Monday, January 30, 2012

What He Said - Newt and His Gay-marriage=Paganism Rant

Wanted to take a swipe at Newt for his gay-marriage=paganism equation, but couldn't bring myself to. S'ok. Someone did a better job for me. Newt Gingrich's Views On Gay Marriage: My Reaction - New York News - La Daily Musto
Secondly, if marriage is such a sacred sacrament, why did you routinely make a cocky-doody all over it? Why did you break vows, cheat on wives, ask them to have open marriages (after you've already been having one for a while), and then trade them in for another wife?

Is marriage so wonderfully holy and blessed that you're going to keep doing it until you get it right?
Hell it wasn't that long ago that divorce was a no-no even when there was cause. Like abuse.

But today Newt can be on #3 (or is it 4?) but that is perfectly sanctified. I think Newt's bible has a thing or two to say about hypocrisy. And keeping vows. I'm sure there is a bit about lying in there as well.

Reality Doesn't Care if a Democrat is in Office

The problem with state budgets, and excessive pension costs isn't only an issue in states with Republican governors. Quinn looks at teacher pensions as address nears - CBS News

Pat Quinn, Democrat and Governor of Illinois - he took over for Blagojevich after he was ousted - is having a problem with pensions in the state of Illinois. And the unions aren't happy about it.
Gov. Pat Quinn, responding to a dire new report on state finances Monday, said more clearly than ever that he wants schools and universities to help pay for their employees' retirement costs.

A statement from Quinn's budget office said the practice of state government paying for the retirement of downstate teachers and professors "requires careful examination and reform" because "employers need to have a stake in funding their own employees' pension costs."
Apparently Illinois State Universities (and some downstate schools) don't have to worry about those pesky pensions.

Oh, and Quinn also wants "aggressive" Medicaid restructuring.
Retirement and Medicaid costs were two of the biggest factors in a report Monday from the Civic Federation that says state government's backlog of unpaid bills could nearly quadruple — from $9.2 billion to $34.8 billion — over the next five years unless officials take action.
That's right, the state of Illinois is already 9 billion dollars behind on various payments to people. (Anybody who lends them money at this point should go to Google, and do a search on Greek Sovereign Debt.)
A major state-employee union sharply criticized the [report].
That would be AFSCME, the government-employee union. If state and local governments have to deal with pensions, and budgetary reality, well eventually they are going to move on from teachers and run over AFSCME.

Anti-Gay TN Senator Stacey Campfield Thrown Out of Restaurant

Heh, TN Senator Stacey Campfield Reportedly Thrown Out of Restaurant Over His Anti-Gay Remarks: VIDEO |Gay News|Gay Blog Towleroad

This is the guy who wants to restrict (could one say Censor?) teachers so they cannot say the word "gay." Frightening word in Tennessee.
Campfield, who has been in the news again recently because he's still trying to push his heinous homophobic "don't say gay" bill in Tennessee, gave an interview last week to Michelangelo Signorile in which he asserted that bullying of gay kids "is a lark", compared homosexuality to sex with animals, asserted that homosexuality is "glorified" in the media, and that it's "virtually impossible" for heterosexuals to contract AIDS.
What he considers a "lark" has caused two suicides in Tennessee.
Phillip Parker, 14, was found dead last week after what his parents say was a year of bullying he suffered because he was gay.
[snip]
The teen’s death comes just one month after another gay Tennessee teen, Jacob Rogers, committed suicide by shooting himself after he was reportedly bullied at his school.
In Parker's case, complaints by parents to the school only made the situation worse. (ACLU, call your office.) That's a lark. Well you know what they say; it's all a lot of fun until the object of your bullying puts a gun to his own head.

I guess the distinguished senator also isn't up on the shape of the epidemic in places like Africa, where a huge proportion of the kids have been orphaned because of the disease. I guess all their parents were gay.

But even in this country, Campfield has his head up his ass with respect to aids.
Among women living with HIV, black women are disproportionately affected, with the most likely transmission route being heterosexual sex. Three out of four African American women living with HIV were infected this way and account for over half of the country's entire female epidemic. Of black men living with HIV, 20 percent were infected through heterosexual contact.21
But then maybe in addition to hating gays, he hates blacks too. Could it be he just doesn't think about them? Could it be he doesn't care about them and how they are impacted by a deadly disease?

Or maybe he is just to stupid to know how stupid he is.

Grimm

I have succumb to the mesmerizing affect of TV. And I don't even own a TV.

The show Grimm, is strangely engrossing. I have been watching the whole thing on Hulu. You can watch most of the episodes for free, but they recently restricted the early episodes to their HuluPlus premium service.
From executive producers David Greenwalt (Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Jim Kouf (Angel, National Treasure) comes a new world of police work where all cases have a storybook connection... but not always happily ever after.
I guess it keeps me out of trouble.

