Neo-Hippie Ramblings - I'm a Non-Conformist Just Like All My Friends: May 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

Cheney offended by Amnesty criticism

Says "Detainees just don't know how to have fun"

Monday, May 30, 2005 Posted: 10:23 PM EDT (0223 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of the United States for what it called "serious human rights violations" at Guantanamo Bay.

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," he said in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live." "I pay good money every weekend to have Mistress Helga strip me naked, put me in a dog collar and spank my ass till it's good and raw. We give these goddamned Iraqis the same thing for free and they cry 'torture'. It's absolute crap, that's what it is."

Amnesty International was scathing last week in its criticism of the way the United States has run the detention center at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"We have documented that the U.S. government is a leading purveyor and practitioner of the odious human rights violation," William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said Wednesday.

On its Web site, the London, England-based human rights group says: "As evidence of torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mounts, it is more urgent than ever that the U.S. government bring the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and any other facilities it is operating outside the USA into full compliance with international law and standards. The only alternative is to close them down."

The vice president said the United States has freed millions of people from oppression.

"I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world," he said. "Incidentally, we're still trying to come up with a definition of tyranny that doesn't describe the way we've been acting since 2001. We'll let you know if we ever do squeeze one out."

"Just in this administration, we've liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly repressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people. So far, we've only managed to slaughter about 23000 Iraqi civilians. Of course, Saddam had a big head start on us, but we're doing everything possible to catch up."

Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a "gulag."

"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said. To me, those naked pyramid pictures look like a ten course meal in a five star restaurant. Tasty. Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.

"But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated. We know how to handle the detainees we haven't released, and you'll notice that they don't make those kinds of accusations. If they do, they know we'll either set the dogs on them, stage a mock execution or maybe stand them up on a folding chair with a hood and a bare wire in each hand."

Schulz responded to Cheney's comments: "It doesn't matter whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.

"He doesn't take torture seriously; he doesn't take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn't take due process rights seriously; and he doesn't take international law seriously.

"And that is more important than whether he takes Amnesty International seriously."

On Thursday, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center said an investigation had identified five incidents in which the Quran appears to have been mishandled by his personnel.

But Brig. Gen. Jay Hood said he has found "no credible evidence" that personnel at the military prison flushed a Quran in a toilet. Honest. No, really. Seriously. We looked under the cushions and moved the refrigerator and everything.

Here's the original story, which is just as depressing and equally full of shit but less sarcastic.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Got around to watching Revenge of the Sith

No spoilers

My wife and I went to see Revenge of the Sith last night and were both rather disappointed. Overall, the movie's getting better reviews than episodes one or two, but it still suffers from the same flaws as those two films. The action scenes were very cool, technically speaking, but somehow most of them weren't emotionally engaging.

The dialogue between Anakin and Padme was just godawful. I've seen porn flicks with more convincing lines.

We both had the same reaction -- that it was a really great plotline and kind of a crime that more wasn't done with it. In a movie that runs 140 minutes, George, couldn't you spare your lead character 30 - 40 minutes for character development?

And the number of severed limbs this time around?!? One or two more and it would have been a Mel Brooks gag.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Updated links, terrible writers and asshat conservatives

I went through my blogexplosion blogmarks this morning and added a bunch of new links to my sidebar. Surfing blogs for banner credits is proving to be rather addictive, and I've definitely run into some gems. It's a little like playing nickel slot machines, without the old lady sitting next to you chain-smoking through her trach tube.

Anyway, I haven't bookmarked a lot of the artists' blogs yet, but overall those are the ones I've enjoyed the most. I may start one of photomontages.

I thought I'd run into more good fiction blogs, but (with a few exceptions) they've blown goats. I'll keep the bad links to myself, but share with you a quote from Flannery O'Conner:

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

Nuff said.

I've been thinking of doing something with my 'Do not view again' list as well, which is mostly comprised of asshat, knuckle-dragging Bushites. Possibly starting a composite link page with a PayPal donate button that actually sends donations to the ACLU. Hmm, wonder if I could pull it off...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Amnesty slams U.S. on human rights


Wednesday, May 25, 2005 Posted: 6:42 AM EDT (1042 GMT)

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) -- Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe the picture is bleak. Governments are increasingly rolling back the rule of law, taking their cue from the U.S.-led war on terror, it said.

"The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behavior worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report.

"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity," she said.

Article continues online here.

Apparently, the vast left-wing conspiracy to drag down the mission of God's chosen one (just ask him) extends to those vile haters of freedom, Amnesty International.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The munchies - nachos & cheese

For some reason, lately, I've been craving hot foods all the time, especially nachos with cheese and jalapeno slices. This may be my wife's pregnancy cravings, by proxy. Who knows.

We bought a big-ass jar of jalapeno slices a few weeks back, and every few nights after work lately I've been indulging while I make dinner. I'll toss some Fritos canned cheese in the microwave, spoon it over a bowl of restaurant style tortilla chips and cover it all with a layer of the peppers.


It's definitely a masochistic pleasure, because nothing does a number on my stomach like jalapenos. I've been waking up with heartburn a lot of mornings, and on the mornings I don't, job-related stress helps things along pretty quickly.

