This Space for Rent

Nov 30, 2005

Wednesday photo dump


A truck waits to turn from Powell onto Milwaukie while traffic whizzes around it.


The fog slowly lifts from downtown Portland on a cold fall morning.


Ooops

The monorail line in Seattle is double-tracked. On most of the route of the monorail, there's nothing wrong with this, but there's apparently a spot where the two tracks squeeze together closely enough so that there's not enough room to fit both trains side by side. For 43 years, this was not a problem.


oops!

The last few years have not been particularly good for monorails in Seattle, between the ongoing New! Monorail! Just! Like! Disney! scam and the fire that damaged the Blue Alweg car (do they have fleet numbers, or are they just Red car and Blue car?) Perhaps when the New! Monorail! project climbs out of the grave again they should not just extend the existing Alweg line, but re-engineer this monorail-equivalent-of-a-gantlet-track so that trains can pass on it?

(picture and link from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Nov 29, 2005

No, but nice try.

In Oregon, the 2006 election season is now close enough so that the various political parties are starting to figure out which will be their officially approved candidates for whatever offices are up for re-election. The Evil Party has a small crop of people running, ranging from the right to the far right to the you need holy water to approach them right, and, in the grand tradition of the Evil Party, the mud is already beginning to fly.

Ron Saxton, who is a "moderate" Republican (sure, he might go down on his knees to service the christopaths who control the Oregon Evil Party, but he'll feel guilty about it in the morning) is being tarred with the brush of (horrors of horrors!) actually cooperating with other people in the government. In particular, he's being targeted as an unperson because he occasionally worked with Neil Goldschmidt when Goldschmidt was still a power in Oregon politics (this was before the local weekly paper published the expose of his uber-sleazy affair with a teenage babysitter and the inevitable "oh no it's not blackmail" arrangements with a large circle of associates that helped keep his sleazy little round of statutory rape out of the papers for 20 or so years. But that's not why the christopaths don't like Goldschmidt; for all of their bellowing about values™, they didn't seem to particularly care about the details of the man fucking a teenage girl except that he was a member of the Democratic Party.) This is of course because Neil Goldschmidt started out as a Portland politician and spent a lot of time doing things that would benefit Portland instead of the christopath-preferred strategy of walling off Multnomah County and lobbing plague rats over the walls.

What in particular are they trying to tar Ron Saxton with by his unseemly attempts to cooperate with non-christopaths? Well, it turns out that Neil Goldschmidt, since he's the antichrist, is guilty of sins like supporting trolley lines, which prevent suburban fuckheads in their SUVs from exercising their GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to whizz at 65mph on freeways built over the ruins of Portland neighborhoods, land use planning laws that....

Um, hello? This doesn't sound right.

I know that someone got the land use planning laws put in, but it wasn't Neil Goldschmidt. It was someone else who got the whole idea passed, and then when the Evil Party made one of their first runs at overturning it for the benefit of the ultra-rich, came out of retirement (and pretty much off his deathbed) to give speeches in favor of the urban growth boundary. Was Tom McCall, 30th Governor of the state of Oregon, one of those evil Democrats? Fuck no. He was a Republican, from back in the days when the Republican party actually stood for something other than droit de seignor and burning homosexuals at the stake.

So I can see why the christopaths would want to lie about his accomplishments. When you tailor your campaigns to bamboozle the marks, you don't want to have any tiny details that might cause them to realize that you're scamming them. Sure, lying is a sin, but, shoot, so is child abuse, but they're both traditional sins and so they must be okay.


Ho Ho Ho (or not)

  • Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (Isaiah 1:13)

  • Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Hebrews 13:9)

  • Ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? (Psalms 4:2)

  • They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? (Isaiah 44:9-10)


And would you like a pony?

(attached to the bottom of too many pieces of incoming mail, either at work or at home; sometimes they're even attached to spam, for that "oooh, look at me! I'm important!" effect):

This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

And I'll bet you'd also like to have a lifetime supply of hot chocolate, fluffy pillows, and a turn-down service at night?

I'm perfectly willing to drop mail on the floor if it's incorrectly sent and the sender follows up with a "oops, please disregard that mail because I bobbled the email address"; the preemptive "WE MAY HAVE FUCKED UP BUT IT'S STILL YOUR FAULT" disclaimer, on the other hand, is likely to be rebutted by my "didn't you read my disclaimer, buddo?" disclaimer.


Have the BOFHs been borged, or are they looking for people to stuff into the tape cabinets?

The den of BOFHs at work just sent out a email claiming that they're going to do a customer satisfaction survey that they want all of us lusers to fill out, so they can find ways to improve the IT services they reluctantly provide.

My first reaction (after laughing hysterically) was to think "I wonder if this is an anonymous survey?" If it's not, there's no way I'm going to fill it out, because my list of grievances against the BOFHs grows quite tall as the season runs down to an end (I think that after bitching about the stupid dos renaming, the "Microsoft Internet Explorer is the official web browser" nonsense, the 45 day password expire, the daily reminders that your password is going to expire 45-n days from now, their obnoxious username policy, and the teeny detail that the stupid daily reminders have forged return addresses, they'd consider my survey to simply be a challenge, and they'd want to spend the extra effort to to make my daily computing chores a living hell. And, shoot, R*dh*t L*n*x is already doing that for free.)

If I won a lottery, this wouldn't be a problem. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket?

Nov 28, 2005

requiescat in pace, oldman

The Oldman, who was one of the first people to read TSFR and link to it from his weblog, fell ill and died over the Thanksgiving weekend. He will be missed, moreso if his predictions of the American Imperium overstepping and falling flat on its face in a flurry of IOUs come true.


Blame the patriarchy


click for full strip

(read and bookmark Nothing Nice To Say)

2 comments

Nov 26, 2005

Christmas in Portland

[Two tower cranes lit up like Christmas trees]


Railroad picture of the day

A set of Mount Hood (model) Railroad F7s hurry along the mainline during the railroad openhouse on Nov 26, 2005.


Wasting bandwidth for fun and profit

I've built a little plugin that generates an image index page of all of the images on the weblog as thumbnailed links to the post that they were published in.

Don't try this with a dialup connection; it's, um, kind of slow. But if you've got broadband and are willing to listen to your web browser whimpering in agony, go for it.


The subdivision every developer wants

A little tour by Neddie Jingo, showing what developers will build if they have suitably cowed the local zoning authorities.

What do you do with an 8000 square foot house, aside from heating and cooling a lot of air? We've got ~3600 square feet (plus 500 square feet of garage) and we only use about 2700 square feet of it.

