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Monday, May 31, 2004

Quote of the Moment for Memorial Day 2004

This one seems particularly appropriate as today is Memorial Day...

"The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions."

Robert Lynd (1879-1949) Anglo-Irish essayist, journalist


Thanks be to DailyGrail.Com for posting that quote on their site, today.

Peace Be With the American Soldier (and Therefore Everyone Else, too)

usflag (144k image)


For those of you serving, thank you.

For those of you who have served, thank you.

For those of you who have served and died, thank you.

For those of you who are serving but are not at home this weekend, may you come home soon and be treated with respect by your fellow citizens as well as by the government that employs you.

Beyond all else, good luck and you will be remembered, no matter what.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Freedom of Speech? Who Needed It! (WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE IN THIS POST!)

WARNING: This post contains offensive language. If you are offended by offensive language, please do not read this post that will probably offend you. If you're like me and are concerned about the erosion of the freedom of speech in post-911/Columbine/Rational-Thought America, please, read on!

Wow, how dramatically America has changed since Bush 43 "took" office. Check this out, on top of all of this stuff about Janet Jackson's naked boob on TV for a SPLIT second and Howard Stern getting fined out the wazoo, our freedom of speech is being assailed, and when it comes down to it, is being treated like it almost doesn't exist.

Now, to be perfectly honest, America and her government has had a strange attitude toward the freedom of speech, guaranteeing it generally, but making some forms of speech, in fact, illegal. Obscenity speech is one form that is illegal.

But what's the definition of obscenity? According to the Supreme Court (look it up yourself! Sorry, I don't have time!), obscenity is defined as offensive by the community in which the speech was made. In other words, if you live in a predominantly gay area of San Francisco and publically display a picture of two men kissing, you won't be breaking obscenity law. However, if you display the same picture in the heart of the Bible Belt, you'll be breaking the law.

Now, Oregon is a fairly open-minded state. I believe they are on the list of states that officially oppose the Patriot Act. However, when DJs at a Portland radio station played the audio from the Nick Berg decapitation video and made rude comments over it, they were fired. Obviously, what they did was crass, rude and disgusting. But how "wrong" was it? I don't know if the DJs offered a warning of what they were about to do, but in today's world when it's okay to run most of the video from this clip on the local news, using the excuse "what happens if a kid stumbles upon it by accident?" doesn't hold water.

These guys lost their jobs because they were doing their jobs. If the listeners were offended, they could have just changed the station or turned their radio off. Instead, they listened to the whole thing and then took the time to contact the station to let them know how offended they were. Of course, the DJs were fired so the station could avoid any FCC fines and one wonders just how effective a criminal trial would be against these two thanks to this obvious gray area regarding just what "offensive" is.

And if that obviously gray area of the law weren't enough, we are now faced with a world that needs to worry about other types of free speech, as well. Namely Threat-Speech.

At the time of this writing, the California Supreme Court has before a case of a 15 year-old boy who was put in juvenile hall for threatening to kill his fellow students in a poem. In an AP article posted at WFTV.com, the Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey Laurence, is quoted as saying "The First Amendment doesn't protect against criminal conduct."

This statement should give every American hives. Essentially, what one of the head police officers for the state of California is saying is that the First Amendment doesn't protect free speech when you talk about committing a crime.

This is harcore Orwellian stuff here, you should realize.

"Wrongthinking is punishable..." I think that's how it goes from the book 1984, right? Well, it's happening. I don't care why he wrote it or what he really plans on doing.

You should not be able to arrest a person unless he or she has actually committed a crime. You can't arrest a person for talking about committing a crime. That's absurd.

What's next? Banning talk regarding crimes, period? Only law enforcement agencies shall be allowed to speak of crimes and criminal matters? Talk about a slippery slope if that happens!

But for now, we just have to be concerned that something we say might be misunderstood as a threat to lives and that we could end up being detained and interogated or worse, based on that misunderstanding.

This won't happen to people like Eminem or Marylin Manson because they're high profile. But it will happen, as it did with this 15 year-old kid, to normal folks like you and me. Here's a quote from that AP article:
In one of California's first attempts to prosecute a schoolchild under the criminal threats statute in 2002, a Sacramento-based appeals court overturned a boy's conviction for drawing a picture of a police officer being shot in the head. That boy was previously arrested by the officer on drug-related charges, and he submitted the work to his art class. An appeals court ultimately reversed that conviction, saying there was no immediate threat of harm.

Prosecutions of students under the statute are rare, but continue: on Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy was arrested at a middle school in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek after posting a cartoon on the Internet with a caption that referred to a teacher, reading: "Maybe I should kill him and urinate on his remains."
Damn... that sounds like something I'd write!!

Oh yeah, and then there's good old Lisa Rein, over at OnLisaReinsRadar.com that points to former Monty Python funny man Eric Idle, who has composed a song that reminds us where freedom of speech is still safe, the Internet. Not that the song is about the Internet, it's just that the 'net is pretty much the only place he could make the song available to be heard. Why not download it right now?

Compliments of Rein's website, the lyrics to the song are reproduced below for your pleasure or offense (YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!):
Here's a little number I wrote the other day while out duck hunting with a judge.

Fuck you very much the FCC
Fuck you very much for fining me
Five thousand bucks a fuck
So I'm really out of luck
That's more than Heidi Fleiss was charging me

So fuck you very much the FCC
for proving that free speech just isn't free
Clear Channel's a dear channel
So Howard Stern must go
Attorney General Ashcroft doesn't like strong words and so
He's charging twice as much as all the drugs for Rush Limbaugh
So fuck you all so very much

So fuck you very much, Dear Mr. Bush
For heroically sitting on your tush
For Halliburton, Enron, all the companies who fail
Let's send them a clear signal and stick Martha straight in jail
She's an uppity rich bitch
and at least she isn't male
So fuck you all so very much

So fuck you dickhead Mr. Cheney too
Fuck you and fuck everything you do
Your pacemaker must be a fake
You haven't got a heart
As far as I'm concerned you're just a pasty-faced old fart
And as for Condoleeza she's an intellectual tart
So fuck you all so very much

So fuck you very much, the EPA
For giving all Alaska's oil away
It really is a bummer
When I can't fill my hummer
The ozone's a nogozone now that Arnold's here to say:
"The nuclear winter games are going to take place in LA"
So fuck you all so very much

So what the planet fails
Let's save the great white males
And fuck you all so very much


Read more about the DJs that lost their jobs in Portland for making fun of the audio track from the Nick Berg decapitation video.

Read about the case of the 15 year-old boy who said in a poem " "For I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school." as well as, "For I am Dark, Destructive & Dangerous.".

Read Rein's full post on Idle's Fuck You Very Much song-- I mean, uh, the FCC song. :D

Check out Eric Idle's page.

Oh yeah and... fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

MAN, that felt good!!

Michael Moore, AKA PT Barnum Jr.

One of my pet peeves is when the left decides that using the right's tactics is a good idea. To me, it seems that if one side of the argument is being petty, stupid, or lying it doesn't mean that it's some how fair for the other side to do the same. I remember reading an account of an AirAmerica broadcast where Randy Rhodes totally went off on Ralph Nader, I remember wondering if left wing noise was better than right wing noise. Then I thought again - why can't we avoid the noise all together?

Then, there's Michael Moore. I don't like to bag on the little guy, which Moore certainly is, despite his fortune. He is the outsider, the guy who criticizes the system and for that, I applaud him. But when he plays the game so much that he becomes a hypocrite, that damages his message and with some people, completely underminds it.

In the documentary Bowling for Columbine, he made it look like you could walk into a particular bank, apply for a loan and walk out with your cash and a gun, given away as a promotional item, in a single day. He conveniently left out the part where they made him come back after a few days so they could do a background check on him. (This ended up disputed by Moore, but more on this in a bit, so, keep reading!)

Recently, I read about how, for his book Stupid White Men, Moore made up a conversation with Fred Barnes, a writer for the conservative rag, The Weekly Standard. Who do I read this from? < AHREF=http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/127ujhuf.asp TARGET=_BLANK>Fred Barnes, himself. In fact, when I did stop by Michael Moore's web site to search for a response to Fred Barnes statement, which I couldn't thanks to the site not having a search engine, I found a section called "How to Deal with the Lies and the Lying Liars When They Lie about
'Bowling for Columbine'" that is described like this: "Michael Moore responds to the wacko attackos..."

This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. He calls anyone who has problems with Bowling for Columbine a "wacko attacko" which, frankly, makes the title of "Conspiracy Theorist" look downright respectible. This is not the way to come off like the right person. This is the way you contribute to the problem. The section does go onto dispute the scene in Bowling for Columbine where he claims to walk in, opens an account and walks out with a gun. According to Moore, they did an instant background check. I stand corrected...

Now, when I heard he was going to make a movie on 911, I was excited because anyone with an open mind can acknowledge that there was a lot of complacency in the USGov on September 11, 2001 that allowed the attacks to occur. I haven't seen the movie and it's only played a few places, including Cannes, where it picked up the top award. The thing is, it would have done that even if Moore hadn't pulled the stunt he did, which was to accuse Disney of censorship. Of course, this, in itself isn't really a "stunt," but when he accused Disney of censorship was. He just happened to do it in the days leading up to the Cannes film festival. The thing is, Disney has been on the record for a year saying they wanted no part in the film. It was Miramax that picked Moore's film up against its parent company's wishes.

