Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The loss of privacy

Nothing is more scary that corporate america having access to every piece of info on you as the following video from the ACLU shows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Sorry about the extended absence. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my girlfriend's parents in Phoenix (mid-70 degree temps as opposed to mid-30's). Phoenix's slogan: A strip mall on every block. I couldn't live in Phoenix for the simple fact that everything looks the same. Thank god the streets are numbered or else it would be way to easy to get lost.

P.S. Being that getting from Philly to Phoenix generally requires flying - my question is when did flying become so bargain basement? US (Sc)Air is essentially Greyhound with wings. They pack you in like sardines, don't give you food even on extended flights. I read some place where even pillows might become a thing of the past.

I don't know about you, but it worries me when airlines start pinching pennies (does this saying mean anything to those outside the U.S.?)

No confidence

You've got to love a country where the leaders can be voted out by a no confidence vote. How can we get a parlimentary style government here in the U.S. My Canadien friends: I envy you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What hell am I in? Eagles vs. Cowboys hell

Very rarely do I give in to my urge to post about sports. I did not post about the Terrell Owens situation. I didn't post about my beloved but enigmatic Phillies missing the playoffs yet again. I haven't even posted about the Sixers and their five game winning streak. Monday night's football was just too much for me to ignore.

I've been in a deep state of denial for 2 days now. The Eagles couldn't have lost that way. Two touchdowns in a 21 second span to lose the game. Here are my thoughts post the game:

  • Anyone who knows me knows that I have gone out of my way to support Donovan McNabb. He's been treated shabbily by the fans in Philadelphia from the day he was drafted. That said, if he were to retire today his legacy would be one of throwing interceptions at the worst possible time. I can't continue to ignore this. He has gone from being the next incarnation of Brett Favre to being the next Vinny Testaverde. Here are examples of his bad timing
    • Throwing an interception to end our last gasp versus St. Louis in the 2001 NFC Championship Game
    • Throwing an interception to end another last gasp versus Tampa Bay in the 2002 NFC Championship Game
    • Sunday Night football this year versus Washington throwing an interception to end the game while driving to win it
    • And finally Monday night's interception versus the Cowboys where just holding on to the ball means you win the game
  • Andy Reid made a gutless call to kick a field goal from the 3 to make the score 20-7. He should have run the ball 4 straight times and if they didn't get the TD, Dallas would have gotten the ball at no better than the 3 yard line. In a season where Tampa coach John Gruden and Kansas City Coach Dick Vermeil made decisions to go for winning touchdowns with no time left on the clock, Reid's decision here shows no confidence in either the defense or offense. Weak.
  • Too many people are ignoring the Eagle's defense in assigning blame. Allowing the Cowboys to score in under 40 seconds by going into the "prevent" defense is the same thing that got former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator fired when his defense allowed the Eagles to convert a 4 and 26 and lose a playoff game as a result.
  • Andy Reid needed to play coach and remove Donovan McNabb after the interception. If he hadn't gone back in, and Mike McMahon was given the ball with more time, they could have gone ahead. As it was, he gave Mcnabb one more drive when he was obviously hurt. Mcnabb is never going to pull himself from a game.
I could go on forever on this. The game on Monday is about the most devastated a regular season game has ever left me. It put a nail in the coffin on the Eagles' season which means another team season without a championship for Philadelphia. This makes 88 team seasons without a championship.

What in the world did we do to deserve this hell?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Top Artists of the week - 11/13/2005

My top 10 artists for the week of 11/6-13

  1. Michael Penn
  2. Calexico
  3. Sufjan Stevens
  4. Broken Social Scene
  5. Mull Historical Society
  6. The Rosebuds
  7. Ambulance LTD
  8. Franz Ferdinand
  9. Danger Doom
  10. Spoon
Compiled by Audioscrobbler

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The comic stylings of Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson is at it again. If you haven't heard - Dover, PA, the town that has made news because of its "Intelligent Design" addition to science classes, voted out 8 of the 9 school board members that supported the addition.

Well now Pat Robertson has warned that Dover will suffer god's wrath for rejecting god from their town. A friend of mine said that Christians can be the least Christ-like people you'd want to meet. This is a great example.

On related note - I got a chuckle falling asleep to South Park last night and then waking up to find out that the 700 Club is on the same station in the morning. Seems like this station needs to pick a side. Anyway South Park is more intelligent that Pat Roberston on their worst day.