Hasn't stopped me yet, though.

Are frickin' sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads too much to ask for?

Are frickin' sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads too much to ask for?
Senate panel chairman drafts bill for Patriot Act expansion

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 Posted: 6:14 PM EDT (2214 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic senators expressed skepticism of new powers the Bush administration is seeking in federal terrorism investigations, including authority to mount lasers to the heads of sharks.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday about renewing and expanding the 2001 Patriot Act, FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni said "we're the boss, need the info".

One delay on the wrong case could be catastrophic, she said, but she didn't offer specifics about where existing powers have been inadequate since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Instead, she often leaned on hypothetical examples, frustrating Democrats.

"Can we show you a precise example of where, because of a delay, a bomb went off? We cannot," Caproni said. "But could it happen tomorrow? It could. And will these changes do anything to help prevent it from happening? Absolutely not. But don't you think that sharks with lasers on their heads would look pretty frickin' cool?"

Portions of the Patriot Act -- signed into law six weeks after the September 11 attacks -- are set to expire at the end of 2005. In drafting legislation to make those provisions permanent, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, is also working to expand the FBI's authorities in terrorism and espionage cases.

Democrats, including the panel's vice chairman, weren't immediately sold.

"What is the benefit of outfitting sharks with lasers?" asked Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Roberts' draft bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, was publicly distributed for the first time Tuesday. The intelligence panel plans to edit his legislation in closed session Thursday. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, asked Roberts to open the session to the public.

Other committees that will play a role in crafting the legislation have discussed whether to impose limits, rather than expand the powers of the Patriot Act.

Following a proposal President Bush sought in 2003, Roberts' draft bill calls for giving the FBI expanded subpoena power that would enable agents involved in terror investigations to respond to complaints of civil rights violations with a simple "zip it".

Democrats and some privacy and civil-rights activists have questioned whether there will be enough checks on the bureau. Yet advocates counter that such groups themselves need to "zip it" and question why Democrats, privacy and civil-rights activists hate America and freedom so gosh durn much.

Click here for the unimproved version of the story, which isn't terribly different.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

20 Questions with Lord Vader

This is pretty funny. I had him stumped for a while with 'nematode'.

Just dropped the IM address from my Blogger profile

I just deleted the IM address that had been posted on my Blogger profile. Over the past 5 months, I've only gotten a handful of IMs from that address. Of those, one was a relative (who usually IMs me from another address) pinging to say hello, one was someone who I conversed with briefly about the average price of kind bud in Manitoba, and the remainder were random requests for cybersex -- one of which was from a very persistent L-) who couldn't seem to grasp these simple concepts about me:
  1. Happily married
  2. Not interested (in case #1 didn't make that clear)
  3. At work in a cubicle (!)
"Don't mind me, boss, just sitting here in the office flogging my log with a random stranger. Gee, I hope none of my co-workers walk by, especially my wife!"

Anyway, like I said, I deleted the reference. I don't really understand what prompted the solicitations in the first place. There's nothing even remotely sexual on my Blogger profile and I didn't even create a Yahoo profile for that identity. If I'd been in a chatroom or something, I'd guess that maybe they were just bots, but I don't do the chatroom thing either. Got terminally bored with that about 10-12 years ago.

Monday, May 23, 2005

House in the country

P. and I packed the girls up yesterday afternoon and took a drive out to North East, PA. I'd seen an ad in Harmon Homes for a four bedroom house on almost 50 acres, for about $150K. Sounded a little too good to be true, but we thought it might be worth looking into anyway. At the very least, a drive in the country always puts our two-year-old out for a nap.

Bottom line: half-decent looking place, but really out there in B.F.E. It's right up against I-90, but the nearest exit to the highway is down a few miles of backroads. It'd also be a miserable drive in the winter. Our Explorer would handle it with no problem, but we'd have to trade our Intrepid in for something with all-wheel drive.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Pentagon Unveils New Military Vehicles

Pentagon Unveils New Military Vehicles

The crowd attending the fortieth annual Erie Zoo Parade this morning was treated to a rare surprise when the Pentagon unveiled two new vehicles intended for immediate deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently re-commissioned members of the PA National Guard were on hand to showcase these new vehicles.

The first vehicle is a fast, lightly armored ATV intended for scouting missions. The Field Use Bike for Army Reconnaisance, or F.U.B.A.R., will be deployed to front-line positions as needed. In describing the vehicle's intended use, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had this to say. "While we can't guarantee a F.U.B.A.R. for every mission, top Army brass are working night and day to reach this goal."

The second vehicle is even more striking, and expected to have a major impact on day-to-day operations in urban warfare. The Armored Single Seat Field Use Car, or A.S.S.F.U.C., is inexpensive enough to be deployed to all members of the military serving in Iraq. It is hoped that the A.S.S.F.U.C.s will replace the poorly armored Humvees about which the Bush administration received so much criticism last year. "If you people been paying attention at all," said Secretary Rumsfeld, "it should be crystal clear that giving every member of our armed services a good A.S.S.F.U.C. is my top priority these days."

