From Pine View Farm

August, 2010 archive

The Commish (Updated) 0

One thing that really hasn’t been made clear is why a local Commissioner of Revenue needed to lobby the state legislature.

There have been vague mumblings and hints of “additional funding for the office,” but I’ve seen no clear statement of “We needed this,” unless “this” was to get out of Norfolk, which doesn’t seem very plausible to me.

Richmond is a nice town; so is Norfolk. Neither is hardly Wildwood as a resort spot.

Inquiring minds are perplexed.

Addendum, the Next Day:

Today’s local rag reports that the Mayor of Norfolk has a theory: Because it was there.

“Sharon felt once she had a travel budget, it was an entitlement,” he said.


Spill Here, Spill Now 0

Wizard of Id


Stray Thought 0

Have you noticed how all the folks who think social security must be cut seem to be independently wealthy?


This Is Going To Put a Crimp in NCIS’s Writers 0

A few weeks ago, we wrote about United States v. Maynard, a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requiring the government to obtain a warrant when it uses a GPS tracking device to monitor someone’s movements.

Last Friday, Judge James Orenstein in the Eastern District of New York recognized that Maynard’s reasoning also applies when the government tries to retrace a person’s whereabouts using historical cell phone location information stored by cell phone carriers. Judge Orenstein rejected each possible factual difference between GPS vehicle tracking and historical cell phone tracking, and concluded that cell phone tracking is just as intrusive to Americans’ reasonable expectations of privacy in the details of their everyday lives as GPS tracking.

On second thought, possibly not.

Even given that members of the military have their rights somewhat limited during their service–it’s part of the job–television detective show writers don’t seem to pay much attention to actual law in any event. There’s not enough time in an hour to apply for a warrant.

Full Disclosure:

I enjoy NCIS. It’s a comic book brought to life.


I Get Mail 2

It should be an interesting weekend.

From my car insurance company:

As Hurricane Earl approaches, we trust that you are taking every precaution to ensure you will suffer no injury or damage to your property.

We realize our most important responsibility to our policyholders following a loss is to ensure the claim settlement process is quick and easy. We are busy preparing to do just that; teams of GEICO claim adjusters have deployed along the projected storm path, and they will remain in affected areas until they have resolved every hurricane-related claim.

And so on.


Unknown Quantity 0

Reality, in Republican circles.


Paypal, Modelling Itself on Your Friendly, Convenient DMV 0

PayPal is the worst company in the world, in solidarity with John Cole, who seems to have sunk into a bureaucratic no exit at PayPal which exceeds anything any DMV ever did to me.

John’s request:

*** Update #2 ***
If you have a website, I would appreciate your help making a google bomb. Use the title of this post and link back to me.


“There Is No Appeal from a Drone” 0


Maybe you trust this particular administration, but, you have to ask yourself, will you trust the next one?

Or, I must add, the previous one?


UnBeckled 0




Rex Stout:

Few of us have enough wisdom for justice, or enough leisure for humanity.

Too Many Cooks (New York: Pyramid, 1974), p. 43.


Make TWUUG Your LUG 0

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: The 4th Annual Super Summer Saturday TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk-Employee Cafeteria. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.)

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, September 2.

Directions: Lake Taylor Hospital-1309, Kempsville Road, Norfolk, 23502 (Kempsville Rd. at Lowry Rd.) 461-5001

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks) at Uno Chicago Grill, Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). Accessible through the Janaf parking lot or directly from the ramp from Virginia Beach Blvd. to Military Highway north.


Jumping Ship 0

She was trying to go forward. Instead . . . .

Police say the 17-year-old driver was trying to put the Ford Explorer into gear around 1 a.m. Sunday when it began to roll backward. The girl tried to stop the SUV to no avail and jumped out before it picked up too much speed.

The vehicle rolled down a hill, through a fence and crashed into the pool at Cameron Estates in Washington.

I guess the brakes turned into pumpkins after midnight.

Follow the link for visuals.


It was a day for collecting automotive sea stories.


Ideology =/ Probable Cause 0

Good news on the kooky front:

Virginia’s attorney general has failed to back up allegations that a former University of Virginia climate-change researcher defrauded state taxpayers to obtain government grants, a judge ruled Monday.

