Saturday, January 23, 2010

Scott Brown Making The Case For "Himbo" Status

Here is Scott Brown's answer to a question this week on whether the Obama administration has communication issues:
“No, listen, when I spoke to the president, we had a lot of laughs, and I told him he has to keep his sense of humor. Even in my acceptance speech, I joked around because, you know, I’m a regular guy. I have a sense of humor. That’s one of the things that insulates me from a lot of the negativity.”

And he went on further to say:
"So, you know, I agree with him on a few things. I think he’s done a great job with North Korea and Iran and the war in Afghanistan. I thought he’s done a very nice job. The simple fact that he had the guts to step back, analyze the situation and then make a determination that we need to finish the job and provide the tools and resources for our soldiers to do just that, that was great. So, you know, the health care bill, which you’re probably thinking about, for Massachusetts, it was not good. To think of paying higher taxes and have a half trillion in cuts and basically desensitizing places like Nebraska, when we already have 98 percent of our people insured, we have a very good plan, it didn’t make sense."


Levi Johnston On The Power Play

Bristol Palin and her rogue mama Sarah were on Oprah this week beating the old abstinence drum for anyone that is still listening-- and of course, baby daddy Levi wasted no time putting his clothes back on to trash the duo on "The Insider".

Levi warned yet again that he's working on a tell-all book that shares everything about the Palin family. (Enough already dude-- get down to business and write the damn thing!) The shirtless hockey hunk also said he doesn't mind paying more for child support, but he wants to see his son more and have Sarah Palin stop interfering in his life. Sounds perfectly reasonable-- score another one for Team Johnston.

As for what Bristol had to say to Oprah, Levi dished: "[Bristol] answered like two questions. She couldn't answer questions without Sarah butting in and adding her own two cents." He also made a very good point about her claims that it is difficult to raise their child alone: "She's talking about how hard it is-- if she wanted help she would let me in there."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Promoting Safe Sex Can Be Hilarious

Moscow's Metro Dogs

Ran across a couple of stories on these amazing stray dogs in Moscow that have learned to ride the subway system. The first piece is from Susanne Sternthal at the Financial Times:

“[Moscow's] metro dog appeared for the simple reason that it was permitted to enter,” says Andrei Neuronov, an author and specialist in animal behavior and psychology, who helped train Vladimir Putin’s black female Labrador retriever, Connie. “This began in the late 1980s during perestroika,” he says. “When more food appeared, people began to live better and feed strays.” The dogs started by riding on overground trams and buses, where supervisors were becoming increasingly thin on the ground.

Neuronov says there are some 500 strays that live in the metro stations (especially during the colder months) but only about 20 have learned how to ride the trains. This happened gradually, first as a way to broaden their territory. Later, it became a way of life. “Why should they go by foot if they can move around by public transport?” he asks.

“They orient themselves in a number of ways,” Neuronov adds. “They figure out where they are by smell, by recognizing the name of the station from the recorded announcer’s voice and by time intervals. If, for example, you come every Monday and feed a dog, that dog will know when it’s Monday and the hour to expect you, based on their sense of time intervals from their ­biological clocks.”

The metro dog also has uncannily good instincts about people, happily greeting kindly passers by, but slinking down the furthest escalator to avoid the intolerant older women who oversee the metro’s electronic turnstiles.

From English Russia blog:

Moscow's metro dogs demonstrate real intelligence in the way they ride the trains every morning to get from their suburban places of living to the fat regions of Moscow center. Once they arrive to the downtown they demonstrate different new, previously unseen for the dog skills. Those skills can include “the hunt for shawarma” for example.

The "hunt for shawarma" takes place on a busy street with small food kiosks. A middle-aged man buys himself a piece of hot fast food and walks aside chewing it without a rush. All of a sudden, he jumps up frightened - some dog has sneaked up behind him and barked out loudly. His tasty snack falls out from his hands down to the ground and the dog scoops it up. Just ten minutes later, on the same place, the teen youngster loses his dinner in exactly the same manner. The modern Russian dogs are on their urban hunt.

“This method of ambushing people from their back is widely exercised by Moscow dogs”, says A. Poiarkov, who works in the Ecology and Evolution Institute of Moscow. “The main point here is to define who would drop the food scared and who won’t, but the dogs are great psychologists-- they can do it better than us”.

Another amazing skill displayed by Moscow's metro dogs is the ability not to miss their stop while going on the subway train. Biologists say dogs have very nice sense of time which helps them not to miss their destination. Another skill they have is to cross the road on the green traffic light. “They don’t react on color, but on the picture they see on the traffic light”, Moscow scientist tells. Also they choose often the last or the first metro car - those are less crowded usually.