So, it's a shame that Michael Moore doesn't believe in himself enough to just let his work speak for itself. He needs to play showman, like a modern-day PT Barnum, playing on the suckers that are born every minute.

Now, with this feigned shock that Disney didn't want to distribute his film, how do we know he won't omit something else, just to make King George look bad. Just recently, it was reported that Moore had interviewed the late Nick Berg about the Iraq war but hadn't planned on using the footage in his movie. No wonder, Nick Berg was apparently for the war. Why would Moore want to use footage of someone with the opposing viewpoint? Showing or not showing the truth in order to make Bush look bad is not the way to go.

Yeah, like Bush needed any help in that department.

The more I hear about Fahrenheit 911, the more concerned I am about how much truth it really goes into. To me, it sounds like it may just bash Bush to no end.

Believe it or not, I don't think that's a good thing.

I want the truth to come out. This will put King George in his political grave all by itself, most likely. The truth doesn't need some "showman" to come along and give it a make over in order to seem more shocking. The truth simply needs to be exposed.

There's an old saying that truth conquers all. Well, it can't if it doesn't have the opportunity to. Everyone deserves a fair fight, even truth. Left, right, what, does no one in the middle have a voice? Are there no independent voices out there?

Read Fred Barnes talk about Moore liying about him in Moore's book Stupid White Men.

Read about Moore's interview with Nick Berg.

Read about the Disney distribution debacle at journalist Marc Cooper's website.

Read Michael Moore's defense of challanges to Bowling for Columbine at his website.

TheMemoryHole.Org Blocked by USMil in Iraq

Check it out, according to a recent post over at one of my favorite alternative sites for news, the USMil has blocked soldiers in Iraq from accessing the site. Apaprently, when a person in Iraq uses a USMil connection to the Internet is used to access TheMemoryHole, they get a message saying "Your request was denied because of its content categorization: 'Extreme;Politics/Religion'" Here's an excerpt from webmaster Russ Kick's blog that says it all:
I post raw documents created by the government, military, and corporations. These days, that apparently amounts to "political extremism."


This is the world we're living in folks. Where the USMil can't even let it's own people think freely.

I suppose the concern must be that if they thougt freely, they'd think the war might be a bad idea... go figure...

Check out Russ Kick's brilliant site.

RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES, IS OIL ONE OF THEM?

For every light, there is a dark. For every yay there is a nay. There is a physical law that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same can be said for arguments. For every argument for something there is an argument against it. The same goes for the growing belief that we are close to running out of oil.

The Peak Oil "theory" suggests strongly that within the next 3-5 years we'll be hitting our highest level of production of oil, ever. The thing is, it's a peak, not a plateau. The day we hit that peak is the day before we begin to run out of workable oil. This theory is gaining backers left and right because it seems to be happening already. Many wells are running dry around the world and big oil companies have had to scale back their projected levels of oil production. When the oil companies do something like that, you know it's a serious situation.

Alas, according to the seriously right-wing Internet news source WorldNetDaily.Com, there is a new competing theory that suggests all this concern for peak oil is for nothing. This new theory does more than just dispute that our planet is about to begin to run out of oil, it disputes science's explanation of how oil is formed. They suggest that oil is not made from the extreme compression of bio-matter for millions of years deep beneath the surface of the planet Earth. This is the explanation that's been on the books for a very long time. Yet, this new theory suggests that it's wrong.

Now, every time some new theory pops up that happens to go both against conventional thinking and goes for an extreme change in our ways of thinking, it usually doesn't benefit the powers that be. Which then means that the theory is pounded on until it is believed only by hardcore outsiders. This is how the Peak Oil theory began. The catch with it was that while experts who believed this theory didn't get much mainstream press attention (dispite the obvious ramifications of our planet running out of oil) the reality of the situation could not be ignored. But is this new theory being pounded on for being an outlandish, extreme and pesimistic theory? Of course not, because it benefits Big Oil.... But first, here's the theory:

Methane which is created naturally through processes deep in the earth's bowels (no pun intended), rises up through the various layers of the Earth. Along the way it runs into huge pockets of extreme heat that causes heavier hydrocarbons to be left behind in the form of oil. This would suggest that all you have to do is wait for more methane to bubble up and condense oil on the way. Evidence of this process actually happening has been sited in a number of wells around the world. Wells are literally refilling.

Again, since this theory benefits Big Oil, it's already being used as justification to drill deeper in places like Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and other areas. This is where this theory doesn't make a damn bit of difference to me.

Say this theory is true. Does it mean we should put our heads in the sand (literally) and just dig deeper? No. All this means is that we won't run out of oil as we thought. But there's something that people aren't thinking about. The vulnerability of keeping all of your energy eggs in one basket could conceivably still crush our society.

What happens if we go digging deeper for more oil but don't find it? What if it turns out that it takes a while to wait for the wells to fill back up? Once we run out of the oil we can get at easily, won't it still just be like searching for any other precious material? Sure, it's there, we just need to find it or wait for it to be produced. But what do we do in the meantime? The price of oil will be through the roof and there will be hordes of people riding bikes to work.

Oil will still be a commodity more rare than it is today.

Look at what's going on in the computer world. Effectively, there is just one operating system out there that we all use for our home and business computers. That's Micro$oft's Windows OS. How many security updates have there been in the past year for Windows XP? How many in the past month? The past week? Why is it that there is almost never a virus alert on the news for Macintosh computers? First off, there has been one virus found for Macintosh OSX. And if it struck, so what? If EVERY Mac were to fall prey to it, that would mean that all of 5% of the world's computers would be out of commission.

Now imagine that scenario with Windows. If even half of the computers with Windows XP were to fall prey that would be an extraordinary amount of people our of luck.

Now think about this in terms of energy.

It doesn't make any sense for us to rely so heavily on one particular thing for anything. Oil is used in many, many different things. From fuel to the plastic that is used in your computer that you are using to read this article.

The point is when everyone is using just one thing for anything, everyone is incredibly vulnerable.

Forever we thought that oil came from dinosaurs, but now people are saying it comes from methane.

We were wrong once, what's to say we can't be wrong again?

Do we really want to pin all of our hopes on one substance when we really don't have to?

There are plenty of alternatives to oil for any number of things. There are wheat-based plastics that could reinvigorate the American farmer (if he can wrestle his farm back from the corporations, anyway). There is hydrogen, solar, wind and other ways for energy to be produced.

While there is no one solution to the problem of our excessive use of oil, but that's okay, we don't want a single solution or else we're right back where we started. We need to stretch our various sources for things like plastics and energy out so that if one thing goes wrong, we won't be just completely and utterly screwed.

Oh yeah and another thing this new theory does is encourage a healthy lack of respect for the environment. One of these years Mother Nature is going to bitch slap us and I say we're asking for it.

Read more about this new theory of how oil is created at WorldNetDaily.com.

Read about a way that's been developed to convert excess heat from smoke stacks into practical energy in an article over at Eurekalert.Org that originated at NewScientist.Com.

Friday, May 28, 2004

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

Entertaining? I'm embarrassed to admit it, but, yes. At times, very much so.
Technically any good? This is a disaster movie. And believe it or not, it does stick fairly well to the traditional structure. The script made rules and rarely broke them. The acting was sub-par, as should be expected from a big dumb disaster movie. But keeping in mind that it IS a disaster movie, everyone did just fine, in my opinion. It's no Poseidon Adventure, but it was just fine.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Reasonably satisfied. There was a lot of dumb stuff, but overall, I have to admit that I liked it.
Final Rating? SAM (It's still a big, dumb disaster movie, but it's nice to see that Irwin Allen Lives!)

Go here to read two scientific opinions on the "reality" of the science in this movie over at MSNBC.com.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

CINGULAR WIRELESS SUCKS

Okay, next paycheck, I'm going to buy one of those little gizmos that lets you record phone conversations because I am tired of people being pricks to me. So, two months ago I decide to leave Cingular Wireless after being with them for years. I got virtually no reception in my apartment but TheFiancee and I stuck with Cingular because they were the only ones doing the free mobile-to-mobile service.

So, I sign up with Sprint because I can actually GET a signal in my apartment and they now do the free mobile-to-mobile and with them and call Cingular to cancel my account. After the woman tells me how much I owe, I give her my check card number to pay for it right over the phone. I confirmed that this was the total amount I would have to pay them and once the account was closed, that would be it. What she didn't bother to tell me was that my billing cycle finished the next day and that there could be charges for any minutes that were over my limit. If she had told me that, I would have said nevermind cancelling the account, I'll just wait until tomorrow to do it then.

But she didn't tell me that. So, when I asked her if the total she quoted me was the last I'd have to pay them and when she agreed that it was, I naturally assumed that any charges for minutes used that month would have been included in the number she gave me that day.

Of course, they weren't. What's worse is that I didn't even get a "final billing statement" in the mail. All I got were two "you are overdue $92.97, please pay now" statements, each about a month apart. The first one, I figured was printed before I cancelled the service. The second one I got I knew it had to be a mistake, but just haven't had time to call them on it, what with all of my fun with the Apple corporation and my dayjob and my books and my comics.