Nov 25, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite admires Russell's pottery.


Ah, the joys of software

McAfee, a company which I used to work for when they were a small company and not the huge disfunctional monolith they are now, has a antivirus firewall that, at one time, was code that I wrote. It's been enhanced, in ways that don't seem to make very much sense; I occasionally send mail from home to work and visa-versa, either sending code snippets (when the firewall maintainers have gone on a WE DON'T TRUST YOU drug jag and have blocked all traffic except for port 80 and the huge collection of windows remote desktop security holes) or ayt messages. Today, after tweaking my work mail a bit, I decided to send a simple message from home.

    From: orc@pell.portland.or.us
    To: David_Parsons@my.corporate.masters
    Subject: This is a test message
 
    This is a test

I waited a while, and it didn't arrive, but some real mail arrived, so I decided that the mail tweaks were working and went on trying to do real work.

Much later today (about 4 hours later, as a matter of fact), a message from the Spiffy! New! McAfee! Antivirus! Firewall!, stating that it was spam.

This is a test is spam? Oooo-kay. I think its time to strike, with great force, McAfee from my shortlist of recommended antispam vendors.

⇒ But wait! It gets better! ⇐

After "This is a test", I decided to send an actual (eicar) virus in to see how well the spiffy AV solution would handle it. 5 minutes later, there it was, complete with the eicar virus and spamassassin headers claiming that it had been successfully run through approximately a million tests.


Supertrivial code hack of the day

At work, I've been getting my mail from a M*cr*s*ft *xc*ng* server for the past couple of years, and have been dealing, reluctantly, with the terrible pop3 support that Mutt provides and with the nonstop series of service "enhancements" (all of which make the process of fetching my mail from Windowsland slower and more painful, even when the pop3 server doesn't do something that makes mutt collapse into a foetal position under the desk) coming from IT. Today, after going into the office, restarting mutt, and waiting for fifteen minutes while it s-l-o-w-l-y dragged 500 or so mail messages across the wire, then checked them to make sure they were the sort of message that mutt would want to receive, I snapped and wrote a quick and dirty pop3 mail retriever.

"But", you might say, "there are already mail retrieval programs out there. And they get your mail, sort and shuffle it, and do all sorts of other fun things, and you don't have to write any code!" Yes, true, there are buckets of them, ranging from some programs that are written in Perl to some programs that are written in Python to some programs that are written in C, but in a manner that might make you want to pluck your eyes out and run, screaming, from the room.

But all of them are longer programs (ever look at the guts of poppy? The actual code where it connects to the pop3 server is fairly small, but it's all written in Perl, which is the Language That Defies Readability now that APL has been banished to the museum of esoteric languages) which are wildly general purpose, and I just want something that talks to a pop3 server and moves all of the messages from that pop3 server to my Unix mailbox (NOT my Unix maildir; if I wanted qmail, I'd know where to find it, and I don't want qmail) and which can do that in a fairly small program.

Thus retr, which simply takes messages from the pop server and puts them into a local mailbox. It has a few features in it, which I will leave as an exercise to the reader (hint: no locking! no locking!), but it's actually got a manual page, as a radical change from my traditional scheme of just publishing the code and letting you guess what it does.

Name

retr - retrieve mail from a POP3 server

Synopsis

retr [flags] [pop3-userid] [[pop3-passwd]]

Description

retr moves mail messages from a pop3 server into a local mailbox. After moving the messages, it deletes them from the pop3 server.

Flags are:

-v
Be chattery.

-d
Be more chattery, and don't delete the messages from the pop3 server.

-m mbox
Write messages to mbox, instead of your system mailbox in /var/mail.

-S server
Retrieve messages from the pop3 server at server, instead of the default server pop3.

If a pop3 password is not provided on the command line, retr will prompt for it before attempting to connect to the pop3 server

Files

/var/mail The system mailbox directory

At work, I've stuffed retr into a crontab entry that runs it all the days and all the nights on 5 minute headways, just the same way that mutt was doing it for the past 23 months. I figure it can't be much more unreliable than the way mutt does it, and this has the advantage that it doesn't completely lock up the mail reader when the *xch*ng* pop3 server ages messages away (or just looks at mutt crosseyed.)

2 comments


So, just how do you say “Vietnam” in Arabic?

There's a news report in the Washington Post from a writer who has been visiting the scene of our Splendid Little War™ in Iraq off and on for the past couple of years. "Turning the corner" is not the phrase that comes to mind when I read it.

The press corps, including veteran war correspondents, was sequestered in Hussein's old palace (inside the Green Zone -- ed) for most of the seven-hour stay. We were discouraged from wandering the palace and were provided escorts to go to the bathroom.

So. It's not just that Iraq is unsafe for Americans. It's not just that the city of Baghdad is unsafe for Americans. It's not just that the Green Zone is unsafe for Americans. No, it's that the palace that the United States is using as a headquarters building is unsafe for Americans. Oh, yeah, we're really turning the corner in Iraq. 2105 dead American soldiers, a couple of hundred dead soldiers from the coalition of the duped and blackmailed, between 100,000 and 300,000 dead Iraqi citizens, (at least) US$215 billion in American taxes, torture enshrined as the law of the land, and the contempt of the rest of the civilized world, and American reporters can't even safely walk around inside the Imperial headquarters in Baghdad.

But at least the well-connected friends of the junta are able to loot the US treasury without fearing arrest, and that's what's really important.

(link via Atrios)

Nov 24, 2005

Urban Renewal begins at home

Russell rips a couple of jellybeans out of the gingerbread house

Russell and Silas made a gingerbread house for Thanksgiving, and today was the day the demolition crew descended upon it like a flock of large hungry locusts.


Save The Suburbs!

The Clackamas Portland Tribune published an front page article in their latest issue (Tuesday the 22nd?) that featured some slimy suburban developer putting on his paper mache halo and claiming that the eViL mEtRo GoVeRnMeNt™ is starving the suburbs by (and I'm sure that you'll be surprised to hear this) not spending more money to provide public services to them. (I'm rather surprised that Metro is spending any money to provide public services to new development; the local policy should be that if you want to build a subdivision, you need to supply roads, water, and sewer, and then the effected city will be happy to roll crews and tie your (inspected) services into the city ones. But I digress.) And why should we spend more money providing municipal services to these new subdivisions? Why, that's simple, because they provide a better quality of life™ to the poor bastards who end up living there.

The better quality of life™ is, of course, because of the chiiiiildren. Apparently children can't be raised properly unless they live on the expansive estates provided by the nasty real estate developments that cluster like a series of melanomas around the perimeter of the greater Portland area.

