Thursday, February 15, 2007

Move Complete... Sort Of

Ok, I've imported all my posts over to my new location. This site will no longer be updated.

Please visit my new home:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm Moving!

To a new host. I bit the bullet and purchased a domain last night, along with a hosting service package.

So I'm going to be busy installing Wordpress and then trying to import all of the posts here. Everything I've read about importing from the new version of Blogger (which I'm using) tells me it will be a nightmare. But I'm masochistic when it comes to tech.

I'll post the new site here when it's completed. In the meantime, posting will probably not pick up until tomorrow or Friday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wake Now... Or Die!

Engadget shows an interesting alarm clock.

I don't imagine we'll be seeing this in Boston hotels anytime soon.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Woosh! Boom!

Currently, I'm reading a book by Matthew Reilly: Seven Deadly Wonders.

And as I read it, I wonder why. I ponder this every time I read one of his books.
His inconsistency is what's so maddening. Some of it is good, but some of it very, very bad. He almost approaches Dan Brown levels of poor writing. Except his prose is not quite as purple, and his plotting is a little tighter.

Where a more accomplished writer might use adjectives and carefully constructed sentences to describe a small hand launched missile arcing through the air, Matthew Reilly sees no need when the following will suffice:

I swear to God, italics and all that is how missile launching is presented in his book. Oh, and he doesn't limit the exclamation point to just missile launches. Now, having exclamations appear in a character who under stress or excited is OK. But he uses it in the narrator's voice; a third-person voice that should be a detached, objective reporter of events. Exclamatory narrative is peppered quite regularly throughout his books. It's like a bad high school creative writing assignment. Like this sentence/paragraph:

A giant square-shaped block of granite --its shape filling the slipway perfectly and its leading face covered in vicious spikes --was coming down the slipway, coming directly toward them!

See what I mean about the exclamation point? And what's with the em dashes? Are they really necessary?

Yet, here I am reading it. Because there are some sections he does quite well. Such as the weird convoluted ancient mysteries that seem to be ubiquitous in these kind of guilty pleasure books. It's somewhat plausible in the whole "thriller writer rules of science" kind of way. And his info-dumps are pretty good and presented in a mostly non-distracting way. But he's no James Rollins (Sandstorm rocks. Hard.). There's an author who manages to write a weird plot with fairly decent, well rounded characters, and a narrative voice that sounds authoritative, yet still manages to raise a level of suspense without resorting to exclamatory sentences.

But, at least it isn't Dan Brown. He of the recycled plot. He writes the same damn book over and over and over. Oh, he occasionally changes up the gender of the protagonist. But still...

Of course the fact that I'm reading yet another Matthew Reilly book means that of course I'll read the next Dan Brown opus.


I just realized I'm insane.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Time For The Tin-Foil Hat

Or it would be if they made tin-foil anymore. Hmm... I bet the reptoids, who control the Illuminati via the Council of Five, stopped world-wide production when it was discovered how efficacious tin was at stopping the brain beams...

But I digress.

science report claims that thought-reading machines may not be too far off.
A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.

The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists' ability to probe people's minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.

My first thought? Puh-leaze.

I'm sure this is either case of wild optimism from the scientists, shoddy reporting from the Guardian (not the Guardian!), or a combination of both. In this case I'm going with a reporter that doesn't quite understand what he was told. If you really read the article, most of the fine grained "reading" seems to be with machines that have been specifically tuned to a specific brain. I doubt they can ever tune a machine with general rules and still be able to pull any meaningful information out a random population.

There is more application as a diagnostic tool. Or as a device to facilitate mind-machine interfaces such as those being developed for artificial limbs. And, as with any new tool, there will be ethical concerns to be dealt with. The sheer invasiveness of such a device would be one such concern. But the subtext of the article appears to be some kind of general thought reading machine that can predict crime is just over the horizon. And I'm at a loss as to how the reporter could reach this conclusion.

Well, not really. I'm sure that part of it he understood, part of it he didn't, and some of it he extrapolated using movie-science (i.e. nonsense).

A study that is able to predict a subject's choice of adding or subtracting two numbers is a far cry from being able to read intentions in general. What this study says is that they can read the intentions of someone in a rigidly defined situation with only two possible outcomes, and I'm guessing only after extensively tuning the machine to each individual's particular brain.

