Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Advance copy of the President's acceptance speech

I've seen an advance copy, replete with the handwritten notes in crayon, and here's the applause line:

"I will not rest until we achieve the catastrophic victory against terror that we cannot win!"

Swift boat veterans for truth in music taste

In a press conference today, John O'Neill, the leader of the group, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, announced a new book, “Unfit for Command II: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry's Personal Tastes”

“John Kerry claimed in 2003 that his favorite album was the Beatles' Abbey Road. In fact, his favorite album is “Plastic Ono Band”. And I'm not talking about the ground-breaking, awesome John Lennon album, I'm talking about Yoko Ono's version released at the same time. I heard him play it all the time on the swift boat, though he always seemed to want to get to the Yokoist parts of it quickly. He couldn't get enough of her screechy voice. The image of him grooving to her wailing on that record still haunts me to this day.
I'm not here because I'm a Republican donor hand-picked by Richard Nixon: I'm non-partisan. I just believe that America deserves to know the truth - that John Kerry is a dirty liar. He claims to like the Beatles' Abbey Road, when the secret he hides is that he really has a thing for Yoko Ono. Doesn't America deserve to know the truth of this? Huh Kerry? Or does the truth hurt too much?”

When reached for a reply a spokesperson for the Kerry campaign said,
“A) this is stupid B) Plastic Ono Band (either version) came out in 1970, Kerry was back in the U.S. by then, C) John O'Neill did not serve on Kerry's swift boat until after Kerry left D) I heard him playing it [Abbey Road] yesterday, he was really into it. Now let's focus on the important issues like how...”

The reporter found the rest boring so he didn't bother to listen.

At a stump speech in Pennsylvania in front of a crowd of average undecided Americans who signed the mandatory loyalty and fealty oaths to George W Bush, when asked about this Bush replied, “"I have a deep respect in John Kerry claiming to like Abbey Road and have nothing to do with this (wink wink)”" A moment later after aides whispered to him he was heard to say, "“What do you mean 'I said wink wink out loud'?”"

Later that day in response to the Kerry camp's rebuttal, O'Neill released a statement saying
“"Kerry also claims to like puppies, when in fact he kicks them! Doesn't America deserve to know the truth?”"

In related news, Robert Novak is demanding a White House investigation into whether or not John Kerry owns a well-worn copy of the Yoko Ono version of Plastic Ono Band through John Ashcroft's newly minted “Freedom of Personal Invasion Act.”

Note: I'm not serious. As a matter of a fact, I rather like Yoko as a person even if her music isn't my cup of tea. John Lennon madly loved her, and that's good enough for me.

Semi-Beatles related post...

A picture is worth a thousand words (good ones!):

Found on the drudge report (thanks to google for not forcing me to spend much time finding it!)

As I said before, I'm really liking John Kerry these days. (true, this is 30+ years old, but man, this Beatle fanatic really digs it)

(and for those of you who don't get this, that's a picture, I would guess circa 1971, of John Lennon & John Kerry. Hopefully it wasn't photoshopped by Drudge, as he often does)

"Can we win?" Bush said, "I don't think you can win it."

Wow! The President of the United States says we cannot win the war on terror!

I'm speechless....

Ok, I'm not at all speechless, nor is any other Democrat in the nation right now. Amazingly the Dems aren't entirely asleep at the switch, with Edwards amongst others riffing well on this line.

Now, for some attempts at fairness. (I try to be fair & balanced... or at least fairly unbalanced which is close enough)

Here are some possible explanations for this statement:
  • The you in the "you can't win it" was directed at the interviewer or someone else, or maybe the American people as a whole... unless Bush gets another four years of course. He didn't explicitly clarify that, but it could have been implicit.
  • He was making a philosophical argument that this is not something one wins in a conventional means. To rid the world of terror you must rid the world of emotion and cruelty and rid man of all but the better angels of his nature. It's a really beautiful and deep idea. Although I thought his faith-based initiatives coupled with making sure that not a penny of U.S. foreign aide for developing nations goes to programs that do not have an enforce abstinence-only credo would change things. He also passed a so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban. Hasn't he already single handedly cleansed the human condition of all evil? If so, why not claim we will win it without question as long as he appoints another 3-4 Supreme Court justices of his choosing?
  • He misheard the question. He might have though the interviewer asked if we would win Star Wars with Episode 3.
  • He warned people not to misunderestimate him. Now he's testing Al Qaeda to see if indeed they will.
  • Strategery (yes, I know Bush never said this, but man, that was a GREAT SNL Sketch, and Will Ferrell was in peak form)
  • Lock box! (see, I'm fair sometimes)
  • He needs to work fewer hours per day. See, the cuts to overtime pay were just a sly trick to reduce his drive to work extra hours by reducing his financial incentive to work longer. The overtime revision was really a cry for help!
  • He has seen intelligence we have not: Al Qaeda has been secretly infiltrating pretzel factories and is planning a salty assassination.
  • He was talking about winning it in the conventional sense ... about how this is a different kind of war and we face an unconventional enemy. (this is the actual White House reply, it's funnier than anything I can come up with)
  • He's a strong and resolute leader. He does not flip flop. Any "evidence" that he ever claimed we could win this war on terror is obviously a flaw in reality or the product of the vast vast vast left wing conspiracy.
  • You have to think about this in Bush-speak terms. In Bush-speak, "Mission Accomplished" means Quagmire Entered, so if he's saying we cannot win the war on terror, it means we not only won, but we all get prizes! (yay!)
  • He needs more vacation time than the measly 40% he's been getting.
  • That wasn't the President, that was Kodos!
  • He's been reading a little too much into the book of Revelations
  • Dick Cheney told him so (which raises other questions)
  • He's just joshing us, the big kidder!
  • He felt pity for Michael Moore, and the fact that the line "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." will eventually get old. (yes, I found a copy of the text on the White House official site!)
  • Wait a second, maybe that WAS Will Ferrell saying it!
Am I being unfair? Oh yeah. This is a stupid misstatement. I've done worse, but the fact the White House and their surrogates are trying to defend it is stupid. I don't think there's any real explanation except he misspoke. Much like the stupid misstatements that Kerry has made that right wingers repeat ad nauseum.

Though this misstatement is arguably more damaging than any other I've seen from anyone this election cycle. It could go down with "read my lips, no new taxes." Repeated enough (and it will be) it could really hurt the President. Given what mud he has slung through his campaign and through phantom campaigns, it couldn't happen to a nicer person. (quite literally)

Of course, the war will take a LONG time, and of course it's pretty stupid to call this a war. It's a struggle that will not be won by the bomb alone but also by the hearts and minds of the world. It's an important struggle that may well equal the struggle between totalitarianism in all of its forms that we faced last century (communism psuedo-communism, facism, etc) So in theory I'm sympathetic to arguments about how hard it is to win, and even some humility to replace jingoistic boasts about our invincibility. However, I don't buy that this signals a change of heart for Bush, or a forward thinking philsophical view of our struggle. I am much more likely to believe that Bush believes that we will defeat any and all enemies.

In other news, the President also claimed that a mistake we made in Iraq was we weren't prepared for the "catastrophic victory" in Iraq. On one hand, I have to give some points to the guy for FINALLY admitting any mistake of any kind. However, "catastrophic victory" isn't what lead us to send in far too few troops to secure the nation. Catastrophic victory was not what lead us to abrogate any serious planning for the post-war situation. (or at least to listen to any plans) Catastrophic victory did not lead to us not finding Weapons of Mass Destruction in any serious way. In addition, if the victory was catastrophic, wouldn't that imply we shouldn't have gone to war to begin with?

Actually, never mind. The pundits inform me that he is a strong and resolute leader who will win the war on terror he claims is unwinnable. That's good enough for me.

On a last note, I wasn't able to watch the convention (was in class, getting an edumacation of sorts), but I heard about these "reporters" that the GOP hired for the feeds of the convention to provide interviews and commentary. Essentially these reporters were a scripted, wholly owned psudo-journalism arm of the GOP. Somewhere tonight Roger Ailes (Fox News' president) in crying himself to sleep asking himself "what do they have that we don't??"

(screed mode on)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Live from lecture, it's a boring blog live!

(note to kids: don't do this from home.. or your own classes)

Day #1 of my first semester of school as a full-time student in over 2 years is mostly complete. My attempts to crash courses appears to be more successful than usual (of course that's having gone through 2 of the 3 classes I'm trying to crash)
So far so good for the most point.

My CECS 328 class (algorithms, data structures) looks like I won't have a problem getting in it, and frankly does not look too tough. (of course, looks are always deceiving) A quick glance at the syllabus shows me that about 60% of the topics are ones I foisted upon my advanced students last year. The ones I usually rushed through too quickly for their own good, but definitely ones I covered. The first assignment looks like a joke, with the exception of having to use the C++ Standard Template Library, which looks really wretched. Every time I think that C++ can't get any worse, it gets orders of magnitude worse. If I keep having to deal with this, I may pick up Cobol to try to give myself a more straightforward language to deal with.