I've seen some of these suburban developments. Nasty big houses crammed together cheek to jowl along twisting dead-end roads, with postage-stamp front yards and back yards that make our house look like it's a freaking country estate.

But they're out in the (what used to be, before it was rezoned and turned into a nasty little subdivision) wilderness, and all a kid has to do is walk 4 miles down the maze of twisting dead-end roads, then a mile down the major highway that fronts the subdivision, and they they'll be able to play in the 1-acre fen that is the flood control area/"park" for this subdivision. It's much better than living in the city, where you might have to walk half a mile to get to a park where there's not a foot of stagnant water in the middle of it (my house doesn't count here, because our local park has Crystal Springs Creek running through it -- that creek started carrying more water about 5 years ago, so every year the low parts of the park flood while the city park service engages in a silent battle to the death with the people who don't want ANY changes to the rapidly-becoming-treeless park. *sigh*)

Oh, and if the parents want to go to the store? They'd better fire up the old H3 and get ready to sacrifice US$6 to the petroleum gods, because these subdivisions don't have any sort of retail developments in them; it's just a sterile residential monoculture, and if you want anything else it's a 5 mile drive into the city (or, if you're really lucky, a hour wait for one of the Tri-Met interurban busses.) Also, much better than living in the city, where you can just walk around the corner to a convenience store, or walk 5 blocks to a grocery store.

But it's a better quality of life™! And so the state needs to subsidise it more because otherwise, um, what? Apparently the better quality of life™ is not something that can be taken advantage of by just charging more for houses (unlike in Portland, where houses near a good school are sometimes fought over like a Hank Aaron homerun baseball), but it's something that must be sprung on people by coaxing them out with the sweet smell of subsidized housing.

I'm certainly sold. Why, I'd love to trade my house that's 250 feet away from two bus lines, 400 feet away from a convenience store, 3 bars and 6 restaurants, and 1100 feet away from a hardware store, bicycle shop, and local branch of Kroger (not that we actually shop there; Kroger decided to start using those nasty "customer appreciation" cards [where if you want to get reasonable prices on anything, you've got to let them keep a file on you; the non-card prices make New Seasons seem like Wal*Mart.]) for some smaller meaner house that's trapped in a cul-de-sac out in the middle of Clackamas County.

*shudder*

I've got a better suggestion for the developers. STFU and resign yourself to actually having to work for that second swimming pool full of gold bullion. If your nasty suburban developments are a better quality of life™, people will pay to move into them. If they aren't (and they aren't), perhaps you should consider doing different sorts of development that might actually be attractive to people who have choices about where they can live?

2 comments

Nov 23, 2005

Life on the river (#8)

On a clear and cold fall day, a Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat pushes a bargeload of Ross Island sand and gravel down to the cement plant at the foot of the Ross Island Bridge.


Of course it’s not true! The B*sh Junta would never lie to the American people!

White House mouthpieces say it's ridiculous and the United States would never ever stoop to such a thing.

Tony Bliar's government is saying nothing, but is waving the Official Secrets Act around and threatening the newpaper that printed the story.

The story? Oh, it's nothing. It's just saying that the Coward in Chief was trying to order an airstrike on an ally, just because he wanted to whack Al Jazeera for not being a US government mouthpiece.

And really, who are you going to believe here? The B*sh junta, which has told the truth, um, approximately 0 times since it took over the United States, or a British newspaper that's being threatened by the British government over a story that involves a civil servant who's being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act because he allegedly leaked the details of this demonstration of a rogue state at play? After all, it's not as if the United States military hasn't called in airstrikes against Al Jazeera before. Well, it hasn't done it very often. Three times. And there's the Al Jazeera cameraman who's been dragged off to the New Model Gulag. But other than that, shoot, Al Jazeera and the US government are the BESTEST OF FRIENDS, and nobody would think that the US government would break international treaties over some perceived personal insult. Well, okay, nobody would think that the United States would do it a second time.

Look! A flock of flying turtles! 9-11! 9-11! 9-11!

Nov 22, 2005

Serves me right for not paying attention to Seattle politics

While I wasn't watching, the Seattle electorate finally wedged the New! Improved! Incompatable! monorail project back into the grave, thus saving the existing monorail from demolition and stopping, for a few years, the disneyification of the last unmodified Alweg installation.

Good for the voters. Perhaps the next generation of monorail weenies can agitate for something like the sensible rapid transit systems in Japan and Germany instead of the low-capacity Disney! systems that they're fetishising. Who knows, maybe they could build a Alweg-style monorail that's compatable with the one that Seattle already has, and then they could tie into that one without orphaning the existing Alweg cars that are already running in Seattle.

2 comments


The progression of nighttime stories

When the bears were just little babies™, descriptions of how railroads work made the ideal nighttime story. As they get older, they require more sophisticated nighttime stories, so I find myself doing such lightweight things as explaining the history of religion and (tonight) how high energy physics works (this one started as a discussion of how you use cones to tell if you're firing a kiln properly.)

It's nice to actually be able to use some of my thwarted interest in physics (I was seduced away from physics by mathematics and playing with computers) for something. It would be lovely if we could use these nighttime stories to get them interested in science, but Russell appears to be more interested in pottery these days, and that would certainly work as a life's work after I win the lottery and can give him a million dollar trust fund.

2 comments


It’s military coup time in the OK corral!

No, no, not in the United States -- the US military is too disciplined to do that, even if the temptation might be there -- but of our puppet government in Iraq. Why? It appears that they're getting a bit tired of the open-ended US occupation, and want the American Imperium to publish a timetable for GTFOODing. And to show they're serious about this, they think that the resistance "had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance".

I can't see that this will fly very well with the B*sh Junta's refusal to consider any sort of timetable because cutting and running™ would be unmanly. So what's the next best thing to do when your puppet government starts thinking it's an independent entity? Replace it with a different one!

Nov 21, 2005

The joy of living in an old house, pt n

There's nothing like coming home from work to realize that the sewer has decided that today is the best day for backing up into the house, and has announced it by bubbling up through the less-than-useful drain in the basement floor (it's set proud of the floor, so it isn't that great in the draining water away department, but it's really good for the traditional reverse geyser effect when a bathtub attempts to drain into a clogged sewer.

And, because it's an old house, we have to deal with the previous owners who decided to concrete over the sewer cleanout hatch, so when the sewer cleanout plumbers come in, they have to unfasten a toilet to get their pipes and drills into the sewer line. Sigh. Time to sacrifice another $300 (cash, because the roto-rooter people don't take credit) to the G-ds of not having our basement do a dramatic reenactment of the ninth ward.