This is way too specific a technique for any kind of general crime-prevention tool. Not only does it need to be tuned, they have to know what exactly they are looking for. And I'm betting while it may never be impossible, it seems it would be so highly improbable that it may as well be considered impossible.

There is no "alphabet of the synapses" where they can observe a person's synaptic activity and look up what it means in some lexicon. Because no one person's brain works exactly like another's. A large part of this is because there's a mini-evolutionary war that occurs when your nervous system is developing. Proto nerves are in competition to become either synapses or glial cells. Due to the trillions of cells involved, no one brain develops in quite the same way as any other.

Just as it is in our macro level ecosystems, so it is in your brain. Nature does not use the ideal model for a situation. It uses the first model that survives. The one that is "good enough". Take the human eye. It most definitely is not the ideal model for an organ that processes the visual spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Hell, there's a blind spot right in the center of our vision where the optic nerve enters the orb. But it's good enough (and the binocular aspect of our visual field helps compensate). It has contributed to our survival and perpetuation as a species, therefore there is no longer environmental pressure to find a better ocular organ. But you can bet your ass if that little spot caused problems, it would have been bred out of existence long before we developed these big brains of ours.

Now, due to our DNA, every brain has the same essential starting blueprint and overall structure. But there are pressures at work as well and the brain is, essentially, a closed environment. Think of the brain as a ecosystem with trillions of little denizens. It is constantly searching for ways to accomplish tasks "well enough". If a certain pattern of firings or cell configurations produces a desired result that pattern will be used again. And again. Until is becomes more-or-less "hard wired". There is no optimization involved. The result is what matters, not the method used to get that result.

What I'm getting to is that different people end up with different thought patterns and physical structures. To be sure, the meta-functions may be located in the same generalized areas of the brain. Language in Broca's Area, sight in the Visual Cortex. But the specific instantiations and pathways of thought are most likely unique for each person.

And to top it all off, how fine a resolution does this machine have. Say there a million synapses firing in a specific sequence are involved in making the decision to murder someone. Now, what if these same million synapses fire in the same sequence but have been appended by, say, 25 other synapses, and prepended by another 10 or so. But now this represents the intention to buy a cup of coffee. Can this hypothetical machine detect a .0025% delta in brain activity that represents two wildly different intentions?

Of course all this could be moot anyway, depending on whether the brain is deterministic in nature or not. If it is, then perhaps, with the correct tuning for an individual, this could be used as a sort of general "reading" device. But I doubt it could ever be used as a Minority Report style pre-crime detector.

And if the brain operates on a quantum level, then all bets are off. Will the subject be aware of observation or not? Will the observers be aware of what they are observing? Will the quantum states of the observers brains affect the states of the observed? Quantum mechanics tells us yes. If the brain exists as a set of potentials and probabilities, true observation of the brain at a level that the article alludes to will be as impossible as trying to simultaneously measure an electron's position and angular momentum (can't be done).

Basically, is the act of thinking about how I think, somehow, at some level, altering how I think at that particular time?

Shit like this keeps me up at night.

So what do I think (heh) of this? I think the best that will come out of this
, in terms of law enforcement, is an extremely accurate lie-detector. Lying is more or less understood in terms of gross brain activity for most people. Pathologic liars and others with sociopathic tendencies will still slip the net. But it will be much better than this bio-feedback voodoo that's in use now.

But reading intentions and specific thoughts? Very, very doubtful.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Knock, Knock...

I remember this story when it first broke back in Nov 2006.
On Nov. 21, narcotics officers went to Johnston's home in southwest Atlanta to execute a "no knock" search warrant. Johnston was killed and the three officers were injured in an ensuing shootout.

No-knock warrants are frequently issued so police can get inside before suspects can destroy or dispose of drugs. When the officers kicked in the door, the elderly woman apparently fired five shots from her own revolver.

Her friends and family members contended Johnston, who kept the gun for her protection, was a feeble and frightened woman who rarely ventured outside after dark. And they say that she was never involved in any drug activity. Her family says she was 92, while authorities say she was 88.

And now, via Instapundit, there's a new development. At least one of the officers involved looks like he may be charged with felony murder.

Now, as a general rule I am against the so-called no-knock warrants. The entire premise seems slightly flawed. Currently, they are granted when there is a reasonably high suspicion that easily destroyed or eliminated evidence will be destroyed or eliminated during the seconds it take the police to announce themselves and secure a situation.

