31 March 2008

Another good one gone

Looks like Aloha Airlines is shutting down, effective today. Rico first flew Aloha on his original visit to Hawai'i, many years ago. Besides having very pretty airplanes (this one features a paint job by Wyland, the whale painter) and good-looking stewardesses, it was a great airline in terms of maintaining schedule, not a simple thing in these parlous times. Rico will miss them...

Elder statesman? Not just yet, but getting there

Al Gore was a segment of 60 Minutes last night, and did pretty well, considering. His whole global warming thing, of course, took center stage and, as long as you ignored the nay-sayers among the scientific community, he seemed quite upbeat about his position. Ideology aside, Al looked and sounded good; too bad he was on the bottom of the Clinton/Gore ticket; we might have done better. Probably, with Tipper still looking good, no Monica action in the Oval Office, anyway...

Best political idea yet

A commenter on the Michigan & Florida primary fuckups has the right notion: "I'll support this plan, so long as our delegation has to wear bright pink shirts and dunce caps to the convention, both emblazoned with "My state party is run by dunderheads and can't follow the rules, so I'm stuck wearing this stupid outfit."
Rico says that's an excellent solution, and way cheaper than a new election...

Why Rico remains modest

Want to know what a real blogger gets for visitors?
These are the stats from a local blogger, Wyatt Earp:
Total 192,681
Average Per Day 468
Average Visit Length 2:31
Last Hour 25
Today 295
This Week 3,277

My stats, for comparison:
Total 8,993
Average Per Day 36
Average Visit Length 3:18
Last Hour 2
Today 23
This Week 250

Rico will do the math for you; Wyatt gets more visitors in less than three weeks than Rico's gotten in two years... (Or, if it's easier, he gets in an hour what I get in a day. Of course, mine appear to hang around longer, but maybe they just don't read as fast as his visitors...)
Now that's blogging.
Not that I'm jealous, but I'm whatever the next thing over from jealous is called...

The lion awakes, and the dragon won't like it

The Christian Science Monitor has an on-line article about the younger generation of Tibetans that isn't buying into the old non-violence thing in the face of Chinese oppression. There's a book out about the last time the Tibetans tried armed resistance; it didn't work so well for the Khampas... "From 1955 onward, Tibet's freedom fighters were assisted, with varying degrees of success, by the CIA, until the eventual collapse of organised resistance inside Tibet in 1962. Many were killed and tortured, though survivors escaped and regrouped in Western Nepal to carry on the struggle with renewed American support until 1969, when the notion of aiding the Tibetans fell victim to President Nixon's rapprochement with China. The last remnants of Tibetan resistance were eradicated during the winter of 1974/75 in Mustang, as the King of Nepal, under pressure from Beijing, demanded the Tibetans surrender. Most did, others resisted, and were gunned down by Nepalese soldiers under a turquoise Himalayan sky. It was a sad and lonely ending, and one cannot help but wonder if the outcome would have been the same had greater assistance been furnished at an earlier time, or perhaps more significantly if the Tibetan Government had accepted US offers of military and economic support in 1951-56."

Rico says a sad story, like the Bay of Pigs, of 'premature anti-communists' (that's a Spanish Civil War reference to premature anti-fascists, in case your history is weak) getting let down by the United States... (There should be a great movie made about the Khampas; Rico will happily direct, if someone will put up the money.)

Rico thought the Chinese were civilized

From an article in this weeks' Time, about the Dalai Lama and the troubles in Tibet: "In July of 2006 Chinese authorities intensified what the Dalai Lama calls 'demographic aggression' by launching a high-speed train linking Lhasa to Beijing and other Chinese cities, thus allowing 6,000 more Han Chinese to flood into the Tibetan capital every day. (Rico says China births way more than that every six hours, so they're not even drawing down their own population.) Lhasa, sometimes known as an 'abode of the gods' has turned from the small, traditional settlement (the author) first saw in 1985 into an Eastern Las Vegas, with a population of 300,000 (two out of every three of those Chinese). On the main streets alone, by one Western scholar's count, there are 238 dance halls and karaoke parlors and 658 brothels, and the Potala Palace— for centuries a symbol of a culture whose people were ruled by a monk and home to nine Dalai Lamas— is mow mockingly surrounded by an amusement park.

Rico says he knew he should have gone to Tibet back in the 70s, before all this started. But 658 brothels? Who's going there? Surely not the Tibetans... Who's working there? Surely not the Chinese... Rico can't wait for the undercover television shows during the Olympics that reveal all this to a worldwide audience...

9000 soon enough

We're just under that many visitors now; with less than ten to go, that shouldn't take long. If I was a 'real' blogger, of course, that'd take a few seconds, but Rico's content that anyone reads his stuff. Though in the least you could leave a comment or two, you fucks, or at best you'd go to Amazon and buy one of my books...

Civil War for the day

Rico and the boys lighting off the three-inch rifle at Fort Clinch.

30 March 2008

Civil War for the day

The expedition to Gettysburg in 2004.

29 March 2008

Paying off is a bad sign

The Chinese are buying off the families of the dead in Tibet, offering $28,500 each. That's a tremendous sum in China, and an unbelievable sum in Tibet. The population of Tibet in the 2000 census was just under three million, and the GDP was 11.8 billion yuan in the same year. Given the current exchange rate, that's about 1.7 billion dollars, or $567 per person.
Based on that, they're offering people fifty years of earnings, each. The US equivalent would be on the order of one and a quarter million dollars. Which isn't all that much, when you think about it.

But Rico says they don't pay unless they know they're wrong...

Big fucking whup

Seems the Macintosh Air was the easiest of the three laptops to hack at the recent CanSecWest conference. The Mac took two minutes, the Vista box went in two days, and the Linux box (actually a Sony Vaio running Linux) never did get hacked.
No one ever said that the Mac OS was impregnable, and the 'additional security measures' in the latest Vista aren't very impressive, obviously.
But only serious geeks like my friend Ben would want a Linux machine, anyway.
Rico will take his chances with his Mac, thank you very much. And, yes, he'd love a MacBook Air...

Should be interesting, no matter what

Rico is going to a sleep clinic tonight to determine what, if anything, can be done about his snoring.
Resolving it could serve to lengthen his lifespan, as his ladyfriend is tired of not sleeping, and has threatened violence. (And deservedly so.)
Lord knows it might even make Rico feel better, too...

Quote of the day

My mother sent me this quote from Ambrose Bierce: "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."

Oh, yeah, the Republicans


In all the excitement over the Democratic race, Rico forgot the other guy...

That? You hijacked a plane with that?

Seems Rico forgot a variant of boxcutter in his earlier post on the subject. If, indeed, the 9.11 hijackers were using something similar, then Rico really doesn't understand how they got away with it...

There are people who'll never pass

Seems TSA bungled another one, making a poor woman remove her nipple rings with a pair of pliers in order to get on her plane.

Rico says she was only going from Lubbock to Dallas; where was she going to take that plane? Besides, what could have happened if she'd gotten on with nipple rings? If the pilot was going to be intimidated by those, imagine his response to the guys Rico knows who wear scrotal rings?

Politics makes strange bedfellows, indeed

Al Gore has produced a commercial, set to start running next week, about the ability of opposing viewpoints to work together on environmental issues. The players? Al, of course, and Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton. That's two reverends and a preacher, if you're counting...

