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THE INKSTREME BALLPOINT
ADVENTURES

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Greetings from the Jolly Judge!

Holy cats, it's been a crazy couple of days!

We spent over 26 hours in a row just getting to the farm house we're staying in for the first four days of our time in Edinburgh. It's quite literally in the middle of nowhere and virtually technology-free. There's no phone (!!) no cable TV, although we've got a whopping 8 channels, and, needless to say, no Internet. It's actually a cottage with horse stables on one side and a field of wheat on the other.

But first things, first! The trip was hellish, but luckily went fairly smoothly, for us, anyway. Our stop-over at JFK (formerly known as Idlewild before JFK died) was just right. Just long enough to update my blog but not too long as to be bored. In fact I tried out my Skype number and voice chatted (sp?) with Tim Toon for about 15 minutes or so. It was pretty cool--especially since we were doing it for free :)

As soon as I got off "the phone" with Tim, we had just enough time to get sandwiches from the good pain (Au Bon Pain) and get aboard the plane to London. We were a little concerned with a couple sat in front of us with their very small child, but as it turned out, she was perfectly well behaved and the trip was quiet and comfortable. Well, as comfortable as you can be travelling coach, 7 hours to London. The food on this flight was slightly better than the last in that we didn't have to pay for it and we got dinner and just short of a full meal for breakfast.

The entertainment on both flights was kind of a joke, but on the flight to Heathrow we got a lot more variety of crap to not watch. Instead I played a bit of my DS and read my step-dad's book.

Annoyingly, there's something about the air onboard planes that makes me tired, so I did actually manage to sleep a bit--but only for an hour or so. We got to London at about 9am local time which put it at 2am LA time. We got our checked bags from the "baggage reclaim hall" after going through customs. 30 seconds of interaction with a native Briton was all it took for me to annoy him. It was the customs agent who, once he stamped my passport, wished me a good trip. I replied with "Same to you. Well, have a nice day or whatever."

"Yes," he said and looked to the next person in line.

Way to feel like a dork five seconds in the country, Pete!

We then grabbed our checked bags after literally seconds of waiting and made our way to the Underground. No terrorists as far as I could see, although I did notice a lot of bobbies wandering around keeping an eye on things. Though, I didn't feel nervous about them shooting me until I got to Kings Cross where the pleasant, fluorescent yellow coloured police officers were replaced by SWAT-looking cops equiped not only with pistols but with submachine guns, too.

The Underground trip was fun--or would have been if we weren't weighed down by the clothese we'd be wearing for the next 2 weeks. At one point I wasn't sure we'd be able to get off the train because there were so many people on the train--with our bulk we simply couldn't make them create a big enough hole for us to escape through. Luckily, they all got off the train with us.

Once at Kings Cross we made our way to the "rail station" which is above the Underground station. This is the giant trainstation that I think we saw in the Harry Potter movies--where he catches the train to his magic school. This was where we were supposed to meet up with three other members of our crew. They're Dana, Joe and David--they're all involved in the show TheFiancee is performing in at the Fringe. We were supposed to meet them at a place called "Cooper's" which was a sit-down restaurant TheFiancee had found on a map online. I suggested we go with a place called "Taste" because that was an easier name to remember.

Alas, when we got there, there was no Cooper's. So, we waited by Taste, instead. Turns out Cooper's had its name changed to Duke of York. We weren't sure how long we were going to have to wait, so we just hung out. We grabbed some food and beverage from Taste and people-watched for abotu 3 hours. We had no cell phones to coordinate with, so finally we gave up hope around 2 and hopped on the train to Edinburgh by ourselves. At this point, I was barely conscious. TheFiancee had managed to sleep a lot while on the plane, but despite how sleepy I was, I could only manage that hour.

On the train, however, I was fatigued enough to just not care. Of course, as irony would have it, this was when we ran into a loud kid. This kid was very much interested in seeing just how loud he could scream. What was worse was that every time he seemed satisfied that he had reached his loudest, he would only decide to renew the test and scream some more. His parents were impotent to stop him.

Man, was I in a lousy mood by the time we got to Edinburgh. The train ride took 4.5 hours instead of the 4 we had heard and when you're in that lousy a mood the extra 30 minutes were killers. However, once in Edinburgh, my mood changed substantially. It's such a beautiful city, just stepping outside the station was a spirit-lifter.

We got a cab and the poor guy driving it had no idea where our farm house was. I was pretty sure he said he'd "have to pass" on taking us, but when TheFiancee produced directions on paper, he had a look and decided he'd give it a go.

"It's OK if you get lost, man," I told him. "We've been on the road from Los Angeles for 26 hours, we're just happy to be here and to be close to where we get to sleep for more than a couple hours in a row."

"Oh, OK," he said. His accent was wonderfully thick. ""I won't get lost though, don't worry.""

He studied the directions some more and then added "I probably shouldn't have said that."

We laughed as he began the trip. He did manage to get lost a little, but like I said, we didn't care. We were just happy to be where we were. The sights were beautiful and ancient and everything we had remembered from our visit back in 2000.

Finally, after we stopped twice to ask for directions, we found the cottages we'd be staying in. They were down a long, unpaved road surrounded by fields and patches of trees as far as the eye could see (literally). We met up with our hosts who were very cool. They were Joe's mom and step-dad and both were surprised to see us, but not Joe, Dana and David. In fact, they saw my long hair and assumed I was David--but David's a blond and not as good looking as me ;)

We got our stuff situated in the cottage next door to their's and did manage to be social for a bit. Since we'd never met them before getting there, I thought it would be a good idea to show them that we weren't psychos or anything. We got along well and were very nice, friendly and hospitable. Joe's mom even made us dinner, which was pretty tasty, actually. Locally made sausages and pasta--yummy. As we made our way back to our cottage to go to sleep, we were amazed that it was still so light out--at 9pm!

We took a quick look at the field of wheat and then headed in. The accomodations were so rustic (I think that's the word) but in a good way. Living there will be seriously old-skool for the next couple days. I laid down on that bed and vanished into unconsciousness. I was so dead and it wasn't even 10pm local time, yet. I can't remember the last time I was in bed while the sun was still up.

Then, in the middle of the night, my eyes snapped open.

'Gotta check the news!' was the thought that popped into my head. Then I remembered that I couldn't because our cottage has electricity, running water and that's it. Then I noticed light coming from behind the curtains.

Was it still light out?

I slid out of bed and pulled the curtain slightly aside. Yep--still light out.

'How long have I been asleep?' I thought to myself as I moved to my iPod which lay on the floor recharging next to my PowerBook. I hit the button and maneuvered the readout to display the clock. 9pm LA time is what it told me--that made it 4am my time. Still light at 4am??

I do not know how I'll be able to write with the sun up the whole time I'm here...

When we awoke, the coolness of our situation hit me.

We just woke up...

...on a farm...

in Scotland!


Click the pic to watch a short mp4 video of our back yard and the stables nearby. I'll try to post more footage later.


Joe's folks were nice enough to have breakfast almost waiting for us when we made our way over. Over that breakfast we talked politics and discovered we've got a few opinions in common :)

We also formulated the plan for the day. Through the caretaker of the cottages (and her phone) we managed to get in touch with Joe and the others. It turns out their plane was delayed 5 hours--they got into Edinburgh extremely late and just stayed at a hotel over night. So, Joe's step-dad drove TheFiancee and I to the hotel they had stayed at which was in the center of Edinburgh. We climbed out and they climbed in.

We had to find a 'net connection! We wandered around on foot for a bit but eventually stumbled upon the Jolly Judge--it's on High Street in the middle of a very old area of Edinburgh. We actually found this place listed at wififreespots.com but managed to stumble upon it by accident. The Jolly Judge is a pub down a "close" or alley. Alley's here are not seedy or gross at all but in fact are clean, tidy and the home to many a shop and restaurant.


Here is the baked potato stuffed with Haggis that TheFiancee and I ate while typing up this blog entry.
And that pretty much takes us to this very moment. TheFiancee got bored waiting for me to finish using my PowerBook and went off by herself where she was able to find a pair of nail clippers--thanks honey!

Now, I'm going to set about transfering and uploading the pics and video I took on my minicam once fixing the damn thing with the help of a multi-purpose tool Joe's step-dad let me borrow. Keep watching ThePete.Com for more of my international adventures!!

Friday, July 29, 2005

GREETINGS FROM IDLEWILD AIRPORT!

Howdy folks! Just got into gate 22 at terminal 8 at JFK airport in New York. I've got about an hour to wait to board and I managed to sneak online via someones crucially placed router. It's supposed to be a pay zone, but someone's office must be nearby or something.

Anyway, so the first leg of the flight went by smooth as hell. I was dead tired and managed to sleep for about an hour. The only bump came when I wanted to shoot the take off through the window with my minicam only to discover that it wasn't getting any power. I know what's wrong with it and I could fix it in minutes if I only had my Swiss Army knife or even my jeweler's screwdriver, but both would have been confiscated by security before I got on the plane. So, thanks to overzealous security rules that assume a terrorist would use a jewelers screwdriver to hold a plane hostage, I have to wait until I get to London to fix my camera. Of course, I might even have to wait until Edinburgh, which would suuuuck!

