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Monday, October 31, 2005

USG QUIETLY CONCERNED ABOUT ARABIAN OIL OUTPUT

Oil is something that is on most of our minds these days. Especially since gas prices have yet to fall very far after the recent hurricane scares. Now [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/business/worldbusiness/27oil.html?ei=5065&en=c01b490705b076ac&ex=1130990400&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print|an October 27, 2005 article] from NYT is reporting that last year's promise by Saudi Arabia to up their output of oil to meet rising demmand may not be worth the paper it's printed on. Here's a quote from the article:
The United States relies on a few producers to maintain enough spare capacity to keep prices and markets stable, even during war or disaster. As oil prices have climbed over the last few years amid surging demand and tight supplies, the Bush administration has looked to the Persian Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, to pump extra oil.

But doubts about Saudi Arabia's assurances of how much it can expand capacity - and for how long - have been raised in a secret intelligence report and in a separate analysis by a leading government oil adviser, according to a federal government official and the oil expert.
I'm not sure who the NYT is referring to when they end that paragraph with a reference to "the oil expert" but one thing is clear--people are starting to get concerned about peak oil. Maybe it is happening and maybe it isn't. Regardless, the USG is nervous.

And there's a lot to be nervous about. After all, China is quickly becoming a rival to us on the world stage. With their bulging populace, they could be cozying up right next to us on the list of the Earth's top oil importers fairly soon.

So, Saudi Arabia says they can up their output, but the facts seem to say they can't. Enjoy those $2.70/gallon prices for gas while they last folks. This doesn't bode well...

SBC and Verizon Merge With AT&T and MCI, Respectively

Yeah, that's what we need--two bigger and two fewer telecommunications companies. Check it out, the [http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=1256592|US Department of Justice] and [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002596495_phonemergers01.html|the FCC] has just OKed two massive mergers.

First, it's SBC and AT&T climbing in the sack together. Isn't that funny? Back in the early 1980s, I believe these two companies used to be part of Ma Bell. Ma Bell was split into a number of companies including Pacific Bell and AT&T. Seems odd that the USG would loosen laws enough for a portion of that split to be undone a couple decades later.

Meanwhile, Verizon, the people with the crappy customer service and that impish guy on their commercials is merging with MCI, whom we haven't heard much from lately.

Regardless, I really question the USG's ability to judge this kind of thing any more. We're really getting a small number of hugely powerful corporations out there and I'm just wondering when it's going to stop. When is a company big enough? When are there few enough companies? How can you say anything about competition when all of your competition has merged with you or a handful of other companies?

What about the actual small business person who wants to start a telecommunications company? Hell, even Skype is owned by eBay, now.

This is all crazy...

OK CHAVEZ, YOU'RE OFF MY GOOD LIST

Sheesh, way to blow it, Hugo. So, Chavez is this guy who got elected democratically by the poor folks in his country which seems to have been controlled by corporate money and corporate media. There was even a coup and a couple of recall attempts but none succeeded. The guy is clearly the man who should be leading Venezuela right now. The funny this is that the USG has been at least partially behind both the recalls and, some say, the coup attempt.

This has lead Chavez to believe that the US is out to get him because he's got oil. Well, I tend to agree with him. Christian televangelist and closetted hyper-business-man, Pat Robertson even called for Chavez's assassination.

Unfortunately, he's taken his whole anti-US thing too far. According to [http://www.guardian.co.uk/venezuela/story/0,12716,1605283,00.html|an article] at Guardian.co.uk, he's saying that Halloween is just an American terror game.

Right.

Hugo, you fricken idiot, it's just a thing for kids and adults to do to unwind. It has it's basis in a religion older than Christianity and has no basis in reality.

RELAX! Not EVERYTHING is a conspiracy to get you!

What's next? Santa is really an anti-Venezuelan assassin sent to kill you?

From Guardian.co.uk and AP.org:

Chávez urges ban on US 'terror game' Halloween

Associated Press in Caracas
Monday October 31, 2005
The Guardian

President Hugo Chávez yesterday urged Venezuelan parents not to let their children dress up as witches and ghouls for Halloween, calling it a "game of terror" - a US custom with no place in the South American country's cultural traditions.

Speaking during his weekly radio and television show, Mr Chávez said: "Families disguise their children as witches. That is contrary to our ways." A week ago, a dozen pumpkin lanterns and paper skeletons were left around the capital, Caracas, bearing anti-Chávez messages and what appeared to be bomb-like fuses.

George Takei Beams Himself Out of the Closet

FINALLY!! I've heard for years that George Takei, Star Trek's Captain Sulu, was of TheGay. I always wondered why he didn't just come out of the closet. I'm guessing it's because he was hoping for the top spot in a Trek spin-off with him as captain of a starship and as we all know, Hollywood can't have a homosexual in the center seat. Perhaps now that the Trek franchise is dead and buried (thanks, Paramount!!) he decided he could out himself.

Regardless, I'm glad he did finally come out. I get so frustrated with stars who don't just admit they're gay. It sends the wrong message to both gays and straights. It tells other gays that they should hide their true identities because of a career backlash. It tells straights that being gay is something to be embarassed by after all.

So, cool--George Takei is gay.

Read more about it in [http://www.proudparenting.com/page.cfm?sectionid=59&typeofsite=storydetail&ID=713&storyset=yes|an article] at ProudParenting.com.

Sad Time for Star Wars Purists, Porkins Has Died (again)

Amongst the chaos that was my last week I managed to miss a bit of sadness that depressed the fanboy in me. William Hootkins died of pancreatic cancer at the age of just 58. Don't know who William Hootkins was? Here's a pic to jog your memory:



Yep, that's him in one of the greatest sequences ever filmed--the trench battle sequence in the original Star Wars.

For those of you who are as good with faces as I am, you know that he was in a bunch of other movies, including another film that is close to many Star Wars fans' hearts--he was one of the men who sent Indiana Jones on his quest to find the Lost Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Porkins was his first role, but he's stayed quite busy over the years. It's sad to see him go so young. I've got his action figure and I'll always keep him safe and even though I only saw you in a handful of things, your subtle realism kept me from questioning the reality of any situation that you were in the middle of.

You will be remembered...

Read more about Hootkins in [http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/William_Hootkins_Has_Passed_Away_95433.asp|a nice little article] over at TheForce.Net.

Can Someone Come Over and Scare the Virus Out of Me, Please?

Yep, ThePete, here--I'm still sick. My voice is back--kind of--but I'm still flegmy as hell and feeling kind of lightheaded. I don't know what kind of virus I've got, but going out with TheFam Friday night to my show and then to DuPar's Saturday morning for pancakes probably weren't good ideas. I was feeling pretty decent on Friday, but by Saturday I was feeling pretty lousy. Soon as TheFam left, I was asleep on the couch again. That's pretty much right where I've stayed since then. I did go grocery shopping Saturday night for a couple hours--that probably didn't help my health, either--though eating food is nice.

So, no one's getting any happy Halloween wishes out of me. I'm not a big fan of the day, myself. I think it says something about our lifestyles when, as grown adults, we need permission to climb out of our skins and into someone else's. I think we should dress up as whatever we want whenever we want instead of waiting for the one day that it's "cool" to have fun with what you wear.

I just hope that as I'm lying here by myself tonight, caughing up loogies, I don't get any stupid college kids knocking on my door asking for candy. Forget yelling "trick or treat" outside my door--the yell had better be "free oral sex" if it's anything.

I'd just like to get better, thank you very much. Of course, I hardly ever get sick so when I do, it's just a tremendous drag-and-a-half since I'm just not used to it. I'm fine with losing a day or two, but I've been on my back since Wednesday. This suuuuuucks... :)

And can I just say how much TV sucks? I actually found myself enjoying Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy (while the chick playing Grey was lousy) and I also blew many hours watching I Love the 80s 3D. However, I must return to my age-old rant that TV COMMERCIALS SUCK.

They promise these absurd things that obviously could never happen--like one car commercial that suggests you can leap from rooftop to rooftop in it just like friggen' Speed Racer. Other car commercials tell us how fun it is to drive these conservative, boring, luxury boxes-on-wheels. Prescription drug ads tell us how our lives will change once we start using their drugs. Of course, they also mention that use of their drugs could also result in nausea, diarrhea, and other things that are often worse than the symptoms of whatever we were taking the drug to combat. Oh yeah and I love how those "penile disfunction" drug ads equate extreme happiness with sex.

So, this guy is a run-of-the-mill boring white guy who has a job, a wife, and a suburban home, but his life sucks. But now he takes a drug that gives him rock-solid hard-0ns and now he's got this dumb-ass grin on his face all the time--so, the moral of the story is: Crappy job? Hate your life? Don't get a new job, or try to live life to the fullest with a hobby or by getting involved in your world more--just have more sex and all will be well!

Sex=all you need to worrry about!

And of course, the thing that really bugs me about commercials is that they are repeated so often. I watched three hours of I Love the 80s 3D and if I ever see another promo for that stupid show But Can They Sing, I'll pop a blood vessel. What a dumb idea for a show--get a bunch of cut-rate, do-anything-for-a-paycheck, actors together for a singing contest.

Morgan Fairchild? That Gotti kid? WTF?? Who told these people they were even celebrities?? Fairchild, I can sort of see, but somebody from one of the thousands of reality shows out there? There are other celebs involved, but most of them are people even I have never heard of and I've watched a lot of movies and TV in my time alive.