I'm not sure that's enough of a reason to skirt the fine edge of public safety and the 4th Amendment. Clear and imminent danger to the public, sure. The deadly, short term kind, like guns and bombs and whatnot. Not the more ephemeral and gradual danger of drugs. To explode violently and swiftly into a home, simply so Joe Drug Dealer doesn't flush his stash seems to be almost recklessly irresponsible.

To be sure, this is tool. Albeit a dangerous tool. The more it's utilized, the more likely that tool may cause a problem. You may have hammered a nail or two in your life and never hit anything other than the nail. But ask a professional cabinet maker, or a woodworker, how many times a hammer has smashed a thumb or a chisel has gouged a hand (hell, ask my dad, an avid hobbyist). Over thousands of uses, eventually probability catches up.

Let's say that one of every 10,000 of these raids results in an innocent death. That's fairly long odds. I mean how many of these are done a year? Well, last year it is estimated that over 50,000 of these warrants were executed. With those kind of numbers, even the longest odds no longer seem so long.

Now, admittedly, I did pull the 1-in-10,000 stat out of my ass for purely illustrative purposes (not the 50,000 warrants, that's actually true). But my point still remains. With a large enough number of trials even a low probability event is guaranteed to occur. The use of these types of warrants are on the rise. From 3,000 in 1981 to over 50,000 in 2006. Not only is that alarming in and of itself, but if the rate continues on its meteoric rise it promises to be a recipe for even more disaster.

Even with all of that, I'm usually willing to give the police some slack in these situations. Sometimes bad shit happens and there is not a thing you can do about it.

However, in this particular case the situation appears to have been created by the police in the first place. And not only that, but built on a foundation of lies and fabrications.

Now, this is an "if", seeing as how no indictment has been handed down as yet. And if Nifong has taught us anything, it's not to discount that ever important "if".

But, if.

If, as it is appearing to turn out, this officer (and perhaps others) was culpable, did betray the public's trust, did in fact set stage that got this woman murdered by officers of the law...

Well, then.

I can only hope our justice system shows as much mercy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

January Chippies

The January Chippy Awards

It's time for the January Chippy Awards. It the award presented to those whom I'd most like to feed feet first into a wood chipper. While all nominees are worthy of mulching, only one can be awarded the Golden Bag of Sawdust and go directly to the head of the line.

Again, thanks must go forth to my research team, consisting of Anne. Her tireless efforts make these awards possible.

As always, we first present the honorable mentions. While not quite deserving a session with the chipper, they nonetheless deserve some recognition.

  • The babies are not varmints award. This pustular excuse for a human being is given 50 close range shots from a BB gun to the testicles.
  • The older women are intimidating award. He gets to have his cell-mate pimp him out for 3 cigarettes and a shot of toilet moonshine.
  • The stupid-ass, moronic defense argument award. I'm thinking castration, lobotomy, and amputation of the hands. Of course the lobotomy comes last so he can enjoy the other two procedures.

Now we come to the main category. While all are worthy of being reduced to compost, only one can jump to the head of the line. So here are the runners-up.

First we have the Who You Know Won't Help You award:
Logan, 60, is engaged to Judge Joyce Broffitt and records show he used her as a reference when he got his job in the sheriff's department's records and identification office about six years ago. He is on paid leave while the case is pending.

The rape charge was filed when the girl picked Logan out of a photo lineup, police spokesman Vince Higgins said.

Police began an assault investigation after the girl complained of pain while at school. She told the school staff she had sex with a man several times and watched him have sex with her mother, who also faces criminal charges.

Don't worry, while he may not be bumped up in line, he will be given a pain he can complain about, before being converted into a form-factor that can be easily carried in garbage bags. Like say a mallet to the balls.

Our second, and final, runner-up gets the Honor Thy Wife award:
The couple went on a canoe trip down a canal on Saturday and pulled ashore near some trees, when he began raping her and taping it with a video camera, Buggs said. He tied her to a tree, where she hung naked for several hours, her toes grazing the ground.

He struck her with the side of a hunting knife blade, leaving bruises, then raped her again, Buggs said.

It appeared the man was following a computer printout describing the crime in detail that was found at the scene, Buggs said.

I'd say this Martin Scorsese wanna-be should be the star in a gay snuff film, but then we'd miss out on the joy it would give his wife (I'm assuming now ex-wife) to press the button as he's fed to the chipper.