Today I get a letter from a collection agency about the $92.97. A collection agency. It's been like two weeks since my second notice and they send me to a collection agency?

So, of course, I call them up. The woman I speak to first was barely there as a human being. I asked her why I was being charged this, etc, etc, and she explained about the overages. I say, okay, fine, but you guys said that the payment I made on 3/23 would be the last payment. Why am I still being charged? Again, she explains that it's because of the overages that were charged after the account was cancelled.

:crazy:

I then ask her how that even works and she then repeated herself, literally not changing a word of her explanation.

I then started to get annoyed because the way I look at it, this was all a big misunderstanding that was essentially there fault. So, I asked for a supervisor that I could feel better about getting upset with because I know that the first person to answer the phone is just doing their job and repeating what they're told to and I don't think it's fair to get hyper with a person who has no control over policy. I told her this, too. She then repeats the same thing about the overages being charged after I cancelled the account. I then repeated my request to talk to a supervisor. She put me on hold for a few minutes and I got to talk to one.

"Hi, my name is Chris [unintelligible] and how can I provide you with extraordinary service today, sir?"

:confused:

"Well, you tell me," was what I wanted to say, but didn't.

The short of it is that this guy repeats what the other woman said adding that these charges are legitimate and that I did make those overages.

"I'm not disputing that," I said, stupidly.

"Oh, okay, then you acknowledge that you did make those calls and run your minutes over your limit as I see you had done four months in a row." No joke - he actually said that.

"No, I don't acknowledge anything. What I'm disputing is why you guys are charging me when you told me I wouldn't be charged anymore after 3/23."

"I'm sorry you were told that sir, but the customer service representative who said that was in error."

"So, now I'm just expected to pay this? I mean, I didn't even get a final bill."

"Well, sir, I'd be happy to send a copy out to you."

"Isn't it too late for that since you guys have already sent it to a collection agency?"

"It's up to you, sir. I can send it to you if you'd like."

"Yeah, yeah, I'd like you to send me that bill, thank you."

"Would you like to settle these charges right now? I can take a credit card number."

:plain:

"No. Thank you, please send me a copy."

"No problem, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"No, thank you."

"Well, you have a good day, sir."

"You, too."

WHAT a DICKWEED!!!

You see, this is why I need to buy one of those things that lets you record phone conversations. That way I can record it and post it on my site so everyone can enjoy these insipid morons who are called "customer service".

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

US Forces Shooting Too Many Iraqis?

Wow, looks like the US has been shooting so many bullets at the Iraqi people that they're running out! Check out this quote from an Financial Times article:
According to a requisition last week by the Army Field Support Command, the service will need 300m to 500m more bullets a year for at least five years, or more than 1.5m a year for combat and training. And because the single army-owned, small-calibre ammunition factory in Lake City, Missouri, can produce only 1.2m bullets annually, the army is suddenly scrambling to get private defence contractors to help fill the gap.

The bullet problem has its roots in a Pentagon effort to restock its depleted war materiel reserve. But it has been exacerbated by the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where rearguard and supply units have been thinly-stretched throughout the countryside, occasionally without active duty combat soldiers to protect them.
Man, good thing we're the badest-ass army in the world. Not only is our supply of soldiers spread thin around the world, but now those soldiers supply of bullets is thining.

Shouldn't this be a message to someone?

Not that the USGov will listen - when the USGov runs out of money it just prints more. They're not about to handle the bullet shortage any differently. According to the article, they plan to get private industry to pick up the slack. I wonder if private industry will pick up the bill or if they'll be compensated for their efforts. This, of course, means that the war will cost even more.

Read the entire Financial Times article at their website.

Updates and More New Stuff Coming Soon

Well, got some of my to do list from yesterday done, but not all of it. The good news is that I did spend some quality time with TheFiancee and generally had a nice day. The real good news is that the boba house we hang out at held their drawing for the X-Box and TheFiancee won it!!

Of course, it's made by Micro$oft, so we don't want to keep it. It'll be on eBay by the weekend with any luck.

In other news, I did write two new TheBitches today and updated TheBeauty and I also got a MoBlog, or MobileBlog, which allows me to take pics on my camera phone and upload them directly to the web from where ever I am!! It's SO cool!!! Last night I was at the supermarket and posted to my MoBlog before I got home! Pretty cool, huh?

You can see the latest pic I posted over to the right, right above ThePete.Cam...

KING GEORGE SOLVES ABU GHRAIB THE WAY GODZILLA WOULD & AMERICANS ARE CLUEFREE

Well, according to a May 24, 2004 AP article over at My Way news, Bush says he's going to solve the problem of Abu Ghraib by tearing the place down. To me, that seems a lot like throwing away the catfood bowl to stop the cat from eating. It would be like tearing down the whorehouse to stop the pimps from pimping. It would be like tearing down the White House to stop Bush from being a lousy president.

In other words, tearing down the torture chamber only forces the torturer to relocate. This is nothing more than a Band-Aid on the pussy-mess that is Iraq right now. I just hope the Iraqi people are smart enough to see through this line of crap that Bush is shovelling.

I know that we, here in America, are NOT smart enough to see through King George's line of crap. In fact, according to a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, only one fifth of Americans polled actually saw Bush 43 as the one to blame for high gas prices. This just means that, according to this poll, just 20% of America is actually swayed by the facts.

Here they are:

See, the idea is that when bad things happen in the middle east, oil could go into short supply. In fact, when Saddam was still in power, Iraq supplied plenty of oil to the world. When the Iraq Attack occured, all oil production stopped. Since then, Iraq has slowly begun producing oil again, but they are still not at the same level they were at when Saddam was still in control. Now, the price isn't directly connected to the amount of lost oil production. It's also due to corporate nervousness. The oil company's business is in making LOTS of money. When it looks to them that they are going to have a dropping supply of oil in the future, they up prices immediately to help compensate for down the road when they really need to up prices to continue to make the same amount of money. This is why gas prices saw an increase long before Iraq saw any new US troops.

So, less oil equals higher demand which equals high prices. Even the idea of less oil can mean higher prices.

The point is, Bush taking Saddam out means higher gas prices.

In the end, it seems to me that Bush can pretty much do damn well anything he wants and come out smelling all rose-like. People use to call Clinton "slick Willy" because nothing stuck to him. The way I look at it, Clinton didn't have to deal with anything nearly as bad as what Bush has faced.

Every choice the guy has made has been wrong and fate has proven that to the world.

Too bad most American citizens aren't paying attention...

Read about Bush's "solution" to the Abu Ghraib situation at My Way News.

Read about the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll at USA Today.

An Anti-Oil Sign from God?

Check it out, in what appears to me to be a sign from God, a cargo ship full of cars collided recently with, get this... an oil tanker. Luckily, no one was hurt or killed and all the cars were lost. Unfortunately, the oil tanker was not badly damaged and therefore, no lessons were learned in how oil is EVIL!!!

Of course, I'm glad that no animals were harmed in any spill. I just wish we humans could get it through our thick heads that oil is not good for us...

Read more about the details of this crash at the Sunday Morning Herald's website.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Another Today, Another To Do List

Well, I did get a good chunk of work on my last to do list done, but I'm too busy to go back and update it so HERE'S A NEW ONE!!

1) 2 hours on TheKey Book 1
2) 1 hour on TheKey Book 3
3) go for a walk
4) 4 hours dayjob stuff
5) work on ThePeteMan/.Comic
7) Finish tweaking Pocket Reviews web page
8) Fix archives page for TheBlog (What archives page? EXACTLY!)
9) work on DVD projects...
10) write a whole slew of TheBitch columns
10) Re-open TheForum

Well, I'll be aiming to do these in order and I'll do my best to update them as I go through them.

I'm sure everyone is enthralled with my to do lists... I know I am!!