A picture worth 1000 words

I promised Merujo that I'd post this picture. It's at the Metroplex in Conshy and if you can't tell why it's funny - read it out loud.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Grenades do what?

There used to be a Darwin Awards email that would make the rounds every year and this has got to be a leading candidate this year. My favorite part and quote of the year winner "It was not clear why the grenade exploded." Uhm - it's a fucking grenade - I'm just guessing that that is what they are designed to do. Also when I hear 2 youths I'm thinking 8 or 9 years old; at 19 and 20 maybe it should have said "Two morons aged 19 and 20..." As my mom would say "They should have known better"

Here's the story:

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - A hand grenade being used instead of a ball in a game of catch exploded early on Saturday killing three youths in this Bosnian town, police and news agencies said.

Two youths aged 19 and 20, one of them from neighboring Croatia, were killed instantly while a 20-year-old woman died on her way to hospital, police said. Her sister was slightly injured but two other youths suffered serious injuries.

The blast occurred at 2:00 a.m. in the western town of Novi Grad at a place in the town center frequented by youngsters. Police said an inquiry was under way and declined further comment. It was not clear why the grenade exploded.

ONASA news agency quoted witnesses as saying the youths tossed the hand grenade to each other before it exploded in the hands of one of them.

Bosnia is awash with illegal weapons left over from the 1992-95 war and tragic incidents are frequent despite several successful campaigns by international peacekeepers and police to get people to hand over illegal weapons.

Click here to read on Yahoo

Monday, November 07, 2005

West Wing "The Debate"

I just read this post on Television Without Pity and to a tee it sums up my thoughts about last night's West Wing episode:

I really wanted to like this episode, if only because I like seeing people try new things from time to time, and a live episode always strikes me as intriguing.

In this regard, one reason for the "scrap-the-rules-let's-have-a-real-debate" thing (aside from whatever dramatic impact it is presumed to have) is to make the episode at least a little more visually interesting: it lets the characters interrupt each other, walk around the stage, etc. Can you imagine how boring this would have been if Smits and Alda had just stood at their podiums and given two-minute sound bites, per the original rules?

That said, I still found this pretty boring. My main complaint was that it did nothing to advance any story line in the show. You could re-watch the entire season, leaving this one out, and not skip a beat. I was waiting for one of the candidates to make The Major Gaffe That Changes The Course of the Campaign, or something like that...but no.

I have previously speculated that there is one team of writers for the campaign episodes and another for the White House episodes, and that the two do not seem to be in very close communication. Well, there must have been a third team for this episode. Last week there was a major campaign issue over abortion; right in the midst of this flap the candidates suddenly schedule a televised debate and the subject doesn't even come up??? Hello? Are any of the writers actually watching the show?

This is exactly how I felt. I was hoping something would happen that would actually have an impact on the storylines - but they didn't mention abortion, they didn't mention the CIA leak, etc. Watching paint dry. I stayed up to watch this after my Eagles got schlacked and then this disappointment.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Top Artists of the week

Here are the top 10 artists of my last week as tabulated by a cool little program called Audioscrobbler.
  1. Ambulance LTD
  2. Elliott Smith
  3. Spoon
  4. Johnny Cash
  5. The Rosebuds
  6. Calexico
  7. Mull Historical Society
  8. Franz Ferdinand
  9. Jennifer Trynin
  10. Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Friday, November 04, 2005

Amazing new November 2005 Playlist

So yesterday I was putzing around eMusic and downloaded the best sounding playlist I've heard in awhile. All of the music sounds so good together and one of the cd's is among the best I've heard this year.

Ambulance LTD - LP - I have never heard of Ambulance LTD but this CD is awesome.
Bloc Party - EP - Two songs that fit right in
Calexico - Feast of Wire - I think I like this better than the Iron and Wine/Calexico CD released this year (an amazing CD in it's own right)
Matson Jones - Matson Jones - Kind of described in the Sleater-Kinney vein with no guitars just two cellos and a rhythm section
Mull Historical Society - Us - In the same vein as Arcade Fire or the Decemberists but I think more accessible
The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors - this is another best of 2005 CD. To me they remind me of a more accessible My Bloody Valentine with a touch of Pixies.
Spoon - Girls Can Tell - I think I like this better than their last two releases.

It's weird for me to go on a download spree like this and not make one mistake. In addition to sounding good - some of them are scary good.

And all of this is available on eMusic. Seriously. Click the banner to the left (I get paid apparently).

