31 August 2004

Don't be economic girlie men!

According to the Gropeinator, happy days are here again. Anybody can be a star, well, some small miniscule number, and the rest of you all suck. And if you are affluent, no kidding, things are looking rosy.
There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people ... and faith in the U.S. economy. To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: "Don't be economic girlie men!"

The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world's major industrialized nations. Don't you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago when the critics said Japan and Germany were overtaking the U.S.? Ridiculous!

Now they say India and China are overtaking us. Don't you believe it! We may hit a few bumps — but America always moves ahead! That's what Americans do!

We move prosperity ahead. We move freedom ahead. We move people ahead. Under President Bush and Vice President Cheney, America's economy is moving ahead in spite of a recession they inherited and in spite of the attack on our homeland.

But we're going to move ahead because we're Americans and some magic will appear. And the economy is "moving ahead". Yes, hollywood movie stars. Is there anything they don't know?

Let's not forget that Bush is going to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to end a term with a net reduction in jobs, over one million gone. All the while, the traveling set that fund and keep company with Arnold, George, Dick and Ken fatten their coffers.

What, you mean you're not a CEO enjoying a 22% raise? Meanwhile, the ranks of those in poverty grew 4% and the number of Americans without health care increased 1.4 million. Nearly 1 in 5 children grow up in poverty now. I guess they're all girlie-girls and girlie-boys.

There's a Better Way

Spyware injection, unrequested popups, trojans and viruses have transformed computing from a joyous engagement into an irksome and irritating chore for many Windows users. Even though I've eschewed the platform in favor of Mac OS X, I still spend countless hours mending the contaminated machines of family and friends. Others have simply ceased their online experience because of the fear and hysteria that have resulted from the unsecure nature of running the Windows operating system and connecting to a global network.

There is a better way. For some, who have specialized software needs that only will run on the Windows platform, it may not be a viable solution. But for a majority of computer users, who mainly use their computing machine to browse the internet, organize photos, send and receive email, listen to audio, write documents, or any other typical computing task, switching to a Mac machine will definitely make your computing experience a much more pleasant one.

Writing from firsthand experience, I can proclaim that my Powerbook is the best computer I've ever owned (*knocks on wood!*) - no fretting over viruses and script kiddie attacks, no need for extensive maintenance and depositing funds into the accounts of PC doctors to rescue my hard drive and no need to endure running an inferior operating system. And it comes bundled with nifty programs and utilities right out of the box, unlike most Windows machines.

A claim repeated incessantly in the PC press is how expensive Macs are, but they really arn't if a suitable comparison is made on the total cost of ownership. Also, resale values for Mac machines remain high, years after initial purchase. I discovered this when I decided to try using a Mac, and first ventured onto online auctions to see if I could pick up a used machine at a discounted price before buying new. Surprisingly, I found that such machines were still selling at a rather high price, whereas comparable PCs were selling at a fraction of that.

So, bottom line, are PCs cheaper than Macs? No, despite what you read in the PC press, it's the other way around. Compare Apples to apples, and Macs are cheaper than PCs.

30 August 2004

The story of Congressman Ed Schrock

While festivities get started at the Republican convention in New York a Republican congressman in Virginia exits his post after startling revealations surface.
Congressman Ed Schrock has made a habit of rendezvousing with gay men via the MegaMates/ MegaPhone Line, an interactive telephone service on which men place ads and respond to those ads to meet each other. What makes this story more amazing? Congressman Schrock not only voted for the homophobic Marriage Protection Act, but he also signed on as a CO-SPONSOR of the Federal Marriage Amendment!

Ed Schrock has a voting record that the most right wing conservative would be proud of. The Christian Coalition gave him a 92% rating in their 2003 voting guide.

Other news outlets have been less forthright on the ScHrOCKING news, failing to note the content of the allegations behind his resignation.

If you can stomach it, here is the audio of a phone call Schrock made in one his rendezvous attempts.

Your legislators hard at work.

29 August 2004

We don't support that

Folks are growing increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of tech support received. For an understanding of why the sordid state of technical support, check out this in-depth look at tech support center from the vantage point of the tech support worker himself.
When we pick up the phone we're lying. We don't really work for the company we say we work for. Because of the expense of housing and running a technical support operation, many computer manufacturers choose to outsource the work. We work for one such outsourcer, though you'd never know it just to talk to us. To the customer on the other end of the line the distinction, while important, is invisible.