In general, though--all is well. I'll post again from London. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Packing, Packing and More Packing!

Our last night in LA is upon us! We've managed to pick up almost all of what we need for the trip. We'll be heading out later to pick up some last minute items from CVS. Tomorrow we get up bright and early to mail off some junk to Lisa (of OnLisaReinsRadar.com) and then our airport shuttle shows up at 8:30am--which might as well be 6:30am for all I care. Anything before noon is going to be pretty annoying to me...

OH and if you haven't donated to TheEuropean Adventure cause yet, it's not too late! Just hit that link in the header to find out how to donate or help out without spending any money at all. Thanks in advance!

That's what's so amazingly humbling about the 'net, people I don't know directly donating money to my cause. It's very humbling. I feel honored that people believe in what I'm trying to do.

All right, I've got to start packing now. Time is ticking! Hope you're having a great time where ever you are. I'll post more about the trip once it has begun. I doubt I'll have the time Friday morning to post anything but the very next 'net connection I run into I'll post an update.

JESSICA SIMPSON CENSORED ON IRAQ?

While I could stare at Jessica Simpson's boobs for a good portion of the day, until now, I'd never had expected her to be someone who would present a negative story about government. It turns out that she and her hubby were in Iraq to entertain the troops and had cameras follow them the whole time (big surprise). When they came back to the US, she expected some of the scary stuff they shot to be included in the episode of their show about the Iraq trip. Big surprise, it was not. Here's a quick excerpt from [http://www3.contactmusic.com/news/index16.htm|a blurb] at ContactMusic.com:
JESSICA SIMPSON wants to know where missing footage of her and husband NICK LACHEY's harrowing trip to Iraq got to - because she thinks Americans would like to see just how bad conditions are there.

...

Simpson says, "It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced."

Simpson letting the world know that she was censored?

Come on, if that isn't proof enough that we're living on Bizarro World, I don't know what is!
From ContactMusic.com:

SIMPSON UPSET ABOUT MISSING IRAQ FOOTAGE



JESSICA SIMPSON wants to know where missing footage of her and husband NICK LACHEY's harrowing trip to Iraq got to - because she thinks Americans would like to see just how bad conditions are there.

The pop singers-turned-reality TV couple travelled to the war-torn nation to visit US troops as part of a recent ABC TV variety special, and they were both left shellshocked by what they saw.

But all the controversial moments and harrowing footage of the trip didn't appear in the fun-filled TV show.

Simpson says, "It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced.

"It put everything in perspective for me. It really did teach me the definition of sacrifice. I can't even fathom being out there right now. I was ready to come home."

27/07/2005 03:12

UK TERROR COPS KILL INNOCENT MAN

I'm sure by now you've heard about that poor Brazillian guy in the UK who was shot and killed by authorities who practice a "shoot to kill first, say 'oops' later" policy. I haven't been sure how to approach this story, though it's fairly obvious what is wrong with this picture.

People need to understand that this is a perfect example of how power can be abused by government. This is why government should not be allowed to make life-or-death judgements without solid, obvious, blatant evidence of a threat to another person.

"Better to be safe than sorry" doesn't work here. A man completely unconnected to terrorism is dead because UK authorities didn't bother to look at their lack of evidence before they put five bullets in his head.

This is a very horrible thing--I just hope that UK terror cops have realized their mistake and I hope US terror cops learn from the British mistake.

This sort of thing is precisely what is wrong with big government anywhere in the world. Governments should not be able to legally make a call like UK terror cops did in this case.

"HE LOOKED GUILTY TO ME!"

Yes, well, so do you, does that mean I should shoot you before you kill again?

Of course not. But what gives you the right to take a life based on your own suspicions? Nothing. Proper judgements are based on evidence, not suspicions. The weak strike out at anything that seems like a threat. The strong are prepared but only react when attacked.

America and Britain, two of the most powerful countries in the world have now demostrated that they are seeing phantom threats where there are none. Yes, there have been bombers in London. But how many innocent people did UK authorities kill when they were hunting for IRA bombers? Do we want to return to that kind of violence? I don't think so.

What's worse is that people who think this "shoot to kill first and say 'oops' later" policy is good fail to see that they could be on the wrong end of that policy one day. Or worse, someone they care about or even love could be on the shit-end of that policy.

Hell, I'm not a terrorist but in less than 2 days, I'll be passing through one of the same subway stations that were bombed with a couple of giant backpacks. I'm white and I'm certainly not a terrorist. However, if my anscestors had been from Syria instead of Scotland, I'd be an instant suspect and if I didn't bow down to any cop's wishes, I could be shot.

To read more about this story, check out my friend Danny's take on it [http://www.upwingers.net/nexus/forum/viewtopic.php?t=131|in a post] on his forum at Upwingers.net.

Thanks be to Morgan for first telling me about this story and forwarding a bunch of links that made me sick to my stomach.

Power corrupts, folks. This dead innocent man is a sad reminder of that.

JAPANESE DEVELOP FEMALE ANDROID

Why does it not surprise me that the Japanese are the ones who made the first female android? Anyway, they did and she's both cool and creepy at the same time. To read more about her/it, check out [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4714135.stm|an article] at News.BBC.co.uk. Or head over to [http://ed-02.ams.eng.osaka-u.ac.jp/lab/development/Humanoid/ReplieeQ1/ReplieeQ1_eng.htm|the English project page] that not only describes the project, but has downloadable videos demonstrating how real, cool and creepy "Repliee" (as she/it is called) really is.

Touching Repliee is GoodI love the idea of robots taking over low-end jobs, allowing people to do more important things with their lives. This robot seems to be designed for basic things like being a receptionist, giving tours, and other lightly interactive activities. Of course, she/it can't walk, but the technology for walking robots exists already, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time before she/it can even do that.

From News.BBC.co.uk:
Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July, 2005, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK

Japanese develop 'female' android

By David Whitehouse
Science editor, BBC News website

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Repliee Q1 is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies.

She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 31 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

"I have developed many robots before," Repliee Q1's designer, Professor Ishiguro, told the BBC News website, "but I soon realised the importance of its appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence."

Designed to look human

Before Repliee Q1, Professor Ishiguro developed Repliee R1 which had the appearance of a five-year-old Japanese girl.

Its head could move in nine directions and it could gesture with its arm. Four high-sensitivity tactile sensors were placed under the skin of its left arm that made the android react differently to differing pressures.

The follow-up has the appearance of a Japanese woman. To program her motion, a computer analysed the motions of a human and used them as a template for the way Repliee Q1 moves.

She can be designed to follow the movement of a human wearing motion sensors or to act independently.

"Repliee Q1 can interact with people. It can respond to people touching it. It's very satisfying, although we obviously have a long way to go yet."

Professor Ishiguro believes that it may prove possible to build an android that could pass for a human, if only for a brief period.

"An android could get away with it for a short time, 5-10 seconds. However, if we carefully select the situation, we could extend that, to perhaps 10 minutes," he said.

"More importantly, we have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her. Consciously, it is easy to see that she is an android, but unconsciously, we react to the android as if she were a woman."

(c) BBC News 2005

Sneaking in Some Blogging...

Hey there, folks! Just checking in real quick with an update...

Yesterday, I spent most of the day shopping for things for the trip. I figure buying everything here would be better than waiting until we're in Scotland where the dollar isn't as strong would be a good idea. I bought some more clothes, shampoo exciting stuff like that. We also had to stock up on cat food so our two friends who are going to be looking in on our cats don't have to run any extra errands.

In total I spent more than $100 on everything--cat litter, cat food, disposable razors (because my Braun needs a voltage converter to function in Europe) were the big-ticket items. That 12-pack of razors was $20! Crazy how much it costs for little pieces of metal. Seems like a rip off to me. I also bought some T-shirts, four of which I customized last night with iron-on transfers I also bought yesterday.

I made an Otis the Elevator shirt, a Ballpoint Adventures shirt and then a Gatchaman and Laughing Man shirt. The former two shirts are comic strips I used to draw and hope to begin drawing again, soon. The latter are from my two favorite anime franchises. I'll be posting pics from Scotland and I'm sure I'll be wearing some of these Ts in them.

The funny thing is that the supplies to make the shirts weren't expensive at all. The shirts, themselves, we $10 for 5 and the transfers were $10 for 6. So for $20, I was able to make 4 cool T-shirts with material left over for one more. Pretty cool--I just have to remember not to dry these shirts with the "high" setting or the transfers will melt.

Today will be spent mostly packing. However, I do have a bit more shopping to do. I need a new pair of sunglasses and I was thinking about picking up a small pillow for the 16 hour plane/train rides.

Before I do any of that, I want to blog on a few things.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

FUN WITH NOMINEE ROBERTS

Just now listenning to yesterday's Democracy Now podcast. Turns out Bush's Supreme Court nom Roberts was one of the guys that told Bush that blowing off the Geneva Conventions for "enemy combatants" was cool. He was also a member of the ultra-con group the Federalist Society (I think that's what they're called).

Sounds like this guy isn't as moderate as he was initially portrayed.

BIG SURPISE THERE, BOY!!

