Wednesday, December 29, 2004

ALERT: Spammer Viruses On The Rise!

This is a heads-up to all online users out there: watch out for a rash of new viruses being sent via email!

It seems that this commentator's inbox is getting hit with more and more Spam messages with virus attachments in them. I have received no less than five virus-laden messages in my inbox every day since December 26th. (Normally I get maybe five per week.) Most of them have been caught in my ISP's Spam filter, but some do manage to get through, where they are purged of the virus either by my ISP's anti-virus filter or through my computer's protection programs.

Coincidence? No. In fact in one of the new columns I'll be submitting in January, I point out the reason why there is a rash of new virus messages. (Here's a hint: it has something to do with what people do around the holidays.) But if you can't wait, check out Wired's article on the subject. I'm not the only one noticing this!

And don't be lulled by the news that AOL is getting less Spam than before. It's good news, but not great. Just because AOL is reporting less Spam doesn't mean that there really is less of it out there.

In the meantime, though, be careful about the messages you get, and make sure that your computer is up to snuff with anti-virus and anti-spyware programs!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Who will be missed the most from 2004?

2004 had its share of losses, and one of the topics that I failed to include in the 2004 Brutally Honest Awards is a category of "Biggest Loss".

Now some people would like to think that the death of former president Ronald Reagan was the biggest loss for the year, but I really disagree with it. Yes, Reagan was a great president. He appealed to the public in a way that not even Bill Clinton ever could. That's why he was known as "The Great Communicator".

But here's the thing: Reagan had been in seclusion for almost a whole decade after it was revealed he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. While it was still sad that he would eventually die, his passing was more or less expected.

The biggest real loss, though, is someone whom you wouldn't expect to die either from age, disease, or sheer recklessness. And there's only one person who really fit the bill for that in 2004: Christopher Reeve.

Although seriously paralized, Reeve still remained active, not only in the TV series "Smallville" playing the mysterious mentor to the future-Superman, but also on stage. (Of course, it should be mentioned that Reeve is best known for playing Superman in the four movies in the late 1970's and 1980's.) How he died, as well as the fact that he DID die, came as a complete shock and surprise to everyone who saw him as a man who continued to fight the paralisys that kept him in his chair for the past decade, as well as serve as an inspiration to others like him.

So that's my pick for the biggest loss in 2004.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Quick DVD review: I, Robot

One of the gifts I got for Christmas was Will Smith's new Sci-Fi movie "I, Robot", which is remotely based on the series of legendary stories by Isaac Asimov.

The basic story is this: in the near future, a Chicago cop (Smith) with something of a grudge against robots is personally called to investigate the apparent suicide of the chief inventor of robots. But he thinks that this wasn't a suicide. Instead, he thinks that one of these brand-new robots killed the man. Which, of course, is impossible, because these robots are governed by the "three laws", and the first one prevents a robot from harming anyone much less kill them. That's just the first of many strange things that happen in this movie.

In terms of science fiction, the movie comes across as somewhat realistic. It's a little hard to believe that in the span of thirty years the automobile would become this automatic wonder that can drive forward, backward, diagonal or sideways, much less one that is automatic enough for people to expect the computers to do the driving for them. It's also a little unrealistic to see crowded busy highways in Chicago being replaced by smooth underground highways. But I like their idea of valet parking!

The development of robots in thirty years time is somewhat realistic given the current development of computers and in artificial limbs. The overall acceptance of robots handling menial jobs, though, is pushing things a bit.

Smith's character as Detective Spooner is questionable. He's not a luddite, although the movie tried to convey that impression. Being paranoid to the point of sleeping with a gun and showering without a curtain is not something that was explained. And wearing "vintage" 2004 Converse high-top sneakers is not being a luddite - that's called deliberate product placement.