Outsourcers are paid by the computer manufacturer based on the number of calls they handle. The more calls we take, the more the outsourcer is paid. So naturally everything that happens in this vast carpeted warehouse of cubicles is done with an eye toward speed. Our managers stress something called "average call time," which is simply the average amount of time a tech spends on each call. They want us to be under 12 minutes. Our phones monitor our ability to reach this magic number as well as the total number of calls we take, the number of times we ask for help, how much time we take between calls, even the amount of time we spend in the restroom. In short, your phone is always watching you.

It seems silly to use "average call time" as the absolute barometer of technician effectiveness – isn't it obvious that "givers" and "punters" (those call responders who are gifted in passing the problem off by claiming it's something else to blame) are rewarded, yet the truly qualified who are the most helpful will be penalized in such a structure? Then throw in offshoring workers to foreign locales – introducing a language barrier into the process, and there you have one messed up deal.

28 August 2004

They gave us a story which obviously wasn't correct

Man falls out of pickup truck, gets run over, then his body is unceremoniously and secretly dropped off at a hospital 20 miles away after his workmates swap vehicles.
Landscaper Hermanejildo R. Sanchez, 33, was standing in the bed of the truck operated by Future Landscaping in a neighborhood near Warner and Lindsay roads about 2 p.m. Thursday, according to Gilbert police spokesman Mike Angstadt.

The trailer rolled over him, causing severe lacerations and internal injuries.

The driver, Juan Hernandez Flores, drove back to the landscaping company's headquarters in Tempe and put Sanchez into another truck, police said.

Two men not yet identified by officers then took Sanchez to Scottsdale Healthcare-Osborn, where he was pronounced dead.

I was unable to find an business address for Future Landscaping so that journey to deliver the body may have been a lot longer. But if they didn't want their identities known, they probably don't want anybody else besides paying customers to be able to get hold of them.

It's no secret why the attempt to remain anonymous. It is what happens after initial illegal actions. Issuing drivers licenses isn't going to help either. Nor, is a enlistment, er guest worker program.

27 August 2004

If anti-Bush protests turn violent at the Republican National Convention in New York next week, it will surely doom Sen. John Kerry to defeat

At least according to a prevailing consensus of media pundits, including KFNX Charles Goyette, where it is reasoned that pandemonium in New York next week will lead to a Bush victory in November. Cited as historical reference is the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago where such battles between protestors and police shocked the nation and resulted in a Nixon triumph. But a closer look reveals a media myth:
As often is the case in such distant matters, a little research shows that this is plain bunk. Humphrey actually gained in the polls immediately following the convention.

According to Gallup Poll data, in a national survey taken Aug. 7-12, 1968, before the Chicago convention, Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon easily led Humphrey (who was expected to get his party's nod later that month in Chicago) by 38.5% to 26%, with the third-party candidate, Gov. George Wallace, grabbing 16.7%.

So what did the Gallup survey taken on Aug. 30 of that year, immediately after the Chicago convention, with the protestor/police riots still fresh in the public's mind, show? Humphrey actually gained support, with Nixon steady at 38.2%, Humphrey up to 28.7% and Wallace at 19.5%.

Humphrey actually received a 3% boost from the convention.
» read more

26 August 2004

A slap in the face of our constitutional rights

Protesters denied the right to protest in New York's Central Park, even despite a majority of New Yorkers in favor, although protesters shouldn't need a majority to exercise their right to free speech that is supposed to be guaranteed by the first amendment.
A new poll says 71 percent of the city's registered voters think protesters should be allowed to demonstrate in Central Park during the Republican National Convention, and 11 percent plan to go to a demonstration themselves.

And denying the right to protest because of potential damage to the grass? Yet, Paul Simon, Garth Brooks and Pope John Paul II were permitted to hold concerts and mass there. What a weak excuse for trampling all over the first amendment.

23 August 2004

Depleted uranium: Dirty bombs, dirty missiles, dirty bullets

Geoscientist and whistle blower Leuren Moret was a guest on KFNX Charles Goyette program today, along with Captain Joyce Riley to discuss the danger of depleted uranium and Moret's recent article on the matter.
This week the American Free Press dropped a “dirty bomb” on the Pentagon by reporting that eight out of 20 men who served in one unit in the 2003 U.S. military offensive in Iraq now have malignancies. That means that 40 percent of the soldiers in that unit have developed malignancies in just 16 months.

Since these soldiers were exposed to vaccines and depleted uranium (DU) only, this is strong evidence for researchers and scientists working on this issue, that DU is the definitive cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Vaccines are not known to cause cancer. One of the first published researchers on Gulf War Syndrome, who also served in 1991 in Iraq, Dr. Andras Korényi-Both, is in agreement with Barbara Goodno from the Department of Defense’s Deployment Health Support Directorate, that in this war soldiers were not exposed to chemicals, pesticides, bioagents or other suspect causes this time to confuse the issue.

