Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

31 October 2006

In Related Content News


Part text of a comment I posted a couple of days ago at Raincoaster, whose kinda-cute-in-a-pointy-sorta-way head no longer fits most of her hats since she became dot com (though that's not to say that she's allowed herself to become spoiled).
If these pricks can keep suing to keep people from viewing content that it’s perfectly legal to record on a VCR, and which has already been broadcast into the public sphere, then I shall set up a newspaper and sue Reuters, AP, and internet service providers for infringement of copyright on weather reports.

I will also lobby for a “blank media levy” on foolscap paper, newsprint, and cocktail napkins.


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A Slurry of Suits?


What would one call the flurry of digital rights management cases taking place right now?

The US Patent Office is being pressed to make significant changes to copyright law. As is the Australian government. Even the Boy Scouts of America (who already front for the American Taliban) are getting into the act in L.A.. (BoingBoing).

All of these acts are of course funded by the "consumer-friendly" industry groups who want to ensure that they will control exactly when, where, and how we are permitted to "consume" music.

As a customer (not a "consumer") I am sick to death of companies increasingly curtailing my right to do as I wish with property for which I have paid. The small print increasingly says "We will force this agreement on you will-ye or nill-ye. We will determine how you may use our product, despite the fact that we won't support it. We will reserve the right to stop you using it in any way we haven't been smart enough to think of, too."

Increasingly, such maneuvers and legalese have less to do with "copyright protection" (the thinnest remaining legitimate shred of an excuse to penalize your customers) and more to do with inflicting proprietary technology on us.

iTunes is a perfect example. But it's not alone. The SO recently activated a 3-month Napster membership.

The Napster membership card cost $30 for three months, and claimed "unlimited FREE downloads". Presumably they'll refund me the 30 bucks when the subscription runs out? Otherwise it isn't free, is it?

It turned out that Napster has only partial catalogues of most of the music I wanted to hear. Presumably I could have previewed their content to find that out? But in a music store, I'd just search until I found the album I wanted, or go to a different store, or order the item in. Having paid for this crap, I'm kind of stuck. My own fault--caveat emptor.

But Napster takes that saying to ridiculous heights. You can only download music to the computer that you "register" with the network. I can only assume this means some sort of spyware is glued into your computer. And of course they never abuse that to spy on you, to spam you, or to otherwise break privacy law, I'm sure.

Of course I have to take their word for that, not being myself a computer security expert.

But I also can't take my Napster music with me--not without "registering" my ancient Samsung Yepp digital music player.

So I can't quite get the music I want. I can take it anywhere (assuming I don't mind adding spyware to my mobile device), or play it at my convenience (assuming it's convenient to sit at my computer whenever I want music).

And all for "free" (plus $30).

I suppose I could use software to screw with their digital rights-removal tools and copy my music as I wish. But as I'm sure the new, nice, Napster would point out: that would be wrong. And they oughta know.

Besides, why bother when I can dowload fully portable files that I want for free?

So of course the companies involved will sue my server, the creators of "KazaaToo" (not what I use, but why make it easy for the twerps?), and perhaps eventually me, in order to force me to buy their proprietary files.

And we supposedly live in a "consumer"-driven, choice-oriented society?

In good news for the piratocracy, Apple users can liberate your iTunes using iMovie (via BoingBoing)







30 October 2006

As The Midterms Approach Apace



We here at Metroblog found this appropriate:

Old man: "All you need to know about politics is that young George Bush is a post turtle."

Young man: "Oh? What's a post turtle?"

Old man: "When yer driving down a country road, and ya come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top? That's a post turtle. Ya know he didn't get there by himself, he don't belong there, he cain't get anything done while he's up there, and you just want to help take the poor thang down."







26 October 2006

Conjoined Twins Born In Canada


Stephen Harper twitches ears, flares nostrils, and mumbles about second helpings.







Point:Counterpoint


Jack Straw may have met his match.

Like Straw, another man has caused controversy concerning his views on the Muslim head scarf or hijab.

There's a slight difference, though: about 180 degrees' worth.

From the BBC:
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat".

The Sheik's remarks suggested that women with their heads uncovered were asking to be raped.

I'm not certain, but I feel that voicing a personal discomfort with veils is a far cry from saying women with their hair down are asking for it.
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat?" he asked.

Um ... Clearly it is the fault of the meat for being uncovered. Eminently logical.

But still, around here we kick the cat (as long as Mme Metro's not looking).

The Sheik has claimed to have been misinterpreted. Just, presumably, as he was misinterpreted when he spoke of the New York terror attacks as "God's work against oppressors"?

In Australia, not the most noteably tolerant of nations, Hilali's remarks have generated a lot of hard feedback, with the Prime Minister and most of the political leadership calling for an apology.

On the bright side, the leader of Australia's largest Muslim organization has condemned the sermon. On the other hand, he has also stated that the board of the Lebanese Muslim Association is "still reviewing" the remarks.

Sheik Hilali has apologized. Will this satisfy people? One is drawn to consider comparisons to the apology the Pope was forced into some time ago.

For my part, I feel that whenever one is sitting on a powderkeg (and Sydney doubtless is as the anniversary of the Cronnulla race riots approaches), one can almost always count on some @$$#0!3 to show up with a can of gasoline and a lit cigar.







Let's Have That Again In Slow Motion


For those of my Avid Fans who hail from foreign parts (like, say, Ottawa), Hansard is the designated recording organ of the House of Parliament. Their reporters and transcriptionists ensure that every dull item of minutae is comitted to paper, tape, or digital format.

And for some reason, they've never had to launch a court case for copyright violation against a peer-to-peer network ...

But sometimes the job gets exciting. Last week the jilted lover of auto-parts-magnate's-daughter Belinda Stronach (oh--and Liberal MP for Kicking Horse Pass or some such, but that's probably just temporary), Tory MP Peter MacKay, was heard to refer to Belinda indirectly as a dog. Now there are calls for his resignation.

We at Metroblog are forced to say au contraire (partly in order to cover our collectives with Canadian bilingual content regulations).

Think: jealous ex-lovers trash-talking one another without the slightest civility nor regard for discourse. This could be the next big Canadian reality TV hit!

Of course they'd have to change the law. You see, the reason there's any uncertainty as to what MacKay said (despite it being audible on tape and no-one else stepping forward to claim the audible remark, made in response to a remark directed at MacKay) is that the Hansard camera which records parliamentary procedure is forbidden by law to scan, pan, or focus on the chamber anywhere except the currently speaking MP.

Since MacKay was not actually on his hind legs at the time of the incident, there is no video record of him actually saying what he said.

Cameras were only ever allowed into Parliament only after a long legal fight to address concerns MPs expressed about the influence of video on government.

For example:
"If I pair my vote and bugger off golfing for the day, what's to prevent my constituents from seeing my empty chair?"

"Will people still love me if they see me sleeping at my desk during Question Period?"

"Will people trust us when they see the Prime Minister's clockwork being cleaned and oiled?"

