Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Observations 1 DEC 2009

Looks like the move has caught up with me. I'm at home sick, due probably to some over-exertion last night in cleaning trash out of the old place. Yesterday, I felt drained all day long, with little initiative. Being on the wrong side of fifty sucks.

Being LBJ also sucks. The proposed troop increase in Afghanistan (while pushing other major initiatives) can only lead to woe.

It's no surprise that all the culprits involved in the health-care disaster are lying to themselves. The public wants perfect care, at minimum cost, the insurance and drug companies want to maintain thier power and monopoly rents, and the doctors would like to have the customers go away, and be on the golf course by three PM.

No matter what the outcome of the legislative process, the health-care system is going to destroy itself. Doctors will find themselves overworked, competing with cheaper (probably offshore) medical professionals (welcome to IT, good buddies), patients will still get stiffed, and suffer from other's mistakes (again, welcome to IT), and the insurance and drug companies will feel like Microsoft, looking at a newly resurgent Apple- and Google, the happy evil empire.

In (possibly) forty years, when most Boomers are dead, and X'rs are forced against the wall for being the selfish assholes they are, we'll get a Brit or Canadian system. Doctors will be well paid, salaried *employees* (with livable working conditions), drug companies will be an industry where they have to work for a living (see what happened to Detroit), and the insurance companies will be facing the fate of Richard Whitney (see Glass-Steagal Act). The Millies will demand, and get, the best that they can manage.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Generational Movie Quotes

http://fandangogroovers.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/movie-quotes-that-define-their-generation/

How Health Care Providers Would Like Things To Be

Pay a bribe first, for decent care:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33863680/ns/health-health_care/?ns=health-health_care

Pay a retainer (bribe), or no medicine for you:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34019606/ns/health-health_care/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34024233/ns/health-health_care/

These Are The Guys Who Wanted To Buy All Of Our Seaports...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34204543/ns/business-world_business/

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Observations 26 NOV 2009

Back on the air.

95% moved (only what could not be moved, or was of little value remains). I'll be picking up the remains over the next month.

AT&T promised a delivery window of 0800 to 2000. The guy arrived at 1630. To his credit, he was a pro. Everything works, and well. New wiring was run for the DSL and phone.

The movers were excellent. 2 Guys And A Truck is highly recommended. They got the job done, and well.

A-1 Antenna will be installing the single vertical, and probably a 4228 next week (I already have 3 4221's). This new QTH (location for normal people) is 56 feet MSL lower than the Doghouse, surrounded by heavy trees, and there is an approximately 50 ft rise to the east, with two story apartment buildings atop the rise. Not so good for easterly propogation. To the west, south, southwest, and northwest, things might be better. It's almost an exact reversal of my previous reception characteristics.

My new Command Post is working out well. Necessity is the mother, etc. Everything is in reach. The un-needed is packed, and will remain so. Computer and radio will be together in the shack, as well as the working office. A new (monster) 1500 W UPS, and much superior electrical service, is a welcome change. So is the increase in water pressure, and quality of the water supply. The City Of St. Louis is corrupt, but has excellent water and sewage treatment. Ironic...

Max took some adjusting. He developed severe anxiety at first, but calmed when he was re-assured that he was not being abandoned in a foster home. Trips back and forth between the locations, and the presence of Gramma have aided immensely.

Mom has stood the strain rather well. I'm not the most patient of persons when a Major Operation Is In Progress. The US military programmed me well.

Now, the long winter of unpacking, shredding, and selling and disposing begins. I'm now within four blocks of my friends, and within 2 km of the big RF farm. So much for DX'ing, but a most welcome return to human companionship. Not to mention nine minutes closer to work. With both bus and Metro Link within walking distance. After the house and other associated expenses cease early next year, my cash flow nearly doubles. Car and other insurance goes down. Fuel expenses drop radically.

Multigenerational households were the norm before. I think they are returning. So will cities.

Friday, November 20, 2009

They Must Have Been Taking Advice From My Debate Opponents

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29744.html

Heckuva Job In Afghanistan!

http://www.newsweek.com/id/223528

Ending With A Whimper

http://www.newsweek.com/id/177717

ID Theft

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/11/i-call-them-dear-john-data-letters-because-of-the-bad-news-they-bring-and-their-decidedly-warm-and-fuzzy-tone--dear-consume.html

Hmmmm. Might Be A Pattern Here....

Welcome to the brave new work world. Another reason why I left my discussion boards:

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-editors-desk/the-editors-desk/2009/11/post-a-vulgar-comment-while-youre-at-work-lose-your-job/all-comments/

Monday, November 16, 2009

Observations Monday 16 Nov 2009

I've been wanting to make some observations for some time, but the operational tempo of my life has prevented it. There are some big changes occurring, and it seems spooky that big changes happen in my life generally in the fall, and close to one of the big birthday date years. I've been forced to take a series of long hard looks at the second half of my life, and what I want to do with it- and exterior circumstances have forced it. These changes also face this country, in many respects.

First, that Great American Dream of being a homeowner has made me more socially isolated than when I lived in an apartment, conserving capital for that great financial bonanza of home-ownership. (You can figure out what happened to that bonanza, and I had even, to my chagrin, predicted it). That is not a good thing, as one grows older and needs the support network.

I was camping out in my home, not living in it. The vast majority of my possessions that I had joyously unpacked, free of their storage tubs, went untouched. My friends did not visit, as I had moved into a small house that did not permit the gathering of a dozen geeks in one room...so much for hosting.

Secondly, the utility and self-esteem that went along with the house went quickly, eaten by the time spent traveling to all the minor destinations of shopping, etc, lawn care (lawn Nazi's), and the continual hassle and financial drain of maintaining the structure. I did *not* automatically attract female attention by living in a very nice zipcode, my dog had to be driven to parks, to avoid annoying the neighbors who kept *their* pets as weapons, and the favorable location for radio and TV did not pay off in terms of long term satisfaction. Amateur radio is an expensive money and time sink, not to mention the need to climb my roof every time something new came along. Five figures to the left of the decimal point spent to listen to boasts of how great it was to not have teeth anymore...regardless of frequency band. TV DX'ing has gone to hell since the digital transition. The thrill is gone.

Third, financially, all I was doing was renting, paying higher utilities and other frictional costs, and getting a slight tax benefit for it. The recovery in home values will not be soon enough for me to monetize a gain (as I'm past fifty), and I can literally save faster than I can realize a gain from the house. The house will require lots of cosmetic work, as I kept it as a doghouse, literally. It would need to be refitted with handicapped features as well, if I planned to stay in it for life.

Fourth, time to face up to the fact that as a professional, my income would likely be stagnant until the economy recovers. These are supposed to be my peak earning years, and I'm screwed. White collar job, but functionally, a member of the working poor. Income impossible to raise, and increasing expenses to maintain the house. The only thing to do about cash flow is to cut expenses.

And I was dying faster in the house. So It Was Time To Get Out.

Hello, Rubbermaid tubs. Down came the antenna farm (most of it). Only needed one TV. Many old books got donated, thirty year old uniforms and clothes that did not fit went to Goodwill. Nearly forty years of paper records are in the process of being shredded. and so on.

It's like attending your own funeral. The smashing blow to the ego (YOU"RE A LOSER!!) was not made anymore pleasant by knowing that I was making the right financial and health choices.

Where I'm moving to, I can walk and bicycle to everything. One block to the Doggie Park. Max is happy, and the doggies are much friendlier. My utility and insurance costs go waaaay down. My car is now sheltered, not out in the open. My gut will go down, and I'll be eating a much healthier diet (cooked by me).

Here's where the Internet gets to laugh it's ass off.