DILDONICS OF THE ANCIENTS

Hee-hee! This is kind of amusing. According to [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4713323.stm|an article] from News.BBC.co.uk, a 28,000 year old phallus has been discovered in a cave in Germany. Here's an excerpt:
A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is among the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered, researchers say.

The 20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about 28,000 years old, was buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jura.

The prehistoric "tool" was reassembled from 14 fragments of siltstone.

Its life size suggests it may well have been used as a sex aid by its Ice Age makers, scientists report.


Talk about embarrassmet! Imagine how that cavewoman up in heaven feels right now looking down at this!

Then again, maybe cavewomen were more civilized and more liberated than modern women are. Hell, she either made this thing herself or was socially brave enough to get a man to do it for her. Either way, that's pretty damn liberated for the 26,000 BC, wouldn't you say?

Perhaps women haven't been subjugated as the second class citizens they are often treated as in today's world?

Think about it for a moment--a woman almost 30 centuries ago was allowed to be a sexual being. Now think about how many women you know today who admit to masterbating or using a dildo. Sure, there are some, but overwhelmingly, self-pleasuring is a sport even men don't often admit to.

Ahem...

What?

I've got nothing to disclose.

Come on, the blog entry's over. Stop reading...


...


FINE, I MASTERBATE! ARE YOU HAPPY? I ADMITTED IT!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

THE ISLAND (2005)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? NOT AT ALL. Not even really in an MST3K kind of way because I kept being taken aback by just how stupid and bad this movie really was.

Technically any good? Sure, the FX were solid and the acting was generally reasonable, but everything else about this movie on a technical level from script, to direction, to production design and more were all terrible. I enjoyed the music, but it was so overkill it made the film look silly.

How did it leave me feeling? Offended at how stupid Bay thinks moviegoers are. I said in my Pre-Emptive Strike Pocket Review (http://thepete.com/the-island-2005/), that this just looked like a rip-off of Parts: The Clonus Horror. Well, after seeing it, I'd say it was a tremendously overproduced, dumbed-down rip-off of Parts: The Clonus Horror.

Final Rating? DNS (There are better mindlessly escapist films out there right now--go see them, like Fantastic Four or even Mr. and Mrs. Smith.)

NO MOVIE SHOULD BE THE ISLAND

Hoooooolyyyyyy CRAP, The Island is a TREMENDOUS PIECE OF SHIT.

Sorry to anyone who is offended by coarse language. This movie made me so mad, I can't not help but use fowl language to describe it. However, before I start swearing like sailor (do sailors really swear that much?) I want to bring one thing to your attention now that I have seen this movie.

OH and this post is a long one because I felt seriously violated by this film. You might just want to read my Pocket Review of it (http://thepete.com/the-island-2005-2/) if you haven't already.

Now, in my Pre-Emptive Strike Pocket Review (http://thepete.com/the-island-2005/) and in an earlier post (http://thepete.com/the-island-an-original/) I talked about how The Island seemed an awful lot like--well, it doesn't "seem" a lot like, it IS a lot like the 1979 movie Parts: The Clonus Horror. However, up until today, it's only been myself and a handful of people on various movie forums around the 'net who have publically pointed this overt similarity out between the two films. Most of us saw Parts on a now-cancelled show Mystery Science Theater 3000--a show, as many of my readers already know, makes fun of bad movies by quipping over the bad movie, itself. Apparently, at least one mainstream journalist saw the same episode of MST3K that I saw because he has written about the similarity of the two films in [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/movies/2002394690_islandripoff.html|an article] at SeattleTimes.com.

Here's a clip from the article where he actually talks to the director of Parts:
Reached at his home in Ashburn, Va., "Clonus" director Robert S. Fiveson said Wednesday that he'd sneaked into a preview screening of "The Island" the previous night. "I went in hoping and praying that it was enough different than 'Clonus' so that I could just put my mind at rest and move on, but I can't. Because astonishingly enough, it not only seems to rest on the very skeleton of the film, ... there were enough (similarities) in the movie in the first third that I thought this cannot be happenstance or casual."

Fiveson said he'd known about the numerous Web sites and message boards that have been pointing out the similarities — even of some specific shots: "Subplots, characterizations, even down to the butterfly getting through the filter! And the chase scenes were almost in the same order and same locale."
Well, I don't remember a butterfly in Parts, but I'm guessing he means "even something from the outside world getting through to the clone colony."

So, there you have it. Even the director of Parts: The Clonus Horror thinks The Island is a blatant rip-off of his film. After having seen both, I have to agree with him.

OK, now onto the swearing...

Don't read on unless you can handle some "R" rated language now!

Friday, July 22, 2005

WHAT IS A MORTGAGE, ANYWAY?

According to Dictionary.com, what follows is the definition of mortgages:
mort·gage Audio pronunciation of "mortgage" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (môrgj)
n.

1. A temporary, conditional pledge of property to a creditor as security for performance of an obligation or repayment of a debt.
2. A contract or deed specifying the terms of a mortgage.
3. The claim of a mortgagee upon mortgaged property.


tr.v. mort·gaged, mort·gag·ing, mort·gag·es

1. To pledge or convey (property) by means of a mortgage.
2. To make subject to a claim or risk; pledge against a doubtful outcome: mortgaged their political careers by taking an unpopular stand.

Wow--that last definition I find very interesting and quite appropriate. It seems I'm not the only person who thinks mortgages can be risky.

What's even more interesting is the origin of the word. This is also from Dictionary.com:
Middle English morgage, from Old French : mort, dead (from Vulgar Latin *mortus, from Latin mortuus, past participle of mor, to die. See mer- in Indo-European Roots) + gage, pledge (of Germanic origin).

Word History: The great jurist Sir Edward Coke, who lived from 1552 to 1634, has explained why the term mortgage comes from the Old French words mort, “dead,” and gage, “pledge.” It seemed to him that it had to do with the doubtfulness of whether or not the mortgagor will pay the debt. If the mortgagor does not, then the land pledged to the mortgagee as security for the debt “is taken from him for ever, and so dead to him upon condition, &c. And if he doth pay the money, then the pledge is dead as to the {mortgagee}.” This etymology, as understood by 17th-century attorneys, of the Old French term morgage, which we adopted, may well be correct. The term has been in English much longer than the 17th century, being first recorded in Middle English with the form morgage and the figurative sense “pledge” in a work written before 1393.

Ha! And I thought I was the freak suggesting negative things about the concept of the mortgage. As you can see, there's a long-ass history of people doubt whether a mortgage will get paid.

I'm not being paranoid after all...

That's even more scary, in a way...

DID YOU NOTICE? THE PATRIOT ACT IS PERMANENT

Yep, while most of America was changing their underwear after watching the FMN (Fear Mongering News), Congress was voting to make the Patriot Act permanent. Here's a chunk of the official explanation from [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/22/MNG0VDS1SH1.DTL|an article] written by a member of the respected press (the San Francisco Chronicle). You can find the article at SFGate.com:
The House, overriding fears that Americans' freedoms are being restricted, voted to make permanent provisions of the Patriot Act that gave authorities more investigative power in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Lawmakers voted 257-171 Thursday to make permanent 14 of the Patriot Act's 16 sections that are scheduled to expire in December, rejecting the civil liberties concerns of Democrats and some Republicans who wanted to limit several provisions of the anti-terrorism law.

"Passage of this act is vital to maintaining the post-9/11 intelligence reforms that have reduced America's vulnerability to terrorist attacks,'' said House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the bill's main author.

Yes, of course, because it's worked so well at capturing Osama!

How many terrorism convictions have there been since the Patriot Act was passed? [http://thepete.com/iraquagmire-overdrive/|I blogged on this back in June]--the Washington Post reported that there have been just 39 convictions for terrorist related activities.

So in other words, in return for getting 39 terrorists of the street, the other 300 million Americans in the country get to lose some of their rights?

Yeah, that makes sense.

From SFGate.com:

House votes to keep anti-terror law
But Senate version puts more limits on federal agents

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Friday, July 22, 2005

Washington -- The House, overriding fears that Americans' freedoms are being restricted, voted to make permanent provisions of the Patriot Act that gave authorities more investigative power in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Lawmakers voted 257-171 Thursday to make permanent 14 of the Patriot Act's 16 sections that are scheduled to expire in December, rejecting the civil liberties concerns of Democrats and some Republicans who wanted to limit several provisions of the anti-terrorism law.

"Passage of this act is vital to maintaining the post-9/11 intelligence reforms that have reduced America's vulnerability to terrorist attacks,'' said House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the bill's main author.

The other two provisions -- Section 215, which gives the FBI secret access to people's business, medical, library, bookstore and other shopping records, and Section 206, which authorizes so-called roving wiretaps -- would be renewed for 10 years as part of the vote.

Both sides in the debate said they were trying to find a balance between civil liberties and security and said they didn't want to do anything to undermine the country's fight against terrorists, whose apparent second attack in two weeks Thursday on London subways and buses was a running subtext through the House debate.

For its part, the White House again called on Congress to quickly renew the 16 provisions, which were part of the much larger Patriot Act anti- terrorism law passed a month after the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), said the expiration provision on the 16 sections in the bill should have been renewed. "These powers were not to be permanent,'' he said. "They were to help us win the war, not become permanent.''