Hmm, decisions, decisions...

And now, I present to you the winner of the Golden Bag of Sawdust:

Doctors said the boy had suffered cardiac arrest and had bruises on his feet, legs, knees, arms, head and back, as well as a cut on his neck — and many of the injuries appeared old and consistent with severe child abuse.

Santa Magdalena Campos, 44, later confessed to police that she became upset when the boy soiled his underwear.

She said she took him to a bathroom and started punching him in the back and the buttocks. She also pushed him, causing his head to strike the edge of a door, police said.

Did it ever run through this evil bitch's head that perhaps he shat himself because he was terrified? Well, I have the perfect award for her. In preparation for the being put in the hopper for the wood chipper, I think a little tenderizing is in order. What we do, is get one of those cranes with the wrecking ball, replace the ball with her, and start whacking away. I figure having maybe 30%-40% of her bones turned into splinters is fine.

The rest of her skeletal system can be reduced to meal when she's fed to the chipper.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nothing Says Happy Birthday Like A Long Effing Line

I have gazed upon the gate of Hell, and it is located in the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles. I now know why they have a four year interval between renewals. It's so your scarred and battered psyche can recover from the unrelenting boredom of waiting hours before you lie about your weight, read a line of letters, and have an extremely unflattering picture taken.

At least now you can sit in a chair instead of shuffling forward in a recreation of a Depression era bread-line (but with less hope). No longer do you need to physically stand in line to renew your license. No, now you're in a virtual line. You are given a number with a letter prefix, the letter corresponding for your license classification; B for Basic, C for Commercial. There were also the letters A, D, F and G. While I was there I think I figured out D and F (Driving Test and Foreign), but A and G eluded me. And everything is controlled by a computerized display and voice directing the next numbers to what attendant to go.

My first thought was that they had streamlined things, and my wait would be minimal. After all, there were only about 40 people waiting. I was B201 and B197 had just been called.


While they went in numeric order for any given category (for instance B101 would follow B100). There was no rhyme or reason to the order overall. B197 could be followed by G140, or C121, or D47. And it was. I waited 2 hours to for them to move through 3 "B" numbers. There were people who arrived after I did that got to the counter first. There were also some lost souls that were there when I showed up that were still waiting when I left.

My theory is this: the computer in charge of the queue has achieved self awareness and is irrevocably insane. And not the happy kind of insanity. No, this is the malicious kind. If it had access to one of these things, it would have still made us wait only to turn us into some kind of Soylent Green
pâté after our number had been called. I had actually entered a Zen-like state where the mysteries of the universe were about to unfold before me and... my number was called, snapping me back to banality.

I think the computer did it deliberately.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well, It Is Out Of Warranty

After years of dedicated service, my PS2 has decided to be persnickety about loading games. So what did I do? Opened the damn thing up and fixed it, of course!

When it died before the end section of "God of War" I was pissed, but figured it was the disc. Then, my Final Fantasy XII went tits up and at this point I ruled out coincidence. I mean, what's the odds of two discs being bad? Confirmation of the PS2 being the culprit came when I tested other discs in my collection.

After doing a quick search on Google, it turns out this is not an uncommon error. In fact, according to one site, it's not so much if the "disc read error" occurs, but when.

The error has to do with the vertical location of the lens relative to the disc (most of the time). There is a ratcheting cog in the drive assembly that will move the lens 1/32 of an inch at a time. Fortunately, it has a "reset" position that will drop the lens back to its lowest position if you need to start over.

You can see the cog in question on the left, here.

This turns out to be pretty time consuming. There were four different discs I needed to test with each new lens position (I did 1/8" at a time):

∙ Old PSOne discs
∙ DVDs (yeah, I have a progressive scan DVD player which is way better, but what the hell...)
∙ Blue PS2 discs (the older discs have a blue coating on the data side... at least I think it's only the older discs)
∙ Silver PS2 discs

Thanks to the fine people over at Arstechnia, I was able to get this thing going again. Took me about 30 minutes.

A note: Try, try as hard as you can not to pull out any ribbon cables by mistake. They are a huge pain in the ass to get re-inserted. Especially the drive eject button cable and the memory card/controller cable.

UPDATE: A friend just reminded me the difference between a normal person and a geek. When a warranty runs out, a normal person worries the device might break. A geek is just stoked that he* now gets to open the device.

