Wednesday, November 30, 2005

HR 550 - It Matters

hr550
If we can't feel confident that our votes are counted, and counted correctly, can we really feel that we have a voice in our own government? If we aren't sure that our votes go to the people we intend them to go to, then who is our representative democracy really representing? The answer is "not the individual voters".

That's why HR 550 is important. There's a petition out there on Rush Holt's web site to support HR 550. What is the bill all about? Some highlights, from the site:
The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 550) will:

* Mandate a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in every federal election, nationwide; because the voter verified paper record is the only one verified by the voters themselves, rather than by the machines, it will serve as the vote of record in any case of inconsistency with electronic records;
* Protect the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act for voters with disabilities;
* Require random, unannounced, hand-count audits of actual election results in every state, and in each county, for every Federal election;
* Prohibit the use of undisclosed software and wireless and concealed communications devices and internet connections in voting machines;
* Provide Federal funding to pay for implementation of voter verified paper balloting; and
* Require full implementation by 2006
Other bloggers are posting about this important issue today. I'll update the list as I find more. Feel free to read any one of them for more information and opinion.

Blanton's and Ashton's
The Center of NJ Life
Scrutiny Hooligans
Did I say that out loud?
The Opinion Mill
Xpatriated Texan
Blondesense
A Mockingbird's Medley
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Daily Kos (registered Daily Kos people, please recommend this diary)
Pam's House Blend
Shakespeare's Sister
Brilliant at Breakfast

Read up, and please, sign the petition.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Officially Anti-Alito

I wasn't sure yet how I felt about Alito, but Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has helped me make up my mind.
The fact that Samuel Alito was a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, and cited that fact on his 1985 job application, has been in the news recently; and it occurred to me that since I was a Princeton undergraduate (class of '81) while CAP was active, I might be able to provide some useful background on this one.
...
CAP was not about opposing affirmative action. It supported quotas that favored white men. CAP was about opposing the presence of women and minorities at Princeton. Period. Moreover, its tactics were despicable. In retrospect, it was one of the first instances of what has now become a familiar pattern: an extremely well-funded organization dedicated to spreading lies about some opponent in an effort to force that opponent to change course through the sheer volume of vitriol and harassment that a lot of money can buy. Samuel Alito pointed with pride to his membership in CAP in 1985. What relevance this should have now is open to debate; I just wanted to clarify what exactly it was that he was proud to be a part of.
What can I say, racism and sexism bother me.

Monday, November 28, 2005

New Carnival

This week's Carnival of the NJ Bloggers is at Gigglechick. Not that I remembered to send in an entry. I was busy! It was a holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Yeah, Right.

Are you kidding? You really thought I'd write a blog post the day before a holiday weekend? The holiday weekend that happens to fall at the same time as my birthday? Yeah, right.

No, instead, I think I'll tell a parable. Once, when I was young, less that 23 young, but over 21, I went to the doctor. When I arrived at the doctor, he asked why I was there.

"I think," I said to my doctor, "that I have strep throat. It hurts to swallow, and I have a fever, and I have these white spots on the back of my tongue. See?"

My doctor then took one of those fast cultures and came back a few minutes later.

"You don't have strep," he said.
"I don't?"
"No. Here's a prescription for erythromycin."
"Erythromycin? What do I have?"
"Something else," replied my doctor.

I never saw that doctor again, because I concluded from that visit that he was a dick who couldn't stand for anyone else to be right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Evolution of Political Parties

Today's Reading is about how Israel is dissolving Parliament early, and has set early elections next year. These decisions appear to be based on yesterday's news that Ariel Sharon is leaving the Likud party over disagreements with its far-right members.

Hmmm... leaving a party because it's going too right wing, who does that remind me of?

Seriously, though - even though the article says that new parties don't usually have a history of success in Israel, it also says that polls are favorable:
Opinion polls showed the biggest gamble of Sharon's long political career could pay off, giving his new -- and so far unnamed -- party 30-33 seats in the 120-member parliament, enough to virtually assure him a third term.
I don't think that the US really can have a viable third party yet. What makes it possible in Israel and not here? Is it the popularity of Sharon? Is it the fact that Israel is a much younger country, and they've never been limited to a 2-party system, so that the concept of a new party isn't as shocking to people? Either way, when I think about all the talk of partisan politics today, I find myself wishing we could think more like Israel. With a system that had more than 2 parties supported by reasonable numbers of people, maybe less name-calling would ensue.

