From Pine View Farm

August, 2009 archive

Clearly a Rhetorical Question 1

Steve Benen asks a question:

I am curious about something, though. Terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, early on in President Clinton’s first year in office. Six people were killed, hundreds more were injured. The Clinton administration caught those responsible, subjected them to the U.S. criminal justice system, and foreign terrorists did not strike again on U.S. soil during Clinton’s terms in office.

So, at any point in 2001, did the Bush White House turn to Bill Clinton and Al Gore and ask, “How did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?” I think we can probably guess the answer.

Where is Osama bin Laden again?

Via Atrios.


We Need Single Payer (Updated) 0

More here.

Addendum, the Next Wednesday:

Fact Check dot org questions the stats.

Read the analysis. They did not question the larger meaning.


Drink Liberally . . . 0

at Triumph Brewing Company, 2nd and Chestnut, Philadelphia, Pa., USA, Tuesday, 6. p.

Triumph has a tasty and creative menu and there is ample parking at the meters on Front (three hour parking at $2.00 per hour). If you drive, take the Callowhill exit off I-95, turn left on 4th, then left on Market, then right on 2nd. When you get to Society HIll Towers, turn left, then left on Front. That will put you near the metered parking without having to make a U-ie.

Glomarization has public transit directions if you’re close enough to take a SEPTA tank.

I don’t think I’ll be there. I have a lot to do this week and I still haven’t found my diligence.

Fill in for me. That’s “Scotch, rocks, water on the side” and, most often, the hummus platter.

. . . oh, yeah, and live charitably.


Buzz Words Reprise 0

In line with the Buzz Words post earlier today, Andrew Sullivan translates a less-than-benign example of doublespeak. Read the whole thing.

“Aggressive interrogation of captured terrorists” needs translation into plain English. It means “the torture of captives suspected of being terrorists.”


Buzz Words 0

Mike Armstrong pleas for clarity:

Perhaps it’s the mindless repetition of them that’s so irritating. But let’s not discount the idiocy of some jargon. After all, any company that’s not customer centric can’t be in business for very long.

These phrases are so loathed that Accountemps put them into its buzzword hall of fame along with the one that irks me the most: “solution.”

I’ve found that using buzz words and puffery–words that make something sound more significant that it is–usually indicates one (or maybe both) of two things:

  • Mental laziness. It takes energy to think outside the box. Too often, it’s just old wine in new bottles.
  • Something to hide. Someone’s trying to put the best face on the elephant in the room or make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Read more »


Scarcity 0

Some Guy with a Website explains health care rationing.

Statistics here.

Warning: It’s pretty brutal, in a brutally accurate sort of way.


Unseen on the Street 0

The Philadelphia Shrinquirer explains how Pennsylvania tries to keep its vanity plates decorus. It’s a short article and quite amusing:

The ladies and gentlemen of the committee come to their deliberations well-armed. They have slang dictionaries, an acronym database, foreign-language dictionaries, and an array of digital reference tools to screen out not only inappropriate sexual material, but also references to drugs, gangs, ethnic slurs, and violence.

But the most potent weapon is Table 0566, known to insiders as “The No-No List” – a growing compilation – now numbering nearly 300 pages and 10,000 entries. From ABOOGER to ZUCKU, the list is a compendium of bad taste – a field guide to the less attractive recesses of the human cranial vault.

There are some easy calls in Table 0566: TUSH, TOUCHME, PISTOF, LEZDOIT, HELLYES, and almost anything beginning SEX.

I wonder whether these two, sent to me by a Faithful Reader


would pass muster in the Quaker State?


Behind the Scenes Softball 0

Andrew Sullivan describes Chris Wallace’s interview with Dick Cheney:

Now look: there are softball interviews; and then there are interviews like this. It cannot be described as journalism in any fashion. Even as propaganda, which is its point, it doesn’t work – because it’s far too cloying and supportive of Cheney to be convincing to anyone outside the true-believers. When it comes to Cheney, one of the most incompetent vice-presidents in the country’s history, with a record of two grotesquely botched wars, war crimes and a crippling debt, Chris Wallace sounds like a teenage girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers.

Harry Shearer had background on the interview was like in yesterday’s Le Show (29 minutes in–there’s a 13 second commercial before the show if you listen to the audio stream).

Full disclosure: I did not watch the interview. I don’t do television news and I know far more about Cheney than I want to.


We Need Single Payer: Definitions Dept. 2

Wingnuts are throwing around charges of socialism quite freely these days.

It’s safe to say they pretty much don’t know what “socialism” is, other than a nice scare word. It is “state ownership of the means of production,” that is, of everything. Public health insurance is not “the means of production”; it is health insurance.

Some might argue that the current attempts to bail out Wall Street and GM amount to state ownership; they ignore that those industries ruined themselves (as well as a goodly number of the citizenry), then came begging for help.