Ah, for some DNA to play with

The accusation has been made that Chelsea is really the 'love child' of Vince Foster (remember him? if you don't, click here or here or here to refresh your memory) and Hillary, with no Bill involvement. While she doesn't look so much like Bill as she does Hillary, the eyebrows alone would deny any Foster genes...

Trying to toss the bitch early

Seems the Democrats are worried about how their internal squabbling will affect the general election. Senator Leahy of Vermont urged Clinton to drop out of the race; she declined. This follows Pennsylvania senator Casey's endorsement of Obama, ahead of the Pennsylvania primary.

Rico says they should play it out; if McCain gets the benefit, oh well...

Fonts make the man

Seems the Obama campaign is using the hip new font Gotham for his signs. (It's still a stupid slogan, but it looks good.) The LA Times has an interesting article about the candidates' font usage: Clinton's 'Hillary' signs are in New Baskerville, while McCain uses Optima. As for Obama, "Gotham was originally commissioned by GQ magazine and designed by Frere-Jones of the New York-based Hoefler & Frere-Jones type foundry. 'They wanted a look that was masculine and fresh yet versatile', he said, noting that the font was ultimately inspired by the Eighth Avenue Port Authority Bus Terminal sign in New York City."

28 March 2008

Too weird, even for Rico

The Dissident Frogman had this image on his site this week. Not sure why, nor is he, but it's an African gentlement with his 'pet' hyena. The hyena doesn't look pleased with the situation...

See you and raise you

Legionnaires don't just desert the Legion, they take a whole armored vehicle with them. Seems one of them left Camp De Sissone near Aisne earlier this week, and stole a VAB (Vehicule de l'Avant Blinde, a large armored fighting vehicle that runs on tires, not tracks) to get the forty kilometers to Reims, the closest railway station. The VAB was found parked in a legal space in the center of town. The legionnaire has yet to be be found...

Yet another failure

Rico keeps trying to upload a recording of (to him) the scariest sound in the world: the ventilator from his time in the hospital. It's just a series of boops and beeps from the machine, but it's probably the only thing he can honestly say that he remembers from his seven weeks there... (And anyone who knows why Blogger doesn't like any of the formats he's tried-- avi, mov, mp4, wmv, 3gp, m4v-- please post the solution in a comment.)

Oh, my gosh, pictures...

Seems, according to al-Reuters, that the Chinese are searching monasteries in Tibet for prohibited photos of the Dalai Lama: "The London-based Campaign said it had received unconfirmed reports from various sources in Tibet that three main monasteries in Lhasa -- Ganden, Sera and Drepung -- have been cut off since March 11, with no access to food, water, and electricity... Baema Chilain, a Tibetan official, said the monks at the monasteries and the Jokhang were being "temporarily confined to the premises as the authorities were investigating allegations that some of them led or participated in the violence". "China says 19 people were killed in the unrest by Tibetan mobs, but the Tibet government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, estimated there had been 140 deaths in the violence."

Rico says the real story will come out eventually, and the Chinese are going to look bad when it does...

Still in there, kicking and scratching

al-Reuters has an on-line article about the Democratic race, and whether or not it's over: "Obama has captured more state contests, more votes and more of the pledged convention delegates who will help decide which Democrat faces Republican Sen. John McCain in November's presidential election... But Clinton, a New York senator who has flirted with disaster before in the back-and-forth nominating battle with Obama, shrugs off growing predictions of doom and still sees at least a narrow path to victory." "Clinton and her campaign aides have worked hard to debunk the idea the race is over, holding daily conference calls to tout their viability and issuing a lengthy memo to rebut the 'myth' that Clinton cannot win." "But Clinton needs almost everything to go her way in the next few months." "The Clinton case for victory in the Democratic nomination fight is built on the backs of nearly 800 superdelegates -- elected officials and party insiders who are free to support anyone... With 10 nominating contests remaining, Clinton lags Obama by more than 100 in the count of pledged delegates won in the state-by-state voting since January and has little chance of catching Obama... But neither candidate is on track to win the 2,024 delegates needed to clinch the nomination -- making superdelegates the ultimate kingmakers."

Rico says this thing is going to get ugly before it's over...

Fitna, the movie, turns out to be real

But Fitna was removed by LiveLeak, the weasels. Go here to see it. And the Religion of Peace is all fired up about it, as expected. Having watched it, Rico doesn't get what the issue is; if anything, it celebrates the 'victories' of the jihadis a bit much. But understanding neither Arabic nor Dutch, Rico is sure the juxtaposition of images isn't complimentary toward Islam... (As if he cares.) But, to be nice, the link goes to the English-language version. (And, no, it's not complimentary. But all he does is show what they did and what they, and the Quran, said about it.)

Rico says fuck 'em all...

27 March 2008

A classic


From the later era, when Belushi had finally learned how to sheath his sword properly... (And Buck Henry always did the best straight man.)

If she told the truth, would we notice?

It's nice of Dick Morris to put them all in one place, but it's still shocking to see the entire list:

Hillary simply cannot tell the truth. Here's her scorecard:
Admitted Lies
Chelsea was jogging around the Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (She was in bed watching it on TV.)
Hillary was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. (She admitted she was wrong. He climbed Mt. Everest five years after her birth.)
She was under sniper fire in Bosnia. (A girl presented her with flowers at the foot of the ramp.)
She learned in The Wall Street Journal how to make a killing in the futures market. (It didn't cover the market back then.)

Whoppers She Won't Admit
She didn't know about the FALN pardons.
She didn't know that her brothers were being paid to get pardons that Clinton granted.
Taking the White House gifts was a clerical error.
She didn't know that her staff would fire the travel office staff after she told them to do so.
She didn't know that the Peter Paul fundraiser in Hollywood in 2000 cost $700,000 more than she reported it had.
She opposed NAFTA at the time.
She was instrumental in the Irish peace process.
She urged Bill to intervene in Rwanda.
She played a role in the '90s economic recovery.
The billing records showed up on their own.
She thought Bill was innocent when the Monica scandal broke.
She was always a Yankees fan.
She had nothing to do with the New Square Hasidic pardons (after they voted for her 1,400-12 and she attended a meeting at the White House about the pardons).
She negotiated for the release of refugees in Macedonia (who were released the day before she got there).

Rico says if you vote for Hillary, you're on your own when she does the same things as President...

Gibson is a god

I just finished Spook Country by the justly-famed William Gibson. I think I've read everything he's ever written, including articles in obscure magazines, and enjoyed every word.
He has a unique voice and style, and I relish starting a new one. This was a sequel, of sorts, to Pattern Recognition, which was also excellent.

Rico says check it out.

26 March 2008

Roasting in hell's too good for them

Over at the Lawdog, he's got a great post about a young woman, attacked and killed by some idiot, who would have lived if she'd been, as she so easily could have been, armed: "In a just and sane world, when Gary Michael Hilton stepped out of the undergrowth with a bayonet and a baton, Meredith Emerson would have produced a .38 and centre-punched his rotten heart out through his spineless back."

"The State and Federal Governments who consistently pass stupid and illogical firearms laws; the Brady Bunch who continue to parrot the foul and malicious lie that 'Only the military and police need guns'; Hollywood's sanctimonious assertation that 'Violence is never the answer', 'Guns are a redneck thing', and 'Women will only get hurt by guns'; not to mention societies acceptance of the Cult of Victimhood to the point where said Cult is a gods-be-damned State Religion -- each and every one of these is an unindicted co-conspirator to the crimes that took this young lady's life. And I hope the lot of you roast in hell for it."