All in all, though, it's not too bad for a science fiction video. The extra features are okay, although there wasn't much more on Asimov's classic in the special features other than the continual reference of the "Three Laws". (They'll probably come up with a super-duper "upgraded" version of the DVD in six months with a whole lot more detail.) Still, it's something worth watching.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Quick thoughts about Xmas

How did Rudolph become "the most famous reindeer of all" if all he's mentioned in is that silly song? What else did he do to get that distinction? Did he lead a commando strike against Iraq or something?


Crusading Conservatives hell-bent of forcing people to say "CHRISTMAS" instead of "Xmas" need to get a clue! The "X" on "Xmas" is the Greek letter "Chi", which is the start of the word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, which is Greek for Christ. People began using the abbreviated version because it was easier to write. You remember writing, don't you? It was that thing that people did before keyboards, and typewriters were just a bit too bulky to lug around all of the time.

Oh, BTW, just because you have a cross up your butt, it doesn't mean that you're handicapped, so stop acting like you are!


"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" may seem like a comedy to some families, and a sick joke to others, but for some it's a documentary.


The jewelry stores have apparently picked up that annoying habit from the car dealers about running LOUD COMMERCIALS during the holiday season. Another brutal voice on the airwaves has a very simply rule regarding this tactic: the louder the voice, the dumber the target audience.


"I'll Be Home For Christmas" is really a very cruel song if you think about it. I'll be home, you can count on it, have all of the trimmings and decorations up, I'll be there... but only in our dreams! That's cruel!

What's even crueler is that there are plenty of servicemen and women who have to go through the real thing. Hang in there guys!


Thankfully, once again we are not besieged with a "gimme" gift. There is no "absolutely, positively, gotta risk life and limb to get" gift this year. No riots in the stores, no black market, no hysteria.... The closest thing to a "gimme" gift are those new iPod players, but they're still pretty expensive and there is still that battery issue to deal with.


Shopping at Target is a whole lot easier now that we don't have to worry about bell-ringers! And it hasn't stopped people from showing up either. (Are you listening AFA? Oh, that's right, I forgot, you don't listen, you DICTATE and then expect everyone else to listen and obey.)

By the way, I went shopping recently (for groceries) and I came across one of those bell-ringers. So after I did my required grocery shopping, I pulled out a dollar to give to the kettle (as I try to do every time), but by then, the guy packed up shop and moved the kettle indoors. So, you see, I DO give when it's possible! I have nothing against the charities, but I don't think that one charity should be given a special exemption from a company policy just because of intimidation tactics from the anti-American Family Association!


In the screwed-up department: did you ever notice that when we're kids, we want toys, but then end up with socks and underwear? But then when we become adults, we want socks and underwear and end up getting toys! Why can't we get that right?


Does anyone REALLY give a brand new car away as a gift for Christmas? I mean, it's a little hard to hide that sucker!

Update: Apparently some folks DO give new cars away for Christmas... but they're all people who can afford rich luxury vehicles. Must be nice to have that much money to burn.


If NORAD can track Santa, can't the terrorists track him as well? Maybe Donny Rumsfeld should ship some armor up to the North Pole!


Who came up with the asinine belief that Santa only goes to rich people's homes? Growing up, my family was FAR from rich, but Santa always made an appearance. Santa shows up at my sister's home every year, much to the delight of her two little girls, and they're also struggling to make ends meet. Both of my parents didn't come from "rich" homes, but Santa still showed up at those places each and every year. So all you class warfare liberals knock off your BS!


You know the song "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"? They suggest that we spend our time telling scary ghost stories... now aside from "A Christmas Carol", does ANYONE really tell ghost stories during Christmas? Again, another one of those PAGAN Yuletide traditions!


How did fruitcake get a bad rap? Did you ever EAT fruitcake? (Yes, with your mouth, not use it as a sopository as the Christian Conservatives seem to do.) Let me tell you, as a college graduate that spent many a night with the 2am munchies before finals, fruitcake is very filling!