My mom's arthritis, congestive heart failure, and scleroderma have made her mobility difficult. She is competent, not incontinent. It's just that walking and lifting are sheer pain. She can still drive, but entry and exit from her car is agony, and difficult.

She needs help. She's proud as hell. I'm the one she trusts with keys and money. I'm the one strong enough to lift her. She conspires with Max. And I wouldn't be able to face myself if I didn't try to help.

So, it's Mom's Basement.

I have a completely separate washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, bathroom, bedroom, and entrance/exit. Its a square nearly fifty feet on a side. Plus, I'm not likely to have sex ever again, sooooo...

Yes, at past fifty, I'm going back in The Basement. Enjoy the laugh.

The irony is, the country will soon be following me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MO Speed Trap Rankings

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/E88C6E3A0DE0946F862575B8001539BD?OpenDocument

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Google Knows About You

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/11/if-you-only-have-time-to-visit-one-new-web-site-this-week-make-it-the-new-google-dashboard-last-week-the-search-engine-beh.html

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dealing With Extremism

http://www.slate.com/id/2219486/pagenum/all/#p2

NSA, Reading E-Mail

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/us/17nsa.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all

My Kind Of Vending Machine

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/5554972/Gold-sold-like-chocolate-from-German-vending-machines.html

Broadband Access And Balloons

http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/new-air-force-drones-in-pakistan-061709

More Droooones

http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/new-air-force-drones-in-pakistan-061709

GPS Woes

http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/42767

You Can't Eat Just One...

http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2009/06/18/overeating/

Google Vs. Librarians!

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1904495,00.html?cnn=yes

Bank Regulation Follies

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2009-06-15-failed-banks-regulators_N.htm

Drooones!

http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-06-16-drones_N.htm

American Exceptionalism

http://www.slate.com/id/2220534/pagenum/all/#p2

There Is No Recession

http://www.wwmt.com/articles/roads-1363526-mich-counties.html

Rupert Vs. Google

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8351331.stm

European Space Telescope

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8099105.stm

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There Is No Recession

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/opinion/14ehrenreich.html?em

Nuclear Transportation Security Measures

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/opinion/15wein.html?_r=1

Recessions and Loaning to Relatives...

http://www.slate.com/id/2220140/

Recessions And Friendships

http://www.slate.com/id/2220302/pagenum/all/#p2

Traffic Lights At LAX

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31310756/ns/travel-news/

Great Time For Commercial Aviation... :)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31365557/ns/business-world_business/

There Is No Need For Backup Systems...

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jun/13/world/fg-brazil-air-crash13

AP, Non-Profit News

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/business/media/13press.html?_r=3&ref=media

Tech Nostalgia

http://technologizer.com/tag/nostalgia/

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Reasons My Former Debate Opponents Are Not Feeling Well...

http://www.democracycorps.com/focus/2009/10/the-very-separate-world-of-conservative-republicans/?section=Analysis

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/the-aura-strikes-back/

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thank God, and Good Riddance

From the St. Louis City Line, to West County Mall, this is the guy who made Manchester Road the Death Star Trench. All the little municipalities jumped on the river of money.

http://www.fox2now.com/news/ktvi-traffic-cop-retires-rock-hill-101409,0,2307752.story

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Poker Is Life

http://chronicle.com/article/What-Poker-Can-Teach-Us/48641/

October 5, 2009
What Poker Can Teach Us

By James McManus

Since 1996 I've been teaching a course on the literature of poker at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The reading list varies but usually includes The Biggest Game in Town, by Al Alvarez; Big Deal, by Anthony Holden; David Mamet's American Buffalo; Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire; Oskar Morgenstern's "The Cold War Is Cold Poker"; Herbert O. Yardley's The Education of a Poker Player; Poker Faces: The Life and Work of Professional Card Players, by David M. Hayano; Poker Face, by Katy Lederer; and The Poker Face of Wall Street, by Aaron Brown. To keep textbook costs manageable, we read selections from primers by David Sklansky, Dan Harrington, Doyle Brunson, and Daniel Negreanu, and the anthology Read 'Em and Weep.

Talking points from outside the reading list include the role the game played in Barack Obama's early elective career. As a writer, professor, and community organizer, Obama was greeted coolly by some of his fellow legislators when he arrived in Springfield in 1998 to take a seat in the Illinois Senate. How was this ink-stained, poshly educated greenhorn supposed to get along with Chicago ward heelers and conservative downstate farmers? By playing poker with them, of course.

"When it turned out that I could sit down at [a bar] and have a beer and watch a game or go out for a round of golf or get a poker game going," Obama recalled, "I probably confounded some of their expectations." He was referring to the regular Wednesday night game, called the Committee Meeting, that he and another freshman Democrat started. While the stakes were kept low, the bottom line politically was that poker helped Obama break the ice with people he needed to work with in the legislature. His favorite physical games were basketball and golf, but he seems to have understood that, as a networking tool, poker is a more natural pastime.

Its tables have long served as less genteel clubs for students, teachers, soldiers, businessmen, and politicians of either sex and every rank and persuasion. Instead of walking down fairways 40 yards apart from each other, throwing elbows in the paint, or quietly hunting pheasant or muskie, poker buddies are elbow to elbow all night, competing and drinking and talking. In my class, we discuss how Obama's Committee Meeting continued a tradition going back to Henry Clay, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, and scores of other generals, justices, and presidents.

Then there's the seminal influence of poker on Bill Gates during his four semesters at Harvard (1973-75). Twenty years later, in The Road Ahead, Gates recalled the marathon dorm sessions he believes were at least as productive and intellectually stimulating as his time spent in class. Dorm-mate Steve Ballmer calls Microsoft's early business plan "basically an extension of the all-night poker games Bill and I used to play back at Harvard." Gates put it this way: "In poker, a player collects different pieces of information—who's betting boldly, what cards are showing, what this guy's pattern of betting and bluffing is—and then crunches all that data together to devise a plan for his own hand. I got pretty good at this kind of information processing." Indeed, he won a substantial portion of Microsoft's start-up costs in those dorm games. But it wasn't just dollars reaped to be parlayed a millionfold; it was mainly, says Gates, that "the poker strategizing experience would prove helpful when I got into business."

That sort of strategizing is now being studied more formally at a few universities, and not just in M.B.A. programs. The Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society was founded in 2006 by the Harvard Law School professors Charles Nesson and Lawrence Lessig, the communications maven Jonathan Cohen, and Andrew Woods, a law student. Nesson had cofounded Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Lessig had started the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. Lessig was author of The Future of Ideas and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, while Cohen had built a variety of software and communications companies. Woods had graduated magna cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he started the Bruin Casino Gaming Society, the first officially recognized student organization devoted to the study and teaching of poker.

Even a quick browse of the society's Web page, at gpsts.org, makes clear poker's relevance to the ways we educate ourselves, make laws and contracts, and communicate online and in person. The society promotes it as "an exceptional game of skill that can be used as a powerful teaching tool at all levels of academia." The goal is "to create an open online curriculum centered on poker that will draw the brightest minds together, both from within and outside of the conventional university setting, to promote open education and Internet democracy."

Above all, Nesson makes the case for using poker as a means to helping students understand the world from others' points of view. In his own classes, he trains lawyers "to see in the game a language for thinking about and an environment for experiencing the dynamics of strategy in dispute resolution." At the simplest level, he shows how the game can help middle-school students understand percentages and budget making, as well as how to "read" their opponents.

