Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pilot of the Airwaves

I know a little about radios, and I'm sure I could learn more if I applied myself.

How much money do you think is in reading government RFID chips remotely?
The story seems simple enough. An outside privacy and security advisory committee to the Department of Homeland Security penned a tough report concluding the government should not use chips that can be read remotely in identification documents. But the report remains stuck in draft mode, even as new identification cards with the chips are being announced.
I mean, I know that selling government secrets to foreign agencies is treason and all, but who can resist a quick buck?

I, more than most people, understand the value of working around testing and reports to actually get some work done, but ignoring security warnings seems so... pig headed. Yes. That's the phrase I'm looking for. Maybe "deliberately wearing blinders" can be worked in - that's a good one, too.

Monday, October 30, 2006

An Email Conversation With a Friend

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 11:09 AM
To: Tami
Subject: meat

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat's? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."
-- Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali, Australia's subsequently-suspended-from-preaching top Islamic cleric, on immodestly dressed women


I suppose it's not his fault that he's been raised to be an ignorant, sexist f***pig. If a feminist comes along and kills him, is it the fault of the feminist, or the sexist f***pig?

You know what has to happen there? An outbreak of violent, same-sex rapes. When men like this are accosted sexually on the street, maybe they'll start to understand the inhumanity of it all.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sadness Near Me

Today I found out that the son of someone here at work was recently killed in action while on a tour of duty in Iraq. I don't really know the dad all that well, but my heart is breaking for him.

Last Saturday night I was the one at the party who made my gung-ho for war friends shut up. They were talking about military strategy, and I couldn't argue that their theories were sound of you want to win a war, but, I told them, I just couldn't get past the fact that every single soldier is a person, and they all have moms. I wouldn't want to be the mom of a soldier who died, it would break my heart. I'm sure I didn't change their minds, but at least they had the decency to stop sounding so bloodthirsty. I'm also sure that they went back to talking about it after I was gone.

I know that I'm a wuss, and that projecting my own emotions onto something so much bigger than just me is incredibly over-sensitive, but if you can't do that, if you can't imagine yourself in someone else's place, then you can't make the most informed decision. Understanding how war affects the people involved is a crucial part of whether or not war is worth it. Isn't it?

It should be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Damn Straight!

New Jersey court recognizes same-sex unions

New Jersey is one of only five U.S. states with neither a law nor a state constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage. As a result, the state is more likely than others to allow gays to wed, said advocacy groups on both sides.
I, for one, will not be satisfied until gay marriage is legal, because I think the whole concept of it being illegal is stupid - and you know I hate stupid things. I've written about it before, and I still mean it.

Google Bomb

What can I say, I'm a joiner.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Party Lines

Republicans losing crucial swing voters: poll
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Independent voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats to take over the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 7 election and back them on major issues, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said on Monday.
Ah, so the Democrats' day has come, has it? Know what I say to that?

So what.

I am sick and tired of people acting like political party affiliation equates with morality or honesty or integrity. It does not, people. The day that each voter sees that each candidate is an individual worth considering or discarding on only his/her merit, and merit alone will be the day that we have achieved the best government possible.

Until then, we're stuck with what we vote blindly in along party lines.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fair Weather Friends

I popped over to the Opinion Mill today, to catch up, and I found a bit about how Rutgers football is not the money maker people think it can/will be.

I come from a Rutgers family. Since the early 1900's (1910, maybe?), members of the Feller/Haimovitz/Yaches clan have been going to Rutgers. My dad, the biggest Rutgers fan of them all, counted the Rutgers attendees among us once; he stopped after 30 graduates. I have a late cousin who is rumored to be buried at the site of the new stadium (yeah, I know, it's not that new) because he loved Rutgers so much. Every time one of my family members, dead or alive, is mentioned in the Rutgers Alumni magazine, my dad shows it to me with glee.

