Friday, March 31, 2006

Helen Thomas




Helen Thomas has covered every president since 1960. Despite her vast experience and sterling credentials, for over three years, Helen has not been called upon to ask Bush a question, because, in her own words, "they don't like me, I ask too mean questions".

On March 21, 2006, during a White House press conference, Thomas was called upon directly by President Bush for the first time in three years.

George W. Bush: Helen. After that brilliant performance at the Grid Iron, I am -- (laughter.)

Helen Thomas: You're going to be sorry. (Laughter.)

George W. Bush: Well, then, let me take it back. (Laughter.)

Helen Thomas: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

George W. Bush: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

Helen Thomas: Everything --

George W. Bush: Hold on for a second, please.

Helen Thomas: -- everything I've heard --

George W. Bush: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

Helen Thomas: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

George W. Bush: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --

Helen Thomas: I'm talking about Iraq --

George W. Bush: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --

Helen Thomas: -- go to war --

George W. Bush: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.


Original press conference - linky
Wikipedia article about Helen Thomas - linky

Don't pray for me. Please.

The American Heart Journal recently conducted a study of 1,800 patients who underwent heart bypass surgery. In the study, some of the patients were prayed for, and some were not.

The praying was done by members of three Christian groups in monasteries and elsewhere -- two Catholic and one Protestant -- who were given written prayers and the first name and initial of the last name of the prayer subjects. The prayers started on the eve of or day of surgery and lasted for two weeks.

Among the first group -- who were prayed for but only told they might be -- 52 percent had post-surgical complications compared to 51 percent in the second group, the ones who were not prayed for though told they might be. In the third group, who knew they were being prayed for, 59 percent had complications.


Maybe its time for me to start praying for the "wellbeing" of people that I don't like.

Reuters story - linky
American Heart Journal study - linky

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bill Napoli



This cracks me up every time I look at it.

Central Reservation - Beth Orton

Every now and again, you read or hear something that you can instantly relate to because its so perfect that it grabs your attention and refuses to let go. You can't help seeing and feeling what the writer is trying to tell you because the imagery is so perfect that it overpowers everything.

The song "Central Reservation" by Beth Orton, has one line in particular that is so compelling that every time I listen to it I always end up restarting it and listening to it a few times.

And I can still smell you on my fingers,
   and taste you on my breath.



Crude, visceral, and sung in an amazingly melancholic voice. Do yourself a favour and give this one a listen.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crazy in Seattle

For a good laugh, read this blog that I found while researching the North Korean baby story. I love the spelling and grammatical errors, the centered text, the clever use of typefaces, and the hilarious and astounding logical leaps made in writing the articles.

This is truly one of the funniest blogs I have ever read.

linky

Perfect North Korean babies

So the latest article making the rounds is about some North Korean defector saying that it is common practice in North Korea to kill babies born with birth defects.

"There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," Ri told members of the New Right Union, which groups local activists and North Korean refugees. He said babies born with physical disabilities were killed in infancy in hospitals or in homes and were quickly buried. The practice is encouraged by the state, Ri said, as a way of purifying the masses and eliminating people who might be considered "different".


I'm kind of torn on this one to be honest. I think that if a couple were to give birth to a human chiapet, and they wanted to love and take care of it, then that is their choice, and the state has no right to interfere. At the same time, I think that it if the only other option were to live as a ward of the state and have a crappy life, then perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. Granted, I'd prefer that something like this happen way before the transition is made from "bunch of organic goo" to "little person", but maybe that's just me.

And just to cut off one line of argument, yes, I know all about Stephen Hawking, and guess what, theres probably a thousand neglected kids suffering abuse and neglect in various institutions all over the world that are just like him.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why don't we have

more journalists like Helen Thomas?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

59,054,087

You know who you are.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Play with me, or else

Hey. Lets play a game.