Serious questions to be sure.

Despite the rules in place to safeguard the lazy and corrupt, there's been controversy:
In a famous legislative prank, Joy MacPhail--aided and abetted by women MLAs from all parties--once placed a wind-up bouncing toy that looked like a miniature penis on the [British Columbia Legislature] desk of an NDP minister during a televised legislative debate.

--From the Tyee

So hire the NHL cameramen to run the Hansard cameras--they know where to find the excitement--and put it on CBC.

"The Weakest Minister"? "Canadian, Idle"? Suggestions anyone?







25 October 2006

Shaky Arguments



Rush Limbaugh has criticized Michael J. Fox's appearance in support of stem cell research, seen as a Democratic vote-getting issue.

In the commercial, Fox shakes and rattles, displaying outwardly the symptoms of the Parkinson's Disease that took him off the big screen in 2000.

Limbaugh said Fox was "either off his meds or acting". And he should know.

It's certainly possible. Fox can act. He could be faking having Parkinson's in order to generate interest in finding a cure for Parkinson's using stem-cell research. Sure he could.

Rush--are you back on the hillbilly heroin wagon?

Actually, now that he's off his meds, Rush seems to be having trouble faking it on-air. No news on whether he's still faking it in the bedroom.

There is no doubt about whether his latest wife (sorry--girlfriend) is; be she chat room chick or Dominican child prostitute.

Rush hasn't got the chops to criticize anyone anymore.

Update: Rush just proved my point by apologizing. Not that I'm against the idea. Perhaps he could start one of those "restitution" things where you go around and personally apologize to everyone you've ever insulted or harmed.

But where would he get the time? The three-hundred-millionth American was born last week.







Digital Rights Manglement


I'll be (c)rapping on DRM later, but for now:
Sony is so paranoid that their anti-piracy software actually renders their own software useless. Via BoingBoing


Antichrist Pizza (the passion of the crust) states that:
Anything you ever buy that has "product activation" may stop being something you can use at any time, for any reason. Consumers are being raped wholesale by these companies when they invade our privacy with this method of copy protection - and thats assuming it even works in the first place.

The software does install great on a microwave oven, however...







24 October 2006

Embarrassing and Beyond Hope



Maybe it all depends what the definition of "never" is? Via Raincoaster.

I could be ashamed that the US Commander in Chief was wavering in his resoluteless and contemplating the cut-and-run strategy of the "defeatocrats". But I'm not.

I could be gleeful that once again he's been caught lying on camera. But I'm not. This parade of grandiose delusion has at last passed the point where it was at all funny.

I used to attribute Dubya's grosser failings to idiocy. Either I have been unkind and he's actually mentally ill, or I have been too forgiving and he fully understands each and every lie that tumbles from his slack lips.

It's no longer possible to find forgiveness for him. Pity, perhaps.

Either way, it is past time for impeachment, or treatment. November eighth wouldn't yet be too late, though.







22 October 2006

Speaking of Music

While it's on my mind, and since Hallowe'en is just around the corner, here's something from The Onion A.V. Club: The 13 Scariest Album Covers.
9. The Beatles, Yesterday and Today


The original art for The Beatles' 1966 release Yesterday and Today sparked such a negative reaction that the first American pressing was quickly recalled and replaced with something much blander, making the "Butcher cover" a major collectors' item for those who like their British Invasion idols covered in doll parts and raw meat. It's still pretty creepy today: Photos of John Lennon naked in bed with Yoko Ono was no big deal, but a beaming Paul McCartney with a severed, bloody doll head propped up in his lap? Eerie.







Bitchslapping the Music Industry Part II

Long post, but the issues are complex, and I have to write longer to excavate the truth from the thickly-spread bull$#!7 chanted by the music industry.

Earlier I wrote that the Music Publishers' Association of America, Recording Industry "Artists" Asociation and their relatives had pissed me off yet again by shutting down guitar tablature sites. And a week or two back the RIAA launched another 8000 lawsuits.

They are, as usual, portraying the poor old artists as the injured parties. This is a myth. Indeed, the whole legal framework upon which these suits are based rests on a cluster of false assumptions:

It is inherently wrong or illegal to reproduce and distribute copies of songs.
Traditionally, most copyright law has allowed a certain amount of slop. While it might be a violation of copyright in the strictest sense, the recording industry relied on a certain amount of shared playing, and even reproduction, of music to further sales.

Secondly--what about portability? It's perfectly legal to load a song onto my player, or copy it to a CD for personal use. I paid a license fee which allows me to listen (what a conceit!) to this song. To the intellectual property which is the notes and words. Not to a particular device or gadget.

Digital file-sharing was unforseeable, and lawsuits are the only way of fixing the problem.
The music industry had at least ten years to get its $#!7 together, but played dead until they got poked. They were trying to hold off until they developed proprietary standards. No-one wants to be the next Betamax, but everyone wants to make it impossible to listen to music on any player or format but their own.

But the technology had grown beyond that before Napster even clawed its way into Mettalica's black and greasy little hearts. We'll talk about the joke that is "digital rights management" later.

The RIAA and friends have no other way to regain the lost monies.
Thansk to the RIAA, when I buy blank media or a digital player (the same, as far as I know, does not hold true for tape decks or record players--or radios, why?), I pay a "blank media levy" propelled into law by the RIAA and friends.

This:
1) Assumes I'm a pirate and will promptly go about copying and distributing music.
2) Puts cash in the pockets of music companies who either have nothing to do with the transaction or are in fact profiting from it.
3) Actively penalizes me for wanting to listen to the music they produce! and
4) costs me, as far as I can make out, more than the royalties per song even if I did steal all my music.

If the music company makes the player (such as Sony) then they're already getting their pound of flesh. If they don't, then I am giving them money in return for nothing; Sweet deal, eh? And in either case, they'll get a share from the CDs or downloads they sell me. But not anymore--we'll get to that one later too.

They will immediately share out equally with their partners and friends the musicians.
Music attorney Don Engel once challenged artists to provably deny that music companies underpay royalties by up to 40%, without killing their careers. Whatever the case, the flood of cash from penalizing people for wanting to listen to music is nothing but a trickle at the artists' level.

The monies reaped through these taxes and lawsuits represent only a fair share of what they've lost.
Load of crap. A CD costs pennies to produce nowadays--and co-incidentally the number of flawed copies has gone up too, as music industry companies realize they can make you pay for the gas and time to return it to the shop.

Add "development cost", which actually are usually borne by the band, unless the band is actually Metallica or Aerosmith, or similar proven milch cows.

So a CD costs what, a buck-fifty to make? And sells for ... $15, $20, or more.

Of course, if I'm prepared to dispense with album "art" (would Sgt. Pepper's cover have worked on a CD?) and lyrics (which I can still find as text files online until the MPAA gets them too) I can have the album for a much more reasonable price--say ten times what it actually costs. A 90% profit margin? Maybe not, but the music industry isn't producing reliable figures. What do the artists get paid anyway? We don't know. We can't.

