March 26, 2005

Succuming to the masses: Terri Schiavo


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The Terri Schiavo debacle is yet another mind boggelingly silly media feeding frenzy that I feel compelled to comment on solely because everyone else is doing it, and everyone else is wrong. Honestly though, I don’t think this matters all that much, because to me, the alternatives are pretty similar. On one hand, Terri Schiavo dies, on the other, she remains in an irrecoverable state that’s as close to death as you can get. In neither case is she ever going to dance the tango again, let alone speak a single word in the english language. I’m not without my leanings, however. Terri Schiavo has been a vegetable for 15 years. The first few years of this, her husband tried several methods to recover her, including a particularly aggressive and experimental treatment that involved electrodes being implanted in her brain. The result? I quote: “According to physicians who have actually diagnosed her in person, she displays no awareness of her surroundings, is unable to swallow, and any consciousness or personality died in 1990.” (Ars Technica) So in 1998 he gave up, and decided, based on comments to this affect that she had made, to pull the proverbial plug. 7 years later this may finally be happening. I say about time.

Now to answer the dissention. A contributing factor to Terri’s current state was medical malpractice, the result of which was a $1.3 million settlement. $300,000 of this went to her husband, the rest to her medical bills. Her husband has subsequently turned down offers for book deals, as well as multi-million dollar offers to turn over guardianship to her parents. He’s not in it for the money. He claims that his position is based upon her wishes that she related to him while she lived, and I see no reason to doubt that. I can honestly say that were I in Terri’s position, I would not want to continue to live how she lives. Does she have a chance of recovery? Modern medical technology says no, and as far as I know, there’s no magic bullet on the horizon, but I could be wrong. This point seems to be the only arguable one in my eyes, but it begs the question of how far we are willing to go to preserve people who could be saved by advances in technology at a later date. If we’re willing to keep people like Terri alive indefinitely in hopes of a cure, should we also be listening to the proponents of cryonics and flash freezing and storing the heads of the recently deceased? It’s the same rationale after all.

Anyhow, there is a real tragedy here. I think Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, and so far every court that has ruled to this affect has agreed with me. Yet they accomplish this by removing her feeding tube and letting her starve? I’m pretty sure we didn’t even starve the prisoners at Guantanamo, and we were blatently violating the Geneva Convention there. We certainly can’t get away with that sort of thing anywhere else. So why does she starve? Because euthenasia is still illegal in this country, and for no good reason that I can see. How could this not be a shining example of where a simple lethal injection would make a world of sense?

I’m not the firm believer in democracy that our government would like me to be, because I don’t think most people are well informed enough to be making decisions that affect people they’re not in direct contact with farther than 5 minutes into the future. Instead, it seems that the parts of our “democratic” system that the people have the most control of seem to gravitate to the lowest common denominator: i.e. Mr. Bush. Whoops! Did I just mention the president? That pretty much means I have to weigh in with his opinion on the subject, and subsequently show how he’s a blithering idiot. Let’s see… because federal judges refused to hear the Schiavo case citing lack of jurisdiction, Bush rushed back from *gasp* another vacation in Texas to sign some legislation into law because it’s important to have, and I love this phrase, a “culture of life.” And now for the hypocracy! In ‘99 Bush signed legislation in Texas that allows Hospitals to, for fiscal reasons, withdraw treatment of terminal patients regardless of the wishes of the family. This guy makes it way too easy sometimes. What I’m really getting at here, though, is that this is yet another area where the government really doesn’t belong. If I don’t want to be a vegetable, who are they to tell me otherwise? Dubya can have his culture of life, but if it interferes with how I live mine, I don’t dig it, plain and simple.

That was way too serious, so I’m going to end on the Uniblow auto-inflating suit!

Hooray for inflatable suits!

Posted by MrWonton at 3:00 am | Comments (22)

February 22, 2005

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro


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To start off, let me say Hunter S. Thompson, you will be missed. Yesterday, I read an interesting article recounting HST’s associations with none other than George Dubbya Bush.

“He knew who I was, at that time, because I had a reputation as a writer,” Thompson said. “I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. But he was nothing, he offered nothing, and he promised nothing. He had no humor. He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn’t pay much attention to him. But when he passed out in my bathtub, then I noticed him. I’d been in another room, talking to the bright people. I had to have him taken away.”

I love it. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that I model my life after a paranoid acid freak, but I still like it when we speak the same language. Talk about speaking the same language, today I read that he’s having his ashes shot out of a cannon over his estate. I totally have to do that now. Also, here’s another quote:

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

I went skiing on Friday after work, just a quick trip to a relatively close mountain for some night skiing. The conditions were abhorent, nothing but ice. There were some nice jumps though, which made for some spectacular crashes on very hard ground. I managed to fall hard enough to pop out one of my contacts, as well as lose my hat and goggles about 2 miles up the mountain. Thanks random snowboard kid for bringing those back. Amazingly, the contact stuck inside my face mask, and I got it back in before it froze solid. I did manage to hurt my neck and leg though, so all was not a waste.