Back to commercials for a second--there's this one TV ad for these chocolates. The damn thing is so psychadelic, it looks like something you'd see on Japanese TV. There's virtually no substance to the ad whatsoever. It's all shots of the chocolates in weird/artsy situations--like on a chess board, or they're all giant with women dancing around them. There's one shot of liquid chocolate being poured into a champagne glass. The chocolate then turns into a woman inside the glass wearing a slinky, chocolate-colored dress. So, buy these chocolates so you can eat the pieces you win when playing chess? Buy these chocolates because they're so huge you could never afford to buy them? Eat this chocolate because it's like drinking a sexy, but tiny woman from a champagne glass? Every time I see it I'm just baffled as to what I'm supposed to think.

In fact, that's generally what I get from most TV and especially commercials, in general. They all seem to be geared toward the most basic, banal needs and interests of the audience. I wonder when TV will be replaced with helmets we can wear that simply jam needles into our brains to tell us what we want and how to feel.

Forget actually entertainment, let's just force the audience to think precisely what we want them to think.

Oh and then Fox News reports on "No 'Fitz'-mas" for leftwingers. Apparently someone at Fox thinks that only lefties would want to see Rove indicted, so they say no Fitz-mas (like no Christmas--get it?) for the lefties. Of course, they make no mention of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's comment that Rove hasn't been indicted yet. For the record, anyone interested in a truly untrustworthy person being kicked out of the White House should be interested in seeing Rove indicted.

So, there's my rant. It's like a big flegm glob. Thank's for letting me cough it up. :)

I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

No Luck for Most DS Users Despite Homebrew Advances

Since I'm still sick and have even lost my voice, I thought I'd spend a couple hours today geeking it up with some fun gadgety things on the 'net.

Regular readers of ThePete.Com know that I'm a bit of a gadget nut. I'm also a wannabe hacker. Not the kind that busts into computer system, but the sort of "new-wave" hacker that repurposes things. In the case of this entry, I'm going to talk about the Nintendo DS and getting a web browser or other common 'net apps onto it.

(Alas, I am still one referal short to get my free DS, but that's a topic for another post.)

Now, Nintendo has said they won't be putting out a browser or do anything PDA-ish with the DS. They say that they're leaving that up to third party companies to do. The problem? None have done so yet and it doesn't seem like anyone is going to, either.

This is where the homebrew community enters the scene. Now, [http://www.akkit.org/|Stephen Stair], has just managed to break the wall between the DS and the 'net using something other than officially sanctioned DS games. [http://www.akkit.org/dswifi/index.html|Read about his continued progress at his website.]

Does this mean that we can now surf the web on our DSes? Not quite. Some of us can, but some of us are SOL.

Now, the reason I went with the DS over the PSP was the price. In fact, the DS is even cheaper now than it was when I bought it. It's over $100 cheaper than the PSP. The idea of an Internet-ready device for under $150 was just too tempting for me to avoid. The thing is, you can't just run homebrews on the DS. You need a flashcart--a device that pretends that it's a GBA cartridge but is effectively a mini hard drive. You can run GBA homebrew apps this way with no problem. However, you can't run DS homebrew this way. This is because the DS only looks for DS code in the DS cartridge slot.

How do you tell the DS to look for DS code in the GBA slot? You use a PassMe--a device you plug into the DS slot and then plug a DS cartridge into it. The catch here is that you either need to build it yourself or buy it from someone who will build it for you. [http://www.natrium42.com/|Natrium] is one guy who builds PassMes for cash. This is annoying since he charges $25--that seems like a lot of cash for just a circuitboard with a couple things soldered to it. But, hey, I don't fault him for charging what he thinks it's worth, I just don't want to spend that much.

The alternative then is to go with a WifiMe. This requires that you have a PC and one of the handful of the supported wifi cards--in other words, seems pretty weak. I've got a Mac and even if I had a PC, the odds of having one of the supported wifi cards would be slim. I could intentionally buy one from the [http://ralink.rapla.net/|list], but there's that "spending money" thing again. (If you do go with one of the cards from the above-linked list--don't go with the USB versions--they don't work, apparently.)

So, ultimately, I can't get on the 'net without buying something extra. Which is very frustrating to me. I did pick up a GBA Moveie Player for $25 ([http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=246&products_id=3983&PHPSESSID=36c69f5951cb7254f0b6a3b7ccdf13ed|you can get one here] from Lik-Sang.com, a reputable Chinese vendor). The GBAMP is usually used to play movies, audio and old NES games but can be converted into a flashcart. The catch there is that you still need the PassMe/WifiMe to get the DS to look to the GBA slot of the DS to run the DS code.

The only real good news in this post for the average DS user (like me) is that Nintendo does have a new, officially sanctioned, wifi service coming out sometime in November, 2005--yes, just days away. You'll be able to take you DS to any McDonald's or a number of video game stores and get on the 'net, presumably only to play games on the 'net. They're even releasing [http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=278&products_id=7807&PHPSESSID=36c69f5951cb7254f0b6a3b7ccdf13ed|a wifi USB "dongle"] that will allow you to use your computer to connect your DS to the 'net if you don't have a wifi router.

That's nice, but what about a browser? Instant messaging? Email? Do I dare hope for VoIP?

Perhaps the dongle will make it easier to get the DS to run homebrew DS code from the GBAMP? Perhaps the dongle won't even work on Macs. >_< Perhaps the dongle will be just the beginning of Nintendo catching a clue regarding how awesome the DS would be if we could do all of those things with it.

What the hell's a "dongle" anyway?

OH yeah and my apologies for any typos or poor grammar, I'm still getting over that cold and am going a bit loopy, I think...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CHRISTMAS MORNING IS HERE

So finally, the big day is here. Zero hour--the last day Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has to drop any indictments on us. Will it be Scooter? Darth Rove? Or will Santa go for broke and gift us with indictments on Bush and/or Cheney?

Well, as a kid I was always guilty of expecting too much of the fat guy in the red suit, so I should know not to get my hopes up. Plus, Drudge has linked to NYT articles claiming Rove won't be charged. Well, Drudge and NYT have been wrong before. I just hope they're wrong now.

Still, it's like buying a lottery ticket. You almost don't want to check the numbers just so you can keep on dreaming. And of course, because of the time difference, by the time I wake up the news will probably have already broken.

Regardless of who gets indicted, I just wish Bush and Cheney would be brought up on charges for violating other laws, both [http://thepete.com/uns-annan-iraq-attack-illegal/|foreign] and [http://thepete.com/bush-43-admin-lies-breaks-fed-law-again/|domestic].

Hey, I don't need a dollar to dream this dream, you dig?

base.google.com? Cool, but WHAT IS IT?

So, I'm reading all about how Google is going to offer a new service that will slam eBay and Craigslist in one fell swoop. Being a general fan of Google, I swung by the URL of their new service base.google.com. Is it an auction site? Is it a site for posting classified ads?

Well, can't really tell. It just sort of lets you list things. Events, items, and other random crap. I'm not sure exactly how the damn thing is supposed to work. Since, I'm still sick on my back, I thought I'd swing by and see if I could post a listing regarding [http://undergroundparadigm.com/dc|my play] (which is running for two more weekends, BTW) only to discover the site won't come up again. I don't know if it's just one of those random Internet things where people on certain ISPs can't connect to certain sites for a while or what.

Regardless, I think the vagueness and formlessness of Google Base might backfire on them. I may change my opinion once I actually get to give the thing a try.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Do You Love the City That I Live In? (Los Angeles)

Hey, I'm sick. Yippee.

So, I'm trying not to think too much by surfing to random sites, (actually, I was looking for pics of Lauren Sanchez, the impressively hot female anchor of the UPN13 news here in LA) and I stumble across FranklinAvenue.Net. It's a pretty cool site that covers everything Angelino but specializes in things that even us locals may not have heard about. They also have a sub-site called [http://ambassadorhotel.blogspot.com/|The Ambassador's Last Stand]--a blog that surrounds the Ambassador Hotel, the place where RFK was shot as well as the home to quite a few other historical LA-type-dealies. (Wasn't the Coconut Grove there?)

Anyway, so if you're in love with the city that I live in, check out those blogs and enjoy.

OH yeah, one interesting thing the FA site blogged on were these strange shipments of large rocket-looking things being trucked through shady areas of LA. They link to the most logical solution to what these things are [http://www.livejournal.com/users/babybloo/316230.html|here] at [http://www.livejournal.com/users/babybloo/|Babybloo's LJ].

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

ROSA PARKS RIP

I hope you don't need me to tell you who Rosa Parks was.



America--a country so powerful, it takes a little black woman to give American racism its first big hit.

Now I see why Republicans hate individuals who think and speak for themselves.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING EARLY!!

Christmas is coming early!! Check it out:

YIPPEE!!

Make it a quad!! PLEASE, SANTA! MAKE IT A QUAD!!!

I gotta go leave some cookies and milk out by the fireplace!

SERENITY

Positive Experience/Entertaining? No, I'm sorry to say. I was looking forward to this movie, too.


Technically any good? Eh--not really. It seemed to rely an awful lot on the failed series that prequelled this movie. I wasn't used to the way any of the characters speak the English language. As a result, I found myself understanding the individual words the characters used, but I was unable to understand what the meaning actually was. The movie was definitely heavy on the "this is really important" vibe I used to get from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy and Serenity share the same creator, Joss Whedon), but ultimately, things were very messy and confusing. And thanks to the reliance on the prequel series, Joss didn't bother to develop the characters at all--so I didn't care for anyone at all. It was sad, because I really wanted to like this.