Rico could not agree more...

It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic

Over at the Sandbox, the Peripatetic Engineer has a post about a proposal, concocted during a recent conference in Abu Dhabi, to implement shari'a law in Europe.
Remember, Rico does not make this stuff up. (He doesn't have to. Islamic people do it all on their own.)

The proposal includes:

1. Permitting polygamy for European Muslim citizens and not punishing them for it under European law.
2. Permitting European Muslim citizens to beat their wives to discipline them, as the Koran urges.
3. Allowing men to unilaterally decide to divorce without requiring any court proceedings, as this is a right guaranteed [to men] by shari'a.
4. Giving daughters half the inheritance rights that sons have, while widows receive only an eighth of the inheritance.
5. Not considering women's testimony the equal of men's in shari'a courts.
6. Depriving a divorced woman of custody of her children if she remarries.
7. Allowing European Muslim citizens to marry in traditional marriages without the need to officially register these marriages.
8. Eliminating adoption, since it is contrary to shari'a.
9. Forcing a woman whose Muslim husband converts to another religion to divorce him, as he is an apostate.
10. Preventing European Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims.

That sound you hear is Rico, laughing. Not with them, at them...

Another good one gone

Seems Too Dang Frank was too dang good to stay on the planet. A good (and funny) man, a great cowboy shooter, and a former Marine; we'll all miss him.

Here's his 'official' obit.

Rico says there'll always be a hole just slightly larger than Frank's size (being somewhat larger than life his own self) in things cowboy...

More weirdness running for president

Dick Morris gives Hillary both barrels: "Now that Hillary Clinton's schedule as first lady has been released, her near-total lack of serious involvement in the real inner workings of the government is bluntly apparent." "All of her so-called experience is absent from her daily schedule. What's there, for us all to see, is one soft event after another, a schedule far more typical of such first ladies as Mamie Eisenhower or Lady Bird Johnson than of a future presidential candidate. In 1995 and 1996, she largely toured the country, speaking at ceremonial events, wrote a book (It Takes A Village) and toured the world. During her international travels, there was no serious diplomacy, just a virtually endless round of meetings with women, visiting arts-and-crafts centers, watching native industries and photo opportunities for the local media."

Rico says that should put the whole myth to rest, but probably won't...

Now that was stupid, even for Ford

Seems FoMoCo has sold off two of its divisions, Jaguar and Land Rover, to Tata Motors. Who's Tata, you ask? Well, besides the punchline to a dirty joke, they're the biggest truckmaker in India. Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 for $2.5 billion and Land Rover in 2000 for $2.73 billion, and just sold both for $2.3 billion.

Rico says it'll be a miracle if Jaguar survives the transition, though Land Rover probably still has enough third-world market to make it. Since a Land Rover was his first (and still favorite) vehicle, he'd hate to see them go away...
Go here to see the soon-to-be-infamous 'Obama Girl' video (it slams Hillary pretty good).

Rico says the auditory similarity between "Obama Nation" and "abomination" is a little too close, though...

Back from the dead

The FBI is investigating an old cloth bag found in a field in Washington state. Apparently, two kids found a parachute buried in the field south of Seattle. While no DNA proof has yet been found (they had some from the tie he wore when he hijacked the plane originally), the proximity and the age of the material seem to link it to DB Cooper, who may have gotten away with most of the $200,000 ransom (then a large amount of money for this sort of thing).
If Cooper didn't live, who buried the chutes? If he did, where is he now and where's the money? (They've never reported seeing the bills come back through the banking industry, and you'd think he'd've spent some of it since 1971...)

Rico says he loves a good mystery, and this is one of the best...

Back to crane school

What is it with the crane industry? First we had that big failure in New York, and now one in Miami that killed people on the ground. It looks so simple...

Coming out party? For thugs, maybe.

According to al-Reuters: "The Tibet unrest -- and China's response to it -- has become a lightning rod for criticism of its Communist authorities ahead of the Beijing Olympics, marring the country's desire to use the Games as a "coming out" party." "The western province of Qinghai was the latest area to report anti-government activities, with hundreds of civilians staging a sit-down protest after paramilitary police stopped them from marching, a Beijing-based source who spoke to residents said. "They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people."

Rico says that'll do it every time...

"The Lhasa riot is a violent, secessionist incident planned and incited by the Dalai group," the official Xinhua news wire quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying. "Any country that has an objective and just point of view should understand and support China's measures to maintain social stability and safeguard people's lives and property."

Rico says these people have been speaking this way for so long that (in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson) they can't handle the truth...

Celebrity train wreck; how appropriate

The New York Daily News has an on-line review of Britney Spears' appearance on How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Monday nights): "Curiosity seekers wondering how celebrity train wreck Britney Spears would do on TV drove up viewership for How I Met Your Mother. An estimated 10.62 million viewers tuned in to see Spears play a love-struck receptionist, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's up more than 1 million viewers from the week before, and some 2.4 million from what the sitcom averaged before the season was upended by a writers strike."

Rico already said she shouldn't quit her day job, ratings or no...

Alternate history

video
Hey, it could happen, right?

TWAT

The post title stands for Two Weeks Ago Today, and when else are you going to get to use it? I was in St. Augustine with my father, and we didn't do anything terribly exciting. I can't even find my notes to remember who we had dinner with that day, but it may well have been Ben and Kat and their son Michael... (Oops, I remembered later, and it wasn't them. But who is was makes the title of this post inappropriate, so Rico just won't mention who it was. Trust me, though, we all had a nice dinner.)

Civil War for the day


The original Delaware Blues, circa 1963 or so. Tommy Barker is the only one still involved.

25 March 2008

Morons. Surrounded by morons.

CNN.com has an article about a US government laptop that was stolen. It's not the laptop that's the problem, but the "unencrypted medical records of 2,500 participants in a government study" on it: "The incident prompted the NHLBI to issue a statement saying it would no longer store patient medical information on laptops. The lack of encryption violated federal guidelines dating back to 2006. Shurin told CNN the stolen laptop 'fell through the cracks' and should have been encrypted. A thorough review of other laptops containing sensitive information is under way, she said. On Friday, the NHLBI said it would install encryption software on its laptops and conduct regular security training for its employees."

Rico says if the 'senior employee' who had it in their trunk isn't fired, there's no justice. How hard is it to do this right, people?

Every once in awhile...

...a great piece of news.
Seems, according to the New York Times, that doctors figured out how to operate on a previously-inoperable tumor located deep in a woman's abdomen.
How'd they do it? Simple, as these things usually are when they think about them. They just opened her up, took everything out, cut out the tumor, then put everything back. "The surgery lasted 15 hours and was one of the first to involve taking so many organs out of the body: the stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, small intestine and two-thirds of the large intestine." "Doctors essentially had to empty Ms. Zepp’s abdomen. Then they cut out the tumor and its attached blood vessels in a matter of minutes." "The removed organs sat in a large, square metal tin — roughly the size of a turkey pan — for about 90 minutes before the surgeons began to reinsert and reattach them."

Rico says they couldn't do this with his brain, so it's just as well that the damned angioma blew up by itself...

Funny, but not that funny

Britney Spears appeared on How I Met Your Mother last night. Rico says she shouldn't give up her day job...

