Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Trip Aborted

Feeling very depressed and down. We had to cancel the trip because the car has decided to leak out all of the transmission fluid.

Everything happened too late to arrange for a rental car -- they all closed around noon today.


Road Trip

Heading out today to visit Angie's grandparents, great-grandparents and other family. I expepct the PA Turnpike will be a crowded mess. Thankfully my dad has an excellent selection of scotch at the end of the rainbow. Posted by Hello

Have a happy and safe 4th. I may post or not.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Need to Control

Is just sad at times.

The Village of Mt. Gilead, Ohio has a population of about 3100 (PDF). It is in rural Morrow County (population of around 33,000) in Central Ohio. The village has a small business community and a downtown that got a face lift from some state grant money several years ago. The downtown has the usual shops including a coffee house called "Taste of Seattle Coffeehouse." The coffeehouse is in hot water with the mayor because it did something kind of quirky, and to attract more business. It hung the front half of a 1960 VW Bug above the entrance to serve as a canopy.

Seattle owner Susan Spencer also contend there is nothing in the village ordinance that says their canopy requires a permit.

Mount Gilead Mayor Tom Whiston doesn't like the problems that are brewing from the addition in the downtown on South Main Street and he's threatened court action by the village. Whiston believes the wording of the ordinance clearly calls for the approval of their canopy from the Downtown Review Committee "before a sign or projection is added."
Spencer and Sliger examined the Downtown Design and Exterior Maintenance Code before hanging the canopy and they did not believe that it fell under the definition, which calls for a permit in the code.

"Our VW is smaller and less expensive than the descriptions given on signs or awnings which require a permit and it does not fit the description of an awning or sign in the code," said Sliger.

Spencer is confident that the canopy is safe since Sliger hung the 410-pound frame with 2 steel cables, anchored in structural steel that will carry up to 1,280 pounds each. There are additional supporting cables inside and 2x2 angle irons underneath the Volkswagen. Spencer points to Sliger's 18 years of experience as a metals designer in Seattle, Wash., which she believes qualifies him to engineer the canopy safely.

The mayor has said he has gotten complaints that they don't like the Bug and/or because it looks unsafe. The store owner counters that she has a petition with 600+ signatures in the store to save the Bug.

So the mayor is bent because a kind of vague ordinance that may or may not apply wasn't followed to be approved by the appropriate committee. Even the city manager has admitted that the village hasn't exactly been consistent on the standards in the past.

I can't decide if it's because the mayor is such a bureaucrat that he can't abide anything going outside of his system. Or if he is just a controlling jerk that doesn't get that it is more important to encourage businesses to come and invest in the community rather than convince them it isn't worth the effort. Guess this kind of stupidity exists no matter what size the community is.

Defeat not Elect

I've seen it posted at other sites, but Jeff Jarvis' thoughts are dead on. The Democratic Party is campaigning to defeat Bush, not elect Kerry. Here in a battleground state, it is very clear what the strategy is.

This was from the Sunday, June 27 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer classified section. Phone number blurred on purpose. Posted by Hello

You can't beat something with nothing. No matter how much you dislike the something.

Still Sucks

If it wasn't for the fact that some sites just work better in IE, and the convenience of the Google toolbar add-on, I think I'd completely abandon it for good in favor of Mozilla. Made the mistake of using IE while composing a post. Just about done, when I heard the kid call for me. When I got back to try and finish it, the damn thing had locked up with the "not responding" error mesageand I couldn't even get it to bring up the window with the post before it -- the only explanation I have is that the screen saver had activated and it somehow didn't deal well with it. Lost the whole damn post.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Regrets? Unlikely

Michael Moore is a genius at self-promotion and making money from it. I don't think anyone can argue with that. His censorship claims, however, bogus helped him generate even more attention for Fahrenheit 9/11.