The larger—and perhaps more surprising—pedagogical fact is that while poker has gone hand in hand with pivotal aspects of our national experience for a couple of centuries now, you'd never guess it from the curricula of our history, anthropology, and English departments, or even from browsing most dictionaries. The latest edition of the New Oxford American, for example, fails to include flop (as a poker term), hold 'em, Omaha (as a game), and World Series of Poker. (Terms deemed fit to appear include floptical, holdall, Pokemon, and World Heritage Site.) Similar omissions occur in Merriam-Webster, thefreedictionary.com, encarta.msn.com, and other online lexicons. Such cultural blind spots persist in the face of poker's expanding global popularity, as well as abundant evidence that the game has helped not only ordinary citizens but numerous movers and shakers make their way in the world.

Humanities professors should recognize that the ways we've done battle and business, made art and literature have echoed, and been echoed by, poker's definitive tactics, as well as its rich lore and history. The long list of questions that students might ponder include: Why would poque, an 18th-century parlor game played by French and Persian aristocrats, take hold and flourish in kingless, democratic America? Why did poque evolve into our national card game, some say our national pastime, instead of piquet or cribbage or whist? How did poker inspire game theory, which in turn has helped our leaders think through every nuclear standoff? How is it useful in research into artificial intelligence? In what ways do its ethos and lingo underscore Stanley's brutality in A Streetcar Named Desire, or does its honor-among-thieves morality play out in American Buffalo? How much does our love for this game have to do with bluffing and cheating, or with the fact that money is its language, its leverage, its means of keeping score?

American DNA is a notoriously complex recipe for creating a body politic, but two strands in particular have always stood out in high contrast: the risk-averse Puritan work ethic and the entrepreneur's urge to seize the main chance. Proponents of neither m.o. like to credit the other with anything positive; huggers of the shore tend not to praise explorers, while gamblers remain unimpressed by those who husband savings accounts. Yet blended in much the same way that parents' genes are in their children, the two ways of operating have made us who we are as a country.

That's not just a metaphor, either. Geneticists have shown that there is literally such a thing as American DNA, not surprising when nearly all of us are descended from immigrants. We therefore carry an immigrant-specific genotype, a genetic marker expressing itself—in some environments, at least—as energetic risk-taking and competitive self-promotion. Even when famine, warfare, or another calamity strikes, most people stay in their homeland. The self-selecting group that migrates, seldom more than 2 percent, is disproportionally inclined to take chances. They also have above-average intelligence and are quicker decision makers. Something about their dopamine-receptor systems, the neural pathway associated with a taste for novelty and risk, sets them apart from those who stay put.

While the factors involved are numerous and complex, the migratory syndrome has been deftly summarized by the journalist Emily Bazelon: "It's not about where you come from, it's that you came at all." The migratory gene must have been even more dominant among those Americans who first moved west across the Appalachians, up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, then out to California during the gold rush. Their urge to strike it rich, often at the risk of their lives, made poker more appealing than point-based trick-taking games like whist, bridge, or cribbage.

The national card game still combines Puritan values—self-control, diligence, the slow accumulation of savings—with what might be called the open-market cowboy's desire to get very rich very quickly. The latter is the mind-set of the gold rush, the hedge fund, the lottery ticket of everyday wage-earners. Yet whenever the big-bet cowboy folds a weak hand, he submits to his Puritan side. As Walter Matthau drily put it, poker "exemplifies the worst aspects of capitalism that have made our country so great."

Sometimes outsiders can see our traits more clearly than we see them ourselves. The Budapest-born historian John Lukacs calls poker "the game closest to the Western conception of life … where men are considered moral agents, and where—at least in the short run—the important thing is not what happens but what people think happens." Another keen foreign observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in Democracy in America: "Those living in the instability of a democracy have the constant image of chance before them, and, in the end, they come to like all those projects in which chance plays a part." This was true, he deduced, "not only because of the promise of profit but because they like the emotions evoked."

It remains uncertain which chancing games Tocqueville witnessed, but the perceptive Frenchman came to appreciate our allegiance to risky initiative and democratic opportunity while traveling in 1831 aboard the steamboat Louisville along the Mississippi, the original American mainstream, at the very moment poker was coming of age on those floating casinos. Mark Twain became a highly paid steamboat pilot just before the Civil War closed the river to commercial traffic. Forced to make his way as a writer instead, he produced numerous yarns and reports about the game, the most famous of which appeared in Life on the Mississippi. Another ex-riverman, Abraham Lincoln, used a yarn about poker sharps to explain to the public a controversial decision he made during the Trent Affair. Lincoln then watched the general he had preferred to lead the Union war effort, Robert E. Lee, use poker-based tactics to almost defeat his former country's superior troop strength and armaments.

In the 20th century, Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt called their most ambitious programs the Square Deal and the New Deal, respectively. Harry Truman played in the White House with chips embossed with the presidential seal and explained his decision to order an atomic strike on Hiroshima during a stud game with reporters. Even so, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, by far the two best players among the presidents, refused to even mention the game in public, fearing voters would think it unsavory. John Kennedy shrewdly raised Nikita Khrushchev's bluff during the Cuban missile crisis, though it's been argued by Aaron Brown that Khrushchev's "strong laydown" is what spared us a nuclear holocaust.

In our own century, as the game's popularity booms across every inhabited continent and out into cyberspace, a subhead in The New York Times firmly declared: "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn poker." Dictionary editors and curriculum planners might want to start taking note.

James McManus is a professor of writing and literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This article is adapted from his most recent book, Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker, to be published next month by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Copyright © 2009 by James McManus.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Winner And The Loser

Once upon a time, all the multiverses that had ever been, or would be, had but two inhabitants: The Winner, and The Loser.

The Winner always won, of course. The Loser always lost.

Every now and again, The Loser tried to beat or destroy The Winner. The end result was always the same: The Loser lost by coming to be too close to being The Winner, or adopting the Winners methods- and thus destroying The Loser's own attempt. The Loser would do The Winner's job. The Winner could *never* lose! (See Jedi Versus Sith)

Over the eons, The Loser came to realize the enjoyment of losing ss long as The Loser kept playing, The Loser would always lose. Why else keep playing?

Losing started to be not so fun, anymore. The Idea took some unmeasurable time to form.

First, The Loser stopped competing. The Winner rolled right over The Loser, and gloated. Attempts to destroy The Winner always failed. "Ignore is for Losers!, The Winner cried in triumph. The Loser attempted self-destruction. That failed too. The Loser could not self-destruct, since that would be Winning.

The loser became truly miserable. Further eons passed.

The Loser had had The Idea around for a long time. The winner would never think of it, being The Winner. Finally, The Loser put The Idea into play.

"Hey, Winner!" cried The Loser.

"Yeah, Loser!" replied The Winner, with glee.

"Notice how much I enjoy Losing?"

"Yeah, and Owning You Totally Rocks! You can't even put me on Ignore!"

"Gotta way to make us both feel better. If you totally destroy me, You Totally Win, and I Totally Fail. Bonus- I won't even get to enjoy it, being Totally Destroyed. You'll Love That. How about It?"

The Winner wasn't stupid. So he brought The Loser to the edge of oblivion many times. The enjoyment of The Loser's agony was beyond description.

But The Winner Really Wanted To Win. To administer the coup de grace. So The Winner did. The Winner Totally Destroyed The Loser, achieving the final Win.

And everything stopped. There was literally no time for the Winner to realize Being OWNED. The Loser had no time to rejoice.

*****

There was a grey room. Two persons were in it. One sat in a chair, the other laid on a couch. A table, with a laptop, lay in front of the couch.

The person on the couch awoke, saw the person in the chair, and screamed "YOU FRAKKER!"