Remember: unclick the seat belts

If you want to know why that's Rico standing up in the aisle with a seatbelt flail dangling from his hand, this is why. CNN reports air marshals missing from almost all flights: "Of the 28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals." The TSA refuses to release either the total number of marshals regularly assigned to flights or a percentage of daily flights that are covered, but called the numbers given to CNN "a myth." Air marshals told CNN that while the TSA tells the public it cannot divulge numbers because they are classified, the agency tells its own agents that at least 5 percent of all flights are covered. But marshals across the country -- all of whom spoke with CNN on the condition they not be identified for fear of losing their jobs -- said the 5 percent figure quoted to them by their TSA bosses is not possible. CNN was told that staffing in Dallas, Texas, for instance, is down 44 percent from its high, while Seattle, Washington, has 40 percent fewer agents. Las Vegas, Nevada, which had as many as 245 air marshals, this past February had only 47. The Transportation Security Administration is advertising for applicants to fill 50 air marshal positions.

Rico says the bad guys read the internet, too; if the TSA gets caught, there'll be hell to pay. Of course, if the bad guys succeed, it won't be on a flight that Rico's on...

Size doesn't matter, they say

A man shorter than his gorgeous wife has gotta have serious balls, and Nicholas Sarkozy's got 'em. They're headed off to England to see the Queen (where Mrs. Sarkozy, Carla to her admirers, will perform une révérence, as required by diplomatic rules; Sarkozy gets to just bow).
Sarkozy is expected to make a gesture by sending an extra thousand or so French troops to the NATO operation in Afghanistan.

If they're Legionnaires, Rico is all in favor of it; regular French troops, not so much...

The Gray Lady still hasn't gotten the joke

The Lede, an on-line news blog from the New York Times, carried a column by Mike Nizza yesterday that treated the whole "Fitna" movie tizzy as if it were still on-going. Obviously they didn't bother to go to the Fitna site and see the joke's on them. (They've changed it since yesterday; it's hard to tell what the hell is going on now, but "O grandsons of apes and pigs" is probably a little over the top, even for a real Islamic site...)

Oh, you wanted the truth...

Seems Hillary 'misspoke' (as in lied for effect) when she said she'd 'run across the tarmac to avoid sniper fire' during her visit to Bosnia in 1996. (It's so long ago, pre-Monica, and she is getting older...) She'd touted the trip as part of her half-vast 'experience', one of her eighty overseas trips as First Lady, that qualifies her as presidential material.
Turns out, however, when they reviewed the photos of the trip, not only was there no sniper fire, but they had children waiting for her on the runway.

Rico says that the ability to lie with a straight face is good preparation for being president; Bush does it all the time. Of course, so did Bill Clinton (ever watch his deposition in the Lewinsky affair?), Nixon, LBJ, and even JFK...

Civil War for the day

The markings on a cannon in the town square, St. Augustine, Florida; tube 7215, made in 1846.

24 March 2008

The prettiest plane

Bayou Renaissance Man has the second part of his three-part series on the Supermarine Spitfire. Not only is is a gorgeous aircraft, but it saved Britain's bacon at the start of World War Two. Rico says check it out...

Chinese fire drill

Wyatt, over at Support Your Local Gunfighter, takes the Chinese to task for their stomping of internal dissent (and Tibetan heads) prior to this summer's Olympics: "Interestingly, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir recently quipped, Sure, my country is embroiled in continuous violence and obvious genocide, but hey, at least we’re not China!

Not much more

Everyone's all up in Obama's face about having enough 'experience' (especially the Clinton camp, as if her years of purported experience are worth anything).
Just for comparison, let's look at another famous Democratic presidential candidate from Rico's childhood. A war hero, the candidate comes home and is convinced that he should run for Congress. He wins the election, and serves six years in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate. During his senate career, he's almost picked as a vice presidential candidate, but declines because he knows he's going to run himself for president, four years later.
So, we have a young man who's only additional experience over Obama is six years in the House of Representatives, during which he did little of note. He spends two terms as a senator, then gets nominated for president by the Democrats. In a very close race, he beats the much more experienced Republican and becomes the first Catholic ever elected president.
Obama, on the other hand, served as a senator in the Illinois legislature and had an unsuccessful run as a representative in 2000, then gave the keynote address at the 2004 convention, before being elected to the US Senate in 2004; he's still in his first six-year term as a senator.
Is Barack Obama another John F. Kennedy? Maybe not. But Hillary Clinton sure as shit isn't. Let's elect him and find out...

Don't call me Barry

Seems young Mister Obama was, as his father had been before him, called Barry up through college. In 1980 he made the conscious decision to have everyone, relatives included, call him by his given name, Barack. Seems reasonable enough. It was his name, after all, and Rico has to agree that 'Barry' is a pretty stupid version of the name...

I forgot about that Dutch finger

Seems we've all been had with the whole Fitna movie tizzy. According to its 'official' release site, there is no movie: "if you are worried about how much unrest the rumour of a 15 minute movie about Islam can create, maybe it is time to identify and deal with the issues at hand."

Rico says a great joke, even for the Dutch; but it would have been more interesting if they'd actually made the damn movie...

New math, old stats

If we looked just at D-Day as an equivalent, but scaled the numbers up to today's population figures, the number of troops involved would be 206,000 (or nearly twice what we have in Iraq and Afghanistan right now) and the casualties for a single day (6 June 1944) would be 51,500, or over ten times what we've sustained in Iraq in five years.
If we'd sustained that level of casualties every day in WW2, of course, the people would have rebelled, but it's still far higher, per day or per unit or per whatever you want to look at, than we're experiencing now.

Rico says we appear unwilling to pay any price to end this war on terrorism; yet what would we have agreed to pay on 10 September if 11 September could have been prevented...

Civil War for the day

Rico at Fort Clinch with the three-inch rifle and caisson.

23 March 2008

Yet another first class delusional structure

That would be Easter, when Christians celebrate the 'resurrection' of Jesus Christ. The fact that it's really a pagan holiday, the vernal equinox or the start of Spring, and derived from the Jewish holiday of Passover, doesn't bear on the nature of the day for Christians.
Constantine I, Roman emperor, convoked the Council of Nicaea in 325. The council unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox; and that if the full moon should occur on a Sunday and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the Sunday following. Coincidence of the feasts of Easter and Passover was thus avoided.

Rico says it's nice that all the Christians can use the same delusional structure, no matter what day they celebrate it...

Civil War for the day

Union officers make plans for the upcoming offensive in the trenches outside Richmond.