The more I write on this subject, the more I'm beginning to think that I'm fooling myself. Oh, well. It was a nice idea.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Enough is Enough, Already

Should I ever improbably find myself with a daughter, I'm going to raise her in a nudist colony. I don't even care about the fact that this means everyone will see my enormous butt in full detail, I'm still doing it.

That way, I never have to worry about what she wants to wear.

I cannot believe that people aren't done with this discussion, yet. Little girls spend half their time pretending to be something magical/fantastic, and the other half pretending to be a grown up woman.
The girls who dress the most outrageously are often those most starved for adult male attention, first and foremost from their fathers.
Ah. So glad I read that gem.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Carnival if the NJ Bloggers # 27

Welcome to the 27th Carnival of the NJ Bloggers.

Carnival-medium


Some people have done fancy maps. Some have done elaborate Shakespeare-style plays. Some have done links grouped up by topic. I, being the laziest of them all have selected a format: I shall list the links in the order I received them.

Joe from Joe's Journal is talking about the weather.
Janet at The Art of Getting By talks about tee shirts and thin skins.
Jim Testa over at Jersey Beat is making lemons out of lemonade.
Tata, over at Poor Impulse Control, finds herself inspired to thought by a comment she saw here. Go figure.
Kelley at Fractals of Change explains APIs and Bubble 2.0 (techie/programmer stuff).
Debbie at Barista reports on an unusual party this week.
Sharon over at The Center of New Jersey Life is happy to report that she finally wrote something she's willing to submit. :o)
Maureen writing at Jersey Writers on NJ.com gives us a review of the Musical "Jersey Boys".
Greg at Greg Gethard's Amazing Journey introduces the concept of positive heckling.
Jane at Armies of Liberation was on Al-Jazeera. I wasn't expecting that.
Snowflake at Wild Snowflake saw Bruce. That's as Jersey as it gets, sometimes.
Are there wolves in NJ? Fred at The Eternal Golden Braid thinks there are!
Shamrocketship wrote this week about bizarre dreams.
RBM at NJ Conservative brings a COAH surprise in to the open.
Mike at Ipso Facto Comic Blog has an amusing take on people who don't think about blocking their IPS for their counters.
Lou at Cinnaman talks about Nancy Pelosi.
Cripes, Suzette! has corn fritters. That sounds really good, actually.
Ken at SmadaNek talks about the price of elections.
The Jersey Shore Real Estate Bubble and a stupid rationalization.
Pre-Thanksgiving pounds and a bridal shower from Gigglechick.
Another beautiful photo from Dimitri.
Professor Kim proves that you just never know. You don't!
It finally clicks for Laughing at the Pieces.
Voting stupidity brought to light at Tammany on the Hudson.
A thought experiment in campaign financing at Xpatriated Texan.
D at "D"igital Breakfast remembers the 80's - economically.
Steve at The Opinion Mill has been listening to the callers on 101.5 again. Don't do it Steve, it just makes you crazy.
Jersey Days talked about Jack Murtha and his comments on the war.

Next weeks Carnival will be hosted by NJ's favorite funny gal, Gigglechick.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Written by Tata

A little while ago, I was exchanging emails with fellow NJ Blogger, Tata. She said that she'd been blogging to beat the band. I jokingly replied that I'd appreciate if she wrote something for me, because I was suddenly very busy with actual work. Then, I wrote the tiny post you see below this.

Well bless my buttons if she didn't actually send me something! Read on...

Send the Politicians to the Moon



Not even little things like death keep Hawking from lecturing on matters scientific.
"They had to resuscitate, and that panicked a few people," Bristol told the audience. "But he's been there before."

And speaking of being there:
What [does Stephen Hawking] think of the program to send American astronauts back to the moon? "Stupid," he answered. "Sending politicians would be much cheaper, because you don't have to bring them back."

It Seems More and More Pointless

You know, people have been telling me that there are different kinds of Muslims, and even amongst themselves they don't get along, but I don't think that anything has ever really made it this clear to me before:

Suicide bombers kill 77 in Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers strapped with explosives killed 77 people and reduced two crowded Shi'ite mosques to rubble during Friday prayers in a northeastern Iraq town, deepening the country's sectarian conflict.
Isn't bombing a place of worship a really cowardly and hateful thing to do? That's my impression, at least.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

And the Horror Continues

It took me a minute, as I was reading Pandagon, to process the words:
The continuing Shame of America. No respect for the poor and disenfranchised, even when you're dead.

