Thursday, May 30, 2002

Another spam rant

E-Commerce News: Fed Up with Spammers. It has a bunch of spamblaster programs listed that I hadn't heard of, such as MailWasher. Meanwhile, Yahoo continues to be the biggest conduit of spam into my emailbox. I faithfully send off each and every piece of Yahoo-sent spam to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), though it doesn't seem to work very well. Wasn't Yahoo going to start charging for an emailbox there? I wonder if that'll help lighten the spam load?
posted by lee on 05/30/02 at 12:59 PM

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Monday, May 27, 2002

boobs in terroristland

Thanks for the Heads-Up by Frank Rich, New York Times, May 25, 2002 (registration required, but it's free).

Rich asks, "With all the talent in this country and all that's at stake, is this the best we can muster?"

Watching "our" Administration try to deal with terrorism would be as funny as watching the Keystone Kops if the consequences weren't so deadly.

A snippet of Rich's column:
"We are the richest, most can-do country in the world, but at home we're pursuing the war on terrorism with a management style that's pure Kmart. Back in October Mr. Bush declared that his new director of homeland security, Tom Ridge, in charge of coordinating some 70 federal agencies and countless local ones, would "have the full attention and complete support of the very highest levels of our government." Nine months later, Mr. Ridge has neither. What he does have is a new, less-than-high-tech headquarters, with an aboveground Washington address that can be taken out simultaneously with the White House.

"The nation's nuclear plants are vulnerable from the air. Its borders are porous to malevolent visitors and matriel (only 2 percent of incoming ship cargo is inspected). The anthrax manhunt is stalled and there has been scant progress in the supposed push to bring local hospitals up to speed in identifying and countering bioterrorism. The I.N.S.'s failure to coordinate with the Social Security Administration, The Times' Robert Pear reports, is still allowing tens of thousands of foreigners to secure illegal Social Security numbers and concoct the fake identities that proved so useful to some of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"Remember Argenbright, the rent-a-guard company that was found to have employed convicts and illegal aliens to enforce airport security? It's still manning the fort in five major airports, from Orlando to O'Hare, where it no doubt continues to do a crack job of strip-searching little old ladies. This week USA Today reported that the new Transportation Security Administration has failed to fix the known security flaws that could allow the easy planting of bombs in the virtually unscreened cargo on passenger jets; the paper also found evidence that the same agency is cutting back on marksmanship training for the federal air marshals it is hiring to do the shooting it prohibits for pilots. As for the airport bomb-detecting machines mandated by Congress, The Wall Street Journal finds 190 in place, with a mere 1,100 still to go."

****

This was picked up while checking out the net chatter (looking for those imminent attacks):

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) so it's goin' pretty well, dad. Lot of Germans in the street with signs sayin' somethin' about "COWBOY" and "TOD". Don't know him, but sounds a good man. Afterwards Jacques and Gerhard and the Belgian foreign minister guy say, c'mon, let's grab a little lunch at the EU cafeteria, and I'm at the table lookin' at the menu and this big ol' French waiter dude says, "Oui, monsieur?" An' I'm thinkin', well, now's my chance to be all multilateral, so I say, "Qu'est-ce que c'est la soupe du jour?" And the Belgian foreign minister guy goes, "It means 'soup of the day', idiot." Which I thought was pretty funny for a Belgian, and I was about to say, "Hey, they should get you for Austin Powers III", but instead Jacques yells, "Mer de Crete, tiens!", which Condi's interpreter helpfully translates for me, "Sea of Crete, hey!" An' I'm thinkin', what's the deal with that? Flippin' through the ol' mental Rolodex an' comin' up blank, pop. But I tell Jacques, "Yeah, Crete. Could get messy there, Landslide. Got Colin keepin' an eye on things..."

Your can find the original at Daily Telegraph Opinion. (If this link doesn't work, go to the Daily Telegraph's site and look for the article titled "Bush makes an impact in Europe" By Mark Steyn, May 25, 2002.)

I think it might be funnier if it weren't punctuated correctly.

