Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stopping Piracy

Pirates are running amuck near Somali and nobody seems to care enough to actually do something about it.

One of the more recent events did involve a ship that had hired some seagoing guards. But I'm really not sure what the point of the guards actually was.
SOMALI pirates have hijacked the chemical tanker Biscaglia, despite the presence of three British guards onboard.

The guards were unarmed.

There was a time when you could count on the US Navy to respond to piracy on international shipping.
In the old days, seizing a ship marked by a national flag was an insult and act of war. In 1803 pirates of the Barbary States, city-states along the north coast of Africa in the Mediterranean that were nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, captured the U.S.S. Philadelphia and held its crew hostage. President Thomas Jefferson asked Congress for and received authorization to dispatch sailors and marines to the port of Tripoli, where the ship was being held. To deny its use to the Tripolitans U.S. forces burned it and captured the city.

But these days I guess we're only the World Policeman when it involves a head-of-state who had previously pissed off our Presidents daddy.

But pirates? We just let them go on and on.
Number of ships hijacked this year: 40.

Ransom collected so far: $25,000,000.



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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Movie reviews

I sometimes review movies on this site but not as often as I see movies, and when I do a review it's usually not as much quality in a review as I'd like. I'm usually not happy with my own reviews.

One site that does a much better job than me keeping up with the movies is


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Friday, November 28, 2008

The criminalization of life

Now it's official. It's a felony to be a 13 year old boy.
A student at a Florida school has been arrested after authorities say he was "passing gas"

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The bridge at Progresso

I've been to this bridge, I visited Progreso and Nuevo Progreso last May.
Edwina P. Garza in the (Harlingen-Brownsville) Valley Morning Star writes:

… five Winter Texans said that on Feb. 13, they saw a group of armed men in military fatigues escort a blindfolded man from the Mexican side of the bridge to the U.S. side and place him on the guardrail before pushing him off. Among the witnesses was a South Dakota family that took two photographs of the incident and gave them to the Valley Morning Star.

I don't know what happened, but there were Mexican soldiers behind sandbag barricades on the side of the street about a block south of the bridge when I visited. They were friendly enough. But I wasn't some drunk smart mouthed college kid.

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Talking bizlish

Great article in BBC, "Hello. I'm a management consultant.".

I'm tempted to quote parts and comment, but that would give away it's punch line, so you will have to read it for yourself.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Immigrant prisons

A few weeks ago Washington Post ran a series of stories about the lack of proper medical care in the prisons we're using to lock up suspected illegal immigrants and their families.

Keep in mind that many of these prisons (most?) are privately owned prisons with government contracts to warehouse immigrants.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's Honky Tonk Music

Ernest Tubb, Remember me, I'm the one who loves you.

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The British "Dear Abby"

The Financial Times has a column called "Dear Lucy". It's suppose to be about workplace problems, but this letter, "Is it OK to ask my younger girlfriend to dump her shallow friends for me" is of the personal nature.

Not only does Lucy give her opinion, they allow people to post comments. For this letter there are 78.

One begins;

How would you start such a conversation. “Darling, (or perhaps Honey if we are in America), I have been thinking, it’s time to get rid of those friends of yours!”

Gotta luv the brits.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's Honky Tonk Music

Carl Perkins, Pink pedal pushers

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Today's Honky Tonk Music

Hank Thompson, A six pack to go

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wanda Jackson, Hard headed woman

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Honky Tonk Music

Junior Brown, My wife thinks you're dead.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's Honky Tonk Music

Charlie Louvin, Will you visit me on Sundays?

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Women in computer science

I don't read the New York Times because I don't need to. I read a lot of blogs and so many bloggers read the NYT and blog about what they've read that I pretty much know what's in it without ever having to read it.

Althouse talks about a NYT article
that complains about a lack of women in computer science. This is the part I got a kick out of
One professor, we read, theorizes that in the past "young women earlier had felt comfortable pursing the major because the male subculture of action gaming had yet to appear." So there's this idea that the key to getting more women to enter the field is to entice young girls to play computer games. Indeed, there was a "girls game movement," but it's already failed.