Section 215, in particular, has drawn fire from librarians and civil libertarians who say it could let the government snoop on ordinary citizens who aren't involved in terrorism investigations. About 390 local governments and states, a few dozen of them in Northern California, have adopted resolutions opposing the provision, along with other parts of the Patriot Act.

The vote came at the end of a long day in which the House of Representatives debated some 20 amendments and the bill itself. But the Republican-controlled Rules Committee barred votes on several other amendments, including one offered by Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, which was identical to a provision the House had approved June 15 as part of a Justice Department spending bill.

The Sanders provision, which didn't become law, would have barred the FBI from spending money to look into readers' book-reading records at libraries, but would have given authorities access to Internet usage at libraries.

Sanders, referring to the earlier House vote, asked why the Rules Committee barred a vote on his amendment this time.

"This is an outrageous abuse of power and deprives a majority of members of the right to put into the bill what they want,'' Sanders said.

The House, however, voted 402-26 for a bipartisan amendment Thursday that would require all requests for information from libraries and book stores to be approved personally by the FBI director.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously adopted its version of the Patriot Act rewrite Thursday with a provision that says Section 215 orders would have to be approved by the FBI director or deputy director. The bill would further limit warrants under the section by requiring that the FBI show a judge how its request for information pertains to a known or suspected agent of a foreign power or their associates.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would force the records search and roving wiretap provisions to expire in four years unless approved again by Congress.

The Senate bill also places further limits on secret "sneak and peak'' warrants and administrative subpoenas that can be carried out without a judge's permission.

All of the Senate bill's differences with the House bill will have to be ironed out before a final bill is sent to President Bush.

Lisa Graves, the American Civil Liberties Union's senior counsel for legislative strategy, said the House bill, by making the provisions "a permanent presence in our lives," increases the risk that these investigative tools will be used improperly -- especially for criminal cases not connected to terrorism -- and reduces the ability of Congress and others to learn about abuses.

Graves said the bill weakens constitutional protections against unwarranted searches -- and limits the typical avenues to challenge those searches in court.

"History shows that the willingness to curtail America's freedoms during national challenges ultimately leads to regrets about betraying our fundamental values,'' she said.

The House bill's 10-year expiration of the two provisions, called a sunset provision, drew fire from Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

"I support the majority of the 166 provisions of the Patriot Act," but the 10-year extension lessens accountability, Conyers said.

"Ten years is not a sunset. Ten years is semipermanent," he said.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said she suspected ulterior motives behind the 10-year sunset.

"Now we know the truth. The Patriot Act was never intended as an emergency measure. ... It appears its sponsors were always interested in a permanent crackdown on civil liberties,'' she said.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Folsom (Sacramento County), who authored the 10-year extensions, said critics of the law have never produced real evidence of abuse by federal authorities. The critics dispute that contention.

Lungren, a former California attorney general, said the two expiration dates were included "because it was an indication to the public that we will do effective oversight.''

The brief debate at the Senate Judiciary Committee mirrored that in the House.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, "I'm against sunsets. ... In this age of terrorism, we're going to need every good tool we can get, and I don't want to see those good tools sunsetted.''

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., countered, "There's still a lot of uneasiness in Middle America about this legislation, and we ought to pay attention to that. A lot of things we do here should be sunsetted.''

Sensenbrenner rebutted allegations that his committee hadn't paid close enough attention to the Bush administration's use of the Patriot Act. He produced a two-foot stack of documents of 12 Judiciary Committee hearings this year that heard 35 witnesses.

"The inspector general's report found no civil liberties violations under the Patriot Act," Sensenbrenner said. "There is no actual record of abuse."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said that 90 percent of the Patriot Act is noncontroversial, but that she hopes House-Senate conferees come up with a better final version, "and that when it returns here, we will all be able to support it.''

Forty-three Democrats joined 214 Republicans in favor of the House bill. Fourteen Republicans voted no, as did 156 Democrats and Sanders, the lone independent.

All of the Bay Area Democrats voted against the bill. Republican Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy was the only Bay Area House member to support the bill.
Lobbying for change

About 390 local and state governments across the country have adopted resolutions the past three years calling for parts of the Patriot Act to be repealed or changed, because they feel the law threatens civil liberties. Dozens of them are from Northern California:

Counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Placer, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Tehama, Yolo.

Cities: Albany, Arcata, Berkeley, Calistoga, Cotati, Dublin, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Fairfax, Hayward, Livermore, Los Gatos, Mill Valley, Mountain View, Nevada City, Oakland, Pacific Grove, Palo Alto, Pinole, Pleasanton, Richmond, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Point Arena, Sacramento, San Anselmo, San Jose, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sausalito, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Ukiah, Union City, Watsonville.

Source: American Civil Liberties Union

Page A - 5

©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

BAD, ROVE! BAD! NO BISCUIT FOR YOU!

Karl, you've been a bad doggie! Read:
Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the war on terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

"I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief — protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst.

Wow, I'm so desperate to see/hear people call Bush on the stuff he's doing wrong even this is making me eye my Kleenex box lovingly.

Let's hope this whole "people doing their jobs in government" thing is a trend!

The above excerpt comes from [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/07/22/national/w122228D72.DTL|an article] from AP.org available at SFGate.com.

ROBERTS HELPED BUSH WIN FLORIDA IN 2000!

Check it out y'all:
U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts provided legal advice to Gov. Jeb Bush in the weeks following the November 2000 election as part of the effort to make sure the governor's brother won the disputed presidential vote.

Roberts, at the time a private attorney in Washington, D.C., came to Tallahassee to advise the state's Republican administration as it was trying to prevent a Democratic end-run that the GOP feared might give the election to Al Gore, sources told The Herald.

The maneuver, which the Democrats never attempted, might have kept the state from sending its list of official ''electors'' -- the Electoral College members who actually cast the votes that count -- to Congress and the National Archives.

If the names were not forwarded to Washington in a timely fashion, Republicans feared, Gore might be declared the winner because Florida's 25 electoral votes wouldn't be counted -- and the Democrat had garnered more electoral votes than George W. Bush in the rest of the country.

Roberts, himself a noted constitutional lawyer, and an unnamed law professor spent between 30 and 40 minutes talking to Bush in the governor's conference room, sources told The Herald.

OK, so they only talked for 30-40 minutes, but still--the point is, he was helping the Repubs win, as opposed to doing what he should have been doing which was helping the state of Florida find out who the legal winner was.

Of course, this never was done.

And no, I don't count a bunch of newspapers going down there and finding that Bush got the most votes a "legal win" for Bush. Nor do I find a bunch of newspapers going down to Florida and finding that Gore got most of the votes.

I like my elections to be proper, official, handled by public, transparent government, not like elections in America today. Not like 2000 or 2004 when there were so many doubts the lack of a proper investigation into both elections speaks to how little the USGov cares about its people and the very laws it says it is there to make and uphold.

The above quote, by the way, comes to us from [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12183379.htm|a Miami Herald article] posted at Miami.com.

Again, I know it was just 30 minutes or so, but it still bugs me.

TheUSMil TESTS MICROWAVE GUN

Hey, I used a microwave gun in one of my novels and here's one for real! Cool... well, not really. My gun was fictional, this one's real. NewScientist.com has [http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18725095.600|an article] about how volunteers who were to have the gun tested on them (it's supposed to be a "less-lethal" microwave gun) were told not to wear glasses or contact lenses due to safety concerns. This gives us a hint as to just what the gun can really do to a person. According to the article:
The precautions raise concerns about how safe the Active Denial System (ADS) weapon would be if used in real crowd-control situations.

The ADS fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam, which is supposed to heat skin and to cause pain but no physical damage (New Scientist, 27 October 2001, p 26). Little information about its effects has been released, but details of tests in 2003 and 2004 were revealed after Edward Hammond, director of the US Sunshine Project - an organisation campaigning against the use of biological and non-lethal weapons - requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.

The tests were carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Two experiments tested pain tolerance levels, while in a third, a "limited military utility assessment", volunteers played the part of rioters or intruders and the ADS was used to drive them away.

The experimenters banned glasses and contact lenses to prevent possible eye damage to the subjects, and in the second and third tests removed any metallic objects such as coins and keys to stop hot spots being created on the skin. They also checked the volunteers' clothes for certain seams, buttons and zips which might also cause hot spots.

I wonder if this means that protesters will be forced to wear no eyeglasses, no contacts, clothes with no zippers, etc. when they go to protest "just in case" the protest gets out of control.

Uh-huh.

But isn't this great? It's a weapon being developed for use against the American people. (Of course, if we just stay in line there would be no need for a microwave pain gun.)

God Bless America!!

MORE BLOGS GETTING PEOPLE FIRED

Alas, we are still seeing the decline of the freedom of speech in America. Sure, it may be still legal to say mostly what you want, but there is no freedom in a society that fires you for saying certain things. [http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=35533|An article] at DailyBusinessReview.com explains how even reporter's blogs are getting them in trouble. Here's a clip referring to a situation at the Miami New Times offices:
A controversy over publicly accessible blog observations about current and former staffers posted by two New Times editors — including managing editor Jean Carey, who writes a column called “The Bitch” — has caused major turmoil at the company. It generated weeklong, unpaid suspensions of the two editors and the paper’s star columnist, Tristram Korten, who had confronted the editors over their blogs earlier this month.