The artists are under non-disclosure agreements these days. Wonder what the music companies are trying to hide?

Clearly some artists do well. P. Diddy's Hummers (not to mention the coke, guns and hookers) aren't cheap. Obviously digital file-sharing is killing the poor boy.

Music companies risk huge amounts in development costs.
The RIAA would have you believe that music is like oil prospecting, a game of chance where one artist will "make it" out of a sea of prospects. So that a big hit has to earn enough money to cover the losses.

Bull$#!7. They have been working since the birth of the industry to eliminate that uncertainty and have, to a large extent, succeeded. There were still elements of risk in bringing out new acts until about the '90s, but as Stephen Tyler himself pointed out, a band breaking in these days has to have "something extra". And what that means is a sponsorship or advertising deal.

So the artist shows up and effectively pays to get his foot in the door. How many rappers make their money from showing the Nike swoosh in their videos?

There was precious little risk in Pepsi launching the careers of the Spice Girls, or the other "pop" artists they've foisted on us. They took some pretty girls who could sing, half-dressed them up, added the "superhero team" concept, and backed them with millions in advertising.

One day, when Janet Jackson flashes her other tit during the superbowl, the "wardrobe malfunction" will show the sponsor's logo tattooed on her boob.

But there's hardly any uncertainty now. If you want to know how talentless the toads perched atop the music business are, this is it: they can't even pick winners anymore. They have so little soul that all their hits are chosen by software-based "music evaluation".

Think about this. If you had access to the same software, and were able to evaluate the hit worth of a given song--how long would you need this layer of pimps between us and the musicians? Without this creaking apparatus to promote and produce the latest pop song, what on earth would we do?

As for actual sheet music, no one so far as I know was ever prosecuted for listening to a song until the needle/tape/disc wore out, transcribing what he/she heard, playing it, and photocopying the written results. Until now.

Next: the music industry and the mafia: at least the mafia are honest.

This post, like all the others here at Metroblog, is © Metro 2006 and "Metro" and any of the Metro logos are ™ me, Metro. I invite you to share it with your friends for free. If you felt like sending me money that'd be cool too. I promise not to sue unless you screw with the meaning of the piece.







21 October 2006

Malcolm Tent

Good buddy of mine. He didn't like the look of my template, so I'm messing with it. As they say in the maternity ward, please bear with us.







Well This Oughta Cut Down on Car Theft!

Ontario has decided to pilot the use of Segways by postal carriers, people with disabilities, and cops.

The idea of cops on Segways is fine, if funny. I'm not going to say anything about it being as authoritative as a unicycle. Perhaps we should just issue them standard clown shoes too?



What would a Segway Police Interceptor Special look like? Would Sheriff Lobo still command respect--would your reflection still tremble in those mirrored shades? Consider the first time you saw some doughnut-padded Lord of the Law pedalling around on his mountain bike. Did you not snicker until milk squirted from your nose?

Presumably you'll have to demonstrate your skills before being allowed to operate one. After-all, the self-balancing Segway has proven itself beyond the abilities of some.







20 October 2006

The Most Vital, The Most Urgent, The Most Inescapable

Olbermann says it so much better than I can.



In the terror attacks of September 2001, 3000 people died.

The US government has poured billions into "The War Against Terror" and various related and unrelated enterprises.

In the five years since, roughly 150,000 people have died from gunshots. No "War on Guns".
200,000 Americans have died on her highways. No "War on Traffic".

In the United States today, one is slightly more likely to be shot by police than killed by terrorists.

Yet no "War on Cops" has been funded. And with the suspension of basic rights, such as that against self-incrimination and the presumption of innocence, none will be neccessary.







19 October 2006

While Otherwise Engaged

I was having a comment-argument over at Philipa's Fortean Times, which gave me reason to quote Canada Bill Jones. It then occured to me that while I knew the name, and his most famous quotes ("It's the only game in town" and "Suckers got no business with money nohow") I knew nothing of him.

This, O Avid Fan, is what Al Gore invented the internet for. Forget all that highfalutin' communications guff. Enter the School for Scoundrels.



Canada Bill Jones died in 1880 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was destitute, and buried at public expense. One of the gamblers who stood by as they lowered Canada Bill into the ground offered to bet $1000 at two to one odds that Bill wasn't in the casket. There were no takers. One gambler within earshot said, "I've seen Bill get out of tighter holes than that before."







Gaming the System

Thanks to Raincoaster I have managed to get an updated and far more accurate idea of the worth of my blog.


My blog is worth $600,050,695.08.
How much is your blog worth?


A great little boost--just when I thought I might be losing people with my current riffing on slapping the MPAA, NMPA, and RIAA around.

We'll have to wait 'till the weekend to get to that one, though. I resolve not to sell out until Google's Adsense program or someone pays me the figure above! I shall warm the web with my words at a cost of only pennies per pound!

In short, I ain't yet quitting my day job.

Update: Obviously the figure of a mere hundred million was wrong. The number above has been corrected. Still ain't quittin' my day job though.







18 October 2006

The Darker Side of War

Via The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of one of the great American journalists of the 20th century, A.J. (Abbott Joseph) Liebling, born in New York (1904). He got his first real writing job working at the New York World, and began writing about New York City saloons and nightclubs, racetracks and corner stores, gourmet restaurants and boxing rings. His favorite subjects were food, journalism, and boxing.

In 1939, he began to cover the war in Europe for The New Yorker. Unlike other war correspondents, Liebling didn't write about politics or combat strategy. He wrote about day-to-day life among the soldiers and the civilians. He later said that he missed the war years. He wrote, "The times were full of certainties: We could be certain we were right—and we were—and that certainty made us certain that anything we did was right, too. I have seldom been sure I was right since. ... I know that it is socially acceptable to write about war as an unmitigated horror, but subjectively at least, it was not true, and you can feel its pull on men's memories at the maudlin reunions of war divisions. They mourn for their dead, but also for war."

A. J. Liebling also said, "Cynicism is often the shamefaced product of inexperience."
I remember sometime during my military service, a Master-Corporal remarking that "what this country needs is a good war". While I was still considering this, he went on: "Kill off all the deadwood" he said reflectively.

I remember feeling that way. Lasted until I was about 21, I'd guess. But like Liebling, I met many people who had served in wars.

They talked about "... what's his name, y'know. He kept that cricket in a jar, used to drive Sgt. Mason nuts--'Fizzle', that's right, that's what we called him! Well he spent a month's pay to buy a used bus. You see, he'd use it to sneak girls into camp. Well one day the CO flagged him down ..."

They spoke of "We grew up together. There was this one time that him and me, we stood sentry duty for three days on this bridge. We ran outa rations and it was Ollie kept us fed by shooting these wild pidgeons. Finally this Brit officer turned up and asked us what the hell we thought we were doing there. The battalion had moved on two days previous and forgotten us!"