CECS 455 (game programming) looks like it's going to be intense, and if I survive, awesome. The teacher is a former grad student from Berkeley (there at the same time I was an undergrad), and seems like a good if intense prof. If I hadn't forced myself to relearn calc so recently, I'd probably be running away from it.

CECS 572 (advanced networking) looks pretty good, and I might even get into it. Though, I have to make sure I learn to read my schedule better. I saw 5pm, and didn't notice that 5pm was for the lab, not the lecture. I ended up 30 minutes late, but everything seems ok. I may even try to make the class project for it an implementation of a wild networking protocol idea I had over the summer. (It's very scary actually bothering to implement some of my wild ideas.. what kind of monster am I becoming... as opposed to the monster I've been?)

CECS 323 (databases) hasn't started quite yet (ok, I lied, I'm not in lecture yet). The class has always looked easy, and the professor is a good guy that I've had for a class before. I plan on showing up here in case I cannot get into CECS 572. Though I don't recommend blogging from classes, I do recommend trying to attend an extra class for the first 2 weeks (or less) of a semester to ensure a good schedule.

CECS 524 (advanced languages) won't start for another 90 minutes I think. Report on that one later.

Now to try to flesh out exactly what I want my master's project to be.... I still have my existing ideas, but I'm less sure of them than I used to be. Though if I continue on my current trend of actually bothering to do something about my ideas, I may just end up with an implementation in a week or so. (the horror, the horror, the horror)

Wow, can't have another post without political content... Go Kerry! There, I feel better.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Yay insomnia??

Wow, this has got to be one for the record books (for me). I was up VERY late last night, and around 3am, fiddling with trying to get Gentoo Linux loaded on my thinkpad, I had a "what-if" sort of idea. For some reason I decided to sketch out some details in Openoffice. Today I called my friend I've been working with on a business venture with, and gave him the document when I met him, his wife, and another friend for lunch. Literally within 5 hours I was having a dinner business meeting with his parents figuring out financing and the logistics to make it happen. Apparently several web domains were reserved today by the group for the idea (using the name I thought up at 3am!), and the basic system could be working in the not too distant future! (ie: 1 or 2 months)

I'm still a little dazed, partially because I did not get to sleep until 5am last night, partially from this weirdness, and also because I have classes starting tomorrow. In fact, I may have to do a last minute switch to another class if I cannot squeeze my way into the graduate networking class. Yet, this is still so amazingly weird. The idea my friend and I were working on (his idea) is now apparently somewhat on the backburner in favor of the sleep-deprived idea less than a day old.

When I know what I can and cannot say, I will likely write more about it. All I can say is that the idea is something I want to exist because I want to use it. Now to try to convince myself to get some rest instead of trying to try in vain to make a decent logo... (thankfully my utter lack of artistic ability will probably win out)

(see, I can write something non-political, though doubtless screeds will soon follow)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

On how to win the war on terrorism

This is another reply to comments in the previous post, and the reply got too long, so I figured I'd just throw it on the main page. (I have the power!)

How will Kerry deal with an attack? Well, it depends on the attack and the circumstances. If there is a good reason to hit Iran and he finds that hitting them would be the best possible solution, then I'm sure he would. Much like I would assume anyone would. Even I will grant that Bush (thanks to Colin Powell) generally dealt well with the situation post-9/11. It was when they started shifting away resources from Afghanistan towards Iraq, letting Al Qaeda forces and Caliban forces regroup that he began to lose the war. (note: I said BEGAN to, I still think we can win... it's just a lot harder now) Kerry too supported the War in Afghanistan. I don't think there's too much sunshine between the way they would deal with an immediate crisis.

The issue of the nature of the enemy is fair one, but irrelevant to choosing who our leader is. I don't believe either Bush nor Kerry have misconceptions on this. The people who hit us, the people in Al Qaeda, are fanatics, they are perverting Islam for their own purpose, and are wholly incompatible with a free world. I also agree with your description of those who are involved in Al Qaeda as cultists. I'm also glad we are differentiating between those we can win over, from the billions of peaceful followers of Islam from those we cannot.

The question becomes how do we best defeat them in the long term. Obviously, military must play a role, a large role in fact. We must fight them where they are. In large, Al Qaeda was not Iraq, but now they are (*). That's our fault, but we must keep up our efforts there thanks to our mistake. Kerry does not disagree with that. In fact, he took flack for that position in the Democratic primaries because he wasn't willing to say return the troops now. Unfortunately, it's an irresponsible position today to say we need to get our troops out immediately, and will lead to a true terrorist state in the mold that Afghanistan used to be. However, clearly, if we can lighten the load on the American efforts there, it would be WONDERFUL. Especially, it would be wonderful to reduce the incredible burden we are placing on our reservists, who didn't sign up for this, and are getting the royal shaft from this administration. At the very least, let's give the ones activated the full benefits, pay and otherwise, or a normal soldier who enlisted. Bush has tried to share the burden, but even with the amazing pay offs and bribes we've offered to other nations to join our “coalition”, we have had few takers. The reality is the world hates us pretty badly right now. With Kerry this might abate. Does that mean that we should vote based on how the world thinks of our leader? Of course not. There are many many perfectly good reasons independent of that to choose Kerry over Bush.

We must do what we can to fight the terrorists in every way possible, but one of the key ways is to reduce the demand for it. People join cults for a variety of reasons, amongst them despair, low self-esteem, etc. A foreign policy based on Barney the dinosaur philosophy is laughable, but we can reduce the misery that might lead people to latch onto the false promises of these lunatics. We can reduce our dependency on foreign oil, which means that we don't have to prop up these corrupt governments everywhere which in turn festers hatred towards us. (witness Iran in the late 1970s) We can act decide to award contracts to rebuild countries to natives of the country itself. Part of the scandal of Halliburton getting no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq is that the Iraqis could do the rebuilding themselves! Iraq was/is a fairly advanced society with architects, and engineers. Had we given contracts to Iraqis, the unemployment would have gone down and the Iraqis would see us much more like the Western Europeans saw us after the World War when we helped them rebuild Europe. That in turn would give people in Iraq less reason to listen to and join the terrorists who have been flooding into Iraq since we invaded.

To win we're going to need to fight terrorism on all fronts. We need to fight on the military front, and we must do what we can to help give people who could turn to terrorism hope that they can make something better. We did that (for the most part) during the Cold War, and it ended up working pretty well. Western Europe did not fall to communism. Again, I want to win in this struggle. We cannot allow the great dream of freedom to die. I think there's a much better chance that Kerry would focus on all the necessary fronts. Can I prove it? No, I cannot prove it, but the evidence looks pretty good. I can say for sure that Bush has failed pretty miserably. Al Qaeda is getting stronger again. North Korea and Iran both likely have real WMDs. Iraq is in chaos, and could easily become a fundamentalist theocracy in the mold of Iran, hating us with a passion. Afghanistan has the Taliban starting to reenter their government, and the central government barely having control of Kabul. Most of the nation is controlled by the warlords, many (or most) of whom have no interest in spreading freedom or liberty. We must do better, we must win this.

On the other issue brought up, the commenter is correct, Kerry claiming he voted for the Helms-Burton act in 1996 is another case of “voting for it before I voted against it”. He did vote for the bill, an earlier version of it. He found amendments on the final version of the bill unpalatable, so he voted against that version. That's not unusual in Congress to have unrelated or idiotic amendments and riders added to a bill which make something good entirely heinous. (you have no idea how silly things get, and indeed, this is how pork enters bills) You can draft a bill saying that you're going to give California $100 million dollars a year to refund the costs for undocumented immigrants and then have an amendment added which then says that companies that relocate to other nations will have their equipment movement costs refunded by our government. (this is a hypothetical, but the real situations are even sillier) What you end up with is a politician must make a choice as to which is worse, voting against this means you're against paying back California for its burden in the undocumented workers, and voting for this means you're for companies moving jobs overseas. Trust me, this is par for the course. Of course, Bush doesn't have anywhere near as much of a record you can go through for this. He's been involved in politics for 10 years exactly, and always in an executive branch. That all said, Kerry shouldn't have said what he said in this case, but let's not be naive about the nature of Congress here.

Yes, I hope to post a non-political screed sometime as well. (if you are still reading by now then you probably are REALLY bored)

(* I edited that line to fix a misstatement on my part)

Friday, August 27, 2004

Presidential determination (the last in the series)

Ok, I found the document where the President did in fact inform the leadership of Congress why he was attacking Iraq (as required by the joint resolution on authorizing the Iraq War)

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.



Ok, let's go through this. Now, it is true, our intelligence really stunk. In theory, that's a valid reason why we might have invaded on false pretenses. In large, we really did not know if Iraq did or did not have weapons of mass destruction. Of course, this is an argument as to exactly why we should not have gone to war. After 9/11, it was entirely obvious we had (and still have) massive problems with our intelligence gathering and processing capability. Why would we go to war 18 months after this disaster based on intelligence that we should have been very jaded about? Why were we willing to believe what had failed us so miserably earlier? Why was is so urgent that we told the inspectors to leave Iraq before they had finished their work? Hindsight tells us that there probably aren't weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The inspectors probably would have determined that. Of course, Saddam might still be in power, but, on the other hand, the people of Iraq wouldn't have gone through the disaster of the last 18 months, and we would not have had to have our focus stay so much from fighting Al Qaeda in Afghansitan/Pakistan. (we also wouldn't have the world so royally ticked off at us!) Saddam was/is a totalitarian nightmare. He unfortunately, isn't even close to alone in this world. If that is to be our standard, we have a lot of nations to invade right now.