As part of his self-promotion he has his own "war-room" to defend the movie from attacks on the truthfulness of his claims and has threatened to sue anyone who writes or says there are any lies in his movie. This only fuels the fire for some detailed ripping. Of course it also generates more publicity and drives more people to see the film. So, Moore wins.

So, with that in mind, it is clear he is all but challenging the media and amateurs to give him more publicity by exposing his lies or shall we just be polite and call them gross exaggerations. Like this one.

But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore's arithmeticÂ?not to mention his logic. Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger's book, "House of Bush, House of Saud." Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990Â?s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the countryÂ?s military and National Guard. What's the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the presidentÂ?s father, George H.W. Bush.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this "connection." The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn't join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998Â?five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firmÂ?s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former presidentÂ?s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. "The figure is inaccurate and misleading," said Ullman. "The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM."
Most importantly, the movie fails to show any evidence that Bush White House actually has intervened in any way to promote the interests of the Carlyle Group. In fact, the one major Bush administration decision that most directly affected the companyÂ?s interest was the cancellation of a $11 billion program for the Crusader rocket artillery system that had been developed for the U.S. Army ( during the Clinton administration)Â?a move that had been foreshadowed by BushÂ?s own statements during the 2000 campaign saying he wanted a lighter and more mobile military. The Crusader was manufactured by United Defense, which had been wholly owned by Carlyle until it spun the company off in a public offering in October, 2001 (and profited to the tune of $237 million).

They also dissect the whole pipeline across Afghanistan conspiracy theory. Moore can't and doesn't answer any of his conspiracy theories. He just puts them out there in a string to create his own version of a trail. As, the definitely not conservative, Nicholas Kristoff of the NY Times put it.

In the 1990's, nothing made conservatives look more petty and simple-minded than their demonization of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were even accused of spending their spare time killing Vince Foster and others. Mr. Clinton, in other words, left the right wing addled. Now Mr. Bush is doing the same to the left. For example, Mr. Moore hints that the real reason Mr. Bush invaded Afghanistan was to give his cronies a chance to profit by building an oil pipeline there.

"I'm just raising what I think is a legitimate question," Mr. Moore told me, a touch defensively, adding, "I'm just posing a question."

Right. And right-wing nuts were "just posing a question" about whether Mr. Clinton was a serial killer.

What will all of this really mean? Ultimately, not much. Moore's not going anywhere. He's making money hand over fist by acting as the left version of Rush Limbaugh. The worst thing for Moore's finances would be for Bush to actually lose the election. People won't be as interested in hearing him rail, because it doesn't matter when the opposition is out of power.

UPDATE: Here is another rundown on Moore's film being fact-checked from the good folks at Spinsanity. Read it, just to get to their ending section with a great question asked of Moore by David Letterman.

Waiting It Out

Looks like putting off getting a DVD burner might have worked out.

The average selling price of DVD recorders is expected to fall by as much as 50 percent later this year as Taiwanese shipments of DVD recorders increase sharply, a government-backed market research firm in Taipei says.

I've been tempted in recent months as the price of an internal DVD-RW/+RW have fallen to nearly $100 dollars with rebates in the last few months. Now I have incentive to wait a little longer.

OF course I still need to get some decent video editing software. The OEM software on my computer from CyberLink was basic but okay. I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it, but then when I got DSL it stopped working. Their customer service essentially told me that this isn't uncommon, and that maybe I should try and disconnect the DSL when using it. Didn't help and they didn't respond further. If anyone has any suggestions for good DV software. I don't want anything too expensive or ridiculously advanced. Anyone have any experience with the latest from ULead or Pinnacle? I've read that the latest Pinnacle Studio 9 is good -- but it seemed to have been rushed to market, and they are still working out all of the bugs.

I've got some 2 years worth of video that really needs editing.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Not for the Children

Please leave your captions for this photo in the comments (via Radley Balko).