Confusing a Weak Argument with Being Right

From time-to-time, I like to take apart an article piece-by-piece just to provide examples of poorly constructed arguments. Most of the time, I happen to disagree with the points the author of the article is trying to make, which further demonstrates my point that the author makes a lousy argument. This time 'round, I agree with the guy, for the most part, but he still makes a lousy argument. What follows is my deconstruction of an opinion piece at CapitolHillBlue.Com written by a fellow who is supposed to be a journalist, but all he really sounds like is a pompous Republican windbag who forgets that a good opinion piece explains how the opinion is right and has a rational motivation for backing it up. Here we go:

Confusing Fiction With Fact

By DAN K. THOMASSON
May 25, 2004, 08:10
I'm suspicious already - anyone who thinks they have a firm grasp on the facts, usually doesn't. After all, what are one man's facts are another man's lies.
It really should come as no surprise that the international film community finally put an official stamp of approval on political propaganda.
Sure, that's usually government's domain. Just a few months ago, the Bush 43 Administration produced pro-Medicare-bill news reports with fake reporters talking about how great the new bill was without providing any facts. These reports were then sent to news programs many of whom ran the reports without mentioning they were fake or from the government. The GAO eventually found that the reports were illegal since they were quite literally covert propaganda.
The movie industry everywhere has had but one rule: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story even if it's billed as the truth.
Well, assuming it will make them some cash. If telling the truth could make them money and you could prove it to them, you can bet that Hollywood would be making truth movies left and right.
So the self-styled gadfly,
What's a "gadfly"? Are you one of those hideously old people? Like in your 80s who is so wrapped up in 1950's-era "America is great" stuff? But I digress - I shouldn't do the "Republican" thing and attack character. Personally, I am no big fan of much of what Michael Moore does, although I do think he's a talented film maker. I do think he's a showman and in the business of making money.
Michael Moore, has received the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his "docufiction" opus "Fahrenheit 9/11" amid promises that when Americans see it they will be swayed to vote against its target, George W. Bush.
OK, well, I'll assumed that you've got some proof that calling his movie a "docufiction" is an accurate statement. Sure, one man's facts are another's lies, but we can generally agree on certain reasonable truths.
That is, of course, when Moore and his supporters at Miramax find a distributor in this country.
Is that a dig? What the hell, the last independent picture to have trouble getting a distributor in the US was Mel's Jesus movie. I hardly think Moore's film will have real trouble, either.
Disney properly identified it as election-year campaigning masquerading as a legitimate documentary and refused to have anything to do with it.
Um, you should really do your research on a topic before you write, even an opinion piece, on it. Over a year ago when Moore first announced the deal with Miramax Disney said they wouldn't distribute it. Moore just made a big deal about it because he was trying to generate publicity. Way to buy into his line of crap. You're such an old-skool cynical newsman!
Obviously, someone will come forth to sell Moore's anti-Bush harangue to U.S. audiences. The prize probably has ensured that and the impact will be measured in good old dollars and cents, which is the object.
Of course, that's the target. Would you spend months and months working on a project for a company to get paid nothing? How is Moore supposed to continue "sticking it to the man" if he has no money in the bank? This is a capitalist society and as such we all need money to continue doing what we do.
Moore professes to tell us the real reason for the U.S. invasion of Iraq is a connection between Bush and the Saudi royal family.
So, you've seen the movie? Because, I have not and based on Moore's previous work must assume that he makes a better argument than that. The argument you quote makes no sense whatsoever. "Four aircraft were hijacked and crashed killing thousands on the ground because Bush has business dealings with the Saudi family??"

That's completely illogical.

That's like saying K-Mart bombed my house because I bought some shampoo there.

As with most conspiracy theorists, he makes far more than he can prove out of the most tenuous connections.
So now you accuse him of being a member of the tin-hat society. Why is it that whenever people take issue with someone accusing the government of something the phrase "conspiracy theorist" is thrown around? Would it kill you to consider what the so-called "conspiracy theorist" is suggesting before writing him or her off? Why this desperation to discredit and disregard the words of someone who accusing a world leader of something? Is it, perhaps a fear that you'll be forced to actually DO something about that leader?
And he bashes everything else Bush has done since taking office.
What isn't bashable? No child left behind never got the funding it was supposed to get, while the Iraq Attack was underway, Republicans cut military health benefits, Bush deliberately mislead the American people in to thinking that Iraq and Saddam could lead to another 911, he couldn't catch Osama, couldn't find any WMD, and now over 10,000 Iraqi civilians are dead along with hundreds of American GIs.

What's not to bash?

Don't forget that Bush broke International Law by invading a sovereign member of the UN (Iraq) and by doing so violated the US Constitution. This makes America a criminal nation abroad and Bush a criminal at home. Hell, Clinton got impeached for a much minor crime than this.
Bush is the most public of figures and, therefore, is practically libel-proof. Moore can say what he wants about the president short of accusing him of capital murder, which one gets the feeling he would like to do.
Well, those American GIs and Iraqi civilians didn't kill themselves, did they? Well, actually, more than twenty American GIs did kill themselves, but that's a slightly different issue.
But, if nothing else, Moore should have had the decency to turn his project into a real movie like Oliver Stone did for "JFK," the completely unverifiable, off-the-wall conspiracy theory about John Kennedy's assassination.
I'll give you that. For all of Oliver Stone's brilliance, JFK is a total crock. Any critical mind can tear that film a new one. As for Moore making a drama out of it, I can't judge. I haven't seen the movie nor have you really presented any compelling argument that Moore has done anything wrong. You accuse him of "bashing" but provide no examples.
It would have been a more truthful approach. Those who care about honesty in documentary filmmaking would not have to be embarrassed about the disservice done to their craft.
Well, embarrassed, perhaps, but shocked? Surprised? Look at Moore's previous films, do some research and you'll find that Moore does "rearrange" the truth to suit his needs. But then, I do recall a certain American "leader" doing the same thing in front of the UN.
If anyone doubts the motives behind this, the film received a record long-standing ovation at its festival screening and was only one of three "documentaries" allowed in the competition in 50 years. That doesn't happen with films about wildlife or Eskimos or because the texture and cinematography were super.
What a POWERFUL statement against the entertainment industry you just made!! Next thing you'll be telling me is that the Academy is racist!! WOW!! You are ON THE EDGE, MAN!
Yet Moore can't even be honest about his reasons for the film. He and the festival jury chairman, Quentin Tarantino, had the temerity to claim that the quality of the film, not its political message, was the reason for the highest honor awarded. Balderdash!
"Balderdash??" BALDERDASH??? What ever happen to "adapting your message to your audience?" This is the 21st century, you can say "crap" or "garbage" or "come on" or ANYTHING and you'll lose less readers. But, to your point, you accuse Moore and Tarantino of lying, saying the decision to give it the top prize at Cannes is because of the quality of the film. You're right - that is a crock. But understanding Moore's tendency to rearrange the truth and Tarantino's tendency to steal entire scenes from other (better) films, combine them, and call them his own movies, we can expect lies from these two goons.
Moore contends with a straight face that he did not set out to make a political film. He just wanted people to leave the theater feeling that it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours.
Oh, come on! You honestly think ANYONE believes that? "Yeah, I was thinking that I'd like to provide people with a pleasant way to spend two hours - I know! I'll make a movie about 911!!!"

Are you cynical or naive, please pick one before you write your next opinion piece.
It would be fair to ask him: Enjoyable for whom? Sen. John Kerry and his fellow Democrats generally? It is safe to predict that the president of the United States or his relatives would not find it a pleasant experience.
Or the 911 families, or anyone who doesn't like to see corruption in government, the misleading of the citizens by their government or, Americans, in general, I'd say.
Of course, the jury paid no attention to the main thrust of the film. The members just liked the way the film was edited, the color and the tone of the narration and whatever.
I take it you didn't go to film school. I did. One of the things we learned is that even documentaries have an opinion, a point to make. You don't make a documentary about drugs without picking a side on it. Your film WILL come out on one side of the fence or another. You have no choice because odds are, you're not the perfect film maker. No human can disassociate him or herself from the subject enough to make a perfectly balanced film about ANYTHING. It's one of the draw backs of being human.
And to prove their independence from political persuasion, Tarantino was quick to point out that four of the panel members were American and only one was French. So you can't blame it on the host country's growing anti-Americanism no matter what all those right-wing radio and television and newspaper commentators are bound to say.
I'm not sure what your point is here. Are you suggesting that Hollywood tends to suggest that the news media is right-wing? Any educated person knows that this is not true. The truth is that the news media isn't left-wing or right-wing. They are green-wings. Motivated by money and money alone. Their overt-wingedness (??) depends on who buys the most papers.

A good example of this is how while researching a story recently I found a few news sources online covering how the US Government was pushing the UN to give US soldiers in Iraq immunity from lawsuits in post-hand-Iraq. I couldn't find any American news sources for this story. If the US Media were truly liberal, they'd have covered this story like it was Monica Lewinski.

"In view of recent developments at Abu Ghraib, we find it shocking that the US would push for immunity against those crimes," the 'left-wing' pundits would say.
Perhaps we shouldn't make too much out of this.
Too late!
Moore earns a living being an unattractive, obnoxious nose-tweaker of the powerful.
As opposed to Dick Cheney who is unattractive, obnoxious, member of the powerful. (Sorry, he was the only overweight guy in the Bush 43 Administration that I could think of.)
The only danger is that impressionable young people think all movies about current events are rooted in undeniable fact and will regard this as just more proof of the evils of government.
Yeah, you're right! They should listen only to the news media, which never gets it wrong! Oh and they should also listen to Bush, since he never misleads anyone!
There is some real damage to the art form and the attendant loss of faith in the institutions of democracy.
You're worried about some film maker damaging people's faith in the institutions of democracy??? If you were a true American you'd realize that some film maker is the least of your worries when you've got a guy in the White House who has made a bunch of claims that have costs thousands of lives and turned the world against us. He didn't want the 911 commission to be created. He and Cheney quote executive privilege more times than Clinton did and all Clinton did was cheat on his wife in the oval office. He got impeached for lying about it. At the very least Bush stretched the truth to the UN. I don't care what your feelings are on the validity of the UN, itself, but misleading the UN is essentially misleading the world. Because that's what the UN represents.

That's what bugs me about people who go after people like Michael Moore. They're the lefties. Lefties are the little guy right now. They have virtually no voice in government. The Republicans dominate everything. The news channel with the most ratings is Fox News, an acknowledged clearing house for right wing propaganda. All this and people like you take issue with so-called lefties who bend the truth to fit their needs.