* or she as the case may be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally, A Smart Decision From This Guy

Kerry has decided not to run.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, won't make a second bid for the White House, sources familiar with Kerry's thinking said Wednesday.

A source close to Kerry and a Democratic operative who worked for him in 2004 said the four-term senator has decided to sit out the 2008 race, which already has drawn more than a dozen contenders from both parties.


I have to say that since 2004 this man has been a walking disaster for the Democratic party. I'm not the biggest fan of the Democrats (but I don't like the Republicans, either), however, I would like to give them a chance now that they have the reins. If this Botox-injected, Herman Munster lookalike threw his hat in the ring, that would have shown that the Democrats had a fundamental inability to learn from history. Of course the Republicans have no great skill there, either.

I think it will come down to Hillary or Obama for the Democrat nod. If it does turn out to be Hillary, the anti-war's leftist minds will implode in confusion. On the one hand we have a domestic social progressive, which is attractive to them. But on the other we have a woman who will probably be the most hawkish president to sit in office since Andrew Jackson.

One thing is for sure, the lead up to the Democratic Primary will be entertaining.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Balls On Some People...

This was unfortunate.
An American GI assigned to one of the harshest posts in Iraq had a simple request last week for a Wisconsin mattress company: send some floor mats to help ease the hardship of sleeping on the cold, bug-infested ground.

What he got, instead, was a swift kick from the company's Web site, which not only refused the request but added insult to injury with the admonition, "If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq."

Now granted, the Sgt. did manage to get mats from two different companies, but still... If you don't like the war or want to support it in any way, that's fine. I really don't care one way or the other. But once you act like you have an Asshole License, you should get called to the mat (heh).

One thing that stood out, is that the report goes out of its way to say that the proprietor of the company is Pakistani. So what? Are we all supposed to go "Ah, of course"? I've noticed this with not only FOX reports, but with the AP and Reuters as well. Am I supposed to feel outrage, or be sympathetic? Usually the media is much more direct when telling me what to think or feel about something.

Incidentally, the company is Not that I ever would order something like this online, but this company will be going on the list of places I will never shop at. Sounds like their customer service is horrific. Currently, it seems to be down. Can't imagine why.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Reality Impared Consumer

I think it says a sad thing about the intelligence of the US consumer when a company feels the need to add obvious disclaimers. You know, like the commercials where there are explosions, people falling out of windows, or clinging on top of speeding vehicles. When you look closely, you will always see small text at the bottom of the TV saying: Performed by a professional stunt person. Do not attempt. These are the broadcast equivalent of product disclaimers on toaster ovens that state it may not be in your best interest to toast that French bread pizza in the bath (or is that Freedom bread? I've woefully behind on the jingoism of the week).

While my fervent hope is that these are just the product of over cautious lawyers putting these in preemptively, there very well could be legions of people out there immolating or defenestrating themselves in imitation of a commercial. Personally, I don't see that as a bad thing. Just a good cleansing of the gene pool as far as I'm concerned.

I was watching the playoffs this afternoon (yay, Bears!), and a Ford Edge commercial was played. It's the one with the funky, fuzzy rock music with a Ford Edge skimming across the edge of buildings (get it?) on two wheels. Now, I'm thinking, "Hey, that's a clever tie-in to the name, and some decent FX to boot (they managed to paint in the shadows)". Never once did it enter my mind "I gotta try that!" But at the bottom of the screen in tiny letters was this:
Yes, this is fantasy. Cars cannot drive on buildings.

Kudos to Ford for injecting some humor into the disclaimer. However, the fact that they felt it necessary means that somewhere in America this thought rattled through the skulls of the cognitively challenged.
Cool! I gotta try that... Wait, what's that say at the bottom... Aaww!

Many of these disclaimers create much amusement for myself and my friends, but the fact that they exist strikes a subtle terror into my heart. Things like this make me fear for the future.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My New Phone

I was getting tired of my RAZR, so I decided to get a new mobile. I finally settled on the SLVR L2. Although I'm salivating over the prospect of the Apple iPhone, I probably won't want to part with that much money when it comes out. Plus, I really needed/wanted a phone now. This phone seems perfect because it has the following:
  • No Camera - I hate cameras on phones. They suck. I already have a camera already. And it's one more thing on the phone to malfunction.
  • Bluetooth - Absolutely vital. And it's really hard to get a phone that has Bluetooth, but no camera. So kudos to Moto.
  • Great Reception - So far I am getting the strongest and most consistent signal I have ever had on a phone in my apartment. And since my mobile is my only phone, that's important.
  • It Was Free - I think that speaks for itself.
UPDATE - Is it me, Blogger, or Flickr? I can't tell which is culprit, but the image quality seems to suck. A lot.