Now, I'm not one of the clan who's been bitten by the Rutgers Loyalty Bug. I mean, I'm fine with the fact that I went there, it's a good school, but I don't really care whether the Rutgers teams win - at anything - or not. Now that they're winning, though, I find that way more people than I ever recall mentioning the teams before CARE. I've seen more than three scarlet "R" magnets on the backs of cars on route 287 in the past 3 days. I never saw any of them that weren't on campus or on my dad's car before.

Posers. Real fans show their allegiance even when the team sucks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Random Thoughts for a Wednesday

This morning, I walked into my living room and found my cat on my couch - my velvet couch - doing the "I'm going to throw up" dance, which consists of shoulder hunching an gagging noises. I leapt into action, grabbed the cat, and held her over a plastic bag I grabbed out of a nearby wastebasket. The cat obligingly threw up right on to the bag (despite the fact that I could tell she didn't want to), and I was able to just scoop up the bag and re-throw it away, avoiding a much more disgusting clean-up job. I sat down on the un-violated couch and thought, "If only I could have done that with people who voted for Bush. The mess would be so much smaller with Gore".

No really, I actually thought that.

And, of course, I was riveted to Dancing With the Stars last night. Watched the whole Sara Evans interview, which was actually a little more candid than I expected, but still not exactly hard-hitting journalism. I noticed that she was sitting in a very reclined position with her hands linked across her stomach every single time her lower body was on camera. I'm telling you people, the announcement of a new baby is on the way.

Still don't know why I care, as I've never listened to a single one of her songs.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How Simple Are We

I was thinking, as I was reading "Faces that could launch thousands of votes - Will beauty gap swing the House?" that perhaps I would name it "Stupidest story of the day". I was remembering the episode of Laverne & Shirley where Laverne was being interviewed by a T.V. reporter about her opinion of the Nixon/JFK debate. Laverne focused mainly on how she liked JFK better because Nixon was altogether too sweaty. It was a joke, it was intended to make us laugh. How absurd, I thought, that someone would base their vote on looks alone!
"He is pretty good-looking," observed Paula Ferrin with admiration, as the 47-year-old district attorney worked the crowd at a local senior center.
"What we want is brains, honey," scolded her friend Rose Oliver.

"True," Ferrin answered, "but handsome doesn't hurt."
Ah. Handsome doesn't hurt. That's when I realized that there's a basic truth: humans are, by nature, shallow. Nothing like bright colors or shiny objects to catch our attention, whether or not the item in question can hold that attention. If marketing didn't work, people wouldn't have jobs doing it. So all right, I rescind my earlier declaration of "stupid". I do wonder, though, why I get email alerts about this, but not about, say, an earthquake in Oklahoma, or even one in Maine. (hat tip, Cookie Jill, who told me what MSNBC didn't.)

I pondered this for a little while, and then it came to me - our brains hit overload levels and beg for relief. That's got to be it. After thinking about North Korea and their "Nuclear tests" and Mark Foley liking much younger men (how polite a way to put it is that?), or about the national debt, that I care about my soap opera, I care about pop culture.

I'm avidly watching the gossip news about Sara Evans wondering when the heck someone besides me is going to say out loud that my goodness, that woman is pregnant! She just seems awfully thick in the waist to me for someone who's in the spotlight all the time, not to mention someone who's going through the physical rigors of learning ballroom dance. No one gets heavier around the middle during that.

I'm sure I lose points as an intellectual for caring about this crap.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We're All Idiots

We're stupid about science, and we're stupid about politics.

If you personally are not stupid, then good, good for you. The rest of us, though, are just complete idiots.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Morality Has Left the Building

How the hell am I supposed to support any politician in this world when all the people who actually run for office seem to be hiding a seedy underside to their lives? I am equally as disgusted by the illicit conversations between Mark Foley and an underage page as I am by the inappropriate appointment of Golan Cipel by McGreevey. I could list dozens and dozens of infractions on both sides, but for brevity's sake, I'm going to stop with just these 2 examples.