Yesterday I finished the 5th Discworld novel (Sourcery). I started the first one right after I got to Massachusetts, and I haven’t really been able to stop. Thanks goes to Brandy for the recommendation.

U-M’s spring break starts this Friday. I talked to Derek yesterday, and he’s going to come by this Saturday, and we’re going to NYC for a few days. About damn time! I’ve been looking for a good excuse to go there for awhile, and this’ll do nicely. It ain’t gonna be cheap though… Goodbye relocation money. Derek did find a hostel for us that goes for about $30 a night, close to downtown, and a block from a subway station.

A group of co-ops from work (read: 6 guys and 1 girl) and I (make that 7 guys and 1 girl) went to TGI Friday’s then went to see Constantine. It is quite possibly the most fabulously good and bad movie I’ve seen in a long time. Keanu Reeves manages to deliver most of his lines like he’s hangin’ ten off the bleached coast of Cali, which doesn’t really fit the almost noir-esque environ of the movie. Regardless, if you don’t take it seriously, and there are plenty of parts to suggest that you shouldn’t (Keanu sitting in a chair with his feet in a bucket of water and a cat on his lap, or perhaps flicking off the devil as he ascends towards heaven), it at least manages to be fun to laugh at. Especially if you have Katrina around jumping 3 feet off her chair when a bus drives by. Yeah, sorry, still can’t get over that bus.

I finally came to turns with the fact that I’m never going to land a role as an extra in Saturday Night Fever and ditched the 70’s throwback sideburns. I’m not entirely sure where they came from in the first place. Besides, I could still be the next Tony Manero, he didn’t sport the ‘burns. “Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I spend a long time on my hair and he hit it! He hit my hair.” Yeah, I could do it.

Finally, to top off the random crap, if this stuff comes to market and is cheap, I’ll be stocking up! Talk about a good way to save money… Just start the night off right, pop a couple of the tablets, and enjoy. The MrWonton 3 step plan.
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Posted by MrWonton at 11:52 pm | Comments (39)

February 04, 2005

Illumination


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I have headlights again. People will stop flashing their lights conscientiously at me as I drive blindly around the shrouded streets of Marlborough… damn helpful bastards.

Last night 11 Intel co-ops and I went to Boston and ushered for Blue Man Group, or rather, 9 of them ushered, 2 others and I talked to random people through tubes. If you haven’t been to a Blue Man Group show, they use a lot of tubes, and have the theaters filled with them. Before the show, some of them talk to you… and that was my job. We tubetalkers were stuck in a back room with a large black wooden board reminiscent of early telephone switchboards. Where you’d expect wires were an array of color coded tubes that corresponded to a colored floorplan of the theater. From our “switchboard” we could listen to people milling around in the theater, and try to get them to come up to the tubes and talk to us. We came up with some pretty funny stuff that really only makes sense after you’ve been shouting into a wall of tubes at strangers for about an hour. After that we got some rather nice free seats for the show. Afterwards we had to help clean up the 2 and a half odd miles of toilet paper that had flowed over the audience to the stage. Not too bad at all for tickets that were probably worth $40+.

Of course now I have a nice long weekend of being under 21 and surrounded by a bitter football rivalry (in Massachusetts, but working and living with quite a few devout Eagles fans) I really could care less about, the only tradition of which, drinking to excess, I can’t take part in. At least theres driving after dark to keep me busy. Hoo boy, nothing like cruising frozen “downtown” Marlborough. Sensing some animosity?

I went to New Hampshire today to drop off my roommate at the airport. I had no directions to get back, so I got a little lost for a bit, and just when I feared I may never find my way out of the NH Boonies, I happened across a site that alleviated all my fears: nestled in a valley, set in a haze of fog, was a mammoth Anheuser-Busch brewery! I knew then that there was no way that god, in his infinite wisdom, would allow a brewery of such epic proportions as this to be placed in a location that any drunk on a pilgrimage there wouldn’t be able to drunkenly drive themselves there and back from a freeway. Sure enough, I hadn’t gone another 2 miles before all my dilemma was solved. See politicians? Alcohol helps minors.

When I got back from my odyssey, I went back to work. For numerous reasons, I’ve been forced away from work quite often as of late, so I still had over an hour to work to get to my 40 hours for the week, which I wouldn’t feel right not attaining. I rolled into Intel a little past 6:30. This is on a Friday. The place still bustled with activity! Ok, maybe not bustled, but there were hundreds of people milling about working. I’m talking about engineers, most of whom are exempt (salaried), not to mention blessed with Flex-Time. Myself, I’d hate to be at work past 7 on a Friday if I’m not making any extra money, nor limited to working that specific time frame. Confusing…

After getting my 40 hours, I decided to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, at least culinarily, I’m a 10th degree black-jew, that is to say I went to a delicious chinese restaurant and ate to excess from all 3 major food groups: General Tsao’s chicken, Fried Rice, and yeah, thats right, crab cheese Wontons.