Anyone looking for a large yellow house with some minor fixer-upper issues?

1 comment


“Unique”. Suuure it is.

The scumsucking excuse for a CIA director, B*sh junta member Porter Goss, has given a little speech that you've just got to hope he knew that he was lying when he made it. Why? Because, apparently, the CIA doesn't actually torture people, it just has "unique" ways to interrogate them. This revelation, coming in the middle of a speech where this mouthpiece of the Evil Party went on and on about how it would be wrong to have laws against torture, because the CIA needs the flexibility to be able to perform water torture, beat people to death, chain them outside in subzero weather, and crucify them.

You might wonder "but aren't these methods of interrogation actually torture?", but you aren't grasping the essential point of how the Evil Party works here. In the boring old days, deeds, not words, were the proof of any point, so when you were confronted with an interrogator torturing someone, that was prima facie evidence that they were actually torturing someone. But now, in the brave new world of the American Imperium, it's only torture if the interrogator isn't able to quickly erase the word torture and replace it with something innocent-sounding.

So, in newspeak

water torture:Obviously bad, because it mentions torture
waterboarding:Do you see the word torture? Of course not! So it's not torture, because it doesn't mention the word torture!.

I'm so proud to be an American citizen that I could just vomit.

Nov 20, 2005

The View

Mount Hood, from Front & Arthur in SW Portland. Picture taken with my Pentax *istDS, filtered with a UV filter and a Prius car window filter, then recontrasted with Irfanview.


There goes the view!

We don't drive down Macadam very often anymore, because when we go over to the west side of town we find that taking the Ross Island bridge gets us to a large collection of uncongested streets without much fuss, muss, or bother. But occasionally we get really sick of the Arthur to Front to Ross Island bridge route, and go down Macadam just for the variety of it.

Today, when we were finishing the maze of twisty passages that got us to Macadam, we turned down a street heading towards the Willamette, and instead of seeing Mount Hood and the bluffs on the other side of the river, we got to see some huge honking condominium towers where there used to be a small industrial park and a view.

It is fortunate that property values in the United States seem to have absolutely no relationship to the actual value of the property; the sort of thing that you'd expect to cause your property values to crater (in this case, replacing a view of a pretty stratovolcano with the backside of a pair of apartment towers) will, thanks to the joy of the bubble, not even cause a ripple to the listing prices.


Small bears on the run

Russell attempted to make a getaway, but Silas was able to run up and leap upon the getaway car.

Nov 18, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Still life with Dust Mite, Victorian lamp, ink-jet printer, and Palm m130.


Fun with Open Source®™© Software ! (quality control? We don’t need no stinking quality control! department)

At work, we use a fairly recent version of a US$5000/seat Linux distribution from a large and well known for their ongoing dead parrot routine. The server we've got attached to this frv$5k software is also attached to a UPS via a serial to USB converter. It works well (since the bulk of the usb plugging/unplugging takes place in kernelspace, it all seems to just work(tm) without having to do the traditional Linux routine of scooping up half a dozen tarballs and trying to wedge them into the system without irrevokably breaking several other things), or at least it used to work well, until, for reasons known only to G-d, we were instructed to roll up to the kernel from the latest patch to this version. In long ago days, you could be fairly confident that rolling up to newer versions of software would add features, and that tradition continues here: with the 2.4.21-37.?? version of the Linux kernel, the new feature is that if you have a program talking to a serial port that's connected via a serial to USB converter, the kernel won't bother to invalidate that connection when you physically remove the serial to USB converter. In the old days, the kernel would invalidate that connection, and you'd just get boring old EIO's, but with the new! improved! kernel you'd get the far more exciting result of a kernel panic and a complete system lockup, which, on a modern Linux machine, means that you have to power down the machine, then restart it and wait 20 minutes for the horrible machine to pull itself up by its bootstraps.

The vendor, of course, doesn't care, and the bug report we sent to them was punted back with a curt "we don't support third-party programs on our Linux distribution." note from the technical support person in Bangalore (and, to be fair, getting paid 37 rupees/day is not likely to encourage the sort of imaginative support that the outsourcing salesmen said would happen.) So I find myself, once again, hacking away at a Linux kernel to make the damned thing work. I'll probably even send the patch off to the vendor with a curt little "never mind the bug report; here's the damned fix", but it would have been nice if they'd have taken some of their stable of highly-paid Linux developers and actually developed a test plan for testing the patches they are putting patches into their kernel; it might actually make the idea of paying them money for their software seem more appealing.

2 comments

Nov 17, 2005

Portland photo of the day

The marquee of the Aladdin Theatre, all lit up and ready to go at 5:45pm tonight.

1 comment


The joys of the American Healthcare System, pt 5 – the begging

After several months, and several thousand dollars (on a claimed US$1025 deductable; remember, this is the American Healthcare System and they're all out to screw you over) the flow of bills from the various "independent" contractors who cluttered up the hospital where I got my series of very expensive (and very fucking useless) tests after my emergency room visit from finally dried up. So you can imagine my surprise when I got another letter from the offending hospital this morning. I opened it, expecting another bill along with some demand for immediate payment, only to discover that, no, the hospital that claimed it was "out of plan" for its own insurance plan was not sending me bills, but starting the Christmas season early by asking me for charity.

Oh. Perhaps you should have considered your "money problems" when you were helping to underwrite the campaign to vote against the state health plan that was proposed for Oregon several years ago? And perhaps you should have considered your "money problems" when you paid for the huge honking advertising campaign that has plastered the name of your hospital chain over hundreds of billboards and city busses in and around Portland? And perhaps you should have considered your fucking "money problems" when you didn't bill my old insurance company for the childbirth costs of #2 son, but instead tried to screw the Oregon Health Plan into paying, and thus ending up, 3 years later, with nobody paying for it.

Regrettably, the stupid begging letter didn't come with a stamped return letter, so I couldn't send them back a little note telling them to take me off their mailing list.

Nov 16, 2005

Modern design is borged by the megamansion

I've been planning, for about a year now, to design and build myself a summer house (or escape house if I can convince my family that it's time to flee to a free country), and as a side-effect I've been randomly buying house design/house construction magazines to poach ideas from.

Well, I've gotten some good ideas for building techniques; I have not gotten any good ideas for house designs, because most of the house designs that I've seen suffer from a pretty severe case of elephantitis.