Have I mentioned that I'm still stunned by the fact that McGreevey never got in any kind of real trouble for his shady dealings? As much as I don't think that your sexuality or your personal life really matters to me when you're a politician, anything you do that's illegal always does.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

When the wind blows and the rain feels cold
with a head full of snow

I read an interview of George Clooney a year or two ago in a doctor's office. I don't remember the magazine in which the interview was published, but I do remember Clooney said something I liked. He said, "Always do the right thing, because if you do, it won't come back and bite you on the ass."

Dennis Hastert and his fellow Republican Representatives didn't do the right thing and now it is biting them on the ass. It had to take a big bite to affect Hastert's position, because that's an awfully big ass, but covering up a sexual predator's attempts to seduce children seems to have taken a big enough bite to leave a mark.

The immediate response from Hastert and his co-conspirators in the cover-up has been to lie and deny, which is so typical in these situations it is a cliche. In this case there were just too many people involved in this scandal for it to remain quiet, the fall guys aren't taking the fall silently, and the crime is so dirty it is threatening to take a lot of folks down with it, folks who won't drown without grabbing at anything that looks like it might float, even if it means drowing someone else.

And that, dear Tamionians, is where today's revelations bring us.

Kirk Fordham, a former aide to disgraced ex-Representative Mark Foley (R-FL), who resigned "Wednesday amid allegations that he tried to protect Foley from congressional inquiries into his inappropriate contact with congressional pages" is not keeping his mouth shut and being a good little boy about all of this. Fordham says that he warned Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about Foley's sexual predation three years ago. He says that Palmer talked to Foley about it.

Palmer and Hastert's spokesperson Ron Bonjean deny it.

Representatives Shimkus (R-IL) and Reynolds (R-NY) say they talked to Hastert about Foley's relationship with the pages in 2005 and Hastert says he doesn't remember those conversations.

We now have way too many denials from Hastert for his story to remain credible. It appears a lot of people were telling Hastert that there was a problem and Hastert is denying everything.

Although Fordham's story has changed at least once during all of this, it's not hard to see why. The cover-up habit is probably as hard to break as smoking if covering up worked at some point. My take is that Fordham realized he had nowhere to go with this if he didn't come clean, so now he's trying to redeem himself with truth. He's already lost his job and there's not much else to lose. What supports his story is, in fact, that Hastert is denying the statements of multiple people, all of whom said they talked to Hastert about the problem.

All of which comes back to what Clooney said. There were a number of people who didn't do the right thing here. Hastert and Fordham covered up Foley's behavior. Reynolds and Shimkus claim to have told Hastert about it and left it at that, but neither of them took any responsibility for it. It was like they said, "This is your problem, deal with it or don't." But if you see a crime being committed and you tell a cop, and the cop doesn't do anything, do you consider your responsibility to be over? Wouldn't you phone it in to the station if the cop did nothing? And Reynolds and Shimkus aren't just ordinary citizens. They are members of the House of Representatives. You expect a greater sense of responsibility and leadership from them. One of their own was preying upon high school kids. Hastert wasn't the only one who didn't do the right thing; several Representatives failed those kids, their parents, and their constitutents. They all deserve to be bitten on the ass for it.

(cross-posted from Blanton's and Ashton's, where cheese is more than a food; it's a way to touch the face of god.)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Astrology Amusement

Today my horoscope amuses me:
You are a very knowledgeable person, TAMI. In general, women born under Sagittarius are staunch ideologists, and when this tendency is mixed with their more masculine side, it gives them a very black and white way of expressing their opinions. It's often as if what they are saying is always the God's honest truth. Today's celestial energy could help you to be a little more flexible and tolerant in your relations with other people.
Sure. I'll be more flexible and tolerant. As if. I am always amused, though, when part of my horoscope is actually accurate.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Morality Quiz Question

I think that the "terror" part of the word "terrorist" affects peoples brains in a much more dramatic way than they could ever expect. As an example of this effect, I pose the following question: who is more dangerous - a serial killer, or a suicide bomber?