How did it leave me feeling? Disappointed. When is Joss going to really explore ideas without getting distracted with trying to be cool? And yes, Joss, once again, has boring fight scenes and, frankly, unbelievable stunts featuring a skinny, teenage girl who some how is able to deck men three times her size with no reasonable explanation. Come on, Joss--time to grow a little, buddy. I should say that I liked how they killed main characters off with little warning. It's just a shame that none of the other characters seemed to care too much when this happened.

Final Rating? RTV (Only if you're a fan of Firefly, the series this movie sequels.)

ROCHE CASHING IN ON BIRD FLU

One of the things I find revolting about capitalism is the urge to put money first and humans last. Case in point: Roche--the big pharma corporation that holds the rights to manufacture a drug that is believed to be the best hope for treating the bird flu. The catch? They don't have enough for everyone that would get hit by the BF were it to go pandemic. (For the record, "pandemic" and "epidemic" mean virtually the same thing.)

So, just make more drug, right?

Well, it's not that easy. They can't make enough fast enough.

So, just let someone else make it.

Yeah, well, third world countries can't afford to pay for the rights to make it.

Ohhhhh...

See? That's capitalism, unchecked.

In short, if Roche doesn't relax the patent and third world countries don't cough up the cash, plenty of people will die.

Medicine should not be copyrighted or trademarked or patented. Medicine should not be something that is done for profit, plain and simple. Don't like it? Don't go into the biz.

Read more about Roche in [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1598469,00.html|an article] at Gaurdian.co.uk.

FBI SNOOPIN' WHERE IT SHOULDN'T BE SNOOPIN'

WaPo has [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/23/AR2005102301352.html|an article] detailing a FoIA request that when fulfilled left David Sobel of the Electronic Privacy Center with evidence that the FBI has been seriously ignoring our rights. Check out this excerpt from said article:
The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.

Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.

In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under surveillance for at least five years -- including more than 15 months without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had moved from New York to Detroit. An FBI investigation concluded that the delay was a violation of Justice guidelines and prevented the department "from exercising its responsibility for oversight and approval of an ongoing foreign counterintelligence investigation of a U.S. person."

In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search," according to the documents.

How much more evidence do We, The People of the United States of America, need before we begin to see that our government no longer has our best interests at heart? How many things have they screwed up? How many laws have they broken? How many of those laws are laws designed to protect our rights as human beings?

Here's a little ditty from a document I think most of my readers have heard of, let's see if you can guess the name of that document:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Yeah, what about that?

From WaPo:

FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations

Secret Surveillance Lacked Oversight

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 24, 2005; Page A01

The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.

Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.

In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under surveillance for at least five years -- including more than 15 months without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had moved from New York to Detroit. An FBI investigation concluded that the delay was a violation of Justice guidelines and prevented the department "from exercising its responsibility for oversight and approval of an ongoing foreign counterintelligence investigation of a U.S. person."

In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search," according to the documents.

Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA Patriot Act, which made it easier for the government to conduct secret searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil liberties groups.

The records were provided to The Washington Post by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group that has sued the Justice Department for records relating to the Patriot Act.

David Sobel, EPIC's general counsel, said the new documents raise questions about the extent of possible misconduct in counterintelligence investigations and underscore the need for greater congressional oversight of clandestine surveillance within the United States.

"We're seeing what might be the tip of the iceberg at the FBI and across the intelligence community," Sobel said. "It indicates that the existing mechanisms do not appear adequate to prevent abuses or to ensure the public that abuses that are identified are treated seriously and remedied."

FBI officials disagreed, saying that none of the cases have involved major violations and most amount to administrative errors. The officials also said that any information obtained from improper searches or eavesdropping is quarantined and eventually destroyed.

"Every investigator wants to make sure that their investigation is handled appropriately, because they're not going to be allowed to keep information that they didn't have the proper authority to obtain," said one senior FBI official, who declined to be identified by name because of the ongoing litigation. "But that is a relatively uncommon occurrence. The vast majority of the potential [violations] reported have to do with administrative timelines and time frames for renewing orders."

The documents provided to EPIC focus on 13 cases from 2002 to 2004 that were referred to the Intelligence Oversight Board, an arm of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board that is charged with examining violations of the laws and directives governing clandestine surveillance. Case numbers on the documents indicate that a minimum of 287 potential violations were identified by the FBI during those three years, but the actual number is certainly higher because the records are incomplete.

FBI officials declined to say how many alleged violations they have identified or how many were found to be serious enough to refer to the oversight board.

Catherine Lotrionte, the presidential board's counsel, said most of its work is classified and covered by executive privilege. The board's investigations range from "technical violations to more substantive violations of statutes or executive orders," Lotrionte said.

Most such cases involve powers granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs the use of secret warrants, wiretaps and other methods as part of investigations of agents of foreign powers or terrorist groups. The threshold for such surveillance is lower than for traditional criminal warrants. More than 1,700 new cases were opened by the court last year, according to an administration report to Congress.

In several of the cases outlined in the documents released to EPIC, FBI agents failed to file annual updates on ongoing surveillance, which are required by Justice Department guidelines and presidential directives, and which allow Justice lawyers to monitor the progress of a case. Others included a violation of bank privacy statutes and an improper physical search, though the details of the transgressions are edited out. At least two others involve e-mails that were improperly collected after the authority to do so had expired.

Some of the case details provide a rare peek into the world of FBI counterintelligence. In 2002, for example, the Pittsburgh field office opened a preliminary inquiry on a person to "determine his/her suitability as an asset for foreign counterintelligence matters" -- in other words, to become an informant. The violation occurred when the agent failed to extend the inquiry while maintaining contact with the potential asset, the documents show.

The FBI general counsel's office oversees investigations of alleged misconduct in counterintelligence probes, deciding whether the violation is serious enough to be reported to the oversight board and to personnel departments within Justice and the FBI. The senior FBI official said those cases not referred to the oversight board generally involve missed deadlines of 30 days or fewer with no potential infringement of the civil rights of U.S. persons, who are defined as either citizens or legal U.S. resident aliens.

"The FBI and the people who work in the FBI are very cognizant of the fact that people are watching us to make sure we're doing the right thing," the senior FBI official said. "We also want to do the right thing. We have set up procedures to do the right thing."

But in a letter to be sent today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sobel and other EPIC officials argue that the documents show how little Congress and the public know about the use of clandestine surveillance by the FBI and other agencies. The group advocates legislation requiring the attorney general to report violations to the Senate.

The documents, EPIC writes, "suggest that there may be at least thirteen instances of unlawful intelligence investigations that were never disclosed to Congress."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

TURNING ON JUDITH MILLER (not in that way!)

So here it is in a nutshell (assuming I have it right, that is):

1) Judith Miller writes articles for the NYT talking about how there are WMD in Iraq.

2) There is no evidence that Iraq has WMD.

3) The NYT reports point #2, but buries the stories in their paper.

4) Flash-forward a bit--Bob Novak exposes the name of an undercover CIA agent who just happens to be the wife of a diplomat who publicly embarassed the Bush 43 Admin by writing an op-ed about how Bush was using evidence Wilson, himself, had proven as fake to help justify the Iraq Attack.

5) A number of reporters were asked to admit who their sources were for their stories about this undercover CIA agent. Novak bends over and lets the USG give it to him hard. Meanwhile Matt Cooper fights it but then gives in when his source, Karl Rove, says it's cool for him to admit it. Meanwhile, Judith Miller, who never even wrote about the undercover agent is somehow IDed as a reporter who had knowledge of Wilson's wife from someone inside the USG. She refuses to give up that someone's name and goes to Jail.

6) While in jail, her source says "go for it, I don't mind." She comes out and names "big" Dick Cheney's aide "Scooter" Libby as the source for her never-written story on Wilson's wife, the CIA agent.

7) NYT which never took issue with Miller's reporting now bags on her publically--even for her blatantly inaccurate reporting on the Iraqi WMD--despite the fact that they never said anything about it when she was writing it and when they were printing her stories on it. Other journalists, too, it seems are jumping on the "Maul Miller" bandwagon, as well.

[http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2005-10-23-judith-miller_x.htm|Feel free to read an article] at USAToday.com to check my facts, but that's basically what's going on. Also of note is that Federal Prosecutor, [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/index.html|Patrick J. Fitzgerald], is set to announce just who he's indicting this week. I'll be watching [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/index.html|his website] for any news and will blog back here if I see anything good. :)

Oh and one other thing about [http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2005-10-23-judith-miller_x.htm|that article] USAToday.com. In the third-to-last paragraph they say this as an explanation of how Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, are involved in all of this:
Plame was unmasked by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003, who cited "two senior administration officials" as his sources. Plame is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was a vocal critic of Bush's Iraq policy. For nearly two years, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and a grand jury have been investigating the leak.

Note the part where it says that Wilson "was a vocal critic of Bush's Iraq policy."

This is not the case. He was asked by the USG to go to Africa to see if he could find evidence that would confirm the UK intel report that Sadam was looking to buy uranium in Africa. Wilson had experience there, so he looked into it. He discovered that not only was there absolutely nothing to corroborate the intel, but that the intel was probably faked in the first place as Wilson's contacts in Niger, Africa, called the evidence in the UK intel clear forgeries.

Wilson comes back to the US, reports to Bush and Co and in the next State of the Empire speech, Bush goes and talks about how there is UK intel that says Sadam was trying to get uranium in Africa. Wilson, gets pissed off that his report is being ignored, does an op-ed, end of story. He only became a vocal critic of Bush after his wife was outed.

