From Pine View Farm

October, 2007 archive

New Phone (Updated) (Updated Again) 5

Computer with Phone Included

And it runs Opera.

Addendum, 10/28/2007:

er, not any more.

It’s all boxed up and going back to T-Mobile. Seems the Wing touchscreens have issues, and the Tech Support girl was real up front that the issues are not, what do you say? necessarily “isolated.” They are related to memory capacity.

I’ve dragged out my old Samsung (which is, frankly, a damned fine phone–it does everything it promises to do) for the time being, and picked out the replacement phone for the Wing (Why did I pick the Dash? It is capable of running Opera Mobile).

I have to say that one of the things that has always impressed me about T-Mobile is the calibre of their tech support and customer service operations. I spent 60 minutes on the phone with them today (not on the brick Wing–on the land line), and less than five minutes was hold time, as I got forwarded from regular tech support to PDA tech support. The support techs knew what they were doing, ask the right questions in the right order, and, most important, listen to answers.

And that’s fairly typical of my dealings with them since back in the old Voicestream days–quick phone pick-ups, knowledgeable reps, and competent answers.

Hey, I know good support. I worked support for eight years.

Addendum-de-dum-dum, All Hallow’s Eve, 2007:

So I shipped the Wing back to T-Mobile on Monday.

I called Customer Service on Tuesday with the tracking number for the shipment.

I received the new phone today. The Samsung’s back in the drawer.

The Dash is already running Opera Mobile as the default browser.

T-Mobile Dash

I really have only praise for that level of customer service.


Freedom of Speech Comes with a Price 1

You can say it, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen.

You can say it, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to publish it (remember, it’s freedom of speech, not freedom to be published by someone else).

You can say it, and the rest of the world is free to decided you are an idiot.

You can say it, and be denied the opportunity to accompany children on a field trip.

Yeah, really.

A blogger says her right to free speech was violated when the school district removed her from a list of approved school volunteers because of content on her Web site.

Lisa Becker, who owns, was removed from the list at the Board of Education’s regular meeting Monday night. After asking why, Becker, who has three children in the district, was told she would be allowed to volunteer in the future once the site was taken down.

“What I do, yes it’s opinionated, but it has nothing to do with my ability to volunteer,” said Becker, whose past volunteering included work with the high school marching band and passing out sandwiches at school picnics.

You can decide for yourself how subversive her website is by clicking here.

Tip to Linda.


Dog Bites Man, er, Sort of 0

My father used to refer to all bird dogs as “useless bird dogs.”

Not only are they useless, they are apparently vindictive.

A hunter is recovering after he was shot in the leg at close range by his dog, who stepped on his shotgun and tripped the trigger, an official said Tuesday.


Drumbeats 2

The New York Times learns from its mistakes on Iraq:

America’s allies and increasingly the American public are playing a ghoulish guessing game: Will President Bush manage to leave office without starting a war with Iran? Mr. Bush is eagerly feeding those anxieties. This month he raised the threat of “World War III” if Iran even figures out how to make a nuclear weapon.

With a different White House, we might dismiss this as posturing — or bank on sanity to carry the day, or the warnings of exhausted generals or a defense secretary more rational than his predecessor. Not this crowd.

Four years after his pointless invasion of Iraq, President Bush still confuses bullying with grand strategy. He refuses to do the hard work of diplomacy — or even acknowledge the disastrous costs of his actions. The Republican presidential candidates have apparently decided that the real commander in chief test is to see who can out-trash talk the White House on Iran.

Endless war.

It’s a Republican thing.


Swampwater: Coverup (Updated) 0

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

I was listening to Friday’s Diane Rehm Show today via podcast.

According to one of the guests, one of the recommendations was that State Department investigators made was that mercenaries “contractors” actually take aim before firing!



Addendum, Later That Same Evening:

Dan Froomkin:

Rice agreed that “there is a hole” in U.S. law that has prevented prosecution of contractors.

But did we really need an apparent massacre to point out this giant loophole and its perils?

As it happens, President Bush has been aware of the hole for some time — and deserves some of the blame for not fixing it earlier. Confronted about it in public more than a year ago, Bush literally laughed off the question — and then, tellingly, described his response as a case study in how he does his job.

The setting was a question-and-answer session after Bush spoke at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in April of 2006. (Here’s a video clip.)

One student, a first-year in South Asia studies, told the president: “My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

Bush: “I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)”

Student: “I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against — over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?”

Bush: “I appreciate that very much. I wasn’t kidding — (laughter.) I was going to — I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I’ve got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation — I don’t mean to be dodging the question, although it’s kind of convenient in this case, but never — (laughter.) I really will — I’m going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That’s how I work. I’m — thanks. (Laughter.)”


Rule of Law? Surely You Jest. 0

Glenn Greenwald speaks:

Do not shield the law breakers.

Via Brendan.


Gasp! 1

Golly gosh gee, Batman, you can’t believe every email you receive.

Even if it does seem to make sense.


Morally Bankrupt 2

A while ago, I explained how contemporary conservatism is morally and politically bankrupt.

To summarize, it’s bankrupt because it doesn’t work at providing compentent governance; it just makes the rich, richer and the poor, poorer.

But, of course, that’s what it’s for.

Tim F. expands on the idea (while also taking a few well-earned swings at liberalism) at Balloon Juice.


Betrayal 0

Persons who act in your and my name betray American values.