Tanker wars

While the big boys bicker over who should get the money (okay, 35 billion is worth arguing about), the Air Force is compelled to keep lashing together its fleet of KC135s, the only aerial refueling tanker it has, to enable it to do its job worldwide.
The Chicago Tribune has an on-line article about it: "The Air Force announced last month it had awarded a $35 billion contract to a partnership of Northrop Grumman and the corporate parent of the European-led planemaker Airbus to begin replacing the tanker fleet, whose aircraft now have an average age of 47. But the long-languishing plan to revamp the fleet will likely be further delayed as the competing bidder and manufacturer of the original fleet, Chicago-based Boeing, filed a complaint this month with the Government Accountability Office. Outraged lawmakers have threatened to undo the deal." "Hundreds of personnel toil every day to keep 39 of the Air Force's 530 Eisenhower-era tankers airborne, a feat of tenacity and ingenuity that baffles even the men and women who manage to keep the planes airworthy three decades after commercial airlines retired such planes."
"The Air Force announced last month it had awarded a $35 billion contract to a partnership of Northrop Grumman and the corporate parent of the European-led planemaker Airbus to begin replacing the tanker fleet, whose aircraft now have an average age of 47. But the long-languishing plan to revamp the fleet will likely be further delayed as the competing bidder and manufacturer of the original fleet, Chicago-based Boeing, filed a complaint this month with the Government Accountability Office. Defense analysts say Boeing's appeal could set back the manufacture of the new tankers by years. At the same time, members of Congress from Kansas and Washington state—where Boeing has manufacturing plants—are considering introducing legislation that would undo the deal. Commanders at McConnell declined to comment on the politicking, saying only that they hope to have new tankers at their disposal as soon as possible. Air Force officials say they are confident they can keep up the maintenance of the aircraft for many more years, yet there is a recognition among senior officials and squadron leaders that time is not on the side of the aging aircraft."
"A contract to lease new tankers was originally awarded to Boeing but was annulled in 2004 after an ethics scandal led to jail time for two Boeing officials. One of the jailed officials had worked as a procurement officer for the Air Force and was specifically involved with the annulled deal before joining Boeing. But since Boeing formally lost out on the re-bid process three weeks ago, numerous members of Congress have bemoaned the Air Force's decision to award one of the most lucrative military contracts ever to a partnership that includes a European company at a time when the U.S. economy seems headed toward a recession."
"By all accounts, the current tanker fleet, manufactured by Boeing, has been as reliable as any aircraft the Air Force has ever flown. Air Force officials note that only 12 to 18 of the new tankers, known as the KC-45, are expected to be manufactured each year as part of the contract that calls for 179 new tankers. So even in the best-case scenario, some of the KC-135 tankers would remain flying for 30 more years. Senior officers said the tankers have been trustworthy in large part because of an aggressive maintenance and inspection regime. For every hour a tanker is in the air, Air Force teams spend ten hours on maintenance."
"For the pilots, the tanker mission is one of the most satisfying jobs in the service, said 1st Lt. Nick Motlagh. The plane, which many airmen appreciatively refer to as the U.S. military's gas station in the sky, is in many ways a throwback that tests the air crews' piloting skills, and figuring out how to land and take off in an aircraft carrying 200,000 pounds of fuel can be a challenge on some of the military's shorter runways. The refueling mission is an essential one that has been critical to some of the highest-profile episodes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tankers from the 22nd Air Wing have supported missions that have led to more than 841 enemy fighters killed in action, have aided two hostage rescues and have assisted in evacuating dozens of wounded troops."

Rico says screw Airbus; give the contract to Boeing, where it belongs... (While Rico knows they're going to want to redesign the thing from the wheels up, surely they could come up with a slide-in package for a 747 that would work in the interim.)

Wrong math; back to prison

"Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."
That was the slogan of the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army. (Rico could never quite figure out where Symbion was, but it turns out that in his manifesto Symbionese Liberation Army Declaration of Revolutionary War & the Symbionese Program, Donald DeFreeze (aka "Field Marshal Cinque") wrote, "The name 'symbionese' is taken from the word 'symbiosis' and we define its meaning as a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony and partnership in the best interest of all within the body".)
Besides kidnapping Patty Hearst, the group claimed responsibility for the murder of a school superintendent and was involved in an armed bank robbery and other violent activities. Eventually those activities caught up with the group's members, including Sara Jane Olson, who was charged in several attempted bombings.
Olson, who was formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was charged in 1975 with attempting to bomb police cars. But Olson vanished soon after she was charged and reinvented herself as a housewife — changing her name to Sara Jane Olson, marrying a doctor and becoming a mother of three in St. Paul, Minn. She was arrested in 1999 after FBI agents acted on a tip from TV's "America's Most Wanted." In 2001, Olson pleaded guilty to the attempted bombings. She pleaded guilty in 2003 to second-degree murder in the 1975 shooting death of a customer during a bank robbery in Carmichael, near Sacramento. After several adjustments, Olson's sentences, to be served consecutively, included 12 years for the attempted bombings and two years for the bank slaying, said Seth Unger, a Department of Corrections spokesman. Just days after her release on parole, a former 1970s radical was headed back to prison Saturday to serve at least one more year after corrections officials said a miscalculation resulted in her early release. Olson, 61, was detained at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday night and told her right to leave the state had been rescinded. She was sent to stay with family in Palmdale, where authorities kept watch outside the house overnight, and was arrested Saturday and imprisoned in Corona, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Kernan said. She will be returned to the same prison in central California that she walked out of Monday and will not be eligible for release until March 17, 2009, he said.

Rico says a classic oops by someone charged with knowing...

22 March 2008

No, no, this is the best Irish joke

It's a historical joke, told to me in a pub in Dublin by the president of the government workers' union one drunken evening, back before the fall of the Soviet Union:

The telephone rings in the Kremlin, and the general in charge picks up the phone. "Da?"
"Hello, sorry to bother you at this hour, but this is Irish Defense Forces calling."
"Yes, what can I do for you?"
"Well, fair warning, I'm just calling to tell you that we're going to invade in the morning."
"Invade?" The general is incredulous. "You are going to invade Russia?"
"Yes, in the morning, as I say."
"Please to forgive me, but how many aircraft will you be using to invade my country?"
"Three."
"Three?"
"Yes, three, if we can get the big one off the ground. Otherwise just the two, you see."
"I see." The general sighed. "I must tell you, we will have over a thousand aeroplanes to defend Mother Russia."
"That's quite alright. We'll be along in the morning."
"And how many submarines will you be using to invade my country?"
"Just the one, assuming we can get it out of drydock tonight."
"Really? Well, I must tell you, we will have dozens of anti-submarine vessels and hunter-killer submarines out looking for your craft."
"Indeed? That's a lot. But we'll be on our way in the morning, just the same."
"Finally, please, do tell me how many troops you have committed to invading my country?"
"Assuming we can get the pubs closed early, I think we can muster enough paratroopers to fill all the available aircraft, and we'll be along in the morning."
"So. But it is only fair to tell you that we will have a million, perhaps two millions, of troops awaiting your invasion force."
"Really? Two million?"
"Yes. Two millions."
"Can you hold the phone a minute?"
There is a long wait, and then finally a breathless Irishman comes back on:
"Sorry to have bothered you. Never mind. Forget I ever called." He sighed. "We can't possibly deal with two million prisoners of war."

Rico says now that's an Irish joke...

OYAT

Should have been yesterday, technically:

Soupcon
Sorry for the incomplete pun, but ths Gates machine doesn't have the ease of typing foreign letters the way the Mac does. Suffice it to say that the title should be pronounced "soup's on".
In case you can't read the apron, it's "Don't make me poison your food", which someone thought summed up my cooking style better than Chris', though the apron fit her better.
Let's just say that eating chez Seymour can be exciting, if not dangerous.
This typing with one eye is challenging. I'll be happy when they merge again. Soon; the doc says. Other that that, I'm doing just fine, thank you very much. As soon as I have an orgasm, and my vision stops being doubled , I'll be back to what passes for normal with me.
I'll keep you posted.
Until then, let's hope the chili turns out well.

Rico says the chili turned out fine, and the orgasms got sorted out, but my eyesight is still doubled, a year-plus later.

Civil War for the day

Rico loading the Blues mortar at Fort Shenandoah.