It’s funny but the ecologists studying Moscow stray dogs also tell the dogs don’t miss a chance to get some play while on their travel in the subway. They are fond of jumping in the train just seconds before the doors shut closed risking their tails be jammed. “They do it for fun, just they have enough food”, they conclude.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When A Nip Slips, The Internet Lets Out A Cheer

The latest victim of wardrobe malfunction is that lovable homophobic bimbo Carrie Prejean. Couldn't have happened to anyone more deserving. Feel free to copy and email to all your friends . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beware The Haiti Celebrity Telethon

One of the charities benefiting from Friday's Clooney-hosted telethon is Yele-Haiti, the charity organization fronted by Wyclef Jean. Unfortunately, that organization has been beset by scandal and charges that it has been mismanaged and has inappropriately directed donations to benefit Wyclef Jean himself.

The Smoking Gun has made claims that the group has a lackluster history of accounting for its finances, and that the organization has paid the Wyclef Jean and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services, and Jean's appearance at a benefit concert. And although Yele Haiti was founded 12 years ago, the group only first filed tax returns last August.

Even worse, Jean continues to dig himself an even deeper ethical hole by saying on the Oprah Winfrey show, "I put my first $1 million into the charity." That claim is contradicted both by Yele's founding executive director and the documents posted by TSG.

No one is doubting Jean's genuine concern in helping Haiti-- but if the past is any indication, it is fairly certain that Yele Haiti can't be entrusted to properly manage and transparently distribute the millions of dollars that it stands to reap from Friday's mega-wattage telethon. And Wyclef shouldn't be using the current disaster as a way to prop up and/or legitimize what has been (so far) a dubiously-run charity organization.

Let the donor beware . . .

Is The World Ready For One More Beyonce Parody? Hell Yeah!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Corporate Health Care Looking Forward To A Brown Win

The financial prospects of corporate medicine-- who stand to make more money by keeping the status quo-- improved in anticipation of a win by GOP's Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race:

An index of health-care companies in the S&P 500 led the advance with a 1.9 percent rally. U.S. Democrats face the possibility of losing a Senate seat held by the late Edward Kennedy as voters in Massachusetts go to the polls. A loss could cost them a 60-vote supermajority needed to help pass a health- care overhaul.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Injustice In The Name Of A So-Called "War" On Terror

Recently, when heavy snowfall in Britain threatened to derail 26-year-old Paul Chambers's travel plans, he decided to vent his frustrations on Twitter by tapping out a comment to amuse his friends. "Robin Hood airport is closed," he wrote. "You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"

Unfortunately for Chambers, the police didn't see the funny side. A week after posting the message on the social networking site, he was arrested under the U.K.'s Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who interpreted his post as a security threat. While he was in custody, police hacked into his Twitter account and deleted the controversial post. Detectives have also confiscated his iPhone, laptop and home computer.

After he was released on bail, Chambers was suspended from work by his employer pending an internal investigation, and has been banned from the Doncaster's Robin Hood airport for life. "I would never have thought, in a thousand years, that any of this would have happened because of a Twitter post," said Chambers. "I'm the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine."

Civil libertarian Tessa Mayes, an expert on privacy law and free speech issues, said, "Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm. The police's actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter."

Body Armor Marketed To World Cup Soccer Fans Draws Fire

South Africa's authorities have condemned a London-based company which wants to sell stab-vests to visiting football fans during the World Cup. The national police says the company was causing "unnecessary fear". South Africa's football boss Kirsten Nematandani has assured visitors that all safety measures were in place.

South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crimes but the authorities say they will tighten security for the tournament. Protektorvest, the company which is currently selling the vest online, says there is a "high demand" for protective clothing and claim the stab-vests which cost close to $70 are the "#1 personal protection for the World Cup 2010".

Fans can add personal touches to their vest, such a their national flag, or slogans like "Free hugs" or "Ole". Protektorvest owner Sascha Cutura denied that the company was saying South Africa was unsafe. "We fulfill a need from security-conscious people," Cutura said. The company eventually hopes to open a retail location near South Africa's OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for the duration of the World Cup.

Nematandani chastized the company's owners and called for them to be "condemned by their own country's officials". Other critics of the company say tourists wearing stab-vests at football matches or on sight-seeing trips may attract more attention to themselves - potentially increasing their chances of being attacked. But in response, Cutura pointed out that the vests could also be worn underneath clothes to avoid attracting too much attention.

FBI Uses Pix Of Spanish PM To Update Bin Laden Photo

A Spanish politician has said he was shocked to find out the FBI had used his photo for a digitally-altered image showing how Osama Bin Laden might look. The FBI was forced to admit that a forensic artist had indeed copied facial features from an actual person-- but would only go so far to say that the artist had obtained them "from a photograph he found on the internet."

