From Pine View Farm

March, 2006 archive

How the Republicans Treat Gold Star Mothers 2

Have they no shame?

Cindy Sheehan is a nutcase.


Mercernaries Offer Themselves to the USA 0

Privatization of the future?

Why not? They’ve contracted out everything else.

Stepping into a potential political minefield, Blackwater USA is offering itself up as an army for hire to police the world’s trouble spots.

Cofer Black, vice chairman of the Moyock, N.C.-based private military company, told an international conference in Amman, Jordan, this week that Blackwater stands ready to help keep or restore the peace anywhere it is needed.


Taylor and Black said the company would undertake such a mission only with the approval of the U.S. government.


Another Conservatve Deserts Bush 0

William F. Buckley, Jr., is a powerful thinker. He has always been a powerful and persuasive writer. Somewhere around here, I still have a copy of God and Man at Yale.

He’s thinking about George W. Bush:

William F. Buckley Jr., the longtime conservative writer and leader, said George W. Bush’s presidency will be judged entirely by the outcome of a war in Iraq that is now a failure.

“Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq,” Buckley said in an interview that will air on Bloomberg Television this weekend. “If he’d invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn’t get him out of his jam.”

Buckley said he doesn’t have a formula for getting out of Iraq, though he said “it’s important that we acknowledge in the inner councils of state that it (the war) has failed, so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure.”

Conservatives are deserting the current Federal Administration, for it is not conservative, it is radical.


Messing with Teenagers 3

I’m Jr. My son’s the III.

(ring, ring)

Me: Hello.

Caller: Frank?

Me: Speaking.

Caller: (Comment that would mean nothing to anyone but my son.)

Me: [Stating that that doesn’t apply to me] Which Frank are you looking for?

Caller: [Confused] Junior?

Me: Speaking.

Caller: [Silence]

At that point I usually have mercy on them.


Last Day, First Day 0

I mentioned earlier that my division has been spun off.

Since the sale, we have still been in the old place. I’ve been going to work along the same route I’ve followed for almost eight years, sitting at the same desk, logging into the same domain, doing the same job, answering the same phone. All that has changed is the company name I cite when answering the phone.

We are moving this weekend. Come Monday, I will be doing the same job, but in a different location. No doubt, that’s when the change will really sink in.

Today was weird. I work in Support. Support does not close. Everyone else was at the new building unpacking stuff, but support was still answering the phone at the old place.

At the end, there was just Dave and me manning the phones. We had one computer between us to do computer stuff, four empty cubicles, and lots of dust bunnies that somehow turned up during packing. It was like working in a ghost town, and we were the ghosts.

Monday, we will be answering the phones with the same words. In my case (we get to pick our own greetings), it’s “[Company Name], Frank Bell, how may I help you?” But now it will be in a new place. Assuming we get everything working over the weekend.

It’s been a good run at my previous employer–it was a nice place to work, full of some of the most laid-back, friendliest persons one might hope to find in a workplace.

I will still be surrounded by laid-back, friendly persons, but there will be a lot fewer of them–from being a small part of a company of 10,000 or so persons, we have become a small company of 24 persons.


The Level of Public Discourse . . . 0

has gone right into the crapper:

Ann Garcia had to thread the needle. On the one hand, the No. 1 executive at her former company hated the use of profanity, seeing it as a sign of not having learned to communicate effectively. On the other hand, the No. 2 executive appreciated a potty mouth now and then because it indicated passion. He “felt that if you weren’t swearing, you probably didn’t care enough,” Garcia says.

I enjoy a good swearing match as much as the next person. But, frankly, I’m tired of hearing George Carlin’s seven words, and their cousins, nephews, and nieces, in the restaurant, the coffee shop, the workplace, and the schoolyard.

Save them for where they were meant to be: the locker room.

I guess I’m old. I remember when a bra was an undergarment, not a fashion statement.


What’s Wrong with This Picture? 0

So much for Republicans running the government like a well-run business. It’s more like Adelphia:

The nation’s chief tax collector said Wednesday that using private agencies to collect debts under a new program will cost more than hiring additional agents to do the job.

But IRS Commissioner Mark Everson also said it’s a necessary part of Washington’s budget battles.


Everson disagreed that the program wastes taxpayer dollars. It’s necessary to use the private companies, he said, because hiring more IRS employees shows up on the federal budget as an expenditure. The budget doesn’t acknowledge the extra money that additional employees might collect.