Did you know it takes a lot of effort to be a Scrooge or a Grinch? You have to have a real PASSION to despise Christmas, and it's the same passion one would have to LOVE Christmas. It takes almost zero effort to be apathetic. So the real enemy of Christmas isn't the one who HATES the season... it's the one that just doesn't give a damn.


I wonder how the Christian Conservatives would respond if I started wishing people a "Merry Ho-Ho"? Well those kinds of people are in desperate need of a "Merry Ho-Ho" to begin with! Have you ever tried to be merry and festive with a whole fruitcake rammed up your butt?


Okay folks, that's going to be it for quick thoughts. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and Merry Ho-Ho... and if you take offense to my words, then go seek a proctologist, because you probably have some fruitcake with holly leaves and mistletoe crammed up your butt!

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's weird to be on break...

Well the last show and the last column for 2004 are done... the last transcripts for the year are out... and now it feels weird.

I've been doing online commenatary since 1996... that's a long time, folks. And with the exception of the first year or so, I took a month-long break right before Christmas. It's weird, because I spend most of the year just busting my butt getting a new columan and a new rant out every week, and then for that month, there's none of that stress.

It's also pretty dangerous because quite often I get used to having the time off and I try to kick-start some other program, which then gets compounded with all of the usual hassles that get started in January. So hopefully I can keep from doing that, and spend the time off to actually relax and work on updating the website for next year.

Is Rumsfeld Next?

There is apparently incredible pressure in Washington for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to join the mass exodus of Bush Junior's first term cabinet. However, unlike some other cabinet members like AG Ashcroft and Homeland Czar Ridge, this would be more of a firing than a resignation.

Members of Congress want Rumsfeld to resign so he could take the fall for some of the screw-ups going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have been several times when Osama bin Pig Bastard was reportedly spotted but then the search would be called off... leaving things to local tribes that promsied to bring him in, but then were also loyal to Pig Bastard. Then there's the big talk about the soldiers not having "armor", and getting killed because their vehicles weren't properly equipped for heavy combat.

Hey, you want to fire the people responsible for that? It's not Rumsfeld... it's the Pentagon! That five-sided monestary of endless government spending and needless paperwork is the source of most of the problems with our military. Somewhere in that demented paper-pushing Twilight Zone are the specs for military vehicles, and, in order to cut business costs so that some contractor can afford an executive bonus, they were given the standard equipment instead of the heavy combat toys that were required.

Sure "Rummy" has screwed up a few times. He got caught rubber-stamping letters home to the families of dead soldiers... but that probably wasn't the first time that was done. Who in Washington DOESN'T do that? I've gotten a few letters from the White House that were clearly signed by a laser printer instead of a human hand. I wouldn't even be surprised if my father's official commendation for serving during the Cold War was signed the same way.

Hey, I'm no big fan of Rumsfeld either... but this should be his call and the President's to make. If Congress wants to make the call, they can have an impeachment hearing and make it official.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

quick thoughts for 12/14

Couple of quick thoughts for today...

First, the jury in the Laci Peterson murder trial voted to have Scott Peterson go on death row. As I pointed out in my column, the kind of punishment that he's deserving cannot be given, either on earth or elsewhere. But he does deserve to die. He's a self-centered bastard that needs to depart from this world at the first opportunity.

What pisses me off is that he still has his legions of female fans, willing to "save" him from his fate! What kind of demented lives are these women living? This isn't "General Hospital" or "Days of Our Lives"! This is the real world!

Unfortunately, California is one of those states that has a piss-poor record with people on Death Row. There are over 600 people waiting to be executed there. Looks like "the Governator" needs to do some serious housecleaning there!


So Thug Guliani's right-hand man had to back out of the Homeland Security job because of a nanny problem, huh? Well it seems the New York Times (not a big Bush Fan to begin with) is claiming that this was just the tip of the iceberg with Chief Bernard Kerik. Apparently there's a link to organized crime that the White House supposedly "skipped".

Thug Guliani, the patron saint of 9/11, was not considered to be a thug without reason. His heavy-handed dealing with city affairs earned him that title. But as he just found out, that "sainthood" doesn't extend to his people.