Don't treat Fahrenheit 911 like it's Birth of a Nation. Oh, that's right, you didn't go to film school. Birth of a Nation was silent film maker D.W. Griffith's defense of America. It told the tale of blacks taking over America. It was a fictional Civil War-era drama that featured a then historical group known as the Ku Klux Klan. They had all but disappeared when Griffith's movie premiered but white men everywhere were happy to take up the call and fight those black people back!

SIGH.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is no Birth of a Nation. Birth of a Nation encouraged men to put on bed sheets and murder black people. Farenheit 911, from what I understand, encourages people to be suspicious of the Bush clan specifically and the US government, in general.

In light of recent events, I'd say this was warranted.

Or should we not pay attention to things our government that might be wrong?

Perhaps you'd prefer we all turn a blind eye to the most powerful government on Earth and just trust that it would never abuse it's power.

Again, you've really got to decide which side of the fence you're on - cynical or naive. Damage to the institution of democracy, indeed.
It is not hard to see that the award was an "in your face" to Disney, that most American of companies, which realized that putting its imprimatur on a campaign exercise of this nature would have been not only unfair but also bad for business. Tarantino is connected to Miramax, after all.
How shrewd you are, sir! Calling a capitalist a "capitalist" is hardly an insult to them. As for Disney not wanting to get political, they've donated millions over the years to various political parties and campaigns and even lobby the US Government like any other major company. A more accurate judgment about Disney's behavior regarding Moore's film is probably that they are a friend to government like any other major corporation. They want to stay in the good graces of whomever's in charge in the White House. It's not Disney calling Moore's film is crap and therefore shouldn't be released. It's Disney saying "Let's not piss anyone in government off.
That doesn't mean it shouldn't be shown. We have a First Amendment,
How kind of you to remember this in the final paragraph of your attack on Moore's film.
after all, and neither films nor books should be burned or banned, no matter how controversial. Audiences, however, should be aware that what they are watching is propaganda.
Well, until Fox News makes it's audience aware of the same thing, I think we should just leave it up to the people of the world to decide what to believe and who to listen to.
Viewers should understand that members of the Cannes jury would have been quick to denounce it had they not agreed with the message.
That may be true, but it is irrelevant. After all, what does the average American care about some film festival?
(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)

© Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue
And here I thought I was going to get to read how Michael Moore's film got the facts wrong. I expected to read about how Moore was staying true to form and leaving out certain things, like in his Oscar winning documentary Bowling for Columbine, when he conveniently left out the explanation that the bank that gives him a gun for opening an account makes him wait a week to get that gun.

The point is that you start off with the thesis that Moore is a liar and yet you provide no actual proof. You just repeat the thesis over and over and over.

You really are a Republican because you work just like they do. Repeat something over and over until it is accepted as the truth.

And come on, man - picking on the little guy? Moore may be wealthy and fat, but he is the little guy. The big guys are the Bush 43 Administration, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the corporations of America. When one guy stands up and speaks out, even if he lies, he should not be squashed. There are much bigger liars in the world who are responsible for a hell of a lot more than what Moore is responsible.

When history looks back at the early 21st century, they probably won't notice you. But if they do, they'll laugh and shake their heads. They'll say "With all the mess that was going on in the world, with all the lying, deceit and killing going on by people in power, this guy, and people like him, pick on the few voices that dissent."

You go after the BIG liars who do the most damage and work your way down.

Michael Moore is just fat.

ThePete is a writer and webmaster of ThePete.Com an independent web site that has no political agenda beyond that of a hope to secure peace, love, truth, education and honest freedom to the world. (See, Capitol Hill Blue Boys? I can be cute and pithy, too.)

Oh yeah and I emailed the site that originally posted the original piece, just in case they need to be reminded that official "articles" usually need to stick to general rules like stating a point and then making it. Apparently the author got paid nothing for his article which makes me think that they might post my rip of his article. Wouldn't that be funny?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

OH, THOSE WAR CRIMES!!

Hey, remember a year ago (and before, I think) how the USGov and the USMil and Arbusto, himself, were boycotting/blowing off the International Criminal Court? In fact, at one point, the USGov went so far as to cut off funding to countries that didn't back US immunity from the ICC.

Well, taking into consideration the various war crimes that the USMil has now been accused of and others, they've pretty much already (unofficially) been found guilty of, it's hard to imagine that these crimes weren't part of the plan, all along.

And what's even more absurd is that the USGov/Mil has pushed the UN to guarantee them immunity against lawsuits brought against them once the handover of power to Iraqis occurs.

Here they are, basically found guilty of torturing Iraqi civilians, not giving them basic rights guaranteed under American Law (remember, Iraq is being occupied by America), let alone the rights guaranteed them by the Geneva Convention and International Law, and they don't want to take responsiblity for these acts?

What an incredibly AMERICAN thing to do.

Oh, I broke all these laws and hurt all of these people, I killed more than a few, too, and I don't want to have to compensate anyone for these actions?

Is the USGov being run by a 12 year-old??

Don't answer that! I already know that he's got the maturity of a 12 year-old.

And if you think all of this is just the ranting of a left-wing nut with his own website, think again:
"In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption,"
That's a quote from retired Marine General Anthony Zini's new book Battle Ready.

This isn't about being left-wing or right-wing.

If you're interested in the core values of America, you know that what the Bush 43 Admin, the USGov and the USMil have all done since 911 is wrong. They've wiped out the governments of two countries, killed untold tens of thousands of innocent civilians, tortured many others, and half of those acts had nothing to do with 911.

What's worse is that this isn't a partisan issue. Both sides are guilty here. The Dems in the USGov did not stand up with many Americans to say that what was about to happen abroad and at home (the Patriot Act and friends) was wrong. Our own government did not heed the loudest and clearly most accurate voices of the US citizenry.

Our entire government has let us down.

Not just the right, but the left, as well.

Too bad there's no middle who could take charge.

Read how the now defunct news blog at ThePete.Com covered the USGov's punishment of countries that didn't support US immunity in the ICC from July 2003.

Read coverage of the USMil's immunity from lawsuits in post-hand-over Iraq at the UK's Observer/Guardian website.

Read about this story over at the BBC News website.

Funny how I can't find any American news sources for the USMil-war-crimes-immunity story.

You can head over to the CBS News website to read about Anthony Zinni's new book and the wonderful things he says about the USGov/Mil's planning of the Iraq Attack. I'm being sarcastic, he has very little good to say, apparently.

Just to add a bit more context to Zinni's comments, you can check out a Scottsman article that details a memo by UKGov Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's office that describes the USMil's actions in Iraq as "heavy handed". Again, no American source for this story... Jeez, you'd think there was some sort of conspiracy or something... ;)

To do Today, Sunday, the Supposed Day of Rest...

Well, from yesterday, I still need to do a few things and I have my regular stable of crap I have to do every day... but here's the list, I know you love reading it! :crazy:

1) 1 hour on each TheKey Books 1 and 3.
2) Go for a walk. (Gotta get SOME kind of physical exercise!)
3) Dayjob for at least three hours.
4) Finish the dishes.
5) Work on digital phase of ThePeteMan comic.
6) Finish at least one homemade GITSSAC DVD and redo MST DVD. (These are for my own use, BTW!)
7) Work on FRS project at a friend's website... (I keep forgetting to work on that!!)
8) Hang out with friends... HA!

OK, I think that's enough for a supposed day of rest...

NO BIKING FOR BUSH!

bushbooboo (92k image)


I'm sorry, but when a bag of pretzels is a threat to national security, this man should not be allowed to ride a bike!

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Saturday's Here and is my Schedule Any Lighter? NOPE!

Well, as usual, my weekends are just as busy as my weeks. Here's my list of things to do today:

1) Begin work on digital phase of ThePeteMan comic (I finally started!! I expect to do at least a page a day until it's done. Meanwhile, I have to start formatting the other 45 pages of the first issue of ThePete.Comic)
2) 2 hours on TheKey Book 1, 1 hour on TheKey Book 3. (Although I didn't spend a full 2 hours on book 1, I did get enough done.)
3) Print out TheKey Book 2. (Didn't happen - totally forgot!)
4) Dayjob work for 4 hours. (Deadline's not until Monday at 5pm, so I didn't bother. Will try to get as much done on Sunday as I can.)
5) Clean up web site and restore contact page, theforum and a few other things. (NOPE!)
6) Wash the dishes. (Did most of them, but ran out of hot water. Will finish the rest Sunday.)
7) Spend 1 hour of quality time with the DVR (Digital Video Recorder), working on Twilight Zone, MST3K and/or GITSSAC dubbing projects. (Created two new MST3K DVDs although one has to be redone :( )
8) Interrupt this schedule to go to the Apple store to buy an iTalk voice recording mic for my iPod.

Hm... seems like a long list. I may not get to all of this today... grr... well, at least I have Sunday.

Friday, May 21, 2004

She's Trying to get a Refund Approved...

Well, I got a call from Jennifer almost precisely 2 hours after I called her back. She tried immediately to sell me on a G4 iBook. She didn't even apologize, just saying something like "let's see if we can't take care of a replacement for you."

