.

We were so deprived back then. But we were also rich beyond our dreams.

Via Dvice

Image by John Mayson's Picasa Web Album

The League: Best Conan Postmortem

From The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Michael Ian Black on why Conan's battle with NBC strikes a chord with all of us:

I think the deeper reason people are so inflamed by this petty war is that Conan in his own way has come to represent the aggrieved, the injured, the wrongly terminated. I think there is a sense in this country that giant corporations are ruining everything, even late night talk shows. Something so insignificant takes on greater importance because I think on some level, “The Tonight Show” actually has become a very flawed stand-in for all the jobs lost to corporate greed, arrogance, and stupidity. We see Conan as a victim because we feel as though, like us, he wasn’t given a fair shot. If a guy like that, a guy who has everything, can be downsized and demoted, what hope do the rest of us have?

Moreover Leno is installed back in his abdicated throne. It feels like a coup, a particularly unfunny coup. And above him, all the top brass still have their jobs. Just like all the top brass in every other failed or bailed-out corporation. It feels unfair. And it makes people mad.
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Democrats: Much to learn, you still have

America has turned into quite a country in the last couple of months.

According to the current media narrative, if you're a Democrat, the end is near. If you're a Republican, you're on the move.

Winning a couple of races for governor hardly portrays the totality of the national mood, regardless of whatever track Michael Steele is laying down. People are pissed, to be sure. But it's a misreading of the tea bag leaves to aver this anger is targeted to the Dems.

Massachusetts says more about the fecklessness of leadership than it does the beginning of political change of epic magnitude. Starting with the concept that it was Teddy Kennedy's seat, the establishment committed one unforced error after another.

Newsflash - it's the people's seat.

Here's to hoping the era of familial representation posing as democracy has come to a close.

There's significant angst among the populace that things aren't getting better. Jobs are still hard to come by. Obtaining credit is like squeezing blood from a stone, a slap in the face of taxpayers who funded trillions to the financial services industry, only to see those dollars funneled to insanely inappropriate bonus payments that are completely tone deaf when it comes to the voices of the citizenry and bereft of any linkage to the FSIs actually correcting the practices that brought us all to the abyss and left many of us still teetering on the brink of disaster.

Neither side has demonstrated the fortitude, much less the ability, to roll up their sleeves and attack the problems we face honestly and with transparency. At least the GOP is consistent: If it's good for business, further enriches the wealthy, and keeps the damned illegals and gays from gaining ground, it's good for America.

Democrats pay lip service to the people, but when it comes time for action, ineffective doesn't even begin to describe their performance at enacting solutions that cure the disease. If anything, Democrats are quickly becoming parasites, latching on for the ride, leeching money and support and hope from their base while providing little of benefit in return.

This was supposed to be a symbiotic relationship, dog.

Progressive bloggers warned the powers that be of the pending shift in loyalty, should leadership ignore the rumblings emanating from deep within the population that dropped Barack Obama into the oval office and provided Democrats with the comfortable margins in Congress that they now enjoy.

All we asked in return was for these leaders to do what they told us they would do.

In the words of a small, oddly-featured man (not Robert Reich), "Do or do not. There is no try."

Image via niallkennedy's photostream on flickr

Conservative, Christian, Right-wing Republican, Straight White American Male

Senate Democrats brought it on themselves, although it's too bad they also brought it on the rest of us, but that's the way the system works.

Via Effect Measure

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dropped Food: Should You Eat It?

Via FlowingData

Lucky Marine Steps on IED That Fizzles

I feel lucky if I find a penny on the sidewalk, or a good parking spot at the mall.

For Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Mathison, true luck is stepping on a pressure-plate rigged explosive that pops but fails to explode, saving his life and possibly the lives of several comrades in the area.

C.J. Chivers details the moment in time in his column, Foot on Bomb, Marine Defies a Taliban Trap in the New York Times. If you don't have Chivers in your news reader, now's the time to fix that.

As the Taliban increases the quantity and sophistication of their IEDs in response to the buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, our soldiers exposure rises exponentially, and happy endings are seldom found at the end of bomb stories. Except for this time. In this place. For this Marine.

Mathison won't need to get a haircut for the next several months, as his buddies will certainly rub his head for luck so often that new growth will be kept to a minimum. Grunts can be a superstitious lot.

Here's to Cpl. Mathison. Raise a glass to him the next time you are able.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I'm So Glad the TSA Touched Me, Because I'm Special

As I went through the TSA checkpoint at 5 AM last Tuesday, bound for LaGuardia airport, I was pleased to learn that I had been "selected" for an extra-special pat-down of the lower half of my body.

Flying is such a miserable way to get from where I am to where I want to be that I accepted the pawing as if it was simply an extra slice of cheese on the shit sandwich that was my pre-flight meal.

Standing there in my navy pinstripe suit, starched white shirt, and silk tie, shoeless, bagless, and defenseless, I spread my legs as directed and allowed the uniformed man with the pale-blue Playtex living gloves pat the inside of my thighs and reconnoiter down to my ankles in a game of security cat-and-mouse.

I had left my laptop at home for this day trip, hoping to avoid the hassle of needing yet another gray plastic bin to transport it through the tunnel of looky-see along with my overcoat, suit jacket, leather portfolio, and pointy-toed designer loafers. Perhaps that's what triggered me for special treatment: I had taken great strides to demonstrate I had nothing to hide, so that's suspicious, right?