It's part 2 that is so scandalous. Even back in 2003, it was VERY clear that Iraq had no serious ties to Al Qaeda nor anyone who attacked us on September 11. True, there is as always, wiggle room. You can parse the words very carefully and see that it includes the word "including" meaning that this is not really a part of the counterattack of 9/11, it is merely an attack on a terrorist state unrelated to those who helped on 9/11, but is included in our overall effort against terrorism. Clearly, that's not the impression you get when you read it, but in a hyper-technical sense, it's probably correct. Of course, in a hyper-technical sense, Clinton arguably wasn't lying about having sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.

Leadership is about making choices, and decisions. Bush chose to use our international political capital gained after September 11 and our finite military resources to attack Iraq. To paraphrase the knight in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, he chose unwisely. I don't doubt that there were good intentions in the attack. I don't doubt that much of the administration believed the neoconservative dogma. I don't doubt that some even thought that somehow Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S.'s national security. I don't doubt any of that. I also don't doubt that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. They were wrong. They brought us to this mess, and I refuse to give my authorization for these people to continue to make choices and decisions that so seriously affect the people of this nation and the people of this world. They failed the test of leadership. Now it is time to see how well Kerry does.

The U.N. and authorization for war...

I have been doing more digging around the documents from 2002 & 2003 on the issue of whether or not the U.S. was acting with or without U.N. authorization in the 2003 Iraq War. The most relevant U.N. resolution was resolution 1441, the full text of which is here. Amazingly, it really is as vague as I had feared. If I read it correctly (and while I can read congressional bills pretty easily, U.N. resolutions are much harder to parse), it does not say that military operations are allowed, but it also does not say they are not allowed. It merely says that "serious consequences" would occur if Iraq does not fully disarm and allow inspectors unfettered access to Iraq. There is no place where it clearly spells out what those might or might not be. Hanz Blix originally said that he had not received full cooperation, but later on said it was too early to say. The U.S. (prodded by Britain) tried to get a second resolution from the security council more clearly spelling out an authorization to use force, but it soon became clear that it was impossible to get one. Many point out that earlier (from the early 90s) resolutions gave open clearance to use military force (and clearly Clinton did use air-strikes against Iraq many times in the 1990s). However, in most legal systems the most recent bills or resolutions generally override the earlier ones when they are both on the same topic. (otherwise, prohibition would still be in force in the U.S.) So it's really unclear to me what exactly what legal effect this resolution had if any.
So in the end, technically, I think we did have authorization... or at least we had not been told explicitly that we could not. This is much like how technically I personally would have been allowed to hit Iraq since the U.N. had never said I couldn't. Do I think our foreign policy need always have U.N. approval? No, I think there could be cases where we should be able to act unilaterally... However, this is now a pretty awful case study for this principle.
For the record, in 2003, I was very much on the fence as to whether or not we should go into Iraq. I had a strong feeling that the reasons why the administration claimed we were going into Iraq were bogus, but I still had some unreasonable hope that somehow we could do a good job and legitimately help out the Iraqi people. I really underestimated what a wretched job that this administration would do unfortunately.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

A more precise study of the Iraq war resolution...

Taken from a white house site, here is the relevant text from the resolution (you do need to read it all to understand it... bills read not like normal English)

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.


In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

In summary, the resolution said the President could go to war if it was in the interest of our national security, and was in fact enforcing U.N. Resolutions. The first part is looking extremely iffy with hindsight, and in the latter case, the President was unable to get a resolution which made clear that the U.N. supported going to war. The more interesting part is this presidential determination... According to it, the President was required to give reasons to the leadership of the House & Senate why this was the only possible course of action, and all others had been exhausted, (we clearly kicked the inspectors out after they had barely any time to search) and that this was an attack against those who hit us on 9/11. Again, I am not sure Bush even bothered doing what he was mandated to do by this resolution, but clearly if he did, the explanations would have been amusing to say the least.

BTW: The link to the full resolution is at:

Bottom line, yeah, I can understand Kerry voting for it, and continuing to say he'd vote for it, even after Bush so flagrantly abused it. (I do however, disagree with the idea of voting for it knowing what we know today)

Reply to an angry comment (on the previous post)

Where to begin?

On “flip flops”. The genesis of Kerry's supposed switches come from two instances: A) he “voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it”, and B) in his supporting the war in Iraq. Let's shine some light, shall we?

In the first case, he was very consistent. He wanted the military and Iraq to have the money, but he had seen the White House and Pentagon mess things up pretty badly, and insisted that there be some measure of congressional oversight. He also wanted that the money given to the Iraqis to eventually be repaid. So he did vote for the bill, in its earlier incarnation. The White House decided they didn't like those provisions so they threatened to veto the entire bill if those elements were not removed. The final version of the bill did not include those provisions, so Kerry voted against that version of the bill. So if Kerry flip-flopped, so did Bush inversely.

On the Iraqi war issue altogether, Kerry has also been consistent. In 2002 he voted to give the President the authority to go to war as a last resort. He thought at the time that was appropriate for the President to have the authority to go to war as a leverage to force Saddam to go along with the inspections. I have not read the measure, but supposedly it also had provisions which demanded the White House fully exhaust any and all diplomatic means before war could be declared, and that the White House was required to give the leaders of both houses a specific list of reasons why these efforts failed within 48 hours of the war. To the best of my knowledge, this has never happened. Today John Kerry still says he would have voted for that authority. His reasoning is that as a matter of principal the President should have the authority, even if Bush has so badly abused it. I personally disagree, given that at this point I have far less respect for Bush, and thus I would not want the authority in his hands.

Now on to real flip flops:

Bush was against the creation of a Dept of Homeland security, then he supported it, and now he claims it as his political victory. He was against Campaign Finance Reform, then he was forced to sign it, now he wants to ban all 527s. He was against the 9/11 commission, then he was for it. He was against nation building (he said so in his debates with Al Gore in 2000), and now he's VERY much for it. I'm doing all of this from memory, and I'm not even close to the full list of what I can recall off-hand.

Don't know much about Mrs. Kerry's fundings, but that's like saying that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster since he did not prove beyond all of his detractors satisfaction his own innocence. But what IS clear is that President Bush did invite a lecturer from a Florida University to the White House with close ties to actual terrorist organizations. Laura Bush also invited Chalabi to the State of the Union address, when he is now implicated in dealings with Iran amongst a plethora of other issues.

As for the health care system, Kerry is not suggesting socialized medicine. (I think I'd rather it if he did) He is suggesting a smaller measure to try to insure more people through the existing system. It's been tried in a number of states, and works quite well.

As for the issues of immigration, there isn't much difference between the two. Bush was the one to propose an amnesty. As long as neither side wants to deal with the issue, then there isn't any effective difference. It's also quite clear the reason why Bush/Rove pushed the amnesty was to increase Bush's share of the Latino vote. So let's not act like its only one side that tries to curry favor.

As for Nader, honestly, I disagree with the efforts to demonize him or force him off ballots. I also disagree with the way he's trying to get onto ballots. The guy has debased his life's work in the last few years. I used to have a great deal of respect for him, but it's long gone now. He has gone off the deep end, and is only being kept alive by Republicans working to get him on ballots. (I am winging this post, but I can cite sources, or you could find them in 12 seconds via google)

As for deadlines, it was Bush who pushed for June 30 as the day to “turn over Iraq” regardless of everything else.

However, if you want to blame ethnicities for our problems, then yes, you really should vote for George W Bush. If you think though that will make you safer, then there's probably not much hope for you. We are not fighting Arabs, we are fighting TERRORISM. We are also not fighting idiots. If we target Arabs, and push that as our only defense, they will find caucasians for their cause. (remember Johnny Walker Lindh?) The reality is we cannot invade the entire world. We cannot fight every foe at once. We have to be smarter about wielding our force. Afghanistan actually started off well, but we entirely loused it up by being distracted by a country which really wasn't threatening us. We had inspectors in Iraq, and then we forced them out prematurely because the President was hell-bent on invading regardless of anything. Maybe we will need to invade Iran or Saudi Arabia, but we cannot do it now. We might have been able to if we hadn't wasted our political and military capital in Iraq and had spent the last two years routing out Al Qaeda and the Taliban along with actually rebuilding Afghanistan, making it a true Democracy, but we didn't. You can thank our President for that.

As for Clinton, he DID attack right after the embassy bombings in 1998. He came within hours of killing Bin Laden, and when Clinton did, he caught hell from the Republicans who accused Clinton of doing so to distract the public from Monica Lewinsky. Al Qaeda has done quite well under this administration. Iraq has allowed them to recruit forces like crazy as we did exactly what Bin Laden promised we would. I'm tired of playing into their hands. I'm tired of losing the war for hearts and minds. I want better than Bush, I think Kerry can deliver.