In 1971 I was an undergraduate majoring in Quantitative Business Analysis at LSU. The Computer Science program had come along a little too late for me and although I was taking as many Computer Science courses as the Business School Dean would approve for me, I didn't change majors because it would have delayed graduation. I did have a student job grading homework assignments in the Computer Science department however.
There were four of us, and we shared an office. The other three were Computer Science majors. Twenty-five percent of us was female (thirty-three percent of the Computer Science majors). I think 1971 was before the twit professor quoted above would consider the appearance of the male subculture of action gaming.

One Wednesday afternoon the department chair stuck his head in our office and said that there was going to be a campus tour of some kind of smart high school kids LSU was recruiting on Friday. He needed some computer games he could use for a demo to impress them that Computer Science would be a cool major. We had a teletype style timesharing terminal stuck away in a corner of our office. So we spent the next day and a half pasting some games together for him. The girl helped.

Male subculture my ass.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Picking Palin

This is an interestisting essay comparing McCain's choice of running mate to George Wallace's choice of Curtis LeMay in 1968.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hillary as Secretary of State

During the democratic primary there were two different ways to select delegates. Straightforward voting and selection by caucus.

Hillary was able to convince a lot of people that she was a marginally better choice than Obama and so she tended to win the states with simple votes.

But when it came to attracting the committed to her side, getting the votes of those for whom it really mattered rather than votes of those with a mild preference, Hillary fell on her face. She couldn't do it.

The job of Secretary of State isn't a job of counting up votes of people with mild preferences. It's about getting countries with a serious stake in things to come over to your side.

Hillary proved to be incompetent at that. There's no way she'd be a competent Secretary of State.

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Some people use bad language and is not even aware of the fact

For a good laugh, read the entire article.

From the Baltimore Examiner, The sad, sad state of college English

These were a couple of my favorites.

Society has moved toward cereal killers.

People who murder a lot of people are called masked murderers.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Small Government Conservatives

I was listening to some random radio right wing wacko in the car this evening. He was making some comment about people not understanding the proper role of government.

We don't realize that government is just a necessary evil and too many of think government is a sugar daddy.

While it might be nice to think about a small government it's futile to refuse to recognize that government is a sugar daddy and nothing he or anybody else says or does is going to change that. The only question is Whose sugar daddy is it?

Government has become huge and self-perpetuating. It takes money (or freedom) away from one group of people and gives it to another group. The only thing left for us to worry about is whether or not the group(s) we are in is a group that gives or a group that get. It's going to be one or the other -- government is not neutral and it isn't going to become neutral anytime in our lifetimes.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Are they really that stupid?

I was watching The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS this evening. He was talking with some suits about a bailout of the US auto industry. One of them seemed to think the auto companies were special, and that we should bail them out.

His reasoning was less than stellar.

He compared the auto industry to the airline industry by asserting that an airline in Chapter 11 can still fly planes and still sell tickets but people won't want to buy a car from a car company in Chapter 11 because of a fear of an inability to get parts and/or repairs later.

Here's a page listing on line sources for parts for a 1952 Studebaker.

And you won't even have to get a cash advance to buy a rebuilt starter for a 1952 Studebaker.

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Hiding in plain sight

I use to live in New Jersey and sometimes read the New Jersey papers online. I particularly enjoy reading about any mob activity, New Jersey being well known for that and all.

Today there is an article in the Star Ledger regarding a mob guy accused of a murder in 1977.

This paragraph made me laugh.

In 1996, Coppola failed to show up to submit a DNA sample for comparison. Then a Spring Lake (New Jersey) resident, Coppola went into hiding, assuming various identities along the way, until investigators found him March 9, 2007, on a Manhattan street corner.

I am sure there is more to this story. Or, maybe after 20 years he just missed the old neighborhood and decided to hang out, thinking the statue of limitations had passed.

He might actually get off due to the time lapse.

The Newark native has yet to be indicted in New Jersey for the attack, and his attorney in September filed a motion to dismiss the charge, accusing the state Attorney General's Office of taking too long to bring the case before a grand jury.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blogging on TV

In the late 70's I worked at Northern Trust, in the Chicago Loop. It was common for me to go to a bar after work on Friday and there was a country-western bar on the North side of the loop, next to the Greyhound bus station that I often went to. It was pretty much a dive. But it was a 4 o'clock bar, with a big dance floor, and two bands so that they had continuous live music. Classic honky-tonk country music.

The female anchor person from one of the local news shows often came in on Friday nights after she finished the 10 pm broadcast. She'd come straight from work, wearing her work clothes. I don't remember her name.