On Anderson Cooper 360 last night there was a report that just makes you sick. I don't know how the clowns in the Bush Admin thought they could convince the public that they found all the bodies after this disaster. When they called off the search in October, there was such an outcry that the effort continued, but folks are coming home and finding the corpses of loved ones rotting in homes. (CNN):
The official search-and-rescue effort was called off October 3, but there was such a backlash, crews resumed searching demolished neighborhoods. They have cleared areas zip code by zip code.

There was no joy for Paul Murphy (ph) in this homecoming. When he walked into his house in New Orleans' Ninth Ward last month for the first time since Katrina, it was shock and anger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I'm thinking that, OK, I was going to come and salvage a few pictures or something. And I walk in here. I found my grandma on the floor dead.

DORNIN: Since November 1, 10 bodies have been found in the ruins of the Ninth Ward. The last area, known as the Lower Ninth, will open to residents December 1. Coroner Frank Minyard worries about what people will find.

(on camera): You're fully expecting that more bodies will come in once they open the Ninth Ward?

FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: Yes. And I think it's -- it's going to come in for a good while. There's so much rubbish around that they might find people in the rubbish. DORNIN (voice-over): They already have. And there are still many bodies left unidentified and unclaimed.

MINYARD: We have 150 autopsies left to do, all on unidentified people. Hopefully, that -- that will help us identify that person, if we can find a pacemaker or an artificial hip or something. Then we're into DNA.

DORNIN: Susan Eaton (ph) asked if she could send a DNA sample and was told DNA samples were not being accepted. Nearly 80 days after Katrina, not one DNA test has been done.

I want to cry, and throw up, and send more money. I cannot imagine why this would be this way in our country, today.

State of the Tami

I feel icky. It is so not fun to feel icky.

Still, I managed to write a short sentence and link a lot over on Running Scared.

I would also like to remind you all that my birthday is now only 10 days away. You shopping time is getting seriously short.

OK, I know, it's very cheesy to ask for presents in my blog. Thing is, last time it worked. I can't argue with results.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Splogging: Is There Money In It?

A friend pointed me at a Newsweek article today that gives us yet another new word: splogs. Splogs are spam web logs, or blogs devoted entirely to advertising that try and suck you in with misleading links. Ugh.

Of course, you know I wish that my blog was popular enough to have that kind of problem.

It's times like these that I go read books. Sure, sure, I pay money for books, but I can be pretty certain that the only thing I'll encounter within is the story I paid to read.

Do people read blogs looking to buy things? Yes, internet shopping has taken off in the way that every single market analyst predicted that it would, but are blog readers really a good target market? I don't think so. People head to the blogosphere looking for opinions. They look for validation, or a good argument. They look for news scoops and gossip. They're not looking for unrelated, unsolicited ads.
I understand that spam works on some people, but blog readers? It seems like a bad choice of a place to waste your advertising dollars.
Here's how they work: first find a subject that draws consumers who may be valuable to advertisers on Google or Yahoo, and register for the programs that let those search companies place ads on your blog. Then set up a blog that automatically sucks in items from the news (via easy-to-set-up feeds) about that subject. If you've done it right, Google's search engines will identify your blog as a prime place for a high-value ad. Then, as Sifry says, "you can pay housewives in India to sit there and click on the ads." Because programs like Google's AdSense pay out each time someone responds to the ad, it's possible to make a bundle from this.
Oh. Well, then, never mind, it's just a scam that inconveniences people looking to read actual writing. Never mind.

*sigh*

Monday, November 14, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day 2005

As a non-veteran civilian, I feel both grateful for those who are willing to lay down their lives to defend the American way of life and resentful that so often they're forced to do so based on falsehoods and poor leadership.