She went on to explain that she "had available" a 1ghz G4 iBook with 256 mbs of RAM and she said she'd even throw in a free airport extreme card to help compensate me for all I've been through.

:doze:

I politely asked her if she had read my email and after she said that she had, I told her that I'd really just prefer to have a refund at this point. She still didn't apologize, which I think she should have since in my email I clearly stated that it was a stacked PowerBook or a refund that I wanted and that's it. Typical friggin' corporate mentality. "He want's two things that are fairly reasonable? Well, offer him a third that requires less from us and see if he goes for it. After all, we're a corporation, we're still in charge here."

I'm not going to sit and listen to what they "have available." I want what I want. I don't do what a corporation tells me.

.....

Well, as I was just typing this entry up (I hadn't even clicked "add entry" yet), Jennifer called back and has told me that I'll be getting a refund for the total amount I spent back in September - including tax!

So, in short, this is all OVER.

Of course, the check will take something like 2 weeks to get to me because it has to go through "channels" but at this point, I'm happy it's just done.

Now I have to decide whether or not to stick with an Apple for my replacement machine.

What I'm thinking right now is that I probably will just save up a few hundred more dollars and go with a PowerBook. During this crazy ordeal, everyone's been telling me how this is SUCH a massive fluke. One guy I spoke with said he's been using Apples since 1988 and has *never* had a bad machine. I have three die-hard Mac friends I talk to all the time who tell me that they are shocked by two things:

1) That my iBook was so problem-ridden.
2) That the Apple company has been so lame to me.

So, for now, I'm leaning towards trusting them and giving Apple one more chance. I figure, if I go with a PC, I know what I'll get. Warts and all. If I have hope at all that there exists a better OS than Windows, I think I should pursue it. After all, I'm going to get this kind of treatment (lousy) from any company I go with, so the whole "voting with your dollar" is a useless concept. I have to have a computer.

Of course, if I have this trouble again, you can bet I'll be raising hell...

Updates and Today's To Do List

Updates ABOUND today! I added a Natalie Portman to TheBeauty, new and distrubing pics to the Iraqi Torture pic archive, another entry in the iBook Saga and even a new Pocket Review.

Here's what's up for the rest of my day:

1) Edit TheKey Book 1 for two hours and Book 3 for 1 hour.
2) Go for a walk.
3) Do dayjob work for 4 hours. (But didn't finish as much of it as I wanted. :( )
4) Begin digital work on ThePeteMan. (STILL didn't get to this. Will do this Saturday.)
5) Watch some anime. (Watched a few hours of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex - yaaaaay!)
6) Get interrupted sometime today with a phone call from Apple Customer Relations. This to do list may change based on the results of this call. If the results don't change this list, I'll call Cingular to find out why they want to charge me $90 despite the fact I cancelled my service two months ago and paid them in full, then. I also need to call Sprint and get them to remove the extra deposit charge from my last bill. They charged me twice for a deposit because we were going to add TheFiancee's cell onto my plan but have changed our minds. (With the positive news on my refund, I totally forgot to call Cingular and will now have to wait until Monday...)

OK, that all seems reasonable enough. As usual, any italics you see above are updates.

Another Email to Steve Jobs

Welp, yesterday afternoon, I sent another email to Steve Jobs. I decided that it really shouldn't take longer than 24 hours to find out whether or not they can do a refund or a replacement. So, I sent another email, but this time went for broke. Here it is, but feel free to skim past the bits you already know about, like the timeline:
Dear Mr. Jobs,

Once again, I am writing you to express my frustration and dissatisfaction with the way I've been treated by your company and my experience with an iBook. I sent my last email to you on May 5 and while I appreciate the action taken, things have actually gotten worse. After having all of my trouble with one of your iBooks, I have run into more trouble with your customer relations department. What follows is a timeline of events. It's very long and for that I apologize. However, I would really appreciate it if you would read the whole thing, since it took me much, much longer to live through it.

1) September 26, 2003 - I buy a 900mhz, dual USB, 12 inch iBook.

2) December 24, 2003 (Christmas Eve) - the logic board fails. It takes 2 weeks for Apple to get my iBook back to me.

3) March 18, 2004 (less than three months later) - I drop my iBook off at my local Apple store because my repaired logic board has failed again. I asked for a replacement machine, which I was told could not happen. One Apple Care person told me that it would need to break three times before a replacement could be provided. It's a week before I get my iBook back.

4) April 27, 2004 - My iBook's hard drive refuses to let me write to it. I took it in, the Geniuses at the Apple store's Genius Bar can't work out what's wrong with it. I wipe the drive and install OS 10.3 fresh. Same problem. I take out the extra RAM I installed and get the same problem. I ask for a replacement, Apple Care still says no. At this point my iBook has been non-functional for a total of just under 4 weeks out of 7 months of ownership. I speak to everyone I can at Apple over the following days. Finally, someone mentions Apple Customer Relations. I got in touch with them and the woman insisted that my iBook be repaired again. She was actually quite pushy about it.

5) May 5,2004 - Fed up, I take a friend's advice and email you directly. The next day, I get a call from Robin Roberts at Apple Customer Relations in response to the email I sent. I call and leave a message, but it's the following Monday before I hear from her again.

6) May 10, 2004 - I finally get in touch with Robin. She's very nice but still insists that a replacement is out of the question. (Honestly, she's the nicest person I've spoken with on the phone from Apple. The other 8 or so people were not bastards, but they were a little on the rude side.) She promised me that if my iBook broke down a fourth time, she would make sure that it got replaced. I then told her that I had no time in my schedule to get it to my local Apple store and that if it wasn't replaced, it would just sit in a corner and collect dust. She then told me she'd same-day-ship an empty laptop shipping box to me the next day. The Airborne guy would wait there for me while I packed it up. Then, because it was just the hard drive that needed to be replaced, she said that they could have it fixed the same day and overnight-shipped to me for a Thursday (May 13) delivery. I told her if she could take care of all of that, I would do it. She assured me she would oversee everything.

7) May 11, 2004 - A guy from Airborne shows up, but he has no box for me, telling me I can just give him my laptop and that "it'll be fine." I told him there was no way I was going to give him my laptop without a box. He told me he'd be back with a box and 30 minutes later, he was. I packed it up, on the outside I wrote the tracking number I got from an Apple Care guy Robin put me in touch with. I handed the box to the Airborne guy.

8) May 12, 2004 - The *same* Airborne guy shows up again. This time with an empty laptop box. It's not the same one he gave me - it's a different color and the packing foam inside is different, plus, this box actually had my name and address on it. I take the box and sign for it. I call Robin and leave her a voice mail. She calls me back and is concerned. She hangs up with me to call Airborne. A couple hours later, she calls me back and says everything's okay that the tech guys have my laptop but that they won't be able to fix it until Thursday (May 13) and that it would be overnight-shipped back to me for a Friday delivery. She apologized for pushing it back a day. I said that it was okay.

9) May 13, 2004 - Robin calls me and tells me that when the tech guys opened up the laptop box, inside was a Dell laptop. She then explained that there was a Dell repair center up the road from the Apple repair center and that they'd track it down. She apologized, obviously embarrassed about being so sure everything would be fine. I told her, basically, that things go wrong and that's the way life is. I asked her to call me as soon as she knew anything. I don't hear from her for the rest of the day. I call her twice to find out if she's heard anything and leave voice mails both times. I tried calling Friday (the next day) to leave another message, but her voice mailbox was full. I call again on Monday and her outgoing voice mail message now says she won't be in her office until Tuesday (May 18).

10) May 18, 2004 - I get a call from a guy called Patrick (I couldn't make out his last name). He leaves a voice mail for me on my cell phone telling me that he's taking over my case because Robin has been unavoidably taken out of the office. I call him back less than 15 minutes later, and as always when calling Apple CR, I leave a message. I don't hear from him for 24 hours.

11) May 19, 2004 - I get a call from Patrick. The first thing he says is that he's trying to get a conference call together between the Apple shipping guys, Airborne and himself to work out where my iBook is. It's now been *a week* since my iBook disappeared and they still haven't found it. I explain that I don't really want to wait for Apple to repair my iBook. He then jumps the gun, assuming I want a replacement machine and says that while he thinks I have a good case for an exception to be made, he would need to "look into it" to know for sure. Then I tell him that I don't really feel like trusting another iBook. After all the trouble I've had, to me, it makes no sense to do so. I tell him I want a refund. He tells me that odds are, a refund will be out of the question "due to the age of the system." (I'm not sure the relevance of the age of the system since the system is nowhere to be found.)

It's been 24 hours and I've heard nothing from Patrick. How long does it take to find out if you can do a refund or not?

At this point, I feel like I have been incredibly patient. Even my friends who are intensely loyal to the Apple brand are telling me I should demand not a refund, but a PowerBook packed with extras. They insist that I should be compensated not just for the lost time with the iBook I paid $1400 for last fall, but for the amount of effort I've had to go through to get it repaired each time.

In a perfect world, I'd demand compensation above and beyond just having a laptop computer that works and expect to get it. But based on the way I've been treated by Apple so far, I don't expect much of anything. I'm beyond frustration and anger. If I could go back in time to September 25, 2003 and warn myself away from my iBook, I would. Which is a shame, since I really do prefer the Mac OS to Windows. But at this point, I've got such a bad taste in my mouth from my experiences with Apple, the company, I don't know what to do.

