From Pine View Farm

February, 2010 archive

“Smile, You’re on Candid Camera” (Updated) 0

I used to live in Lower Merion, which has now made international news. I lived in the poor part of the township, actually not far from where Senator Heinz’s plane went down (the school grounds were about four blocks away from my house).

Lower Merion is one of the richest jurisdictions in the US, with a very impressive “mansions per square mile” ratio.

I lived there in 1983. Now Lower Merion appears to be stuck in 1984.

From the BBC:

Parents in the US have accused a school of spying on children by remotely activating webcams on laptops.

A couple from Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against a school district which gave laptops to its high school pupils.

They say their son was told off by teachers for “engaging in improper behaviour in his home” and that the evidence was an image from his webcam.

The Inky has the latest and the even laterest.

Addendum, Several Days Later:

Some interesting links regarding this.

The latest from the Inky and the Philly DN.

And, according to Martin at the Network Security Blog, the software in question was much more than anti-theft software, such as LoJack; it was remote administration software which enabled the remote user to take complete control of the computer, not just to snap a picture if the box were reported stolen.


Know Nothings 0

Richard Hofstadter was correct.

Leonard Pitts speaks to contempt for facts in supporting a run for the Presidency by Beyond the Palin.

So no, this is not a clash of ideologies, but a clash between intelligence and its opposite. And I am tired of being asked to pretend stupid is a virtue. That’s why I’d welcome the moment of truth your campaign would bring. It would force us to decide once and for all whether we are permanently committed to the path of ignorance, of birthers, truthers and tea party incoherence you represent, or whether we will at last turn back from the cliff toward which we race.


Death Is Not a Game 0

Despite what you might have learned from 24.

It is sometimes a duty. But it’s not a game.


Down at the Farm 0

Down for two weeks.

Database problems. I hate databases.

Also, the modem seems to have lost its IP address. I had to reboot the modem to get the connection working again. This was exacerbated by my having been away when the Snow Gods clobbered the area, delaying my return so I could shoot the trouble.

But I’m back. For a while. I’ll be offline for a planned outage on Sunday, but, this time, I should be able to post a “Gone Fishing” notice.


Inquisitional Minds Wanted To Know 0

Through tortuous means.

And calling it something else doesn’t change that.


Emoticonfidence Game 0

Victor Borge thought he was being funny when he did this (and he was).

I suspect that he did not expect that, years later, some outfit would try to license (as in, “charge for using”) a new punctuation mark.


Milking It for All It’s Worth 0

Melamine, that is:

China has seized 72 tonnes of milk powder believed to be tainted with melamine and is searching for another 100 tonnes, state media has reported.

The powder is thought to be from a batch recalled after it killed six children in 2008 and made 300,000 ill.

Two dairies were shut down at the weekend after they were found to be selling products using the powder, which should have been destroyed.


CorporateSpeak 0

Shaun Mullen considers what he calls “worst Supreme Court ruling since the Dred Scott decision.”


Stray Thought, Overdone Super Bowl Halftime Show Dept. 0

I’d like to have the post-halftime Bengay concession for the band.


It’s a blinking CSI commercial!


Quality Control 0

More here. A nugget:

Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite — and we’re only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that . . . .

Video also via Seeing the Forest.


Times A-Wastin’ 0

And it’s being a-wasted on really oddball whackjobbery.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.


Dustbiters 0

I missed the excitement this week, being distracted by the panic up the road a piece where, apparently, the world came to an end under a blanket of snow.

But I didn’t miss much. The FDIC seems to be running out of banks to shut down; they caught only one this week:


The Bully Pulpit 0

E. J. Dionne, musing over a conversation he had with Joe Biden:

For Republicans, American power is rooted largely in military might and showing a tough and resolute face to the world. They would rely on tax cuts as the one and only spur to economic growth.

Obama, Biden, and the Democrats, on the other hand, believe that American power depends ultimately on the American economy and that government has an essential role to play in fostering the next generation of growth.

The question: Should TR’s “bully pulpit” be used to bully or to lead?


Partially-Owned Subsidiaries 0

Dick Polman, on the teabaggers:

Some of those groups, as well as hundreds of local groups, are genuinely bottom up. But some of those groups are top down – in other words, they’re fake grassroots. They’re “AstroTurf” groups fronting for big business and the Republican Party. FreedomWorks is a Washington operation run by ex-GOP House insider Dick Armey, who is bankrolled by his corporate clients. Tea Party Express is run by a pair of veteran Republican strategists, who reportedly have steered tea-party donations into their consulting firm – thus prompting some Tea Party Patriots to assail Tea Party Express as “the AstroTurf Express.”

There is no percentage in just being agin’. Until they have something to be for, they will continue to be grist for the corporatist mill.



Sinclair Lewis, from the Quotemaster:

All of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought, dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary.


Twits on Twitter 0

Over there.


How To Ruin a Super Bowl Party 0

Arrest the bookies.


The other way would be actually eat those things your local newspaper–yes, yours–is touting in the recipe pages as “Super Bowl Party” fare.


“The Footprints of a Gigantic Hound” 0

Rereading the Hound of the Baskervilles in William S. Baring-Gould’s The Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

‘Tis a shame Baring-Gould is out of print. Young pups will not know the joy of the footnotes.

The game is afoot.


Self-Awareness 0

When you call names for two years, don’t be surprised when someone else calls you out.

As sometimes happens, he is a little unrestrained in his expression, but, none the less, what Brendan said.


Tea Party Speaker: “Jim Crow Good” 0

Thanks to Delaware Liberal for catching this. Having grown up under Jim Crow and having studied U. S. Southern History as my discipline, I can call it for what it is:


Blatantly racist.

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