It couldn't have been my years spent wearing combat boots, defending this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Or my lengthy record of voting in every election while actively participating in democracy.

Terrorists come in all shapes and colors. I wonder if any research has been done on how many are short and white, with an inseam that's 6 inches less than the waistline? Suspects of my ilk obvious use the lower body to hatch their nefarious plans. Why else would the TSA agent ignore my crotch area and entire upper half?

Purchasing a round-trip ticket more than a month before my travel date, using a corporate credit card through a corporate travel agency, replicating an itinerary I've followed more than a dozen times - yeah, I'm the risky one.

Maybe it's an extension of the TSA's security theater. Let's take the guy who embodies truth, justice, and the American way, and feel him up a little in full view of the public. That will show anyone plotting to circumvent screening enroute to committing an act of unspeakable horror that it won't happen on the TSA's watch. No sir.

So America, you're welcome. It's not the same as getting shot at while wearing your country's uniform, but if getting dressed up and patted down by the TSA is the best way for me to serve my country these days, I'm happy to do it.

Next trip, I'm not wearing underwear.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lip Windows - When Piercing Isn't Enough

At what point does extreme body modification go too far?

When I have a front-row seat to your gingivitis, that's when.

Via Geekologie

How Blippy Will Give Crooks and Phishers Info to Attack You

Cyveillance, a most-excellent cyber intelligence blog, has an informative write-up on Blippy, a newly-launched service that allows users to post their financial transactions to the web in a Twitter-esque manner.

Yeah. And putting your credit card purchases online for the world to see, while a terrible idea, isn't the worst part of this. Not by a long shot.


Not sure why the world needs to know that Jason bought a SanDisk card at Amazon, but I'm old and just want the kids to get off of my lawn.

Cyveillance points out the wealth of good data available to evildoers:

We find:

    * a user’s name
    * the name of a business with whom they had a financial transaction
    * how much they spent
    * for certain retailers, what they bought

And then they speculate on the following scenario:

From a cyber criminal’s point of view, Blippy currently offers great information to construct a highly targeted spear phishing attack. After examining the types of purchases Blippy shows for Best Buy, consider the spear phishing attack one could construct for a hypothetical Blippy user named Johann Gonzales:

Dear Johann Gonzales,

Thank you for your recent purchase of $52.99 at Best Buy. To receive credit for your purchase in our Best Buy Reward Zone program and receive valuable discounts on future purchases, click here…

Putting together such an email would require software to “scrape” information from Blippy that it would then use to send to an array of likely email addresses for Johann Gonzales, like,,,, and so on. Given that software needed to carry out such an attack is freely available online, it must be assumed that cyber criminals are preparing such an attack on Blippy users. Even if they are not yet preparing, for the sake of Blippy’s users, Blippy must plan ahead as if they are.

What could possibly go wrong?

Dear Blippy - I think I'll keep my purchases to myself, as much as that's possible given our global data-sharing practices, but thanks for asking.

Now get off my lawn.

Balls Beer for Health Care Reform

Via TPMtv

Stewart vs. Olbermann

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Dirty Harry Meets Rain Man


Wanted: Dead or Alive

For Bon Jovi fans everywhere.

Via lunchbreath's photostream on flickr

Monday, January 18, 2010

Taibbi Takes Brooks to Task on Haiti Column

Ouch. This is going to leave a mark.

In his True/Slant blog, Matt Taibbi hatchets David Brooks into little bitty pieces over a recent Brooks column on Haiti. In true Taibbi fashion, once you get past the shocking prose and focus on the salient points beneath, head-scratching commences.

Could Taibbi be correct about the intent of Brooks' words?

Third, it is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well. Haiti has endured ruthless dictators, corruption and foreign invasions. But so has the Dominican Republic, and the D.R. is in much better shape. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island and the same basic environment, yet the border between the two societies offers one of the starkest contrasts on earth — with trees and progress on one side, and deforestation and poverty and early death on the other.

As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book “The Central Liberal Truth,” Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.

We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.


TRANSLATION: Although it is true that Haiti was just like five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress, and learning to use a freaking T-square, instead of singing and dancing and dabbling in not-entirely-Christian religions and making babies all the fucking time. I know I’m supposed to respect other cultures and keep my mouth shut about this stuff, but my penis is only four and a third inches long when fully engorged and so I’m kind of at the end of my patience just generally, especially when it comes to “progress-resistant” cultures.
I'm sure that there will be much chatter about this piece on the left and the right. Let's sit back and watch the fun, shall we?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Seth Meyers on the Jay-Conan Fiasco

Sort of hard for me to get worked up about a couple of multi-millionaires. Regardless of who is on at 11:35, I won't be watching. I'm in bed then, because I have to get up in the morning for a job. A job that starts before noon.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Glasses

These are awesome.

If I wore these every day, I could walk around making snarky comments about life and people would think I was a comedic genius.

Or they would put me in a special white jacket that ties in the back and inject me with special happy-drugs.

Either way, I win.

Woof - Football is Boring

Unlike gnawing bones, which is exhausting.

Pat Robertson Voodoo Doll

It's for charity, people.

Colbert: Honor Bound

I guess it beats a pound of flesh.

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