Today, I read Paul Krugman (via Atrios). This paragraph rang particularly true for me:
We finally reached a point where a lot of people are starting to acknowledge the obvious, which is that we were deliberately hyped into war, and a lot of defenses are coming up. People are still trying to pretend that nothing happened and it all made sense, and I felt that it was time to find a way to play how ridiculous that is.
People are starting to acknowledge the obvious. I want to know - what made them so afraid that they tried to hide their heads in the sand for so long? What did that to us?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Green, Unexpected

Admit it, when you think of hybrid cars, Ford isn't the first company you think of. That's why I was mildly surprised (it wasn't painfully shocking or anything) to see that Ford has introduced a mini-fleet of hybrid taxicabs to serve NY City. That's very cool, it's exactly the kind of driving that hybrids are good for.
The Ford hybrid sport utility vehicle gets as much as 36 miles per gallon in city driving, double the mileage of the taxi fleet's current Ford Crown Victoria model. A test model drove more than 500 miles on one tank of gas in New York, the CEO said.


I am thinking about making my next car a hybrid. Only thinking about it because the bulk of my driving is highway driving, and I wonder if I'll actually be conserving anything by owning one. I'm not nearly as green as I should be. I must fix this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

About the Weather

Having seen Lewis Black make fun of the weather channel in his stand-up act many times, this news is making laugh my butt off.

Maybe someday, if you're good, I'll tell you the story of how I forced Girl Scout cookies on the poor man one night outside the Gotham Comedy club.

If you're good.

You Know I'm Happy With It, Right?

Democrats sweep Virginia, New Jersey races
Corzine, a multimillionaire and former Wall Street executive, linked Bush and White House political adviser Karl Rove to the results of his race.

"I want to thank the people of New Jersey for rejecting the Bush-Rove tactics that are bad for democracy and that were stopped in their tracks tonight," Corzine said in his victory speech in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
Perhaps not stopped in their tracks, per se, but at least not encouraged to go any further.

No, we don't need corrupt officials who line their own pockets with state monies, but we certainly don't need officials who attack the character of others rather than provide information about the kind of job they'd do.

I know that some of my readers are frustrated that Corzine won. To you I extend an olive branch - no matter who won, we were going to have to keep our fingers crossed that the state would be taken forward in a direction that's best for all of us. Let's all hope that together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Americans Not In Favor of Torture

I cannot believe that the America of my comic book childhood dreams has come to a point where the president declares that we do not torture, and many of us do not believe him. I, as a citizen, am sickened by the idea of torture being used in the name of my country. We're supposed to be above that.

I am not alone in my outrage. There is a fine piece over at Blondesense that inspired me to write this here. It's important to write out our denouncement of torture wherever we can - at least then the people who read it will know that the attitude of superiority over citizens of other nations does not permeate all levels of American society.
We must state our objection. We must tell the world that we Americans are not tolerant of torture and cruelty. We need to have those words on every website in the blogosphere. How will they know if we donĂ‚’t tell them? If we donĂ‚’t state our case, who will? The idea of torturing human beings is not ours and we abhor such actions. We better speak up now and we must be loud. Otherwise be prepared to pay for the damages for the rest of your life.

Vote!

Everyone should vote if indeed voting is an option available to them. Voting is the way we express our opinions, and it's voting that gets us the government that the majority of us deserve. Wait - I think I just scared myself with that sentence.

Anyway, I live in New Jersey, so today I'll be voting for a new governor. I personally am supporting Jon Corzine. I've said many places that his voting record in the U.S. Senate is the kind that makes me proud that he's my Senator. Maybe you don't' agree with me, and that's fine. However you feel, you should go vote.

Don't know where your NJ polling place is? Here's a web page to help you find it.

Really, though, if you like a candidate who's proved himself a fair legislator who thinks things through and is concerned about human rights on a global scale, as well as local, Corzine's your man.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Part Party Pooper, Part Sport

Jill over at Brilliant at Breakfast has tagged me with a meme thingy. I'm enough of a sport to play along, but not enough of one to tag anybody else.

In fact, I think this is the first time I've ever been tagged with one of these thingies. OK, the rules:

  1. Go into your archives.

  2. Find your 23rd post.

  3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).

  4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

  5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.


So, I went back, and I found my 23rd post, back in September of 2004. As it turns out, I was a bit stylistic, and my fifth sentence is just a noun, and I'm not really going to count it. Instead, I'm going to put what came directly after:
I take it back, Jon, you are the political pundit voice of our generation.
I was talking about Jon Stewart. I was so right!

If You Keep Saying It

Saying something over and over doesn't automatically make it true.