(You might want to use the 'free trial' of HuluPlus to watch the pilot. It might be tough to scope out what's going on otherwise.

It is worth it just to see all of the great Arts & Crafts homes everyone seems to be living in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Greece Elects to Stay Independent

These talks are insane. Greece rejects call for eurozone to control its budget - FT.com

The Greeks and the IMF are still trying to convince private creditors that 50% = 70%. Needless to say, the investors who hold Greek debt can do math at least well enough to pass on that.

Now, the EU (and the IMF) want Greece to hand its budgetary functions over to Brussels.
The Greek finance minister has lashed out against a German proposal for its budget to be controlled by a eurozone commissioner as a condition for receiving a second €130bn bail-out
This "commissioner" (I think better name might be "Viceroy") would be able to veto Greek legislation involving spending. Needless to say, the Greeks aren't too keen on that idea.

Of course the Greeks have to bear some of the blame.
Greece’s failure over the past 18 months to implement structural reforms agreed with its partners has made creditors doubt whether Athens can make progress without “hands-on” international assistance.
If this really a condition of Greece getting the next 130 billion Euros, then I think the end is near. For the Eurozone, anyway.

And then of course, the Greeks need to deal with the fact that their economy is basically uncompetitive with the rest of Europe.
One main sticking point has been demands by EU and International Monetary Fund negotiators for a 25 per cent cut in the €750 minimum monthly wage and the abolition of an annual bonus paid as 13th and 14th salaries – measures that would improve competitiveness and bring Greece in line with minimum wages in Spain and Portugal.
Don't expect to see that change.

This mess could have been more than half over, if the brain-trust know and the EU had just let Greece back out of everything gracefully. It would have been painful (as if it isn't already - they are in the 5th year of recession, with things getting worse.) They could have devalued their currency just enough to make summer vacations in the Greek Isles all the rage. Which would have been a boost to their economy not a drain on it.

But the brain-trust is incapable of admitting that they made a mistake with Greece. And Greece is incapable of owning up to the mistakes. (Indeed, they are prosecuting the guy from their statistics office who told the truth.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gun Addict Song



This guy is funny and talented.

Why Does the EPA Hate Diesels?

Sure the old diesels were a problem. Not so much with the new ones. Kia Rio review - Telegraph
The headline “eco” engine is a three-cylinder, 74bhp, 1.1-litre diesel, which achieves a remarkable 88mpg EU Combined consumption and CO2 emissions of 85g/km.
Granted, it is in a car that probably can't pass US crash tests, but maybe it can. (The Europeans are getting more serious about safety. They do care about fuel efficiency.)

But the EPA continues to insist that the high-efficiency diesels stay in Europe.

Good Cop Bad Cop

Finally, we start to some professionalism from police LAPD detective arrested on suspicion of grand theft - latimes.com OK, the bad cop stole money from a drug raid. The good cop turned him in.

The bad cop was on the job 27 years.
"I am extremely disturbed and shocked by the arrest, but heartened by the actions of the detective who immediately reported what appeared to be criminal behavior," said Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Maybe it will start to be the norm. Bad cops kicked off the force.

More Police State Shenanigans

45 year sentence (16 served) for a crime he didn't commit. Jury Awards $25M To Man For Wrongful Murder Conviction � CBS Chicago
Loevy said Tuesday that police had “framed” Jimenez.

“They strong-armed witnesses into falsely implicating [Jimenez], and when the real suspect turned up, they chose to ignore him because they had already built the case against the wrong guy,” Loevy said.
They took away half this guy's life, because they aren't interested in Justice, they are interested in winning. Cops don't care about "little people." If this and the previous story are not proof enough for you, I don't know what could be. Throw away people's lives because you can't be bothered to do the right thing. Because you don't get paid to do the right thing. You don't get punished if you do the wrong thing. So why should the cops care?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Welcome to the Police State
Thrown in Solitary Confinement for 2 years with no trial

This is a horror story. Man Held in Solitary Confinement 2 Years After DWI Gets $22M | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, according to NBC station KOB.com. He said he never got a trial and spent the entire time languishing in solitary, even pulling his own tooth when he was denied dental care.
22 Million will be paid, but my guess is that none of the upstanding public citizens that were responsible for this will see so much as a slap on the wrist. [hat tip to Classical Values]

Do the Federal Unemployment Numbers Tell the Truth?