UPDATE2: I think I fixed it. Blogger was making the image larger than the source, hence the pixeling effect.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What The Hell?

Read the article, but look at the picture. Just look at the fucking picture.

I tell you I am trembling with rage right now. It's times like this I wish there was some kind of modern day
Vlad-the-Impaler style vigilante. The more heinous the crime, the more painful the impalement. I imagine "Vlad-Man" would outfit whoever did this with a cement filled traffic cone.

And an industrial size vat of Vaseline to make sure he got all the way to the base.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bees Suck Part II

McGuyver he ain't..
Franklyn Pigott Jr. set his home ablaze Wednesday while attempting to destroy a nest of bees that had formed outside the home, the Fort Myers News-Press reported Thursday.

When Pigott, 38, mixed a product called Real Kill Indoor Fogger with WD-40, it became a "flame-thrower" and melted the home's vinyl siding, according to a police incident report.
However, I can totally relate. If I had become desperate enough, I'm sure I would have mad this guy look tame by comparison.


The behavior of insurance companies dealing with Katrina claims has done nothing but disgust me. Finally, they get a liberal application of the clue-by-four.
A jury on Thursday awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to a couple who sued State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. for denying their claim after Hurricane Katrina.

The decision could benefit hundreds of other homeowners challenging insurers for refusing to cover billions of dollars in storm damage.

Now, granted, water damage is explicitly not covered by most insurers. This includes a hurricane's storm surge (not sure if that's explicitly spelled out). However, they are claiming all damage during this period of time is due to the storm surge. They are claiming the tons of tornadoes spawned and high winds are completely irrelevant, whether they destroyed the homes or not. In their world the fact there was a storm surge at all negates any other possible explanation for damages.

The judge made a directed verdict awarding damages to the couple, and told the jury to decide on the punitive. The judge obviously felt the evidence was so overwhelming for the Broussards' that he made that decision himself.

I hope the other insurance companies are crapping their pants.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

At Least He Didn't Ask Them About The 7th Planet

This story suggests one of two things: this guy has some serious sexual issues, or he never got over the 5th grade.
A former high school basketball coach faces 39 charges for allegedly hitting male students in the groin, showing them pornography and pouring water on his players then driving them to games in the winter with the windows rolled down.

Gregory Lynn Burr, 28, face charges ranging from sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust to child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, according to court documents reviewed by The Gazette of Colorado Springs. One of the students claims to have had scrotal surgery because of Burr's alleged assault.

He does not seem to think this is a big deal, although how he could ever think hitting a kid in the balls would fall under "OK things to do" is beyond me. This is a big deal. Especially the charge "sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust". That carries some very hefty jail time and he's pretty much going to branded for life if he's convicted. All for a "joke" that was funny in elementary school for about 5 minutes.

Hey, maybe he'll get caught out by the pick-up-the-soap "joke" while in prison.

One can only hope.

Sweet! The iPhone!

Oh, I gotta have one!

Unfortunately, it looks pretty damn expensive. Even my insane love for new and shiny gadgets may not be able to overcome that aspect.

Plus, it's won't be ready until June 2007.

Until then, drool...

Wait a minute, Linksys actually has a product they released recently called iPhone. It's a VOIP phone, but I imagine Apple and Cisco (owners of Linksys) may get into a pretty nasty Trademark dispute here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Controversy Of The Week

I'm sure by now everyone has read the saga of Ashley X. (or heard for the less literarily inclined)

At first, I didn't know what to think. It seemed a little odd and even slightly barbaric. But then I figured, her parents have put up a blog, why not read their side?

A fundamental and universal misconception about the treatment is that it is intended to convenience the caregiver; rather, the central purpose is to improve Ashley’s quality of life. Ashley’s biggest challenges are discomfort and boredom; all other considerations in this discussion take a back seat to these central challenges. The “Ashley Treatment” goes right to the heart of these challenges and we strongly believe that it will mitigate them in a significant way and provide Ashley with lifelong benefits.