I caught enough of the State of the Union address to be again frighteningly reminded about the talking disaster at the helm of this country. I found his pro-constitutional-gay-marriage-ban to be the most offensive of his allusions to our collective impending oppression, suffering, and inevitable doom. If he’s going to spout descriminatory rhetoric, I’d rather he stop half assing it and trade his finely tailored suits and ties for a nice white robe and hood with a few swastikas here and there; you know, make it blazingly clear where he stands. Other than that little indiscression, I thought he did a very convincing job pushing his disasterously unsound social security plan, and who doesn’t love his subtle hints that Syria and Iran have made his “naughty” list. Time to go kick some more Arabic ass eh Mr. President? We can always count on you sir.

Freedoms cannot be exported by tanks and planes, death and destruction.
-Mehdi Dakhlallah, Syria’s information minister
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Posted by MrWonton at 9:48 pm | Comments (4)

November 14, 2004

Fun with numbers!


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I love haiku. I especially love conversations in haiku form. I even more especially love conversations in haiku form regarding Testicleez (who not coincidentally may be starring in his very own drawing soon). Thank you Brandy.

There was some spiffy crowd rafting involving some friends of mine at today’s football game (beware, excessively large video links, here’s a picture). It was all fun and games (and a little bit of injury) until the event staff that pervade the stadium confiscated the raft. It still made for a good final home game.

This is freaking sweet. I attempted to make it, but A) my printer freaked out and started flashing lights at me, then eventually printed it in some funky rendition of black and white, and B) once I’d cut the damn thing out and tried to assemble it, I realized I have no tape.

If you’ve just eaten don’t read this. I know Ashcroft is going to be gone soon, but it still frightens me to see what the people currently in power really seem to think. For those who didn’t just read the article, the jist of it is that Ashcroft doesn’t think the courts should challenge what our administration has been doing. Courts upholding the constitution? Bad idea says he! The specific example cited? The wonderful things we did in Guantanamo, where we held prisoners on no charges, in violation of the geneva convention, with no lawyers and no contact with the outside world, to be given military trials where standard judicial processes don’t apply. This sort of situation doesn’t exactly sound like what we need more of Mr. Ashcroft. And thats the rant of the day.

I made 6756 times an investment of mine a few days ago. Thanks Intel!

I found out that your average chocolate chip cookie has 8 times the stored energy as its weight in TNT. Butter? 11 times. Uranium-235? 30 million times. Wonton? 100 million times. Take that TNT.
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Posted by MrWonton at 1:37 am | Comments (41)

November 09, 2004

I know better than to think I’ve won


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I’ve received nothing but positive feedback on my latest political rant. I appreciate the support, but I’m unsettled by lack of dissension. Bring it on.

This weekend I had no less than two amazingly good free dinners at the hands of friend’s parents. Conclusion? I still need more friends, as I still buy way too much dinner.

Tonight, I had the honor of taking a bus to North Campus, and sitting with two other classmates, face to face with our professor, for about an hour, as she tore our last assignment to shreds. Somehow I got stuck with the majority of the eye contact as she enumerated our failures. Then it was time to head back to Central for a 3 and a half hour stint in the library to finish and debug some code for a group programming project, leaving just enough time to come home, bake my last Tony’s frozen pizza, and indulge in some brain-numbing television before attempting to sleep, which I’m obviously failing to do.

On the bright(?) side, I finished the 7th and final Dark Tower book today… what a trip. Untold thousands of pages of amazing story have finally came to an end, and in the words of my friend, its sad to see it go. Finishing the Dark Tower series was something I’d first imagined back in my Sophemore or Junior year of High School, when the final books were still unfinished. Its hard to imagine not having more of it to read.

I need ideas for a drawing, to be done by who is likely the most prodigious artist I will ever know. Any ideas?

I enjoy the relative safety of cryptic riddles. I seem to find the inherent risk of a tragic and revealing domino effect that will happen if anyone ever begins to figure the pieces out invigorating.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:35 am | Comments (7)

November 04, 2004

Changes


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The election was a disaster. I had tried to be optimistic, but it ended up backfiring. I feel substantially worse for my efforts. “Four more years of a nation led by criminals.” I just returned from a candle-light vigil on the Diag. The tone was reflective, somber and defeated.

It really confuses me how these things work. It reveals how tenuous my grasp on the human creature is. There are people who’s support for Bush I can understand, but the vast majority of them, to me, make no sense. These are not all stupid people. Yet they vote for a man who surrounds himself with cynical, evil people. He managed to turn the tidal wave of good faith following September 11th into a torrent of hatred. (On this note I feel I must make a slight aside. I really hate the way the events that occurred on September 11th, 2001 are exploited for personal and political gain. I try not to make points using them, as I think the ability to do so has oft been misused.) People don’t feel safer now, yet a large margin of those voting for Bush cite terrorism as their reasoning, as if he’s the solution not the cause. Bush’s supporter’s second largest issue was moral values. Moral values? This is what our presidency comes down to? Completely disregarding my disagreements on pinning the ‘moral values’ badge on George W Bush, I see moral values as a relatively shaky position for electing our commander-in-chief. I don’t mean to suggest I advocate sociopaths, far from it, but it seems to me that the decision to vote with moral values in mind comes on the coattails of religion. Religion has no place in politics. Its been said before, I stand behind it 100%. Nothing good comes out of religion and politics. Do people really think this country was founded with seperation of church and state in mind simply to keep Jesus out of the classroom? No! I don’t care if my president prays. Thats his business. I don’t care if he believes in god! I don’t care if he worships a golden friggin’ toaster. I care if he makes the right decisions, and when he does so, I want him to act with a clear, intelligent, unbiased, and well informed mind. What happens when you add religion to this mix? Throw clear, intelligent, and unbiased out of the mix, because theres no room for logic when god’s involved, just ask a philosopher. Want proof? Lets look at what else became of our election…