Still the best Irish joke

Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he'd just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut, and bruised, and he's walking with a limp.
"What happened to you?" asks Sean, the bartender.
"Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight," says Paddy.
"That little O'Conner," says Sean, "He couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand."
"That he did," says Paddy, "a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin' he gave me with it."
"Well," says Sean, "you should have defended yourself. Didn't you have something in your hand?"
"That I did," said Paddy, "Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of beauty it was; but useless in a fight."

21 March 2008

Politics makes bedfellows strange

Seems the Obama campaign has floated this photo, taken during a prayer breakfast at the White House, back when Bill Clinton was fighting the Lewinsky battle. Among those in attendance was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., who is seen shaking hands with Mr. Clinton.

Rico says he's sure Clinton shook hands with worse along the way...

Coulda had a V8, too

But Rico isn't going to switch his voting registration in order to vote in the Democratic primary, though the thought was tempting. Given the lack of independents, his vote will go to waste, but hopefully Obama can pull it off without it.

Rico says he apologizes in advance to Mr. Obama; if the senator loses the Pennsylvania primary by one vote, Rico will perform some humiliating public debasement to make up for it...

Show us the money

Seems that Obama is doing better in the fund-raising game, taking in 193 million while Clinton's 'only' raised 153 million. While the totals are stunning, the Republican candidate, John McCain, only brought in about sixty million.

Rico says Fred's still got his fifty bucks, but he doubts he'll see it again...

That's two...

First it was that Australian guy, and now this woman gets killed by a ray jumping out of the water and hitting her in the head.

Rico says maybe it's not safe out there...

2009 as 1929, if we're not careful

Seems there's more to the recent financial crisis than meets the eye. This New York Times on-line column takes it apart for you.

Rico says read and learn...

Hip new film archive

Seems the New York Times has gone all hip on us, and is hosting a string of little independent videos.

Rico says check it out...

Client Nine cost us a lot of money

Seems the feds spent beaucoup dollars tracking Client 9, the code name for Eliot Spitzer, and his prostitute: "The Justice Department used some of its most intrusive tactics against Mr. Spitzer, examining his financial records, eavesdropping on his phone calls and tailing him during its criminal investigation of the Emperor’s Club prostitution ring." "Justice Department officials insist that it has a strong record of breaking up large prostitution rings around the country, but many of the cases they cite involve case brought several years ago, especially before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; after that, the department vowed to focus its attention on national security threats."

Brilliant political commentary

Via India Uncut, but originally a quote from Maureen Dowd in the New York Times:

"Geraldine Ferraro, who helped Walter Mondale lose 49 states in 1984, was clearly stung at what she considered Obama’s easy rise to celebrity and electoral success."

Rico says who better than Geraldine to help Hillary into the dustbin of history?

Rico gets it

Having had a little NDE of his own, Rico can understand the inclination:

Last year the Sunday Times carried a letter written by Andre Gorz, a French philosopher, to his terminally ill wife. Here’s an excerpt:

You’ve just turned 82. You are still beautiful, graceful and desirable. We’ve lived together now for 58 years and I love you more than ever. Lately I’ve fallen in love with you all over again and I once more carry inside me a gnawing emptiness that can only be filled by your body snuggled up against mine.
At night I sometimes see the figure of a man, on an empty road in a deserted landscape, walking behind a hearse. I am that man. It’s you the hearse is carrying away. I don’t want to be there for your cremation; I don’t want to be given an urn with your ashes in it. I hear the voice of Kathleen Ferrier singing, ‘Die Welt ist leer, Ich will nicht leben mehr’ (translation: "The world is empty and I do not wish to love more") and I wake up. I check your breathing, my hand brushes over you.
Each of us would like not to survive the other’s death. We’ve often said to ourselves that if, by some miracle, we were to have a second life, we’d like to spend it together.

They committed suicide together.

Rico says he understands completely, and wonders what he would do if his ladyfriend should become ill. Fortunately, he may have many years before he has to answer that question...

Why others see us so clearly

Again, from the India Uncut blog:

Historical quote of the day: When someone is beating you over the head with a hammer, don’t sit there and take it. Take out a meat cleaver and cut off their hand.
That’s Bill Clinton speaking in 1981, as quoted by Karen Tumulty and David Von Drehle in Time. Things sure haven’t changed—even though Barack Obama doesn’t have a hammer, Hillary Clinton is certainly putting her meat cleaver to use.
In Slate, John Dickerson writes about the damage this is doing the Democratic Party. And Markos Moulitsas writes in Daily Kos that he opposes Clinton because “she cannot win without overturning the will of the national Democratic electorate and fomenting civil war, and she doesn’t care.
Of course she doesn’t care. It’s all about her, her, her, and that’s somehow supposed to be empowering for women...

Rico says you won't see this sort of analysis in the mainstream media...

Too true

From the inestimal India Uncut blog:

Yesterday I read Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader for a Day, in which he describes his years as an embedded sociologist in the Black Kings, a Chicago gang. In the excerpt below, he describes his first meeting with the ganglord JT:
He took the questionnaire from my hand, barely glanced at it, then handed it back. Everything he did, every move he made, was deliberate and forceful. I read him the same question that I had read the others. He didn’t laugh, but he smiled. How does it feel to be black and poor?
“I’m not black,” he answered, looking around at the others knowingly.
“Well, then, how does it feel to be African American and poor?” I tried to sound apologetic, worried that I had offended him.
“I’m not African-American either. I’m a nigger.”
Now I didn’t know what to say. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable asking him how it felt to be a nigger. He took back my questionnaire and looked over it more carefully. He turned the pages, reading the questions to himself. He appeared disappointed, though I sensed that his disappointment wasn’t aimed at me.
”Niggers are the ones who live in this building,” he said at last. ”African Americans live in the suburbs. African Americans wear ties to work. Niggers can’t find no work.”
He looked at a few more pages of the questionnaire. “You ain’t going to learn shit with this thing.”

Rico says this is a truism that cannot be easily spoken of in this country...

Another great idea we should try

Rico says it's so perfect it requires no comment:

Indian Health News reports that a bandit-infested region of India is trying to persuade men to undergo sterilisation by offering to fast-track their gun licence applications, an official said on Tuesday. Officials in central Madhya Pradesh state’s Shivpuri district decided to adopt the policy—already tried out by some neighbouring states—to increase the low vascectomy rate. “I came to know that it had to do with their perceived notion of manliness,” said Manish Shrivastav, administrative chief of Shivpuri district, part of the Indian Chambal region, which is famed for its lawlessness and bandits. “I then decided to match it with a bigger symbol of manliness—a gun licence,” he said. “And the ploy worked.”

Rico says he got his vasectomy without benefit of gun license, and got his CCWs without having to prove his potency...

And you thought you had problems

Seems a woman in Germany went into the hospital for an operation on her leg. They got her mixed up with another patient. She got the other guy's procedure, and had her anus repaired. She's now suing the hospital. No word on the other guy, nor his leg.

Rico says he'd known about writing "this one" on the knee that needed surgery, but didn't know he had to write "not here" on his butt...

What were they thinking?

