Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Odd story of the day..

Given the state in which service was to be performed one might imagine that the whole point was to keep a very close eye on this particular employee.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where they find these people...

Daily Mail: Muslim fanatics radicalised mentally ill convert into becoming a 'nail bomber'

The second generation of the Badder-Meinhoff gang was recruited from mental institutions as well. And Ulrike Meinhoff had had brain surgery for what its worth.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Think the Democrats have problems?

The Democrats problems don't look anywhere near as bad as McCain's difficulty picking a Veep candidate.

John Hawkins tries to frame the problem as 'who will help the ticket most'. Locking at the picks 'who will do the least damage' might be a better objective to aim for. Amongst the choices:

  • Charlie Crist, hmm, but how then does the GOP play the gay-baiting wedge card with an unmarried candidate for veep who spends his off duty time in a gay bar? I am not prejudiced, but GOP voters sure as heck have been trained to be. Besides which, would Crist accept?
  • Lindsey Graham, might make sense if the general plan was to run against Bush, Abu Ghraib, the warantless wiretapping etc. But still hard to draw bipartisan appeal with a principle figure in the impeachment fiasco.
  • Huckabee, hands the Democrats a 45+ state win for the Whitehouse and possibly enough Senate seats to start thinking about picking up enough seats in 2010 to start impeaching Scalia and Thomas. If only, but won't happen.
  • Lieberman, exactly why would he give up his Senate seniority and join the GOP minority in the Senate in order to join a doomed presidential bid for a candidate hated by his own party? Lieberman would end up locked out of both parties.
  • Rice, would make it somewhat difficult for the GOP to play the race card in the south as they are clearly planning to do. Not because their voters would notice the hypocrisy but because the press would and so would Condi. Plus all the fiascos of the Bush years are rehashed.
  • Tom Ridge, well the DHS is hardly considered a shining achievement is it? And the silly color chart would be revisited ad-nauseam to remind people of how the GOP cynically manipulated fear to win votes.
  • Romney, hated inside the party and cannot carry any state with him.

The other candidates are sitting governors who would be asked to give up a meaningful job to campaign for a negligible chance to win a meaningless one. Can't see Jindal running so soon after being elected.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes there are people who do this...

Of course the video would be easier to watch if Judge Judy actually gave the scammer a chance to speak. Why did she turn up to the show?

The scam here is that the advert says 'you are bidding on what you see in the picture - a picture of a picture!'

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The uniform - no choice yet for bluetooh headsets

PC Magazine reports on the new generation of bluetooth headsets. There is a new Plantronics and a new Jawbone. This started me thinking about the uniform of modern business. In the mid fifties the British business uniform was a dark pinstripe and a bowler hat. Today the business uniform is defined by gadgets rather than clothes. We seem to have converged on a consensus as to what make and model MP3 player (iPod), headphones (Bose QC2/QC3), cellphone (iPhone) and most recently laptop (MacBook Air). We can tell that bluetooth is clearly an unfinished technology as there is still no consensus as to the best headset to get.

I have the Plantronics 510 and the original Jawbone. Both are seriously flawed. The Plantronics 510 is bulky, has poor sound quality and requires a separate chager. The one positive is that it is at least robust enough to be put in a pocket when not in use.

The Jawbone is the only headset I have used that does not result in the person on the other end saying 'are you on your headset'. But that comes at a price ($125) and it is a fragile creature. I have already had to repair mine with the aid of a soldering iron and copious quantities of superglue.

Some parts of uniform have clearly emerged amongst road warriors because they are clearly the best in their class. Or at least they were when they were adopted. If you are on a plane sitting and your headphones don't work quite as well as you would like you look to see what others are wearing and next time buy those. Quite a few people argue that Audio-Technica is making better noise canceling earphones than Bose these days. They are certainly more robust.

But other parts of the uniform are clearly not about functionality. Take the decision that 'business casual' means 'wear a single color Ralph Lauren Polo shirt with khaki trousers'. Or the choice of the Rolex Oyster perpetual in gold and steel with jubilee bracelet. It isn't that one brand is so much better than another, its the fact that one brand is more recognizable. And that is what its about.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why I am not using Charter Communications

If Comcast was to follow suit I would drop them as well. Charter Communications wiretap special.