Then again, Kerik would have been in good company with the GOP, given Senator Brownback's generous housing gift from religious groups and Tom DeLay's new "get out of impeachment free" card while waiting to see if he gets indicted in his home state for gross abuse of power. Yup, nothing like good old-fashioned Republican VALUES!


CBS is dragging their heels on the results of the "Memogate" report. Again, not surprised by this. They're waiting until all of the furor goes down... either that or they'll release it after Dan Rather leaves the anchor desk in April and then claim that it's too late to do anything about it because Rather has already left. Either way, they're going to cover this embarrassment up.


MSNBC is claiming that "bloggers" (which includes me) are not considered to be "people".


Well, reading more into it, I learned that the Democratic Party now consider "bloggers" to be the new media. In other words, they're "journalists", not just your casual spectator.

Well it's nice to see that we get some props for our work. Although I'll stick with my original title of "columnist". I've been a reporter, and I know what it takes to crank out a good journalistic article, but I'd rather give you my take on things as a columnist than to try to claim it to be the "absolute and unbiased truth".

Monday, December 13, 2004

Bye-bye NASA paper-pusher!

So the bureaucrat who has kept NASA grounded has finally announced his departure!

Well I hope the door smacks him on his way out and knocks him on his ass!

This is the guy who mothballed the space shuttle fleet after Columbia burned up on re-entry. He had no plans to replace the aging fleet and was more than willing to let vital projects like repairing the Hubble space telescope die because it "wasn't worth the risk". He thinks that the space program should just send robotic probes into the great beyond.

Now if we want to send stuff up to the International Space Station, we have to call up RUSSIA! RUSSIA! We've been to the moon and back over and over again, but we have to call on a space agency that has never left Earth orbit to rotate our crew and send up supplies.

And speaking of supplies, there was word this past weekend that NASA was telling the ISS crew to cut back on the food because they were running out. If they run out of food, they may actually have to ABANDON the station!

Listen, we have a private shuttle now. SpaceShipOne has proven itself capable to be launched into space and return a whole lot safer than the old shuttles. I say call them up, have them bring up some take-out to the ISS, and then hang a big banner in front of the cameras that says "Goodbye and good riddance Sean O'Keefe!" That's more than fitting for a man who turned NASA's symbol from an eagle to an ostrich.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Face Of The Enemy

You want to know who's been making the biggest bitch about content on TV? You want to know who's responsible for all of these complaints the FCC get about your favorite TV program?

According to the folks at Mediaweek, the enemy has a name: The Parents Television Council.

Sound familliar? It should. Couple of years ago, the PTC went after professional wrestling, declaring it to be "anti-family".

Wrestling promoted Vince McMahon used his legal troubles with the PTC to come up with a new wrestling group called the "Right To Censor" (RTC), which decried all of the antics of professional wrestling.

Well according to the folks at Mediaweek, 99.8% of ALL complaints sent to them are from the PTC!

And remember Jeff Jarvis? He's the blogger who discovered the discrepency in complaints about a Fox TV program, reducing 159 "official" complaints to actually coming from 23 people (and if you cut out the form letters, it goes down to THREE people). Guess which group sent those letters? You guessed it! The PTC! Not only that, but they're wondering what happened to the other "4000"!

Cripes! These people are the original spammers!

Anyway, Fox is now appealing the fine imposed on them, and they're using this information as part of their case to contest the process.

Oh, and Mediaweek gave Jeff some credit for his discovery. Good going Jeff! Keep up the fight!

Monday, December 06, 2004

So which way does YOUR tree lean?

Well I'm sure most people realize that America has become politically polarized of late. "Red" states versus "blue" ones, "metro" versus "retro", "progressives" versus "traditionalists", cognitive thinkers versus fundamentalist...

But did you know that this polarization has affected the holiday season as well? Well why not? It's affected everything else!