Editor-in-chief Jim Mullin, in an internal memo Monday, decried what he called “a putrid mound of pettiness associated conduct that was clearly unprofessional.” He added that the episode had produced “a very bad stench in the office.” To deal with the situation, a top executive of the Denver-based New Times chain visited the Miami office Thursday.

Then there's this from the same article:
Earlier this year, a reporter for the Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C., lost her job when she wrote on her blog: “I really hate my place of employment.” The same thing happened to a Wells Fargo Bank employee who made disparaging remarks about fellow workers.

So, yeah, sure, we live in a free country. But what about our society?

BIOBLING AND H2ENGINE

First, [http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/35/a-lewis.php|here's an article] at LAWeekly.com about a woman who runs a business that hooks people up with cars that she helps convert to be powered by bio-fuels like ethanol or even corn oil. This is great except that for now gas is still, sadlly, cheaper than corn oil. Check out the article for more. Want to use her company? Check out BioBling.com

Next up, we have [http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/watercar/h20car2.htm|a post] at SpiritOfMaat.com that tells how to run a car engine on water. No kidding. I don't know much about cars, but it seems to make sense. If it works, it's no wonder we don't use it. That would actually be logical and there's simply no place for logic here on Bizarro World.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

LONDON BOMBINGS/PATRIOT ACT REAUTHORIZED

Hey, anyone else think it's funny how there were more London bombings on the same day the US House is voting to reauthorize the Patriot Act?

I know I don't have to tell you how they voted.

I swear--everyone's so scared of being blown up when the odds are WAY higher that you could die on the way to work in a car accident.

Makes no friggen sense.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

ARG! IT'S HOT!

Sorry no blogging yesterday beyond the obit for Doohan. He really was a childhood hero of mine, well, Scotty was, anyway. I've just been so swamped with stuff--on top of that it's bloody hot as hell here in LA these days. I had a screening in Hollywood last night and on the way back I didn't even need a jacket. Usually the windchill is enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Not last night! I was comfy in a T-shirt and one of my trademark button-down short-sleeve shirts blowing behind me like a cape. Although I think I might be killing the engine on my scooter. I haven't given it an oil change in far too long and it's making strange noises.

Did I mention it's friggen hot here? As I'm sitting here, it's 3:20am and it's so hot that I'm in just my underwear. The windows are open and there's no breeze WHAT so ever. In fact, Tuesday night TheFutureWife and I were at the Santa Monica Promenade celebrating our 8th anniversary (crazy!) and we took a walk out on the peer. One of my favorite things about the ocean is the smell. But I took a whif and could smell nothing at all. We got all the way to the end of the peer and still, I could smell no fresh air, no sea water, not even the smell of freshly-caught fish wafted my way. This was mainly because there was nothing for the scent to waft on.

There was no wind at all. It was almost creepy.

Same went for last night (well, tonight, from my perspective right this moment). What was worse Tuesday night was that I had some of those weird-ass Dippin' Dots at the peer which sent me into a sugar-fit. Got a massive hotflash and felt nauseous. We got the fan aimed at me in bed and, again, all the windows open and I was still burning up.

So, I'm putting off going to sleep because I hate this extreme heat and trying to do nothing in it is so difficult. All I can think about is how damn hot it is and I just get obsessed by it. I'd say I'm looking forward to the Scotland trip for a change in the climate, but I've heard they're experiencing a drought and a heatwave.

I think there just might be something to all this global warming stuff. ;)

Oh and another reason I haven't blogged is that there's thankfully not a whole lot that is going on that's worth bothering with. Bush nominated that Julia Roberts guy and there have been a couple other random things of mild interest, but nothing to write home about. So, logically, they're not worth blogging about either.

In other news, I've started adding my original blog entries to my site. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this already, but if you check out TheArchives, at the very bottom are three months worth of entries from 1998. Now, these weren't technically blog entries as "blogs" wasn't even a term that existed yet. Still, these were regular bits of commentary I posted so technically, they were blog entries. It's kind of shocking just how petty I was back then :) But hey, we all evolve, right?

In yet more other news, I'm getting dicked around by Skype! I know, who'd a thunk it. They're the darling of the VoIP world yet when I had trouble with their payment system (it's a long story, I'll blog on it later) I thought I got charged twice and their system says I didn't pay at all. While it turns out that while I wasn't charged at all, I found the way they replied to be rude. They told me to follow the instructions--I explained to them that in the 7-8 years I've been paying for things on the 'net, the paying process has never been so complicated as to have required anyone to follow any instructions.

OH well, enough outta me.

I'm going to go pretend it's the ice age in my bedroom.

Wish me luck!

JAMES DOOHAN RIP

One of my favorite actors from my childhood and young adulthood has passed.

Doohan as Scotty in the 1960sDoohan in the Star Trek movies


Man, the things I could say about growing up watching James Doohan. He was the guy who, through his character on Trek, tought me to think on my feet, always lie about how long things will take me (say they'll take you much longer than you need so when you come in early you look like a miracle worker) and how to look at life with good nature in your heart. In fact, to this day, whenever my computer starts to give me trouble, like it's suddenly running slowly or otherwise taking a while to do something, I invariably say "Hellooo, computer." like Doohan said to a classic Mac in Star Trek IV.

He'll be missed but he had a good run. He was 85 and was born in 1920. Of course, he'll never be forgotten as one of the greatest fictional engineers ever to grace Television or movie screens. Thanks to Scotty, millions were inspired to do much more than they would have otherwise. Enter the world of science or just write, like me.

I remember meeting him once back in the early 1990s. As he signed my photo of him I was brave enough to tell him I did a pretty good Scottish accent. He asked me to do it for him but I told him I was too nervous. He just smiled and understood. It was a nice little moment.

Now I'm off to Scotland next week to get married.

James Doohan RIP.

Thanks.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scotland, Wedding, Fringe Festival, European Adventure (The Big Announcement)

Hey folks!

Well, it's finally time for The Big Announcement.

I would have done it sooner but my cable was out all day today and therefore so was my cable Internet. Yes, I did visit Boba Loca (my favorite Internet Cafe) but I forgot to charge my second battery and by the time I was done blogging about the news today I had run out of juice and I just didn't feel like messing with the people who were sitting at the tables near the outlets. (It was one of those days.)

ANYWAY, so, here's the deal: TheFiancee has been cast in a non-paying show that will be performing for a couple weeks in August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Now, she's doing it because the Fringe is essentially the Cannes of indy theater. A total of 1500 shows go up in a month's time and loads of people from around the world come to both perform in the shows and/or to see them performed. It's a great opportunity for her.

Now, back in the winter of 2000/2001 we spent a few icey days in Scotland and fell in love with this cool little chapel outside of Edinburgh (that's pronounced "Eh-din-bruh" BTW). We discovered they did weddings and while we were tempted, we decided we shouldn't then but did decide that we should come back some day and get married there. So, that's what we're going to do. Pitching this to TheDads went fairly smoothly and both seem to be OK with respecting our wishes for a nice, small (and I mean TINY!) ceremony with just a few witnesses and us.

In other words, TheFiancee will soon be TheWife :)

But that's not all...

Next up is something I've been toying with doing since I was in college. I've always been interested in buying a Eurorail pass (now called a Eurail pass, I guess) and travelling the continent of Europe on my own. Now, college was a bit ago and now I want to do it for more than just seeing the sights. I want to talk to people--interview them and find out what they are thinking. I want to get a Eurail pass, travel across 17 countries in 2 weeks and ask people 3 things:

1) How do you think the world is going?
2) What do you think of the EU's place in the world?
3) What do you think of America's place in the world?

I figure that ought to be enough to get them started. I might also ask them about the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank just for kicks.

I was thinking I might write for an alternative newspaper or magazine and have already submitted this pitch to one with plans on submitting to more. Of course, newspaper and magazine editors rarely give advances, so I'm kind of stuck. TheDads are getting us to Scotland, but after that, I'm stuck. I need a buttload of money to make this adventure happen.

A friend of mine suggested that I put a call out on my website. The thought had crossed my mind, but I didn't really think about it until I learned that newspapers don't give advances. Then I realized that if every unique visitor to my site gave me a single dollar today, alone, I'd have more than I'd need for the trip. I get about 1500 unique visitors a day and that's about the same number of dollars that I would need for my trip. A Eurail pass is just shy of $600 and I figure I'd need at least another $500 or so--I'll be staying in hostels and eating very light ;) However, if I could score $1500 I'd be set. Hell, I might even be able to stay longer than 2 weeks.

So, here's the pitch--donate a dollar and help me go on my European Adventure. We'll all benefit because I plan to come back with some incredible stories that you'll be able to read about in whatever alt newspaper that buys my articles from me, this site or a book that I will write based on my adventures. It's also possible I'll shoot a documentary--but that's hard to do when you're by yourself. I'll also be doing daily (if possible) updates of ThePhlog via my Skype.com account to keep everyone up to date on my experiences. Assuming I can find Internet cafes I'll be sure to shoot video clips and stills of the places I've been and upload them to the site. It's going to make for some seriously interesting blogging.

Who knows, I might even learn something about humanity--which I will share with you guys, my faithful readers.