Proof that Republicans are blind and Texans dumb

A quote from jesusland and an article on Dubya's poor approval ratings:

Four in five Republicans still back the president.

"I think he's done a wonderful job," said Gloria Bloecher, a Republican from Sherman, Texas. "He's done wonderful things for the economy. He rescued people who needed help in Iraq — it was the Christian thing to do. I still trust his people and the people he picks for the Supreme Court."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New Music October 2005

From Spencer's iPod, here are some of the highlights of the last few months. I go through so much music monthly that it's hard to keep track. So here a few I like and a couple I don't.

Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (4 stars out of 5) - Sounds epic. Lush. Good for unwinding with headphones on.

Echo and the Bunnymen - Siberia (2 stars) - Sounds good but the lyrics are too simple and straightforward. Never listened to them and this cd isn't going to convince to go back and try more. (emusic)

Iron and Wine/Calexico - In the Reins (4 stars) - Short but sweet. Maybe a little too quiet at times but definitely one of the best of 2005. (emusic)

Kanye West - Late Registration (5 stars) - Oh Kanye - get a speech writer. But your CD is the shit and the best of the year.

A Girl Called Eddy - A Girl Called Eddy (1 star) - Boring. Someone who's opinion I trust recommended this because they remind him of Aimee Mann. Please. Aimee compositions are as interesting as her lyrics. Lyrics about love lost will probably put you to sleep unless the music accompanying works with the words.

Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (4 stars) - Some of the productions improve on Jon Brion's version. Some don't. If they had kept a couple of songs untouched, this cd would have rivaled 1999's When the Pawn... As it stands it has to settle for one of the best cds of 2005. A suggestion - pick up the Jon Brion version if you can - it makes for an interesting compare and contrast.

Speaking of Apple, I just purchased tickets to see her at the Tower Theater her in Philadelphia on December 8. $43 and a whopping $11 in Ticketmaster (ticketbastard) service charges. What a fucking rip-off. What a great business - no competition and no threat from the government because those that spend the most with you have no political clout.

What exactly is Plan C?

Public transit in Philadelphia has a plan A and plan b. Plan A would be subways, trolleys, and buses - all on strike. Plan B would be the regional rail system since their workers belong to a different union. Well tonight was the worse case scenario - the regional rails suffered a power outage at rush hour. And to answer the question, there is no plan C.

The members of TWU 234 are holding the public hostage. Strikes should be aimed at hurting management and shareholders. With SEPTA the strike is aimed at hurting the riding public. And why are they striking? They want free health insurance. Most people I know pay for health insurance (at least here in the states). They say their health insurance isn't free - they have to pay co-pays - WHO DOESN'T? And then I see their workers hamming it up for news cameras when I'm stuck trying to get home. It's plain disgusting.

Now mind you SEPTA as an agency is not without blame. They are the most expensive transit agency in the country and yet their service is horrible. Breakdowns are common. Trains run on limited schedules. Much of their equipment is well past its prime.

It's time for the governor to step in, take the leverage used by holding the public hostage away, and force each side to negotiate.

Another quote of the year candidate

This is a recent quote from Tom Delay's attorney in reference to the Abramoff scandal.

"Tom DeLay conducts himself consistent with the highest standards of conduct and he mandated the same for his staff," Cullen said

Uhm - ok. How much is this guy getting paid?

Pennsylvania Legislature sees the light

And that light was unemployment if they didn't change their ways.

I have written in this blog about the Pennsylvania legislature giving themselves an exorbitant raise and then skirting the state constitution by taking the raises early through unvouchered expenses. Well a funny thing happened. For 4 months the citizens of this good (not great) state pestered and cajoled until last night the entire raise was repealed.

Sometimes it's amazing that we can still have an effect when our representatives are reminded that they need us to keep their jobs.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Scarlito's way

More on Judge Samuel Alito from an article in Salon Magazine

Liberals, for their part, have a nominee with a documented record opposing some of the country's most popular legal principles. In his 15-year career as a judge, Alito has argued unsuccessfully for a law that required women to notify their spouses before they had an abortion. He ruled that the federal government does not have the right to regulate the sale of machine guns. He tried to limit the application of a federal law requiring employers to offer maternity, paternity and sick leave for their workers. He showed little sympathy for death row inmates who are denied effective lawyers. "Liberals are quietly delighted by a nominee who has the ability to unite all of the groups in opposition," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. "Not since Bob Bork have you had a nominee who has the ability to coalesce all these groups."