This powerful new evidence is blowing holes in the cover-up perpetrated by the Pentagon and three presidential administrations ever since DU was first used in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War. Fourteen years after the introduction of DU on the battlefield in 1991, the long-term effects have revealed that DU is a death sentence and very nasty stuff.

Some more statistics on the reported epidemic:

Just 467 U.S. personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are dead, and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. This astounding number of disabled vets means that a decade later, 56 percent of those soldiers who served now have medical problems.

The number of disabled vets reported up to 2000 has been increasing by 43,000 every year. Brad Flohr of the Department of Veterans Affairs told American Free Press that he believes there are more disabled vets now than even after World War II.

20 August 2004

Limbaugh drew an extended "analogy" between Tom Daschle and Satan

KFNX John Dayl has been devoting a good bit of his show to calling out the host in the time slot preceding his shift. A theme repeated is his mocking Dr. Newcomb and/or Newcomb's callers for disparaging GW Bush and Bush supporters. Thursday evening, a caller challenged him by pointing out that liberals have been dealing with such name calling and rhetoric for some time from many of the prominent right wing radio and television talk show hosts. Dayl refuted that, and asked for proof.

Well, I could write entire volumes on the matter, but here's one incident that leaped to mind regarding a popular right wing host who recently drew the wrath of Flordia officials for a drug addiction problem.

How many different versions of Satan, the devil, have you seen in your life? I mean, the comic book devil with the red face and the horns, seen that one. We've seen the Satanic devil of the horror films. We've seen the devil portrayed as just an average man, a human being, in the movie "Rosemary's Baby". We've seen the comic devil of TV shows. We've even seen the smooth, tempting devil in Hollywood moves. Is Tom Daschle simply another way to portray a devil?...

Consider another radio talker, who has written a book titled Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism.

If Dayl really takes umbrage at Dr. Newcomb's on air diatribes, perhaps he should arrange a debate and address his complaints mano to mano. I listen to all the local talk shows, and Dr. Newcomb consistently permits dissenting viewpoints, allowing opposing callers to speak their piece, except perhaps in the show's last segments, where he tries to jam in as many calls as possible. Mr. Dayl's remarks are totally off the mark, as on most other shows (of which most all are of a conservative bent), callers with differing views than the host are fodder for the host's own soapbox. Unless a screener determines that they would make an easy target for the host to denounce. I don't get that vibe from Dr. Newcomb's show whatsoever.
» read more

19 August 2004

If you or yours are in a position to help Outlaw Joe in the future, then you probably don't have to worry about going to Tent City

For the privileged, there's a different standard employed by Sheriff Arpaio when it comes to incarceration of lawbreakers.
We all know how Joe Arpaio serves up justice to average schmucks. He proudly shows no mercy. He subjects them to the vilest of conditions. Death and injuries often result.

But it's a different story for the rich and powerful.

If you're the daughter of Jerry Colangelo or Glen Campbell, you don't go to Tent City, you get to stay at the "Mesa Hilton".

Several law enforcement sources tell me that Mandie reported to Joe's secret jail. Maricopa County detention officers call it the "Mesa Hilton." I call it the Glen Campbell Unit -- in honor of the country singer who spent 10 cushy days there in July before throwing his Tent City concert that garnered Outlaw Joe worldwide publicity.

Arpaio claimed to have shuttered the small Mesa jail several years ago. There's a sign on the front door telling visitors that the facility is closed. But the truth is, Arpaio uses the Mesa jail to house those who can either scratch his back themselves or get it scratched.

Mandie, my sources say, was allowed to bring her cell phone and her own meals into the jail, which is air-conditioned, quiet and safe. She was allowed to leave the jail each day for up to 12 hours to attend to work and to her children. Campbell had a similar arrangement.

18 August 2004

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

The quadrennial question.
Watching the presidential campaign unfold, I fear that something Ronald Reagan, David Gergen and I did 24 years ago may have armed Senator John Kerry with a potentially lethal rhetorical weapon. While helping Mr. Reagan prepare for his debate with President Jimmy Carter, we came up with what was probably the most devastating line Mr. Reagan used against Mr. Carter: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Perhaps a better question is whether or not the next four years under Bush or Kerry will be better or not for your children.

17 August 2004

They should all be embarrassed

Editors for these newspapers all over the country, who published an automated Republican chain letter piece as a "letter to the editor".
The GW04 site has handy templates for letters to the editor. See the top one on the list:
New job figures and other recent economic data show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger - and that the President's jobs and growth plan is working. The Labor Department announced that employers added 288,000 new jobs in April. In total, over 1.1 million jobs have been added since August, with 8 consecutive months of gains.