Gaspar Llamazares said he would no longer feel safe travelling to the U.S. after his hair and parts of his face appeared on a most-wanted poster. He said the use of a real person for the mocked-up image was "shameless."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How Not To Help Haiti

Don’t Donate Goods. Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess. If you are worrying that cash won’t be used in a way that helps the needy, two points: 1) Why are you donating to an organization you don’t trust? 2) What’s to stop them from selling your donated item and using the money for whatever they want?

Don’t Go To Haiti. It’s close to the US, it’s a disaster area, and we all want to help. However, it’s dangerous right now and they don’t need “extra hands”. The people who are currently useful are people with training in medicine and emergency response. If all you can contribute is unskilled labor, stay home. There is no shortage of unskilled labor in Haiti, and Haitians will be a lot more committed than you are to the rebuilding process.

Don’t Adopt a Haitian Child. After disasters there is often a heartfelt desire and a rush to adopt “orphans”. The problem is they are often not orphans – and even when they are, where possible it’s better for then to be cared for by extended family or adopted within their communities. After a major disaster when families are trying to reunite and child protection systems are weaker, it is not the time to “fast-track” international adoptions and remove the important safeguards that should normally be in place to protect the best interest of the child.

Don’t Ignore Rebuilding Efforts. The physical damage done to Port au Prince is going to take a long, long time to repair. Haiti will still need our help next year, and the years after that. Give your money to organizations that will be in Haiti for the long haul, and don’t forget about Haiti once the media attention moves on.

If you haven't donated yet, text the word "Haiti" to 90999-- it's easy, and the money goes straight to the Red Cross. If you want to donate more, click here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CNN Anchor Breaks Down On The Air

Tragic news keeps coming in from Haiti. It's nice to see the human side of at least one CNN anchor . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Credit Card Companies Exploit Human Tragedy For Profit

As a massive human tragedy unfolds in Haiti, relief organizations are soliciting credit-card donations through their hotlines and websites. About 97 percent of these donations will actually make it to the designated organizations -- the other 3 percent is skimmed off by banks and credit card companies to cover their "transaction costs."

Thanks to this hidden fee, American banks and credit card companies are making huge profits off of Haitian misery. Up to now the only exception was Capital One-- through its "No Hassle Giving Site", the bank waives transaction costs for holders of its Visa or MasterCard cards, so that 100 percent of people's donations goes to their chosen charity. "We are pleased to be able to donate these costs, and we believe this will generate customer loyalty and an enduring customer franchise," said Pam Girardo, a spokesperson for Capital One.

Only after pressure (resulting from media/blogger coverage) did American Express and Visa announce late today that they would be waiving their transactions fees on charitable contributions through the end of February.

FOX News Coverage Ignores Haiti Disaster

It seems that FOX doesn't like that Obama is coming off as an effective leader, so they're willing to ignore one of the biggest natural disasters of modern times. From Media Matters:
On January 13, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 -- The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck -- devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck's hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly's discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity's advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown's Senate campaign. By contrast, the content of MSNBC's three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.

As one commenter put it-- it won't be long before FOX starts exhorting its fanbase to hate Haitians because tax dollars are being spent to rescue people who aren't white, don't have oil wells and aren't giving no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coverage On The Haiti Earthquake Disaster

Below is some raw AP footage from Haiti taken moments after the earthquake hit:

Below is some Reuters video of the destruction:

And here's a closeup of the collapsed Parliament building:

Remember, you can help by donating to the Red Cross or you can just text the word "Haiti" to 90999 and a $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill.

Pat Robertson: Haitians Have Only Themselves To Blame

Unbelievably, Pat Robertson believes that Haiti is "cursed" because they made a "pact with the devil". So Haiti has only itself to blame for its problems, right Pat? What a moron.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Light And Bright In Louisiana

There have been whispers about whether Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's official portrait has been "whitened"-- you be the judge (his official portrait is in the center):

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scott Brown For Senate: A New Kind Of Stimulus Package

I was just wondering what would be the media/public's reaction if a woman were running for Senate who had posed nude for a centerfold. And according to the latest polls, this guy is running neck-and-neck with Martha Coakley in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's remaining term . . .

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

China Tightens Its Soviet-Style Grip Even Further

China has issued new Internet regulations, including what appears to be an effort to create a "whitelist" of approved websites that could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Techonology ordered domain management institutions and Internet service providers to tighten control over domain name registration.

"Domain names that have not registered will not be resolved or transferred," it said, in the action plan to "further deepen" an anti-pornography campaign that has significantly tightened Internet controls.

The rules did not specify whether the new measure applies to overseas websites, but local media reported the risk that overseas sites that have not registered could also be blocked. China has also banned individuals from registering Websites ending in .cn, China's country code.

Maybe it would just be easier to ban the sale of computers altogether.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Author of Torture Memos Says He Was Just Doing His Job

The government lawyer who wrote memos authorizing the Bush administration to engage in torture and warrantless surveillance says he was just doing his job, according to a recent interview.