This election, 11 states had some form of gay marriage ban on the ballot, including my own. Every single proposition passed. But thats not enough. They all passed with huge margins! For a long time now, my philosophy on life has been loosely based on the old and cliched adage “live and let live.” The way I interpret this is essentially “be utilitarian whenever it makes sense.” Thats why I don’t understand the gay situation in America. Gay marriage is nearly uniformally illegal in the United States. It was before this election, it will remain so afterwards. That in and of itself to me makes no sense. If tomorrow every gay couple that had the desire to get married (or if you are so sensative about the symantics, call it a civil union) could, what would change for the rest of the country? My life would certainly be no worse. For those couples, though, it could cause vast ammounts of happiness. Can anyone honestly argue that it causes them more harm than it would help these people? What must you believe to want to cause undue suffering on someone simply because their way of life is different from yours, in a way that doesn’t even affect you!

Whats done is done for now. Whats left is to make the best of the sour grapes we’ve been handed. I’m quickly growing weary of the Democratic party letting us down. There need to be changes. We need to start early. Soon, the Republicans will likely control all three branches of the federal government, as far as I know the first time such a thing has happened in history. I fear the future, but vow to take as proactive a stance as possible.

Enough about the election. I’ve been busy with plenty of other things lately, hence the lack of updates. As you can likely see I’ve changed the program I used to blog here. I’ve made the switch to WordPress, and I must say I’m very happy with it. It has a lot more features, and a lot more power. I finally have threaded comments (the ability to reply to a specific comment instead of just the post), users can now register if they want (completely optional), the entire site is XHTML compliant, and all the new interfaces I have to manage it are very slick.

Finally, I received a call from AMD today. For those who don’t know, AMD is Intel’s only real rival in the (x86) microprocessor business. While I never actually submitted my resume electronically (which is how they tell you to do it), but I did give 2 copies to their representatives at the Job Fair I attended earlier this year. I missed the call, so I’m not entirely sure what the situation is, but if nothing else, its amusing, especially as I was contacted on the 26th by yet another Intel Engineer (yet another Michigan alum, named Jeff Abramson) about yet another position. The constant activity on this front has never ceased to amaze me, although I feel strange having to turn down even interviews for positions that mere months ago I would have been dying just to be considered for.

“The best-laid plans of mice and men
Gang aft agley.
And leave us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy.�
-Robert Burns

Posted by MrWonton at 11:14 am | Comments (5)

August 19, 2004

Secrets, Rights, and DMCA


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The lonliest of views
My view of the outside world.

I fear for the future. I try not to be overly paranoid, but as far as I can tell, our rights are being no less than systematically taken away from us. In 1998, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed. Through its broad and sweeping language, the DMCA virtually does away with fair use as pertaining to the digital world. 2001 brought us the USA Patriot Act. This delightful piece of legislation, printed and rushed through congress in the middle of the night, that allows anyone deemed a terrorist to be stripped entirely of his/her rights and held for an indefinite amount of time without being charged. In June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada (pdf). This ruling removes what many interpreted as our right to remain silent. As of now, if the police ask you questions or for ID, and you refuse to answer, you can be prosecuted. If this doesn’t seem bad, read about the case that was involved. It doesn’t stop there though. Presently, 5 journalists are being held in contempt of court for refusing to identify their sources, who had demanded anonymity. Also, when a former employee of Sun Microsystems inquired as to why he was required to display ID to travel on an airline, he was told that the law was secret and that he couldn’t read it. When does it end?

We’re in real trouble with the government taking our rights away on one front, and becoming more furtive on another. No good will come of it.

I’m about to enter my last week of vacation. While I look forward to getting back to Ann Arbor and away from my home town and my job, I grow increasingly apprehensive about class and my apartment. I’m sure my worries are mostly unfounded, but it fills my thoughts. I’ve still got to figure out how I’m going to coordinate the move.