OK, this is how it goes. I have an imaginary friend, and I want you, me and him to be friends, and we will all be happy together. Well, he's not really a friend, he is smarter, older, and super powerful. Dude, he is so powerful it's not even funny. He made everything. Yeah, for real.

So anyway, because he is so powerful, we will both have to kiss his ass and do the things that he wants us to do. No, I've never actually heard him talk, so I don't know for sure what he wants us to do, but lots of other people have played with him before and they wrote a bunch of stuff down. In this book here. The book is old, so it's got to be true.

If we do the things my imaginary friend wants, then we will get rewarded. You have no idea man, look at me, I've been rewarded tons. I can't really show you, because I don't actually have them yet, but they are waiting for me in my imaginary friend's house. All kinds of things man, you wouldn't believe - pretty much anything you want now but you can't get, you'll get there. No man, I'm not making this up.

I've never been there, so I haven't actually seen them yet, but I know they are there. Don't know anyone else that has been there, or how to get there either, to be honest. I'm going to go there after I die. I just know. It's kind of like Neverland and Vegas all rolled up into one, but better, because you don't get a Visa bill at the end, and you won't get Herpes.

Oh, here is a list of a zillion rules that you have to follow to make my friend happy. Yeah, I know, it's kind a long list. If you follow all these rules your life is going to suck, but just follow as many as you can, and it will all be worth it when we get to my imaginary friend's house. It will be great. Trust me.

You're right, that rule is retarded, no one follows it anyway, just ignore it. We can't take it off the books though, you still have to feel guilty and sorry about it, even though we both know it's stupid. Oh, and don't say you heard it from me, but you see that rule there? No, the other one. Yeah, that one. You really have to ignore that one, because its kind of stupid, and if you follow it, you might die. Can't really take that one off the books either.

Well, here's the thing. If we change one rule, then people will start talking about how all the other rules don't make much sense either, and then next thing you know, everyone will realize this whole game is retarded, and I'll have no one to play with. Just stop thinking, stop trying to figure things out, and do what I tell you.

Isn't this fun?

Hey, where are you going? Come back here! You can't play with that other guy's imaginary friend, my imaginary friend is better. OMG dude, I'm for real, you can't do that. That's so not cool. Listen, if you keep playing with someone else's imaginary friend, not only will you blow your chance at all the rewards, but my imaginary friend will be hella pissed. No, he won't do anything, but I'll fucking kill you.


In other news, some muslim guy converted to christianity, so he has to die.

linky

Friday, March 17, 2006

speak out, I dare you

So there's a guy in Australia called Richard Neville - writer, editor, journalist, social commentator. He created a website spoofing that of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, on which he posted a transcript of a fake speech in which John Howard apologizes for his involvement in the Iraq war.

So what happend ?

If you guessed that his site was shut down without warning, with no explanation from his service provider (Yahoo) or his domain registrar (Melbourne IT), you would be right. If you guessed that it took two days for him to be told that his site had "been closed on the advice from the Australian Government", you would be right.

Apparently our governments can shut down any dissenting voice at will. So much for freedom.

Speak out, I dare you.

link to story in Sydney Morning Herald
link to satirical speech

Ring my bell, Take 2

So I tried Mel Martinez's, R-FL, (202.224.3041) office again today. Unlike yesterday, today someone actually answered the phone. I asked if they had an official position on Feingold's motion to censure, to which they answered no.

Long silence.

I then asked, if they were taking input from constituents, and voiced my request that the motion to censure be supported, and gave them my zipcode.

Funny how when I call Nelson's office, the first thing they do is ask my opinion, but when I call Martinez, I have to ask them if I can give it. Just another reminder of which party actually listens to their constituents.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Losing the popularity contest

Lately I've been wondering... a) how much longer before his approval ratings fall so low that George Bush can be called the Most Unpopular President of All Time, and b) will Fox report it?

No backdoors in our jets, TYVM.