Honestly, if you were to offer me a PowerBook packed with extras, like my Mac-friends tell me I should demand, I don't think I'd turn it down, assuming it came with a full year's warranty. But, being just as honest, I just want all of this to go the hell away. In other words, a refund will do me just fine, thank you very much. So, if you want to make me happy, a new PowerBook would do it. If you want to just make me not utterly despise your company for the rest of my life a refund will do. But whatever happens, it's got to happen fast. I am very much fed up with waiting days for return phone calls from people in your Customer Relations department. It takes 5 seconds to tell me if my iBook has been found or not, or if a refund is possible, or whatever.

For various reasons, I have now been unable to use the iBook I bought last fall for over three weeks. That puts the total amount of downtime for this iBook in the 7 months and three weeks I've had it to 6 weeks.

I really wanted to have a positive experience with Apple.
I figure that was nice and fair. As it turns out, I got a call from Apple Customer Relations first thing this morning. In fact, I was woken to their call. Of course, since it was barely past 9am, I let the voice mail get it - I could barely think, let alone talk to anyone thanks to being up until 3am the night before.

Within 40 minutes (I had to shower just to wake up), I return the call I got from Jennifer at Apple CR and, once again got her voice mail. I left a message. It's approaching 2 hours later and no call back. I guess these people never learn. The voice mail Jennifer left me said that she wanted to me to return her call so everything could be resolved. She made it sound like it could all happen in one phone call. I hope it's that simple. I'm sure, eventually, I'll find out if it is... and so will you.

TROY (2004)

Troy (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)Entertaining? Yes, but most of it is due to not excising the best bits of the source material.
Technically any good? Yes and no. Acting, directing fight scenes, everything was hit and miss.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? More satisfied than I expected. I was expecting this to be a big dumb action movie, but it ended up being not as dumb, only because some of Homer's original ideas from The Iliad did not get completely lost. Also, I enjoyed the one-on-one fight scenes and the light exploration of duality in war. It also would have been nice if we could have seen even 1/10th the amount of female flesh as we saw of male flesh. It's ancient Greece, for crying out loud, you'd think there'd be at least ONE stray naked booby...
Final Rating? SAM (Not astounding, but not utter crap, either.)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

My To-Do List for Today

Ha-ha, we'll see how this works out! Time to make that patented ThePete Positive Atitude pay off!

OK, here's my plan for today (with updates in italics):

1) Check email, eat lunch.
2) Edit The Key Book 1 for 2 hours and Book 3 for 1 hour. (finished at 3:30pm)
3) Send nasty email to Steve Jobs about slow response time from Patrick at Apple Customer Relations. (Assuming Patrick doesn't call me before then.) (Patrick didn't call and it took my 90 minutes to write the email... grr... but it's a good one. I'll post it when I can sneak a moment in.)
4) Print out a copy of Book 2. While this is happening go for a walk and get a boba. (Thanks to taking so long to write my nasty email to Steve Jobs, I don't have time for this at all.)
5) Write copy for 4 hours (day job) (Didn't get through quite as much as I wanted to, but there's always tomorrow!)
6) Begin work lettering ThePeteMan 5-page comic (No time for this, alas, thanks to the tickets already being gotten, so we're going to see "Troy." I need to eat dinner and there's no time to work on ThePeteMan AND eat before the movie... :( There's always tomorrow!)
7)If all goes according to schedule, see a movie. Either Troy or Van Helsing. (I know, they're both crappy, but they'll still be fun to quip to!) And if we don't hit a movie, I've got to watch some anime. (Saw Troy. Better than I expected!)

So, that's the plan.

Oh yeah, and I'll squeeze dinner in there some place, too...

Wish me luck!

BUSH 43 ADMIN'S FAKE PRO-MEDICARE BILL TV "NEWS" STORIES RULED ILLEGAL

Well, those fake news spots the Bush 43 Admin produced and sent to television news rooms around the country have been found to be illegal, according to a UPI article at the Washington Times website. From the May 20, 2004 article:
The General Accounting Office has deemed the Bush administration's videotapes about Medicare propaganda and illegal, the New York Times said.

The investigative arm of Congress said the videos were a form of "covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, which were broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets.
The same article ends with the following:
William Pierce, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which helped develop the videos, said the tapes were not covert.

"TV stations knew the videos came from us and could have identified the government as the source if they had wanted to."
Does anyone inside the Bush 43 Admin realize how incredibly corrupt they make themselves look? I've SEEN one of the spots - it looks for all accounts like a real news spot - complete with fake reporter "Karen Ryan" narrating the spot. If the TV stations were supposed to say where the reports came from, how were they to do that exactly? How about this:

"And now message from the US Government that includes half-truths, omissions and outright lies. ENJOY!"

Read the UPI article for yourself over at the Washington Times website.

Read how I covered this story back in March of 2004.

From WashingtonTimes.com:

Ruling: Medicare video was propaganda

Washington, DC, May. 20 (UPI) -- The General Accounting Office has deemed the Bush administration's videotapes about Medicare propaganda and illegal, the New York Times said.

The investigative arm of Congress said the videos were a form of "covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, which were broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets.

The GAO said a specific part of the videos, a made-for-television "story package," violated the prohibition on using taxpayer money for propaganda.

People seeing the videos in a newscast would "believe that the information came from a non-government source or neutral party," it said.

The accounting office said the videos were "not strictly factual news stories" and were flawed by "notable omissions and weaknesses" in their explanation of the Medicare law. But the main problem, it said, is that they were "misleading as to source."

William Pierce, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which helped develop the videos, said the tapes were not covert.

"TV stations knew the videos came from us and could have identified the government as the source if they had wanted to."
Copyright 2004 United Press International

FLASHBACK: BUSH 43 ADMIN STAGES PHONY PRO-MEDICARE BILL NEWS REPORTS

From SFGate.com and the San Francisco Chronicle:
In order to sell the complicated and skimpy plan to seniors, the Department of Health and Human Services is paying actors to pose as journalists in bogus TV "news'' reports. Videos have been sent to TV stations, along with government-prepared scripts for news anchors to read. The idea is to make propaganda appear to be unbiased news during prime-time viewing.

It's a covert effort to exploit both the press and public. Coupled with the misinformation about the bill, it paints an alarming picture of a White House unconstrained about using deceit.
The above may be from the editorial page of the SF Chronicle, but the facts are there. George W. Bush is a liar. Anyone who believes anything he says should wake up and smell what "W" is shoveling.

How many more lies are we going to listen to from this guy before he gets impeached?

At this point, I hope he does stay in office for a second term - that way he can be punished for the treason he has committed against the US. Clinton did some horrible things in office and despite the impeachment, he got off scott-free. So did Nixon - of course, Nixon got pardoned by Ford after resigning. It's likely that Kerry would do the same for Bush. After all, they were in the same fraternity, right?

Read the above referenced editorial at SFGate.com.

This was originally posted in TheNewsBlog (now defunct) on March 16, 2004.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The AGE of the SYSTEM???

Well, I FINALLY heard back from Apple just now. This new guy Patrick was nicer than I expected, but was still annoying. He said that he was trying to get Airborne, his shipping guys and himself on a conference call to figure out where my iBook is. So, a week later and they still don't know where it is.

:crazy:

Then I explain that at this point it's silly for me to continue to wait for Apple to repair my iBook. Twice it's broken down and been repaired only to break down again. He then said that a replacement is perfectly reasonable at this point and will look into if an exception can be made in Apple policy. (He says he thinks I have a good case for it! :laugh: ) Then I explain that I don't think going with another iBook is really worth it for me. I told him that while I know Apple has a great reputation for having good hardware, in my experience, it's been exactly the opposite and that if I go with another iBook and it just happens to be another lemon, I'll only have myself to blame. In short, I asked for a refund. He then hemmed and hawed for a few moments and said that he can look into that, but that a refund will probably be out of the question due to the age of the system.

Most computers take a long time to break down. It's absurd that this one has had catastrophic failures three times during it's first 6 months after I bought it brand new. So, it's too young to be having these kinds of problems, but it's too old to get a refund. :doze:

On top of that, the machine IS MISSING!!!

It was lost under THEIR SUPERVISION.

Is THAT grounds for a refund? I didn't say any of this to him, because I was afraid I'd get mad and that wouldn't do me any good. I'll be sure to mention it to him next time if the news is not positive. I did tell him that the sooner he can get back to me, the better. He said he understood.

I did mention that a refund would be better for me because then I'd be back in control of things. I also added that I hadn't decided whether to go back to PCs or not at this point. Hopefully, that will stick in his mind.

More as I know it!

:cool:

ADMINISTER DEPRESSION ANTIDOTE, STAT!

kittyyawn (14k image)



better... :satisfied:

Don't Read This Article - UPDATED

"If they let their feet or hands drop they were slapped and shouted at. Ahmad said he was forced to insert a finger into his anus and lick it. He was also forced to lick and chew a shoe. For some of the interrogation tissue paper was placed in his mouth and he had difficulty breathing and speaking. Sattar too said he was forced to insert a finger into his anus and lick it. He was then told to insert this finger in his nose during questioning, still kneeling with his feet off the ground and his other arm in the air. The Arab interpreter told him he looked like an elephant.
The above was taken from an account given by three Reuters employees who were detained back in January of 2004 by American forces and held for downing an American helicopter.