I was catching up on a show via Hulu last night, and was barraged with Obama 2012 ads. Mostly touting what a great job he has done with the economy and how the eeevil oil billionaires are lying about his record. (It was so annoying I had to give up. I put up with commercials on Hulu because it is free, but seeing the same one over and over and over again is too much. Especially when it is insane.)

So I thought I would look for this article (actually one like it, but I can't find the original). But the point is, the numbers from the government look like they are being cooked. The Jobless Effect: Is the Real Unemployment Rate 16.5%, 22%, or. . .? - DailyFinance
The June poll turned up 27.8% of households with at least one member who's unemployed and looking for a job, while the latest poll conducted in the second week of July showed 28.6% in that situation. That translates to an unemployment rate of over 22%, says Mayur, who has started questioning the accuracy of the Labor Department's jobless numbers.
It seems that the statistical shenanigans date (at least) to the Clinton Administration.
Up until the Clinton administration, a discouraged worker was one who was willing, able and ready to work but had given up looking because there were no jobs to be had. The Clinton administration dismissed to the non-reporting netherworld about five million discouraged workers who had been so categorized for more than a year. As of July 2004, the less-than-a-year discouraged workers total 504,000. Adding in the netherworld takes the unemployment rate up to about 12.5%.

The Clinton administration also reduced monthly household sampling from 60,000 to about 50,000, eliminating significant surveying in the inner cities. Despite claims of corrective statistical adjustments, reported unemployment among people of color declined sharply, and the piggybacked poverty survey showed a remarkable reversal in decades of worsening poverty trends.
So with a statistical bit of legerdemain, Clinton and Co. made it look as it the world was better, and especially for minorities in the inner city. Politics and statistics: never a good combination.

Those are past figures. What do people think the real unemployment rate is today? Well according to National Jobs for All, if you include the under-employed (those with part-time jobs who would prefer full-time, but can't find full-time employment) and discouraged workers (those who want to work, are available to work, but can't find a job) the real unemployment rate for December was not the official lie of 8.5%, but really 17.2% of the workforce. That is basically saying that the government figures are off by 100%.

I Thought We Were Winning the Electric Car Wars

Another US-government (taxpayer) backed "green company" is in deep yogurt. Ener1, Parent of U.S. Subsidized Battery Unit, Seeks Bankruptcy - Businessweek
Ener1 Inc., which owns a company that received a $118 million U.S. Energy Department grant to make electric-car batteries, filed for bankruptcy protection after defaulting on bond debt amid Asian competition.
Of course, just the other day, we were winning the "green" battle.
In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries.
Ener1 must not be the only battery company to get money.
Ener1, based in New York, makes lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars, which were scrutinized by federal auto- safety officials after a General Motors Co. Chevrolet Volt caught fire, people familiar with the probe said in November. A two-month federal safety investigation cleared the Volt of danger, and GM is beginning a marketing effort to tout the car as safe and innovative.
So I wonder what the batting average is....
Beacon, based in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, sought Chapter 11 protection on Oct. 30 in Delaware, listing assets of $72 million and debt totaling $47 million, including $39.1 million owed on a government-guaranteed loan. Beacon built a $69 million facility with 20 megawatts of balancing capacity in Stephentown, New York, funded mostly by a U.S. Energy Department loan. The company is set to auction assets next month.

Solyndra, which received $535 million in government loan guarantees, is proceeding with court-approved auctions of its core assets after failing to draw any offers to continue operating the company.

Solyndra, based in Fremont, California, sought Chapter 11 protection Sept. 6. Two days later its offices were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it faces a probe by Republicans in Congress over the federal loan guarantee it used to build a $733 million factory. The solar-panel maker listed about $854.1 million in assets and about $867.1 million in debt in court papers filed Oct. 31
[Hat tip to Small Dead Animals. Even though a different source was cited there.]

Graybeard Has the Story of How a Radio Got Into Your Car

The Silicon Graybeard: A Little Techie History Interesting look at what we now take for granted: tunes on the road. Worth a look.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicago's Finest Cost the City $500,000

Council settles Chicago police suit involving autistic boy for $525,000 - Chicago Tribune

I actually remember this case, both because I posted about it, and because it is near and dear to me for personal reasons. It is the story of a kid with autism, beaten by Chicago Cops because he "wouldn't make eye contact" (people with full autism rarely make eye contact) and he was "acting strange."

In short, he was standing on the sidewalk, in front of his family's restaurant, taking a break from helping out and watching pigeons. For that he was questioned, and when he didn't react "normally" he was chased and clubbed in the head. Let's say that again. He was doing nothing. He was harming no one. He may have seemed 'suspicious' to anyone who never heard of autism. But is it really true that Chicago is so safe, that the cops have so much time on their hands that anyone standing on the sidewalk becomes the top priority? I mean, it couldn't be that the cops in Chicago go out of their way to hassle kids/people for no good reason, just because they think they can.