Note: I am not going after everything, especially the racially charged clap-trap. I think it can seen as ridiculous on its own.

I'm really starting to love this guy!

John Kerry this week:

"It's become so petty it's almost pathetic in a way as I listen to these things. You know every -- (Rep.) Chaka (Fattah) was telling me a minute ago he keeps hearing these commentators, Republicans all of them, saying "well John Kerry was only in Vietnam for four months blah blah blah." Well, I was there for longer than that number one. Number two, I served two tours. Number three, they thought enough of my service to make me an aide to an admiral. And the Navy 35 years ago made the awards that I made through the normal process that they make. And I'm proud of them and I'm proud of my service and I'm proud that I stood up against the war when I came home because it was the right thing to do." "I've been 35 years now involved in foreign policy one way or the other. From being at the tip of the spear when leaders made bad decisions to trying to oppose it when I came home as an act of conscience. And you can judge my character incidentally by that. Because when the Times of moral crisis existed in this country I wasn't taking care of myself, I was taking care of public policy. I was taking care of things that made a difference to the life of this nation. You may not have agreed with me but I stood up and was counted and that's the kind of president I'm gonna be."

John Kerry in 1971 in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

"We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to dies in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? But we are trying to do that, and we are doing it with thousands of rationalizations..."

BTW: Read the full text on C-SPAN of his testimony in from of that committee. We see too much of the world through insane filters (this blog definitely qualifies), and the full text holds up VERY well on its own. (I didn't want to create an insanely long post)

The more I see of John Kerry, the more I desperately want him to be our President. Come on my fellow citizens, we all deserve better than our current President! It's also very nice to nearly have the fact I like Kerry eclipse the fact I so seriously dislike the current President. Make no mistake, John Kerry is not a dream candidate like Robert Kennedy, or Paul Wellstone, or even a man like Howard Dean or Russ Feingold, but John Kerry is probably the best candidate for general election we've had in my lifetime. (yes, better than Bill Clinton)

To quote Bender, "I'm back baby!"

So much is going on! I've been working on a new business venture with a friend a lot lately, but since I haven't yet seen the NDA I'm supposed to sign (and he is a friend) I don't feel like I can say much about it except that it involves Linux and probably Macintoshes. Consequently, I've been messing around with Gentoo Linux a LOT lately. School begins again on Monday for me, and I will probably write about that a lot too. So far, it looks like it might really be a neat semester. My tentative schedule is this:

Monday & Wednesday (ONLY!)
1pm-3:15pm - CECS 328 Algorithms) (I'm not officially in the class, but I should not have any real problems getting in
2:30pm-4:45pm - CECS 455 (Intro to Game Programming) I'm in this class, and I'm really jazzed!
4:00pm-6:15pm - CECS 572 (Advanced Networks) I'm not in this class... yet. With luck I'll get in.
7:00pm-8:15pm - CECS 524 (Advanced Topics In Programming Languages) I'm in, and it could be interesting, but it's hard to tell at this point.

Yes, those of you who can tell time may realize that there is overlap between classes. The overlap shouldn't be a big deal since no lectures actually overlap. (I usually do labs on my own laptop when I can)

455 could be a lot of fun. However, it's very very odd that despite the fact that I got back into computer programming 13 years ago for the expressed purpose of developing computer games, I am only now taking a class (or focusing in any real way) on computer games. So far, the closest things to games that I have coded were the assignments I made for my classes for the battleship, tic-tac-toe, and the Go-Fish game. These are nowhere near as complex or as interesting as the games I was mapping out on paper when I was 9 years old.

I still need to figure out my master's thesis (the details at least). I've had a rough idea for months now, but it's still pretty amorphous, and entirely in my head.. I need to fix that, and soon. I also may add a databases class in the morning (ugh) so I don't have to do it in the Spring.

I was also able to take my eldest younger cousin to Magic Mountain last week. He's now as old as I was when I first started taking him and his brother to amusement parks (15). I don't know how many more times (if any) I'll get the opportunity to take him or really any of my younger cousins to amusement parks, but I'm going to do my best to enjoy it while I can. Also, aren't 15 year olds supposed to be really difficult to deal with?? Aside from the fact that he and I almost totally disagree on music (he wore his headphones for his discman MOST of the drive), we got along fine. I just don't get it! Most amazingly, we even somewhat found some common ground on music for part of the trip... I was able to play Bob Marley & Nirvana, which he was willing to listen to. The kid may end up ok afterall. Still, it's very odd that I can only find that in common with him (musically) given it was his father who introduced me to the Beatles back when I was three. (I still remember the event quite clearly, and hearing "Love Me Do" for the very first time) I will probably take his younger cousin there sometime in the fall to even things out. BTW: Magic Mountain is probably the best deal in the LA area for a major amusement park... I think I ended up spending well under $60 (not counting gas) for parking and two tickets. Given that will pretty much only cover a single ticket at Disneyland, that's quite a deal, and Magic Mountain works MUCH better for a kid over 8 years old. (I even went on four rides despite my neck/back)

Many more things are cooking, and many thoughts I'm still trying to organize... (ok, there's actually very few thoughts, but many prejudices coupled with observations)

More uniformed rants will follow... (in less than a week)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A compendium of the other lessons from Computer Science AP

The following tips/directives should be extremely familiar to any of my former students, but I find it useful to have a link to them anyways. Read and enjoy the nostalgia. (note: this does not include the previously referenced "Laziness is a virtue".

Actual posting to resume soon. (I've been very very busy)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Laziness *is* a virtue

A former student of mine, Cynthia Hsu, had a friend IM me an interesting link (interesting for me)

One of the class mottos that I tried to use for my Computer Science classes for the two years was a phrase I tried to coin, "Laziness is a virtue". To the best of my knowledge, it's a phrase I came up with on my own. The link is neat because a VERY smart programmer, Larry Wall, also encourages laziness in the same way. In my case, I meant laziness in terms of getting the point of solving problems in the most efficient manner possible to expend the least amount of time and energy to arrive at a solution. Simple, short, elegant code that can be reused is a hall mark of the output of a very good programmer. It's also the hallmark of someone who can get projects done quicker which in theory allows for more leisure time. (coincidently these are not hallmarks associated with me, though I am lazy in other ways)

Anyways, it's neat having a smart person validate my usage of "laziness is a virtue"

The irritating thing though is I tried so hard to make sure I never taught anything of any real value!

Now *this* is what democracy is all about!

Apparently a 94 year old great-grandmother is running (in a VERY uphill race) against Republican Senator Judd Gregg in New Hampshire. True, she has a fraction of the funds, and is what political insiders would refer to as a "Barney", but she's my kind of Democrat. Despite emphysema, she walked across the united states 5 years ago as a protest for campaign finance reform. She also walked around the capitol building non-stop while McCain/Feingold (campaign finance reform legislation) was being debated in the Senate. Now she's going for a Senate seat. She's a long-shot to put it very mildly, but I would imagine even the most hard-core Republicans would smile at the idea of her being in the Senate.

Sometimes the dreams of our founding fathers live on.

BTW: Her campaign website is here, and there's even a link to "google Granny D". Yes, I know that most likely her web consultant put that there, but the idea that she would also have a degree of internet saavy makes her even cooler!

Never talk about politics or religion!

(Note: this is largely a reply to a comment in the previous posting)

My grandfather used to admonish me (and everyone else) that one should not talk about politics or religion. He died about a decade ago, but even a decade ago I would still violate his suggestion. I never really talked much about either with him, but I certainly did with everyone else. (my grandfather was very a great person though, I still really miss having him around) Clearly, today I feel little problem with talking about politics in most cases. I will even gladly talk about religion with people, though usually only in a one-to-one basis, and usually with people I trust pretty well. Despite all the postings on here though, I do try to be somewhat cautious about when and where it's appropriate or not to speak of politics.

When I "taught" my classes, I at least for a while, tried to keep my political views out of the classroom. I feel it's extremely wrong for a teacher to in any way try to force their personal opinions on their students. Clearly, some amount of this will happen no matter what, but outright indoctrination is disgusting to me. In addition, it's a very poor manner of persuasion. One only ends up with believers who believe something only because they haven't been exposed to an alternative. There's a good probability those, when exposed to an opposing viewpoint, may switch sides due to the fact that the opposing side will at least have to actually persuade them to their point. I did find it amusing when I polled my 5th period class earlier in the year (probably in November or so) and a slight plurality thought I was a Republican. Clearly, my students did not find it hard to google my name, or look around and find out that I used to work for the California Democratic Party. Thus, later in the class I would sometimes offer political opinions, but I tried really hard to explain both sides of the argument. Whether or not I succeeded is another issue. As a note: I never did hesitate to give my opinions on music, computers, and the sort. The fact that Britney Spears has a horrible voice is not really that much of a subjective opinion. The point that President Bush has been our worst president since at LEAST Herbert Hoover is slightly more arguable. (I'm personally torn between calling him the worst since Harding or worst since Buchanan)

When at Berkeley, I acted as a liaison for the Cal Berkeley Democrats to a now-defunct umbrella group for left-wing organizations on campus. To give an idea of the political spectrum of the room, I was by far the most conservative person in each meeting. I learned that I was wise to be quiet when I disagreed with a view to avoid too much disruption. In addition, I learned to be quiet because if there was a debate, it would last for eons. The group very much reminded me of the People's Front of Judea from Monty Python's Life of Brian... without the humor. I very much remember them planning huge anti-NAFTA rallies, and when they asked me how I would participate, I said that I would not personally participate because I wasn't entirely anti-free trade, but I fully support the rest of them doing so. (I believe free trade is basically inevitable, so we might as well get ahead of the curve... but I also support a massive job training program around the U.S. to compensate, and I support writing labor standards and environmental standards into such treaties) I had more than a few dirty looks for saying that. I later left the group when I received an email from their email list entitled "I am the human bomb" , an article praising the Palestinian suicide bombers... Not the Palestinian people, the bombers. I have very mixed feelings about both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, but praising people who kill innocent civilians is far beyond the pale.