So, I hope you'll consider helping me out with this adventure. You can donate as little or as much as you like or just wish me luck. If some newspaper comes through for me and covers my expenses, then I'll refund everybody's money when I get back.

K, here's the Paypal button:
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!


I'll put a banner in my header so if you want to think about it, you'll be able to easily find the link again.

No matter what, this is going to be a helluva trip!

We leave on the 29th and if I don't make it to mainland Europe, we'll both be back on August 15. So, I'll need the money before the 10th at the absolute latest. OH and if you don't want to do Paypal, there is something else you can try. However, I'd be violating Google Adsense's policy by being too blatant about the next bit. I'll just say that the ads are on people's websites for a reason and generally mortgage/finance-related Google ads make the webmaster more money when they are clicked on. So, you might check out any [http://thepete.com/tag/mortgages|mortgage-related posts] and go from there...

But I didn't ask you to do it.

You might also buy something with ThePete.Com logo on it from http://cafepress.com/thepetestuff or pick up a copy of [http://cafepress.com/thepetecomic1|ThePete.Comic]. Both will help the cause!

Touching ThePete

Not too long ago Nintendo held a rather odd contest. They gave out actual mannequin hand to anyone who wanted one (while supplies lasted). Each person was then supposed to take pictures or videos of the hand in strange, unusual or funny situations while showing us how life is like a video game. The 3 winners would get Nintendo DSes some games and some cash. Sadly each of us could only enter one pic, even though I'm sure everyone who entered took a bunch.

Here are all the ones I took. [http://thepete.com/touching-thepete-is-good/|Head over here to see which pic my friends thought I should enter]. Be sure to leave your own comments if you've got any opinion. Oh and you can check out the winners and a lot of the losers by checking out TouchingIsGood.com

Nintendo On Video

Decided to post this again since it's gotten loads of hits--second only to the Kari Byron posts. Hey, people who found this post via Google, be a dear and click on some Google ads, would ya? I don't have a mortgage, but I do have bills and mortgage or no, it costs a lot of money to live in the big city...OK, enough of my infernal fear of mortgages!

Yeah, we know this is probably fake, but whatever. It's still a damn good vid.

Check it out by clicking the pic below:



Sadly, that pic is a fake and the link connects you to a WMV file. I'll try to post an MPEG of it soon depending on how popular this version is. Sorry, I thought I could easily convert WMVs to mpegs or even movs, but no such luck. WMV will have to do until I can figure out an alternative--or get a new XP LT :)

Thanks for stopping by!

[ThePhlog] 7/18/2005 07:16:05 PM


this is an audio post - click to play


--
Posted by ThePete to ThePhlog at 7/18/2005 07:16:05 PM

NON NORTH AMERICAN NEWS CHANNEL? (A RANT)

Hey, cool--there's going to be a new 24 hour news channel in Central and South America called Telesur. However, that's not what I am writing this post about. I'm writing this post about a Chicago Tribune writer who is indicative of what's totally and completely wrong with America today.

First off, thanks be to Christian Christensen for writing about this [http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0718-24.htm|in an article] at CommonDreams.Org. I'd have never heard about it if it weren't for that article. However, I think Christensen doesn't go far enough. He makes some good points about the ChicagoTribune.com article by Gary Marx. He talks about how even the headline of [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0507170302jul17,1,540341.story?ctrack=1&cset=true|the article] ("Will truth go south on Telesur news?") assumes the likelihood of a leftist bias.

Marx points out that the network is primarily backed by Hugo Chavez who is known for his anti-American sentiments. Well, I want to know why America isn't known for its anti-everybody else sentiment. In my opinion I think it's worrisome that Marx even felt the need to be concerned by a possible lack of objectivity in a foreign news service.

1) There is a lot of criticism toward America coming from a great number of foreign journalistic sources. America doesn't care, it just keeps on doing whatever it wants.

2) Anyone who is quick to judge the failings of others should really be confident in their own abilities to weather their own criticisms.

In other words, like Jesus is reported to have said: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, bitch!"

OK, I think I parahprased a bit there, but you get the point.

"So, the brownies south of the border want their own news channel? Isn't that adorable? Who's backing them? Murdoch? Viacom? Venezuela?"

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Cuba's also involved.

"CUBA?? WTF?? THEY CAN'T BE UNBIASED!! THEY'RE COMMIES!"

Right, well, Gary, you're a capitalist, who, based on the basic rules of capitalism, will do anything for money since that's what you need to eat, sleep in a place you call home, fuel the car you drive to work in, and pretty much survive. Hell, in America you need money to go to the doctor. Not so in Cuba. In fact, it's my understanding that capitalist America is the only country in the world that makes it's citizens pay for all of their own medical care.

So, who's the biased one, Marx? You might trying reading a thing or two by your great uncle Karl before you assume that capitalism is great. This is my ultimate point with this post. We're too scared to face the possibility that the great and mighty America could be screwing things up in the world.

We're supposed to be the world police force, but we allow groups like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO to make decisions for governments essentially blackmailing them into things they may not want to do in order to financially survive in the world.

We're supposed to be the only superpower left--it's our responsibility to treat our planet and everyone on it with respect. Think of us as Superman. With all that power he's got, it's great that he's a moral, upstanding guy.

But what if he wasn't raised with those values? What if Clark Kent was raised like Lex Luthor? What if Clark Kent was a Trumpian business man who was only interested in using his powers to make money and help his friends make money?

Would we feel as good about Superman then?

This is what we've got on our hands. We live in a country where everyone from the government, to the press, to private industry are all only interested in making money and many have been documented to do anything to do it. I've read things about oil companies sponsoring rebellions against governments in Africa. I've read about an American soda company that apparently financially helped a government commit acts of terrorism on their citizens.

A group of concerned citizens and lawers tried to get Unocal's corporate charter revoked by the state of California because of their business practices but did California do it? Nope. (This was before Arnold was in office, too, so you can't blame him!)

We've got to start taking a hard look at what our leaders (corporate, media and political, as well) are doing to us and the world. We're being fed a bill of goods that does not include everything in the box. We need to stop assuming we're the gold standard to be judged by because we are not. We have the power to rule the world, but that's it--we lack the wisdom.

How do we get the wisdom? Simple. We start listening.

I don't mean bending over backwards to please all of the third world nations--but I can guarantee that once everyone starts to feel involved in the process of literally making the world a better place there will be less violence. Especially if America starts living up to it's promise of respecting every human's right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't think that's too much to ask, do you?

By the way, there's a guy called Tom Barnett who basically agrees with me--not that he knows who I am, but he's got a book called The Pentagon's New Map in which he describes how the world is working, in his view. In a nutshell, his feeling is that there's the gap--the group of people around the world who are living in poverty or under oppression. This is where most of the violence is in the world. The rest of us are the core--we're rich (well, relative to the gap) and we seem to be oppressing those who are not. He says that if we can get those people in the gap financially and politically out of it, we'll be on the road to world peace, bitch (I'm paraphrasing again). This guy works for the US Naval College and is one of the most brilliant writers I've ever read.

My point is, involving the poor folks in the world is important and can actually change the world--but it starts with us taking a hard look at ourselves and realizing that our goals may not be as morally right as they are politically.

I'LL FIRE ANYONE CONVICTED, SEZ BUSH

Ohhhh... see, back when the whole "leaked CIA agent/Joe Wilson's Wife" thing broke and the investigation into how she was outed as an undercover agent began, Bush said that he would fire anyone in his admin connected to the leak.

Now, he says it's about being convicted of breaking a law. Hell, he'll be out of office before the caterpillar-legs of justice actually get around to convicting anybody for this mess.

Man, I'm just getting so tired of this crap. Just the obvious lies and even just the deception that the Bush 43 Admin has committed should put the entire American public at least on edge.

When will the doubletalk stop?

[http://apnews.myway.com/article/20050718/D8BDUTV03.html|Read more about this in an article] from AP.org and MyWay.com

Before I end this post, though--I wanted to mention how I came across something on Drudge or some righty-wannabe site that talked about how the Dems are so aggressively interested in seeing Rove's head on a platter. Well, I think that's because the Bush 43 Admin and Republicans in general are getting away with an awful lot.

Those in the minority like the lefties and us in the middle feel helpless to do anything. We're all swiping at what seems to be the easiest target. Bush can't even sacrifice one guy. He's got to scapegoat everything and every person who does something wrong.

Tennet "slam-dunks" bad intel into Bush's Iraq plan--he gets a medal.

He's not the only guy who has screwed up royal to get treated like a war hero. Ha, I guess they are "war heroes." Heroes for anyone who is pro-war.

The point is, those who feel powerless soon turn to desperation.

And anyone desperate is not a good thing.

From AP.org an MyWay.com:

Bush: Any Criminals in Leak to Be Fired

Jul 18, 2:03 PM (ET)

By PETE YOST

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Monday that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the public leak of the identity of an undercover CIA operative, that person will "no longer work in my administration." At the same time, Bush again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

Bush, appearing with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, spoke a day after Time magazine's Matthew Cooper said that a 2003 phone call with Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

Asked at a June 10, 2004, news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

A tempest has swirled around the leak of the CIA agent's name, apparently by Bush administration officials, in July 2003.