The ironic thing was that this incident happened during "Autism Awareness Month" and the very week that Chicago PD was patting themselves on the back for a new program aimed at helping cops deal with people with mental disabilities.

In a rare act of action, the independent review committee found the officers were acting badly. Not that they aren't still on the job. But they have that check mark in the personnel jackets. Such a fitting punishment for sending an innocent to the hospital for 8 staples in his head.
Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, chairman of the Finance Committee and a former cop, suggested Tuesday that such behavior will have no place in the city come May, when the city hosts the back-to-back NATO andG-8 summits.

“There may be 10,000 protesters here,” Burke said. “Just imagine the potential for actions against the city and the possible financial burden that the taxpayers are going to have to confront.”
Just imagine.

Even in California, Self-defense Works

Intruder Shot, Killed After Breaking Into Dana Point Home � CBS Los Angeles
The homeowner, who was roused by the noise of the break-in, got his gun, confronted the intruder and shot him
Of course, since it is the Peoples' Republic of Kalifornia, they are trying to figure out a way to charge the homeowner with a crime.

So glad I don't live in California.

As far as I can see, this is a case of Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

People Need to Spend More Time at the Range

Three clean misses when shooting at your typical home invader is not all that unusual. Though I guess we aren't 100% sure that is the case here. Hyrum homeowner shoots toward intruder, search for man is unsuccessful - The Herald Journal: News
Robert Cisneros told deputies he fired three shots at the intruder and the man ran out of his house.

Deputies set up a perimeter around the home, and Logan police officers were asked to respond with a K-9 to assist in the search. However, Locke said they were unable to locate the suspect.

Locke said investigators found bullet holes in the door and shell casings outside of the home, but deputies do not know if the suspect was injured in the shooting.
They should look for the guy with the brown shorts. Who is running like a rabbit.

On the plus side, the good guys are safe, the bad guys are scared shitless, and the cops can't prosecute self-defense because of Utah's "Make my day law." Maybe the bad guy will realize that odds are good that if you break into homes you will eventually run into an armed homeowner.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Controversial Because People Don't Understand Sailing

Dutch teen completes historic, controversial solo sail around the globe - CNN.com The youngest person to sail around the world.
Some 518 days after she first set off alone in her sailboat, 16-year-old Laura Dekker glided into a Caribbean port on Saturday to complete her historic, and controversial, voyage around the globe.
Also a bit controversial because of the route she took. I won't bore you with the minutia of sailing records.

But it was controversial because she was taken away from her parents because they wouldn't stop her from starting the journey. And the court put a bunch of roadblocks in her way (for her own good - it's for the children) that apparently had nothing to do with the voyage.
"Now, after sailing around the world, with difficult port approaches, storms, dangerous reefs, and the full responsibility of keeping myself and the Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organizations put me through, were totally unfair," she added.
People have been sailing around the world in small boats for sometime, and doing it alone for more than 100 years (Look up Joshua Slocum. He was the first to do it alone, with pretty poor equipment. He went, mostly because someone told him it was impossible for a person to sail around the world single-handed.

Boats today are better than boats of 100 years ago. And the technology available to the sailor today - from GPS on down - is light years ahead of what had been available. (Slocum sailed around the world with some questionable charts and cheap wind-up clock for a chronometer. And a sextant of course, but have you ever tried to use a sextant from the deck of a small vessel?)

Anyway, she is home safe in just 518 days. 27,000 nautical miles. More or less.

A Sane Response to Censorship

A story I did not post about. About the censorship faced by the minority religions in this country. Mostly because the other posts on the subject had brought out the stupid in people. Missing the Forest for the Witches | Religion Dispatches

A small town called Salem had a librarian named Glenda. (See where the insanity begins?) They had blocked all internet access to minority religious sites.
In July 2010, Hunter attempted to use a library computer to research her Native American heritage. But the library had blocked every site she attempted to access. Glenda Wofford, director of the Salem Library, explained that Netsweeper, the library’s Internet filtering service, blocks all of these sites because they are categorized as “occult” and “criminal skills” sites.
[snip]
Between them, these categories included almost all sites expressing positive or neutral views about Native American religion, Wicca, or new religious movements.
Wikipedia's page on Wicca? Verbotten. The Catholic Encyclopedia's page on Paganism? Perfectly OK.

The ACLU has gotten involved, of course. After the girl in question went to the library board to plead her case was basically laughed at. Freedom of Religion? It was never supposed to apply to "you people."