*****

busterspin.jpgThis logo certainly inspries confidence in the CIA. I got this image off the CIA's website. I kid you not. Does anyone actually use it? Do CIA operatives have jumpsuits with this logo emblazoned on the back? Did we pay for this logo, or is this just a doodle some bored CIA hack came up with? Is that what this so-called war on terrorism is, some kind of cartoon joke? What has the CIA done to earn its billions lately? (Or even ever.) I want to know what I'm paying for.
posted by lee on 05/27/02 at 09:02 AM

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Sunday, May 26, 2002

my new hero

Kitten.gifSonya has replaced Miss Cleo in my pantheon of heros. Miss Cleo only dealt with people.

Sonya, however, deals with ANIMALS! For just $300, she'll spend an hour on the phone telling you what Fluffy and Fido and even your fish or geckos are trying to tell you. It's so amazing - Miss Cleo could only speak English and this strange English dialect that was supposed to sound Jamaican. But Sonya, SONYA!, can speak hundreds of animal languages!

Sonya's website is SO informative, providing ALL KINDS of information on how to buy her books and videos and schedule a consultation, er, reading. Or where to go for a seminar (just $55!!) Well, no, there's no information about animals or possible pet problems and what to do with them or, well, nothing at all about where to find info for helping pets ... but there are the details, twice, on when to watch her on Animal Planet.

As Stanley wrote when he sent me Sonya's link, "we're in the wrong business."
posted by lee on 05/26/02 at 11:25 AM

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Euro View of Shrub’s desired attack on that axis of evil member Iraq

Don't wag your finger at us, Mr Bush, where "Henry Porter, a proud friend of America, reluctantly concludes that the President must listen more and lecture less if he is to win Europe's support."

Quotes:
"The President's lecture tour of Europe and Russia reminds us how little experience he has of foreign affairs and how recent is his discovery of the history and complexities of issues which have been unquestionably better covered and probably better understood in Europe than in the US. As if to underline this point, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff have used the Commander-in-Chief's absence from Washington to reveal their deep concerns about any attack on Iraq.

"Europe may have its faults, as Bush and Colin Powell reminded us last week, but whatever our weaknesses of coordination, resolution and principle, it still seems mightily rich of Bush to expect us to go along with a policy General Tommy Franks, head of US Central Command, said would require at least 200,000 US troops and result in large casualties. "

and

"What Americans - currently in a more edgy and defensive mood than I can ever remember - do not recognise is that the vast majority of Europeans are not at base anti-American. It's just that we require more in the way of solid reasoning and debate if we are to support serial campaigns against the members of the 'axis of evil' - an awkward phrase which was, incidentally, chosen by the great wordsmith himself. The American attitude to Iraq, for instance, seems to Europeans to be utterly baffling. While Bush instructs his commanders to consider the options for attack, on the grounds that Saddam has built a vast stockpile of biological, chemical and radiological - if not nuclear - weapons, (an arsenal which is probably less dangerous than Pakistan's, incidentally), his administration does everything to undermine the freely elected opposition, the Iraqi National Congress."
posted by lee on 05/26/02 at 11:02 AM

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Old Time Radio webcaster

OTRNow - play those old-time radio broadcast shows like Dragnet. Clicking "Jive" gets you to Glenn Miller, Freddy Duchin, and more.
posted by lee on 05/26/02 at 10:50 AM

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Saturday, May 25, 2002

the emperor has no clothes

Note: go to the original column (linked below) to check out Morford's hyperlinks -- they're worth checking out.

Evildoers In The Hood / Another batch of fresh terrorist warnings from the government, and you without your skepticism

by Mark Morford, SFGate.com "Notes & Errata" colum of May 24, 2002

The evildoers are coming. Again.

No really, they are. This time we really mean it. Those last 17 times we only partially meant it but this time we really really mean it and look even pallid and barely animate VP Cheney is muttering through the scary side of his disquieting mouth that fresh terrorist attacks on the US are "almost a certainty."

And you know he'd never lie about a thing like that, because he's too honest and pure and despite all contrary evidence doesn't actually adore war like Oprah adores cheesecake.

And look here's the FBI again, popping up like some sort of agitated gopher, saying very sorry but it simply won't be able to prevent any nutjob suicidal religious fanatics from strapping C-4 to their chests and blowing up a crowded Starbucks in downtown Chicago or maybe Seattle or maybe right down the street from where you live, and isn't that horrible and aren't you just terribly scared good now please hush up and stop asking questions.