More quality reporting from the mainstream media.

PRUSSIAN BLUE: CUTE YOUNG BLOND GIRLS SING ABOUT RACIST HATE (in a bad way!)

I stole that pic off of Drudge--but have a good look at it. Cute, young, sweet faces right above smiley faces made to look like Hitler.

WTF??

Yep, turns out these little girls from Bakersfield, CA, a heretofore unknown bastion of racists hate (apparently) have some sort of recording contract and sing songs of hate towards all who are not white. ABCNews.com has [http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=1231684&page=1|an article] about them or you can just go straight to the source and check out the Prussian Blue website at PrussianBlue.Net. From their website, I present some lyrics from their songs.

From "Aryan Man Awake":
When the man who plows the fields is driven from his lands. When the carpenter must give away what he's built with his own hands. When a mother's only children belong to her no more. And black masked men with guns come bashing down the doors. Where freedom exists for only those with darker skin. Where lies and propaganda will never let you win. Where symbols of your heritage are held with such contempt, and benefits of country 'cept tax are you exempt.

My favorite part of that excerpt is "Where freedom exists for only those with darker skin." Ha-ha, yeah, right--is that why there's never been a black president? Is that why the richest men in the world are all white?

From "Victory Day":
The women, they’ll smile, on Victory Day. And the children, they’ll laugh and they’ll sing and they’ll play. And the forests will echo our grace, for the brand new dawn of our Race…

You are my brother and in war we proudly sing. Our Cause shall never tire. Our gift to you we bring: A holy creed of Racial purpose, A mighty Race to defend. And when we fly our holy flag Their oppressive reign shall end….

"Their oppressive reign shall end??" I'm not sure I even need to say anything to that, aside from: Hey, you girls want to tune in to reality FM?

While you can read lyrics to their music, you can't download any music from their site, which, believe me, is a good thing. That's the ultimate irony about them--the only reason they're getting any attention is because of their hate-message. This, is because, as singers they (perhaps understandably) suck--and I mean, suck.

I managed to listen to a couple of songs of theirs, and it's not like listening to kids with the talent of Charlotte Church or even Menudo--these girls just sound bad.

There are lyrics that they try to sing together but are completely off, and their voices, themselves, need some serious training.

Frankly, it's understandable that they suck at their age--but their music sounds like their overzealous mom sat them down in front of the family PC with their uncle Bob in the background with his guitar and recorded them singing into the computer. The least these adorable little racists could have is actual talent. In fact, I almost didn't blog on them, but they're kind of a train wreck--in other words, so disturbing, I can't help but watch.

Hm, should be interesting if any racist, or rather "White Nationalists" find this post and accuse me of trying to squelch these girl's freedom of speech.

For the record, I'm not saying they shouldn't be allowed to sing about how the White man is oppressed and whatever else. I just wish they'd get lessons first.

All joking aside, I totally do respect their right to express themselves. This is America. Their subject matter, while I think it's pretty messed up, is not the issue here.

Well, there is the issue of brainwashing your kids to spread hate and lies. I mean, you could probably consider what their mother is doing to be contributing to the delinquincy of two minors. Unfortunately, there are hate crime laws these days, and preaching hate or inciting hate-based violence I believe is a criminal act--possibly even a terrorist act.

That's another irony--I actually do agree with these girls that the white man is oppressed--the catch is, I think the white man is oppressed by other white men. In fact, I think the whole racism thing is one giant red herring to distract from the class war which is going on right now. I've heard many people say that a poor white man has more in common with a poor black man than he has in common with a rich white man.

So, let's ditch the hating-of-each-other, shall we? Instead, let's start paying attention to the rich who are getting richer and the system which seems to be helping them and harming the rest of the world. Pointing fingers about race just wastes valuable energy.

Fine, hate the black guy, but lets hate the powers that be a bit more. Does that sound fair?

WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

Positive Experience/Entertaining? HELLS, YEAH! You can't really go wrong with Wallace & Gromit as far as I can tell.

Technically any good? Great animation (makes most CG look trite and worthless), great writing, good acting--though the casting was a bit uninteresiting. I like Ralph Fiennes, but the minute I saw his name in the credits, I knew he would be playing the badguy. Of course, that's not enough to turn me away from this awesome movie.

How did it leave me feeling? VERY satisfied. I hope to see more W&G features in the future.

Final Rating? GSN (enjoyment for kids and adults alike--make sure to watch for those wonderful little details in the background!)

Monday, October 24, 2005

BUSH ACTUALLY APPOINTS SOMEONE QUALIFIED!!!

Damn, this is surprising--I guess I don't know how long Fed chairmen are appointed for. I thought it was for 14 years, but Greenspan has been around since 1987 which puts his January 31, 2006 retirement date just one year short of two decades. Shows you how much I know about money.

The funny thing about this whole thing is that the new Greenspan, a chappy named Ben Bukake Bernanke, actually seems qualified. Here's a little bit from [http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8DEHF980.htm?campaign_id=apn_home_down&chan=db|an article] at BusinessWeek.com:
It was the third time in as many years the president has turned to the 51-year-old Bernanke for a sensitive post. Bush named him to the Fed board in 2002, then made him chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers earlier this year.

Granted, it looks like Bush was grooming Bukake--DAMN, Bernanke for the spot but at least he bothered to groom the dude. Miers and Roberts were both just pals of his. Only Roberts had been a judge before, but now he's chief justice. Sheesh.

Anyway, so this isn't to say that I am endorsing Bernanke (got it right!) for Fed chairman. I'm actually against the Fed, period. The only reason it exists is so America can keep growing (or possibly have the illusion of growth) for ever. No need to chain your currency to an actual thing when you can essentially just print money, loan it to the USG and collect the profits. The Fed is profitable, oh yeah--why do you think so many people (and banks) invest in it?

So, our money should be in good hands, in theory. I need to read more about this dude before I'll be fully comfy with him.

Annoying Creative Crap

So, for the past few nights, I've found myself in that not-quite-tired-enough-to-sleep realm where with the right music I could stay up and write five or ten pages of something. So, naturally, I want to stay up and actually write something. The problem I've been having is: what do I write?

I'm one of those guys that has boundless ideas for stories. They just keep coming, one after the other. Well, I shouldn't suggest that they come all day long--but I'd say I have one or two ideas every day. I toss most of them because they don't grab me, but I've got about ten or fifteen that have been stuck in my head for a long time and aren't going away. Then, there are my characters from TheKey, my novel series that I am desperately trying to sell. They are actually alive inside my head. Luckily, they're off in some corner of my brain so they don't get in the way of other stuff I write, but I know they're back there, having more adventures that I know are worth dedicating to the page.

Let's see, I've got four time travel ideas (including a three novel series), three space-travel ideas (including a two-thirds-finished novel on the subject) a screenplay about psychics and three other screenplays that I am developing--although one of them could be a pilot for a series. Tonight has been one of those nights where I cast aside my humility and admit to myself (and now to you, my humble readers) that I am a kick-ass-creative guy and should be making a buttload of money for myself and others if only someone would give me a chance.

Mostly, this is me just ranting, but I do wish I had a way of choosing one story to focus on. Doesn't matter if it's a short story, screenplay, novel or play. I just can't seem to feel any one story pulling me any harder than the rest. Very frustrating.

Oh well, the world's kinda messed up, so maybe I'll just blog about stuff instead.

Man, I miss the fiction!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Smash My iPod?? The DEUCE, You Say!!

Wow--you know, I'm just sure I should be horrified at this, but I think because I am not a hardcore capitalist I think this is actually kind of fun, in a stupid, wasteful kind of way. Don't know what I'm talking about? Let the following domain name spell it out for you:

http://smashmyipod.com/

No, it's not a site where people volunteer to smash their iPods. Basically, they take donations to buy an iPod. Once they have enough cash, they go into an Apple store, buy a brand new iPod and then smash it to bits right in the store. What's even better? They bring video cameras.

It sounds absurd, but this pales in comparison to the stupid crap Letterman has been doing on his show for over a decade. Do you know how much it costs to hire a union guy to run a steamroller over a Malibu Barbie Dream House? Probably about the same as it costs to buy an iPod.

Anyway, head on over and check out the pics of the smashed ViPod.

OK, that is a little urksome to type.

Oh and they're promising to have video up of their first smashing soon. I wonder if it will be playable on the ViPod... not theirs, of course!

AWESOME Leather Pants Listing on eBay

My pal [http://www.dailygrail.com/blog/5713|Rua] emailed me a link to [http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8335653541|this hilariously written eBay listing for ten-year old leather pants]. Check it out if you need a bit of a laugh right about now. (Who doesn't??)

Here is a little something to whet your appetite:
They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.



In case the auction is gone, click over to page 2 for the text of the listing. Sorry, these pants already sold :)

From eBay.com:

DKNY Men's Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own

You are bidding on a mistake.

We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.

And we buy leather pants.

I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I’m stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.

The relationship, probably for better, never materialized. The girl, whose name I can’t even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.

Ultimately the pants were placed in the closet where they have remained, unworn, for nearly a decade. I would like to emphasize that: Aside from trying these pants on, they have never, ever been worn. In public or private.

I have not worn these leather pants for the following reasons:

I am not a member of Queen.
I do not like motorcycles.
I am not Rod Stewart.
I am not French.
I do not cruise for transvestites in an expensive sports car.

These were not cheap leather pants. They are Donna Karan leather pants. They’re for men. Brave men, I would think. Perhaps tattooed, pierced men. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you either have to be very tough, very gay, or very famous to wear these pants and get away with it.