Read more about this mess, if you're not completely disgusted/tired of it by now, at EditorandPublisher.com.

Oh yeah and according to a May 19, 2004 article at CNN.com, Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told the Senate on May 19, 2004 that "there was no pattern of prisoner abuse by American troops."

Read that article at CNN.com.

Last but not least, there are reports coming out of Iraq that an American gunship fired on a wedding party, killing more than 40 people. The AP claims that they shot video tape of a truck that carried the bodies from the wedding. Thanks to the bodies being piled on top of one another (at least one missing a head) an exact count was impossible.

Read more about this at My Way News.

UPDATED 5/20/4 11:15am: This attack has been justified by US forces as a planned attack on an insurgent safe house. They're saying that the wedding was a cover for smuggling in fighters from outside the country to help fight US forces.

Read more about USMil excuses for firing on a wedding at CNN.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar!

tonyrandall (57k image)
Tony Randall tought me how to be anal.


And it's true - he did. I grew up watching reruns of The Odd Couple and stumbling across cinematic gems and a few guilty pleasures, like The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao on weekend afternoon TV. He always made me laugh and take him seriously at the same time. He will be missed.

And yes, I know it's linguini and NOT spaghetti... :D

Giving Women Leaders a Bad Name

Sonia Gandhi is probably the dumbest woman who ever lived. Not to say that she's stupid, she's got to be quite a leader if she was able to surprise everyone by being elected over India's incumbent who has provided a strong economy and steps toward peace with Pakistan. But she is stupid because she's decided that she doesn't want to be Prime Minister of India. She also said that it was never her intent, but that "I want to give India a secular government that is strong and stable."

Whatever the hell that means.

When she made the announcement, supporters and others in government pleaded with her to reconsider. Literally pleaded. According to BBC News one minister was in tears as he begged her to stay. She still refused saying that she is simply listenning to her "inner voice."

No joke, that's what she said.

What a friggin' woman.

Apparently, her inner voice has told her to ditch on account of the fact that people are attacking her credibility because she was born in Italy. She must feel that these attacks would damage her administration's credibility. Ha! How do you like that? She was elected by the people of India - she was the clear winner - she's still worried about credibility? King George should take a few lessons from her!

But then, there's this guy:
GangacharanRajput (17k image)
Reuters
That's Gangacharan Rajput of the Indian Congress. According to the caption that accompanies that pic over at Yahoo News, he's threatening to kill himself if she doesn't reconsider. Assumably, he'll lose his nerve when she doesn't lose hers. For now, though, he doesn't seem to care that she was born in Italy.

But, what's Gandhi going to do instead?

Instead, she's going to chose a person whom she feels should become Prime Minister. No one knows if the rest of the Indian government will simply approve of that choice or vote on it.

First McCain is too Republican and now Gandhi turns down the top seat after she was elected. What a great example for a woman to set for the world. How many men are thinking right now "Her country is crazy enough to elect someone without a penis and she's crazy enough to turn it down? She MUST be on the rag!"

I am getting SO tired of people who don't realize their own ability to effect others positively.

Read more about Gandhi's decision at BBC News.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Oh, the Humanity...

Wow, I could be writing about any number of things, right now. Iraq is a mess and America is most of the reason for it. This is not to say that all Americans are bad or that even the USGov is all bad. But I do have to say most of the USGov is bad. Some may mean well, but mostly, people are only in superficial things like party loyalty and keeping their jobs and, well, that's it really.

My hero in the Republican party has an opportunity to change the world and the course of history, but instead he has chosen to put party loyalty over the interests of the American people and also, the people of Earth in general. Kerry has said that John McCain should run on Kerry's ticket.

This would change everything. It would allow the Republicans to vote for one of their own AND vote Bush out. It would allow the Democrats who don't like Kerry to vote for someone who is a little more dynamic. (A LOT more.) It would truly unite the parties in a way that has never been done before. But rather than rise to the challenge and changing the world and making history, McCain feels that his reputation and the reputation of Bush 43 is more important that making a powerful statement of unity to the country, to the world and to history.

The problem right now is that the Republicans (and the Democrats, to a large degree) don't seem to care what history will think of them. All they care about is the "right now" and the next election cycle.

McCain is a good and decent man, but he is too interested in the traditional "value" of being "accepted" among the people he agrees most with. He is too scared to move outside the box and stand up for, what, in the end is the right thing.

It's undeniable that Bush 43 has been a rotten president. He took the post-911 good will that the world had for us and turned it into hatred for us. He appointed people who care nothing of human life, not to mention the lives of American soldiers or the Geneva Convention. On 911, somehow three planes managed to kill 3000 people on the ground, yet Bush 43 has never stepped forward and explained why fighters weren't scrambled in time to shoot down the planes, which is standard procedure. When Payne Stewart's plane went off course back in 1999, less than twenty minutes after air traffic controllers lost touch with the pilot, an F-16 intercepted the plane and could have shot it down had it been heading toward a city.

In Iraq we were told several things by the Bush 43 Admin that did not end up being the case.

1) Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
2) The invasion would be swift and short.
3) The Iraqi people would welcome us. (I believe the phrase was "They throw flowers at our feet.")
4) We have to get this ruthless tyrant out of power.

And here's how it worked out:

1) The only thing they've found after more than a year of being in Iraq is a single bomb with a small amount of nerve gas in it. When it exploded, it barely harmed two US soldiers. Not exactly a threat to the USA or even Israel. In fact, one of the things Rumsfeld said early on suggested we would find the WMD in a matter of days or weeks.

2) The invasion was not swift or short. Over a year after Bush 43 declared major combat operations to be at an end, the number of USMil soldiers was higher than the total loss during the official part of the war. In fact, the very urban guerilla warfare that critics of the Iraq Attack had warned about before the invasion is exactly what US troops have faced (and still face)in cities like Falujah, Najaf and Karbala.

3) While many Iraqi people were happy to see Saddam go, the last thing they were expecting was to see their people wrongfully imprisoned and tortured at one of Saddam's old prisons. The second to last thing they expected was for the US to screw up the few things that Saddam did right, like stable water and power supplies and rights for women.

4) In all honesty, we did NOT need to get this ruthless tyrant out of power. Sure, in the past year a few more thousand Iraqi civilians would probably have suffered and died directly or indirectly because of Saddam, but that's a fraction of the number of civilians that have died because of the US invasion. As I write this the figure is around 11,000 Iraqi civilians dead. Another point is that there are much worse regimes in the world. Take US ally, Saudi Arabia. Did you know they have a religious police? If you think insurgents decapitating someone is savage, how about a government that stones a woman for committing adultery. A law there says stoning someone is ok! Even capital punishment in the US is more humane than stoning to death - and this is part of their LAWS.

The point is. the Bush 43 Admin has made a lot of mistakes. Many, toward the left, think that Bush and Company have lied to the American people and to the people of the world. Those to the right say that it was bad intelligence. But that suggests that the Bush 43 Admin can't tell when it is bad intelligence. So, the argument then becomes, either they were lying or they were stupid for not knowing the truth.

Now, the way the United States was built was partially based on the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. I've served on a jury and we had to decide whether these two men were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if we had any doubts at all, ANY at all about whether they were guilty or not, we should pronounce them not guilty.

This was not done in the case of Iraq.

There was no conclusive evidence of WMD. There were things that pointed toward Saddam having WMD, but nothing connecting Saddam to WMD. In other words, there was a reasonable doubt.

Do you want to see more people die in Iraq, both Iraqi's and Americans?

Do you want to see the Bush 43 Admin make fools of the ideals America was supposed to have been founded on?

Do you want Bush to tell you more things that aren't true?

Hell, the Republicans called Clinton an evil guy, but the only thing he was convicted of was lying under oath. Bush 43 has broken International Law, and indirectly committed war crimes. If that's not enough for impeachment, I don't know what is.

Screw voting him out - he needs to be charged with crimes. He needs to be impeached and taken from office. We need to send a message to the future that the American people of the early 21st century put their differences aside and took care of business.

Do you call yourself a conservative? Do you call yourself a liberal? Do you call yourself an American?

I do.

And justice must be served.

Of course, in my mind we should have never let it get this bad. I feel like we should have been able to trust Bush 43 to do the right thing, as well as ourselves, as well as Saddam and Osama and so on. We humans should trust each other to do the right thing for all of humanity, not just for our own personal interests. I don't write this because I think it will some how make me money. I don't write this because I plan to run for office some day. I write this because I hope in some way it will make the world a better place.

Imagine if Osama had just decided to write a blog instead of killing 3000 people. What a better world this would be...

And Bush would still be assumed to be a dumb ass. Which, of course, is the truth.

Ah, humans... most of us are dumb asses.

Check out everything the Bush 43 Admin has said to mislead you about the Iraq Attack. Seriously, it's a really cool site - you can search for lies by subject or the person who said them! COOL!