They were, in fact, begging for help from us, the taxpayers. It is only right that our help comes with strings attached (frankly, I don’t think enough strings were attached: strings should have included reasonable pay scales; full public disclosure of balance sheets; and, for the zombie banksters, “mark to market,” but that’s just me–for some screwy reason, I like to know where my money is going).

Several days ago, Noz described liberalism as well as anyone I have ever read.

Ownership is not the issue; effectiveness is.

it’s also interesting that while much of the american right subscribes to the cult of private industry, the opposite cult doesn’t really exist on the opposite side of the political spectrum. at least not in any significant way. i personally believe that there are things that government does better than the private sector and things that the private sector does better than government. decided (sic) which is better for a particular problem involves looking at the evidence, how other governments have dealt with it and whether they have been more or less successful. that seems to be how most lefties that i know think. it’s more pragmatism than ideology. no doubt there is someone out there who believes that liberalism means the end of all things private, but whoever they are they are so marginal to debate on any issue they’ll all but invisible.

The only persons who benefit from the current health insurance system in this country are the insurance companies. It is their teat and they suck on it.

What they do to the rest of us just rhymes with suck.


We Need Single Payer 0

Via Jamie Sanderson.


Lamer Banks 0

I logged into my bank tonight and was informed that it wants me to use a new browser.

Wachovia FAIL

What a list.

Internet Explorer, which has never met a back door it didn’t leave open; Safari, the walled-garden Mac thingee that rivals IE for security; Firefox, which is okay except for the clunkiness; and AOL (there’s still an AOL browser?).

Since I use the current version of one of the most consistently secure browsers available, I must assume that they are promoting insecurity.

And that they wish to lose a customer.

(Yes, I would change banks over this. Not because of the browser. Because of the stupid.)


Browser upgrade, my anatomy.


I tried clicking the “Feedback” link at the website. It didn’t work in Opera or in (drumroll) Firefox.

Words fail me.


If you are a competent webdesigner, the browser doesn’t matter. What matters is what your website serves up to the browser.


What He Said 0

Chris Satullo in his commentary today. Listen here.

On the Media has more from the angle of journalistic ethics. Go to the website or listen here (MP3):


Out of the Frying Pan 0

The new line of stoves from Maytag: The Halven.

He laid the phone next to the stove. They dialed it. Suddenly, the electronic control on the stovetop beeped. The digital display changed from a clock to the word “high.” As the phone was ringing, the broiler was heating up.

Follow the link for the rest of the story.

Maytag has taken the oven back to the lab for the exorcism.

H/T Linda for the link.


Playing with Firearms 0

I have a personal rule against giving serious attention to any piece of writing that has more than two rhetorical questions per page.

That, in fact, is one reason I gave up on the Wilmington paper. You see, I really enjoy the Letters to the Editor. Whatever paper I might be reading (and, because I spent years as a road warrior, I have read papers all over the country), I read the letters first, after glancing at the front page. The local paper frequently prints letters that consist of a series of inane rhetorical questions with no other content.

The ones without the rhetorical questions tend to be, well, just inane.

And herewith I break my personal rule.

Read more »


Happy Spray 0

A researcher in Oz claims to have developed an aerosol spray which can reduce stress; the spray contains chemicals are released by plants and reportedly smells like newly mown grass.

Sounds like a natural for Billy Mays, except he’s moved on the the Great Sideshow in the Sky.

That’s really here nor there, but it led to this screed by Victoria Coren, who slices and dices it expertly.

A nugget from near the beginning of the article. It gets better:

And I say: this sums up everything that is wrong with our stupid, soulless, lazy, money-driven, empty modern culture. Why take an airy hike through one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes when, for £4, you can spray a chemical approximation of it round the room and lie on the sofa watching Coronation Street?

I hate Dr Nick Lavidis. I’m sure he’s a nice man, but I despise him and everything he stands for. Fine, so this nonsense may improve your memory. But what, precisely, will you be remembering? The happy day you clicked “purchase” on the room spray at an online checkout? The golden moment when you first pointed it at the carpet from your wheezy prone position on a beanbag in front of The X Factor?

I’ll tell you what improves your memory. Getting up off your arse and going out to do something that’s worth remembering.


Stray Thought 2

I’d like to have a talk with whoever decided that English ivy was a proper ornamental.


If It Ain’t Broke . . . 0

Wait a minute. It is broke.

Very broke.


Evil in Our Name 1

What Susie said.

The amorality of the Bush administration has so poisoned our discourse that some have forgotten that deciding to torture another creature is not a practical question.

It is a moral one.

Yet, there is more public furor over Michael Vick than ov–oh, never mind.


Snake Oil 0

I’ve been staring at this story since yesterday.

The tale of fiduciary failure is really quite amazing. I guess the moral is, “Don’t trust salespersons, especially if they are wearing power ties.”

Go read it.


And Now for Something Completely Different 0

This is pretty gross, in an I-can’t-believe-someone-actually-did-this kind of way.

Direct hate mail to Karen. I stole it from her.

Click to see more. Remember, I told you so.