They spoke of army bureaucracy, oligarchy and kleptocracy: "So Smitty says he doesn't see why the Officer's Mess should get all these here steaks ..."

And you could tell they missed that part.

A friend who cared for people in old folks homes once told me they had to leave the lights on after hours for half-a-dozen old men who would walk, yell, or cry out at night.

And most of them didn't talk about the night shrieks, about the ghost smells in their noses, the unforgotten bloodstains long since scrubbed off.

War, real war, is about sacrifice. Those on the home front were asked to make sacrifices not only to preserve the supply chain, but to show unity of suffering. It was mostly illusion, though it was neccessary.

It would never have been dreamed of to tell these people, living through a true war, to live their lives as though nothing had happened. To go shopping. To sacrifice their rights.

After all, there was a war on.







16 October 2006

Does Bush Have A Base To Stand On?

The Current President once claimed to be a uniter, not a divider. And it's becoming increasingly clear. From Joseph Heller's Catch 22:
Colonel Cathcart: "I have a happy facility for getting people to agree."

Ex-PFC Wintergreen: "He has a happy facility for getting people to agree what a prick he is."

But I'm not talking about the other 96% of the Earth's population. How many people is that in the United States, in this year of mid-term elections?

I don't pretend to know. I have heard and read various numbers from various sources. The numbers suggest that 30 to 60 percent of the US population are tired of the sideshow war, and would like to see some kind of resolution beyond "Stay The Course".

But it's a tough day for the Cheney/Bush regime when their former staffers and old-guard party hacks keep telling them they make as much sense as a football bat.

First there was Paul O'Neill, the former treasury secretary, who wrote a book entitled The Price of Loyalty. Heavily critical of the Mayberry Monarch's decision-making process, it suggested that the united front presented by the administration in its rush to war was somewhat cracked.

Now Karl Rove's spirit brother from the seventies and eighties, the man who pioneered direct mail for the Republicans, who believes in Republicanism with his entire being, has slagged the current crop.

Richard Viguerie wrote in 2004:
"Put the four alternative media together -- direct mail, talk radio, cable news TV, and the Internet -- and you can appreciate why the liberals are on the run. They have seen the Four Horsemen at the conservative Apocalypse."
Now he seems to have had another little think:
"Just as the Jews in the Old Testament had to wander through the desert for forty years until that generation of immoral, corrupt leaders had passed away, I think Republicans are going to have to wait for this generation of leaders -- and many of them are, in my opinion, corrupt and immoral -- to pass from the scene before we can get to the political promised land."
But the apostasy of True Believers doesn't end there. And we mean True Believers. David Kuo, formerly of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, has just released another book. Previous efforts focused on the idea of "Transforming America" through Fundameltalist Christianism.

Now, though, Kuo has published a book revealing the hypocrisy of the Bush administration towards Christians in general, and particularly their support base of Evangelicals.

Given that the Christian right probably single-handedly accounted for Bush's scraping a three-million vote majority (well, them and Diebold), this seems like the highest form of ingratitude and betrayal.

Not that I disagree with the regime's asessment of the major figures in the Christian Conservatism movement:
Specifically, Kuo says people in the White House political affairs office referred to Pat Robertson as "insane," Jerry Falwell as "ridiculous," and that James Dobson "had to be controlled."
But then again, I didn't have to rely on their support to get elected.

If these, the true Princes of the Blood, are losing faith in Dubya's pretty hate machine, is it possible to hope that the Democrats might get some of those fifteen seats they need to grab a majority in the House?







14 October 2006

I Beg You--Do Not Let Your Children See This!

Just wanted to post this before Raincoaster spotted it and recognized the hit potential of Disney porn video, or Mouse Orgy, or whatever the heck this is.



Now I know you're shocked: Minnie was into it--she'd been into the Gruyére again, and you know the effect that has. But try to understand, this was Euro Disney. They have different morals over there or something.

God knows this would never have happened in Florida. Or does Foley do furry as well as clean-cut young Republicans?

Anyway, since Disney/ABC, which was perfectly happy with the "Path to 9/11" ficumentary, is running around suppressing the hell out of it, I figured I'd help it along a little.







We Interrupt This Broadcast

Don't worry, we'll get back to our muttons in a minute. But I'm punchy from lack of sleep and fighting off a cold and this struck me as hilarious!

A woman comes home for lunch to find her husband at the kitchen table looking astounded and unhappy.

"Honey, what's wrong?" she asks.
"I've just come from the doctor's," he replies "The tests came back."

Concern in her eyes the wife moves closer, puts her hand on his arm.
"Is it ... bad?"
He nods.
"The doctor ..."--he chokes on the words--"He said I've got about fifteen hours to live."
Horror-stricken she claps her hands to her mouth, then she sweeps him into her arms.

"My god, honey--what are you going to do?"

A look of determination comes into his eyes. He holds her at arms length and looks at her.

"Well first, I'm going church. I'm going to meditate and pray for a while, and then I'll go and help out at the soup kitchen.

I'm gonna give my last paycheque to the United Way. Then I'm going to go play eighteen holes of golf with my lawyer while I get my will squared away. When we're done I'm gonna buy a drink at the clubhouse for all my friends, and I'm gonna put up a $100 tab for the ones who aren't there.

After a drink or two I'm going to pick up the kids from school. We'll stop at the park to play a little catch, or tag, or just for me to watch them play on the swings. Then you and I and the kids are going for dinner tonight at the swankiest place in town.

After that, we'll come home. I'll tuck the kids in and read them their favourite stories and tuck them into bed and kiss them ... kiss them goodbye.

Then I'm going to come upstairs with a bottle of red wine, and we'll put some music on, and I'm going to make long, slow, passionate love to you all night long like we were twenty-one again. Then as we sip the last of the wine, you and I will climb to the attic window. We'll sit in the big armchair and I'll smoke a cigar as the sun comes up. And then it'll all be over. What do you say to that, eh?"

"Uh, I don't think so." she says.

He's flabbergasted:
"Why not?"

"Well it's all very well for you," she answers "But I gotta be at work in the morning."







Bitchslapping the Music Industry, Part I: The Piss-Off Factor

I have commented before on the rude bundle of selfishness and misery that is the Recording Industry Artists' Association, or RIAA. Today I add to the piss-off list the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) and the Music Publishers' Association of America (MPAA).

These creatures comprise a bunch of music-industry shills who, having tried for years to hide in their caves from the digital revolution in music, are now telling us that they should be the ones to decide how that revolution should go.

The reason I have this particular issue on my mind is that I went to look up a Pete Seeger tune at Guitar Tab Universe, AKA Guitartabs C.C., and found this notice:
The company which owns this website has been indirectly threatened (via our ISP) with legal action by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) as well as the Music Publishers' Association (MPA) on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement.

At what point does describing how one plays a song on guitar become an issue of copyright infringment?

This website, among other things, helps users teach each other how they play guitar parts for many different songs. This is the way music teachers have behaved since the first music was ever created. The difference here is that the information is shared by way of a new technology: the Internet.
So I popped off to OLGA--the On-Line Guitar Archive. I found a similar statement there.