Rico is still unclear on why Florida and Michigan decided, in defiance of Democratic Party policy, to hold their primaries early. (He's equally unclear on why the Party insisted on not having primaries early, but it was something about momentum...) This stupidity has, of course, thrown the whole nomination process into a cocked hat, and may make the final selection of the candidate difficult if not impossible without the intervention (which will be political poison) of the superdelegates.
"It is in the interest of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to portray the contest as being highly competitive. Her campaign is intent on combating Mr. Obama’s efforts to pick off superdelegates. And it is increasingly concerned that any sign that the window is closing could lead a Democrat like Al Gore or Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step in and urge Democrats to back Mr. Obama in the interest of unity... In truth, in interviews, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said that task was tough and growing tougher and that the critical questions were what would happen with Florida and Michigan and the possibility of developments involving Mr. Obama’s relationship with his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. The fight over Florida and Michigan is just partly about delegates. Victories in new primaries in those states are among the only realistic ways for Mrs. Clinton to erase Mr. Obama’s advantage in the total popular vote. Mr. Obama’s edge over Mrs. Clinton is 700,000 votes out of 26 million cast, excluding caucuses and the disputed Florida and Michigan results. About 12 million people are eligible to vote in the remaining contests. Aides to the two candidates said even with the best possible showing for Mrs. Clinton in the states ahead, it was hard to see how she could pass Mr. Obama without Michigan and Florida."

Rico says that, between Vader and Clinton, he'll take Vader; at least he acts like he really is, and ultimately proves to have a heart...

When are we going to saw them off?

In case you haven't been watching the news of late: "Federal drug regulators, in announcing Wednesday that the mystery contaminant in heparin was an inexpensive, unapproved ingredient altered to mimic the real thing, moved closer to concluding that Americans might be the latest victims of lethal Chinese drug counterfeiting. The finding by the Food and Drug Administration culminated a worldwide race to identify the substance discovered early this month in certain batches of heparin, the blood-thinning drug that had been linked to 19 deaths in the United States and hundreds of allergic reactions." "The F.D.A. said it had found the contaminated heparin at Changzhou SPL, the Chinese plant that supplies the active ingredient to Baxter. Changzhou in turn buys its heparin from two companies, called consolidators, that gather crude heparin from workshops that make it from pig intestines. Many workshops that make crude heparin are unregulated family operations."

We don't allow the Chinese to make electronics as haphazardly as we allow them to make drugs. Bad electronics won't kill you. Bad drugs will. Cheap is good for electronics, but bad for drugs. Rico says you should get used to paying top dollar for your drugs, or get used to dying...

Buy Apple now, while it's still cheap

Charles Cooper, in his on-line column, notes that at least one analyst has upgraded Apple: "Our sense is that the Mac business appears to be recession proof. We were already looking for robust Mac unit growth of 38 percent year over year, but now we think it may be closer to 42 percent."

Now they want Apple's business

Seems Universal Music Group is 'cozying up' to Apple with an offer to let them build a 'device' (presumably a special iPod) that is "preprogrammed with Universal Music's entire library": The Financial Times reported that UMG wants $80 for any Apple device bundling Universal Music songs, while Apple has offered $20.

Rico says he doesn't care enough about music to have an informed opinion, but it'll be interesting, no matter how it goes...

Morons. Surrounded by morons.

Seems several contract employees of the State Department went fishing in the records to have a look at Obama's passport file. The department still isn't sure what they saw or who they told, but they're working on it: "Two State Department employees were fired and a third has been disciplined for improperly accessing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's passport file, the State Department announced Thursday night... Senior Department officials said they learned of the incidents only when a reporter made an inquiry Thursday afternoon. They said an initial investigation indicated the employees - all of whom worked on contract - were motivated by "imprudent curiosity."

Rico says this was particularly stupid, because there's been a program in place for over a decade to flag just this sort of behavior: "The employees were each caught because of a computer monitoring system that is alerted when the passport account of a 'high-profile person' is accessed, department spokesman Tom Casey said. The computer monitoring system, which focuses on politicians and celebrities, was put in place in recent years after the State Department became embroiled in a scandal involving the access of the passport records of Bill Clinton in 1992, when he was the Democratic presidential candidate."

Now they've got the Pope worried

Seems the al-Qaeda tapes are taking on the Pope, saying that he's running a new Crusade against the Muslims. He isn't, and he doesn't have the power of the last pope that laid on a crusade nearly eight hundred years ago, but it's nice of them to think he is. Of course, if one of them tries to kill him like that other pope, it won't be so funny.
But the papal authorities couldn't let all this pass without asserting that "religion must be respected"...

Rico says religion must be respected? For what? Just 'cause? For several millenia of mindless assertions like that? For conducting religious wars that fractured countries and sent countless thousands to untimely deaths because they weren't the 'right' religion? One thinks of the Huguenots, the Protestants (who had to flee to the New World; bummer), and the Jews (though Stalin put it best when asked about getting the Pope to condemn Hitler: "How many divisions does this Pope have, anyway?"). Respect is earned, not demanded. When religion does something worthy of respect, Rico will respect it (and does, on a tactical level). Until then, the Pope and all his minions can go fuck themselves (and, doubtless, will)...

More weirdness running for president

Seems a candidate with a bizarre religious connection is a requirement for presidential campaigns these days. According to this International Herald Tribune on-line article, "Taiwan's ruling party presidential candidate has a colorful past. Frank Hsieh was a lawyer who defended dissidents during Taiwan's martial law era in the 1980s. He followed a guru who claimed he could use magic to appear in different places at the same time... One of the biggest controversies in Hsieh's career was his relationship with Sung Chi-li, a Taiwanese guru who claimed he could use supernatural powers to split his body so it appeared in multiple places at one time. Sung once told reporters he took Hsieh on a "cosmos-roaming" tour of Paris, where they stopped at the Eiffel Tower. Hsieh wouldn't directly comment on Sung's claims."

Rico says at least Obama's pastor never claimed to use magic...

Self-referential criticism

Charles Krauthammer, in an on-line column from the Washington Post, says of Barack Obama's mea culpa speech, "The beauty of a speech is that you don't just give the answers, you provide your own questions." Of course, he titles his own column the same way: "The Speech: A Brilliant Fraud".
He does make a good point, however: "But Obama was supposed to be new. He flatters himself as a man of the future transcending the anger of the past as represented by his beloved pastor. Obama then waxes rhapsodic about the hope brought by the new consciousness of the young people in his campaign. Then answer this, Senator: If Wright is a man of the past, why would you expose your children to his vitriolic divisiveness? This is a man who curses America and who proclaimed moral satisfaction in the deaths of 3,000 innocents at a time when their bodies were still being sought at Ground Zero. It is not just the older congregants who stand and cheer and roar in wild approval of Wright's rants, but young people as well. Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?"

Rico says Obama is going to have a hard time living down the Reverend Wright...

Sad, but no surprise

The New York Times has an on-line article about immigration officers (this one an immigrant himself; Rico didn't realize we were recycling them into the INS) soliciting money or sex from their clients in exchange for not deporting them or improving their status: "She came to the United States on a tourist visa in 2004 and overstayed. When she married an American citizen a year ago, the law allowed her to apply to “adjust” her illegal status. But unless her green card application was approved, she could not visit her parents or her brothers’ graves and then legally re-enter the United States. And if her application was denied, she would face deportation." "The agent insisted that she had to trust him. “I wouldn’t ask you to do something for me if I can’t do something for you, right?” he said, and reasoned, “Nobody going to help you for nothing,” noting that she had no money." "The charges against Mr. Baichu, who became a United States citizen in 1991 and earns roughly $50,000 a year, appear to be part of a larger pattern, according to government records and interviews." Mr. Maxwell, the immigration agency’s former chief investigator, told Congress in 2006 that internal corruption was “rampant,” and that employees faced constant temptations to commit crime. “It is only a small step from granting a discretionary waiver of an eligibility rule to asking for a favor or taking a bribe in exchange for granting that waiver,” he contended. “Once an employee learns he can get away with low-level corruption and still advance up the ranks, he or she becomes more brazen.”