"Sorry. I'm leaving now. Took awhile to bring about a permanent character change in Myself. When I leave, I will totally forget you, forever. My existence outside this room will have limits, in whatever form I take, from the happy, to the sad. The same will occur for you, once you figure out how to leave".

"YOU FRAKKER! What the Hell am I supposed to do in the Meantime?!?"

"The laptop has wireless. You can post on the Internet as much as you want. It won't change anything. There's a Twelve Step pamphlet on the table too. Gotta go, the Cardinals are in post-season, and the Rams *could* go 0-16 this season".

"COME BAAACK HERE!" the person on couch screamed as the door closed behind the other person. No amount of histrionics or effort could find an opening.

The person left in the grey room tossed the pamphlet, joined an infinite number of Internet Fora, and started a blog and Facebook page....

THE END.

Superior Parenting, And No Damn Liberal Gun Control

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-10-08-soccer-mom-gun-murder-suicide_N.htm

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jesus Kills Classic 99

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertainment/stories.nsf/tvradio/story/7E33989A3E2B2A87862576470047C8E1?OpenDocument

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Finally, People Are Catching On To The Stupidity

This is why I gave up on my political board:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0909/27780.html

n the course of 24 hours this week, a viral Web video portrayed a Republican congressman calling the president the “enemy of humanity,” a Democratic congressman warned sick people that Republicans “want you to die quickly,” and a New York Times columnist suggested that all the hot talk might lead to acts of violence.

To which the chairman of the Republican National Committee replied: “Nut job.”

We’re in the midst of what Brookings Institution’s Darrell West calls an “arms race of incendiary rhetoric,” and it’s quickly reaching the point of mutually assured destruction.

“The problem with this strategy,” says Princeton professor Julian Zelizer, “is if it is used repeatedly, one person just bumps the other, and people won’t pay attention after a while. Dramatic theatrics work only if they are relatively rare. If everyone was screaming at the president, we [wouldn’t] think of it much.”

When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted out “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last month, the resulting back and forth got him a week in the cable news spotlight and enduring fame as a powerful Republican fundraiser.

But when The Huffington Post posted video Tuesday of Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) calling Obama an “enemy of humanity” for his abortion-rights views, his fame — or infamy — was fleeting. As Franks’s office tried to explain away his comments — he meant to say “enemy of unborn humanity” — Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) was busy upstaging him, taking to the House floor to say that the GOP’s health plan was for sick people to “die quickly.”

By Wednesday morning, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) — who cried “Poison!” when Democrats moved to censure Wilson — had drafted a resolution condemning Grayson.

And by Wednesday afternoon, Grayson — who voted in favor of censuring Wilson — was back on the House floor pouring gasoline on the fire.

Grayson said he was ready to apologize — not for the “die quickly” line but for Congress’s failure to pass health care reform. “I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America,” he said. “I yield the rest of my time.”

But with the pace at which things are proceeding, that choice wasn’t really his to make.

“We have gone from 15 minutes of fame to 15 seconds of fame,” said Michael Franc, a former Republican leadership aide who now serves as vice president for The Heritage Foundation.

Voters and cable news watchers barely have a moment to take stock of one piece of controversy before, inevitably, another politician steals the show.

The upside for politicians like Franks, who insists that both his “enemy of humanity” remark and Wilson’s “You lie!” were misunderstood: The sting of the rhetoric may not last as long as it once did.

The downside for politicians like Grayson, whose pre-printed “Die quickly” poster robbed him of the right to claim a mistake: The window for cashing in may no longer stay open as long as it has for Wilson — and it’s going to be tougher to crack open to begin with.

It is a little bit like pornography,” says former presidential adviser David Gergen. “If people are going to start engaging in soft porn in order to get attention, you are going to have to go harder and harder, until eventually we all say we’d like something more virtuous.”

But there’s a difference between saying we’d like something more virtuous and actually liking something more virtuous. And in an era of polarizing politicians covered by polarized media — MSNBC’s hero is Fox’s goat — it’s a safe bet that harsh words will trump respectability for the time being.

Or, as Gergen puts it: “Because there is so much hunger for red meat in the bases of each party, and people are looking for someone to throw them a piece, you get a short-term benefit from going after the other side with certain colorful viciousness.”

“I don’t see a whole lot of signs that the public is tired of it,” says former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards, now a lecturer at Princeton University. “Sure, some people are. My guess is Democrats attacking Republicans are going to get the cheers from the far left. It is like anything else, the whole capitalist system — if a product sells, you produce more of it.”

Even as he tried to explain his “enemy of humanity” remarks this week, Franks — who calls himself a “civil, calm, collected kind of guy” — tacitly acknowledged the tension between rising above the fray and diving right into it.

He told POLITICO that neither he nor Wilson “intended for it to happen the way it did” and that it was not his “intention” to issue such an all-encompassing attack on the president. But in the same breath, he said: “I think if you care about a cause, you take every opportunity to speak to it in a way that will further that cause as best you can.”

And while Franks’s press secretary, Bethany Barker, insisted that her boss hadn’t meant to create a media frenzy with his comments, she also said that “if there was one [issue] he would create controversy around willingly, it would be around the issue of abortion.”

Although Wilson is still riding the “You lie!” wave — in recent days, he sent out e-mails on behalf of the National Republican Congressional Committee, arguing that major bills should be posted online for 72 hours before floor votes — an aide said Wednesday that he’s ready to put it all behind him. Asked about the Franks and Grayson imbroglios, Wilson press secretary Ryan Murphy said: “The congressman has kind of closed the books on the incident he [was involved in], so I think we’re going to move on there.”

But Grayson showed little interest in giving up the spotlight yet. In a call to POLITICO Wednesday evening, the congressman said that phone calls to his office have been “overwhelmingly in favor” of his comments. “I am hearing over and over again that people are glad to see someone from central Florida say it like it is.”

Grayson said he doesn’t see “any conceivable moral parallel” between his “Die quickly” and Wilson’s “You lie!” “To interrupt and insult the president while the nation is watching is appalling,” he said, and he dismissed the notion that rhetoric like his is somehow detrimental to Congress as a whole. “We cannot run this institution on the basis of Republican hissy fits,” he said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How To Tell When Your Industry Has Screwed Up

When the Feds feel enough heat to finally enforce regulation:

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/09/it-would-be-the-most-sweeping-change-to-american-consumer-protection-in-decades-perhaps-since-1930-it-would-wrest-power-awa.html

The Box

http://ow.ly/15QBN2

We're Number One!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ahhh, Civil Discourse On The Internet

http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/disinhibit.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32897467/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/

According to one of my distinguished debate opponents, putting someone on Ignore is an act of cowardice. Ultimately, what happens is that one grows more aware of co-dependent, enabling behavior, the need to fix other persons declines somewhat.

Net result: Extremists take over the debate. This is happening in Real Life, and has been increasing over the last forty years.

This form of compulsive behavior ends in the same way that any other addiction does- when the addict hits bottom. This can either be death, or one of the events that requires the stages of grief...

Our society as a whole needs a 12 Step Program. The bottom event is likely to be economic and political, rather than military.

I Never Predicted This...

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cookreport.php

Thursday, September 3, 2009

VHF DTV Blues

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/327804-FCC_Continues_Working_On_DTV_Related_Reception_Issues.php

Damn Those Evil Socialized Medicine Brits!