Of course another good question is, why this happened in the first place.
What's even more disturbing here is that something as central to a democratic society as which sites can be accessed in a public library have been outsourced to a foreign corporation.

Dr Zeus Inc?

Another "extinct" species is rediscovered. Scientists find monkey long believed extinct in Indonesian jungles - The Washington Post

First it was tortoises, now monkeys. Hmmm. Maybe Kage Baker knew what was happening.

(Dr. Zeus Inc. populates a series of novels by Kage Baker. It is run by a group of time-traveling cyborgs tasked to basically save us from ourselves, by rescuing 'extinct' species and reintroducing them at the appropriate time.)

5 Reasons To Ban Gay Marriage - By FCK H8

F-Bomb warning.

FCKH8.com: Top 5 Reasons 2 Ban Gay Marriage (LOL, Sarcastic) from FCKH8.com on Vimeo.


If you are offended by MANY f-bombs, you may need to avert your eyes.

Is it over the top? Of course it's over the top. It's from FCKH8.com

UPDATE: Get your gear here. Includes a bunch of STR8 Against H8 stuff too. (For all of you who "choose" to be straight.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PFLAG Honors Maple-Leafs Manager

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays honors Brian Burke, the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs for being "a community leader dedicated to fighting homophobia and bullying." Leafs GM Brian Burke ‘greatly honoured’ by award from gay community - thestar.com
Earlier, Burke said “it would take a lot of courage” for a hockey player to come out as gay, “but less than the player thinks.”

The NHL is “still very much a macho workplace,” Burke said. “Someone has to decide that (coming out) is very important. They’re welcome on any team I run.”
Burke's son, Brendan, came out in 2009 but died in a car crash a few months later.
Since then, his father has made numerous high-profile appearances on behalf of gay rights, speaking for organizations like PFLAG and walking in numerous PRIDE parades.

A Nice View of the SHOT Show from the Media

Forbes isn't the NY Times, and this article proves it. Why U.S. Gun Sales Are Shooting For The Moon - Forbes

Interesting reading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Thought Cooperating with Criminals Was Supposed to Ensure Safety

I guess these guys didn't get that memo. Suspects in fatal robbery at Phillipsburg gas station head to Warren County over murder charges
Shortly after midnight, Flowers and Torres allegedly approached 47-year-old attendant Kismathdas Kasam, demanding money and the ring off his finger at gunpoint. After Kasam handed over about $500, investigators say Torres fired a single shotgun blast into Kasam's right leg. The Phillipsburg resident, a native of India, died of his injuries three days later.
He did what they told him to do. And they shot him.

Cooperating with criminals is a strategy. Like any strategy, it won't work 100% of the time, but I don't think it works half the time. Too often today, the criminals don't care, are on drugs, or just want to make sure no one can identify them. Acting like a sheep isn't a strategy that appeals to me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Define "Capsize"

What happened in Italy was certainly a tragedy, probably brought on by poor judgement on the master's part.

But what did not happen is a capsize. That ship ran aground, hard aground, but it did NOT capsize. Why do the idiots in the so-called news media insist on calling it a capsize?

"The Poseidon Adventure" deals with a capsized vessel. The keel was pointing at the sky, the deck at the crushing depths. That didn't happen here.

Isn't it the job of someone in the many-levels-of-fact-checking that is (supposed to be) the media to look up simple words in the dictionary? Yet a Google news-search on "capsize" pulls up thousands of stories on the incident off the Italian coast.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

EuroIs that the Fat Lady I hear singing? Greece gets closer to brink of bankruptcy - Telegraph Talks on the "voluntary" 50 percent loss on Greek debt has fallen apart. Not surprising, really.
Three months of negotiations ground to a halt on Friday night, amid a wave of downgrades by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s aimed at a clutch of European countries, including France.

The unexpected breakdown in talks between Greece and its private-sector creditors has taken the country a step closer to bankruptcy after a failure to sign up lenders to a voluntary and “orderly” 50pc haircut to their holdings.
Of course the Greeks weren't offering 50 percent on a net-present-value basis, but that isn't listed here. (Might not make the bankers look too eeeevil if the facts were displayed for all to see.)
On Friday evening, the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF), which represents bondholders, said that talks had not produced a “constructive consolidated response by all parties”. The IIF had aimed to implement a swap into new bonds this month. But the two sides still have to agree on the coupon and maturity of the new bonds to determine losses for investors.

The breakdown in talks has been described as “catastrophic” by insiders, who say the repercussions of a default would be felt not just by Greece but by all of Europe.
The new "technocrat" Prime Minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos, is wringing his hands, and worrying about "economic dangers." Gee, ya think?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slight Navigational Error?

