Saturday, June 12, 2010

"I'm an atheist and I love religion. I really do." - Patton Oswalt on Sky Cake.

Total Win. Made of Awesome.

"The only way sky cake tastes good is if, up in the sky, the sky cookie and sky pie people can't have the sky pie!!!... I did not spend my life not raping and killing people to not go up in the sky and have cake. Sky cake!!!"

The only way to watch corporate news.


Watched - 2 weeks, Chuck Season 2 FTW.

Doctor Who, UFC 114, The Boondocks - went with the 'Juice' homage... nice, Glee - Season Finale = awesome, The Daily Show, TUF, Justified, Newsradio S3, Batman Brave and the Bold, Lie to Me - Jason Dohring/Logan from Veronica Mars as the bad guy plus Howard Hesseman = Win, The Devil & Daniel Webster/Shortcut to Happiness...

War, Inc - John Cusack flick, who I generally dig, and I read this flick it was an 'unofficial' sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank - which I love...  but, eh, this was kind of disappointing.  Not nearly as clever or introspective as GPB, and heavy-handed & preachy to boot.  Besides I always preferred to think of Grosse Pointe Blank as the unofficial sequel to Say Anything - because when you don't want to "to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career" - what better career than professional killer?

How I Met Your Mother, Season 1 - laugh tracks are painful, but Neil Patrick Harris is genius.  If the show was all Barney, all the time, I'd be all over it.  And Alyson Hannigan's awesome, 'til they started to write her as the whiny star of 'very special episodes' at the end of the season.  Still, a decent time killer - occasionally really funny - and I'll check out the next season.

Chuck, Season 2 - Chuck S1 was total geekbait, fun but a little uneven, held together by the performances of the leads - particularly the always great Adam Baldwin...  but Season 2 was completely awesome.  By the time Scott Bakula and Chevy Chase show up mid-season, I was thoroughly addicted.  Great series.

Not to be trusted - "D.C. Unjustly Imprisons Hundreds."

D.C. Unjustly Imprisons Hundreds - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine:
"'s a little example of what happens when law enforcement machinery is calibrated against you:

Nearly 400 people were convicted of driving while intoxicated in the District since fall 2008 based on inaccurate results from breath test machines, and half of them went to jail, city officials said Wednesday.
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said the machines were improperly adjusted by city police. The jailed defendants generally served at least five days, he said..."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Parenting concessions - "Help the Police."

Too funny.

Talking points for when you, your company or your government screw up horribly.

If you pay any attention at all, you'll recognize every last one...

How to Defend the Indefensible (and get away with it) | Stephen M. Walt:
"...Some readers out there may aspire to careers in foreign policy, and you may be called upon to perform these duties as part of your professional obligations. Moreover, all of us need to be able to spot the rhetorical ploys that governments use to justify their own misconduct. To help students prepare for future acts of diplomatic casuistry, and to raise public consciousness about these tactics, I offer as a public service this handy 21-step guide: "How to Defend the Indefensible and Get Away With It." The connection to recent events is obvious, but such practices are commonplace in many countries and widely practiced by non-state actors as well.
Here are my 21 handy talking-points when you need to apply the white-wash:
1. We didn't do it! (Denials usually don't work, but it's worth a try).
2. We know you think we did it but we aren't admitting anything.
3. Actually, maybe we did do something but not what we are accused of doing.
4. Ok, we did it but it wasn't that bad ("waterboarding isn't really torture, you know").
5. Well, maybe it was pretty bad but it was justified or necessary. (We only torture terrorists, or suspected terrorists, or people who might know a terrorist...")
6. What we did was really quite restrained, when you consider how powerful we really are. I mean, we could have done something even worse.
7. Besides, what we did was technically legal under some interpretations of international law (or at least as our lawyers interpret the law as it applies to us.)
8. Don't forget: the other side is much worse. In fact, they're evil. Really.
9. Plus, they started it.
10. And remember: We are the good guys. We are not morally equivalent to the bad guys no matter what we did. Only morally obtuse, misguided critics could fail to see this fundamental distinction between Them and Us.
11. The results may have been imperfect, but our intentions were noble. (Invading Iraq may have resulted in tens of thousands of dead and wounded and millions of refugees, but we meant well...)"
Other ten at the link, equally applicable and awesome.

Bureaucracy defeats Nazis - or "How “Dilbert” Won The War."

The Volokh Conspiracy » Sabotage! Or How “Dilbert” Won The War:
"...In January 1944, the Office of Strategic Services created a secret document entitled “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” to assist operatives in disrupting the Axis war effort. It contains the expected stuff about starting fires and shorting electrical systems. But the most enlightening stuff comes at pages 28–31, in a section entitled “General Interference with Organizations and Production.” There, we learn that our secret weapon against the Nazi war machine was . . . bureaucracy. Note these ingenious plots:
(a) Organizations and Conferences
(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
* * *
(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible–never less than five.
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision–raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
(b) Managers and Supervisors
(1) Demand written orders.
* * *
(7) Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. . . .
* * *
(11) Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
(12) Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
(13) Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
(14) Apply all regulations to the last letter."