How To Control Immigration 0

Build a fence (Dana Summers in the Orlando Sentinel):

Dana Summers Cartoon


George Bush Action Figure 0

George Bush Action Figure

With a tip to Phillybits.


From a Founder of Delta Force 0

It doesn’t come much blunter than this:

I’ve argued this on Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He’s an employee of yours. It’s worse than ridiculous. It’s criminal; it’s utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I’m saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don’t do it. It’s an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, “Well, they do it to us.” Which is a ludicrous argument. … The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what’s legal and what we believed in. Now we’re going to throw it away.

The current Federal Administration has to go. It violates the history, spirit, and ideals of this Great Experiment in self-rule and betrays the blood of the Founders, while hypocritically wrapping itself in the Flag and the Bible.

It is beneath contempt.

With a tip to Huffington Post.


Some Sensible Talk on Immigration Policy 4

With a tip of the hat to Phillybits.

Take a look at this article:
And answer the question:
Are you ready for a new American Civil War?
Then take a look at this picture:
And ask yourself the same question again:
Are you ready for a new American Civil War?
Are you ready to quit your job, join a National Guard unit and clear out illegals?
Are you ready for urban warfare?
Are you ready for internal borders and checkpoints?
Unless the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, I suggest it is time for conservatives to stop giving the President a hard time for his desire to take a moderate course regarding illegal immigration and curing it.

This is not to say that I unequivocably agree with Mr. Bush’s proposals or with just about anything on In fact, I unequivocably am up in the air over this issue.

There are some things about which I am not up in the air:

The source of immigrants that seems to cause the most upset is Mexico. Persons fulminate that, because the southwestern border is so porous, it may allow for entry of (there’s that word!) terrorists. Yet, none of the 9/11 attackers came through the land borders of the United States.

But our government (and by this I do not mean the Bush administration so much as the Federal Law Enforcement Bureaucracy) has already demonstrated that it cannot spot a terrorist when one is handed to it on a plate.

But who are the proposed laws looking to penalize? Not terrorists, but the overwhelmingly South and Central American population of immigrants.

Furthermore, the proposal to make criminals of those who would feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or heal the sick are, frankly, disgusting. Especially since they are proposed by many of the same persons who in other forums parade their religiosity.

I find the xenophobic hysteria that seems to be sweeping certain quarters of our society, including our elected representatives incongrously assembled, extremely troubling. To this Southern boy who grew up under Jim Crow, many of the proposals smack more of racism than of rationality.

Perhaps the best course of action would be to take the advice of the National Rifle Association as regards gun control: Let’s try enforcing the laws we have.

Coincidently, as I write this, Daniel Schorr’s commentary on All Things Considered addressed just this in his commentary tonight. Marketplace also had a provocative commentary, but the link’s not up yet.


The Strange Story of “Hysterical Paroxysm” 0

The local rag had a fascinating little story this morning.

Long before Doc Johnson:

By the late 19th century, hysteria was hitting epidemic proportions, with women complaining of paralyzed limbs, sudden inability to speak, and other bizarre symptoms magically relieved by their doctor’s touch.

But some doctors complained the technique was difficult to learn. According to one biographer, Sigmund Freud tried to learn it, Maines says, but never got the hang of it.

So appliances were developed to assist the doctors in their work.

For a scholarly discussion of the topic, follow this link (and imagine how long it took me to find something scholarly!).

It seems to me that, if states wish to outlaw these appliances, they should also consider outlawing watermelons.


Political Insults; Insulting Politics 2

The surest way to stop a real discussion of issues is to start insulting people; insults stop the brain from working.

I find myself both amused and dismayed these days when persons, usually of a right-leaning persuasion, accuse other persons, usually of a left-leaning persuasion but not always, of being “communists.” Communism is discredited and dead, dead, dead. But the insult still works–it brings reason to a halt.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel has a worthy suggestion in today’s Washington Post:

Here’s a modest proposal for improving national political discussion: Stop equating our opponents with famous dictators, their chief executioners, police apparatus or ideologies. I’m all for learning from history, but times are hard enough in American politics — with war, threats to national security, the greatest divide between rich and poor in our history and deep cultural divisions. Present differences deserve to be described in contemporary terms. The purpose of public speech is not just to restate anger but to clarify the principles and evidence that fuel it — in ways that invite discussion, not inhibit it. The demons are already among us — so let’s muster up some new analogies


This Is the Kind of Stuff that Gives Labor a Bad Name 0

There was an earlier article on this that has reached the “you have to pay for this search” stage, but this one captures the–er–essence of the situation:

All Liberty Property Trust wanted to do was install 116 environmentally friendly waterless urinals at its new Comcast Center tower so it could compete for the title of America’s tallest green building. But the answer from Philadelphia’s plumbers union was, in so many words, go flush it.