People love cruise lines. Cruise disaster: three confirmed dead and 69 passengers still missing - Telegraph

Now the London Telegraph says that the ship hit a reef. CNN International says it hit a "sand bar." Sand bars due tend to move around, particularly if there was a storm, but reefs stay rooted in one spot.

Half the lifeboats were unavailable - if you click through and see the photo, you can see why; half the ship is under water.

Some people jumped into the water with the hopes of swimming to shore. I hope it wasn't too far, since water temperature in that area averages a little more than 57 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year. (You don't last long in water that cold.)

The photos from this morning show that the ship did not sink. It must have been tough to know what to do. Blackout conditions when the generators went down. Crew concerned they won't get a life raft. A few thousand crazy people, some of whom had probably had a bit too much to drink.

I just never saw the appeal of cruise ships. (If you want to gamble,. and drink and eat too much, and see various shows, go the Las Vegas. The machines and games are more honest than they are on the high seas.) And if something does go wrong, it tends to go wrong in a big way.

Can you guess that the next thing will be lawsuits? Carnival's stock was down on the news.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The True Cost of a Higher Education

Identity Theft. Viruses stole City College of S.F. data for years

They claim it is because there is no money. But the fact that as part of the government, they can't be sued, probably didn't help up the priority on security.
Personal banking information and other data from perhaps tens of thousands of students, faculty and administrators at City College of San Francisco have been stolen in what is being called "an infestation" of computer viruses with origins in criminal networks in Russia, China and other countries, The Chronicle has learned.

At work for more than a decade, the viruses were detected a few days after Thanksgiving, when the college's data security monitoring service detected an unusual pattern of computer traffic, flagging trouble.
The problem still isn't corrected.

Administration passwords unchanged for 10 years, is just one example. (It doesn't take a capital expenditure to change passwords; it only takes people who care.)

Those identities have been stolen. They just haven't been used yet.
A lot of criminals see students as investments in the future - people with clean credit records who, if they get a college degree, will be high income and a good identity to steal.
And you thought those student loans were a bitch.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pagans in the News

This one is a story that keeps coming back, so, I guess I will finally write about it.

Back before Christmas, one of the Buncombe County Schools, in North Carolina, was allowing kids to take home bibles donated by the Gideon Society. A parent, who is a pagan, found this objectionable when her son brought one home. Parent upset about son coming home with Bible | JournalNow.com (The kid is bullied by the Christians - in a completely Christian way, I'm sure - because of his faith.)

The principal of the school said that any religion would be free to do the same thing if they wanted to donate books. But of course, after the first of the year, when she did in fact show up with some pagan literature, she was turned away. Woman not allowed to drop off pagan books at Asheville area school | The Asheville Citizen-Times
“They’re changing the policy, which is wonderful. They shouldn’t (allow) it, but they shouldn’t have done it to start with. That makes it unfair after they have given out Christian propaganda.”
The administrators of this school haven't kept up with case law, it would appear, so now their lawyers are going to see to it that they do. Buncombe schools to closely examine religion policies | The Asheville Citizen-Times

And before someone brings up the War on Christmas™ please note the following.
[She] stressed that she and her family have never asked that Christian songs not be performed at Christmas concerts, only that other music representative of other religious such as Judaism, Wicca or Hinduism also be performed.
There are Jewish and atheist families in that school district as well as pagan and Christian. But hey, why should the Christians have to be inclusive?</sarcasm>

Of course they may not run scared of a few pissed-off Jewish or pagan families, but there is one group they are damn well scared of: The ACLU.
“I think generally speaking as a board, we want to avoid the lawsuits,” [Bob Rhinehart, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Education] said. “It’s a waste of resources, and our resources are already pretty tight.”
Yeah, because if you can't do the right thing for the right reason, at least you can do they right thing when the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mafia Sitll Big Business in Italy

One of the Euro-zone countries we are not doubt paying to help bailout. (IMF funds don't just come from Europe) Mafia is Italy's biggest business - Telegraph
The country's four mafia groups have broken out of their traditional strongholds in the dusty 'Mezzogiorno' south of Rome and spread their tentacles across the whole country, taking advantage of the economic crisis to snap up ailing businesses and ramp up their loan-shark operations.

They now boast estimated cash reserves of €65bn, collectively making them "Italy's biggest bank", according to a study released on Tuesday by Confesercenti, a prominent employers' association.

They groups make an estimated annual profit of €100bn – about 7pc of Italy's GDP.
This isn't really surprising.

Couple of Bad Days for Burglars

LaPorte County homeowner holds burglary suspects at gunpoint until police arrive - southbendtribune.com This guy caught three "youths" in his home. He ended up shooting 1, and holding 2 of them until police arrived. The third one got away, but 2 out of 3 ain't bad. The one who got shot has a "superficial injury" to his hand.