Bush Says We Do Not Torture.
Bush would not confirm the existence of CIA secret prisons that The Washington Post disclosed last week and would not address demands by the International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to the suspects reportedly held at them.
This sentence makes me sad because, of course, we all know that refusing to address demands makes you look like the U.S. is a guilty bastard.
Vice President Dick Cheney has been spearheading an effort on Capitol Hill to have the CIA exempt from an amendment by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
This sentence makes me sad because it makes the U.S. look like a guilty bastard.
He said he was confident that when "people see the facts, that they'll recognize that we've got more work to do and that we've got to protect ourselves in a way that is lawful."
Just saying something over and over doesn't make it true. You have to actually carry out that behavior in order for it to be true. The disillusionment factor here continues to make me feel like someone keeps hitting me in the head with a rock. Never hard enough to knock me out, just hard enough to hurt, and they're doing it over and over.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Friday Not-My-Pet Blogging Mark VI

I am not Maurinsky, but I may as well be. Go ahead, read that (the one about it being her birthday), and replace everything about Maurinsky and her birthday with "Tami and her birthday", remove the part about the family not mentioning it, and extra underline the part about telling everyone.

My birthday is on November 26th, pretty much every year. Feel free to buy me a gift.

Now That's Outrage!

Think you're mad at the government? Not as mad as they are in France!
AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France (Reuters) - Rioters set fire to hundreds of vehicles in impoverished suburbs of northeastern Paris in an eighth night of unrest that spread for the first time to other parts of the capital and other towns in France.

...

Rioting among young men of North African and black African origin -- mostly locally born citizens who feel cheated by France's official promises of liberty, equality and fraternity -- began last week after two teenagers of African origin died while fleeing the police.
You know, I may be mad about the way the Supreme Court situation is turning out, but I promise not to set a bus on fire over it. You can count on me for this one.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Good Sources - A Guide

A bit of advice to you if you're a reporter - a reporter, not a gossip columnist - unless said ex-spouse is an expert on some non-subjective issue, talking to an ex-spouse is probably not your best idea for an interview.

Corzine's ex-wife claims he's 'compromised his ideals'
She also says his affair with Katz broke up their 33-year marriage


Once again I find myself asking "Am I the only one who...". This time I follow it up with "takes anything an ex-spouse says with a healthy dose of salt?". Is Joanne Corzine a reputable source for talking about her ex-husband's character? She talks about how her husband's relationship with another woman ended their marriage and wants me to think that she's not just talking out of hurt?
"I am not in the grasp of the bosses. Because Joanne says that I am doesn't mean it's so. I think I'll end there and I'll say that, in breakups of marriages, there's pain involved for everyone," he [Corzine] said.
Yes. Pain. When you've been one of the people in pain, talking about someone's morals probably doesn't show you in the best light.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Sounds like a Town Hall Meeting to Me

(Cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's)

Paying to the Crowd?
As Doug Forrester accepted the endorsement of a black minister on a Newark street corner yesterday, more than 100 local residents were on hand to hold up campaign signs and cheer him on.

...

According to more than half a dozen of them, they had been promised $20 apiece for their enthusiasm.

"I don't know a whole lot about who is running, but they are offering $20 and I came out to work for whoever needs help," said Sheree Baker, 50, of Newark.

Shakirah Jones, 22, also said she was promised $20 "to scream out his name, I guess."

And scream they did as Pastor Thomas Reddick praised Forrester in front of his storefront Renaissance Church of Newark. But after Forrester left on his campaign bus, many in the crowd grew angry as word spread that in order to collect they would also have to show up outside last night's radio debate at the WBGO. "We got duped!" yelled one man who declined to give his name.

One woman who asked her name not be used said, "they told us we were going to come down here for an hour and we would get paid, period. I have a family to get home to." She said she was one of dozens of people who were driven on two buses from Forrester's local campaign office in Vailsburg to the event. She said she was stranded without a ride home. Her account was echoed by three others.

Sherry Sylvester, Forrester's campaign spokeswoman, said that "about 40" local residents in Newark were paid $20 yesterday for hanging up signs, knocking on doors and putting literature in mailboxes. She said they attended the rally voluntarily.

"They were paid $20 for the work," Sylvester said. "No one was paid to attend the rally."


Ah, politics.