I also have a problem with the pledge of allegiance in its current form. I don't have a huge problem, but I find it mildly discriminatory and extremely awkward to have the phrase "under God' wedged in the middle of the pledge. Try reading the pledge out-loud without the two words. Suddenly it flows a lot nicer. It was written without Under God. Those words were only added in the 1950s as a part of the attempt to prove that unlike the godless Soviets, we had God on our side (tm). Now, I don't really think it's the end all of political outrages, but given my druthers, it would not be in the pledge. When I was a teacher, I did say the pledge of allegiance every morning with my class, but I would skip over those two words. (since the pledge was broadcast across the school via loud speakers, the fact I skipped over the words was probably not audible) I did not make a big deal of it, I just prefer it the other way. Sometimes it's worth it to take a stand, and make a big fuss. But, I don't believe the two words gets anywhere near that threshold.

In personal terms, I have learned to try to step-softly around some people. I have a very very good friend, whom I recently became extremely angry with due to his vitriolic approach to talking about politics. (the "conversation" ended with the statement, "I hate and despise anyone who supports Michael Moore") He was under stress, but I took it as an implicit threat that he would hate and despise me if I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. That of course convinced me that I must do so. Yesterday when asked about a political matter, I had to flat out tell him that I thought it was very unwise for us to talk about politics. He's still a good person, but for the time being, it's best just not to discuss politics with him for the time being.

I also notice this phenomena a lot with such charged issues such as the issue of abortion. It is such a deeply personal issue, and one that often comes down to such a base issue as one's faith, that it really cannot be argued. I learned this lesson in Junior High, being the only person I could find who was pro-choice debating 1 against 30 in favor of a woman's right to choose. The debate was unwinnable on either side because it always comes down to an issue of faith or one's personal beliefs. At a certain point one cannot logically argue against that.

Maybe my grandfather really meant that because you can never tell if its safe or not to talk about very heavily charged topics, that it's best to avoid them. I'm starting to see the wisdom in that, but I still love speaking with those I trust about these topics. I love bouncing ideas and arguments off of others, and have them explain their reasoning to me. I love hearing people explain their faith and how it has enriched their life. I also love asking questions about their philosophy and understanding of the universe. You do have to be careful though. Right now things are more polarized in the U.S. as they have been at any other point in my life. (Watergate may have been worse, but I'm only 25 so I wouldn't know) Political fevers can run very high. It's pretty clear that I have very strong opinions, but I do try to not completely blow up. If you notice that you can't civilly discuss a topic like religion or politics with some person, just follow my grandfather's sage advice. (for that person)

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

ALERT: Bin Laden to signal assassination before the election!

According to the Washington Times, (owned by Moon, a lovely fellow if there ever was one), there is a plot by Al Qaeda to assassinate a prominent leader prior to the election to be signaled by Bin Laden himself. Let me help the right wingers here, I'll connect the dots for them:

This must be why Bush/Cheney require people who go to campaign events to sign loyalty oaths: because Al Qaeda clearly must prefer Kerry, their assassins could not in good conscience sign the oath, and thus, the loyalty oaths are keeping assassins away from Bush/Cheney thus denying Al Qaeda their assassination. It all makes so much sense now...

BTW: In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Look at me Marge! I'm making people happy! I'm the magical man from happy land! In case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic!"

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On swift boat captains & John Kerry

Much has been written and argued about lately about John Kerry and the so-called "Swift Boat Captains for Truth" organization.

A few notes on this group:
  • Their leader is a certain John O'Neill, who served on Kerry's swift-boat AFTER John Kerry left Vietnam, who in the early 70s was recruited by Richard Nixon to be a counterpoint to John Kerry's role as the head of Veterans Against The War
  • The co-author of the book in question, Jerome Corsi, has made some interesting, as he calls them, jokes, over the years over at Free Republic.
  • None of the people in this group actually served on Kerry's swiftboat. When they say they served with him, they mean they were in Vietnam at the same time, or at best, served on near-by boats. All 11 members of Kerry's swiftboat have either endorsed Kerry and were on stage with him at his acceptance speech, or are deceased.
  • Their claims that Kerry lied about spending a Christmas in Cambodia are arguable at best as Kevin Drum points out (edit: added a link to a dailykos diary that has transcrptions of diaries from this time which indicates that Kerry very likely was in fact in Cambodia when he claims he was)
  • Pretty much all other claims have been refuted as well, or are impossible to verify one way or another. For good coverage on this, check out Eschaton.
The real reasons that this is happening is because they were ticked off that Kerry became an anti-war protester after his service ended in Vietnam, and because they are ideologically driven. O'Neill and Corsi clearly fall into the latter category (though they may also be in the former). These men are entitled to their opinions, and there is no reason to believe that they served their country in anything less than an honorable fashion... but all of the same is true of the man they are attempting to character assassinate. Given that the funding and the people behind this were also largely behind the attack on John McCain that Bush's surrogates launched during the South Carolina primaries in 2000 where they implied that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child really casts a doubt in my mind over anything these people say. The fact that Bush's campaign won't condemn this group really says a lot about the Bush campaign. (though nothing that I didn't already know)

Though frankly, I think is largely a plus for Kerry. It shows Bush's campaign unwilling to speak out against such trash, and focuses on the simple fact that Kerry served with honor by having the media focus on it and debunk the charges. This is all much more effective at keeping these facts in the mind of the public than having Kerry repeat them ad naseum.

BTW: For those who didn't know, John Kerry's work as the leader of the Veterans based anti-war movement in the early 70s, lead him to be on Richard Nixon's enemies list. This is the same list with John Lennon. That alone would earn a vote from me. Also, if you want to see a political cartoon from 1971 featuring a very young anti-war protestor version of John Kerry, check out these vintage Doonsebury cartoons! (and for those who don't follow it, the early strips were based at a college called Walden, which is a fictional version of Yale, where Kerry, Bush and the creator of the strip all went to college)

Geeking out on Star Trek stuff

I haven't done much in term of geeky posts, and since I think I'm obligated to do so from time to time, I'd like to share (with my non-existent readers) a mega-geeky site I've discovered. At this site you can find the first draft of deck-plans for the starship Enterprise (NCC 1701-D). He created the deck plans with the help of the actual creator of the design of the NCC 1701-D, but later lost the rights to publish them officially. The existing plans available at book stores were created later by different people. They are also interesting, but take radically different approaches. What is the point? Not much of a point here, I just think it's cool. I find it quite interesting to see what people involved in the show thought the ship looked like as a whole. It was a huge ship, and to try to map it out makes it all more real for a fan like myself.
Yes, there are also plans for the original Enterprise (NCC-1701) out there. However, given the original series paid very little attention to continuity, they were wild guesses. Indeed, the original series played very fast and loose with all details, such as which century they were in... Most of the time they were in the 23rd century, but in a few episodes they indicated a time that would place them in the 22nd century. Of course, modern Trek such as Voyager and Enterprise are arguably even playing looser with established facts that not much can be trusted anymore. For a simple example, how did 7 of 9's parents know about the Borg enough to seek them out when it's well established that Star Fleet had no clue about the Borg before Q sent the Enterprise-D to make first contact with them in Star Trek: The Next Generation? And also, how is it possible that Star Fleet had no idea who the Borg were when the Enterprise-B rescued Guinan and several of her people in the film Star Trek: Generations when in fact those people were fleeing the Borg and this takes place approximately 70 years prior to the Next Generation episode that first introduced the Borg to Star Fleet?? Bottom line, it's best to ignore Voyager and act like it never happened. I also prefer to think that Star Trek: Generations never happened though it's hard to explain why there's an Enterprise-E without the film Generations... argh!
Also, if you want to hear something truly awful that is Trek related, try out the last track on the Star Trek 3 soundtrack... it's a disco-esque remix of the main theme of the film. (extended dance remix in the parlance of 1984 music) Yes, it's very awful. James Horner just doesn't lend himself well to remixes. (witness the remixes of any Titanic stuff) Of course, there were dance remixes of material from Superman's soundtrack (the "Can You Read My Mind" garbage), and disco remixes of the Star Wars themes, but still, this is awful.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Medicine and such (not political)

It turns out I did have a doctor's appointment today. Despite all of my medical issues for the last few years, I seem to be in ok shape for the most part. Somehow my blood pressure continues to be excellent. I still don't get why that is. My diet is horrible, and my exercise is infrequent. Most importantly, I'm a very high-strung person and with the current administration in power, I get ticked off often. (oops, ok, that was political) But according to all the charts I can find, 112/60 is a very good reading. (my cholesterol is also very good too) My x-rays show no real spine problems thankfully. I need to work a bit on some lower back exercises, and I have yet another set of neck exercises. Almost certainly the neck problem is muscular in nature given there is no other obvious problems at play and it's clear my neck/back muscles are hyper-tense. (which is also amazing in that it shows that I do have muscle, who would have thunk it?) In addition, it looks like whatever I have been suffering with on and off for the last 5 years that has so drastically impacted my energy levels seems to have largely passed. Indeed, I just pulled a semi-all nighter last night to finish some Java code for a research project at Harbor/UCLA. I'm tired now, but I'm quite able to function. This is SO much nicer than the 6 month periods where I could barely stay awake more than 3 hours a day.
So yay for health for the most part. Now to actually do something with myself. Actually, I'm thinking of going on a short trip to visit family in Arizona... It will be the closest thing I've had to a vacation in... well, I can't remember the last time actually. I'll resume ranting sometime soon, but for now I'm pretty pleased with these updates.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Enough CSS for tonight!