Everett homeowner shoots, kills alleged burglar - Seattle News This one apparently though no one was home. No car in the driveway, and a paper on the lawn. But his luck had run out and it turns out he picked a home with an armed homeowner.
After a confrontation, deputies say the homeowner shot and killed the suspected burglar.
But that kind of thing is bound to happen when you meet an armed homeowner, and if you break into homes, you will eventually meet an armed homeowner.

Good Guys win because of private firearms. Bad guys are off the street, for the most part.

What a Shock: Leftists at Washington Post Like Big Government

In Greece, fears that austerity is killing the economy - The Washington Post The Greeks have been living high on borrowed funds for years. Prior to joining the Euro, it was always cheap to travel to Greece, now that they are in the Euro things aren't so cheap, tourism isn't so good.

And the fact that really strong unions have written really detailed work rules means that the rest of their industry is mostly on its back as well. If you can't change the way tasks are done, you can't change. And without a cheap currency they can't hope to compete with the Germans.

And now that the bills are coming due, they say they can't pay half of what they owe, and the Greeks want the banks to accept a 50% "haircut." (That is Euro-speak for loss.) Of course when you look at what the Greeks are actually proposing the haircut isn't 50%, but actually closer to 70%. And since they lied to get into the Euro, and they lied when they said they would repay 100% of the balance PLUS interest, who is to say they aren't lying about being willing to pay anything.

The result of all this is that the creditors and the other countries currently bailing Greece out, want Greece to get its fiscal house in order. Things like actually collect taxes owed, not paying crazy salaries to government officials and bureaucrats, and in general cutting the insanity out of their lives.

The Washington Post is hand-wringing over the fact that now that the party has come to an end, things are hard.
ATHENS — Deeply indebted and nearly bankrupt, this Mediterranean nation was forced to adopt tough austerity measures to slash its deficit and secure an international bailout. But as Greece’s economy slides into free fall, critics are scanning the devastated landscape here and asking a probing question: Does austerity really work?
Of course it is hard to know, because they haven't tried it yet. Greece has been dragging its feet for 2 years (or more).

In 2010 they signed up for some austerity to get bailouts in 2011. They still haven't enacted all the legislation, let alone enacted all the measures required for the 2010 agreement - and they are complaining about how unfair it is that they haven't gotten all of the money they were promised in 2011. And the 2010/2011 bailout is of course not enough. They need another 170 billion Euros, on top of stiffing their creditors for 50 percent 70 percent. And they need to borrow more money.

Anyone who lends to the Greeks or any European country at this point should view the money more as a donation than an investment. They have demonstrated an ability to lie. They have demonstrated an ability to live high while producing little. And they have shown themselves willing to stiff anyone who owns a Greek bond.

And the Greek economy is in free-fall, in part, because they just can't compete. Their industry is stuck in the 70s. They killed tourism by adopting the Euro. They are screwed, but the fact that they did it to themselves seems lost on the WaPo. The fact that excessive government spending eventually leads to collapse is not something they want to contemplate. Offends their ideology.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Android App: Good Guys with Guns

Interesting Android app that covers the self-defense scene.
Every 13 seconds in America, law-abiding citizens use a firearm in self-defense.

True Stories of Self-Defense

Approximately 2.5 million times each year, Good Guys with Guns were able to stop a violent crime in its tracks! But the mainstream media doesn't tell you that.

A woman lawfully carrying a concealed handgun reduces the likelihood that she'll be murdered by 300% to 400%! But again, the mainstream media doesn't tell you that either
Seems worth checking out. Sitting Duck Policy.

Ever Read "The Company" Novels by Kage Baker?

YaleNews | Tortoise species thought to be extinct still lives, genetic analysis reveals
Dozens of giant tortoises of a species believed extinct for 150 years may still be living at a remote location in the Galápagos Islands, a genetic analysis conducted by Yale University researchers reveals.
One of the things Dr Zeus Inc. was supposed to do was preserve species thought to be extinct, and then let them be "rediscovered" at some appropriate time.

This story just reminded me of that.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Public Schools or Public Transportation or Lord of the Flies?