The earlier story pointed out that this would not affect any jobs–the facilities still would have to piped and plumbed.


How Many Ways Can You Spell “Clueless Lamer”? 2

The heartland turned vicious this week when an Oklahoma town threatened to call in the FBI because its web site was hacked by Linux maker. Problem is CentOS didn’t hack Tuttle’s web site at all. The city’s hosting provider had simply botched a web server.

This tale kicked off yesterday when Tuttle’s city manager Jerry Taylor fired off an angry message to the CentOS staff. Taylor had popped onto the city’s web site and found the standard Apache server configuration boilerplate that appears with a new web server installation. Taylor seemed to confuse this with a potential hack attack on the bustling town’s IT infrastructure.


(Taylor emailed CentOS) “I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation. Now, can you tell me how to remove ‘your software’ that you acknowledge you provided free of charge? I consider this ‘hacking.'”

Click here to see a screen capture of the “404” message. (Use your browser’s “Back” button to return to this page.)

Click here to see the CentOS homepage.

(Maybe I’ll take a few minutes tomorrow and work up a neat 404 page like that one!)

Update, 3/26/06 (Thanks, Bob):

Here are the emails between Mr. Tuttle and CentOS.


Congress Isn’t the Only Place with Earmarks 0

Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.

Remember Neil Bush?

. . . Bush has done something that no other American has ever accomplished: He has become the embarrassing relative of not one but two presidents.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Bush embarrassed his father, George H.W. Bush, with his shady dealings as a board member of the infamous Silverado Savings and Loan, whose collapse cost taxpayers $1 billion.

Now Bush has embarrassed his brother George W. Bush with a made-for-the-tabloids divorce that featured paternity rumors, a defamation suit and, believe it or not, allegations of voodoo.

The family’s still there to take care of him.

With a tip of the hat to HuffPost.


Nora Ephron on Blogs 0

. . . And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.

Works for me.


Memory Lane 0

KDict defines the literary essay as follows:

2. (Lit.) A composition treating of any particular subject;
— usually shorter and less methodical than a formal,
finished treatise; as, an essay on the life and writings
of Homer; an essay on fossils, or on commerce.
[1913 Webster]

The essay, despite reports to the contrary, is not dead.

There was a delightful musing on the income tax time in today’s local rag.


Microsoft Outlook 0

MS Outlook is the chosen email application for my new employer.

I have always avoided MS Lookout and Lookout Depress. I sort of have this thing about inviting viruses and trojans into my house.

I don’t do it. I like to practice safe hex.

When I AOL’d, I used the AOL offline email feature and it worked just fine. Then for a while, I used AOL’s IMAP client, AOL Communicator. It didn’t work too well with AOL 9, so I switched to Eudora, which works just fine with POP3 and IMAP mail systems. I liked it so much I bought a subscription. I tried Pegasus, which I really liked, but getting it to work with AOL IMAP was too much of a challenge for me.

Then I centralized all my personal email in Opera and haven’t looked back, even as I moved from Windows to Linux, even though KMail and Pine are wonderful programs.

At work, before the change, we used Lotus Bloats Notes; we used server-side, so it was slow, but the IS Manager at my previous employer wouldn’t let Outlook or MS Exchange on his servers on a bet. He also sort of has this thing about viruses and trojans too.

The reason my new employer is using Lookout is that a good portion of the staff–persons working out of home offices–already were using it. I think that’s a good business reason for choosing it, and I also think that using a standardized email client makes sense for a business.

But jeez oh man what a crappy program. It even looks and feels tinny.

And this morning it just stopped receiving mail. Nothing changed between when I logged off last night and when I logged on this morning. It just decided not to work. A reboot brought it back to life, but, honestly, real computer programs don’t act like that.

MS Outlook. Email for Lamer$ A less than desirable option.


What the Internet is for 0

El Reghas found the answer here:

If you’ve ever wondered, as we have, just exactly what the internet is for, then prepare your mind for true enlightenment.

Ready? Good – now proceed directly here and follow the on-screen instructions.

We rest our case. It’s fair to suggest that the whole of human scientific endeavour has been leading to this point: