Fish are supposed to float

A fishing competition in Texas ended in accusations of cheating, which is probably common. What is less common is that the guy accused tried to get away with making his “winning” catch heavier by putting a one-pound lead weight in it.  I can just imagine how busted he felt when the fish sank when it was dropped in a tank at the judging booth.  Oops.  And, since it was a contest with a $55000 boat as the prize, it’s a felony.  Double oops.

Constitution Stupid, says McCain

Senator McCain, a man I once thought a decent and honorable human being, has become so enmeshed in the GOP machine he decried and rebelled against in previous decades, that he now says the law should be ignored when arresting American citizens for crimes in the USA. Astonishing.

Specifically, McCain says we should not inform suspects of their Constitutional rights if we think they’re guilty of terrorism. He says nothing about other crimes. What proves he’s engaging in simple “dog whistle” politics instead of actually saying anything of substance is that “Mirandizing” a suspect does not imbue them with any rights they didn’t already have. The only thing reading that list of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights does is immunize the police from having confessional evidence thrown out in court. McCain must know these things, or he’s lost so much of his mental capacity the people of Arizona should remove him from office.

Let me state this very plainly for those who can’t remember their social studies and civics classes. The suspected incompetent NYC bomber, Faisal Shahzad, possesses certain rights from the mere fact of his being a legal resident and naturalized citizen of this country. Not telling him of those rights does not remove the rights. And, if he’s anything like the rest of us, he’s heard a version of the “Miranda Statement” a jillion times, besides being a naturalized citizen means he probably has actually studied the Constitution more than most natural-born citizens. But, and this is an important point, if the police fail to read him his rights and he then says something which could be considered incriminating, a judge may (not must, but may) disallow that statement from testimony. It all comes down to doing things the right way, so as to be more certain that a trial will bring about justice.

Meanwhile, Representative King (R-NY) says we should carefully consider where to place Mr. Shahzad before we indict him. I suppose that means the Congressman wants to leave open the possibility of sending Shahzad to a military detention facility and face a tribunal instead of a trial. Interestingly, those tribunals are incredibly inefficient, convicting only 3 people in nearly a decade – two of those people were later released during the Bush administration. During that same period, over 300 people were tried and convicted of terrorism charges in federal civilian courts. Sure seems to me, if you want to actually lock someone up for terrorism, you should try them in a federal court and lock them up in a federal super-maximum security prison when convicted. Nobody has ever escaped from a supermax prison. Ever.

Senator McCain would like to leave open the possibility that Shahzad will be released due to a piece of legal legerdemain, and Rep. King would like to lock Shahzad up in the most bizarre excuse for a legal system ever. Could the GOP come up with someone else to speak for them, please? It’s embarrassing, really.

SWAT drug bust in MO

Once again, the War on (some) Drugs has been made to look stupid and petty by its very nature. This time around, a SWAT team busted into a family’s house, shot their two dogs (one of them a very threatening Corgi), arrested the father and traumatized a child. And the big bad druggies they busted? Oh, they were caught with what the police describe as a “small amount” of marijuana. The parents have been charged with possession and with child endangerment. The possession charge is a misdemeanor.

Just to be perfectly clear here – the police believe that possessing a small amount of marijuana is child endangerment, but shooting two family pets in front of that same child is perfectly reasonable behavior.

Don’t Fund Placebo – NHS

After many years of being mocked by anyone with a modicum of understanding in medicine or science or reproducible results, homeopathy has been slammed by an actual governmental study in the UK.  I particularly like the line refuting the necessity to fund “traditional” medicine: “Witchcraft is traditional, so does that mean the MHRA should endorse that too?”

Tea Party Starting off extra smrat

Apparently the opening speaker of the Tea Party Convention is openly courting racists. Tom Tancredo, who is cuckoo for illegal aliens, started off the proceedings by claiming that President Obama was only elected because people who can’t say “vote” in English elected him. Wow, we must have an awful lot of non-English speakers in the USA, to have over 50% of the vote like that. And then he appeals to people to take back America from “them” – whoever they might be.

I find it interesting that all of Tancredo’s grandparents were immigrants (legal presumably) and yet he’s still so unabashedly xenophobic in his rhetoric. Just for full disclosure, my father’s family immigrated to this continent before the USA was founded (by over a century), and I somehow was capable of pronouncing the word “vote” and casting it for Obama.

Oh, and real socialists most assuredly do not consider this president one of them. At this point, many liberals are saying he’s not even one of them.

Banning the Dictionary

Thank you, California, for finally diverting some of the “oh no they didn’t” attention from Texas. Menifee, a town in Riverside County, has decided to pull the Webster Collegiate Dictionary from their school library, because it has definitions of terms like “oral sex” and the poor children just can’t handle such things. Seriously, didn’t everyone flip through the dictionary looking for dirty words, just because you could? Our children are not so delicate and easily bruised, people!

Is Menifee in the 909?

NCAA and Congress

Apparently Congress doesn’t have anything useful to do, so a subcommittee found time to debate whether the NCAA can call someone a “National Champion” if they haven’t gone through an elimination-style playoff.  Really?  This is something which is so important that the United States Congress must intervene?  People are stupid.

Wingnuttery

I received a generally decent email from corporate overlords today, which basically told employees that the 2010 census will be happening soon, and that census workers won’t ask for your credit card or bank information, but will have badges and handheld computers etc. Don’t be scammed, and all that jazz.

Then, there was a paragraph which stood out for its appeal to the wingnuts among us:

AND REMEMBER, THE CENSUS BUREAU HAS DECIDED NOT TO WORK WITH ACORN ON GATHERING THIS INFORMATION.. No Acorn worker should approach you saying he/she is with the Census Bureau.

Um…yah. ACORN was not going to send “Acorn workers” to do the census anyway. Never a plan, never an intention, never an agreement. ACORN was going to help direct people looking for temporary employment to the Census Bureau and assist them in applying for those jobs. The end. So, you’d no more get an “Acorn worker” approaching you than you would a “USA Jobs worker” or an “Employment assistance office worker” approaching you. Such an insane appeal to continue to demonize a rather innocuous and minor organization, sadly, is not too surprising in the defense contractor world.

Stupid Tech Support Tricks

Suddenlink killed my cable modem on Thursday morning. When I called tech support that night, they couldn’t get a signal from my modem, an old Motorola 4200 (DOCSIS 1.1).  The techie they sent to the house Friday said that Suddenlink had recently upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 locally, and therefore my old modem would no longer work. He offered to rent or sell me a modem or I could go out and buy a new one on my own. Since I know they sell a strange brand that nobody respects, I decided to hit the local Radio Shack to pick up a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. They only sell one modem, which happens to be a DOCSIS 3.0 model (Motorola 6120).

I plugged in the modem, hit DHCP refresh and got a non-local IP address, but couldn’t connect to the internet. This is expected, of course, and so I called the tech support help hell line and proceeded to be told that 1) DOCSIS 3.0 is not in my area, 2) the modem I had been using should work just fine, and 3) the modem I just spent $100 on was not on their approved list. Naturally, I find it absurd that a modem which complies with DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 standards would not work on a DOCSIS 2.0 network. Isn’t that the whole point of standards? The tech support guy was very patient and well-informed but was eventually unable to get the Suddenlink system to connect to my modem, regardless of the IP address that it granted me. He even had me connect the old modem, which would not grant me a routable IP address, and he couldn’t get a signal from.

Back to the store, to return the modem. And then to a different store a few miles away, to buy a less-capable modem. While at the store, I noticed a couple things. First, there were almost no DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems remaining on the shelf, although they normally stock three different models. Secondly, my old buddy Karl was there. Karl’s cable modem died on Thursday morning as well. He told me that his gym buddies also had widespread cable modem destruction visited upon them at the same time. Suspicious. We both left the store with new cable modems, and the shelves appeared to have one modem remaining that would work on our system.

I get the new cable modem (which is awfully tiny compared to the old one) home, plug it in and call the tech line to get the modem provisioned. This time, the person on the end of the line was less informed, which is always annoying. She was very obviously reading directly from her flowchart and would not deviate, no matter how absurd the things she insisted I do. At one point, she wanted me to unplug the modem, the router, and all computers connected to the router. This displays a deep lack of understanding of how routers work. Finally, after far too long on the phone with Flowchart Fanny, the connection was up and functioning as it was meant to.

I find it absolutely amazing that the two stores I went to both sold the Motorola 6120, which won’t work on the local system. Since there’s only one cable internet company in town, this exhibits a distressing lack of understanding of the market on the part of the local retailers.

Now it’s time to write a nasty letter to Suddenlink for breaking my modem, lying to me, and wasting my time and money. I don’t expect to get anything but catharsis from this exercise, but I must try.

Speculate Wildly!

I’m continually amazed at how frequently what “everyone knows” about an event is wrong. For instance, did you know that the Columbine shootings in 1999 were actually intended to be a massive bombing? Fortunately for the students there, the bombs didn’t actually go off, but they were placed in the cafeteria. Almost nobody knows that, but almost everyone “knows” that the two shooters were part of the Trench Coat Mafia; they weren’t. Everyone knows the two shooters were bullied by jocks; they weren’t. Two girls were shot because they were Christian; also not true – Cassie Bernall’s entire exchange with Harris was when he yelled “Peek a boo” before he shot her.

So, this week we have another shooting. First reports are that three men, including a U.S. Army Major (and psychiatrist, ironically) shot dozens of people with handguns and M-16 rifles, and the Major was reported as killed by a police officer who lay fatally injured himself. Turns out, the Major isn’t dead. Neither is the cop. There are, as of now, no other shooters identified by law enforcement and none are expected. ABC reported that Hasan was a convert to Islam; his brother says they were raised Muslims. He’s been rumored to be a sleeper agent; apparently sleeping since his birth in Virginia to Muslim parents.

At this point, so soon after the shootings and while the gunman is in custody to be questioned, could everyone just take a moment to stop and NOT speculate or repeat rumors?

Software Patents are Stupid

Microsoft, which recently applied for a patent on XML documents (how one can patent an open standard that was written by others remains a mystery), has lost a $200 million lawsuit for violating someone’s patent on XML documents. Now, MS is ordered to cease selling any copies of Microsoft Word that work with XML. That would be Office 2007 and the upcoming Office 2010 or Word V13 or whatever they’re calling it.

Software patents are good why?