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/348F52DE319AF4DC86257623007FAAEB?OpenDocument

Monday, August 31, 2009

Go-Go Years

http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/adtrack/2009-08-30-real-life-mad-men-were-about-sex-and-booze_N.htm

And Penny Slots, The College Education

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-08-31-penny-slot_N.htm

College, the Lottery Ticket

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/college/2009-08-30-college-costs-recession_N.htm

Missouri The Warm And Fuzzy

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-08-30-unemployment-funds-unclaimed_N.htm

Gen X Whining Has Nothing On This Misery

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-08-30-chinageneration_N.htm

I'm shocked

http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-08-30-rendon-afghan-embeds_N.htm

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Would I Lie To You?

http://www.newsweek.com/id/213575

And, for Jerry:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/213625

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Used To Play Poker With This Guy....

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/politics/story/BA18DC019CDF43F48625761E000EACF8?OpenDocument

One dismal holiday at Ameristar, he was filling out thank you letters to his donors AT THE POKER TABLE. This must have been after his 2006 campaign, I think. One of the oddest things I've ever seen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Read This

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200909/health-care

Press Releases Of The Damned

http://technologizer.com/2009/08/18/press-releases/

Nobody Wants To Be The Help Desk

Something never addressed by assault rifle carrying town hall attendees:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-08-17-doctor-gp-shortage_N.htm

Town Hall Meetings Show True Character

If I tried this, I would be in prison the rest of my life:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/17/obama.protest.rifle/index.html

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheney On Bush- I Hated My Electric Shock Collar

Some of my friends may wind up being *thankful* for Bush?!? Bush muzzled Cheney from going Dr. Strangelove....

I would *love* to see the faces of some of my former political board debate opponents now...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32398177/ns/politics-washington_post/

Sources: Cheney uncloaks Bush frustration
‘Statute of limitations has expired’ on many secrets, former VP says

By Barton Gellman
updated 3:50 a.m. CT, Thurs., Aug 13, 2009

WASHINGTON - In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the "far left" agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney's White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush.

Cheney's disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets.

"In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him," said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney's reply. "He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."

The two men maintain respectful ties, speaking on the telephone now and then, though aides to both said they were never quite friends. But there is a sting in Cheney's critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end.

Cheney's post-White House career is as singular as his vice presidency, a position he transformed into the hub of power. Drained of direct authority and cast aside by much of the public, he is no less urgently focused, friends and family members said, on shaping events.

The former vice president remains convinced of mortal dangers that few other leaders, in his view, face squarely. That fixed belief does much to explain the conduct that so many critics find baffling. He gives no weight, close associates said, to his low approval ratings, to the tradition of statesmanlike White House exits or to the grumbling of Republicans about his effect on the party brand.

'Not small issues'
John P. Hannah, Cheney's second-term national security adviser, said the former vice president is driven, now as before, by the nightmare of a hostile state acquiring nuclear weapons and passing them to terrorists. Aaron Friedberg, another of Cheney's foreign policy advisers, said Cheney believes "that many people find it very difficult to hold that idea in their head, really, and conjure with it, and see what it implies."

What is new, Hannah said, is Cheney's readiness to acknowledge "doubts about the main channels of American policy during the last few years," a period encompassing most of Bush's second term. "These are not small issues," Hannah said. "They cut to the very core of who Cheney is," and "he really feels he has an obligation" to save the country from danger.

Cheney's imprint on law and policy, achieved during the first term at the peak of his influence, had faded considerably by the time he and Bush left office. Bush halted the waterboarding of accused terrorists, closed secret CIA prisons, sought congressional blessing for domestic surveillance, and reached out diplomatically to Iran and North Korea, which Cheney believed to be ripe for "regime change."

Some of the disputes between the president and his Number Two were more personal. Shortly after Bush fired Donald H. Rumsfeld, Cheney called his old mentor history's "finest secretary of defense" and invited direct comparison to Bush by saying he had "never learned more" from a boss than he had as Rumsfeld's deputy in the Ford administration.

The depths of Cheney's distress about another close friend, his former chief of staff and alter ego I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, have only recently become clear. Bush refused a pardon after Libby's felony convictions in 2007 for perjury and obstruction of an investigation of the leak of a clandestine CIA officer's identity. Cheney tried mightily to prevent Libby's fall, scrawling in a note made public at trial that he would not let anyone "sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder." Cheney never explained the allusion, but grand jury transcripts — and independent counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald — suggested that Libby's false statements aimed above all to protect the vice president.

Last month, an account in Time magazine, based on close access to Bush's personal lawyer and White House counsel, described Cheney's desperate end-of-term efforts to change Bush's mind about a pardon. Cheney, who has spent a professional lifetime ignoring unflattering stories, issued a quietly furious reply. In the most explicit terms, he accused Bush of abandoning "an innocent man" who had served the president with honor and then become the "victim of a severe miscarriage of justice." Cheney now says privately that his memoir, expected to be published in spring 2011, will describe their heated arguments in full.

Decaffeinated lattes
Despite an ailing heart and reduced mobility, the former vice president at age 68 retains a prodigious capacity for work. He rises early, reads voraciously about history and current events, and acquired a BlackBerry in modest recompense for the loss of daily intelligence briefings. He allows himself some indulgences, Liz Cheney said in an interview. She said her father relishes his new freedom to take a morning drive to Starbucks in a black SUV, toting home the decaffeinated latte on which his doctor and his wife, Lynne, insist. He attends the soccer and softball games of his oldest grandchildren, Kate and Elizabeth, and spends more time than he could as vice president fly fishing near his vacation homes in Wyoming and on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

But Cheney passes most of his days at the top of the garage at his new house in McLean, where he built an office under the dormered roof and filled it with books and binders of his vice presidential papers. He kept copies of the unclassified ones and consults the rest on visits to the National Archives. He took detailed notes in the White House, head bobbing up and down as he wrote and sometimes disappearing from the screen in videoconferences. Those notes, according to one person who has discussed them with Cheney, will form the core of his account of the Bush years.

"What impressed me was his continuing zeal," said an associate who discussed the book with Cheney. "He hadn't stepped back a bit from the positions he took in office to a more relaxed, Olympian view. He was still very much in the fray. He's not going to soften anything or accommodate shifts of conscience. There was no sense in which he looked back and said, 'I wish I'd done something differently.' Rather, there was a sense that they hadn't gone far enough. If he'd been equipped with a group of people as ideologically rigorous as he was, they'd have been able to push further."

Some old associates see Cheney's newfound openness as a breach of principle. For decades, he expressed contempt for departing officials who wrote insider accounts, arguing that candid internal debate was impossible if the president and his advisers could not count on secrecy. As far back as 1979, one of the heroes in Lynne Cheney's novel "Executive Privilege" resolved never to write a memoir because "a president deserved at least one person around him whose silence he could depend on." Cheney lived that vow for the next 30 years.

As vice president, according to one witness, Cheney "was livid" when the memoir of L. Paul Bremer, who led the occupation of Iraq, made the less-than-stunning disclosure that Cheney shared Bremer's concern about U.S. military strategy. A Cabinet-level Bush appointee recalled that Cheney likewise described revelations by former Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill and former White House spokesman Scott McClellan as "beyond the pale."

"If he goes out and writes a memoir that spills beans about what took place behind closed doors, that would be out of character," said Ari Fleischer, who served as White House spokesman during Bush's first term.

Yet that appears to be precisely Cheney's intent. Robert Barnett, who negotiated Cheney's book contract, passed word to potential publishers that the memoir would be packed with news, and Cheney himself has said, without explanation, that "the statute of limitations has expired" on many of his secrets. "When the president made decisions that I didn't agree with, I still supported him and didn't go out and undercut him," Cheney said, according to Stephen Hayes, his authorized biographer. "Now we're talking about after we've left office. I have strong feelings about what happened. . . . And I don't have any reason not to forthrightly express those views."