Now google that entire phrase, and see the results. About 60 newspapers have run that letter, sent by GOP automatons too stupid to vary the wording even a tiny bit.

Some people say there is a liberal media bias, yet legions of printed newspapers served as RNC lapdogs. Or is it just a question of incompetence, or loathsome laziness? I cannot fathom of editors, or checkers, or whoever serves in the blessing role, who are completely ignorant of internet search mechanics.

14 August 2004

Astonishing inside look at the day-to-day world of al-Qaeda

Inside Al-Qaeda's hard drives, according to a journalist who ended up purchasing computers formerly owned by Al-Qaeda and copied the contents before turning them over to the CIA in Afghanistan.
Perhaps one of the most important insights to emerge from the computer is that 9/11 sprang not so much from al-Qaeda's strengths as from its weaknesses. The computer did not reveal any links to Iraq or any other deep-pocketed government; amid the group's penury the members fell to bitter infighting. The blow against the United States was meant to put an end to the internal rivalries, which are manifest in vitriolic memos between Kabul and cells abroad. Al-Qaeda's leaders worried about a military response from the United States, but in such a response they spied opportunity: they had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and they fondly remembered that war as a galvanizing experience, an event that roused the indifferent of the Arab world to fight and win against a technologically superior Western infidel. The jihadis expected the United States, like the Soviet Union, to be a clumsy opponent. Afghanistan would again become a slowly filling graveyard for the imperial ambitions of a superpower.

Like the early Russian anarchists who wrote some of the most persuasive tracts on the uses of terror, al-Qaeda understood that its attacks would not lead to a quick collapse of the great powers. Rather, its aim was to tempt the powers to strike back in a way that would create sympathy for the terrorists. Al-Qaeda has so far gained little from the ground war in Afghanistan; the conflict in Iraq, closer to the center of the Arab world, is potentially more fruitful. As Arab resentment against the United States spreads, al-Qaeda may look less like a tightly knit terror group and more like a mass movement. And as the group develops synergy in working with other groups branded by the United States as enemies (in Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Kashmir, the Mindanao Peninsula, and Chechnya, to name a few places), one wonders if the United States is indeed playing the role written for it on the computer.

11 August 2004

2004 Republican National Convention Schedule

Leaked out and now propagated all over the internet…

6:00 PM Opening Prayer, led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell
6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd amendment)
6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing
6:46 PM Seminar #1: Getting your kid a military deferment
7:30 PM First Presidential Beer Bong
7:35 PM Serve Freedom Fries
7:40 PM EPA Address #1: Mercury, it's what's for dinner
8:00 PM Vote on which country to invade next
8:10 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh
8:15 PM John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos are after your children
8:30 PM Roundtable discussion on reproductive rights (MEN only)
8:50 PM Seminar #2: Corporations: the government of the future
9:00 PM Condi Rice sings "I Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"
9:05 PM Second Presidential Beer Bong
9:10 PM EPA Address #2 Trees: the real cause of forest fires
9:30 PM Break for secret meetings
10:00 PM Second prayer, led by Cal Thomas
10:15 PM Lecture by Carl Rove: Doublespeak made easy
10:30 PM Rumsfeld demonstration: How to squint and talk macho
10:35 PM Bush demonstration of trademark deer-in-headlights stare
10:40 PM John Ashcroft demonstrates new mandatory Kevlar chastity belt
10:45 PM Clarence Thomas reads list of black republicans
10:46 PM Third Presidential Beer Bong
10:50 PM Seminar #3: Education: a drain on our nation's economy
11:10 PM Hilary Clinton Pinata
11:20 PM Second John Ashcroft Lecture: Evolutionists: the dangerous new cult
11:30 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again
11:35 PM Blame Clinton
11:40 PM Laura serves milk and cookies
11:50 PM Closing Prayer, led by Jesus Himself
12:00 AM Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Overlord

10 August 2004

You don't go hunting for deer with a tank

Unless you're the MCSO. Yes, time for another entry in the Sheriff Joe watch log…
In less than 30 minutes, Arpaio's special forces unleashed an unprecedented wave of violence on this quiet community. Consider this:

  • Just after the tear gas canisters were shot, a fire erupted and destroyed a $250,000 home plus all the contents inside. (The home's occupants believe the tear gas canisters caused the fire. Phoenix fire officials say the blaze was probably started by a lighted candle that was knocked onto a bed during the confusion.)

  • The armored personnel carrier careened down the street and smashed into a parked car after its brakes failed.

  • And in the ultimate display of cruelty, a SWAT team member drove a dog trying to flee the home back into the inferno, where it met an agonizing death.