This is the pattern. This is the message. Like some horrible clockwork they come, fresh terrorist attack warnings from the Bush administration or possibly a stern-faced government security agency, paced out every month or so just so you don't get too complacent, too wary, too, you know, suspicious.

Just so you don't possibly become a little too skeptical and maybe start looking around and noticing you seem to have misplaced a great many of your civil liberties and maybe your healthy cautious patriotism not to mention all those nail clippers at the airport and hey, aren't we still bombing the hell out of Afghanistan every day, nonstop, costing millions per diem? Is there anything even left over there?

And by the way, when's that huge government investment in alternative energy and fuels coming to get us away from our hate-inducing oil gluttony in the first place? Whoops, sorry. Bad question. Shhh.

Even the media is becoming skeptical. Even the toe-the-line, bandwagon-ready, not-nearly-as-liberal-as-you-think major media outlets from ABC to awfully coifed MSNBC have begun to look askance at the recent rash of warnings, unable to avoid the glaring coincidences that said divinations just happen to be shrieked right when lawmakers and the populace at large are beginning to question the war and just what Bush & Co. might've known about the pre-9/11 terrorist threat.

How dare you ask such questions in a sensitive patriotic warmongering time like this, mutters a grumpled and wan Cheney, as Rumsfeld stands behind him, sticking red pins into an oversize wall map of the Middle East and making cute little explosion noises with his mouth. Pschew! Kerplow! Kaboom!

No no no we don't need any special commission to look into just how poorly the pre-9/11 terrorist information was mishandled, grouses Bush and the GOP, shuffling their feet and looking all indignant while quietly checking their ExxonMobil and Lockheed Martin stock. And by the way, how's our new oil pipeline through Kandahar coming along? Whoops did I say that out loud?

This is the feeling. Skepticism and wariness and a general mistrust. It is not pleasant and it is not desirable but it is all too available and clear. This is the queasy sensation, that they're pummeling us with alarmism and manufactured threats, hammering the country's fear synapse and ringing the big bell of dread at every opportunity and at very specific times in order to deflect attention and get a specific reaction.

Just when you might be beginning to question their maneuvers and motivations and rather sinister levels of secrecy, their lack of discernable results in this war-that's-not-really-a-war because there are no actual results to be had except the ongoing promulgation of, yes, more war.

Too cynical? Too bitter? Don't want to think our government might actually be capable of such deceit and manipulation, of manufacturing rumors and strategically fabricating news stories and making it sound like if you don't blindly endorse every carefully constructed pro-war blurb muttered by Ari Fleischer or Rummy, the terrorists will surely break down your door any minute now and steal all your ice cream and sodomize your cat?

Possibly. After all, no one actually wants to believe Bush & Co. have essentially transformed 9/11 from an epic human tragedy into a blanket excuse to foist their pro-corporate big-oil agenda on a fear-addled nation and pump billions into the military-industrial complex and then keep the whole steamroller of savage karmic pain going for at least a few more years by preparing to bomb Iraq and enlisting a slew of new "nukuler" enemies.

You really do want to believe these are grumpy white pro-corporate pro-oil men of integrity and humane perspective who no more knew about the clear possibility of a 9/11-type terrorist attack than Bush could find Afghanistan on a map a year ago. And of course some of these terrorist threats are quite genuine and dangerous. They always are. But now they're being used as excuses. Weapons. Defense.

You really do want to believe they would never spread a truly odious strain of fear and alarmism around the nation as a means to deflect attention from their potential misdeeds, from this increasingly unnecessary and hollow war to their cozy ties to Enron to their decision to crank up the US arsenal of nifty short-range nuclear weapons while graciously cutting back slightly on all those thousands of musty old long-range missiles aimed at Russia.

You really do want to believe they'd like this cryptically defined "war" to be over as soon as possible, that they really do desire a full and honest investigation of, say, American flight school records and the FBI's knowledge of any swarthy students with blatant ties to known terrorist factions who just so happened to be in the US, learning to fly big commercial jetliners.