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The NATO Sham

First, read this long but informative post about NATO forces from Patrick Belton of Oxblog. I'll give you the key graf

What comes out of this is a capabilities gap. Of 1.4 million soldiers under Nato arms in October 2003, allies other than the US contributed all of 55,000. Nearly all allies lack forces which can be projected away from the European theatre. SACEUR General James Jones testified before Congress in March 2004 that only 3-4% of European forces were deployable for expeditions. Then there are the problems of interoperability: there is a recurring problem of coalition-wide secure communications which can be drawn on in operations. Allies other than the U.S. have next to no precision strike capabilities, although these are slowly improving. The US is generally the sole provider of electronic warfare (jamming and electronic intelligence) aircraft, as well as aircraft for surveillance and C3 (command, control, and communications). The US is also capable of much greater sortie rates than its allies.

So other than as political cover, what does NATO support mean to the US in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Not that much, even when asked.

NATO leaders look set to disappoint Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday by offering far fewer extra troops than he wants and only for the relatively stable north during September elections.
Numbers on the ground will increase by no more than 2,200 from the present 6,500, with 1,200-2,000 more on standby outside Afghanistan.

But the figures fall far short of the 5,000 the United Nations and the government want to protect a vote which Taliban militants have vowed to disrupt.

NATO has argued that security in the restive south and east is provided by a 20,000-strong U.S.-led combat force pursuing the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.
But his [Bush's] efforts to portray the alliance as united once more after the divisions sparked by last year's Iraq war were undermined by French President Jacques Chirac's remarks that he still opposed a formal NATO presence in the country.

The training deal is also much more modest than the troop deployment Washington had initially sought from the alliance that was scotched by French and German resistance.

Like it or not we're there won't be any additional troops coming from NATO or anyother source.. Supported the war with Iraq or not, the US is not going to get much in the way of international assistance not matter who is President next year.

Just Focus Positive Energy Their Way

I'm somewhat amused (in between bouts of revulsion at the acts being committed) to read that Human Rights Watch is all but begging the UN (really the US) to protect the civilian population in Darfur immediately (via Instapundit).

Human Rights Watch said the United States should marshal all its diplomatic resources to gain the support of the U.N. Security Council to invoke Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter to take all actions necessary to ensure that both the human rights and humanitarian concerns in Darfur are urgently addressed. The U.N. Security Council should also do what is necessary to maintain [sp] or restore international peace and security.

Emphasis added.

Presumably they don't mean to just ask nicely and engage in slow practiced diplomacy. They would like the threat of military intervention to help bring an immediate end to the dangers to the civilians. Of course the HRW (and the UN) way still leaves the Sudanese government that has been allowing/facilitating the atrocities to occur to remain intact. Can't interfere with that aspect. Just have the US provide the muscle on demand, but don't do anything else that might shake things up too much.

Should I wonder why the NGOs complain loudly about how going after the terrorists ignores the root causes of terrorism, but don't seem to have a problem with leaving the same governments that encourage/facilitate/commit atrocities without much complaint (I mean, other than Israel)? Don't they see the disconnect? Willful blindness?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Earning the Lousy Radio Stations

I hate the local radio scene in Cleveland. Most people complain about it. Still, I can't help but think that perhaps it is deserved that the radio stations here suck. Went out this morning for a coffee and the paper. Short drive, so I listen to the radio and as I surf stations, I hit the Classic Rock station -- WNCX. The DJ comes on to play a request. A request for "Tangerine" from Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin? Are you kidding me? You feel a need to ask to hear more Zeppelin on this station? The fact that you are almost guaranteed to hear a Zep tune every hour isn't enough? Why not ask for some Pink Floyd while your at it? That can never be played too many times on a classic rock station.

The problem I have with NCX is that they should have such a wide catalog of music to play, but instead seem to stick with the same few songs from the same artists. No deviations, and sadly enough, it seems that the listeners who actually call in like it that way.

Even sadder than that, really is that the other day on the station I actually heard them playing "Horse With No Name" by America. That now fits that category of Classic Rock?


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