commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for November, 2004

ABC’s job: to trap you in

In today’s edition of USA Today, an ABC executive by the name of Jeff Bader defends his network’s policy of starting shows a minute earlier or later than the standard half-hour slot by saying,

“It’s not my job to make it easy for people to leave our network.”

Perhaps he’s right. Perhaps the best thing for consumers to do is to oblige him by never going to the ABC network in the first place, so that they can make him happy by never leaving it.

Fraud and abuse in the Presidential vote

The United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell has declared in regard to recent Presidential elections in the Ukraine that

“We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse. We have been following developments very closely and are deeply disturbed by the extensive and credible reports of fraud in the election. We call for a full review of the conduct of the election and the tallying of election results.
“During the election campaign, the Ukrainian authorities at the highest level repeatedly sent a message about the importance of free and fair elections. We deeply regret that they did not take the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to democracy and to be a model for the region and the world. It is still not too late for Ukrainian authorities to find a solution that respects the will of the Ukrainian people.”


Since the US Government hasn’t investigated the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse in the US Presidential elections, maybe there’s a country out there – even the Ukraine – that won’t accept Bush because, after all, his administration ‘did not take the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to democracy and to be a model for the region and the world.’

Hey, it’s still not too late for United States authorities to find a solution that respects the will of the American people.

Unclear on the concept

David Stern, the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, commenting on a game during which basketball players went into the stands and started attacking spectators, had this to say:

“The events at last night’s game were shocking, repulsive and inexcusable — a humiliation for everyone associated with the NBA. This demonstrates why our players must not enter the stands whatever the provocation or poisonous behavior of people attending the games.”

Mr. Stern, there’s no problem with players entering the stands, although I guess they’re more useful on the court. There’s a problem with players committing assault and battery, and that was the repulsive behavior – not “entering the stands”.

Mad Cows 2, WMD’s 0

The USDA is now reporting another “possible” case of Mad Cow disease. Although the cow has been tested twice already, it’s still just “possible”, and for that reason the USDA won’t say where the cow is. Or was.

Remember why the US went to war in Iraq? To find weapons of mass destruction that don’t exist. We’re having no problem finding cows of mass destruction, and would no doubt find more if the USDA tested more – or at least allowed cattle ranchers to test their herds so they could advertise BSE-free. (Cattle ranchers are not permitted to do so in our land of the free.)

A while ago, I created a bumper sticker about this little problem; it’s available at Cafe Press. A mini-poster version of the bumper sticker is also available for free by clicking here.

What part of "no" doesn’t Judge Torres understand?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…

According to CNN, Jim Taricani of Rhode Island has been convicted of criminal contempt by US District Judge Ernest Torres, Chief Judge of the District of Rhode Island for refusing to reveal a source.

I guess some US District Judges feel that they can isolate themselves from their oath to support the Constitution by using a general charge like contempt and applying it to abridge the freedom of speech, and of the press. Judge Torres attempts to excuse his reasoning by quoting a divided Supreme Court decision involving a grand jury subpoena which mentions in part,

“these cases involve no intrusions upon speech or assembly, no prior restraint or restriction on what the press may publish,and . . . no penalty, civil or criminal, related to the content of published material.”

Of course, a source would not supply the information if they thought they’d be in trouble, and thus it involves prior restraint; and if the material that the special prosecutor wanted hadn’t been published, Mr. Taricani wouldn’t have been handed a criminal penalty for contempt. True and utter chutzpah on the part of the District Court, it would seem to me.

They must have really stupid doctors in Britain

According to The Sun Online, the Liverpool’s Coroner’s Court found that a medical student committed suicide “following instructions that he downloaded from ” a website. The Court blamed the Internet site for the suicide.

If a 22-year-old medical student can’t figure out how to kill himself without help in doing so from an Internet site, you wonder just how much British doctors know about how the human body works in the first place.

Note added 11/24/04 at 5:22 PM: a good parody of the Sun article can be seen by clicking here.

Republican senators more reasonable about "mandate"

President Bush has characterized his victory as a “mandate”, when in fact the vote was highly polarized. Now there are signs that top Republicans in the US Senate have a better ability to count and to compare numbers.

First, Senator Specter from PA, the heir presumptive to the chair of the Judiciary Committee, indicated that he will not apply an abortion litmus test to Judicial nominations made by the President. Although there was an initial backlash among Republicans, it now appears that Specter will likely get his chairmanship.

Now, Senator Grassley of IA – and chair of the Senate Finance Committee – is saying that Bush’s planned tax reforms would not likely make it through that committee.

Attention, Karl Rove: unlike election officials in Ohio and Florida, US Senators can count.

We’d do well with an Austrian, eh?

CNN reports that there’s now a Silicon Valley-based movement to amend the US Constitution so that Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger can run for president. You know, the guy who thinks he’s so brilliant referring to opponents to his policies as “girly men”, and who calls himself a man of the people while sucking up to big business.

So maybe we’d do well in the US with an imported Austrian running things? After all, Germany once had an Austrian running things, and look where it got them!

Smorgasbord for voracious readers

I just subscribed today to KeepMedia, a for-profit aggregator of magazine content. This service includes (so far) over 200 periodicals, including Newsweek, US News and World Report, Business Week, Variety, Reason, Mother Jones, and The New Republic. There are also some newspapers, such as USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.


The catch is, the current issue of any given periodical is not available. This way, the magazine doesn’t wind up (hopefully) going out of business. On the other hand, you get oodles of back issues, full search, and you don’t have these cluttering up your home.

On the yearly plan, they charge just under US$50/yr for the service – less than the cost of two magazines for a year, and in some cases, less than the cost of one magazine for a year.

(Boy, am I going to be a pain on some of the lists I read now, with all this material to back me up…)

Maybe we need bank software in the election machines

Bank of America has a new ad campaign where they claim an error rate processing checks of less than one in a million. Imagine if we had that sort of software processing elections – with approximately 100 million votes cast nationwide, an error of only 100 votes either way.

Sure beats those vote errors in Ohio and Florida…