A case in point in the "Home and Studio under one roof" design in the October issue of "fine" homebuilding. It seems like a nice-enough design; a little two bedroom house with a basement, a two-story-tall living room, a parlour, and a library/studio, all nicely wrapped in corrugated steel sheathing and a huge glassed in area in the center of the house (where the living room is). A little further investigation led directly to the floorspace of this house, which turned out to be, um, 3000 square feet.

it would be better if it was half this size
A cozy house if you're Godzilla.

It turns out that the smallest rooms (modulo the 3 (or 4) bathrooms, none of which happen to actually be on the ground floor) in this house are 16 x 20 (or 18 x 24; the floor plans in the magazine wisely didn't give dimensions, so I have to measure off a dinky little scale on the page.

The festival of horrors then started to roll on in.

  1. The house is only a two-bedroom house because they stuffed a bedroom into the basement.
  2. The living room (which they call a dog-run, after the southern dog-run house style) isn't heated. It's not a proper dog-run, because it's enclosed, but it makes up for it by splitting the house into two pieces, so if you want to go from the dining room to the parlour, studio, or second bedroom, you have to walk through a nice freezing icebox for 4 months of the year.
  3. There are no bathrooms on the ground floor. If you're invited over for a dinner party, you get to walk into a bedroom or go out into the laundry room and use the toilet there.
  4. Ditto for hanging your coats, because there is no ground floor closet space.
  5. Oh, and that second bedroom? It's in the basement. Of this 3000 square foot house.
  6. And that 3000 square feet? It doesn't include the 30x30 garage.

One thing I'm pretty curious about is just what do you do with a 16x20 bedroom? Beds aren't that big; a king bed is up to 6x7 feet, which leaves you with 278 square feet, which, at least in the photos of this gigantic house, contain absolutely nothing except air. These days when I look at a megabedroom like that, my first instinct is to split the room in two and make part of that space into an office or sitting room, so one half of a couple can stay up and read for a while after the other half turns into a pumpkin for the night.

Our house is marginally larger than this house, but it's got 4 bedrooms (one sacrificed as a library) and an entire unused floor that we could easily convert into two more bedrooms if I win the lottery and the Evil Party is driven irrevocably out of power. This house, in all of its 3000 square feet (plus garage) wouldn't even fit on our "100x50" (a 20x50 stripe has street and sidewalk built on it, so it's not really usable land anymore) lot in the city, but it's only got two bedrooms. I've drawn 3-bedroom houseplans that could fit into the living room of this house, and which have easily half the floorspace of this huge waddling behemoth.

Nov 15, 2005

Trolley picture of the day

I had to go into downtown Portland this evening to do an errand, and when I saw that a trolleycar was waiting at the PSU urban center, I pulled out the Pentax to try and get a shot of it. At about the same time the shutter opened, the bus started moving, so I instinctively swivelled the camera to keep it aimed at the offending streetcar (no, I couldn't actually see the streetcar, because SLRs don't let you look through the lens when they're using it to take the picture) while the photons slowly crept through the cheapy lens and onto the CCD.


The Geneva Convention on steroids?

"What is going on at Guantanamo Bay is called the Combat Status Review Tribunal, which is the Geneva Conventions protections on steroids. It is a process of determining who an enemy combatant is that not only applies with the Geneva Conventions and then some, it also is being modeled based on the O'Connor opinion in Hamdi, a Supreme Court case, where she suggested that Army regulation 190-8, sections 1 through 6, of 1997, would be the proper guide in detaining people as enemy prisoners, enemy combatants. That regulation is ``Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees, and other Detainees.'' We have taken her guidance. We have the Army regulation 190-8, and we have created an enemy combat status review that goes well beyond the Geneva Conventions requirements to detain someone as an enemy combatant."

On steroids, eh? So you'd think that the CSRT would be like a super-powerful version of the Geneva conventions and there'd be, contrary to the thousand or so well-sourced reports stating the contrary, absolutely no torture going on in the American Gulag (the gulag which Lindsey Graham (E-SC) is trying to put outside the law?)

A prisoner was injured by a bomb, and had five operations on his shattered leg while in Pakistani custody. He was about to recieve the main operation in which his bone would be fixed when he was taken into American custody and moved to Kandahar. There he was beaten and left naked, and did not receive medical care. On his transfer to Guantanamo:

"They gave me no medical care. They never changed the bandages. They gave me no pain-killers." He was in Camp X-Ray screaming in pain. He was afraid of infection. Every time he asked for new bandages, the US personnel said, "Tomorrow."
This went on for fifteen days without relief. Ultimately the wound swelled up alarmingly and the sin (sic) became discolored with a bad odor. The pain became much worse.
"One night I was crying in pain and I asked the guard to get a doctor. A translator came to me and said, 'You get no treatment until you admit to being a terrorist.' I said I need medication and pain killers. The translator held out some pain killers but said, 'I'll give you none of this until you confess.' I said, I bleed too much. 'Muslim blood is worth nothing', he said."

Eventually, he was told he would have to have his leg amputated, or else risk gangrene. He agreed, but the wound was infected, and so he had to have six more operations, cutting off a little more bone each time. A year later, the wound swelled up again; this time, the doctors discovered that they had left some cotton in the wound during the previous operations. He had three more operations as a result. A year and a half after that, "the leg got infected again with pus, and it took him six months to get medication. The doctor found that they had forgotten to take the wires out from the second round of operations. On May 27, 2004, they finally removed these. This was his eleventh operation in Guantanamo Bay."

Does this sound like the Geneva Conventions are being strengthened? It doesn't sound that way to me either.

The weblog Obsidian Wings has published a series of articles on the disgusting abuse of prisoners in the American Gulag and how Lindsey Graham (E-SC) is trying to strip those prisoners of every right they might have so that the "beautiful minds" of people who support the torturers back in Washington DC won't have second thoughts about supporting the Evil Party. Because, heavens, even thought they voted for Evil, we can't actually let them know the details of it, because then the big old campaign contributions might start slowing down.

Nov 14, 2005

The Democratic Party, fighting for your rights (offer not valid if you’re female)

Various polls show that between 50 and 70% of the electorate are pro-choice, that over 60% do not want an anti-choice bagman on the supreme court, and that as things stand today, more voters feel that the Democratic Party is closer to their views on abortions than the Evil Party. So why are all of these dimwitted Senators leaping up to proudly state that they'll saw off and abandon women at the first opportunity?

Nov 13, 2005

The joys of middle age, again

Winter is coming on, and, because it has become an annual ritual, once again I'm in the middle of my customary 2 months of being deathly ill in Portland. *sigh* There's just something about being sick, sick, sick, and more sick (punctuated with three days of being well, but something happened which took all of the joy out of that) that really makes me appreciate -- in a bad way -- mortality.