I will never mock coupons again - "...he spent $27.08 to purchase $597.96 worth of food."

Fascinating, albeit kind of insane - Extreme Personal Finance: Eating Well on One Dollar a Day

Pentagon Papers' Daniel Ellsberg on Obama - "His actions are totally uncoupled from his public statements. I don't even listen anymore."

Left-Wing Icon Daniel Ellsberg: 'Obama Deceives the Public' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
"Ellsberg: I think Obama is continuing the worst of the Bush administration in terms of civil liberties, violations of the constitution and the wars in the Middle East.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: For example?
Ellsberg: Take Obama's explicit pledge in his State of the Union speech to remove "all" United States troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. That's a total lie. I believe that's totally false. I believe he knows that's totally false. It won't be done. I expect that the US will have, indefinitely, a residual force of at least 30,000 US troops in Iraq.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about Afghanistan? Isn't that a justifiable war?
Ellsberg: I think that there's an inexcusable escalation in both countries. Thousands of US officials know that bases and large numbers of troops will remain in Iraq and that troop levels and bases in Afghanistan will rise far above what Obama is now projecting. But Obama counts on them to keep their silence as he deceives the public on these devastating, costly, reckless ventures.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You doubt not only Obama's missions abroad but also his politics back home in the US. Why exactly are you accusing the president of violating civil liberties?
Ellsberg: For instance, the Obama administration is criminalizing and prosecuting whistleblowers to punish them for uncovering scandals within the federal government …
SPIEGEL ONLINE: … Such as the arrest, confirmed this week, of an Army intelligence analyst for leaking the "Collateral Murder" video of a deadly US helicopter attack in Iraq, which was later posted online at WikiLeaks.
Ellsberg: Also, the recent US indictment of Thomas Drake.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Drake was a former senior official with the National Security Agency (NSA) who provided reporters with information about failures at the NSA.
Ellsberg: For Obama to indict and prosecute Drake now, for acts undertaken and investigated during the Bush administration, is to do precisely what Obama said he did not mean to do -- "look backward." Of all the blatantly criminal acts committed under Bush, warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, aggression, torture, Obama now prosecutes only the revelation of massive waste by the NSA, a socially useful act which the Bush administration itself investigated but did not choose to indict or prosecute!
...SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why would Obama reverse himself?
Ellsberg: He's a good politician. He said what he needed to say to get elected, and now he's just taking advantage of the office...
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But Obama has been very verbal about his criticism of Wall Street.
Ellsberg: His actions are totally uncoupled from his public statements. I don't even listen anymore. He has turned 180 degrees. Another example: His promise to filibuster a law giving the phone companies legal immunity for any role they played in the Bush's domestic eavesdropping program. Then he not only voted not to filibuster it, he also voted for the law -- against the wishes of his backers.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think that will backfire for the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections?
Ellsberg: I don't think what Obama is doing is the best way to get votes. But it's the best way to get campaign contributions."

Happy dog is happy - "What Happens when Engineers Own Dogs."

Cuteness Win.  Guaranteed smiles.

Another win for Glee - it even teaches us the importance of rational copyright reform.

Glee and Copyright Law - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine:
"...The absence of any mention of copyright law in Glee illustrates a painful tension in American culture. While copyright holders assert that copyright violators are “stealing” their “property,” people everywhere are remixing and recreating artistic works for the very same reasons the Glee kids do — to learn about themselves, to become better musicians, to build relationships with friends, and to pay homage to the artists who came before them. Glee’s protagonists — and the writers who created them — see so little wrong with this behavior that the word ‘copyright’ is never even uttered.

You might be tempted to assume that this tension isn’t a big deal because copyright holders won’t go after creative kids or amateurs. But they do: In the 1990s, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) asked members of the American Camping Association, including Girl Scout troops, to pay royalties for singing copyrighted songs at camp. In 2004, the Beatles’ copyright holders tried to prevent the release of The Grey Album – a mash-up of Jay-Z’s Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album — and only gave up after massive civil disobedience resulted in the album’s widespread distribution. Copyright holders even routinely demand that YouTube remove videos of kids dancing to popular music. While few copyright cases go to trial, copyright holders like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) don’t hesitate to seek stratospheric damage awards when they do, as in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset filesharing case....

Defenders of modern copyright law will argue Congress has struck “the right balance” between copyright holders’ interests and the public good. They’ll suggest the current law is an appropriate compromise among interest groups. But by claiming the law strikes “the right balance,” what they’re really saying is that the Glee kids deserve to be on the losing side of a lawsuit. Does that sound like the right balance to you?"

You gotta believe in something, right?

"The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived." - Oscar Wilde

Facts, research mock your stupid bronze-age prejudices & superstitions - "Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests."

Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests -
"A nearly 25-year study concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers."

"A Man's Breakfast."

Perception and perspective matters.