No word yet on whether his plan also involved a sports almanac and a DeLorean

The Feds have 44-year-old Andrew Carlssin in custody for rampant insider trading; apparently, he turned $800 into $350 million with 126 trades. His story? Not insider trading — no, that would be wrong. Instead, he’s a time traveller from the year 2256.

Carlssin declared that he had traveled back in time from over 200 years in the future, when it is common knowledge that our era experienced one of the worst stock plunges in history. Yet anyone armed with knowledge of the handful of stocks destined to go through the roof could make a fortune.

Best Spam Ever.

I’m glad I don’t have my filter on “auto” yet. Here, for your enjoyment, is the unedited text of said message:

From: “Estella Silvstedt”
Date: Wed Mar 26, 2003 3:38:29 AM US/Central
Subject: Iraqi peasant shooted an Apache with a rifle when he saw US Navi soldiers raping his goat – Real animal intercource
– Young Dog lovers
– Horse’s cocck blow jop


The Right Thing May Happen

But Scalia will have nothing to do with it. Slate has a nice bit of coverage of the matter of Lawrence v. Texas, currently before the Supreme Court. The facts aren’t really in dispute: in 1998, responding to a false report of a break-in, Houston policemen entered an apartment to discover two men engaged in a sex act — an act that is illegal for homosexuals (but not heterosexuals) to commit in Texas. The men were arrested, and have been fighting the case ever since. Frankly, the fact that Harris County continues to pursue this case staggers me: what are they thinking? What is the State’s interest in what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors?

Well, as it happens, Scalia thinks there is such an interest, based in part on moral disapproval (!). On the issue of why this law covers only gays, not hetero couples:

“It’s conceded by the state of Texas that married couples can’t be regulated in their private sexual decisions,” says [defense attorney Paul] Smith. To which Scalia rejoins, “They may have conceded it, but I haven’t.”

If this doesn’t scare you, you’re not paying attention. Our own sterling governor, Rick Perry, has deemed the laws “appropriate” in the wake of this case, unconcerned that people like Lawrence must register as sex offenders as a consequence of their conviction. Fortunately, the American Bar Association disagrees.

More coverage at: Salon CNN Houston Chronicle

Dept. of No Shame Whatsoever

The first postwar Iraqi reconstruction contract has already been awarded. Said multi-million-dollar contract was awarded without a bidding process, but that’s not a problem, right? I mean, we trust the government not to engage in conflicts of interest or anything like that, right?

Horseshit. It went to Halliburton, a firm headed until 2000 by one Dick Cheney.

The Daily Show’s coverage of this just about sums it up. (9Mb Quicktime)

“There Used To Be This Thing Called Journalism” Part 2

Massive radio holding company Clear Channel has been organizing pro-war rallies as well as events to help those confused about, say, their Dixie Chicks records figure out what to do with them (burn, smash with tractor, etc.). They own news stations. They’re creating events for their news stations to report. Wow.

In other news, according to the Soundscan-based chart at Billboard Magazine, the Dixie Chicks are still at number 1.


Four-term NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan died on Wednesday. He was 76. Like many other things he predicted — the fall of the USSR, the rise of unwed mothers and the resultant inner-city problems — I’m sure he saw this coming.

Best. Issue. Ever.

I love the Onion. This week, US Forms Own UN.

WASHINGTON, DC√∑Frustrated with the United Nations’ “consistent, blatant regard for the will of its 188 member nations,” the U.S. announced Monday the formation of its own international governing body, the U.S.U.N.|*| “The U.N. has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to act decisively in carrying out actions the U.S. government deems necessary,” U.S.U.N. Secretary General Colin Powell said.

Also this week: An excellent Point/Counterpoint and Bush Bravely Leads 3rd Infantry Into Battle

Why look! The Greeks have left us this nice wooden horse!

This is how it starts. Office Depot has decided that it will only carry computer products that carry Microsoft’s approval (via a “Designed for Windows XP” logo), starting in May. This means Microsoft is deciding what Office Depot will sell. Microsoft is already working hard to create the appearance of “flexibility” in their new home computing line while actually restricting behavior and reducing functionality to comply with new “digital rights management” schemes.

We’ve seen inklings of this in the past; for example, recent versions of Windows Media Player stored digital music files in a proprietary, restricted format rather than MP3 by default, resulting in some rather surprised users. Without any exception I’m aware of, DRM schemes completely obliterate any fair use opportunities; they instead place all control with the content producers, and none at the consumer level.

Be careful what you buy, kids. Remember, there are plenty of other options that interoperate fine with existing Wintel networks and applications, with more coming soon. Microsoft is expensive and restrictive, but it’s not your only choice.

I’m just disgusted.

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines made some comments in London recently, and since then she’s been backpedalling like mad.

First, the comments. Apparently, during a concert, she said “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Then came the follow-up comment, which I find admirable, gutsy, and proper:

“We’ve been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our governments’ position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost.” Maines added: “I feel the president is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.”

Bravo. That, however, clearly wasn’t enough. Reactionary knee-jerk jingoists bent on stifling dissent started calling radio stations, and the Chicks found themselves being dropped from playlists. This prompted a second statement, this time an almost complete retraction:

“As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers’ lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American.”

This hysterial reaction is simply insane and, frankly, is about as anti-American as you can get. Maines and her colleagues nail it in their first statement. It is their right — and their responsibility — to make their views known. Quietly going along with the mainstream leads us nowhere good.