Essentially, they've been forced to shut down because the MPAA and friends claim that all "unlicenced" guitar tablature (a system to help those of us who can't actually read music) is illegal.

Oh come off it!

That is, if I figure out by listening to the radio how to play a given song, it's just fine. But if I then post my interpretation--no matter how inaccurate, then I can be sued because that song "belongs" to the MPAA?

What's the difference between me figuring out how to play a song, writing down that interpretation, and then e-mailing it to people and me doing the same, but postiong it to a web board?

There's a good answer: I'm not a big enough target. That may have to change.

The MPAA isn't losing sales by this, assuming they have rights in the first place--a question of dubious merit. I agree that if someone directly transcribes the published text of a copyrighted song as published by the owner, it's an illegal act.

But if I create my interpretation of say, Buddy Holly's "Rave On", and post it below because I'm a generous soul (note to the music industry--look those words up)then it's mine--not theirs.

Just as fake perfume is sold from washroom vending machines in the hope that some unlucky son-of-a-bitch will be desperate enough to get laid that he'll purchase "Our Version" of Drakkar, or "Scent of" Ralph Lauren Polo, I can post "My Interpretation of Buddy Holly's 'Rave On'", surely.

Or perhaps I can post the same notes but call it my version of "Happy Birthday"? Would that change anything? Nope--because what's really at stake here is money--and squeezing every last drop you can from the outmoded music industry promote-launch-sell-sell-sell model of business.

Do you think these website might have been able to keep uploading all the guitar tabs you ever need if they'd offered to share some of the advertising cash they made? Don't put money on it--it's a sucker bet.

Let's face it, MPAA--lay off. The people sharing these files had either already bought, interpreted and posted your books of music, in which case you made your dime and have little reason to bitch, or they were never going to.

You ain't lost jack. But instead of being smart about it and say, creating the fora where people could discuss, create, and maybe even see the actual tablature for tunes, you're suing people.

Let's take a look at exactly how stupid the music industry has been and is being, shall we? Part II coming up.


Oh--and for those interested

Here's Metro's version of "Happy Birthday", translated into tabs. If you play it and it sounds like Buddy Holly, maybe you're out of tune?

(E)A-well the little things you say and do (E7) make me sing happy birthday to you-a-hoo

(A)Rave on: It's a crazy feeling and (E) I know it's got me reeling when (B) you say 'Happy birthday to you-hoo'(E) rave on (A/E/B7)


(E) The way you dance and hold me tight, the way you kiss and say good-(E7)ni-hi-hight
(A) Rave on: It's a crazy felling and (E)I know it's got me reeling when (B7) you say 'Happy Birthday to you,' (E) rave on (A/E/B7)

(E) Happy (A) Birthday, It's a crazy feeling and (E) I know it's got me reeling
I'm (B7) so glad that you're revealing your (E) love (B7) for (E) me (E7), and I said
(A)Hap-py, Birthday and tell me (E), tell me not to be lonely,
(B7)tell me you love me only (E)rave on, (A)rave on, (E)rave on!







11 October 2006

Onset

It feels as though I'm honing for another cold.

I posted earlier that "there's no worse way to spend a sick day than actually being sick". In fact there is: spending a day at work being sick.

My work involves writing and comment on industrial safety, and lately a topic of concern, along with the soi-distant coming epidemics of avian flu, regular flu, rockin' pneumonia and boogie-woogie flu comes a rising concern about "presenteeism".

Presenteeism refers to the tendency of some people (particularly men, but women are by no means immune [a-hem]) to drag-ass into work despite their raging fever, open and suppurating sores, or the fact that they're spewing blood, vomit, and viruses from every orifice.

This idiocy is probably the greatest boon to disease ever. The psychology of the tough guy will doubtless be a major factor when the Next Big Epidemic arises.

However--workplace sickness policies in North America are also largely to blame.

Economics, it is said, is about scarcity. By assigning limited numbers of "sick days" we create scarcity and commoditize them. They acquire value.

So: "Why waste my valuable sick days being sick?" When I could be fishing? Working on my Nash? Trying to scour up parts for my Yamaha U7e?

Instead we drag ourselves in to work until we are not just at death's door, but standing in the foyer investigating his umbrella stand.

This is where it gets really stupid: When you're infected with the flu you aren't contagious at the worst stage. Nope--when you feel the worst you couldn't give it away, not if you saved up a vat of your snot and dipped someone in it (I am not reccomending this in any way).

It's when you first start sniffling that you're passing out viruses like a clown scattering candy into the crowd at a parade.

Or when you finally "pull through". On the first day that you wake up and realize you're finally a hundred percent better, all your viruses are making a run for the lifeboats, having been trounced by your immune system, once it figured out what the problem was and who those rude strangers in your lymph nodes were. They're looking to find a new home in someone whose immune system might not notice them for a bit.

At both of these times, you're probably at work.

How many people do you meet? How many surfaces do you touch in that time? How possible is it that you're starting the cold that'll have the whole world sneezing?

So we need to change sick day policy. Why not have a number of "sick weeks". Say four per year.

Under this system you would be obligated to stay home as soon as you felt off colour. You would remain home through the ensuing immune system unpleasantries and return to work only three days after the cold wore off. Then you couldn't infect anyone else.

The math goes like this: current system, one person takes three days off but infects three more people who each take three days off. Cost: 12 person-days.

Metro system: one infected person takes a week off. Cost 7 person-days.

Personally, since you only pass on the viruses when you're feeling well, I suggest staying completely away from work until you feel sick.

However it's a moot point for me, as I have not yet worked here long enough to accumulate any sick days anyway.

Besides, where else should I go to blog?







Back Home

Mme Metro and I partially cancelled our southern trip.

But here's how it went: Due to some tickets to an evening of tasting the local wines (some 200 available, less than 50 sampled, I regret to report) we had to wait until the Saturday morning of the Thanksgiving long weekend.

We set off at oh-dark-stupid and crossed the border at 7 AM on a Saturday. US Customs and Border Protection were ready for us. As we pulled up to the sole open kiosk two bright, alert young fellows virtually leapt to inspect our trunk. As Mme observed, we had clearly made their morning. We showed our passports and were waved through. It is to date the single most pleasant and normal-seeming southbound border-crossing experience in years.

We headed south into the US. It seems odd to say it, but there are physical changes that take place across the border. Odd, because why should a political boundary so affect the landscape? Though I can recall vividly the contrast between the East and West Berlins, our political systems here are so similar that we often forget or ignore the differences. But they are different. So why should anything stay the same, really?

The landscape broadens. Instead of the narrow green valley Mme and I live in we find ouselves on something like the dead sea bottoms of Barsoom, guarded by parallel rails of flat-topped mesas. It reminds me that I think of America South as a country of vistas. It is a wide land, broad and beautiful.