At lunch today, I found myself staring at a man near the back of the restaurant I was in. After a minute or so of telling myself I was crazy, I was certain I was looking at the professor of the dual enrollment western civ class I took senior year of high school, one Mr. Laabs. It was one of the better classes I’d had to date, as after the first few weeks, all but 6 students had dropped out, not to mention that the professor wasn’t a high school teacher, and didn’t teach like one. Its been the most personal education experience I’ve had, and I got to find out what a difference a small class size can make. Without essentially studying at all, I managed to retain more knowledge from that class than most likely any other history class I’ve had, and I had a good time doing it. It didn’t hurt that Mr. Laabs had a thing for math (he was originally a math major) and chemistry (one day he brought in a jug of liquid nitrogen that he let us play with the entire class period), not to mention that he was a nice guy (he bought us all pizza on the last day before the exam). Apparantly he’s stopped teaching for awhile to be home with his kids. Too bad. It was nice, if strange, seeing him though.

Posted by MrWonton at 9:48 pm | Comments (36)

August 12, 2004

Alan ‘Hypocrite’ Keyes


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Alan Keyes is running against Barack Obama for the Illinois senate. Alan Keyes is from Maryland. Theres no law against running for the senate in a state you don’t live in, but I wonder what Alan Keyes’ stance on that subject it? Oh, heres something Keyes said on Fox News in 2000:

“And I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness to go into a state she doesn’t even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn’t imitate it.”

I always knew Fox News would be good for something.

How long does it take your skin to fuse to a sofa? Six years.

An author named Jim Munroe is posting his novel An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil (great name isn’t it?) day by day for 88 days to this site. Its at least vaguely interesting so far.

DAMN it needs to be Friday already…

Posted by MrWonton at 3:57 pm | Comments (7)

July 19, 2004

Comcast Engineers are Girly-Men


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Its been 4 days since my problems with Comcast began, and two calls to customer support later, I’ve receieved no word that any progress is being made whatsoever. I am not pleased. As a paying customer it seems like I could at least get some word as to whats happening. I know the problem is not at my end, as its effecting everyone I know in my area with the service.

Apparantly theres a craze to bitch about foul-mouthed republicans lately. Instead of going off on a torrent about how Republicans are hate-filled foul-mouthed immature people, I feel it necessary to question the Media on this. Saturday, Schwarzenegger called democratic politicians who pander to special interests “girlie men,” referencing that old SNL sketch with Hanz and Franz the body builders. Apparantly that statement is offensive and “blatently homophobic.” Sure, I went along with the Cheney “Go fuck yourself” statement being in bad taste, but this is a joke. This is the governator making a joke about his own muscle-bloated body. Its funny. Laugh.

Are the Earnhardts the next Kennedys?

I find it interesting that more than one TV network claims to have come up with the idea of a wife swapping reality show. If that sort of thing went through my mind, I’d do whatever I could to deny it, and apologize if it ever became public. I guess I’d make a bad network executive.

The phrase “War is Hell” doesn’t fully capture the truth. Perhaps its more like Sociopath training school.

Oh well, time to relax, new Homestar.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:00 pm | Comments (4)

July 15, 2004

Playing catch up


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Comcast sucks. Yesterday I worked from home… at least I tried to. My cable internet connection was almost completely useless. I was receiving packet loss spikes near 100%. The majority of DNS requests failed, I couldn’t stay connected to the FTP server at work, and telnet? God forbid! Every attempt down that road would crash before I had time to enter my username and password. Ridiculous. Thanks Comcast.

Today the packet loss is down, but not gone. At least I can do well enough to post this.

As an early birthday present I got a digital camera, and man is it a beauty. Eventually I’ll get around to getting some photos up.

Drugs + Subway = good. My friend and I have a tradition of eating at the local subway, and last Saturday we did just that, and as far as I could tell, the employees there were on drugs. It took over 5 minutes to get the girl actually making my sandwich to get all the toppings on it (and while, I do put a lot of toppings on, that is ridiculous), as she kept staring off into space for extended periods of time, forcing me to repeat each item several times. Ok, so that part wasn’t good, but a different girl was working the register, and she appeared no less zonked. She didn’t say much, but favored me with a freakishly wide-eyed unflinching stare. Ok, still not good. Creepy in fact. No, the good didn’t come until after I payed, whereupon I was handed a ream of stamps (it ended up being 17, entitling me to two “free” 6″ sandwiches). My friend only got 13. Stoners like me more.

To detractors of Michael Moore’s latest documentary, here are the sources he uses.

Has anyone heard about the documents concerning Bush’s military detail in Alabama? You know, the ones that are missing? Well, it seems that the story hasn’t been getting all that much press for some reason or another, and it seems like it should. Bush is our president, and as such, it wouldn’t seem outrageous that his military record would be something we should know about, at least not to me. Yet there is a gap in what we know. In question are payroll documents that detail a 3 month period in 1972-3, where there are suspicions that Bush was AWOL. It probably wouldn’t be an issue except his fellow Air National Guardsmen don’t remember seeing Bush there at all. Bush also lost his ability to fly for a part of this time because he skipped his flight physical. Perticularly curious about this is that Bush’s good friend James Bath was grounded at the same time, which leads some to draw the conclusion that they probably had a drug or alcohol binge, and hence refused to take their physicals. Also, there are also several ways Bush could resolve this issue if he so desired: he could release his W-2s for the time or he could have the master microfiche from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver released, which details whether he received the minimum number of active-duty points for days served. He refuses to do either of these things… Suspicious? I’d say so.

I’m feeling biblical, so heres a bible quote:
“There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of a donkey and whose emissions was like those of horses” - Ezekiel 23:20

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Posted by MrWonton at 1:57 pm | Comments (41)

July 07, 2004

Your daily dose of dialectic


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I have returned from the isle of beaver. Its always nice to get out of the local setting and traipse around in the woods for awhile. It really clears the head.

While on the small island, which has a year-round population of 450, I happened upon someone who recognized me. The man, named Tristen, I have randomly ran into in South Haven, Spain, East Lansing, and somewhere else I can’t readily remember. And now Beaver Island. I’m not entirely sure how we happen to be in the same places at the same times, but its starting to get strange.

I’ve nearly finished Insomnia by Stephen King. In and of itself, its been a wonderful book thus far. As a huge fan of the Dark Tower Series of books, I was perticularly fascinated by how Insomnia ties into the massively epic storyline King has made. Too bad to fully understand the story, you have to read 19 different stories, a meaningful number in King’s works.

Despite the new threat to Bush, he keeps on pumping out his horrible legislation and lies (free registration required). One thing is certain, whoever ends up being the 44th president will have his/her work cut out for him/her just undoing the wrongs Bush has done.

Finally, I’ve given out all the GMail invites I had. They go quick. If I have any I can give away, I’ll say so.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:56 pm | Comments (18)

June 30, 2004

A breath of fresh air


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Michael moore is scoring a lot of points lately. I just found this video in which Michael Moore basically comes out and says he has no problem with people sharing his movie on the internet. He comes right out and says he doesn’t agree with the current copyright laws, and he says he makes his movies and books to create change, and that he sees this no differently than your friend loaning you a DVD of his movie. You aren’t paying him, but you’re watching the movie. How is that different?

I really can’t say much more than “wow.”

Posted by MrWonton at 6:33 pm | Comments (9)

Frustrated political ramblings


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I haven’t gotten around to updating in awhile, so I suppose its time.

Friday, I went to Kalamazoo to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. Although there were 3 showtimes left for that day, only the 11:45 still had tickets for sale, after several hours at a local pool hall (god is pool fun) we were treated to about an hour of waiting just to get into the theater, as they were running way behind. It was very interesting to see the kinds of people waiting to get into the 11:45 showing of a movie like Fahrenheit 9/11. There were a surprising number of mohawks in the crowd to say the least.

The movie itself was terrific. A lot had changed since I saw it in April. (Warning, scene references and possible spoilers) Aside from the more polished feel, there was a considerable amount of new footage and less confusion. In perticular, the scene about people being harassed by the FBI under the patriot act used to have 3 stories woven together, instead of the 2 stories relatively seperate. While the former method was very confusing, I was surprised by the story he left out, as if I recall correctly, it was one of the most flagrant examples of a violation of the person’s rights. Apparantly Moore disagreed. A lot more was done to help the viewer make the connection between Bush’s relationship with the Saudis and his administrative decisions. It makes it much easier to realize how corrupt our current administration seems to be. There was more footage from Iraq, and it was more disturbing than I imagined it could be. It really makes me pity what our soldiers go through. I can’t even imagine trying to cope with what they deal with. Perticularly disturbing was the letter from the son in Iraq who had been killed saying how angry he had been to be there fighting a war he did not believe in. To be put through such hardships for something you don’t believe in is something I would not wish on my worst enemies. Finally, in the cut I saw in April, the song that closes the movie was “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. Moore asked us if we thought it was a bit too cliche and if we thought it undermined his argument by being such, and we, being a whole room full of staunch liberals, said no. Its too bad he didn’t leave it. I for one thought it summed up my feelings towards the administration nicely… not that I was really fooled in the first place.

The Reagan comic I posted June 17th has apparantly become quite popular. After being linked off a couple livejournals, its generated several hundred hits. It doesn’t bother me, as I never get near my bandwidth allotment anyways, but it is interesting.

Today was the original day Iraq was to be granted Sovereignty. Of course, in what may have been one of the best decisions made in the war in Iraq, this actually happened two days ago. What I found most telling about this wasn’t that it was necessary to be deceptive about the date to stop organized terrorist attacks, but that Paul Bremer, the man who had been in charge of Iraq before the handover, immediately got the hell out of the country after formerly signing off to the interim government. Who can blame him though? I’d have done the same thing. Iraq isn’t exactly the best place to be right now. Just don’t tell Cheney that, or he’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. One of Cheney’s representatives later labeled this a "frank exchange of view." Frank exchange of views? Well, at least that gives us some insight into some other frank exchanges our administration have had. What a friendly group of guys.

Posted by MrWonton at 5:45 pm | Comments (6)

June 23, 2004

Burning Chrome and Scything Commentary


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Ok, so I was a bit harsh on Burning Chrome to begin with. It gets better. I always feel very drawn to the dystopian settings William Gibson creates, and his short stories always leave me wanting more. He paints such vivid pictures, settings, and situations, then, as has become a staple of the cyber-punk genre, he stops halfway through and leaves you with no denouement. And yet it still works.