Why shouldn’t she be ashamed of a president bent on war who behaves like a spoiled child when the rest of the world won’t go along with his ill-conceived, poorly articulated “risky scheme?” I am certainly embarrassed by his actions and the way in which he has squandered untold national and international goodwill in his bloodthirsty pursuit of a tin-pot dictator. Is Hussein a bad guy? Sure. Was it possible to do this in a way that doesn’t erase whatever legitimacy we had in the wake of 9/11? You bet your ass.

Clearly, Maines’ label has pressured her to retract her comments, since she’s issued not one but two statements since the incident. The first I can respect, but the second is so much kow-towing to a reactionary label and public, and appears to directly contradict her earlier position that, as Americans, we can say what we think. For a moment, I was proud that such commercially driven creatures as the Dixie Chicks could and would express unpopular dissent. Now I’m ashamed not just of my President, but also that a vocal segment of my nation — a nation, it has been said, “conceived in Liberty” — that would quash comments like Maines’.

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

Coverage: CBS Houston Chronicle CNN Google Roundup CMT

Follow-up: This quote from a radio exec says volumes — unfortunately, his sentiments are rare indeed:

One major market programmer removed the Chicks from his station’s playlist but changed his mind after considering why Americans have fought previous wars. In a letter to listeners posted on the KFKF/Kansas City Web site, program director Dale Carter wrote, “Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are over there fighting for our rights — and one of those is our Constitutional right to express an unpopular opinion. The longer this has gone on, the more I had visions of censorship and McCarthyism. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I agree with the 80 percent of you who abhor what Natalie said in London. On the other hand, I believe in the Constitution.” cite

Dept. of My Birthday, 33d Edition

Today is my birthday. I am now old enough to be crucified, though fortunately I lack the other qualifications (e.g., presumably, divinity).

I share this particular date with:

  • Percival Lowell, astronomer, 1855
  • Hugh Walpole, writer, 1884
  • L. Ron Hubbard, writer & charlatan, 1911
  • William Casey, former CIA director, 1913
  • Al Jaffee, MAD magazine artist, 1921
  • Voice-of-Donald-Duck Clarence Nash, 1936
  • Neil Sedaka, entertainer, 1939
  • William H. Macy, actor, 1950
  • Dana Delaney, bad actress, 1956
  • Adam Clayton, earnest bass player, 1960

As I’ve stated before, it is my hope that Clayton, Macy, Nash, and Jaffee can make up for Hubbard and Casey.

Remember all those evil kiddie-porn monsters the Feds caught with Operation Candyman?

Well, it turns out it ain’t necessarily so. The Feds lied on their search warrent applications, and in fact have arrested, detained, and vilified many completely innocent people. But nobody wants to talk about this, since to do so is to risk appearing soft on child pornography. What happened to the Fourth Estate? Thank God there’s a judge involved here who remembers how to do her job.

I repeat again, in case you’ve missed it: The Justice Department is COMPLETELY OUT OF HAND.

Look! Someone else thinks GWB is screwing up!

Of course, that’s no surprise, is it? What do wealthy, retired, geezers know about running a country?

Well, as it happens, this guy makes a pretty compelling case. Besides, he was also the 41st president.

Update: More coverage of the differing views within the GOP — as encapsulated by the 41 vs. 43 bit — in Salon today. I don’t really miss 41 as a President, but I certainly wish his son would take more of his counsel when it comes to foreign policy.

Apparently tired of waiting, some Iraqi troops take matters into their own hands.

In a story dated March 9, the Sunday Mirror reports that a dozen Iraqis walked into Kuwait waving a white flag to surrender to some rather surprised British paratroopers conducting a live-fire exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.

Dept. of Dropping The Ball

New York Times writer David Pogue has a piece on legal music downloading services that paints them all as more or less useless — cumbersome interfaces, annoying restrictions, bad DRM schemes, etc. Most won’t let you burn songs to CDs, for example, and some require that you be connected to the service to listen to anything. He’s right, too, at least as far as the services he bothers to cover. From that point of view, it looks very much like the music industry is in trouble — why would I pay and put up with those kinds of limitations when Kazaa is free?

Unfortunately, Pogue misses the one service I’ve been using, Emusic, which has a flat-rate, all-you-can-eat scheme for downloading standard MP3 files to your hard drive. You own ’em once you have them, even if you quit the service. They’re short on “hot new acts,” but they do have plenty of good indy stuff, lots of very cool jazz, and a reasonable pricing scheme. It’s worth checking out. (My one peeve: the MP3 files are 128kb, and there’s no provision for a higher-fidelity version. Still, it beats the other ones hands down.)

Sometimes, subtle is best.

From The Onion, of course:

U.S. Capitol Cleaning Turns Up Long-Lost Constitution

WASHINGTON, DC√∑Lost for nearly two years, the U.S. Constitution was found Tuesday behind a couch in the Governor’s Reception Room. “Wow, I forgot all about that thing,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who found the historic document while vacuuming. “Nobody knew what happened to it. Guess it must’ve fallen back there during a meeting.” After making the find, Dodd spent several minutes rereading some of his favorite old amendments.

Misc. Heathen Public Service Announcement

If you leave a comment to one of these pages from an address that doesn’t already get inundated with spam, it’s best to NOT include your email address, at least in the form Address-harvesting software could get your address and sell it to spammers. If you feel the need to leave your address anyway, do so in a way that isn’t machine-readable, like “bob at somehere dot com.”

We now return you to your regularly schedule snarkiness.

At last!

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