For instance, how many conservatives have discovered that their Christmas trees have a distinct lean towards the left? And no matter what you do, that lean is always there? No, you're not imagining things, Dittoheads, you ended up with a "liberal" tree!

So I'm sure some of you diehard crusaders are saying "So what? We survived eight years of Clinton, we'll survive through Christmas with a liberal tree!"

Well don't be surprised if you notice that your tree becomes a little stubborn when it comes time to put up the decorations.

For starters, it'll reject that traditional angel you put on the top of it. It'll constantly try to topple that thing off its crown. It'll welcome a star... as long as it comes from Hollywood. You'll also notice that your lights will burn out a little faster if they're on a liberal tree. You see, the tree will do everything to try to get you to cut down on electricity, so the fewer lights that get power, the less electricity that is needed, and the less pollution that gets cranked out by those electrical companies. It'll also shed that tinsel and those plastic ornaments faster than a goose during molting season. And forget putting a manger scene under that tree... because it'll be covered with pine needles from day one.

Oh, and I'm sorry, conservatives, but you cannot "Hannitize" these liberal trees. They're pissed off already by the sheer volume of books that were created from the slaughter of their brothers and sisters in the forrest.

Meanwhile, of course, many liberals end up making the mistake of getting a "conservative" tree to serve as their "seasonal celebration" tree. It's not hard to spot them... after all, they will always have a lean to the right, no matter how much wire you string up and how much you pad the base. And forget trying to put up ribbons and popcorn strings. These trees won't look good at all unless it has some electrical lights on them. And it will WANT an angel on it. Not a star, but an actual Christian angel.

Oh, and a good conservative tree will drink a lot of water... and none of that purified and filtered bottled water either! It'll need straight tap water or else it will shrivel up and DIE on you! And you don't want to be responsible for the death on an innocent tree, do you?

But don't worry, I haven't forgotten the rest of America... much like humans, there are some Christmas trees that are "libertarian"... in that they always have that forward lean to it. These are usually great trees to have. They give great pine scents to them, they have full branches and healthy needles, and you can put any kind of decoration on it and it will look great. And to keep the tree from completely falling over, you have to tie things to the right and to the left of it.

Of course there are also "tyrannical" trees as well... constantly leaning towards the back. But for some reason Americans don't want to do anything about those trees. They just demand a lot of attention, drink water like a sponge, get dry real quickly, their trunk is loaded with sap so you can't even get near it without getting all sticky, and you usually find at least one dead animal in its branches, which eventually will stink up the place even after you remove it. They are prone to falling over, but because they usually hit the back wall, most folks don't give a crap about them... they're instead concerned about the damage they cause to the ornaments and lights when they do tip.

So you see, my friends, how important it is to get a tree that matches your political affiliation. After all, your choice of a tree can affect how you celebrate the season!

But in all seriousness... have you noticed that people don't like how a tree leans, no matter what direction it leans towards? They prefer a tree that stands straight in middle, and they will do everything possible to make sure it stays right in the middle. Can you imagine how our trees would look if we REALLY set them up and decorated them according to our political affiliations? Cripes, the White House tree would be horizontal, with an ongoing debate over which SIDE the tree it should be horizontal on!

Something to think about, folks.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Holiday/Year End Schedule

Wow! It's December already! It's scary to know just how fast the year flies.

Well I suppose I should be making the announcements as to when I'll be shutting down the Brutally Honest Command Center for the year... if I don't do it now, I'll probably just arbitrarily shut things down, and then people will complain about it.

So here goes...

The last Brutally Honest Audio Rant for 2004 will be on December 15th. I don't know what I'll have in mind for it yet, but it will probably be short and sweet to tide things over until January.

The final column for 2004 will be out on December 20th. As has been tradition, this will be the 2004 Brutally Honest Awards.

Tenative restart for the website will either be January 17th or 24th of 2005.

However, I WILL keep this blog website active, providing updates and quick thoughts on whatever happens.

