Archive for January, 2008

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You know you’re a redneck when… you have brass balls hanging off the back of your truck.?!!!

In case you want some brass balls of your own, you can find them here and here.

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I asked my friend Vaughan who I know likes Starbucks if he wanted the remaining balance on my Starbucks gift card. I got one for Christmas, but as I don’t really like Starbucks coffee and I don’t really approve of their world domination tactics against small business owners I didn’t want to finish the card up because I’d have to add my own money to actually buy a drink.

To my surprise, Vaughan said he’d gone off Starbucks because he couldn’t stand the smell of their breakfast sandwiches. Well good news Vaughan. In addition to closing stores, Starbucks is getting rid of their breakfast sandwiches:

One way to turn back the clock is getting rid of the breakfast sandwiches, even though they bring in significant revenue and were seen as a way to compete for morning sales with McDonald’s Corp., which is going head-to-head with Starbucks on coffee sales.

Starbucks employees had long complained the smell of egg-and-cheese sandwiches overpowered the aroma of coffee and cheapened the store experience, and Schultz agreed. He said input from baristas during the past three weeks influenced his decision.

But closing stores? That’s quite shocking considering it seems like just yesterday they said they were going to open 40,000 additional stores. I guess the empire has fallen.

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I feel less bad about these.


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What a way to kick a man while he’s down. Not only have most media outlets ignored John Edwards in the race, but now I can’t seem to find one dignified photograph of a man who, though not my choice, lead an admirable race.

From the BBC

BBC also

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Make Your Kids’ Lunch

 reminder: if you are waiting for the government to protect you, in this case from mad cow disease, keep waiting.

Video footage being released today shows workers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the “downer” cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals’ noses — all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

This Story
Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation’s school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.

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Keith Haring Characters

In honor of Cloverfield making people sick, I’m asking readers to nominate their favorite film that employs a shaky cam during some or all of the film.

Though I am a computer programmer, this is going to be low tech. Just add your film to the comments and say whether or not the film was worse or better due to its shaky effects.

I’ll start off with Roger Dodger with Campbell Scott. I loved the film and it didn’t make me sick. Scott takes a risk and plays an authentically pathetic man, a rarity in Hollywood where pathetic man characters are inexplicably attractive like in Buffalo 66, The Apartment (sorry, I know I’ll get a lot of slack for that one), Igby Goes Down and The Cooler. Contrast that to About Schmidt where Nicholson is unafraid of being the complete loser that women understandably abhor.

Anyway, back to Roger Dodger. Great film with wonderful performances from Campbell Scott and Isabella Rosselini.

What will you nominate?

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During Gov. Romney’s speech, one of his handlers mentioned to one of our staff people that any time Gov. Romney needed to wrap things up, he would be happy to let Gov. Romney know through the ear-piece that he wore.

Could Romney’s so-called economic expertise be actually some sort of Wizard of Oz operation? Are we dealing with a real-life Manchurian Candidate?

Gov. Romney needs state for the record whether or not he wore an ear piece the night of the debate and whether or not his policy is phoned in or actually his own ideas.

Can the GOP really nominate a person who can’t answer his own questions during a televised debate? Oh yeah, never mind. To see the Romney video with the mysterious whisper, here’s a link to the original post.

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A lot of attention has been payed to Djokovic’s impression of Sharapova, but I think his Roddick, Nadal and Federer are even more on target especially his Federer where he nimbly pirouettes all over the place.

But now I want to see his impression of himself. This photo shows his amazing flexibility which is as trademark as Kim Clijster doing the splits.

It was an amazing final and I hope to see Tsonga win a grand slam final himself soon. Tsonga played great tennis, but as Djokovic had the experience and the number 3 ranking, it was his to take. No one can say he didn’t earn it as he toppled the number one seed, Roger Federer, in the semi-final. Plus, those of us who watched him lose the U.S. Open last year where he was so close but jitters took the best of him can be satisfied that he finally got what deserved.

As an aside, those track suits on his family are so funny. Imagine the Swiss doing a similar thing to show their support. Never happen.

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I’m going to start out by apologizing for my lack of understanding on any faith that thinks cutting off a portion of the male genitalia makes you closer to God. No, I don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will.

And the so-called “health” benefits from circumcision are nothing but a desperately scientific justification for an already deeply held belief. If God said his covenant involved not getting circumcised you would see “health” arguments for the same.

Here’s a case where a divorced couple are fighting over whether or not the custodial father has the right to have his son circumcised in order to convert to Judaism. Mother claims son doesn’t want to be circumcized; father claims the opposite.

She alleged that M had told her the day before the planned circumcision that he did not want to be circumcised. She also asserted that M had said that he was afraid to contradict his father regarding the circumcision. Mother averred that, “I hope that ultimately the court will be able to interview [M] in chambers so that his true feelings about this can be determined.” Finally, mother expressed concern that a flawed circumcision could result in permanent injury to M.