Veiled Threats 0



Widen Your Perception 0

IEDs via Phillybits.

It ain’t always what you expect.


Spies and Whores (Updated) 0

Andrew Cohen on corporate law-breakers (emphasis added):

An immunity-for-intelligence quid pro quo is “unacceptable,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking Republican Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Meanwhile, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is a member of both committees, told The Post that briefings he received from his Intelligence Committee aide, who had reviewed the documents extensively, suggested that the surveillance program is illegal. “It[‘s] an executive power grab that is not justified by the statute or by the Constitution,” Feingold said.

Lawmakers must ensure that their new surveillance bill has better judicial and congressional oversight than the previous version. They should also consider whether there is a compelling reason to protect the assets of big corporations at the expense of individual privacy. This story, though, is rapidly becoming a symbol for all that is wrong with the legal war on terror.

Looming Out of the Fog That Same Evening:

Glenn Greenwald, via Atrios.


Faux Sports 1

The introduction to the World Series, with silly actors in stupid scenes spliced into cuts of real ball players doing real things, is one of the most painful piles of pitiful perflufful I’ve ever seen.

But it is typical of an organization that likes to Make Stuff Up.


To Paraphrase My Old Boss, “Well, This Stinks.” 1

Had to turn on the heat today.


It’s Not the Bumbos. It’s the Dumbos 8

Second Daughter requested one of these when First Grandson was born.

She says First Grandson seems to like it.

Bumbo Chair

And it says right on the box not to put it anywhere but the floor or the ground (emphasis below added):

Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the voluntary recall of about a million Bumbo “Baby Sitter” Seats, made by Bumbo International, of South Africa.

The CPSC says, “If the seat is placed on a table, countertop, chair, or other elevated surface, young children can arch their backs, flip out of the Bumbo seat, and fall onto the floor, posing a risk of serious head injuries.”

I’m going to be the last person to argue that businesses are always virtuous.

They are not.

But in this case, it’s not the chairs that need to be recalled. It’s the parents.


Swampwater 0

Erik Prince makes a point:

On the mercenary front, Erik Prince uttered a revealing remark the other day. The founder/owner of Blackwater, who says his longstanding family Republican ties have played absolutely no role in his reaping of more than $1.02 billion in private security contracts from the Bush administration, was being quizzed on CNN on the issue of accountability…or, more specifically, about why the Bush team and the Iraqi government have long failed to hold Blackwater accountable for anything (as two new audits have also concluded).

Prince was asked, “Whose laws are you subject to?” And in response, almost in passing, he told CNN: “Well, in the ideal sense, we would be subject to the Iraqi law, but that would mean — that would indicate that there was a functioning Iraqi court system where Westerners could actually get a fair trial. That’s not the case right now.”

Well, that’s not very helpful to the Bush team, is it? The administration has been struggling for many months to put the best spin on the failure of the Iraqi government to meet the benchmarks laid out in Washington…and here is Prince, casually mentioning a failure that is not even addressed in the benchmarks.

So much for the Bushie-installed “government” of Iraq.

Of course, the next inference from the statement is that Swampwater is subject to no laws, but that’s already been discussed here.


Danger! Will Robinson! Danger! 3

Josh Marshall observes Islamofascism Awareness Week.

No, that’s not right.

He doesn’t observe so much as dissect it.

Which fits with this, from Arianna Huffington. As I have observed to a couple of my Republican friends (yes, I do have them, and, yes, we are able to talk with fisticuffs, because they are good and decent persons–I’m the jerk), the Republican Party of Ev Dirksen, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Robert Taft is long gone:

The most significant takeover of the past decade isn’t to be found among the telecoms, the big oil companies, or in Silicon Valley. The reconfigured entity is headquartered in Washington, but we can see and hear the results everyday on your television, radio, and computer screen. And America is much the worse for it. I’m talking about the takeover of the Republican Party by its lunatic fringe.

Reagan’s GOP has been replaced by the dark, moldering, putrefied party of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Malkin. Morning in America has given way to Midnight in America.

Of course, there the Republican Party has always had it Jesse Helmses, Spiro Agnews, and Lee Atwaters. But they were the minority, far removed from the mainstream of the Party — Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, the first George Bush.

But these days it has become impossible to tell where the mainstream stops and the fanatical fringe begins. Just look at what the so-called “mainstream” of the party is endorsing

We have a mainstream on the right that supports torture, that is backing an Attorney General nominee who is agnostic on torture, and that rallies behind a president who refuses to define what the word “torture” means.

A mainstream that supports — even applauds — the behavior of Blackwater thugs.

A mainstream that continues to back the White House’s delusions about Iraq at the expense of our military, our treasure, our safety, and our standing in the world.

A mainstream that supports the gutting of our civil liberties.

So, it can no longer be denied: the right wing lunatics are running the Republican asylum.

Josh Marshall video via Brendan.


Random Acts of Evil 1

This is beyond words:

A friendly 4-year-old golden retriever, Kelsey’s natural reaction to strangers was to greet them and wait to be petted.

But a man in a white shirt who encountered the dog Monday afternoon didn’t do that, New Castle County police said. He strangled Kelsey beside a tall pine tree outside the Centreville-area home where her owners live.


Hallelujah Brothers! They’ve Seen the Light 0

Phillibits has the details.


Stark Comments (Revisited) 1


Which, of course, they wouldn’t have been if Democrats sank to the civilty level of Republicans, who casually and routinely question the patriotism of patriots.