From Pine View Farm

November, 2007 archive

Carnage 3

The local rag carries a daily feature on the front page of the local section.

The feature is entitled “A City’s Deadly Toll.” It lists the number of homicides year to date in Philadelphia. There have been more homicides this year than there are days in the year 2007 so far.

And, no doubt, when I open the paper tomorrow, two or three more murders will have happened over night.

Actually, two is not a bad night. Sometimes, it’s three or four or five.

Yeah, I know I live in Delaware, but I worked in Center City Philadelphia for many years.

I used to be a member of a Center City church.

Philadelphia is a great town and I love it.

When I read David Aldridge’s column this morning, I thought it was a powerful piece of writing, but I wondered, just how could I share it with my two or three regular readers?

Then I realized.

It’s a powerful piece of writing. Who cares to whom he directed his column? He speaks to all of us.

For when one life is wasted, all of us are diminished.


He Wanted Revenge. He Got the FBI. 2


When a suspicious computer server crash at the University of Pennsylvania last year denied service to 4,000 students, faculty and staff, technicians called the FBI – triggering a case that would take agents around the world and lead to the arrest of a brilliant but brash Penn junior.

Ryan Goldstein, a 20-year-old bioengineering major, conspired with a New Zealand hacker known as AKILL to use Penn’s computer system as a staging ground for a 50,000-computer attack against several online chat networks, authorities said.

The FBI and Secret Service are expected to announce indictments today against Goldstein, a Florida man, and three others. Police recently executed related raids in New Zealand, Florida, California and Pennsylvania. The latest came Tuesday near Philadelphia. An FBI agent from the region is in New Zealand this week, and more arrests are possible.

“We’ve been executing search warrants all over the world in this case,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Levy.

Nothing happens on the net that cannot be traced, if persons are willing to take the time and the trouble to trace it.


Celled 3

How can anyone not sympathize with the judge, even if he did sort of go off his nut?

A US judge who jailed an entire courtroom because no one would cough to being the owner of a ringing mobile phone has been removed from the bench by a commission on judicial conduct.

Judge Robert Restaino, 48, was hearing a domestic violence case in Niagara Falls on 11 March 2005 when he heard the offending phone and “snapped”, as the BBC puts it.

According to the commission’s report, he told the courtroom: “Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I’m kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going.”

After security officers unsuccessfully tried to find the device, Restaino ordered a short recess. When he returned to the bench, he asked the phone’s owner to ‘fess up. Receiving no reply, he “ordered that the entire courtroom audience of 46 people be taken into custody and set bail at $1,500”.


Jon Swift on the “Rules of Journalism” 0

The entire piece is worth reading.

Two of the “rules,” though, stand out as explaining the Failure of Reportage in Our Time (emphasis added):

2. There are two sides to every story and a journalist must give both sides equal weight even if he or she knows one side is completely false. Weighing one side against the other violates a journalist’s objectivity. (See Rule No. 1.)

3. The only exception to Rules 1 and 2 is that during wartime journalists must be patriotic and not write anything that might undermine the government or the war effort or lower morale. Wearing a flag pin on one’s lapel is a good way to demonstrate you are adhering to this rule. Reporters should always remember that they are Americans first, journalists second and human beings third.


Afterthought 0

Chris Dodd for president.


The Candidates Debate . . . (Updated) 0

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel . . . .

As I mentioned earlier, I avoid the candidates’ debates, because, frankly, I think they are useless.

The debates, that is. (And most of the candidates.)

But Dick Polman’s analysis of last night’s exercise in Republican posturing is, with apologies to MasterCard, priceless.

And with further apologies to Bugs Bunny, all that I can say is, “What a bunch of maroons!” (Courtesy

And weighs in with, well, facts:

  • Romney claimed New York called itself a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens. It didn’t.
  • Giuliani denied New York actually was a “sanctuary city.” But the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has classified it as such, based on immigrant-friendly policies Giuliani still defends.
  • Huckabee claimed he would “abolish the IRS.” He failed to mention that he’d replace it with another big tax bureaucracy.
  • Huckabee said he had proposed to make children of illegal aliens eligible for Arkansas scholarships if they “had been in our schools their entire school life.” Actually, the proposal required only three years in Arkansas schools.
  • Giuliani was correct on two points: While he was mayor, New York snowfall went down and the Yankees won four World Series titles. He was joking, but his gag should remind citizens that it’s a mistake in logic to give mayors, or governors or presidents, all credit or blame for what happens just because they’re in office at the time.
  • Romney, claiming to be a “true suffering” fan of the Red Sox, said the team waited 87 years to win a World Series. They actually waited 86.