Can the court or anyone else ever really determine if this kid wants the surgery or not? If I were that kid I’d be deeply conflicted. I say wait until he is 18 and he can have it done then if he still wants to. As children are incredibly impressionable this might give him the chance to decide if it’s something he really wants. I think God will wait.

Any adult circumcision experiences out there that someone wants to share?

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I never thought I could be weirded out by something more than Dick Cheney lurking in the bushes, but here it is.

No, that whisper is not the Implied Observer, but who is it?

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This is a topic I think I will have to revisit often. Earlier I posted why I thought America was ready to vote for a black president and was accused of being overly optimistic. I hope that wasn’t the case, but yesterday a report from McClatchy shows that Obama has only 10% support from white democrats in South Carolina.

Listen to this segment on NPR which flushes out what’s going on. At the 02:10 minute mark, we meet Curtis Wilson age 74. He’s a Clinton supporter, but when asked about Obama he says:

I’m not ready for him yet. I don’t know, I don’t want to say something that will make you think it’s a racial issue, but it’s not… it’s not… I just don’t think we’re ready for him yet.

Later he goes on to say how he loves Bill Clinton even though Bill did things Curtis didn’t approve of behind closed doors.

Ah Curtis, what can I say? At least you’re honest, but really you’re 74 and quite a bit out of touch. My only consolation is that your type is dwindling and won’t be around much longer.

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All of a sudden the tournament just got more interesting.

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Apparently the new JJ Abrams movie is making people sick. I can’t wait for the DVD extras where they show “the making of” and we see some camera guy with really bad balance.

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Tsonga definitely reminds me of Ali if Ali played tennis, but I’m just excited to have the hope that another great player can topple Federer. We saw a little of that with Tipsaveric.

It’ s not that I don’t like Federer, but the game is boring with just one dominant guy. I’m eternally grateful to Nadal for keeping tennis exciting by being the only person lately (there was Safin in 2000) to beat Federer in a Grand Slam final.

Check out this video, I see similar mannerisms of Ali in Tsonga to be sure. Especially at 01:30 to 01:40.

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Earlier I made case against the leniency of vehicular assaults that do not involve alcohol. Here is a tragic case of one that does. As an occasional bicycle commuter, I’m pleased to see this woman got what she deserved.

A judge sentenced a woman to nearly the maximum prison term for negligent homicide after hearing a recorded jail conversation in which she made light of the bicyclist she killed.

She could have gotten as few as four years behind bars, but Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank sentenced her Tuesday to 10½ years — one year shy of the maximum.

During the conversation, the man told Arrington that an acquaintance believed she should get a medal and a parade because she had “taken out” a “tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot.”

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Was Hillary the first man on Mt. Everest? Could you climb Mt. Everest in plain wool clothes? The answers are here:

The results of a unique experiment on Mount Everest confirm that the clothing of the 1924 climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine would not have prevented them from reaching the summit, as many had believed.

Wearing replica gear made from gabardine, wool, cotton and silk, he wanted to disprove the common myth that the 1920s climbers were ill-equipped to reach the summit.

Hoyland also discovered that the clothes were more comfortable to wear than modern day gear.

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I think this pretty much sums up Romney for me.

Exit polls in Michigan suggest that Mitt Romney owes his primary election victory there to happy, loyal Republicans.

The former Massachusetts governor dominated the six in 10 Republican primary voters who support the war in Iraq; the 53 percent who are happy with President Bush administration overall; and the one-third who said positive things about the economy.

I don’t need to know anything more.

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April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008

Just a reminder that it is never a good idea to name your child after characters in Wuthering Heights.

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This article brings us yet another way our species is negatively impacting the planet. While the earth will most likely eventually recover from whatever we throw at it, we will not. We can’t grow food if we have no top soil in which to grow it.

“Globally, it’s clear we are eroding soils at a rate much faster than they can form,” said John Reganold, a soils scientist at Washington State University. “It’s hard to get people to pay much attention to this because, frankly, most of us take soil for granted.”

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Huckabee, who said he was not there as a presidential candidate, warmed up his conservative audience by declaring that overturning the Roe v. Wade court ruling was not enough because it would leave individual states to decide their own laws on abortion – a moral issue where there is a right and a wrong, contends the former pastor. He argues that a constitutional amendment that defines life at conception is necessary to prevent “50 versions of right and wrong.”

“We are taught that we are the salt of the earth. That means that when something is spoiling, we are to be there to keep it from spoiling,” Huckabee explained. “We miss that if we think the purpose of believers is to be really, really well behaved in church.

“Being well behaved in church is a fine thing, but we don’t change the world by being behaved in church,” he pointed out to a receptive audience. “We change the world when we are the salt and that means we sometimes will irritate and sometimes agitate, but we will preserve.”