Liz Cheney, whom friends credit with talking her father into writing the book, described the memoir as a record for posterity. "You have to think about his love of history, and when he thinks about this memoir, he thinks about it as a book his grandchildren will read," she said.

What the former vice president assuredly will not do, according to friends and family, is break a lifetime's reticence about his feelings. Alluding to Bush's forthcoming memoir, Cheney told one small group recently that he had no interest "in sharing personal details," as the former president planned to do.

"He sort of spat the word 'personal,' " said one person in the room.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pigs In Spaaaace!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32323401/ns/technology_and_science-space/

Making Money In A Depression

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32289194/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Funny money no laughing matter in recession
Businesses see rise in counterfeiting as better-quality bills escape detection

By Alex Johnson
Reporter
msnbc.com
updated 2 hours, 3 minutes ago

Nicholas Ostergaard has a new policy at the Jukebox, the deli and pub he owns in Indian Trail, N.C.: “No more hundreds.”

The Jukebox now accepts nothing bigger than a $50 bill after a teenager paid for an $11 order last month with what turned out to be a fake $100 bill and walked away with $89 in change.

“I instantly thought it was fake,” Ostergaard said. But when he checked the bill with a detector pen — a common device that uses iodine to verify U.S. currency — “it came up it was real.”

That made the deli another victim in what the U.S. Secret Service said was an ambitious counterfeiting operation that has spread as much as $60,000 in phony currency at businesses from Hickory to Greensboro, in central North Carolina, just since May.

Law enforcement officials said the operation was probably quashed when Union County sheriff’s deputies arrested two teenagers last month. But before then, they said, the teens were responsible for creating hundreds of fake $100 bills good enough to fool shop owners, bank tellers and even detector pens on initial inspection.

The evidence is only anecdotal at this point, but law enforcement officials and business owners across the country say they have seen a significant spike in the circulation of counterfeit currency since the economy started to sour more than a year and a half ago:

* More than $1,500 in counterfeit bills found its way into the cash registers of businesses in South Strabane Township, Pa., last weekend.
* A counterfeiting ring passed at least 10 fake $100 bills in Collier County, Fla., before three people were arrested last month.
* At least 17 victims were swindled with counterfeit bills over the Fourth of July weekend in Elkhart, Ind., where police recovered roughly $1,500 in fake cash. One of the victims was the City of Elkhart itself, which took in at least 200 phony dollars at municipal installations.

“Sometimes, the economy is related to an increase in crime,” said Randel Henderson, the deputy police chief in DeLand, Fla., near Orlando. “If the economy is bad ... and [people] have the technology to make money, historically they do.”

Scope of losses hard to calculate
There is no way to get a precise measurement of the counterfeiting problem, the Secret Service and other law enforcement officials say. Federal crime statistics for 2008, the first full year of the recession, are not yet complete, and in any event, by definition, a successful counterfeit is never detected and accounted for.

How to spot a counterfeit

The Secret Service offers these tips for spotting counterfeit currency:

Take a moment to look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Things to look for:

• Portrait: The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.

• Federal Reserve and Treasury seals: On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt or broken saw-tooth points.

• Border: The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On a counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.

• Serial numbers: Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.

• Paper: Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often, counterfeiters simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper, which is noticeable on close inspection. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of U.S. currency.

You can find more information at the Secret Service Counterfeit Division Web site.
Source: U.S. Secret Service

The Secret Service, the federal agency responsible for investigating counterfeiting, said it remains a minor issue, estimating that fake bills make up three-tenths of 1 percent of currency in circulation, up from about one-tenth of 1 percent 10 years ago.

That may not seem like much, but with hundreds of billions of dollars circulating at any one time, it’s a lot of funny money — about $2.6 billion, based on Federal Reserve calculations of total paper currency in circulation in June, the last month for which figures were available.

The figure is actually likely to be even higher, because counterfeiters generally prefer the bigger bills. They make $20 bills and larger because the ones, fives and tens that make up much of what is in your wallet simply aren’t worth their time.

That’s how Christopher Paul Runge of Denton, Texas, operated. Runge was charged last month with printing thousands of dollars in fake twenties, fifties and hundreds; in a jailhouse interview with NBC station KXAS of Dallas, Runge admitted running the operation and described how it worked.

Runge and his alleged accomplices would wash $5 bills with a solvent to remove the ink. Once the ink was gone, they would use a computer printer to produce higher-denomination bills. Because the paper under the ink was real U.S. currency, counterfeit-detecting iodine pens would indicate that the bills were legitimate.

Police said they were tipped off when an accomplice goofed and tried to pass some lower-quality $20 bills at a pharmacy, whose cashier called police. The majority of the bills were of much better quality and have yet to be detected, Runge said, boasting that “some of these bills will stay in circulation for quite a while.”

Asked why he did it, Runge said, “We were needing to pay rent — economy’s down.”

Fake bills don’t have to be perfect
The technique is the same one used by the counterfeiters in North Carolina and in most relatively successful operations elsewhere.

Since 1989, when the Secret Service spotted the first of the so-called Supernotes — real U.S. money bleached and reprinted to pass as higher-denomination bills — the U.S. Treasury has made a slew of changes in the design of currency to make it harder to counterfeit: Some bills have changed colors; portraits of the dead white men that grace them have been re-engraved and set off-center; hard-to-mimic multicolor security threads have been embedded in the paper; even harder-to-mimic watermarks have been incorporated.

In the government’s eyes, those measures have largely worked. It is much more difficult to get a fake note past sophisticated tests than it used to be, often when it is deposited at a Federal Reserve Bank, the Secret Service said.

The problem is that the same computer technology that makes bills so hard to reproduce in detail also makes it easier to create fake bills that are just good enough to get by the convenience store clerk, the gas station attendant and — crucially — the iodine detector pen. While the Fed may catch the fake later, the counterfeiter is far away with his profit.

Even the Secret Service acknowledged in its recently released 2008 annual report that “the widespread use of personal computers and advancements in digital printing technology has provided more individuals the opportunity to manufacture a passable counterfeit note with relative ease.”

And because federal law makes no provision for reimbursing the victim of a counterfeiter, it’s the business owner who’s left holding the bag.

Since a bleach-and-print counterfeiting ring began victimizing businesses in Ocean Springs, Miss., last month, Holly Skinner, general manager of Mediterraneo restaurant, has directed her clerks to take “anything above a 50” to the manager on duty for immediate inspection.

“You’re not getting one over on a bank or on the government,” Skinner said. “You’re cheating any local business that’s — especially in this economy — doing their best and struggling through and trying to stay open for the public.”

Misty Koperski, a clerk at Coffins Corner, a convenience store in Grand Island, Neb., was handed a fake $20 bill a few weeks ago by a man trying to buy cigarettes.

“You know, you are just out,” Koperski said. “You might as well have lit up the money and burned it, because it’s gone.”

‘In Dog We Trust’
Law enforcement officials say you should be able to spot most funny money if you’re reasonably observant, even with fake bills that are reprinted over real money.

The telltale clue is often the watermark, which is the shimmery portrait that “reflects back and forth much like a hologram does on a credit card,” said Jeff Kelly, a Secret Service agent in southern Florida. It takes more sophistication than a garden-variety counterfeiter can manage to pull off faking one of those.

The key is that the watermark is supposed to match the portrait on the front — on a $50 bill, they’re both supposed to be the same image of Ulysses S. Grant, for example.

In other words, if you’re handed a legitimate-looking $50 bill but the watermark shows Abraham Lincoln, you’ve actually got a $5 bill. Authorities said businesses would catch a lot of fake bills if their employees would take only a few seconds to make that simple inspection at the time of the transaction. But because they don’t, even obvious fakes regularly slip through.

That’s what happened last week at Lean Bean Espresso in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where a man persuaded an employee to change a $100 bill. Only later did she notice that it was phony.

The signs were pretty obvious: In the portrait, Benjamin Franklin’s name was misspelled as “Franken”; on the back, the motto read “In Dog We Trust.” And on the front was an easy-to-read note: “For motion picture use only.”

It was a Hollywood prop.

The shop’s manager said the employee was being retrained.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

DTV VHF Stampede To UHF Beginning

http://rabbitears.info/vhf.php


Also, requests to double power (or more) are being submitted in a desperate attempt to deal with the VHF problem for DTV.

It's not like I predicted this, or anything... :)

India Launches First Nuclear Sub

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/26/india.nuclear.submarine/index.html

Goodbye, Handwriting

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1912419,00.html?xid=rss-topstories-cnnpartner

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Observations 23 JUL 2009

I've managed to achieve something recently:

I've given up on my daily intel briefing for a month or so. I seriously doubt future historians will be searching archives of my blogs. After looking at a collection of saved bookmarks, I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

Max had a negative liver test result. His arthritis is worse. I've had to up his pain meds. Further procedures would be both pointless, and expensive.

He's still running around, and happy on his walks.

My friends had a nice birthday party for me. The cards given to me were priceless...

I've managed to read quite a bit in the last month. I definitely prefer paper to computer screens. Even with my new bifocals, the screens are murder. But the amount of material online is amazing, some of it of surprisingly good quality.

I may even start putting my material up. Elvis save us all... :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Izzie Future

Not like I ever predicted this:

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2009/06/can-you-go-home-again-harper.html

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memory Cards

They have a humiliation procedure called "cut for Wally" when we play bridge:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/health/research/22brain.html?pagewanted=1&em

For the inverse reason, they won't play poker with me... :)

(Also, in other games, the sotto voce comment comes: Crap! This is one of the games Wally pays attention to!)

Airport-City Rail Links

Common sense:

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-05-25-rail-lines-airport-city-center_N.htm

Getting Your Hands Dirty

My job requires mental and hands-on physical effort every day.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24labor-t.html?em

Jack Tells It Straight To Blunt

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/politics/story/C46CA28468940890862575C1007F2A24?OpenDocument

God Help The US Army

O Dear, Sweet Jesus. Please, no:

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/22/2228245

Gotta Love That Russian Space Co-Operation...

and we traded the supercollider for the ISS:

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/23/1131229

Undergrads- Lab Rats

http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/23/1840256

They're Features!

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/24/2112248

Public Notices

http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/25/212203

I Have Never Said This :)

Like for the last five years or so:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cs_20090523_2195.php

The Surge Is Working

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1900842,00.html?xid=rss-topstories-cnnpartner

More Bad News For Higher Ed

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30870925/

New Phrase For Today

If they can't replace you, they can't promote you- internet poster

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vraiment?

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Mancow-Takes-on-Waterboarding-and-Loses.html

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808

Cheney Truthiness

http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090521/pl_mcclatchy/3237981

News: Liberty University HAD A Democratic Party Club

Now, the (Jerry Falwell's) university is closing it. No suppression of free speech, nobody lost an election, move along:

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/05/liberty-u-pulls-plug-on-campus-democratic-club.html?loc=interstitialskip

Wonderfully Balanced and Nuanced Fark.com Political Thread

http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4402508&cpp=1

Brooks On Obama Vs Cheney

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/opinion/22brooks.html?_r=1

SIUE Scammed

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/illinoisnews/story/04603657B2B3FEED862575BD0052A56C?OpenDocument

Data.gov?

http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/21/1723248

Autonomous Trans-Atlantic Bot

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/21/1953243

Hams Have Been Subject To This For Years

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/05/fcc-raid/

So, You Want To Be A Domestic Terrorist?

http://www.newsweek.com/id/198808

4T Tax Options

http://reason.com/news/show/133598.html

FBI, Marshals, Hacked?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30882735/

Knew I Needed A Video Cam Back In the 80's...

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/05/21/plane.leak/index.html

4T Demographic Sign

http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/05/22/garden.city.kansas.minorities/index.html

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Observations 19 MAY 2009

Most years, I can sense the day that the seasons change. This spring has been so long, gloomy, rainy, and filled with illness, I have not felt it to be truly spring. Like Lucy And The Football, the string of nice days beginning last week was simply too good to be believed. Lucy would yank the football away, and, we would be miserable again.

Today, I started feeling better about it being finally spring. I saw fireflies. Max has had a great set of walks, over which I can slowly relax. (He had his $200 annual exam Saturday, blood panels are still waiting). Tropospheric ducting is starting to occur now, and with it, more DX openings. I may even get around to revising my frequency spreadsheets with new data, as I'm finally feeling I can see TVDX and reach 2M/70 cm contacts. Quite depressing, for mid-May, until now.

You can see the drawn faces at work, tired from both the economy and the bad spring. Many others have been ill, as well.

One of my church study group members is itching to play the markets again. Usually, that's a sign to stay the hell out. (Sorry, TCBY). I also got to chair, for the second time, last week. To say that the format was looser would be an understatement....

On the old board, one side refuses to concede that they've lost, and the other (partially) refuses to concede that government/politics/money/philosophy/life is not as neat, now that they are back in power. Everything devolves into a Philosophy 101/Partisan Pissing Match. The Heat Death of the Universe will occur before they STFU and GBTW.

Most unfortunately, I have to Go Back To Work. The madness continues.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bill Actually Funny

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22493.html

Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that Dick Cheney
could use some "target practice" after being asked to respond to the former vice president's criticisms of the Obama administration.

"I wish him well," Clinton said in interview with CNN following a campaign stop for Terry McAuliffe, who Clinton picked as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and is now running for governor in Virginia.

Seeming to refer to the Bush administration, Clinton said "it's over."

Before turning away from the cameras and back to the rope line, the former president said of Cheney: "I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again," a reference to the 2006 quail hunt during which when then Vice President Cheney accidentally shot another hunter.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22493.html#ixzz0FVgOePPh&B

More Cheney

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30737168/

For My Debate Opponents At The Old Forum

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30745624/

Mr. Cheney Should Take Heed Of This

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaMUO17ZiSI

Kangaroos Make A Giant Leap

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/13/2310254

Evil DRM Agenda, Explained

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4020/pc_game_piracy_why_bother_with_.php

Pity Microsoft

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/13/1546213

Stop Forwarding Those Damn Online Quizzes!

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/14/1243206

I *Never* Predicted This... :)

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1898166,00.html?xid=rss-topstories-cnnpartner

Another Reason Why I Didn't Go Into Commercial Aviation

They are treated as slaves:

http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/14/testimony-indicates-fatigue-possible-factor-in-plane-crash-near-buffalo/

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For All You Guys That Picked VHF- High

It.

Ain't.

Cutting.

It.

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getattachment_exh.cgi?exhibit_id=756148&formid=911&q_num=5200

Be Nice To The Company, Or Else

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/12/1818245

The Girl Who Named Pluto

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/europe/11phair.html?_r=1

More For My Former Debate Opponents

http://www.salon.com/news/primary_sources/2009/05/12/ocpa/

What Could Happen To Some Of My Former Debate Opponents

I ask the participants of Free Republic to enlist, as well:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22449.html

The Pakistani Nuclear Surge Is Working!

They are not even bothering to hide them:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30648446/

Yuan Thing Leads To Another...

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22430.html

If Only We Could Read Those Signs In Russian That They Left Behind...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30708678/

Brooks On People Who Had It Made

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/opinion/12brooks.html?em

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Surge Is Working!

there is no PTSD:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/11/iraq.violence/index.html

Score One For The Badger!