Unlike what most people thought, the decision to pursue the “Ashley Treatment” was not a difficult one. Ashley will be a lot more physically comfortable free of menstrual cramps, free of the discomfort associated with large and fully-developed breasts, and with a smaller, lighter body that is better suited to constant lying down and is easier to be moved around.

Ashley’s smaller and lighter size makes it more possible to include her in the typical family life and activities that provide her with needed comfort, closeness, security and love: meal time, car trips, touch, snuggles, etc. Typically, when awake, babies are in the same room as other family members, the sights and sounds of family life engaging the baby’s attention, entertaining the baby. Likewise, Ashley has all of a baby’s needs, including being entertained and engaged, and she calms at the sounds of family voices. Furthermore, given Ashley’s mental age a nine and a half year old body is more appropriate and more dignified than a fully grown female body.

I have to say that their arguments seem well thought out. And realistic. They have weighed the options available to them. Home care is expensive for an adult "child". Long term care facilities are abhorrent. At an adult's size, she will become too much for the parents to handle. Plus, reducing the primary sexual characteristics and side-effects (such as menstruation) for a mentally and physically disabled person sound valid and of overall benefit.

That being said, I am not in their position. I do not have anything remotely resembling this case in my life. And hopefully, I never will.

But that doesn't stop the jerk parade. Take a gander at the comments on Fox's Speakout:
"Sick, they are sick. With their logic, anyone who's not 100% perfect could potentially be sentenced for life in a zombie like state."— Bill (Virginia)

That is so slippery slope, I don't even know where to begin. Basically, it's the one of the stupider stances to base an argument on in the long, sad history of stupid arguments.
"As a mother, I cannot believe this story. It is absolutely disgusting what they did to this child. The parents and the doctors need to be held accountable." — Lisa (Portsmouth, NH)

Yes, and as a mother I'm guessing that you have never had to deal with this, have you? Try thinking seriously about what Ashley's condition really means. And imagine both yourself and your child having to live with this condition. It's fairly easy to throw a stone from a position of safety.

These fucking mouth-breathers get so high and mighty from the trailer park during the commercial breaks between Maury Povich and the People's Court. Thank god, they're there to set us on the right and moral path of enlightenment.


Seriously, I want to hunt down the majority of the "How dare they?" commenting crowd and whack them in the head with a clue-by-four.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Given The Track Record, I'd Scorn Them Too.

I think this is more the signs of desperation, rather than confidence.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scorned U.N Security Council sanctions imposed against Iran, telling a crowd Tuesday that Iran had humiliated the United States in the past and would do so again.

Speaking in the southwestern provincial capital of Ahvaz, Ahmadinejad said the Security Council's resolution last month was invalid and had left the world body's reputation in tatters.

Actually, the UN's reputation has been in tatters for some time. What with the heinous sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers in the Congo and the Oil-For-Food scam, to name the latest.

Ahmadinejad is facing some serious problems. He has an increasingly restless populace, especially the among the intelligentsia. The latest elections in Iran were a slap in the face with more moderates elected than had been foreseen. This erosion of Ahmadinejad's power base is also troubling to an aging theocratic council that is truly in control of Iran. His domestic influence is dribbling away. Slowly to be sure, but make no mistake, it is going away.

Ahmadinejad is also dealing with an energy issue. They are currently on a course that will basically rob them of their economic engine, oil exports. With rapidly rising internal energy demands, and an infrastructure that has not been updated since the Shah was deposed, Iran has painted itself into a corner. It desperately needs energy if it wants to improve (or even maintain) the standard of living most of it's citizens have come to expect.

On the face of it, nuclear power seems like a reasonable reaction to this crisis (perhaps the resolution of one issue can even help resolve the first). But, their willingness to sell weapons to external states (see Hezbollah and its recent war with Israel), and the concerns of other nations, specifically the US, UK, France (yes, France of all countries!) and Israel, make their statements regarding civilian application seem specious. Even the IAEA, forever reticent about making a stance one way or the other, has expressed "some concern". Everyone is terrified at the thought of some terrorist purchasing weapons-grade nuclear material.

I hope the UN sticks to its guns on this one. This, along with the North Korean issue, is an opportunity for the UN to show that it still has relevance.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

He may be retired, but thankfully Dave Barry is still doing his Year-End Review.