And Tim F. has a question.

Addendum, 11/30/2007:

For a more reflectice, less dismissive, and certainly less snide commentary, go here and search for the archives of November 29, 2007, or listen here (Real Audio) .


Java and Open Office 0

I just got a Java update on the Windows box.

It came with a link to “Free Open Office.”

I declined the link, because I’ve been using Open Office for years. In fact, a link to it is over there


on the sidebar.

It does everything Micro$oft Office does at an infinitely lower price.—It’s a free port of Sun’s Star Office 6 to the Open Source Community, where it has been upgraded through open source collaboration.

Given how may Windows users have Java on their computer for surfing the web, I find this a very clever way to raise their consciousness of the Wonderful World of Open Source.


Slip-Slidin’ Away (Updated) 4

A waste truck leaked poultry fat along 20 miles of roadway this morning, causing at least four crashes and making a stinky mess.

Virginia State Police said the tanker truck hauling a waste product of poultry grease to Maryland from a Perdue Farms plant had a valve open, and the liquid fat leaked onto U.S. 13 from the plant to the Maryland line.

Sgt. Joe Bunting said there were at least four crashes and several spinouts reported between 5 and 6 a.m. on northbound U.S. 13, the primary road through the Eastern Shore. One person injured in one of the crashes was taken to a local hospital, he said.


The liquefied fat was sticking to the tires of cars that were spreading it onto secondary roads in the region, Bunting said. He added that drivers who got the grease on their vehicle tires would smell a “really funky” odor.

Addendum, 11/29/2007:

The indigestion will last for a while:

A chicken fat spill on a 20-mile stretch of an Accomack County highway could impact motorists for days after the road cleanup.

Wildlife biologists said the distinctive stench — likely to remain after the liquefied fat is removed — will attract scavengers including opossums, skunks and raccoons to the affected areas of U.S. 13.

Automotive professionals say the combination of spilled grease and the sand placed by road crews isn’t good for vehicle finishes or undercarriages.


Virginia Department of Transportation workers placed 380 tons of sand on the highway in the wake of the spill Tuesday, which was reported before 6 a.m. and caused four serious crashes and “numerous” vehicle spinouts, Virginia State Police reported.


Swampwater 0

The latest over at ASZ.


Thought Crimes 1

Slipped under the door:

From ASZ:

Many people are calling this the “thought crime bill”, and with good reason. This bill will criminalize dissent, and specifically targets the internet as the primary method of dissemination of such dissent. It will create a commission to study blogs such as this one, that question government policy. As one blogger states, “Simply put: If you’ve ever said that George W. Bush should be hanged as a war criminal, you sir, are a Terrorist.”

What is so frightening about this bill is that it was sponsored by Democrats, and pushed through with essentially no discussion. I read the news for hours every day, and just learned of it last week. There has been incredibly thorough analysis on blogs, but the major news outlets have been silent. This bill suspends the first amendment, and only three Democrats, including Dennis Kucinich, and three Republicans voted against it.

You can read the text of the bill here.

On the face of it, it seems that somegirl may be over-reacting, but the issue deserves more discussion than it has received.


This Is Not Right 4

From today’s local rag:

A doctor and his wife who face deportation because of a long-ago mistake on their immigration paperwork reported to federal authorities Monday but were allowed to return home while lawyers seek political support for them to remain in the U.S.

Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion, obeyed an order to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Philadelphia and were told to report back in 60 days, attorney Gregg Cotler said. No deportation date was set, he said.

“I think that’s very hopeful,” Cotler said.

The Servanos, parents of four U.S. citizens and prominent members of their central Pennsylvania community, could be deported to their native Philippines because of a change in their marital status during their visa-application process more than 20 years ago.

The Servanos were single in 1978 when they applied for U.S. visas. They did not receive them until after they were married, but U.S. officials were not notified of the change in their marital status.