The end of civilization? Maybe a harbinger. Seven juveniles beat a 13-year-old girl so badly on a school bus she was left unconscious and had to be taken to a hospital Friday morning | Ocala.com

Welcome to the school bus. It was her first day on the bus. The kids wouldn't let her sit down. (So why was the bus moving if not everyone was seated? But that isn't the point.)
The victim, a 13-year-old girl who has not been identified by law enforcement officials, was taken to a local hospital, where it was determined she had suffered a concussion, severe bruising on her head and muscle spasms.
"Lord of the Flies" was a description of what happens when kids find themselves bereft of adult supervision. They apparently don't actually have to be physically removed from the adults, if the adults refuse to do anything resembling parenting, or even crowd control. When the fight on the bus broke out for the 2nd time, the bus driver didn't intervene (bets on whether standard practice allows them to do anything that looks like intervention?) but drove to the school.

They act like savages. But I bet they all have high self-esteem.

An Interesting History of Monetary Unions

The Euro isn't the first time the Europeans tried to implement a common currency. And it isn't the first time they had problems. A history of currency unions | World news | guardian.co.uk Funny this synopsis leaves out the old Soviet Union, which like the US was also a monetary union of sorts.

This one seems to be most like the current situation.
The Latin Monetary Union
In 1865, France persuaded Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Greece to enter into a currency union. The gold and silver coins of each country were made legal tender and freely interchangeable across the area. The union was initially successful and several other currencies joined informally.

The current Spanish currency was actually created because Spain was preparing to join (peseta being a subdivision of the peso, or "unit"), although it never did. Eventually, the pressures of wars and the growing disparity between the value of gold and silver caused the union to fade away by the 1920s. It was formally ended in 1927.
Monetary Unions only seem to work when they are political as well. The current US currency dates from either the Civil War, or the early 20th Century depending on who you believe. But the point is, it is backed up by a political union. Doubtful you can get the Europeans to turn over all sovereignty to Brussels. Not if there are any elections between now and then.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Defending Democracy Against a Warsaw Pact Invasion

See this where the "we can't cut defense spending in any way" mentality gets us. We end up not fighting the last war, but the war from 40 (or more) years ago. Obama Returns to Bush Plan for Cutting U.S. Troops in Europe - Businessweek
As of December 2010, the U.S. had almost 80,000 military personnel stationed in Europe, more than 54,000 of them in Germany, according to the Defense Department’s website.
OK, it is a convenient jumping off point to the middle east. Or it would be if Turkey would let us use their airspace. But that doesn't always happen.

So why do we we have 80,000 combat troops in Europe? Because of the imminent threat posed by the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. (You might think the new Russia is a threat, but do you really think they are as big a threat as the old CCCP?)

At the very least, we could bring those troops home and station them on our southern border. If we are going to pay to house them, should the communities that benefit be in this country, or in Germany and Italy?

Once upon a time it may have made sense to keep paying for the defense of Europe and West Germany in particular. But that was a long time ago. Europe, even with its current problems is a thriving economy. It can surely afford to pay for its own defense.

Now I am all for keeping America strong. But part of that has to take into account how much we can afford to spend, and prioritizing what's what. Defending Europe is something that the Europeans need to do more of, and we need to do less of.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Don't Worry, They're Investigating

Government at work. Dallas teen missing since 2010 was mistakenly deported | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth A Dallas runaway gives Houston Police a fake name. Happens to match an illegal alien. So they call in Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the Department of Insanity Homeland Security.

Without bothering to check anything - like say fingerprints - they deport her to Columbia.

That's right, the US government spent your tax dollars to deport a US citizen MINOR - who speaks absolutely no Spanish - to Columbia.
"ICE takes these allegations very seriously," said ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale. " At the direction of [the Department of Homeland Security], ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case."

ICE officials also noted there have been instances where ICE has seen cases of individuals providing inaccurate information regarding who they are and their immigration status for ulterior motives.
These geniuses could screw up a free lunch.

I published this under the "Cops behaving badly" label, because I haven't bothered to create a "cops behaving stupidly" category. If even one person in this whole chain of events had bothered to CHECK the fingerprints against those of the person they thought they had arrested... well, that would be too much like "work" or "following standard procedures" or something, and would interfere with important things like lunch, and doughnut breaks.

Washington State's Gov. Chris Gregoire on Gay Marriage

While was Rick Santorum was reaffirming his bid for the bigoted anti-gay vote in New Hampshire, we get something different from the West Coast.

You Would Think Texans Would Know This By Now

If you break into enough homes, you will eventually find someone armed and ready to defend it. Visitor Shoots Home Invasion Suspect Dead
Houston Police say a group of people gathered at the door of a homeowner and knocked on the door.

When the homeowner answered the door, the group forcibly rushed their way inside.

A visitor at the home pulled out a weapon and shot at one of the suspects, killing him.
The rest ran like rabbits.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Kicking Butt and Taking Names

Ladies Who Punch!: Women : Details

Interesting collection. I was a little disappointed that Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil was only number 11.

And I still vote for Tifa as a tough as nails woman.