Some Democrats have called for Rove, whose title is deputy chief of staff, to be fired. They have suggested that he violated a 1982 federal law that prohibits the deliberate exposure of the name of a CIA agent.

"It's best people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts," Bush said Monday. "I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

It was the second time that Bush, when asked specifically about Rove's involvement in the matter, passed up an opportunity to come to his adviser's defense.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Bush shouldn't wait for charges to be filed to take action.

"The standard for holding a high position in the White House should not simply be that you didn't break the law," he said. "It should be a lot higher and if Mr. Rove or anyone else aided and abetted the leaking of the name of an agent, even if they don't meet the narrow criminal standard, the president should ask for their resignation."

Bush has appeared with Rove at his side several times over the past week. And White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said Rove - as well anyone who works now at the White House - continues to have the president's confidence.

The president did not respond directly to a reporter's question on whether he disapproved of Rove's telling a reporter that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues.

Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. But he has insisted through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name, nor did he intend to "out" her.

Cooper said Sunday that a 2003 phone call with White House political adviser Karl Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Giving a first-person account of his role in a case that nearly landed him in jail, the reporter disclosed that Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also was a source for the story mentioning Plame.

Cooper recalled that Rove told him, "I've already said too much" after revealing that the wife of the former ambassador apparently was with the CIA.

Cooper speculated in the piece, released Sunday, that Rove could have been "worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else."

"I don't know, but that signoff has been in my memory for two years," Cooper wrote. The White House and Rove's lawyer have stressed that Rove never mentioned Plame by name.

At issue in a federal grand jury investigation into whether someone in the administration violated a federal statute by publicly disclosing the identity of Plame as an undercover CIA operative.

The White House had insisted for nearly two years that neither Rove nor Libby had any connection with the leak. For the last two weeks, however, it has steadfastly declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing probe by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald probe.

It took the same tack Sunday, as spokesman David Almacy declined specifically to comment about Libby, citing an independent counsel's ongoing investigation of the case.

Writing an account of a conversation he had with Libby, Cooper said, "Libby replied, 'Yeah, I've heard that too' or words to that effect" when he asked if Libby had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Africa to investigate the possible sale of uranium to Iraq for nuclear weapons.

As part of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation, Cooper testified about his conversation with Libby in a deposition at his lawyer's office in August 2004. Libby, as Rove did this month, provided a specific waiver of confidentiality. In a grand jury appearance last Wednesday, Cooper gave his account of what Rove told him.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

Test Post from my OSX Dashboard Widget

Well, as you may recall, the hard drive on my beloved PowerBook died about a month ago. They got it back to me in five days time, which was nice. (Or was it four?) I decided against re-upgrading to OSX Tiger because the few days I used it before my HD died didn't present me with many positive experiences with it.

A few months back, however, I took apart my old XP machine and sold it for scrap, I mean, parts. One of the few parts I kept was this great old Iomega drive that reads and writes to just about any kind of DVD--even the DVD-RAM discs my DVR burns. So, finally, just this weekend I bought a USB 2.0 enclosure for it only to discover that OSX Panther doesn't like to write to it. Sure, it'll read it, but that's it. OH and it won't read RAM discs.

Being a guy with many years of troubleshooting experience with PCs I knew the logical thing to do was hit Google and see if anyone else had the same drive and problems. Lo' and behold, ONE person did (well, one person I could find). :) She explained in her blog that OSX Tiger actually supported her drive. Hm...

1) I love those widgets in the Dashboard.
2) I've heard the version of VLC (the only good video player for OSX) has a new version for Tiger.
3) I love those widgets
4) I now had a drive that is supported under Tiger.

After talking to a Mac-friend of mine, I decided to go for it.

The install went fine and the drive is being recognized by the system and I can even burn to it through Toast. So, I'm a happy camper! Well, almost. Seems I can't get the VRO file off of any RAM disc my Panasonic DVR has burned (burnt?). There's an app called ExportToQT that claims to be able to do it, but it doesn't work. I get some sort of Error -1700 when I try to convert the file and I have no idea what to avoid getting the error. I checked the forum for the app, but none of the creator's advice helped.

The good news is, I've got my dashboard jammed with widgets, including the one I'm using to post this entry with. It's the WordPressDash widget. It seems pretty cool, though I don't have access to my quicktags and other pluggedin magic. Still, it's handy for just jamming something out quickly or crossposting anything I post on my LJ using my LJ posting widget. :)

OK, enough of me babbling...

WTH am I doing up at 5:35am, anyway?

No, I'm not up early! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mac-Using Bush Voters?


A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by thepetecom.

What's wrong with this picture?

Gypsy's Favorite Star


A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by thepetecom.

MST3K FANS UNITE!

Friday, July 15, 2005

STILL BOYCOTTING EXXON? GOOD. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE

Sadly, I have been going to an Exxon here on the Westside of LA for a couple of years now because they're the cheapest place for gas these days. However, I'll be thinking twice the next time I need to fuel up the Godphoenix (my 80cc Honda Elite Scooter, yes, I named it, what's it to you?). See, it turns out that not only is Exxon at fault for one of the worst environmental disasters in modern history, but they are actively fighting the progression of the human race.

Not consciously, of course. See, over at Treehugger.com, they've blogged on a site called ExxposeExxon.com which exists to point out all of the nasty things Exxon is doing that, in my opinion, amount to stunting the progression of humankind.

Now, some of my readers might want to label me as an anti-corporate hippie liberal, but that is not the case. I believe in moderation in all things and that extremism of any kind is bad. So, when a company funds (and founds?) groups that exist solely to fight the idea that global warming is a threat to humans and our environment, I call that corporate extremism. I mean, why would you get involved in the GW debate at all? If all you care about is selling oil-based products, why get involved in science?

...unless it helps you sell more oil-based products.

The fact of the matter is that any attempt to wean America off of oil (even a little) serves as a mechanism for oil companies to lose money. Of course, if they were really smart, they'd have diversified already so that no one product or substance going bye-bye would ruin them. Instead, they've got all of their eggs in the oil-basket, just like America.

Treehugger.com and ExxposeExxon.com are both calling for a boycott of not only Exxon gas stations but to also avoid anything related to them. One of the commenters [http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/07/boycott_exxon_1.php|on that Treehugger post] points out that Exxon makes a tiny amount of money from their gas stations. Boycotting the companies that buy oil-related products from Exxon is a good idea, too. Head over to ExxposeExxon.com if you want to learn more.

In the meantime, I say do more than just boycott a single oil company. Most of them are pretty extreme like Exxon. It's just that Exxon is more obvious about it.

I say boycott all of them as much as you can. HOWEVER, if there is a Citgo in your area get your gas there. It's the only way buying gas can actually support democracy. [http://thepete.com/buy-gas-from-a-democracy/|Find out why.]

Sure, no one can fully avoid oil-based products and traditionally "boycott" means to completely avoid something, which is impossible with oil, but do your best. I sold my car two years ago and have been zipping around LA on a Honda Elite that I fill up once a week and spend about $10-15 a month to fuel. You don't have to go completely carless, but you could sell your money pit of a car to a junk yard then buy yourself a hybrid Honda. You can even wait a bit for the ultra-good-gas-mileaged Smart Cars are made available from Daimler-Chrystler. These things are cute and are pretty damn efficient.

Another alternative is to move to either a city with good mass transit (NOT LA) or move to a small town where you can commute by bike. I know a guy who is planning on doing the latter once he finishes getting his college degree. I'm toying with doing the former once I get some steady scratch coming into my bank account.

Even if you can't do something drastic, take a baby-step or two.

Hey, it won't hurt much and even if it'll help the environment just a little, it's worth it.

The environment--it's that thing you're living in.

RECYCLE YOUR OLD CDs AND DVDs

Over the past 6 months I've been going through my old data CDs xferring everything off onto DVDs because DVDs last longer (as long as you keep them protected) and they hold a helluva lot more. My entire mp3 collection went from several 100-CD spindles to about 14 or 15 DVDs (I did ditch a bit of my collection that I just don't listen to anymore). The question then becomes, what do I do with all of these data CDs? Just throw them away?

Well, at the time, I didn't know better, but now I do.

Treehugger.com has [http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/07/qa_recycling_el.php|blogged] on ways to handle your useless CDs so they don't end up taking up space in a landfill. Check out the link for more.

Sadly, there's no perfect way to get rid of them, but you can be more responsible than just tossing them in the trash.

CHINESE NUKES, YUMMY

FT.com is [http://news.ft.com/cms/s/28cfe55a-f4a7-11d9-9dd1-00000e2511c8.html|reporting] that a Chinese general has said that if we mess with him, he'll mess with us--hardcore. Here's a quote from the article:
“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said General Zhu Chenghu.

Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China's definition of its territory included warships and aircraft.

Good news, Bush! Before Iraq gets any worse you can make an excuse about Taiwan and get us into a big skirmish and you'll NEVER have to leave the White House! Hell, if we were facing a full on war with China, you'd have the perfect excuse to indefinitely postpone elections in 2008!

"Due to our continued events to wage The War Against Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, combined with the emerging threat to world peace in the form of China, I am asking that the Department of Homeland Security postpone for now the elections that would determine my predecessor."