    Deputies then reportedly laughed as the dog's owners came unglued as it perished in the blaze.

  • Good Gates, I wonder how much this is going to cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County…

    3 August 2004

    How to Win my Vote

    After penning my last piece, I sought to discover how the candidates in my Congressional district felt about the issue. Republican Rick Murphy's campaign to unseat incumbant Trent Franks seems to be motivated purely by intense dissatisfaction with Franks. And he is on target, considering that it was once the seat of Bob Stump, who did Arizona conservatives proud. Bob Stump fought the good fight for American high tech workers:
    The government has identified fraud in the program and there is no compelling evidence of a labor shortage. High-tech firms laid off more than 140,000 Americans last year while simultaneously lobbying Congress to increase the H-IB cap. I am also troubled by reports of age discrimination against middle-aged American computer programers. I believe the high demand reflects a preference for foreign workers and the cheaper foreign labor H-1B visa holders represent.

    Franks has sold out to corporate interests, as his vote for the flawed Medicare prescription drug program indicates, at least according to Mr. Murphy.

    What about the Democratic contenders?

    Gene Scharer is on the right page but he wasn't even mentioned in a recent Arizona Republic district 2 Democrat roundup endorsement.

    Globalization is indeed a fact of life and our participation in NAFTA and the WTO has contributed to this situation. The jury is still out on whether or not globalization will ever hold any benefits for Americans. However, it is clear that in the short-run we have a huge and growing negative balance of trade and that jobs are now one of our biggest exports. We have been losing manufacturing jobs to Central and South America and Asia for some time and wages and benefits in the U.S. have been depressed by it. The latest trend is to move professional and financial services to India where there is a large, well-educated, English-speaking population who are willing to work for about one-fourth the pay. Adding insult to injury, the IRS is now outsourcing the processing of our tax returns to India. While we have been asked to show our patriotism by flying the flag, many American corporations and our GOP-controlled Congress have shown no allegiance to us.

    I suppose talk like Scharer's can get you banned from the anti-Democratic Arizona Republic. Gannett and company said nice things about Larry Coor but deemed him unelectable. You can even register to post on his blog. I sent Randy Camacho a web form generated query message mail deal, but his web site in turn presented me an error page, so I am uncertain if the message will reach its destination. I sent Trent Franks one too, but I doubt he'll personally see it.

    Libertarian Powell Gammill needs to work on that website. It's devoid of data and looking circa 1996.

    How do the candidates in your district stand on all of the issues?

    It's just one issue, and by no means will it serve as the litmus test to earn my vote. For any of the candidates, be they local or national. For national candidates, economic issues are of paramount importance, but national defense and freedom from tyranny are major issues too. In the coming days I'm going explore the candidates and where they fit on the scales.
    » read more

    2 August 2004

    American High Tech Talent

    Why should we go offshore to replace American workers and deny new university graduates opportunity? There are many here in the United States that could fill those jobs and perform as successfully minus the inefficiency of added bureaucracy and tangled communciations.

    An Arizona Republic editorial [1] argues that we don't have enough engineers and computer scientists here in America, and employers must seek skilled workers overseas and bring them here. This despite a doubling in the unemployment rate of Information Technology workers [2] and a decrease in the number of positions. Cited in support of this anti-worker stance is a lobbyist institution identified by the antonymic Compete America [3], which was formerly known as American Business for Legal Immigration [4]. A business lobby outfit hired to make a pro immigration case to suit desire for cheaper labor costs.

    It was with outrage I read the Gannett pronouncement. The Arizona Republic might not be so Republican anymore, but they're certainly not Democratic or worker friendly either. At work, I am surrounded by hundreds of temporary visa workers – all the while American information technology workers are being axed. Our positions are sent offshore to Asian or other third world locales, or they are supplanted by imported guest visa workers. Signs are posted around the building and written not in English, but in Hindi or Hindustani or some other variant.

    Noted in the editorial is the decline in science and engineering graduate students. First, what message does it send to our youth when they witness the career fates of their parents and older friends – why it is advantageous to select an alternate career path where outsourcing or less costly imported immigrants is not as prevalent. Oh yes, anybody can achieve the dream, but you better be in the top 10% of your class. Is that the way studying at law school or medical school works? But this argument is subterfuge anyway. The bulk of H-1B visas granted are not for the wonderous and truly gifted foreigners but instead go to entry level workers no more skilled than someone from a domestic technical school training program or even a self motivated study. The vast majority of worker visas are not given to wonderous talents [5]. Even if the education level was measured to be equivalent, there still is the question of resume credibility, with the lack of verification for offshore educational background and references.
    » read more