By all indications, they were not aware that they had to amend their applications.

They have served their community well and lived exemplary lives.

And the United States is preparing to throw them away.

This is not right.


S(pl)urge ™ 0

Upyernoz sums it up well:

so now the administration is switching tactics entirely. it’s giving up on reconciliation, which means it’s not trying to fulfill any of the benchmarks anymore. which can only mean that the surge was a failure–the benchmarks are the measure set by the administration to measure the surge’s progress and now the administration itself admits that those benchmarks will not be met. the surge simply did not do what it was supposed to do.

Yeah, well, he’s right and you all know that. All the claims of “success” are rationalizations for failure. Some slim gains in calm on the streets of Baghdad and not much of nothing anywhere else. And no political gains at all–and, remember, the idea of the S(pl)urge ™ was to buy time for political consolidation, not to perfect the occupation.

Another Bushie failure.

The war in Iraq–conceived in lies, prosecuted with incompetence, propagated in duplicity.

And this surprises us how?


Socialism for the Rich 0

Susie lays it out.


C-5 0

C-5 from Dover AFB starting to bank to the east (guess where?).

Watch the movie here.


(Inarticulate Guttural Yell)! 2

My brother is an umpire.

I’ve seen him in action. He’s actually pretty damned good, as much as it pains me to say that.

(Full disclosure: I got suckered into umpiring once, first base. Never again. Give me a training class in front of a bunch of hostile railroad conductors who have just come off 90-day disciplinary suspensions any day of the week and twice on Sundays.)

It’s not his day job. He’s one of the persons who umpire Little League and Babe Ruth and High School games, for no or for only token pay, so kids get to play the game. He’s been doing it for almost 30 years.

He doesn’t do it because he enjoys the abuse from coaches and parents and fans. He doesn’t do it because he likes ejecting the occasional obnoxious player or parent or coach from the park (something he doesn’t hesitate to do, with an autocratic streak he didn’t show when I, pulling three years’ rank, was Wild Bill to his Jingles).

He umpires because he loves baseball.

He sent me this link. Welcome to umpiring (oh, yeah, he’s got some great stories about the parents and the coaches and the players, but they are his to tell):


Fiberglass Burns Good 2

The most common cause of fatalities amongst recreational boaters is getting drunk and falling overboard.

That’s one reason I run an alcohol-free boat. The other is that the water is so much fun, who needs a drink?

The next greatest danger for recreation boaters is fire, not so much for outboards–because everything is pretty much out in the open–but for I/Os and inboards. If there’s a leak or a mistake, gas fumes can build up in the engine compartment and kabloeey!

I was out on the Chesapeake one day and saw a recreational boat burning. It’s a pretty gruesome sight–lots of smoke and the fire doesn’t go out until it reaches the waterline.

Fiberglass burns good.

As a couple found out yesterday.

I feel for the couple and their loss. I once met a couple at Georgetown Yacht Basin who, upon retirement, had purchased a sailboat and pretty much used it as their home as the sailed about North America, much as some persons purchase RVs and cruise KOA.

I wonder whether they had the boat inspected by a marine surveyor when they bought it–buying a boat to sail down the Intracoastal Waterway is a lot bigger investment than buying a little runabout to trailer from here to there.

And, you know, the water is a dangerous place. And what you can see from the boat is only the top of it.


Down on the Farm 0

We had a momentary power failure today.

How do I know that? The clock on the microwave forgot what time it was.

The cable modem also seems to have forgotten where the ISP was.

Pushed the button on the top of the cable modem twice and the Big Wide World was back inside this little box.


Drinking Liberally 0

I can’t. Not this week.

So I need you to stand in for me.

Tangier Restaurant, 18th and Lombard, one block north of South Street, Center City Philadelphia, tomorrow, starting at 6 p. m.


Reference Librarian 0

If you don’t want to spring for the digital edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and you don’t trust Wikipedia, you might try this.

Your favorite person might just be there.

Via Rubber Hose.


Iraqis Moving Home 0

There has much hoopla in the news lately about Iraqi refugees returning to Iraq.

Generally, this phenomenom has been portrayed as some kind of indication that the situation in Iraq is somehow being s(pl)urged ™ into some kind of Bushie success.

Phillybits digs into the facts behind the headlines.