I ran across an interesting sight today that really made me think. The site has a counter showing the cost of the war in Iraq thus far. It also lets you break it down by state or city, to see how much your area owes. Most shocking to me, however, was its comparison to how else the money could have been spent. As of the time I’m writing this, the investment in the war on Iraq could have been used to give every child in the world basic immunizations for 39 years, or fully fund global anti-hunger efforts for 4 years. It kind of makes me wonder about the compassion that our president claims to have. Can anyone imagine Bush proposing a plan to immunize children, or feed the starving? I can’t. Instead he spends a ludacris amount of money furthering his own interests in Iraq, an effor that does not save lives, but ends them. Also from the site is a very nice quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” I couldn’t have put it better myself Ike.

Posted by MrWonton at 12:49 am | Comments (19)

June 21, 2004

Here comes trouble..


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The supreme court has ruled in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada, and the news is anything but good. The case centered around an old Cowboy in Nevada who refused to show ID or give his name when confronted by a cop while parked on the side of a highway.

Hiibel had been in an argument with his teenage daughter, who was driving. His daughter god angry and hit him. Hiibel asked her to stop and let him out, which she did. He was standing next to the driver’s side window talking to her when a cop pulled up behind them and confronted Hiibel. Someone had apparantly seen Hiibel’s daughter strike him, and had told the police they saw a man strike a woman in a truck. Instead of telling Hiibel this, the officer repeatedly asked for ID. Hiibel asked what he was being charged with, as he assumed they were simply not far enough off the road. The officer refused to tell Hiibel what he was doing wrong, but instead continued to badger him to produce ID. Hiibel, still annoyed from his argument with his daughter, continued to refuse. After backup arrived, Hiibel was arrested, while cops held the door to his truck closed when his daughter tried to come to his aid. When she finally got out, officers pinned her to the ground. When this case first began, I happened to see the video of this transaction from the videocamera in the policeman’s cruiser. It seemed evident to me that Hiibel was doing nothing wrong, as the officer should have produced some sort of reason or evidence for questioning him.

I’m fairly certain that no good will come from this ruling. We are losing our rights, and there are entirely too few objections.

“A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither” - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by MrWonton at 5:00 pm | Comments (6)

Au revoir Harborfest


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My hometown has always been the friend I can’t trust. It’s been there through thick and thin, but it was as much a contribution to the former as the latter.

To counter the apathy that invariably forms in towns such as mine, there are festivals, which like cheap perfume, merely masks problems with promises of the exotic and exciting. In South Haven, Harborfest amounts to a reason to wander aimlessly back and forth along the same couple blocks, wading past the oceans of people, young and old, but rarely in the middle, listening to a sickening mixture of bad blues, jazz, and 80’s rock, while hoping to stumble into some excitement. As a person who rarely goes into downtown South Haven, its a chance to see the familiar faces of those who do, and to catch up, through a string of nearly identical conversations outlining the last few years of our respective lives.

It was indeed fun to see people I haven’t seen in a long time, especially those who no longer live here, but were in town specifically for the festivities. Its funny how high the correlation between people worth seeing and people who no longer live in South Haven is. Funny, but not surprising. To all I talked to, however, thanks, and good luck.

Fahrenheit 9/11 opens Friday. From what I can tell, the closest theater that will be playing it is in Grand Rapids. Apparantly some theaters are being bullied into not showing the movie, with one theater owner in Indiana reporting to have received death threats. Regardless, I’d like to see the movie when it comes out. I’m sure its only gotten better since the preview of it I saw months ago. Anyone who’s interested in going, let me know.

Posted by MrWonton at 11:15 am | Comments (3)

June 17, 2004

Comic


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I almost forgot this Reagan Comic. Enjoy.

Posted by MrWonton at 12:13 am | Comments (7)

June 16, 2004

Harborfest!


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T - 2 days till Harborfest, and as of now, it looks like it may actually be nice out. I’ll be bumming around all weekend for all those interestested in finding me.

Again I worked from home today. I’m really much more efficient here. I got a lot done, but more importantly, I figured out some ways to just work better and faster. Between a few useful macros, and a few powerful subroutines, I can envision my work getting done noticeably faster now, not that I’m not already fast due to the repetative nature of my project.

I’ve finally found a solution to the problem I generally have with getting hounded to help people with their computer issues: folks, your answer is here. If that can’t help you, try again. If still nothing, then you can come ask me. How many professionals in other fields do you get that from? Does your mechanic friend fix your car for free? People just don’t understand that this is really just doing our jobs for no pay.