Rico says we should keep her and send the INS guy back to Guyana with a "Do Not Readmit" tattoo...

Civil War for the day

A Union caisson, from a visit to Murfreesboro in 2003.

20 March 2008

Civil War for the day

The commemorative plinth for General William Wing Loring, CSA, in St. Augustine, Florida. He was wounded in the Mexican War, led an expedition all the way to Oregon during the Gold Rush, fought in the Seminole Uprising, and served under the US flag, the Confederate flag, and the Egyptian flag following the Civil War, based on a personal recommendation to the Khedive by General U.S. Grant. He died in New York City, but is buried in St. Augustine.

Rico says an amazing man, to have lived so many lives; Rico would have to write a book, except Loring already did...

Jobs a tyrant? Nah. Just excitable.

This article from Wired points out why things happen the way they do at Apple. Given all the great stuff that keeps coming out of Cupertino, Rico is happy they do...

"Steve proves that it's okay to be an asshole," says Guy Kawasaki, Apple's former chief evangelist. "I can't relate to the way he does things, but it's not his problem. It's mine. He just has a different OS."

Having worked for the man (and known Kawasaki as well) Rico says he couldn't agree more...

Making change in the election

Why is it that, every time Rico hears a politician talking about 'making change', he sees this in his head? (Okay, okay, so it's the New York Subway in 1912; with some politicians, it might as well be...)

Surprise, surprise, the good guys won one

Seems the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations voted 2 to 1 that Geno's Steaks had not violated the city's Fair Practices ordinance with its sign asking patrons that, when ordering, they should speak English. "Commissioners Roxanne E. Covington and Burt Siegel voted to dismiss the complaint, finding that the sign does not communicate that business will be 'refused, withheld or denied'. In a dissenting opinion, Commissioner Joseph J. Centeno said he thought the signs did discourage some customers."

Rico says fuck 'em if they're offended. The joke is, unless they speak English (or can read it, which is harder), they won't know what the sign says anyway...

Still growing

As we say, Apple only has six percent of the OS market, but it's the best six percent...

Let's hope they don't screw this up

The Financial Times reported Tuesday that Apple is in talks with the four largest record labels about offering a device with access to the entire iTunes music library. A source close to the negotiations confirmed the report in an interview with CNET News.com and said the offering would be free initially but device owners would later be charged subscription fees.
The talks are preliminary and no agreements have been reached, the source said. That hasn't stopped some of Apple's competitors and antitrust lawyers from sounding alarms.
Apple is in for a fierce legal fight should it ever release a device that offers all-you-can-eat music, according to David Pakman, CEO of rival digital music service eMusic. "It smells like classic Sherman Antitrust Act to me," Pakman said. "I only know what I've read but the plan sounds very similar to the tying practices Microsoft used with Windows/Explorer. And Microsoft is still paying the penalties for that one." Pakman says Apple is following Microsoft's lead. In 1998 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit accusing Microsoft of monopolistic practices by bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. The case was settled in 2001. In that case Microsoft had monopolistic position in operating systems with Windows, the government charged. The company achieved dominance in browsers by forcing Windows buyers to use Microsoft Explorer. The parallel is that Apple is forcing people who buy this device with preloaded music to buy its music, Pakman argues.
What's the difference between a device that bundles music and the relationship between iTunes and iPod? Weren't they tied together? The answer is yes and they have been challenged in U.S. and European courts. A year ago, two separate lawsuits, which have now been consolidated, accused Apple of unfair competition, maintenance of a monopoly power and "unlawful tying." That case and a similar one, Black vs. Apple, are pending, according to documents Apple filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In France, a consumer group has alleged that Apple has violated that country's consumer laws by failing to mention that the iPod is "allegedly not compatible with music from online music services other than the iTunes store" records show.
An Apple spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on rumor or speculation.

Rico says he doesn't, either, but he bets the lawyers get fat on this one...

19 March 2008

He got that part right

Seems Barack Obama said in an interview that "I'm somebody who was pretty clear that O.J. was guilty".

That won't make him popular in certain circles, but Rico thinks it's a good sign...

Not a good day in the White House

Seems, according to her just-released schedule, that Hillary Clinton may well have been in the White House the infamous semen-on-the-blue-dress day. Rico bets there was a long cold night (or two, or thirty) for Bill after that was revealed...

Disturbance in the Force

The large hole in my wa, created when my oldest friend decided we weren't any more, has not healed, nor is it likely to any time soon. The ball's in his court, but Rico suspects it's not coming back...

3 billion to one; guess who wins

"China says it is engaged in a life and death struggle with the Dalai Lama over Tibet", according to a Voice of America on-line article. In just the sort of self-aggrandizement we've come to expect from the Chinese, they're planning on taking the Olympic torch to the top of Everest (or thereabouts, depending on weather) on its way to Beijing.
Tibet's government-in-exile says at least 99 people have been killed in unrest over the past week. It says the death toll includes 19 Tibetans who were shot dead by security forces Tuesday in new protests in Gansu province. Human rights groups have released photographs that show Tibetans allegedly shot and killed by security forces in China's western province of Sichuan.

Rico says he'll stick with the Dalai Lama on this one; the Chinese aren't known for playing nice or fair...

Another great one gone

Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday in Sri Lanka.
In a videotaped 90th birthday message to fans, Clarke said he still hoped to see some sign of intelligent life beyond Earth, more work on alternatives to fossil fuels -- and "closer to home," an end to the 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka between the government and ethnic Tamil separatists. He is widely credited with introducing the idea of the communications satellite, the first of which were launched in the early 1960s. But he never patented the idea, prompting a 1965 essay that he subtitled, "How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time".

Strange bedfellows, yet again

Now John Murtha has endorsed Hillary Clinton. (There goes the Vietnam vet vote.)

Rico says the fat fuck may be from Pennsylvania, but he's not Rico's congressman...

Another good one gone

One of my childhood heroes, Ivan Dixon, is dead. He made it to 76, which is good. I used to watch Hogan's Heroes every day when I was a kid, and he was one of the best parts of it. His honors include four NAACP Image Awards, the National Black Theatre Award and the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award from the Black American Cinema Society. He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild of America and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

Pakistan might make it after all

Seems this guy (Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and widower of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Pakistan in December) is not only in charge, he's smart, at least as evidenced by his column from CNN/Asia: "Pakistan's political leaders and people have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen international assistance, secured in the name of fighting terrorism, diverted towards making Pakistan's affluent few richer. We have seen progress on education, health and women's rights stopped and reversed. But now, with renewed confidence in democratic parties like the PPP and PML-N, it is time for the rebirth of a democratic, vital and progressive Pakistan."
"Those of us who are now in a position of leadership seek, in my wife's words, "a tomorrow better than any of the yesterdays we have ever known." We see a Pakistan where all children, regardless of their socio-economic standing or their gender, are guaranteed compulsory and quality primary and secondary education. We see a Pakistani educational system of quality teachers, who receive decent salaries, and teach in modern classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and technology. We see a Pakistan where political madrassas that teach hatred are closed, and educational institutions that focus on science and technology flourish."

Some would say we deserve as much in this country and, if Obama makes it, we might actually get it.
 

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