I guess it had to happen sometime. The British government is refusing to buy US jets unless it is given the source code for the software on the aircraft to ensure that they cannot be disabled by the US in the future. Very ballsy move, which adresses a legitimate security concern for the brits.

linky

You go girl

So Katherine Harris has announced that she will give up her seat in congress in order to run for Senate. If you get a chance, drop her a phonecall or an email supporting her bid for a Senate seat.

I can't tell you how exited I am at the prospect of a seeing Republican congressional seat coming up for grabs, as well as seeing two Republican candidates slinging mud at each other.

Where's the popcorn?

Ring my bell

So I decided to call my Senators to ask them to support Feingold's motion to censure George Bush. My experience, while not completely unexpected, was pretty funny.

Bill Nelson (D-FL) - 202.224.5274.
An aide anwered the phone, told me that Senator Nelson has no official position, asked me what my opinion was, and took my ZIP code.

Mel Martinez (R-FL) - 202.224.3041
Multiple calls, no answer.

Now I guess we now know which of them is actually listening to his consituents.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dear MSDN (Part 2)

Dear MSDN.

Please direct your attention to the following code:

Hashtable myHT = new Hashtable();
myHT.Add("First", "Hello");
myHT.Add("Second", "World");
myHT.Add("Third", "!");

Console.WriteLine("\t{0}:\t{1}", myEnumerator.Key, myEnumerator.Value);

I know that its MY hashtable and MY enumerator, who else's would they be? Seriously?

Millions of clueless idiots read your examples because a) they don't know any better, and b) by continually providing worthless documentation, you have conditioned them to cut and paste example code rather than read a language specification and learning to do things properly.

By prefixing all variable names in your examples with worthless typographical diarrhea such as "my", you are helping to create an entire generation of programmers who will fill their namespace with worthless syntactic garbage, the practice of which you have apparently endorsed.


The more .cs I do, the more MDSN I have to read, and the more I feel like gouging my eyes out with a stick.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dear MSDN

The System.Collections.Hashtable documentation is absolutely worthless. The example code fails to illustrate the primary use of a hashtable, which is to store and retrieve a value by key.

The example shows values being added to a hashtable, and then shows how these values can be iterated through and printed. Guess what - I already know how to iterate through something, I want to learn how to FIND something by the KEY in a hashtable - because, here comes the shocker.... thats what hashtables are for in the first place.



Sometimes I wish I was a monkey, so I could go to Redmond and start throwing my own shit at the the people that maintain MSDN...

The Keith Noel Citizen's Referendum

Violent crime has taken a saddening turn for the worse in Trinidad. This group wants to do something about it. I'll let the site speak for itself. Please take a moment to read it, even if you don't live there.

linky

back to C++

I think I'm almost to the stage where I am going to abandon my C# experiment. C# may be a better language, with a better library, but the bottom line is that there is no decent documentation to be found anywhere. Almost all the docs that I can find online are written by script kiddies that are only interested in examples, rather than real documention, and the official Microsoft documentation is completely worthless.

The thing that is holding me back is that it will take time to rewrite the code that I have already written in .cs in .cpp, but I honestly just can't take the frustration of struggling though the documentation in Microsoft's website anymore. There is something just plain wrong when it takes me an hour to find a list of methods for a given class.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sony settlement

So a few months back it was discovered that Sony was shipping CDs with spyware. The courts eventually did the right thing. If you have been affected by Sony, you can collect a CD without spyware on it, and additionally you may qualify for more music from iTunes, Sony Online, and possibly other online music retailers. The Electronic Freedom Foundation has the details.

linky.

Friday, March 10, 2006

churches and taxes

I'm shamelessly stealing from Bill Maher, but he is 100% right, and this deserves repeating.