No, there's no pithy commentary here. I'm just whining. And there's probably more where that comes from.

Nov 11, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite has decided that going through the dishwasher is the ideal way to get clean and sparkly. Fortunately, someone is always there to remove small stuffed animals from the machine before the wash cycle begins.

1 comment


The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(Wilfred Owen)


Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(John McCrae)

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned, both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake, and said,
My Father, Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?

Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets the trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven, Saying,
Lay not thy hand upon the lad, Neither do anything to him.
Behold, A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him
.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

(Wilfred Owen)

Nov 10, 2005

The joys of cat ownership (too many tears edition)


Suzzy Cat
1995-2005

We had to put Suzzy to death this afternoon. There was too much cancer in her belly, she hadn't eaten or drunk anything for two days, and she barely had enough energy to lift her head when we gathered her up and went to the vet to give her the best death possible.

She was an Oregon girl, so she'll be buried in Oregon soil tonight. Farewell, tubular cat; you were a good cat, and we miss you.

2 comments

Nov 09, 2005

Vicious inhuman predator picture of the day.

Winter is coming in, and it's getting fairly cold (in the sort of wimpy way that people in the lowlands of the west coast call "cold") outside, and the approximately 10 million spiders who make the front porch their home are starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable about it. This spider was sitting on the doorframe, close to the heat that leaks out through that particular leaky opening, and it didn't start moving until after I had gone and grabbed the camera and the telephoto lens. And when it started retreating, it was so cold it couldn't grab hold properly, so it kept falling off the wall as it fled to a place where it would be safe from the huge one-eyed clicking camera-monster.


I have no joke, I just like saying…

It looks like, at least in California, the charismatic Republican sweeping his enemies before him effect has become inoperative.

PropositionsYes Votes Pct.No VotesPct.
  73 N    Minor's Pregnancy
3,130,06247.43,465,62952.6
  74 N    Teacher Tenure
2,987,01044.93,662,93255.1
  75 N    Public Union Dues
3,092,49546.53,551,01153.5
  76 N    Spending/Funding
2,522,32737.94,115,38862.1
  77 N    Redistricting
2,673,53040.53,920,48759.5
  78 N    Rx Drug Discounts
2,719,99941.53,821,95758.5
  79 N    Rx Drug Rebates
2,523,80338.93,950,76361.1
  80 N    Electric Regulation
2,189,12634.34,182,37465.7

I could make, from 300 miles or so away from the offending state, some comments about this election and the persistant Evil Party dreams that the state of California can reliably be seduced into Kansas-style self-immolation, but I believe that leet has just the phrase to describe this response to Evil Party overreach:

PWNZD!!1!

And this little character lesson only cost the California taxpayers US$70 million.

Nov 08, 2005

The joys of cat ownership (It’s the apocolypse edition)

Last year, our smaller cat started throwing up, infrequently at first, but then accelerating to at least once a day. Around the time it reached once a day, we started to take her to the vet, first a local vet, and then after that didn't do much, to a vet that was a little bit further away. Eventually we found the right combination of drugs that stopped her from throwing up, but by then she'd started to lose weight, and even though she kept eating, her weight dropped from ~7 pounds, down to 6, then 5, then down into the fours. This last weekend, she took a noticable turn for the worse; she's a cat, so she's not the most energetic creature, but this weekend she stopped running and started walking around, then she stopped sleeping anywhere, but instead started sleeping close to warm radiators. Yesterday, we took her to the vet to have her weighed, and she weighed a whopping 3 pounds, 12 oz, so we immediately made arrangements to have me come home from work early today so we could both go to the vet while the little cat was examined much more thoroughly.

We'd figured the feline jig was up, and I'd been warning the bears that Suzzy was very very sick and might die soon, but we were still unpleasantly surprised when the vet reported a whole list of things that were very wrong, ranging from fluid in the abdomen to possible anemia to "there's a large" -- and here the vet drew with her hands an outline approximately the width of the cat -- "solid mass in her abdomen".

Oh.

That would be what educated professionals call bad news.

Worse news yet was when the vet said "we're closed tonight, but if she should take a turn for the worse there's an emergency clinic in Tigard that we work with, and they won't take heroic measures if you have to bring her in." Umm, okay. So what you're saying is "don't be surprised if your cat dies tonight"?

Sigh. Poor little kitty. I think we might have to have her killed tomorrow; she's really weak and wobbly, and the only indication that she might still be happy is that she still purrs like mad when we pet her.

I've now outlived 3 cats; my childhood cat Kitty died of kidney failure when I was away at university, I lost my little black cat Madeline to cat diabetes, and our cat Socket died at the cat dentist just before we moved from That Paradise That Is California to Oregon. And it doesn't get any easier outliving the little cute furry parasites.

I'm sorry you're sick, little cat. I can still remember going to the Oregon Humane Society and having you jump up on my lap and purr and purr and purr like there was no tomorrow. It's a pity there isn't some all-powerful G-d out there who can waive the laws of nature and make you all better, but there isn't, so all we can hope for is that when it's time, you'll die quietly in your sleep. And I will miss you, even though you're an useless parasite.

1 comment


It’s “Election” day

It's not happening in my part of Oregon (state motto: We might love zoning, but we still hate gays!), so I wasn't paying much attention, but apparently it's "election" day across the country and, aside from the usual crop of hate amendments (which are, of course, passing with comfortable margins. I hate this fucking country), there are a bunch of elections pitting Evil Party scum against Stupid Party members.

So, of course, what are the newspapers reporting? "Problems" with the electronic voting machines in Ohio and Virginia (and the machines in Virginia are, oddly enough, counting a vote for the Stupid Party candidate as a vote for the Evil Party candidate. Funny how that happens.) And, funnily enough, both the states where the machines are having "problems" are where the polls show the Evil Party barely behind the Stupid Party candidate.

Washington, which is also having an election today, has its own share of electoral fun. But in this case the Evil Party is using voter challenges to try and throw the election instead of depending on the now-traditional 10,000 lucky coincidences at the polling place. (Yes, I'm sure that Salon will be doing one of their articles explaining that, once again, those lucky coincidences just sort of happened and there's nothing that can be done. But I won't be reading those articles this time around, because I let my subscription lapse after their last cheerful explanations about how, gosh, exit polls work everywhere except the United States, so the sort of gap between exit polls and ballot results which would cause the election to be reheld if it happens in a place like the Ukraine, why, they're just a fact of life, like rain, snow, and systematic Evil Party corruption.)