The towns shrink. I suspect that to US citizens, this is the outer reaches of civilization, this northern clime. Much as in Canada we live in our narrow southern band around the border and regard outposts such as Shilo, Fort McMurray, or Dawson Creek as the edge of the world; much to the mirth of the residents of Yellowknife, Churchill, and Iqaluit.

Most of the towns along the great river are connected with the hydro industry, with some farming--though far below the concentration of farms "back home"--and related industries thrown in. I keep an eye out for abandoned Nash Mets or Yamaha U7s. They're sometimes found on farms, usually in a pile of rusting other junk. We see fewer cultivated fields.

The towns close to the road are tidy, almost Mayberry-esque. Lots of civic billboards or announcements: "Home to the Manglewurzels--Runner-up Champions
State Softball League 2004!", "The Flounderburg Mafia Welcomes YOU!", "Home of the World's Largest Ball of String As Measured By Linear Footage Using Jute Twine Only!". [A side note: on my travels as a trucker I was overwhelmed by the number of World's-Biggest-Ball-ofs there are.] Neat flowerbeds. Older-style houses, usually small company-type buildings, comforted up in the dedades after construction. There are abandoned houses and businesses too, some tributes to modern industrial efficiency, some--gas stations and ice cream stands especially--to modern fuel economy, and some to fevered hope that on a stretch of 60-mile-per-hour (100 Km/h) road, someone would be in a sufficiently amiable mood to stop and buy trinkets, fireworks, or souvenirs.

In Safeway's where we stop for groceries, Mme is impressed by the fact that three aproned assistants ask if they can help her. I think this has more to do with the size of the town and the fact that it's barely ten on a Saturday morning, but I'm glad to see it.

We stop at the Eighth Wonder of the World (again, one of many) and stare at its concrete immensity for a while. I reflect on the fact that today the same amount of power could be generated by a dam less than half the size. Still, all megaprojects are impressive. They come into being as Opposition Party targets, criticized as "white elephants". But somehow a party in power undertakes a bold, glorious, grand adventure, spending money lavishly to acheive something no-one else has ever dared to attempt.

Sometimes these things go bad, fall out of favour, or fashion, or date. They are outstripped by technology as the cornerstone is laid. They become politically inadvisable when the costs of labour or concrete skyrocket. It's no coincidence that many US megaprojects date from the Depression, when labour was cheap and the men were glad to get it. But many fulfill national dreams: the Transcontinental Railway, the Interstate System, Canada's Medical System ...

From there we drive ever southward, picking up progrssively bigger highways. Another triumph of America. In Canada, without the Eisenhower drive to spur construction, and with the increasing practicality of air travel, it took us until the 196os to pave the last mile of a trascontinental highway, even though the railroad it ran beside had been built eighty-odd years before. In fact, the Trans-Canada Highway ran across Saskatchewan as a two-lane road until about 2000!

Canadian highways and older US routes often contour and switchback up hills. But many of America's western routes are near-straight. On all of my trips there has been some moment where I have admired a parade of headlights and taillights going repectively up or down some mountain, tamed by a ribbon of tarmac, in the dark. What must it cost, to plan, design, and build a limited-grade slope straight up a massive geological feature?

We drop south until we are running beside the Columbia River, looking across at Oregon. At the junction of US Route 97 and US Route 14 we stop to take in Stonehenge.

Around the time of the First World War Sam Hill, a Quaker (a Christian religious sect devoutly opposed to war), visited the original Stonehenge in England. He was told (inaccurately, as modern archeology would have it) that the great stones were a site for human sacrifice.

Something caught fire in his imagination, and when he returned home he built this reproduction to commemerate the human sacrifice made by his county in the Great War. It seems appropriate to visit this place now.

The stones are some sort of concrete composite, laboriously built into the shape of the original massive calendar. On each of the inner circle stones is a plaque or two with a name and two dates. Some of the dates are very close together.

A few hundred yards away stands a modest wall of three five-foot-high granite panels with the names of the county boys who went off to fight other wars when "never again" kept turning out to be ever-shorter periods. Soon, I'm sure, there will be another panel added. Mme and I pay our respects with a camera and drive on.

Of the night and the following morning let it suffice to say that I come from a family of campers. Mme Metro does not. This culture clash produces some testy moments as I brew a fine pot of coffee in the AM. We need a bigger tent, apparently.

We make our way into Portland under lowering skies and classic coastal pre-winter drizzle. Breakfast is a Sunday-morning Dennys restaurant crowded with people who have just come from church, people who are on their way to church, and people who should be in church. The service is good and friendly; my breakfast of sausage rounds, sausages, farmer's sausage, and pancakes is tasty and just slightly overwhelming.

On into Portland. We cross the Iron Bridge and are downtown, rolling along beside a turn-of-the-century park complete with modern homeless people sheltering beneath a decorated bronze elephant. By coincidence we are less than three blocks from our destination, Powell's books. We park and, to get three dollar bills to feed to the ticket machine, I purchase two Powerball tickets from the nearby corner store. The jackpot, five days before the draw, is $25 million US. It is likely to grow. Though not to this size.

If Mme or I win this Powerball, I promise we will immediately begin visiting all of our Avid Fans with small thank-you gifts. Even if we have to split it with someone--or each other.

Powell's is a nest of rooms, each in its own colour. By some odd irony, the room housing automotive manuals, gunsmithing, hunting and fishing is the Rose Room. As we enter, the first thing that catches my eye is "Soulless", a riposte to Crazy Annie Coulter written by someone who actually has credentials to go with her good looks and opinions. It occurs to me that the current team in office fears "liberal intellectuals" for good reason. Most of their committed support base don't write good books. Unfortunately it's also true that they don't read them, following the example given them by their leader.

But aside from this cynical thought, most of my time a Powells is spent in a combination of awe (1.2 million books under one roof!) and quiet browsing. Want a reference guide to how to walk different breeds of dog? A manual on how to assasinate your aunt? Want to know the real secret GM's hiding about the water-powered car? Powell's has it. There are so many books here that Mme and I have to get a passport for our (unused) Portland guidebook so that they'll know we brought it in with us.

At Powell's I learn one piece of great news: Joseph Wambaugh is still alive, and publishing. Despite this, I hold fast to my goal of picking up only one book. The book I have chosen is Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I finished it last night, by the way. It's largely a road-trip novel, but this is to sell short the many threads of story that weave into this hawser of a book. Faced with the choice between the North American publication and the British one, I choose the Brit--on the cover it says "As good as Stephen King or your money back".

I find the book that twenty years ago convinced me to purchase a '63 Rambler American that hadn't run in ten years or more. It cost me $50 and sat in a friend's driveway for a few months before being scrapped. The trouble was I knew nothing about cars, and though I was impressed with the book, I had no practical way of getting moving on the project. My Nash has been with me for nearly a decade-and-a-half, but almost always progressing (aside from the repeated disassembly of the bits I put back together wrong).