Again, they’re men’s pants, but they’d probably look great on the right lady. Ladies can get away with leather pants much more often than men can. It’s a sad fact that men who own leather pants will have to come to terms with.

They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.

Please buy these leather pants.

Seller's payment instructions
I'm very close to the UPS Store, a box store, a Post Office, several homeless guys, an insane woman who doesn't pick up after her dog and a Sex & The City backdrop. That means I can mail quickly upon payment.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

WORLD WAR III ON BUSH'S BRAIN?

SeattleTimes.com has [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002576506_syria22.html|an article] on their site that reports:
President Bush called on the U.N. Security Council yesterday to move quickly on a report that senior Syrian and Lebanese officials probably plotted the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

...

Calling the report "deeply disturbing," Bush said it "requires the world to look at it very carefully and respond accordingly." He said he had asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge the Security Council to convene immediately, but did not describe what sort of action he had in mind.

The article goes on to explain that France is apparently interested in sanctions, but this whole thing sounds like saber-rattling to me. Seems like this may be a bit of wag-dogging in its most preliminary stages, what with Plamegate simply not going away.

Stay tuned...

From SeattleTimes.com, WaPo and LATimes.Com:
Saturday, October 22, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Bush wants action on Syria

By Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post

UNITED NATIONS — President Bush called on the U.N. Security Council yesterday to move quickly on a report that senior Syrian and Lebanese officials probably plotted the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The U.N. report did not implicate Syrian President Bashar Assad, but it described an August 2004 encounter in which he threatened Hariri, and cited a witness describing meetings between members of his inner circle planning the assassination over the course of several months.

"The report strongly suggests that the politically motivated assassination could not have taken place without Syrian involvement," Bush said after helping dedicate a new pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Southern California.

Calling the report "deeply disturbing," Bush said it "requires the world to look at it very carefully and respond accordingly." He said he had asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge the Security Council to convene immediately, but did not describe what sort of action he had in mind.

France, with the support of the United States, is preparing a resolution that might urge sanctions against Syrian leaders implicated in the report, U.N. diplomats said yesterday.

Syrian officials rejected the report as unfair and politically motivated. In Damascus, the Syrian capital, Information Minister Mehdi Dakhlallah said in a statement that the report "contradicts the simplest essential conditions and methods of investigation."

Analysts said Syrians probably would rally around the government and resist foreign pressure. Opponents of Assad's government predicted the report would be used for political purposes, but added that the government eventually would have to provide details rather than just a blanket denial.

In Beirut, the Lebanese capital, people largely stayed off the streets and kept their children home from school, fearing a violent backlash. But angry protesters gathered at Hariri's grave chanting "Let the Syrians burn in hell!" and demanding the resignation of the pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud.

Many predicted Lahoud's days as president were numbered.

"He is a stubborn man, but he is isolated," said Adnan Iskander, a former professor of political science at the American University in Beirut. "I think popular and foreign pressure will force him out."

The report was delivered to the Security Council on Thursday and chief investigator Detlev Mehlis will brief the council Tuesday. Mehlis' report strongly suggests the involvement of three senior Syrian officials and a Lebanese security official, but he deleted their names hours before the report was released.

He denied that he was pressured by Secretary-General Kofi Annan or anyone else, but dropped the names after learning that the report would be circulated beyond the members of the Security Council. He said that the witness claim was credible, but because it had not been corroborated, "It could give the wrong impression" of guilt, he said.

A word-processing tool recovered the changes embedded in the publicly released version, showing that key suspects in the assassination included Assad's brother Maher; his brother-in-law and head of Syrian military intelligence Assef Shawkat; and his close friend Bahjat Suleyman, along with a Lebanese ally, former security chief Jamil Al-Sayyed.

Britain yesterday called for the world body to consider punitive sanctions against Syria. The Security Council is expected to meet Tuesday to consider possible actions for two new resolutions, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.

Ideas under discussion range from a ban on Syrian international flights and trade limitations to an embargo on goods that can be used for military purposes, Western officials familiar with the diplomacy told The Washington Post. Envoys also are considering demanding that Assad, who inherited power from his father in 2000, require those named in the report to help in the investigation — or take action himself against them.

At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said pursuing the investigation is the first priority for the Security Council. "In the absence of serious Syrian cooperation on substantive matters, the mission can't get to the ultimate truth," Bolton said. "That is what it seems to me the focus [of] the U.N. Security Council should be. ... We need to look at other steps to obtain Syrian cooperation."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

BUILD YOUR OWN OPEN SOURCE DVR

First off, what does "open source" mean?

There's actually a bit of debate about it's literal meaning. In a very literal sense, "open source" means that the code, or design, or plans for something are open to anyone who wants them. In theory, anyone who wants to can tweak or fully change the plans, code, or design to suit their needs. They can even turn around and sell the product based on that code, plan or design if they want.

Now, I have a DVR--or Digital Video Recorder. These things are the wave of the futre--the next big thing. You really should thinking about junking that old VCR and investing in one of these babies. The catch is, DRM.

What's DRM?

Well, that's easier to define. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and is essentially a bit of Big Brother in your own home. No, it doesn't turn your TV into one of those telescreen things, but it will control what you do with your media if you let it. Now, broadcasters, copyright-holders and electronics manufacturers are in collusion with each other to make sure they control what you do with stuff you buy. Like a TV show (you effectively buy it by including the TV commercials) or a DVD. The theory is that if ABC doesn't want you making a couple copies of the latest episode of Lost for a friend or even for yourself, they don't have to let you. They just broadcast a special code hidden inside the TV signal that your DVR catches and then can know to limit whether you record that show to DVD or transfer it to another hard drive, or whatever. (Yes, some DVRs can be networked to your computer.)

The solution to Big Business telling you what to do with your stuff? Build an open source DVR.

EFF.org has been kind enough to put together a brilliant page describing, almost precisely, how to do this. Check it out here:

http://www.eff.org/broadcastflag/cookbook/guide.php

One minor warning, EFF, for some reason calls a DVR a PVR, for "Personal" Video Recorder. In my book, that's inaccurate because a PVR is a handheld device that allows you to digitally record video. (Hence, the personal part.)

Personally, I'm a fan of open source in theory. The draw back is that you don't have a mega-corporation to bitch to when their stuff doesn't work the way it is supposed to. If I build my own PVR, all I can do is look for other like-minded individuals who have either posted the same or similar problems or who have made themselves available to help people. You can't get mad at them or they won't help you. Of course, with many mega-corps you're in the same boat.

Still, if I had the money and the time, I'd definitely want to do this project. Although it is tempting to save up for a Mac Mini, a USB 2.0 capture device and a couple of external drives and just do it that way. :) Not at all "open source" of course.

The beauty of open source is that anyone can come along and improve upon something. In many cases, they can then go on to make money selling that improved something. Either way, it's uber-grassroots and therefore way more cool than relying on some mega-corp.

Anyone Want a WordPress.Com Invite?

Hey there, folks! I have a WordPress.com invite in my virtual pocket and was wondering if anyone out there felt like getting a blog over there. After all the MySQL problems I've been having lately, I wish WP.com had been around last year when I started using WP.

WP is a great blogging tool and I highly recommend it. If you're thinking about going with Blogger, I'd say skip it and go with WP.com. Blogger is cool and all, but there are still a lot of silly things you should be able to do over there that you can't. Like categories, for one. How absurd is that? Of course, I can't bag too much on Blogger.com, through AudioBlogger.com I do my Phlog entries, so that's kind of cool. I don't think WP.com can support emailed posts the way individual installs of WP can--in fact, I don't think they can at all.

In generally, WP.com isn't necessarily better than Blogger.com, they're just different. However, if you're anal like me, being able to put your posts into categories is a deal breaker. :)

So, if you want to give WP.com a try, let me know.

Oh yeah, if you want to say "thanks" in exchange for the WP.com invite, you can sign up for an offer at [http://www.freegamingsystems.com/?r=13469685|FreeGamingSystems.com]. Just make sure to complete it because too many folks have signed up and have yet to finish the damn offer. (I mean, like 20+ people!)

PLAMEGATE PROSECUTOR GETS A WEB PAGE!

It's getting to the point these days where just about everyone has a web page these days. Now, even the prosecutor in the Plamegate case has one and you can check it out here:

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/index.html

Yeah, nice and easy domain to remember. Sheesh.

Once you're there, you can read press releases, the latest news and more all regarding the outing of the undercover CIA agent and wife to diplomat Joe Wilson. Remember that whole thing? Wilson goes to Africa to find out if there's anything to the "intel" that suggests Saddam was seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger (nee-jehr). Wilson comes back after finding nothing to back up the intel and tells Bush as much. Then, Bush proceeds to ignore Wilson's findings. Wilson is concerned Bush will use the very intel that he disproved as ammunition for a war, so Wilson does an op-ed peice for the NYT.

Shortly after that, the name of his wife, who just happened to be an undercover CIA agent, was leaked to the press. This is actually against the law as it endangers the life of the agent who was outed.

Wilson, who has worked for administrations on both sides of the political aisle, feels that the outing of his wife is directly related to his attempt to do the right thing.

Regardless, it sure seems like prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald thinks there was a violation of federal law here. Hopefully, this will mean some serious charges against some serious higher-ups in the Bush 43 Admin. There's even been talk of Cheney being involved in the leak.

So, stay tuned, true-believers! Check out Fitzy's website. He's supposed to have a big announcement sometime next week (October 24-28, 2005). Fingers crossed!