If a church can exempt itself from taxes, then it should likewise be exempt from protection against crime by the Police, exempt from salvation from cleansing fire by the Fire Department, exempt from having paved roads leading up to them provided by the local Works authority, and exempt from any of the other zillion things that these parasites are getting free access to.

justice, finally

In 1999, a 13 year old Mexican girl was raped, and subsequently became pregnant. In a dazzling example of politicians minding other people's business, there was a huge effort to prevent her having an abortion, once facet of which involved the state attorney driving her to see a priest so that she could be told that abortion was a sin. (Which begs the question - do these guys really have nothing better to do?)

Seven years later, the Mexican government has finally admitted to its wrongdoing, and will pay her approximately $40,000 in reparations, and will additionally provide a stipend to support the child through high school.

I am always amazed that government and public officials show so much concern for babies while they are in the womb, only to divest themselves of responsibility once the child is born. Where is the free daycare, medical care, education? With this settlement, to a certain extent, justice has been served.

The LA times has a pretty good story on this.

linky

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

friendless in Seattle.

Well, Redmond anyway. Can someone please tell me why C# doesn't support friend classes?

Giving up our rights over this?

I'm getting really aggravated at the fact that so many of our essential rights, liberties, and freedoms are being trampled upon in the name of our so-called "war on terror", which is apparently the greatest single threat to our lives today.

The politicians and their puppet press have done a fantastic job of whipping us all into a state of breathless fear, causing us to cower like a bunch of rabbits, remaining placid while everything that our society and culture holds dear is stripped away. Not to mention the fact that our economy on a fast track to being forever devastated by the endlessly escalating costs of war.

So the "terrarists" killed 3,300 people on September 11, 2001. And destroyed a couple of buildings. Big deal. Lets put terrorism in perspective with other causes of US deaths put an end to this crap.


  • 30,000 - suicide
  • 29,000 - incidents involving firearms
  • 26,347 - car accidents
  • 55,000 - toxic agents
  • 75,000 - microbial agents
  • 85,000 - alcohol
  • 365,000 - poor diet and obesity
  • 435,000 - tobacco


    (2000): "The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75,000), toxic agents (55,000), motor vehicle crashes (43,000), incidents involving firearms (29,000), sexual behaviors (20,000), and illicit use of drugs (17,000)." (Note: According to a correction published by the Journal on Jan. 19, 2005, "On page 1240, in Table 2, '400,000 (16.6)' deaths for 'poor diet and physical inactivity' in 2000 should be '365,000 (15.2).' A dagger symbol should be added to 'alcohol consumption' in the body of the table and a dagger footnote should be added with 'in 1990 data, deaths from alcohol-related crashes are included in alcohol consumption deaths, but not in motor vehicle deaths. In 2000 data, 16,653 deaths from alcohol-related crashes are included in both alcohol consumption and motor vehicle death categories." Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 19, 2005, Vol. 293, No. 3, p. 298.)


    Now I understand that going after obesity is probably too big of a task for our current administration, so I humbly suggest a killer that in 1996 was twice as deadly to americans than the "terrarists".

    (1996): "Each year, use of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) accounts for an estimated 7,600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations in the United States." (NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, ketoprofen, and tiaprofenic acid.)

    Source: Robyn Tamblyn, PhD; Laeora Berkson, MD, MHPE, FRCPC; W. Dale Jauphinee, MD, FRCPC; David Gayton, MD, PhD, FRCPC; Roland Grad, MD, MSc; Allen Huang, MD, FRCPC; Lisa Isaac, PhD; Peter McLeod, MD, FRCPC; and Linda Snell, MD, MHPE, FRCPC, "Unnecessary Prescribing of NSAIDs and the Management of NSAID-Related Gastropathy in Medical Practice," Annals of Internal Medicine (Washington, DC: American College of Physicians, 1997), September 15, 1997, 127:429-438, from the web at http://www.acponline.org/journals/annals/15sep97/nsaid.htm, last accessed Feb. 14, 2001, citing Fries, JF, "Assessing and understanding patient risk," Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology Supplement, 1992;92:21-4.


    And yes, as a matter of fact, I did rip the nubers off from drugwarfacts.org.