Retired Albemarle County Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. determined that the university can be subject to an investigation by Ken Cuccinelli. But Peatross found that Cuccinelli’s two so-called “civil investigative demands,” or administrative subpoenas, for Michael Mann’s records fail to spell out the nature of Mann’s alleged wrongdoing.

“What the Attorney General suspects that Dr. Mann did that was false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth is simply not stated,” Peatross said in his ruling.

The ruling left open the door for Cuccinelli to try again, if the new request satisfies the legal requirements.

No doubt the fishing campaign and concomitant harassment will continue.


“All I’m Going To Let Myself Know” 0

In Onion there is truth.

Via Noz.


Dialectic in the Tea Bag 0

Michael Tomasky remembers a dinner table conversation from before teabaggers were teabaggers. It helps him parse some of the internal contradictions in the intellectual structure of teabaggery. A nugget:

The two problems here are, first, that while they think they owe government nothing, they actually owe government a great deal. If they’re small business people, they depend on the freight rails and the roadways and the utilities and the regulation of interstate commerce and the laws that keep their crooked competitors from undercutting them and the courts’ abilities to enforce those laws. Without question the government is an annoyance in their lives in dozens of ways. But they don’t see any of the good, only the bad. If you tote it up, the government helps them a lot more than it hurts them, and if they think not, let them go open a hardware store in downtown Mogadishu and see how that works out.

The second problem is the one I saw manifest at that dinner that night. Everybody in this country isn’t like you. Yes, you worked hard to get where you are. But the vast majority of people work hard. Some have good luck, some have bad. Some stay healthy, some get sick. Some make only wise decisions, some make an unwise one. Some benefit from free-market oddities and inequities, some lose. And yes, some, because of history or birth circumstances, started the race at a starting line several paces back from the one where you started. Part of citizenship, a crucial part of citizenship, is standing in their shoes for a few moments – as they must stand in yours, and understand your point of view too.



Oliver Wendell Holmes, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):

The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.


To Spill Where None Has Spilled Before 0

The Seattle Times chronicles Buccaneer Petroleum’s life on, and recent tumble over, the edge of disaster.

At a celebration of BP’s centennial last October, CEO Tony Hayward boasted to guests that the oil company “lives on the frontiers of the energy industry.”

But this week, in the first major sign that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may have caused lasting damage to the company’s long-term strategy of embracing projects with high risks, BP was frozen out of a potentially lucrative license to drill for oil off the coast of Greenland.


To help cover the costs of the spill, BP has begun shedding assets around the world, with a goal of raising $30 billion. Analysts say that cleanup, fines and lawsuits could cost BP more than that, although the company appears to have avoided some worst-case environmental scenarios, like oil washing up the East Coast.

By selling mostly land-based assets, BP is signaling that it intends to remain a deep-water driller.

They have been playing petro-roulette for a long time.


Japanese Tea . . . 0

. . . now comes with American-style teabagging.

The hate does get tiresome.


How To Select a Watermelon 0

    1. Approach the pile of watermelons warily. Remember that a herd of watermelons, like a herd of wildebeests, can be hostile and unpredictable.

    2. Clench thumb and forefinger of one hand (either left or fight). Assume serious look that conveys the impression that You Know What You Are Doing.

    3. Incline ear towards a melon and tap it with the first joint of the clenched forefinger. Maintain serious look.

    4. Repeat for additional random watermelons.

    5. Assume look of triumph. Randomly grab a watermelon you reckon you can leverage into a secure grasp and head for checkout. Hope that you got lucky.

    6. Remember to purchase bottle of vodka on the way home. If you didn’t get lucky, you can always infuse spike the darned thing.

Which reminds me of the story of the hotel which was hosting two conventions: one of preachers and one of banksters. It being August, both groups had specified watermelons for desert. The banksters, though, had wanted theirs spiked.

Halfway through desert service, the maitre d’ realized, to his horror, that the desert orders had been mixed up. He grabbed a waiter:

“Joe, how do the preachers like their watermelon?”

“I don’t know, boss, but they’re stuffing the seeds into their pockets.”


What Teabaggers Want 0

In a post that’s getting a lot of play in Left Blogistan, Steven Benen wonders what the Beckites and their fellow travelers want.

Actually, it’s pretty clear what they want.

Like kids driving around looking for stop signs to shoot, they’re all fired up and they want a target.

Any target.