Frightening, yes, but I’ve got to give him credit for being honest. He’s not trying to straddle line; with Huckabee, you know exactly what you’re getting.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. These religious nut jobs need to clean their own house before trying to “preserve” the morality of the rest of us. Being well behaved in the Church? Haven’t seen much of that lately. The same people who are so set on limiting your rights have gay sex in bathrooms, have pre-marital sex, have anal sex, have abortions and get divorced.

If you want to spread the word of Christianity and not make it look like a joke, try cleaning house first. I can’t tell you how many atheists I meet who left the church because of the hypocrisy throughout.

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Since training manuals actually have a practical purpose, they tend to be a whole lot more honest than official speak.

Take for instance a Canadian training manual for their diplomats:

A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the United States as a country where prisoners risk torture and abuse, citing interrogation techniques such as stripping prisoners, blindfolding and sleep deprivation.

It also names Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

Or how about this Arab Cultural Awareness training manual produced by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the U.S. Army. Too bad the Bush Administration didn’t read it since they were telling us that the Iraqis would greet us with arms wide open.

Successful Negotiation Suggestions

  • Use Policies of Inclusion: Consult and involve in negotiations all the power brokers that have the ability to affect your project.
  • Xenophobia: Be prepared for some distrust of foreigners.
  • Historically, Middle Easterners perceive foreigners in the
    Middle East as invaders or exploiters.
  • Bartering: Expect Bartering- Expect an Arab to ask for what
    he wants rather than merely what he needs. Work towards a
    satisfactory medium.
  • Personal Provisions: Some Arabs may ask for provisions
    that appear self-serving. Personal rewards are a normal part
    of negotiation in the Arab world.
  • Commitment: Do not put your guests / hosts in a position to
    commit to a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in front of other Arabs. Social
    pressure could compel your guest/host to agree to a commitment he has no intention of keeping.
  • Long Range Planning: Never accept a firm commitment
    farther than a week out at face value. Arab culture and the
    concept of fatalism are not conducive to long range planning
    and require at least a confirmation in the week prior to the
    planned event.
  • Compliance: To compel an Arab to keep a commitment in
    which he appears not to be keeping, attempt an indirect
    approach first before direct confrontation. Having a peer
    gently remind him of his commitment, could prevent him from
    feeling an affront to his honor. Keep verbal commitments or
    risk reinforcing the perception that “America never keeps its

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    It always makes me angry that people who drink and drive get the book thrown at them for vehicular assault, but negligent drivers who kill people get a slap on the wrist. To the family that has lost their loved one, it’s little comfort that the person is just a bad driver.

    Well today a man was convicted of assault for killing a pedestrian who was in a crosswalk. This is the second time I’ve read of a person being convicted without being drunk, and while I’m happy that the family got justice it appears that it was because the pedestrian worked for a Seattle City Council member.

    Here are couple of examples of non-drunk vehicular assaults that did not get justice:

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    I’m constantly reminded how I can’t count on the government to, well, do anything. In this case, provide a safe work place and safe food. Since 2000, some pop corn factory workers have required lung transplants because they developed cancers from diacetyl an artificial butter flavoring.

    Only after a diligent doctor revealed that a consumer of popcorn had contracted the lung disease did this issue suddenly start some stirrings of action.

    “I said to him, ‘This is a very weird question, but bear with me. But are you around a lot of popcorn?’ ” Dr. Rose asked. “His jaw dropped and he said, ‘How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn.’ ”

    The man told Dr. Rose that he had eaten microwave popcorn at least twice a day for more than 10 years.

    “When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much,” Dr. Rose said. “That’s heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers’ studies is the highest risk.”

    Of course, ConAgra immediately denied the link, and then immediately pulled diacetyl from its product.

    It turns out that restaurant workers are exposed to a comparable level of diacetyl as the factory workers. This is from standing over a hot griddle spraying butter flavoring grease. So now finally Congress is looking into the matter.

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    An autopsy conducted by a zoo veterinarian on the Siberian tiger after police shot it to death showed that the animal had been “very determined to get out,” Matthews said. Its claws were broken and splintered by clambering up the concrete moat wall, Matthews quoted the veterinarian as saying.

    Revealing all you need to know about me, I find it incredibly tragic that this tiger was killed. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the human victim, he just seems more a victim of circumstance rather than a tragical figure.

    I don’t need to read the increasing evidence to know she was taunted. Why would she stay captive for so many years only to try this one day to get out.

    So she was killed, a tragedy, but she had one final act. Her last act on humanity was to proclaim her strength, her indisputable superiority as a fierce warrior. She might be thinking: You may have held me in this cage all these years, but all the time I was able to get out if I cared. You may be taunting me from that railing where you think you are safe, but don’t you know I could kill you if I wanted to.

    And she showed them that she could.

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