Asked by The New York Times if he regretted writing the torture memos, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo replied, “No, I had to write them. It was my job. As a lawyer, I had a client. The client needed a legal question answered.”

Yoo, whose memos offered the government legal justification for waterboarding prisoners and other actions, said his client was former President George W. Bush and the U.S. government as a whole. The Times asked whether it was the case that the U.S. people were his client, and not the president. Yoo replied, “If there’s a conflict between the president and the Congress, then you have to pick one or the other.”

What about your moral and ethical obligations, Johnny (ever hear of the Nuremberg trials)? I guess you also conveniently forgot that the oath of office you took said that your primary obligation was to uphold the constitution-- not authorize war crimes.

Kindle Users Now Free To Use Their Devices As They Wish

An Israeli hacker claims to have broken the copyright protection on Amazon's Kindle software for PCs, reports say. The hack will allow the ebooks to be transferred as pdf files to any other device. It is the latest in a series of Digital Rights Management (DRM) hacks, the most famous being the reverse engineering of iTunes.

DRM has long divided opinion between corporations and consumers who pay hundreds of dollars for tech devices and want the freedom to use them as they wish. Corporations regard DRM as a crucial tool to protect copyright-- but in reality it unfairly restricts consumers from using legally-purchased content on their choice of legally-purchased devices.

"DRM is not an effective way of preventing copying nor is it a good way of making sales. There isn't a customer out there saying 'what I need is an electronic book that does less," novelist and co-editor of the Boing Boing blog Cory Doctorow said when the Kindle was launched.

As soon as any new DRM system is introduced, hackers begin to try and break it. Most famously Jon Lech Johansen, known as DVD Jon, cracked the copy protection on DVDs in 1999. He went on to break the copyright protection on iTunes, which forced Apple to offer DRM-free music.

DVD Jon now runs a company with an application to take the pain out of moving different types of content between devices.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Next Up: A Trip To The Bunny Ranch!

Philandering Nevada governor and alcoholic sex crook Jim Gibbons is once again a single man. His campaign manager congratulated the governor on taking the “high-road position” in the divorce proceedings and said “the governor has been very respectful of Dawn.” (even though Gibon’s attorney once compared her to an “enraged ferret.”) Dawn Gibbons walks away with a quarter of Jim’s salary for the next five years, plus $275,000 for a 40-acre ranch they own in rural Nevada.

The melodrama leading to down-to-the-wire divorce settlement had been a long, rough ride for the governor. His popularity plunged as the economy tanked (political experts disagree how much the personal travails played into it), and he now faces an uphill battle to get past the June Republican primary, never mind winning re-election in November's general election.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Limbaugh Giving Us The Bum Rush

After his health scare while on vacation in Hawaii, Rush Limbaugh said, “Based on what happened to me I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the American health care system” What a moron. Either that or he thinks his audience is a bunch of morons.

What Limbaugh doesn't tell you is that Hawaii already instituted many of the reforms that are included in the health care reform bill before Congress. So what Limbaugh is really saying is that health care reform works.

For Sale: Kid's Bracelet . . . or Something Else Like It

Summa Cum Laude, Baby

The University of Chicago is in a little hot(tub of) water over a example essay it has provided to would-be applicants. The writing sample it released (which compared college to an elusive lover) was from an actual applicant-- the rub is that it is proving to be a tad bit too sexy for parents of college-bound seniors. Read it for yourself:
"Dear University of Chicago, It fills me up with that gooey sap you feel late at night when I think about things that are really special to me about you," the essay began. "Tell me, was I just one in a line of many? Was I just another supple ‘applicant' to you, looking for a place to live, looking for someone to teach me the ways of the world?

The closeness between us was beautiful, it couldn't have been just me that felt it, I know you felt it too. The intimacy was akin to that of scholar and original text, your depth as a person is astounding! To be honest, I must confess I had already dreamt of a rosy future together, one filled with late nights and long discussions over the Gothic era and the ethical stage of Kierkegaard, we would watch the sunset together and spend every Christmas snuggled in blankets. Eventually we would get older, I would become a well-educated corporate lawyer and you would enrich yourself within the domain of human knowledge. Your cup overfloweth with academic genius, pour a little on me."

Some Chicago students are upset and offended by the essay, and of course parents wasted no time whipping out their daggers over the issue.

I think the kid who wrote the essay is a genius, and these other kids/parents are clearly insecure and/or jealous about it, because he understands what the University of Chicago wants-- clever, creative people who don't get their underwear in a knot over shit like this.

Unfortunately, Chicago's Dead of Admissions, Jim Nondorf was forced to apologize for the controversy, noting that while he had the essay writer's permission, and that he was admitted, he didn't mean to scare up any trouble.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dude Back From Holiday Break

Hope your holiday travel wasn't too traumatic. Back to posting tomorrow.


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