Click here to see the new A.S.S.F.U.C.s in action.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Something work-related for a change

Following is an e-mail chain from the other day that went among me, a member of my QA team and the project manager of our large, ugly software implementation project:

That hurt

-----Original Message-----

From: [me]

Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:17 PM

To: [QA team member]; [project manager]

Subject: RE: [QA team member] Out of Town 5/21-5/23

Sorry [project manager],

You're only authorized to deny us an adequate testing window. (IT Division policy.) QA management is the only group authorized to deny us vacations, life events, deaths or adequate project resources.


- [me]

-----Original Message-----

From: [QA team member]

Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:05 PM

To: [me]

Subject: FW: [QA team member] Out of Town 5/21-5/23

I'm glad we have a PM with a sense of humor.

[QA team member]

Quality Assurance, IT

-----Original Message-----

From: [project manager]

Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:02 PM

To: [QA team member]

Subject: RE: [QA team member] 5/21-5/23


-----Original Message-----

From: [QA team member]

Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 1:50 PM

To: [project manager]

Subject: [QA team member] Out of Town 5/21-5/23

[project manager],

I will be out of town Saturday, 5/21/05 - Monday, 5/23/05. The [project] leads are aware that I will not be in the office Saturday through Monday. However, I think that I forgot to tell you. Sorry about that.

Please let me know if you have any concerns.

[QA team member]

Quality Assurance, IT

Now for the zinger: our project manager thought that this whole thing was really funny, so he read it out loud at a management meeting that included my functional manager, who may not have been quite so amused. Doh!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Story Hurt America's Image Abroad?

From Yahoo News:

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON - The White House said Tuesday the United States' image abroad had suffered irreparable damage from a now-retracted Newsweek article alleging that American interrogators of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, desecrated the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

(Article continues online...)

Okaaaaaaaay, aside from the fact that it's probably true and someone just didn't have the guts to stand by their story....

Here's a news flash for the White House: In case you hadn't noticed, EVERY TIME Dubya opens his FUCKING MOUTH the United States' image abroad suffers.

On September 12th, 2001, we had most of the world's support and sympathy. It's been all downhill from there.

Rushing into this quagmire in Iraq without gathering any real support from the world community, well now that didn't help, did it?

Oh, and the Abu Ghraib torture hasn't helped.

Holding detainees indefinitely at Guantanimo Bay without filing charges? Hmm... lemme check. Nope, didn't help.

That memo to Tony Blair about 'fixing the facts' regarding intelligence on Iraq, not helping either.

Shooting that Italian journalist and various groups of unarmed civilians at checkpoints in Iraq... Do I have to say it?

And if John Bolton is confirmed as UN ambassador, tack on a whole new assload of 'not helping'.

Cafepress Items

I was out on Cafepress looking around last night. I hadn't realized just how cool their store interface was.

As easy as it is to upload artwork and get it into a store, I thought it'd be fun to post a few items. I was going to start with this one. Let me know what you think:

Monday, May 09, 2005

George Bush belongs in front of a war crimes tribunal

I don't know what's worse, this morning.

Surfing around, I ended up on and found myself at a photo gallery of a family of children whose parents had been shot to death in front of them by US troops at a security checkpoint. In one photo, a little girl no older than 8 or 9 is sitting on the road wailing, spattered with her parents' blood.

And then I come to this article. Basically, we don't even know how the war in Iraq is going.

The article begins with a picture of a soldier cradling a bloodsoaked towel, from which dangle a set of tiny feet. I can't even describe the horror that it evokes and I can't get the image out of my head.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Finally, a trailer for The Goblet of Fire

There's finally been a trailer released for The Goblet of Fire!

Our two-year-old, for whatever reason, has been obsessed with the Harry Potter movies for months. After seeing each of the three movies about 50 times apiece (we fast forward the scary stuff) I started picking up the books used on eBay. I'm in the middle of the fourth one now, and I have to admit that I'm hooked.

I've been a fantasy and sci-fi fan for a long time. I never got into a lot of the serial-type stuff, or the really hard sci-fi, but I did live most of my early teens in Arrakis, Narnia, Middle Earth, The Land, Shannara, Terabithia and Ray Bradbury's Mars, to name a few places. Recently, I've added Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to that list of mental vacation spots.

Definitely looking forward to this one in November!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Condoleeza Rice and Montgomery Burns - Separated at Birth?

For quite a long time, Condoleeza Rice has reminded me of someone but I couldn't place who it was. Today it finally hit me: she's obviously a long-lost cousin of Monty Burns from The Simpsons.

While there's a definite similarity in the frail, hunched posture and the disproportionately large, round head, the real resemblance is in the creepy hand gestures, cadaverous smile and bulbous eyes. And the evil, of course. (shudder)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Win a pound of pot

Very nice! This group is raffling off a pound of marijuana on November 7th, 2006 (and reserving the right to substitute a trip to Amsterdam if it's pro-marijuana legislation doesn't pass in Michigan). If more organizations did stuff like this, their bake sales would certainly be more interesting!