I contemplate buying the book, then catch the list of bodywork supplies. It includes lead filler. I check the publication date: 1984. When I first picked it up it was inspirational and new. Now, although the basic ideas remain sound, it is dated.

With iron control I am able to persuade Mme Metro to keep herself to two books It says much about Mme that knowing that we were headed for a massive, nay epic, bookshop she nevertheless bought a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird as we left Canada. One of the most published novels in English ever, available doubtless in the 50¢ bin at Powell's, but she bought it for five times that price at home.

We are quiet for a while as we leave Portland, having seen so much less of the city than I would have preferred. Mme Metro, I know, is dreading the idea of setting up and camping in the rain which spatters the west face of the mountain ranges to our east. But I know we can't find a campsite in daylight on the east side.

After a roadside stop and some discussion, I offer to drive the remainder of the distance home. This will allow us to have one carefree day in which to do the things we're neglecting on this ill-conceived-but-enjoyable-mostly venture.

Mme Metro is clearly relieved.

I have been at the wheel on and off since three PM when we pull into Canada Customs at one AM. The guy in the booth barely looks at us.

"What the hell is this?" I fume "Work-to-rule?"

Still, we're back. We whirr through darkened orchards, listening to NPR--which ironically comes in better here than many of the places we've driven through. We're home quickly. The cats don't seem to have noticed our absence.

Too short a trip to really sink into, yet we made our basic goals. Mme got a look at more than the interstates. We've met a couple of really nice people. I remembered (unfortunately) the best things, the things that attracted me to trucking in the first place.

Is there more one can ask from a trip that short?







06 October 2006

Rush Weekend

Mme Metro and I will be spending the Thanksgiving long weekend in a mad dash into the United States.

This arose from a comment from Mme that while she opposes the current regime in power, she really doesn't know the US in a substantive way, and doesn't feel she knows Americans. I assured her that as soon as we cross the border we will not be surrounded by ill Gilchrist "minute men" brandishing rifles and asking if we brought any pot, cheap drugs or commie ideas with us. Note to self--clean commie ideas out of ashtray in the Metromobile. My cousins are US citizens, and pretty decent Joes overall, so I was able to say this with confidence.

For me it's a return to trucking--endless hours of hopefully-empty highway, glazed eyes and road buzz. But there's an enormous bookshop at the end, and it makes as good a destination as any. And I shall have She Who Must with me.

Besides, despite the sometimes-terrible (yet true) things I write here about the current government, I'm really quite fond of the US, and I want to see some of the states, and remind myself that in the end the average US citizen is usually someone I'd quite like to sit down for a beer with.

Here's to a safe and happy trip.







05 October 2006

Customer Servicing

Netflix, like every other business, has discovered that if you make claims like "24-hr-support" you can then clarify:
"Well, we have a website, right? And the internet's on 24 hours a day, right?"

But in fact, they're using the web to insulate themselves from the customer.

A few days ago I received a note from Netflix regarding some movies I don't have.

Naturally I verified the information as being from Netflix, not some spam-sender, and I wrote a short reply saying, in essence, "you've got the wrong guy, buddy".

Today I received a reply stating that in fact there was nobody reading the e-mail I had sent, but that I could contact "Netflix customer service" (a contradiction in terms) through netflixcustomerservice.handylink dot com.

The first page asked me to sign in. Seeing as I have no account this presented a problem. I am not about to start an account in order to send a message saying "include me out!"

After surfing the site for a half-hour my patience snapped, and I entered some rude words into the login form.

Which got me in.

And now, unfortunately, I have no idea what I should do.

If I go ahead, customer service will just figure I'm some @$$#0!3 and likely ignore or delete the message.

But then I'll keep getting reminders that "The Office Season II" is overdue.

Since there are no phone numbers and no way to contact them except this form, I am forced to address them in my alter ego:

Name: £µ©λyou You£µ©λin£µ©λ

E-mail: £µ©λyou@£µ©λyou.com

I am vaguely ashamed. But if they insist on separating themselves from their customers, whose fault is that?

I sent a short message apologising for the obscene address, but explaining the situation.

Odds on whether I'll get a reply?







The Double Standard

Many people have claimed that the $#!7storm Mark Foley is facing from the world is "gay-bashing"--in fact, "Family Guy" Newt Gingrich has stated that of course Foley had to be left alone by the GOP leadership to pursue pages. Otherwise it would have been gay-bashing!

And we all know how anxious the Republicans and their friends are to avoid gay-bashing.

Correction: In this post I originally made the claim that Steve Sailer had made the gay-bashing claim. I was wrong. While Mr. Sailer is the source of the quote below, he has not equated criticism of Mr. Foley to gay-bashing. I humbly apologise for the error, and thank him for drawing it to my attention.

Some have said that the Democrats and friends are the ones who are gay-bashing poor Mr. Foley. They are saying that people who say the GOP should have $#!7-canned Mr. Foley the second his predilection for midnight mail was brought to the attention of Republican leaders (two years or more ago by some sources) weren't so vocal on the issue of queers in the military or the scouts.

The double standard here does exists--and it's the Republicans who have it.

The military is made up of consenting adults, fellahs. As for the scouts--let's look at a Sailer quote to see this double standard in action:
"Consider how differently one well-known issue can seem depending on your family structure: Should the government let the Boy Scouts ban gay men from becoming scoutmasters? To voters who are single, or married but childless, or have only daughters, this often appears as a purely abstract question of justice: of course, everybody should be guaranteed equal opportunity to be a scoutmaster. Yet, to citizens with sons, a ban may seem like a common sense precaution against temptation: of course, homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to lead their boys into the woods overnight."

The Boy Scout issue--regarding the state-sanctioned discrimination against gay men by the Boy Scouts of America, has been portrayed as a "it's not safe to send our children into the woods with fags" debate by the Republican guard.

That is, the debate assumes that gay = child molester from the word go. Fags are incapable of controlling their sexual urges and will rape these youths, given the chance.

But since discovering that most of the kids Foley swapped e-mail with were sixteen, the party has been trying to say that Foley's behaviour was simply "gay" rather than criminal. So gay child molester, suddenly.

I notice too, that the Girl Scouts of America include lesbian leaders as a matter of basic principles. Odd how the Republicans ignore that, eh?

I think Americans are discovering that what they really, really don't like is hypocrisy.







04 October 2006

Correction

Metro admits when he's wrong--often with argument, resentment, and deep suspicion.

But having researched the Foley debacle a little more thoroughly, I find that referring to him, as I did, as a "child-molester" is inaccurate.

The youngest of the pages Foley traded hot-monkey-love e-mail with was sixteen, legal age of consent in the District of Columbia, despite I'm sure the best efforts of Republicans.

--Or perhaps they like it that low?

But the law is the law, and Foley was not molesting a child.

So his behaviour was just hunky-dory then, I suppose, by GOP standards.

Personally, I'm happy with the local age of consent here: fourteen. Because along with that fourteen-year-old age of consent fiction come some caveats:

1) Age difference matters. There is a world of difference between a twenty-year-old £µ©λing a fifty-year-old and a sixteen-year-old £µ©λing a fifty-two-year-old.