Hell, sacrifice one American city to a Chinese Nuke and you'll secure your position in the White House for the rest of your life.

What are you waiting for, man?

DO IT!

DO IT!

DO IT!

DO IT!

From FT.com:

Top Chinese general warns US over attack

By Alexandra Harney in Beijing and Demetri Sevastopulo and Edward Alden in Washington
Published: July 14 2005 21:59 | Last updated: July 15 2005 00:03

china us troubleChina is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the US if it is attacked by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan, a Chinese general said on Thursday.

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said General Zhu Chenghu.

Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China's definition of its territory included warships and aircraft.

“If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond,” said Gen Zhu, who is also a professor at China's National Defence University.

“We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged “hawk” who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade.

However, some US-based China experts cautioned that Gen Zhu probably did not represent the mainstream People's Liberation Army view.

“He is running way beyond his brief on what China might do in relation to the US if push comes to shove,” said one expert with knowledge of Gen Zhu. “Nobody who is cleared for information on Chinese war scenarios is going to talk like this,” he added.

Gen Zhu's comments come as the Pentagon prepares to brief Congress next Monday on its annual report on the Chinese military, which is expected to take a harder line than previous years. They are also likely to fuel the mounting anti-China sentiment on Capitol Hill.

In recent months, a string of US officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, have raised concerns about China's military rise. The Pentagon on Thursday declined to comment on “hypothetical scenarios”.

Rick Fisher, a former senior US congressional official and an authority on the Chinese military, said the specific nature of the threat “is a new addition to China's public discourse”. China's official doctrine has called for no first use of nuclear weapons since its first atomic test in 1964. But Gen Zhu is not the first Chinese official to refer to the possibility of using such weapons first in a conflict over Taiwan.

Chas Freeman, a former US assistant secretary of defence, said in 1996 that a PLA official had told him China could respond in kind to a nuclear strike by the US in the event of a conflict with Taiwan. The official is believed to have been Xiong Guangkai, now the PLA's deputy chief of general staff.

Gen Zhu said his views did not represent official Chinese policy and he did not anticipate war with the US.

Additional reporting by Richard McGregor in Beijing

© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2005

MICKEY MOUSE WORKING WITH BIG BROTHER

Local6.com is [http://www.local6.com/news/4724689/detail.html|reporting] that Disney theme parks in Florida are requiring finger scans from all patrons to their park. Here's the obligatory quote from the above-linked article:
Disney officials said the scans help keep track of who is using legitimate tickets, Local 6 News reported.

"It is technology reminiscent of "Mission Impossible" or "James Bond," Local 6 News reporter Jessica Sanchez said. "It works by scanning the ridges and structure of your index finger and middle finger called your finger geometry."

Disney officials said the finger scans do not take an actual fingerprint. The scan recognizes certain points and outlines visitor's fingers, officials said.

The thing is, in order for those "certain points and outlines" there needs to be a record of said points and outlines on file, so somewhere your fingerprint (or parts of it) is being taken.

Disney's reasoning for using this tech is because it "helps keep track of who is using legitimate tickets."

Why would you want to do that?

Wouldn't you rather be keeping track of people who are using illegitimate tickets?? Why make the law abiders give up their finger prints?

Besides, can't you just scan the ticket?

Don't get me wrong, I love tech, but use it when it benefits humanity, not when it at worst invades our privacy and at best keeps the biometrics industry in business.

From Local6.com:

Finger Scanning At Disney Parks Causes Concern

POSTED: 5:12 pm EDT July 14, 2005
UPDATED: 10:47 am EDT July 15, 2005


ORLANDO, Fla. -- The addition of finger scanning technology at the entrances of Walt Disney World theme parks for all visitors has caused concern among privacy advocates, according to a Local 6 News report.

Tourists visiting Disney theme parks in Central Florida must now provide their index and middle fingers to be scanned before entering the front gates.

The scans were formerly for season pass holders but now everyone must provide their fingers, Local 6 News reported. They have reportedly been phased in for all ticket holders during the past six months, according to a report.

Disney officials said the scans help keep track of who is using legitimate tickets, Local 6 News reported.

"It is technology reminiscent of "Mission Impossible" or "James Bond," Local 6 News reporter Jessica Sanchez said. "It works by scanning the ridges and structure of your index finger and middle finger called your finger geometry."

Disney officials said the finger scans do not take an actual fingerprint. The scan recognizes certain points and outlines visitor's fingers, officials said.

Critics of the new scanning technology do not agree with Disney and said the scans border on a violation of privacy.

I think it's a step in the wrong direction," Civil Liberties Union spokesman George Crossley said. "I think it is a step toward collection of personal information on people regardless of what Disney says."

Crossley said they will be looking into the scans.

"The collecting of this fingertip information and how it is to be used and what the source of that information is as it relates to what it will show -- I don't like it and we will look into it," Crossley said.

The finger scanning began earlier this year at some parks before expanding to the entire complex, according to a report.

Universal Orlando and SeaWorld also plan to implement similar technology in the future, Local 6 News reported.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

Copyright 2005 by Internet Broadcasting Systems and Local6.com.

LET THE WHITE HOUSE CIRCLE JERK COMMENCE!

Here's a clip from [http://www.washtimes.com/national/20050715-121257-9887r.htm|an article] from conservative rag WashingtonTimes.com:
The partisan fight over Karl Rove exploded onto the Senate floor yesterday, with Democrats trying to strip him of his security clearance and Republicans retaliating by trying to strip the chamber's two top Democrats of theirs.

And who wins thanks to these machinations?

NO ONE!

YAAAAAAAAY!!!

So, rather than just being honest, upfront, moral leaders, the Republicans point fingers back. Meanwhile the Washington Times reminds us how much of a conservative rag it is by reporting on this "partisan" fight.

Since when did trying to find out if the law was broken and who broke it "partisan"?

Oh yeah, since the Republicans came to power.

THE ISLAND AN ORIGINAL?

So, I'm reading [http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-ca-michaelbay17jul17,0,5072740.story|this article] at CalendarLive.com about Michael Bay's new crap fest ([http://pocketreviews.net/index.php?p=1849|Read my Pre-Emptive Strike Pocket Review here]). It's talking about how much trouble Bay has had making the film when I come across the following passage:
Up against a summer of remakes, sequels and television show retreads, "The Island," opening Friday, has neither big-name stars nor for that matter an actual island. Theoretically that could play to its advantage — the film is being sold to moviegoers as an original story in a summer of imitation.

HA!

That makes me laugh...

Check out the following premise for The Island:
A young man escapes from a govenment run project called Clonus only to find out that Peter Graves (Jeff Knight) a candidate for Presidency is a conspirator to keep Clonus a secret. Top government officials are aware of it and support the super secret project, because they are cloning themselves to live longer and better lives, at the expense of their clone counter-part, who is no more than a "slave" as far as human rights are concerned. The ethical and moral values are explored as the escapee (Tim Donnelly) known as Richard returns full circle back to Clonus, only to find his girlfriend lobotimized for government security purposes.


OH WAIT, I'm sorry, that's the plot to Parts: The Clonus Horror a movie so bad it was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Here's what that CalendarLive.com article says The Island is about (SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!):
The movie begins in a hermetic enclave filled with hundreds of mild-mannered adults, whose daily rituals are monitored by cameras and governed by overseers. The outside world, these people are told, is contaminated, so they must never wander. Thanks to a periodic lottery, a few residents will win a trip to the island, "nature's last pathogen-free zone," where they can finally run around and breathe fresh air.

Actually being chosen for the getaway is scarcely all it's cracked up to be. Unbeknownst to the "winners," it's the date your liver might be harvested for an ailing doppelgänger somewhere in the real world. The film's residents, it turns out, are clones of living people; their bodies merely carry spare parts the way Pep Boys stocks spark plugs. It's "the holy grail of science," boasts the geneticist Merrick (Sean Bean), whose Merrick Biotech owns the highly profitable cloning operation.

Johansson plays a young woman named Jordan whose "owner" falls into a coma after an accident. When she is summoned to the nonexistent island, her friend Lincoln (McGregor) helps her escape. With two clones on the loose, Merrick Biotech's sales pitch — that its clones are not sentient — will be debunked. Jordan and Lincoln must be killed.

Sure, there are some differences, but calling this movie "original" is hardly accurate. It's the exact same premise as Parts with a slightly different plot structure. In Parts, they get chosen to go to America, in this remake, they go to TheIsland. The lead guy falls for a blond, when he escapes he is hunted down. The only substantial difference in the two films with be the following:

1) Better (looking) actors
2) Bigger budget
3) Louder explosions in the more violent chase scenes

It's still going to be just as crappy--I mean, hey, it's Michael Bay. The man can only make crap--sure, loud, explosive, crap that sells tickets to people who don't care about plot, originality or good storytelling.

Well, I guess I can't complain that there are at least two movies this summer that haven't insulted me--and one of them is that Fantastic Four movie. What a sad state Hollywood is in...

Heh... someone on the IMDB.com forums says The Island is a rip off of Logan's Run. The structure is identical, but LR was about a culture that hates old people so everyone kills themselves at age 30. Still, good looking guy, good looking girl escapes from utopia-like society and are hunted down.

Sounds a little similar. ;)