She did her broadcast sitting at an anchor desk, and this predated the leg flashing habits of anchors for Fox News. So her work cloithes consisted of a silk blouse with a fashionble suit jacket combined with cut-off jeans.

I guess she was kind of an early TV blogger.

h/t Ann Althouse

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why people hate banks

I had a problem with Bank of America a year or so ago. They wouldn't release funds for 2 weeks after I deposited a cashiers check. I realize there were scams going around and they were trying to avoid getting scammed, BUT, even after they were able to confirm they had received the funds from the other bank, they still would not release my money. Not until the 15 days was up.

After that incident I closed all of my accounts with Bank of America. I had been a customer for more than 20 years.

Little wonder people have moved away from banks to payday loans. The New York Times has an article in their Sunday Magazine regarding check cashers. This quote is a good example of why people won't use banks.

Two years ago, Enriquez opened his first bank account. “I said I wanted to start a savings account,” he said. He thought the account was free, until he got his first statement. “They were charging me for checks!” he said, still upset about it. “I didn’t want checks. They’re always charging you fees. For a while, I didn’t use the bank at all, they charged like $100 in fees.” Even studying his monthly statements, he couldn’t always figure out why they charged what they charged. Nix is almost certainly more expensive, but it’s also more predictable and transparent, and that was a big deal to Enriquez.

Marlo Lopez had no broad gripe with banks, but his experience was similar. He moved to the United States from Peru a couple of years ago (with a visa) and got a job as a mechanic at a food-processing plant. Lopez opened his first bank account last summer. A couple of months later, out for dinner, he overdrew his account by 18 cents and got hit with a $35 penalty. It was his fault, he said; he thought he had more in the account than he did. Still, losing that money all at once unsettled him. He kept the account but returned to cashing his checks at Nix.

In these hard economic times I think the cash checkers will do really well. You don't see them going to the government for hand outs.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Locking up Infants

Eight years old isn't an infant, but it's pretty close.

His father and a boarder/friend of his father were killed, shot with a 22. Police were called after the boy told a neighbor he though his daddy was dead. The boy denied any knowledge of what happened.

Police then interrogated him for a few hours, without allowing him to consult with any relatives or with a lawyer. He confessed and they charged him with premeditated murder.

more on the story.

When I was a kid I was locked up in a juvenile detention facility for a few days as a runaway. I know firsthand how cops interrogate children. Any confession that kid might have made is unreliable and it's just nonsense to base any kind of prosecution on it. It's really kind of amazing how much of our criminal justice system is based on nonsense.

If he was old enough to have a job he could use a cash advance to get the cash to hire a lawyer.

ht: Injustice Anywhere.

UPDATE: Simple Justice weighs in.

A Public Defender links to a video of the interregation.

I'm just amazed at how many people I run across that just assume the boy killed his father and father's friend based on the confession. The truth is that these Arizona cops screwed this up so badly that we'll probably never be able to know what actually happened. (Did y'all know that Miranda was an Arizona case?)

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Drug Warriors are fighting for job security

There's a proposition on the ballot in Michigan to allow for medical marijuana. And the federal drug warriors are afraid.

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Socialism in America

Alaska has no personal income tax and no sales tax. They do have severance taxes though -- taxes on oil extraction, mining, and commercial fishing. Almost 65% of state tax revenues is from severance taxes.


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Why does McCain get so much negative press?

Could stuff like this be one reason?

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San Francisco votes to decriminalize prostitution

Proposition K would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco. It is on the ballot for Tuesday.

Of course there are opposing sides.

Against officials are not laughing... about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world’s oldest profession in San Francisco. At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other opponents seemed genuinely worried that Proposition K might pass.

“This is not cute. This is not fanciful,” Mr. Newsom said, standing in front of the pink-on-pink facade of a closed massage parlor in the Tenderloin district. “This is a big mistake.”

and in favor

Patricia West, 22, said she has been working for about a year as an “independent, in-call escort.”

Ms. West said that she enjoyed her work and believed that Proposition K would allow prostitutes to organize into collectives and negotiate for safer working conditions and better wages.

Ms. West concedes that what she does for a living “can be dangerous.” But she hoped Proposition K would make her occupation safer and more legitimate. “Working in a coal mine can be really dangerous, too,” she said “but it pays a lot of money so you’re compensated for your risk.”

I particularly liked the comparison to working in a coal mine.

I hope it passes.


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