2) Power matters: a person in a position of authority such as a cop, parent or guardian, employer or representative, or presumably any elected officer has a moral duty to protect kids, even from their own desires.

Foley seems not to have actually £µ©λed any of his contacts, and they seem to have been willing enough to chat about their sex lives with him. So all he's strictly guilty of is being a moralizing hypocritical @$$#0|3. And a closeted moralizing hypocritical @$$#0|3 at that.

But as you'll soon see, the GOP's loaded with those--read my post below.







Sex Sex Sex !!!

Is Wrong and Bad--and we want more!

This had to be a bonus post, because when I started researching on this it got too long to attach to the last one.

Why does it seem like all the real pervy people tend to be these repressed, anti-sex, uptight Republicans? They pilloried Clinton for getting a blowjob from an intern, helped Gary Hart lose his chance at the Democratic candidacy, they play up the foibles of the Kennedys every chance they get.

But the gay call-boy posing as a reporter and feeding softballs to the White House press flack is a Republican.

And he was given a daily pass into the White House while using an alias--boy those Fatherland Insanity dudes are sure on the ball, eh?

The guys holding poker-and-prostitute parties in the now-doubly-famous Watergate hotel are Republicans.

The Deputy Press flack for Fatherland Insanity soliciting gay sex over the 'net is a Republican.

And the guy who wants to bang young male pages is a Republican.

There are others. Many, many others.

Caveat: due to some primitive laws prevalent in the States about what constitutes "sex" or "sex with a minor" some of these people may not in fact be kiddie diddlers.

Leaving aside "undue influence", they may merely have had sex with consenting teenagers, or found themselves on the wrong side of the "sixteen'll-getcha-twenty" line the morning after what they thought was just a happy encounter.

On the other hand, due to anarchic rules about what constitutes consent, this may not be a complete list.


Here's my due diligence: search results for "Republican sex scandals".

A similar search for "Democrat sex scandals"

This page, the first I could find on the topic, is dedicated to Democrat Scandals. Note that most of them aren't sex-related. And where they are they tend to involve corruption beyond just the sex--which is also invariably, with the noted exception of David Giles, with consenting adults.

In fact--here's how far they have to go to fill up the page:
George Crockett, Jr. - Democrat - U.S. Representative from Michigan. Served four months in federal prison for contempt of court following his defense of a Communist leader on trial for advocating the overthrow of the government.

Crockett was a black attorney defending an alleged commie under the notorious 1940 Smith Act, which also required the "registration" of non-citizen adults (though it did not require them to, for example, wear yellow stars on their coats--look for a new version soon).

Crockett did this in 1949.

And many of the "scandals" here actually aren't, really. So the Reverend Jesse Jackson had an illegitimate child? It's a shocker all right. Definitely not what one expects from a Christian minister ... Well, we can come back to that one another time.

It's nearly as much of a surprise as a pro-segregation "morality" candidate like the late Strom Thurmond having had sex with and a child by a 15-year-old black girl (he was 21).

Surprisingly though, I agree with the Republican party on one thing: sex is clearly not good for children.

But then, I'm not the one having it with them.

Corruption of a greater or lesser sort pervades not just the party, but weaves its way through its stooges and related organizations (Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition and James Dobson of Focus on the Family leap to mind).

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If this is how they were behaving before, imagine the Republican party now that they've voted Dubya near-absolute power!

Obviously if you want moral people in power in the US, you just have to hold your nose and vote Democrat.







The Rot Has Clearly Set In

The recent surprise about anti-child-molestation crusader Mark Foley is good news.


(Republican--but Fox blames the whole thing on the Democrats, as you can see)

Why is a child-molester (and his personal panderer, Hastert) in the Republican ranks a good thing?

Because it suggests that perhaps the US is not rotting as a country. It was Republicans who spurred the torture-anyone-and-get-out-of-jail-free legislation passed last week. It is Republicans who have touted family values while hiding paedophilia. And while the Democrats also bathed in the polluted waters of Jack Abramoff, there's no question whose benefit he was working for.

It is the Republican party that has rotted. The Party of Lincoln has become a hollow black mockery of all that they once stood for:

Fiscal prudence went out the window with Dubya's tax cuts, followed by the cost of the Sideshow War.

Small government? This crew has added more personnel to the public troughload than any in since FDR's Alphabet Soup--and he created those deliberately to make work.

Limited international engagement? 'Nuff said.

The Republicans, unless they do something unprecedented like say, actually taking the blame and putting some heads on the chopping block as a sacrifice to propitiate the various unsavoury gods they serve, will feel the wrath of the Christians who mistakenly thought they were voting for a party that would do what Jesus, rather than Hitler, would do.

Of course, Rove has supposedly been planning an October surprise of his own:
Bush adviser Karl Rove reportedly informed conservative insiders that the GOP has an October Surprise prepared for the upcoming 2006 congressional elections, according to the conservative website NewsMax.[1] Former Sen. Gary Hart believes that one possibility is an attack on Iran' nuclear program, and possibly a broader attack aimed at regime change.
--Wikipedia

Presumably we have another "foiled terror attack" to look forward to? Or maybe Rove thinks that might look as suspcious as all the others.

Ironic that Gary Hart's name turned up in that quote, in light of the fact that as Dave Barry put it, he made this choice:

"I can be leader of the free world, or I can have a naked woman sit on my lap."

At least Donna Rice was an adult.

Foley is blaming his conduct on being molested by a priest when he was a boy, which only makes him a greater bastard, as a victimizing victim, than he already was, as a member of the House Committee on Missing and Exploited Children.

He has (as per usual for politicos when cornered) run for alcohol rehab. The Republicans may hate "short-eyes", but they love "reformed" alkies and cokeheads.

Presumably these recruiting practices are related to their style-over-substance behaviour in the moral arena.







02 October 2006

On Lost Girls

"We didn't want to be accused of turning out something arty that claims to be pornography but isn't."

--Alan Moore

People like this will eventually save civilization.







A Credible Threat?

I have long believed that the character of a nation is reflected in its leaders.

The United States groans under the excrable Twit from Massachusetts (yes he is).

Since the introduction and passage of the bill which allows the detention and torture of anyone the president chooses, three school shootings have made headlines:

In Colorado, a drifter took six high-school women hostage, molested them, and shot one, then killed himself.

In Wisconsin, a 15-year-old shot and killed his principal.

And today a truck driver killed three Amish girls and then himself in Pennsylvania.

National character may begin at the top; But it often finds expression at the bottom. What example could these killers have been following? Strange that this sort of slaughter of the innocents took place under the beady and ever-so watchful eye of Dubya and his "culture of life (and torture, and assasination ...)".

But let's not feel too smug here: Canada has Stephen Harper--a man anxious to ally himself with Mr. Bush in his War on Whatever He Don't Like.

We've already had one school shooting.