Oh but never mind. One forgets that Bush is a very nice fellow. Charming. Doing the Right Thing, he is. Do not question the president. You are either with us or against us. This is for your own good.

This is what they want you to think. Lots of mean evil people out there really really hate us simply because we're good honest pure democratic Christian folk with lots of money and giant malls who don't have to wear beards or heavy burlap outerwear, and Bush & Co. are merely trying to protect us all in the best way they know how: by blowing up as much as possible and denying everything else. Us versus Them. Good versus the evildoers.

Believe it? Good. Now please stop asking so many damn questions. And don't forget to hide your cat.
posted by lee on 05/25/02 at 10:36 AM

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Friday, May 24, 2002

The Producers and The Universe

theaterreview_13_175.jpgWe went to see The Producers on Tuesday. I was kind of bummed out that Nathan Lane had been replaced by Brad Oscar, but I have to say Oscar won me over in about five minutes. The play is a LOT of fun. I loved the Old Lady Land dance with the walkers, and Carmen Ghia, and Steven Weber's voice ...

This is an interesting interview with Brad Oscar: TheaterMania: Brad Oscar settles into his new role as full-time star of The Producers

I would love to see this again. Too bad Broadway plays cost so much - we'd probably go more if the ticket prices were not so outrageous.

Since we were heading to NYC, we decided to make a day of it and go to the American Museum of Natural History first. We were dying to see the new Rose Center

twilight.jpg


and to see a show at the Hayden Planetarium.

spaceshow.jpg


The Rose Center is amazing. We saw "The Search for Life in the Universe" at the planetarium. I wish it had been longer - it was so cool. We watched the Big Bang and walked down the Cosmic Pathway. Big Bang is nothing special and the Cosmic Pathway is pretty boring - okay if you don't have to wait in line, but if there's a line, don't bother. The one thing we noticed is that wherever the age of the universe is displayed (13 billion years), the actual number is replaceable. So, I guess if the scientists ever decide the universe is, say, 14 billion years old, the displays can be changed without much hassle.

We ended up also seeing Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives (we were looking for the cafe, which turned out to be closed) and the reptiles and amphibians. To be honest, the reptiles and amphibians display is looking very raggedy - we saw an old newspaper that dated the display to something like 1963. A lot of the dioramas could use some sprucing up, updating, or at least some fresh paint. Maybe the curator should watch Animal Planet to get a few new ideas.

I thought the extinct mammals display was much more interesting, and was fascinated to learn that whales are classified an ungulates. I was also very interested in cladistics, which are evolutionary trees in which organisms are grouped according to shared features. Below is a picture of a dimetrodon, which is a very distant relative of ours.

dimetrodon.gif
posted by lee on 05/24/02 at 02:07 PM

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Monday, May 20, 2002

parrots in the pine, lovebirds on the loose, bats in the belfry?

Our friend Alice has 16 lovebirds plus four baby lovebirds (and a ferret). She sent this picture, which she says is of three of her birds discussing how to finish tearing down the wallpaper. I guess they don't like the pattern.

alices_birds.jpg


Alice says she has to take the baby birds with her when she visits friends -- I think because they are now being hand fed so that they get used to humans. I asked her if she used a cage or if she has little leashes, but I haven't heard back from her yet.

The parrots were back yesterday -- heard them, but I didn't spot them.
posted by lee on 05/20/02 at 09:36 AM

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well, we won’t get to see it

Solar Eclipse June 10 over North America. Not a total eclipse, but still cool. We won't get to see it here in Connecticut since it begins at sunset (for us) - but almost everyone else in North America will be able to see it (if skies are clear, anyway). Here is the viewing map from space.com:

eclipse_june10_2002_map_02.gif

It would be fun to be in San Diego, or Baja California, to see it. Since this is not in the cards, we'll have to be content to look at photos of it - I'm sure, since it's at sunset, there are going to be plenty of spectacular shots.
posted by lee on 05/20/02 at 09:11 AM

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where we came from

Becoming Human: Paleoanthropology, Evolution and Human Origins is a fascinating (and beautiful) site from Arizona State University.
posted by lee on 05/20/02 at 07:36 AM

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