Well, this template looks better to me. It works under firefox and internet exploiter and has much more viewable content at 1600x1200 than the old one. It seems to scale down to about 800x600 tolerably. I doubt 640x480 will be nice on the sidebar. Eventually I may try to replace this with a simple table, but for now I'm sticking purely proportional. (which is why the sidebar gets so squished at lower resolutions) Let me know if there any problems with this. (yes, you... I'm talking to... umm.. ok, I suppose I'm not talking to anyone on here)

And yes, I like minimalist designs. It's easier for me, and I frankly like their look and functionality more.

Site notes...

I have a good deal of code to write tonight, but I'm also trying to improve the site template. I'd love to get my walrus graphic up, and more importantly, get this site more flexible in terms of viewing better with weird resolutions. I will look at this site on my Treo 600's 160x160 screen, and on my 20" LCD's 1600x1200 screen, and in neither case does this look correct. So if you see the formatting completely messed up, probably you're looking at me trying out some edits. (I may also try to create my own, non-CSS enabled template because honestly CSS is a bit too new for me... I learned HTML before CSS really existed)

The politics of terror?

"The more I learn, the less I know, and all I know is it's all too much" - George Harrison, "It's All Too Much"

I really don't have a clue what to make of the current terror threats. Clearly Al Qaeda would love to hit us anytime, but especially around now. We're close to an election, close an anniversary of 9/11, and still quite vulnerable. However, I still can't help a heavy level of skepticism towards this administration's warnings. Maybe I'm hopelessly cynical towards this administration. Maybe I'm like the Republicans in 1998 refusing to believe that there was any possible motive for striking against Al Qaeda then aside from trying to draw attention away from Monica Lewinsky. As we now know, Clinton had very very good reason to try to attack back then, even if the attempt failed. It's possible that the current threats are entirely real, and the administration is properly warning the public... but too much of this seems too political to me.

  • The fact that the latest terror alert occurred immediately after the Democratic convention, which could easily have been timed to mute any and all focus on Kerry's acceptance speech (in fact, it did mute the focus)
  • Tom Ridge's famous words at the press conference a little over a week ago praising Bush's leadership while announcing that terror alert
  • Rumors of a National Preparedness month that will be announced on September 9. (right after the Republican convention, and on a Thursday which just happens to maximize media focus)
  • The fact that the RNC and the Bush campaign have used 9/11 imagery countless times in Bush's 2004 campaign
  • Placing the Republican convention in New York and timing it as close to the anniversary of 9/11 as possible.
  • Much of the information that supposedly triggered the latest terror alert came from a Pakistani operation to round up high-value targets, which many claim came from pressure from the White House to deliver a high value target specifically in late July (when the Democratic convention was being held). In fact, the Pakistanis delivered... on the day of Edwards' acceptance speech
  • News that the White House, to bolster the claims of the legitimacy of the latest terror alert has possibly outed a double-spy embedded deep within Al Qaeda!?!?! (what is it with this administration and outing covert ops???)
I can post probably 15 more points without breaking a sweat, but these are all quite current. I haven't mentioned a thing about Iraq, about Chalabi, or... or... man, I this could go on for megabytes. I could also go Michael Moore on my readers (of which there are none) and point out that somehow usually when Bush's numbers are in danger of dipping below a certain point (usually 50% approval) there is something big which distracts the public (9/11, Saddam Hussein's capture, etc). Note, I don't neccesarily believe that is for the most part anything but coincidental. I don't happen to think that we're holding onto Bin Laden to announce it in late October.

Does this mean I think that nothing can be trusted from this administration... I honestly don't know what I think anymore. I do think the Michael Moore theory of creating a culture of terror is probably not one I subscribe to. I don't totally discount it, but I'm far from convinced. However, after all these years, of "Clear Skies" meaning clear-cutting the forests, of "Compassionate Conservatism" meaning nothing, of "No Child Left Behind" passing but being utterly underfunded to make the situation even worse for schools, of a "uniter, not a divider" only uniting world opposition against us, recent junk such as outing CIA agents for petty political attacks, having homeland security funds being distributed in such a way that rural environments which are FAR less likely targets for attacks getting far more funding per capita than urban centers which are legitimate targets such as New York and Los Angeles, lying about Jeb Bush having cats when he actually has dogs because it polls better, I find it pretty much impossible to take anything from this administration at face value.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: I hate this. I'm really afraid that people will die because of the cynicism, because eventually people will outright ignore a real terror warning. But there's no way around the fact that I think cynicism has been justified. True, I didn't have a lot of faith in this administration since it fought in the Supreme Court of the US arguing that accurate vote counts aren't as important as quick and smooth transitions of power, but I have tried my best to believe since September, 11. No matter how hard I've tried I keep being let down by this administration.

Al Gore has said this administration betrayed our trust. He's been heavily criticized for saying it. Unfortunately, I think Al Gore might be correct for many Americans. I certainly feel betrayal. I just hope we make it through this election and I hope we have a real transition of power and make it through in one piece. We so desperately need change now.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

No bounce?

As soon as the CNN/Gallup poll was announced after the Democratic Convention, the media very quickly shouted the phrase "no bounce" because there was a poll after the convention showing a Bush lead... The truth of the situation is a little bit more complicated (dare I say nuanced??). A look over at polling report a little over a week after the convention shows that CNN/Gallup is the outlier among the polls, and indeed, the further the polls get from the convention's actual dates the more likely the poll is to show a Kerry lead. Mind you, in general these are small leads. However, they are small leads during a week that has not been good to Kerry in the media. The coverage for his excellent acceptance speech was largely drowned out by the terror alert and then the various controversies over that alert. (I have not written more on it because frankly, I'm too confused at this point to know what to make of it) More recently the clap-trap about the book and ad attacking Kerry's Vietnam service have been making the rounds, and yet, he's doing pretty well.
The White House was VERY smart to try to raise expectations that after the convention, Kerry should have been 15 points ahead of Bush. Of course, this was entirely impossible. Most polls show at most 10% of the population to be undecided, and it doesn't take much observation to realize that those who support one candidate or another are pretty set in that preference. There just isn't enough undecideds to move to a 15% lead unless something huge(r) happens.
What is the point of this? There are a few points.
  • Don't listen to the media about these stories. When I figure out a story that is safe to listen to the media on, I will certainly inform the world.
  • There really does seem to be some kind of time delay to "bounces". How much is still unclear to me, but given that basically nothing else positive has happened for Kerry, his actual bounce is probably due to the convention, and the reaction was clearly delayed. Exactly why this is, I haven't a clue. It definitely was not due to media talking heads disseminating the coverage as is usually the explanation for a delayed bounce effect.
  • All of this is very confusing

My country, or SMiLE????


Brian Wilson finally announces his fall U.S. tour for SMiLE, where he will perform the album in its entirety (like he did in Europe at the start of the year, which I talked about before)

This is good news...

Except the closest gigs he will play are either ON or RIGHT before election day this year! That means that on that day, I get to choose between seeing Brian Wilson or helping out the nation in one of the most important and close elections in this nation's history. ARGH!
As much as I love Brian Wilson, and the recordings I have of SMiLE from this winter, when it comes down to a question of seeing him or having John Kerry be president, I have to go for the higher calling, and I have to not see Brian Wilson on November 2nd.

Please though, Brian, schedule some other dates in LA past November 2nd! Please, LA is your HOME afterall!

(Additonal note: I am not quite so stupid that I assume that my work in California can swing the election. However, after 2000, I have learned to assume absolutely nothing. If I'm not doing whatever I can to lawfully elect Kerry on election day, I'm not doing enough)

Friday, August 06, 2004

More on teaching...

Just got off the phone (my beautiful Treo 600) with my replacement at Peninsula and West High. Once again I'm struck by what an improvement he will likely be. He's personable, is far more realistic about over-committing himself than I've ever been, and amazingly is actually qualified to teach Computer Science.