Hey, Check it out Blogger Resources!

Just found a great resource for bloggers who might be concerned that they're rights will get squashed these days. Go here:

http://www.eff.org/bloggers/



That's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's page that details what your rights are as a blogger. This way, you can blog about whatever you want and if anyone attacks you for it, you can find out immediately what your rights are. Pretty sweet, huh?

[ThePhlog] 10/19/2005 10:27:41 PM


this is an audio post - click to play


--
Posted by ThePete to ThePhlog at 10/19/2005 10:27:41 PM

Friday, October 21, 2005

Apologies for Any db/connection Errors

Hey there, folks! Well, ThePete.Com is getting a lot more visitors these days and it's starting to show how chintsy my host's database services are. So, I apologize for any connection errors you get. It's neither my fault or the fault of WordPress. It's all about my host limiting the number of simultaneous connections to the db. I'm going to contact them right now and find out if I can raise that limit again. Yeah, I had this problem six or seven months ago and convinced them to raise it from a paltry 15 connections. They never told me what they raised it to, but all I cared was that the db connection errors stopped...at first.

Well, actually, for a while. I recently signed up with a service called BlogAdvance.com at the recommendation of a friend of mine, the guy who runs Ensellitis.com. Alas, BA does help get you more traffic--it works a little TOO well. :) Not that I'm complaining about the traffic.

I also installed WP-Cache 2.0 which is a plugin (WP users can get it [http://mnm.uib.es/gallir/wp-cache-2/|here]) that makes static version of each entry that normally needs to access the db. So, when you pull up, say, [http://thepete.com/bush-43-admin-lies-breaks-fed-law-again/|my post that proves George W. Bush is a criminal] the browser grabs my template and then searches for the content in the database to display, on the fly with that template. WP-Cache 2.0 makes a copy of the finished file so the next time someone wants to access [http://thepete.com/bush-43-admin-lies-breaks-fed-law-again/|my post that proves George W. Bush is a criminal] the file will be ready and waiting for them.

However, this can be annoying if I am tweaking the template. Changes don't show up because the original page is cached. So, sometimes I have to turn WP-Cache off, which means db errors again. So, if you run into trouble, it's because I'm tweaking the template or WP-Cache can't keep up. It's a great plugin, but TP.c has been getting a lot of traffic.

So, apologies for the errors. Keep coming back though as I'll be getting this little problem taken care of as soon as I can. Thanks for stopping by!!

Mega ViPod Pr0n

Yowza, Gizmodo.com [http://us.gizmodo.com/gadgets/portable-media/everything-you-need-to-know-ipod-video-132330.php|directs us] to some serious [http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/video-ipod.ars/1|ViPod pr0n] over at Arstechnica.com. It's a great article that goes into extreme detail including pictures (gadget-porn!). Author Clint Ecker describes all the important bits of his first experiences with his ViPod including why you should never try watching a show on your ViPod while walking:
The question of the hour is if one could be expected to sit and watch 45 minutes of video on the iPod's LCD. My answer to that question is "yes" with one caveat. I walk to work and today I tried watching some video on my commute.

Result: disastrous.

I nearly ran into several people and almost injured myself in an accident involving those rows of news paper stands. My recommendation would be to enjoy these video treats on the safety of a bus or train, and please refrain from catching up on your favorite episodes on the walk to work. I would go far as to extend that warning to car commuters as well. Remember kids, friends don't let friends use their video iPod while driving.
Good advice, I'd say! :)

In the end, he suggests if you've go a 40gb older iPod don't upgrade to the 30gb ViPod just for the video's sake. Personally, I wouldn't dream of doing that because it'd be a downgrade in the most important way--storage space. I've got my eye on the 60gb model so it can hold what my current 20gb iPod can hold plus a buttload of movies.

There's a heckuva lot more to read about this baby plus plenty of pics--including shots of the ViPod's innards. This thing is truly beautiful inside and out.

OK, time to sacrifice a chicken to the job gods...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

US MARINES BURN TALIBAN BODIES

Well, here's a distasteful story--apparently marines in Aghanistan burned the dead bodies of two Taliban fighters and then taunted Afghani locals with the fact that their bodies were not handled according to Muslim ways.

Here's a direct excerpt from [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1106AP_Australia_US_Afghanistan.html|an article] from SeattlePI.com that refers to Australian TV network, SBS:
The SBS television network broadcast video footage that purportedly showed U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of the suspected Taliban fighters in the hills outside the southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

The network said the footage was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army earlier this month. Dupont said the burnings happened on Oct. 1.

In the footage, which was seen by the AP, two soldiers who spoke with American accents later read taunting messages that the SBS said were broadcast to the village, which was believed to be harboring Taliban soldiers.

Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the taunting messages were part of a U.S. Army psychological operations unit.

Now, the article goes on to say that Dupont claimed that the marines claimed that the bodies were burned for sanitary reasons. Couldn't they have been buried for hygiene reasons? Couldn't they followed Muslim beliefs in the process? OK, so they were Taliban and I assume trying to kill the marines, but why must we be as savage as our enemies? I thought we were supposed to be a Christian nation. What ever happen to "love thine enemy" or whatever?

Hell, whatever happened to just being decent people?

And what about the taunting of the local villagers? Here's more from the article about that:
Shortly after the bodies were burned, the soldiers from the psychological operations unit allegedly read out taunting messages about the act over a loudspeaker to the nearby village, according to a transcript of the program.

"Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies," said one message read by a soldier, according to the transcript.


And a little more:
"They used that as a psychological warfare, I guess you'd call it. They used the fact that the Taliban were burned facing west (toward Mecca)," Dupont told SBS. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them ... . That's the only way they can find them."

Well, it sure is nice to know that the military of the most powerful nation in the world can't flush out a few religious extremists in a primitive village in Afghanistan without reducing themselves to schoolyard tactics!

Well, don't worry--it's all in the name of protecting our freedoms, right? Can't have some Taliban dudes getting away to possibly harbor terrorists in the future, right? So what if these tactics make our entire country look bad. It's not like these marines are the President getting oral sex in the oval office, right?

Oh and hey, didn't Bush say the Taliban had been vanquished?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lego Digital Designer for Lego-Building-Stress-Relief Where Ever You've Got A PC or Mac!

So, I'm trying to blow off steam by checking out my favorite gadget sites--I stumble across [http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/oddities/software-makes-building-with-legos-easy-131886.php|this post] at Kotaku.com that pointed me to [http://www.lego.com/eng/factory/design/ldd.asp|the Lego Factory download page]. This is where you can download an app called the Lego Digital Designer. This app let's you design and build your own Lego sets right on your own computer. This may sound like no big deal--but try it out and see how cool it is.

The first thing I discovered was that, while the interface isn't perfect, I could put even the smallest pieces where ever they needed to go. Another thing I didn't miss from building real Lego was the accidental application of too much pressure resulting in the explosion of the entire Lego set, or AAoTMPRitEotELS. In less than 90 minutes I built this:




Wanna build it for yourself? [http://thepete.com/uploads/ThePetePlane_I_bl.pdf|download the brick list for this set in PDF format]. Alas, the app doesn't let you print out instructions on exactly how to build your set. However, if you have even more time on your hands than I did, you can save snapshots of the set as it is automatically built in front of your eyes by the app. Pretty sweet, huh?

Now, like I said, the app isn't perfect. It's a little tricky to get used to the way the app handles depth and I did find myself misplacing pieces from time-to-time. Also, when it does the auto-build thing it sometimes puts the pieces together so they don't make any physical sense. For instance, while watching ThePetePlane I being built, random pieces would just appear, floating in space, waiting to be secured to the rest of the model. It was kind of cool to look at, but a little difficult to mimmick with real Lego pieces.

It's also odd that you don't have an infinate supply of pieces. However, I think that's because of their website. See, this is the coolest part. They've got a site that allows you to upload your Lego creations for others to see and, this is the best part, you can also buy them to build on your own. The set you design comes with a proper Lego box (with your design on the outside) and instructions! SWEET! When you upload your design to their site, they tell you what other things you can build with the same pieces. There were hundreds of other things built with the same pieces I used. So, if they just let people have an infinite number of pieces, they will have fewer sets designed by other folks that are in common with yours. Sorta makes sense. But I'm sort of getting ahead of myself.

What happens when you upload your creation is this. You have a choice to upload it to the gallery or buy your set. I was curious just how much my 90-piece Lego set would set me back and alas it's pretty expensive for just 90 pieces, coming in at $10.77. I'm not sure how they work out the prices, but still, if you're a fan of Lego, as I am, this is still a reasonable deal. From there, I decided to not buy my set, so I back up to the decision-making page and entered it in the gallery. Once it's in the gallery I still have the option to buy it if I want to, which is nice. Before it can be seen by other Lego DD users it has to be approved by staff. This makes sense since I could be some dickhead who decides to be cute and build a virtual naked man out of Lego and upload it to a website thousands of kids around the world visit.

Another weird thing about the LDD is that the sets that it comes with each say they expire on December 31, 2005. What the hell does that mean? The site doesn't say. I guess it's a ploy to get users to download more sets to vary this cash cow they now have going. I just hope they don't expect us to pay for virtual Lego sets. That would be ultra lame.

Ultimately, this is cool as hell. I have a bad feeling that I'll be spending a lot of time and money on my own Lego creations. Oh yeah--and you can, too!