But, be that as it may, I do fully expect to see, starting at about 8pm Eastern Time, the DLC talking heads popping up to chatter on about how the vote shows that the Democrats are out of touch with America and why Democrats should just lighten up and embrace torture, corruption, aggressive war, and ethnic cleansing. I can hardly wait.


Fun with editorial bias

In the latest issue of the Portland Clackamas Tribune, there are a couple of articles about Portland area businesses. One of the articles, about a new and, as best as they can tell, wildly successful (0 to 8 employees in 18 months, iPod-like word of mouth, neat product), photography business (Lensbabies) is tucked away on the second section. The other article, about a 20 year old small (4 employees) software business that has decamped from Portland because of the Crushing! Weight! Of! The! City! Taxes! ($3600 in city business tax, which means that the business makes, after expenses [which I presume still includes salaries], a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year), is tucked away on the front page.

Now, $3600 isn't exactly chump change, and if the City of Portland has redefined "net" as "no, you can't count salaries as an expense" (if so, I hope that the reason that this software company is able to pay an average salary of $50k is because the employees there really really love their work, and not that there is this huge mass of programmers out there who would love to work at second-world wages.) it's a pretty big chunk of money to pay for the privilege of being able to work in town. So it's somewhat annoying to watch such a small business leave, but is it any more important than a new and rapidly growing 8-person non-defense-related company that has managed to form and grow in the middle of the B*sh economy? With all due respect to the owner of the software company, I'd say no. If the only benefit that the City of Portland is getting from this company is $3600/year in BIT taxes, it would be better for the city to let the company go and hunt around for another developer to build a condominium development; a dozen condos, each paying $2000/year in property taxes and some software developers having to drive from Portland to Beaverton and back every day is a much better deal than having the land underutilized as an office.

About the only way the city can lose on this deal is if they offer the developers a scoop of tax credits for building the condos (which they, annoyingly, do, but it looks like some of the new members of the city council have started to realize that the City of Portland does not merely exist to enrich well-connected developers and property owners, so hopefully that part of the candy store will be closed soon.)

So, no, its not important that a software company is shopping for a cheap place to put an office. The jobs and the taxpayers are staying in the Portland area. As an employee, my interest is whether or not new jobs are showing up in the city where I live, and thus the article about new businesses is just as important as the latest round of "oh­My­God­We­Can't­TAX­any­Company­Because­Then­They­Will­Move­To­Somalia" editorial commentary; even though getting a free ride from the state might be important to the publisher of the newspaper, getting fed is more important to the readership of the newspaper, and encouraging white flight from the city is not likely to keep people fed.

Perhaps I'd feel differently if I was making US$200,000 from my own business. I didn't feel differently the last time I made that sort of money and had to pay the (much larger) personal income taxes on it, but perhaps this time would be the charm.

I certainly hope I wouldn't feel differently, because even though I'm sure that Somalia is a lovely place to visit, I'd rather not have the same amenities over here.

Nov 07, 2005

Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?

The U.S. government is aggressively taking action to protect Americans from terrorism but "we do not torture," President Bush said on Monday, responding to criticism of reported secret CIA prisons and the handling of terrorism suspects.

Nov 05, 2005

Portland picture of the day

We had visitors today, so I spent much of the day chasing small hyperactive children around the house. This had the undesired side-effect of completely tiring me out, so I didn't manage to actually get anything else done. Fortunately for TSFR, the best had dumped some of her pictures onto the library computer, including this gorgeous one of the St. John's bridge from the west side of the Willamette River.

Nov 04, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

I wanted to get a picture of Dust Mite today, but Silas snatched Dust Mite away and made a run for it.


A fish rots from the head

Policy
it was clear to me that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of Defense down to the commanders in the field that in carefully couched terms -- I'll give you that -- that to a soldier in the field meant two things: We're not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence, and, oh, by the way, here's some ways you probably can get it. And even some of the ways that they detailed were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war.
Implementation
  1. Beyond the most abusive actions at Abu Ghraib, there is plentiful evidence that senior officers were aware of practices like forced nudity and the use of unmuzzled dogs to intimidate prisoners. Col. Thomas Pappas, the military intelligence officer in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib, is reported as having openly acknowledged the use of forced nudity as part of the intelligence process.

  2. The former U.S. army chief in Iraq authorized tough techniques to intimidate detainees during interrogations, including using guard dogs and placing prisoners in painful stress positions, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

  3. Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports

  4. On each stage of his journey, as he descended further and further into the gulags and torture chambers of the war on terror, Benyam Mohammed al-Habashi was shadowed by British intelligence. The British were there in Karachi when Americans interrogated him and Pakistanis tortured him; they were feeding questions to the Moroccan torturers who took a scalpel to his penis; they stood back and watched as he was dragged to an American torture chamber in Afghanistan and then to the gulag of Guantanamo, where he languishes to this day.

  5. In Uzbekistan, it works like this, he says. Person X is tortured and signs a statement saying hes going to crash planes into buildings, or that hes linked to Osama bin Laden. Hes also asked if he knows persons X, Y and Z in the UK who are involved in terrorism. Hell be tortured until he agrees, though hes never met them.

    The confession is sent to the CIA where, according to Murray, it is sanitised. Before sanitisation the report will have the guys name on it, the date of the interrogation, where it took place and might still be bloodstained."

  6. "He told me he was almost 12," she said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

(Wilkerson interview via Pen and Sword,
most of the other quotes from this post of mine,
except for two from Ken MacLeod
)


AXIS OF EVIL

The United States of America
Poland
Romania

2 comments

Nov 03, 2005

Yes, and what are you planning to do about it?

Online political expression should not be exempt from campaign finance law, the House decided Wednesday as lawmakers warned that the Internet has opened up a new loophole for uncontrolled spending on elections

Yes, and? Does this mean that the FEC will be sending out crack teams of auditors to see if people like Matt Drudge and Atrios are getting paychecks from the Evil Party and the Stupid Party, or will they do something really stupid and require that all political weblogs register themselves for accounting purposes?

And it's not as if weblogs actually mean very much; for all of the (completely made up) fluff over document kerning on a poisoned document leaked by Karl Rove, they really don't make much difference aside from letting a bunch of activists pretend that they're overthrowing the state, man! The FEC said that US$14 million was spent on weblog advertising in 2004, which is a year that saw close to a billion dollars run through various Evil Party and Stupid Party campaigns, so from that you can get a pretty good idea of just how vital the weblogs are.