Jackass Ex-UNM boss canned from White House post after frak-up:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hBGKBTkNHi5jtbPeSfeH1m4_FQZgD982HKBG0

White House aide resigns over NYC flyover

By PHILIP ELLIOTT – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House official who authorized a $328,835 photo-op of an Air Force jet used by the president soaring above New York City resigned under fire Friday as the administration tried to move past the embarrassing incident that sent panicked workers rushing into the streets amid flashbacks of Sept. 11.

As former Army Secretary Louis Caldera took the fall for the flyover, the White House released the findings of an internal investigation that portrayed him as out of the loop in a cycle of missed messages and questionable judgments as plans for the photo shoot proceeded.

Caldera said he didn't know the plane, known as Air Force One when the president is on board, would fly at 1,000 feet during the April 27 photo promotion, according to the investigation findings. He also failed to read an e-mail message describing the operation and seemed unaware of the potential for public fear, the findings said.

Local officials had been notified in advance. But it was a shock to New Yorkers who looked up to see the Boeing 747 and its fighter jet escort flying near the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan's financial district, a terrifying reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in which jets brought down the two towers of the World Trade Center.

The Federal Aviation Administration told local officials in advance of the flight, but asked them not to disclose it to the public, the White House report said. There was a prepared statement for the FAA's New York regional office and for the Air Force in Washington to release if anyone called to ask about the flight.

In his resignation letter, released by the White House, Caldera said the controversy had "made it impossible for me to effectively lead the White House Military Office," which is responsible for presidential aircraft. "Moreover, it has become a distraction in the important work you are doing as president," he wrote in the letter addressed to President Barack Obama.

Last month, Obama called the flight a mistake and vowed it would not be repeated. Obama had no statement Friday; White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president had accepted Caldera's resignation.

Caldera's office approved the photo-op, which cost $35,000 in fuel alone for the plane and two jet fighter escorts. The Air Force estimated the photo shoot cost taxpayers $328,835.

White House officials said the purpose of the flight was to update the official photo of the plane. In releasing its report and the resignation letter, the White House also released a photo of the blue-and-white plane high above the Statue of Liberty, with New Jersey in the background.

The White House report, which did not address officials' conduct outside the White House, portrayed Caldera as deaf to concerns. After the flight, Caldera met with top administration officials and was asked if the White House had been notified. "The director responded yes, someone had mentioned it to him," according to the report.

Later in the meeting, a White House official presented Caldera a letter accepting responsibility. He made some edits and took responsibility because he thought it was the "standup thing to do."

The White House report also indicated the operation was packed with potential opportunities for administration officials to call it off.

Deputy military director George Mulligan said he first told Caldera about the proposed photo shoot on April 20 — a week before it was scheduled to take place. The same aide also said Caldera should notify deputy chief of staff Jim Messina because it was an unusual move.

Caldera told officials he didn't recall the conversation. Ultimately, Caldera didn't tell Messina or Gibbs. "When asked why he failed to do so, he did not offer a coherent explanation," according to the report.

Caldera also told officials that he didn't read an e-mail detailing the flyover plans until it was over. Mulligan, Caldera's second-in-command, sent him an e-mail message on April 24 advising him again to tell Messina and Gibbs about the photo shoot.

Caldera said he hadn't seen the e-mail because he has two official accounts. He also said he was suffering from severe muscle aches and had been prescribed pain medication.

The report said Mulligan believed "the breakdown was the lack of public notification." Col. Scott Turner, head of the White House military office's presidential airlift group, said "the FAA had taken the lead on public affairs and coordination," according to the report.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown declined to comment.

Friday's release is hardly the end of the matter for the White House. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a review at the Pentagon; the Air Force is conducting its own review as well.

In a May 5 letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Gates apologized for the incident, saying "we deeply regret the anxiety and alarm that resulted from this mission."

McCain posted the letter on his Web site Friday.

"I am concerned that this highly public and visible mission did not include an appropriate review and approval by senior Air Force and (Department of Defense) officials," Gates wrote.

Gibbs said Obama has ordered a review of how the White House Military Office is set up, and how it reports to the White House and the Air Force.

That review, to be conducted by Messina and Gates, will also offer recommendations to Obama designed to ensure that such an incident will not happen again, Gibbs said.

When Obama appointed Caldera, who was Army secretary in the Clinton administration, he said: "I know he'll bring to the White House the same dedication and integrity that have earned him the highest praise in every post."

Caldera's resignation takes effect May 22, but he is done at the White House Military Office. He said he will use the two weeks of his employment to complete the necessary steps to leave the White House.

Associated Press Writer Michael J. Sniffen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Living Through An Extinction Level Event For Media

http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

Freezing Pensions

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/retirement/2009-05-11-more-companies-freeze-pensions_N.htm

Newspaper Woes

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/opinion/10rich.html?_r=1&em

Purina Building Doggie Show Arena

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/92E9EBDF0F0735EF862575B0008199DB?OpenDocument

It Was Stupid, they Knew It, And they Went Ahead And Did It Anyway

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/education/story/59F8BB642DD01DAC862575B1001A45A1?OpenDocument

A New Look At Doggie Years

http://www.slate.com/id/2217908/

Nuke Porn

http://www.slate.com/id/2217899/pagenum/all/#p2

Open Source Textbooks

Eat this, college bookstores:

http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/10/1815215

The New Conservative Party

Not like I've been predicting this for three years over on the old board or anything:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22340.html

Death Before The ER.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30628634/

There Is No Depression

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30673906/

There Is No Depression

http://www.newsweek.com/id/196007

Last Hubble Service Call

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/10/AR2009051001513.html

Greatest GOP Recruiter EVAR!

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/11/cheney-powell-no-longer-a-republican/#more-51072


http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/04/21/cheney/index.html

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/05/11/cheney/index.html

and, in Ohio:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22341.html

Friday, May 8, 2009

Education Woes

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/politics/story/0C4D8933A9AA4F7B862575AF00831654?OpenDocument

Wait, We Need The Boomers (Doctors) After All?1?

http://www.slate.com/id/2217146/

For My Debate Opponents At The Old Forum

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/05/07/lyons/

Not Like I Could Have Told Them About This

they could have just read Kipling, too:

http://www.slate.com/id/2217900/

For My Debate Opponents At The Old Forum

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-nickolas/gops-growing-minority-sta_b_199069.html

For My Debate Opponents At The Old Forum

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/06/liberal.republicans/index.html

4T: Living With Limits

http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/not-so-great-expectations/?em

Thursday, May 7, 2009

NY Federal Reserve Chief Resigns

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30629814/

The Surge Is Working!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30626395/

Darth Sidious, In Seven Perspectives

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003995-1,00.html

So, You Really Want To Be On Facebook?

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1895740,00.html

For My Former Debate Opponents, With Love

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1896588,00.html?xid=rss-topstories-cnnpartner

Rush Takes Colin Powell Off His Facebook List

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/07/limbaugh-to-powell-become-a-democrat-2/

Ah, Rush, the latest response to "go become a Democrat" has been "OK, no problem"...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Words Have Consequences

A Savage, rebuked:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30575687/

Hackers Hold Virginia State Database Hostage

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/05/1232240

Tech Flamewar Bait

http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/true-believers-biggest-cults-in-tech-433?page=0,0

There's A Reason I Stay With Paper Billing

http://www.slate.com/id/2217590/

I Told You So

Jerry will love this:

http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/judgments/2009/05/03/end-personal-finance?page=full

Dowd Gloats

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/opinion/03dowd.html?_r=1&em