Fortunately there are two broadband providers in my area. They can only turn on ad-insertion if they collude. And they will face a very expensive anti-trust suit if they do.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thought of the day

Do the landline telcos still charge customers for not putting their names in the telephone directories that nobody other than telemarketers now read?

Will the landline telco managements ever figure out that this type of gouging is the reason that their businesses have gone buggy-whip?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The right to bear arms

Why did the Bill of Rights require an amendment to to protect the rights of heraldry buffs?

Deconstructing Globalization

For some years now we have become accustomed to incomprehensible, barely coherent left wing attacks on 'globalization'. Not to be outdone James Poulos steps up to the plate to provide a barely comprehensible, incoherent right wing attack on globalization.

I came across the article after Kevin Drum took affront to the phrase 'hegemony of engineers' in the piece. This seems a weak criticism to me. Poulos has at least correctly identified technology as opposed to capital as the principle driving force behind 'globalization', even if he appears to have no more idea what the term means.

Where Poulos goes seriously whackadoodle is in passages such as this one:

On balance, I’m content for America to continue in its capacity as globalizer. I’m much less sanguine about America becoming a globalizee. This isn’t just because I’m a nationalist; it’s because I’m convinced that the United States has, and depends upon, a globally unique system of government which is itself dependent upon America’s unique geopolitical, cultural, and religious heritage.

If there is one thing that does not travel well, even in the age of globalization, it is small-minded nationalism. The US system of government is globally unique? I rather think not. On the contrary it is generally considered a point of national pride that so many other countries have adopted constitutions modeled on the US scheme.

It is of course very easy for the likes of Poulos to be entirely convinced of American exceptionalism: They will loudly denounce anyone who disagrees with them as anti-American. The distinctive mode of US political debate is ad-hominem.

So what is unique about the US cultural heritage? Well there is putting a man on the moon for a start. That would be engineering of course. Ditto, the Hoover Dam, Mt Rushmore and skyscrapers. OK, how about Hollywood? That is certainly culture, but other countries have film industries. Hollywood's distinction is the big budget special effects blockbuster. Oh dear, engineering again.

When you get down to it, unique is rarely a good thing. If something is worthwhile it is generally copied. So what has the US done that the rest of the world has not copied that might be under threat through 'globalization'?

I can think of many ways in which globalization is going to change the US political scene, none of which I regard as being at all bad. I think that within a very short space of time it will be realized that gay-bashing is no more socially acceptable than racism and that the Rovian wedge issues designed to exploit anti-gay bigotry are precisely that. I also think that the US is going to have to come to terms that the Bush years have severely damaged its international standing and that those who complain about 'anti-Americanism' should first blame those who made oderint dum metuant the US foreign policy.

At some point the US will realize that the small section of US public opinion that is considered when formulating policy with regards to the middle East occupies a space far to the right of Likud on the Israeli political spectrum. The idea that the US can perform the role of 'honest broker' in any peace negotiations is thus a fantasy.

Globalization will puncture these and many other bubbles the nationalist right has been accustomed to living in. That was exactly the plan.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Danger to Democrcy

I may be old fashioned. But growing up in Europe during the cold war, I tend to regard politicians who have people arrested for asking inconvenient questions as threats to democracy.

It was a perfectly fair question. McCain's temper was made an issue by Republicans in the 2000 campaign. McCain has previously avoided answering the question, as he did this time by having the Secret Service arrest the questioner.

If the establishment media was doing their job they would be reporting on events of this type and demanding McCain give an answer on the temper issue.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"D.C. Madam" Apparently Kills Herself, Cops: Body Near Fla. Mobile Home Is Woman Convicted In Prostitution Ring Serving D.C. Elite - CBS News

So exactly what is the compelling social purpose that made it necessary for Federal Prosecutors to drive her to suicide? In fact this is the second suicide in the case.

Meanwhile Palfrey's Republican client, Senator Vitter does not appear to be at risk of prosecution. Democrat Elliot Spitzer may be prosecuted, but is unlikely to spend the possible 55 years in prison that Palfrey faced.

I think that politicians suport prostitution laws for much the same reason that many used to support anti-gay laws: persecuting others helps distract attention from the fact that they engage in the same behavior themselves.