[http://shop.lego.com/Product/?p=LFH001&mid=D05417A6-01BC-4565-9A60-03041BF1E186|Click here to buy ThePetePlane I]. :D

UPDATE 4:28am: OK, I get it now. They charge you the same for every set no matter how many pieces you use. I saw this cool little ship this one dude designed that used just 22 piece, yet, the set was still priced at $10.77. All right, so it's not as cool as I thought. Still, it is fun and served as some much needed therapy after the absolute craziness of the past couple weeks (that continues on this week).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

JEB ASKS "WHY US (ME)?"

In [http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-wilma,0,1180061.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines|an article] that graced Sun-Sentinel.com, today, Florida Governor Jeb Bush had this to say in response to a seventh hurricane bearing down on his state in the last two years:
"Why us? How could it be a storm would take a sharp, 90-degree turn to the east? It's something that we're going to have to live with and prepare for," he said Tuesday.

"Why us?"

You're a Christian man, aren't ya, Jeb? The answer to me is clear:

GOD HATES YOUR BROTHER!

There's no practical way to get a hurricane to DC so, he's aiming right AT YOUR ASS, JEB!

God likes oil, but hates sinners, hence the recent hurricane attack on New Orleans and since the previous Floridian hurricanes haven't nailed your corrupt-Bush-ass, yer in the divine crosshairs, again, my friend!!

For anyone who thinks I might seriously think God is out to get Jeb Bush, I say this: I'm an Atheist.

But hey, just because I'm an Atheist doesn't mean I can't hope... :D

Oh and by the way, Jeb does have a point about hurricanes simply hanging a right like that. Regular ThePetester, Morgan, is a bit of a storm hound and he tells me that Katrina and Rita both behaved unlike storms he's ever seen before. Now here comes Wilma making a sharp right turn to aim herself right at Florida.

Man, it's all I can do to not make a Flintsone's joke...

I just wish that there were more reasonable explanations for these hurricanes to just act wonky like this. So far we have global warming, which, while I get the generalities of GW, I don't see the direct connection to making hurricanes more erratic. Beyond that, all we have is the weather-control explanation. One ex-weather man claims the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) are using tech they bought on the Russian black market to drive hurricanes around the gulf like hotrods on the Sunset Strip. Meanwhile, former scientisty-person and Mars-civilization-enthusiast, Richard C. Hoagland of www.EnterpriseMission.com says there's another group that is duking it out with the Yakuza (or whomever it is) for control over these storms.

So, we've got vague science that the ruling party of America has trouble admitting is true and the "theory" that the storms are being controlled by people.

Please, someone tell me aliens are involved, then my day will be complete.

To find out the latest on exactly where Wilma is, check out [http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT24/refresh/AL2405W5_sm2+gif/084935W_sm.gif|this map] from NOAA.gov. It includes where Wilma is now and where they believe she is going. Itshould be updated every few hours. You can also check out [http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/DATA/RT/float-ir4-loop.html|the IR view of Wilma]. Noaa.gov says it updates every half-hour.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Listen to "What Barry Says"

[http://video.lisarein.com/thepete/stuff/Politrix/whatbarrysays.mov|]Hey, check it out--I heard back from Simon Robson, the creator of What Barry Says and he's given me permission to mirror the Quicktime of his file. Click the pic to the left to check out his awesome video. Be sure to swing by knife-party.net to learn more about Simon Robson.

Special thanks be to Simon Robson for letting me mirror his short and to Lisa Rein of OnLisaReinsRadar.Com for providing server space for this clip.

Leftist Propaganda? Yes--But It's Accurate

One of the things that bugs me about being up on world events and being an idealist at the same time is that I get labelled a conspiracy theorist when I explain what I see happening in the world. I then have to explain that I don't care if it is a conspiracy--whether there are a bunch of guys in a room plotting everything or not doesn't really concern me. The issue isn't conspiracy, it's what's actually happening in the world. I don't neccesarily care why bad things happen, I just want to stop them.

What is happening in the world?

Well, I've been hoping for the ability to encapsulate everything I've been seeing over the past 5 years into a single piece I could post here at ThePete.Com, but I have yet to really feel like I could cover every point I feel needs covered in a single, cogent blog entry. I tried making a film about it and it's still in post, but it doesn't speak to the military industrial complex or the neo-cons.

The good news is that I found a clip today that covers just about every important angle of what's wrong with America in the world today. The clip is called What Barry Says and you can check it out by going to Knife-Party.net. Once you get there, click the giant logo and then a new window will open with flash inside. Click on "knife party" and then at the bottom of the text that appears, find the link to check out a 35mb QT of What Barry Says. I emailed Simon Robson, the clip's creator to see if I could get permission to mirror it since it's rather difficult to get to it on his site. If you don't mind Windows Media, you can also find the clip [http://www.wimp.com/propaganda/|here] at a site that calls it "leftist propaganda." That's a true statement, but what that site fails to mention is that every single one of Barry's claims are true--I've already verified them myself.

Barry, btw, is Barry McNamara, a "political thinker" (whatever that is) who is much better than I at distilling huge concepts down to basic ideas (and I thought I was pretty good at it). I tried to find his website, but couldn't manage to find it. I'm not even sure he has one...

Special Thanks be to TheChad for sending me a link to this clip.

CRIMINAL WAR DRUMS BEAT FOR IRAQ, IRAN, VENEZUELA

You may recall [http://thepete.com/explosive-found-a-block-from-my-apartment/|my post] on the explosives found up the street from my apartment here in LA. Well, there's been another case of domestic explosives inside the USA. Just this morning, according to [http://www.local6.com/news/5106203/detail.html|an article] at Local6.com, an explosion occured outside a Walgreens in Florida. No one was hurt, but still, there was an explosion in a strip mall. Seems like Bush is too distracted with the imaginary War Against Terror to deal with the realities here at home. In fact TWAT may be expanding soon.

We all know about Iraq already, but there have been some interesting rumors I've read floating around the 'net. Remember [http://thepete.com/burning-brit-pic-reminds-uk-of-iraquagmire/|that story about the UKGIs trying to get two of their guys out of an Iraqi jail?] This story recently sent a wave of anti-Iraq-war sentiment across the British populace because the break-out attempt resulted in a [http://thepete.com/uploads/burningbrit.jpg|breath taking picture of a UKGI on fire]. Well, the original articles I had read regarding that story failed to mention why those two UKGIs were in that Iraqi jail in the first place. What I've heard is that they were captured by local authorities because they were caught red handed trying to commit terrorist acts against the Iraqi people.

Now, this is interesting because according to [http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-16T213514Z_01_KWA651780_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAN.xml&archived=False|an article] from Reuters.com, Iran is accusing the UK of being behind bombings in Iran over the weekend. Is the UK trying to help inspire terror in Iran and Iraq? Now, don't think a western government trying to foment local terror against an existing government is something new. The CIA did this in Vietnam and Cuba decades ago. The idea is to encourage locals to rise up to make an invasion more reasonable. We can look like we're just helping freedom fighters get their freedom. It should be interesting to see if violence erupts in Venezuela and who is blamed for it. Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned Venezuela yet.

Lest you think Iran is the only new country the war drums are newly beating for check out [http://washingtontimes.com/national/20051016-112537-4689r.htm|an article] from conservative rag WashingtonTimes.com that reports Venezuela is now looking for nukes. If this is true, it could mean that Bush will have a real easy excuse to invade Venezuela--a country rich in oil and criticism for the USG.

In case you happen to be one of those people who thinks these wars are a good idea because they protect American interests abroad (or even at home), I have to ask you how much you think those interests are worth. A great many American soldiers risk and even lose their lives to fight for American interests. What do they get for it? According to [http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/051014/14wounded.htm|an article] from USNews.com, many get dicked around by the very government they wanted to fight for. Apparently, payroll issues are common and men who should be getting paid are not getting as much as they should or any money at all. Take this example from the article:
Having nearly lost his life in Iraq, the 1st Infantry Division soldier became lost to the Army payroll system because of a paperwork snafu as he lay comatose in a veterans hospital near Chicago. As a result, an Army bureaucrat classified him as absent without leave and cut off his pay, as is sometimes done when the system loses track of a soldier. The theory is that a GI wrongly listed as AWOL will start shouting and then the issue can be resolved. "That may work for an able-bodied soldier," says Michael Hurst, a former Army finance officer, "but it doesn't work so well for a guy in a coma in Chicago."


Now, don't you think that someone wounded should be afforded extra money instead of less? Don't you think it would be a good and reasonable idea to expect the USG to go above and beyond to treat men and women who serve as heroes and make sure they get what they need if not more than what they need? Well, the USG treats these men and women like cattle. They sign their lives over to the United States Government and the USG takes full advantage of that.

So, while you or the nearest "conservative" may be rabidly excited for another invasion to protect the security of the Fatherland--homeland, think about all the USGIs who are going to be physical and/or mentally scarred for life because of it. Are these real threats America as a country is facing? Or just imagined threats to keep Republicans in office? It seems like it's all just a big misappropriation of our attention.

In fact, that reminds me of how former FBI head Louis Freeh [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/politics/16cnd-freeh.html?ei=5090&en=24894037bc551f90&ex=1287115200&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print|continues to blame Clinton] for falling down on the fighting-terrorists-job. I love this--the dude is whining on and on about a guy WHO WAS ALREADY IMPEACHED. If he had a problem with Clinton, which many had, he should have mentioned it during Clinton's impeachment trial. I could have gotten behind impeachment if it was about leaving America opened to terror attacks. Which brings me to Bush.