I only half-joke when I say that my former high school was desperate when they hired me. They really were desperate. They went through the summer of 2002 thinking they had hired a new Computer Science teacher to try to take over for the legendary Mr. Walfred Lester (my high school Computer Science teacher, and his legendary status is well deserved). They found out just before the school year started that the teacher they thought they had wasn't going to be available. They had to bring back Mr. Lester in an emergency status until they could find a replacement... as the school year was starting. To make matters worse, he could only substitute teach for so long before he would be in danger of messing with his retirement benefits. They basically went through Mr. Lester's former students to see if any where in any position to teach. I know I was not their first choice, or even anywhere near it, but I eventually came up. I had JUST graduated from Berkeley (after 5 years) with a degree in Political Science (I was rejected 4 times from the Computer Science program at Berkeley) with no real teaching experience, no credential, and worst of all, I had committed to working at the California Democratic Party as the Deputy Director of Targeting & Data Analysis through the November elections. Despite all of that, they hired me. That, my friends, is desperation!
To be fair, I had some experience working for Professor Mike Clancy in the self-paced Computer Science center at Berkeley. I tutored 5 or 6 classes for it, and had been a reader for 2 other classes while at Berkeley. Given I knew Prof. Clancy, who is heavily involved in the Advanced Placement program, I had some experience with teaching towards the general format of the Advanced Placement exam. In addition, since I took the AB exam in Computer Science in my junior year of high school by self-studying and earned a 5, in my senior year, I was asked to tutor about 10 students who wanted to take the AB exam. That coupled with my experience with the Berkeley decal program teaching a course on the Beatles in my last semester gave me some semi-experience with teaching.

However, my replacement came up as the best candidate after a pretty extensive search, and has a Computer Science degree, and real teaching experience. It will still be rough for him at the start, but I know he'll end up as a very good teacher. I'm extremely glad for that.

Grades, thoughts and other stuff

Got my math grade back from what may well be the last (explicitly) math class I ever take: I got a C in Math 380. That was my first, and quite possibly last upper division math class. It' s not that I hate Math. I really like that feeling of accomplishment when you figure out how to make those bizarre characters and numbers in those formulas dance. It's the most primal form of knowledge and wisdom out there. Unfortunately, it all too often escapes my limited mind, and once again I find myself in a position where I can't really afford to do poorly in classes that I'm taking for the sake of "learning". Who knows, if I do get into a doctorate program (which is far less likely after this summer) I may take a few like linear algebra and differential equations for the sake of learning while in the program (probably on a pass/no-pass basis) or if I decide that there's no way I'm going to do a doctorate (or get rejected) I may take the classes at a community college. Though to be fair to me, that's a tie for the best college Math grade I have received. I earned a D- in Math 1B at Berkeley (2nd semester Calculus), a D in Math 6A at El Camino Community College (multivariable calculus) and a C in Math 55 at Berkeley (discrete math). Yes, scarily I was officially a member of Palos Verdes Peninsula's Math department for 2 years. But anyways, the grade should be enough to keep me in line to graduate with the masters in Computer Science next May, which is the immediate priority. All that's left is my thesis (2 semesters), my remaining requirements and my remaining pre-requisite courses that I'm leaving to the end.
I still don't know if I really want to pursue the doctorate, but for now it still seems like a safe target to aim for until I figure things out.
On the plus side, my restoration of my scrambled server volume is mostly complete. I lost a total of about 12 gigabytes of lossless albums on one of my 3 250 gig drives after I scoured my backups to recover what I could. About 13 Beatles albums (out of my original 430) were in that 12 gigabytes, but overall, not too much was lost. And yes, I've been very carefully backing up everything to dvd-rs. Everything but the volume being restored is safely burned with verify mode on. Once I have fully backed up everything (and possibly burned a 2nd copy of my backups) I will go through with my massive raid-5 server build. I have the drives for it, but I want to be as sure as possible I won't lose any more data in the process. I'm also probably going to take another stab at Gentoo linux in the process. I have a friend, Jeremy Huddleston, (whose blog is listed on the right) who's on one of their dev teams, plus I may end up doing some projects with gentoo in the next few months so I'm sort of obligated to switch off of Debian/Knoppix. So once again, everyone, BACK UP YOUR DATA. Don't waste time, just do it. Restoring data over the span of a few weeks or worse yet, losing important data, is just no fun.

Neck question...

Given the readership is near zero, this is probably a waste of my time, however, given that my time is worthless, that point is a bit irrelevant.
For 2-3 years, I have had a tremendously stiff neck. It started when I started having back issues (hypertense muscles on my back making sleep very uncomfortable). Eventually this got to my neck. I take anti-inflammatories every day (I used to take vioxx, but I've brought myself down to approximately 2 Alleve a day) mostly to help the back muscles from hurting too much when I wake up and to avoid the sensation of being kicked strongly in the back when I sneeze. However, once I get moving in the morning I'm fine all day. My neck however, does not seem to improve. I have the ability to move it maybe 30 degrees to the left and maybe half that to the right. It's just barely enough to be able to check my blind spot while driving. My up and down movement is even worse (I can touch my chin to my chest, but I cannot move my head above normal orientation) This hasn't improved nor worsened in the last 2-3 years. As far as I know I was not involved in any accidents or trauma that would have lead to this, and I'm fairly sure it's also muscular in nature. I have tried all of the stretching exercises (still am trying on that front), and everything else I can think of, but no progress, and it's really getting annoying. I have made every move to try to improve the ergonomics of my computer usage. My screen is at eye level and I usually am now able to rest my head against the back of the chair as I use the computer without having the stretch my neck out towards the screen as I work. I have also noticed that if I press into the base of my skull with a pressure that may not be safe for over a minute I will sometimes gain a small (1 minute or so) period of having partially regained horizontal motion in my neck.
Earlier I had bigger medical priorities than worrying about my neck, but by now I'm really fed up. Even my back has improved to a good degree: I can sleep most of the night on my back before it feels so stiff that I must turn onto my side. My flexibility in every other manner is actually excellent, I only have trouble with the stupid neck and I want to be able to turn the head! In theory I should find out soon (I have another doctor's appointment next week I think and I can get the results of some scans done a few months ago on my neck/back), but I'm really growing impatient here. Any thoughts or insights? (from my 0 readers)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Non-partisan notes (for a change)

First of all, I just finished up jury service for this week for the Superior Court at Torrance. A service which involved basically nothing at all. I called in 4 times to their number to hear that I was not needed on the following day. Today I heard on the message that my service had ended. I never once had to show up, I just had to do phone registration and the daily-checkins, and now to mail off the jury summons notice. There are a lot of ways the courts and other government functions are extremely non-functional, but I was very impressed by this. Of course my positive opinion is doubtlessly heavily influenced by the fact that I was not called on to serve or even show up in person.
Second of all, it looks like a replacement has been hired for the teaching position I left this year! That means that the threat of me being cajoled back is pretty much gone. The guy seems able, and is without a doubt more qualified on paper than I ever was. He has also dealt with jr. high students, which shows he probably will be able to handle high schoolers quite well. I intend to try to help in whatever ways I can, but regardless I think he will do fine, and again, this means I'm officially no longer a teacher. (and the youth of America collectively sighs a well deserved sigh of relief!)
Third of all, given the title of the blog, I should be talking more about the Beatles, or at least music, but there's just not much on the horizon. There's a rumored box set of early Capitol (!?!) Beatles albums coming out this year, but not much on the Beatles front right now. There's Brian Wilson's Smile re-recording coming out next month, and Leonard Cohen's new album is also out next month. (I will pick up the latter for my father as a present) Supposedly a new U2 album is out this year, and I've read rumblings about potential Beck and R.E.M. albums. And wasn't the Who, or what remains of them, supposed to release a new studio album?
I know Paul McCartney has also been recording lately, and if he continues the level of quality of his last few albums, he'll have his 4th great solo album in a row. Yes, for those who have largely ignored Paul McCartney's solo career, some how in the mid 1990s through his last album, he's been in a renaissance of sorts, releasing one terrific album after another. (which unfortunately few have heard of much less own) If you want to hear some great latter day Beatle member music, take a listen to his trio of Flaming Pie, Run Devil Run, and his latest, Driving Rain. (I'd also suggest George Harrison's magnificent posthumous release, Brainwashed)

What is the point of this? None really, except to delay me from finishing some code.