Alright, now that I’ve inveighed on that subject, I’ll turn, as I seemingly invariably do, to politics. I for one was sick of the flood of press blithering about how great Reagan was by the second news article to this affect that I witnessed. To my surprise, however, I finally found an article about Reagan worth reading, only its not really about President Reagan, its about his Son. In the article, Reagan continually denounces George W. Bush, and expresses his frustration with the Bush administration’s effort to liken George W. to President Reagan. Reagan has some really great quotes:

“The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job… What’s his accomplishment? That he’s no longer an obnoxious drunk?”
“My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush.”
“Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda — and they didn’t hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, ‘Let’s hit Iraq.’ They’ve used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling.”
“And the weapons of mass destruction? Whatever happened to them? I’m sure we’ll find some,” he laughs. “They’re being flown in right now in a C-130.”
“The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he’s in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the ’80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father’s — these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don’t trust these people.”
“My father was a man — that’s the difference between him and Bush.”

How can I argue with that? Thats pure gold! I may not agree with some (read: the vast majority) of President Reagan’s policies, but here’s further proof that he wasn’t a bad person, just look at the son he raised!

Of course, if you don’t believe me or Reagan, do yourself a favor and go watch Fahrenheit 9/11, which comes out next week I do believe. I plan on watching it again when it comes out. It will be interesting to see how it changed from the rough cut I saw months ago.

William Gibson is a great author, as is evident in about half of the first few stories in his Burning Chrome anthology. Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. I usually love short stories, and I usually love everything Gibson writes, but some of these short stories just don’t do him much justice. I’ve only read the first few, but they’ve been a grab bag. It is, however, worth reading just for Johnny Mnemonic, which while short, is literary candy. The occurance of one of the characters from his opus Neuromancer only serves to make it more enjoyable, assuming of course you’ve read it (and if you haven’t, you should).

Posted by MrWonton at 7:20 pm | Comments (19)

June 04, 2004

Bitter Bush


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Bush is not a friendly person. 75% of the campaign ads he has ran for this election have been negative, not to mention “highly misleading.” To put that into perspective, 27% of Kerry’s ads have been negative.

One tidbit I found perticularly interesting, is that Cheney has stated on multiple occasions the Kerry “has voted some 350 times for higher taxes.” Sure, this is true if you count every time Kerry voted to leave taxes unchanged, or supported a tax cut smaller than others wanted. In the words of Gollum, tricksy incumbentses.

Thank the powers that be that its Friday… now if only it were payday…

Current thing broken on motorcycle: Tachometer.

Posted by MrWonton at 3:23 pm | Comments (4)

May 27, 2004

Al Gore, what has happened to you?


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I seem to remember an election in the not too distant past where we were given the choice between a “compassionate conservative” idiot who said things like subliminable, and an intelligent democrat who could have been mistaken for a wooden board who spoke similarly to Microsoft Sam (the default ‘voice’ in windows if you ever use text-to-speech. It sounds perticularly mechanical and boring). Well a lot has happened since that election. Our friend the compassionate conservative turned out to be a lot less compassionate than he wanted us to think, and I have serious doubts about his idiocy. If you ask me, it’s just a ploy. None of this, however, is terribly surprising.

What is surprising is that Al Gore, who once could have displaced Ben Stein in the “boring to listen to” category, has become a public speaker! Its more than just his voice, which finally contains more than a hint of passion, but his words! Just read the transcript of his recent speech! Its blazing political rhetoric! How could this be coming from Al Gore, inventor of the internet? (Here I assume you know this quote is unfair, as in context he was merely stating he pushed legislation backing the development of what has become the internet, which was a great move to which he deserves to be lauded for his foresight, not mocked for a misstatement as the conservatives would have you believe.) I’m not entirely sure what Gore has been up to for the last 3 years, but I wish he had been up to it a long time ago. If he had, we could have avoided the unnecessary wars, crumbling economy, and scorn of the world we’ve endured under Bush.

What about September 11? No way we could have avoided that right? Perhaps not, but its hard to say considering how many things the Bush administration did horribly wrong. Perhaps if George W. Bush would have listened to Richard Clarke or George Tenet? Clarke was the Whitehouse Terrorism Advisor, and George Tenet was the CIA Director. Both were holdovers from the Clinton administration. Perhaps they should have listened to Clarke’s insistance as early as April that American soldiers should set down in Afghanistan and put an end to Bin Laden and his terrorist training camps. Or perhaps they should have read the CIA report delivered to Bush on August 6th entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” which warns that al Qaeda might be planning to hijack airplanes. Or maybe their ears should have perked up when the INS arrested Zacharias Moussaoui on August 16, when he was a flight school studentand where the arresting agent wrote that Moussaoui seemed like “the type of person who could fly something into the World Trade Center.” Perhaps that was a good clue? Perhaps someone could have thought back to 1996, when Clinton’s administration thwarted an al Qaeda plot to hijack an American commercial plane and crash it into the CIA Headquarters? Naah, thats just silly. That would require initiative, intelligence, cross referencing, and any number of other skills Bush has proven he doesn’t have.

Ok, so many Al Gore isn’t quite as sarcastic and critical as I am, but I’ll take what I can get. Why the change? Well, myself, I’m not sure, but the conservatives would be happy to point out that its because he hates America, just like the rest of us liberals.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:05 pm | Comments (3)
 
   

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