If Freeh is so rabid about nailing Clinton on his failings, why doesn't Freeh yell and scream about Bush? Who has more power over TWAT now? FORMER President Clinton or current White House occupant George W? COME ON, Freeh, STOP selling your book and do WHAT'S RIGHT. Step up and call this guy a failure in The War Against Terror. After all, that's what he is. Before the Iraq Attack, we couldn't prove that Iraq had contacts with terrorists. Now, it's a breeding ground for them. Before the Iraq Attack, we wanted to see Osama caught. Now he's nowhere to be found.

So, while all of this stuff only gets worse, Freeh is whining about a guy who is no longer in office. On that thought, I'd like Bush to no longer be in office. He has broken several laws both [http://thepete.com/bush-43-admin-lies-breaks-fed-law-again|domestically] and [http://thepete.com/uns-annan-iraq-attack-illegal/|internationally] yet he's not impeached. Local6.com reports [http://www.local6.com/money/5093711/detail.html|in article] that an Ohio woman who owes the IRS $1 has been arrested for tax evasion. Here's a clip from that article:
Loveland City Manager Fred Enderle said the amount Combs owes isn't the real issue.
"Whether it's $1 they owe us or $1,000, it's not fair to the rest of the public to not pursue that person," he said. "There is some expense involved, but it goes back to the principle. We have laws. The laws have to be complied with. At what cost do you stop enforcing the law?"

I love open hypocrisy like this. I bet this guy voted for Bush in 2004.

Did I say "love"? I meant to type "fucking hate."

Success for Me and Some Pals!

I'm going to start off today on a positive note by blogging a bit about a strange (but welcome) wave of creative successes rolling over my life and the life of a few people close to me.

First, my internet cafe buddy and fellow writer MK Asante Jr has just published a new book called [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1592214223/qid=1129566168/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-6568812-7588168?v=glance&s=books&n=507846|Beautiful. And Ugly, Too]. It's a book of poetry and it's Asante's second book after publishing [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1592210074/qid=1129566168/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl14/102-6568812-7588168?v=glance&s=books&n=507846|Like Water Running Off My Back] in 2002. If that's not enough for you, his film 500 Years Later ([http://www.500yearslater.com/|official site]/[http://imdb.com/title/tt0444593|IMDB]) screened in front of [http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/10/prweb298498.htm|more than 1 million people this past weekend at the Millions More March in Washington DC]. Funny how it's the first movie in cinema history to be screened in front of that many people and yet the only coverage of it is a PRWeb press release.

While Asante's success may seem unmatchable, we all should remember that success can be measured a few hundred different ways. For instance, my friend Lauren Raab is a student at UCLA but has written a STACK of articles and columns all [http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/searchresults.asp?author=Lauren%20Raab|readable at the Daily Bruin website]. I think her list of articles is impressive period. She's still in college and has had the opportunity to write that much? That's pretty cool. Of particular note are her food columns that will leave you entertained and educated regarding how you can live life like a college kid while still managing to eat well and fairly healthy, too. :) So, check out her stuff!

Meanwhile, TheWife, has been asked to return to the cast of Mulholland Christmas Carol which begins it's performances for the 2005 winter season Thanksgiving weekend. If you're not familiar with the show, I highly recommend checking it out. I saw the show something like 4 or 5 times last year and it's awesome. It combines the general structure of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol with the story of how Mulholland brought water to Los Angeles at the turn of the last century. It's both hillarious and sobering at the same time since the LA water stuff is all based on real events--real events that include a terrible damn breaking that killed hundreds. You can get more info on this show at the Theatre of Note website's [http://www.theatreofnote.com/upcoming.html|upcoming productions page].

And not to go completely success-free, my show Director's Cut is still being performed at the John Raitt Theater at 6520 Hollywood Blvd in the heart of Hollywood, just down the street from the Egyptian Theater. It's a truly crazy show that blurs the line between reality and fiction. The story follows an up-and-coming filmmaker who is being haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife whom he killed to stop her from ruining his first film. So, CHECK IT OUT!! Call 310 933-5927 to reserve your seats TODAY! It performs Fridays and Saturdays between now and November 5, 2005.

I've also written another short 1-act play that I'm hoping to convince the director and some cast members from Director's Cut to do some nights after Director's Cut performs. More news on that as it occurs.

I'm also planning on bringing back the infamous The 5 Minute Show. With the advent of the ViPod, I feel like the timing is right to give this fun little show another chance. For anyone new to the site, The 5 Minute Show was a show I produced for the site back in the winter/spring of 2003. I did it as a weekly (yes, 5-minute-long) show that covered all sorts of topics. Part homage to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart part mental enema, T5MS ceased production because of the Iraq Attack. I got so depressed about the US invasion, all I could think to do the show about was the Iraq war and that got old fast. But now I feel like I'm overflowing with ideas for everything from short films to commentary on topics more varying than just the Iraq war.

So, lots of good things happening. Of course, I'm also getting sued for old credit card debt by a collection agency. That's pretty funny since the debt is older than 4 years, which means that, thanks to the statute of limitations on collection a debt, it's too late for them to sue me. But they're trying anyway because they're scumbags. :) So, I'm not too concerned, I just have to figure out how to handle this. I've never been sued before, so this should be a fun learning experience. Oh and you can bet I'll be blogging about it.

In general, I'm trying to keep my eyes on the positive momentum around me. I seriously think that's the key to making things more positive permanently. Wish me luck!!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

One Last Referal Needed for My Free Nintendo DS

Hey there, folks! Well, you may recall my posts regarding the FreePay.com site (formerly known as GratisNetwork.com) that claim to give you free electronics (and other things) in exchange for trying out introductory offers from various companies (check out those posts [http://thepete.com/tag/FreePay|here]). Well, I'm so close to getting my free Nintendo DS that I can smell that "new electronic gadget" scent that every geek knows so well.

All I need is for one person who wants a PS2, Nintendo DS, Gameboy Micro, Game Cube or Xbox to [http://www.freegamingsystems.com/?r=13469685|click here] and sign up for an offer. There are offers you can take which are cheap and sometimes free and then if you get 4 people to sign up (which I'll be happy to help you with if you help me) you'll get a free gaming system.

I've also found two sites that are essentially support groups for people interested in or actually taking part in a free-stuff-network. First, I found FreebeeLounge.com which is essentially a blog regarding free stuff. They talk about new free-stuff sites as well as sites that pay you directly for taking offers. Then, there's FreeiPodGuide.com which is probably the quintessential free iPod site--they even have [http://forum.freeipodguide.com/|a forum]. Good tips abound at all three links I mentioned.

Oh and yes, I'm going to sign up for one of those free video iPod offers soon, but I'm thinking about trying a different free-stuff network. I will, of course, blog about that, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

ARBUSTO STAGES PRO-IRAQ WAR SOLDIER CONFERENCE

Well, no one should be surprised about this story. ABCNews.com has [http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1211968|an article] from AP.org reporting that the teleconference Bush had with a handful of USMil soldiers in Iraq was staged. This wouldn't be the first time Bush had something positive staged for him. In fact, I've seen [http://video.lisarein.com/thepete/stuff/Cine_Del_Arbusto/this_is_a_scripted.qt|a clip] where he admits his press conferences are staged.

While it's true that the soldier conference Bush did recently wasn't literally scripted, it can be said that it was an obvious attempt to put a positive spin on the continued debacle that is the Iraquagmire.

Here's my favorite quote from the AP.org piece:
"So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory," Bush said.

Great, so you're an idiot who is too blind to recognize when you've screwed up.

You're such a stupid child, Bush, it disgusts me that your continued complete lack of maturity costs human lives nearly every day.

I hope their is a God and a hell he'll leave you to rot in because Republicans and Democrats in Washington are too gutless to try to impeach you when you're so deserving of it.

From ABCNews.com and AP.org:

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

President Bush Teleconference With U.S. Troops Was Choreographed to Match His Goals for Iraq War
By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

"This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

As she spoke in Washington, a live shot of 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division and one Iraqi soldier was beamed into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from Tikrit the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"I'm going to ask somebody to grab those two water bottles against the wall and move them out of the camera shot for me," Barber said.

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering how often do we train with the Iraqi military who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit the hometown and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Before he took questions, Bush thanked the soldiers for serving and reassured them that the U.S. would not pull out of Iraq until the mission was complete.

"So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory," Bush said.

The president told them twice that the American people were behind them.

"You've got tremendous support here at home," Bush said.

Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday's event was coordinated with the Defense Department but that the troops were expressing their own thoughts. With satellite feeds, coordination often is needed to overcome technological challenges, such as delays, he said.

"I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," he said, adding that the president wanted to talk with troops on the ground who have firsthand knowledge about the situation.

The soldiers all gave Bush an upbeat view of the situation.

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

On preparations for the vote, 1st Lt. Gregg Murphy of Tennessee said: "Sir, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make this thing a success. ... Back in January, when we were preparing for that election, we had to lead the way. We set up the coordination, we made the plan. We're really happy to see, during the preparation for this one, sir, they're doing everything."

On the training of Iraqi security forces, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo from Scotia, N.Y., said to Bush: "I can tell you over the past 10 months, we've seen a tremendous increase in the capabilities and the confidences of our Iraqi security force partners. ... Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations."

Lombardo told the president that she was in New York City on Nov. 11, 2001, when Bush attended an event recognizing soldiers for their recovery and rescue efforts at Ground Zero. She said the troops began the fight against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were proud to continue it in Iraq.

"I thought you looked familiar," Bush said, and then joked: "I probably look familiar to you, too."

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press