Ok, I was totally and completely wrong

Way back in the 1990s, I had a very poor opinion of the potential future of the United States. I remember a midterm project for 9th grade World History where we had to debate whether or not the U.S.A. was declining in a manner parallel to the Roman Empire. I ended up as the leader for the side that I thought was much weaker: arguing against the idea that the U.S. was in decline. Later on seeing deficits looming as far as could be seen, and knowing that crime statistics and other barometers of societal decline had been indicating decline for a while, it seemed more and more obvious that the decline of our republic was likely. When I started in Berkeley, I jokingly said I was supporting Dan Quayle for President in the year 2000 for the reason of "if we're going to go to hell in a hand-basket, we might as well go out laughing." Dan Quayle was a lot of fun to have available for the inevitable news story of for an amusing quote. However, I was mostly joking when I suggested we should elect him for humor value alone.
My reasoning derived from my view of the infamous hot coffee case involving McDonalds from the early 1990s. A lady buys coffee, scalds herself in her nether-regions and sues McDonalds over it. She wins a big settlement. I don't wish to argue the merits of the case, indeed, I don't think they matter in this case. I will gladly pay a few pennies extra for fast food as a small tax for the humor of the incident. The small pass on of costs to the consumer in this case I think is reasonable and a deal well worth it. I had theorized that the same thing could apply to presidential politics much in the same way that I enjoyed having Bob Dornan in the House of Representatives to keep C-SPAN amusing.
However as the 1990s progressed it started to become clear to me that the problems we were facing actually were starting to abate. The deficits were shrinking (and would soon disappear), crime was down, and I realized that no decline is inevitable as long as we make wise choices. So in 2000 I worked as much as I could manage to try to help Al Gore be elected President... I can write megabytes about what the result of that election was, but the bottom line is that Al Gore did not become the President. George W Bush did become President. Arguably George W Bush is every bit as amusing if not more so than Dan Quayle ever was. My previous post is something he said today. I appreciate the chuckle I get from it, and the slew of other misstatements (that he may or may not have made), yet my entire theory that the laughter is worth the price of sub-par leadership is now exposed as one of the most ludicrously idiotic in history.
No amount of humor makes up for the disaster of having Bush as the President. I could have the surviving members of Monty Python show up on my doorstep and perform exclusively for myself for 4 years, and it still would not make up for it. (though if any of them are reading this for some bizarre reason, I wouldn't exactly mind the visit) If boring is the price of responsible leadership, then bring on boredom. If living in a world without a man who knows how hard it is to put food on their family (a quote of his from 2000) can bring sanity to our foreign and domestic policies, then please, sign me up now. I know with the correct leadership coupled with the incredible ability of our people to overcome adversity, we can once again overcome the problems we face today. However, poor leadership with good people hasn't helped too much in the last 4 years. We need regime change!
(for the record, I actually do like John Kerry, but he doesn't stand out for hilarious quotes and he's also not to the level of boring that Al Gore had reached during the 2000 campaign so it's not much of a contrast)

What is the point? I love the quotes, but please, I want them over with. I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong when I wanted Quayle for President in 2000! I fully admit it.
(BTW: if I can find an old humor article I wrote about Dan Quayle being angry he didn't run in 2000, I will post it)

Further note (added later): I tried my best to phrase this carefully, but to remove any and all ambiguity: I am NOT calling for the removal or elimination of George W Bush as a person. I just want him lawfully and justly removed as President. I do this fully realizing I will not get these great quotes as often if at all.

The commander in chief speaks...

President Bush today:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

The associated press story

more later...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Absent friends...

Those of you who know me personally, know that I'm pretty wretched at keeping in touch (actually, most people are in my experience, but I'm significantly worse than the mean).
Yesterday a friend I haven't talked to in years contacted me via this blog and I was able to talk to him for a bit last night. This is notable for 2 reasons: A) someone was on this blog(!?!?!), and B) it made the whole blog worthwhile. Sometimes I lose contact by accident, by neglect (this is often), and almost never by purpose. I actually do love staying in touch with friends, teachers, students, and others who have passed through my "life" (I use quotes because if you know me personally, you also know I have no life) even if I'm so horrible at doing so. No real point besides a thank you to all those who have been a part of my life, and those who choose to continue doing so. (you fools!)

Honestly, I really don't want to distrust the president...

Why oh why does Bush make it SO hard to have any trust in anything he or his administration says or does??? Case in point, the recent increase of the terror alert level. Even when it came out RIGHT after the Democratic convention with intelligence that seems to have come from a concerted White House attempt to pressure Pakistan to deliver well-timed Al Qaeda victories during the Democratic convention (incidentally, the Pakitstan government came through on the day before Kerry's speech), I wanted to believe that the even this administration is not so horribly corrupt and completely power hungry to manufacture a terror alert to distract the public from paying attention to their challenger. I love Howard Dean, but even I thought his questioning the timing of the alert was at the least crazy at the most crass political maneuvering. I still remember how ticked off I was at Republicans and the media at large in 1998 screaming at the top of their lungs "Wag The Dog!" when Clinton attempted to strike Al Qaeda training camps in response to the bombings of our embassies when at the same time the impeachment scandal was raging. I hated their convoluted logic at the time of "since we don't trust you, how can we trust anything you do?". I really don't want to be like that! I especially don't want to be like that because we now know Clinton was doing the correct thing. Shoot, he shouldn't have been so gun-shy, and at least a degree of his being gun-shy was the direct result of Republican screams about "Wag The Dog"! (incidentally a mediocre film, Bulworth, which came out the same year was the far better politically oriented film)
Yet, Bush makes it so hard not when it's been discovered that much if not all of the alert raising actually came from documents that are 2 or 3 years old, many pre-dating 9/11. That coupled with Tom Ridge's self-serving "... the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror..." makes it hard not to be a conspiracy nut. All the pieces are pretty obvious.
Maybe there was additional intel in that matched up to older documents. Maybe there was a real reason this was done that isn't as blatantly political in nature than what Tom Ridge's comments and the mounting evidence seems so suggest. I really want to believe, like I and pretty much all other Americans did, right after 9/11, that while I may really disagree with Bush, we're all trying to pull together to get us through this struggle against a common foe. The thought that anyone would create a terror alert from thin air for partisan advantage is simply disgusting. For sure McCain would have never pulled that, nor would Bob Dole nor would even Bush's father. I still want to believe that George W Bush is not the entirely morally bankrupt. Please Mr. President, please allow me that monicum of trust.

(edit: modified my psuedo-quote of Tom Ridge, with an actual one (courtesy of Atrios)... and I should remind myself that when I'm not quoting someone verbatim, I should not use "", instead say he/she essentially said blank)

Monday, August 02, 2004

42 hits!

Yeah, I created most of them, but it's still neat in my book.

Oh yeah, new blog title

"Here's another clue for you all, the Walrus was Paul" is a bit unweidly of a title, so I'm going to try Strawberry Fields Forever for a bit. This could easily change yet again. In fact, the odds are it will.

Maybe I can go for an Elton John-based title: "This blog has no title, just words and a tune"

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Earth to White House: GET A LIFE!

Gear up folks, 'cause it's gonna hit again: the right wing outrage squad has apparently targeted another film. This time, their target, Team America, arguably isn't even ideologically opposed to them. The film, by South Park's creators, seems to focus most attacks on left-wingers such as Michael Moore, yet still the White House is already expressing outrage. True, these outrage hissy-fits aren't entirely limited to right-wingers, but let's be realistic: the outrage against The Passion was far outweighed by the outrage against The Reagan biopic, Fahrenheit 9/11, and really any other film that manages to spark an ounce of controversy. In the end, this controversy usually helps the box office of the targeted film, but I'm tired of it. I'm tired of Mel Gibson going on O'Reilly complaining about people putting down his film. I'm tired of people trying to pressure movie theaters into not showing Fahrenheit 9/11. Whatever happened to the free market of ideas? Whatever happened to pluralism?? Isn't it supposed to be the left that can't take a joke? Or does that apply only when the left is the target of the "joke"?

The scary thing is that films that are protested are usually protested for the wrong reason. Monty Python's Life of Brian (one of my all time favorite) films was protested heavily in 1979 when it came out due to a supposed anti-Christian message of the film. Yet, in the film Christ is shown exactly twice, and both times in a positive light. The film isn't anti-Christian, it's anti-organized religion. It's also anti-thoughtless zealotry.

Yeah, Team America may not be in good taste. Trey Parker & Matt Stone are very good at putting together material which is in very poor taste. (witness my favorite episode of South Park, Scott Tenorman Must Die) To top it off, it may not even be very good. (witness "That's My Bush", or at least half of the episodes of South Park including the Mel Gibson episode) None of that excuses people from attacking the right of these films to exist or be seen. The right to free speech requires us to tolerate speech we don't like. We don't have to be forced to like it, or even see it. The last time I checked Michael Moore does not have a gun at everyone's head forcing them to see his film. We need to have enough faith in the strength of our ideas to allow others to exist and compete against ours. Otherwise, free speech is a sham.

Yet when I see people trying to organize to ban films I can't help but think how it's amazing how often in the name of attacking un-American ideas people commit the most fundamentally un-American acts.

Note: Some VERY important caveats. The source for this is an article from drudgereport. So the source is more than a bit suspect. However, apparently Trey & Matt have talked about this and reacted to it which indicates that there's a decent chance it may be a real story. Yes, Drudge Report has about the same level of journalism as Nostradamus was a prognosticator, but even a stopped clock is correct twice a day. I should also bring up the important fact that so far there is no effort to ban this or otherwise. I do not argue against the White House or anyone else's right to criticize anything. I do argue against people attempting to silence voices, even if the voices are silly or obnoxious (or in my case both). That's the price we pay to live in a free society.