Not that they're completely useless; well-connected people, like Josh Marshall, are able to use their weblogs as samizdat newsletters, which can pick up a trivial to the mainline press scandal (cf: Trent Lott, who foolishly made pro-discrimination statements at a time when Karl Rove wanted to replace him with a more compliant Senate mouthpiece) and beat upon it until gossip starts percolating into the mainline press. But none of this is really regulatable, unless you want to get into the business of licensing newspapers, which is, um, not allowed by the US constitution (yes! The United States still has a constitution. It's not used much anymore, but it's still there.) So I'm not really sure just what FEC regulation will do, aside from being yet another way for the Evil Party to subtly make life more difficult for liberals who have the misfortune to be trapped inside the American Imperium.

True, this is a product of the Evil Party-controlled US Government, which also keeps flirting with the idea of removing the mortgage and state tax loopholes in the federal tax code, so it is actually possible that they're planning to get rid of that pesky freedom of the press idea. But it seems a bit out there even for the Evil Party.

(via Suburban Guerrilla)


Compare and Contrast (Nothing but the highest ethical standards for this administration edition)

ThenNow

I do not believe that conflicts of interest relating to my financial interests are likely to arise. I would, however, disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies.

(Samuel Alito, 1990)

When Monga died in 1996 after a brief battle with colon cancer, Maharaj took up his legal battle. Maharaj, who said she obtained a law degree from Northeastern University, acted as her own lawyer, alleging that Vanguard had improperly seized her husband's IRAs and wrongly blocked her from obtaining the funds. A US district court judge in Philadelphia dismissed her case in 2001, and she appealed it to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In April 2002, Alito, writing for a three-judge panel, ruled in Vanguard's favor.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, so I may not be up on the fine details of the law, but it seems to me that if you're going to disqualify yourself from any cases involving Vanguard, that would pretty much stop you from writing a decision for a case involving Vanguard.

I'm sure that Samuel Alito is a prince among men and all, but when he oozes up before the Senate Judiciary committee and solemnly swears that he won't overturn {Roe v. Wade | anti-discrimination statutes | civil liberties}, consider his history before the US Senate. If he'll lie for a circuit court job, he'll certainly lie for a Supreme Court job. Senator Ben Nelson (S-Ne)? Consider this a little suggestion that you shut your piehole until after you've had a chance to actually review the history of the Coward in Chief's latest bagman appointment.

(via Atrios)

Nov 02, 2005

The B*sh Junta is a bunch of war criminals, and the United States is a rogue state

"Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" are, in case you don't have a copy of the official Evil Party newspeak dictionary, torture. And who are the United States government torturing? Random taxi drivers, Taliban flunkies, and Afghani citizens who were kidnapped and handed over to the CIA by the Taliban in return for US reward money? Well, sure, but that's not all.

I will point out here that the United States is not at war with Canada, Italy, France, Sweden, or the Netherlands. I don't know why France hasn't uncapped their missile silos and demanded the immediate return of their citizens, but then again I'm not a politician and don't have to worry about the subtle nuances of dealing with a superpower controlled by insane whackjobs.

But, be that as it may, it's interesting to discover just who in the United States government signed off on these deathcamps. Congress? Well, no, of course not.

And who knew about the operations in the camps? Congress? The answer is still no.

The United States government, thanks to the Evil Party, is rotten to the core. War crimes? You're soaking in them.

1 comment

Nov 01, 2005

Evil Party moral values (pt 11)

  1. If anyone in this administration was involved in it (it being telling everyone and their sister that Mrs. Joe Wilson was actually Valerie Plame the CIA spy --ed.), they would no longer be in this administration

    (B*sh junta mouthpiece Scott McClellan, doing the song and dance on Sept 29, 2003)

  2. An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair

    (the New York Daily News, Oct 30, 2005)

  3. The White House on Monday rebuffed calls for a staff shakeup, the firing of Karl Rove and an apology by President Bush for the role of senior administration officials in the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

    (AP report on the Nov 1, 2005 Mount Doom excuse session)

1+2+3 = ?
If you're part of the B*sh junta,
1+2+3 = Treason: It's the New Patriotism
But wait!

The math gets even better! Avedon Carol has pointed to an ABC News article that quotes Matt Cooper saying "There is no question. I first learned about Valerie Plame working at the CIA from Karl Rove." But this apparently doesn't count as being involved in breaking the cover of a CIA agent. After all, it's simply telling a reporter about it, and everyone knows that reporters never publish anything you tell them.

(Evil Party motto via Jesus' General)


There is a G-d and he loves us all (pt 2)

According to a front page story in the Clackamas Portland Tribune, the City of Portland is thinking of scrapping one of the nasty little property tax abatement programs which allows rich developers to make more buckets of money while forcing people who don't live in the beloved-by-the-damned-PDC trendy districts to pay for the civic services that are needed to support the new condominium towers.

The big developers are, of course, wailing that it isn't fair and how can we build anything if Uncle Sugar isn't around to chip in a little something extra for our trouble. For some reason, I'm finding it hard to sympathise with their anguish. Every morning, and every afternoon, I take the bus across the Ross Island bridge and get to see the development taking place in Homer's Folly; development that is replacing a run-down industrial district that didn't pay jack in taxes with a upscale condominium district that also won't pay jack in taxes, but which will require quite a lot more investment by the city for civic services. (And it's not just the US$15 US$20 US$40 US$46 million dollar aerial tramway that the city of Portland is putting in just because someone on the board of OHSU read The Lathe Of Heaven and wants to pretend he's Dr. Haber; no, Homer's Folly is going to need new streets, sewer improvements to support several hundred residences, and don't forget the trolley line [which, admittedly, they'll end up needing if Metro can ever override the superrich in Dunthorpe and reopen the Red Electric down to Lake Oswego. But when they do that extension, they will discover that the people who designed the terminal managed to arrange it so that there's a line pole right at the end of the line, stopping easy extension southward.]) And every morning I think of the poor developers who might have to live with only one swimming pool filled with money instead of the two swimming pools they were intending to fill, and, gosh, that violin just won't start playing.

The one trump card that the developers have, and they're not at all shy about playing it, is that they won't build so-called "affordable" housing if Uncle Sugar doesn't pay them. But this "affordable" housing (for families making "up to" $54,000 a year) only lasts 10 years, and then the developers can punt those (few) families out and resell the condos to yuppies at a comfortable markup. So, call their bluff; There are more developers out there than Homer Williams and the Trammel Crow company, and if those two can't develop the land without government handouts, why, perhaps some smaller developers might like to have a chance to get started on filling their first swimming pools with money.

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orc@pell.portland.or.us

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