So what happens during the downtime? Well besides enjoy the holiday season and take care of the utter insanity that goes on every year at this time in my bill-paying job, I spend the downtime retooling the website and my audio broadcasts. New graphics, new layout, new music... Lots of fun stuff to do. Anyway, it should be real interesting.

Oh, quick link: if you want to get some of the audio clips you hear in my shows, including some holiday stuff, check out the Daily Wav. They put at least 2 clips up per weekday and only ask for a modest voluntary PayPal donation to help keep things running.

FCC Powell defends himself... badly.

So the grand poobah of the Federalist Christian Censors, Michael Powell, has cobbled out an editorial in the New York Times (all the news that's fit to spin) defending his precious power over the broadcast medium.

Here's the condensed version: Powell claims that he's a "big supporter" of the First Amendment, but that Congress wrote this law that says that his office has to enforce decency rules, so that's what his people are trying to do. So all of these complaints about fines is nothing more than the grumblings of big corporations who pander to the lowest common denominator simply to make money.

But not so fast Mikey... remember the blogger that exposed a previous FCC claim of being nothing more than three moralists? Well Jeff's got his own take on this, and I would seriously hope you check it out, because he uses the FCC's rules and past actions to counter Powell's claims.

My take on this is really very simple... the FCC is enforcing dinosaur rules that must be made extinct, and WILL be made extinct once the digital medium becomes the norm. And as long as Powell lays off the censorship crusade, he comes off as a pretty decent techno-savvy guy. The problem is that he's having to listen to the FCC's "Indecency Czar" Michael Copps and Senator Sam "I Hate Stern" Brownback (who still gets free housing from religious groups) telling him what he has to go after.

You know, of all of the people leaving government in the next few months, why can't Copps and Brownback go as well?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Update... And an absurd request from Fox

You know that little caveat that was tossed into the omnibus spending bill that I mentioned in the previous blog? You know which one... the one that allows the chairman of the House or Senate Finance committee (or any member of their staff or anyone they designate) to be able to peer into anyone's tax returns for any reason. Well, it seems Congress will have it removed before it reaches the president's desk.

Still, the buck-passing continues as people try to find out who specifically was responsible for this little Gestapo bugger and how it bypassed the committee process in the first place. The current excuse is that it came from some no-name advisory committee in the Internal Revenue Service, but that still doesn't explain how it got included just before it would be voted upon by the House and Senate.

The truth is, of course, that nobody WANTS to take the blame for this because it confirms what us freedom-lovers have feared all this time... the whole legislative process is corrupt to the core.

So now here comes the absurd request from both Fox News and Congressman Brian Baird from the state of Washington: Congress should READ the bills before voting on them.

What? Actually READ these bills? Are you NUTS??

Have you ever tried to READ one of these things? I did! They make "War and Peace" look like a pamphlet!

Ronald Reagan once tried to get Congress to clean up their act by having one copy of the budget brought in by a wheelbarrow. He told Congress in no uncertain terms "if I can't read it, I won't sign it." Well either he became a speed reader, or his Alzheimer's kicked in because Congress never trimmed their bills or budgets.

Members of Congress NEVER read bills. They just don't have the time! They're out campaigning or on "fact-finding missions" (a.k.a. vacation) or stuck in committee meetings.

Here's how it works, boys and girls...
  1. Members of Congress let the lobbyists write the bills, because they presumably know what the language of the bill should be.
  2. Members of Congress then get their staff to summarize the bill into key bullet-points. That way, if they have to explain things to either the media or to their constituents, they will at least make it look like they know what's going on.
  3. When the time comes to vote, these members of Congress will not vote based on the merits of the bill presented, but whether or not it's politically expedient for them to do so. They will vote because the party's majority whip tells them to vote a certain way, or because their chief lobbyist/financier tells them to vote this way.

THAT is how Congress runs things! And you expect them to actually take the time to READ these stupid things before voting on them? Even if they're given the time to do so, they're not going to do it. They might actually develop a conscience!